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.
*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):
*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: Tu gdzieś jest myszka.Ja: Daruj jej życie.Hili: To wbrew naturze.
From Stephen: a Dan Piraro Bizarro cartoon depicting the first lawyer:
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:
Today the Islamic Republic killed another young protester. Let’s say his nam: #JavadRohi. His only ‘crime’ was dancing and leading a peaceful, protest against Islamic Republic after the brutal murder of #MahsaAmini. The authorities sentence him to three times executions and now… pic.twitter.com/2cW5JjIbxS
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) August 31, 2023
From Malcolm; these marmots are fighting, but it looks as if they’re dancing (sound on):
marmots having a disagreement pic.twitter.com/09rSoDFQU7
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) August 30, 2023
The bull’s name was Howdy Doody. Howdy f-ing Doody.
This is the best thing I’ve seen in years … damn, it makes me love this country!
I want to have a drink with Lee. He’s a true American. I’m dying while sitting in my plane seat. My Lord this is my kind of party. https://t.co/Tef34vm3gg
— Denver Riggleman (@RepRiggleman) August 31, 2023
From Jez. Martina Navratilova posted a KITTY with a “Lol”!:
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) August 31, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial. September 1 is of course the day that WWII began:
In the early hours of 1 September 1939 Germany's Luftwaffe started bombarding the Polish town of Wieluń. The attack is considered to be the first war crime committed by Nazi Germany in World War II. Bombs destroyed ca. 70 percent of the town's buildings. pic.twitter.com/GKD6BQxw0N
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 1, 2023
. . . and a woman murdered at 41:
1 September 1903 | A Czech Jewish woman, Herta Blacková, was born in Záblatí.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 1, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, chest kitties are the best kitties! Sound up.
The only question you should ask yourself before going to sleep tonight is “is my cat a chest cat?” pic.twitter.com/LG1cVK4nlH
— The Catluminati (@TheCatluminati) August 31, 2023
I wonder if those flanges are part of the animal or waxy excretions:
— John Horstman (@sinobug) August 31, 2023
Ha! The d*g has to walk!
Living the best life.. 😂 pic.twitter.com/nRZt4QOHnC
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) August 31, 2023