Tuesday: Hili dialogue

June 27, 2023 • 6:45 am

Good morning to you on The Cruelest Day, Tuesday June 27, 2023, and it’s National Orange Blossom Day. This refers to the flowers, whose aesthetic beauty we are supposed to admire today, but it also refers to a drink made with orange juice, gin, grenadine, orange liqueur, and vermouth. It’s a healthy cocktail:

Source and recipe

It’s also National Bingo DayHelen Keller Day (she was born on this day in 1880), National Ice Cream Cake DayNational HIV Testing Day, National PTSD Awareness Day, National Indian Pudding Day (America’s best indigenous dessert, though some people don’t like it), Industrial Workers of the World Day, and Seven Sleepers’ Day or Siebenschläfertag in Germany.

Wikipedia says this about that:

In the Islamic and Christian traditions, the Seven Sleepers (Greek: επτά κοιμώμενοιromanized: hepta koimōmenoi,Latin: Septem dormientes), otherwise known as Aṣḥāb al-kahfSleepers of Ephesus and Companions of the Cave, is a medieval legend about a group of youths who hid inside a cave outside the city of Ephesus (modern-day Selçuk, Turkey) around AD 250 to escape one of the Roman persecutions of Christians and emerged some 300 years later. Another version of the story appears in the Quran (18:9–26). It was also translated into Persian, Kyrgyz, and Tatar.

And an “Illustration from the Menologion of Basil II“:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 27 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the mercenary Wagner group, explains that in his March on Moscow he wasn’t trying to overthrow Putin, and he’ll now be operating from Belarus:

Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin resurfaced Monday for the first time since his Saturday mutiny, and declared that his motive was to save the private militia from being subsumed into the Russian military — not to topple President Vladimir Putin.

. . . Speaking in an 11-minute audio address posted on Telegram on Monday, Prigozhin said Wagner fighters were strongly opposed to signing a contracts with the Russian Defense Ministry — as they had been ordered to do by July 1 — because it would have effectively dismantled the group. Wagner had decided to hand back its equipment to the Defense Ministry when the missile strike occurred, he claimed.

He boasted that Wagner was perhaps the “most experienced and combat-ready unit in Russia, and possibly in the world” and had performed a huge number of tasks in the interests of the Russian state, in Africa, the Middle East “and around the world.”

“Recently, this unit has achieved good results in Ukraine,” he said, adding that Wagner had received an outpouring of support from Russians in Saturday’s revolt, which he called a “march for justice.”

While Prigozhin issued his defiant statement, Russia’s embattled leadership tried to demonstrate control on Monday after the bruising, chaotic mutiny by airing a video of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visiting a command post. The Kremlin released video of a recorded address by President Vladimir Putin to young engineers.

Finally, there’s still rancor between Putin and Prigozhin:

State-owned media, meanwhile, reported Monday that the insurrection charges against Prigozhin had not yet been rescinded. The Kremlin on Saturday had announced that the charges would be dropped as part of the deal in which Prigozhin agreed to halt his military advance on Moscow and leave Russia for Belarus.

Key questions about the deal remained unanswered, and messaging from Russian officials about Wagner’s future appeared confused, amid signs that the militia would be allowed to continue to function, despite calls for it to be curbed.

And who, exactly, is going to curb Wagner save Prigozhin? Not Belarus, for sure, and not Russia? It’s a militia, Jake, and they make money. I can’t imagine it not functioning in some capacity.

*The NYT implies that Wagner may now be dissolving as a fighting force, but at least no longer shares a war partnership with Russia.

To some Ukrainian forces, soldiers from the Wagner Group were the best-equipped fighters they had seen since Russia invaded last year. To others, it was their training that distinguished them: Ukrainian soldiers recalled battlefield stories of aggressive tactics or a sniper downing a drone with a single shot.

But after the short-lived mutiny led by the head of the group, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, it is not clear whether Wagner will still be a fighting force on the battlefield with its fate now in question.

For now, the uncertain status of Wagner is bound to be a relief for Ukrainian soldiers. Though the front lines in Ukraine are likely to remain unchanged in the short term, depending on how events unfold in Russia, the Ukrainian military may be able to capitalize on the chaos and weakening morale to try to make some gains, according to independent analysts and American officials.

Still, it is too soon to determine the long-term implications of the feud between Mr. Prigozhin and the Russian military establishment, American officials said. In Bakhmut, Wagner played an outsize role in the campaign to take the eastern city, Moscow’s one major battlefield victory this year, and solidified an uneasy alliance with the Russian military — only to see the partnership break once the city was captured.

“The previous relationship between Wagner and the Russian government is likely over,” said Rob Lee, a senior fellow with the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “Even had this not happened, it was unclear if Wagner would have played the same role in this war as it had in the battle for Bakhmut.”

. . .After seizing Bakhmut, the Russian Defense Ministry took steps to integrate Wagner into the broader military, which would have reduced Mr. Prigozhin’s power. When Russia forced all volunteers fighting in Ukraine to sign contracts with the ministry, it meant that Mr. Prigozhin would have had to put his forces under the control of the military, said Tatiana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“This is one of the reasons Prigozhin went mad,” Ms. Stanovaya said, “because he realized now he is out of Ukraine.”

And here’s the bit suggesting how Wagner may disappear:

The Kremlin announced that Wagner troops who did not participate in the revolt would be allowed to sign contracts with the Defense Ministry. Those that had joined the convoy would not be prosecuted. The statement suggested that Wagner in its current form would no longer exist.

Though part of Mr. Prigozhin’s mercenary cadre is likely to continue under Russian Army control, how many Wagner soldiers would be willing to fight under the ministry’s umbrella is an open question.

My guess: not very many. But what do I know?

*The Supreme Court is now adjudicating a case that could bestow millions of dollars of tax bonuses on corporations and rich individuals.

The Supreme Court said Monday that it will hear arguments in a tax law case that could yield billions of dollars for large corporations, block Democrats’ proposals to tax wealthy Americans and upend longstanding chunks of the tax code.

The court, in an unsigned order, said it would decide a case that asks whether people and companies have to receive, or realize, income for it to be taxed under the 16th Amendment. Arguments will happen in the court term that starts in October.

The case stems from a one-time tax on accumulated foreign profits that Congress created in 2017 in the tax law signed by then-President Donald Trump. That tax applied to 30 years of profits that U.S.-based companies held overseas and hadn’t repatriated. It also applied to individuals who owned at least 10% of foreign companies.

The tax, projected to raise $339 billion to help pay for rate cuts and other business-tax changes, was designed to smooth the transition to new tax rules that no longer allow companies to defer U.S. taxes on their foreign income.

Charles and Kathleen Moore, a Washington state couple, challenged the tax and sought a $14,729 refund. They argued they hadn’t realized any income on their investment in an India-based company and thus couldn’t be taxed.

Here are the implications if the Moore’s win, which is by no means a sure thing (the law and precedents are unclear on this point):

. . . if the court rules in favor of the Moores, it could have widespread implications, depending on what the justices say.

First, if the court sided with the Moores, it could mean that companies that have been paying the one-time tax may be able to seek refunds totaling hundreds of billions of dollars.

Second, it could affect existing pieces of the tax code that impose taxes without realization of income. That includes taxes on individual shareholders in foreign companies with passive income, investors who buy certain discounted bonds, and wealthy people who renounce their citizenship.

. . . And, looking forward, a realization requirement could block some of Democrats’ most ambitious tax proposals. President Biden has called for an annual minimum tax on wealthy Americans, based in part on their unrealized capital gains. And some Democrats, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), want an annual tax on the net worth of the richest households.

*The Associated Press summarizes all the important cases that the Supreme Court is about to rule on. A brief summary

Affirmative action.  The survival of affirmative action in higher education is the subject of two related cases, one involving Harvard and the other the University of North Carolina. The Supreme Court has previously approved of the use of affirmative action in higher education in decisions reaching back to 1978. But the justices’ decision to take the cases suggested a willingness to revisit those rulings. And when the high court heard arguments in the cases in late October, all six conservative justices on the court expressed doubts about the practice.

Student loans [$10,000 relief for those who make less than $100,000 per year.]  The justices will also decide the fate of President Joe Biden’s plan to wipe away or reduce student loans held by millions of Americans. When the court heard arguments in the case in February, the plan didn’t seem likely to survive, though it’s possible the justices could decide the challengers lacked the right to sue and the plan can still go forward.

Gay rights. A clash of gay rights and religious rights is also yet to be decided by the court. The case involves a Christian graphic artist from Colorado who wants to begin designing wedding websites but objects to making wedding websites for same-sex couples.

State law requires businesses that are open to the public to provide services to all customers, but the designer, Lorie Smith, says the law violates her free speech rights. She says ruling against her would force artists — from painters and photographers to writers and musicians — to do work that is against their beliefs. Her opponents, meanwhile, say that if she wins, a range of businesses will be able to discriminate, refusing to serve Black, Jewish or Muslim customers, interracial or interfaith couples or immigrants.

This will be a tough one, involving two clashes of well established rights: freedom of religion and laws against discrimination. This next one I didn’t know about:

Religious rights. Another case that could end as a victory for religious rights is the case of a Christian mail carrier who refused to work on Sundays when he was required to deliver Amazon packages.

The question for the high court has to do with when businesses have to accommodate religious employees. The case is somewhat unusual in that both sides agree on a number of things, and when the court heard arguments in April both liberal and conservative justices seemed in broad agreement that businesses like the Postal Service can’t cite minor costs or hardships to reject requests to accommodate religious practices. That could mean a ruling joined by both liberals and conservatives.

Voting. As election season accelerates, the Supreme Court has still not said what it will do in a case about the power of state legislatures to make rules for congressional and presidential elections without being checked by state courts.

In a case out of North Carolina the justices were asked to essentially eliminate the power of state courts to strike down congressional districts drawn by legislatures on the grounds that they violate state constitutions.

However, the state Supreme Court threw out that law, and the Big Supremes could throw out this case on that basis. But there’s a similar case waiting from another state.

*If you want to understand why biological sex is defined by the reproductive system one has for producing gametes, and not by chromosome type, have a look at Zach Elliot’s recent piece on “Reality’s Last Stand”  Substack site, “Sex isn’t all about chromosomes.” In many animal species, including ours, biological sex is highly correlated with chromosome constitution, but genes affecting biological sex can move around on those chromosomes, making them less than ideal for defining sex. Further, sex is defined by gametes not arbitrarily so there is a true sex binary (which there is), but because this binary is ubiquitous in animals regardless of how sex is determined (social environment, chromosomes, haploidy or diploidy, temperature, and other factors Elliot mentions), and, most important, the gametic definition explains a lot about animal evolution, most notably sexual dimorphism that arises via sexual selection that comes ineluctably from the difference between males and females in the investment they put into their gametes.

This is worth reading if you’ve followed the kerfuffles about sex:

There are two primary reasons why the chromosomal definition of sex is flawed, which I will outline below.

First, many species do not have the X-Y chromosomal system, and yet males and females are still produced. Across the plant and animal kingdom, nature has evolved many mechanisms for developing individual organisms into males or females.

For instance, birds use Z and W chromosomes, where the females develop with ZW and the males develop with ZZ. Reptiles, however, don’t have sex chromosomes and rely instead on environmental factors such as temperature for sex determination. A specific temperature range triggers male development, whereas a different range promotes female development.

Second, genetic disorders can result in a sex opposite of what one would expect from the chromosomes. Three case studies help illustrate this fact:

These cases involve XX males, SSR Y-negative females, and XY CBX2 negative females. I won’t summarize the rest of the article, but it does show that the common assertion that “sex is determined by chromosomes” is generally correct, but it’s not the same as saying “sex is defined by chromosomes,” which is wrong, even for humans. This is what’s correct: “the sexes are defined by their structure and function: the reproductive anatomy that produces sperm or eggs. Biological sex is highly correlated with chromosome type, though, but the chromosomal constitution is not involved in the definition of sex in any organism.”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,  Hili is chilling:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m lying and digesting.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Leżę i trawię.


From Bad Cat Clothing. For some reason I find this hilarious:

From Ant:

Convergent evolution from Jesus of the Day:

Masih retweeted this from former chess champion and anti-Russian activist Garry Kasparov:


Titiana has started posting again, but I’ve missed it. Here’s are two recent ones:

Reader Simon has no idea if this is true, but he’s willing to give it some credence for the time being:

From Ken, who dubs this, “The Donald sampling HUAC and Joe McCarthy”.  I guess all the Marxist professors here will have to be deported if Trump wins. . .

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a young woman who died at just 21:

From Matthew Cobb. No, the cat is in the right place:

Apparently the quote comes from Richard Rhodes’s The Making of the Atomic Bomb:


Two Duck Leaps Into the Unknown. Translation of the second one:

A baby duck that is afraid of steps and can’t get off… At that time, the mother’s perseverance gave courage to the chicks  youtu.be/K1sDWF0reqU?t=

12 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1497 – Cornish rebels Michael An Gof and Thomas Flamank are executed at Tyburn, London, England.

    1499 – Americo Vespucci, on a Spanish financed trip, sights the coast south of Cape Cassipore.

    1556 – The thirteen Stratford Martyrs are burned at the stake near London for their Protestant beliefs.

    1743 – In the Battle of Dettingen, George II becomes the last reigning British monarch to participate in a battle.

    1844 – Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and his brother Hyrum Smith, are killed by a mob at the Carthage, Illinois jail.

    1895 – The inaugural run of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Royal Blue from Washington, D.C., to New York City, the first U.S. passenger train to use electric locomotives.

    1898 – The first solo circumnavigation of the globe is completed by Joshua Slocum from Briar Island, Nova Scotia.

    1905 – During the Russo-Japanese War, sailors start a mutiny aboard the Russian battleship Potemkin.

    1941 – Romanian authorities launch one of the most violent pogroms in Jewish history in the city of Iași, resulting in the murder of at least 13,266 Jews.

    1950 – The United States decides to send troops to fight in the Korean War.

    1954 – The FIFA World Cup quarterfinal match between Hungary and Brazil, highly anticipated to be exciting, instead turns violent, with three players ejected and further fighting continuing after the game.

    1981 – The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party issues its “Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China”, laying the blame for the Cultural Revolution on Mao Zedong.

    1988 – The Gare de Lyon rail accident in Paris, France, kills 56 people.

    1994 – Members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult release sarin gas in Matsumoto, Japan. Seven people are killed, 660 injured.

    2007 – Tony Blair resigns as British Prime Minister, a position he had held since 1997. His Chancellor, Gordon Brown succeeds him.

    2013 – NASA launches the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, a space probe to observe the Sun.

    1869 – Kate Carew, American illustrator and journalist (d. 1961).

    1869 – Emma Goldman, Lithuanian-Canadian philosopher and activist (d. 1940).

    1869 – Hans Spemann, German embryologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1941).

    1880 – Helen Keller, American author, academic, and activist (d. 1968).

    1930 – Ross Perot, American businessman and politician (d. 2019).

    1945 – Joey Covington, American drummer, songwriter, and producer (d. 2013).

    1965 – Simon Sebag Montefiore, English journalist, historian, and author.

    1966 – J. J. Abrams, American director, producer, and screenwriter.

    “Ah. They’re always telling folk how much better it’s going to be when they’re dead. We tell them it could be pretty good right here if only they’d put their minds to it.”
    1831 – Sophie Germain, French mathematician and physicist (b. 1776).

    1839 – Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire (b. 1780).

    1975 – G.I. Taylor, English mathematician and physicist (b. 1886). [A major figure in fluid dynamics and wave theory.]

    1989 – A. J. Ayer, English philosopher and academic (b. 1910).

    1996 – Albert R. Broccoli, American film producer (b. 1909).

    2001 – Tove Jansson, Finnish author, illustrator, and painter (b. 1914).

    2001 – Jack Lemmon, American actor (b. 1925).

    2001 – Joan Sims, English actress (b. 1930).

    2002 – John Entwistle, English singer-songwriter, bass guitarist, and producer (b. 1944).

    2015 – Chris Squire, English musician (bass guitarist), singer and songwriter, member of the rock band Yes (b. 1948).

    1. 1844 – Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and his brother Hyrum Smith, are killed by a mob at the Carthage, Illinois jail.

      Is there a memorial? To the good citizens … uhhh, felons? of Carthage.
      Per Wikipedia, the town has no reported motto. So if there are any readers here “with standing” (living there?), might I suggest “Religiosa delenda est!”

  2. Just in: The Supreme Court in a 6-3 vote in the case of Moore v. Harper rejected the “independent state legislature” theory. As the NYT puts it: “Proponents of the strongest form of the theory say this means that no other organs of state government — not courts, not governors, not election administrators, not independent commissions — can alter a legislature’s actions on federal elections.” Not surprisingly, the minority votes were cast by Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch.


    1. This is one of the first really great and correct actions by this court. Even though it is always predictable who goes against, it is better to remember who goes with the majority. This is a very specific indicator of who is trying to take this country back I don’t know how many years and maybe back to the middle ages.

      1. Alito continues to prove (as does Thomas) that he’s an irredeemable hack and a self-righteous, ideological one at that.

        Though it is a relief this SCOTUS didn’t derail US Democracy as it could have.

  3. “Reptiles, however, don’t have sex chromosomes and rely instead on environmental factors such as temperature for sex determination.”

    It’s complicated. All crocodilians, most turtles, and some lizards have sex determined by incubation temperature. But snakes, most lizards, and some turtles do have genetic sex determination. And both XY and ZW sustems occur.

    1. Yeah, I suspected it wasn’t as simple as PCC(E) represented it. But from a different perspective. PCC(E)’s assertion that
      birds use Z and W chromosomes, where the females develop with ZW and the males develop with ZZ. Reptiles, however, don’t have sex chromosomes and rely instead on environmental factors such as temperature for sex determination. immediately made me think – “what, in the differentiation of one group of feathered maniraptorian theropod dinosaurs from another group of feathered maniraptorian theropods, lead to a change in sex-determination.” But as you (ChasCPeterson) point out, the question is more complex than that.
      From a geological/ palaeontological point of view, the question is also more complex, because there have been several bottlenecks in the evolutionary record of the birds. Somewhere in the mid-Cretaceous (the Cretaceous period covering over half the time period between the evolution of proto-birds like Archaeopetryx and today) there was a major change in the anatomy of birds, with modern groups like the ratites and “perching” birds (Passerines?) appearing in the fossil record, and the proto-bird anatomies disappearing. There was also a substantial change-over in the populations of birds post-Chixulub/Deccan impact/volcanism. Either could represent the actual development of “chromosomally-controlled sex” in birds form a different “reptile”-derived system.
      How much … would the development of brooding care by (more) feathered (proto-)birds have altered the influence of egg-temperature on sex choice? Quite a lot, I suspect – if your egg temperature is “pinned” by the brooding temperature, and you “tried” (get down!, Teleology!”) to use temperature-controlled sex determination … you have a recipe for problems.

  4. Here’s a case, Counterman v. Colorado, just decided by the Supreme Court. It is a free speech case. The Washington Post says this:
    The Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the conviction of a man who made extensive online threats to a stranger, saying free speech protections require prosecutors to prove the stalker was aware of the threatening nature of his communications.

    In a 7-2 ruling authored by Justice Elena Kagan, the court emphasized that true threats of violence are not protected by the First Amendment. But to guard against a chilling effect on non-threatening speech, the majority said states must prove that a criminal defendant has “disregarded a substantial risk that his communications would be viewed as threatening violence.”

    Justices Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett dissented.


    This decision is something to think about. If the Post’s description of the decision is accurate, it means that a person can be harassed endlessly online, perhaps even threatened, but the harasser must be shown that he was aware that he was threatening before he could be held legally accountable, otherwise his harassment is free speech, and as far as the harassed person goes, it is tough luck.

  5. Trump sounding like McCarthy is no coincidence! See the excellent documentary “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” to find out how Trump learned his basic bag of tricks from McCarthy’s lawyer Roy Cohn — such as how to deal with any legal or other challenge by going into aggressive attack mode, and how get your underlings to break the law for you while never leaving any evidence that you told them to do it. Cohn was finally disbarred by NY State and was promptly abandoned by all of his “friends”, including Trump.

    1. A more interesting comparison is a popular slogan from Germany in the 30’s:
      “Tod dem Marxismus. Her zu uns”

  6. I’m with the cheetah cub: give me some crab rangoon! My favorite is a Thai version.

    Re. the gay rights case. The plaintiff, Lorie Smith, created this lawsuit out of a hypothetical situation. She doesn’t want to create a website for gay customers, though she’s never been asked by a gay customer to create one. How does this have standing? And I agree with the opponents, if they side with Smith, it creates a slippery slope for any business to deny services for a whole host of reasons. Of course, this SCOTUS majority doesn’t seem to care about slippery slopes or unintended consequences or Stare decisis.

  7. I started reading that Titania thread. I went back through her four previous entries and I just couldn’t keep going. I laughed at the first one. By the fourth, I was just sad.

    Huh. Speaking of “fourth,” I can’t wait for the flood of articles about how racist the Fourth of July is!

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