Tuesday: Hili dialogue

June 20, 2023 • 6:45 am

Well, it’s back to work on the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, June 20, 2023, and tomorrow at 9:57 a.m. is the Summer Solstice. Today’s food holiday is National Vanilla Milkshake Day, the blandest of all shakes. If you must have one, gussy it up like this:

From Layers of Happiness

It’s also American Eagle Day, National Kouign Amann Day, Plain Yogurt Day, National Cherry Tart Day, World Productivity Day, National Ice Cream Soda Day, West Virginia Day and World Refugee Day. 

But what is Kouign Amann? It’s this:

. . . a sweet Breton cake, made with laminated dough. It is a round multi-layered cake, originally made with bread dough (nowadays sometimes viennoiserie dough), containing layers of butter and incorporated sugar, similar in fashion to puff pastry, albeit with fewer layers. The cake is slowly baked until the sugar caramelizes and the butter (in fact the steam from the 20 percent water in the butter) expands the dough, resulting in its layered structure. A smaller version, kouignette, is similar to a muffin-shaped, caramelized croissant.

The name comes from the Breton language words for cake (kouign) and butter (amann), and in 2011 the New York Times described the kouign-amann as “the fattiest pastry in all of Europe.

That’s it! I want one now! How well it would go with my latte. Here’s the full-sized cake:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 20 Wikipedia page.

There’s a Google Doodle again today; if you click on the screenshot below, you’ll go to the search page honoring Magdalena Abakanowicz, a Polish artist born on this day in 1930 (died April 20, 2017).

Here’s one of her last projects, which sits in our city’s Grant Park. Wikipedia notes:

Abakanowicz’s final round of work includes a project called Agora, which is a permanent installation located at the southern end of Chicago’s Grant Park, next to the Roosevelt Road Metra station. It consists of 106 cast iron figures, each about nine feet tall. All the figures are similar in shape, but different in details. The artist and her three assistants created models for each figure by hand, and the casting took place from 2004 to 2006. The surface of each figure resembles a tree bark or wrinkled skin. The work creates a feeling of crowdedness, hence the name “agora”. Furthermore, all the bodies end at the torso, giving them an eerie, anonymous look.

Here it is:

And the artist:

Magdalena Abakanowicz

Wine of the Day:  Ah, when I first started getting into wine around 1981, German Rieslings, even of world class, were dirt cheap (so were good Bordeaux). As Don Henley wrote, “Those days are gone forever; I should just let ’em go.”

German wines of distinction are graded by sweetness, from the driest, Kabinetts (this one), through grapes pressed with increasing ripeness and hence sugar: Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, and the sweet rarity Trockenbeerenauslese. But even within a grade the sweetness can vary.

This $24 beauty was sweeter than most Kabinetts: not distinctly sweet, but certainly off-dry. And that complemented perfectly a healthy meal of tangy goat cheese, a baguette, ripe tomatoes, and brined, wrinkled black olives in olive oil. (This is my go-to dinner when I don’t want to cook.)  The wine, four years old, was at peak drinkability, starting to get darker but not yellow, with a floral perfume of lime blossoms, and very fresh, best when it was right out of the fridge. It was light in alcohol (see below) but long on flavor, and I get to have the other half-bottle tonight (I’m writing on Monday afternoon.

It wasn’t cheap but it was worth every penny. Investigate German rieslings if you want a change, and realize that their sweetness can sometimes be a perfect match for food.

There aren’t many reviews online. One of them, on the site of my old wine guru Robert Parker, gave it a 94/100 and said this:

“The 2019 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett is bright, precise and elegant on the complex, refined, beautifully clear and flinty nose. Lush, refined and salty-piquant on the palate, this is a salty, crunchy and stimulating Kabinett with a long and intense finish. Bottled with 9.5% alcohol and 60 grams of residual sugar. Tasted at the domain in September 2020. (Stephan Reinhardt)”

Da Nooz:

*According to The Washington Post, the FBI and other agents of The Law didn’t decide to start investigating the January 6, 2001 insurrection as a crime until a year after it took place.

Hours after he was sworn in as attorney general, Merrick Garland and his deputies gathered in a wood-paneled conference room in the Justice Department for a private briefing on the investigation he had promised to make his highest priority: bringing to justice those responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In the two months since the siege, federal agents had conducted 709 searches, charged 278 rioters and identified 885 likely suspects, said Michael R. Sherwin, then-acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, ticking through a slide presentation. Garland and some of his deputies nodded approvingly at the stats, and the new attorney general called the progress “remarkable,” according to people in the room.

A Washington Post investigation found that more than a year would pass before prosecutors and FBI agents jointly embarked on a formal probe of actions directed from the White House to try to steal the election. Even then, the FBI stopped short of identifying the former president as a focus of that investigation.

A wariness about appearing partisan, institutional caution, and clashes over how much evidence was sufficient to investigate the actions of Trump and those around him all contributed to the slow pace. Garland and the deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, charted a cautious course aimed at restoring public trust in the department while some prosecutors below them chafed, feeling top officials were shying away from looking at evidence of potential crimes by Trump and those close to him, The Post found.

. . . Whether a decision about Trump’s culpability for Jan. 6 could have come any earlier is unclear. The delays in examining that question began before Garland was even confirmed. Sherwin, senior Justice Department officials and Paul Abbate, the top deputy to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, quashed a plan by prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office to directly investigate Trump associates for any links to the riot, deeming it premature, according to five individuals familiar with the decision. Instead, they insisted on a methodical approach — focusing first on rioters and going up the ladder.

Well, I think they’ve reached the top of the ladder now.

*William Barr, former Attorney General under Bush père and Trump, and who said that the Florida document charges would make Trump “toast,” has a new piece in the Free Press called “The truth about the Trump indictment.” (Its subtitle is “This time the president is not a victim of a witch hunt. The situation is entirely of his own making.”)

For the sake of the country, our party, and a basic respect for the truth, it is time that Republicans come to grips with the hard truths about President Trump’s conduct and its implications. Chief among them: Trump’s indictment is not the result of unfair government persecution. This is a situation entirely of his own making. The effort to present Trump as a victim in the Mar-a-Lago document affair is cynical political propaganda.

Barr then gives the “plain facts,” which include these:

Some have tried to frame this affair as a simple custody dispute over documents. Trump’s apologists have conjured up bizarre arguments that the Presidential Records Act, a statute meant to prohibit former presidents from removing official documents from the White House, should be interpreted as giving Trump carte blanche to remove whatever he wants, even if it is unquestionably an official document.

These justifications are not only farcical, they are beside the point. They ignore the central reason the former president was indicted: his calculated and deceitful obstruction of a grand jury subpoena.

That Trump had no right to remove national defense documents from the White House is beyond debate. These documents are the very quintessence of the materials that the law expressly forbids an outgoing president from taking with him.

. . . All the razzle-dazzle about Trump’s supposed rights under the Presidential Records Act is a sideshow. At its core, this is an obstruction case. Trump would not have been indicted just for taking the documents in the first place. Nor would he have been indicted even if he delayed returning them for a period while arguing about it.

What got Trump criminally charged was his deceit and obstruction in responding to the grand jury subpoena served in May 2022 after he had stymied the government for a year.

. . .Even if you buy the double standard argument, at most it justifies not holding Trump accountable criminally. It does not mean that his conduct was any less outrageous. And here is where I think too many Republicans are falling down.

It is one thing to argue that Trump should not face criminal liability. Fine. But the next obvious question is whether, given his conduct, the GOP should continue to promote him for the highest office in the land. Many Republicans are avoiding this question and thus implicitly endorsing Trump for the presidency despite his egregious conduct. This posture is untenable.

. . . Many loyal Republicans have instinctively rushed to the ramparts to defend Trump. I understand that impulse. But with each new revelation, they look more and more foolish. Remember when news first broke of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago? The roars of Trump supporters were deafening. “Why didn’t the government simply ask for the documents back?” Well, as it turns out, they did ask, politely, for about a year, and they were jerked around. Trump’s supporters then shifted tack. “Well, why didn’t they use a subpoena first before conducting a search?” Well, as it turns out, they did issue a subpoena, quietly and discreetly, three months before the search, and the search was done only after the government got surveillance video suggesting that, in responding to the subpoena, documents had been illegally withheld. And on and on and on.

Whenever defending Trump is concerned, it is always prudent not to get too far out on a limb until the facts are known. It would be wise to consider that the DOJ has held back a lot of information, and it will be coming out in the weeks ahead. But what we already know about Trump’s behavior is indefensible.

I can’t do anything but agree.

*A submersible vehicle that carries passengers down to look at the wreck of the Titanic has vanished.

A submersible craft carrying five people in the area of the Titanic wreck in the North Atlantic has been missing since Sunday, setting off a search-and-rescue operation by the U.S. Coast Guard, the agency said.

The Coast Guard confirmed Monday that it was searching for the vessel after the Canadian research ship MV Polar Prince lost contact with a submersible during a dive about 900 miles east of Cape Cod, Mass., on Sunday morning.

The submersible is operated by OceanGate Expeditions, a company that offers tours of shipwrecks and underwater canyons. It said on its website that an expedition was “currently underway.”

“Our entire focus is on the crew members in the submersible and their families,” a statement said. “We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible.”

Hamish Harding, the chairman of the aviation company Action Aviation, is among those aboard the missing submersible, according to Mark Butler, the company’s managing director. Mr. Harding wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday that a dive had been planned for Sunday: “A weather window has just opened up,” he wrote.

Given that the Coast Guard doesn’t have the right equipment for a proper search in this area, and that the ship is 12,500 feet down, it’s a dire situation. But it’s self-propelled and could just be lost. It’s just a day since the loss, so cross your fingers. By the way, passengers pay $250,000 for the dive.

*The Associated Press recounts all the carnage that occurred during this holiday weekend (it’s Juneteenth), and it’s especially bad. The greatest number of victims (all but one will survive) was in a suburb of Chicago. And the weekend isn’t over yet (it’s late Monday afternoon):


Five people were shot, two fatally on the city’s South Side on Sunday evening when someone opened fire from a car that pulled up to a gathering, according to police.

Another four men were shot, one fatally, during an altercation in a garage in the West Side neighborhood of Austin around 3 a.m. Sunday, police said. Five others including a teenage girl were shot early Saturday near Lincoln Park Zoo, and two dozen more were shot in other incidents since Friday evening, city data shows.

Meanwhile in the suburbs, at least 23 people were shot, one fatally, early Sunday in a parking lot where hundreds of people had gathered to celebrate Juneteenth, authorities said.

The DuPage County sheriff’s office described a “peaceful gathering” that suddenly turned violent as multiple people fired shots into the crowd in Willowbrook, Illinois, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.

A motive wasn’t immediately known. Sheriff’s spokesman Robert Carroll said authorities were interviewing “persons of interest,” the Daily Herald reported.

That’s 4 dead and 28 wounded in our area, and probably a few more to go. And this is just over two days.  The summary? Here’s our “celebration,” but they don’t give a nationwide total.

 Mass shootings and violence killed and wounded people across the United States this weekend, including at least 60 shot in the Chicago area alone. Four people were found shot to death in a small Idaho town, a Pennsylvania state trooper was killed in an ambush, and bullets struck 11 teenagers, killing one, at a party in Missouri.

The shootings happened in cities and rural areas alike, following a surge in homicides and other violence over the past several years that accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic. Officers responded to mass shootings in Washington state, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Southern California and Baltimore.

“There’s no question there’s been a spike in violence,” said Daniel Nagin, a professor of public policy and statistics at Carnegie Mellon University. “Some of these cases seem to be just disputes, often among adolescents, and those disputes are played out with firearms, not with fists.”

Researchers disagree over the cause. Theories include the possibility that violence is driven by the prevalence of guns in America, or by less aggressive police tactics or a decline in prosecutions for misdemeanor weapon offenses, Nagin said.

Only the Idaho killings fit the definition of a mass killing in which four or more people die, not including the shooter. However, the number of injured in most of the weekend cases matches the widely accepted definition for mass shootings.

I don’t know where they got the “at least 60 shot in Chicago” part, but so it goes. Other countries are aghast at this carnage, and of course everybody says nothing can be done about it, even if we take away all the handguns.

*An Ecuadorian woman came back to life after she was declared dead, and the discovery that she wasn’t dead occurred during her wake. Sadly, she died again

Bella Montoya was initially hospitalized on June 9 at Martín Icaza Hospital, in the central Ecuadoran city of Babahoyo, about 200 miles southwest of the capital, Quito, after a suspected stroke. She went into cardiorespiratory arrest and was declared dead by a doctor.

About five hours into the wake, which was held the same day, her son started to hear noises coming from the coffin.

“The coffin started to make sounds,” Gilberto Barbera told the Associated Press. He said his mother was “wrapped in sheets and hitting the coffin.”

. . .But the apparent resurrection did not mean the 76-year-old former nurse had suddenly made a miraculous recovery. Video of the episode showed Montoya being lifted out of the coffin onto a stretcher, with her hospital bracelet still looped around her arm. She was transported back to the hospital in critical condition.

After a week in an intensive care unit, Montoya was declared dead Friday, Ecuador’s Public Health Ministry said in a statement. She experienced an “ischemic cerebrovascular event,” the ministry said, which involves the restriction of blood flow to the brain.

This is a nightmare on top of another nightmare. The dead coming back to life in their coffins! It would have been better had she stayed alive after she was taken back to the hospital. Ceiling Cat works in mysterious ways.

Finally, to cheer you up, here’s a short but mirthful video:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili left a cool spot to go roaming:

Hili: I’m leaving this shady place to move to another one.
A: It’s cooler onside.
Hili: But it’s nicer here.
In Polish:
Hili: Wyszłam z cienia, ale chyba poszukam innego.
Ja: W domu jest chłodno.
Hili: Ale tu jest milej.


From the Aburd Sign Project:

From Pet Jokes and Puns:

Thank Ceiling Cat I don’t need this (it appears to be real)! From Jesus of the Day:


More heartening video from Masih (there’s sound, including what seems like duck noise!)

From Barry, a new religious app:

From Bsrry, a good one:

From Elon Musk. Oy, that stings!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a Czech woman who died in the camp at 48.

Tweets from Dr. Cobb, who’s finally back in Manchester, and feeling low:

Yes, this is a worm, seen in a deep-sea dive:

From Ziya Tong via Matthew. Much animal sex is fascinating: check out the way that bedbugs have sex in the video below:

Bedbug sex:

17 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Minor correction – Bill Barr was Attorney General under Bush the Elder, not W. In that role, among other things, he orchestrated the pardons for the Iran-Contra miscreants.

  2. Last night, as I was flipping the channels, I came across an interview that Trump sat for with Fox New’s Bret Baier. Somewhat surprising to me, Baier, although respectful, attempted to press Trump as best he could after Trump lied or evaded answering a question by rambling on about all the good things he did while president or how Biden is out to get him. Once again, Trump spouted his lie that he won the 2020 election. Baier told him that he had not. Asked why he had not returned the Mar-A-Lago documents, Trump replied that he hadn’t the time to sort out his personal items stored in the boxes, such as his golf shirts. That remark gave me a hearty chuckle. Even some conservatives blasted Trump. Conservative Fox commentator Brit Hume said “His answers on the matter of the law seem to verge on incoherent.” Except for his cult, which will believe anything he says, it is hard to believe this interview did him any good.


  3. On this day:
    1631 – The Sack of Baltimore: The Irish village of Baltimore is attacked by Algerian pirates. [The attack was led by a Dutch captain, Jan Janszoon van Haarlem, also known as Murad Reis the Younger, who was enslaved by Algerians but released when he renounced his faith. Murad’s force was led to the village by a man called Hackett, the captain of a fishing boat he had captured earlier, in exchange for his freedom. Hackett was subsequently hanged from the clifftop outside the village for conspiracy. The attack was the largest by Barbary slave traders on Ireland.]

    1756 – A British garrison is imprisoned in the Black Hole of Calcutta.

    1782 – The U.S. Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States.

    1787 – Oliver Ellsworth moves at the Federal Convention to call the government the ‘United States’.

    1791 – King Louis XVI, disguised as a valet, and the French royal family attempt to flee Paris during the French Revolution.

    1837 – Queen Victoria succeeds to the British throne.

    1840 – Samuel Morse receives the patent for the telegraph.

    1877 – Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

    1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother.

    1895 – The Kiel Canal, crossing the base of the Jutland peninsula and the busiest artificial waterway in the world, is officially opened.

    1942 – The Holocaust: Kazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, steal an SS staff car and escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

    1943 – The Detroit race riot breaks out and continues for three more days.

    1944 – The experimental MW 18014 V-2 rocket reaches an altitude of 176 km, becoming the first man-made object to reach outer space.

    1945 – The United States Secretary of State approves the transfer of Wernher von Braun and his team of Nazi rocket scientists to the U.S. under Operation Paperclip.

    1948 – The Deutsche Mark is introduced in Western Allied-occupied Germany. The Soviet Military Administration in Germany responded by imposing the Berlin Blockade four days later.

    1963 – Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union and the United States sign an agreement to establish the so-called “red telephone” link between Washington, D.C. and Moscow.

    1972 – Watergate scandal: An 18½-minute gap appears in the tape recording of the conversations between U.S. President Richard Nixon and his advisers regarding the recent arrests of his operatives while breaking into the Watergate complex.

    1975 – The film Jaws is released in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing film of that time and starting the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters”.

    1982 – The International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide opens in Tel Aviv, despite attempts by the Turkish government to cancel it, as it included presentations on the Armenian genocide.

    1991 – The German Bundestag votes to move seat of government from the former West German capital of Bonn to the present capital of Berlin.

    2003 – The Wikimedia Foundation is founded in St. Petersburg, Florida.

    1847 – Gina Krog, Norwegian suffragist and women’s rights activist (d. 1916).

    1875 – Reginald Punnett, English geneticist, statistician, and academic (d. 1967). [Probably best remembered today as the creator of the Punnett square, a tool still used by biologists to predict the probability of possible genotypes of offspring. His Mendelism (1905) is sometimes said to have been the first textbook on genetics; it was probably the first popular science book to introduce genetics to the public.]

    1884 – Mary R. Calvert, American astronomer and author (d. 1974).

    1905 – Lillian Hellman, American playwright and screenwriter (d. 1984).

    1909 – Errol Flynn, Australian-American actor (d. 1959).

    1924 – Chet Atkins, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2001).

    1925 – Audie Murphy, American lieutenant and actor, Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1971).

    1928 – Martin Landau, American actor and producer (d. 2017).

    1933 – Claire Tomalin, English journalist and author.

    1934 – Wendy Craig, English actress.

    1938 – Mickie Most, English music producer (d. 2003).

    1941 – Stephen Frears, English actor, director, and producer.

    1942 – Brian Wilson, American singer-songwriter and producer.

    1949 – Lionel Richie, American singer-songwriter, pianist, producer, and actor.

    1952 – John Goodman, American actor.

    1952 – Vikram Seth, Indian author and poet.

    1958 – Kelly Johnson, English hard rock guitarist and songwriter (d. 2007).

    1960 – John Taylor, English singer-songwriter, bass player, and actor.

    1967 – Nicole Kidman, American-Australian actress.

    “I’ve never seen Death actually at work.”
    “Not many have,” said Albert. “Not twice, at any rate.”

    1776 – Benjamin Huntsman, English businessman (b. 1704). [Inventor and manufacturer of cast or crucible steel.]

    1947 – Bugsy Siegel, American mobster (b. 1906).

    1966 – Georges Lemaître, Belgian priest, physicist, and astronomer (b. 1894).

    2005 – Jack Kilby, American physicist and engineer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1923). [Took part (along with Robert Noyce of Fairchild) in the realization of the first integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments in 1958. Kilby was also the co-inventor of the handheld calculator and the thermal printer, for which he had the patents.]

  4. Possibly the Titanic tour is delayed while the company works on the return price and explains the $250,000 was just one way. While Trump continues his job, looking like a fool, his main rival down in Florida continues his war on the Woke while the people attempt to figure out what that is.

    1. Should also note that Hunter Biden has just done a plea deal on 5 years of investigation into his business — Taxes and Firearms. republicans will continue their rant on this.

  5. Two calls for action in today’s Hili:

    1) Take away all the handguns. Sure, by force if necessary. But how does that square with demands to stop over-policing of black neighbourhoods, racial profiling of black people not obviously committing crimes, and over-incarceration of young black men found in illegal possession of handguns?

    2). Real action on CO2 emissions. But what exactly? The world has shown it’s not interested in proposals already made by governments, which are widely understood by the scientific community to be only a tentative first baby step. Well, Canada did ban plastic straws, so that’s something. So we say.

  6. Nice “Boys of Summer” reference! By all accounts, Don Henley is a stick in the mud, but boy, he’s written (or co-written) some of the best songs this side of Lennon and McCartney.

  7. Woops, looks like the Roger Freedman tweet embedded in a way that cropped off the actual joke. The Twitter Books account had put out a prompt “Last book that made you cry”, and then this sequence follows, with some wag naming this physics textbook.

  8. I object to the cat shaming sign. Obviously, the cat had a reason, whether humans understand it or not.

    1. It’s poorly titled, for sure. It should be titled “Trend in atmospheric CO2,” since that is what the y-axis is showing.

    2. I believe it’s just missing the legend. The colors of the bars indicate annual temperature anomalies. Nobody is trying to mislead anybody.

    3. Graphs in this Substack show that worldwide coal consumption is on a tear in Asia, not just China but India and Vietnam, which is striving to industrialize enough to meet the demand for manufacturing as the world tries to disentangle itself from China.

      Coal use has been declining for decades in North America and Europe but the increase in Asia swamps those modest declines from rather low absolute baselines. Most coal today is used for electricity generation; 36% of the world’s electricity comes from coal, with natural gas in second place. Much of the reduction in coal use in rich countries is down to replacement by gas, not by wind and solar. Nuclear continues its slow fade away. Coal is so cheap that displacing it with nuclear seems unlikely to be economically feasible, even though the author of the article is keen on trying. Nuclear was a popular idea in the 1960s when we thought we were going to run out of oil (from which a lot of electricity came back then.). But we aren’t going to run out of coal. Poor and middle-income countries don’t want to pay a premium for nuclear (or imported liquified natural gas) and they don’t care about annual temperature anomalies. Countries that profess to care have next-to-no leverage over their energy policies.

      Bottom line: if we want to electrify everything, the electricity is going to come from coal. Emissions have to keep rising.

  9. I’m surprised there isn’t some kind of failsafe that would allow the submersible to surface in case of lost communication or some other emergency. Like deploying a balloon or something. Maybe that will be in the next upgrade. I hope they find them in time, what a nightmare. We can expect lawsuits either way.

    I really like Abakanowicz’s art installation there in Chicago. If I ever get there, I’ll have to take a looksee.

    I liked the dog joke, but I wonder how “we” know that only 1% of ancient literature survived? I’m sure the destruction of the library at Alexandria has something to do with it. Damn fanatics! Though I understand Julius Caesar also burned it partially during his civil war.

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