Friday: Hili dialogue

July 28, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the end of the work week: Friday, July 28, 2023. Today we meet with Facilities and see if they’ll meet their promise of having Botany Pond up and running by October.  It’s National Milk Chocolate Day, celebrating a relatively recent invention:

The first use of the term “milk chocolate” was for a beverage brought to London from Jamaica in 1687, but it was not until the Swiss inventor Daniel Peter successfully combined cocoa and condensed milk in 1875 that the milk chocolate bar was invented.

In the EU, anything labeled “milk chocolate” must have at least 35% dry cocoa solids.  In the U.S., it must have at least 10% by weight of chocolate liquor (not boozy!)

It’s also National Soccer Day, World Hepatitis Day, World Nature Conservation Day, National Hamburger Day, and Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval, commemorating the explulsion of the Acadians from Canada. 

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

Da Nooz:

*What’s going on with the Ukrainian counteroffensive is not very clear, but it seems as if a big advance isn’t happening.

 Fierce fighting raged Thursday in southeastern Ukraine, where a Western official said Kyiv has launched a major push and Russian President Vladimir Putin said “hostilities have intensified significantly.”

Battles in recent weeks have taken place on multiple points along the over 1,000-kilometer (over 600-mile) front line as Ukraine wages a counteroffensive with Western-supplied weapons and Western-trained troops against Russian forces who invaded 17 months ago.

Putin praised the “heroism” with which Russian soldiers were repelling attacks in the Zaporizhzhia region of the southeast, claiming Moscow’s troops not only destroyed Ukraine’s military equipment but also inflicted heavy losses to Kyiv’s forces.

. . .Ukrainian troops have made only incremental gains since launching a counteroffensive in early June, and Putin has repeatedly claimed Ukraine has suffered heavy losses, without offering evidence.

Ukraine has committed thousands of troops in the region in recent days, according to a Western official who was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.

It was unclear how the current effort differs from previous ones by the Ukrainian military to break through deeply entrenched Russian defenses. The Russian army has set up vast minefields to stymie Ukrainian advances and used combat aircraft and loitering munitions to strike Ukrainian armor and artillery.

Ukrainian authorities have kept operational details of the counteroffensive under wraps, and they have released scant information about its progress.

That is all ye know on earth, but less than we need to know. So many lives for so little land taken back by Ukraine: it reminds me of World War I.

*Trump’s lawyers met yesterday with the special counsel in charge of investigating the insurrection and Trump’s apparent attempts to overturn the election.

Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump met on Thursday with officials in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, as federal prosecutors edged closer toward bringing an indictment against Mr. Trump in connection with his wide-ranging efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to three people familiar with the matter.

It was not immediately clear what subjects were discussed at the meeting or if Mr. Smith took part. But similar gatherings are often used by defense lawyers as a last-ditch effort to argue against charges being filed or to convey their version of the facts and the law.

On Thursday, the prosecutors were said to have listened courteously — without signaling their intentions beyond what they had conveyed in an earlier letter to the former president — as Mr. Trump’s lawyers made their arguments.

In a post following the meeting on his social media site, Mr. Trump said that his lawyers had “a productive meeting” with the prosecutors. He said they had explained to Mr. Smith’s team that “I did nothing wrong, was advised by many lawyers, and that an indictment of me would only further destroy our country.”

As if that’s going to convince the prosecutors! But wait! There’s more!

The former president’s legal team — including Todd Blanche and a newly hired lawyer, John Lauro — has been on high alert since last week, when prosecutors working for the special counsel sent Mr. Trump a so-called target letter in the election interference case. It was the clearest signal that charges could be coming.

The letter described three potential counts that Mr. Trump could face: conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an official proceeding and a Reconstruction-era civil rights charge that makes it a crime to threaten or intimidate anyone in the “free exercise or enjoyment” of any right or privilege provided by the Constitution or by federal law.

And don’t forget that concurrent with this is an indictment already handed down by the Justice Department charging Trump with holding onto 31 classified documents after he left office. Still, most readers here seem to think that Trump will never see jail time. Has anyone changed their mind?

*In a press conference Wednesday, Mitch McConnell froze, speechless, for 19 seconds. (Video below.) The Guardian reports that he’s had other episodes that suggest he’s not in a good way.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the US Senate, suffered an initially unreported fall earlier this month, before a very public health scare this week revived questions about his age and fitness.

On Wednesday, while speaking to reporters at the US Capitol, the 81-year-old appeared to freeze for nearly 20 seconds. Another Republican senator, John Barrasso of Wyoming, a doctor, then escorted his leader away from the cameras.

Only four months ago, McConnell, who suffered from polio as a child, affecting his gait, fell and sustained a concussion, leading to a prolonged absence from Capitol Hill.

Here’s the video: 19 seconds of silence. Clearly something’s going on and one Twitterite thinks McConnell’s having a seizure.


On Wednesday, he returned to work and told reporters he was “fine” shortly after his incident. An aide told reporters McConnell “felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment. He came back to handle Q and A.”

But NBC News then reported that McConnell also tripped and fell earlier this month, suffering a “face plant” while disembarking a plane at Reagan airport, according to an anonymous witness.

Another source told NBC McConnell now uses a wheelchair as a precaution in crowded airports. McConnell did not comment on the NBC report.

I don’t wish illness on anyone, including the tortoisian and conservative McConnell, but he really should retire.

*In an article that’s largely unreadable because of the surfeit of Māori words, the New Zealand Herald (the country’s main newspaper) announces a new initiative to legally protect Māori ‘treasures’ as well as well as mātauranga Māori (Māori “ways of knowing”)

Kaikohe’s Kohewhata Marae buzzed at the weekend as a decades-old challenge to the Crown marked an exciting step forward.

Political leaders, kaitiaki (guardians) and revered kaumātua of te ao Māori (the Māori world) gathered for the launch of Tiaki Taonga, a movement to foster understanding and engagement with the kaupapa of taonga (treasures) and protection of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge).

“I think today represents the beginning of the beginning,” said Te Rarawa’s Haami Piripi on Saturday.

“What today is doing is reinvigorating people’s interest [in Wai 262], regenerating their involvement and reactivating their inspiration.”

The movement, which was launched by Wai 262 – known as the flora, fauna and intellectual property rights claim – will also become the legislative framework which was sought through the claim made to Waitangi Tribunal in 1991.

. . .Waitai said Tiaki Taonga was about “constitutional change to fully recognise kaitiakitanga of taonga and mātauranga by Māori, for Māori”.

“Tikanga will be recognised by ture [law] so, in the future, when the use of taonga and mātauranga Māori are being considered, te iwi Māori will have exclusive authority over their use as guaranteed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi and New Zealand law.”

The movement brings to life the Kanohi Ora engagements, which form an important stage in the Wai 262 constitutional development.

As the Kanohi Ora engagements take place throughout Aotearoa, input by iwi Māori will be sought through a serious of wānanga (seminars) for whānau, hapū and iwi to inform the protection framework.

“By listening to whānau, and understanding their shared experiences and opinions, we will help to build a framework informed by those who need this legislation to protect their taonga,” said Waitai, who’s also executive director of the Ngāti Kuri Iwi Trust Board.

Got that? (Remember, this is NZ’s most widely read newspaper. But what bothers me most is the claim that the Māori “way of knowing” was all-encompassing:

Alongside wānanga, technicians and practitioners are working simultaneously to build the world-first legislation on indigenous IP (intellectual property) protection.

Piripi, who is a Wai 262 Taumata Whakapūmau member, emphasised the presence of Māori knowledge, rights and interest prior to the arrival of Europeans.

“We had, at that time, an answer to everything, every problem. Every solution was in our paradigm, our Māori worldview.”

“I think Māori New Zealanders, and certainly non-Māori New Zealanders today, are failing to recognise that.”

“They’re failing to recognise the integrity of our rock of culture, and our expanse of knowledge.”

Piripi said the Government had a duty – for the country’s benefit – to protect the monumental knowledge held.

“The fact that we had our own explanation of the universe is a big deal,” he said.

I’m not sure what indigenous intellectual property involves, nor do they explain, but the claim that [the Māori] “had, at that time, an answer to everything, every problem. Every solution was in our paradigm, our Māori worldview” is a bogus claim. They didn’t know what matter was made of, the laws of physics, or anything about antibiotics or modern medicine. It may be a big deal that the Māori “had our own explanation of the universe”, but it wasn’t a thoroughly correct explanation of the Universe. (It had a lot of religion and superstition.) You are entitled to your own opinions, as someone said, but not your own facts.

I’m allowed to criticize this kind of pilpul because I’m both retired and not a Kiwi; otherwise I’d be in danger of losing my job.

*Conservative Christopher Rufo is much despised because of his work against DEI programs and the teaching of CRT in Florida, but he has a few sensible things to say in a NYT op-ed, “Diversity programs miss the point of a liberal college education.

This appears to be a binary left-right conflict. The right sees the abolition of D.E.I. as a step toward meritocracy, while the left sees it as an attack on minority rights. But moving beyond reflexive partisanship, there is a strong argument for abolishing D.E.I. programs on liberal grounds.

. . .The most significant question looming over this debate is one that, unfortunately, has rarely been posed by either critics or supporters of D.E.I. programs: What is the purpose of a university? For most of the classical liberal tradition, the purpose of the university was to produce scholarship in pursuit of the true, the good and the beautiful. The university was conceived as a home for a community of scholars who pursued a variety of disciplines, but were united in a shared commitment to inquiry, research and debate, all directed toward the pursuit of the highest good, rather than the immediate interests of partisan politics.

Today, many universities have consciously or unconsciously abandoned that mission and replaced it with the pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion. Many D.E.I. programs seem to be predicated on a view radically different from the liberal tradition: namely, that the university is not merely a home for the discovery of knowledge, but also a vehicle for activism, liberation and social change.

Note that DEI programs usually embody specific ideologies that are not to be questioned, and, in my view, violate the First Amendment if not academic freedom. Rufo goes through a lot of what he found in Florida, but I want to highlight his shoutout to the Kalven Report, the University of Chicago’s almost unique policy of institutional neutrality:

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Harvard and University of North Carolina affirmative action cases, there is more need than ever for clear policies. The application of the Kalven principles, in particular, will help depolarize academic institutions and relieve university administrators of the constant pressure to respond to every political controversy. Taken together, these policies will ultimately help public universities restore their reputation as stewards of scholarship, rather than political partisans.

These two proposals would honor the principles of liberal education, encourage a culture of open debate and cultivate a “community of scholars” with a wide diversity of opinions and a shared commitment to truth — something that both liberals and conservatives can and should support.

The U.S. team tied Netherlands 1-1 in the Women’s World Cup. Here are the hightlights, and the U.S. is still at the top of group E. If the U.S. loses against Portugal next week, they’re out of contention, though.  The tournament is in New Zealand

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cats are having a chinwag:

Szaron: What do you see there?
Hili: Deeper shade.
In Polish:
Szaron: Co tam widzisz?
Hili: Głębszy cień.

And here is Baby Kulka:

And it’s a special day in Dobrzyn, for it’s the tenth anniversary of Listy z Naszego Sadu (Andrzej and Malgorzata’s website, “Letters from our orchard.” Malgorzata said this:

There is an article with a picture of you and Hili. It’s Andrzej’s article about 10 years of Listy. He decided that your picture with our Editor-in-Chief is the best illustration of the story.
The article is here, and here’s a partial English translation. I’m a proud boy! (Note that I’m wearing my Hili shirt.)


From Merilee:

From Nicole:

From The Absurd Sign Project:

From Masih, not a hijab in sight! In Tehran!


From Simon. Brian Cox retains a healthy skepticism towards the “UFOs” investigated by the government:

From Barry, who calls this “Marilyn Monrowl”:

From Malcolm. Hey, you guys get a room!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a three-year-old gassed upon arrival:

From Dr. Cobb, now out of cataract surgery and delighted with the results.  The first tweet is about the possibility that Gregor Mendel “cooked” his genetic data (“pea-hacking,” as one wag said). See the thread for further discussion:

Beautiful chicks. Sound up, please:

22 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1866 – At the age of 18, Vinnie Ream becomes the first and youngest female artist to receive a commission from the United States government for a statue (of Abraham Lincoln).

    1868 – The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is certified, establishing African American citizenship and guaranteeing due process of law.

    1917 – The Silent Parade takes place in New York City, in protest against murders, lynchings, and other violence directed towards African Americans.

    1939 – The Sutton Hoo helmet is discovered.

    1945 – A U.S. Army B-25 bomber crashes into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building killing 14 and injuring 26.

    1976 – The Tangshan earthquake measuring between 7.8 and 8.2 moment magnitude flattens Tangshan in the People’s Republic of China, killing 242,769 and injuring 164,851.You

    1984 – Olympic Games: Games of the XXIII Olympiad: The summer Olympics were opened in Los Angeles.

    1996 – The remains of a prehistoric man are discovered near Kennewick, Washington. Such remains will be known as the Kennewick Man.

    2005 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army calls an end to its thirty-year-long armed campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland.

    2018 – Australian Wendy Tuck becomes the first woman skipper to win the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

    1609 – Judith Leyster, Dutch painter (d. 1660).

    1783 – Friedrich Wilhelm von Bismarck, German army officer and writer (d. 1860).

    1844 – Gerard Manley Hopkins, English poet (d. 1889).

    1866 – Beatrix Potter, English children’s book writer and illustrator (d. 1943).

    1879 – Lucy Burns, American activist, co-founded the National Woman’s Party (d. 1966).

    1887 – Marcel Duchamp, French-American painter and sculptor (d. 1968).

    1902 – Sir Karl Popper, Austrian-English philosopher and academic (d. 1994).

    1907 – Earl Tupper, American inventor and businessman, founded Tupperware Brands (d. 1983).

    1909 – Malcolm Lowry, English novelist and poet (d. 1957).

    1936 – Garfield Sobers, Barbadian cricketer.

    1943 – Mike Bloomfield, American guitarist and songwriter (d. 1981).

    1943 – Richard Wright, English singer-songwriter and keyboard player (d. 2008).

    1945 – Jim Davis, American cartoonist, created Garfield.

    1954 – Steve Morse, American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1993 – Harry Kane, English footballer.

    Just yesterday mornin’, they let me know you were gone:
    1540 – Thomas Cromwell, English lawyer and politician, Chancellor of the Exchequer (b. 1495).

    1655 – Cyrano de Bergerac, French poet and playwright (b. 1619).

    1741 – Antonio Vivaldi, Italian violinist and composer (b. 1678).

    1750 – Johann Sebastian Bach, German organist and composer (b. 1685).

    1930 – Allvar Gullstrand, Swedish ophthalmologist and optician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1862). [Applied the methods of physical mathematics to the study of optical images and of the refraction of light in the eye, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1911. A member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ Prize Committee for Physics, he used his position to block Albert Einstein from receiving a Nobel Prize in Physics for his theory of relativity, which Allvar believed to be wrong. He stated; “Einstein’s work is not useful enough for the human race”; “We should wait for measurable evidence”.]

    1942 – Flinders Petrie, English archaeologist and academic (b. 1853).

    1957 – Edith Abbott, American economist, social worker, and educator (b. 1876).

    1968 – Otto Hahn, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1879).

    2004 – Francis Crick, English biologist and biophysicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1916).

    2021 – Dusty Hill, American musician (b. 1949).

    2022 – Bernard Cribbins, British actor (b. 1928).

  2. If the U.S. loses against Portugal next week, they’re out of contention,

    Not if the Netherlands also lose to Vietnam. Yes, it’s unlikely but stranger things have happened.

    Anyway, I’m pleased to report that the draw between Haiti and China has put England through. Unfortunately we lost a key player to injury in our last match.

    1. I don’t really fancy England’s chances. They had a good spell at the start of the first half against Denmark, but failed to capitalise on their dominant possession. And Keira Walsh’s injury doesn’t bode well.

    2. Not sure why you thought China v Haiti was a draw – China have won 1-0 after a ridiculous amount of extra time (9 minutes announced, but 13 played).

  3. I’m allowed to criticize this kind of pilpul because I’m both retired and not a Kiwi; otherwise I’d be in danger of losing my job.

    I suppose you mean that you might have lost your job had you been a Kiwi working in NZ. Very unlikely anyone would have touched you in the US.

    Anyway, it reminded me of Nikki Glaser.

  4. I’m allowed to criticize this kind of pilpul because I’m both retired and not a Kiwi; otherwise I’d be in danger of losing my job.

    Not to be paranoid, but it isn’t hard to imagine a world in which your pension could be at stake. Can’t have all those retirees running around saying what they like!

    And, with respect to Tim Pool and McConnell: that could be a seizure, though absence seizures are pretty much confined to children, but temporal lobe seizures could look like that. Starting seizures in one’s eighties is unusual (save for the generalised seizures that signify brain secondaries). It is far more likely to be the outward effect of a TIA, though. They are many times more common, and if he is doing that kind of thing then vascular dementia is on the cards for him, sadly.

  5. I might have respect for Christopher Rufo as being something more than just another right-wing hack if he actually believed in what he preaches. FIRE, an organization I think most people that read this site are familiar with, just blasted him with a statement that started with this: “Earlier this week, New College of Florida trustee Christopher Rufo bragged about violating the First Amendment, tweeting that the college would not renew visiting history professor Erik Wallenberg’s contract, citing his ‘left-wing’ teaching, views, and past criticism of university leadership.“ FIRE goes on to say: “New College leadership must immediately reverse course and publicly reaffirm its commitment to protecting faculty expression and academic freedom rights.”

    So, if FIRE is right about Rufo, he is just another right-wing hero and hypocrite that talks a good game about the dangers of DEI, but revels in crushing speech he doesn’t like.

  6. … Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval, commemorating the explulsion [sic] of the Acadians from Canada.

    Seems an appropriate opportunity to play the tune “Evangeline,” inspired by the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem of the same name about the Acadian expulsion:

      1. Reminds me that The Band did another Acadian song at The Last Waltz concert, “Acadian Driftwood,” and had some of the Canadians in the crowd — Joni and Neil — join them on stage to do it:

        1. I love “Acadian Driftwood,” but for some reason the song never fully worked onstage. It didn’t help that at the time of The Last Waltz Richard Manuel’s voice was in bad shape.

  7. I agree with that Brian Cox fellow about the UFO stuff. Nothing to indicate that the whistle blowers aren’t themselves just UFO nuts.

  8. Maori “treasures” are mentioned in the Treaty of Waitangi but never defined, despite it being acknowledged that the Maori own them, whatever they might be determined some day to be. Now it appears they have been deemed to intellectual property as regards everything the Maori encompassed in their world view (which was the answer to everything.). OK, does New Zealand have to pay a royalty to the iwi every time someone lights a fire? What about the wind and the sun and the rivers? Could make renewable electricity uncomfortably expensive and available only at the whim of the treasure-keepers. When Air New Zealand sets its navigation instruments so it can fly non-stop to Los Angeles, are its planes using Maori knowledge? The safety videos seem to acknowledge that they are. Royalty please. After all, if Maori knowledge contained the answer to everything, everything that happens in New Zealand needs 10% off the top for the Big Guys, surely.

    1. WAI262 is having an insidious effect on science in NZ. You can’t do science on native flora or fauna or environmental science without including Maori. They are deemed to have an interest by virtue of their “kaitiakitanga” and their special relationship to the taonga, solely because of their ancestry. Our government funding bodies, universities and crown research institutes are fully on board and require this.

      There are recommendations that new plant varieties can be rejected by government if they “affect the kaitkiaki relationship” that Maori have with a species. See

      I could go on but I won’t. I despair.

      1. I’d find a way of working with that. Have some Iwi member on the team, act like you’re working together but you and the scientists do stuff in quiet together and when the report is made, two come out, one with MM and the other just facts.

        Would only work once or twice, but it’ll be a good laugh.

  9. Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
    – Column on January 18, 1983 The Washington Post. Based on an earlier quote by James R. Schlesinger.

  10. Malgorzata and Andrzej – how difficult was it to get out of Poland in 1971? There must be a story there.

  11. Diane Feinstein the other day also had a “senior moment.” I do hate that term, but it’s being bandied about. It appears she didn’t know where she was or what she was doing. And any day, I won’t be surprised if Biden looks to be seriously cognitively impaired (I know, some say he already looks/talks like he’s impaired, but I haven’t seen good proof…at least not the kind that McConnell or Feinstein exhibited). Either way, I think this country really needs to think about age limits. Surely, 80 is just too damn old to be a member of Congress, a POTUS, or a SCOTUS justice (or any other justice in the high courts). I also know that people in their 80’s can be extremely sharp and fit enough to serve, but at that age, it doesn’t take much for one’s health to take a serious turn for the worse, no matter how healthy the individual actually is…this happened to my grandmother, though she was in her early 90’s. One day, perfectly healthy for a 92 year old, the next, a few weeks from death because of a random and sudden ailment. It’s not ageism, it’s reality. But it won’t happen, so I just wasted 15 minutes writing my rant. 🙁

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