Tuesday: Hili dialogue

October 31, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Tuesday, October 31, 2023; it’s Halloween! It’s also National Caramel Apple Day, a great holiday treat that will destroy your dental work. And of course there are pumpkins afoot; here’s one from The Dodo Pet:

Today’s Google Doodle (click on the link) goes to an 11-frame animated Halloween poem with music:

It’s also National Magic Day, Carve a Pumpkin Day, National Increase Your Psychic Powers Day (remember, any multiple of zero is still zero), Girl Scouts Founders Day, the first day of the Day of the Dead, in Mexico, World Savings Day, and, of course the observances related to Halloween, which include these:

Allantide (Cornwall)
Halloween (Ireland, Canada, United Kingdom, United States and other places)
Hop-tu-Naa (Isle of Man)
Samhain in the Northern Hemisphere, Beltane in the Southern Hemisphere; begins on sunset of October 31 (GaelsWelsh people and Neopagan Wheel of the Year)

I happened to be in Mexico city for the inaugural Mexican Atheist Society meeting in early November of 2012, which coincided with the Day of the Dead. The Zocalo, or central plaza, was filled with weird floats; here’s a photo:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the October 31 Wikipedia page.

Two Halloween cartoons sent by readers; this first one from Pliny the In Between’s Far Corner Cafe:

And this one, a Mike Lukovich cartoon, sent in by Linda Calhoun:

Finally, we’ll have a Cat Halloween Contest. Send me a photo of your cat IN HALLOWEEN COSTUME with a few words about it (and its name), and I’ll post the first two here:



Da Nooz:

*War news from the NYT this morning.  The invasion is clearly underway, though the IDF doesn’t use the “i-word”:

When Israeli ground forces advanced en masse into the Gaza Strip on Friday evening, just after the Jewish Sabbath began, they did it so secretly that it was hours before the outside world understood what had happened.

In the three days since the long-anticipated invasion began, Israel’s military has operated with a similar ambiguity, defying expectations by carrying out a more incremental ground operation than was initially anticipated. While it has continued to decimate Gaza and its people with aerial bombardments, much of the ground force appears to have hung back from Gaza City, Hamas’s stronghold in northern Gaza, and stayed instead in the countryside on the city’s fringes.

Under U.S. pressure to temper their response to the Hamas killing of more than 1,400 people on Israeli soil, Israel has even avoided describing the operation as an invasion. The loss of life, though, in Gaza continues to rise, with the Palestinian death toll so far over 8,000, according to Hamas officials.

“Everything is happening in darkness,” said Andreas Krieg, a war expert at King’s College, London, adding that “there’s a very small group of people who actually know what’s going on, even inside Israel.”

The goal of such strategic ambiguity is threefold, analysts say.

First, it keeps Hamas uncertain about Israel’s next steps. And, at least for now, it allows Israeli soldiers to maintain a siege of Gaza City, where Hamas has dug a network of underground tunnels and fortifications. By doing so, Israel avoids — or at least puts off — bloody urban combat inside the city.

The fog may also buy Israel some time.

Not only may it help put off scrutiny from both internal and external critics, it gives Israel a chance to assess the plans of Hamas allies like Hezbollah, a militia in Lebanon that has exchanged fire with Israel in recent days. Israeli officials fear the militia may be weighing a more forceful attack of its own.

. . .On Friday morning, medical teams were told to hold an hourslong rehearsal to prepare for how they might deal with the release of scores of hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7, according to a senior medical official. For some, that fostered the impression that Israel was on the verge of a major breakthrough in back-channel negotiations to free the hostages, rather than making last-minute arrangements for an invasion.

Once the operation began, army spokesmen stopped answering their phones. The information blackout was complete.

I have a lot of anxiety connected with this war, lots of it connected with whether Israel can a). really depose Hamas, b). really free the hostages, and c). not kill a lot of civilians, though that of course, is what Hamas wants and has planned. Still, they’re civilians.

*Tom Friedman’s new NYT op-ed, “Please Israel, don’t get lost in Hamas’s tunnels,” urges caution for Israel, as usual, but he does have a point in noting that Israel doesn’t seem to have a viable plan that will destroy Hamas, rescue hostages, and not leave all of Gaza in ruins.

As I said, Israel is not India, and there is no way that it could be expected to turn the other cheek — not in that neighborhood. But what is Netanyahu’s plan? The Israeli officials I speak with tell me they know two things for sure: Hamas will never again govern Gaza, and Israel will not govern a post-Hamas Gaza. They suggest that they will set up an arrangement similarly seen in parts of the West Bank today, with Palestinians in Gaza administering day-to-day life and Israeli military and Shin Bet security teams providing the muscle behind the scenes.

This is a half-baked plan. Who are these Palestinians who will be enlisted to govern Gaza on Israel’s behalf? What happens the morning after a Palestinian working for Israel in Gaza is found murdered in an alley with a note pinned to his chest: “Traitor,’’ signed “the Hamas underground.”

Moreover, who is going to pay for Israel’s control of, health care for and education of Gaza’s 2.2 million people? Please raise your hand if you think the European Union, the Gulf Arab states or the substantial progressive caucus in the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives will fund an indefinite Israeli oversight of Gaza — while Netanyahu and his band of Jewish supremacists are pledged to annex the West Bank without equal rights for the Palestinians there. The cost of occupying Gaza could overstretch the Israeli military and economy for years to come.

On top of it all, how is Israel going to manage such a complex operation when there is — for good reason — scant trust in Netanyahu? Just on Saturday he pointed to the heads of Israeli military intelligence and Shin Bet as responsible for missing the Hamas surprise attack while excusing himself of any blame. A day later, an outraged Israeli public forced the prime minister to retract his wartime recriminations against his colleagues. But the damage was done.

So here’s Friedman’s first plan soon after the war started.

. . . I immediately advocated a much more targeted, fully thought-through response by Israel. It should have called this Operation Save Our Hostages and focused on capturing and killing the kidnappers of children and grandparents. Every parent could understand that.

But that won’t stop Hamas from running the West Bank, and terrorism will continue.  So Friedman has elaborated his plan:

. . . Israel should keep the door open for a humanitarian cease-fire and prisoner exchange that will also allow Israel to pause and reflect on exactly where it is going with its rushed Gaza military operation — and the price it could pay over the long haul.

A prisoner exchange will be this: all 230 hostages will be offered in return for every terrorist—4500 of them—in Israeli prisons. Is that a fair exchange?

A pause could also allow the people of Gaza to take stock of what Hamas’s attack on Israel — and Israel’s totally predictable response — has done to their lives, families, homes and businesses.

. . . I want to see Hamas’s leaders come out from their tunnels under hospitals and look their people, and the world’s media, in the eye and tell everyone why they thought it was such a great idea to mutilate and kidnap Israeli children and grandmothers and trigger this terrible blowback on the children and grandmothers of their Gaza neighbors — not to mention their own.

I don’t think a pause will do this. The Gazans already know, by and large, how Hamas has cheated and impoverished them, but are afraid to speak up. Again, how do we get rid of Hamas? As for the last paragraph, it’s Aristophenes’ cloud cuckoo land.

*From the Washington Post, we hear about a new appeal—nay, DEMAND—for release in a video made by Hamas featuring three women hostages. It’s a rebuke to Netanyahu for being responsible for their capture and also not getting them freed yet. It’s not clear whether this video was made voluntarily or is pure Hamas propaganda created at the point of a gun, nor have I been able to find the video online. Here’s the first inkling I got of it:

Hamas, the militant group that controls the besieged enclave, also released a chilling video of three of its hostages delivering a harsh statement addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with one woman almost screaming at the Israeli leader, “Free, free us now. Free their civilians, free their prisoners, free us, free us all, let us return to our families now. Now! Now! Now!”

The NYT says “Most Israeli news outlets have chosen not to air the video.” As I said, I’ve not found the video online; perhaps readers can help. Here’s a BBC news clip featuring a man who has seen and transcribed some of the video, describing its contents.

Here’s a screenshot of the video from the Times of Israel, including its caption with including the hostages’ names,

*In his latest newsletter, Tom Gross confirms the death of the first hostage taken alive but subsequently killed. Her name was Shani Louk and she was but 23. She was driven around Gaza in the back of a truck half naked (I won’t show that photo), but will put one of her alive below.  Apparently she was raped, tortured by having her limbs broken, and may have still been alive when she was driven around. But now this vivacious woman is gone:

Gross’s text:


[Note by Tom Gross]

The 22-year-old German-Israeli woman Shani Louk (pictured above earlier this year), who was paraded naked in Gaza by terrorists on the back of a truck on October 8 (which I wrote about In my dispatch that day – photo below) has this afternoon been confirmed to have died.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said she had been beheaded by Hamas.

Israel has recovered the base of her skull, which has been identified through genetic tests. Without the bone from the base of a skull a person cannot survive.

Louk had been at the peace and nature party in southern Israel when Hamas-Isis mowed down attendees with gunfire and grenades, killing some 270 people and raping and kidnapping others in their October 7 onslaught.

Her German mother Ricarda first raised alarm about her daughter after she recognized her tattoos and dyed hair in videos circulating online.

Louk’s Israeli father told Israeli Channel 13 that he was glad to receive the news because the alternative would have been worse. “I cannot bare to think what they would have been doing to her. At least we know that a minute before the murderers came she was dancing, she was happy, she with all her friends around her, and she had fun,” he said.

Louk’s body remains in Gaza making a funeral impossible at the present time.

It’s just horrific that her father was glad she was dead instead of alive and still in the hands of Hamas. But given what happened to her, his statement is not crazy.

And if her body is in Gaza, I wonder how they recovered part of her skull. Did Hamas hand it over?

Verification from CNN:

A 23-year-old German-Israeli woman who was kidnapped from the Nova music festival by Hamas militants on October 7 has been found dead, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

“We are devastated to share that the body of 23 year old German-Israeli Shani (Louk) was found and identified,” the ministry posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday.

Louk was attending the festival in southern Israelon October 7 when Hamas breached the border between Gaza and Israel.

Louk was kidnapped at the festival and “tortured and paraded around Gaza by Hamas terrorists,” the foreign ministry statement said, adding that she “experienced unfathomable horrors.”

“May her memory be a blessing,” the statement said.

That last sentence is a Jewish phrase that I find touching. Gross adds this:

I don’t have time to write more now, but you may want to watch this one-minute video. [below].  YouTube sent me a warning this morning saying they were threatening to remove it “for violating their policy guidelines.” God knows why.

This Hamas hostage is a world-famous agricultural expert who helped millions of poor Muslims

Watch the video (you’ll have to click on “watch on YouTube”) and see what policy guidelines it could possibly violate. It’s a moving plea from a guy whose mother was kidnapped by Hamas and is still held hostage. Gross adds that many of his videos like this have been taken down, and says that we should watch others on his channel before they’re taken down.

*News from Across the Pond by Jez:

Some interesting developments here in the UK:

The prime minister has sacked a ministerial aide who called for a ceasefire, which is against Conservative Party policy. The decision was made on the basis that the aide’s comments “were not consistent with the principles of collective responsibility”.

This throws down the gauntlet to the Labour Party leader, Sir Kier Starmer, who hasn’t disciplined his shadow cabinet ministers who have called for a ceasefire despite the Party’s own policy rejecting one.

That said, a senior Labour MP has just been suspended for making a speech with the “river to the sea” trope.

The home secretary, Suella Braverman, has called recent pro-Palestinian marches in London “hate marches”.

Not to leave out our third-biggest party: a Lib Dem councillor has been offered anti-semitism training after making TikTok videos that seem to question the extent of atrocities committed by Hamas in Israel.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is very alert, and for good reason:

Hili: Finally something positive.
A: What?
Hili: Małgorzata is unpacking the bags with groceries.
In Polish:
Hili: Nareszcie coś pozytywnego.
Ja: Co takiego?
Hili: Małgorzata rozpakowuje torbę z zakupami.


We have TWO cartoons about the world’s worst candy that was celebrated yesterday. This Bizarro Strip by Wayne and Piraro is from Tom:

. . .and this one’s from Divy. Note that both strips have the same theme (this is cartoon convergence): real corn rejects its faux imitator:

From some forgotten niche on Facebook:

From Su: a cartoon by Charlie Hanken:

From Masih, Armita Geravand, killed at 17 because she didn’t wear her hijab on the subway, was buried today. It’s a 1:17 video.

From Jez: I think this is a nefarious trick to get the dog to bite a DURIAN!

From Larry the cat via Simon:

From Barry: check out the hamster’s sandals!

From Malcolm, some impressive cat jumping:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a 14-year-old girl gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Matthew. Jew-hating Russians search for Jews arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv to the Russian republic of Dagestan:

They even looked for Jews hiding in the plane’s engines!

12 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    683 – During the Siege of Mecca, the Kaaba catches fire and is burned down.

    1517 – Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

    1837 – Approximately 300 Muscogee die in the steamboat Monmouth disaster on the Trail of Tears in the United States.

    1907 – The Parliament of Finland approved the Prohibition Act, but the law was not implemented because it was not ratified by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

    1913 – Dedication of the Lincoln Highway, the first automobile highway across United States.

    1917 – World War I: Battle of Beersheba: The “last successful cavalry charge in history”.

    1922 – Benito Mussolini is made Prime Minister of Italy.

    1923 – The first of 160 consecutive days of 100° Fahrenheit at Marble Bar, Western Australia.

    1940 – World War II: The Battle of Britain ends, causing Germany to abandon Operation Sea Lion.

    1941 – After 14 years of work, Mount Rushmore is completed.

    1941 – World War II: The destroyer USS Reuben James is torpedoed by a German U-boat near Iceland, killing more than 100 U.S. Navy sailors. It is the first U.S. Navy vessel sunk by enemy action in WWII.

    1943 – World War II: An F4U Corsair accomplishes the first successful radar-guided interception by a United States Navy or Marine Corps aircraft.

    1956 – Suez Crisis: The United Kingdom and France begin bombing Egypt to force the reopening of the Suez Canal.

    1961 – In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin’s body is removed from Lenin’s Mausoleum, also known as the Lenin Tomb.

    1963 – Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum gas explosion: A gas explosion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum in Indianapolis kills 81 people and injures another 400 during an ice show.

    1968 – Vietnam War October surprise: Citing progress with the Paris peace talks, US President Lyndon B. Johnson announces to the nation that he has ordered a complete cessation of “all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam” effective November 1.

    1973 – Mountjoy Prison helicopter escape. Three Provisional Irish Republican Army members escape from Mountjoy Prison, Dublin aboard a hijacked helicopter that landed in the exercise yard.

    1984 – Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two Sikh security guards. Riots break out in New Delhi and other cities and around 3,000 Sikhs are killed.

    1998 – Iraq disarmament crisis begins: Iraq announces it would no longer cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors.

    1999 – Yachtsman Jesse Martin returns to Melbourne after 11 months of circumnavigating the world, solo, non-stop and unassisted.

    2000 – Soyuz TM-31 launches, carrying the first resident crew to the International Space Station. The ISS has been crewed continuously since then.

    2002 – A federal grand jury in Houston, Texas indicts former Enron chief financial officer Andrew Fastow on 78 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to the collapse of his ex-employer.

    2011 – The global population of humans reaches seven billion. This day is now recognized by the United Nations as the Day of Seven Billion.

    2014 – During a test flight, the VSS Enterprise, a Virgin Galactic experimental spaceflight test vehicle, suffers a catastrophic in-flight breakup and crashes in the Mojave Desert, California.

    2020 – Berlin Brandenburg Airport opens its doors after nearly 10 years of delays due to construction issues and project corruption. [There’s an interesting BBC article about the troubled airport here.

    1620 – John Evelyn, English gardener and author (d. 1706).

    1632 – Johannes Vermeer, Dutch painter (d. 1675).

    1711 – Laura Bassi, Italian physician, physicist, and academic (d. 1778). [The first woman to have a doctorate in science, and the second woman in the world to earn the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Working at the University of Bologna, she was also the first salaried female teacher in a university. At one time the highest paid employee of the university, by the end of her life Bassi held two other professorships. She was also the first female member of any scientific establishment, when she was elected to the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Bologna in 1732 at 21.]

    1795 – John Keats, English poet (d. 1821).

    1809 – Edmund Sharpe, English architect, architectural historian, railway engineer, and sanitary reformer.

    1856 – Charles Leroux, American balloonist and skydiver (d. 1889).

    1860 – Juliette Gordon Low, American scout leader, founded the Girl Scouts of the United States of America (d. 1927).

    1902 – Julia Lee, American blues singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1958).

    1908 – Muriel Duckworth, Canadian activist (d. 2009).

    1915 – Jane Jarvis, American pianist and composer (d. 2010).

    1920 – Dick Francis, Welsh-Caymanian jockey and author (d. 2010).

    1920 – Helmut Newton, German-Australian photographer (d. 2004).

    1922 – Barbara Bel Geddes, American actress (d. 2005).

    1926 – Jimmy Savile, English radio and television host (d. 2011). [Evil bastard – his death was noted here last week.]

    1930 – Michael Collins, American general, pilot, and astronaut (d. 2021).

    1931 – Dan Rather, American journalist.

    1936 – Michael Landon, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1991).

    1939 – Ali Farka Touré, Malian singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2006).

    1945 – Russ Ballard, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1945 – Barrie Keeffe, English playwright, screenwriter, and producer (d. 2019).

    1950 – John Candy, Canadian actor, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1994).

    1950 – Zaha Hadid, Iraqi-English architect and academic, designed the Bridge Pavilion (d. 2016).

    1961 – Peter Jackson, New Zealand actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.

    1963 – Johnny Marr, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1988 – Lizzy Yarnold, British skeleton racer. [Appropriate for Halloween! The skeleton is actually a type of small single-person bobsled.]

    1997 – Marcus Rashford, English footballer.

    A distinguished man should be as particular about his last words as he is about his last breath. He should write them out on a slip of paper and take the judgment of his friends on them. He should never leave such a thing to the last hour of his life, and trust to an intellectual spurt at the last moment to enable him to say something smart with his latest gasp and launch into eternity with grandeur.
    1589 – Peter Stumpp, German farmer and alleged serial killer (b. 1535).

    1806 – Kitagawa Utamaro, Japanese artist and printmaker (b. ca. 1753).

    1918 – Egon Schiele, Austrian painter (b. 1890).

    1926 – Harry Houdini, American magician and stuntman (b. 1874).

    1944 – Joseph Hubert Priestley, British botanist (b. 1883).

    1962 – Gabrielle Renaudot Flammarion, French astronomer (b. 1877).

    1963 – Mesut Cemil, Turkish cellist and composer (b. 1902).

    1983 – Lu Jiaxi, Chinese self-taught mathematician (b. 1935). [Made important contributions in combinatorial design theory. He was a high school physics teacher in a remote city and worked in his spare time on the problem of large sets of disjoint Steiner triple systems.]

    1986 – Robert S. Mulliken, American physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1896).

    1993 – Federico Fellini, Italian director and screenwriter (b. 1920).

    1993 – River Phoenix, American actor and singer (b. 1970).

    2000 – Kazuki Watanabe, Japanese songwriter and guitarist (b. 1981).

    2006 – P. W. Botha, South African soldier and politician, State President of South Africa (b. 1916). [Presided over some of the most brutal years of South Africa’s apartheid regime. Botha refused to testify at the new government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), set up to expose apartheid-era crimes and chaired by his cultural and political nemesis, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.]

    2008 – Studs Terkel, American historian and author (b. 1912).

    2013 – Bobby Parker, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1937).

    2020 – Sean Connery, Scottish actor (b. 1930).

    1. Thank you for information on Prof Bassi of the Bologna. A counter example from the 18th century to thinking that universities were solely a man’s world. I just wonder why her name never popped up to me in more than sixty years of education and involvement in science and engineering…including K12 teacher training?

    2. 1973 – Mountjoy Prison helicopter escape. Three Provisional Irish Republican Army members escape from Mountjoy Prison, Dublin aboard a hijacked helicopter that landed in the exercise yard.

      A client of mine, former powerboat racing champion Ben Kramer, unsuccessfully tried to make a helicopter escape from the federal Miami Correctional Center in 1987. I was interviewed about that attempted escape (and about Kramer’s alleged involvement in the murder of “cigarette” boat inventor Don Aronow) in the documentary Thunder Man, which is now available to be viewed for free on YouTube here.

  2. While it has continued to decimate Gaza and its people with aerial bombardments…
    That’s an abominable misuse of the word “decimate” by the NYT!

  3. From the NYT article . . .

    “The loss of life, though, in Gaza continues to rise, with the Palestinian death toll so far over 8,000, according to Hamas officials.

    Pathetic, in so many ways.

  4. Israel undoubtedly has a plan for Gaza after this war. Israel has announced it will stop suppling free water and electricity and cut off workers from leaving Gaza to work in Israel. If other countries want to supply supplies to Gaza they must be screened by Israel. I also trust they will build a real fence and be on guard for any intrusions into Israel and respond with force should any more rockets be fired.

  5. My heart breaks for Shani Louk and her family. Torture and death are what one celebrates when one celebrates Hamas.

  6. “Tweets from Matthew. Jew-hating Russians search for Jews arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv to the Russian republic of Dagestan:”

    It is worth nothing that “Russian” is only a citizenship term here. There are zero ethnic Russians in that mob. These are local North Caucasian Muslims similar to the neighboring Chechens. (Probably of various ethnicity, because Dagestan is rather complicated ethically. The common part (and also the main reason why this happened) is Islam.)

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