Thursday: Hili dialogue

May 18, 2023 • 6:45 am

Good morning on Thursday, May 18, 2023: National Cheese Soufflé Day.

Photo and recipe here

It’s also Ascension, Hummus Day, International Museum Day, National Visit Your Relatives Day, World AIDS Vaccine DayIndependence Day (Somaliland) (unrecognized; click the link to see why), and National Speech Pathologist Day, and Ascension Day, the day Jesus is supposed to have gone up to Heaven after 40 days of appearing to his disciples (Easter) after he was crucified and resurrected.  He then took his disciples up to the Mount of Olives and. . .  . .zoomed up to meet his Father/alternative morph.

Reader Steve shows one reconstruction of the event:


There will be no “readers’ wildlife photos” today as I am running out of photos, none are coming in, and I have to ration them. Sorry!

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the May 18 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*It’s not yet clear whether anything will happen to keep the U.S. from reaching its debt limit on June 1, at which point most of the government will shut down. According to the NYT, the House Democrats (in the minority, of course) are contemplating their own maneuver, one that seems unlikely to work.

House Democrats pushed forward on Wednesday with a procedural move that could force a vote to increase the debt limit should negotiations between President Biden and Republicans collapse, moving despite signs of progress in the bipartisan talks to advance a long-shot Plan B to avert a default.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic leader, wrote to his colleagues urging them to quickly sign a discharge petition, which can automatically force a House vote on legislation if a majority of 218 members sign it.

There are only 213 Democrats in the House, so they’d have to pull in some Republicans.  Still, things haven’t reached a standstill vis-à-vis negotiations:

Though Mr. Jeffries noted there were signs after Tuesday’s White House meeting hosted by Mr. Biden that a “real pathway exists to find an acceptable, bipartisan resolution that prevents a default,” he said Democrats must take all possible steps to avert a crisis.

At the same time, the president has indicated openness to considering adding new work requirements for recipients of food stamps and other federal aid, a Republican demand opposed by Democrats in the House and Senate. Mr. Biden, before he left for Japan on Wednesday for a meeting of the Group of 7 nations, sought to downplay whatever concessions he might give, characterizing the potential changes to benefit requirements as “not anything of any consequence.”

The Republican stand here reminds me of the old GOP “welfare queen” trope. A single mother with kids, for example, has to work to get food stamps?  But Biden has clearly moved, as previously he said he would accept no Republican conditions on his demand that the debt ceiling be raised.

*Well, the Supreme Court has surprisingly accepted some new restrictions on guns.  Recently my state of Illinois enacted a ban on both AR-15 style rifles and large ammunition magazines. It was appealed, but the Supreme Court swatted away the appeal and left the ban in place.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday left in place for now Illinois’ new ban on the purchase and sale of AR-15-style rifles and large ammunition magazines, in the court’s first consideration of gun-control legislation since its conservative majority made it more difficult for governments to justify such restrictions.

The court without comment turned down a request from a gun shop owner from Naperville and a national gun rights organization to keep both the state law and a local measure passed by Naperville from being implemented while legal battles continue. The order comes as the nation has recently weathered dozens of mass killings, many of them involving the kinds of weapons Illinois and the city seek to ban.

It is not unusual in emergency requests for the court not to provide its reasoning. There were no noted dissents to the order.

The Supreme Court’s action follows a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit to allow the laws to take effect while courts consider constitutional challenges. Gun shop owners and other organizations have said the laws violate the Supreme Court’s decision last year in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. v. Bruen that extended Second Amendment protections.

Now this is an emergency ruling, and the paper notes that the Seventh Circuit appellate court will hear the case later, as different judges below that level have ruled in different ways. It’s still possible that in the end, the case will go back to the Supreme Court and the Illinois law overturned on the case’s “merits.”

*In a speech for Nakba Day at the UN yesterday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a number of completely ridiculous statements and was given a standing ovation for them. (Yes, it’s the UN, Jake!)

Here are some things that Abbas said at the UN:

 “Britain and the United States, in particular, bear direct moral and political responsibility for the Nakba of the Palestinian people. These two countries participated in turning our people in victims, when they decided to plant a foreign entity in our historical homeland, for their own colonialist purposes.

“The truth is that these countries, the Western countries, wanted to get rid of the Jews and to benefit from them in Palestine. They wanted to kill two birds with one stone.

“The false Zionist and Israeli Claims continue… They cannot avoid lying… They lie And lie, like Goebbels [Said]: ‘lie And lie, until people believe it'”

“Israel has been digging [underneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque] for 30 years, in an attempt to find anything that would prove its [past] existence there, but they did not find anything. It is not me saying this. The Israeli historians and archeologists said this. They said: ‘We could not find anything. We have nothing here.’ So why lie? They dug underneath Al-Aqsa and above [sic] it… They dug everywhere but did not find anything.

This is Jew hatred, plain and simple. It is not criticism of the present Israeli government, but simple anti-Zionism, which of course is anti-Semitism. As Newsweek wrote:

In a statement ahead of yesterday’s event, the UN said it aimed to “highlight that the noble goals of justice and peace require recognizing the reality and history of the Palestinian people’s plight and ensuring the fulfillment of their inalienable rights.”

If the UN was so concerned with “recognizing the reality of history,” it would have recalled that in 1947, the local Jewish leadership voted in favor of the UN Partition Plan for the creation of two states, whereas the Arabs rejected it and launched a merciless war of annihilation against the Jewish State the day after its establishment.

*As I noted yesterday, a court ruled that Theranos grifter Elizabeth Holmes could not remain free while she appealed her 11+ year sentence for wire fraud. Now she’s been ordered to report to federal prison in just two weeks.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes must report to prison by May 30, a judge said Wednesday, after a court denied her request to stay out pending appeal.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday denied her request to stay out on bail, saying Holmes’s appeal doesn’t raise a substantial question of law and that even if it did, it is unlikely that it would be enough to overturn her fraud conviction.

Holmes, the disgraced founder of blood-testing startup Theranos, was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud against the company’s investors in January 2022. She was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.

Later Tuesday, Holmes and her former second-in-command Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who was also convicted of fraud at Theranos, were jointly ordered by a lower court to pay $452 million in restitution to investors, including $125 million to Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal. The federal government had previously asked for more than $800 million in restitution, according to court filings.

. . . The district court recommended that Ms. Holmes serve her time at a federal prison camp in Bryan, Texas, that allows for family visitation.

This link shows how family visitation (which is not “conjugal visitation”) works in federal prisons.

Holmes doesn’t have any money left, though her husband seems pretty well off. Does that mean that they can take some of his salary to repay the investors? Calling all lawyers!

*The NYT reports on a new study in Nature (I haven’t read it yet) showing a somewhat complex origin of modern Homo sapiens.

Scientists have revealed a surprisingly complex origin of our species, rejecting the long-held argument that modern humans arose from one place in Africa during one period in time.

By analyzing the genomes of 290 living people, researchers concluded that modern humans descended from at least two populations that coexisted in Africa for a million years before merging in several independent events across the continent. The findings were published on Wednesday in Nature.

“There is no single birthplace,” said Eleanor Scerri, an evolutionary archaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for Geoarchaeology in Jena, Germany, who was not involved in the new study. “It really puts a nail in the coffin of that idea.”

Paleoanthropologists and geneticists have found evidence pointing to Africa as the origin of our species. The oldest fossils that may belong to modern humans, dating back as far as 300,000 years, have been unearthed there. So were the oldest stone tools used by our ancestors.

. . . The researchers analyzed DNA from a range of African groups, including the Mende, farmers who live in Sierra Leone in West Africa; the Gumuz, a group descended from hunter-gatherers in Ethiopia; the Amhara, a group of Ethiopian farmers; and the Nama, a group of hunter-gatherers in South Africa.

. . .The researchers concluded that as far back as a million years ago, the ancestors of our species existed in two distinct populations. Dr. Henn and her colleagues call them Stem1 and Stem2.

About 600,000 years ago, a small group of humans budded off from Stem1 and went on to become the Neanderthals. But Stem1 endured in Africa for hundreds of thousands of years after that, as did Stem2.

If Stem1 and Stem2 had been entirely separate from each other, they would have accumulated a large number of distinct mutations in their DNA. Instead, Dr. Henn and her colleagues found that they had remained only moderately different — about as distinct as living Europeans and West Africans are today. The scientists concluded that people had moved between Stem1 and Stem2, pairing off to have children and mixing their DNA.

The two Stem populations then merged twice (each about 120,000 years ago), with one merger giving rise to populations in southern Africa and the other giving rise to eastern and western African populations who were the ancestors of H. sapiens that eventually left Africa and populated the world.

This part is questionable:

Dr. Scerri speculated that living in a network of mingling populations across Africa might have allowed modern humans to survive while Neanderthals became extinct. In that arrangement, our ancestors could hold onto more genetic diversity, which in turn might have helped them endure shifts in the climate, or even evolve new adaptations.

“This diversity at the root of our species may have been ultimately the key to our success,” Dr. Scerri said.

I don’t know if this is some kind of nod to DEI, but even a moderately small population of animals contains a large proportion of the heritable diversity, though not necessarily very rare alleles. The postulation about genetic diversity being important presupposes that the Stem populations were quite small, and I don’t think we have evidence for that.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is haughty:

Szaron: Do you have a moment?
Hili: No.
In Polish:
Szaron: Czy masz chwilę czasu?
Hili: Nie.
And a picture of Baby Kulka with the caption, “The third ‘tot’ in Paulina’s picture” (in Polish: “I to trzecie ‘maleństwo’ sfotografowane przez Paulinę”).


From America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy:

From Divy:

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

From Masih: 200 days in solitary in Iran for rapping about. . . freedom!

Two Barry. Why did a python swallow a beach towel?

In this one, he says, “At one point you can see the cat thinking, ‘What is your problem?'”

From Malcolm: Evil cat faces!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, today we have some survivors:

Tweets from Matthew. First, one he calls “natural selection gone mad”.  I have no idea why this pattern evolved.

Cat benefactor!

Look at this legless lizard! (NOT A SNAKE!). Greg thinks that this is the species shown below:

14 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1096 – First Crusade: Around 800 Jews are massacred in Worms, Germany.

    1593 – Playwright Thomas Kyd’s accusations of heresy lead to an arrest warrant for Christopher Marlowe.

    1652 – Slavery in Rhode Island is abolished, although the law is not rigorously enforced.

    1756 – The Seven Years’ War begins when Great Britain declares war on France.

    1848 – Opening of the first German National Assembly (Nationalversammlung) in Frankfurt, Germany.

    1860 – United States presidential election: Abraham Lincoln wins the Republican Party presidential nomination over William H. Seward, who later becomes the United States Secretary of State.

    1896 – The United States Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that the “separate but equal” doctrine is constitutional.

    1912 – The first Indian film, Shree Pundalik by Dadasaheb Torne, is released in Mumbai.

    1917 – World War I: The Selective Service Act of 1917 is passed, giving the President of the United States the power of conscription.

    1927 – The Bath School disaster: Forty-five people, including many children, are killed by bombs planted by a disgruntled school-board member in Bath Township, Michigan.

    1944 – Deportation of Crimean Tatars by the Soviet Union. [Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well.]

    1953 – Jacqueline Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier.

    1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 10 is launched.

    1974 – Nuclear weapons testing: Under project Smiling Buddha, India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon becoming the sixth nation to do so.

    1990 – In France, a modified TGV train achieves a new rail world speed record of 515.3 km/h (320.2 mph).

    1991 – Northern Somalia declares independence from the rest of Somalia as the Republic of Somaliland.

    1994 – Israeli troops finish withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, ceding the area to the Palestinian National Authority to govern.

    2005 – A second photo from the Hubble Space Telescope confirms that Pluto has two additional moons, Nix and Hydra.

    2009 – The LTTE are defeated by the Sri Lankan government, ending almost 26 years of fighting between the two sides.

    2019 – United States presidential election: Joe Biden announces his presidential campaign.

    1048 – Omar Khayyám, Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet (d. 1131).

    1850 – Oliver Heaviside, English engineer, mathematician, and physicist (d. 1925).

    1872 – Bertrand Russell, British mathematician, historian, and philosopher, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970).

    1897 – Frank Capra, Italian-American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1991).

    1905 – Ruth Alexander, pioneering American pilot (d. 1930).

    1909 – Fred Perry, English tennis player and academic (d. 1995).

    1912 – Perry Como, American singer and television host (d. 2001).

    1912 – Walter Sisulu, South African politician (d. 2003).

    1941 – Miriam Margolyes, English-Australian actress and singer.

    1944 – W. G. Sebald, German novelist, essayist, and poet (d. 2001).

    1949 – Rick Wakeman, English progressive rock keyboardist and songwriter (Yes).

    1950 – Mark Mothersbaugh, American singer-songwriter and painter.

    1954 – Wreckless Eric, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1956 – John Godber, English playwright and screenwriter. [Dad worked with him on several plays, including Cramps and Happy Families.]

    1970 – Tina Fey, American actress, producer, and screenwriter.

    For life is nearer every day to death:
    1909 – Isaac Albéniz, Spanish pianist and composer (b. 1860).

    1911 – Gustav Mahler, Austrian composer and conductor (b. 1860).

    1980 – Ian Curtis, English singer-songwriter (b. 1956).

    2017 – Chris Cornell, American singer (b. 1964).

    2021 – Charles Grodin, American actor and talk show host (b. 1935).

  2. “Holmes doesn’t have any money left, though her husband seems pretty well off. Does that mean that they can take some of his salary to repay the investors? Calling all lawyers!”

    Lawyer John, here. Generally, a spouse is not liable for the separate debts/liabilities of the other spouse. However, in the case of assets that are jointly owned by both spouses, those assets can sometimes be reached by the creditor. Also, if the spouse that owes the debt transfers assets to the other spouse to avoid payment of the debt, that would constitute a “fraudulent conveyance” and the creditor could reach those transferred assets.

    Of course, in the case of a debt that is originally established as a joint liability (such as two spouses both signing a mortgage note), then both spouses would be liable for that debt.

  3. It made me happy to see survivors this time.

    On another subject, in case you were still wondering if Laura Helmuth, Scientific American editor in chief ever would put science before ideology, the answer seems to be a clear “NO.” See here:

    To summarize, she tweeted about a type of bird with some interesting genetics (White throated sparrows), said the species had four chromosomally distinct sexes and followed up with the comment “sex is not binary.” Colin Wright explained why as usual there are only two sexes in this species although the genetics is interesting. In response she blocked him, no discussion or debate.

    When I was young my father subscribed to the magazine and I learned a lot from it, I subscribed for some time as well. I still have some older issues in my personal library, but I’m boxing up some I want to keep and getting rid of others. I don’t subscribe now, of course. I don’t want anyone to see I still have Ideological American in my library. Hopefully someday it will focus on science again but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is in a death spiral.

  4. The python obviously has no hands to carry a towel but still wanted to be ready for May 25th, towel day.

  5. Pythons can’t regurgitate, so once it started on the towel it was committed. That doesn’t explain why it started swallowing it in the first place, but it must have been nice and warm from the sun and somehow the python mistook it for something edible.

    1. Maybe that’s the solution to the Burmese python problem in FL – carpet-bomb the state with beach towels on a warm day.

  6. And so lemme get this straight.

    “The false Zionist and Israeli Claims continue… They cannot avoid lying… They lie And lie, like Goebbels [Said]: ‘lie And lie, until people believe it’”

    So an anti-Semitic SOB is tarring the Semites with the epithet of being like one of the greatest anti-Semites of all times. Is there a term for that kind of logical fallacy?

  7. Biden supported work requirements in the past such as Clinton’s 1996 welfare reforms. Perhaps Biden has begun to negotiate now because the Republican’s requirements are not unreasonable, contrary to what the mainstream press asserts.

    However, my source is the right-of-center newspaper, The WSJ. I intend to read more of what WaPo or NYT have to say about this but I’d be interested in reading here about the Republican’s draconian requirements that the WSJ failed to mention.

    From what I’ve read, Republicans are asking for the following:

    – SNAP currently requires 20 hours per week of work or training for able-bodied adults under age 50 without children. Republicans want to raise the age to 55 and limit some state exemptions.

    – Require states to engage at least 50% of families in some type of work. Currently, 34 states effectively require 0% of families.

    – Introduce a work requirement in Medicaid. This “not an obligation to hold a full-time job, and it doesn’t apply to anyone caring for dependent children or an ailing relative, or to pregnant women, or to anyone who is in treatment for substance abuse, among other exemptions.”

    – “Republicans didn’t extend work requirements to parents, even to those with children in school for more than 20 hours a week…”

  8. 1927 – The Bath School disaster: Forty-five people, including many children, are killed by bombs planted by a disgruntled school-board member in Bath Township, Michigan.

    I hadn’t heard of this one before. Wiki link. Nothing interesting about the event – just a random lunatic who managed to get hold of hundreds of kilos of explosives, detonators and timers. Just the sort of thing that Joe Random Sixpack needs to be able to buy without restriction.
    I assume there is a subset of the NRA that upholds the Second Amendment right to have tonnes of demolition explosives in a private home. Because “freedom”, y’know?

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