Friday: Hili dialogue

June 9, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s the tail of the work week: June 9, 2023, and National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. I cannot think of a worse pie, except perhaps for straight rhubarb itself. You do not put vegetables in pie, particularly this noxious one.  Look at this travesty of a dessert!:


It’s also National Marriage Day, Coral Triangle Day celebrating ocean conservation, La Rioja Day, a day to appreciate a fine wine-growing region, and Donald Duck Day, for Donald’s “first appearance on screen was in the animated short film ‘The Wise Little Hen’, on June 9, 1934.” Here it is: Donald first shows up exactly two minutes in when the hen asks him to help her plant her corn.

I love these old cartoons. And this one has a great ending.


Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 9 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

***AS I POSTED A SHORT WHILE AGO, TRUMP HAS BEEN INDICTED ON SEVEN FEDERAL CHARGES, and will turn himself in on Tuesday. Read the link for more details.

*Ukraine has finally launched its big counteroffensive against Russia.

Ukraine’s troops intensified their attacks on the front line in the country’s southeast, according to four individuals in the country’s armed forces who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the battlefield developments.

The Ukrainian troops include specialized attack units armed with Western weapons and trained in NATO tactics. The attacks in the country’s southeast mark a significant push into Russian-occupied territory.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukrainian forces tried to break through the lines of the Russian army in the Zaporizhzhia region, using up to 1,500 troops and 150 armored vehicles. Shoigu’s claim could not be immediately verified. The Zaporizhzhia region has long been seen asthe most strategic and likely location of the new Ukrainian campaign.

The offensive, which Ukrainian officials previously said they would not mark with an announcement and would not have a clear beginning, is expected to unfold over months and to serve as a test of a U.S.-led strategy to prepare Ukrainian forces with increasingly advanced weapons and tactics.

From the NYT:

The advancing Ukrainian forces in Zaporizhzhia included German Leopard 2 tanks and American Bradley fighting vehicles, a strong indication that the counteroffensive was underway in several locations, according to the official, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential briefings on operational details.

In addition, the attack involved some of the troops the United States and other allies of Ukraine have trained and equipped especially for the counteroffensive, military analysts said.

“It appears some of the new brigades Ukraine stood up for this counteroffensive have been committed, which indicates the counteroffensive is underway,” said Rob Lee, a senior fellow with the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “Ukrainian forces have made some tactical gains and sustained losses.”

*Evangelist Pat Robertson has gone to his Big Reward, dying at 93. I won’t pull a Hitchens or a Meyers here, being gleeful that someone is dead, but nor can I say that his presence in the world was a net positive. The “controveries” section of his Wikipedia bio will give you a flavor of some of his dogmatic evangelism.

 Pat Robertson, a religious broadcaster who turned a tiny Virginia station into the global Christian Broadcasting Network, tried a run for president and helped make religion central to Republican Party politics in America through his Christian Coalition, has died. He was 93.

Robertson’s death Thursday was confirmed in an email by his broadcasting network. No cause was given.

Robertson’s enterprises also included Regent University, an evangelical Christian school in Virginia Beach; the American Center for Law and Justice, which defends the First Amendment rights of religious people; and Operation Blessing, an international humanitarian organization.

For more than a half-century, Robertson was a familiar presence in American living rooms, known for his “700 Club” television show, and in later years, his televised pronouncements of God’s judgment, blaming natural disasters on everything from homosexuality to the teaching of evolution.

. . . Many followed the path Robertson cut in religious broadcasting, Green told the AP in 2021. In American politics, Robertson helped “cement the alliance between conservative Christians and the Republican Party.”


*The legal news from reader Ken provides a rare pleasant surprise from the Supreme Court; who refused to support gerrymandering in Alabama that would dilute the power of black votes:

SCOTUS just upheld the Voting Rights Act section 2 challenge to Alabama’s redistricting map, which created just one majority-black congressional district in the entire state. The decision was 5-4 with CJ Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh (solidifying his position as the “swing” justice) joining the three liberals in the majority.

The decision comes as a big surprise to most Court watchers, especially since it has been Roberts who’s led the charge in earlier decisions gutting other sections of the VRA.

From the NYT:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion in the 5-to-4 ruling, which required the State Legislature to draw a second district in which Black voters have the opportunity to elect representatives of their choice. He was joined by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and the court’s three liberal members, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Voting rights advocates had feared that the decision would further undermine the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark legislative achievement of the civil rights movement whose reach the court’s conservative majority has eroded in recent years. Instead, the law appeared to emerge unscathed from its latest encounter with the court.

The chief justice wrote that there were legitimate concerns that the law “may impermissibly elevate race in the allocation of political power within the states.” He added: “Our opinion today does not diminish or disregard these concerns. It simply holds that a faithful application of our precedents and a fair reading of the record before us do not bear them out here.”

The article also says that Clarence Thomas “filed a slashing dissent” with a “bitter tone”, perhaps because he was abandoned by two conservative Justices.

*This one reminds me of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, in that a country at odds with America is using Cuba as a basis for undermining the U.S., though in this case it’s not through harboring weapons,  but creating a “spy on the U.S.” center:

China and Cuba have reached a secret agreement for China to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island, in a brash new geopolitical challenge by Beijing to the U.S., according to U.S. officials familiar with highly classified intelligence.

An eavesdropping facility in Cuba, roughly 100 miles from Florida, would allow Chinese intelligence services to scoop up electronic communications throughout the southeastern U.S., where many military bases are located, and monitor U.S. ship traffic.

Officials familiar with the matter said that China has agreed to pay cash-strapped Cuba several billion dollars to allow it to build the eavesdropping station and that the two countries had reached an agreement in principle.

The revelation about the planned site has sparked alarm within the Biden administration because of Cuba’s proximity to the U.S. mainland. Washington regards Beijing as its most significant economic and military rival. A Chinese base with advanced military and intelligence capabilities in the U.S.’s backyard could be an unprecedented new threat.

On Wednesday evening, John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said he couldn’t comment on the details of The Wall Street Journal’s reporting but noted that the U.S. was monitoring and taking steps to counter the Chinese government’s efforts to invest in infrastructure that may have military purposes.

It’s amazing that our intelligence services can suss out an agreement like this. Fortunately, this isn’t nearly the danger that Russian missiles in Cuba were, and so we’ll just have to respond peacefully.

* Finally, Christopher Caldwell wrote a NYT op-ed with the intriguing title, “Trump’s judges didn’t doom affirmative action. Demography did.” Why? Because a majority-white college population dwindled to a minority one, while Asians began dominating the most meritorious college applicants.

Affirmative action dates from executive orders issued by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s. The policy was meant to help Black people at a time when the country was effectively biracial, with white people outnumbering Black people by a ratio of about seven to one.

Those facts were directly relevant to the logic of the policy. Giving a break to a few Black students might have meant denying a chance to the equivalent number of white students. But because white people constituted an overwhelming majority, the number of white applicants disadvantaged by affirmative action was relatively low. They tended to be borderline admissions cases.

. . . That has changed. The arrival of large numbers of immigrants over the past half-century has upset the logic of affirmative action in several ways. For one thing, white Americans no longer dominate the educational system. (They make up only 22 percent of the Stanford class of 2026, for instance.) Early on, affirmative action was also extended to Latinos, whose numbers continue to grow. In addition, African and Caribbean immigrants and their children now account for more than 40 percent of the Black enrollment in the Ivy League, which risks crowding out the people that affirmative action was originally intended to help.

. . .More than any other development, though, the enormous rise in Asian immigration since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 has complicated the administration of affirmative action. The complication, simply put, is that Asian students, on average, have been considerably more qualified for college than students of other groups.

Students for Fair Admissions, the plaintiffs in one of two affirmative action cases before the Supreme Court, contend that Harvard’s affirmative action programs discriminate against Asian students. These plaintiffs are not the first to make such a claim. In 1988 the Department of Education investigated Harvard for anti-Asian bias. Although the school was absolved, Harvard’s Asian enrollment shot up in the course of the investigation from about 11 percent in 1988 to 16 percent in the early 1990s — “not coincidentally,” according to an amicus curiae brief submitted in support of the plaintiffs in the current Harvard case.

. . . After half a century of high immigration, the United States has become a multiracial country, and affirmative action has turned into a different kind of program. Building diverse student bodies now requires treating Asian overrepresentation as a problem to be solved. This means discriminating by race in a way that is radically more direct and intrusive.

After reading as much as I could about the Harvard case in the press, it seems obvious that Harvard did discriminate against Asians, and in a stupid but obvious way: they simply lowered the “personality rankings” of Asian applicants. This is clear because interviewers who actually met the students in person didn’t give Asians lower personality scores. And this is why the Supreme Court is going to ditch affirmative actions within a few months.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s sniffing for traces of Putin (she loves Ukraine):

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m tracking Russian influences in our garden.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Śledzę rosyjskie wpływy w naszym ogrodzie.


From Pet Jokes and Puns:

From Divy:

A NSFW meme from Nicole:

From Masih, in case there’s any doubt about the real purpose of Iran’s nuclear program. They sure have pulled the wool over America’s eyes.

From Malcolm, a long tweet giving evidence that Russia, not Ukraine, blew up the Kakhova dam:

I found this one, and Trump wouldn’t even think of doing this:

A bee with one big eye!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, he lived a bit over six months:

Tweets from Doctor Cobb. This first one is adorable, though I guess humans had to feed the chicks:

Breaking news: the Orange Man will be wearing the Orange Outfit:

I want this ring, but it’s a museum piece:

23 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    68 – The Roman emperor Nero dies by suicide after quoting Vergil’s Aeneid, thus ending the Julio-Claudian dynasty and starting the civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors.

    1311 – Duccio’s Maestà, a seminal artwork of the early Italian Renaissance, is unveiled and installed in Siena Cathedral in Siena, Italy.

    1667 – Second Anglo-Dutch War: The Raid on the Medway by the Dutch fleet begins. It lasts for five days and results in the worst ever defeat of the Royal Navy. [I grew up in a house with a lovely view of the Medway valley.]

    1885 – Treaty of Tientsin is signed to end the Sino-French War, with China eventually giving up Tonkin and Annam – most of present-day Vietnam – to France.

    1944 – World War II: Ninety-nine civilians are hanged from lampposts and balconies by German troops in Tulle, France, in reprisal for maquisards attacks.

    1954 – Joseph N. Welch, special counsel for the United States Army, lashes out at Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Army–McCarthy hearings, giving McCarthy the famous rebuke, “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

    1957 – First ascent of Broad Peak by Fritz Wintersteller, Marcus Schmuck, Kurt Diemberger, and Hermann Buhl.

    1959 – The USS George Washington is launched. It is the first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.

    1978 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opens its priesthood to “all worthy men”, ending a 148-year-old policy of excluding black men.

    1672 – Peter the Great, Russian emperor (d. 1725).

    1781 – George Stephenson, English engineer, designed the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (d. 1848).

    1836 – Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, English physician and politician (d. 1917).

    1843 – Bertha von Suttner, Austrian journalist and author, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1914).

    1891 – Cole Porter, American composer and songwriter (d. 1964).

    1902 – Skip James, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1969).

    1915 – Les Paul, American guitarist and songwriter (d. 2009).

    1926 – Calvin “Fuzz” Jones, American singer and bass player (d. 2010). [Worked with many blues musicians, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, the Legendary Blues Band, Mississippi Heat, James Cotton, Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Little Walter and Elmore James.]

    1934 – Jackie Wilson, American singer-songwriter (d. 1984).

    1941 – Jon Lord, English singer-songwriter and keyboard player (d. 2012).

    1956 – Patricia Cornwell, American journalist and author.

    1961 – Michael J. Fox, Canadian-American actor, producer, and author.

    1961 – Aaron Sorkin, American screenwriter, producer, and playwright.

    1963 – Johnny Depp, American actor.

    1978 – Matt Bellamy, English singer, musician and songwriter.

    1981 – Natalie Portman, Israeli-American actress.

    When You’re Up to Your Ass in Alligators, Today Is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life: [Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent, p. 16. Wikipedia says, ‘[The book] mocks the aspects of time travel such as the grandfather paradox and the Ray Bradbury short story “A Sound of Thunder”. It also parodies Australian people and aspects of Australian culture, such as the Crocodile Dundee, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Mad Max films, the Australian beer XXXX, Vegemite, thongs, cork hats, the Peach Melba, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, the bushranger Ned Kelly, the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, and the Australian songs “Waltzing Matilda”, “Down Under”, and “The Man From Snowy River”.’ Apparently Pratchett had missed The Adventures of Barry McKenzie – in the film version, a cult classic when I was a growing up, my dad played the customs officer who confiscates Barry’s “amber nectar” on arrival at Heathrow.]

    1870 – Charles Dickens, English novelist and critic (b. 1812).

    1927 – Victoria Woodhull, American activist for women’s rights (b. 1838).

    1961 – Camille Guérin, French veterinarian, bacteriologist and immunologist (b. 1872).

    1974 – Miguel Ángel Asturias, Guatemalan journalist, author, and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1899).

    2004 – Brian Williamson, Jamaican activist, co-founded J-FLAG (b. 1945). [Known for being one of the earliest openly gay men in Jamaican society and for being one of its best known gay rights activists.]

    2010 – Ken Brown, British Guitarist who was a member of The Quarrymen (b. 1940).

    2013 – Iain Banks, Scottish author (b. 1954). [Wrote as Iain M Banks when writing science fiction.]

    2014 – Rik Mayall, English comedian, actor, and screenwriter (b. 1958).

    2017 – Adam West, American actor and investor (b. 1928). [I know I’m wrong for thinking that he was the best Batman ever… “I don’t know who he is beneath that mask of his, but I know when we need him, and we need him now!” According to Wikipedia, “In 1970, West was considered for the role of James Bond by producer Albert Broccoli for the film Diamonds Are Forever“. The mind boggles.]

  2. I *love* rhubarb pie. When I was growing up, my parents grew rhubarb in the backyard garden and rhubarb pie was always a welcome treat.

    1. I made double chocolate rhubarb brownies the other day, and they were deadly delicious😋Got a to of rhubarb growing in my back yard.

    2. Rhubarb pie is da bomb. I have eaten it since I was a small child. Rhubarb is also easy to grow in a small suburban garden. Just because it is technically a vegetable, does mean it cannot be used as an ingredient in a tasty pie.

    3. I have many fond memories of eating rhubarb cobbler and strawberry-rhubarb cobbler a la mode. Love it! Though I don’t like how the oxalic acid makes my teeth feel, but it’s worth it.

  3. Apropos the late Pat Robertson, this is from another Chicago-based blog:

    “In Inferno, Dante described nine circles of Hell, each with its specific punishments for specific kinds of sin. I haven’t read the whole poem, so it’s not immediately clear to me whether Robertson would head down to the 8th Circle (fraudsters), possibly in the 6th Circle (hypocrites) or maybe he’d get off lightly in the 4th Circle (greed).”

  4. I think a lot of what we are seeing is a continuation of Hillary’s “Pied Piper Strategy”:

    However, I don’t think Trump will win the nomination this time for a couple of reasons:

    (1) Trump has lost a couple of steps since 2016, and he now has a bit of King Lear about him, raging against being more sinned against than sinning.

    (2) Trump’s disloyalty to people like Kayleigh McEnany is going to rub even his most ardent supporters the wrong way, and is an easy way for his GOP opponents to attack him effectively.

  5. You are just wrong about Rhubarb pie. It is delicious. It might be the best pie. I prefer Apple pie, but that is just me.

    1. Okay, if you’re going to argue about subjective matters, then YOU are wrong. How do we settle this? Take a poll: offer a large random sample Americans either a piece of rhubarb pie or a piece of cherry pie. There’s no question thar rhubarb would lose.

      How can you tell me that I’m wrong when tasting rhubarb pie makes me sick? Are my TASTE BUDS SOMEHOW WRONG?

      1. Perhaps not WRONG, but maybe just outliers! Few things in life can beat rhubarb crumble with custard.

  6. The wildfires burning across Canada’s boreal forests were mentioned in The Free Press TGIF. Since Jerry often excepts TGIF on Sauturday and the smoke in New York City has raised considerable alarm, I thought I’d comment, and apologize for the smoke. Canadian media and the Trudeau government are hammering the climate change angle and don’t want to highlight the uncomfortable fact that the police in several provinces coast to coast suspect arson. They have laid several charges over widely separated fires and are investigating scores more, even while they’re still burning.

    Arson has a dark ugly history here both as a form of protest and as a make-work scheme so the chronically unemployable can get a few weeks work on fire crews and then collect unemployment insurance for months. Simple dumbass carelessness in the woods also contributes.

    Many thanks to American fire fighters who have come north to help out, as they always do. Much harder than urban fires.

    1. The current fires in Canada don’t appear to be anything new. Hundreds of years ago, there were days in Boston (May 19th, 1780) when the sun didn’t rise (didn’t appear to rise). Fires in Canada may have been the culprit.

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