Sunday: Hili dialogue

May 21, 2023 • 6:45 am

Greetings on the Sabbath, the onemade for Christian cats: it’s Sunday, May 21, 2023, and National Strawberries and Cream Day. Try this recipe: roasted strawberries with crème fraîche  and flaky sea salt (you can use sour cream):

It’s also International Tea Day, National Waiters and Waitresses DayRapture Party Day, Stepmother’s Day (but which stepmother?), World Baking Day, Saint Helena Day, celebrating the discovery of Saint Helena in 1502, and World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. 

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the May 21 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*I am happy about this news: President Biden, who had refused to hand over sophisticated F-16 American-made fighter jets to Ukraine, has changed his mind, and now will allow Ukrainian pilots to train in the jets. Zelensky has been asking for these planes for months.

Now Mr. Biden, who in February rejected F-16 fighter jets as unnecessary, met in Hiroshima on Friday with leaders of other major democracies and told them that he would allow Ukrainian pilots to be trained on the American-made warplanes. He added that in a few months, the allies would figure out how to begin delivering modern Western fighters to a Ukrainian force struggling to keep an aging, dwindling fleet of pieced-together, Soviet-made fighters in the air.

It all raises the question: Are there any conventional weapons in the American or NATO arsenals that the president would not, eventually, provide to Ukraine?

Washington’s pattern of saying no before saying yes has repeated itself enough times over the past 15 months that Ukrainian officials say they now know to ignore the first answer and keep pressing. But White House officials say the shifting positions reflect not indecision, but changing circumstances — and changing assumptions about the risks involved.

“When it comes to the question of escalation, of course, the United States government is a learning organism,” Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, said on Saturday morning in Hiroshima. “This conflict has been dynamic. It has unfolded over time.” So, he said, Mr. Biden’s decisions have kept up with Ukraine’s changing needs.

In the weeks after the invasion, the teetering Ukrainian government needed Stinger missiles and other anti-tank systems. When the war shifted to the south and the east of the country, with big open plains, they needed artillery and air defenses — and 155-millimeter howitzer shells. And while Mr. Biden does not believe fighter jets will play an important role in the conflict for a while, providing them is part of thinking about how to defend Ukraine for the long term — after the current phase of the war is over.

Well, I understood it would take at leaast a year, and probably more, to train Ukrainian pilots in the F-16s. Let’s hope the planes are still needed when the pilots are ready to fly. But it’s too late for the city of Bakhmut, which, Zelensky claims, has been completely destroyed, even as he argues that it’s not completely in the hands of the Russians.

*Speaking of the planes, the Russians don’t like Biden’s announcement at all, and have made threats about Biden’s gesture.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister has warned Western countries of “enormous risks” if Ukraine is provided with F-16 fighter jets, Russian state media TASS reported Saturday.

The comments come after US President Joe Biden gave his backing for Ukrainian pilots to be trained to fly F-16s, reversing his previous position.

F-16s are considered high performance weapon systems with a range of 500 miles (860 kilometers), and would be an upgrade to the aircraft currently in Ukraine’s fleet.

Responding to the move, Alexander Grushko said: “We see that the Western countries are still adhering to the escalation scenario.

“It involves enormous risks for themselves. In any case, this will be taken into account in all our plans, and we have all the necessary means to achieve the set goals.”

*The issue on which Republicans are most vulnerable is, of course, abortion. Despite a hefty majority of Americans agreeing with the stipulations of the now-overturned Roe v. Wade decision, Republicans have rushed to get abortions banned nearly completely. Now they’re starting to realize that they made a mistake.

Immediately after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Republican lawmakers were quick to embrace so-called “trigger” bans designed to take effect as soon as the decision was released, while others rushed to pass additional restrictions that would halt the procedure in their states, sometimes backing proposals that did not include exceptions for rape or incest.

Now, almost a year later, lawmakers in some Republican-led states have started coalescing behind bans that allow most abortions to continue — a reaction, some Republicans say, to the sustained political backlash to abortion restrictions that has been mounting since the landmark decision in June.

While the 12-week bans have so far only passed in two states — North Carolina and Nebraska — the proposal has also gained traction with some national antiabortion groups who say they’re supportive of restricting abortions as far as a state can, including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which has also been pushing for, at minimum, national limits on abortion at 15 weeks.

But the approach has drawn sharp criticism from others in the antiabortion movement, who argue the 12 or 15 week bans don’t do enough to stop what they see as widespread murder, allowing more than 90 percent of abortions to continue. Some Republican lawmakers and antiabortion advocates remain adamant that the only path forward is to aim to eradicate abortion completely nationwide.

How voters respond to these new bans could impact how abortion plays out as an issue in the 2024 presidential election. With little polling on the 12 week proposals, it’s unclear whether voters will buy Republican arguments that these kinds of bans are a “main

Twelve weeks is three months: one trimester. And abortions during that period were legal under Roe v Wade. I favor a standard even laxer than Roe, but at least 12 weeks is twice as long as the period beyond which abortion is banned in “fetal heartbeat” states.

*Martin Amis, novelist and bet buddy of Christopher Hitchens, died at the young age (my age!) of 73. And I bet he smoked, because he sure drank and died of the same disease that killed Hitch:

Martin Amis, whose caustic, erudite and bleakly comic novels redefined British fiction in the 1980s and ’90s with their sharp appraisal of tabloid culture and consumer excess, and whose private life made him tabloid fodder himself, died on Friday at his home in Lake Worth, Fla. He was 73.

His wife, the writer Isabel Fonseca, said the cause was esophageal cancer — the same disease that killed his close friend and fellow writer Christopher Hitchens in 2011.

Mr. Amis published 15 novels, a well-regarded memoir (“Experience,” in 2000), works of nonfiction, and collections of essays and short stories. In his later work he investigated Stalin’s atrocities, the war on terror and the legacy of the Holocaust.

He is best known for his so-called London trilogy of novels — “Money: A Suicide Note” (1985), “London Fields” (1990) and “The Information” (1995) — which remain, along with his memoir, his most representative and admired work.

. . . Mr. Amis’s literary heroes — he called them his “Twin Peaks” — were Vladimir Nabokov and Saul Bellow, and critics located in his work both Nabokov’s gift for wordplay and gamesmanship and Bellow’s exuberance and brio.

I just remembered that I have an autographed novel by Amis fis, though I can’t remember where I got it. I haven’t read it, either.

I have a collection of books autographed by luminaries I’ve met over the years, and looking through them to find the Amis novel, I once again encountered my first edition of The Double Helix by Jim Watson. I found it for only nine bucks in a dusty bookstore in Boulder, Colorado, and immediately snapped it up. They didn’t know what they had!  Later, when I chatted with Watson, I asked him to autograph it, and he did so, adding my name. Looking online, I now see that this book, autographed and in good condition with the original dustcover, is worth between five and eight thousand bucks!  When I die it will be thrown out, so I should either sell it or donate it to a library. But what library cares about whether a donated book is autographed? But I was happy I recognized the first edition, and it’s in near-pristine condition.

*From Jez: An article in the Guardian describes how a couple in Essex sued after 18 water buffaloes escaped from a nearby farm, rampaged through their garden, and eight of them fell into the swimming pool. The damage was extensive.

An Essex couple have spent 10 months seeking compensation after 18 escaped water buffaloes stampeded through their garden, with eight of them taking a morning dip in their new swimming pool.

Andy and Lynette Smith, who are retired, say that their garden and pool were ruined after the animals, which weigh about 600kg each, got out of a rare breeds farm and on to their property, causing more than £25,000 worth of damage.

Eight of them ended up falling into the £70,000 pool, triggering a stampede that wrecked fencing and flower beds. The animals were rescued unharmed by the farmer.

The incident happened when an electric fence failed last July, allowing the herd to breach a wooden fence and hedge separating their field from the Smiths’ garden.

“When my wife went to make the morning tea, she glanced out of the kitchen window and saw eight buffaloes in the pool,” said Andy Smith. “She called 999 and was told the fire brigade don’t accept hoax calls. It took some persuading to get them to take us seriously. When they arrived, one of the buffaloes, spooked by their hi-vis jackets, headed straight at them.”

“Buffaloes are top-heavy and the porcelain tiles round the pool were slippery so they lost their grip and once they were in they couldn’t get out again,” said Smith. “The previous afternoon, we had had hosted a pool party for our young grandchildren and their friends. If the invasion had happened hours earlier, it could have been very serious.”

The farm’s insurer, NFU Mutual, accepted liability, but failed to agree a settlement for nearly a year.

“This pool was our retirement luxury bought when I sold the business, which I’d spent years building up. It was earned by a lot of sweat and toil, but after the buffaloes’ swim it was leaking 75 gallons a day and was unusable.”

However, after being contacted by the Guardian, the insurer eventually agreed to cover the full £25,000 repair bill.

NFU Mutual sucks!  They wouldn’t even pay the damages until after the Guardian contacted them. Buffaloes creating havoc!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is educating Andrzej in feline ornithology:

Hili: Try to look at this bird from a different perspective.
A: What perspective?
Hili: A feline one.
In Polish:
Hili: Spróbuj spojrzeć na tego ptaka z innej perspektywy.
Ja: Z jakiej?
Hili: Z kociej perspektywy.

. . . and a picture of the affectionate Szaron. I used to cuddle him on this couch:


From America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy:

From Now That’s Wild:

From Beth:

From Masih. The execution of three protestors in Iran has triggered more demonstrations:

From Malcolm, who would like one of these tables. So would I, but they aren’t going to be cheap!

From gravelinspector. The “Harlem Hellfighters” are new to me (read the whole tweet):

From Barry: a tapir smiles for the camera:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a whole family exterminated:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb, who is now back in Manchester, just in time to see Man City throw it all away (or so he says).  The first one he’s captioned as “Lucky fish, cross eagle”:

This is the thought we both have when we see something like this. Matthew sez: ” “And all this is somewhere in their tiny heads, in intricate neural and chemical networks, and ultimately in their genes! Amazing!”

And a very pampered kitty!:

18 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1703 – Daniel Defoe is imprisoned on charges of seditious libel.

    1758 – Ten-year-old Mary Campbell is abducted in Pennsylvania by Lenape during the French and Indian War. She is returned six and a half years later.

    1792 – A lava dome collapses on Mount Unzen, near the city of Shimbara on the Japanese island of Kyūshū, creating a deadly tsunami that killed nearly 15,000 people.

    1856 – Lawrence, Kansas is captured and burned by pro-slavery forces.

    1871 – French troops invade the Paris Commune and engage its residents in street fighting. By the close of “Bloody Week”, some 20,000 communards have been killed and 38,000 arrested.

    1904 – The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is founded in Paris.

    1917 – The Imperial War Graves Commission is established through royal charter to mark, record, and maintain the graves and places of commemoration of the British Empire’s military forces.

    1924 – University of Chicago students Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murder 14-year-old Bobby Franks in a “thrill killing”. [The pair were spared the death penalty after criminal defense attorney Clarence Darrow’s 12-hour speech, thought by some to have been the finest of his career. The murder inspired Patrick Hamilton’s 1929 stage play Rope, performed on BBC television in 1939, and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film of the same name.]

    1927 – Charles Lindbergh touches down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

    1932 – Bad weather forces Amelia Earhart to land in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, and she thereby becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

    1934 – Oskaloosa, Iowa, becomes the first municipality in the United States to fingerprint all of its citizens.

    1936 – Sada Abe is arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her handbag. Her story soon becomes one of Japan’s most notorious scandals.

    1937 – A Soviet station, North Pole-1, becomes the first scientific research settlement to operate on the drift ice of the Arctic Ocean.

    1946 – Physicist Louis Slotin is fatally irradiated in a criticality incident during an experiment with the demon core at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    1979 – White Night riots in San Francisco following the manslaughter conviction of Dan White for the assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk.

    1991 – Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated by a female suicide bomber near Madras.

    1994 – The Democratic Republic of Yemen unsuccessfully attempts to secede from the Republic of Yemen; a war breaks out. [Also on this day, in 2012 a suicide bombing killed more than 120 people in Sana’a. Nearly 30 years later, the poor people of Yemen are still suffering from a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.]

    1998 – In Miami, five abortion clinics are attacked by a butyric acid attacker.

    2001 – French Taubira law is enacted, officially recognizing the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity.

    2017 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performed their final show at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.I

    1780 – Elizabeth Fry, English prison reformer, philanthropist and Quaker (d. 1845).

    1799 – Mary Anning, English paleontologist (d. 1847).

    1844 – Henri Rousseau, French painter (d. 1910).

    1904 – Fats Waller, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1943).

    1916 – Harold Robbins, American author and screenwriter (d. 1997).

    1917 – Raymond Burr, Canadian-American actor and director (d. 1993).

    1921 – Andrei Sakharov, Russian physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1989).

    1923 – Dorothy Hewett, Australian feminist poet, novelist and playwright (d. 2002).

    1951 – Al Franken, American actor, screenwriter, and politician.

    1952 – Mr. T, American actor and wrestler.

    A heap of dust remains of thee; ‘Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be!:
    1619 – Hieronymus Fabricius, Italian anatomist (b. 1537). [Known aa the Father of Embryology, in 1594 he revolutionised the teaching of anatomy when he designed the first permanent theater for public anatomical dissections.]

    1771 – Christopher Smart, English actor, playwright, and poet (b. 1722).

    1911 – Williamina Fleming, Scottish-American astronomer and academic (b. 1857).

    1919 – Evgraf Fedorov, Russian mathematician, crystallographer, and mineralogist (b. 1853).

    1935 – Jane Addams, American activist and author, co-founded Hull House, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1860).

    1983 – Kenneth Clark, English historian and author (b. 1903).

    2000 – John Gielgud, English actor (b. 1904).

    2006 – Katherine Dunham, American dancer, choreographer, and author (b. 1909).

    1. The [Bobby Frank] murder inspired Patrick Hamilton’s 1929 stage play Rope, performed on BBC television in 1939, and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film of the same name.

      As well as the 1959 film Compulsion starring Orson Welles in the Clarence Darrow role.

    2. 1936 – Sada Abe is arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her handbag. Her story soon becomes one of Japan’s most notorious scandals.

      And the inspiration for Nagisa Oshima’s 1976 film In the Realm of the Senses, which, if memory serves, our host has listed as among his favorites.

  2. Matthew should be happy because they won, but concerned as they are under investigation for financial mismanagement which could see them severely punished.

  3. I saw Amis fils being interviewed live about 7 years ago.He vaped through the entire interview. He was not terribly healthy looking.

  4. Signpost with England and France with underpants: this is from children’s rhyme “I see England, I see France, I see someone’s underpants”. Precious first edition story: In 1964 in Rome I bought a first edition (Olympia Press) of Nabokov’s Lolita, and brought it back to the US (I had audited a few of Nabokov’s lectures at Cornell University in the 1950s). Some years later my father in law, who did book binding as a hobby, decided it needed firmer binding to last longer so without my knowledge he bound the two volumes in a cheap brown vinyl. Years later I saw that a first edition of Lolita sold for $35,000……..oy…….my favorite book…..oy vey…..

  5. Yes, hilarious underpants sign😹
    Recalls “Teacher, teacher, I declare, I see someone’s underwear.”

    1. The teacher had to reach high on the blackboard to write the lesson. She heard smirking, turned around and caught little Johnny giggling. She scowled at him.
      “What’s so funny?”
      “I just saw your garters.”
      “To the principal’s office with you!”
      Sent home, little Johnny returned next day. The reacher reached up high again. Johnny smirked again.
      “I just saw your underpants”.
      Three-day suspension this time.
      Back in class, Johnny watched as the teacher bent over to pick up a blackboard eraser. Abruptly he gathered his books and pencils, stood up, and headed for the door.
      “And where do you think you’re going, young man?”
      “Teacher, what I just saw, I think my school days are over for good!”

  6. I can’t see F16’s being useful for Ukraine in any reasonable timeframe. I think people way underestimate what is required for the Ukrainians to use them effectively. Yes, they need to train pilots. But they also need to train maintenance and support people.

    To get an idea of what is involved, the USAF Thunderbirds fly seven aircraft. They have seven pilots but they have 120 enlisted personnel to operate those aircraft. That’s seventeen support people for each F16. Remember that the Thunderbirds represent the best people in the Air Force, maintenance people as well as pilots. Most are cross trained in multiple jobs, so the number is low compared to a combat squadron. A friend with the Air Force estimated that for each F16 that the Air Force has, thirty five maintenance and support people are required. They are all highly trained.

    That doesn’t even get into armaments and spare parts. Say what you want about the US military, they probably have the best logistical system of any military in the world, and they need it to support the weapons systems that they use. To quote Omar Bradley “Amateurs talk tactics. Professionals talk logistics.”

    1. I’m sure the F16s will have a support team from the US. Not 35 per F16, but enough highly skilled technicians to successfully train as many Ukrainians as needed, then those Ukrainians can teach more technicians, etc. But I agree, the time frame is a major problem; if this is a serious proposition, the US is sort of admitting that this war won’t be over any time soon.

      Anyway, thanks for the information, very informative; I had no idea how daunting it is to keep an F16 flying.

      1. I’m skeptical about a lot of support people from the US going to Ukraine. Remember the kerfuffle a while back when it came out that there was a handful of special forces guys in the US embassy in Ukraine? I can’t see them having US personnel at an active Ukrainian military base near the front lines.

        I think some of the discussion of F16’s is for show. Part of it may be preparing for the future. Assuming Ukraine wins, or even survives the war, the Russians need to be deterred from trying again in a few years.

      2. I’m sure the F16s will have a support team from the US.

        Until about 3 days after the first US serviceman dies. Which could be by enemy fire or industrial accident.

  7. According to a blog I have been watching (youTube) of a Ukrainian commercial pilot (now grounded: ) the UAF pilots are highly motivated taking English lessons straight after missions, time in simulators, well before and in anticipation of the F-16 decision. One interviewed pilot has done 70+ missions and counts himself lucky. He, the blogger, believes the pilots themselves will be up and ready in four months.

    The signed book “is worth between five and eight thousand bucks! ” I’m sure you won’t let it go to the tip!

  8. “Twelve weeks is three months: one trimester. And abortions during that period were legal under Roe v Wade. I favor a standard even laxer than Roe”

    In countries where there is essentially no abortion debate, there is usually something like the three-month rule, which is apparently a compromise that everyone can live with. I can’t help but think that the “pro-choice” side in the States pushing for laxer regulations is one reason why a compromise with which most people could live is so difficult to get there.

    The tems “pro-choice” and “pro-life” are not really helpful either. It’s not that the other side is anti-choice (well, some might be, but a minority, and with any issue one can always some crazy person who supports it for the wrong reason), but rather that they think that the fetus deserves the same rights as a born human. The pro-choice side might not agree with that, but that is the issue which needs to be rebutted (which could be done relatively easily); claiming that the other side is anti-choice won’t convince anyone. Similarly, those who are not pro-life are not anti-life, they just think that the fetus doesn’t have the same rights as a human. They haven’t been able to show why that should be the case, which is why they fail to convince many people., It’s the extreme rhetoric on both sides which prohibits a compromise. The first side to push a sensible compromise will probably attract many people from the middle ground.

    Another problem with “pro-choice” is that many are opposed to prostitution. So the argument “the state shouldn’t legislate what a grown woman can do with her own body” is OK if they shouldn’t legislate against something you agree with, but it’s fine if they legislate against something you disagree with. Yes, many will claim that no woman would voluntarily choose prostitution, but is pressured into it etc. However, pro-life folks will say that no woman would ever voluntarily abort her own child, but must have been pressured into it. It cuts both ways.

    Another absurdity: paying someone for sex is illegal in most places in the States, for both sides. But paying someone to have sex with someone else, making a video of it and charging people to see it is fine.

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