Saturday: Hili dialogue

May 28, 2022 • 6:30 am

Shouldn’t you be out having fun on the Memorial Day weekend instead of reading this? Well, if you are reading, it’s Cat Sabbath: May 28, 2022: National Brisket Day. And of course the only way to cook brisket is Texas BBQ style: smoked with minimal trimmings. Here’s a brisket lunch (with sausage) from Louis Mueller’s BBQ in Taylor, Texas: the best brisket I had during my BBQ tour last year. Want some?

A good brisket has some fat on it. as well as the diagnostic “red ring” around the edge from the smoking:

It’s also Menstrual Hygiene Day.

Stuff that happened on May 28 includes:

  • 585 BC – A solar eclipse occurs, as predicted by the Greek philosopher and scientist Thales, while Alyattes is battling Cyaxares in the Battle of the Eclipse, leading to a truce. This is one of the cardinal dates from which other dates can be calculated.
  • 1588 – The Spanish Armada, with 130 ships and 30,000 men, sets sail from Lisbon, Portugal, heading for the English Channel. (It will take until May 30 for all ships to leave port.)
  • 1892 – In San FranciscoJohn M**r organizes the Sierra Club.

John M**r, 1875:

The beginning of the famous paper:

  • 1937 – Volkswagen, the German automobile manufacturer, is founded.

The car was indeed built on Hitler’s orders, as Wikipedia notes:

In April 1934, Hitler gave the order to Porsche to develop a Volkswagen.[note 1] The epithet Volks-, literally “people’s-“, had been applied to other Nazi-sponsored consumer goods as well, such as the Volksempfänger (“people’s radio”).

In May 1934, at a meeting at Berlin’s Kaiserhof Hotel, Hitler insisted on a basic vehicle that could transport two adults and three children at 100 km/h (62 mph) while not using more than 7 litres of fuel per 100 km (32 mpg US/39 mpg UK).[16] The engine had to be powerful enough for sustained cruising on Germany’s Autobahnen. Everything had to be designed to ensure parts could be quickly and inexpensively exchanged. The engine had to be air-cooled because, as Hitler explained, not every country doctor had his own garage. (Ethylene glycol antifreeze was only just beginning to be used in high-performance liquid-cooled aircraft engines. In general, water in radiators would freeze unless the vehicle was kept in a heated building overnight or drained and refilled each morning.)

Here’s one of the prewar Porsche prototypes: Model of the 1932 Porsche Type 12 (Nuremberg Museum of Industrial Culture)

The “People’s Car” would be available to citizens of Germany through a savings scheme, or Sparkarte (savings booklet),[30] at 990 Reichsmark, about the price of a small motorcycle. (The average weekly income was then around 32RM.)[31]

  • 1999 – In Milan, Italy, after 22 years of restoration work, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper is put back on display.
  • 2016 – Harambe, a gorilla, is shot to death after grabbing a three-year-old boy in his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, resulting in widespread criticism and sparking various internet memes.

This caused enormous controversy (Jane Goodall defended the shooting, Ricky Gervais opposed it), and I’m in no position to judge this one. I just wonder if they could have used a tranquilizer dart, but that could have caused the gorilla to become agitated or would have taken too long to take effect. Here’s a news report:

Da Nooz:

*The cops in Texas ‘fessed up that they moved too slowly when the school shooting began in Uvalde, Texas. Apparently, despite kids inside the classes calling 911, the cops didn’t think that any kids were at risk. How can that be?

In an emotional and at times tense news conference, Steven C. McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, gave the most detailed accounting of the shooting yet, diverging in substantial points from the original timeline given by officials.

Most of the time the gunman was at the school, Mr. McCraw explained, he was inside the classrooms where nearly all of the killing took place, while as many as 19 police officers waited outside in the school hallway. Multiple people in the classrooms, including at least two students, called 911 over that horrifying stretch, begging for police. But apparently believing that the suspect had barricaded himself in the classroom and that “there were no kids at risk,” the police did not enter the classroom until 12:50 p.m., 78 minutes after the shooter walked inside.

“From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision,” Mr. McCraw said. “It was the wrong decision. Period.”

An admission of “wrong decision” like this spells b-i-g  t-i-m-e  l-a-w-s-u-i-t in the U.S. But no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a person’s life.

*John McWhorter is both a linguist and a parent outraged by the uncontrollable gun violence in the U.S. His latest column, one of his best, is both an attack on those who interpret the Second Amendment as free license for anyone to carry a gun, and to the inaction of politicians, especially Republicans, who seemingly don’t give a rat’s patootie about slaughtered schoolchildren. He compares the Dixiecrats of yore with opponents of gun control. His column is called “Gun violence is what segregation was. An unaddressed moral stain.” Excerpts:

Part of what turned the tide in the fight for civil rights was a combination of technology and shame. Television offered visual evidence of the barbarity of segregationist racism with a vividness hitherto unknown to many Americans.

But that won’t work this time. The instantly accessible moving image long ago lost its novelty, and most Republicans in Congress give no indication so far of being moved by the images from Uvalde or by the facts. As long as they maintain this posture, they have no more shame than the Dixiecrats of yore — and our system has come to a point where those of us who do have shame, and want to vote for people who will do something about it, are thwarted.

. . .We are facing the reign of a pitiless, self-centered cynicism thriving in the face of innocents being mowed down with regularity. In a sense, the Dixiecrats weren’t much different: Then and now, in the cases of segregation and out-of-control gun violence, the clear moral path is being blocked by a phalanx of elected leaders for small-minded and chillingly unfeeling aims. The circumstances of the mid-20th century made it so that morality could finally work its way around people like this. I’m less optimistic that anything of the sort will happen now.

The closest to optimism I can muster is that a robust Democratic majority in the House and Senate could get that needle at least moving. But given the prospects of that happening any time soon, I’m inclined to suppose that the mass shootings we now must accept as regular American life are a demonstration that we have failed. Nothing like this was meant to happen under the construct the founders created. If a critical mass of elected officials are, in effect, OK with mass shooting deaths being a new normal in our country, then any reckoning would have to address the sad fact that after close to 250 years, America is simply broken.

For an old but still relevant argument about what the Founders meant by the Second Amendment, do read Garry Wills’s  1995 article in the New York Review of Books, “To Keep and Bear Arms.” Of course, there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell of the new Supreme Court construing the Second Amendment as being relevant to what it says: the creation of a militia. 

*You want a good example of chutzpah?  Here’s one:

Asra Jabas suffered significant injuries to her face when she launched a terror attack on Israelis in 2015, blowing up a gas balloon in her car as she approached officers near the Israeli town of Maale Adumim.

The then 31-year-old terrorist yelled “Allahu Akbar” toward the officers before causing the explosion. At the time of the attack, Jabas was carrying handwritten notes in support of so-called Palestinian “martyrs.” A police officer named Moshe Hen suffered burns during the attack.

Jabas was indicted on attempted murder charges, leading to an 11-year sentence.

Seven years later, it appears that Jabas believes Israel should pay for cosmetic surgery she says she needs due to injuries sustained in the attack she launched. While two similar requests have been rejected, Israel Prison Services has made sure she received multiple essential medical treatments at the state’s expense.

That reminds me of the old joke about how a guy killed his parents and then pleaded for mercy because he was an orphan.

*I’m sorry: I’ve tried, but I just can’t find Amanda Gorman (the “Inaugural Poet” for Biden) a good poet, much less a decent one. Yes, I know she’s young, but Eliot was two years younger when he wrote Prufrock. Her latest poem , published as a NYT op-ed, is predictably trite, full of off-the-shelf reactions, but I see she’s also discovered, to my chagrin, alliteration.

*The Republicans are adamantly refusing to even consider mild restrictions on guns. At the NRA meeting going on in Houston, the GOP evinces their usual response:

The Republican lawmakers who elected to keep their speaking plans at the annual gathering sounded a different note: Defiance.

Former president Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), among other speakers, broadly rejected proposals for new restrictions and called instead for more school security or mental health screenings, while issuing dark warnings of alleged Democratic plots to take weapons.

“We all know they want total gun confiscation, know that this would be a first step,” Trump told the crowd in an auditorium about 300 miles from the site of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Tex. “Once they get the first step, they’ll take the second step, the third, the fourth, and then you’ll have a whole different look at the Second Amendment.”

In fact, we need a whole different look at the Second Amendment! It was put in place to facilitate the formation of militias, not to give every American the right to pack heat. What happened to the “originalists”?

*And on the light side, Jez calls our attention to this BBC article:

A woman wearing nothing but a coat was stopped by police as she travelled to give her boyfriend a “special surprise”.

North Wales Police officers admitted it was one of their “more bizarre jobs” after stopping the driver on the A55.

Things got worse for the driver, who was arrested when she failed a roadside test for cannabis.

Checks then revealed the motorist was disqualified and uninsured, and the car did not have an MOT. [JAC: What’s an MOT?]

In a post on Facebook, North Wales Police said: “We provided her with our very own lovely grey-coloured custody tracksuit so that she could stay warm.

“Not exactly the outfit she had planned.

. . . .”Moral of the story – only drive if you have a valid licence, are insured and make sure that your car has an MOT.

“And make sure you’re dressed appropriately.”

But she was completely covered in a coat. Why is that not appropriate driving attire?


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, HIli is bothered by a buzz:

Hili: Could you do a good deed?
A: What deed?
Hili: Catch this bumblebee and let it fly free, it’s irritating me.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy możesz zrobić dobry uczynek?
Ja: Jaki?
Hili: Złap tego trzmiela i wypuść go na wolność, bo mnie denerwuje.
And a photo of cute little Kulka:

From Jesus of the Day:

From The Language Nerds:


From Bruce:

From the creator of Titania:

See above. . . .

“Paws where I can see ’em!”

From Barry. Is this interspecific love or parasitism?

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Professor Cobb.  America’s twisted version of St. Ignatius Loyola’s aprocryphal remark:

Sick but true, though she’s talking only about the state of Texas. Read the thread, too. . .

There’s a longer version (audio only) of this conversation, and I’m trying to see if I can work up any interest in hearing it!

Close but no cigar. . . .

Friday: Hili dialogue

May 27, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the beginning of a long weekend: the Memorial Day Holiday. (Everybody is going home early today.) It’s May 27, 2022, and National Grape Popsicle Day (I prefer cherry or orange). It’s also Cellophane Tape Day, a product patented on this day in 1930.  Here’s part of the application, though it doesn’t say much:


Stuff that happened on May 27 includes:

  • 1199 – John is crowned King of England.
  • 1703 – Tsar Peter the Great founds the city of Saint Petersburg.

Here’s Peter’s summer palace outside the city, which I visited in July, 2011:

Here’s the cartoon, with the famous song starting at 4:25:

Here’s Opening Day: toll for pedestrians was 25¢. Second most beautiful bridge in the world:

You could make a good case that Heydrich, who was a high-ranking official in the SS, one of the architects of the “Final Solution”, and creator of the deadly Einsatzgruppen, was just as evil as Hitler. I don’t mourn his assassination, as there was no alternative for stopping the man. But the Nazis exercised exteme reprisals, including wiping out the Czech towns of Lidice and Ležáky and killing nearly all the inhabitants of both. Here’s the malefactor in 1940, and oy, does he look nasty!

  • 2016 – Barack Obama is the first president of United States to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and meet Hibakusha.


*Turkey, a member of NATO, has threatened to deep-six the new applications of Finland and Sweden. But the way Erdogan has been acting, I think Turkey should simply be kicked out. Look what they did:

In April, as the world was occupied with Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a NATO member launched an attack on two of its neighboring territories. In a bombing campaign, Turkey targeted the camps of Kurdish militants in Iraq and Syria, inflicting damage on shelters, ammunition depots and bases.

The irony went largely unnoticed. That’s hardly a surprise: For a long time, the Western world has turned a blind eye to Turkey’s heavy-handed treatment of the Kurds. Across decades, the Turkish state has persecuted the Kurdish minority — about 18 percent of the population — with devastating zeal. Thousands have perished and around a million have been displaced in a campaign of severe internal repression. But Western nations, except for a brief spell when Kurdish resistance was holding back an ascendant Islamic State, have rarely seemed to care.

. . . For the [NATO] alliance itself, the impasse brings to light facts currently obscured by its makeover as a purely defensive organization. NATO, which has long acquiesced in the persecution of the Kurds, is far from a force for peace. And Turkey, a member since 1952, proves it.

*The complaints are mounting about the lax response of the police to the Uvalde, Texas school shooting. Accusations, some of which are summarized by the Wall Street Journal, include the fact that the shooter (the late Slvador Ramos) stood outside the school firing for 12 minutes before walking into the unlocked school, locking himself into a classroom, and creating immense carnage. [I just heard on the NBC evening news that four classrooms were involved, not just one as previously reported. Other claims by law enforcement have also changed rapidly.]

[Victor. Escalon of the Texas Department of Public Safety] said he couldn’t say why no one stopped Ramos from entering the school during that time Tuesday. Most of the shots Ramos fired came during the first several minutes after he entered the school, Mr. Escalon said.

People who arrived at the school while Ramos locked himself in a classroom, or saw videos of police waiting outside, were furious.

“The police were doing nothing,” said Angeli Rose Gomez, who after learning about the shooting drove 40 miles to Robb Elementary, where her children are in second and third grade. “They were just standing outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.”

DPS officials previously said an armed school officer confronted Ramos as he arrived at the school. Mr. Escalon said Thursday that information was incorrect and no one encountered Ramos as he arrived at the school. “There was not an officer readily available and armed,” Mr. Escalon said.

It also took a Border Patrol team an hour to get into the classroom after the gunman locked the door, while cops beat back parents urging them to do something (reports are that the cops had to get the keys to the classroom from a school official)

Videos circulated on social media Wednesday and Thursday of frantic family members trying to get access to Robb Elementary as the attack was unfolding, some of them yelling at police who blocked them from entering.

“Shoot him or something!” a woman’s voice can be heard yelling on a video, before a man is heard saying about the officers, “They’re all just [expletive] parked outside, dude. They need to go in there.”

Parents can be heard yelling to each other that their kids were inside the school and that they needed to get in. A woman can be heard yelling at a police officer, “He’s one person! Take him out!”

You can see one of these heartbreaking videos at below (from CNN), and only time will tell if “first responders” failed to do their job in a timely way.

*Here’s an interaction between a Sky News reporter and Ted Cruz, with the reporter asking Cruz why mass shootings are so prevalent in America. Cruz waffles, implying that the reporter is generally criticizing “American exceptionalism” (the reporter meant only in the frequency of shootings).

*The actor Kevin Spacey has been charged with several counts of sexual assault in Britain. He was also charged multiple times in the U.S. with sexual assault on young men (Spacey is gay), but he was not tried on any of the charges, though his career is on the skids. Now the charges come from another country, though again he seems to be at little risk:

British prosecutors authorized charges against actor Kevin Spacey on Thursday, with several counts of sexual assault stemming from incidents alleged to have taken place in London and Gloucestershire between March 2005 and April 2013.

Rosemary Ainslie, head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s Special Crime Division, stated in a news release that the CPS authorized criminal charges for four counts of sexual assault against three men, as well as another count of “causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.” The charges facing Spacey, 62, follow an investigation conducted by the Metropolitan Police. Spacey can be formally charged only upon arrest in England or Wales. A CPS spokesperson did not respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment on whether the actor would be extradited.

*According to Vanity Fair, actor Ray Liotta died in his sleep yesterday at only 67; he was on the set of a movie, and no cause of death has been disclosed.   A memorial from Lorraine Bracco:

Remember this scene with Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta in “Goodfellas”?

And, according to Nellie Bowles, the word “chief”, whose origins are misunderstood, goes down the tubes:

The name of the game is name games: With gun control and abortion rights debates roiling, the American left continues to fight the good fights. Like: San Francisco’s School District this week dropped the word “chief” from all job titles so as to avoid any implication that they are referring to Native American chieftains. No matter that the word comes from the French chef that comes from the Latin caput.


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is having her nap:

A: Do you have a moment?
Hili: How can I know? It depends on what you are going to offer me.
In Polish:
Ja: Czy masz chwilę czasu?
Hili: Skąd mogę wiedzieć, to zależy od tego, co mi zaproponujesz.
Szaron at the window:

From Bruce: I bet this chill cat is going to play some Barry White:

Why do people DO this?


From Not Another Science Cat Page:

A tweet from Barry. Is Cat #2’s expression one of puzzlement or jealousy?


A road sign from Jez. For what “Cats’ eyes” are in Britain, see here.

God speaks (and flogs His book):

From the Auschwitz Memorial. Photograph of the separation; nearly all these people were gassed within an hour, and brutally separated from their families. If you go to the site, you can stand on the platform, where one original “cattle car” remains.

Tweets from Matthew. Can you guess the missing factor?

The March of the Eiders:

Sound up. Everybody wants a free ride!

More than you want to know?

What is this hamster doing?

Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 24, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, May 24, 2022, and National Escargot Day. Not only is this cultural appropriation, but I cannot abide the ingestion of terrestrial molluscs. I have eaten one in my life, and that was enough. (Same with one bite of tripe.)

Things that happened on May 24 include:

  • 1607 – One hundred-five English settlers under the leadership of Captain Christopher Newport established the colony called Jamestown at the mouth of the James River on the Virginia coast, the first permanent English colony in America.
  • 1626 – Peter Minuit buys Manhattan.

It cost a more than the traditional lore claims, but it was still a terrific bargain (from Wikipedia):

A letter written by Dutch merchant Peter Schaghen to directors of the Dutch East India Company stated that Manhattan was purchased for “60 guilders worth of trade,”  an amount worth ~$1,143 U.S. dollars as of 2020.

  • 1844 – Samuel Morse sends the message “What hath God wrought” (a biblical quotation, Numbers 23:23) from a committee room in the United States Capitol to his assistant, Alfred Vail,in Baltimore, Maryland, to inaugurate a commercial telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Morse was a well known portrait painter before he started messing with the telegraph. Here’s a photo followed by a self-portrait he created in 1812, when he was 21:

To me he looks like the famous American statesman John C. Calhoun:

Still the world’s most beautiful bridge:

  • 1935 – The first night game in Major League Baseball history is played in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the Cincinnati Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2–1 at Crosley Field.
  • 1940 – Igor Sikorsky performs the first successful single-rotor helicopter flight.

This isn’t the first flight, but it’s an early one, with Sikorsky at the controls:

Here’s Trotsky’s house in Mexico City, which, as you can see, is surrounded by walls and guard towers. He knew Stalin was coming for him. Photographed by me in November, 2012:

  • 1976 – The Judgment of Paris takes place in France, launching California as a worldwide force in the production of quality wine.

LOL, this was great. A panel of almost all French judges tasted wines blind in two flights: White Burgundy vs. Chardonnay and Bordeaux vs. California Cabernet. In both categories an American wine finished first. Boy, were the French pissed off!

One French judge even demanded her ballot back! And of course there was much Gallic kvetching about the subjectivity of taste, possible day to day variation, and such. But one thing is solid: this tasting established that California could produce some world-class wines!

  • 1999 – The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands indicts Slobodan Milošević and four others for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo.


*Ukraine’s first war-crimes trial of a Russian soldier has reached a speedy conclusion: the 21-year-old Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of pleaded guilty last week of killing a 62-year-old Ukrainian man. He broached the usual defense: he was only following orders, but that’s not a valid defense for committing a war crime. The WaPo said the soldier was “found guilty of premeditated murder and violating ‘the rules and customs of war’ under Ukraine’s criminal code.”

This of course means that the Russians will retaliate, and we’ll see a bunch of Ukrainians sent to the gulags (if gulags still exist).

*Well, where the U.S. stands on Taiwan vs. China may be a little bit clearer now, for President Biden has declared that if China invades Taiwan, the U.S. will defend Taiwan.

President Biden indicated on Monday that he would use military force to defend Taiwan if it were ever attacked by China, dispensing with the “strategic ambiguity” traditionally favored by American presidents and repeating even more unequivocally statements that his staff tried to walk back in the past.

At a news conference with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan during a visit to Tokyo, Mr. Biden suggested that he would be willing to go further on behalf of Taiwan than he has in helping Ukraine, where he has provided tens of billions of dollars in arms as well as intelligence assistance to help defeat Russian invaders but refused to send American troops.

Within a few minutes, however, the State Department walked back what Biden says, arguing that we have no treaty commitment to militarily defend Taiwan and that the U.S. position has been one of “strategic ambiguity.” Is Uncle Joe losing it?

*I’m not sure why Britain still has a House of Lords, but most of the hereditary peers were eliminated in 1999, leaving about 90 now. The thing is, hereditary peers are nearly always males, because, according to some British law or custom, nearly all hereditary titles can be passed to males. This has now been thrown into a kerfuffle because a transfemale, born a biological male, is contesting an election for one of those peerages. From the Times of London:(h/t Ginger K):

The House of Lords could shortly welcome its first trans peer and only female hereditary member.

Matilda Simon was this week given permission to contest the next by-election for one of the upper chamber’s remaining 92 hereditary seats.

If she wins, she will doubtless become the envy of peers’ daughters across the country, because the vast majority of titles may only be passed to a male heir.

I frankly don’t give a rat’s patootie, as the whole hereditary peerage thing does not belong in one of Britain’s governmental chambers, and who cares what gender a peer is?

*Princeton has fired well known classics Professor Joshua Katz, but it’s a messy situation that will ultimately wind up in the courts. I’ll just give the brief WSJ summary:

Princeton University’s board of trustees voted Monday to fire longtime classics professor Joshua Katz, adopting the president’s recommendation and finding that the faculty member failed to cooperate fully in a sexual-misconduct investigation.

Dr. Katz’s allies slammed the president’s recommendation last week to fire him, characterizing it as a politically motivated effort to silence the academic after he criticized the school’s antiracism initiatives. They said Dr. Katz’s comments in a 2020 essay didn’t align with what they described as Princeton’s liberal orthodoxy and therefore weren’t tolerated.

University administrators have said there was ample reason to dismiss the professor and that politics played no role in the decision.

Dr. Katz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. His lawyer, Samantha Harris, said last week that a past relationship with a student had already been adjudicated and that the university was condemning the professor for his political beliefs.

Katz had been fully punished a while back for his relationship with the student (always a transgression), and if you’ve followed the case, it’s hard to conclude anything but that Katz was fired for opposing Princeton DEI’s initiatives. (See also Brian Leiter’s report here.) And that’s why the case will go to court.

UPDATE: I was just informed that, in the op-ed section of the WSJ, Katz has a piece called “Princeton fed me to the Cancel Culture mob.” A small excerpt:

For better or worse, I was the first on campus to articulate some of these opinions, publicly criticizing a number of “antiracist” demands, some of them clearly racist and illegal, that hundreds of my colleagues had signed on to in an open letter to the administration in early July 2020.

While I stand by my words to this day, even in the immediate aftermath of the faculty letter, few of my colleagues gave signs of standing by theirs. But as they go about their merry destructive way, I live with the tremendous backlash against me, which has never ceased. It was during a fleeting and illusory lull in late July 2020—after Princeton’s president, Christopher Eisgruber, who had initially condemned me, stated that what I had written was protected speech after all—that I rashly suggested all was well.

So what did I get wrong? There are at least five things of which I was unaware. . .

*A self-contained news report from reader Ken:

And yet, with their “Don’t Say Gay” bills, the Religious Right would have you believe that the greater risk is posed by gay teachers “grooming” school kids.

*If you’re a fan of advances in animal behavior, you’ll want to read this new Wall Street Journal article, “The Year’s Nuttiest Discovery: Stingrays Do Math.” Yep, they can add or subtract, so long as the numbers are five or smaller. (Do they have a concept of negative numbers?) I haven’t yet read the paper, but the article adds some lagniappe about other recent discoveries, including the dubious one I wrote about recently suggesting that cats recognize the names of other cats they live with. And here’s another:

Imagine their chagrin when word came in that almost simultaneously—this is the honest, unvarnished truth—a group of researchers in Australia had published a study in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution proving that honeybees could learn to distinguish between odd and even numbers. Heretofore it had been assumed that only human beings were capable of doing this. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

What’s more, because honeybees have tiny brains that are vastly outstripped by our species, the study strongly suggests that human beings may not be anywhere as smart as they think they are. Take that, cat guys!

I haven’t read that study, either, but I’d like to know how they reached that conclusion with honeybees.


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has displaced Andrzej:

A: You are sitting on my keyboard.
Hili: But I don’t have my own.
In Polish:
Ja: Siedzisz na mojej klawiaturze.
Hili: Przecież swojej nie mam.

Now this is a weird one! (h/t: Tom)

Do your thing son from FunnyAnimals


From Meanwhile in Canada:

From somewhere on Facebook:

From Divy: There are four men in this photo. Can you find the hidden one? Answer below the fold.

A LOL from reader Paul. Be sure to watch all the way through.

From Simon: Anne Applebaum’s take on Putin. Have a look at her linked article in The Atlantic.

From Thomas; I may have posted a similar tweet before, but with a different photo:

From Barry:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a very nice man!

I don’t understand this. Did everyone really contribute to the project?

Mallard ducklings. We have none so far this year, and it makes everyone at the Pond sad.

Two ways to help our friends the animals.  Help turtles cross the road!

And it takes a special kind of person to feed watermelon to a slug:

Click “read more” to see the hidden person from the picture above:

Continue reading “Tuesday: Hili dialogue”

Monday: Hili dialogue

May 23, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Monday, May 23, 2022: National Taffy Day. It’s also World Turtle Day.

Wine of the Day: This is the first bottle I’ve cracked since my bout of gastroenteritis. My tummy is okay, but until today I had lost my usual craving for wine. This was a great bottle to start with: a quality Bordeaux from St. Emilion that cost only $22.50.

I have only one bottle, but wish I’d bought more. Though drinking a good Bordeaux just 4 years after the vintage could be seen as infanticide, this wine is ripe, round, luscious, and fully ready to drink (I had it with chicken, rice, and tomatoes). It’s 100% merlot, unlike most Bordeaux that are mostly Cabernet, and this probably accounts for its fruitiness and ripeness. I loved it and should have bought a case. The experts agree; here’s Jeb Dunnuck’s review (94/100):

Emerging from the talents of Denis Durantou, the 100% Merlot 2018 Saintayme should be snatched up by readers who want a brilliant, delicious Bordeaux to enjoy over the coming decade. Terrific notes of black cherries, kirsch, flowery incense, cedarwood, and tobacco all define the bouquet, and it’s medium to full-bodied and beautifully balanced, with silky tannins and a ripe, hedonistic, yet balanced style that’s a joy to drink.

James Suckling thinks that one shouldn’t drink this until 2024, but I disagree. This puppy is ready now, and will only get more expensive. If you see it, buy a lot! Hold onto some if you want, but do essay it now.

Things that happened on May 23 include:

Joan was burned at the stake, but not for heresy or dressing in men’s clothes, for she agreed to don female dress in return for a sentence of life in prison.  A few days later, though, she was found in men’s clothing, saying that voices had told her to don male apparel again (she may well have been a schizophrenic). She was then burned as a “relapsed heretic”.

The 1928 French movie The Passion of Joan of Arc is in my view the best silent movie ever made. Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s performance as Joan is unforgettable; it was her last performance.  You can watch the whole movie for free here, but the subtitles are in French.

Here’s the car after the attack with the bodies still in the front seat (it had 112 bullet holes, about 25% of which struck the pair).

And the death scene from Arthur Penn’s excellent eponymous movie, with Faye Dunaway as Bonnie and Warren Beatty as Clyde.  (TRIGGER WARNING: triggers pulled and violence). In reality, although the “bait’  was standing the road, (a relative of a gang member whose family they were headed to visit), the law opened fire while Clyde was still driving.

There’s a good cinematic analysis of this final scene here.

  • 1945 – World War II: Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutzstaffel, commits suicide while in Allied custody.
  • 1998 – The Good Friday Agreement is accepted in a referendum in Northern Ireland with roughly 75% voting yes.

DA NOOZ: Not much is happening

*Mitt Romney has an op-ed in the NYT called “We must prepare for Putin’s worst weapons.” He notes the saber-rattling that Putin has done broaching the possibility of using either tactical or general nuclear weapons, and has heard suggestions that we shouldn’t corner Putin because he might be driven to use nukes. But Romney properly rejects that:

The right answer is to continue to give Ukraine all the support it needs to defend itself and to win. Its military successes may force Mr. Putin to exit Ukraine or to agree to a cease-fire acceptable to the Ukrainian people. Perhaps his control of Russian media would enable him to spin a loss into a face-saving narrative at home. These are the outcomes he would be smart to take. But if a cornered and delusional Mr. Putin were to instead use a nuclear weapon — whether via a tactical strike or by weaponizing one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants — we would have several options.

What are the options? Here he’s a little thin on the options, though he avers that they don’t necessarily involve our use of retalitaory nukes. Better, he thinks, to mobilize world opinion against Russia for an unimaginable transgression, and turn those countries who don’t side with us into pariahs.

I don’t think that will work with China.

*The Wall Street Journal raises a distinct possibility that I hadn’t much thought of: a looming recession could really hurt the Democrats this fall (and in 2024), since voters tend to blame economic woes on the current administration.And these aren’t distant woes, either. Have you bought gas or groceries lately?

The Federal Reserve’s efforts to slow inflation are raising the possibility of higher unemployment, a slower-growing economy and a recession, prospects that could create new headaches for the Biden administration.

As the country heads into midterm-election season, much of the political discussion has centered around solid economic growth and robust employment versus the damaging impact of inflation. More recently, warnings about the prospect of an economic downturn—which could come in 2023 according to some estimates—have complicated the economic picture in a new way.

Mr. Biden and his advisers are already grappling with inflation trending near a four-decade high, wavering consumer confidence and headwinds posed by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Republicans lay blame for surging prices on the administration, saying it stoked inflation with pandemic-related stimulus then failed to counter it as prices rose. They have lambasted Mr. Biden and Democratic lawmakers ahead of this fall’s midterm elections that will decide which party controls Congress.

*And another op-ed in the NYT, this time “My lunch with President Biden” by Thomas Friedman. My first question, of course, is “what did he eat?” That’s answered quickly. It was largely off the record but. . .

I can, though, tell you two things — what I ate and how I felt after. I ate a tuna salad sandwich with tomato on whole wheat bread, with a bowl of mixed fruit and a chocolate milkshake for dessert that was so good it should have been against the law.

Not a bad lunch—especially the chocolate shake. Friedman tries to dispel notions and Biden is losing it by touting his accomplishments, foremost of which is putting NATO back together and cobbled a solid alliance against Russia after it invaded Ukraine.

It has been the best performance of alliance management and consolidation since another president whom I covered and admired — who also was said to be incapable of putting two sentences together: George H.W. Bush. Bush helped manage the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, without firing a shot or the loss of a single American life.

But there’s a down side:

Alas, though, I left our lunch with a full stomach but a heavy heart.

Biden didn’t say it in so many words, but he didn’t have to. I could hear it between the lines: He’s worried that while he has reunited the West, he may not be able to reunite America.

It’s clearly his priority, above any Build Back Better provision. And he knows that’s why he was elected. . .

It’s true. Remember how often Biden spoke during his campaign about re-uniting America and “reaching across the aisle”? Well, some of the failure is his fault (he’s capitulated too much to the far Left), but much of it isn’t. The country is just too polarized.

*The rapid proliferation of monkeypox virus throughout the West has baffled scientists, as there’s no cause yet known. (The disease kills 10% of its victims, but smallpox vaccine confers some immunity, though most of us got our smallpox vaccines decades ago. I suspect it’s a new mutation, but we don’t know. From the Associated Press:

Scientists who have monitored numerous outbreaks of monkeypox in Africa say they are baffled by the disease’s recent spread in Europe and North America.

Cases of the smallpox-related disease have previously been seen only among people with links to central and West Africa. But in the past week, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, U.S., Sweden and Canada all reported infections, mostly in young men who hadn’t previously traveled to Africa.

There are about 80 confirmed cases worldwide and 50 more suspected ones, the World Health Organization said. France, Germany, Belgium and Australia reported their first cases Friday.

“I’m stunned by this. Every day I wake up and there are more countries infected,” said Oyewale Tomori, a virologist who formerly headed the Nigerian Academy of Science and who sits on several WHO advisory boards.

“This is not the kind of spread we’ve seen in West Africa, so there may be something new happening in the West,” he said.

It’s possible that the disease can be sexually transmitted:

On Friday, Britain’s Health Security Agency reported 11 new monkeypox cases, saying “a notable proportion” of the infections in the U.K. and Europe have been in young men with no history of travel to Africa and who were gay, bisexual or had sex with men.

*Again at the NYT, Reverend Tish Harrison Warren agonizes about we should mourn a million Americans killed by covid. One suggestion is “if life give you lemons, make lemonade.” That is, prepare better for the next epidemic:

We can continue to promote vaccines and persuade those who are skeptical of them. We can enact limited but more effective masking policies. We can install better indoor ventilation systems and ensure workers have robust sick leave. We can make sure that Evusheld and other lifesaving drugs are widely available, and we can follow suggestions to protect older people and the immunocompromised.

Well, there’s an original thought! But she adds that there’s “emotional work to be done” so we can “heal as a nation.” She suggests this:

We need an official national day of mourning and reflection in response to Covid-19. We need places of worship and civic organizations of all stripes to join in with services of memorial and lament, moments of silence, or ceremonies of remembrance. We, as a people, are tired. We are broken. We have shouldered much grief. There needs to be ritualized and intentional space to acknowledge this together.

My response: no we don’t.  I grieve for those who lost family to covid, but no, we are not tired or broken, an we will move on, just as we moved on from the nearly 700,000 Americans killed by the Spanish flu in 1918. The problem with Warren is she has no idea that some people would prefer to grieve alone instead of in some national ritual. It was a virus, not a terrorist attack.

How long are they going to let the good Reverend dispense bromides at the same time she promotes Jesus?

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is unusually needy:

A: Is there something I can do for you?
Hili: Yes, you can pet me.
In Polish:
Ja: Czy jest coś, co mogę dla ciebie zrobić?
Hili: Tak, możesz mnie pogłaskać.
Today is also Karolina’s eighth birthday, and Andrzej sent her special wishes to Kyiv with a picture of Kulka on Facebook:


Andrzej: Happy birthday to you, Karolina!
In Polish: Wszystkiego najlepszego, Karolinko!

An old one from xkcd:

From Stephen:

From Facebook (needless to say, the gay people in the first photo are not in Palestine). Alternate title: “Turkeys for Thanksgiving”.

Titania is on another Twitter break. She has nothing to say, but that’s okay.

Barry supposes this device would be great for grabbing feral cats:

From Ken, who captions this, “Where the hard Right wants to go post-Roe. Talk about enforcing your religious morality on others!

From Simon, a kid who wants to jazz up his Little League game:

From Peter, Genesis reinterpreted through a feline lens:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. This paper hasn’t yet been formally review, but it’s a meta-analysis of many experiments. And there’s no support that weakened belief in free will has long-term effects on eroding people’s morality or increasing cheating.. So much for the “little people” argument for free will! (But let’s see if it’s published.)

From the abstract:

“In a metaanalysis including 145 experiments (95 unpublished), we show that exposing individuals to antifree will manipulations decreases belief in free will and increases belief in determinism. However, we could not find evidence for downstream consequences. Our findings have important theoretical implications for research on free will beliefs and contribute to the discussion of whether reducing people’s belief in free will has social consequences.”

Matthew told me that because I’d read the Bible carefully I’d remember this verse. But I didn’t. However, it is true; see for yourself here.

The Bible should be banned from schools as a salacious work:

. . . and a very needy cat. If it says “the content is sensitive”, it’s NOT!


Sunday: Hili dialogue

May 22, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the Sabbath for goyische cats: Sunday, May 22, 2022: National Vanilla Pudding Day. I can’t think of either that or chocolate pudding without remembering Bill Cosby’s ads for them, so we’ll pass along.  It’s also Harvey Milk Day (California), International Day for Biological DiversityUnited States National Maritime Day, and World Goth Day. 

Here are some Irish goths. Does this subculture even exist any more?

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the life and victories of Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt (1878-1960),known as “The Great Gama”. The Doodle and then a photo are below, and Wikipedia says this:

[Gama] was a pehlwani wrestler in British India and a strongman. In the early 20th century, he was an undefeated wrestling champion of the world

Born in village Jabbowal, Amritsar District in the Punjab Province of British India in 1878, Baksh was awarded a version of the World Heavyweight Championship on 15 October 1910. Undefeated in a career spanning more than 52 years, he is considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. After the partition of British India, into the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan in August 1947, Gama opted for Pakistan, where he died in Lahore on May 23, 1960.

Undefeated! He did 5,000 pushups and 3,000 squats per day, often wearing 100 kilos of weights.

And here’s the Asian sport of pehlwani wrestling, in which Butt was undefeated:

Stuff that happened on May 22 include:

  • 1455 – Start of the Wars of the Roses: At the First Battle of St Albans, Richard, Duke of York, defeats and captures King Henry VI of England.
  • 1804 – The Lewis and Clark Expedition officially begins as the Corps of Discovery departs from St. Charles, Missouri.v
  • 1826 – HMS Beagle departs on its first voyage.
  • 1849 – Future U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is issued a patent for an invention to lift boats, making him the only U.S. president to ever hold a patent.

As far as I now, the “buoyancy device” was never put into use.

Here’s one diagram from the ten-page patent, which you can see in its entirety here.

  • 1964 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson launches the Great Society.
  • 2002 – Civil rights movement: A jury in Birmingham, Alabama, convicts former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry of the 1963 murder of four girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.
  • 2015 – The Republic of Ireland becomes the first nation in the world to legalize gay marriage in a public referendum.

Who was the first couple to marry legally in the world. Wikipedia says this:

While Glenn Cunningham and Adriano Vilar are often cited as the first same-sex couple to have their civil partnership formally recognised in Ireland, in fact several hundred couples were recognised together at the exactly the same time. The couple formed a civil partnership at a ceremony in Northern Ireland in 2010.

But here are Cunningham and Vilar:


*Monkeypox! It’s now in 14 countries. It’s not as deadly as smallpox, but smallpox vaccine seems to prevent it about 85% of the time. But why is there monkeypox in places with no monkeys?

*The Washington Post has made a list of “The top 10 GOP presidential candidates for 2024, ranked.” The ranking is done this way: “As usual, this list takes into account both how likely they are to run in the first place and how likely they are to win.”

And the list in order (#1 most likely to run and win; reasons are given):

  1. Donald Trump (shoot me now!)
  2. Ron DeSantis
  3. Mike Pence
  4. Nikki Haley
  5. Tim Scott
  6. Ted Cruz
  7. Donald Trump, Jr.
  8. Glenn Youngkin
  9. Chris Sununu
  10. Asa Hutchinson

Any of these excite you? I didn’t think so.

*In response to American sanctions, Russia has just permanently banned 963 Americans from entering Russia, presumably forever (or until Russia changes its mind). Those banned include President Biden, Vice-President Harris, and “a wide-ranging collection of Biden administration members, Republicans, tech executives, journalists, lawmakers who have died, regular U.S. citizens and even actor Morgan Freeman.”

Ex-President Trump is not on the banned list.

*Here’s an almost self-contained news item penned by reader Ken:

Here’s a piece from The Miami Herald about how the “Don’t Say Gay” bill pushed through the Florida legislature by the dumpy demagogue in the Tallahassee governor’s mansion who has his eye on the US presidency — the law that offers rewards to vigilante parents who rat out gay teachers — is working out so far, even though the law doesn’t officially take effect until July 1st.

The demagogue is Republican governor Gov. Ron DeSantis, the law takes effect July 1, and is ambiguous. From the Herald:

The new law was both broad and vague, outlawing “classroom instruction … on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through grade 3” and stipulating these lessons must be “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for all older students. But it was specific when it came to punishment: Parents could sue school districts for violating the law. It would inspire a wave of copycat legislation — Alabama’s governor signed a near-identical measure into law in April, and similar bills are pending in at least 19 other states.

The paper tells of Nicolette Solomon, a fourth-grade Florida teacher who by all accounts was beloved by her students. But they figured out she was married to another woman, and that, though ok by the students, wasn’t okay with parents or her fellow teachers. After suffering harassment for being gay, she quit teaching and says she’ll never teach again in Florida.

*The National Health Service has removed the word “woman” from three pages about ovarian, womb and cervix cancers, cancers that occur only in biological women. From The Daily Fail, which reproduces both the original and changed pages:

The original version of the ovarian NHS cancer page featured the line: ‘Ovarian cancer, or cancer of the ovaries, is one of the most common types of cancer in women.’

It also highlights the women who may be particularly at risk, saying: ‘Ovarian cancer mainly affects women who have been through the menopause (usually over the age of 50), but it can sometimes affect younger women.’

However, in an update sneaked out in January — which campaigners only uncovered this week — both lines were removed.

Instead, another line was added: ‘Anyone with ovaries can get ovarian cancer, but it mostly affects those over 50.’

. . .The same has happened to the NHS cervical cancer page with the previous version stating: ‘Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina). It mainly affects sexually active women aged between 30 and 45.’

While the new version does feature a diagram of vagina, womb and cervix, no mention of women or woman is made.

. . . But the NHS has defended the update, stating it seeks to make the pages ‘as helpful as possible to everyone who needs them’.

Other quoted maintain that this obfuscation of language could actually harm women’s health by not directing vital information to the relevant audience (h/t: Ginger K.)

*I discovered that Harper’s has a “Harper’s Index” of interesting and fun facts. Here’s from the latest (sources given at the site):

Portion of female students asked to sit alone for fifteen minutes who will self-administer an electric shock out of curiosity: 1/4

Of male students : 2/3

That one mystifies me. Are males more masochistic, or more curious?

*As reported by the Algemeiner, the law faculty of the City University of New York has endorsed the pro-BDS resolution passed last December by the Law School’s student government.

At the time, the original measure was denounced by Jewish groups and rejected by CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, who said its call for an academic boycott was “contrary to a university’s core mission to expose students personally and academically to a world that can be vastly different to their own, particularly through international exchange programs.”

The CUNY Law spokesperson said the faculty endorsement took place on May 12, and did not disclose further details of the vote.

The cowards won’t even reveal the vote tally much less, who voted for or against this resolution. BDS is of course anti-Semitic, since its aim is the elimination of the state of Israel, and so now we seem to have have an official university statement to that effect. As we at the University of Chicago have realized, it chills speech for official units within a University to make official statements on politics, ideology, or morality. I wonder what the Jewish law faculty think of this resolution. (h/t Malgorzata). What with these statements proliferating, is it in the future of American Jews to have to seek refuge in Israel, just as European refugees did a generation ago?

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron take their walkies down to the river

Hili: We have to see how long it takes to get to the river.
Szaron: But we’ve been there so many times.
Hili: Yes, but sometimes we go fast and sometimes slow.
In Polish:
Hili: Trzeba sprawdzić ile czasu zabiera droga nad rzekę.
Szaron: Przecież byliśmy tam tyle razy.
Hili: Tak, ale czasem idziemy szybciej, a czasem wolniej.

From Su:

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Barry: Land mammal greets sea mammal:

Bill Maher dilates on LGBQ+ issues:

From Malcolm. You’ll have to be a Brit to get this one, but I’m sure a British reader can explain it for us:

Good old Patrick Stewart! A tweet found by Ginger K:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. Lovely visitors!

Cats will be cats:

As I was just saying. . . .

Enlarge the separate pix to get a better look at this gorgeous longicorn:

Friday: Hili dialogue

May 20, 2022 • 6:30 am

It’s the end of the week and, at sundown, the start of the one-day Cat Sabbath.  Yes, it’s Friday, May 20, 2022, National Quiche Lorraine Day, which may not be kosher if it includes meat.

It’s also World Bee Day, World Metrology Day, and Josephine Baker Day, an NAACP holiday celebrating the celebrated dancer, actress, and activist. She was neither born nor died on this day, but it’s still her holiday:

Baker also worked with the NAACP. Her reputation as a crusader grew to such an extent that the NAACP had Sunday 20 May 1951 declared “Josephine Baker Day”. She was presented with life membership with the NAACP by Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche.

She also helped the French resistance when she was in Paris during the war, and had a colorful life, including owning a pet cheetah:

 In later shows in Paris, she was often accompanied on stage by her pet cheetah “Chiquita,” who was adorned with a diamond collar. The cheetah frequently escaped into the orchestra pit, where it terrorized the musicians, adding another element of excitement to the show.

After a while, Baker was the most successful American entertainer working in France. Ernest Hemingway called her “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw”. The author spent hours talking with her in Paris bars. Picasso drew paintings depicting her alluring beauty. Jean Cocteau became friendly with her and helped vault her to international stardom. Baker endorsed a “Bakerfix” hair gel, bananas, shoes, and cosmetics amongst other products.

I can’t seem to find a Picasso rendition of Baker, so if you have a link, please put it in the comments.

(From Wikipedia): Depiction, drawn by Louis Gaudin, of Baker being presented a flower bouquet by a cheetah

Stuff that happened on May 20 includes:

  • 325 – The First Council of Nicaea is formally opened, starting the first ecumenical council of the Christian Church.
  • 1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovers the sea route to India when he arrives at Kozhikode (previously known as Calicut), India.
  • 1570 – Cartographer Abraham Ortelius issues Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas.

Here’s the world from that Atlas. Not bad for 1570, is it? (click to enlarge):

Here’s the famous first publication:

Here’s the oldest known pair of Levis, dating from the 1870s and found in a mine. Worth over $100,000, they’re locked in a safe at the Levi Strauss company:

Everyone should visit Auschwitz (a short bus ride from Krakow, Poland) once in their lives. Here’s a photo I took of one of the many rooms of belongings confiscated from Jews who were gassed. These people thought they were going to get their luggage back:

The pair won the Nobel Prize for detecting the electromagnetic radiation associated with the big bang. They used this telescope (caption from Wikipedia):

The Holmdel Horn Antenna on which Penzias and Wilson discovered the cosmic microwave background. The antenna was constructed in 1959 to support Project Echo—the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s passive communications satellites, which used large earth orbiting aluminized plastic balloons as reflectors to bounce radio signals from one point on the Earth to another.
  • 1980 – In a referendum in Quebec, the population rejects, by 60% of the vote, a government proposal to move towards independence from Canada.
  • 1983 – First publications of the discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS in the journal Science by a team of French scientists including Françoise Barré-SinoussiJean-Claude Chermann, and Luc Montagnier. You can read about the priority fight in a free paper here

Montagnier won the Nobel Prize for this along with  Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Harald zur Hausen. Robert Gallo did not get a prize. 

*I’m not a huge fan of the NYT, but this kind of investigative reporting, backed by their financial resources, is what they’re good at. A combination of film, photography, and drone footage strongly suggests that a group of Russian paratroopers executed eight Ukrainian unarmed civilians (probably involved in defense forces) in cold blood. If this is the case, those men are guilty of a war crime.

To uncover what happened to these men, The Times spent weeks in Bucha interviewing a survivor, witnesses, coroners, and police and military officials. Reporters collected previously unpublished videos from the day of the execution — some of the only evidence thus far to trace the victims’ final movements. The Times scoured social media for missing persons reports, spoke to the victims’ family members and, for the first time, identified all of the executed men and why most of them were targeted.

They were husbands and fathers, grocery store and factory workers who lived ordinary civilian lives before the war. But with restrictions on men leaving the country, coupled with a resolve to protect their communities, most of the men joined various defense forces in the days before they were killed. Nearly all of them lived within walking distance of the courtyard in which their bodies would later lie.

*A recent Pew survey reveals which issues Americans think are the top problems facing our country. Here’s the chart, showing that “it’s the economy, stupid!”:

*From reader Ken, who says, “Now that they’re confident they have the demolition of Roe v. Wade under their belts, The Federalist has set its sights on contraception.” I should have seen this coming. From the piece:

In all of the furor surrounding the (likely) imminent demise of Roe v. Wade, it has become clear to me that women have been made to fear and resent their biology for far too long. Too many women have bought the lie that they have no options but to rely on hormonal contraceptives and, if that fails, abortion. But the broad dependence on these methods — making women responsible to manage their own and men’s fertility — is actually patriarchal and anti-women.

I truly believe that the more women come to understand and love their bodies and their cycles (instead of being taught to hate, fear, and suppress them), the more they will realize we’ve been sold a bill of goods on contraception and abortion — two things we’re told “liberate” us, while suppressing the very thing that makes us women.

*The magazine Science is kvetching because far more parasites are named for men than women (I would expect they’d applaud that tendency!)

When it comes to naming species they’ve discovered, scientists often like to have a little fun. There’s Ba humbugi, a Fiji snail referencing one of literature’s crankiest men. Or Spongiforma squarepantsii, a mushroom named after everyone’s favorite cartoon sponge. And for decades, researchers have named species after their colleagues or iconic researchers as a way to honor them, which is why some 300 species of animals are named after Charles Darwin.

But that tradition may perpetuate societal biases, according to a new study of parasite names. The scientific names of nearly 3000 recently identified bloodsuckers, hijackers, and other banes of the biological world mostly honor men.

Perplexed by some of the stranger parasite monikers that occasionally grace the headlines, Robert Poulin, a parasitologist at the University of Otago, Dunedin, and his colleagues combed through studies published in eight prominent parasitology journals between 2000 and 2020. Although discoveries of new species of mammals or birds are relatively rare, parasites represent the frontier of taxonomic research, with prodigious amounts of new species described each year. The year 2007 alone saw nearly 200 new parasites worm their way into the scientific record.

Of the 596 parasite species honoring an eminent scientist, only 18% immortalized women researchers, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The gender gap has remained consistent for the past 20 years. And 89% of researchers lucky enough to have two or more parasites named after them were men.

There’s one obvious alternative to the implicit accusation of ongoing “structural sexism”: not only were most famous parasitologists men, but they tend to be those who get animals named after them. This is one of those examples where the Pecksniffs feel good but accomplish exactly nothing. Do they really believe that a higher proportion of parasites named after men (the same, I suspect, would be true for nearly all animals) “perpetuates societal bias”? Eventually, of course, the disparity will disappear with time if women achieve equity in parasitology.

*Live Science reports that 5,200 Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) paraded ashore on a New Zealand beach in a single night (h/t Ginger K.):

As dusk fell over Australia’s Phillip Island last week, thousands of tiny black-and-white birds participated in the largest “penguin parade” seen on the island since record-keeping began in the 1960s, with more than 5,200 little penguins (Eudyptula minor) crossing the beach in a single night.

Phillip Island — known as Millowl to the Indigenous Bunurong people — hosts Australia’s largest colony of little penguins, which is currently about 40,000 birds strong, according to the Penguin Foundation, a group that funds research and conservation efforts on the island. This is the world’s smallest penguin species; the birds grow to be no bigger than about 15.7 inches (40 centimeters) tall, or about the height of a bowling pin, according to The Australian Museum.

Every day at dusk, a subset of the Philip Island penguin population swims back to shore after hunting for fish, squid, krill and small crustaceans in the ocean, and then heads inland toward their nesting grounds. This event, locally known as the “Penguin Parade,” draws large numbers of tourists to Phillip Island Nature Parks, where visitors can “sit and watch the penguins emerge from the water for 50 minutes” each night, Paula Wasiak, a Phillip Island Nature Parks field researcher, told Live Science in an email.

Here’s a video of the event:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili doesn’t like seeing litter on her beat:

In Polish:
Hili: Byłam na końcu świata.
Ja: I co tam widziałaś?
Hili: Znowu jacyś ludzie naśmiecili.
Shhhhh . . . Szaron is still sleeping (he must be recovering from Karolina):

From Ken, who sent me the whole issue (available by judicious inquiry). He notes, “This is from the January 1974 ‘Animals’ issue of National Lampoon. It’s a pitch-perfect Popular Mechanics parody. Click to enlarge.

From Stash Krod: sad but true:

From Beth. After spending years trying to keep people from feeding bread to ducks, it’s time that the animals turned the tables:

Reader Barry sends us an aggressive fish:

This was suggested to me in my Mystery Twitter Feed. I never watched “Mad Men,” but I like this scene:

Also from Barry, an elephant pulls a prank. Note how he gives the hat back. (Sound up.)

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. First, some lovely music. Don’t miss this one!

This is bizarre but apparently true. Try it at home! And it even has medical applications. There are 8 tweets in the thread

I used to do this with toothpicks.

Thursday: Hili dialogue

May 19, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Thursday, May 19, 2022: National Devil’s Food Cake Day. In the U.S. it’s also Malcolm X Day (he was born on this day in 1925) and Hepatitis Testing Day.  This gives me a chance to show my favorite scene from Spike Lee’s eponymous 1992 movie about Malcolm, when, with his family, he heads to the auditorium where he was killed, and so do the shooters.  The mesmerizing bits are the song (“A Change Is Gonna Come”, by Sam Cooke, my favorite soul song), and Lee’s patented scenario in which a character appears to roll instead of walk. This  is a great scene.  Malcolm is played by Denzel Washington.

When somebody asks me the rare question, “Are you happy?”, I nearly always answer, “I’m a Jew: the best we can do is ‘complacent’.”  But today I’m actually happy because Sammy the Stalwart Duckling was saved yesterday from a horrible life in Botany Pond. It still puts a smile on my face. I will push aside thoughts that this won’t be the last rescue of orphan ducklings we have to effect. Kudos again to Brandon, who saved Sammy, and I hope he gets in touch with me.

Gratuitous note: I had one of those academic dreams last night in which I had to take an exam but hadn’t cracked a book all semester. The school was Yale, and the subject was Assyrian.

* All of a sudden Ukraine has disappeared from the headlines, but the fact remains that Russia is still engaged in a war for the country. The good news is that Ukrainian soldiers appeared to have forced the Russians out of the country’s second most populous city, Kharkiv. The bad news is that the country is severely short staffed with medical personnel, with limbs that could be saved routinely amputated; and there’s a severe shortage of all things medical and medicinal. Finally, Mariupol is a lost cause, with the last Ukrainian soldiers evacuated to be used elsewhere. A WaPo estimate puts the civilian death toll in that city at around 20,000!

* The NBC Evening News reported last night on growing evidence that Hunter Biden committed crimes by taking money from Russia, with one expert saying “You don’t get off scot-free by robbing a bank and then returning the money.” I can’t find any story in the MSM backing up NBC’s allegations, which included massive spending by Hunter Biden on luxury items, but if the emails (the hard drive’s contents are now disseminated by Giuliani) prove genuine, it’s trouble not only for Hunter, but for his dad. Stay tuned. What NBC New reports as a big story (once denigrated by everyone) should not be ignored.

Thursday morning updateThe NBC site now has an article that gives more detail and leaves it unresolved whether Biden’s behavior was criminal. Here’s one excerpt:

From 2013 through 2018 Hunter Biden and his company brought in about $11 million via his roles as an attorney and a board member with a Ukrainian firm accused of bribery and his work with a Chinese businessman now accused of fraud, according to an NBC News analysis of a copy of Biden’s hard drive and iCloud account and documents released by Republicans on two Senate committees.

The documents and the analysis, which don’t show what he did to earn millions from his Chinese partners, raise questions about national security, business ethics and potential legal exposure. In December 2020, Biden acknowledged in a statement that he was the subject of a federal investigation into his taxes. NBC News was first to report that an ex-business partner had warned Biden he should amend his tax returns to disclose $400,000 in income from the Ukrainian firm, Burisma. GOP congressional sources also say that if Republicans take back the House this fall, they’ll demand more documents and probe whether any of Biden’s income went to his father, President Joe Biden.

Remember that most of the liberal media dismissed this as foreign propaganda; perhaps that accounts for their reluctance to report on the updates.

*Michelle Goldberg has an op-ed piece in yesterday’s NYT dissecting the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp defamation trial, a trial that I haven’t followed at all. Goldberg takes Heard’s side, and although experts have said that the couple engaged in “mutual abuse”, Goldberg sees Depp as the principal abuser, which may be true. But she exaggerates when she titled her column “Amber Heard and the Death of #MeToo” and by saying that this case presages the rise of a new misogny. Despite the Supreme Court, I’m confident that the #MeToo genie is out of the bottle.  Apropos, the NYT also has a column about the clothes that the accused and accuser are wearing on the stand, and what message they’re trying to convey both sartorially and in words.

*Although both Sweden and Finland have now formally applied for NATO membership, Turkey continues to try to slow down or block the applications.  From the Washington Post:

Turkey blocked the start of Finland’s and Sweden’s accession talks to NATO on Wednesday shortly after the Nordic nations submitted their applications, a signal of what could be a bumpy process to expand the alliance and reshape Europe’s post-Cold War security architecture.

Turkey’s resistance deprived Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of the consensus he needed to move forward with the membership process. It also put a damper on a historic moment for two countries that held fast to military nonalignment until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine upended their thinking about security.

At a meeting of NATO ambassadors, Turkey said it still needed to work through some issues related to Finland and Sweden joining the alliance, according to two officials familiar with the discussion, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive closed-door talks.

Damn Erdogan! Atatürk will be rolling in his grave.

*As Slate reports, a footnote in Alito’s draft decision in the undoing of Roe v. Wade highlights a repugnant attitude: we should not allow abortion because forced birth assures a good supply of babies for others to adopt. (h/t Richard)

One of the most arresting lines in Justice Samuel Alito’s 98-page draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade is a footnote that didn’t really surface until the weekend. A throwaway footnote on Page 34 of the draft cites data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that in 2002, nearly 1 million women were seeking to adopt children, “whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted has become virtually nonexistent.” In response to the outrage and some misinformation, the conservative legal industrial complex went to great lengths to downplay it as a trivial footnote in a draft opinion, and to insist that Alito was citing the CDC and not himself and that the note appears in a roundup of “people are saying”–type arguments against abortion.

True. But the footnote reflects something profoundly wrong with the new “ethos of care” arguments advanced by Republicans who want to emphasize compassion instead of cruelty after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health fallout. Footnote 46, quantifying the supply/demand mismatch of babies, follows directly on another footnote in the opinion approvingly citing the “logic” raised at oral argument in December by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who mused that there is no meaningful hardship in conscripting women to remain pregnant and deliver babies in 2022 because “safe haven” laws allow them to drop those unwanted babies off at the fire station for other parents to adopt.

This is, in effect, an argument for using women, against their will, as incubators to keep America supplied with infants.

*Finally, last night there was an NBC Evening News headline: “Taylor Swift graduates”. I was surprised because I didn’t know she was getting a degree. Well, she sort of did: she got a  Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa, from New York University, so it’s an honorary degree that doesn’t involve graduation.  (She left school at 17 to pursue music.)  Do we call her “Dr. Swift” now?  At any rate, she gave a 22-minute commencement address, which happened to be held at Yankee Stadium!  The speech is not bad for a singer, though it’s loaded with the customary commencement bromides.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is making more allusions to politics:

Hili: I’m going to the West.
A: Why?
Hili: East is more and more dangerous.
In Polish:
Hili: Idę na zachód.
Ja: Czemu?
Hili: Wschód jest coraz bardziej niebezpieczny.
Shhhhh…. Szaron is sleeping:

From Reese:

A friend is on a tour of The Cotswolds admiring thatched roofs today. She says the animals are the thatchers’ signatures. This one has ducks.

I try to avoid posting Far Side cartoons (Larson isn’t keen on reproducing them), but reader Thomas sent in this old gem (newly colorized) and I couldn’t resist:

From “Ducks in Public”, a photo labeled “Ducks with Jobs”:

The Tweet of God:

This came from Barry, but I retweeted it:

A book recommendation from Sam:

J. K. Rowling properly refuses to apologize, but I love the way she trolls the trolls:

Tweets from Matthew. You’re definitely going to want to look at some of the papers cited in the article these tweets refer to:

This has to be true because it’s on Wikipedia. The famous stoic philosopher’s death is actually given in two different versions:

He died during the 143rd Olympiad (208–204 BC) at the age of 73. Diogenes Laërtius gives two different accounts of his death. In the first account, Chrysippus was seized with dizziness having drunk undiluted wine at a feast, and died soon after. In the second account, he was watching a donkey eat some figs and cried out: “Now give the donkey a drink of pure wine to wash down the figs”, whereupon he died in a fit of laughter.

Such is Wikipedia. However, this entry it referred me to a positive gem of a Wikipedia article: “List of unusual deaths.” Don’t miss the 1988 deaths of Cachy the Poodle, Marta Espina, Edith Solá, and an unidentified man, all in one incident:

A happy story of a newborn lame found frozen and apparently lifeless. I show only animal stories with happy endings. Sound up:

Matthew loves swifts, swallows, and martens, and here’s one about to snarf an insect in mid-flight:

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

May 18, 2022 • 6:30 am

It’s Hump Day, or, as they say in Estonian, “Küürupäev”. Yes, it’s Wednesday, May 18, 2022: and National Quiche Lorraine Day, an arrant act of cultural appropriation.  It’s also International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and World Hypertension Day.

Some mushbrain put a single duckling into Botany Pond last evening. Several of us tried to rescue it but it got dark and the duckling crawled onto one of the tree “islands” to rest. I am hoping desperately that it’s still alive, in which case I’ll try to rescue it this morning, and that means getting into the pond. I am a wreck and slept very little last night. Wish me luck!  “No duckling left behind.”

Stuff that happened on May 17 includes:

  • 1536 – Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s marriage is annulled.
  • 1673 – Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette begin exploring the Mississippi River.
  • 1900 – The children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, is first published in the United States. The first copy is given to the author’s sister.

Want a first edition and first printing? It’ll set you back a paltry $35,000.

This was an amazing computer used to calculate eclipses and other astronomical events.  Here’s the original, dated between 70 and 60 BC, and a modern reproduction:

. . . and the complex gear scheme from Wikipedia:

(From Wikipedia)A hypothetical schematic representation of the gearing of the Antikythera Mechanism, including the 2012 published interpretation of existing gearing, gearing added to complete known functions, and proposed gearing to accomplish additional functions, namely true sun pointer and pointers for the five then-known planets, as proposed by Freeth and Jones, 2012.[5] Based also upon similar drawing in the Freeth 2006 Supplement[15] and Wright 2005, Epicycles Part 2.[67] Proposed (as opposed to known from the artefact) gearing crosshatched.
  • 1939 – The Columbia Lions and the Princeton Tigers play in the United States’ first televised sporting event, a collegiate baseball game in New York City.
  • 1984 – Prince Charles calls a proposed addition to the National Gallery, London, a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend”, sparking controversies on the proper role of the Royal Family and the course of modern architecture.

The proposal for the addition was dropped after Prince Charles’s criticism, and a different addition was built instead.

Here’s the first to benefit: the happy couple is Tanya McCloskey and Marcia Kadish, with Kadish on the right:

Tanya McCloskey (left) and Marcia Kadish with their marriage certificate outside city hall in Cambridge, Mass.

*Mariupol is on the verge of falling now that 260 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered to the Russians. While many assumed they may be used in a prisoner swap, things might not go that easy for them:

The Ukrainians expressed hope that the fighters would be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war. But Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament, said without evidence that there were “war criminals” among the defenders and that they should not be exchanged but tried.

The AP adds that “An additional seven buses carrying an unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers from the plant were seen arriving at a former penal colony Tuesday in the town of Olenivka, approximately 88 kilometers (55 miles) north of Mariupol.” It’s all over in that town, and it’s a substantial victory for Russia.

*As covid rages throughout North Korea, Kim Jong-un says he will follow the “Chinese plan” for stemming the epidemic. But it’s unlikely to work:

China has used strict lockdowns, mass testing and vaccinations to keep cases low throughout the pandemic. North Korea — which by its own admission is experiencing an explosive outbreak of the virus — lacks the basic therapeutics and food supplies that China has mobilized to enforce the extreme restrictions seen in cities like Wuhan, Xi’an and Shanghai.

Now, public health experts are warning that Mr. Kim’s desire to follow the Chinese model will only worsen the impact of a fast spreading disaster. Already the ​number of new suspected patients in North Korea has soared from 18,000 last Thursday to hundreds of thousands a day this week, though it is impossible to know the true scale of the outbreak.

North Korea wouldn’t even admit there was an outbreak until last week. And we’ll probably never know what happens. Have a gander at this:

North Korea called itself Covid-free for two years until it confirmed an outbreak for the first time last Thursday. Most people are unvaccinated, and the country is so isolated that when an estimated two million people died during a famine in the mid-1990s, the outside world didn’t know about it until the bodies of famished North Koreans started washing up along the shallow river that borders China.

*The saga of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos will not die. Convicted on January 3 and scheduled to be sentenced on September 26 (she faces 20 years but won’t get nearly that much), she’s already been the subject of a television series and is the subject of an upcoming movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.

But now, “Theranos” branded items made for the company are going for huge amounts on the Internet. As the Guardian reports,

On eBay, more than a dozen allegedly authentic products from the now-defunct Silicon Valley firm are being sold – and much like the company itself, are listed at inflated prices.

A set of five Theranos branded pens recently sold for $150. A water bottle is currently listed for $1,500. For $11,000, you can purchase an “authentic” Theranos lab coat (notably “never worn”).

Many of these products are typical of Silicon Valley firms, which are known to hand out branded pens, shirts and water bottles at conferences. But the demand for those emblazoned with the “Theranos” logo have soared following the company’s spectacular downfall.

More Theranos “swag” on eBay. Who knows if it’s genuine?

*As an Andy Rooney in statu nascendi, it’s always bothered me that people lug around water tumblers like baby bottles, sipping from them from time to time to demonstrate the virtue of hydration. To me it seems like a form of adult infantilism, but lacking the opprobrium of carrying around a Linus blanket. Now there’s a “hot” water bottle ($40) that’s taking the country by storm. Do yourself a favor and don’t read this NYT article (click on it if you must):

Lately, a new vessel has found its way into the hands, and onto the social media feeds, of the well hydrated: the Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler from Stanley, a 109-year-old brand that specializes in camping gear and outdoor accessories. It has become the model of choice among a lot of millennial and Gen Z women, many of whom are mothers, and the influencers they trust.

The 40-ounce tumbler, which costs $40, comes in 11 colors and occasional limited-edition shades. It features a lid with a removable straw, a handle and an insulated body that is tapered, allowing it to fit in a cup holder.

The Quencher has inundated TikTok, where the hashtag #StanleyTumbler has received more than 10 million views, and Instagram, where influencers share photos of their tumbler collections spilling out of their arms.

Collections?  Why do you need more than one. Some day archaeologists will dig these things out of landfills and wonder what our civilization was up to.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has made herself comfortable in Andrzej’s chair. He wants it back, but it’s unlikely he’ll get it:

A: Away with you. I will be sitting here now.
Hili: Well, I don’t know.
In Polish:
Ja: Uciekaj, bo teraz ja tu będę siedział.
Hili: No nie wiem.
And little Kulka:

From Merilee:

From Barry:

A New Yorker cartoon by Roland High from Jean:

God advertises his new book, and makes a funny:

One I found myself. There are a LOT of these cables!

A pair of baby dippers from Dom. But why are they dipping? The Cornell site notes a unique feature of the American species, a passerine:

A bird that walks underneath the water, the slate-gray American Dipper is North America’s only truly aquatic songbird. It flits among midstream rocks and logs, rhythmically bobbing its tail, and then disappears for long moments to forage for aquatic larvae on the stream bottom, using its wings to negotiate the current. These birds build mossy, domed nests on boulders, cliff ledges, and bridges. The burbling song is evocative of the rushing whitewater streams this species calls home in western North and Central America.

Sound up.

From Barry: a beleaguered cat escapes a d*g mosh pit:

Tweets from Professor Cobb. Remember this brave women? She’s now living in Berlin and her husband in Russia wants custody:

Matthew’s beloved cat Pepper:

Astro Sam shows the different types of floating on the ISS:

Diptera (the flies) is an underappreciated order of insects. Look at this one!

Monday: Hili dialogue

May 16, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the start of a new week, and of summer vacation for many college students (but not ours, who don’t graduate until June): it’s Monday, May 16, 2022: National Barbecue Day! Following only one day after National Buttermilk Biscuit Day, this is a splendid pair of days.  And here to whet your appetite are two photos of a meal from Coyne’s Pandemic Texas BBQ tour about a year ago: it’s the famous Black’s giant beef rib, complete with trimmings (including potato salad, pinto beans, raw onion, pickles and a jalapeño corn muffin) from Black’s BBQ in Lockhart, Texas: the BBQ capital of America. (But the best brisket in Texas is not in this town, though Black’s is up there for best BBQ beef rib in America).

*Another day, another mass shooting in America. This time a gunman shot six people yesterday at a church in Laguna Woods, California, killing one and wounding five.  Four of those five are in critical condition. A suspect and the putative weapon are in custody.

*The Buffalo terrorist, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, who shot ten, is now suspected of strong racist motivation, making his attack a hate crime (remember, he’s still presumed innocent). Gendron not only started live-streaming the attack on the supermarket, but left behind a 180-page racist rant:

. . . the 180-page screed, which authorities are scrutinizing in connection with the massacre, leaves little doubt that the alleged perpetrator, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, belongs to a global fraternity fused by the Internet and fixated on the idea that White people are being intentionally replaced.

*The ruling parties of both Sweden and Finland have approved their countries’ decision to apply for NATO membership.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said their accession would be a “turning point for security” in Europe. “Their membership in NATO would increase our shared security, demonstrate that NATO’s door is open, and that aggression does not pay.”

“We’re now facing a fundamentally changed security environment in Europe,” Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said. “And when we navigate in this new environment, the fundamental question for us is: How do we best protect Sweden? And the Kremlin has shown that they are prepared to use violence to achieve their political objectives and that they don’t hesitate to take enormous risks.”

“Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is not only illegal and indefensible, it also undermines the European security order,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said. While the country’s “200-year-long standing policy of military nonalignment has served Sweden well,” the nation now faced a “fundamental change,” she said. “As a member of NATO, Sweden not only achieves more security, but also contributes to more security,” Linde said.

How do you like them apples, Vladimir? The fly in the ointment here is Turkish President Erdogan, who opposes the entry of both countries into NATO, and, since Turkey is itself in NATO, they could block membership. But Erdogan’s reason is risible:

“We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we don’t hold positive views,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding it had been a mistake for NATO to accept Greece as a member in the past.

“As Turkey, we don’t want to repeat similar mistakes. Furthermore, Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organisations,” Erdogan said, without giving details.

“They are even members of the parliament in some countries. It is not possible for us to be in favour,” he added.

*Another heterodox (for the NYT) op-ed: “Let actors act,” by Pamela Paul, who makes the case that we need to stop vetting actors for ethnicity, sex, gender preference, and so on, and stop insisting that every role be played by someone of just the right characteristics:

Good actors are able to find a way to portray people who are not like themselves, whether on the surface or well below, which is what differentiates them from those of us who could barely remember our lines in a fourth-grade production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Acting is a feat of compassion and an act of generosity. Those capable of that kind of emotional ventriloquy enable audiences to find ourselves in the lives portrayed onscreen, no matter how little they may resemble our own.

Bravo to those actors who do that well. Bravo to the talented Adrian Lester, who makes you forget the color of his skin, his nationality and his religion — and gives himself over entirely to his performance. There is no reason for any actor to apologize for exercising and reveling in his craft.

Lester is a Brit who’s the son of two Jamaican parents; he was just nominated for a Tony Award for playing Emanuel Lehman, a German-born Jewish founder of the well known investment firm.

*Oddball news of the day from the Associated Press:

The owner of a rural English pub says he was asked to change the bar’s name by a fashion magazine because of the village where it’s located: Vogue.

Mark Graham, who runs the Star Inn at Vogue, said he received a letter from British Vogue publisher Conde Nast, saying the name could “cause problems” because members of the public might confuse the two businesses.

He said the letter from Sabine Vandenbroucke, chief operating officer of Conde Nast Britain, asked if he would change the name, adding: “Please reply within seven days or we will take remedial action.”

Graham stood his ground.

“There’s always too much a case of the big boys trying to stomp on the little boys, and as soon as I realized what they were trying to do, I went ‘you’re not having me, my handsome,’” he told broadcaster ITV.

Confuse the two businesses? Seriously? Somebody is going to go to the pub looking for fashion tips? If ever there was a case of “punching down,” this is it. Vogue finally admitted that it screwed up.

Mark, owner of the Star Inn at Vogue, Cornwall, with his wife Rachel ( Image: James Dadzitis / SWNS)

*A doctor from the Yale School of Medicine outlines the promises of a “nasal spray vaccine” for covid, which involves spraying the spike protein right into the nose. It’s not a cure-all, as we need to develop vaccines against a broader array of viruses (there’s still not one against the omicron variant), but it could be a substantial improvement in the prevention of infectin.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is eating her way through the phylogenetic tree:

A: What are you thinking about?
Hili: About a missing link.
A: Which one?
Hili: The one I ate.
In Polish:
Ja: Nad czym myślisz?
Hili: Nad brakującym ogniwem.
Ja: Którym?
Hili: Tym, które zjadłam.

And here’s a picture of Kulkawith a caption. It’s for the departed Karolina. Malgorzata explains:

“And a picture of Kulka, because Karolina is going to look for her”.
Explanation: Karolina was sad that she has to leave her beloved cats (especially Kulka) and Andrzej promised her to post pictures of them so she can see them on his Facebook page.

(In Polish: “Jeszcze Kulka, bo Karolina będzie jej szukać.”)

Yes, the visitors are gone. Paulina and her husband took Karolina and her mother to the Wroclawek station on the first step to Kyev (they’re home now). Here’s a photo of Karolina and Paulina at the train station, with this caption written by Adrzej and translated by Malgorzata. (Paulina and Mariusz got caught on the train to help Karolina and Natasza with their baggage, but the train it started as they were moving the luggage, and Paulina and Mariusz had to ride one stop. It took them four hours to get back!

Caption: Our girls are now safe at home. Natasza wrote from Kiev (and from there they drove home with her sister). It was not without adventures, because Paulina and Mariusz took them to the station and, wanting to help, they got into the train. (they didn’t have time to get out and had to go with them all the way to Kutno :)) Below is a photo of Paulina with Karolina at the station in Włoclawek.

They’re home!

Anna, a physical chemist, sent me this cover from the latest issue of Portal, the magazine of Potsdam University in Germany. She says it’s not satirical but serious:

Otters getting a treat (sound on):

From The Catspotting Society:

From Beth:

And another cat contribution, this time from Jean. It’s a New Yorker cartoon by Elizabeth McNair:

From Titania:

This kid fails the gum equivalent of “the Stanford marshmallow test” about delayed gratification:

From Gravelinspector. What twisted mind conceived this display?

Simon wonders whether this is tool use by a d*g. It really isn’t, but it is a very clever rearrangement of the environment.

From Barry, who wonders what the duck is doing in there. This guy makes funny and gonzo videos, so who knows?

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. Interspecies sport!

One of Matthew’s beloved optical illusions:

Oy gewalt!

Sunday: Hili dialogue

May 15, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a dreary Sunday: May 15, 2022. National Chocolate Chip Day. If you use them, be sure they’re real chocolate and not called “chocolatey chips” (the word “chocolatey indicates, well, let’s use an example from Starbucks:

The FDA’s standard for sweet chocolate (that is, not milk chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, which both have different standards) is that it must contain “not less than 15 percent by weight of chocolate liquor.” Chocolate liquor is chocolatier-speak for liquid cocoa mass (for the booze version, it’s liqueur). Here, now, is the ingredient list for Starbucks’s chocolatey chips:

Confectionery Coating (Sugar, 100% RSPO Palm Kernel And Palm Oils, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla, Milk), Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Cookie Crumbs (Unbleached Unenriched Wheat Flour, Sugar, Palm And Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Chocolate Mass, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor), Chocolate Mass (2%), And Salt.

I am still deeply depressed from yesterday’s duck rescue. Though I still think it was the best course of action, the mother is grieving, and yesterday walked all around the patio for hours, quacking plaintively. That’s just what Dorothy did when Honey ducknapped her entire brood (but then Dorothy renested and ultimately had her own brood).

*Just another day in gun-loving America. Ten people were killed and three injured in a mass shooting in a Buffalo (New York) grocery store. The 18-year old suspect, white, is in custody, and there are suggestions that the wanton killing was an anti-black hate crime. That this kind of thing is regular news shows how sick our country is.  UPDATE: It’s pretty clear the guy had racist motives, as he drove from his white suburb to the black area of Buffalo where the supermarket was. The NYT now says this:

Shortly after Mr. Gendron was captured, a manifesto believed to have been posted online by the gunman emerged, riddled with racist, anti-immigrant views that claimed white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color. In the video that appeared to have been captured by the camera affixed to his helmet, an anti-Black racial slur can be seen on the barrel of his weapon.

According to the NBC News last night, the racial slur was the n-word.

*But let’s not forget the other mass shootings in the last few weeks: the AP tallies the carnage from mass shootings (not the usual individual homicides) in the last month excluding the Buffalo attack:  13 dead and dozens injured.  None of these, of course involved guns used in self-defense or to maintain a “well regulated Militia.”

*A good science piece in the NYT: recent in advances in implanting electrodes and microchips in the brains of largely paralyzed people, allowing them to control external devices with their minds. The accomplishment to date, even though this is new science, is remarkable.

*Surprise! Clarence Thomas, who never speaks from the bench, has declared that the leak of a tentative opinion in Roe v. Wade has undermined trust in the Supreme Court:

The leak of a draft opinion regarding abortion has turned the Supreme Court into a place “where you look over your shoulder,” Justice Clarence Thomas said Friday night, and it may have irreparably sundered trust at the institution.

“What happened at the court was tremendously bad,” Thomas said in a conversation with a former law clerk at a conference of conservative and libertarian thinkers in Dallas. “I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them. And then I wonder when they’re gone or destabilized, what we’re going to have as a country.”

It was second time in a week that Thomas has decried declining respect for “institutions”; he made similar remarks at a conference of judges and lawyers last week.

Perhaps the Justice might consider that declining respect for the Court has also rested largely on its explicit politicization, on the lies told by prospective conservative Justices during their hearings, and on the wonky decisions of a conservative court.

*Mo Dowd rarely says anything original in her NYT column these days (her schtick is being snarky), but at least she’s going after the religiousity of the Supreme Court (Dowd was raised Catholic):

During her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Amy Coney Barrett tried to reassure Democrats who were leery of her role as a “handmaid” in a Christian group called “People of Praise.”

The group has a male-dominated hierarchy and a rigid view of sexuality reflecting conservative gender norms and rejecting openly gay men and women. Men, the group’s decision makers, “headed” their wives.

Justice Barrett said then that she would not impose her personal beliefs on the country. “Judges can’t just wake up one day and say ‘I have an agenda — I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion’ — and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” she said amicably. “It’s not the law of Amy. It’s the law of the American people.”

Of course Barrett lied, as did Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and it’s a shame that we can’t do squat about it. Dowd goes on:

Still, this Catholic feels an intense disquiet that Catholic doctrine may be shaping (or misshaping) the freedom and the future of millions of women, and men. There is a corona of religious fervor around the court, a churchly ethos that threatens to turn our whole country upside down.

I come from a family that hews to the Catholic dictates on abortion, and I respect the views of my relatives. But it’s hard for me to watch the church trying to control women’s sexuality after a shocking number of its own priests sexually assaulted children and teenagers for decades, and got recycled into other parishes, as the church covered up the whole scandal. It is also hard to see the church couch its anti-abortion position in the context of caring for women when it continues to keep women in subservient roles in the church.

. . . The explosive nature of Alito’s draft opinion on Roe has brought to the fore how radical the majority on the court is, willing to make women fit with their zealous worldview — a view most Americans reject. It has also shown how radical Republicans are; although after pushing for this result for decades, because it made a good political weapon, they are now pretending it’s no big deal. We will all have to live with the catastrophic results of their zealotry.

*The NYT has a big article on whether being rich makes you happier (yes, but with diminishing returns), and on which endeavors do make people happy. The article says those results are obvious, but not so much to me:

 So what do three million happiness data points tell us?

The activities that make people happiest include sex, exercise and gardening. People get a big happiness boost from being with a romantic partner or friends but not from other people, like colleagues, children or acquaintances. Weather plays only a small role in happiness, except that people get a hearty mood boost on extraordinary days, such as those above 75 degrees and sunny. People are consistently happier when they are out in nature, particularly near a body of water, particularly when the scenery is beautiful.

Well, yes, but fulfilling work does, too (apparently most people don’t have that):

Dr. MacKerron and the economist Alex Bryson found that work is the second-most-miserable activity; of 40 activities, only being sick in bed makes people less happy than working. The economist Steven Levitt found that when people are uncertain whether to quit a job, they can be nudged to quit. And when they quit, they report increased happiness months later.

Social media is not reported as a big source of happiness, but neither is other media. I can speak only for myself, but reading good books is an immense source of happiness to me. So it goes.

*A world record has been set for the sale of a single photograph (below): Man Ray’s 1924 photograph of the nude back of his girlfriend with violin markings on her back, a photo called Le Violon d’Ingres.” (Photo from Christie’s):

How much did it go for? $12.4 million at Christie’s, well over the $5-$7 million pre-auction estimate and the record for any photograph at auction. I’m not a big fan of this photo. Even though it’s clever; I’d rather have a good Cartier-Bresson hanging on my wall any day. Getting the cleverness takes two seconds, but there are depths and depths in some of Cartier-Bresson’s photos.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is using the hedge as a metaphor for change in the world.

Hili: I can see a change.
A: Where?
Hili: In the hedge.
In Polish:
Hili: Dostrzegam jakąś zmianę.
Ja: Gdzie?
Hili: W żywopłocie.
And at Malgorzata and Andrze’s, the wisteria is blooming spectacularly:

Kulka (photo by Paulina):

From Jesus of the Day:


A dog race derailed by a real rabbit running across the track (h/t Stash Krod).

From Simon, who says, correctly, “No cat ever did this”:

No cat ever did this, either? WHO’S a good boy?

Via Merilee. Look at that face!

A tweet from Paul; the musician is Ukrainian musician and activist Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, the song is called “Everything will be all right”, and the English translation of the lyrics is here.

From Ginger K:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew: Life is stranger than fiction:

I turned the sound up only to hear the crustacean equivalent of a Rickroll:

I wonder what she fed them:

I don’t get this. Were the Russians stealing it?