Wednesday: Hili dialogue

June 28, 2023 • 6:45 am

Greetings on Wednesday, a Hump Day (“ਹੰਪ ਦਿਵਸ” in Punjabi), June 28, 2023. It’s National Tapioca Day, and I have to admit that I love the stuff. It’s the little balls that distinguish it from plain pudding, and I like them even more when they’re enlarged and put in “Bubble Tea”.

Boba / Bubble tea. Homemade Various Milk Tea with Pearls. Source.

It’s also International Body Piercing Day, INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY, and Tau Day. The explanation:

In 2001, Bob Palais published π Is Wrong, where he said pi (π) should not be used for the circle constant—the geometry of a circle expressed in a single number. Instead, he called for tau (τ), which is equal to 2π, or roughly 6.28318, to be used instead. Whereas π compares a circle’s circumference to its diameter, τ is defined as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its radius. This means the measurement of the circumference of any circle is about 6.28318 times its radius. 2π is used quite often in mathematics, and proponents of tau say it would be much easier to simply replace that symbol with τ. In general, mathematicians write equations about circles using its radius as well, not its diameter.

In American date format, today is 6/28, an approximation of τ.  Unfortunately, while you can celebrate March 14 as Pi Day by baking a pie, there is no tau to bake.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 28 Wikipedia page.

Wine of the Day:  Patricia Green Cellars in Oregon is famous for their Pinot Noirs, but they’re often pricey. And this is one of them, which appears to go at present for about $84, but I didn’t pay anything near that since I bought it at least six years ago. I certainly paid less than half that, but I did want to try one of their high-end pinots.

This was spectacular. And even though it’s 11 years old, the cork crumbled, and I had to decant it through a cloth and a wine funnel to get rid of sediment and bits of cork, it was not by any means over the hill. In fact, I can’t imagine this wine getting better. It’s perfectly balanced, smooth (like a velvet blanket on the tongue) and with a pronounced cherry aroma. It is SO delicious, and improved after one day in the bottle. (I had it with chicken, rice, and broccoli.)

The reviews on the Internet are scarce, but some by amateur wine lovers point out its ability to open up after decanting. (Decanting is an underrated practice!)

What can I say? This is the best American pinot, by far, that I’ve ever had. But it’s gone, and virtually impossible to buy (and at $84 it’s out of reach). Just remember “Patricia Green” when you are looking for pinot noir. Oh, and this one had a wee bit of the “barnyard nose” of great Burgundy.

Da Nooz:

*The terse legal news From Ken:

SCOTUS just issued its decision in Moore v. Harper rejecting the fringe “independent state legislature” theory.

The vote was 6-3, with the majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts. Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch dissented. You can access the opinions here.
From the WaPo:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the theory that state legislatures have almost unlimited power to decide the rules for federal elections and draw partisan congressional maps without interference from state courts.

The Constitution’s Elections Clause “does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in a 6 to 3 decision.

The dissenters were Clarence Thomas (praised by Glenn Loury!), Gorsuch, and Alito.

The decision was praised by Democrats and voting rights advocates, more for avoiding what they thought would be a radical change than for establishing new law. But maintaining the status quo has been seen as a victory in a court that has often gone the other way. And just recently, the court agreed that Alabama should draw a second congressional district in which Black voters could be empowered to elect a candidate of their choice.

The case at hand came from North Carolina, and under the theory advanced by its Republican legislative leaders, but rejected by the court, state lawmakers throughout the country would have had exclusive authority to structure federal elections, subject only to intervention by Congress.

The “independent state legislature theory” holds that the U.S. Constitution gives that power to lawmakers even if it results in extreme partisan voting maps for congressional seats and violates voter protections enshrined in state.

. . . If the ruling had gone the other way, the case could have had a major influence on results in the 2024 election. It has drawn attention in part because of the nation’s polarized politics, in which former president Donald Trump and his allies are still advocating to overturn the 2020 election, and the midterms showed that control of Congress can depend on the drawing of congressional district lines.

The Republicans want to gerrymander the hell out of their states so they can keep down non-white voters, and the Court rules that Republican legislatures can’t do that if it violates their states’ laws.

*One thing I think we liberals can count on with this conservative Supreme Court is that it will uphold the speech bit of the First Amendment—though not necessarily the Establishment Clause. And so they have done, by a vote of 7-2, with the regular dissenter Thomas joined by Barrett as the two who lost:

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.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined in part by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, agreed with the outcome but expressed concern about the risk of cracking down on speech that is unintentionally threatening. She worried that the ruling could lead, for instance, to a high school student going to prison for sending another student violent music lyrics.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett dissented from the majority, with Barrett writing that the standard set by the court on Thursday gives “preferential treatment” to a broad range of threatening speech and makes it more difficult for law enforcement to address actual threats.

“A delusional speaker may lack awareness of the threatening nature of her speech; a devious speaker may strategically disclaim such awareness; and a lucky speaker may leave behind no evidence of mental state for the government to use against her,” Barrett wrote. “The Court’s decision thus sweeps much further than it lets on.”

I was actually in this situation, with a delusional nutjob (probably drunk as well) leaving scary messages on my office answering machine at regular intervals. When I tried to report it to the cops (I knew the guy’s name and address), they said they couldn’t intervene unless there was an explicit threat. (I never got to the point of having to show that this guy was actually aware that he was threatening me, which he never did explicitly. Regardless, I think the court made the right decision.

*Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has arrived in Belarus, so there’s no mystery about where he is, but the NYT argues that the man had reached his apogee and is on the way down.

The Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny V. Prigozhin arrived in Belarus on Tuesday, the Belarusian state news media reported, ending days of speculation over his whereabouts after he called off a weekend uprising that marked the most dramatic challenge to President Vladimir V. Putin’s rule in two decades.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr. Putin praised his security forces in a grandly choreographed speech that portrayed the rebellion as a heroic episode for the Russian state. In a series of appearances three days after the mutiny, Mr. Putin appeared to be trying to seize the initiative, indirectly warning of consequences for officials who helped Mr. Prigozhin enrich himself at the country’s expense. He also thanked the Russian military for having “essentially stopped a civil war,” state media reported.

The Russian authorities dropped an investigation into Mr. Prigozhin and members of his Wagner group over the armed rebellion. The group was preparing to hand over military equipment to the Russian Army, state news media reported, as the Kremlin mounts a concerted effort to move on from the mutiny.

Seriously? Prigozhin is going to give its military equipment to the Russian Army? Forgive me if I have trouble believing that. Without equipment, Prigozhin and the Wagner group are moribund.  And that’s what another piece in the NYT says:

Well before Yevgeny V. Prigozhin seized a major Russian military hub and ordered an armed march on Moscow, posing a startling and dramatic threat to President Vladimir V. Putin, the caterer-turned-mercenary boss was losing his own personal war.

Mr. Prigozhin’s private army had been sidelined. His lucrative government catering contracts had come under threat. The commander he most admired in the Russian military had been removed as the top general overseeing Ukraine. And he had lost his most vital recruiting source for fighters: Russia’s prisons.

Then, on June 13, his only hope for a last-minute intervention to spare him a bitter defeat in his long-running power struggle with Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu was dashed.

Mr. Putin sided publicly with Mr. Prigozhin’s adversaries, affirming that all irregular units fighting in Ukraine would have to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense. That included Mr. Prigozhin’s private military company, Wagner.

Now, the mercenary chieftain would be subordinated to Mr. Shoigu, an unparalleled political survivor in modern Russia and Mr. Prigozhin’s sworn enemy.

Perhaps he is finished. If he hands over his military equipment to Russia’s army, we’ll know that’s true.

*The Justice Department has ruled that Jeffrey Epstein was able to kill himself in jail because of negligence and misconduct by the jail staff.

A pattern of negligence and misconduct by staff at a federal jail in New York gave disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein a perfect opportunity to kill himself in his cell in August 2019, the Justice Department’s watchdog said in a report pointing to chronic problems within the beleaguered federal prison system.

Despite a suicide attempt by Epstein just weeks earlier, staff at the since-closed Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan in the hours before his death didn’t assign him a cellmate, neglected to search his cell, failed to conduct their rounds and gave him extra bedding that he used to hang himself, the report said. Surveillance cameras around the unit where Epstein was housed were turned on but broken, so they captured no video of the area the night he died.

The jail was short-staffed, poorly managed and ill-equipped to manage suicidal inmates, the report said. One staff member assigned to supervise Epstein had worked 24 hours straight by the time the accused sex trafficker was found dead in his cell.

. . . Epstein’s suicide—a determination made by a medical examiner and confirmed by the inspector general’s probe—laid bare a federal prison system beset by understaffing, leadership issues, inmate violence and other problems. The agency is responsible for running more than 120 facilities with roughly 160,000 inmates.

By all accounts he was guilty as hell, and, at 66, would have been sentenced to up to 45 years in prison: a life sentence accompanied by disgrace. It’s no surprise that he did himself in, but the victims are denied their day in court.

*From Phys.Org, reader Gregory sends a headline that gets the “no shit!” award. I mean, could it have been otherwise given that we’re reading this?

Click to read:

Actually, the headline isn’t as bad as it sounds as there are some non-obvious results.  What the authors found was that placental mammals (the group we belong in) were in existence before the Big Asteroid Hit, contradicting others who said that placentals evolved after the hit:

Fossils of placental mammals are only found in rocks younger than 66 million years old, which is when the asteroid hit Earth, suggesting that the group evolved after the mass extinction [the “K-Pg mass extinction“]. However,  has long suggested an  for placental mammals.

In a new paper published in the journal Current Biology, a team of paleobiologists from the University of Bristol and the University of Fribourg used statistical analysis of the fossil record to determine that placental mammals originated before the mass extinction, meaning they co-existed with dinosaurs for a short time. However, it was only after the asteroid impact that modern lineages of placental mammals began to evolve, suggesting that they were better able to diversify once the dinosaurs were gone.

Primates, the group that includes the human lineage, as well as Lagomorpha (rabbits and hares) and Carnivora (dogs and cats) were shown to have evolved just before the K-Pg mass extinction, which means their ancestors were mingling with dinosaurs. After they survived the asteroid impact, placental mammals rapidly diversified, perhaps spurred on by the loss of competition from the dinosaurs.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is uber cynical:

Hili: Pandemic.
A: A new one?
Hili: No, as old as the world, a pandemic of absurdity.
In Polish:
Hili: Pandemia.
Ja: Jakaś nowa?
Hili: Nie, stara jak świat, pandemia absurdu.



From reddit via Peter:

Laws apply to everyone 🫡
by u/Physical-Theory-5829 in cats


A biology meme from Matthew. Both of these species are supposed to be in the line of descent (or close to it) of whales from artiodactyl ancestors. Indohyus is an earlier form.

Did you know that most recently manufactured Jeeps have a hidden animal on them? It’s true!  From Jesus of the Day:


Masih hasn’t tweeted in several days, but Titania is back on Twitter:

From Malcolm. Oy, poor kitty!

SEE UPDATE: From Barry: Here’s Roseanne Barr, who’s Jewish, unleashing what seems to be of the worst anti-Semitic tirades I’ve heard. HOWEVER, as several readers point out in the comment, she’s making a sarcastic comment about the tendency of social media to engage in censorship.  See the longer video posted by Malgorzata in the comments.

From Ana, daughter of reader Jez:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, one I tweeted. The “selections” always make me feel dreadful:

Tweets from Matthew. First, an obstacle course for a jumping spider (salticid). The reward is a cricket, which it finally gets.

Okay creationists, explain those vestigial wings! (The species description is here.)

What do you call a group of Nautilus (Nautilii?):

26 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. It is astonishing how many intellectuals and celebrities fell for Roseanne’s deadpan humor on social media.

    1. It’s not very funny if it’s sarcastic. Yes, I fell for it since she has a long history of being a loon, but I’ve now added a qualifier to the description based on the longer vide from Malgorzata below.

    2. These days dry humour is easily misunderstood. I’ve had my jokes misunderstood as lunatic facts because of how crazy they world has become. That alone is so absurd it’s funny.

  2. It is astonishing how many intellectuals and celebrities fell for Roseanne’s satirical humor.

    1. When I saw the clip, I immediately thought “this is surely being taken out of context”. In fact, there is one of those “readers added context” on the tweet now that explains exactly this.

      1. Apologies. I thought the site was glitchy since my comment did not show (I waited a few minutes before reposting). Annoying, I know. 🙂

  3. On this day:
    1838 – Coronation of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.

    1870 – The US Congress establishes the first federal holidays (New Year Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas).

    1880 – Australian bushranger Ned Kelly is captured at Glenrowan.

    1894 – Labor Day becomes an official US holiday.

    1904 – The SS Norge runs aground on Hasselwood Rock in the North Atlantic 430 kilometres (270 mi) northwest of Ireland. More than 635 people die during the sinking.

    1911 – The Nakhla meteorite, the first one to suggest signs of aqueous processes on Mars, falls to Earth, landing in Egypt.

    1914 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie are assassinated in Sarajevo; this is the casus belli of World War I.

    1919 – The Treaty of Versailles is signed, ending the state of war between Germany and the Allies of World War I.

    1926 – Mercedes-Benz is formed by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz merging their two companies.

    1950 – Korean War: The Korean People’s Army kills almost a thousand doctors, nurses, inpatient civilians and wounded soldiers in the Seoul National University Hospital massacre.

    1964 – Malcolm X forms the Organization of Afro-American Unity.

    1969 – Stonewall riots begin in New York City, marking the start of the Gay Rights Movement.

    1978 – The United States Supreme Court, in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke bars quota systems in college admissions.

    1987 – For the first time in military history, a civilian population is targeted for chemical attack when Iraqi warplanes bombed the Iranian town of Sardasht.

    1997 – Holyfield–Tyson II: Mike Tyson is disqualified in the third round for biting a piece off Evander Holyfield’s ear.

    2004 – Iraq War: Sovereign power is handed to the interim government of Iraq by the Coalition Provisional Authority, ending the U.S.-led rule of that nation.

    1491 – Henry VIII of England (d. 1547).

    1577 – Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish painter and diplomat (d. 1640).

    1703 – John Wesley, English cleric and theologian (d. 1791).

    1712 – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Swiss philosopher and polymath (d. 1778).

    1852 – Charles Cruft, English showman, founded Crufts Dog Show (d. 1938).

    1867 – Luigi Pirandello, Italian dramatist, novelist, and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1936).

    1873 – Alexis Carrel, French surgeon and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1944). [Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1912 for pioneering vascular suturing techniques. He invented the first perfusion pump with Charles Lindbergh opening the way to organ transplantation. Carrel was also a pioneer in transplantology and thoracic surgery. He is known for his leading role in implementing eugenic policies in Vichy France. That’ll get him cancelled…]

    1907 – Yvonne Sylvain, First female Haitian physician (d. 1989).

    1926 – Mel Brooks, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.

    1948 – Kathy Bates, American actress.

    1971 – Elon Musk, South African-born American entrepreneur.

    1989 – Markiplier, American internet personality.

    It struck Mort with sudden, terrible poignancy that Death must be the loneliest creature in the universe.
    1598 – Abraham Ortelius, Flemish cartographer and geographer (b. 1527). [Recognized as the creator of the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World).]

    1813 – Gerhard von Scharnhorst, Prussian general and politician, Prussian Minister of War (b. 1755).

    1836 – James Madison, American academic and politician, 4th President of the United States (b. 1751).

    2006 – George Unwin, English pilot and commander (b. 1913. [During the Battle of Britain he was credited with 14 enemy aircraft shot down by the end of 1940 and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in October 1940 and a Bar in December.]

    2016 – Scotty Moore, American guitarist (b. 1931).

    2018 – Harlan Ellison, American writer (b. 1934).

      1. Great article, thanks. Ellison was, as the article says, often “too much.” See also his hilarious and nasty (in at least two senses of the word) account of his brief stint at Disney. I remember being very impressed by the movie “A Boy And His Dog” based on Ellison’s novella. I wonder how that movie has aged…

  4. I’ve always had kind of revulsive feeling when seeing anything about Roseanne Barr. Very similar to this guy Donald Trump. Can’t quite put my finger on it but there should be some type of warning if either is coming on. Don’t look within two hours of eating or something like that.

    1. Roseanne Barr didn’t deny the Holocaust. Her comment was a sarcastic way to say what kind of “truth” are allowed on social media. Check her words here (at 1:12:00):

    2. She is on the list of people that everyone is required to hate. Because of that, anything she says or does is going to be put into a context that paints her as evil.
      You can say a lot about the state of broadcast and digital media these days, but it must be admitted that they stay pretty well synced and on message about such things. Regardless of the truth about a person, when the gatekeepers allow only negative stories about them, the average viewer is going to develop vague negative associations about that person.
      That seems to be the point. The parallel I see is when we camp in the mountains with kids. Their inability to sleep and general jitteryness is not really due to an elevated number of ghosts in the woods, but rather to my Dad’s storytelling abilities at the camp fire.

  5. What the authors found was that placental mammals (the group we belong in) were in existence before the Big Asteroid Hit, contradicting others who said that placentals evolved after the hit

    I didn’t realise it was in doubt before. I have long assumed that there were placental mammals coexisting with dinosaurs, albeit they all looked like shrews.

    1. I did not know that the timing was in contention either. But the scant info I’ve collected does say that their origin before the K-Pg impact rests on genetic clock data. That isn’t quite as convincing as fossils.

      But my question is: What is the whale saying in the last cartoon panels?

  6. One day in Birkenau the SS doctor selected my Mom for extermination and for some reason the SS guard reversed his decision. Survival was a real lottery. I have always been glad the guard was not off smoking. On such chance survival occurred.

    1. The Rest is History podcast did a series of episodes on Rudolf Vrba who escaped from Auschwitz. One of the things he did was document the fates of the people arriving there as best he could. More than 95% of everybody sent to Auschwitz went straight to the gas chambers.

  7. The leather fetish image fits the general psychological pattern of Paulo Friere’s “conscientization” and, therefore, thought reform, as practiced in Mao Zedong’s prisons (see Robert Jay Lifton’s book on thought reform in Zedong’s China):

    • the material/image is “generative”. That means it generates and provokes emotion – especially as it points to a contradiction in viewpoints between the “learner” and “teacher”/”facilitator”.

    • the material – as suggestive (say) as it is – is not the endpoint of the psychology.

    • the “facilitator” will question/interrogate the “learner” as to why they find it contradictory.

    (To wrap up! Sorry!):

    • “Conscientization” is achieved when the “learner” learns and admits they were dehumanizing the oppressed with their thoughts (thought crime in China), and changes those thoughts to become those of the “oppressed”.

    This is distinct from merely “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes”, because the “learner” rejects the old thought and accepts their new mind/thoughts as no longer oppressing, but joining the oppressed (or, “the people”, in Zedong’s China). It has nothing to do with empathy or classical liberalism.

    1. I read Paolo Freire (not Friere, as you write, or is that someone else?) when I was, I think, 18 years old. I also did read the Complete Works of Chairman Mao. Yet, I understand nothing about what you say. Please repeat, but as if for a 5 year old child. Thank you.

  8. Just had yummy bubble tea yesterday to drink after I got my battery service done at Apple at the mall yesterday. I love bubble tea!

  9. Nautili (one “eye” will do.).

    Jerry, there is increasing evidence that the rate of mammalian diversification was NOT increased by (or after) the K-T extinction of dinosaurs. (Meredith et al. 2011, Science 334:521-4; Liu et al. 2017, PNAS 114:E7282-90).

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