Wednesday: Hili dialogue

October 18, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to a Hump Day (“Küürupäev” in Estonian): Wednesday, October 18, 2023, and National Chocolate Cupcake Day. Here’s the specimen most eaten in the U.S., and a staple in my lunchbox when I was young:

It’s also Dress Like A Dork Day, International Gin and Tonic Day, National Seafood Bisque Day, Evaluate Your Life Day (!), Rainforest Day, World Menopause Day, Persons Day in Canada (look it up), and, in Croatia, Necktie Day.

Yes, neckties come from Croatia, at least according to Wikipedia:

The necktie that spread from Europe traces back to Croatian mercenaries serving in France during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). These mercenaries from the Military Frontier, wearing their traditional small, knotted neckerchiefs, aroused the interest of the Parisians.

Yesterday’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrated the 118th birthday of Raoul Alfonso Cortez (1905-1971) who, as Wikipedia notes, “was a Mexican-American media executive, best remembered for founding KCOR, the first full-time Spanish radio and television network in the United States, in 1946″. The network served the area reached by San Antonio, Texas

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

Da Nooz:

*It looks as if President Biden is going to make a trip to Israel, a visit that, says the NYT, poses enormous challenges for politics and security. The first link also describes a missile attack on a Gazan hospital with a huge death toll, though nobody sure yet who’s responsible.

At least 500 people were killed by an explosion at a hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday that Palestinian authorities said was caused by an Israeli airstrike.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the number of casualties was expected to rise. Many civilians were sheltering at Al Ahli Arab Hospital, better known as Al-Ma’amadani, before it was hit.

The Israeli military said it was investigating if it was responsible for the blast. “We’re checking,” said Maj. Nir Dinar, a military spokesman. In the past, rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups have occasionally malfunctioned and hit civilian neighborhoods.

The deadly blast on the hospital came as President Biden was preparing for a visit to Israel on Wednesday as conditions in besieged Gaza grew ever more desperate.

  • After visiting Israel on Wednesday, President Biden plans to travel to Jordan to hold talks on the conflict with King Abdullah II, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, the White House said.
  • As Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken continues a week of shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East, a senior State Department official said that U.S. and Israeli officials had agreed to develop a plan to get humanitarian aid into Gaza and set up “safe zones.” The outlines of a deal, which would be negotiated by a new U.S. envoy, came after Mr. Blinken met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel for nearly nine hours on Monday.

If Israel accidentally killed 500 people by bombing a hospital, that’s a terrible thing to do.  We all expect Israel to follow the moral rules of war. UPDATE: Israel claims that the hospital was hit by a misfired Hamas or Islamic Jihad rocket. Will we be able to determine the truth? For me, as for many, it’s important to know who fired that rocket. And is there really a way to find out? I don’t know of one, but Israel has been able to determine when a Hamas missile misfires in the past.

I notice, though, that the NYT has hedged its headline about this a bit, which earlier just said that 500 were killed in a blast at a Palestinian hospital. There’s been a subtle change (photo from the Free Press):


Now Israel doesn’t appear in the headlines as the definite perpetrator of the explosion.  Further, today’s headline (below) changed from “at least 500 dead” to “hundreds killed”, perhaps reflecting the unreliability of Hamas death tolls. But there’s no doubt that there was substantial carnage at the hospital.

UPDATE AGAIN ABOUT THE HOSPITAL:  Information now suggests that the rocket was fired by Islamic Jihad, not the Israel Defense Forces. There is video and apparently an intercepted phone call between Hamas officials supporting this.  I will post what evidence exists, and show you the video (and hopefully present the audio) in a post this morning.  The NYT has now changed its headline twice. Stay tuned.

About Biden’s trip:

It will be a trip fraught with risks, both political and physical.

. . .The White House announced the visit on Monday evening after Mr. Biden met with his top intelligence officials and his closest advisers in the Oval Office to debate whether to accept the invitation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended over the weekend.

In a briefing to reporters Monday night, John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said Mr. Biden would focus on “the critical need for humanitarian assistance to get into Gaza, as well as the ability for innocent people to get out.”

He said the president would have meetings in Tel Aviv and in Amman, Jordan, with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.

. . .The security risk of such a trip was clear on Monday when sirens warning of incoming rockets or missiles went off while Mr. Blinken, who was in Israel for his second visit in a week, was meeting at a military base with Mr. Netanyahu and his war cabinet. Mr. Blinken and his hosts were rushed to a bunker and sheltered there for five minutes before resuming their discussions. (There was a similar warning when Mr. Biden was touring a few blocks of Kyiv with Mr. Zelensky in February.)

. . . But the physical risks in Tel Aviv were considered low enough, Mr. Kirby said, that “it was deemed appropriate that we can talk about it beforehand.” The trip to Kyiv, where there were no American forces present to back up the Secret Service, was kept secret.

*Another NYT piece reports that Hamas hijacked the social media accounts of their Israeli victims to both livestream their butchery and threaten others.

In a new war tactic, Hamas has seized the social media accounts of kidnapped Israelis and used them to broadcast violent messages and wage psychological warfare, according to interviews with 13 Israeli families and their friends, as well as social media experts who have studied extremist groups.

In at least four cases, Hamas members logged into the personal social media accounts of their hostages to livestream the Oct. 7 attacks. In the days since, Hamas also appeared to infiltrate their hostages’ Facebook groups, Instagram accounts and WhatsApp chats to issue death threats and calls for violence. Hamas members also took hostages’ cellphones to make calls to taunt friends and relatives, according to the Israeli families and their friends. Israel’s military has said at least 199 people have been taken hostage by Hamas.

Extremist groups have long turned to social media to further their causes by livestreaming attacks and posting propaganda. But hijacking individual hostages’ Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp accounts “weaponizes social media in a way I don’t think we’ve seen before,” said Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University. “We are not psychologically prepared for this.”

The tactic is particularly harrowing for those close to the account owners, compounding an already distressing situation.

*Finally, would Tom Friedman at the NYT kindly shut up?  He keeps criticizing any Israeli respond to the Hamas attack, and in his latest column he says Israel shouldn’t have a ground offensive, as it would be bad for Israel.

If Israel goes into Gaza now, it will blow up the Abraham Accords, further destabilize two of America’s most important allies (Egypt and Jordan) and make normalization with Saudi Arabia impossible — huge strategic setbacks. It will also enable Hamas to really fire up the West Bank and get a shepherd’s war going there between Jewish settlers and Palestinians. Altogether, it will play directly into Iran’s strategy of sucking Israel into imperial overstretch and in that way weakening the Jewish democracy from within.

No ground war, no bombing without invasion (that would kill many civilians and not destroy Hamas. What does the pundit Friedman suggest Israel do? Pretty much nothing:

What should Israel do to ensure that an attack like the one launched by Hamas never happens again? I don’t know right now. I just know that whatever the answer is, it’s not mobilizing 360,000 traumatized Israeli reservists to launch into an urban war in one of the most densely populated places in the world. This will crush the Israeli economy and its international standing.

Well, he does have a “solution”:

If Israel were to announce today that it has decided for now to forgo an invasion of Gaza and will look for more surgical means to eliminate or capture Hamas’s leadership while trying to engineer a trade for the more than 150 Israeli and other hostages whom Hamas is holding, it would not only avoid further traumatizing its own society, as well as Palestinian civilians in Gaza; it would also give Israel and its allies time to think through how to build — with Palestinians — a legitimate alternative to Hamas.

This is absurd. The only way Hamas will release Israeli hostages is for Israel to releaste over 4,500 imprisoned terrorists. That would enormously energize the terrorists. As far as a “surgical means of capturing Hamas’s leadership,” they’re hiding, and hiding among civilians.  Friedman makes a very bad pundit!

*As you probably know, a Washington, D.C. judge issued a gag order against Trump, prohibiting him from attacking people involved in his federal trial for election obstruction. The WaPo answers your questions about the order:

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan issued a limited gag order against Donald Trump that prohibits the former president from disparaging prosecutors, witnesses and court personnel involved in his upcoming election-obstruction trial in federal court in Washington, D.C.

A few Q&A:

What does it mean that Chutkan gave Trump a limited gag order?

A gag order would prohibit Trump from talking about the case at all. A limited gag order means Trump cannot make certain types of public statements about parts of the case.

In this instance, Chutkan said that Trump must stop disparaging prosecutors, witnesses and court personnel involved in his upcoming D.C. trial on charges of conspiring to obstruct the results of the 2020 election, which is scheduled to begin in March.

But Chutkan said in her order that she would not prohibit Trump from continuing to make disparaging comments about President Biden, his likely rival in the 2024 election. Trump can also claim that the case against him is politically motivated, as long as he doesn’t denigrate individual prosecutors, the order said.

Why would a judge issue a gag order?

Judges most commonly issue gag orders when they fear someone’s speech could taint the jury pool or intimidate witnesses. “Judges are allowed to decide how to run a courtroom, and that includes how a defendant’s behavior or a lawyer’s behavior could affect the court — the running of the court — or court staff and potential jurors,” Cominsky said.

In Trump’s case, Chutkan said the former president has made statements attacking “individuals involved in the judicial process, including potential witnesses, prosecutors, and court staff.”

As Chutkan put it in her order: “In order to safeguard the integrity of these proceedings, it is necessary to impose certain restrictions on public statements by interested parties.”

What happens if Trump violates the gag order?

Judges typically impose sanctions when a defendant violates their orders. Those sanctions can range from an admonishment to financial penalties to jail time.

Chutkan did not specify what sanctions she would impose if Trump violates her gag order. But legal experts say it would be extremely unusual for a judge to jail a person as they are running for office.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,  Hili is hating autumn, for autumn comes before the Season She Hates Most

Hili: And autumn is making a mess again.
A: Such is the course of events.
In Polish:
Hili: I znowu jesień robi bałagan.
Ja: Taka jest kolej rzeczy.
And a photo of lovely Szaron napping:


From Barnorama (I can’t vouch for its truth):

From Barry, a political and antitheistic cartoon from Kevin Kallaugher:

From Jesus of the Day, which reproduced a Mark Parisi cartoon:

From Masih, advertising the World Liberty Congress, a network promoting freedom of speech and the ending of oppression. It’s kind of depressing in reminding us how far we have to go:

From Jez via Martina Navatilova via Anlina, a funny little tweet:

From Malcolm (on FB), archery trick shots:

The joyous return of a missing cat:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, one I reposted:

From Matthew, who has decided to go off Twitter (I hope he returns!).  In the first one, did the gray cat make a bad move?

A video of the solar eclipse. Sound up for some nice music:

I wonder if adults would eat like this if they could get away with it:

A shark walking on its FINS!


23 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    33 – Heartbroken by the deaths of her sons Nero and Drusus, and banished to the island of Pandateria by Tiberius, Agrippina the Elder dies of self-inflicted starvation.

    320 – Pappus of Alexandria, Greek philosopher, observes an eclipse of the Sun and writes a commentary on The Great Astronomer (Almagest).

    614 – King Chlothar II promulgates the Edict of Paris (Edictum Chlotacharii), a sort of Frankish Magna Carta that defends the rights of the Frankish nobles while it excludes Jews from all civil employment in the Frankish Kingdom.

    1009 – The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a Christian church in Jerusalem, is completely destroyed by the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, who hacks the Church’s foundations down to bedrock.

    1356 – Basel earthquake, the most significant historic seismological event north of the Alps, destroys the town of Basel, Switzerland.

    1565 – Ships belonging to the Matsura clan of Japan fail to capture the Portuguese trading carrack in the Battle of Fukuda Bay, the first recorded naval battle between Japan and the West.

    1597 – King Philip II of Spain send his third and final armada against England, but ends in failure due to storms. The remaining ships are captured or sunk by the English.

    1648 – Boston shoemakers form the first American labor organization.

    1775 – African-American poet Phillis Wheatley is freed from slavery.

    1851 – Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is first published as The Whale by Richard Bentley of London.

    1867 – United States takes possession of Alaska after purchasing it from Russia for $7.2 million. Celebrated annually in the state as Alaska Day.

    1898 – The United States takes possession of Puerto Rico from Spain.

    1922 – The British Broadcasting Company (later Corporation) is founded by a consortium, to establish a nationwide network of radio transmitters to provide a national broadcasting service.

    1929 – The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council overrules the Supreme Court of Canada in Edwards v. Canada when it declares that women are considered “Persons” under Canadian law. [Canada still struggles to know what a woman is, I believe?]

    1944 – World War II: The state funeral of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel takes place in Ulm, Germany. [Bloody hypocrites!]

    1945 – The USSR’s nuclear program receives plans for the United States plutonium bomb from Klaus Fuchs at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    1945 – Argentine military officer and politician Juan Perón marries actress Eva Duarte.

    1954 – Texas Instruments announces the Regency TR-1, the first mass-produced transistor radio.

    1963 – Félicette, a black and white female Parisian stray cat, becomes the first cat launched into space.

    1967 – The Soviet probe Venera 4 reaches Venus and becomes the first spacecraft to measure the atmosphere of another planet.

    1977 – German Autumn: A set of events revolving around the kidnapping of Hanns Martin Schleyer and the hijacking of a Lufthansa flight by the Red Army Faction (RAF) comes to an end when Schleyer is murdered and various RAF members allegedly commit suicide.

    1979 – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) begins allowing people to have home satellite earth stations without a federal government license.

    2019 – NASA Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch take part in the first all-female spacewalk when they venture out of the International Space Station to replace a power controller.

    1587 – Lady Mary Wroth, English poet (d. 1651).

    1616 – Nicholas Culpeper, English botanist (d. 1654).

    1706 – Baldassare Galuppi, Italian harpsichord player and composer (d. 1785).

    1785 – Thomas Love Peacock, English author and poet (d. 1866).

    1897 – Isabel Briggs Myers, American theorist and author (d. 1980).

    1898 – Lotte Lenya, Austrian singer and actress (d. 1981).

    1902 – Miriam Hopkins, American actress (d. 1972).

    1905 – Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Ivorian union leader and politician, 1st President of Côte d’Ivoire (d. 1993).

    1919 – Pierre Trudeau, Canadian lawyer, academic, and politician, 15th Prime Minister of Canada (d. 2000). [Pierre knew what a woman is. So does Justin, but he’s not prepared to admit it.]

    1926 – Chuck Berry, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2017).

    1926 – Klaus Kinski, German-American actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 1991).

    1927 – George C. Scott, American actor and director (d. 1999).

    1929 – Violeta Chamorro, Nicaraguan publisher and politician, President of Nicaragua.

    1939 – Lee Harvey Oswald, American assassin of John F. Kennedy (d. 1963).

    1947 – Paul Chuckle, English comedian, actor, and screenwriter.

    1947 – Laura Nyro, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1997).

    1956 – Martina Navratilova, Czech-American tennis player and coach.

    1958 – Letitia James, American lawyer, activist and politician.

    1960 – Jean-Claude Van Damme, Belgian martial artist, actor, and producer, and screenwriter.

    1961 – Wynton Marsalis, American trumpet player, composer, and educator.

    1968 – Rhod Gilbert, Welsh comedian.

    1979 – Ne-Yo, American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actor.

    1984 – Milo Yiannopoulos, British journalist and public speaker.

    1987 – Zac Efron, American actor and singer.

    1990 – Brittney Griner, American basketball player. [And Russian hostage at the start of the invasion of Ukraine.]

    If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive:
    1545 – John Taverner, English organist and composer (b. 1490). [No, not that one…]

    1871 – Charles Babbage, English mathematician and engineer, invented the mechanical computer (b. 1791).

    1911 – Alfred Binet, French psychologist and author (b. 1857).

    1931 – Thomas Edison, American engineer and businessman, invented the phonograph (b. 1847).

    1934 – Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Spanish pathologist, histologist, and neuroscientist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1852).

    1966 – Elizabeth Arden, Canadian-American businesswoman, founded Elizabeth Arden, Inc. (b. 1878).

    1973 – Margaret Caroline Anderson, American publisher, founded The Little Review (b. 1886).

    2000 – Julie London, American singer and actress (b. 1926).

    2007 – Alan Coren, English journalist and author (b. 1938).

    2008 – Dee Dee Warwick, American singer (b. 1945).

    2009 – Nancy Spero, American painter and academic (b. 1926).

    2012 – Sylvia Kristel, Dutch model and actress (b. 1952).

    2018 – Lisbeth Palme, Swedish child psychologist, former chairwoman of UNICEF (b. 1931).

    2021 – Colin Powell, American military leader and statesman, 65th Secretary of State (b. 1937).

  2. I saw that headline evilution on X – it is amazing, single words e.g. “Palestinians say” that go by unnoticed but change the meaning.

    1. Bari Weiss addresses this issue in this morning’s Free Press under the heading, “When the Misinformation Comes from Inside the House”

  3. Do we know that the failed rocket hit a hospital (as opposed to a car park near the hospital, which is what the photos seem to show) and do we know that the “killed 500” is reliable? (Any counting, at night, within hours, in a chaotic situation, would be hard.)

    On evidence presented to far, it would seem that nearly all elements of the story as first reported (“Israeli strike”, “hit hospital”, “500 dead”) come only from Hamas say-so.

    Edit to add: And it’s worth re-iterating that first reporting by the BBC, NYT etc accepted all these claims as factual, only later retracting at least the first of them.

      1. Excellent, if macabre, point.
        It is possible to tell, with careful forensic autopsies as are being done on the bodies of Israeli victims of the 7 October pogrom*, if various injuries were inflicted before or after death. But a morgue full of corpses that gets blown to bits in a war zone, not so much.
        * Thanks to Max Blancke for his link to this heartbreaking effort a few days ago.

  4. Does anyone have any difficulty imagining that Hamas may have blown up the hospital for propaganda purposes? I’m not saying they did, and I certainly have no proof of such. But it would not surprise me one jot.

      1. Yes, an important principle I used to use daily when engaging in the diagnostic process. Set up a hypothesis, prove or disprove it, then move on to what’s left.

        1. The Stack Exchange answers get into philosophy of truth, and that is well and good.

          PCC(E)’s latest post on the violence applies Bayes’ Theorem / likelihood to this, and I think that is interesting – to understand the thought process in the famous Holmes quote.

          So I wonder how philosophers take to Bayes’ Theorem.

          As for the violence – Hitch said (paraphrased) – never ignore the obvious.

      2. Of course, the range of possible events is usually larger that the imagination of the truth-seeker, and the process of elimination of possibilities is not infallible, so before you move on to the outlandish possibilities, it’s better to double-check everything.
        That said, I don’t think it’s entirely unconceivable for some Palestinian group to blow up their own hospital on purpose, but it’s more plausible to do it accidentally. The available evidence points in that direction: videos show a whole volley of rockets fired toward Israel, one of them craps out in mid-air, a few seconds later there’s a fireball at the location of the hospital. What are the odds that either the Palestinians or the Israelis would have intentionally hit the hospital at the exact same time that a rocket malfunctions over the same area?

        1. I am still incapable of believing that Hamas, however brutal it is, however many of its people it uses as human shields, would blow up a hospital to help its cause. If it was a misfired terrorist rocket, it would be an accident.

    1. It would make more sense for them to do it than for the Israelis to do it on the eve of a state visit by the president of their major ally in whose good books they must definitely stay.

    1. “Hey, maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!”

      One of my favorites too.

  5. On the lighter side: i was a very picky eater as a child, and the only Hostess confection I liked was the cream-filled chocolate cupcake. My mother packed one in my lunchbox pretty much everyday with a PB&J sandwich when I was in elementary school … circa mid-1950’s.

    1. Lucky kids! I had to use my allowance or collect deposit bottles to procure these. Actually, I think my childhood order of preference was “Yodels”, “Ring Dings” then “Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes” or, for awhile, “Hostess Orange Cupcakes”.

  6. Off topic, but I thought some here might find this interesting.

    For many years Dan Dennett has written or said things that I wish I had come up with. Sometimes about things I’ve never thought of, sometimes just saying something I’ve thought very much better than I’ve ever managed.

    I just saw a video link to a new “Closer To Truth” conversation with Dennett.

    Daniel Dennett on the Mysteries of the Mind | Closer To Truth Chats

    I’ve only had time to watch about 10 or 15 minutes of it so far, but sure as shit, he says something in the first 3 minutes that I wish I had said, because he said it so well.

    “I think a lot of philosophy is in danger of being schmess*. It’s a technically possible playpen for intellectual work, it’s just not worth doing.

    The great Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb once said, “If it’s not worth doing, it’s not worth doing well.” I think a lot of philosophy is very well done, very well done by experts, but it’s not true that it’s worth doing.

    *Schmess is a game Dennett invented to explain this point. Schmess is just like chess except the king can move 2 places.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, it is unreasonable to expect that every attempt to create something is successful, whether it be song writing or philosophy. Most music that has ever been composed is somewhere between awful and meh, but if no one ever tried to compose a song unless they knew their idea for a song would lead to a hit there wouldn’t be very much good music.

    But philosophy seems to have an order of magnitude more bombs than the average human endeavor! Dennett has always been critical about academic philosophy and has explained many times that it is important that philosophers maintain at least some relationship with empiricism, which he does.

    1. +1 for the Schmess – very clear, love that.

      “Most music that has ever been composed is somewhere between awful and meh”

      Surely, you jest 🙂

  7. Re. Trump’s gag order:

    But legal experts say it would be extremely unusual for a judge to jail a person as they are running for office.

    Why is someone running for office above the law? This makes no sense to me. What other benefits do candidates get from judges while “running for office?” Trump sure thinks his running for office clears him of all crimes until the 2024 election, but he’s deranged. Don’t judges understand that running for office is a voluntary choice? According to the statement, judges regard running for office as some kind of sacred, involuntary act that should not be impeded by the law. I’m sure Trump will break the gag order within a week and nothing will happen…maybe a paltry fine, but nothing that will make him stop. It’s kid-glove treatment all the way down.

    That walking shark is a great example of how the incremental steps (I like the pun, but unintended) of natural selection pressured fish to become terrestrial. Not sure if “pressured” is the right term here.

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