Tuesday: Hili dialogue

July 25, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, July 25, 2023, and National Hot Fudge Sundae Day, a classic American treat. It was invented in the U.S., but five cities contest for place where the ice cream sundae was invented. The one below needs about four times more fudge topping:

It’s also Culinarians Day, National Wine and Cheese Day , International Red Shoe Day, and International Afro-descendant Women’s Day

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 25 Wikipedia page.

Wine of the Day (Insomnia has reduced my drinking a bit, but only temporarily. Here’s a wine I almost never see, much less drink: a rosé Rioja! It’s Alegre y Valgonon – Rioja Blanco from 2018, but it’s more pink than blanco. It cost $22 and was a bargain at that price, absolutely unidentifiable by taste alone. It was dry but with a lemon and peach flavor, and the red grape (Garnacha, only 10%) came through the white grape (Virua, 90%) clearly.  It was a great complement to chicken breast, broccoli, and rice, and I wish I’d have bought at least half a case. It was five years old but I suspect could age a few years longer.

Here’s one review, which seems pretty accurate to me, though I don’t know from “back half”.

Fresh tangerine, dried pear and white peach on the fragrant nose, with a spicy element emerging slowly. Juicy and silky in texture, offering fresh orchard and citrus fruit flavors that tighten up slowly on the back half. Closes with strong, stony persistence and very good lift, leaving an appealing floral note behind.

All I can say is that I rarely come across Rioja Blanco (white Rioja), though I drink a lot of its red relative. I’ll be looking harder! Some of the whites age well, and if you’re looking for a change of pace, read this piece about them.


Da Nooz:

Israel may be on the threshold of disappearing as a country, either through civil war or invasion of its weakened state. We’ll know soon (I’m supposed to visit for a few weeks starting September 2), but everything is up in the air.

*The next item tells you that Netanyahu’s bill curbing Israel’s Supreme Court has passed, but before we get to that, the AP tells us what the bill really says.

On Monday, parliament approved a bill that takes away the Supreme Court’s power to override government decisions that the court finds “unreasonable.”

Proponents say the current “reasonability” standard gives judges excessive powers over decision making by elected officials. But critics say that removing the standard, which is invoked only in rare cases, would allow the government to pass arbitrary decisions, make improper appointments or firings and open the door to corruption.

. . .The overhaul calls for sweeping changes aimed at curbing the powers of the judiciary.

The proposals include a bill that would allow a simple majority in parliament to overturn Supreme Court decisions. Another would give parliament the final say in selecting judges.

Netanyahu’s ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox religious allies say the package is meant to restore power to elected officials — and reduce the powers of unelected judges.

Protesters, who make up a wide cross section of Israeli society, fear the overhaul will push Israel toward autocracy. They say it is a power grab fueled by various personal and political grievances by Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, and his allies.

Two other things that the article didn’t mention: the Supreme Court previously had the power to nominate its own judges, and parliament and the Prime Minister haven’t done that, so it’s sort of a self-perpetuating judiciary. Also, the Court can, without giving reasons, reject the nomination of a government minister as itself “unreasonable.” (They have sometimes given reasons for such rejections, though.

Now, onto the fracas in Israel:

*The Israeli parliament, following Netanyahu’s wishes, passed the controversial law curbing the power of the nation’s Supreme Court.

Masses of Israelis blocked roads in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and around the country on Monday night, furious over what they called an affront to democracy after the Israeli Parliament passed a law earlier in the day limiting the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn decisions made by government ministers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was hospitalized to receive a pacemaker over the weekend, had sought to quell the intensifying unrest in a televised address to the Israeli people on Monday evening. Speaking from his office, he suggested that he would table until late November a broader judicial overhaul plan being undertaken by his government, the most right-wing and religiously conservative in Israeli history.

. . .Israeli police are deploying water cannons against thousands of protesters demonstrating against the judicial overhaul who have gathered near the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. Waving Israeli flags, some protesters are calling back “for shame!” in scenes broadcast live on Israel’s public broadcaster.

The situation is particularly dire because the military itself is divided on this bill, with some, like the Air Force Reserve, refusing to do their service should Netanyahu’s bill pass. It would be the height of irony if the Israeli military and Israeli citizens destroyed the country through civil war. Many would be delighted, of course, but not I.

*Thomas Friedman has published his op-ed, “Only Biden can save Israel now“, too late. The bill restricting the Supreme Court has already passed. But let’s see what Friedman said, written in the form of a letter to President Biden:

Fifty years later, Mr. President, this Jewish democracy urgently needs another airlift to save it from being destroyed from the inside. It needs an urgent resupply of hard truths — something only you can provide.

And what are those truths? That if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues trying to ram through a bill that would strip Israel’s Supreme Court of its most important legal authority — to check extreme appointments or decisions of Israel’s political echelon — and do so without a semblance of national consensus, it will fracture Israel’s military and undermine not only shared values between the U.S. and Israel but also vital U.S. interests.

But I’m afraid this Israeli government needs another dose of your tough love — not just from your heart but from the heart of U.S. strategic interests as well.

Because Netanyahu is plowing ahead despite your urgings. Despite a warning from more than 1,100 Israeli Air Force pilots and technicians that they will not fly for a dictatorship. Despite an open letter signed by dozens of former top security officials, including former heads of the Israel Defense Forces, Mossad, Shin Bet and police beseeching the prime minister to stop. Despite Israel’s top business forum warning of “irreversible and destructive consequences on the Israeli economy.” Despite fears that this could eventually fracture unit cohesion in the base of the Israeli Army. And despite a remarkable, largely spontaneous five-day march by everyday Israelis from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the likes of which had never happened before.

If I may suggest, Mr. President, what is needed is that your secretary of state, your secretary of defense, your Treasury secretary, your commerce secretary, your secretary of agriculture, your U.S. trade representative, your attorney general, your C.I.A. director and your Joint Chiefs call their Israeli counterparts today and let them know that if Netanyahu moves ahead — without a consensus, fracturing Israeli society and its military — it will not only undermine the shared values between our two countries but also do serious damage to our own strategic interests in the Middle East.

And U.S. interests are very much our business. Because as the Knesset moves to vote on this issue on Monday, something very important could break in Israel and in our relationship with Israel. And once it’s gone, it will never come back.

I hope that it is not already too late.

But it is too late much of the bill has passed. Actually, I can see both sides on this issue; the bill isn’t 100% horrible (does the Supreme Court really have to choose its own members? can the Court reject any legislation as “unreasonable” without giving a reason), but it does put more power in the hands of the Prime Minister. I don’t have a big dog in this fight, but I don’t want Israel to go up in smoke over this issue, either.

To see a counterargument to Friedman’s thesis, two law professors (one of them the U of C’s Richard Epstein) has a National Post op-ed called “Opponents of Netanyahu’s judicial reforms want government by tantrum.”

*The war between Russia and Ukraine is turning nastier: a drone of unknown origin (probably Ukrainian) hit a skyscraper in Moscow, while Russia keeps pounding Odessa with missiles and drones.

A drone struck a skyscraper in Moscow early Monday, shattering glass on the 17th and 18th floors, Russian officials reported. The wreckage of a second drone was found on Komsomolsky Prospect, a thoroughfare in central Moscow. Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said two nonresidential buildings were struck but there were no casualties.

Is Ukraine targeting civilian infrastructure—a war crime? We don’t know from this report as the nature of the skyscraper isn’t specified. But this is surely a Ukrainian operation.

Moscow downed the drones, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, blaming Ukraine for the attack. Drone strikes are a rarity for the Russian capital, and a similar attack earlier this year on two residential buildings there was widely considered a prelude to further escalation in the war.Though Ukraine denied responsibility for the drone attack in May, the event struck a chord among Russians, who for the first time witnessed wartime hostilities trickling into residential parts of the city.

And, on the other side:

The incident comes after another night of attacks on Ukraine’s Odessa region. Drones targeted port infrastructure along the Danube River, injuring six people and destroying a grain hangar, said Oleh Kiper, the regional governor.

. . . The overnight drone attack in Odessa lasted four hours,Ukrainian officials said on Telegram, part of a string of attacks in the port region since Russia pulled out of a U.N.-backed grain export deal. An earlier bombardment razed several parts of the southern Ukrainian port city, killing at least one person and injuring 21, including four children.

While Ukraine has taken back about half the land that Russia took over earlier, the Russians are enlisting children in the war effort:

Russia is putting a “renewed emphasis on military induction for children,” Britain’s Defense Ministry said, citing the move by Russian authorities to add lessons on how to operate combat drones to a forthcoming mandatory school syllabus. The ministry said the policy is more about cultivating “a culture of militarised patriotism” in Russia and less about teaching children to operate drones. But the focus on the unmanned aerial vehicles “does highlight how Russia has identified the use of tactical UAVs in Ukraine as an enduring component of contemporary war,” it said.

*Private Second Class Travis King, who “defected” to North Korea after getting in legal trouble in South Korea, remains in the DPRK, and their government has said nothing.

The United Nations Command has begun talking with North Korea about an American soldier who crossed the border from South Korea without authorization last week, the deputy commander said Monday.

British Army Lieutenant General Andrew Harrison told a briefing on Monday that conversations have begun through a communication line established under the armistice agreement that ended combat in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Private 2nd Class Travis King, 23 years old, has been detained in North Korea since he crossed the border while on a tour last Tuesday of the Joint Security Area, part of the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas.

“The primary concern for us is Private King’s welfare,” Harrison said. He said he remains optimistic, but declined to provide details on the talks, citing their sensitivity.

. . .The day before he crossed the border, King had been set to fly Texas for disciplinary actions and a potential discharge following two alleged assaults last year, officials said last week. He had been held at a detention facility in South Korea for 47 days.

North Korea has said nothing publicly about King.

One thing is for sure: if King has a lick of sense, he’ll get his butt out of North Korea. Even military prison in the U.S. is better than a lifetime of deprivation in the DPRK.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is admonishing Andrzej:

Hili: You are writing too much, you are reading too little.
A: I can’t read. You are not letting me come to the computer.
Hili: Go and read some books.
In Polish:
Hili: Za dużo piszesz, za mało czytasz.
Ja: Nie mogę czytać, bo nie puszczasz mnie do komputera.
Hili: Idź i czytaj książki


From The Atheist Experience and the Non Prophets:

From Jean, a Barbara Smaller cartoon:

From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0. Click to enlarge. I’m glad he was charged with animal abuse, too!

From Masih, and do read the Guardian article linked in the Tweet (or is it “the X”?). A quote from the piece:

“I felt indifferent to the news that the ‘morality police’ have been reinstated. Western media insists on telling us Iranians that Gasht-e-Irshad was abolished, but I don’t know a single Iranian friend of mine who believed that,” says a 22-year-old from Rasht.

“They [the morality police] were never gone and were being deployed as security personnel in universities or as civilians in public places. What the world sees is a tiny glimpse of what’s happening here. Although everything looks normal to the ones who don’t care about us women, if you notice, they are everywhere.

From Robert: girl rescues duckling, and then adopts two more:

From Peter Boghossian:

From Malcolm, a domino effect with kittens:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a Czech woman who died at forty:

Tweets from the diligent Dr. Cobb, beavering away on his Crick biography. Look at this long nudibranch!


A VERY selfish cat:

20 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1668 – A magnitude 8.5 earthquake strikes eastern China, killing over 42,000 people.

    1783 – American Revolutionary War: The war’s last action, the Siege of Cuddalore, is ended by a preliminary peace agreement.

    1788 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completes his Symphony No. 40 in G minor (K550).

    1797 – Horatio Nelson loses more than 300 men and his right arm during the failed conquest attempt of Tenerife (Spain). [That was careless of him…]

    1837 – The first commercial use of an electrical telegraph is successfully demonstrated in London by William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone.

    1861 – American Civil War: The United States Congress passes the Crittenden–Johnson Resolution, stating that the war is being fought to preserve the Union and not to end slavery, in the wake of the defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run.

    1897 – American author Jack London embarks on a sailing trip to take part in the Klondike’s gold rush, from which he wrote his first successful stories.

    1909 – Louis Blériot makes the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier-than-air machine from Calais to Dover, England, United Kingdom in 37 minutes.

    1917 – Sir Robert Borden introduces the first income tax in Canada as a “temporary” measure (lowest bracket is 4% and highest is 25%).

    1934 – The Nazis assassinate Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss in a failed coup attempt.

    1944 – World War II: Operation Spring is one of the bloodiest days for the First Canadian Army during the war.

    1961 – Cold War: In a speech John F. Kennedy emphasizes that any attack on Berlin is an attack on NATO.

    1965 – Bob Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival, signaling a major change in folk and rock music.

    1969 – Vietnam War: U.S. President Richard Nixon declares the Nixon Doctrine, stating that the United States now expects its Asian allies to take care of their own military defense. This is the start of the “Vietnamization” of the war.

    1976 – Viking program: Viking 1 takes the famous Face on Mars photo.

    1978 – Birth of Louise Joy Brown, the first human to have been born after conception by in vitro fertilisation, or IVF.

    1984 – Salyut 7 cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya becomes the first woman to perform a space walk.

    2000 – Concorde Air France Flight 4590 crashes outside of Paris shortly after taking off at Charles de Gaulle Airport, killing 113 people.

    2007 – Pratibha Patil is sworn in as India’s first female president.

    2010 – WikiLeaks publishes classified documents about the War in Afghanistan, one of the largest leaks in U.S. military history.

    2019 – National extreme heat records set this day in the UK, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany during the July 2019 European heat wave.

    1806 – Maria Weston Chapman, American abolitionist (d. 1885).

    1875 – Jim Corbett, Indian hunter, environmentalist, and author (d. 1955).

    1896 – Josephine Tey, Scottish author and playwright (d. 1952).

    1902 – Eric Hoffer, American philosopher and author (d. 1983).

    1906 – Johnny Hodges, American saxophonist and clarinet player (d. 1970).

    1918 – Jane Frank, American painter and sculptor (d. 1986).

    1920 – Rosalind Franklin, English biophysicist, chemist, and academic (d. 1958).

    1922 – John B. Goodenough, American materials scientist, physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2023). [Widely credited with the identification and development of the lithium-ion battery, for developing the Goodenough–Kanamori rules in determining the sign of the magnetic superexchange in materials, and for seminal developments in computer random-access memory.]

    1941 – Emmett Till, American lynching victim (d. 1955).

    1948 – Steve Goodman, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1984).

    1958 – Thurston Moore, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer.

    1967 – Matt LeBlanc, American actor and producer.

    The past is gone
    It went by, like dusk to dawn

    1616 – Andreas Libavius, German physician and chemist (b. 1550). [Most known for practicing alchemy and writing a book called Alchemia, one of the first chemistry textbooks ever written.]

    1831 – Maria Szymanowska, Polish composer and pianist (b. 1789).

    1834 – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English philosopher, poet, and critic (b. 1772).

    1843 – Charles Macintosh, Scottish chemist and inventor of waterproof fabric (b. 1766).

    1865 – James Barry, English soldier and surgeon (b. 1799). [Born Margaret Anne Bulkley. Barry not only improved conditions for wounded soldiers, but also the conditions of the native inhabitants, and performed the first recorded caesarean section by a European in Africa in which both the mother and child survived the operation. Barry has since been claimed by the “transgender community” although there is no evidence that she presented as a man for any reason other than to train as a doctor in a world where such education was forbidden to women.]

    1947 – Kathleen Scott, English sculptor (b. 1878).

    1973 – Amy Jacques Garvey, Jamaican-American journalist and activist (b. 1895).

    1984 – Big Mama Thornton, American singer-songwriter (b. 1926).

    1986 – Vincente Minnelli, American director and screenwriter (b. 1903).

    2003 – John Schlesinger, English actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1926).

    2008 – Tracy Hall, American chemist and academic (b. 1919). [One of the early pioneers in the research of synthetic diamonds, using a press of his own design.]

    2009 – Harry Patch, English soldier (b. 1898). [Look at his birth year! The last surviving trench combat soldier of the First World War from any country, he died aged 111 years and 38 days.]

    2013 – Hugh Huxley, English-American biologist and academic (b. 1924).

    2020 – Peter Green, English blues rock guitarist, singer-songwriter and founder of Fleetwood Mac (b. 1946).

  2. I believe Israel has its Autocrat and we have ours. The idea that we could come to the rescue of Israel is not reality. We are more likely the cause of Israel’s problems. The party in power in Israel has become very close to the republicans over the years.

    1. In a democratic nation that is roughly evenly divided between two groups that espouse very different visions for the country’s future, the vying for power can become tense and vicious because so much is at stake. This is the similarity between the United States and Israel. We are all familiar what is going on in the United States. In Israel, it appears that the conflict is between the religious right that wants to eliminate any vestiges of secularism (at least according to the opposition) and to take a hard line with the Palestinians, including the annexation of more Palestinian territory. The opposition to Netanyahu’s right-wing government opposes turning Israel into an out-and-out theocracy, wishes to reach some sort of accommodation with the Palestinians, and fears that the goal of the Netanyahu government is to establish an authoritarian regime. As in the United States, demographic change has played a large role in inciting the crisis. Thus, the debate over the appropriate powers of the Israeli Supreme Court is emblematic of a much deeper problem: the struggle for the essence of the Israeli state. Both in the United States and Israel, political differences seem incapable of being resolved by an acceptable compromise through the normal channels of democratic institutions; thereby, they jeopardize democracy itself.

    2. How is Netanyahu proposing to give more power to the Knesset a symptom of ‘autocracy’? And the coalition party in power was just out of power and wasn’t the same coalition previously.

      There are very few parallels between Israel and the US systems and their situations, and even less resemblance of the current Israeli coalition to the US Republican party. If we in the US had an internal terrorism-aligned large minority in our midst claiming the country belonged to them, the US would be a lot more right-wing than it is today.

      1. And there at the end you give us another parallel. Terrorism in our midst? Wouldn’t that be something like 9/11 dah. Netanyahu and Trump – two peas in a pod

  3. What has happened? In May of 1961, there was a big celebration dinner in our Jewish community for the 13th birthday of the state of Israel….its Bar Mitzvah year so to speak. It was a joyful affair, featuring all the bar mitzvah boys of that year of which I was one. Each of us was given a nicely scrolled up and fancy copy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. We were so proud to be so closely related to Israel’s birth and growth. These years in Israel are so dispiriting. I hope Jerry gets to Israel in September and can report back with some on the scene ground truth.

  4. I’ll take Trans-L-mania :

    If a person claims to have been born in the wrong body, does is that enough to justify changing their body with surgery and pharmaceuticals?

    If a person feels they have cancer, would it make sense to give them chemotherapy?

    If I understand things, that is gnosis – self-knowledge. But I can self-report ringing in my ears – tinnitus – but there is no empirical test. I think that is also gnosis.

    However, if an adult wants to get cosmetic surgery, nobody was ever stopping them.

  5. It’s the Israeli supreme court that is autocratic. They have taken legislative and executive powers to themselves, removing the prosecution, and most control of the police from the elected officials. Doing this, they eliminated their own independence and are now allowing the prosecution to crime with impunity. Hopefully, this is just the first step in restricting the absolute power the supreme court has taken for itself. And with elected officials controlling court appointments, perhaps one day we will have judges that obey the law, and oppose confessions by torture.

    PS: Posted anonymously, because Israeli courts got caught searching the internet for people who criticize them.

      1. They are protesting because the media told them that any restraint on the unchecked power of the courts is fascism.
        If anything, it illustrates the danger of having the media controlled by a single faction or political party.

        1. Very interesting. I was under the impression that Israel had a free media.

          1) Is there evidence to say that people were told that such restraint is fascism? If so, to what extent were they told this? Was there an extended media effort? Isolated?

          2) Are you suggesting that the Israeli media is controlled by a single faction? If so, why do you think so? And how is it that rivals don’t get to express their views through the media? Are they not afforded the opportunity? Are their views suppressed? If so, how? Who exactly has this control? How do they manage to sustain that control in a democratic country?

      2. All these people, the liberal half of the country, are protesting due to the following conjuncture: a) In Israel, unlike the USA or most democracies, since the government is appointed by the legislature (Knesset), the only check on the government’s immense power is the courts. b) Israel has no constitution, so the courts, and in particular the supreme court, have for the past decades considered the Declaration of Independence, with its liberal philosophy and promise to protect individual rights without regard to origin religion gender etc., as a substitute constitution, and overturned illiberal laws and government decisions accordingly. c) The current coalition is extremely conservative, roughly reflecting the more religious half of the population (but by no means all of it). Their aim is to change the country in their image. The courts stand in their way, because of (b).
        This is why they are trying to strip the judiciary of its powers. If they succeed, they will be able to enshrine in law, among other things, the permanent dispensation of the ever-growing ultra-orthodox section of the population from military service, increase the subsidies for non-working ultra-orthodox youth, turn Israel proper in an actual apartheid state vs. its Arab minorities. The other thing they will be able to do is to strip the government services of all expertise – replacing an expert with a political appointee lacking any qualifications is something the courts would normally block as “unreasonable” – which will be disastrous for the normal operation of the ministries. This is why the liberal half of the population, the half that supports most of Israel’s economy and most of its defense, took to the streets. Their fear is that Israel will turn in short order into an illiberal banana republic. I don’t think that this fear is unfounded.

    1. Here in Israel hundreds of thousands of people, including almost all religious Jews, openly support the judicial reform and they are still alive

          1. Plenty of religious Jews in Israel are opposed to the judicial overhaul, including this one.

  6. In my opinion, the Supreme Court of any country should be making decisions based only on the law and the constitution. It seems crazy to me that the SC can reverse government decisions on the basis of “reasonableness”. What is reasonable? I think it’s very subjective. For example, i think it’s reasonable to allow women to seek an abortion up to, sat 24 weeks, for any reason but other people will disagree with me saying either it is not reasonable to allow a woman to seek an abortion, or conversely, it is not reasonable to limit her right to seek an abortion to the first 24 weeks. In a democracy, what is reasonable is for the elected parliament to decide.

    Furthermore, I don’t think the Supreme Court should be selecting its own members, but neither do I think having the members directly selected by parliament is the answer. We can see from the US Supreme Court that allowing politics into the selection of judges is a recipe for disaster.

  7. Why is Putin invading Ukraine? To fight Nazis.
    I have been told that the elections are going to be canceled, and that women will have to cover their hair. Likud is a secular party, and the speaker of the Knesset is an openly gay man who lives with his husband. The only one suggesting to cancel the results of the last elections is the AG, who comes from a party that lost the elections.

  8. With regard to the notion that “Israeli judges appoint themselves”, a correction is in order. The Judges Appointment Committee consists of three supreme court judges, plus the minister of justice and another minister, two Knesset members – traditionally, one of the coalition and one of the opposition, and two members of the Israeli bar association, i.e. nine in total. Appointment of a supreme court judge requires 7 votes. This means that no single faction can appoint a judge by itself, and thus compromises must be made. However, the ruling coalition (3 votes at least) and the judges (3 votes) can each veto any candidate. The former makes sense because they were voted in power. The latter makes sense because a judge is, among others, a professional appointment – and the profession should be able to block unqualified candidates. Overall, this system – in its current form, the brainchild of former Likkud justice minster Gideon Saar – is widely considered as one of the better ones worldwide. Unless you are opposed to an independent judiciary, that is.

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