Saturday: Hili dialogue

July 29, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to CaturSaturday July 29, 2023.  We’re almost in August already! It’s National Lasagna Day, too. 

Photo and recipe

It’s also National Lipstick Day, National Chicken Wing Day, Rain DayInternational Tiger Day, and in Thailand, National Thai Language Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 29 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The documents case against Trump has gotten even more serious as new charges are being leveled, accusing him of ordering camera footage deleted. Three charges, to be precise, and serious ones.

Federal prosecutors on Thursday added major accusations to an indictment charging former President Donald J. Trump with mishandling classified documents after he left office, presenting evidence that he told the property manager of Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida, that he wanted security camera footage there to be deleted.

The new accusations were revealed in a superseding indictment that named the property manager, Carlos De Oliveira, as a new defendant in the case. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Miami on Monday.

The original indictment filed last month in the Southern District of Florida accused Mr. Trump of violating the Espionage Act by illegally holding on to 31 classified documents containing national defense information after he left office. It also charged Mr. Trump and Walt Nauta, one of his personal aides, with a conspiracy to obstruct the government’s repeated attempts to reclaim the classified material.

The revised indictment added three serious charges against Mr. Trump: attempting to “alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal evidence”; inducing someone else to do so; and a new count under the Espionage Act related to a classified national security document that he showed to visitors at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

The updated indictment was released on the same day that Mr. Trump’s lawyers met in Washington with prosecutors in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, to discuss a so-called target letter that Mr. Trump received this month suggesting that he might soon face an indictment in a case related to his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. It served as a powerful reminder that the documents investigation is ongoing, and could continue to yield additional evidence, new counts and even new defendants.

The updated indictment was released on the same day that Mr. Trump’s lawyers met in Washington with prosecutors in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, to discuss a so-called target letter that Mr. Trump received this month suggesting that he might soon face an indictment in a case related to his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. It served as a powerful reminder that the documents investigation is ongoing, and could continue to yield additional evidence, new counts and even new defendants.

Do you still think the Orange Man will avoid wearing the Orange Suit?

*To punish Russia for its belligerence, as well as to accumulate a reserve that might help the allies pay for the war, a large amount of Russian assets have been frozen in the West. However, as the NYT reports, confiscating that money to pay for the war may not only violate international law, but also pose future dangers.

One solution seemed brilliant in its simplicity: What better way to foot the bill, and to make a moral point, than to make Russia pay?

But that has proved far more difficult than first imagined, and it appears less and less likely. Experts warn that it would likely violate international law and potentially set a dangerous precedent for countries to take the assets of others.

The money once seemed easily within reach — since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, Western nations have frozen more than $330 billion in Russian Central Bank assets held abroad.

Leaders of the Group of 7 nations, the world’s biggest economies, said this month that the frozen assets “will remain immobilized until Russia pays for the damage it has caused to Ukraine.” But they recognized “the need for the establishment of an international mechanism for reparation of damages, loss or injury caused by Russian aggression.”

. . . Experts said that seizing Russian state assets outright carried significant legal and financial risks.

Under international law, the assets could be seized through a vote in the United Nations Security Council, a ruling of the International Court of Justice or a postwar deal. None of those options seem very likely.

Russia, a Security Council member, would veto any vote there. No deal can be achieved while the war is still going on. And no case has been brought before the court, and if it were, international law argues against confiscating the Russian Central Bank’s assets, an act that would be a breach of its sovereignty, legal experts said.

. . .In the United States, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress last month that confiscating Russian assets frozen in the United States would probably require a change to American law.

European officials assessed in a confidential report, seen by The New York Times, that there was “no credible legal avenue allowing for the confiscation of frozen or immobilized assets on the sole basis of these assets being under E.U. restrictive measures.”

So the Russians get their money back after the war?

*The Russian/Ukraine war limps on, with the latest developments being a Russian claim that Ukraine is firing missiles and drones at Russian cities:

The Russian Defense Ministry said it shot down a Ukrainian missile in the city of Taganrog, about 40 kilometers (about 24 miles) east of the border with Ukraine, and local officials reported 20 people were injured, identifying the epicenter as an art museum.

Debris fell on the city, the ministry added, alleging the missile was part of a “terror attack” by Ukraine.

Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine’s secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, blamed Russian air defense systems for the explosion.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said it downed a second Ukrainian missile near the city of Azov, which like Taganrog is in the Rostov region, and debris fell in an unpopulated location.

Earlier in the day, a Ukrainian drone was shot down outside Moscow, the Defense Ministry said, in the third drone strike or attempt on the capital region this month. The ministry reported no injuries or damage in the latest incident, and it didn’t give an exact location where the drone fell.

. . .Since the war began, Russia has blamed Ukraine for drone, bomb and missile attacks on its territory far from the battlefield’s front line. Ukrainian officials rarely confirm being behind the attacks, which have included drone strikes on the Kremlin that unsettled Russians.

The strikes have hit Russian ammunition and fuel depots, as well as bridges the Russian military uses to supply its forces, and military recruitment stations. The attacks have also included killings of Russian-appointed officials on occupied Ukrainian territory.

So far I’ve seen no signs that Ukraine is deliberately target Russian civilians or civilian infrastructure, a war crime that would cause the country to lose considerable credibility. Meanwhile, Ukraine pushes on, meeting considerable Russian resistance in its “spring offensive.”

*This is pretty remarkable. Scientists used genetic modification of the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to enable it to reproduce parthenogenically—without having to mate. They started by using the related species Drosophila mercatorum, a species in which some individuals have the ability to reproduce parthenogenetically. They then looked for genetic differences between individuals in that species who could reproduce asexually and those who could not. The next steps were clear:

To understand the genetic basis for solo baby-making, the researchers turned to another species of fruit fly called Drosophila mercatorum. In this species, the female can reproduce with or without a mate. They sequenced the genomes of both sexual and asexual D. mercatorum individuals and identified three genes that differed between them.

Having identified these candidate genes responsible for virgin birth, the researchers then altered the corresponding genes in the model fruit fly, D. melanogaster.

After examining 220,000 fruit flies over the course of six years, the researchers declared victory: Altering those three genes gave D. melanogaster the ability to reproduce without mating.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Sperling. “We saw the development of the embryos, and they looked pretty sketchy, but eventually they kind of sorted out and developed into adult flies.”

Whenever males were around, females with the ability for virgin birth mated and reproduced the normal way. But when males weren’t available, one to two percent of the second generation of female flies with this ability produced offspring asexually.

I wonder why it took them six years to get to this point. Perhaps it took so many flies before they could change the genes in the right way.  At any rate, if they can keep this strain going, it can be used to answer all sorts of questions. Here’s one I thought of, and it might have already been answered. Does male semen contain a chemical that boosts a female’s offspring production at the cost of shortening her life?

*Nellie Bowles’s weekly Free Press news summary for the week is called “TGIF: The ‘X’ files,” and as usual I’ll steal three of her items.

→ Hunter Biden plea deal falls into chaos: Just as Hunter Biden was on the verge of signing a very nice plea deal to settle up tax and gun charges, Judge Maryellen Noreika mucked it all up. “I cannot accept the plea agreement today,” said Judge Noreika, who is definitely getting audited this year and who should be very careful about going 0.5 miles above the speed limit from now on. She added that she was not “a rubber stamp,” as every law enforcement officer in D.C. began Googling her relatives. Noreika’s worry appears to be that the deal could shield Hunter too broadly and prevent future prosecution related to his business dealings. On cue for other crimes: a big revelation into Hunter’s “paintings” this week. Our favorite burgeoning artist earned $1.3 million from one gallery, with $875,000 coming from a single buyer. That must have been quite a painting! Wow, what a star artist he is. One example of a buyer: Hunter sold a piece to Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, a big Dem donor who President Biden appointed to a fancy federal commission. I’m getting all of this from reporter Mattathias Schwartz at BusinessInsider, who deserves a prize for this scoop but will certainly not get one. We give the TGIF Pulitzer to you, Mattathias. Yes, you’ve probably lost all your friends and that knock on the door is for sure the IRS, but I christen you the media winner of the week. Congrats!

→ Shocking new study—the SAT is a progressive tool: There are a lot of good liberals who genuinely believe that the SAT is racist, but that teacher recommendation letters and extracurriculars aren’t. My friends: Please think about a teacher at a small private school versus one at a big public school. Who has more time to get to know a kid? Think about extracurriculars: what happens to the kid who needs to work at a deli and can’t launch a nonprofit in Gambia? The SAT is the least racist thing we have. The SAT is the closest to equity in admissions we can ever hope to achieve. Now we have stats from a new study out of Harvard and Brown showing how the ultra-rich can get a huge boost from everything except. . . the SAT.

I’ve added the Y axis, which Nellie left out:

Related, there’s a new paper on what happens when a lot of Asian families move to a neighborhood—the white families flee lest their kids have to compete academically. Or: “Parental fears of academic competition may play a role.”

. . . Meantime, in the U.S., Democrats in Texas and Louisiana voted this week in favor of age restrictions on hormones and gender surgeries, explicitly breaking with the party. Shawn Thierry, a Democrat in Texas, said: “I have made a decision to place the safety and well-being of all young people over the comfort of political expediency.” Let’s not get ahead out ourselves—in Oregon, doctors can treat gender dysphoric adolescents 15 years or older without parental permission or even notification. But I’m pretty sure we’re seeing a shift here. I agree with Jesse Singal that pediatric transitions will very soon be memory-holed as a thing that Absolutely Never Happened.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is fed up with the glib explanations of the situation in Israel by NYT writer like Friedman and Stephens:

Hili: I’m thinking.
A: What about?
Hili: How to avoid primitive explanations of everything offered by media intellectuals.
In Polish:
Hili: Myślę,
Ja: Nad czym?
Hili: jak unikać prymitywnych wyjaśnień wszystkiego serwowanych przez gazetowych intelektualistów.


From Facebook:


From Jesus of the Day:

From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0:

From Masih: a small but telling act of protest against the Iranian government:

A woman on the University of Pennsylvania swim team shows what they had to go through. The University offered them psychological counseling because they objected to undressing in front of a fully equipped male.

From Colin Wright via reader Barry: a sensible take on things, though some people absolutely need hormones and surgery.

From Simon, who says, “It hurts to watch this.”: Wrong hand, pal:

From Malcolm, an adorable and playful kitten:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: an Italian girl killed at Auschwitz:

Tweets from the ocularly-improved Dr. Cobb. First, don’t pet mooses (meese?):

I could use one of these!

A case of Batesian mimicy: an innocuous moth mimicking a wasp to deter predators (that’s teleological language, of course; to be more accurate: “individuals in the ancestral moth lineage that resembled wasps more closely had a higher chance of leaving their genes.”

17 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

    1. I feel his pain. I once dropped my reading glasses into a pond as I put the rock I was looking at into my pocket.

  1. On this day:
    587 BC – The Neo-Babylonian Empire sacks Jerusalem and destroys the First Temple.

    1818 – French physicist Augustin Fresnel submits his prizewinning “Memoir on the Diffraction of Light”, precisely accounting for the limited extent to which light spreads into shadows, and thereby demolishing the oldest objection to the wave theory of light.

    1836 – Inauguration of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

    1899 – The First Hague Convention is signed.

    1907 – Sir Robert Baden-Powell sets up the Brownsea Island Scout camp in Poole Harbour on the south coast of England. The camp runs from August 1 to August 9 and is regarded as the foundation of the Scouting movement.

    1921 – Adolf Hitler becomes leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

    1945 – The BBC Light Programme radio station is launched for mainstream light entertainment and music.

    1957 – The International Atomic Energy Agency is established.

    1957 – Tonight Starring Jack Paar premieres on NBC with Jack Paar beginning the modern day talk show.

    1958 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which creates the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

    1987 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President of France François Mitterrand sign the agreement to build a tunnel under the English Channel (Eurotunnel).

    1805 – Alexis de Tocqueville, French historian and philosopher (d. 1859).

    1846 – Sophie Menter, German pianist and composer (d. 1918).

    1878 – Don Marquis, American author, poet, and playwright (d. 1937). [i loved archy and mehitabel]

    1883 – Benito Mussolini, Italian fascist revolutionary and politician, 27th Prime Minister of Italy (d. 1945).

    1900 – Mary V. Austin, Australian community worker and political activist (d. 1986).

    1904 – J. R. D. Tata, French-Indian pilot and businessman, founded Tata Motors and Tata Global Beverages (d. 1993).

    1905 – Clara Bow, American actress (d. 1965).

    1905 – Dag Hammarskjöld, Swedish economist and diplomat, 2nd Secretary-General of the United Nations, Nobel Prize Laureate (d. 1961).

    1916 – Charlie Christian, American guitarist (d. 1942).

    1923 – Jim Marshall, English businessman, founded Marshall Amplification (d. 2012).

    1940 – Betty Harris, American chemist.

    1941 – David Warner, English actor (d. 2022).

    1953 – Geddy Lee, Canadian musician.

    1959 – John Sykes, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1966 – Sally Gunnell, English hurdler and sportscaster.

    1972 – Wil Wheaton, American actor, producer, and screenwriter.

    Lay down / Your sweet and weary head / Night is falling / You have come to journey’s end:
    1507 – Martin Behaim, German-Bohemian geographer and astronomer (b. 1459).

    1573 – John Caius, English physician and academic (b. 1510).

    1833 – William Wilberforce, English philanthropist and politician (b. 1759).

    1856 – Robert Schumann, German composer and critic (b. 1810).

    1890 – Vincent van Gogh, Dutch painter and illustrator (b. 1853).

    1908 – Marie Adam-Doerrer, Swiss women’s rights activist and unionist (b. 1838).

    1962 – Ronald Fisher, English biologist and statistician (b. 1890).

    1974 – Cass Elliot, American singer (b. 1941).

    1983 – Luis Buñuel, Spanish actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1900).

    1983 – Raymond Massey, Canadian-American actor and screenwriter (b. 1896).

    1983 – David Niven, English military officer and actor (b. 1910).

    1994 – Dorothy Hodgkin, Egyptian-English biochemist and biophysicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1910).

    1998 – Jerome Robbins, American director, producer, and choreographer (b. 1918).

    2012 – Tatiana Egorova, Russian footballer and manager (b. 1970).

  2. That wasp mimic is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It surely would have fooled me. It even acts calm and self-confident like a big nasty wasp would act.

  3. With respect to the squirrel in the Hawker Hurricane (almost all native sciurus vulgaris are gone from the UK now, so maybe he is in a Polish squadron): a certain red squirrel has saved the lives of many British children on the roads. All hail Tufty! I don’t think I still have my Tufty Club badge, which I wore proudly when I was four.

    1. I had a Tufty Club badge, too (also long lost). We have (non-native) black squirrels near here – spotted one in Letchworth Garden City just the other week.

  4. I did not see an official pcc(e) poll, but I will kick it off with: I do not think the orange man will ever wear the orange suit. Never see a unanimous jury. Hell, even George Zimmerman walked and he did not have the orange man’s lifelong experience in racketeering, access to money, and access to lawyers.

    1. I’ll take a gentlemen’s bet on that proposition, Jim. Trump is about to find out what so many criminals have discovered before him: it’s not so much the crime as it is the cover-up. Trump has no plausible defense whatsoever to the obstruction-of-justice charges in the SD Fla documents case, and that case got even stronger with the addition of the three new counts in the superseding indictment.

      Also, I suspect that the evidence in the attempted coup case — likely to be indicted next week — is even stronger (what with some in Trump’s inner-circle likely to be cooperating against him already).

      If Trump is convicted, of course, imprisoning him will be a tricky proposition, given his lifetime Secret Service protection. But I don’t think the courts should get involved in that issue. The court(s) should simply issue Trump a sentence within the range called for by the federal sentencing guidelines (the same as they would for any other citizen; no man being above the law and all) and let the two executive-branch divisions involved — the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Secret Service — work out the rest for themselves as a matter of comity within the executive branch.

      1. I think imprisoning him will be less of a problem that some think. He would certainly be sent to a minimum security prison where it is unlikely someone will shiv him. He could eat alone and have a room for himself. Nobody needs to be around when he is cleaning toilets. And, of course, the Secret Service will provide 24 hour protection.

      2. Well Ken, I really hope you are right. Certainly you are a subject matter expert in this area with years of experience. I am simply a cynic who has watched well-heeled and connected men skate free too many times. And tRUMP is certainly well heeled and connected.

        I really appreciate the clarity that your last paragraph brings to the distraction regarding him actually crossing the threshold of a cell

        1. “I am simply a cynic who has watched well-heeled and connected men skate free too many times.”

          Yes. And a fundamental principle behind the right to a fair trial is that every person should be presumed well-heeled and connected until proven guilty. 🤔

  5. Musk changed Twitter to X and now I’m seeing the X on tweets. Except I never hear anyone using X. I only hear people continue to say, my twitter handle is “…”, or did you see that tweet, or, are you still on twitter? I don’t think X will ever stick…twitter as a noun and verb has been established in the world lexicon and a capricious name change to a random letter just won’t work. The name change won’t change public usage. Just like I’ll never say “I need a nose tissue,” I’ll always say “I need a Kleenex.” I won’t ask for acetylsalicylic acid, I’ll ask for Aspirin. The Twitter brand name has left the dock and is not coming back. I also wouldn’t be surprised if everyone just kept using Twitter instead of X out of spite. As far as I can tell (I don’t tweet) Musk is not well liked among most twitter users. What an inexplicable, let alone idiotic, decision on Musk’s part.

  6. I see Ms. Bowles has bought into the right wing conspiracy theory that the IRS will serve as Biden’s tool of political retribution, as Republicans claimed when Biden increased IRS funding. Never mind that scores of corporations and corrupt individuals (including the Orange Man) have been cheating on their taxes for years and defrauding Uncle Sam. The Republicans would rather go to bat for tax cheats, thanks to their paranoia over Biden and belief in out-of-control Capitalism.

    1. I suspect she is alluding to the day that an IRS agent showed up at the home of Matt Taibbi–the same day that he was testifying to Congress about the “Twitter files.” The visit did have a Keystone Cops flavor to it.

      Where is the sense of humor? That’s her shtick.

  7. “1957 – Tonight Starring Jack Paar premieres on NBC with Jack Paar beginning the modern day talk show.”

    How does that square with the below wikipedia entry? Unless Steve Allen was considered “premodern”? (If it was a “modern day talk show” how does that square with “Tonight”? Unless “modern day” means “modern era.”)

  8. “Under international law, the assets could be seized through . . . a ruling of the International Court of Justice . . . no case has been brought before the court, and if it were, international law argues against confiscating the Russian Central Bank’s assets, an act that would be a breach of its sovereignty, legal experts said.”

    Could a case against Russia proceed in the International Court of Justice, would the that case (in a court to the jurisdiction of which the U.S itself. – like Russia – refuses to submit)?

    In relation to Nellie Bowles, near the end of a recent “Honestly” podcast, Bari Weiss, reflecting on the mainland Chinese (or perhaps the Chinese leadership, whatever), opined that “the Chinese have no charisma.” (What is this obsession with charisma in U.S. mass pop culture and media?) Apparently she is in agreement with Harvard University, re: the infamous “personality” ratings/scores resulting from interviews of Chinese/Asian applicants conducted by (non-Asian?) allumni and other Harvard-affiliated functionaries.

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