Thursday: Hili dialogue

May 11, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s Thursday, May 11, 2023, and National “Eat What You Want” Day. Why the scare quotes? Are we really NOT supposed to eat what we want? And what if what I want I can’t get?

It’s also Hostess Cupcake Day (a staple of my childhood packed lunches) and World Ego Awareness Day (it’s a thin day for holidays).  I haven’t had a Hostess Cupcake in years, and I’m also partial to their Sno-Balls, the coconut-covered marshmallow version. That’s  what I “want to eat” today.

Remember these?

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the May 11Wikipedia page.

Wine of the Day:  I had my T-bone tonight, and this is the wine I drank with it. It was only $14, but was very good. Not a world-beater, but what do you expect for that price? That said, it was an excellent wine for the money, and I’d recommend reader lay in a case of it. The peppery, blackcurrant flavor of Syrah was clear; this is a gutsy wine that could improve for several more year. And of course, this is the kind of wine you need with a rare steak.

My wine guru Robert Parker gave the wine a very high rating: 93. Here’s his take on the 2011:

There are 3,000 cases of the naked, virginal, unoaked 2011 Bastide Miraflors Vieilles Vignes made from 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache aged in concrete. The difficult economic situation in the Languedoc-Roussillon corridor is being exploited to the maximum by importer Eric Solomon. The fact that wines such as this can be purchased is unbelievable. Largely an artisanal wine, it is brilliantly pure with a stunning nose of spring flowers, blackberries, cassis and earth. It is almost incomprehensible that something of this quality, complexity and richness can be purchased for $25 to $50, much less $10 to $12. The 3,000 cases should be gobbled up as quickly as they hit retailers’ shelves. I am honored to share my excitement about this amazing wine with readers.



Da Nooz:

*The serial liar and newly elected Representative from New York, George Santos, is in big trouble, facing multiple federal charges. He will be found guilty of some of them. Nevertheless, he’s not resigning:

Representative George Santos, the Republican whose victory in New York was soon followed by revelations that he had falsified his biography on the campaign trail, has been charged by federal prosecutors in a wide-ranging indictment accusing him of wire fraud, money laundering, stealing public funds and lying on federal disclosure forms.

Mr. Santos, 34, pleaded not guilty to all charges at a hearing in federal court on Long Island on Wednesday afternoon. He was released from custody on a $500,000 bond that was secured by three individuals, whose identities are not public, and his travel will be restricted to New York, Washington and places in between.

At a chaotic scene outside the courthouse, Mr. Santos told reporters that he thought the charges were a product of a “witch hunt,” choosing the same phrase that former president Donald J. Trump has used to describe his own inquiries. “I have to keep fighting to defend my innocence,” Mr. Santos said, “and I’m going to do that.”

There are three sets of charges. First, he’s accused of soliciting money for a so-called “political fund” whose money went straight into Santos’s pocket for goodies. Second, he’s accused of fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits during the pandemic, getting paid $24,000 while he was earning an income of $120,000 from an investment firm. Finally, he’s accused of making false financial disclosures during his congressional campaigns, and also lying about his salary and his wealth. These allegations won’t be hard to prove, You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to predict that in a year Santos will no longer be in Congress, and that’s he’s bound for doing some hard time.

*Title 42, the pandemic-induced restrictions on immigration to the U.S. installed by the Trump administration, expire at midnight tonight. Thousands of central and South Americans, having heard rumors that the borders will be flung open now, are making their way to the U.S./Mexican border, and the government is desperately trying to deal with this.  The L.A. Times’s new editorial criticizes Biden’s quick fixes for being ineffectual:

Severely limiting the option to apply for asylum has resulted in tens of thousands of migrants stranded on the Mexican side of the border in Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, often in squalid or unsafe conditions and subject to crime and violence. Many observers expect that when Title 42 lifts, migrants will rush to the border with the mistaken idea that restrictions have been dropped, overwhelming Border Patrol officials. The Biden administration is sending 1,500 active-duty National Guard soldiers to help monitor the border. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he is deploying a “tactical border force” to secure the crossing.

In recent months, Biden has enacted policies offering other ways for people to apply for asylum. Migrants at the border will continue to be allowed to apply for asylum via an app that has had operational problems, requiring people to spend weeks trying to make an appointment. The U.S. is setting up asylum processing centers in other countries, starting with Colombia and Guatemala. Migrants can also apply from their native countries for U.S. residents to sponsor them. Those who arrive without using any of these options run the risk of being deported to their home countries. Migrants from countries that do not have diplomatic relations with the U.S., such as Venezuela and Cuba, will be sent to Mexico.

These policies are inadequate, however, because they do not offer a solution that might address the reasons that compel people to seek asylum. Nor do they acknowledge that the U.S. economy has for decades relied on cheap labor by undocumented immigrants.

. . .Much of the blame falls on Republican legislators for their anti-immigrant rhetoric as they play to a base that does not want to acknowledge the role that migrants play in our economy. But Democrats share some blame for failing to adopt reform measures when they had control of Congress.

Instead, politicians rely on ineffective measures to scare migrants into staying away or use them as political pawns. Until Congress and the president can find a way to reach consensus on immigration reform, the crisis at our borders will only continue to get worse.

The Republicans want immigration restrictions because they fear Hispanic people won’t vote for them; the Democrats (well, at least the “progressive ones”) don’t want any restrictions becuase, without saying so, they want open borders: restricting immigration is seen as bigotry. I have no solution to this problem, and thought that Congress would deal with it (it was initially Kamala Harris’s Job #1). They are not going to

*I am NOT getting used to high inflation because I’m a cheapskate, and every week, it seems, my grocery bills get higher. Inflation overall is falling, but only because of lower gas prices. The Wall Street Journal warns us, “We may be getting used to high inflation, and that’s bad news.”

. Just 9% of Gallup respondents now call inflation the most important problem, behind government leadership and the “economy in general” and just ahead of immigration and guns. It has barely come up in Washington’s fight over raising the debt ceiling.

Good news? Maybe not. It may mean people are getting used to higher inflation, which would be very bad news. The more people behave as if high inflation is here to stay, the likelier it is to stay. That would force the Federal Reserve to choose between inducing a potentially deep recession to force inflation lower, or giving up on its 2% inflation target.

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that consumer prices rose 4.9% in the year through April, the lowest in two years and down substantially from 9.1% last June, mostly because gasoline prices have fallen. That drop helps explain why people aren’t obsessing as much over inflation, though they are still obsessing more than before the pandemic.

And yet inflation is very much still a problem. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy, is a better predictor than overall inflation of underlying price trends. Core inflation was 5.5% in April, down from 5.6% in March. On a monthly basis, core prices rose 0.4%, equivalent to 5% at an annual rate, in line with the past four months. Excluding shelter, core services prices, which the Fed watches closely, rose a much more tame 0.1% for the month, according to independent analyst Omair Sharif. Wages, which strongly influence service prices, grew 4% to 5% through the first four months of the year, too high to be consistent with 2% inflation.

Two percent is the Fed’s goal of inflation rates, and trying to meet that may cause trouble. Already businesses are predicting 5-6% per year, much higher than previous predictions.  Are you ready to pay $10 for a dozen eggs?

*Dogfight! Jezebel calls out the New York Times for publishing a softball and sometimes worshipful profile of fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, about to serve 11 years in jail for her Theranos scam. It’s not that bad, for it does indict Holmes for her crimes, but the big question is whether Holmes new makeover (loving mom, renamed “Liz”, etc.) is just another scam.

And the guilty article:

From the NYT:

On the second day we spent together, Mr. Evans asked me what the most surprising part of spending so much time with Ms. Holmes was. I told him it’s that I didn’t expect her to be so … normal?

If you didn’t know she was that Elizabeth, whose trajectory launched a cottage industry of podcasts, TV shows, Halloween costumes and groupies who sold blonde wigs outside her trial, then you might sit next to her at the Lucha Libre taco shop in Mission Hills without thinking twice.

. .  I was admittedly swept up in Liz as an authentic and sympathetic person. She’s gentle and charismatic, in a quiet way. My editor laughed at me when I shared these impressions, telling me (and I quote), “Amy Chozick, you got rolled!” I vigorously disagreed! You don’t know her like I do! But then, something very strange happened. I worked my way through a list of Ms. Holmes’s friends, family and longtime supporters, whom she and Mr. Evans suggested I speak to. One of these friends said Ms. Holmes had genuine intentions at Theranos and didn’t deserve a lengthy prison sentence. Then, this person requested anonymity to caution me not to believe everything Ms. Holmes says.

Ms. Holmes and I sat at the kitchen table alone, talking. She didn’t seem like a hero or a villain. She seemed, like most people, somewhere in between. As Ms. Holmes broke down thinking about what her children will be like in 11 years, I kept going back to her central promise at Theranos: The technology that she invented would, in her words, create “a world in which no one ever has to say goodbye too soon.”

And there she was, preparing to do just that.

She also works from home doing telephone counseling for rape. The impression you get (and remember, I am biased against her because of all I know) is that she is not only sanitizing her image, but still thinks she didn’t do anything wrong.

A few words from Jezebel:

You see? Holmes dropped the deep voice, had a couple babies, can’t stomach R-rated movies, and is a very normal tradwife called “Liz” now. That whole thing where she conned people out of billions pretending she could do medical tests for all kinds of things with just a single drop of blood when she wasn’t remotely close to being able to do that was just a youthful phase. Since then, she’s actually been volunteering for a rape crisis hotline, because the first voice someone wants to hear after they’ve been violently sexually assaulted and don’t know where to turn is definitely that of the the world’s most infamous liars and frauds. And the reason we know all of these things about “Liz” Holmes now is because a New York Times writer fell deeply in love with her over tacos, or something.

. . . In short: Chozick got rolled. Her editor told her she got rolled. And then the paper published the whole glowing piece anyway for some reason, clearly helping to rehabilitate this white collar (and white) criminal’s reputation ahead of her prison sentence—right at the time that Holmes still trying to get out of having to serve that sentence, or at least hoping to be let out early due to having small children.

Do you know how many women in jail who did far less than what Holmes did would like to be let out due to being new mothers? Do you know how many of them get New York Times profiles? If Holmes were anything but a young white woman (with “piercing blue eyes,” as the piece notes), do you think she would be walking around the San Diego Zoo “in a bucket hat and sunglasses, her newborn strapped to her chest and swathed in a Baby Yoda nursing blanket” with a Times reporter and getting photographed in soft, flattering light on the beach with her family for a profile right before heading to prison?

The author of those words, Jezebel‘s Laura Bassett, is clearly angry, and I’m not happy about that profile, either.

*Yesterday the AP reported that Iranian women are increasingly forgoing the supposedly manditory hijab, and the government is getting antsy about it.

Billboards across Iran’s capital proclaim that women should wear their mandatory headscarves to honor their mothers. But perhaps for the first time since the chaotic days following Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, more women — both young and old — choose not to do so.

Such open defiance comes after months of protests over the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police, for wearing her hijab too loosely. While the demonstrations appear to have cooled, the choice by some women not to cover their hair in public poses a new challenge to the country’s theocracy. The women’s pushback also lays bare schisms in Iran that had been veiled for decades.

Authorities have made legal threats and closed down some businesses serving women not wearing the hijab. Police and volunteers issue verbal warnings in subways, airports and other public places. Text messages have targeted drivers who had women without head covering in their vehicles.

However, analysts in Iran warn that the government could reignite dissent if it pushes too hard. The protests erupted at a difficult time for the Islamic Republic, currently struggling with economic woes brought on by its standoff with the West over its rapidly advancing nuclear program.

Some women said they’ve had enough — no matter the consequence. They say they are fighting for more freedom in Iran and a better future for their daughters.

In the meantime the government is trying to prevent girls from going to school, and is likely the source of the weird chemical attacks against many Iranian schoolgirls.  But the protests continue, and the government seems unable to control them:

Iran and neighboring Taliban-controlled Afghanistan are the only countries where the hijab remains mandatory for women. Before protests erupted in September, it was rare to see women without headscarves, though some occasionally let their hijab fall to their shoulders. Today, it’s routine in some areas of Tehran to see women without headscarves.

But the theocracy is pushing back:

Meanwhile, government offices no longer provide services to women not covering their hair, after some had in recent months. The head of the country’s track and field federation, Hashem Siami, resigned this weekend after some participants in an all-women half-marathon in the city of Shiraz competed without the hijab.

There are signs the crackdown could escalate.

Some clerics have urged deploying soldiers, as well as the all-volunteer Basij force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, to enforce the hijab law. The Guard on Monday reportedly seized an Iranian fishing boat for carrying women not wearing the hijab near Hormuz Island, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency.

Police also say that surveillance cameras with “artificial intelligence” will find women not wearing their head covering. A slick video shared by Iranian media suggested that surveillance footage would be matched against ID photographs, though it’s unclear if such a system is currently operational .

If there is a revolution in Iran, and I’m hoping there is one but thinking that it won’t happen, it will be due largely to the women: the women who are sick and tired of oppression (and get little support from their Western feminist sisters), and have been spurred on by the killing of Mahsa Amini, the George Floyd of Iran.

*Here’s the results of yesterday’s poll on whether the government is likely to default. Most readers said “no”:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is curious.

Hili: Over there is something that is not here.
A: So what?
Hili: I have to see it.
In Polish:
Hili: Tam jest coś, czego nie ma tu.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Muszę to zobaczyć.

. . . and a photo of baby Kulka:


From America’s Cultural Decline into Idiocy, how to find Kentucky on a map:

It works, too!:

From Merilee:

From Jesus of the Day, showing the importance of good sentence structure:

From Masih. a very sad video:

From Malcolm: a Dutch boy enjoys the rain:

I tweeted this one, though I found it on Facebook (note: there is NO sensitive content!)


From Luana. Is Kamala becoming like Joe with the garbled words?

A comment from Larry the Cat via Simon:

Two the Auschwitz Memorial, first, a man who survived over four years in the camps:

. . . and two who didn’t:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb, who’s risking his life in Texas.  Ignore the superfluous apostrophe in the first one:

From a research fellow at the University of Melbourne:

Matthew took some time to get this, but I’m proud to say I got it instantly:

27 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1812 – Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the British House of Commons.

    1997 – Deep Blue, a chess-playing supercomputer, defeats Garry Kasparov in the last game of the rematch, becoming the first computer to beat a world-champion chess player in a classic match format.

    1998 – India conducts three underground atomic tests in Pokhran.

    2022 – The Burmese military executes at least 37 villagers during the Mon Taing Pin massacre in Sagaing, Myanmar.

    1752 – Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, German physician, physiologist, and anthropologist (d. 1840). [Considered to be a main founder of zoology and anthropology as comparative, scientific disciplines.]

    1875 – Harriet Quimby, American pilot and screenwriter (d. 1912).

    1881 – Theodore von Kármán, Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, and engineer (d. 1963). [Responsible for crucial advances in aerodynamics characterizing supersonic and hypersonic airflow. The human-defined threshold of outer space is named the “Kármán line” in recognition of his work.]

    1888 – Irving Berlin, Belarusian-American pianist and composer (d. 1989).

    1894 – Martha Graham, American dancer and choreographer (d. 1991).

    1902 – Edna Ernestine Kramer, American mathematician (d. 1984).

    1904 – Salvador Dalí, Spanish artist (d. 1989).

    1911 – Phil Silvers, American actor and comedian (d. 1985).

    1918 – Richard Feynman, American physicist and engineer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1988).

    1941 – Eric Burdon, English musician.

    1963 – Natasha Richardson, English actress (d. 2009).

    We begin to die as soon as we are born, and the end is linked to the beginning:
    1889 – John Cadbury, English businessman and philanthropist, founded the Cadbury Company (b. 1801).

    1981 – Odd Hassel, Norwegian chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1897).

    1981 – Bob Marley, Jamaican singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1945).

    1988 – Kim Philby, British-Soviet double agent (b. 1912). [The “third man” in the Cambridge spy ring.]

    2001 – Douglas Adams, English novelist and screenwriter (b. 1952).

    2003 – Noel Redding, English bass player (b. 1945).

    2020 – Jerry Stiller, American comedian, actor (b. 1927).

    1. My favorite from the eminently quotable Feynman: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

        1. Thanks for the link. It’s a nice morning here in southeastern Virginia to revisit a little Feynman, the instrument (according to him he was actually the cover for Gen Abramson’s guidance) of throwing the BS flag on NASA management in the Rogers Hearings on the Space Shuttle Columbia accident.

      1. “I also looked into extrasensory perception and PSI phenomena, and the latest craze there was Uri Geller, a man who is supposed to be able to bend keys by rubbing them with his finger. So I went to his hotel room, on his invitation, to see a demonstration of both mind reading and bending keys. He didn’t do any mind reading that
        succeeded; nobody can read my mind, Iguess. And my boy held a key and Geller rubbed it, and nothing happened. Then he told us ti works better under water, and so you can picture all of us standing in the bathroom with the water
        turned on and thekey under it, and him rubbing the key with his finger. Nothing happened. ”

        How much you wanna bet ALL keys are bent slightly, and if you simply ignore that, then a guy rubs it, then goes “look it’s bent!” It’s just because now you’re paying real attention to observing it?

        Using my “IT’S” skills for that and reading it in Feynman’s voice.

  2. I’ve said before that the Biden Administration has all the tools it needs to deal with the flood of “refugees” at the borders. They were in place under Trump, but the Biden Administration purposefully removed them. What is happening is what the Administration wants to happen, but they refuse to be honest about it. Mayorkas has been on the Hill any number of times saying there is no problem and the White House spokeswomen have said the same thing. They just do what they want, lie about it, and the press gives them a pass.

    As for Kamala Harris, has she ever been able to get out three sentences without becoming incomprehensible?

  3. Re. Elisabeth Holmes: we as a society need to develop more awareness of what sociopathy is and how it presents, otherwise we are doomed. Holmes checks pretty much every box. So does Donald Trump, and so does Elon Musk. A country where the most influential “politician” and the richest entrepreneur are both pathological liars devoid of a conscience, is in deep shit. Holmes is a B-league player in comparison, but can serve as a useful example how far you can get with nothing but an unlimited supply of chutzpah.

      1. As Stephen hinted I think it’s a play on square roots, if you imagine the symbol as a root. But it seems to me that the roots should have been drawn as straight line segments with right angles between them, or something. The “under a root” connection is sort of lame, but hey, there’s no accounting for taste in humor.

      2. I didn’t either until I saw the explanation in the expanded Twitter thread. I think it relies on a form of words that is not universal in teaching math. I had never heard it before.
        (It’s a pretty lame joke, says I who didn’t get it.)

  4. The serial liar and newly elected Representative from New York, George Santos, is in big trouble, facing multiple federal charges.

    Jeez, I’m old enough to remember when George Santos claimed to be a Jew, one whose grandparents twice barely escaped the Holocaust — and when Kevin McCarthy, then House minority leader and now Speaker of the House, bragged that Santos’s election increased the number of Jews in the Republican congressional caucus to a pitiful record of three. (There are 35 Jewish members in the current Democratic congressional caucus, including 10 in the upper chamber.)

    Santos has apparently abandoned his claim that he’s a Jew, though he still claims to be “Jew-ish,” which I suppose means his indictment on seven serious felony charges in federal court in NY isn’t so much a shanda as it is shanda-ish. (Santos’s indictment is also shanda-ish for gay Republicans, given that Santos is the only gay Republican elected to congress for the first time after coming out — the few other gay Republicans who have served in congress were all forced out of the closet after taking office.)

    Then again, in today’s GOP, being indicted on federal felony charges may burnish Santos’s credentials for a sparkling future in Republican politics. Hell, he might make the perfect running-mate for Donald Trump — if he qualifies for the office under the US constitution as a ‘natural-born” US citizen. (Santos has given inconsistent statements regarding his birthplace — whether the USA or Brazil — just as he has given inconsistent statements on pretty much every other topic). SHOW US DA BIRF CERTIFICATE!!1!!.

  5. At a chaotic scene outside the courthouse, Mr. Santos told reporters that he thought the charges were a product of a “witch hunt,” choosing the same phrase that former president Donald J. Trump has used to describe his own inquiries. “I have to keep fighting to defend my innocence,” Mr. Santos said, “and I’m going to do that.”

    Santos also said at his spontaneous little presser outside the courthouse that this experience will give him material to write a book — which brought to mind the line by the character Raoul Duke in the novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, when Duke thought he was about to get pinched for defrauding an innkeeper at the Mint Hotel: “Many fine works of literature have been written in prison.” 🙂

    1. When I hear Donald Trump complain about being the victim of “the greatest witch hunt of all times”, I think, yeah, that’s appropriate, seeing how he’s one of the greatest witches (or rather, warlocks?) of our time.
      I’m only half-joking – Scott Adams has described Trump as a wizard, someone who is very good at using words to bend reality – in particular, the minds of other people – to his will, and that seems to be a good description.
      Santos, by comparison, is a bumbling sorcerer’s apprentice who puts a lot of work into defrauding people for tiny amounts of money. (If he started thinking bigger, he might at least rise to the level of Elisabeth Holmes.) But, for all I care, burn him anyway.

  6. Kamala Harris’s wording is infelicitous but not lacking in sense.

    Per the Cambridge Dictionary, “make history” is an idiom that means to do something important that has not been done before and will be recorded publicly and remembered for a long time.

    Thus, what she said meant: “During Women’s History Month, we celebrate and we honor the women who ‘did something important, etc.’ throughout history.”

  7. Regarding the L.A. Times editorial, I found this line absurd: “These policies are inadequate, however, because they do not offer a solution that might address the reasons that compel people to seek asylum.”

    Is the U.S. now responsible for the laggard economies of the countries these economic refugees come from? Should the U.S. invade Venezuela to depose Maduro?

    1. I found it absurd as well. Liberals are about half as persuaded as conservatives by the RPs constant propaganda that the DP is the cause of all immigration problems, even the imaginary ones.

    2. “The Republicans want immigration restrictions because they fear Hispanic people won’t vote for them.”

      Nope. That’s pure projection — Democrats reject immigration restrictions in part because they expect immigrants to vote for them. And certainly Republicans understand that. However, Republicans want immigration restrictions for much deeper and less cynical reasons, including that immigrants allowed in in large numbers and without vetting are unlikely to assimilate well.

  8. US food prices compare unfavourably with those in the UK, at least in Oregon, having had a discussion on this with my Oregonian buddy. It was suggested to me by another person, that ethanol production pushes up food prices.

    What say ye?

    1. I tried to look up how much farmland in the US is devoted to producing biofuels. I found this: , which comes up with an estimate of 50 mio acres in 2014 – roughly 6% of total agricultural area in the US, and probably enough to cause a noticeable (but not dramatic) increase in prices.

      Generally, growing corn for biofuels sounds like a great idea in principle, but when you do the numbers and consider the side effects… it’s just not. The energy efficiency is shit – if you used the same area for photovoltaics, you could get something like 100x more energy, while at the same time allowing for much more biodiversity, with less use of fertilizers, pesticides, you name it.

  9. At the risk of seeming to like Elizabeth Holmes, let me point out that she mostly scammed wealthy influential investors, relieving them of the money they made off the rest of us. (Whether her blood tests harmed someone isn’t known). She deserves some prison time for fraud but she isnt in the category of procuress Ghislaine Maxwell or sexual predators of underage teens like Jeffrey Epstein or even truly repulsive Harvey Weinstein. As Bertold Brecht said, is it worse to own a bank or to rob it? However I would prefer more legal methods of separating the rich from their hoards, like higher taxes or sumptuary laws.

Leave a Reply