Tuesday: Hili dialogue

July 11, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to The Cruelest Day: Tuesday, July 11, 2023, and National Blueberry Muffin Day.  Do any other countries have these? Remember, a big blueberry muffin has about 500 calories.

Source and recipe

It’s also National Rainier Cherries Day, Bowdler’s Day, in honor of the great censor Thomas Bowdler, who censored Shakespeare (the origin of the verb “bowdlerize”), National Swimming Pool Day, Cow Appreciation Day, National Mojito Day, Free Slurpee Day (check out your local 7-Eleven to see if they’re giving them away, and World Population Day, raising awareness of population issues.

I rescued a small orphan duckling yesterday that had somehow gotten into the fenced garden of a dormitory. It could have been one of Amy’s brood, as it was very young. It was a tough catch since I had to find it in an area about half the size of a football field, filled with bushes. But I got it and took it to rehab.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 11 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The NYT reports that Putin met with Yevgeny V. Prigozhin just a few days after the Wagner leader staged his abortive mutiny.  Apparently Prigozhin is in Russia and not dead—yet.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia held a lengthy meeting with Yevgeny V. Prigozhin just five days after his Wagner private military company launched a brief mutiny, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov said on Monday, noting that “further employment options” for the mercenary group were among the matters discussed.

It is the first known contact between the two men since Wagner’s uprising, which posed the most dramatic challenge to Mr. Putin’s authority in his more than two decades in power. But the Kremlin’s account of the meeting left a host of unanswered questions about the mercenary group’s future.

Mr. Putin invited 35 people to the three-hour meeting on June 29, including Mr. Prigozhin and all of Wagner’s top commanders, the Kremlin spokesman said. He did not specify where the meeting took place. The details of any agreements reached at the meeting remain unclear, and Mr. Prigozhin hasn’t said anything about it since the failed mutiny.

“The only thing we can say is that the president gave his assessment of the company’s actions” during both the war in Ukraine and the uprising, Mr. Peskov said.

But wait—there’s more!

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia held a lengthy meeting with Yevgeny V. Prigozhin just five days after his Wagner private military company launched a brief mutiny, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov said on Monday, noting that “further employment options” for the mercenary group were among the matters discussed.

It is the first known contact between the two men since Wagner’s uprising, which posed the most dramatic challenge to Mr. Putin’s authority in his more than two decades in power. But the Kremlin’s account of the meeting left a host of unanswered questions about the mercenary group’s future.

Mr. Putin invited 35 people to the three-hour meeting on June 29, including Mr. Prigozhin and all of Wagner’s top commanders, the Kremlin spokesman said. He did not specify where the meeting took place. The details of any agreements reached at the meeting remain unclear, and Mr. Prigozhin hasn’t said anything about it since the failed mutiny.

“The only thing we can say is that the president gave his assessment of the company’s actions” during both the war in Ukraine and the uprising, Mr. Peskov said.

This is in the face of Putin’s pledge earlier to harshly punish those who mutinied, and in the knowledge that the Russian defense establishment despises Prigozhin. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” goes the old saying. I still think that Prigozhin’s days are numbered.

*The WaPo tells you to keep your hands off the thermostat, resisting the urge to turn it down as it gets hot. But what do you do instead? As they say, “Here’s what you need to know.” First, this bad nooz:

Nearly 50 million Americans are set to face triple-digit temperature this week amid a sprawling dome of heat that will engulf most of the southern United States. Heat advisories are in effect in Florida, Texas and New Mexico, while excessive heat watches and warnings blanket much of Arizona, Southern California and Nevada.

In addition to its magnitude, which will be dangerous for some, the heat will be notable for its longevity. Phoenix, for example, has already logged 10 days in a row at or above 110 degrees — the seventh-longest streak on record — and the forecast calls for highs in the 111-to-117-degree range until further notice. That could catapult the heat-prone city into its longest ever streak above that level.

As for turning down the thermostat:

a. “Definitely don’t do that,” said Jennifer Amann, senior fellow in the buildings program at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit group. “It’s not going to really cool your home any faster.” [Strains your A/C and uses electriity.]

b. “If a person was in their house and they’re going to be there all the time, they could maybe turn up to 76 or 77 or so,” said Thomas Lawrence, a professor of practice emeritus at the University of Georgia who co-wrote the peer-reviewed paper. The study’s results suggest “most people will be fine with that.”

c.) And when you’re not at home for extended periods of time, Amann suggested setting your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees warmer than what would normally be comfortable for you.

d.) “The most critical times to be thinking about really managing your AC load is in those peak hours in the middle of the day, those really hot afternoon hours” when electricity demand is high, she said. “That’s when it can be particularly important to do a setback if you can.”

e.) Ceiling fans, for example, can be a huge help, and typically require little energy to run.

f.)  Make sure your blinds or shades are closed during the hottest parts of the day, particularly if you don’t have updated windows.

And keep the blinds down and curtains drawn! Feel better now?

*Larry Nassar, serving a very long sentence (effectively a life sentence) for molesting girls on the USA Gymnastics Team, was seriously attacked in prison.  For some reason, pedophiles are especially singled out for such attacks.

Disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted of sexually abusing Olympic and college female gymnasts, was stabbed multiple times by another inmate at a federal prison in Florida that is experiencing staffing shortages.

The attack happened Sunday at United States Penitentiary Coleman, and Nassar was in stable condition on Monday, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

One of the people said Nassar had been stabbed in the back and in the chest. The two officers guarding the unit where Nassar was held were working mandated overtime shifts because of staffing shortages, one of the people said.

Apparently he was stabbed ten times. I’m always surprised how well people survive after multiple stabbings. Don’t attackers know to go for the throat? But I digress. . .

The people were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the attack or the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

Nassar is serving decades in prison for convictions in state and federal courts. He admitted sexually assaulting athletes when he worked at Michigan State University and at Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. Nassar also pleaded guilty in a separate case to possessing images of child sexual abuse.

. . . The federal Bureau of Prisons has experienced significant staffing shortages in the last few years, an issue thrust into the spotlight in 2019 when the convicted financier Jeffrey Epstein took his own life at a federal jail in New York.

None of his victims are rejoicing about the stabbing, which, some say, retraumatized them. I suspect they’d rather see him die in jail. He’s 59 now, and is serving multiple sentences adding up to as much as 250 years.

NOTE: The summery between the asterisks, written yesterday afternoon, is now obsolete: Turkey has dropped its objections to Sweden joining NATO! The first sensible thing President Erdogan ever did! The update:

NATO leaders arrived in Lithuania for their annual summit on Tuesday, bolstered by Turkey’s abrupt reversal to clear the path for Sweden to join the military alliance, a decision that resolved a central sticking point and set the stage for the group to demonstrate a unified front in supporting Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

The two-day summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, will instead focus on discussions of Ukraine’s pathway to potential membership in the alliance and member states’ support for Kyiv in the war, including weapons and training.

The 11th-hour shift from Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Monday came after intense pressure from President Biden and other allies. The decision will enable President Biden to proclaim at the gathering that in invading Ukraine, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has brought about the exact outcome he was trying to thwart: an expanded NATO alliance at Russia’s doorstep.


*Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is holding NATO hostage, refusing to okay Sweden’s joining the alliance (unanimous consent of all members is required) unless Turkey get its own perk.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, in an unexpected move, said on Monday the European Union should open the way for Ankara’s accession to the bloc before Turkey’s parliament approves Sweden’s bid to join the NATO military alliance.

Turkey’s bid to join the EU has been frozen for years after membership talks were launched in 2005 under Erdogan’s first term as prime minister.

The ties between Ankara and members of the bloc soured several years ago, especially after a 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey, but have since improved. The bloc depends on the help of NATO ally Ankara, particularly on migration.

In a surprise change of tack, Erdogan on Monday linked Ankara’s approval of Sweden’s NATO bid to Turkey finally joining the EU.

“I am calling from here on these countries that are making Turkey wait at the door of the European Union for more than 50 years,” Erdogan said, speaking ahead of his departure for the NATO summit in Vilnius.

“First, come and open the way for Turkey at the European Union and then we will open the way for Sweden, just as we did for Finland,” he said, adding that he would repeat his call during the summit.

Erdogan is a nasty piece of work but apparently many Turks love him. But this is like a kid threatening to take his ball and go home. What does Turkey and the EU have to do with NATO? Bupkes!


*CNN reveals, thanks to leaked documents and photos, that Putin has a fancy “luxury train” in which he travels fully pampered. Massage and skincare! Get a load of this:

Remarkably little is known about Putin’s private life. His public image is carefully manicured, as has been evident in the days since Yevgeny Prigozhin’s short-lived mutiny. But a trove of paperwork and photographs obtained exclusively by the London-based Russian investigations group the Dossier Center, and shared with CNN, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and German public broadcaster NDR and WDR, reveals details the Kremlin shrouds from public view, and the extent to which Putin’s paranoia has created a cloistered existence.

The fact that Putin uses a train is well known. The Kremlin itself has released images of meetings held on board, in an ornately decorated boardroom. The contents of the train’s other 20-odd cars, however, have been a closely guarded state secret.

The Dossier Center says the leaked documents came from an insider at Zircon Service, a Russian company tasked by Russian Railways, the state-owned rail operator, with outfitting the cars intended for the office of the Russian president.

Among the parts of the train detailed is car number 021-78630. A glossy brochure made by Zircon itself shows a luxurious gym and spa on wheels designed for Putin, the Dossier Center says.

Among the documents obtained by the Dossier Center are letters tying the outfitting of the rail cars, including the gym car, directly to officials at the highest levels of Putin’s administration.

The Kremlin flatly denies the Dossier Center’s findings, telling CNN: “President Putin does not have such a car in his use or in his ownership.”

CNN also reached out to Zircon Service and Russian Railways for comment but has not heard back.

. . .According to a former engineer and captain in the FSO, Gleb Karakulov, who defected from the country last year and was interviewed by the Dossier Center under extreme secrecy, Putin has increasingly turned to train travel as a way to avoid being tracked.

“The plane, as soon as it takes off, it immediately crosses flight radar,” Karakulov said in the interview, which was recorded last December. “The train, it is used in order to somehow hide these movements.”

Karakulov said that he first began working on the train, installing communications equipment, around 2014. It came into much more frequent use, according to his account, in the second half of 2021, as Russia was gearing up for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Russian transpotters can identify the train because it not only has two locomotives,

. . . . and in part by a feature identified in the brochure made by Zircon Service. A characteristic white dome, said by the Dossier Center to contain advanced communications antennae, is plain to see on one of the carriages.

But really, is this such a big deal? After all, American Presidents have the fancy Air Force One, which has this:

Air Force One is a large airplane. Not only does it have three levels and a whopping 4,000 square feet of floor space, but the president can enjoy an extensive suite that includes a large office, gym, bathroom (with shower) and conference room.

And it probably costs more to maintain and fly Air Force One than it does Putin’s “ghost train.”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,  an out-of-focus Hili (but with her tongue out) is up to no good.

Hili: Are you sure?
A: What of?
Hili: That when the cat’s away, anything goes.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy jesteś pewien?
Ja: Czego?
Hili: Że jak kota nie ma to wszystko wolno?

And a photo of Baby Kulka:


From Thomas, a Dave Blazek cartoon:

From Divy, who says that this is her new post office:

From Nicole:

From Masih, just vindicated by a federal court, which found Iran guilty of wrongfully arresting her brother—to put pressure on Masih to shut up, of course.

From Titania:

From Barry, who says, “Get a room!”

From Luana. Keep watching!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman who died at 23:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, a rare shot of a shark swimming in its egg case:

I’ll take his word for it. But I have a collection of odd names, including former Chicago resident Roosevelt McKnuckles.

Oy! This is a nightmare worthy of Little Nemo!

Here it is on YouTube:

21 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1576 – While exploring the North Atlantic Ocean in an attempt to find the Northwest Passage, Martin Frobisher sights Greenland, mistaking it for the hypothesized (but non-existent) island of “Frisland”.

    1735 – Mathematical calculations suggest that it is on this day that dwarf planet Pluto moved inside the orbit of Neptune for the last time before 1979.

    1789 – Jacques Necker is dismissed as France’s Finance Minister sparking the Storming of the Bastille.

    1801 – French astronomer Jean-Louis Pons makes his first comet discovery. In the next 27 years he discovers another 36 comets, more than any other person in history.

    1804 – A duel occurs in which the Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr mortally wounds former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. [No need to make a song and dance about it. Oh, too late!]

    1848 – Waterloo railway station in London opens.

    1893 – The first cultured pearl is obtained by Kōkichi Mikimoto.

    1897 – Salomon August Andrée leaves Spitsbergen to attempt to reach the North Pole by balloon. [Spoiler alert: The hydrogen balloon expedition was unsuccessful in reaching the Pole and resulted in the deaths of all three of its participants.]

    1899 – Fiat founded by Giovanni Agnelli in Turin, Italy.

    1919 – The eight-hour day and free Sunday become law for workers in the Netherlands.

    1921 – Former president of the United States William Howard Taft is sworn in as 10th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the only person ever to hold both offices.

    1924 – Eric Liddell won the gold medal in 400m at the 1924 Paris Olympics, after refusing to run in the heats for 100m, his favoured distance, on a Sunday.

    1943 – Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army within the Reichskommissariat Ukraine (Volhynia) peak.

    1960 – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is first published, in the United States.

    1962 – First transatlantic satellite television transmission.

    1962 – Project Apollo: At a press conference, NASA announces lunar orbit rendezvous as the means to land astronauts on the Moon, and return them to Earth.

    1977 – Martin Luther King Jr., assassinated in 1968, is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    1979 – America’s first space station, Skylab, is destroyed as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean.

    2006 – Mumbai train bombings: Two hundred nine people are killed in a series of bomb attacks in Mumbai, India.

    154 – Bardaisan, Syrian astrologer, scholar, and philosopher (d. 222).

    1274 – Robert the Bruce, Scottish king (d. 1329).

    1653 – Sarah Good, American woman accused of witchcraft (d. 1692).

    1754 – Thomas Bowdler, English physician and philanthropist (d. 1825).

    1834 – James Abbott McNeill Whistler, American-English painter and illustrator (d. 1903).

    1849 – N. E. Brown, English plant taxonomist and authority on succulents (d. 1934).

    1899 – E. B. White, American essayist and journalist (d. 1985).

    1916 – Reg Varney, English actor and screenwriter (d. 2008).

    1918 – Venetia Burney, English educator, who named Pluto (d. 2009).

    1920 – Yul Brynner, Russian actor and dancer (d. 1985).

    1953 – Paul Weiland, English director, producer, and screenwriter.

    1956 – Amitav Ghosh, Indian-American author and academic.

    1959 – Richie Sambora, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer.

    1959 – Suzanne Vega, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer.

    1960 – Caroline Quentin, English actress.

    1964 – Craig Charles, English actor and TV presenter.

    1966 – Ricky Warwick, Northern Irish musician.

    Where can we live but days?

    Ah, solving that question
    Brings the priest and the doctor
    In their long coats
    Running over the fields.

    1909 – Simon Newcomb, Canadian-American astronomer and mathematician (b. 1835).

    1937 – George Gershwin, American pianist, songwriter, and composer (b. 1898).

    1989 – Laurence Olivier, English actor, director, and producer (b. 1907).

    2014 – Tommy Ramone, Hungarian-American drummer and producer (b. 1949). [The longest-surviving original member of the Ramones.]

  2. Great to hear the duckling is ok – it’s just a short paragraph but I understand it’s a lot of work.

    Blueberry muffin DIY pro-tip – roll the berries in tapioca starch before mixing/cooking. That’s how they end up like that (in the photo). Sugar might help too – can’t recall… maybe a tapioca / sugar mix?

    1. My (professional, retired) baker friend suggested the same for fruit-loaf of various sorts as well, but just suggested using whatever flour you were going to bake with. Wash the fruit ; roll in flour ; get on with weighing the other ingredients for [whatever] and incorporate the ready-flowered fruit at the appropriate stage. There’s nothing particular about tapioca flour.
      Keeping the ingredient count down is important when you’ve got 500 loaves to get into the oven by 06:00.

  3. >I rescued a small orphan duckling yesterday… But I got it and took it to rehab.

    Clearly, it seems your Quest & Curse is to be able to spot, track and save, a ducking in need anywhere.

  4. The latest Reporting from Ukraine @ starting @ 3:00, reports that the head Russian Air Force appears to have been sacked for having supported Prigozhin, and has been replaced by a bureaucrat.

    And before that part, details on where & how things again didn’t go well for Russians on the battlefield yesterday.

  5. My understanding is that child molesters are routinely attacked in prison because so many convicts were abused as children. That may be just a story.

    1. It could well be. But prisons have a strong hierarchy, even criminals of all other sorts, save for child molesters, universally agree that those people are the lowest of the low.

    2. I was told by our DA that one reason pedophiles are so reviled by the inmates is the inmates consider themselves ‘real men’ and in prison for ‘real crimes’ and they aren’t home to protect their families from the pedophiles.

  6. As political correctness and woke is practically a religion perhaps Thomas Bowdler should be adopted as their patron saint, his ludicrous editing of Shakespeare is right in line with the thoughts of the modern day murderers of language.

    I remember my English teacher telling me we were lucky that the version of Macbeth we did for literature O Level was much easier to follow than the one he had, as with the Porter’s speech being put back in the plot was far easier to follow. Bowdler axed the entire scene because of the word Hell near the start “. . . if I were porter of Hell gate I would have old turning the key . . .”

  7. I think Putin has lost some backing from the rich and powerful. Prigozhin would already be dead, otherwise. If Putin gets kicked out (a war criminal) the rich and powerful can recover with the help from their neighbors. It seems there might be some great changes coming. nuf said. GROG

  8. About the rescue of the singleton duckling, it could well be one of Amy’s brood. According to the library duckcam (which I can no longer access), at the time of jumping, mother then babies jumped one by one, and a lone timid duckling was left for a few minutes on the window ledge. It did eventually jump, so it could have gotten separated from the group, during the likely frenzied rescue. If one could view the video again, then it would be possible to do a head count as they leapt. Of course this one might have jumped/fallen off earlier than the others.

  9. A “Presidential train” is nothing particularly unusual.
    ISTR that one Abe Lincoln had several carriages as a “campaign bus”, which would be hitched and unhitched on regular services while he slept aboard on the re-election trail. For exactly the same reasons that NoisyBand Drum Bangers also have a “tour bus” for getting from gig to gig in. Queen Vicky, likewise (and I think going up until well into the era of Lizzie-2 ; not sure if BigEars has one).
    “Presidential trains” were probably the norm from about 1850 to 1950. Doubly so for Presidential-Candidate trains.

    1. Campaign trains can backfire. When Senator Ed Muskie was running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. President in 1972, he decided to re-create the old whistle-stop campaigns of yesteryear, harking back to when everyone really did travel by train. At one stop, he came out to the speaking dais created on the platform of the rear coach of the impressively long train full of newspaper men and began his stump speech to the crowd assembled at the station. Just as he started to speak, the train started to move and accelerated out of the station, leaving the mystified audience peering down the track at the Senator receding into the distance in a cloud of steam.

      It later came out during the Watergate investigation that Richard Nixon’s Dirty Tricks Squad had bribed the engineer at the throttle up front. (The Nixonites were trying to ensure that Sen. George McGovern would be the Democratic nominee, which he was, to a landslide loss.)

  10. Regarding odd names, on the island of Maui there were the brothers, Sterling Silva, Quick Silva, and Hi! Ho! Silva. I met one of these gentlemen in about 1985. They were memorialized in at least one journal of record, The Readers’ Digest.

  11. Contrary to what you might think, Turkey is of great value to NATO for a simple geographic reasons. Turkey controls the Bosporus and the Dardanelles (in practical terms the Black Sea). Would Putin like Turkey to leave NATO? You bet he would. The key goal of American, UK, and USSR diplomacy was took keep Turkey neutral in WWII. That goal was attained. The Allies profited accordingly, and the Axis suffered (which was exactly what we intended).

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