Monday: Hili dialogue

September 18, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Monday, September 18, 2023, and National Cheeseburger Day. That reminds me of this SNL sketch, modeled on Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern:

There are lots of deals on cheeseburgers today (see here), including McDonald’s offering a double cheeseburger (no chips, fries) for only 50¢!

It’s also Rice Krispies Treats Day (I love ’em!), First Love Day (Devan Powell, 6th grade), World Bamboo DayNational HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, and World Water Monitoring Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the September 18 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Trump goofed up by denouncing Ron DeSantis’s six-week abortion ban, implying that the time limit was not long enough. But of course it won’t hurt Trump:

Former President Donald J. Trump, whose Supreme Court appointments led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, harshly criticized his top rival in the Republican presidential primary, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, for a six-week abortion ban that he called a “terrible thing.”

Mr. Trump issued his broadside — which could turn off socially conservative Republican primary voters, especially in Iowa, where evangelicals are a crucial voting bloc — during an interview with the new host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Kristen Welker, that was broadcast on Sunday morning.

Asked whether Mr. DeSantis went too far by signing a six-week abortion ban, Mr. Trump replied: “I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.”

. . .In interview after interview since the repeal of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Trump has ducked questions about whether he would support a federal ban on most abortions at 15 weeks — the baseline position of many Republicans, including the leading anti-abortion group, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.

With Ms. Welker on Sunday, Mr. Trump again refused to clarify his position.

“What’s going to happen is you’re going to come up with a number of weeks or months,” Mr. Trump said. “You’re going to come up with a number that’s going to make people happy.”

But what will make Trump happy is what GOP voters want to know.  They’ll never know, but it doesn’t matter. All they really want is a someone to run the country that has a narcissistic personality disorder.

*According to Reuters, new evidence has turned up that Pope Pius XII knew about the Nazi extermination of the Jews, despite the Vatican’s denial:

Wartime Pope Pius XII knew details about the Nazi attempt to exterminate Jews in the Holocaust as early as 1942, according to a letter found in the Vatican archives that conflicts with the Holy See’s official position at the time that the information it had was vague and unverified.

The yellowed, typewritten letter, reproduced in Italy’s Corriere della Sera on Sunday, is highly significant because it was discovered by an in-house Vatican archivist and made public with the encouragement of Holy See officials.

The letter, dated Dec. 14, 1942, was written by Father Lother Koenig, a Jesuit who was in the anti-Nazi resistance in Germany, and addressed to the pope’s personal secretary at the Vatican, Father Robert Leiber, also a German.

Vatican archivist Giovanni Coco told the Corriere that the importance of the letter was “enormous, a unique case” because it showed the Vatican had information that labour camps were actually death factories.

In the letter, Koenig tells Leiber that sources had confirmed that about 6,000 Poles and Jews a day were being killed in “SS-furnaces” at the Belzec camp near Rava-Ruska, which was then part of German-occupied Poland and is now in western Ukraine.

“The newness and importance of this document derives from a fact: now we have the certainty that the Catholic Church in Germany sent Pius XII exact and detailed news about the crimes that were being perpetrated against the Jews,” Coco told the newspaper, whose article was headlined: “Pius XII Knew”.

. . .The letter made reference to two other Nazi camps – Auschwitz and Dachau – and suggested that there were other missives between Koenig and Leiber that either have gone missing or have not yet been found.

Supporters of Pius say he worked behind the scenes to help Jews and did not speak out in order to prevent worsening the situation for Catholics in Nazi-occupied Europe. His detractors say he lacked the courage to speak out on information he had despite pleas from Allied powers fighting Germany.

The detractors were right.

*A while back I posted about the cancellation of Carole Hooven, who taught human evolutionary biology at Harvard, and directed that program, but then got into big trouble for speaking the truth. (She recounts this all in an article in The Archives of Sexual Behavior.) A quote from her piece:

While people might have objected to just about anything I said, simply because I said it on Fox, here’s the bit that got me in real trouble:

The facts are that there are…two sexes…there are male and female, and those sexes are designated by the kinds of gametes we produce…The ideology seems to be that biology really isn’t as important as how somebody feels about themselves or feels their sex to be, but we can treat people with respect and respect their gender identities and use their preferred pronouns, so understanding the facts about biology doesn’t prevent us from treating people with respect (“Harvard lecturer” 2021).

In response to my appearance, a graduate student tweeted out a thread, representing herself in her official capacity as director of my department’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging task force. She said, among other things, that she was “appalled” by my “transphobic” and “dangerous” remarks which allegedly interfered with the task force’s efforts to ensure that the department was a “safe space” for people of “all gender identities and sexes” (Levine, 2021).

The trouble continued, and Hooven was more or less forced out of her department. Now, though, she has been offered a job by the American Enterprise Institute, a job that she and my colleague Brian Leiter announced in these tweets (h/t cesar). Be sure to read the entirety of Carole’s second tweet:

Harvard treated her execrably, and I’m ashamed of my alma mater. It was all due to wokeness, of course:  her department didn’t support her speaking simple but unpalatable biological truths. Best of luck to her.

*In about two weeks, students will have to start repaying their loans after Biden’s suspension of repayments, and forgiveness of some debt, was overturned. Although I think that decision was fair, the WSJ points out a down side.

The restart of student-loan payments could divert up to $100 billion from Americans’ pockets over the coming year, leaving consumers squeezed and some of the nation’s largest retailers fearing a spending slowdown.

Starting Oct. 1, tens of millions of student-loan borrowers will need to make payments averaging between $200 and $300 each month. The payments will mark the first time that borrowers have had to make good on their loans since the Education Department instituted a pause in March 2020. In the interim, they spent the money on televisions, travel, new homes and thousands of other products. That spending is one reason the economy has remained resilient in recent years, despite a surge in interest rates.

. . .What the resumption of loan payments means for the broader economy, however, is up for debate, and at least two groups watching closely disagree. Target, Walmart and other retailers that depend on discretionary spending are concerned. Economists, on the other hand, say the renewed payments are a relatively small problem for the more than $18 trillion in annual U.S. consumer spending.

Inside Americans’ homes, the debate doesn’t matter. Borrowers say they are curtailing their spending in meaningful ways. Making the payments will add another financial obligation to rising credit-card bills, gasoline prices and other costs, and they say uncomfortable cuts will be necessary.

I’m with the economists; it seems like the reduction in discretionary spending will be small. But what do I know? I’m just a poor evolutionary biologist from the country.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s having a good dream:

A: Are you asleep?
Hili: Yes, I’m dreaming about better times.
In Polish:
Ja: Śpisz?Hili: Tak, śnię o lepszych czasach.


From Divy, Kitten School (cartoonist not indicated):

Nice photo, but pity about the two incorrect apostrophes. . . .

From the Absurd Sign Project:

Masih notes the widespread protests across Iran on the anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini:

Titania is tweeting again:

From Malcolm; look at the tummy (and face) on that kitten!


From Simon:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, two today. First, a girl murdered on arrival; she was only ten:

And a man who lived but nine days after arrival:

Tweets from Herr Doktor Professor Cobb. Snow leopards are still endangered by poaching and habitat loss; about 10,000 remain in the wilds of Asia.

I quote-tweeted this one sent by Matthew:

The comments take issu with Hemingway’s own claims: have a look. (I tend to believe Hem.)



21 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1066 – Norwegian king Harald Hardrada lands with Tostig Godwinson at the mouth of the Humber River and begins his invasion of England. [The English army’s dash north to defeat this invasion contributed to the success of the Norman conquest on the south coast shortly afterwards.]

    1793 – The first cornerstone of the United States Capitol is laid by George Washington.

    1809 – The Royal Opera House in London opens.

    1812 – The 1812 Fire of Moscow dies down after destroying more than three-quarters of the city. Napoleon returns from the Petrovsky Palace to the Moscow Kremlin, spared from the fire.

    1850 – The U.S. Congress passes the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

    1851 – First publication of The New-York Daily Times, which later becomes The New York Times.

    1870 – Old Faithful Geyser is observed and named by Henry D. Washburn.

    1879 – The Blackpool Illuminations are switched on for the first time.

    1895 – The Atlanta Exposition Speech on race relations is delivered by Booker T. Washington.

    1906 – The 1906 Hong Kong typhoon kills an estimated 10,000 people.

    1919 – Fritz Pollard becomes the first African American to play professional football for a major team, the Akron Pros.

    1928 – Juan de la Cierva makes the first autogyro crossing of the English Channel.

    1931 – Imperial Japan instigates the Mukden Incident as a pretext to invade and occupy Manchuria.

    1948 – Margaret Chase Smith of Maine becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate without completing another senator’s term.

    1961 – U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld dies in an air crash while attempting to negotiate peace in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    1977 – Voyager I takes the first distant photograph of the Earth and the Moon together.

    1981 – The Assemblée Nationale votes to abolish capital punishment in France.

    1982 – The Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon comes to an end.

    1984 – Joe Kittinger completes the first solo balloon crossing of the Atlantic.

    1997 – The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention is adopted.

    2001 – First mailing of anthrax letters from Trenton, New Jersey in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

    2012 – Greater Manchester Police officers PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone are murdered in a gun and grenade ambush attack in Greater Manchester, England.

    2014 – Scotland votes against independence from the United Kingdom, by 55% to 45%.

    1587 – Francesca Caccini, Italian singer-songwriter and lute player (d. 1640). [Her only surviving stage work, La liberazione di Ruggiero, is widely considered the oldest opera by a woman composer. As a female composer she helped to solidify the agency and the cultural and political programmes of her female patron.]

    1709 – Samuel Johnson, English lexicographer and poet (d. 1784). [His dictionary famously defined a lexicographer as “a harmless drudge”.]

    1752 – Adrien-Marie Legendre, French mathematician and theorist (d. 1833).

    1819 – Léon Foucault, French physicist and academic (d. 1868).

    1888 – Grey Owl, English-Canadian environmentalist and author (d. 1938).

    1888 – Toni Wolff, Swiss psychologist and author (d. 1953).

    1889 – Doris Blackburn, Australian activist and politician (d. 1970).

    1905 – Greta Garbo, Swedish-American actress (d. 1990).

    1933 – Jimmie Rodgers, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2021).

    1947 – Russ Abbot, English comedian, actor, and singer.

    1951 – Dee Dee Ramone, American singer-songwriter and bass player (d. 2002).

    1954 – Steven Pinker, Canadian-American psychologist, linguist, and author.

    1961 – James Gandolfini, American actor and producer (d. 2013).

    1971 – Lance Armstrong, American cyclist. [And major cheat.]

    1971 – Jada Pinkett Smith, American actress.

    No one can confidently say that he will still be living tomorrow:
    1830 – William Hazlitt, English philosopher, painter, and critic (b. 1778).

    1860 – Joseph Locke, English engineer and politician (b. 1805).

    1915 – Susan La Flesche Picotte, doctor, teacher, and social reformer, first Native American to earn a medical degree.

    1970 – Jimi Hendrix, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1942).

    1997 – Jimmy Witherspoon, American singer (b. 1920).

    2004 – Russ Meyer, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1922). [His first feature, the naughty comedy The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959), cost $24,000 to produce and eventually grossed more than $1 million on the independent/exploitation circuit, enthroning Meyer as “King of the Nudies”.]

    2020 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, United States Supreme Court justice (b. 1933).

      1. And some others:

        A literary lady expressing to Dr. J. her approbation of his Dictionary and, in particular, her satisfaction at his not having admitted into it any improper words; “No, Madam,” replied he, “I hope I have not daubed my fingers. I find, however that you have been looking for them.”

  2. I have to read the eXcommunication, but what exactly was “incorrect” – incorrect is quoted, but …

    Also “sex” – isn’t it? People don’t have a gender.

    1. Or how about :

      How is gender observed?

      What is the empirical basis for gender?

      As far as I can tell, it is all – literally – in one’s head – otherwise known as gnosis – gender is gnosiological (IMHO).

      BTW check out Colin Wright’s conversation with Peter Boghossian – easily found on YouTube. I don’t want to give spoilers/bias – but I might laud Peter for pushing the limits of – I might say – charitable interpretation.

  3. The Boebert eXcretion (formerly known as tweet) is terribly sexist. We need to stop shaming women who express sexuality by calling them sluts, whores, or prostitutes.

  4. It’s tempting to believe Hem, especially since he is so matter of fact and direct. But two things: re-read the scene where Santiago(!) goes to sleep after his ordeal, and remember that Hem also wrote, “But man is not made for defeat . . . a man can be destroyed but not defeated.” Hmm . . . what “historical” figure could that scene and that quote remind us of?

  5. Too bad Melville didn’t write a letter like Hemingway’s about Ahab, Ishmael, Queequeg, the Pequod, and the white whale.

  6. Re Hemingway’s diatribe about symbolism, it’s good to keep in mind the distinction between an image, a metaphor, and a symbol. An image works merely at the literal level: “A dog walked down the street.” A metaphor works only at the figurative level:”Some dirty dog stole my wallet” (no one takes this to mean that some scruffy canine actually took the wallet). A symbol works at both the figurative and the literal level: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” (this applies literally to old dogs and figuratively to old people). In other words, with symbolism the figurative level is optional; if you choose, you can dispense with it altogether. That’s what Hemingway is doing.

  7. I find the muted rainbow shirt quite handsome by itself. But to really get their point across, all the Trans Alphabet Mafia need do is this: a plain white t-shirt with the “universal NO symbol” on it. The red circle with a diagonal line through it is the symbol for anything that is not permitted.

    1. But there’s a lot that isn’t permitted:
      – Calling people by one’s preferred pronouns
      – Having spaces for women only
      – Having women’s sports
      – Lesbianism, women being sexual exclusively with women

      1. According to Wikipedia:

        The film’s final shot—that of the train speeding into a tunnel during a romantic embrace onboard—is a famous bit of self-conscious Freudian symbolism reflecting Hitchcock’s mischievous sense of humor. In the book Hitchcock/Truffaut (pp. 107–108), Hitchcock called it a “phallic symbol … probably one of the most impudent shots I ever made”.

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