Tuesday: Hili dialogue

October 3, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the first “work” day of October: Tuesday, October3, 2023: National Soft Taco Day, a boon for those with dental issues. Here’s the difference if you don’t know:

It’s also Global Smoothie Day, National Butterfly and Hummingbird Day, National Caramel Custard Day, Mean Girls Appreciation Day (see also here), National Boyfriend Day, National Fruit at Work Day (I’m having raspberries), and, in Germany, German Unity Day.

Most important, it’s the 123rd birthday of one of my favorite American writers, Thomas Wolfe (Oct. 3, 1900-September 15, 1938).  Although my literary friends decry my love of Wolfe, saying he overwrote and was sometimes juvenile (and yes, I say he’s sometimes guilty on both counts), nobody could capture the spirit of America as well as this writer. Note this from Wikipedia:

After Wolfe’s death, contemporary author William Faulkner said that Wolfe might have been the greatest talent of their generation for aiming higher than any other writer.

Most famous for Look Homeward, AngelWolfe wrote several other books, which were really all part of his life story, somewhat fictionalized:

Novels published during his lifetime:

Posthumous Works:

He died at only 38 of tuberculosis of the brain, and his final deathbed letter to his editor at Scribners, Maxwell Perkins, is ineffably sad (see it here).  If you don’t want to read one of his novels, two sections taken from his novels can serve as standalone short stories that show his powers:

The Child by Tiger (free on the Internet, but enlarge the print)

I Have a Thing to Tell You (woefully shortened version here)

Here’s Wolfe standing on crates containing pages of his manuscripts. These pages were painstakingly assembled into novels by Maxwell Perkins during a long and antagonistic process in Perkins’s office at Scribner’s. (Perkins, who also discovered Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, was America’s greatest editor.)

Wolfe with his mother at her boarding house in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the October 2 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*As you know, Trump’s on trial for fraud in a civil case in New York, and the opening statements took place today with Trump in the courtroom. Trump didn’t start off well, but only a rational person would think that; his supporters would love his intransigence:

The trials of Donald J. Trump began Monday in a New York courtroom, where the former president made an appearance to fight the first of several government actions against him — a civil case that imperils his company and threatens his image as a master of the business world.

. . . Just outside the courtroom, Mr. Trump fired a fusillade of personal attacks on Ms. James and the judge overseeing the case, Arthur F. Engoron, even suggesting that they were criminals.

Inside, however, Mr. Wallace methodically cast doubt on the value of some of Mr. Trump’s signature properties, including Trump Tower in Manhattan, laying the groundwork for a reckoning of the former president’s net worth. If the attorney general’s office proves its case, the judge could impose a sweeping array of punishments on Mr. Trump, including a $250 million penalty and a prohibition on operating a business in New York ever again.

. . .On Monday, Mr. Trump sat mostly silent at the defense table, arms crossed and scowling, while occasionally rolling his eyes at the judge and yawning during the duller portions of the proceeding. But he came out swinging on his way into the courtroom, telling reporters that Ms. James was out to get him because he is performing so well in the polls.

“You ought to go after this attorney general,” he said, an explicit call to others to join his attacks on Ms. James, while also calling Justice Engoron a “rogue judge” who “should be out of office” and the case against him “a witch hunt, it’s a disgrace.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t what Trump is doing defamation of the judge? And, if so, doesn’t the judge have the right to find him in contempt of court and put his sorry butt in jail? That won’t happen, of course, but surely Trump must know that his repeated insults of the very judge who will decide his fate are not helping his cause!

*Florida Republican Matt Gaetz has decided to call for a House vote to depose Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy, for Gaetz, like a few other demented Republicans, can’t stand it that the Speaker did a bipartisan deal to keep the government from shutting down.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) have been on a collision course since the start of the year. Now, the two lawmakers will finally square off in the Capitol in a historic vote over the party’s direction and leadership.

Gaetz, 41 years old and a fourth-term member of the House, took to the House floor late Monday to formally move ahead with a vote to oust McCarthy as speaker, known as a motion to vacate. “Declaring the office of speaker of the House of Representatives to be vacant, resolved that the office of the speaker of the House of Representatives is hereby declared to be vacant,” Gaetz said in brief remarks laying out his motion.

“Bring it on,” McCarthy, 58, said on social media. “Just did,” Gaetz responded.

The vote will test both Republican support for McCarthy in the GOP-controlled chamber, as well as what part Democrats and their leader Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.) want to play in saving his speakership or pushing him out.

The mutinous plan has surprised few in the Capitol, where Gaetz has long made clear his vehement opposition to McCarthy, who engineered a short-term spending deal that will keep the government funded through mid-November over hard-line conservatives’ objections.

McCarthy has said he is ready for any vote, and painted Gaetz as an obstructionist with a personal vendetta against him. “Don’t judge the GOP by Matt Gaetz. Judge us by the enemies we keep,” he said on Fox News on Monday. “Look, that’s fine if Matt dislikes me. That’s OK.”

I have to say that McCarthy did the right thing during the budget impasse, and all Gaetz is doing is impeding the actions of Congress.  In the end, given the lack of a credible replacement for McCarthy, I bet Gaetz will fail.  Here he is, and for some reason when I see him I get creeped out:

*This isn’t really a surprise, but a NORC/University of Chicago poll, just out, shows that most Americans consider college campuses far friendlier to liberal points of view than to conservative ones.

Americans view college campuses as far friendlier to liberals than to conservatives when it comes to free speech, with adults across the political spectrum seeing less tolerance for those on the right, according to a new poll.

Overall, 47% of adults say liberals have “a lot” of freedom to express their views on college campuses, while just 20% said the same of conservatives, according to polling from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the University of Chicago Forum for Free Inquiry and Expression.

Republicans perceive a stronger bias on campuses against conservatives, but Democrats see a difference too — about 4 in 10 Democrats say liberals can speak their minds freely on campuses, while about 3 in 10 Democrats say conservatives can do so.

At least both parties are united in something: their recognition that your speech is chilled more often if you’re a conservative. Needless to say, that’s not a good thing.

“If you’re a Republican or lean Republican, you’re unabashedly wrong, they shut you down,” said Rhonda Baker, 60, of Goldsboro, North Carolina, who voted for former President Donald Trump and has a son in college. “If they hold a rally, it’s: ‘The MAGA’s coming through.’ It’s: ‘The KKK is coming through.’”

Indeed, even a centrist Republican is compared to Nazis and the KKK, or even a centrist Democrat (I’ve been called all kinds of names and I’m a Left-centrist Democrat.  If you want to see the executive summary of this report, go here, while the 16-page pdf of the report is here.

Nicholas Fleisher, who chairs an academic freedom committee for the American Association of University Professors, said public perception is skewed by the infrequent cases when protesters go too far.

“The reality is that there’s free speech for everyone on college campuses,” said Fleisher, a linguistics professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. “In conversations within classrooms, people are free to speak their minds. And they do.”

Fleisher needs to get out more. For one thing, he could read the FIRE report on how comfortable American students feel when discussing controversial topics.

*The debate on panpsychism between Sean Carroll and Philip Goff at Marist College, a debate I mentioned the other day, is now up on the web, and you can find it here. It’s two hours long, and the audio level is very low, but maybe you can use earphones. (The details of the whole conference, sponsored by Templeton, are here.)  (h/t Daniel).

I really can’t be arsed to watch this, as I’ve watched two debates including Goff and Carroll that you can find at the first link above, and they didn’t differ much. Goff’s arguments are always the same, as his views on panpsychism are refractory to data (largely because there isn’t any supporting him), and Carroll has all of physics on his side.

Seriously, if panpsychists can’t come up with new arguments and, especially, new data supporting their contention that everything in the Universe is conscious, then it’s time to put the “theory” in the circular file. Panpsychism isn’t a new idea, and has had decades and even centuries to prove itself, and it’s made absolutely no progress. That’s a lot longer than string theory, which is still going but pretty moribund, and with no progress over such a long time, the theory should be binned. I really believe that those who still promote it realize this but since their careers depend on promoting such a heterodox theory, they persist. In my view, they are grifters who wastes philosophers’ time, physicists’ time, neuroscientists’ time, and my time.

Actually, I did watch a few minutes, and saw that Goff argues that physicalism is not involved in panpsychism; he denies that “the physical world is fundamental and consciousness emerges from physical processes in the brain.” (I  believe that in an earlier debate with Carroll he actually agreed with that statement.) Now, however, he adheres to this: “Certain facts about consciousness are fundamental and the physical world emerges from those underlying consciousness facts.” Thus he limns a fundamental proposition: that all matter is conscious, yet has not a shred of evidence to support that. The only way to deal with someone like Goff is not to keep allowing him to give the same talk over and over, but to ignore him.

*What is it with Taylor Swift?  I consider her songs forgettable, and yet, as this WaPo article (in the Style “Of Interest” section) notes, she’s the most famous pop star 0n the planet. Click below to read how her possible romance with Travis Kelche, tight end for the football team the Kanas City Chiefs, has got the nation all cattywsmpus–even adult human beings! It was even on the NBC News last night: when the Chiefs play, more people apparently come to get a glimpse of Swift (rooting for Kelce) than to see the team! Click to read

Here’s a bit of the hype:

The sight of the planet’s most famous pop star jumping and yelling “LET’S F—ING GO” as one of the NFL’s most talented and charismatic players scores a touchdown would cause a commotion if we were living in normal times. But it’s 2023, so this budding romance story has consumed every corner of the internet, sports media, non-sports media, sports betting apps, cable-news segments, memes and text messages from dads to daughters asking, “Have you seen this?” During the Sept. 24 game, Fox announcers gleefully dubbed the Swift-Kelce pairing as “the romance that we all need. It feels like it’s right for America.”

Could someone PLEASE explain this to me? Why is it “right for America”? Why is this the “romance we all need”? Even if her music were good, I still don’t get why America (including adult humans) is ga-ga over this maybe/maybe not romance. If the pattern of Swift’s career holds, she’ll date the guy for a while, dump him, and then write a song about love and football.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is pondering:

A: What are you thinking about?
Hili: Whether to sit down here or go a bit further along.
In Polish:
Ja: Nad czym myślisz?
Hili: Czy tu usiąść, czy pójść dalej.

Shhhhh. . . . Baby Kulka is sleeping:


Some stitching from Irena:

Verb conjugation from Anna (click to enlarge):

From Divy:

From Masih. Crikey, this woman is brave, showing herself face on without a hijab.

A wonderful woman nurses a skunk back to health with great difficulty, even building a maze for it and watching it in the middle of the night! This at least partly restores my faith in humanity.

From Malcolm: I think the photo has a clue to the answer:


Yes, this is an American, seemingly rational. . .

From The Auschwitz Memorial, a boy gassed upon arrival, age 10:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. This one’s heartbreaking!

This rooster is apparently trained to make its owner look like the cock of the rock!

The Kiffness is famous: listen to that audience response!

38 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

      1. Apparently it was for the semi-retired in Hyde Park, but not for those of us in the burbs! It was a beautiful warm sunny day though – 29C – and a repeat today. I wish it wasn’t a work day.

  1. After I moved to Asheville, NC, I felt obligated to try to read “Look Homeward, Angel,” as it is far and away the most prominent novel written about our city. I got halfway through and gave up out of boredom. But if you ever come to Asheville, I will happily accompany you to the Wolfe home and museum.

  2. The cat is walking down the stairs. This becomes obvious when we note that the slabs forming the treads of the steps often project slightly beyond the risers, but never the other way around.

    1. I was going to say the same. I cannot persuade myself to flip to the illusion that the cat is going up. 

    2. According to my son, it’s going up the stairs backwards. My youngest daughter says it isn’t going anywhere, it’s still.

      They’re both old enough to know better. I think I’ve failed…

  3. Oh dear, linguists have been finding things to do. With respect to tenses, one of those ‘perfect’ examples is actually pluperfect, and I see the imperfect is the enemy of the continuous. Finally, are French cats allowed to use the passé simple?

    1. A businessman from out of town landed at Logan Airport in Boston. During his trip into town, he asked the cab driver, “Say, I’ve never been to New England before. Do you know where I can go to get scrod?”

      The driver turned around, looked at him over the seat, said, “You know, I’ve been driving cab for 20 years and I get asked that all the time. But you’re the first one who’s ever used the pluperfect conditional subjunctive!”

  4. I think what has Gaetz and others mad at McCarthy is that McCarthy agreed to a continuing resolution that excluded Ukrainian aid, then it came out that he had done a side-deal with the Dems to get the aid. Bipartisanship aside, that’s not the kind of chicanery that makes people like party leaders.

  5. Equal treatment under the law?  Fuhget about it!  tRump’s horrible and incendiary rhetoric just promotes words of warning from judges and talking heads but zero action. On the other hand Sam Bankman-Fried had his bail revoked this past summer and was removed from his cushy parents’ lair on the Stanford campus to the Federal slammer in Brooklyn for being more loquacious and maybe a nuisance but not dangerous or threatening talk (as far as I know). Now how come tRump doesn’t get a similar outcome for much more egregious talk?

    1. My understanding is that Bankman-Fried directly contacted a potential witness – a former girlfriend – in an attempt to influence her testimony. That seems substantively different than Trump’s bloviating in front of the courthouse.

  6. Yes, good old Matt Gaetz or better known as Statutory Matt down in the House. He is a first class nut job down there in the swamps of Florida. He is a true republican classic.

    I guess we have few Swifties here and not a lot of football fans. Swifties all go to football games now and are working on the definition of first down and field goal.

      1. You mean “line to gain”? That’s the 10 yards needed for a first down…wherever the 10 yards ends is the “line to gain”. And you gain 4 more downs to try and get another 10 yards (or hopefully, more). Matriculating the ball down the field, as it were. A saying coined by a Chief’s coach Hank Stram in the 70’s. He later stated he couldn’t explain why he said it, it just happened “in a moment of pure spontaneity”. I still hear it to this day.

        I know, more than you wanted to know. 🙂

    1. I suppose a strange new creature will brew in American capitalism. Now that Kelce has lots of commercials out (that is another thing about American football. When a player becomes a bit of a celebrity, suddenly they start selling insurance and hamburgers on tv). But the next stage will probably be where Kelce and Swift do a car commercial together. For millions of dollars.  
      Just shoot me now. Get it over with. 

      1. Kelce also did an add for the Covid and flu vaccines, so at least it’s not all burgers and insurance. Though the state farm commercials with Mahomes and Coach Reid are hysterical.

      2. In a strong field of fatuous bloviating piffle from NPR, I’ve never heard such caterwauling as that about Swift and the KC Chiefs.

        How many more Chiefs games will she attend before the media no longer consider it news-worthy?

  7. Trump’s comments are not defamatory because they are not statements of fact ( despite him thinking they are).  Bankman-Fried was talking to witnesses directly, which Trump seems not have done so far. But for most other defendants I think the judge would have acted.

  8. On this day:
    52 BC – Gallic Wars: Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls, surrenders to the Romans under Julius Caesar, ending the siege and battle of Alesia. [Of course, one plucky little village held out… ;o) ]

    1789 – George Washington proclaims Thursday November 26, 1789 a Thanksgiving Day. [Also on this day in 1863, the last Thursday in November is declared as Thanksgiving Day by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.]

    1935 – Second Italo-Abyssinian War: Italy invades Ethiopia.

    1942 – A German V-2 rocket reaches a record 85 km (46 nm) in altitude.

    1949 – WERD, the first black-owned radio station in the United States, opens in Atlanta.

    1952 – The United Kingdom successfully tests a nuclear weapon in the Montebello Islands, Western Australia, to become the world’s third nuclear power.

    1957 – The California State Superior Court rules that the book Howl and Other Poems is not obscene.

    1981 – The hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland ends after seven months and ten deaths.

    1985 – The Space Shuttle Atlantis makes its maiden flight, carrying two DSCS-III Satellites on STS-51-J.

    1986 – TASCC, a superconducting cyclotron at the Chalk River Laboratories in Canada, is officially opened.

    1990 – The German Democratic Republic is abolished and becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany; the event is afterwards celebrated as German Unity Day.

    1993 – An American attack against a warlord in Mogadishu fails; eighteen US soldiers and over 350 Somalis die.

    1995 – O. J. Simpson murder case: O. J. Simpson is acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

    2008 – The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 for the U.S. financial system is signed by President George W. Bush.

    2013 – At least 360 migrants are killed when their boat sinks near the Italian island of Lampedusa.

    1846 – James Jackson Putnam, American neurologist and academic (d. 1918).

    1858 – Eleonora Duse, Italian actress (d. 1924).

    1866 – Josephine Sabel, American singer and comedian (d. 1945).

    1885 – Sophie Treadwell, American playwright and journalist (d. 1970).

    1900 – Thomas Wolfe, American novelist (d. 1938).

    1911 – Michael Hordern, English actor (d. 1995).

    1916 – James Herriot, English veterinarian and author (d. 1995).

    1925 – Simone Segouin (also known as Nicole Minet), French Resistance fighter and partisan (d. 2023).

    1925 – Gore Vidal, American novelist, screenwriter, and critic (d. 2012).

    1925 – George Wein, American pianist and producer, co-founded the Newport Folk Festival (d. 2021).

    1936 – Steve Reich, American composer.

    1938 – Eddie Cochran, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 1960).

    1941 – Chubby Checker, American singer-songwriter.

    1949 – Lindsey Buckingham, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer.

    1951 – Kathryn D. Sullivan, American geologist and astronaut. [She was a crew member on three Space Shuttle missions, including the one that launched the Hubble Space Telescope. On June 7, 2020, Sullivan became the first woman to dive into the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of Earth’s oceans.]

    1954 – Al Sharpton, American minister, talk show host, and political activist.

    1954 – Stevie Ray Vaughan, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 1990).

    1962 – Tommy Lee, Greek-American singer-songwriter, drummer, and producer.

    1969 – Gwen Stefani, American singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer.

    A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless, to resist.
    1226 – Francis of Assisi, Italian friar and saint (b. 1181 or 1182).

    1838 – Black Hawk, American tribal leader (b. 1767).

    1896 – William Morris, English author and poet (b. 1834).

    1910 – Lucy Hobbs Taylor, American dentist (b. 1833).

    1911 – Rosetta Jane Birks, Australian suffragist (b. 1856).

    1966 – Rolf Maximilian Sievert, Swedish physicist and academic (b. 1896).

    1967 – Woody Guthrie, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1912).

    1967 – Malcolm Sargent, English organist, composer, and conductor (b. 1895).

    1969 – Skip James, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1902).

    1998 – Roddy McDowall, English-American actor (b. 1928).

    2004 – Janet Leigh, American actress (b. 1927).

    2005 – Ronnie Barker, English actor and screenwriter (b. 1929).

    2012 – Robert F. Christy, American physicist and astrophysicist (b. 1916).

    2013 – Joan Thirsk, English cryptologist, historian, and academic (b. 1922).

    1. 1993 – An American attack against a warlord in Mogadishu fails; eighteen US soldiers and over 350 Somalis die.

      The so-called “Battle of Mogadishu.” It was the subject or Mark Bowden’s well-received 1999 nonfiction book Black Hawk Down and of Ridley Scott’s eponymous 2001 movie adapted from that book.

      The Battle of Mogadishu also provided a major subplot of sorts in Tom Wolfe’s novella Ambush at Fort Bragg. There is an excellent audio-book version of that novella wonderfully read by actor Edward Norton.

      1. Forget about it; “fetch” is never going to happen. (The character “Gretchen” is trying to create a hip new word to show she’s part of the in crowd, but it’s not working. Any info beyond that you’ll have to seek from Tina Fey, who wrote the screenplay. Don’t even ask me how I know this much, since I have no clear recollection of having watched the movie, at least not straight through, start to finish. The “fetch” scenes have entered meme-world, part of the national collective consciousness — or something along those lines.) 🙂

        1. I have found Tina Fey to be rather “fetching.” I’ve never heard the term applied to men. The term “fey” appears to be applied to men, not women.

  9. “[House Speaker Kevin] McCarthy has said he is ready for any vote, and painted [Matt] Gaetz as an obstructionist with a personal vendetta against him.”

    So, the House is besieged by Barbarians at the Gaetz?

    1. Here he [Matt Gaetz] is, and for some reason when I see him I get creeped out …

      Could be that Gaetz’s head appears about three sizes too big for his body. Or it could be that Florida Man Matt Gaetz barely escaped federal prosecution for his drug-fueled sex orgies with teenaged girls who’d advertised via online hook-up sites for “sugar daddies” — federal sex-trafficking charges for which Gaetz’s self-acknowledged “wingman” and procurer, former Seminole County, FL, tax collector Joel Greenberg, is himself currently serving 12 years in stir.

      Now, I’m not one to kink-shame consenting adults for however it is they choose to get busy in the bone zone in private. “Be safe, have fun, and mind your own damn business,” is my motto. But one of the teenaged girls doin’ the druggin’, sexin’, and sugar-daddyin’ with Gaetz and his pals was a minor at the time, and that crap don’t float.

      Gaetz represents Florida’s First Congressional District in the state’s northwest section, among the most evangelical-rich congressional districts in this nation. Gaetz’s sexual hijinks don’t appear to have bothered his bible-thumping constituents none, since they’ve twice returned him to office since the sugar-daddy orgy allegations arose.

      1. One of his many lies was to suggest he took her out or dated Cassidy Hutchinson for a week or two. When asked about this she said no, her standards were quite a bit higher than that.

  10. I live in Asheville, NC, home of Thomas Wolfe. If you ever visit here (and I strongly recommend that you do), The Thomas Wolfe House is well worth your time. Unfortunately, the house in which Wolfe was born was torn down years ago. The existing Wolfe house was his mother’s boarding house in which Wolfe lived for much of his childhood.

    1. I made a special visit to Asheville to visit the Old Kentucky Home and to see Wolfe’s grave. I heard the OKH had burned down and was restored but I don’t know. I did visit his grave and took some grass from it as a souvenir. I don’t think that there are a lot of Wolfe fans who make this kind of pilgrimage.

      1. It didn’t completely burn down, but the damage was extensive. The story I have linked is about the restoration and states that the house was 25% destroyed.

        I think you are right: there are probably not a lot of Wolfe pilgrims these days. Perhaps the English professors and the critics will reevaluate

        his legacy some day, and more people will become interested.


      2. The are some nice sculptural homages to Wolfe and Look Homeward Angel in downtown Asheville, out about in front of the Jackson Building, a lovely mini-skyscraper that is also visible from a distance to make it easy to reach the spot. Homages to O Henry nearby as well. And the two lovely Art Deco municipal buildings in that area are worth a look too.

  11. Thanks for the skunk story…yes, provides hope for humanity.

    Soft tacos or hard tacos? They’re both good. But most “authentic” tacos are made from heated, but not-crispy corn tortillas (usually 2) not flour.

    The only take-away from the GOP’s shit-show in the House is that the GOP can’t govern. I don’t know if they simply choose not to govern or they actually don’t know how. It’s probably a mixture of both. With a similar small majority, look what Pelosi was able to accomplish with just 2 years as speaker under the Biden admin: the American Rescue Plan, Infrastructure/Jobs Act, Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPS and Science Act, and yes, kept the government open (some of her successes were bipartisan, some not). Hell, the GOP majority can’t even keep the government open without help from Democratic members.

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