Friday: Hili dialogue

October 27, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the end of the week and, at sundown, shabbos for Jewish cats. It’s Friday, October 27, 2023, and National Potato Day.  The father of one of my friends was overweight, and his doctor gave him the choice of giving up either beer or potatoes (he loved both). He deep-sixed the spuds.  Here, from reddit, is a sweet potato (a different species) shaped like a duck.


It’s also American Beer Day, National Black Cat Day, World Lemur Day, National Breadstick Day,Navy Day, Sylvia Plath Day (she was born on this day in 1932, and killed herself at the age of just 30), and the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the October 27 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The death toll in the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine has reached 18. The gunman, using a legally purchased assault rifle (see here for the reactions of Maine politicians on gun control).

On Thursday, a day after a gunman opened fire on civilians in the city of Lewiston, helicopters swept miles of countryside as the Coast Guard patrolled the Kennebec River. Thousands of people were forced into an extended lockdown as police officers from local, state and federal agencies combed the area.

On Thursday night, law enforcement agents executed search warrants at several properties in Bowdoin, about 30 minutes from the crime scenes, that belong to the family of Robert R. Card, 40, who the police suspect is the gunman. A spokeswoman for the state police said they now believed that Mr. Card was not on the property.

*The latest war news says that Israel briefly sent tanks into northern Gaza, suggesting a ground invasion is imminent.

The Israeli military said on Thursday that it had briefly sent tanks into the northern Gaza Strip overnight as part of preparations for the next stage of fighting, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that a ground invasion of the enclave was likely.

It was at least the second time in the conflict that Israel had conducted a limited ground raid in Gaza, after it said some troops had briefly entered the territory two weeks ago. The military said in a Telegram post that it had hit multiple targets and “operated to prepare the battlefield,” without offering details.

Although details of the incursion remained scarce, a video released by Israel’s military showed Israeli tanks firing inside Gazan territory. The area is immediately next to Gaza’s northern border near the Mediterranean Sea, according to an examination of the footage by The New York Times.

I found the video, which is in this IDF tweet:

Nearly three weeks after the war began, it remains unclear if or when Israel will launch a ground invasion of Gaza. In a televised speech on Wednesday evening, Mr. Netanyahu did not offer details on the scope of a possible invasion, but vowed that Israel would exact a price for the Oct. 7 incursion led by the Hamas armed group that killed more than 1,400 people.

. . . As of Thursday morning, 74 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies had entered Gaza since Saturday, far short of the 100 a day or more that the United Nations said the territory needs. As the U.S.-backed deal between Israel and Egypt falls short of producing a sustained flow of aid, U.N. officials and diplomats attribute the delay partly to Israel’s demands to inspect the trucks at a border checkpoint about 25 miles from the crossing where the vehicles move into Gaza from Egypt.

Yep, the UN blames Israel, as if it has no right to inspect trucks going into the country for weapons or other material that could be used by Hamas!

*Also at the NYT, Charles Blow bloviates about the missteps of Biden in supporting Israel, which involve simply supporting Israel:

The other thing that I initially underestimated is the level of criticism of the Biden administration for its response to this conflict and what effect that might have in 2024.

Shaun King, a former writer for The Daily News who has millions of followers on Facebook, Instagram and X, the site formerly known as Twitter, posted recently about how he would not vote for President Biden next year because of his embrace of Israel.

King, who has never been a strong Biden supporter and is far from a mainline Democrat, told me, “I feel like a voter without a candidate.”

While most activists I spoke to didn’t sound a note as strident as King’s about their voting intentions, several of them sounded an alarm about a possible wave of voter disappointment on the left over Biden’s stance in this conflict.

As Maurice Mitchell, the national director of the Working Families Party, told me, he couldn’t think of a more “demobilizing experience” for young, democracy-minded, multiracial coalition voters than an escalating war and escalating human suffering “with the understanding that our country and our government could have done more to prevent it.”

Tiffany Loftin, who describes herself as a civil rights activist and labor union organizer, and is a former national director of the N.A.A.C.P. youth and college division, said she would have a difficult time casting her ballot for “somebody who supported genocide” of Palestinians, which is how she characterized Biden’s position in the Israel-Gaza war. “I don’t know if I can do that, Charles,” she said.

The questions for the Democratic Party and the Biden administration are: How much of their support base does this discontent represent, and how much voter abstention can they absorb?

Sorry, but the U.S. is still strongly supportive of Israel, and my own view—and I hope the view of many Americans as well—is that Biden’s done a good job with Israel, as he has with Ukraine. We don’t have a wider war, the U.S. military presence is keeping that in check, and Biden’s supporting the side of democracy (“free Palestine” strikes me as an odd mantra since the country won’t be free so long as it’s not a democracy).  My guess is that the Israeli issue, if all hell doesn’t break loose and Iran gets involved, will only help Biden in next year’s election.

*From the Free Press, Candace Mittel Kahn has a sad story: “When an old friend is ripping down photos of kidnapped children.”

There have been widespread, grassroots efforts to bring attention to the kidnapped civilians, especially the children. One information campaign that has been gaining traction is called Let the World Know, which was started by Anna Tambini, an Israeli woman who lives in San Francisco. Volunteers across America, and around the world, have been hanging posters of the hostages on streetlights and posts, subway walls and coffee shops. Each poster has an individual picture and name with a simple call to action: “Take a photo of this poster and share it. Please help bring them home alive.”

There is no Israeli flag on these posters. There is no mention of politics. They are as anodyne as the missing children that used to appear on the side of American milk cartons.

And still. People all over the world—especially young, cool-looking people, with nose rings and neon backpacks—are ripping them down.

Across the internet, videos have emerged of people angrily tearing down these posters wherever they find them. In NYC. In L.A. In San Diego. In Santa Cruz. In Richmond. In Miami. In Philadelphia. In Ontario. In Paris. In London. They are ripping the faces of real people who are missing—babies, children, teenagers, women, elderly—to shreds.

I’m not sure non-Jews and ordinary passersby understand how painful this is. The Jewish world is tiny and connected. Nearly everyone knows someone who knows one of those faces. A friend’s friend. The in-laws of the sister of a boy who went to your school. And that’s just me.

I was scrolling Instagram this week when I came across another one of these videos. This one was of a woman and a man together ripping down the posters in Williamsburg. I almost skipped past it when I noticed something. I turned up the volume.

After the woman finishes scraping the remainders of the poster from the street post, while muttering the word calba, the Arabic word for dog, she then turns to the camera—presumably to the person filming her vandalism—and says, “Fuck you. Fuck you. And burn in hell.”

And that’s when my heart dropped: I know her.

You’ll want to read the rest, and can do so here.

There are quite a few similar videos on the web; here’s one:

*I have heard this report from three places: an Internet site a can’t remember, from Andrzej, whom I asked for a link but he couldn’t remember, and then from reader Debbie, who gave a link to a report that Gaza has plenty of fuel, but of course it’s all in the hands of Hamas. The report is from the Jewish News Syndicate, so you may choose to disbelieve it, but remember—they’re not Hamas.  (Readers are welcome to add support or rebuttal found online.)

Israeli authorities released on Tuesday aerial images of Hamas storage tanks in the Gaza Strip containing at least half a million liters of fuel, stressing that questions regarding fuel shortages should be addressed to the Islamist group and not Jerusalem.

“Near the Rafah border crossing [to Egypt], Hamas owns fuel tanks, containing hundreds of thousands of liters of fuel. Please refer the ones complaining about no fuel in Gaza to Hamas,” the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit tweeted.

Here’s that tweet:

“Hamas has fuel. Hamas has quite a lot of fuel,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Conricus told CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer. “And they can decide where to use that fuel.

“And I find it strikingly absent from the discussion … what is Hamas doing with the resources that it has? It’s only about Israel and Egypt and international organizations. What about Hamas? Why aren’t questions posed to Hamas: ‘Why don’t you use some of the fuel you have stockpiled and hoarded in advance of this situation and use it for the civilians?’”

There are other tweets and a discussion about the Hamas-coopted UN organization UNRWA., which has promoted a lot of the discussion that “hospitals need fuel”. And indeed they do, but if Hamas has half a million liters, let the UN make sure that that fuel goes to hospitals, not to Hamas’s activities.  This could be easily checked and assured!

Let it not be said that the IDF doesn’t have a mordant sense of humor (the IDF post is in response to a UNRWA post below it; UNRWA, part of the UN, is strongly pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel:

*And from the AP’s “oddities” section:

People go to Noodles & Company to save a buck, not to have one interrupt their meal. But that’s what happened in Beloit, Wisconsin, on Tuesday when a deer came crashing through the restaurant’s window.

Surveillance footage shows a deer charging into the crowded restaurant around lunchtime, prompting diners to scatter. The animal then explored the dining area and kitchen before exiting out a back door opened by an employee, Noodles & Company spokesperson Stephanie Jerome told The Associated Press.

No one was harmed in the incident, and the location has since reopened after a deep clean, Jerome said. The restaurant offered a “2 Buck Mac & Cheese” special on Wednesday to commemorate the incident.

Here it is; people are freaked out1

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s adopting au courant ways of working:

Hili: I’m thinking about remote working.
A: And with your eyes closed?
Hili: Yes.
In Polish:
Hili: Zastanawiam się nad pracą zdalną.
Ja: I z zamkniętymi oczami?
Hili: Tak.


This is going around the internet. There are many responses to Tyson’s dissing of cats beyond this one (one response is “Evidence that cats are smarter than Neil deGrasse Tyson: we can tell the difference between a female cat and a male.:):

Here’s a rare live verstion of Steely Dan doing “Reeling in the years” (from FB). Great guitar solo by Jeff “Skunk Baxter.” Donald Fagen is on keyboard.


From Science Humor: Convergent evolution!

From Masih, who testified today at the House Homeland Security Committee “regarding the threat posed by the Islamic regime on US soil, as well as its affiliated terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. The Islamic regime can be likened to a virus: if left unchecked, it could spread worldwide.

From Al in the UK, some entitled Stanford students issue a list of DEMANDS! Read them!

I found this in the (pinned!) Sci Am thread about women being coequal in hunting, a piece I criticized here. Among the mostly negative comments was one explaining why a thoughtful woman canceled her subscription (expand the explanation). The comment you want is here.

From Jez: A cat tries to help its kitten:

This could be freedom of speech, but it looks as if the Students for Justice in Palestine violated University rules by shouting down and deplatforming Jewish speakers. There’s video, and someone’s investigating. (h/t Orli)

From gravelinspector, who says that no comment is necessary. Indeed, but it’s very sweet:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman gassed upon arrival, age 55.

And one lonely tweet from Dr. Cobb, who has gone off Twitter (I’m using old tweets I saved):

22 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Here, from reddit, is a sweet potato (a different species) shaped like a duck.”

    We already know about the theoretical crocoduck.

    But behold, a spuds-O-duck in the starch – transgressing the boundaries of the domains of life.

    Darwin FTW

    Checkmate, Discovery Institute.

  2. On this day:
    1275 – Traditional founding of the city of Amsterdam.

    1553 – Condemned as a heretic, Michael Servetus is burned at the stake just outside Geneva.

    1682 – Philadelphia is founded in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

    1775 – King George III expands on his Proclamation of Rebellion in the Thirteen Colonies in his speech from the throne at the opening of Parliament.

    1838 – Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issues the Extermination Order, which orders all Mormons to leave the state or be killed.

    1904 – The first underground New York City Subway line opens, later designated as the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line.

    1954 – Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. becomes the first African-American general in the United States Air Force.

    1958 – Iskander Mirza, the first President of Pakistan, is deposed by General Ayub Khan, who had been appointed the enforcer of martial law by Mirza 20 days earlier.

    1961 – NASA tests the first Saturn I rocket in Mission Saturn-Apollo 1.

    1962 – Major Rudolf Anderson of the United States Air Force becomes the only direct human casualty of the Cuban Missile Crisis when his U-2 reconnaissance airplane is shot down over Cuba by a Soviet-supplied surface-to-air missile.

    1962 – By refusing to agree to the firing of a nuclear torpedo at a US warship, Vasily Arkhipov averts nuclear war.

    1992 – United States Navy radioman Allen R. Schindler, Jr. is murdered by shipmate Terry M. Helvey for being gay, precipitating debate about gays in the military that results in the United States’ “Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy.

    1994 – Gliese 229B is the first Substellar Mass Object to be unquestionably identified.

    1997 – The 1997 Asian financial crisis causes a crash in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

    1999 – Gunmen open fire in the Armenian Parliament, killing the Prime Minister and seven others.

    2014 – Britain withdraws from Afghanistan at the end of Operation Herrick, after 12 years four months and seven days.

    2017 – Catalonia declares independence from Spain.

    2018 – A gunman opens fire on a Pittsburgh synagogue killing 11 and injuring six, including four police officers.

    2019 – Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi kills himself and three children by detonating a suicide vest during the U.S. military Barisha raid in northwestern Syria.

    1561 – Mary Sidney, English writer, patroness and translator (d. 1621).

    1744 – Mary Moser, English painter and academic (d. 1819).

    1765 – Nancy Storace, English soprano (d. 1817)

    1782 – Niccolò Paganini, Italian violinist and composer (d. 1840).

    1811 – Isaac Singer, American actor and businessman, founded the Singer Corporation (d. 1875).

    1858 – Theodore Roosevelt, American colonel and politician, 26th President of the United States, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1919).

    1885 – Sigrid Hjertén, Swedish painter (d. 1948).

    1910 – Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau, American chemical engineer (d. 2000).

    1913 – Joe Medicine Crow, American anthropologist, historian, and author (d. 2016).

    1914 – Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet and playwright (d. 1953).

    1917 – Oliver Tambo, South African lawyer and politician (d. 1993).

    1923 – Roy Lichtenstein, American painter and sculptor (d. 1997).

    1932 – Sylvia Plath, American poet, novelist, and short story writer (d. 1963).

    1939 – John Cleese, English actor, comedian, screenwriter and producer.

    1946 – Ivan Reitman, Slovak-Canadian actor, director, and producer (d. 2022).

    1951 – K. K. Downing, English guitarist and songwriter.

    1952 – Francis Fukuyama, American political scientist, economist, and author.

    1958 – Simon Le Bon, English singer-songwriter.

    1972 – Evan Coyne Maloney, American director, producer, and screenwriter. [Included as a (kind of) namesake of our host.]

    1978 – Vanessa-Mae, Singaporean-English violinist and skier.

    I think we never become really and genuinely our entire and honest selves until we are dead–and not then until we have been dead years and years. People ought to start dead, and they would be honest so much earlier:
    939 – Æthelstan, English king.

    1331 – Abulfeda, Arab historian and geographer (b. 1273).

    1441 – Margery Jourdemayne, executed for treasonable witchcraft.

    1666 – Robert Hubert, French watchmaker (b. 1640).

    1930 – Ellen Hayes, American mathematician and astronomer (b. 1851).

    1944 – Judith Auer, German World War II resistance fighter (b. 1905).

    1988 – Charles Hawtrey, English actor, singer, and pianist (b. 1914).

    1997 – Mahala Andrews, British vertebrae palaeontologist (b. 1939).

    2002 – Tom Dowd, American record producer and engineer (b. 1925). [Credited with innovating the multitrack recording method. Dowd worked on a veritable “who’s who” of recordings that encompassed blues, jazz, pop, rock, and soul records.

    2013 – Lou Reed, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor (b. 1942).

    2015 – Philip French, English journalist, critic, and producer (b. 1933).

    2018 – Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, chairman of Leicester City F.C (b. 1958). [Killed in a helicopter crash along with four others after a Premier League match against West Ham United at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England.]

    1. 1838 – Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issues the Extermination Order, which orders all Mormons to leave the state or be killed.

      I wonder how that played with the Constitutional lawyers of the time. First amendment violation, isn’t it. Or did Missouri not abide by such centralised control by the Thought Police of their day?
      Why does it remind me of the St Brice’s Day Massacre? Obviously a popular solution to a recurring class of problems.

  3. The other thing that I initially underestimated [writes NYT columnist Charles Blow] is the level of criticism of the Biden administration for its response to this conflict and what effect that might have in 2024.

    You keep doing what you’re doing, Mr. Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. Sometimes, especially as to the big issues, it’s more important to be right than it is to be popular. And in times like these, American voters need to be led. That’s what statesmen and effectual world leaders do. Plus, to the extent Democratic voters may be abandoning Biden over the Israel-Hamas conflict (and I remain unconvinced that they are), Biden should hold the line. Voters will eventually come around to seeing what the right thing is, and the election will take care of itself. To hell with pandering to shifting notions of what’s politically popular.

  4. Just one longish post today please: I had a similar progression of disappointment in Scientific American as the wife whose lament is featured above. But my history predates hers by about two generations. Her introduction to the magazine was in the 90’s; mine was in the mid-50’s as my father, an aeronautical engineer, subscribed…an expensive decision with a household budget at that time. I read articles that were written by leading research scientists themselves and, in fourth and fifth grade, learned things about physics and chemistry that would not be a part of every student’s curriculum until senior years in high school. I marveled at the science and engineering developments discussed in articles in the 50 and 100 years ago feature. After graduating college and losing access to the physics dept library, I subscribed to SciAm myself. When I started teaching physics in high school in 1971, the first purchase I made with my library budget was a subscription to Scientific American for our high school library for my students. But, as I have lamented on this site in the past, at some point, maybe in the 90’s, I noticed that there were fewer articles by research scientists who wrote well and more by general science writers with limited knowledge of the actual science they were trying to represent. I also noticed a move toward some articles as promotions of a theory rather than presentations of hard results. So at some point when I found fewer and fewer articles that were rewarding to read, I dropped my subscription and would maybe buy an issue or two a year from the newsstand if there were an article of interest. This was likely around 2005ish. I did have a (highly edited) letter to the editor published in 2016, in which I complained about the focus of an article on the educationalist viewpoint of teaching about computers in K12 as opposed to getting on with teaching programming itself along with some basic numerical methods…the SciAm article written by an education major rather than an actual scientific computer user.

    Finally things went totally off the deep end with the current social engineering editorial staff…as Jerry has called out several times in the past few years. Maybe this is the audience that is becoming Gen Z as Bari Weiss posits. Well, I grow old, I grow old. My expiration date hopefully approaching soon.

    1. Our subscription to SA has also been allowed to elapse. Briefly replaced by American Scientist, and now that is gone too. I won’t subscribe to periodicals that stray into hectoring wokeness. New Scientist went that way a long time ago, and even The Atlantic went wobbly. Someone here recommended Quanta Magazine ( and I must say, it hits the spot nicely!

      1. I bought American Scientist from the newsstand regularly, but mostly or almost totally for Henry Petrosky’s regular engineering column. Henry was a good friend in supporting development of a proper engineering curriculum for k12 in Virginia for a number of years and I always enjoyed his insights. With his death last summer, I doubt that I will get Am Scientist again. I stopped patronizing New Scientist after the issue that gave the very misleading evolution cover that Jerry and a number of his subject matter experts responded to with a letter.

    2. “I also noticed a move toward some articles as promotions of a theory rather than presentations of hard results.”

      A keen insight.

      … you know I saw a post on eXtwitter that said Feynman in High School got a book Calculus for the practical man (?) but the interesting thing he did was keep a meticulous, ongoing notebook – with a table of contents – to record his sort of trek through unexplored (to him) territory… a sort of raw nothing-to-lose, what-is-this-strange-thing intuition, as contrasted with (?) rule following to garner approval points and credit, I guess – he developed his own notation that his freshman professors had to tell him to stop using.

      I’d like to find that book he started with.

      Hmmm… and empty notebooks – there’s something in that, so to speak, of pedagogical utility – fill ’em up with your own ideas, kind of thing…


        1. That’s why I noted that I heard it on eXtwitter – I’m interested in a substantiation of this – though I recall his unique notation story from, perhaps, one of his autobiographies.

          History in Physics is the account, or something like that.

      1. Could he have meant the book “Calculus Refresher for Technical Men” by A. A. Klaf? It was republished by Dover Publications as “Calculus Refresher”.

        1. Thank you – I’ll check it out!…

          This looks like the fabled title – I see it in the usual places (though, not the public library, so far) – and in particular, a question and answer pedagogy. Very Feynman-esque.


  5. People go to Noodles & Company to save a buck, not to have one interrupt their meal. But that’s what happened in Beloit, Wisconsin, on Tuesday when a deer came crashing through the restaurant’s window.

    When I first arrived in Key West in the mid-70s, I got a job tending bar at one of the rare fancier restaurants in town. The restaurant was in an old converted private home out by the airport (long since torn down to make way for the expansion of a nearby hotel), and a family of racoons had taken up residence in the attic.

    One night a buddy of mine working there as a waiter was serving a 10-top seated at the big, round table in the middle of the dining room when a raccoon fell through the ceiling onto the middle of his table he was serving. My buddy had the presence of mind to look around at the diners and ask, “I’m sorry, who ordered the racoon?”

  6. Those Stanford students want to go to Israel? Let’s send them with the warning that if they wind up as hostages, they are on their own.

    People are surprised that Hamas is keeping resources away from their people? Reminder that their leaders have hundreds of millions of dollars, and live in Qatar.

  7. The potato was originally the SWEET potato – pomoea batatas – 7 related to the bane of gardeners, bindweed, whereas what we call the potato was encountered by Europeans later, in Peru of course…

  8. “The gunman, using a legally purchased assault rifle….”
    In the Portland Press Herald yesterday, it was noted that “According to the State Bureau of Investigation, Card is categorized as Federal Firearms Disqualified Status”, which means that he is prohibited from purchasing or possessing any firearm.

    They have not released details of where and when he acquired the guns, or at what stage the process of making sure that people like him are kept away from guns failed.

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