Monday: Hili dialogue

June 26, 2023 • 6:45 am

Good morning at the start of the work week: June 26, 2023, and National Chocolate Pudding Day (for me this will always conjure up the tarnished image of Bill Cosby, who advertised the Jell-o brand).

It’s also National Canoe Day (in Canada), Tropical Cocktails Day, International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, World Refrigeration Day, and Ratcatcher’s Day inHamelin, Germany.  The latter, of course, refers to the famous story “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” (read the summary on Wikipedia; it’s pretty grim, like many early children’s stories).

From Wikipedia: “Postcard ‘Gruss aus Hameln’ featuring the Pied Piper of Hamelin, 1902″

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

Da Nooz:

*First, the WaPo explains, “Just what happened in Russia? The Wagner crisis explained.

For the moment, things appear to be calming down, as the forces answering to Prigozhin, the Wagner Group chief, have halted their march toward Moscow and turned around. The development came after an agreement between Prigozhin and Putin was brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. Criminal charges previously started against Prigozhin will be dropped, and the Wagner boss will go to Belarus, Peskov said.

Still, the dispute represents a significant challenge to Putin’s leadership, the potential loss of one of Putin’s most successful field commanders, and a possible shift in the course of the war in Ukraine.

How did the dispute start? Internal tensions between Prigozhin and Russian military leaders have been simmering for months over what Prigozhin believed were leadership failures within the military. Prigozhin accused Russian generals of stonewalling his ammunition requests and, as a result, blamed them for his fighters dying “in heaps” in Ukraine.

What exactly did Prigozhin do? Prigozhin said he had taken control of the main Russian military command base in the southern region of Rostov and told two Russian military commanders that he would blockade Rostov and send his forces to Moscow unless he could confront his enemies: Shoigu and Gerasimov.

What deal was brokered? Many analysts predicted that Prigozhin would be killed or arrested as Wagner forces moved toward Moscow. But the sudden about-face of Prigozhin’s troops appeared to have eased the crisis for now.

The agreement for Prigozhin’s forces to turn around was brokered by the Belarusian president, who spoke with Putin before negotiating with Prigozhin, according to the Belarusian state-owned news agency Belta and the Kremlin. With security guarantees for Wagner on the table, Prigozhin reportedly agreed to stop his dash to Moscow.

How is Ukraine responding? Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening address Saturday that the events inside Russia show “that the bosses of Russia do not control anything.”

“Nothing at all. Complete chaos,” Zelensky said. “And it is happening on Russian territory, which is fully loaded with weapons.”

The Ukrainian military continued pressing its offensive Saturday, though there were no immediate signs that the rebellion next door had eased the Ukrainian path to victory.

That is all ye know on Earth, and all ye need to know. Except I want to know what the deuce Wagner is going to do futzing around in Belarus. Are they going to become that country’s private army. Are they going back to attacking Ukraine. We’ll know soon.

*The news is full of speculations about what the short “revolt” of the Wagner group means for Putin’s authority in Russia. Here’s one such article from the NYT:

A day after an armed rebellion by Wagner mercenaries against Vladimir V. Putin’s government was defused at the last minute, neither Mr. Putin nor the mercenary leader made a public appearance, adding to the sense of uncertainty and confusion pervading Russia.

. . . But in many ways, the 24-hour uprising punctured Mr. Putin’s strongman authority. The ability of Mr. Prigozhin to stage an armed mutiny that threatened to reach Moscow raised uncomfortable questions inside Russia: What did Mr. Putin’s failure to prevent the revolt mean for the country’s security — and his staying power? Even Russians with ties to the Kremlin who expressed relief that the uprising did not spark a civil war agreed that Mr. Putin had come off looking weak in a way that could be lasting.

A day after Mr. Putin gave a short national address condemning Mr. Prigozhin’s actions as “treason,” the Russian president maintained a low profile. Mr. Prigozhin’s location also remained unknown.

This weekend, Russian stability was nowhere to be found, and neither was Mr. Putin, who after making a brief statement on Saturday morning vanished from sight during the most dramatic challenge to his authority in his 23-year reign.

In his absence, he left stunned Russians wondering how the leader of a paramilitary group, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, could stage an armed mutiny on Saturday that threatened to reach Moscow. And it raised uncomfortable questions about the Russian president’s future: What did his failure to prevent the revolt mean for their security — and his staying power?

Russians with ties to the Kremlin expressed relief on Sunday that Mr. Prigozhin’s uprising did not spark a civil war. But at the same time, they agreed that Mr. Putin had come off looking weak in a way that could be lasting.

Konstantin Remchukov, a Moscow newspaper editor with Kremlin connections, said in a telephone interview that what once seemed unthinkable was now possible: that people close to Mr. Putin could seek to persuade him not to stand for re-election in Russia’s presidential vote next spring. With Saturday’s events, he said, Mr. Putin had conclusively lost his status as the guarantor of the elite’s wealth and security.

*Finally, the Wall Street Journal speculates about what is the fate of Wagner.

A day after Wagner’s mutiny showed the unexpected fragility of President Vladimir Putin’s regime, all the main players in Russia’s worst political crisis in decades stayed out of sight—leaving Russians, and the world, to wonder whether the drama was really over.

Key unanswered questions include the future of Wagner’s 25,000 heavily armed troops, of the paramilitary group’s owner Yevgeny Prigozhin and of Russia’s military leadership, which failed to stop his rapid advance toward Moscow. The details of agreements brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to halt looming bloodshed have yet to be made public.

The whereabouts of Prigozhin, who according to the Kremlin had agreed to relocate to Belarus, were also unknown on Sunday. His company told a Russian TV network that he “will answer questions when he will have access to proper communications.” Flying Russian flags, large Wagner columns on Sunday were driving south on the Moscow-Rostov highway—away from the capital and away from Belarus.

Prigozhin, who showed Wagner’s strength by marching two-thirds of the way toward Moscow with little opposition, ended up aborting the rebellion and accepting, at least for now, exile. The Russian army and security forces, meanwhile, displayed little glory as their troops proved reluctant, if not outright afraid, to try stopping Wagner.

I’m wondering what would have happened if the Wagner forces kept going. Could they actually have deposed Putin? Now that would have been something! And the mystery deepens because Prigozhin has disappeared. I’m going to make a prediction: Prigozhin, and the Wagner forces will not resume fighting against Ukraine. What is in it for them except wrecked territory and more loss of lives. They don’t have a country any more, and they’re not fighting for Russia; but will Prigozhin be satisfied cooling his heels in Belarus?

*According to the AP, the House of Representatives, controlled now by Republicans, is quietly trying to make laws to further restrict women’s access to abortion. Just what we need: more religiously inspired restriction of women’s freedom.

In a flurry of little-noticed legislative action, GOP lawmakers are pushing abortion policy changes, trying to build on the work of activists whose strategy successfully elevated their fight to the nation’s highest court.

In one government funding bill after another, Republicans are incorporating unrelated policy provisions, known as riders, to restrict women’s reproductive rights. Democrats say the proposals will never become law.

“This is not just about an attack on women’s health,” Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said Friday. “I view it as an attempt to derail the entire process of funding the federal government by injecting these riders into the appropriations process.”

Rep. Kay Granger, the Texas Republican who heads the committee, said during a hearings this past week that the riders that were included continue “long-standing pro-life protections that are important to our side of the aisle.”

And look at this!

Nearly a dozen anti-abortion measures have been included so far in budget bills. In the agricultural one, for example, Republicans are looking to reverse a recent move by the Food and Drug Administration that would allow the contraception pill mifepristone to be dispensed in certified pharmacies, as opposed to only in hospitals and clinics.

Anti-abortion proposals have found their way into the defense bill, where GOP lawmakers are aiming to ban paid leave and travel for military service members and their family members who are seeking reproductive health care services. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he warned Defense Secretary Llyod Austin about it.

But Republicans, knowing that national sentiment isn’t exactly on the side of the stringent restrictions that many states are putting on abortion, are still wary about this, and must surely realize that any bills affection the country will have to pass the Democratic Senate (not a chance), and even if they did they’d be vetoed by Biden and require a two-thirds vote of both House and Senate to override that veto. There’s simply no chance of this happening, so I’m not all that worried. Where we should be worried is about the state legislatures.

*Here are some of Richard Dawkins’s thoughts from a recent visit to New Zealand. They’re on his Substack site in a post called “There’s only one ‘Way of Knowing’: Science“. The topic, of course, is the New Zealand push to bundld indigenous “ways of knowing”, which include not only practical knowledge, but also legend, religion, morality, and superstition, in with science.

To grasp government intentions requires a little work, because every third word of the relevant documents is in Māori. Since only 2 per cent of New Zealanders (and only 5 per cent of Māoris) speak that language, this again looks like self-righteous virtue-signalling, bending a knee to that modish version of Original Sin which is white guilt. Mātauranga Māori includes valuable tips on edible fungi, star navigation and species conservation (pity the moas were all eaten). Unfortunately it is deeply invested in vitalism. New Zealand children will be taught the true wonder of DNA, while being simultaneously confused by the doctrine that all life throbs with a vital force conferred by the Earth Mother and the Sky Father. Origin myths are haunting and poetic, but they belong elsewhere in the curriculum. The very phrase ‘western’ science buys into the ‘relativist’ notion that evolution and big bang cosmology are just the origin myth of white western men, a narrative whose hegemony over ‘indigenous’ alternatives stems from nothing better than political power. This is pernicious nonsense. Science belongs to all humanity. It is humanity’s proud best shot at discovering the truth about the real world.

My speeches in Auckland and Wellington were warmly applauded, though one woman yelled a protest. She was politely invited to participate, but she chose to walk out instead. I truthfully said that, when asked my favourite country, I invariably choose New Zealand. Citing the legacy of Ernest Rutherford, the greatest experimental physicist since Faraday, I begged my audiences to reach out to their MPs in support of New Zealand science. The true reason science is more than an origin myth is that it stands on evidence: massively documented evidence, double blind trials, peer review, quantitative predictions precisely verified in labs around the world. Science reads the billion-word DNA book of life itself. Science eradicates smallpox and polio. Science navigates to Pluto or a tiny comet. Science almost certainly saved your life. Science works.

I feel completely in synch with those sentiments. I love New Zealand, but I hate how the government is truckling to anti-science forces, and how cowed the populace is. I don’t want Kiwi science to go down the drain, but the anti-colonizers seem more interested in grabbing power than in promoting scientific advances.

Richard appended a PS:

Postscript on the flight out: Air New Zealand think it is a cute idea to invoke Māori gods in their safety briefing. Imagine if British Airways announced that their planes are kept aloft by the Holy Ghost in equal partnership with Bernoulli’s Principle and Newton’s First Law. Science explains. It lightens our darkness. Science is the poetry of reality. It belongs to all humanity. Kia Ora!

Air New Zealand has some great safety videos online, but they’re really becoming “decolonized” now. I’m suspecting that the one Richard watched was this one:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Her Highness makes a necessity into a profundity.

Hili: Everything depends on the point of view.
A: And that means…
Hili: It means that the heart of the matter may hide in the grass.
In Polish:
Hili: Wszystko zależy od punktu widzenia.
Ja: To znaczy?
Hili: To znaczy, że istota rzeczy może ukrywać się w trawie.

. . . and a photo of Baby Kulka:


Here’s a strange but also heartening video sent by reader Jez.   As the BBC noted: “Following the withdrawal of a team-mate Belgian shot putter Jolien Boumkwo competes in the 100m women’s hurdles to gain important points for her nation at the European Athletics Team Championships in Poland.” (You may be able to watch the video at the BBC link—if you live in the UK.

Jez added this after finding a Tik Tok video:

Shot putters aren’t really built for the hurdles and the poor woman finished a l-o-n-g way behind everyone else (the winner finished in 13.21 seconds, the shot putter in about 32!) She had to virtually stop and step over each of the hurdles, but she was clearly enjoying herself. The Belgian team would have been disadvantaged if they hadn’t entered a competitor at all, but I’d have thought they would have had a better contender than the shot putter.


Jolien Maliga Boumkwo helped her team earn two points by participating 👏 (via @TopatletiekLive | Twitter) #hurdles #belgium #europeanchampionship #shotput #run

♬ original sound – Sports Illustrated

From Jesus of the Day: what a clever (but nasty) trick!

From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0:

From Masih. The Google translation of Masih’s Farsi caption is:

The statement of the students of the University of Arts who said to the persecutors: “We have nothing to say to you, except one word: #نه ” [“#No] is the words of a wounded but resistant Iranian heart and addressed to a corrupt government. And this is not only the voice of the brave students and their protest against the mandatory hijab, but also the big “no” of the Iranian people to forty-four years of destruction of the Islamic Republic. “No” to the workers whose tables have been emptied, the teachers who have been imprisoned and the people who have been oppressed because of their religion, language and beliefs. The complete crystallization of this big “no” was the revolution #زن_زندگى_آزادی  [#Woman_Life_Freedom], We all continue this path together and do not back down from our dreams and ideals for a moment.

From Malcolm, who said he knew I’d like this one. Of course I do, but that’s a very loud purr for a kitten!

From Simon, a tweet from Bill Kristol. Trump would be SO popular in Belarus!

I found this one:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: a 7-year-old girl gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. The first one I retweeted from Matthew. Notice how closely Russel’s style resemble that of Anne Elk (whose theory was hers):


When I see something like this, I always think of natural selection acting on tiny, incipient mutations that make it go just a bit deeper into the soil:

The quote is apparently from Richard Rhodes’s The Making of the Atomic Bomb:

28 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. .. and National Chocolate Pudding Day (for me this will always conjure up the tarnished image of Bill Cosby, who advertised the Jell-o brand).

    I think now it also conjures the image of “Pudding Fingers Ron DeSantis” from the ad Trump’s PAC ran. And I don’t think DeSantis’s campaign has ever recovered. It’s tough when a politician’s name becomes associated with feelings of disgust and revulsion:

  2. On this day:
    1295 – Przemysł II crowned king of Poland, following Ducal period. The white eagle is added to the Polish coat of arms.

    1740 – A combined force of Spanish, free blacks and allied Indians defeat a British garrison at the Siege of Fort Mose near St. Augustine during the War of Jenkins’ Ear.

    1794 – French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of Fleurus marked the first successful military use of aircraft.

    1843 – Treaty of Nanking comes into effect, Hong Kong Island is ceded to the British “in perpetuity”. [So much for perpetuity!]

    1848 – End of the June Days Uprising in Paris.

    1857 – The first investiture of the Victoria Cross in Hyde Park, London.

    1886 – Henri Moissan isolated elemental Fluorine for the first time.

    1906 – The first Grand Prix motor race is held at Le Mans.

    1909 – The Science Museum in London comes into existence as an independent entity.

    1927 – The Cyclone roller coaster opens on Coney Island.

    1934 – United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Federal Credit Union Act, which establishes credit unions.

    1948 – Cold War: The first supply flights are made in response to the Berlin Blockade.

    1948 – Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery is published in The New Yorker magazine.

    1963 – Cold War: U.S. President John F. Kennedy gave his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, underlining the support of the United States for democratic West Germany shortly after Soviet-supported East Germany erected the Berlin Wall.

    1977 – Elvis Presley held his final concert in Indianapolis, Indiana at Market Square Arena.

    1997 – J. K. Rowling publishes the first of her Harry Potter novel series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in United Kingdom.

    2000 – The Human Genome Project announces the completion of a “rough draft” sequence.

    2015 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5–4, that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    1694 – Georg Brandt, Swedish chemist and mineralogist (d. 1768).

    1892 – Pearl S. Buck, American novelist, essayist, short story writer Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1973).

    1893 – Dorothy Fuldheim, American journalist and news anchor (d. 1989).

    1903 – Big Bill Broonzy, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1958).

    1904 – Peter Lorre, Slovak-American actor and singer (d. 1964).

    1908 – Salvador Allende, Chilean physician and politician, 29th President of Chile (d. 1973).

    1909 – Wolfgang Reitherman, German-American animator, director, and producer (d. 1985).

    1914 – Laurie Lee, English author and poet (d. 1997).

    1921 – Violette Szabo, French-British secret agent (d. 1945). [On her second mission into occupied France, Szabo was captured by the German army, interrogated, tortured and deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany, where she was executed. She is the subject of the film Carve Her Name with Pride.]

    1942 – Gilberto Gil, Brazilian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and politician, Brazilian Minister of Culture.

    1943 – Georgie Fame, English singer, pianist, and keyboard player.

    1955 – Mick Jones, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1956 – Chris Isaak, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor.

    1957 – Patty Smyth, American singer-songwriter and musician.

    1993 – Ariana Grande, American singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress.

    “You’re dead,” he said. Keli waited. She couldn’t think of any suitable reply. “I’m not” lacked a certain style, while “Is it serious?” seemed somehow too frivolous.
    1541 – Francisco Pizarro, Spanish explorer and politician, Governor of New Castile (b. c. 1471). [Assassinated in Lima by the son of his former companion, and later antagonist, Diego de Almagro the younger, who was later caught and executed.]

    1793 – Gilbert White, English ornithologist and ecologist (b. 1720).

    1810 – Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, French inventor, co-invented the hot air balloon (b. 1740).

    1939 – Ford Madox Ford, English novelist, poet, and critic (b. 1873).

    1943 – Karl Landsteiner, Austrian biologist and physician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1868).

    1956 – Clifford Brown, American trumpet player and composer (b. 1930).

    1996 – Veronica Guerin, Irish journalist (b. 1958). [In 1994 she began writing exposes about organised crime for the Sunday Independent. In 1996 she was fatally shot in a contract killing while stopped at a traffic light. The shooting caused national outrage in Ireland and the investigation into her death led to a number of arrests and convictions.]

    2005 – Richard Whiteley, English journalist and game show host (b. 1943).

    2012 – Nora Ephron, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1941).

    1. “‘You’re dead,’ he said. Keli waited. She couldn’t think of any suitable reply. ‘I’m not’ lacked a certain style, while ‘Is it serious?’ seemed somehow too frivolous.”

      Not sure why you put this Terry Pratchett quote in this spot, but it immediately made me think of this:

    2. Wow. I’m even dumber than I thought, and I regularly call myself “the world’s stupidest smart person” just so people know that my verbal skills do not accurately reflect my significantly inferior overall intellect. I realize now that the quote was to delineate the births from the deaths. I got confused because (1) I saw Ariana Grande right before it; (2) there was no space between the quote and Pizarro; (3) I didn’t know the birth date of Pizarro; and (4) I didn’t read the entire description of Pizarro’s death. Kudos to you on using a great header for the deaths! Also, weird to murder a guy who’s 70 years old in the 16th century. Why risk being caught and executed instead letting natural causes do the work? Now I need to go look up what Pizarro did to so anger his killer.

  3. You can see what a great athlete Ms, Boumkwo really is. No practice or training in hurdles, she didn’t trip over any of them as she threw a graceful leg over each one and sprinted for the finish as if it mattered. Because it did.

  4. If New Zealand is puzzling, as it was for me, I strongly suggest to read these two highly cited works from one of the most highly cited sociologists ever (according to Google Scholar):

    Paulo Friere
    Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968)
    The Politics of Education (1985)

    Friere’s master plan (i.e. Marx fan fiction) is nothing short of faith based and religious. It really has to be read to be believed, that this master plan is what a large proportion of education has been based on since 1985 (in the U.S.), and the development in New Zealand appears to be congruous to what is expected from Friere’s pedagogy.

    The only puzzle now is what pedagogy is in service in New Zealand, and since what year.

  5. This whole Russia thing is opaque. It sounded like a coup attempt, but now I think it was just a labor dispute. Less Roman Legions marching on the capitol, and more workers marching to the owner’s house.

    1. Yeah. And I’m mighty confused about all the opinions out there that Putin has been weakened by this and that his hold on power is threatened. I don’t personally see it that way. But it does illustrate that the situation over there can turn a different direction rather suddenly.

      1. Sadly, even Western media is admitting that the Ukrainian counteroffensive isn’t going all that well, so I think they’re latching onto a story that can cover that up for a bit.

        As for the rest of us, we can only hope that the likely temporary absence of Wagner Group will help the counteroffensive.

        1. Some FOX commentators are saying the MSM is helping Biden by taking the Hunter Biden investigation “off the front page.” As if this development in Russia is not a world-news event. Maybe Biden and Prigozhin are in cahoots, yeah, that’s it! 🤪

    2. Agreed. I hate to cry “Western propaganda,” as I’ve been seriously pulling for Ukraine since day one. But it’s been known for months that Prigozhin and Wagner Group have been deeply upset by the Russian military’s treatment of them, so I assume a deal was brokered to give them more resources in return for continuing to fight (or, perhaps, they were threatened with complete annihilation/being sent to the gulag en masse).

      This doesn’t seem to change much, if anything. I certainly don’t see how it changes Putin’s position, and Western sources don’t seem to have any “sources” for such claims beyond “Russians with ties to the Kremlin,” which is journalist-speak for “people I know who know other people who might work near the Kremlin in jobs as low as tour guide, or people at think tanks who write reports on the Kremlin.”

    3. Every battlefield commander wants more resources; every higher command is resource constrained. The Prigozhin spat with the higher command is simultaneously a troubling and amusing display of vanity, lack of discipline, and bombast. Time will tell whether it was ever a real threat to Putin.

      As to whether Prigozhin would have made it to Moscow, consider that Russia has held in reserve nearly all its air force. Massed troops moving up a highway would have been slaughtered had Putin given the orders, but the optics would have been bad for Putin, and he needs those young men in Ukraine. What looks like weakness could have been prudence. (And it could have been weakness. All we have right now are guesses.)

      For those who were (are) cheering some type of overthrow of Putin, I would ask them to consider who would then have control over the Russian nuclear arsenal. I imagine that the whole current system of command, control, and security just magically stays in place, right? No tactical nukes smuggled out to the highest bidder? No confusion in the command over potential NATO threats during a period of deep instability and the need for quick nuclear response? No miscommunications with its deployed and nuclear-armed submarines? No, we just get all the good stuff of Putin being gone? Perhaps.

      1. Yeah, you never know what will happen in the vacuum of a deposed dictator, especially one who has been in power for a couple decades. Think ISIS after Hussein and the fact that Iraq has been in chaos ever since Hussein was toppled. Russia in chaos is exponentially worse than a country like Iraq (or Afghanistan).

        1. While the 2003 Iraq war was a terrible idea based on completely falsified intelligence backed up by a mainstream media that was (for some reason) desperate to legitimize the belligerence, I shudder to think what Iraq would be like under the rule of Uday Hussein. Saddam Hussein was a horrifying dictator, but Uday was, by all accounts, an even greater monster in personality. He simply took pleasure in torture and murder of all kinds and never seemed interested in actually governing, so a regime led by him might just be waking up every morning and asking, “what horrors can I inflict upon innocent people today that would hold my interest?” Perhaps Qusay would have taken the reins.

          Actually, civil war and chaos seems like the most likely outcome of Saddam’s death, whenever it might have happened in an alternate universe. Of course, that in no way excuses what the US invasion and occupation, nor its terrible and halfhearted attempt at building a functioning replacement government and infrastructure.

  6. That Air NZ “safety” video is a hilarious example of what happens when you try to “decolonize” science. Instead of concisely explaining proper safety procedures in case of emergency, it gives you a lesson in Maori superstition while using language that even 95% of Maori people won’t understand. How about an actual safety video?

    If something happens on one of their flights and people aren’t properly prepared because the “safety video” didn’t actually convey all of the proper protocols in a concise and easily digestible manner, can they be sued?

    Teaching Maori superstition is apparently now more important than teaching actual air safety. “Decolonizing” really does seem to mean “replace useful, universal knowledge with superstitious fluff to assuage white guilt.”

    1. And the cringe factor. I love much of that mythology, but the forcefulness of it can be annoying.
      The videos started off as comedies and then just as laughs on the side, and that was criticized for what you said. They got the info off quite well as they still focused on the subject. Then they went overboard.

        1. Hey, I love Greek and Roman mythology. I love how utterly capricious and downright petty their gods are. I love that their lives play out like, um, Greek comedies and tragedies. I find their mythologies both rich and deeply amusing. I also think the idea of capricious and petty gods running the world makes far more sense than a “loving” god who gives the slightest shit about our human trifles.

    2. In your last sentence, I suggest instead of “to assuage white guilt”, it would be more accurate to say, “to procrastinate on an inevitable power transfer that the erstwhile colonizer is no longer psychologically or sociologically capable of resisting despite its state monopoly on the use of violence.” Dane-geld on the cheap, you might say, but it’s on top of costly Dane-geld paid elsewhere.

      Fear, not guilt.

      1. I respectfully disagree. Perhaps this is the case in NZ, but it seems that in most Western nations — the only places where the notion of “decolonizing” even exists, despite the vast and often vastly more brutal colonization efforts that have occurred and often continue in nearly every other part of the world — the majority of people don’t give two runny shits about such garbage. I hate to say it, but one thing we know Republicans won’t be doing when they next grab power is “decolonizing” anything, or reading think tank articles about “queering” our nuclear arsenal for anything other than chuckles.

        EDIT: Edit is back!

        Though I do appreciate your reference to the Danegeld.

        “Once you have paid him the Danegeld
        You never get rid of the Dane.”

        Truer words were never written.

  7. I you finally showed some of out airline “safety” videos. The problem is they always seem so unsafe as the cringe factor of the forced narrative makes it harder to follow them often.

  8. While I don’t entirely buy that science is the only way of knowing (if it were, most of us would be a lot more ignorant than we are), but the ”Tiaki & The Guardians” video validates everything you and Dawkins say about the Maori effort to equate science and indigenous ways of knowing. Ridiculous! Thanks for posting that.

    1. I actually enjoyed the video. It was like something you’d see at DisneyWorld explaining an exotic, otherworldly culture while simultaneously injecting an airline safety announcement into the impressively soaring visuals and expected stock characters. Prepare to feel the Wonder!

      I’m not sure it validates the way NZ is equating science and indigenous ways of knowing. It does seem to support the idea that they’re romanticizing the Māori into a Hollywood Noble Savage trope, though.

  9. I think you’ve had that McDonald’s Mice image before, so I may have already left this comment (or maybe it was some other site). But since my daughter owns a snake and has complained to me about the cost of (frozen) mice to feed it, my first thought on seeing a 10 lb bag of mice for $1 was that it was a hell of a deal.

    1. A 10 lb. bag of ice for $1 is also a hell of a deal!

      In high school I had a friend who had a few snakes and he decided to rear his own mice to feed them (also complaining about the price of mice…live mice in this case). Pretty soon he had way more mice than the snakes could eat, was spending as much to keep the mice alive as he had spent on the snakes previously, his room stank, he had some escapees, and finally his parents made him get rid of the mice. He happily obliged. I guess to make that work, you’d need a large population of snakes and other mice-eating pets…maybe a clowder of cats. 🙂

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