Sunday: Hili dialogue

June 18, 2023 • 6:45 am

Good morning on Sunday, June 18, 2023, and International Picnic Day; here’s a Gary Larson Far Side celebration:

It’s Father’s Day, though I doubt my step-ducklings will celebrate me.  There’s a special Google Doodle with drawings father frogs, lions, and penguins; click below to see them:

Rick Bannister sent a birthday thought from Roger Ebert:

The ability of so many people to live comfortably with the idea of capital punishment is perhaps a clue to how so many Europeans were able to live with the idea of the Holocaust: Once you accept the notion that the state has the right to kill someone and the right to define what is a capital crime, aren’t you halfway there?
-Roger Ebert, film critic (18 Jun 1942-2013)

It’s also National Splurge Day, International Panic Day (every day for me!), National Turkey Lovers’ Day (note that the apostrophe is placed properly), International Sushi Day, Go Fishing Day, and, in the UK, Waterloo Day. the day in 1815 when Napoleon’s forces were defeated by a coalition of soldiers from the UK, Netherlands, and Prussia.  After the French loss, Napoleon abdicated. Here’s a painting of the fight, “The Battle of Waterloo, by William Sadler II” (click to enlarge):

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

Da Nooz:

*In a WaPo article called “Trump’s indictment plus candidacy could endanger democracy and the rule of law“, authors Dan Balz, Ann E. Marimow, and Perry Stein argue (convincingly, I think) that Trump’s candidacy for President could wreck both the political and legal system of America.

The indictment in the case involving Trump’s retention of classified government documents coming in the midst of a presidential campaign raises legal questions about what might happen if he were to be convicted and elected. Could Trump pardon himself? Could he serve as president after a conviction? Could he run for office from a prison cell? Depending on events, those could become ripe for adjudication.

On top of those legal questions are big issues confronting the country. With other investigations continuing — one into Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and in the fake electors scheme, and the other looking at his efforts to overturn the Georgia results of the 2020 presidential election — more damage might be inflicted on these democratic institutions by the battering likely to take place between now and the inauguration in 2025.

“It seems obvious and clear that it’s going to be worse and probably much worse, but the form it might take and what that extreme reaction looks like is very hard to predict,” said Jack Goldsmith, who served in the Justice Department and at the Pentagon during the administration of George W. Bush and now is a professor at Harvard Law School. “Convicted or not, nominee or not, we can assume [Trump] is going to inflame this to the maximum and his supporters will inflame this to the maximum.”

. . .For the past three years, Trump has sought to shred long-standing trust in the country’s electoral process, claiming falsely that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen. With no supporting evidence to buttress those claims, public opinion surveys suggest that Trump nonetheless has persuaded millions of Republican voters that President Biden was not legitimately elected. Election denialism now infects a large portion of the Republican Party.

With the new indictment, Trump is again taking direct aim at the integrity of law enforcement agencies, the judicial system and, ultimately, public faith in the rule of law. He did this as president, and now, in the aftermath of his 37 charges in the documents case — to which he pleaded not guilty — he has escalated those attacks in an effort to discredit the Justice Department and the FBI, claiming he is a victim of a politicized “witch hunt.”

This is not the first time the political and legal systems have been tested together. But past comparisons are imperfect because the state of the country has changed. As a result, institutions of government are more fragile. That heightens the risks to the country this time.

Trump’s election next year would be my worst nightmare (actually, second to being given a terminal medical diagnosis, which in effect is what America would get if he becomes President.)

*The NYT reports that Russia is getting its military act in order, changing tactics to avoid the missteps of the first year of its war with Ukraine.

Russia won ground early in the war with sheer firepower. Interviews with 17 Ukrainian soldiers, a Russian prisoner of war, officers, foreign fighters and Western officials, as well as a review of documents and videos, show that, in recent months, the Kremlin’s gains, especially in Bakhmut, have come in part because of a series of adaptations.

Russian armored columns, for instance, no longer rush into areas where they can be quickly damaged or destroyed. Troops are more often using drones and probing attacks — and sometimes just shouting — to find Ukrainian trenches before striking. And the mercenary Wagner Group has shown an ability to outpace Ukrainian defenders with a combination of improved tactics and disposable ranks.

. . . As it begins its long-awaited counteroffensive, Ukraine is well armed, backed by improved communication technology and American and European weaponry.

But Moscow’s forces have improved their defenses, artillery coordination and air support, setting up a campaign that could look very different from the war’s early days. These improvements, Western officials say, will most likely make Russia a tougher opponent, particularly as it fights defensively, playing to its battlefield strengths. This defensive turn is a far cry from Russia’s initial plan for a full-scale invasion and Ukrainian defeat.

Ceiling Cat forbid, what would happen if Russia achieved total victory and took over the whole country? There’s nothing we could do save levy more ineffectual sanctions. Putin is now claiming the Belarus is part of Russia, and Ukraine would become that, too.

*This is amazing: the governor of Pennsylvania announced that the stretch of Interstate 95 (the major N-S road in the eastern U.S.) destroyed after a tanker truck burst into flames and collapsed several sections of the road, will reopen within only two weeks. When it first happened, all the news was saying it would be “many weeks, perhaps months,” until the road opened again.

The stretch of the East Coast’s main north-south highway collapsed early last Sunday after a tractor-trailer hauling gasoline flipped over on an off-ramp and caught fire. State transportation officials said the driver was trying to navigate a curve and lost control.

“I’ve directed my team … to move heaven and earth to get this done as soon as humanly possible,” Biden said. He said he told the governor, “There’s no more important project right now in the country as far as I’m concerned.” The president described it as an “all hands on deck” project to address a “crisis.”

“We’re with you. We’re going to stay with you until this is rebuilt, until it’s totally finished,” he said at the briefing.

Pennsylvania’s plan for the work involves trucking in 2,000 tons of lightweight glass nuggets for the quick rebuilding, with crews working around the clock until the interstate is open to traffic. Instead of rebuilding the overpass right away, crews will use the recycled glass to fill in the collapsed area to avoid supply-chain delays for other materials, Shapiro has said.

After that, a replacement bridge will be built next to it to reroute traffic while crews excavate the fill to restore the exit ramp, officials have said.

Biden said the design was “incredibly innovative in order to get this work done in record time.”

The use of glass nuggets underlying the asphalt, a new technology, is going to save a lot of time—and a lot of commuter griping. NPR noted today that traffic delays around the damaged spot can vary between five minutes to well over an hour.

*At 75, Carlos Santana (do the young folk appreciate him?) is still touring. The AP describes that and also has an absorbing interview with the Associated Press. There will also be a documentary about him, “Carlos“, released in the fall.

The interview is called “Carlos Santana: ‘My guitar is my best lover, ever.'”, and you can see from the video below why he’d say that. He really does look as if he’s making love to his axe.

One excerpt from the interview:

AP: There are many enduring relationships you have in “Carlos” but how would you characterize your relationship to the guitar?

SANTANA: My guitar is my best lover, ever. Lovers come and go, but your relationship with the guitar — any brand or anything — stays. But it’s your relationship with that sound. When you put your fingers on that note, you get chills. That’s the best lover. You discover the sensation of getting the first French kiss. I’ll stop there because this should be PG. But it all deals with the same thing. It all deals with “Oh my God.” The big G-spot, which is God. When you hit that, they all go, “Oh my God.” When you play music like that, it’s more than just clever notes. It becomes emotion, feelings, passion. That’s music to me. Music without emotion, passion or feelings is just clever noise. This is what’s missing from the planet right now. People forgot how to feel. Stop, take a deep breathe and feel what your feeling.

This is the famous version of “Soul Sacrifice” from 1969’s Woodstock, a performance that brought Santana’s group to national renown. The fantastic drumwork was by Michael Shrieve, only 20 at the time.  As Santana admits below, he was tripping on mescaline during the song. The interview also sounds like Santana is tripping as he speaks!

AP: In the film, you recount how Jerry Garcia gave you mescaline shortly before you took the stage at Woodstock, thinking you had hours before you performed. In arguably the most celebrated set of Woodstock, you were tripping and praying…

SANTANA: “God, please let me stay on tune and in time.” I could have laid a big egg in front of everybody. It was scary to look at the audience. But what came through was my mother’s confidence: God is by your side. How can you go wrong?

*Biologists are still going nuts trying to impose human social phenomena on nature—this time on BEES!  Yes, as Colin Wright reports,  Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek argues, in an article in Compact, that worker bees are bisexual, and, indeed, transsexual.  We all know, of course, they’re sterile female, with rudimentary female reproductive systems (only the queen reproduces). Workers have no trace of any male reproductive system.

The quote from befuddled philosopher Žižek:

Today’s gender ideology, by contrast, achieves no such thing. Its operations are rather more like the world of bees, the large majority of which are desexualized “workers” (with their reproductive organs vestigial but remaining well within the biological matrix of sexual reproduction). A corporate honeymaker tells us that

only the queen bee and the drones have a fully developed reproductive system. The worker bees have an atrophic reproductive system. Seven days after her incubation, the queen bee flies outside the beehive, where drones gather, and she mates usually with eight-to-12 drones in midair in the afternoon hours—true love in the afternoon, as the title of a movie says. During mating, the drone’s genitals are reversed and come out of his body, and with his abdominal muscles contracting, he ejaculates. Then his genitals are cut from his body by the queen, causing his death, and the next drone enters…. The queen stores the entire spermatozoon in the spermatheca, and her gland excretes nutrients for the survival of almost 7,000,000 spermatozoa, which are adequate for the rest of her life. During the egg-laying, the queen bee chooses whether she will fertilize every egg that passes through her oviduct; she lays two kinds of eggs, fertilized and non-fertilized. The non-fertilized ones develop into drones, while the fertilized grow into female individuals—this determination is called gender determination. Afterwards, the female individuals can develop into queens or workers, depending on their nutrition during their larva stage—this determination is called caste determination.

If we read this description from our human standpoint, does it not render a weird matriarchal caste society? All the work is done by bees appropriately named workers: They are feminine, with their reproductive organs remaining undeveloped, so they aren’t sexualized, but literally trans-sexual. The sexual intercourse (impregnation) between a queen bee and the drones happens only once in their lifetime: After intercourse, drones die, while the queen gathers enough sperm to last for her entire life. So if the queen is a she and a drone a he, what are the workers? To use today’s nonbinary parlance, are the workers not precisely they? Bees thus form the only known society in which the large majority are “they,” while the worst fate awaits the masculine drones.

Then Wright sets him straight:

Regardless, Žižek’s claim that honeybee workers are “literally trans-sexual” and neither a “she” nor a “he” is wildly inaccurate. As someone who studied social insects as a scientist for nearly seven years and published over a dozen peer-reviewed papers on them, including the most comprehensive review of collective personalities in eusocial insects and arachnids to date, I can say with confidence that he has no idea what he’s talking about.

I suppose tending the hive is supposed to be a MAN’S job, and if a sterile female does it, she’s transsexual. (Likewise, I suppose, one could argue that female lions, who do most of the hunting, are also transsexual, though their ovaries are functional!)

Colin goes on to show how workers are not binary, they are not “theys”, and of course they cannot be transsexual.  As Wright shows, Žižek’s is someone reading a very confused gender ideology into science. The lesson is that nobody should let ideological philosophers anywhere near biology.

A drawing from Colin’s Substack piece with the proper pronouns

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili pines for a d*g.  Malgorzata explains: “Hili loves dogs. She was raised with Darwin and Emma and later Cyrus was her great friend. Andrzej suspects that she thinks she is a dog and that’s why it took her so many years to accept Szaron and why she still dislikes Kulka.”

Hili: I may have the house and many servants but something is missing.
A: What?
Hili: A big dog, maybe a St Bernard.
In Polish:
Hili: Niby mam dom i liczną służbę, ale czegoś mi brakuje.
Ja: Czego?
Hili: Dużego psa, może być bernardyn.

And a picture of Kulka:


From Beth, a great tee-shirt:

From The Absurd Sign Project:

From America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy:

From Masih; they’re burning portraits of the Ayatollah! Sound up.

From Emma Hilton. Be sure to read the “context” material that Twitter users added. (I needn’t add that I’m against capital punishment):

From Malcolm: Cats vs. d*gs:

This is adorable: kitten gets swatted for misbehaving and then carried back home:

From the Auschwitz Memorial; a 12-year-old girl gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb, still in Paris. First, technology advances:

This is a real duck, a male Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata):

Sexual dimorphism in dinosaurs! The hindlimb variation falls into two groups.

19 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1178 – Five Canterbury monks see an event believed to have been the formation of the Giordano Bruno crater on the moon. It is believed that the current oscillations of the Moon’s distance from the Earth (on the order of meters) are a result of this collision.

    1812 – The United States declaration of war upon the United Kingdom is signed by President James Madison, beginning the War of 1812.

    1815 – Napoleonic Wars: The Battle of Waterloo results in the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher forcing him to abdicate the throne of France for the second and last time.

    1858 – Charles Darwin receives a paper from Alfred Russel Wallace that includes nearly identical conclusions about evolution as Darwin’s own, prompting Darwin to publish his theory.

    1873 – Susan B. Anthony is fined $100 for attempting to vote in the 1872 presidential election.

    1900 – Empress Dowager Cixi of China orders all foreigners killed, including foreign diplomats and their families.

    1928 – Aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean (she is a passenger; Wilmer Stultz is the pilot and Lou Gordon the mechanic).

    1940 – Appeal of 18 June by Charles de Gaulle.

    1940 – The “Finest Hour” speech is delivered by Winston Churchill.

    1945 – William Joyce (“Lord Haw-Haw”) is charged with treason for his pro-German propaganda broadcasting during World War II.

    1948 – Columbia Records introduces the long-playing record album in a public demonstration at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

    1972 – Staines air disaster: One hundred eighteen people are killed when a BEA H.S. Trident crashes minutes after takeoff from London’s Heathrow Airport.

    1979 – SALT II is signed by the United States and the Soviet Union.

    1981 – The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, the first operational aircraft initially designed around stealth technology, makes its first flight.

    1983 – Space Shuttle program: STS-7, Astronaut Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.

    1983 – Mona Mahmudnizhad, together with nine other women of the Baháʼí Faith, is sentenced to death and hanged in Shiraz, Iran over her religious beliefs.

    1984 – A major clash between about 5,000 police and a similar number of miners takes place at Orgreave, South Yorkshire, during the 1984–85 UK miners’ strike.

    1994 – The Troubles: Members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) attack a crowded pub with assault rifles in Loughinisland, Northern Ireland. Six Catholic civilians are killed and five wounded. It was crowded with people watching the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

    1799 – William Lassell, English astronomer and merchant (d. 1880. [Remembered for his improvements to the reflecting telescope and his ensuing discoveries of the four planetary satellites Triton, Hyperion, Ariel, and Umbriel.]

    1886 – George Mallory, English lieutenant and mountaineer (d. 1924).

    1913 – Sammy Cahn, American pianist and composer (d. 1993). [Played the piano and violin, and won an Oscar four times for his songs, including the popular hit “Three Coins in the Fountain”.]

    1915 – Red Adair, American firefighter (d. 2004).

    1920 – Ian Carmichael, English actor and singer (d. 2010).

    1927 – Paul Eddington, English actor (d. 1995).

    1929 – Jürgen Habermas, German sociologist and philosopher.

    1941 – Delia Smith, English chef and author. [And joint majority shareholder at WEIT reader Dom’s beloved Canaries (Norwich City F.C.)]

    1942 – Roger Ebert, American journalist, critic, and screenwriter (d. 2013).

    1942 – Paul McCartney, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1961 – Alison Moyet, English singer-songwriter.

    And then it’s nothing but frozen death, the tea-time of the gods and an eternity of cold:
    1860 – Friedrich Wilhelm von Bismarck, German army officer and writer (b. 1783).

    1902 – Samuel Butler, English novelist, satirist, and critic (b. 1835).

    1928 – Roald Amundsen, Norwegian pilot and explorer (b. 1872).

    1936 – Maxim Gorky, Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright (b. 1868).

    1982 – John Cheever, American novelist and short story writer (b. 1912).

    2014 – Stephanie Kwolek, American chemist and engineer (b. 1923).

    2014 – Horace Silver, American pianist and composer (b. 1928).

    2020 – Vera Lynn, English singer who was the “Forces’ Sweetheart” in World War II (b. 1917).

  2. That Santana piece is really on another level (and, dare I say it, one of the not-so-many actual musical highlights of the whole Woodstock festival). On a different Youtube version of the performance, someone commented “Whole band is battling quantum realities, but the drummer is keeping the portal open.” – and that’s a damn good description.

    1. Yes, a great description. Having just turned 20, Michael Shrieve was the second-youngest performer at Woodstock, but it’s worth noting that Carlos Santana is only two years older (almost exactly).

  3. I do not know whether to think of Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” as a happy or sad song, but I do know that I want to cry whenever I hear it.

    1. It was precisely that ambiguity that made Ms. Lynn’s song the perfect finale for Mr. Kubrick’s black comedy:

    2. There’s a wonderful short biography of Vera Lynn on You Tube.
      Paul Mccartney is in a short interview.

  4. A little addition to how badly this Žižek person is wrong about worker bees is that they can at times lay unfertilized eggs. These will develop, hatching into sterile drone (male) bees. In queen-less colonies this occurrence will surge into significant numbers. Worker bees are female, and if asked I am sure they would claim she/her pronouns.

  5. Colin Wright seems good, but that fact that the senior coauthor (or at least the author in the terminal position) on the linked peer-reviewed paper is Jonathan Pruitt, an alleged data fabricator with several retracted papers and who resigned his professorship, is a cause for concern in the reliability of the paper. Hopefully Wright collected the data himself, as the reported modus operandi of Pruitt was to create a set of faked data, then farm it out to unsuspecting coauthors to analyze and write up.

    Scientists are having to fight for scientific integrity on multiple fronts.

    1. Holy smokes, you’re right. I did the googles and this Pruit character was a disaster. Retraction Watch has lengthy discussions about this scientific fraud and more than one of the papers Dr. Wright is a co-author with Pruitt are in Retraction Watch’s database. It should be noted that the paper cited above is NOT in that database.

      One must recognize, though, that it is only Pruitt who was the fraud. His victims (co-authors) should not be blamed, especially as many of them are the ones who uncovered his misconduct. What a mess.

  6. I disagree with Ebert. Capital punishment is meted out for what a person had done. The Holocaust, and genocide generally, comes from punishing people for who they are.

    1. Has there ever been a recent genocide which wasn’t proceeded by some form of justification involving justice or self-defense though? The Jews were considered responsible for Germany’s financial problems and castigated as inherently deceptive, predatory, and dangerous. Before the Hutu massacre of the Tutsis in Rwanda, radio broadcasts described the Tutsis as on the verge of massacring the Hutus. I don’t think the dividing line on motivation here is that sharp.

      1. Remembering, of course, that Rwanda is the preferred place for Britain to displace it’s “asylum seeker” problem to.
        Given the terrible polling position of the Tories, we can expect the “drive the immigrant animals back into the sea” rhetoric to ramp up over the campaigning for the … how many by-elections are pending at the moment – 5, 6?
        People will die. The government will be happy if they can claw back one or two of the by-election seats.

  7. “… Trump has sought to shred long-standing trust in the country’s electoral process, claiming falsely that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen.”

    I’m not sure most Americans appreciate just how close this country came to going over the edge in the waning days of the Trump presidency. What would this nation have woken up to on January 7, 2021, had Mike Pence — the most obsequious vice-president in US history — succumbed to Trump’s browbeating by certifying the slates of fake presidential electors, thereby declaring Trump the winner of the 2020 election? Utter chaos and the greatest constitutional crises since the Civil War — one the Supreme Court may or may not have been able to sort out. (The Court might have found the issue regarding the certification of presidential electors to be a non-justiciable “political question.” What then?)

  8. I don’t do Twitter, but I rather like seeing these ‘context’ additions to contentious tweets.

  9. Colin Wright badly misread what Zizek was saying. He’s not the clearest writer, but in context he was criticizing what Wright mistakenly believes he was advocating. See Zizek’s update to the article:

    “First, to clarify my alleged “biological misstep,” my starting point is that “the large majority of [bees] are desexualized ‘workers’ (with their reproductive organs vestigial but remaining remain well within … sexual reproduction.” What I mean by “desexualized” and “nonbinary” is simply the fact that the sexual organs of workers are “vestigial.” This is why they, as a rule, don’t engage in sexual reproduction, which remains binary (the copulation of male and female bodies, of drones and the queen). So why do I call the workers “trans” and “they”? Again a quote from my text: “To use today’s nonbinary parlance, are the workers not precisely they?” …

    I obviously don’t include myself among those with such dreams. On the contrary, I evoke bees to indicate the horror of a society where gender ideology would predominate. …

    … The one who misses the irony is Wright himself: Far from conceding some ground to gender ideology, my comment on bees is part of my critique of this ideology.”

    Yes, the phase “literally trans-sexual” is grating, but it looks like he meant it more at sex roles than sex biology.

    Wright really should apologize here. It’s an example of ripping a snippet out of context and then doing a snarky attack, in order to make the audience feel superior. It’s a bad own goal for those who want people on the Left to critique these gender issues. Zizek did exactly that, and the reaction here was for Wright to apply zero charitable reading and to go after him since Wright obviously dislikes him.

  10. From “da nooz” about the war in Ukraine: “And the mercenary Wagner Group has shown an ability to outpace Ukrainian defenders with a combination of improved tactics and disposable ranks.”

    I could not find any further explanation of “disposable ranks,” but am reminded of my years at the USAF Academy teaching leadership. We taught that leadership is more than a person and more than a position; it is a process. Through leadership, individuals influence groups toward the accomplishment of shared goals. Understanding social dynamics gives the US (and our NATO allies as well as the Ukrainians) distinct advantages in combat situations – especially those with the greatest ambiguity. Thus, predetermined, hierarchical ranks, often need to be set aside in the interest of situational factors and leadership becomes a shared value rather than a type of imposed authority.

    “The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instruction and give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice as to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey.” ~ General Douglas McArthur

  11. This is adorable: kitten gets swatted for misbehaving and then carried back home:

    I’m not sure where this was photographed – but that quarter-circular arch construction looks to me like a rat-poison holder. And young kitteh is possibly small enough to get far enough into it to reach the poison chamber and it’s attractively-scented poison bait.

    Queen-cat has grounds for delivering a thick ear.

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