Friday: Hili dialogue

May 26, 2023 • 6:45 am

Greetings at the end of the “work” week: it’s May 26, 2023, and National Blueberry Cheesecake Day, something that would make a fine breakfast, no?

It’s also Ascension (again?), National Cherry Dessert Day, Red Nose Day, Sally Ride Day (she was born on this day in 1951), World Redhead Day, National Sorry Day in Australia, and National Paper Airplane Day./

Here’s the record flight for a paper plane, one made by Boeing engineers that traveled 290 feet:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the May 26 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The skinny on the debt-ceiling talks goes back and forth from “stalled” to “deadlocked” to “some progress”. The WSJ now says that we’re in the third area, printing an article called “House Republicans see progress in debt-ceiling talks.”

House Republican negotiators indicated they were closing in on a deal with the White House to raise the debt ceiling, with both sides wrangling over coming years’ government spending levels as talks continued Thursday.

Leaders are hoping to pass the deal through both the Republican House and Democratic Senate ahead of a deadline next week, when the government could run short of funds to pay all of its bills on time.

The discussions were taking place as House lawmakers took the final votes of the week and were set to leave for a Memorial Day recess. GOP leadership told members that they would have 72 hours to review any legislation and 24 hours’ notice to return to Washington if there was a deal struck. The Senate is on break now and is scheduled to return next week.

“We know where our differences lie. We worked well past midnight last night. We’re back at it today trying to get to the conclusion,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) told reporters. “Nothing is agreed to overall, but we know exactly where we need to be to solve this problem,” he said.

In remarks from the White House, President Biden said he and McCarthy have had several productive conversations and their staffs continue to meet. “They’re making progress,” he said. “I’ve made it clear time and again, defaulting on our national debt is not an option.”

This is more optimistic than the sides have been in a while, so here’s my prediction: the Democrats will agree to freeze spending for two years and offer to make only trivial cuts in the budget, not serious ones but enough to say that they’ve compromised with the GOP. But they’d better work fast, as the default begins in six days.

*In Pamala Paul’s NYT column this week, she rereads and admires the prescience (in light of the end of affirmative action) of Stephen L. Carter’s 1991 book, Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby. It’s a good column though it’s sure to stick in the craw of NYT editors.

The end of affirmative action, in Carter’s view, was both necessary and inevitable. “We must reject the common claim that an end to preferences ‘would be a disastrous situation, amounting to a virtual nullification of the 1954 desegregation ruling,’” he wrote, quoting the activist and academic Robert Allen. “The prospect of its end should be a challenge and a chance.”

For Carter, affirmative action was a necessary stopgap measure to remedy historical discrimination. Like many people today — both proponents and opponents of affirmative action — he expressed reservations about relying on diversity as the constitutional basis for racial preferences.

The diversity argument holds that people of different races benefit from one another’s presence, which sounds desirable on its face. But the implication of recruiting for diversity, Carter explained, had less to do with admitting Black students to redress past discrimination and more to do with supporting and reinforcing essentialist notions about Black people.

An early critic of groupthink, Carter warned against “the idea that Black people who gain positions of authority or influence are vested a special responsibility to articulate the presumed views of other people who are Black — in effect, to think and act and speak in a particular way, the Black way — and that there is something peculiar about Black people who insist on doing anything else.”

In the past, such ideas might have been seen as “frankly racist,” Carter noted. “Now, however, they are almost a gospel for people who want to show their commitment to equality.” This belies the reality that Black people, he said, “fairly sparkle with diversity of outlook.”

. . .This strikes me as the greatest difference between reading the book today and reading it as an undergrad at a liberal Ivy League college: the attitude toward debating controversial views. “Reflections” offers a vigorous and unflinching examination of ideas, something academia, media and the arts still prized back in 1991. Carter’s arguments were considered worthy of discussion, however misguided his critics took them to be. And Carter was prepared and willing to defend them.

Today, a kind of magical thinking has seized ideologues on both the left and the right, who seem to believe that stifling debate on difficult questions will make them go away. But if affirmative action itself goes away, America — which Carter deemed “a society that prefers its racial justice cheap” — will no longer be able to avoid grappling with the real and persistent inequalities that necessitated it in the first place.

This column could easily have come from the McWhorter playbook, and so the NYT has two left-center columnists with heterodox ideas on race. This is all to the good, because, just like Carter’s book did to Paul, her own (and McWhorter’s) columns inspire discussion and make us think.

*AT The Free Press, James Fishback discusses how high school debates have drastically changed in the last decade—and it’s not for the better.  Ideology has infected them, too, but not in the way you’d expect:

In the past few years, however, judges with paradigms tainted by politics and ideology are becoming common. Debate judge Shubham Gupta’s paradigm reads, “If you are discussing immigrants in a round and describe the person as ‘illegal,’ I will immediately stop the round, give you the loss with low speaks”—low speaker points—“give you a stern lecture, and then talk to your coach. . . . I will not have you making the debate space unsafe.”

Debate Judge Kriti Sharma concurs: under her list of “Things That Will Cause You To Automatically Lose,” number three is “Referring to immigrants as ‘illegal.’ ”

. . . let’s say when the high school sophomore clicks Tabroom she sees that her judge is Lila Lavender, the 2019 national debate champion, whose paradigm reads, “Before anything else, including being a debate judge, I am a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. . . . I cannot check the revolutionary proletarian science at the door when I’m judging. . . . I will no longer evaluate and thus never vote for rightest capitalist-imperialist positions/arguments. . . . Examples of arguments of this nature are as follows: fascism good, capitalism good, imperialist war good, neoliberalism good, defenses of US or otherwise bourgeois nationalism, Zionism or normalizing Israel, colonialism good, US white fascist policing good, etc.”

. . . Should a high school student automatically lose and be publicly humiliated for using a term that’s not only ubiquitous in media and politics, but accurate?

. . . Unfortunately for students and their parents, there are countless judges at tournaments across the country whose biased paradigms disqualify them from being impartial adjudicators of debate. From “I will drop America First framing in a heartbeat,” to “I will listen to conservative-leaning arguments, but be careful,” judges are making it clear they are not only tilting the debate in a left-wing direction, they will also penalize students who don’t adhere to their ideology.

Of course this doesn’t surprise you, does it?  But it’s a debate, Jake; judges should strive to weigh the merits of arguments, not whether they conform to the judge’s personal beliefs.

*Well, the Texas legislature may have tabled a bill requiring the Ten Commandments to be posted in each classroom, but they more than made up for it yesterday by passing a bill that allows schools to hire chaplains as well as counselors. Guess which end of the political spectrum is supporting this?

The Texas legislature has passed a bill that would allow schools to employ chaplains in addition to school counselors, with Republicans overriding objections by Democrats to send the legislation to the governor’s desk.

The bill would permit school districts to hire chaplains who, unlike school counselors, are not required to be certified by the State Board for Educator Certification. A version of the bill already sailed through the state Senate last month, and the Texas House passed an amended version Tuesday evening in a vote that appeared to fall largely along party lines, with 89 voting in favor and 58 opposed.

Conservative groups such as Texas Values Action have voiced support for the bill, and the National School Chaplain Association, an arm of the Christian group Mission Generation, testified in support during committee meetings last month.

. . .But Malloy’s organization has suggested otherwise in the past, and critics of the bill argue that it could lead to proselytization and erode the separation of church and state.

“I worry that this bill will lead to Christian nationalists infiltrating our public schools and indoctrinating our students,” Democratic Rep. James Talarico, a Presbyterian seminarian, told Religion News Service in a phone interview from the state House floor Tuesday.

But here’s one saving grace: they won’t hire chaplains who were sex offenders! What an enlightened decision!

All of those efforts failed, although lawmakers did amend the bill to prohibit registered sex offenders from serving as chaplains, to institute background checks, and to require those serving in the role to be endorsed by an organization recognized by the U.S. Defense Department, the Federal Bureau of Prisons or the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The bill will be challenged by some parent with standing, and eventually it will work its way up to the Supreme Court, which no longer seems to recognize the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It won’t be long till preachers will be able to present a daily prayer to the whole school.

*Kudos to Panama, which has just given legal rights to sea turtles!

The students [checking leatherback turtle nests] worked under the guidance of Callie Veelenturf, who founded a group that works to protect leatherback turtles and pushed for a new law in Panama that guarantees sea turtles the legal right to live and have free passage in a healthy environment.

The new law “will allow any Panamanian citizen to be the voice of sea turtles and defend them legally,” Veelenturf said in a text message as she boarded a plane to Panama City after her group’s work near Armila. “We will be able to hold governments, corporations, and public citizens legally accountable for violations of the rights of sea turtles.”

When Panama’s president signed the law in March, it was a victory for people who have long argued that wild animals should have so-called rights of nature that recognize their legal right to exist and to flourish, and allow for lawsuits if those rights are violated. Experts hope it’s part of an evolution that will see other countries take similar steps to protect species under threat.

“Business as usual laws aren’t doing enough to protect against the extinction crisis and climate change,” said Erica Lyman, a clinical law professor and director of the Global Law Alliance for Animals and the Environment at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. “This is an attempt at a new kind of framing that offers hope.”

. . .Wildlife protection laws typically are passed because of some perceived benefit to humans, Lyman said. Panama’s law instead considers what sea turtles need and the fact that humans should curb their behavior to meet those needs, she said.

The law gives sea turtles the right to an environment free of pollution and other human impacts that cause physical or health damage, like climate change, incidental capture, coastal development and unregulated tourism.

What makes the law remarkable is that it explicitly says sea turtles, as living creatures, have rights, and with enough specificity that those rights can be enforced, added Nicholas Fromherz, an adjunct law professor and director of the alliance’s Latin American Program.

Now if Panama will only enforce the protection. It’s easier to pass laws than to punish those who flout them, and injuring endangered species isn’t always that high on the priority list. Good luck, turtles!

 Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is chilling:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m listening to the grass growing.

In Polish:

Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Słucham jak trawa rośnie.

. . . and a photo by Paulina of baby Kulka:


From America’s Cultural Decline into Idiocy:

Here’s the relevant verse (King James translation): 28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.

A Gary Larson Far Side cartoon sent in by Chrisopher. Get it?

A puritanical cat from Pet Jokes and Puns:

An extra from Pet Jokes & Puns:

From Masih, two protestors, each with an eye shot out. The Iranian police do this deliberately, often using birdshot. As the BBC reports:

The New York Times has established that 500 people with similar injuries sought treatment at three hospitals in Tehran between September and November last year.

Lauren Boebert testifying, sent by reader Ken, who adds, “A 36-year-old pistol-packin’ grandma’s guide to birth control.  Boebert’s third son, Kayden, was born in 2009. The average cost for raising a child born in that year to age 18 is $369,000. So those must’ve been some damned expensive birth control pills.

PS – Boebert has voted against the right to contraception unregulated by the government. She also supports defunding Planned Parenthood, which provides low- or no-cost birth control pills to women without health insurance.”

From Barry, a Craigslist kitten. “Kevin just took over.”

From Malcom, a very bad cat:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a 15-year-old girl who perished in the camp:

Tweets from Professor Cobb. First, the Big Claw:

A defaced sign (“Sacred Heart”), but from Wikipedia:

A strange animal highlighted on The Daily Parasite:

14 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Not Ascension day – which was May 18th this year. The date is tied to Easter (the Thursday that comes 39 days after Easter Sunday). So it’s a movable feast. Zombie Jesus only lived 40 days or so, it seems.

    Cherry dessert seems a much more wholesome celebration. Happy Friday

    1. Maybe it’s Ascension Day in the Eastern Orthodox calendar….

      … No it was yesterday.

      Also, the period between the resurrection and the Ascension varies depending on which gospel you read. In one of them, they are both pretty much the same day.

      Also also, when I see the word “ascension”, I associate it with the mayor of Sunnydale turning into a huge serpent rather than Jesus ascending and have done for many years.

  2. Actually, if you told me that ideology had infected debating, this is exactly what I would have expected.

    Also, I think I’ve seen the movie that giant claw is from.

  3. On this day:
    1822 – At least 113 people die in the Grue Church fire, the biggest fire disaster in Norway’s history.

    1868 – The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson ends with his acquittal by one vote.

    1869 – Boston University is chartered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
    1879 – Russia and the United Kingdom sign the Treaty of Gandamak establishing an Afghan state.

    1896 – Nicholas II is crowned as the last Tsar of Imperial Russia.

    1896 – Charles Dow publishes the first edition of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

    1908 – The first major commercial oil strike in the Middle East is made at Masjed Soleyman in southwest Persia. The rights to the resource were quickly acquired by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

    1923 – The first 24 Hours of Le Mans is held and has since been run annually in June.

    1927 – The last Ford Model T rolls off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.

    1938 – In the United States, the House Un-American Activities Committee begins its first session.

    1940 – World War II: Operation Dynamo: In northern France, Allied forces begin a massive evacuation from Dunkirk, France.

    1967 – The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is released.

    1968 – H-dagurinn in Iceland: Traffic changes from driving on the left to driving on the right overnight.

    1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 10 returns to Earth after a successful eight-day test of all the components needed for the forthcoming first crewed moon landing.

    1970 – The Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 becomes the first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2.

    1972 – The United States and the Soviet Union sign the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

    1998 – The first “National Sorry Day” is held in Australia. Reconciliation events are held nationally, and attended by over a million people.

    2004 – United States Army veteran Terry Nichols is found guilty of 161 state murder charges for helping carry out the Oklahoma City bombing.

    2020 – Protests triggered by the murder of George Floyd erupt in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, before becoming widespread across the United States and around the world.

    1883 – Mamie Smith, American singer, actress, dancer, and pianist (d. 1946).

    1886 – Al Jolson, American singer and actor (d. 1950).

    1895 – Dorothea Lange, American photographer and journalist (d. 1965).

    1904 – George Formby, English singer-songwriter and actor (d. 1961).

    1907 – John Wayne, American actor, director, and producer (d. 1979).

    1913 – Peter Cushing, English actor (d. 1994).

    1920 – Peggy Lee, American singer-songwriter and actress (d. 2002).

    1926 – Miles Davis, American trumpet player, composer, and bandleader (d. 1991).

    1928 – Jack Kevorkian, American pathologist, author, and assisted suicide activist (d. 2011).

    1940 – Levon Helm, American singer-songwriter, drummer, producer, and actor (d. 2012).

    1946 – Mick Ronson, English guitarist, songwriter, and producer (d. 1993).

    1948 – Stevie Nicks, American singer-songwriter.

    1951 – Sally Ride, American physicist and astronaut, founded Sally Ride Science (d. 2012).

    1963 – Simon Armitage, English poet, playwright and novelist.[The current poet laureate.]

    1964 – Lenny Kravitz, American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and actor.

    1966 – Helena Bonham Carter, English actress.

    Upon the Grave which swallows fast/’Tis peace at last, oh peace at last:
    735 – Bede, English monk, historian, and theologian.

    1703 – Samuel Pepys, English politician (b. 1633).

    1914 – Jacob August Riis, Danish-American journalist, photographer, and reformer (b. 1849). [An early user of flash photography.]

    1924 – Victor Herbert, Irish-American cellist, composer, and conductor, founded the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (b. 1859).

    1976 – Martin Heidegger, German philosopher and academic (b. 1889). [A boozy beggar/Who could think you under the table.]

    2008 – Sydney Pollack, American actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1934).

    2016 – Hedy Epstein, German-born American human rights activist and Holocaust survivor (b. 1924).

    2022 – Ray Liotta, American actor (b. 1954).

    2022 – Alan White, English drummer (b. 1949). [Best known for his almost 50-year tenure in the progressive rock band Yes.]

    1. 1927 – The last Ford Model T rolls off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.

      “Someone should write an erudite essay on the moral, physical, and esthetic effect of the Model T Ford on the American nation. Two generations of Americans knew more about the Ford coil than the clitoris, about the planetary system of gears than the solar system of stars. With the Model T, part of the concept of private property disappeared. Pliers ceased to be privately owned and a tire pump belonged to the last man who had picked it up. Most of the babies of the period were conceived in Model T Fords and not a few were born in them. The theory of the Anglo Saxon home became so warped that it never quite recovered.”

      — John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

      1. If Steinbeck is talking about tools in the Ford factory, he’s wrong about private property. The pliers and the tire pumps most assuredly belonged to Henry Ford.

        1. Steinbeck was referring to all the “shade tree” mechanics around the country pooling their talents and tools to keep their (and their buddys’) cars running.

  4. Re the Sacred Heart sign: I went to grade school at an SH…we used to deface the stencils on the backs of the folding chairs, but we also scratched out the “S” and “C” in “Sacred” as well…

  5. The statements by these debate judges are disgraceful. That’s like a boxing judge saying “I will never grant a white fighter a point decision over a Black one”.
    Of course, when “being impartial” is considered one of those tricks thought up by white supremacists to keep down the oppresses masses, things that seemed obvious become impossible…

  6. Darwin/Beagle cartoon: yes, of course: Darwin theorizes that human ancestors were apes…..dangling from branches… favorite Gary Larson cartoon is an animal in a library reading a book entiteld “How to avoid natural selection”. Or the varied species’ students classroom where the teacher has a diagram on the blackboard of a door knob, with instructions on how to operate it.

  7. Isn’t Boebert’s inane comment a good argument for cheap/free birth control? Isn’t her party the one that would remove contraception and other women’s health care services from insurance if they could?

    I’m so confused…

    1. ..and will remain confused* if you look for logical consistency in the arguments of anybody infected by an ideology – on either side of the political divide.

      * not that I believe for one second that you are genuinely baffled by Boebert.

  8. I just showed the claw picture to my wife. Her reaction: ‘Blimey, you wouldn’t want a nip from that, but the meat would have been nice – if you had a pot big enough to cook the bugger in’.

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