Wednesday: Hili dialogue

July 12, 2023 • 6:52 am

Greetings on a Hump Day (“Pukkelens Dag” in Danish), July 12, 2023, and National Pecan Pie Day, the BEST of all possible pies, and my favorite. But make sure when you make one, or buy one, that the pecans are scattered throughout the filling, not just a thin, stingy and layer atop the pie. Here’s a good one:

Source and recipe


It’s also Etch A Sketch Day (do they still have these? I did when I was a kid), National Eat Your Jell-O Day, Paper Bag Day (a big holiday for cats), and, on the islands where I worked, Independence Day, celebrating the independence of São Tomé and Príncipe from Portugal in 1975.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 12 Wikipedia page.

There’s a Google Doodle today in which you play an interactive game with Indian snack food (click on the screenshot). It’s a celebration of pani puri, India’s favorite snack food.

Da Nooz:

*NATO has made an ambiguous promise to allow Ukraine to join the alliance “when conditions are met.” Zelensky doesn’t like it at all.

NATO leaders would invite Ukraine to join the military alliance “when the Allies agree and conditions are met,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Tuesday as NATO begins its annual summit in this Baltic nation. Stoltenberg’s comments came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had criticized NATO leaders. In a tweet, he said, “wording is being discussed without Ukraine” that gives little clarity on his country’s prospects for joining the bloc, in apparent reference to draft text that had been circulated. Kyiv wants specific pledges on when and how it can join the defense alliance.

. . .In a key section of Tuesday’s communiqué, NATO says not only that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO” but that Ukraine’s path to integration with the alliance has “moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan,” the standard route for joining NATO. Instead, there would now be a NATO-Ukraine Council, a new joint body for “political dialogue, engagement, cooperation, and Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO,” the statement said.

“The Alliance will support Ukraine in making these reforms on its path towards future membership,” it stated. “We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.”

. . .Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday jolted a summit of NATO leaders by blasting their joint statement on his country’s prospective membership, decrying its lack of a concrete timeline as “unprecedented and absurd.”

In a fiery tweet, Zelensky frustrated Ukraine’s advocates inside the alliance who believed they had secured a win for Kyiv by pushing the United States, Germany and other reluctant countries to consent “to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the alliance when allies agree and conditions are met,” in the words of the declaration painstakingly hammered out through negotiations among the 31 NATO members.

Ukraine has demanded a definitive timeline for NATO membership that includes specific steps and milestones.But many NATO countries are cautious about risking direct war with Russia, and they have been searching for a way to balance Ukraine’s hopes with pragmatic security calculations.

I can understand Zelensky’s being upset at the nebulous nature of the timeline, but let’s face it, Ukraine is going to become a member of NATO.  It’s problemati to do so during wartime, for what is our obligation then? And if the war drags on, the timeline will move further and further away. I’m giving Zelensky a pass on this outburst, though, as I attribute it to the tremendous stress he’s under. After all, either a victory or a defeat for Ukraine will be blamed on him.

*A new Gallup poll reveals that American’s trust in higher education has taken a nosedive.  (h/t Luana).

Americans’ confidence in higher education has fallen to 36%, sharply lower than in two prior readings in 2015 (57%) and 2018 (48%). In addition to the 17% of U.S. adults who have “a great deal” and 19% “quite a lot” of confidence, 40% have “some” and 22% “very little” confidence.

That’s a big drop, and here are the data (click to enlarge):

But colleges are not alone here:

The latest decline in the public’s trust in higher education is from a June 1-22 Gallup poll that also found confidence in 16 other institutions has been waning in recent years. Many of these entities, which are tracked more often than higher education, are now also at or near their lowest points in confidence. Although diminished, higher education ranks fourth in confidence among the 17 institutions measured, with small business, the military and the police in the top three spots.

And this makes sense:

In 2015, majorities of Americans in all key subgroups expressed confidence in higher education, with one exception — independents (48%). By 2018, though, confidence had fallen across all groups, with the largest drop, 17 percentage points, among Republicans. In the latest measure, confidence once again fell across the board, but Republicans’ sank the most — 20 points to 19%, the lowest of any group. Confidence among adults without a college degree and those aged 55 and older dropped nearly as much as Republicans’ since 2018.

And those data:

I suspect that a lot of this drop is caused by the perception of colleges as hotbeds of extreme Leftism or wokeness; why else would it drop, and drop especially among Republicans (look ta that change: from 54% to 19% in just eight years!) Since the woke tend to be younger, this also explains why confidence was lost more among older people. I’m sure there are other reasons, like the increasing view that colleges are simply stores selling diplomas, but you be the judge. To a college professor, though, this loss of confidence in what we’re doing is quite dispiriting.

*Cathy Hochul, the governor of New York State, is concerned with an upcoming Supreme Court decision in a NYT op-ed, “The Supreme Court case that has me worried, for survivors and for my state.” It’s about gun possession.

The Supreme Court recently announced plans to take up the Rahimi case, which will most likely rely on the court’s recent Second Amendment decision, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. In that case, a majority led by Justice Clarence Thomas overturned New York’s concealed carry law that had been on the books for more than a century — claiming 21st-century gun laws should be consistent with an earlier time, when muskets were common firearms.

In doing so, the court stripped away a critical tool I had as governor to keep New Yorkers safe. In New York, we quickly responded with actions to try to prevent more deadly firearms than ever from flooding our communities, our businesses, our bars and restaurants and even our crowded subway cars. One stray word, or sharp elbow, could immediately have devastating, life-threatening consequences.

Now, in Rahimi, the Supreme Court will decide whether deadly firearms can flood the homes of domestic violence survivors. The case arrives at the court after a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in favor of abusers. The appeals court decided that government cannot prevent an abusive individual, against whom a court has issued a domestic violence protective order, from possessing a deadly firearm.

. . . By striking down a federal law aimed at protecting survivors of abuse, the appeals court put forth an outrageous legal theory that claims individuals with domestic violence orders have a constitutional right to possess a gun. Using Justice Thomas’s historically focused argument from Bruen as precedent, the Supreme Court could rule that domestic violence survivors today deserve only the protections they had in the 18th century — a time before most women could own property or work outside the home, let alone vote.

That is about as insane a Constitutional argument as I can imagine. Even as an “originalist”, you can’t hold all morality where it was in the eighteenth century. Convicted felons could presumably own guns then, too, but no longer. There is no benefit I see, save a slavish adherence to a warped idea of the Second Amendment (which, after all, is about maintaining a militia), to allowing someone under a domestic violence order to own a gone. No benefit at all.

*Here’s Glenn Loury going off on affirmative action again to a much calmer John McWhorter. (You can see the dialogue written out here.) Loury’s point is that there are plenty of good colleges for those students who would need affirmative action to get into the “elite” colleges. Now that affirmative action is banned, argues Loury, this doesn’t mean that minorities lack educational opportunity. McWhorter agrees, noting that the passage of Prop. 209 in California, which banned affirmative action in that state, wasn’t a disaster for minorities. He also considers it both unrealistic and patronizing to expect disadvantaged black students to do as well as non-minorities in “elite” colleges.


*If you use two-factor authentication for websites, and you lose your phone, you’re cooked. The WSJ tells you how to avoid this circumstance.

It may be tempting to disable two-factor authentication to avoid the trouble. Don’t do this: “You’d be incurring significant risks, including account hijacking,” said Christopher Budd, director of security firm Sophos X-Ops. There are better ways to set up 2FA, including using apps that support cloud backups, he said.

The popular Google Authenticator app recently addressed the problem with a new option to save codes to your Google account. That means you can now set up Google Authenticator on a new device—even if you don’t have your old one—and restore your codes. It’s a good solution, as long as you connected your Google account before you lost your phone.

There are other solutions as well. Here’s the easiest, and one that gives me considerable mental comfort:

Use another device. Sign in on a tablet or computer that you’ve used to access that account before. If you previously checked the “Don’t ask again on this device” box, you may be able to log in with just your password, no 2FA required.

If it does ask for 2FA, see if there’s an option for an alternative verification method. Google and Facebook, for example, can send an approval notification to a device where you’re already logged in.

This is what I’ve done, using both Google or Facebook, but it has happened only a couple of times.  Here are two more among several suggested:

Multiple forms of verification: There are different types of 2FA, and many services allow you to mix and match. A physical security key, the most secure form of 2FA, can act as your main authentication method or a spare key. You can use an authenticator app along with a security key, and even add multiple security keys to one account.

A physical security key, such as the YubiKey 5C NFC ($55), can act as a spare if you lose access to your phone. PHOTO: YUBICO

Also consider passkeys, a new password-less form of login available for Google, Microsoft and other accounts. With a passkey, you can use just your fingerprint to log in on your laptop, or your face to log in on your phone. They’re automatically synced to the cloud, so you can use multiple devices to sign in with a passkey.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, a blurry Hili’s been reading up on her philosophy:

Hili: I’m more and more sure.
A: About what?
Hili: That Socrates might have been right. We are ignoramuses.
In Polish:
Hili: Jestem coraz bardziej pewna.
Ja: W jakiej sprawie?
Hili: Że Sokrates mógł mieć rację. Jesteśmy ignorantami.

And a blurry photo of the affectionate Szaron (maybe both cats went on a bender):


A pun from Merilee: Do you get it? Answer is below the fold:

From Divy. This is TRUE!

From Nicole, a cat buffet:


From Masih.  The young woman has by far the best arguments; all the older woman has is Islamic dogma.

I found this tweet of Zelensky telling a Jewish joke. Though it’s not really a Jewish joke per se, it’s funny and timely:

From Simon, three tweets from Larry the Cat, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office:

From Barry, two big cats get cozy:

From The Auschwitz Memorial, a 45-year-old woman killed on arrival:

Tweets from the good Dr. Cobb. Look at this single cell!

Is this for real?

What a fantastic shot, especially with all that curving!

Click”read more” to see Merilee’s pun:

The pun:  “Wrong on many levels.”




19 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1493 – Hartmann Schedel’s Nuremberg Chronicle, one of the best-documented early printed books, is published.

    1948 – Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion orders the expulsion of Palestinians from the towns of Lod and Ramla.

    1962 – The Rolling Stones perform for the first time at London’s Marquee Club.

    1963 – Pauline Reade, 16, disappears in Gorton, England, the first victim in the Moors murders.

    1995 – Chinese seismologists successfully predict the 1995 Myanmar–China earthquake, reducing the number of casualties to 11.

    100 BC – Julius Caesar, Roman politician and general (d. 44 BC).

    1730 – Josiah Wedgwood, English potter, founded the Wedgwood Company (d. 1795).

    1807 – Thomas Hawksley, English engineer and academic (d. 1893)

    1817 – Henry David Thoreau, American essayist, poet, and philosopher (d. 1862).

    1854 – George Eastman, American businessman, founded Eastman Kodak (d. 1933).

    1880 – Tod Browning, American actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 1962).

    1884 – Louis B. Mayer, Russian-born American film producer, co-founded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (d. 1957).

    1895 – Buckminster Fuller, American architect and engineer, designed the Montreal Biosphère (d. 1983).

    1895 – Oscar Hammerstein II, American director, producer, and songwriter (d. 1960).

    1899 – E.D. Nixon, American civil rights leader (d. 1987).

    1904 – Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and diplomat, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1973).

    1937 – Bill Cosby, American actor, comedian, producer, and screenwriter.

    1942 – Steve Young, American country singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2016). [His best-known composition is “Seven Bridges Road”, which became a hit for Eagles when they included a cover of it on their live album in 1980. Earlier covers of the song were done by Joan Baez, Tracy Nelson & Mother Earth, Iain Matthews, Dolly Parton, and Rita Coolidge.]

    1943 – Christine McVie, English singer-songwriter and keyboard player (d. 2022).

    1947 – Wilko Johnson, English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 2022).

    1955 – Timothy Garton Ash, English historian and author.

    When churches fall completely out of use
    What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
    A few cathedrals chronically on show,
    Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases,
    And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
    Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

    1804 – Alexander Hamilton, American general, economist, and politician, 1st United States Secretary of the Treasury (b. 1755).

    1892 – Alexander Cartwright, American firefighter, invented baseball (b. 1820). [As a Brit, I’m not going to get involved in any arguments about this…!]

    1910 – Charles Rolls, English engineer and businessman, co-founded Rolls-Royce Limited (b. 1877)

    1926 – Gertrude Bell, English archaeologist and spy (b. 1868).

    1935 – Alfred Dreyfus, French colonel (b. 1859).

    1973 – Lon Chaney Jr., American actor (b. 1906).

    1980 – John Warren Davis, American educator, college administrator, and civil rights leader (b. 1888).

    1982 – Kenneth More, English actor (b. 1914).

    2003 – Benny Carter, American trumpet player, saxophonist, and composer (b. 1907).

    2004 – Betty Oliphant, English-Canadian ballerina, co-founded the National Ballet School of Canada (b. 1918).

    2013 – Alan Whicker, Egyptian-English journalist (b. 1921).

  2. “I suspect that a lot of this drop is caused by the perception of colleges as hotbeds of extreme Leftism or wokeness; why else would it drop, and drop especially among Republicans (look ta that change: from 54% to 19% in just eight years!)”

    I can think of one very big reason: Republicans have higher concentrations in poor Southern and Midwestern communities where white collar jobs are scarce, and have seen firsthand over the last decade that getting a college degree (and the debt that goes with it!) does not necessarily provide them or their children with better job prospects and life outcomes. As college degrees become less economically useful and more expensive, trust in higher education is diminished.

    1. The Gallup Poll question regarding confidence in various institutions measures very little. Why? If I were asked the question, I would want to know confidence in what. To use higher education as an example, I would ask the pollster the following questions before answering, which he probably couldn’t answer. Confidence in fair admissions? Confidence in the quality of the education offered? Confidence of students to hear both sides of an issue? Confidence in the possession of a college degree to get a good job? Confidence to afford to attend a good school? Confidence in the faculty not to be ideologically biased in their teaching? I have probably forgotten a few questions. All we can say about the current “confidence” question is that there seems to a growing dissatisfaction with higher education, but since there is no specificity, we can only speculate as to why. The same goes for the confidence in all the other institutions polled.

      1. Yes, exactly, we can see a consistent downward trend and speculate as to why. That’s what Jerry did and what I did.

  3. I have not read about the New York case, but it strikes me that the information given by one of the parties to the case is likely to be, well, one-sided. I would be more sympathetic to Hochul, if NY had previously been a haven free from gun violence, but the fact is that it was not, so arguments about the need to fight crime don’t resonate. Besides, the authorization of concealed-carry would put guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens, not criminals who have had them despite the law.

    1. The case New York governor Kathy. Hochul writes about in her NYT piece, United States v. Rahimi, did not arise in New York, and neither Hochul nor the state of New York is a party to the case. The case arose in Texas, and the Texas federal district judge’s decision striking down the federal statute prohibiting persons subject to a domestic abuse injunction from possessing firearms was upheld by a panel of the ultra-conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. I wrote a note to Jerry about the case at the time the Fifth Circuit rendered its decision, and he included it in a Hili dialogue here.

      Hochul’s piece merely expresses concern over the effect that will be felt in New York (and elsewhere across the country) should SCOTUS uphold the Fifth Circuit’s decision.

      Are you in favor of domestic abusers being allowed to possess firearms, despite the United States congress’s having enacted a statute, 18 USC section 922(g)(8), prohibiting them from doing so? Keep in mind that the presence of a firearm in the home during an incident of domestic abuse increases by five-fold the odds that the abused spouse or domestic partner will end up dead.

      1. As I understand it, the issue here is not that anyone wants violent abusers to have access to arms. Instead, it is whether a restraining order is enough to trigger law enforcement seizure of firearms.
        A restraining order in a number of states is not a difficult thing to get, and is often obtained based on the claims of one party in a dispute.

        My view, as a gun collector, is that it would be unfortunate if it became a tactic for divorce lawyers to use as leverage. Agree to our terms or we use the courts to send in a SWAT team to clean out your gun safe, and maybe something bad happens to you during the raid.

        Well intended laws that offer grave opportunities for misuse should be written very carefully. People are often vindictive and unfair, especially when they are angry.

        On the other hand, a conviction for domestic violence makes one a prohibited person, who cannot legally possess firearms.

        1. “Well intended laws that offer grave opportunities for misuse should be written very carefully.”

          You mean like this one: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”?

          I couldn’t agree more! There will always be people who misuse old, badly written laws to support their own agenda. Best write them well, lest your words be taken for a purpose other than you intended.

          1. I do agree that it would have been optimal if the founders had included an appendix which included specific definitions of the terms used, “well regulated” being a perfect example of a term that had a very different meaning than is perceived presently.

        2. The respondent in a domestic abuse injunction petition is entitled to a full adversarial evidentiary hearing before a permanent injunction can be entered. And a person subject to a permanent domestic-abuse injunction has the right to later move to have the injunction dissolved if the court determines there is no longer a need for it.

          If the federal statute prohibiting persons subject to domestic-abuse injunctions from possessing firearms is held to be unconstitutional, it is difficult to see how any type of “red-flag” law prohibiting persons deemed to be a danger to other from possessing firearms even temporarily could pass Second Amendment scrutiny.

    2. “Can you give me another example where a misdemeanor suspends a constitutional right permanently?” – Clarence Thomas on the federal law which bans domestic abusers from owning guns.

  4. I suspect the increased cost of education, at least in this country is one important reason. When something gets priced beyond reason people stop buying it.

    On the security issue without your phone. I get text messages on the computer as well as the phone so no problem.

    1. Not only is the price rising beyond any reason, the value is dropping. Many of the grievance studies graduates cannot form a coherent sentence.
      In the olden days, you could hire a college graduate and expect them to have a high basic threshold of literacy and basic competence. They could be taught the specifics of a job, and the employer would assume that they could follow or produce written instructions, employ grammar, spelling and basic logic within reason, and know that they are supposed to show up according to schedule.

    2. Hmm, I too get text messages on the computer as well as on the phone — BUT they get to the computer via the phone, so this would not help in case of loss of the phone.

  5. It’s also Etch A Sketch Day (do they still have these? I did when I was a kid) …

    As I recall the lesson taught by high-school chemistry teacher Walter White (aka “Heisenberg”) in Breaking Bad, one can use the thermite from an Etch A Sketch to burn through even the thickest metal:

    1. Yep. The aluminum powder from the etch-a-sketch (mixed with red iron oxide, the stuff Heisenberg added) when ignited (it takes quite a high temperature) will avidly steal the oxygen from the iron oxide, not needing any external source of oxygen, in a reaction so exothermic that the iron is left molten at the end. It’s remarkable to see.

  6. That was a good joke Zelensky told.
    That Finnish Hobby Horse competition is plain weird.
    That Bowls Championship shot was unbelievable.

    The originalists on SCOTUS are the worst thing that’s happened to that institution, and it will continue to diminish in legitimacy, credibility and confidence. Bork was the original originalist and the first to be nominated to SCOTUS (by Reagan) in 1987; back then, the “theory” was so toxic that he lost the nomination 58-42. Thirty-five years later, 5 of 9 justices are originalists; it’s a travesty, thanks GOP.

  7. Is this [hobby horse championship] for real?

    You ask this in a world where people participate in “Quiddich” contests?
    I foresee a case where the winner in the “hobby horse” championship is also a member of a championship Quidditch team.

    1. I’m a day late to this party, but I was curious enough about the hobby horse championship to look it up. It’s actually rather sweet when you learn what it’s about. Here’s part of the short Wikipedia article about it:

      “This sport, which can be classified as a fun and trend sport, is particularly popular with girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 18 years and is gaining popularity beyond the other Nordic countries in other parts of Europe.

      While the hobby may be perceived more as a childish pastime by “real riders,” Fred Sundwall, secretary general of the Finnish Equestrian Federation, views it positively: “We think it’s just wonderful that Hobby Horsing has become a phenomenon and so popular.’ ‘It gives kids and teenagers who don’t have horses a chance to interact with them outside of stables and riding schools.'”

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