Friday: Hili dialogue

September 1, 2023 • 6:45 am

I discovered I’m leaving for Israel today, not tomorrow, and it’s a good thing I looked at my plane ticket yesterday.  (I made the stupid mistake of thinking that a September 2 arrival meant a Sept. 2 departure, forgetting that it’s an overnight flight.) But all is well, and as you read this I’ll likely be on the first leg of my flight—to Newark.

Posting will be light for a while, and nonexistent tomorrow.  I’ll do what I can during my trip, documenting it with photos when possible, and will be home on Sept. 23. Bear with me.  Also, please try not to email me very often:  I won’t be checking emails all the time and I may miss something, including photos or possible subjects to post on. Thanks! That said, if you see something juicy, send it along. So, here’s the last full Hili dialogue for a few days:


Good morning on the first day of September: Friday, 1 September, 2023,  and National Gyro Day, another example of tasty cultural appropriation (the sandwich, if that’s what you consider it, was developed in the Ottoman Empire).  And September is these food months:

National Chicken Month
National Honey Month
National Mushroom Month
National Papaya Month
National Potato Month
National Rice Month

I suspect you could use all those ingredients in one meal, with the papaya and honey used for dessert.

Tomorrow morning I fly to Israel via Newark, arriving on Sunday morning, after the Sabbath is over. (Public transportation in Israel shuts down on the Jewish sabbath.)

It’s also American Chess Day, National Burnt Ends Day (that refers to ribs, and it’s one of the best bits), National Forgiveness Day, Emma Nutt Day (honoring the world’s first telephone operator), National Cherry Popover Day, Ginger Cat Appreciation Day, National Chianti Day (don’t drink with with fava beans and liver), National Tofu Day, World Letter Writing Day, and, in Australia, Wattle Day.  Here’s one of the best Monty Python sketches: the philosophy department of the University of Woolabaloo. The Wattle Chant is at 3:17.

World War II began on this day in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the September 1 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Breaking news (yesterday afternoon). A lieutenant in the right-wing Proud Boys and one of the instigators of the January 6 insurrection got a whopping big sentence in his sedition case.

Joseph Biggs, a onetime lieutenant in the Proud Boys, was sentenced on Thursday to 17 years in prison after his conviction on charges of seditious conspiracy for plotting with a gang of pro-Trump followers to attack the Capitol and disrupt the peaceful transfer of presidential power on Jan. 6, 2021.

Mr. Biggs’s sentence was one of the stiffest penalties issued so far in more than 1,100 criminal cases stemming from the Capitol attack and among only a handful to have been legally labeled an act of terrorism. It was just over half of the 33 years the government had requested and just shy of the 18-year term given in May to Stewart Rhodes, the leader of another far-right group, the Oath Keepers militia, who was also found guilty of sedition.

There are more Proud Boys cases pending, and, with its leadership convicted or facing jail, it’s effectively been disbanded.

*The Wall Street Journal reports that Ukraine has penetrated the main defensive line of Russian troops, which happens to be an advance towards the south.

Ukrainian forces have penetrated the main Russian defensive line in their country’s southeast, raising hopes of a breakthrough that would reinvigorate the slow-moving counteroffensive.

Ukrainian paratroopers are fighting through entrenched Russian positions on the edge of the village of Verbove, a Ukrainian officer in the area said. Ukrainian forces have also reached the main defensive line to the south of nearby Robotyne village, he said. Ukraine’s military confirmed advances toward Verbove and south of Robotyne, without giving details.

Describing the advance, the Ukrainian officer held up three fingers representing lines of attack through entrenched Russian positions on the western flank of Verbove, an agricultural village of some 1,000 residents before the war. The significance of the advance is that it marks the first time Ukraine has penetrated the main Russian defensive line, an extensive system of minefields, trenches and antitank obstacles covered by artillery.

Ukrainian forces are now working to expand the cracks in the line to create a hole large enough for Western-provided armored vehicles to push through with sufficient logistical support.

Here’s the paper’s diagram of the advance (caption from the paper):

*Russian-controlled area as of Aug. 30 Sources: Brady Africk, American Enterprise Institute (Russian fortifications); Institute for the Study of War and AEI’s Critical Threats Project (Russian-controlled area). Graphic: Andrew Barnett/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

*After requesting 90-day extensions, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito released their required annual financial-disclosure forms yesterday (you can see Thomas’s form here and Alito’s here). Some of the items are quite interesting.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in his annual financial disclosure form that was released Thursday, responded in detail to reports that he had failed to disclose luxury trips, flights on a private jet and a real estate transaction with a Texas billionaire.

In an unusual move, the justice included a statement defending his travel with the billionaire, Harlan Crow, who has donated to conservative causes.

. . .In his disclosure, Justice Thomas addressed his decision to fly on Mr. Crow’s private jet, suggesting that he had been advised to avoid commercial travel after the leak of the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade and eliminating a constitutional right to an abortion.

“Because of the increased security risk following the Dobbs opinion leak, the May flights were by private plane for official travel as filer’s security detail recommended noncommercial travel whenever possible,” Justice Thomas wrote.

Justice Thomas also defended his past filings, which did not include many of the trips with Mr. Crow and other wealthy friends. He wrote that he had “adhered to the then existing judicial regulations as his colleagues had done, both in practice and in consultation with the Judicial Conference.”

. . . Justice Thomas also acknowledged errors in his previous financial reports, including personal bank accounts and his wife’s life insurance, which he said were “inadvertently omitted from prior reports.”

Inadvertently?  Some of those trips vacation trips? Why couldn’t he drive using his huge and expensive RV (also subsidized by Crow, I believe)? Oh, I forgot, some of those trips were fancy cruises.  As for Alito:

Justice Alito, for his part, acknowledged in June that he had taken a private plane on a vacation in 2008 to a luxury fishing lodge in Alaska, where he was hosted by Paul Singer, a hedge fund billionaire. In the years that followed, Mr. Singer repeatedly had business before the court.

Both justices have insisted that the gifts and travels did not need to be reported.

THEN WHY WERE THEY REPORTED NOW?  This kind of unreported largesse, especially when given by people who have business before the court, is totally unethical. The Justices need a written and explicit ethics code, and should for their own trips.

*According to the BBC, Denmark is planning to make burning a Qur’an or a Bible a criminal offense, punishable by a jail term. (h/t Leo)

The Danish government has proposed a ban on setting the Quran alight in public after a series of burnings led to uproar in Muslim countries.

Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said such burnings harmed Denmark and risked the safety of Danes.

The planned law will make improper treatment of the Quran or Bible a criminal offence punishable by a fine and jail sentence of up to two years.

The centre-right government said it wanted to send a signal to the world.

Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said Denmark had witnessed 170 demonstrations in recent weeks, including the burning of copies of the Quran in front of foreign embassies.

Denmark’s PET intelligence service has warned that the latest incidents have intensified the terrorist threat.

Neighbouring Sweden has also seen a series of Quran burnings and its security service has warned of a worsening security situation. In July, the Swedish embassy in Iraq was set alight by protesters.

But both Denmark and Sweden have hesitated to respond to the burnings because of their liberal laws on freedom of expression. Sweden scrapped its blasphemy laws in the 1970s.

Just the Qur’an and the Bible? What about the Book of Mormon, or any of the sacred texts of other faiths? Look, we know what they’re afraid of, and it’s not reactions to burning the Bible. They’re afraid of the ire of offended Muslims. And this law is cowardice in light of Denmark’s laws favoring freedom of expression. Sweden is far more rational, opting to allow Qur’an burnings because to ban them would require amending the nation’s constitution. I don’t think people should willy-nilly burn Qur’ans just to offend Muslims, but it’s okay if they do it to point out the oppressiveness of Islam. At least in the U.S. you can burn Qur’ans at will, though of course you’re still putting yourself in danger by doing so.

*Inside Higher Ed reports on the slaries of diversity officers at American colleges and universities. They are surprisingly high (I guess they should be compared to “officers” that staff different offices in their schools. Get a load of this (h/t Luana):

The large majority of U.S. universities’ chief diversity officers—87.9 percent—have held their positions for five years or less, according to the first-ever survey of CDOs by the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, released Wednesday. More than half reported that they were their institution’s first-ever CDO.

The survey received 261 responses to questions about the demographics of CDOs, the support they get from their institutions, the most critical issues they face and the future of the profession.

Respondents reported a range of annual salaries, with 16 percent saying they earn less than $100,000, about half saying they make between $100,000 and $200,000, and the remaining 34.2 percent citing salaries above $200,000. But just over half also said they either probably or definitely were not being paid the same as their peers.

Those are huge salaries: 84% of DEI officers make more than $100K, and over 34% make more than $200k.  How many professors (who actually accomplish something productive) make that kind of money? According to a BestColleges report from this year, here are the average salaries including both private and public colleges in the U.S., as well as religious colleges:

Assistant professor: $88,597
Associate professor: $101,941
Full professor: $149,629

One can guess that DEI officers are generally paid more than associate professors, who take about six years at most places to achieve that rank. (I’m betting DEI officers have an average job duration of less than that.)

And of course adjuncts make much less; they’re grossly underpaid.  DEI officers, on the other hand, appear overpaid.

*This is essential reading for anybody who likes pizza. The Washington Post‘s travel section has singled out not only the best style of pizza from four American cities and one region (New York, Chicago, Detroit, New Haven, and California Neopolitan), and tells you where to get the best example of each one. It also has a list of where to get the best pizza in each state, but the latter recommendations are based on Yelp reviews, which I often find untrustworthy.

Chicago’s picks are a bit dicey (the omission of the apotheosis of Chicago pizza: the “stuffed” variety with two layers of dough separating a thick layer of cheese and stuff in the middle, as found at Giordano’s or Edwardo’s) is absolutely unconscionable. But the article does steer you to one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten: the white clam pizza at Pepe’s in New Haven.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,  Hili’s hunting instincts can’t be suppressed:

Hili: There is a mouse somewhere here.
A: Spare her life.
Hili: That would be against Nature.
In Polish:
Hili: Tu gdzieś jest myszka.
Ja: Daruj jej życie.
Hili: To wbrew naturze.


From Stephen:  a Dan Piraro Bizarro cartoon depicting the first lawyer:

From Matthew:

From Tom: a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon:

From Masih, another protestor killed.  Masih Amini, whose death started all the protests, is on the left:

From Malcolm; these marmots are fighting, but it looks as if they’re dancing (sound on):

From Simon, who says “God almighty!”  But LOOK AT THAT BULL! (Reader Divy sent a yahoo! news link and a news video.) They shouldn’t have given the man a ticket.

From Jez. Martina Navratilova posted a KITTY with a “Lol”!:

From the Auschwitz Memorial. September 1 is of course the day that WWII began:

. . . and a woman murdered at 41:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, chest kitties are the best kitties! Sound up.

I wonder if those flanges are part of the animal or waxy excretions:

Ha! The d*g has to walk!

35 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1449 – Tumu Crisis: The Mongols capture the Emperor of China.

    1804 – 3 Juno, one of the largest asteroids in the Main Belt, is discovered by the German astronomer Karl Ludwig Harding.

    1836 – Narcissa Whitman, one of the first English-speaking white women to settle west of the Rocky Mountains, arrives at Walla Walla, Washington.

    1873 – Cetshwayo ascends to the throne as king of the Zulu nation following the death of his father Mpande.

    1878 – Emma Nutt becomes the world’s first female telephone operator when she is recruited by Alexander Graham Bell to the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company.

    1897 – The Tremont Street Subway in Boston opens, becoming the first underground rapid transit system in North America.

    1923 – The Great Kantō earthquake devastates Tokyo and Yokohama, killing about 105,000 people.

    1939 – World War II: Germany and Slovakia invade Poland, beginning the European phase of World War II.

    1939 – J. Robert Oppenheimer and his student Hartland Snyder publish the Oppenheimer–Snyder model, proving for the first time in contemporary physics how black holes could develop.

    1969 – A coup in Libya brings Muammar Gaddafi to power.

    1974 – The SR-71 Blackbird sets (and holds) the record for flying from New York to London in the time of one hour, 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds at a speed of 1,435.587 miles per hour (2,310.353 km/h).

    1982 – The United States Air Force Space Command is founded.

    1983 – Cold War: Korean Air Lines Flight 007 is shot down by a Soviet Union jet fighter when the commercial aircraft enters Soviet airspace, killing all 269 on board, including Congressman Lawrence McDonald.

    2004 – The Beslan school siege begins when armed terrorists take schoolchildren and school staff hostage in North Ossetia, Russia; by the end of the siege, three days later, more than 385 people are dead (including hostages, other civilians, security personnel and terrorists).

    1145 – Ibn Jubayr, Arab geographer and poet (d. 1217).

    1566 – Edward Alleyn, English actor and major figure of the Elizabethan theatre; founder of Dulwich College and Alleyn’s School (d. 1626).

    1653 – Johann Pachelbel, German organist, composer, and educator (d. 1706).

    1795 – James Gordon Bennett Sr., American publisher, founded the New York Herald (d. 1872).

    1848 – Auguste Forel, Swiss myrmecologist, neuroanatomist, and psychiatrist (d. 1931).

    1849 – Emil Zuckerkandl, Hungarian anatomist (d. 1910).

    1854 – Engelbert Humperdinck, German playwright and composer (d. 1921).

    1856 – Sergei Winogradsky, Ukrainian-Russian microbiologist and ecologist (d. 1953).

    1875 – Edgar Rice Burroughs, American author (d. 1950).

    1876 – Harriet Shaw Weaver, English journalist and activist (d. 1961).

    1877 – Francis William Aston, English chemist and physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1945).

    1884 – Hilda Rix Nicholas, Australian artist (d. 1961).

    1895 – Engelbert Zaschka, German engineer and designer, invented the Human-powered aircraft (d. 1955).

    1920 – Liz Carpenter, American journalist, author and activist (d. 2010).

    1920 – Richard Farnsworth, American actor and stuntman (d. 2000).

    1923 – Rocky Marciano, American boxer (d. 1969).

    1925 – Art Pepper, American saxophonist, clarinet player and composer (d. 1982).

    1931 – Boxcar Willie, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1999).

    1933 – Marshall Lytle, American bass player and songwriter (d. 2013).

    1933 – Ann Richards, American educator and politician, 45th Governor of Texas (d. 2006).

    1933 – Conway Twitty, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1993).

    1936 – Valery Legasov, Soviet inorganic chemist, chief of the commission investigating the Chernobyl disaster (d. 1988).

    1938 – Alan Dershowitz, American lawyer and author.

    1939 – Lily Tomlin, American actress, comedian, screenwriter and producer.

    1940 – Annie Ernaux, French author, Nobel Prize laureate.

    1944 – Archie Bell, American soul singer-songwriter and musician.

    1946 – Barry Gibb, Manx-English singer-songwriter and producer.

    1948 – Russ Kunkel, American drummer and producer.

    1955 – Bruce Foxton, English singer-songwriter and bass player.

    1957 – Gloria Estefan, Cuban-American singer-songwriter and actress.

    1976 – Clare Connor, English cricketer.

    1997 – Jeon Jungkook, South Korean singer, songwriter and record producer. [Included at the request of my daughter Mónica, who is a big fan of BTS. Earlier this year, Jungkook’s debut solo single “Seven” simultaneously debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, the Global 200, and the Global Excl. US charts, making him the first Korean solo artist to do so. It also became the fastest song in Spotify history to surpass 100 million streams on the platform.]

    Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
    1557 – Jacques Cartier, French navigator and explorer (b. 1491).

    1648 – Marin Mersenne, French mathematician, theologian, and philosopher (b. 1588).

    1678 – Jan Brueghel the Younger, Flemish painter (b. 1601).

    1914 – Martha, last known passenger pigeon (h. 1885).

    1951 – Nellie McClung, Canadian author and suffragist (b. 1873).

    1967 – Siegfried Sassoon, English soldier and writer (b. 1886).

    1981 – Albert Speer, German architect and author (b. 1905).

    1988 – Luis Walter Alvarez, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1911). [Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1968 for his discovery of resonance states in particle physics using the hydrogen bubble chamber. In 2007 the American Journal of Physics commented, “Luis Alvarez was one of the most brilliant and productive experimental physicists of the twentieth century.”]

    2008 – Jerry Reed, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1937).

    2012 – Hal David, American songwriter and composer (b. 1921).

    2014 – Joseph Shivers, American chemist and academic, developed spandex (b. 1920).

    2015 – Dean Jones, American actor and singer (b. 1931).

    2018 – Randy Weston, American jazz pianist and composer (b. 1926).

    1. Ah, Pachelbel. I do enjoy listening to his Canon in D, but the cello part (at least in the version I’ve played) is just a series of 8 notes, repeated (if memory serves) 52 times in a row, while everyone else is having a grand old time showing off. Imagine Yo-Yo Ma sitting through that. ^_^

    2. We like to say that WWII begin 84 years ago today with the invasion of Poland. Hitler made many mistakes during this long war and we can go back in history to list many. In a book I read recently about the development of the bomb an earlier mistake by Hitler is listed. “It might be said that Hitler lost WWII on April 7, 1933 when Germany banned Jews from government.”

  2. Safe travels Jerry. I am a bit surprised that the current government has not shut down the airport on shabbos…maybe that’s next. I am hoping that your three-week immersion in the local zeitgeist will give you a better feel as to what the current mix of attitudes regarding politics is among the everyday Israelis. I had a trusted source there in the 80’s and 90’s but he was of my parents’ generation and is no longer with us. I miss both him and his wisdom regarding the masses. Coming year in Jerusalem?

  3. Enjoy the trip.

    It must have been pizza day at the Post yesterday – I saw this page, in one of their emails. The site lets you dial in a style and your state and pulls up what it considers to be the best options. I put in Neapolitan-ish and got half a dozen in IL (all Chicago or burbs) including my favorite pizza place in the city (Spacca Napoli) and an option that I didn’t know existed closish to home, so trying that one tonight. It also had some NY style options in Chicago that seem worth checking out. You can have the deep dish pies!

  4. For years, it has seemed like a strange business model regarding staff salaries at universities: I recall in the late 60’s that the College of William and Mary, a smallish liberal arts college, paid its football coach $35,000 a year and its Harvard educated philosophy department chair, $16,000 a year. To add further insult to injury, the football team stunk; the philosophy department was excellent.

  5. Regarding the reported faculty salaries, the endnotes to the document from which those figures were taken states that summer teaching pay was excluded. The details were not entirely clear to me, but the reported numbers appear to be 9-month salaries. In contrast, I would think a full-time administrator would receive a 12-month salary. So, to make these sets of figures comparable, the faculty salaries should probably be grossed-up to 12-month equivalents.

    Regarding Chicago pizza, I concur entirely with Jerry.

    1. Don’t know that the 12/9 factor is guaranteed for teaching and research faculty. When I was at NASA (retired in 2008), we supported a goodly number of engineering and math professors through grants which paid them for summer work or even supported them in residence at our lab. But they had to develop and submit a competitive proposal (and win) to get that support. How hard (or easy) is it for S&T professors to get summer support these days? How do arts and humanities faculty get summer support?

      1. From what I can gather from the endnotes from the document, only base university salary is included in their figures. Summer salaries funded from grants, as far as I can tell, are excluded. My partner, Anna, a professor of theoretical chemistry (who gets a mention by Jerry now and then), tells me that getting summer salary from grants is the norm in science departments, although some faculty opt for summer teaching salary instead. I don’t know what summer salary options humanities faculty have (besides teaching). Maybe they live off advances from their publishers. They write a lot of books, I hear.

    2. To get a 12-month salary, you have to apply for grants to cover it in most places, and that’s not at all assured these days. DEI administrators, however, get paid whether or not they get government grants, which they probably can’t get anyway.

  6. I suspect you could use all those ingredients in one meal, with the papaya and honey used for dessert.

    Sounds like a pretty easy episode of the tv series Chopped.

    The only time I watch that show is when I’m visiting with my bestie the teaching chef, so we can argue over how we’d do it different from the contestants.

    1. Ever notice the way judge Scott Conant looks at any contestant that dares to try and present him with a pasta dish? Cracks me up.

      1. Some of those judges have strange food proclivities; I’m reminded of Scott Conant and his dislike of raw red onions. I also remember a contestant put a dried hot chili on the plate, and judge Geoffrey Zakarian picked it up, “what am I supposed to do with this? Don’t give me an inedible garnish.”
        I thought, it’s not inedible, you can crumble it on the dish for extra heat, right? It sort of made him look like a jerk, but I had to laugh.

        1. Yeah, I actually really enjoyed that show. Haven’t watched it in years though.

          The judges could on occasion be a bit prima donna-ish, but I was impressed by the few episodes where they showed they really could cook under pressure themselves.

          1. Yeah, I haven’t watched it for years either…it has so many seasons! Just got repetitive and stranger as they tried to add novelty…like when the audience picked ingredients. I wouldn’t have wanted to be a judge during those episodes! In general, I stopped watching Food Network after Iron Chef stopped airing. Confession: I still watch the Japanese v. of Iron Chef as background when I can’t think of anything to play. All the episodes are on Prime Video…the campiness is exquisite.

            But you’re right, the Chopped judges are no slouches, and they get kitchen cred by participating in their own game. That show really does look crazy difficult, and the judges didn’t make it look easy, either.

    1. Yeah, they’ve aged a bit since ’62. Who hasn’t? 🙂

      I couldn’t find a contemporary live performance of “Watusi.”

  7. Several years ago it was reported here about the University of Michigan’s DEI department and the various salaries. Here’s an update on it from Jan 2023 with the salaries.

    The University of Michigan will spend more than $18 million this academic year on salary and benefits for its diversity, equity, and inclusion staff, according to an analysis by economics professor emeritus Mark Perry.

    That figure, which amounts to the cost of in-state tuition for 1,075 students, will be paid out to more than 142 staff during the 2022 to 2023 school year, according to Perry’s analysis of public data.

  8. Here’s one of the best Monty Python sketches: the philosophy department of the University of Woolabaloo

    I regard those who upload videos to youtube and choose the widescreen format just as badly as I do an art restorer who destroys a work of art and cannot recognize what they have done. Both of those types are not welcome on my lawn.

    Here is a useful site that allows stretched youtube uploads to be viewed in the original format. . Just plug in the youtube URL and away you go, in real-time.

    By the by, PCC, I think Woolloomoloo is meant instead of Woolabaloo.

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