Sunday: Hili dialogue

May 7, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s Sunday, May 7, 2023, and National Lamb Day, which reminds me that I have to put up my last French food post: an all-you-can eat leg-of-lamb pigout at Sébillon. Photo of my first plate below (I had three); more photos to come. Spring lamb in France is traditionally served with white beans, comme ça:


It’s also Lemonade Day, National Tourism Day, Radio Day  in Russia and Bulgaria, commemorating the work of Alexander Popov (Russia, Bulgaria), and World Laughter Day.

Here’s are four short (and clean) jokes for World Laughter Day:

My wife told me I had to stop acting like a flamingo. So I had to put my foot down.

Q: What’s the difference between a hippo and a zippo? A: One is really heavy, and the other is a little lighter.

So a photon walks into a hotel. The bellhop says,”Can I carry any of your luggage?”The photon says,”No thanks, I’m traveling light.”

When my grandad was 65 he started running a mile a day to keep fit. He’s now 70, and we have no idea where he is.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the May 7 Wikipedia page.

Finally, there’s a Google Doodle today honoring the life and work of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)an old white man who wrote music. Today is his 190th birthday!

Click on screenshot to go to related links:

Da Nooz:

*This NYT article points out an important asymmetry facing Ukraine and Russia: Ukraine is under pressure to win soon while Russia can play the long game.

Both armies have tanks, artillery and tens of thousands of soldiers ready to face off on the battlefields of Ukraine in a long-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russia. But one thing clearly sets the two sides apart: time.

Ukraine is feeling immense short-term pressures from its Western backers, as the United States and its allies treat the counteroffensive as a critical test of whether the weapons, training and ammunition they have rushed to the country in recent months can translate into significant gains.

If the Ukrainians fall short of expectations, they risk an erosion of Western support. It is a source of anxiety for top officials in Kyiv, who know that beyond battlefield muscle and ingenuity, victory may ultimately come down to a test of wills between the Kremlin and the West — and which side can muster more political, economic and industrial staying power, possibly for years.

As a result, there is a sense in Ukraine that its war effort faces a ticking clock.

. . .The expectations of military success are only one pressure point for Ukraine. A presidential election in the United States looms next year, with the potential for a new, less supportive Republican administration.

In Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin faces his own challenges but is showing signs of operating on a much longer timeline, encumbered by economic and military limitations but free from the domestic political pressures that make continuing Western support for Ukraine so uncertain.

Having already mobilized some 300,000 recruits last September, Mr. Putin is laying the groundwork for a possible new round of conscription, having changed the law so Russian authorities can draft men by serving them with a “digital summons” online.

. . . .But Mr. Putin has defined the war effort as a top priority and vital national interest, telling Russians in a New Year’s address that “we must only fight, only keep going” against Western democracies intent on Russia’s destruction.

“Certainly I think there is a calculation in the Kremlin that Russia is more resilient than the West,” said Thomas E. Graham, a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who served as senior director for Russia on the National Security Council from 2004 to 2007.

If Trump or any other Republican wins next year’s election, we can start worrying, but even Biden’s patience may wane.  I see no way around the problem outlined in this article, for I don’t see Russia surrendering.

*I saw this news on Friday, but a reader reminded me of it, and, after the media took the mickey out of Clarence Thomas for unethical behavior,  we have to be evenhanded about missteps by those on the Left—in this case Sonia Sotomayor. From the reader:

I see that you rightly condemned Clarence Thomas for his lax ethics, to put it mildly. But nowhere in mainstream publications like the WaPo do I see this other disturbing ethical story. This one is about giant book advances to Sonia Sotomayor and the fact that she failed to recuse herself when cases involving her publisher were before the court.

This is why conservatives have lost any faith in the MSM to report fairly.

The piece in Newsweek draws the distinction as one of disclosure. Sotomayor disclosed the financial relationship with her publisher while Thomas’ Harlan Crow connection was not disclosed. I agree that the nondisclosure makes Thomas’ ethical transgressions more egregious. But Sotomayor should have recused herself when issues directly implicating her publisher came before the court. It appears that Breyer did so.

Here’s the story from Newsweek (click on the link to read):

The legitimacy of the Supreme Court is being questioned—this time by conservatives— following a report that Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not recuse herself in a case that involved her book publisher.

In April, ProPublica reported that Justice Clarence Thomas accepted luxury trips from Republican megadonor Harlan Crow without reporting them on financial disclosure forms. New allegations, also reported by ProPublica, suggest that Crow paid a $6,000-per-month tuition rate for Thomas’ teenage grandnephew to attend a private boarding school in Georgia starting in 2008.

The Daily Wire reported that Sotomayor declined to recuse herself from multiple copyright infringement cases involving book publisher Penguin Random House. She has authored five books, including her autobiography, My Beloved World.

She reportedly received a $1.2 million book advance in 2010 from Knopf Doubleday Group, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House. Two years, she received two advance payments from the publisher totaling $1.9 million.

In 2013, Sotomayor voted in a decision on whether the court should hear a case against the publisher called Aaron Greenspan v. Random House. Now-retired Justice Stephen Breyer, who had received money from the book publisher, recused himself in that case.

Now you can argue that Thomas was worse because he and his wife took tons of money on the sly, and there were multiple episodes of ethics violations. And I believe he was much worse. Still, I want to make three points. First, Sotomayor did adjudicate a case from which she should have recused herself; I don’t think Thomas is guilty of that, at least. More important, the Supreme Court needs a damn ethics code.  Finally, as my reader noted, the MSM hadn’t covered the Sotomayor violation at all, while reporting the hell out of the Thomas issue. I haven’t checked, but as of noon yesterday, the reader couldn’t find any mention of Sotomayor in either the Washington Post or the New York Times.

*Over at the Free Press, snark reigns around the coronation of King Charles. Read “King Peter Pan III” by Tanya Gold for some unusual facts. To wit:

If you want to understand King Charles—who became king in September, when his mother died, and today is being formally invested with his monarchical duties—you need to understand something about the town he created. It’s called Nansledan, and it sits on a hill above the sea in Cornwall, a duchy in the far west of Britain, where Charles was duke before he became king. (It has now passed to his son Prince William. The Duchy of Cornwall always belongs to the heir to the throne.)

Nansledan is Charles’s vision, built on his land to his exact specifications. I spent three days there in January. It is perfect and strange and unreal; like Disney World, if it had been designed by a person with an obsessive interest in English domestic architecture and ancient farming methods. It is a make-believe place—a tapestry with elements of every century from the twelfth (slate walls) to the nineteenth(suburban-style villas for early commuters who travelled by horse)—but updated for comfort.

There are mini-mansions and rows of tidy cottages—ice-pink, ice-blue, mint—surrounded by fruit trees. There is an orchard, a meadow, and holes in every roof for the nesting birds. When it is fully built out, it will be home to 4,000-plus happy families squeezed onto 540 acres (less than one square mile). The shops—a chocolatier, a florist, a hatter—align with the new king’s ideals. They must be environmentally friendly and support local artisans. There is no big-box, mass market grocery store.

The good people of Nansledan, who must paint their doors colors that Charles approves of, can’t believe their luck. This is their little slice of royal nirvana. They are the gilded middle classes—the type who wash their cars on Sundays—though a third of the homes are reserved for people on low incomes.“There’s a lovely sense of community apart from the keyboard warriors and the people who are a bit cliquey,” Clare Anderson, a Methodist minister, told me. “Because the duchy has got a design code, it’s almost a stick to beat people with.”

Gold argues that, compared to his mom, we have TMI about Charles. Get a load of this:

He’s probably the best-dressed man in Britain, as his predecessor Edward VIII was when he was Prince of Wales. (Edward abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée, in 1936, though Charles did not have to abdicate to marry his second wife, who is also a divorcée. He is both luckier and unluckier than other kings.) He is patron of multiple Savile Row tailors—he usually dresses like Fred Astaire, in natty suits and handmade shoes—and wears five types of tartan (the classic Scottish cloth that royals like Charles love to sport), from Balmoral (understated) to Stewart Royal (bright, celebratory).

When he stays with friends, he travels with his own orthopedic bed, toilet seat, paintings of the Scottish Highlands (his solitary paradise), and his childhood teddy bear, because unhappy children can’t grow up. Just after his accession, he had a fight with a pen. It leaked on him as he signed the visitors’ book at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland, and he moaned, “Oh God, I hate this! . . . every stinking time!” His wife took it from him while reasonable people wondered: how can you lead the armed forces if you are felled by a pen?

He travels with his own toilet seat? What is he afraid of? And his teddy? I have my Toasty in my office, but I don’t take him places. And of course Charles endorses the bogus practice of homeopathy, which means he’s science-ignorant. But I suppose we’ve had better Kings and worse ones.

*Below are a few tweets in a long thread of tweets of trans women who have won or nearly won women’s bicycling competitions. It’s not rare although. as the tweet says, the possibility of biological men identifying as women beating out biological women in sports was once dismissed as “unimportant because it almost never happens.” I have news for you: the number of adolescents who are transitioning from males to trans females is growing exponentially. This is a problem that’s only getting more pressing, and people better think about it.

There are more cases in the thread.

*I have to reproduce this story from the Philippines; click on the screenshot to read (h/t Ginger K.):

A woman from the Philippines named Merlie Tolentino had been praying to what she thought was a statue of Buddha in her home for the past four years. She had been lighting candles and offering food to the figure, which she believed was bringing her good luck and blessings.

However, one day Merlie’s friend pointed out that the statue was not actually Buddha, but a figure of Shrek, the popular animated character from the DreamWorks movie franchise. Merlie was shocked and embarrassed, but also found the situation amusing.

The story gained widespread attention after photos of the Shrek statue went viral on social media. Some people found the mix-up funny, while others criticized Merlie for not being more educated about her religious beliefs.

Merlie herself has taken the situation in stride, saying that she still believes in the power of her prayers regardless of the statue’s identity. She also hopes that the attention from the story will bring more positive energy and blessings to her family.

I don’t think it’s that easy to make such a mistake. Shrek has horns!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is fearful. When I asked Malgorzata why, she responded, “I have no idea. It may be her age. Now she quite often looks as if she was very frightened but we can see nothing dangerous around.”

Hili: It’s coming toward us.
Paulina: What’s coming?
Hili: The unknown.
(Photo by Paulina)
In Polish:
Hili: Idzie w naszym kierunku.
Paulina: Co idzie?
Hili: Nieznane.


From Stash Krod:

Another bizarre sign sent by David:


From Nicole:

The University sent out this birthday card to some of its donors. Given the black triangle and beak markings, I suspect that this is Honey and one of her ducklings in Botany Pond. If so, WHERE ARE OUR RESIDUALS? But this does show that the University of Chicago recognizes the overweening importance of mallards—”our ducks”, as ex-President Bob Zimmer called them.

A tweet from Masih. When will the Iranian theocracy realize that women don’t necessarily want to wear hijabs?

From Malcolm, who says, “Nepomniachi immediately after realising he blundered the game”:

From Barry, in honor of yesterday’s coronation:

From Simon, the British humor magazine Private Eye (second tweet):

From the Auschwitz Memorial, two Dutch Jewish boys gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a common shelduck with babies and friends (sound on):

The range of the shelduck (light green breeding area, dark green area of residency, blue is non-breeding):

Sexual selection (and extreme sexual dimorphism). Note the female inspecting the displaying male. What is she looking for? You can read more about the bird (Chrysolophus amherstiae; from SW China and northern Myanmar) here.

Oh, those British footie fans! (Matthew sent the second tweet.)

38 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. For World Laughter Day:

    What’s the difference between an entomologist and an etymologist?

    An entomologist studies bugs; an etymologist is someone who can tell you the difference between an entomologist and an etymologist.

    1. For WLD;
      What’s the difference between a saloon and an elephant’s fart?

      One’s a barroom, the other’s a barROOM.

      1. What is the difference between a cat and a semi-colon?

        One has claws at the end of its paws, and the other is a pause at the end of a clause.

  2. Myers-Briggs test analysis day at NASA: what’s the difference between an introvert engineer and an extrovert engineer? An introvert engineer looks at his feet when he talks to you; an extrovert engineer looks at YOUR feet when he talks to you.

  3. Every one of these supposed Thomas corruption stories that I’ve looked into turns out to be media lies. For example, the “son” whose schooling a friend paid for was, in fact, Thomas’s grand-nephew, and Thomas is only required to report gifts to immediate family. Even if we think that that is fishy, the friend had no business before the Court, nor, if I recall correctly, did any of the people called out so far. This is in contrast to Sotomoyer. And, undoubtedly part of the reason for the deflection to Thomas, very different from the Biden families influence-peddling business.

    1. Harlan Crow has no business before the court? Harlan Crow is a mega donor to the Federalist Society which has, according to reporting from the Washington Post, “long supported efforts to move the judiciary to the right.” I think there is some business there.

      If one of the more liberal justices was being flown all over the world by George Soros, given $500,000 vacations for the past 30 years, paid for tuition for a relative that was being raised as their son, bought their mother’s home and renovated it and allowed Mom to live in it rent free, you know the GOP would be lining up to impeach.

    2. Clarence Thomas clearly understood his duty under federal financial disclosure laws to disclose when the tuition for Mark Martin, the grand-nephew he raised as his son, was paid for as a gift by someone other than Harlan Crow. He also understood his duty to disclose his use of private planes, other than when use of that plane was given to him as a gift by Harlan Crow. See Clarence Thomas’s 2002 financial disclosure form here. It is only when such gifts (and much more lavish ones) were given to him by his billionaire buddy Harlan Crow that Clarence Thomas somehow disremember his mandatory legal duty of disclosure. Does that not raise questions for you, DrB?

      In addition, Thomas understands his general duty to recuse himself from cases in which his participation might cause an appearance of impropriety. Since his confirmation in 1991, Thomas has recused himself in 54 cases, including 17 times due to a potential conflict relating to his natural-born son from his first marriage. But Thomas has never once recused himself from a case due to the appearance of a conflict created by his wife, Ginni, who, alone among Supreme Court spouses, is an avid political activist. This includes the case brought to the Court in which Trump unsuccessfully tried to assert executive privilege over the communications of his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and others — this despite there being numerous text messages between Meadows and Ginni Thomas in which she strategies with Meadows on how to keep Trump in office despite his having lost the 2020 presidential election. SCOTUS denied Trump’s executive privilege claim 8-1, with Clarence Thomas being the lone dissenter.

      The point here is that SCOTUS is in dire need of a mandatory code of ethics so that such decisions are not left to each justice’s unfettered and unreviewable discretion — whether that justice be Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, or any of the other seven sitting justices.

  4. I do worry about a lot of things over there in the Ukraine war. It seems to me that Putin is playing a kind of rope-a-dope strategy to bring about a slow attrition of Ukrainian forces against waves of Russian prison conscripts. The unacceptable heavy losses of those conscripts so far seems to go relatively unnoticed in Russia bc their casualties are invisible prisoners, and media in Russia is well controlled. He can then use better trained forces when the time seems right.
    But there are variables that make his game very risky. The Wagner group forces have been poorly supplied, and they may pull out. As Russian casualties mount, and palpable hatred and isolation toward Russia continues, the public can turn more and more against this war. And who knows what the generals are thinking? Surely they are aware of the terrible costs and total lack of any real justification for all this blood-shed, save for a blatant land grab. The battlefield at home can transform pretty quickly, and that is a variable that even Putin cannot control.

    1. Seriously? I just looked at Google images of the Bodhisattva, and none of them have horns. You happen to have picked out one bit of description that fits that. And Moses? SERIOUSLY?

      1. Oh yes, Moses had horns. Well, at least according to St. Jerome’s faulty translation of the Book of Exodus. Michelangelo depicted him with cute little horns, just a couple of inches long, although some medieval artwork puts the Q-Anon Shaman to shame!

      2. The Michelangelo sculpture of Moses on the tomb of Pope Julius II has horns. In art school I was told it was due to a mistranslation of the term “soul”. Not sure if it was from the Greek or Aramaic.

  5. On this day:
    1544 – The Burning of Edinburgh by an English army is the first action of the Rough Wooing.

    1824 – World premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna, Austria. The performance is conducted by Michael Umlauf under the composer’s supervision.

    1832 – Greece’s independence is recognized by the Treaty of London.

    1840 – The Great Natchez Tornado strikes Natchez, Mississippi killing 317 people. It is the second deadliest tornado in United States history.

    1846 – The Cambridge Chronicle, America’s oldest surviving weekly newspaper, is published for the first time in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    1915 – World War I: German submarine U-20 sinks RMS Lusitania, killing 1,198 people, including 128 Americans. Public reaction to the sinking turns many former pro-Germans in the United States against the German Empire.

    1915 – The Republic of China accedes to 13 of the 21 Demands, extending the Empire of Japan’s control over Manchuria and the Chinese economy.

    1920 – Kyiv Offensive: Polish troops led by Józef Piłsudski and Edward Rydz-Śmigły and assisted by a symbolic Ukrainian force capture Kyiv only to be driven out by the Red Army counter-offensive a month later.

    1920 – Treaty of Moscow: Soviet Russia recognizes the independence of the Democratic Republic of Georgia only to invade the country six months later.

    1940 – World War II: The Norway Debate in the British House of Commons begins, and leads to the replacement of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain with Winston Churchill three days later.

    1952 – The concept of the integrated circuit, the basis for all modern computers, is first published by Geoffrey Dummer.

    1986 – Canadian Patrick Morrow becomes the first person to climb each of the Seven Summits.

    1994 – Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream is recovered undamaged after being stolen from the National Gallery of Norway in February.

    2000 – Vladimir Putin is inaugurated as president of Russia.

    1711 – David Hume, Scottish economist, historian, and philosopher (d. 1776).

    1833 – Johannes Brahms, German pianist and composer (d. 1897).

    1840 – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer and educator (d. 1893.

    1861 – Rabindranath Tagore, Indian author and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1941).

    1901 – Gary Cooper, American actor (d. 1961)

    1909 – Edwin H. Land, American scientist and inventor, co-founded the Polaroid Corporation (d. 1991).

    1917 – David Tomlinson, English actor (d. 2000).

    1919 – Eva Perón, Argentinian actress, 25th First Lady of Argentina (d. 1952).

    1940 – Angela Carter, English novelist and short story writer (d. 1992).

    1943 – Peter Carey, Australian novelist and short story writer.

    1945 – Christy Moore, Irish singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1956 – Nicholas Hytner, English director and producer.

    1961 – Sue Black, Scottish anthropologist and academic.

    Disease generally begins that equality which death completes:
    1825 – Antonio Salieri, Italian composer and conductor (b. 1750).

    2000 – Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., American captain, actor, and producer (b. 1909).

    2011 – Big George, English songwriter, producer, and radio host (b. 1957). [Composed the theme tune for Have I Got News for You.]

  6. Re the lamb, I was thinking “pigout” was a French dish, then realized you meant pig out🤓😹 Have always lovec lamb; my parents used to call me Lamb Chop.

  7. I’m skeptical about that woman prays to Shrek as Buddha story, as it’s been floating around the Internet for some time. But even if it were true, since those figures actually exist, what’s the problem? If a historical Jesus really existed, he probably didn’t look like the version we see all over today. But it’s considered pedantic or worse to point that out. And many Africans pray to a very African-looking image of Jesus. If someone respectfully used a figure manufactured to be Shrek, as an object to represent Buddha, I think Buddha would thoroughly approve.

    Note it would be easy to think the horns are just a weird braided hairstyle, something like “pigtails” or “double bun”.

  8. Yes, for all intensive purposes, devotional images can be valid whether or not they tow the line of conventional iconography.

    1. Is “all intensive purposes” meant to be a sly World Laughter Day substitute for “all intents and purposes”?

  9. In re Lady Amherst’s pheasant: Sarah Amherst was the wife of the grand nephew of Jeffrey, 1st Baron Amherst. And this I know as I am currently in East Amherst, Nova Scotia, which, like Amherst itself, was named for him. Shall you care? Well, maybe, as there is a move afoot to change the name of this town as Sir Jeffrey, as he was then, thought of a good wheeze that gained him his barony. He was the fellow who thought that sending blankets used by smallpox patients to the indigenous people of eastern Canada might be rather helpful in his government’s political ends.
    I never think covering up history is a good idea, so I’m willing to endure the shame of living in a community named to celebrate the inventor of germ warfare (the tales of plague corpses being catapulted over the walls of Kaffa in 1345 are now thought apocryphal). I believe there are American towns (in NY for one) named for him too.

    1. Actually, Amherst was the garrison commander at Fort Pitt, formerly Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh) when it was besieged during the Pontiac Rebellion. Surrender was not an option as the soldiers and civilians sheltering therein would be massacred. (This Amherst knew because his mistress, pre-attack, was Chief Pontiac’s wife, who tipped him off about Pontiac’s intentions.). Amherst and his junior officers hit upon the stratagem to break the siege by making a gift of the famous blankets to be presented at a peace parley outside the fort. Whether they actually did this or whether it would have worked continues to be debated today. In any event the Indians abandoned the siege when a British relief force showed up.

      Smallpox epidemics frequently arose naturally among natives and Europeans alike. The Europeans were carrying out germ warfare just by being here.

      Squeamishness about germ warfare is a purely 20th-century preoccupation. (Corpses aren’t contagious. They stink so badly that people won’t go near them.). The main objection to its use, like gas, is its unpredictability and risk of blowing back and sickening one’s own troops or civilians. In Amherst’s situation in the 1760s, with the palisade socially distancing his people from the Indians and only troops with healed pocks to handle the blankets, the plan would have been practicable, reasonably safe, and certainly justified, given the alternative.

      Amherst was not a nice man. He regarded the Indians as thoroughly despicable. He might have been more enthusiastic than he ought to have been at the prospect of using smallpox to avoid his garrison being massacred.

  10. In Sweden, you can get smoked leg of lamb. It’s called får fiol (sheep fiddle, because it nominally resembles the shape of a fiddle) and is fantastic. Leg of reindeer also lends itself to being smoked.

      1. I think prosciutto is salt-brined and aged a good long while. Not sure about speck. No idea whether får fiol is aged after smoking.

        1. I googled får fiol to see if I could find out more, but all the sites are in Swedish and I couldn’t find an English translation. Oh well…a true regional specialty. Nice.

          BTW, speck is the German/Austrian version of prosciutto. Same texture, dryness, saltiness and cut of meat, but it’s smoked as well. I actually prefer it to prosciutto though it’s not a substitute.

          1. Not really. Prosciutto is simply ther Italian word for ham, in all of its forms. I buy boiled ham (not smoked) twice a week, imported from Italy. You’re right about Speck, though, althoug the word is also used, both literally and metaphorically, to refer to fat.

  11. My beloved Mitzy was mauled and killed by my dogs yesterday. I have difficulty to cope. She was such an affectionate cat. I don’t understand how it happened. She was an inside cat, and the dogs are outside dogs.

    1. That’s horrible, very sorry to hear. My parents had a cat that was mauled by one of their dogs, just out of the blue. My mother thought at first the dog was playing with a toy, until she realized. Traumatizing and heart breaking. 🙁

  12. I wonder why ProPublica, that house of investigative journalists who stand up for democracy, didn’t uncover the Sotomayor crime. There seems to be a trend here.

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