Sunday: Hili dialogue

September 10, 2023 • 6:45 am

Greetings from sunny (and secular) Tel Aviv on a non-Sabbath day: Sunday, September 10, 2023.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,  Sarah is visiting and Hili is sleeping in Andrzej’s chair at his computer.

Sarah: Do you like this place?
Hili: This is my chair to which Andrzej lays claim.
(Photo: Sarah Lawson)
In Polish:
Sarah: Lubisz to  miejsce?Hili: To mój fotel, do którego Andrzej zgłasza pretensje.
(Zdjęcie Sarah Lawson)

Short nooz:

*You’ve surely heard of the powerful earthquake in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco that devastated Marrakesh, one of my favorite cities in Morocco, though increasingly despoiled by tourism. But tourism is irrelevant to the damage (which includes of course places other than the city), and especially to the huge death toll:

Thousands of Moroccans slept outdoors for a second night Saturday into Sunday after the worst earthquake in a century flattened homes across central and southern parts of the country, killing at least 2,000 people and setting off a huge rescue effort in remote mountain areas.

The extent of the damage and number of casualties after Friday’s magnitude 6.8 earthquake remained unclear because the hardest-hit communities were in the Atlas Mountains, where the few roads appeared to be blocked by debris, and where phone service and electricity had been knocked out. Most homes in that area are made of mud bricks, a traditional construction method that is highly vulnerable to earthquakes and heavy rains.

Here’s a NYT map of the quake’s intensity (click to enlarge). Marrakesh is in the “strong” zone at the top (labeled):

You can see a series of poignant and disturbing photos of the aftermath here.

*In the WaPo, J. Harvie Wilkinson III, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, explains that although he had significant legal difficulties with RBG, he will still affix and send letters bearing a new postage stamp in her honor. This is a heartening testimony to respecting the honor of one’s opponent and lauding the good things they did:

There was much to like and admire about Justice Ginsburg: The personal gestures of kindness arriving at just the right times. The improbability of such a soft-spoken figure wielding such a large influence on the law. Her courage despite multiple bouts with cancer. Her mastery of the judicial craft. “Get it right and keep it tight,” she would say. Nobody did it better.

She had been my friend. She chose several of my law clerks to clerk for her, and each of them adored her. I had learned at dinners to lean over so I could hear what she was saying. I had come to understand that the long pauses in conversation were not terminations, but intermissions between insights.

But using the stamp on my personal correspondence? No way. I summoned no end of excuses. That she had intruded inadvisedly in the 2016 election. That she claimed for the Constitution an all-but-definitive word on abortion. That she was too quick to exile the slightest religious expression from the public square. That she would too easily displace representative government and the votes and voices of millions with the superior wisdom of just five justices of the court.

The gap was just too great. Affixing portraiture to a letter shows the warm and admiring view of the sender for the person on the stamp. My friends would laugh, seeing it as wildly incongruous or as some kind of heehaw from which we would all derive a merry chuckle. Safer just to let it be.

Safer, maybe, but in the end, not right. Being true to oneself should not mean being untrue to someone else. Death does not erase differences. Nor should it. Historical debates are often the most heated. Witness the one raging over whether the founders of our nation should be judged by our contemporary standards or in the context of their times.

But if not an eraser, death may yet be a benign enabler, allowing us to see others in the round and to render differences so large in life less consequential afterward. What comes through to me in the stamp is not a stand on abortion or judicial activism, but ineffable kindness and a lifetime spent promoting the full dignity of women, and doing so in the belief that the law in all its majesty lights the best path toward that end.

So yes, I will use the stamp — if I can find it.

. . . I hope that, in the future, it will not take mortality and a postage stamp to remind us that simply having different views and leading a different life make no one less of an American than any other. . .

The soon-to-be-issued stamp. Buy ’em after October 2:

*Soon all new iPhones will have to be equipped with the USB-C charging port instead of its proprietary “Lightning” port, which forces you to buy Apple cables. Why? Because a guy from Malta is forcing Apple to abide by EU regulations.

Last year, the EU passed a law that would require new hand-held electronic devices to be equipped with USB-C ports by next year. Most phones, laptops and other popular gadgets already use the port that makes it easy to charge all your devices with one cord. But not the iPhone! It uses Apple’s proprietary Lightning port—and now Europe’s regulators have essentially banned that technology. They say the common charger is common sense and this one law will simplify our lives in a small but meaningful way.

That was the case Agius Saliba made when he stood in front of the European Parliament last year. He reached into a box that he’d schlepped from his home in Malta and pulled out a mess of tangled cables—the kind of electronic spaghetti you might recognize from your own junk drawer. But that was the past, he said. In his other hand was the future. He was holding a single USB-C charger.

“Today,” he said, “we are replacing this pile of chargers with just…this.”

And this is why Apple is expected to unveil a notable change to the iPhone next week, phasing out Lightning connectors after more than a decade and switching to USB-C. That is the only way it could keep shipping iPhones to Europe under the regulations that Agius Saliba helped write.

“If Apple wants to market their products and sell their products within our internal market,” he told the EU legislature last year, “they have to abide by our rules.” He put it another way in a Facebook post: “I’m not going to let Apple do what they want!”

Yay for Saliba, who took on Apple, and won! Here’s a WSJ photo and caption of the Lightning and the standard cable (used by most other phones):

*Joe Biden continues to coddle one of the world’s worst human rights violators: Saudi crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, oppressor and murderer of political opponents (journalist Jamal Khashoggi).

The Saudi crown prince once vilified by President Joe Biden has been elevated from a fist bump to a hearty handshake.

Biden warmly greeted Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman, after they appeared together along with several other leaders at the Group of 20 summit Saturday in New Delhi. The leaders had gathered to announce an ambitious plan to build a rail and shipping corridor linking India with the Middle East and Europe.

Biden smiled and shook hands with the crown prince, who is often referred to by his initials MBS, as the announcement wrapped up. This year’s G20 host, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Mod i, quickly draped his own hand over their hands.

The cordial greeting was a sharp contrast to the last time Biden and the crown prince met, just over a year ago, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. During that encounter, Biden awkwardly greeted the crown prince with a fist bump, a moment roundly criticized by human rights activists, who were already upset at Biden’s decision to meet with the Saudi leader.

Bin Salman has been harshly criticized for his human rights violations. U.S. intelligence officials determined that the prince approved the 2018 murder of the U.S.-based writer Jamal Khashoggi, who was a tough critic of the kingdom’s ruling family,

Fred Ryan, who was publisher of The Washington Post at the time of last year’s Biden-Prince Mohammed meeting, said the fist bump “projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.” Khashoggi was a contributor for the newspaper.

Biden refused to speak to Prince Mohammed at the start of his administration. As a presidential candidate in 2020, Biden said he wanted to make the Saudis “pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are.”

Well, Biden has done no such thing. The Saudis are no longer pariahs to the U.S., if they ever were.

Some memes, and forgive me if I forgot who sent them:

A Far Side cartoon from Gary Larson:


A cartoon from Jimmy Craig:

Three tweets from Masih. First, two protestors who lost an eye:

And a mother who lost a son (sound up):

A chill chinchilla:

From Barry, a David Attenborough imitation (sound up):

Three tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, I haven’t seen a better catch, including Willie Mays’s vaunted one;

Listen to this elephant squeal and then play drums:

Not a philosopher but a wag:


26 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1547 – The Battle of Pinkie, the last full-scale military confrontation between England and Scotland, resulting in a decisive victory for the forces of Edward VI.

    1846 – Elias Howe is granted a patent for the sewing machine.

    1858 – George Mary Searle discovers the asteroid 55 Pandora.

    1897 – Lattimer massacre: A sheriff’s posse kills 19 unarmed striking immigrant miners in Lattimer, Pennsylvania, United States.

    1939 – World War II: The submarine HMS Oxley is mistakenly sunk by the submarine HMS Triton near Norway and becomes the Royal Navy’s first loss of a submarine in the war.

    1939 – World War II: The Canadian declaration of war on Germany receives royal assent.

    1960 – At the Summer Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila becomes the first sub-Saharan African to win a gold medal, winning the marathon in bare feet.

    1961 – In the Italian Grand Prix, a crash causes the death of German Formula One driver Wolfgang von Trips and 15 spectators who are hit by his Ferrari, the deadliest accident in F1 history.

    1967 – The people of Gibraltar vote to remain a British dependency rather than becoming part of Spain.

    1977 – Hamida Djandoubi, convicted of torture and murder, is the last person to be executed by guillotine in France.

    2001 – During his appearance on the British TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, contestant Charles Ingram reaches the £1 million top prize, but it was later revealed that he had cheated to the top prize by listening to coughs from his wife and another contestant.

    2008 – The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.

    1659 – Henry Purcell, English organist and composer (d. 1695).

    1753 – John Soane, English architect and academic, designed the Royal Academy and Freemasons’ Hall (d. 1837).

    1758 – Hannah Webster Foster, American author (d. 1840).

    1793 – Harriet Arbuthnot, English diarist (d. 1834).

    1839 – Charles Sanders Peirce, American mathematician, statistician, and philosopher (d. 1914).

    1852 – Alice Brown Davis, American tribal chief (d. 1935).

    1874 – Mamie Dillard, African American educator, clubwoman and suffragist (d. 1954).

    1880 – Laura Cornelius Kellogg, Native American activist (d. 1947).

    1890 – Mortimer Wheeler, British archaeologist and officer (d. 1976).

    1894 – Alexander Dovzhenko, Soviet screenwriter/producer/director of Ukrainian origin (d. 1956).

    1898 – Bessie Love, American actress (d. 1986). [When I was a kid I met her at a party in Stratford during the time that Dad was in the RSC.]

    1903 – Cyril Connolly, English author and critic (d. 1974).

    1907 – Dorothy Hill, Australian geologist and palaeontologist (d. 1997).

    1914 – Robert Wise, American director and producer (d. 2005).

    1926 – Beryl Cook, English painter and illustrator (d. 2008).

    1941 – Stephen Jay Gould, American paleontologist, biologist, and author (d. 2002).

    1945 – José Feliciano, Puerto Rican singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1946 – Don Powell, English rock drummer.

    1949 – Babette Cole, English author and illustrator (d. 2017).

    1950 – Joe Perry, American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1956 – Johnnie Fingers, Irish keyboard player and songwriter.

    1957 – Carol Decker, English singer-songwriter.

    1958 – Chris Columbus, American director, producer, and screenwriter.

    1958 – Siobhan Fahey, Irish singer-songwriter and producer.

    1980 – Mikey Way, American bass player and songwriter.

    The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
    1591 – Richard Grenville, English admiral and politician (b. 1542).

    1797 – Mary Wollstonecraft, English philosopher, historian, and novelist (b. 1759).

    1935 – Huey Long, American lawyer and politician, 40th Governor of Louisiana (b. 1893).

    2005 – Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, American singer and guitarist (b. 1924).

    2007 – Jane Wyman, American actress (b. 1917).

    2014 – Richard Kiel, American actor (b. 1939).

    2020 – Diana Rigg, British actress (b. 1938).

        1. The Detectorist is exceptional. Supposedly, there is a new season in the works. The interactions with the “Simon & Garfunkel” detectorist duo is in itself worth the watch.

          1. Evil-looking, maybe. But Jez’s dad in that picture was more comely than many of the Dominican Sisters at my parochial grade school in the early Sixties.

            1. I pity you, Ken. I had the Franciscan Sisters in my parochial grade school in the sixties, and I fell in love with many of them. They were so beautiful; their habits only accentuated their comely countenances. And they smelled nice, too, clean and flowery.🌹

  2. That kid’s joke was amazing. And so was that catch. Going to give the points to the kid, though, since he’s not a pro.

  3. There is an interesting take from Persuasion Substack. The Crown Prince trying to ‘buy’ (billions by all accounts)his way out of the Khashoggi murder and the fall out and other abuses…bit of a quote below.
    The idea is to invest in sporting tournaments, F1, golfing, buying in football stars, all in attempt to gloss over their nefarious human rights record. Look you westerners, its all good!
    “Last year, 81 people were executed in a single day, many belonging to the country’s Shia minority and convicted of vague offenses like “monitoring and targeting officials and expatriates.” Women are intensely surveilled and restricted, ..”

    1. Sadly, Biden isn’t just passively complicit in MBS’s atrocities. He has continued arm sales with the Saudis, despite the fact that these weapons will be used to slaughter innocent Yemenis. The Biden administration has even blocked bipartisan efforts by Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee to end these arm sales ( This is yet another reason why Andrew Sullivan is right: Biden needs to step aside. Hopefully, if he does, the new Democratic nominee will be more clearheaded about foreign policy.

      1. Thanks for the link.
        US foreign policy is a mirror maze, one which I have very little understanding or more like, comprehension.
        To my mind, no one is in control, they, being any elected or not individual or party, just think they are… BIG subject, I digress.
        What these political forces do as Biden is doing now is ignoring humanitarian issues for what? the greater good? Regional stability?
        Loyality to the US? PR and solidarity?
        Human failings are universal, perpetuated failings with small incremental gains, so small it’s difficult to see them at times.

        Off topic. Right now in international politics we have a leader (Brazilian1) inviting an abomination of a human to his country with no repercussions.

        This abomination has actual indictments for war crimes against children. Can we nail the same on Biden? or perhaps others before him.
        Perhaps Biden if he is not up for it should go, that’s up to the American public but there are examples of hypocrisy like this all over international politics.

  4. Bravo to Agius Saliba. The whole issue reminds me of a friend who was on intraperitoneal dialysis for polycystic kidney disease. While traveling, her port tubing broke and so she headed to the nearest hospital, only to find that they used a different brand, and therefore different coupling than the system she was using.

    When Herbert Hoover was Secy Commerce (under Harding and Coolidge), one of his missions was to standardize stuff. The two examples I recall are threads on nuts&bolts, and the threads on light bulbs.

    1. I’m sorry but have to laugh at all the people who think this is somehow a great victory.

      Apple were likely to change the socket anyway before long. All of their other devices, except the watch can already charge via their USB-C sockets.

      Furthermore, the other end of an iPhone charging cable and the chargers themselves have been USB-C for years. The picture showing both types of plug was likely showing opposite ends of the same cable.

  5. I just looked up US presidents on US postage stamps. George H. W. Bush seems like the last president to have been honoured. Is that right? It looks like we shall have to wait a while for a Trump stamp in the US 🙂

    No more Israel days? 🙁

    I was reading about Denis Michael Rohan. When people proclaimed divine revelations in biblical times, I’m sure they were shipped into the future for psychiatric evaluations.

    I have no doubt they established Jesus’ sanity. If they hadn’t, there wouldn’t be millions of pious Christians.

    I have no doubt they established Muhammad’s sanity. If they hadn’t, there wouldn’t be millions of pious Muslims.

    But I wonder how they managed to do it.

  6. In the US, you have to be dead to have your face on a stamp, although living people have occasionally been honored. With Charles Lindbergh, they showed his plane. The Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima had their faces hidden. Neil Armstrong was shown in his space suit with his face not visible. There was a series of Star Wars stamps with the actors’ faces shown, but the excuse was that the stamps were depicting the characters, not the actors. After 9/11, there was a stamp reproducing the famous photo of fire fighters raising a flag in the wreckage; the rationale was that the stamp was honoring all the heroes of the day, not those three men specifically. And so on.

    As for Trump, there was controversy when the Post Office announced that it would be issuing a Nixon stamp, with many people saying that he didn’t deserve the honor. The Post Office said that it always issued a stamp on the anniversary of a President’s death and they were not going to change now. So I imagine that we will see a Trump stamp eventually.

  7. How on earth can training AI to generate anyone’s voice and image to say anything you want be legal? And what’s going to happen when the Presidential race is in full swing, and everyone’s making their own fakes of Trump, Biden, and everyone else?

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