Wednesday: Hili dialogue

June 29, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, a Hump Day (or “Kupra diana”, as they’d say in Latvia), and National Almond Buttercrunch Day. (Eat a Heath Bar instead.)

Source and recipe

It’s also National Waffle Iron Day, National Camera Day, and National Statistics Day in India.

Stuff that happened on June 29 includes:

  • 1534 – Jacques Cartier is the first European to reach Prince Edward Island.
  • 1613 – The Globe Theatre in London, built by William Shakespeare‘s playing company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, burns to the ground. Here’s that first theater, and Julius Caesar was probably the first play. The second one, even spiffier, was shut down by the Puritans in 1642. 
Illustration of The Original Globe Theatre

Macdonell’s house still stands in Toronto (below), but it’s come down in the world. The store within should have been called Mystic MacMuffin:

  • 1880 – France annexes Tahiti, renaming the independent Kingdom of Tahiti as “Etablissements de français de l’Océanie”.
  • 1889 – Hyde Park and several other Illinois townships vote to be annexed by Chicago, forming the largest United States city in area and second largest in population at the time.

People often think that Hyde Park, where I live, is its own named town. It once was, but now it’s a section of Chicago (and a nice one). An aerial view looking north from Hyde Park is below. The oldish building with the green roof in the foreground is the Museum of Science and Industry, the last remnant of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. I live very close to it. Lake Michigan is to the right.

Here’s the plane and also its landing at Wheeler Field Hawaii. Flight time: 25 hours and 50 minutes. Lindberg flew solo across the Atlantic five weeks earlier (the Bird had a crew of two) and perhaps for that reason got all the attention.

Atlantic-Fokker C-2 “Bird of Paradise” side view. (U.S. Air Force photo)


Atlantic-Fokker C-2 “Bird of Paradise” arrival in Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Here she is in 1952 and just this year. She is still lovely:

  • 1972 – The United States Supreme Court rules in the case Furman v. Georgia that arbitrary and inconsistent imposition of the death penalty violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

This led to a national moratorium on the death penalty, but for only four years, as Georgia put someone to death in 1976.

I don’t know from ballet, but I’ve always been more impressed by the dancing of Baryshnikov than of Nureyev. Here’s an example:

  • 1987 – Vincent van Gogh‘s painting, the Le Pont de Trinquetaille, is bought for $20.4 million at an auction in London, England.

Here’s the painting, which I don’t consider a particularly good van Gogh. But it is a van Gogh, and that’s enough to give it a stratospheric value:

The court did approve of trials by military courts, but not by the military commissions set up by the Bush administration. Hamdan, however, who worked as a bodyguard and chauffeur for Osama bin Laden, was released in 2008—four years after he was captured.

Here’s ” The first iPhone on display under glass at the January 2007 Macworld show”:

Da Nooz:

*I hope they make a movie about the January 6 hearings, as I’m missing a lot of the juicy stuff. Take this NYT headline; how can you not click on it? Do it!

This is what the young folk call “hot tea”:

In extraordinary blow-by-blow testimony based on episodes she witnessed in the West Wing of the White House, Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff, revealed that the president had demanded to march to the Capitol with his supporters even as the riot was underway, at one point trying to grab the steering wheel of the presidential limo from a Secret Service agent when he was told he could not go.

Among the other revelations the committee presented on Tuesday:

  • Ms. Hutchinson testified that Mr. Trump demanded that his supporters be able to move around freely even though he knew they were armed, objecting to the presence of magnetometers to detect weapons. She testified that she was “in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, ‘You know, I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away.’”

  • As rioters stormed the Capitol, chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” Mr. Trump endorsed the violence. Ms. Hutchinson testified that Mr. Meadows said of Mr. Trump, “He doesn’t want to do anything,” and “He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”

  • Ms. Hutchinson testified that Mr. Meadows was worried as early as Jan. 2 that Mr. Trump’s rally could get out of control, telling her “Things might get, real, real bad on Jan. 6.” Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, had told her it would be a great day, when the president would go to the Capitol and be with members of Congress.

Ms. Hutchinson had a lot more to say, but read about it at the NYT or elsewhere. The Washington Post has a list of four “bombshells” that Cassady dropped yesterday. One is that Trump sometimes threw dinner plates (with food) against the wall when he was mad. See? We knew he had childlike tantrums!

*HOWEVER, reader David says we should be a bit wary of what Cassidy Hutchinson said. I missed the news last night as I was back in the Pond doing a second duck rescue, and I haven’t watched the tv report or have seen the link below. Check for yourself. From David:

I suspect that you will spend some time on tomorrow’s Hili on the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson.  There was a quick item on ABC news tonight that may have just broken for the western edition of the nightly newscast that you should know about.
While she came across as very credible, an ABC News reporter, Pierre Thomas, said tonight that the Secret Service has asked for time to testify under oath and that a source has informed him that they will “push back” on Cassady’s testimony in that Trump did not grab the steering wheel or assault an agent in the car.  If they also testify that they did not make those statements to her, I hate to think of what her life will be like.  And of the damage this could cause the Committee. What was the rush to get this testimony out?  Did they not verify her story with the agents involved before she testified?
Here is the link to the broadcast.  The relevant reporting starts at about the 13:45 mark.
We’ll wait until the Secret Service testifies.

*Here’s a weird op-ed in the Washington Post by three public defenders in the Bronx: “The Supreme Court’s gun ruling was a victory over racist policing.” Remember, that’s the decision that overturned bans on New Yorkers carrying guns in public. Why was it a victory? Read on:

As public defenders in New York City who represent people charged with illegal gun possession — people who, according to the New York City Police Department’s own data, are almost invariably, Black and Brown — we see the majority’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen as an important step to ending mass incarceration. That’s why we joined other public defenders in filing an amicus brief in the case asking the court to abandon its ivory tower and consider the law’s impact on those people who bear the brunt of New York’s gun laws — our clients. Leading Second Amendment scholars agreed that New York’s law needed to be struck down because of the law’s racist impact.

In our brief, we shared stories of clients who made the personal choice to carry a firearm for self-defense. Of police ransacking cars to look for guns and frisking people on the streets. Of people who were arrested, couldn’t afford bail, and languished at Rikers Island, one of the most dangerous jails in the country.

Because possession of an unlicensed, loaded firearm is a “violent felony” under New York law, people with no criminal record who are convicted face a mandatory minimum sentence of 3½ years in prison; the maximum is 15 years. They can lose their jobs, their housing, their children and, if they are not citizens, their right to live in the United States. All for carrying a gun without ever threatening anyone or pulling the trigger — conduct that in many states is not a crime at all.

They aren’t describing racist policing, but what they see as racist laws, presumably because data show that blacks carry unlicensed and loaded guns more often than whites. But I disagree with the editorial, for I think the last thing we need is America’s biggest city full of people carrying loaded weapons.

*Reader Ken reports on the fate of Jeffrey Epstein’s procurer: a very stiff sentence:

You saw that Ghislaine Maxwell got a 20-year bid today — less than the 30 years the prosecution asked for, but much stiffer than the 5 years she was seeking?
Seems the judge wanted to give her a sentence she has a chance to outlive.

Maxwell has been detained pending trial as a flight risk. She has two years in, for which she will receive credit toward her 20 year sentence.

When I asked Ken if he thought Maxwell was, like Epstein, a suicide risk, he added this:

While in pretrial detention, she’s been held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn in a segregated housing unit. I’m sure they’ve kept a close eye on her to avoid the embarrassment of an Epstein replay.  Her “paperwork” (including the Judgment & Commitment Order and her Presentencing Investigation Report) will now be sent to the regional designator’s office of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and in the next 60 days or so, she’ll receive a permanent designation to a federal penal facility consistent with her security classification.

From that NYT article:

If the conviction is upheld, Ms. Maxwell, with time potentially deducted for good behavior and credit for the two years she has spent in jail, could leave prison in her late 70s.

Ms. Maxwell, 60, the daughter of the British media magnate Robert Maxwell, was convicted on Dec. 29 of sex trafficking and other counts after a monthlong trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

*The NYT has an article by Carl Zimmer on what CRISPR gene-editing technology has accomplished. The occasion is the tenth anniversary of the paper in Science by Doudna, Charpentier et al. (those two won the Nobel for CRISPR) that laid out a way to do gene editing using CRISPR and the Cas9 protein.  It’s an excellent summary of how the editing works, how it’s been used scientifically and medically, and what’s in the offing. Will we see babies whose DNA is edited to “improve” them?

*A gazillion readers (thanks to all of you) sent me a link to this Guardian article that begs for refutation (click to read). It’s basically a rehash of the old controversy about the gaps in the “modern synthesis” of evolution. It also describes bogus “mysteries” that have supposedly eluded evolutionists (one is that old canard, the evolution of the eye). I volunteer to take it on, but give me a few days.

Reader Jez sent an archived article from The Daily Fail that it begs for a click (do so if you want to read it):

The highlights:

The transgender skateboarder, 29, who claimed first prize in a New York City women’s competition this weekend, defeating her 13-year-old and 10-year-old competitors, is a divorced, ex-Navy father-of-three who was rejected from the women’s Olympic qualifiers last year because her testosterone levels were too high.

Ricci And Tres, 29, beat 13-year-old Shiloh Catori to claim first prize at The Boardr street skating contest at the Lower East Side Coleman skatepark in New York City on Saturday, taking home $500.

The competition was open to all ages and abilities, but its heats and finals were segregated by gender.

Tween Shiloh, who won the event last year, insists she is ‘not at all upset’ by the result and says Ricci should be able to compete.

However others, including fellow skater Taylor Silverman, say it’s unfair that they have to compete against someone who developed as a man, making them taller and stronger than their competitors.

Now, can reveal that Tres tried to enter the Women’s Street USA Skateboarding National Championships in a bid to qualify for the Olympics, but that she was rejected.

Apparently Tres’s testosterone titer was too high for the Olympics but okay for this competition. She makes an unusual admission, though:

‘I know I will never be a woman, because women are miraculous, they have babies and create life and do all that awesome stuff. I’ll never have that ability but I feel like I am a woman.

‘I would have wished to be born one so I’ll try to fill that image as much as I can for myself and that pretty much involves being as cute as can be,’ she said.

Here’s a tweet about it, and I’ve found the same details at other sources, including ABC15 News, so the story seems legit.

One reader who read the story wrote me this:

This scene from Seinfeld comes to mind. It was funny because at that time, a scenario like this could only be fiction.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili can’t believe she was once bouncy like Kulka:

Hili: Was I equally wild at her age?
A: Yes.
Hili: Strange.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy ja też byłam w jej wieku taka rozbrykana?
Ja: Też.
Hili: Dziwne.

And here’s bouncy little Kulka:


Here’s a science meme I found:

From Ken, who says, “A fool continues to pursue her folly.” Yes, it’s La Boebert in full bull-goose looney mode, espousing a theocracy. She claims that the separation of church and state “is not in the Constitution; it’s in a stinking letter.” Has she read the First Amendment?

From Simon, who says, “If they paid, do they get a refund?”  I’m not sure what’s going on here. Do readers know?

From Barry, we have two snakes mating (I don’t know the species, but surely a reader knows. It’s America, so if it’s venomous they’re probably rattlesnakes.

And the sequel is the second tweet below.

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. First, one tweet about that godawful Guardian article:

Matthew’s favorite dinosaur gets drawn:

And I think this gets Tweet of the Month Award:

Saturday: Hili dialogue

June 25, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to CatSaturday, June 25, 2022, National Strawberry Parfait Day, a treat made from fruit, Greek Yogurt, and granola. Is it dessert or breakfast? You be the judge.

It’s also National Catfish Day, Statehood Day (in Virginia), and World Vitiligo Day.

On this day in 1947, Anne Frank’s diary was published (see below). Google has a special Doodle for that. Click on the screenshot and swipe right to get a summary of her life in hiding:

Stuff that happened on June 25 includes:

Here’s the photo, captioned by Wikipedia as “Barricades on rue Saint-Maur during the uprising, 25 June 1848”. It’s a daguerrotype:

Here’s Custer the year before he was killed by a coalition of Native American groups, including Lakota led by Crazy Horse. Here’s a photo of Custer a year before his death:

Here’s a photo from Wikipedia labeled “Paul Pelliot examining manuscripts in the Library Cave, 1908.” Most of them date between the late 4th and early 11th centuries and deal with a variety of subjects from mathematics to song and dance:

  • 1910 – The United States Congress passes the Mann Act, which prohibits interstate transport of women or girls for “immoral purposes”; the ambiguous language would be used to selectively prosecute people for years to come.
  • 1910 – Igor Stravinsky‘s ballet The Firebird is premiered in Paris, bringing him to prominence as a composer.

Here’s the Suite of The Firebird performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra:

  • 1944 – The final page of the comic Krazy Kat is published, exactly two months after its author George Herriman died.

Krazy Kat, one of my (and Matthew’s) favorite comic strips, had a magnificent run. Here’s the final strip which leaves unanswered the question of whether Krazy Kat has drowned (read more here). And yet, in the very last panel, Krazy appears to live on, back and floating in the drink. Click to enlarge:

A first edition in English in good condition can cost as much as $4,500, but in Dutch (called Het Achterhuis) could run you $12,500:

A bit of the original flag, designed by three queer artists and 30 volunteers, is still preserved in San Francisco’s GLBT Historical Society Museum. Here it is:

Campbell, shown below, ruled from only June 25 to November 4, 1993, when she lost an election to the Liberals. She was the first and still the only womb-carrying Prime Minister of Canada (at least they’ve done better than the U.S. on that count!):


*This public Facebook post from Seth Andrews gives most of the big news:

I for one am not keen to rehash the overturning of Roe v. Wade this morning: the news is full of it, with liberals predictably (and rightly) mourning while conservatives rejoice. I’ll point out just a few articles of note.

*The NYT Editorial Board has penned a powerful editorial outlining the disastrious consequences of the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v Wade. Just a short quote:

The implications of this reversal will be devastating, throwing America into a new era of struggle over abortion laws — an era that will be marked by chaos, confusion and human suffering. About half the states in the United States are expected to enact laws that restrict or make abortion illegal in all or most cases. Many women may be forced by law to carry pregnancies to term, even, in some cases, those caused by rape or incest. Some will likely die, especially those with pregnancy complications that must be treated with abortion or those who resort to unsafe means of abortion because they can’t afford to travel to states where the procedure remains legal. Even those who are able to travel to other states could face the risk of criminal prosecution. Some could go to prison, as could the doctors who care for them. Miscarriages could be investigated as murders, which has already happened in several states, and may become only more common. Without full control over their bodies, women will lose their ability to function as equal members of American society.

*An op-ed from the NYT uses Maine as one example of “How to outmanuever the Supreme Court“. (The author is Aaron Tang, professor of law at UC Davis and former clerk for Sonya Sotomayor.) The first bit involves the Supreme Court’s recent decision stipulating that taxpayer-funded school vouchers can be used to send kids to religious schools:

Let’s start with the Carson case. Anticipating this week’s decision, Maine lawmakers enacted a crucial amendment to the state’s anti-discrimination law last year in order to counteract the expected ruling. The revised law forbids discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and it applies to every private school that chooses to accept public funds, without regard to religious affiliation.

The impact was immediate: The two religious schools at issue in the Carson case, Bangor Christian Schools and Temple Academy, said that they would decline state funds if, as Maine’s new law requires, accepting such funds would require them to change how they operate or alter their “admissions standards” to admit L.G.B.T.Q. students.

The legislative fix crafted by Maine lawmakers offers a model for lawmakers elsewhere who are alarmed by the court’s aggressive swing to the right. Maine’s example shows that those on the losing end of a case can often outmaneuver the court and avoid the consequences of a ruling.

No change of policy, no vouchers. This may itself end up in the courts, but we’ll see.

What about the approval of NY’s open carry law? States can severely limit which areas (universities, public transportation, and so on), and can also force gun owners to purchase firearm liability insurance.

As for today’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, states also have options, says Tang:

Lawmakers should act vigorously to ensure that abortion providers are able to serve out-of-state patients unable to obtain care in their home states. At the national level, the Biden administration should argue that Food and Drug Administration rules permitting the use of mifepristone to terminate a pregnancy override contrary state laws. Congress should also continue working to enact the Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine a right to abortion as a matter of federal law, even though the filibuster remains an obstacle.

The problem, of course, is that none of the red states will want to act to neutralize these new laws, so things will wind up pretty much as we expect.

*But which states are likely to retain abortion provisions, and which likely to limit them severely or strike them down? Below is a map from the Washington Post that gives you an idea.

First, the key:

First, 13 states with “trigger bans,” designed to take effect as soon as Roe is overturned, will ban abortion within 30 days. Several other states where recent antiabortion legislation has been blocked by the courts are expected to act next, with lawmakers moving to activate their dormant legislation. A handful of states also have pre-Roe abortion bans that could be brought back to life.

Elsewhere in the country, the post-Roe landscape is less certain.
Below, the “trigger states” are in red, states likely to ban abortion are in orange, ones likely to retain Roe-like standards are in purple, and those that are uncertain are in off-white. Note that if you’re a woman in the South or Southeast, you’re screwed. (Click to enlarge, and the map at the Post site is interactive, telling you what the laws are or what pending laws stipulate.

*Moving on The Economist has a gloomy editorial that judges both Biden and Harris as potential Democratic candidates for President in 2024, and finds both wanting. I agree, but who can we run?  My take is that Biden is too old and befuddled, as well as too woke, and Harris is simply ineffectual, and doesn’t get handed the nomination simply because she’s been VP. The Economist says this, among other things. A quote:

No Democrat relishes the idea of [Biden} fighting another presidential campaign.

Yet his aides have described plans for one—because if Mr Trump runs again, it seems Mr Biden wants to. He rightly fears a second Trump term would be calamitous; yet the fact that he thinks he is the likeliest impediment to that points to another Democratic problem. If Mr Biden steps aside, the vice-president, Kamala Harris, is expected to be the Democratic nominee. And many fear she would lose to Mr Trump or one of his imitators, because of another combination of dire fundamentals and poor political skills. If America was not ready for a woman president in 2016, it is probably no readier for a black woman now. And Ms Harris, a Californian progressive unused to competitive elections, was exposed during her brief primary tilt in 2019 as an awkward campaigner with few fixed views. Mr Biden shone by comparison.

The question, then, is can Democrats bypass them both? “Literally every conversation I’ve had with a Democrat over the past three months has started with this,” says a veteran activist. The conventional wisdom is, no. The diversity of the Democratic coalition makes its members cling to protocols, such as the vice-president’s claim to be next in line, as a defence against schism. And bypassing a black woman would outrage the identitarian left. Yet a growing sense of panic is challenging that view. A flurry of recent reports in the New York Times and elsewhere feature quotes from unnamed Democrats calling on Mr Biden not to run and for a competitive primary, in which Ms Harris could participate (and show off the skills her supporters will say she has acquired in the West Wing) if she wished.

They suggest either Bernie Sanders (no chance) or center-left candidates like Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, or Cory Booker. Make no mistake about it: I’m voting for any Democrat, but I wouldn’t mind filling in my dot for any of those last three.

*A bloodhound named Trumpet won the big prize—Best in Show—at the 146th competition of the Westminster Kennel Club D*G show. I believe it’s the first time a bloodhound has won this competition.

Rounding the finalists’ ring with a poised and powerful stride, Trumpet beat a French bulldog, a German shepherd, a Maltese, an English setter, a Samoyed and a Lakeland terrier to take the trophy.

“I was shocked,” said handler, co-breeder and co-owner Heather Helmer, who also goes by Heather Buehner. The competition was stiff, “and sometimes I feel the bloodhound is a bit of an underdog.”

After making dog show history, does Trumpet have a sense of how special he is?

“I think he does,” his Berlin Center, Ohio-based handler said.

After his victory, Trumpet posed patiently for countless photos, eventually starting to do what bloodhounds do best — sniff around. He examined some decorative flowers that had been set up for the pictures, not appearing to find anything of note.

*Finally, I call your attention to the Official Labsite Artist® Kelly Houle, who is selling her artwork to warm up and finance her big project of creating a huge illuminated manuscript of Darwin’s Origin. She does a nature painting a day (“Daily Paintworks”) that are auctioned on eBay and they’re quite lovely. Also, even at the “buy it now” price they are terrific bargains for the quality. See the list of her available Paintworks here, and she also has an etsy store with intriguing stuff. (Note: I don’t get any financial benefit from these sales!)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is inspecting the crops:

Hili: The raspberries will be ripe soon.
A: I’m afraid they won’t for another two weeks.
Hili: You may be mistaken.
In Polish:
Hili: Te maliny będą niedługo dojrzewać.
Ja: Obawiam się, że będą dojrzałe dopiero za dwa tygodnie.
Hili: Możesz się mylić.

Kulka and Szaron on the windowsill:




From reader Malcolm, a lovely ring:

From reddit. Turtle Fail, though a few manage to stay on the log:

🔥Turtles adjusting the center of balance to stay on the trunk🔥 from NatureIsFuckingLit

From Facebook, bringing zoology up to date:

Titania hasn’t tweeted in ages, and God’s tweets have suddenly become lame; I have no idea what happened. We await their revival. In the mantime, I scrounge (send me any good tweets you have).

Would you hold it, try the restrooms, or go in the bushes?

I was going to post about this article by J. K. Rowling, but I’ll let you read it for yourself (if you’re not paywalled(, adding only that a.) it’s very good and b.) it shows that the trans activists rushing to push “affirmative therapy” or hormone blockers on young people with gender issues are going to get a lot of pushback as the data come in.  Read some Jesse Singal if you want to see how “alternative facts” form a lot of this kind of ideology, and why careful and non-tendentious therapy is a better alternative than a rush to judgement.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, honoring Anne Frank and her diary (see above). There’s an actual photo of two of the pages below:

Tweets from Matthew. What is this first insect, not identified by the poster?

And another two beetle tweet I founs in the same thread. The translation of the first one:

“Males of Apoderus jekelii fight like comparing neck lengths. I think that the potter’s wheel is an extreme example, but it is no wonder that you can fly with such a neck and eat leaves. The female head is short, and the larger the male, the longer the neck (base of the head).”

The second one below is translated thus:

“By the way, Rokurokubi is not the Apoderus jekelii but the Apoderus jekelii. I think it’s closely related to Japanese Apoderus erythra. It has the same unusual silhouette, but the members of the Apoderus jekelii have a long chest, so it feels like a crane and is somewhat functional.”
This implies that the insect above is a beetle in the genus Apoderus.. Some of these do have long heads, but I would have thought that these individuals were weevils.

I wonder whether Watson and Crick were interested in this talk.

I tried to raise these, but despite the fact that I’m not bad at growing plants, I couldn’t keep these “living rocks” alive:

Watch closely to see the rapid (but not injurious) leopard attack:


Thursday: Hili dialogue

June 23, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Thursday, June 23, 2022: National Pecan Sandy Day, celebrating a kind of dry cookie that some people like.

It’s also International Widows Day, National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism (in Canada), Saint John’s Eve and the first day of the Midsummer celebrations (these occur in Spain, Cornwall, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Belarus. Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine), and United Nations Public Service Day.

Stuff that happened on this day include:

Here’s a short animated reconstruction of the battle, in which the stalwart Scots defeated the English despite being outnumbered by more than three to one:

  • 1611 – The mutinous crew of Henry Hudson’s fourth voyage sets Henry, his son and seven loyal crew members adrift in an open boat in what is now Hudson Bay; they are never heard from again.
  • 1794 – Empress Catherine II of Russia grants Jews permission to settle in Kyiv.

“Catherine II” was Catherine the Great, who ruled for 34 years as the last Empress of Russia.  Here’s a portrait of her by Johann Baptist von Lampi the Elder, from 1780, presumably painted from life:

Here’s a model for the patent, which was very rudimentary. Sholes is also said to have invented, some time later, the QWERTY keyboard, which I’ve heard is less efficient than other keyboards. But it’s too late to change:

  • 1887 – The Rocky Mountains Park Act becomes law in Canada creating the nation’s first national park, Banff National Park.
  • 1917 – In a game against the Washington SenatorsBoston Red Sox pitcher Ernie Shore retires 26 batters in a row after replacing Babe Ruth, who had been ejected for punching the umpire.

Shore pitched a nearly “perfect” game (one in which all 27 batters are retired without reaching first base). Here he (left) is with another baseball great:

(From Wikipedia): Major League Baseball players Ernie Shore (left) and Grover Cleveland Alexander (right) during the 1915 World Series.
  • 1926 – The College Board administers the first SAT exam.
  • 1940 – Adolf Hitler goes on a three-hour tour of the architecture of Paris with architect Albert Speer and sculptor Arno Breker in his only visit to the city.

Here’s Hitler with Speer (left) in front of the Eiffel Tower. On the right is sculptorn and architect Arno Breker:

  • 1960 – The United States Food and Drug Administration declares Enovid to be the first officially approved combined oral contraceptive pill in the world.
  • 1969 – IBM announces that effective January 1970 it will price its software and services separately from hardware thus creating the modern software industry.
  • 1972 – Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman are taped talking about illegally using the Central Intelligence Agency to obstruct the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the Watergate break-ins.

Here’s part of the smoking gun tapes, with subtitles. It’s pretty incriminating!

  • 1972 – Title IX of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 is amended to prohibit sexual discrimination to any educational program receiving federal funds.
  • 2017 – A series of terrorist attacks take place in Pakistan, resulting in 96 deaths and wounding 200 others.
  • 2013 – Nik Wallenda becomes the first man to successfully walk across the Grand Canyon on a tight rope.

A news report of that walk. You can hearing him praying to God to help him across:


*Ukraine is slowly falling into the hands of Russia. From the NYT’s summary:

Approaching a pivotal moment in their invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces have tightened their vise around two key eastern cities, raising the risk their slow, brutal advance will capture the cities and trap the Ukrainian troops defending them.

The fall of the two neighboring cities, Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, would all but complete Russia’s conquest of Luhansk Province, a major part of the Donbas region that the Russians are attempting to seize in the four-month-old war. That would give a strategic and symbolic victory to President Vladimir V. Putin, and open avenues for Russia’s military to advance deeper into Ukraine.

In my view, Putin could take the whole country if he has the will, and he does—Russian deaths be damned. The war will end only when Putin wants it to end, and on his terms. I don’t like that, but I think it’s true.

*One of the more odious Trumpisms that’s come out in the January 6 panel is that the Orange Man proposed sending fake electors to Washington to try to sway the vote towards him. But now the remit of the panel is widening, and some of those electors have been subpoenaed:

Agents conducted court authorized law enforcement activity Wednesday morning at two locations, FBI officials confirmed to The Washington Post. One was the home of Brad Carver, a Georgia lawyer who allegedly signed a document claiming to be a Trump elector. The other was the Virginia home of Thomas Lane, who worked on the Trump campaign’s efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. The FBI officials did not identify the people associated with those addresses, but public records list each of the locations as the home addresses of the men.

Separately, at least some of the would-be Trump electors in Michigan also received subpoenas on Wednesday, according to a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The precise nature of the information being sought by the Justice Department wasn’t immediately clear; however, Arizonaand Georgia officials testified Tuesday to a House panel probing the Jan. 6 attacks about attempts by Trump and his inner circle of advisers to try to reverse Biden’s electoral college victories in those states.
*Testifying before Congress yesterday, Jerome Powell, head of the Federal Reserve, says that it’s possible that the Fed’s raising interest rates to stem inflation may in the end lead to a recession.

“It’s certainly a possibility,” Mr. Powell said Wednesday during the first of two days of congressional hearings. “We are not trying to provoke and do not think we will need to provoke a recession, but we do think it’s absolutely essential” to bring down inflation, which is running at a 40-year high.

His remarks underscore the challenge facing the central bank as it raises interest rates at the most rapid clip since the 1980s to slow the economy and cool inflation.

My prediction, though I’m not pundit and know virtually nothing about economics, is that we will have a recession, for the balance of interest rates, employment, and inflation is a tricky situation, and certainly no science. Remember, I was the first person to call the last election for Biden, and got the electoral count exactly right. Surely I still retain the credibility to make some predictions!

*Uncle Joe has finally decided to give us a “gas-tax holiday,” lifting the federal tax on both gasoline and diesel fuel. But this is pretty pathetic given the taxes, which are low (see below). We’re paying $6 a gallon in Chicago, and not only will this make little inroads in inflation, but those taxes are used for infrastructure.

The Democratic president also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief, and he delivered a public critique of the energy industry for prioritizing profits over production. It would take action by lawmakers in Washington and in statehouses across the country to actually bring relief to consumers.

“It doesn’t reduce all the pain but it will be a big help,” Biden said, using the bully pulpit when his administration believes it has run out of direct levers to address soaring gas prices. “I’m doing my part. I want Congress, states and industry to do their part as well.”

At issue is the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal tax on gas and the 24.4 cents-a-gallon federal tax on diesel fuel. If the gas savings were fully passed along to consumers, people would save roughly 3.6% at the pump when prices are averaging about $5 a gallon nationwide.

But this is pretty much moot given Congressional resistance, even among Democrats, to this “holiday”. Even Nancy Pelosi is lukewarm about it:

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a noncommittal response to Biden’s proposal, saying she would look to see if there was support for it in Congress.

“We will see where the consensus lies on a path forward for the president’s proposal in the House and the Senate,” Pelosi said.

Now that is a ringing endorsement, no? There will be little support for this in the Senate, that’s for sure.

*The Atlantic—to which I’m newly subscribed because it’s inexpensive for academics—reports that comedian Dave Chapelle, in a surprise announcement, turned down a big honor. The school from which he graduated and has donated to repeatedly, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, decided to name its theater after him.  The naming was delayed from Nov. 1 after Chapelle’s Netflix show, “The Closer”, was criticized for homophobic and transphobic comments

The naming ceremony was rescheduled for last Monday, and guest after guest got up and praised the comedian. Then it was his turn:

. . . Chappelle spoke, telling his own story of the Ellington school’s influence on his life, his fond memories of faculty and classmates. The narrative slowly built toward the controversy that erupted last November. Then came a surprise plot twist.

Chappelle proposed that the theater be named the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression, and then said that his name would be added later, only when and if the school community was ready.

It was quite a moment. The audience rapturously applauded.

Author David Frum had two reactions. The first was positive:

The first was admiration for the bravado and ingenuity of Chappelle’s maneuver. So often in these debates over free speech, the adversaries of expression claim to represent the wave of the future. Major surveys have found that Gen Z and Millennial Americans are much more willing to suppress speech in the name of equity than older Americans. Chappelle took a bet here, as if to say: Let’s see who will look silly in five years’ time, you or me.

The very act of bet-taking changes perceptions of the wager. The most powerful weapon of the adversaries of expression is their certainty. Chappelle wrenched that weapon from their hands, again as if to say: I am more certain even than you—and I’ve put a lot more of myself on the line.

The second was more negative: that Chappelle had evaded responsibility for his own words. But in the end Frum judges Chappelle’s behavior as a brilliant “gesture of defiance.”

The NYT has a new article on how you can get a young duckling to imprint on you, though you don’t want to do this deliberately unless you’re prepared to care for the duck until it fledges.  (h/t Robyn)

Hang around a duckling constantly, right after it hatches. Ducklings are most sensitive to imprinting 12 to 36 hours after they emerge from the egg (and the imprinting window lasts about 14 days). Place yourself where they can see you. Birds are visual creatures; a duckling opens its eyes and immediately starts looking for a caregiver. They prefer duck-size objects and S-curve-shaped necks, but they aren’t picky — they will imprint on humans, cats, dogs or, in the case of Martinho-Truswell’s lab research, brightly colored plastic balls or cardboard shapes suspended from a rotating boom on a string. Avoid wearing yellow; ducklings would rather not imprint on anything yellow-colored. “We think that’s to keep them from imprinting on their siblings,” Martinho-Truswell says. Don’t become a duck parent on a whim, though; it’s a big commitment. Imprinting is helpful if you’re a duck farmer, but otherwise might be a burden. Mallard ducks can live for more than 20 years. “You’re taking on something that is going to treat you as its mother for the first year and then as family for the rest of its life,” he says.

I rescued two orphans and slept with them on the day or day after they hatched, and both imprinted on me, following me around the house and peeping pathetically if I was out of sight or tried to put them to bed in a nice soft, padded box. They needed to be with me, and so I slept with them in my armpit or on my chest covered with my open palm (to mimic the mother’s protective wing). Or rather, the ducklings slept. Afraid of crushing them, I didn’t sleep a wink. Still, they were two of the greatest nights of my life.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s dialogue needs an explanation from Malgorzata:

In Poland when somebody cannot decide between the two courses of action he/she says “I’m fighting with my thoughts” [Biję się z myślami]. Hili took it literally and because she (as a Goddess) is a “dualist”, that’s the answer she came with.

Hili: I’m fighting with my thoughts.
A: And?
Hili: I’m winning.
In Polish:
Hili: Biję się z myślami.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Wygrywam.

And a photo of Kulka:


From Jez, a Dan Piraro cartoon:

Quarterback Tom Brady is apparently promoting a new line of underwear, and in this Instagram video, described here, he simply destroys the sign of a protestor with an precise football throw. But the article also shows that they made up. This is likely an advertising set-up (I can’t imagine otherwise why they’d pull a stunt like this), but it does show Brady’s passing abilities.

A groaner from Merilee:

Ricky Gervais mocking wokeness with a very ideologically incorrect couple of jokes:

These are brilliant; see the thread. But they left out the cat saying “Mrkgnao!”: my favorite part!

Free talk by Pinkah tomorrow. All you have to do is register at the link:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, one who survived:

Tweets from Matthew. This first two are cool! There are other methods given in the thread.

Parental care in beetles! Who woulda thought?

What a sight!

This guy comments on bad lighting. I may have shown this before, but here it is again. Whoever designed this should have immediately fixed it. Or maybe it was deliberate. . .

Monday: Hili dialogue

June 20, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Monday, June 20, and it’s a federal holiday in honor of Juneteenth, which was actually yesterday (see info given then). There’s a special Google Doodle celebrating the holiday (click on screenshot below), and after you click, wait a second for the animated celebration to begin.

It’s also National Vanilla Milkshake Day, though I have no idea who would want such a thing.

Finally, it’s both West Virginia Day (in West Virginia) and World Refugee Day. 

Note that the summer solstice occurs at 4:13 a.m. tomorrow, which will be the longest day of the year. 

Wine of the Day: Below: my Father’s Day wine along with a honking t-bone, tomatoes, corn on the cob, and rice. I picked the bottle out of my collection, and have no idea when I bought it or what I paid for it (prices now tend to be about $20-$24). It’s a Finca Villacreces Pruno 2012 from the Ribiera del Duero, a wine region in northern Spain near Rioja. Indeed, this wine resembles a gutsy Rioja—but much cheaper.

Robert Parker, giving it a high rating of 93, made these notes in 2014: :

This blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon emerges from a vineyard situated adjacent to one of the famous vineyards utilized to produce Spain’s greatest red wine, Vega Sicilia. Made from relatively old vines, the 2012 Pruno is a sexy, opulent, voluptuously textured effort that spent 12 months in two-year-old French oak barrels. Reminiscent of a baby Vega Sicilia, it possesses a dense ruby/purple color as well as notes of high-class, unsmoked cigar tobacco, creme de cassis, licorice, graphite and spice box. Full-bodied, deep, velvety textured, lush and heady, at $20 a bottle, it is another sensational bargain from Eric Solomon. Enjoy it over the next 5-6 years.

I’ll leave the tobacco and graphite stuff to Parker, but this is a dark garnet, full-bodied, blackberry-flavored tour de force, dry and powerful. And at this price point it’s a real bargain. Note that I drank it 2 years after Parker’s “drink by” date, but it was still terrific, with no signs of being over the hill. This one comes highly recommended, but be sure to decant it, as there’s a moderate sediment. A great value for the quality.

Stuff that happened on June 20 include

There were either 146 or 64 prisoners jammed into the cell (designed to hold 2 or 3 prisoners) overnight, and we know that when they opened the door the next morning, only 23 were left alive. Here’s a brief video:

Here’s the two sides of the original seal, and the machine meant to impress it, still in use though the stamping machine was made in 1903:

  • 1837 – Queen Victoria succeeds to the British throne.
  • 1840 – Samuel Morse receives the patent for the telegraph.

Here’s part of the patent:

  • 1877 – Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
  • 1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother.
  • 1942 – The Holocaust: Kazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, steal an SS staff car and escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The escape was successful in that none of the escapees were returned to the camp, though Piechowski was imprisoned for seven years by the Communists. Here he is in an Auschwitz prison suit.  See the tweet below about Piechowski’s death at 98.

  • 1944 – The experimental MW 18014 V-2 rocket reaches an altitude of 176 km, becoming the first man-made object to reach outer space.

Here’s a German video showing some tests of the original V-2 (a lot were failures):

The eponymous song by Tom Lehrer. Remember this?

Here’s Rose Mary Woods’s demonstration of the “Rose Mary” stretch that supposedly explained the gap:

Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s loyal private secretary, was tasked with transcribing the tapes before they were turned over to prosecutors. Woods testified in front of a federal grand jury in 1974 that she was using a dictaphone, which had a pedal that would pause the recording when she lifted her foot off it, and she claimed she had erased part of the tape by mistake.

“Her explanation was that she was listening to the tape and … the telephone rang,” said Wine-Banks. “So she kept her foot on a pedal, pushed the wrong button. She pushed record instead of off and reached for the phone.”

Photo by the AP
  • 1975 – The film Jaws is released in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing film of that time and starting the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters“.

The most famous scene from the movie:

  • 1991 – The German Bundestag votes to move seat of government from the former West German capital of Bonn to the present capital of Berlin.


*The NYT examined over a thousand photos taken by its own photographers and other wire-service photographers, looking to see what kind of weapons the Russians were using against Ukraine. They identified 2,000 munitions (I assume this means individual weapons, not 2,000 different munitions, and found what you expected:

Of the weapons identified by The Times, more than 210 were types that have been widely banned under international treaties. All but a handful were cluster munitions, including their submunitions, which can pose a grave risk to civilians for decades after war has ended. More than 330 other weapons appeared to have been used on or near civilian structures.

Because of the difficulties in getting comprehensive information in wartime, these tallies are undercounts. Some of the weapons identified may have been fired by Ukrainian forces in an effort to defend themselves against the invasion, but evidence points to far greater use by Russian forces.

Customary international humanitarian laws and treaties — including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their protocols — demand that the driving principle in war be military necessity, which mandates all combatants direct their actions toward legitimate military targets. The law requires a balance between a military mission and humanity. Combatants must not carry out attacks that are disproportionate, where the expected civilian harm is clearly excessive, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to the direct and concrete military advantage that would be anticipated. Combatants must consider distinction, that attacks are directed only toward lawful targets and people and are not applied indiscriminately. And they must not use weapons calculated to inflict unnecessary suffering.

“The Russians have violated every single one of those principles almost daily,” said Mike Newton, a Vanderbilt University law professor who frequently supports efforts to prosecute war crimes all over the world.

One issue, however, is that I’m pretty sure that the Russians aren’t signatories on treaties that ban most of these munitions. By the way, besides cluster munitions, the dubious weapons include unguided missiles, rockets and bombs (stuff mostly abandoned by the West in favor of guided weapons), booby traps, and antipersonnel land mines. There are photos and diagrams in the article.

*Shoot me now! Sarah Palin is back, running for a House seat that’s vacant because its Republican holder died. The good news is that the seat expires next January. The bad news is that Palen is first among four candidates—three Republicans and one Democrat (the Dem is last). And if she gets her tuchas in a House seat, she may get to keep it, and then think about how many loons we’ll have in Congress!

*I heard this on the ABC Evening News (my usual NBC News was preempted by a GOLF GAME, for crying out loud, which is itself a crime), and it’s verified on their site. Nearly 60% of Americans think that Trump should be criminally charged for his shenanigans around the election and the January 6 insurrection:

With the first full week of hearings for the House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol now complete, nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe former President Donald Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the incident, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds.

Six in 10 Americans also believe the committee is conducting a fair and impartial investigation, according to the poll.

In the poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, 58% of Americans think Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the riot. That’s up slightly from late April, before the hearings began, when an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 52% of Americans thought the former president should be charged.

When I heard this, I had a question. Ex-Presidents are protected by the Secret Service until they die. If Trump goes to jail, will the Secret Service be there to protect him?

*Helaine Olen, a young Washington Post writer, gets the Andy Rooney of the Future Award in her new column, “QR code menus are the death of civilization.” I could have written that title! And Olen is right. These are increasingly common menus that consist of a QR code; when you scan it with your phone, the menu comes up on your screen, and that’s how you order. It sucks big time, as Olen notes (and they’re no longer needed for covid prevention):

A physical menu sets the stage. It highlights the fact that this is a special occasion, even if it’s simply a quick bite at a local diner. The menu signifies that it’s time to take a break in a busy day, that this meal is something separate from the normal course of events. It also pushes us to interact with others. We share menus. We point to things; we ask the wait staff questions about the meal and what they particularly like. It’s like opening a program at a theater, for a show you and your companions are about to experience together.

Whipping out a phone to check the menu, on the other hand, is hardly conducive to setting a mood, unless you want to dine in the metaverse. Smartphones are endlessly distracting, and it takes discipline to put them away after checking a menu, a bit of self-control many can’t always muster. (Guilty.) It’s all too easy to rationalize checking just one email, sending just one tweet, taking just one glance at Instagram. (Guilty again.) We already spend almost five hours a day staring at our smartphone screens. Do we really need a prompt to spend even more time in our electronic silos?

. . . Yes, QR code menus have their defenders. I actually know a few of these benighted souls. Some of them are even my colleagues. They say QR code menus are healthier, and better for the environment. But let’s get real. Germy? If you’re that concerned, ask the restaurant management about paid sick leave policies for the staff, something that’s bound to be much more effective at cutting contagion. And no one who writes for a print newspaper has any business complaining about the waste of paper in printing a menu.

Look at the “likes” on this tweet!

This is a writer who knows how dining out is supposed to work: it’s an event! Ceiling Cat bless you, Ms. Olen!

*In the middle of last September, Jack the Cat, who’s staffed by the offspring of old friends, had a bad accident, falling off a third-floor porch and severely injuring his mandible and front paws. For a while we didn’t think he was going to make it, but thanks to the staff at Angell Memorial Hospital in Boston and his own loving staff, he got fantastic care. I’m delighted to report that Jack is pretty much back to normal, walking without a limp and gallivanting about. (Go here to see the story of his original mishap and healing.)

Here he was right after the accident and the operations on his paw (the buttons are there to help fasten the wires in his jaw):

But look at him now!


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is offended, and now I am offended by Hili. But the insult to ducks is really an insult to something else. Malgorzata explains:

The name of the leader of the party ruling in Poland since 2015 (and take my word for it – it’s the worst government in the history of Poland) is Jarosław KACZyński. “Duck” in Polish is KACZKA. His name is  a derivative of it. All possible jokes about ducks are now circulating in Poland. This man is the remaining twin of the duo which we call “the horrible twins”, who have been a bane of Poland for decades. The other twin died in an air crash in 2010. He was then President of the country and the remaining twin was Prime Minister. So Hili is criticizing the horrible man who is the de facto ruler of Poland.

A: In Egypt they again found a whole lot of mummies of ancient cats.
Hili: And what were they supposed to mummify? Ducks?
In Polish:
Ja: W Egipcie znowu znaleźli mnóstwo mumii starożytnych kotów.
Hili: A co mieli mumifikować? Kaczki?
Yes, Hili, DUCKS!
And here’s Little Kulka on the windowsill:



From Tom:

From Debra, who says, “This is the guy that saved all those kittens on the road. I like how this kitten put his/hers hands up when faced with a shooter.”  Yes, it’s probably a Photoshop job, but I still like it.

From Stash Krod:

More later on this announcement from God. The data cited by Axios happen to be true:

From Simon: the “infinite monkeys” scenario:

A couple of days ago NYT staff writer Emily Bazelon produced a really good piece on “The battle over gender therapy,” detailing all the fighting about puberty blockers, “gender affirming therapy”, and so on. Because she didn’t hew absolutely to the trans-activist line, but actually gave arguments from both sides, the activists are ripping her apart (look at the comment below by the odious Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s chief lawyer for gender affairs. I suggest you read Bazelon’s long article for yourself.

The tweet is from Josh Szeps, who works for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

From the Auschwitz Memorial. See the note (and link) above about this escape:


Tweets from the estimable Professor Cobb.

A quote from Rather’s piece:

Trump and his confederates — and I choose that word in full recognition of its historical meaning — sought to foment this chaos through the raw exploitation of power and intimidation to nullify Joe Biden’s victory. That a conservative of Judge Luttig’s stature would speak with such unequivocal force, and that it would be echoed by Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and the Republican staffers on the committee, makes clear that there is a delineation in what they are investigating that is based not on politics but on fidelity to the law and America’s democratic principles.

As the hearings paint a devastating picture of Trump’s plot, there is an emerging Republican talking point that this is all old news. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose ambition to be president is about as naked as a jaybird, called it “beating a dead horse.” It’s an approach that works both to minimize the coup attempt and suggest the Republican Party should move beyond Trump and embrace something new (as in him).

DeSantis’s self-serving protestations, and those of others like him, deliberately obscure the truth. Exposing an attempt to override elections and the will of the voters is not beating a dead horse, unless that horse is American democracy. Promoting the Big Lie as an excuse to nullify Democratic victories has become a mantra for large swaths of the Republican Party.

Read the thread below: what they found inside the building, preserved by the landslide, is stunning, especially the floor and frescoes:

Some of the interior:

The big news on those interested in sports and gender is below, but we’ll have more on it later today. This means that any transgender woman who has gone through any part of male puberty cannot swim against biological women in the Olympics, period. FINA sets the criteria for Olympic swimming and other international competition in water sports.

Saturday: Hili dialogue

June 18, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Cat Shabbos: Saturday, June 18, 2022: International Picnic Day. But no picnics on the Sabbath unless somebody else does all the work!

It’s Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday today! (See below.).

Stuff that happened on June 18 includes:

  • 1178 – Five Canterbury monks see an event believed to have been the formation of the Giordano Bruno crater on the moon. It is believed that the current oscillations of the Moon‘s distance from the Earth (on the order of meters) are a result of this collision.

The original report (from Wikipedia), which comports with what one expects when an asteroid or comet strikes the Moon.

Five monks from Canterbury reported to the abbey’s chronicler, Gervase, that shortly after sunset on 18 June 1178, they saw “the upper horn [of the moon] split in two”. Furthermore, Gervase writes:

From the midpoint of the division a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out, over a considerable distance, fire, hot coals and sparks. Meanwhile the body of the Moon which was below writhed, as it were in anxiety, and to put it in the words of those who reported it to me and saw it with their own eyes, the Moon throbbed like a wounded snake. Afterwards it resumed its proper state. This phenomenon was repeated a dozen times or more, the flame assuming various twisting shapes at random and then returning to normal. Then, after these transformations, the Moon from horn to horn, that is along its whole length, took on a blackish appearance.

In 1976, the geologist Jack B. Hartung proposed that this described the formation of the crater Giordano Bruno.

This is in now in doubt, however, since the crater appears from dating methods to be several million years old. The answer is “we just don’t know what the monks saw.”

Here’s the crater, 22 km across:

  • 1812 – The United States declaration of war upon the United Kingdom is signed by President James Madison, beginning the War of 1812.
  • 1858 – Charles Darwin receives a paper from Alfred Russel Wallace that includes nearly identical conclusions about evolution as Darwin’s own, prompting Darwin to publish his theory.

The paper came with a letter, which is the one letter missing from Darwin’s correspondence. While some have hinted darkly that Darwin destroyed the letter because someone else came up with the theory of natural selection (Wallace’s paper didn’t deal with “identical conclusions about evolution”), Darwin arranged for Wallace’s paper to be published back to back with Darwin’s own hastily-written precis of natural selection. Both men thus got equal temporal priority (you can see the papers here), but Darwin gets most of the credit because he went on to write up his Big Book in 1859 that described natural selection as well as evolution in much detail, and giving tons of evidence. [Addendum by GCM: The joint publication by Wallace and Darwin was a “win-win” for them, with both men jointly introducing natural selection, while establishing the independence of their discoveries, Wallace in this ‘Ternate Essay’, and Darwin through extracts from his essay of 1844 and a letter to Asa Gray from 1857. I wrote a short paper about the circumstances in 2002, which I revised and posted here at WEIT as part of the Wallace Year (2013) celebrations: Darwin and Wallace at Burlington House. For full historical accounts, see the references in that post, especially the paper by John van Wyhe and Kees Rookmaker (and have a look at John’s more recent publications).]

The mountain is 4,194 m high (13,760 ft). Here it is:

(From Wikipedia): The Aletschhorn (right) from the Oberaletsch Glacier

Here’s one of our earliest U.S. feminists, photographed around 1870:

Churchill didn’t have a particularly mellifluous voice, but oy, was he a great orator! Here’s a snippet of the speech with the “Finest Hour” bit (go to 4:53):

Joyce was hanged on January 3, 1946. Here is his anti-Semitic final statement, and a photo of him below (he was wounded in the buttocks during capture)

In death as in life, I defy the Jews who caused this last war, and I defy the power of darkness which they represent. I warn the British people against the crushing imperialism of the Soviet Union. May Britain be great once again and in the hour of the greatest danger in the West may the standard be raised from the dust, crowned with the words – “You have conquered nevertheless”. I am proud to die for my ideals and I am sorry for the sons of Britain who have died without knowing why.

Joyce on his way to captivity:

  • 1948 – Columbia Records introduces the long-playing record album in a public demonstration at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
  • 1983 – Space Shuttle programSTS-7Astronaut Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.

Here she is; tragically, she died at only 61 of pancreatic cancer.

Photo: NASA


*It’s pretty clear that the Congressional hearings on the January 6 insurrection are largely designed to get Donald Trump indicted. I don’t know if that will happen, but I do think that these hearings have damaged the man—perhaps to the extent that he’ll never again be a viable candidate for President. (This despite the fact that other Republicans who voice support for The Big Steal scenario have won primaries in the last week.)

The latest news is that the committee may start sharing transcripts of its findings with the Department of Justice as early as next month. As I said the other day, the DOJ has six prosecutors watching the proceedings full time, and there is only one man who has the power to get Trump indicted for federal crimes: Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Justice Department officials and top investigators, including Matthew M. Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, are growing increasingly impatient to obtain the transcripts, which they see as an essential source of information needed to guide their own interviews with former President Donald J. Trump’s allies, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The Justice Department sent the committee a two-page letter on Wednesday accusing the panel of hampering the federal criminal investigation into the attack by refusing to share interview transcripts with prosecutors.

The committee isn’t being deliberately truculent: its chairman just wants to get more accomplished before it turned over material to the DOJ.

*Trump is STILL criticizing Pence. According to the NBC Evening News as well as Reuters, Trump announced yesterday that “Pence had a chance to be great” (he coulda been a contender) but he “lacked courage.” To show the Trumpster’s continuing insanity, read the long letter he wrote criticizing the January 6 committee.  (Actually, someone probably wrote it for him, as it’s in English.) One snippet:

The January 6th Unselect Committee is disgracing everything we hold sacred about our Constitution. If they had any real evidence, they’d hold real hearings with equal representation. They don’t, so they use the illegally-constituted committee to put on a smoke and mirrors show for the American people, in a pitiful last-ditch effort to deceive the American public…again.

They TRIED equal representation, but only two Republicans wanted to be on that committee. I hope Liz Cheney doesn’t suffer cancellation for her sterling performance on the committee.

*For some enjoyment, read Andrew Sullivan’s epic rant about Trump and his role in Jan. 6: “A man and his mob“.

But this complexity misses something important — the contingent importance of individuals in human history. And the truth is: we would not be where we are now without Donald Trump, and Donald Trump alone. He is unique in American history, a president who told us in advance he would never accept any election result that showed him losing, and then proved it. He tried to overturn the transfer of power to his successor by threats and violence. No president in history has ever done such a thing — betrayed and violated the core of our republic — from Washington’s extraordinary example onwards. The stain of Trump is as unique as it is indelible.

Without Trump, January 6 would never have happened. It was his idea, and his alone. No one in his closest inner circle believed he had won the election on November 3. They all knew that the Trump presidency was “the rotten carcass of a boat, not rigg’d, / Nor tackle, sail, nor mast.” None of them would have attempted to keep it afloat.

*POLL! Just give your answer, as PCC(E) wants to know readers’ opinions:

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*Meanwhile, Uncle Joe is, as the Washington Post reports, sending “every signal that he’s running again” in 2024.

President Biden’s advisers have been studying a spring 2023 reelection announcement that would echo the timetable of former president Barack Obama. They have flooded 2024 battleground states with millions of dollars to build up Democratic operations in advance of the next presidential campaign.

And under the Biden team’s leadership, the Democratic National Committee has decided against preparing a debate schedule for a contested nomination fight.

The goal of his advisers is to send every possible message that Biden, 79, is ready, able and determined to carry the party banner into another presidential election, especially if the opponent is his nemesis, Donald Trump, 76.

. . . In public and private, Biden himself has emphasized that he is running, effectively shutting down any discussion of the topic between the president and his close advisers, according to interviews with more than a dozen Democrats close to the White House, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

I wonder whether he would run again should the Democrats get slaughtered in this fall’s election. Don’t get me wrong: I’d vote for Biden over Trump (or any Republican) any day.  But I think that somewhere out there, languishing unrecognized among the Democratic Party, is someone who could be a better President.

*This is tragic:  Nepal has had to move Everest Base Camp to a lower altitude because the famous Khumbu Icefall is melting due to global warming. That has created dangerous crevasses in the previously safe camp. It will also make climbing the mountain harder. But of course basecamp, and now much of the mountain, is full of litter from climbers. (h/t Andrew)

*Today Paul McCartney turns 80—16 years past the age he once saw as being old. To celebrate his dotage, Sir Paul was joined in his June 16 New Jersey concert by The Boss. To wit:

Here are McCartney’s favorite Beatles songs, though only two of them would make my own top five list (“Blackbird” and “Eleanor Rigby”).

  • ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’
  • ‘Hey Jude’
  • ‘Blackbird’
  • ‘Eleanor Rigby’
  • ‘You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)’

That last song is dreadful and doesn’t belong on the list at all!

To give Sir Paul more encomiums, here he is singing “Blackbird” live.  (Don’t miss the live version of “Eleanor Rigby” here.) Both songs are masterpieces; nothing in modern rock or pop comes close.) Long may he run—a driving force behind the greatest rock band of all time.

*Speaking of Stanford’s authoritarianism, as we did the other day, here we have a Stanford student who almost wasn’t allowed to graduate from Stanford because he didn’t get a covid booster after the first two shots. The weird thing is that the guy wasn’t even in California then: he was moving to Texas!   (h/t Mike)

Stanford announced its booster mandate in December, at which time I was recovering from a covid infection and moving to Texas.

But as I learned in April when Stanford almost gave me the boot, the booster mandate is “not predicated on history of infection or physical location.” I could have been living on a Pacific island the day before my graduation, and America’s finest university would still not be able to tolerate the fact that I was only “fully vaccinated” and not “boosted.” Two shots aren’t enough, science denier – no degree for you!

Spoiler: Stanford did eventually give in when I pointed out the absurdity of their plan to enforce the mandate against me from 2,000 miles away, but only after multiple rounds of protest and a stroke of luck with a single administrator.

Now that is gratuitous authoritarianism.

*And, for fun, after reading an article in Tablet (h/t Malgorzata), I tracked down the only existing recording by Thomas LaRue Jones, “Yidele, Farlir Nit Dayn Hoffnung” (“Don’t Give Up Hope, Mr. Jew”). Jones was a a rare breed: an African-American cantor from the early 20th century. And in case you don’t know what a cantor is, it’s normally a Jew who leads the congregation of a synagogue in song and prayer. Jones, known as “Tevye, der shvartzer khazn” (Tevye, the Black Cantor), wasn’t really Jewish, but he was good at singing traditional Yiddish songs, and made a living performing in public. Very little is known of his life (it’s said that his family was steeped in Judaism, though not Jewish), and there’s only one commercial record (below).

From the Tablet:

Endowed with a pleasant voice, the teenage Jones began a fledgling performance career singing Yiddish songs in local Jewish festive events. As early as 1915, a local Newark newspaper mentions his name, along with several other very Jewish-sounding names, as providing the entertainment for a Jewish wedding. A year later, the paper mentions his name as the person providing musical entertainment at another Jewish event.

. . . The 1920s were an opportune time for Tevye LaRue Jones to make his entrance. Cantorial performance was flourishing in America. Cantors were no longer confined to the sacred space of the synagogue. They recorded their music, at times accompanied by musical instruments which would not be allowed in the synagogue. Even women who would not be allowed to sing in the synagogue were performing hazzones on stage. Hundreds of records of cantorial music were produced, avidly consumed by a public that was also packing concert halls and vaudeville venues where cantors performed. Outside the synagogue the cantor was no longer serving merely as a “shliakh tsibbur,” the voice of his community, but also as a seasoned entertainer whose repertoire often broadened to include folk and Yiddish theater songs. In this thriving popular Jewish culture, a Black cantor would likely prove an attraction.

A poster (translation in caption):

‘The greatest wonder in the world/The famous Black cantor who has astounded all America in a concert of folk songs of Rosenblatt, Kwartin, Rovner and others in all languages/Toyve the Black Cantor.’ (Courtesy of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research) Source here.

And “the only known early 20th century recording of an African-American singing cantorial music.” The guy isn’t bad!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili still won’t give Kulka a break:

Kulka: May I come up there?
Hili: Don’t even think about it.
In Polish:
Kulka: Czy mogę tam wejść?
Hili: Nawet o tym nie myśl.


From Ant:  Good thing they didn’t try to slice it!

From Frits:

From Stash Krod:

Please me some good tweets, as I’m running low except for those from Matthew.

Ah, God is such a wag! This tweet has been deleted, but all the important stuff is below:

What is more fun than this?

A tweet I found on Nellie Bowles’s weekly news summary on Bari Weiss’s site. Bowles said this:

University of Michigan emeritus economics professor, Mark J. Perry, broke down the latest numbers on how many professional diversity officers are on the U of M payroll, and how much these officers make: “126 diversicrats at an average salary of $93,600 with 38 making >$100K and a shocking record-high of $430,795.” The total payroll cost for “diversity equity and inclusion” programming is over $15 million a year, or in-state tuition for almost 1,000 students. One wild DEI idea: Fire every single one of them, and use that money to free 1,000 poor students from debt each year.

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. It was about 38°C two days ago, but my ducks were fine; they stay in the water a lot and seek out shade when on land.

Sound up. This is like a horror movie!

Ah, that classic first line. You better know the book!

I’ve saved the best for last. This is stunning!

Sunday: Hili dialogue

June 12, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Sunday, June 12, 2022, and it’s International Falafel Day, saved from cultural appropriation by being “International”.  Here are some lovely falafel:

Only kidding! These are mud nests of some kind of swift or swallow, seen in an archway in Portugal.

I haven’t been to the Middle East, where falafel reins supreme, but here is the best falafel I’ve ever had in my travels. It’s in Paris in the Marais, and there’s always a line:

It’s also World Day Against Child Labour as well as Loving Day in the U.S., described as “an annual celebration held on June 12, the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states.”

Wine of the Day: It’s not secret that I like sweet wines; the real secret is how to find good ones, many of them greatly undervalued (try an Aussie Yalumba Antique Muscat, for instance). Sweet wines can be great value for money, but I did splurge quite a bit on this one, a 2018 Klein Constantia, which cost $60—and for 2/3 of a bottle (500 ml).

This is a historic wine that almost went extinct—well, it actually did for a while. They starting making it from the muscat grape at this estate in South Africa in 1685, and it became a favorite of many, including Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Napoleon while in exile in St. Helena, Queen Victoria (who reportedly had a glass every night), Baudelaire, and, in the U.S., George Washington and John Adams, the latter describing it as among the “most delicious wines of the world.” It even gets an approving nod in Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility as “the finest old Constantia wine.”

An increase in British tariffs reduced production to almost nothing, and then nothing, with the wine no longer produced after 1872.  But estate was restarted in 1980, and the quality seems back to what it was then—well, at least it’s an indescribably delicious tipple. It’s sweet but not unctuous, with a light straw color.

The odor is unique: a mixture of classic muscat fragrance combined with what I identify as lemon, straw, and a bit of oregano. I will probably never have another bottle of this, as it’s rare and pricey but I got seven glasses from it (you need only a little), so it’s only about $8.50 per glass. (You’d pay more than that for a glass of mediocre red in a restaurant.) It is very highly recommended by all critics (see the captious James Suckling’s review here). If you have a wine-loving friend who likes “stickies”, this would make a great Christmas gift, if you can find it.

It was stunning now but is said to get even better with age. I couldn’t wait.

Stuff that happened on June 12 include:

  • 1775 – American War of Independence: British general Thomas Gage declares martial law in Massachusetts. The British offer a pardon to all colonists who lay down their arms. There would be only two exceptions to the amnesty: Samuel Adams and John Hancock, if captured, were to be hanged.
  • 1817 – The earliest form of bicycle, the dandy horse, is driven by Karl von Drais.

Here’s a dandy horse from about 1820. Seems crazy to me, and not that efficient. Scooters would be better:

And the plaque of my favorite player, though the image is a bit ghoulish:

There was more than one diary. Here’s the story of her diary, showing a collection of Anne’s writings. The checkered book on top is the one she was given on this day. You can see a photo here, but I dare not post it because the last time I used two photos from the Anne Frank site, they charged me $160 post facto, saying I’d have to pay even if I removed the photos to make up for the money I (don’t) make on this website. The organization is venal.

  • 1963 – NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers is murdered in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi by Ku Klux Klan member Byron De La Beckwith during the civil rights movement.
  • 1963 – The film Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, is released in US theaters. It was the most expensive film made at the time.

You can see why from the scene below when Cleopatra enters Rome:

  • 1964 – Anti-apartheid activist and ANC leader Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life in prison for sabotage in South Africa.
  • 1967 – The United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia declares all U.S. state laws which prohibit interracial marriage to be unconstitutional.

Here are Mildred and Richard Loving in 1967. They were convicted in Virginia, brought suit before the Supreme Court, and won with a unanimous decision.

Here’s the famous statement:

The Pulse Nightclub was torn down and replaced with this memorial:

  • 2017 – American student Otto Warmbier returns home in a coma after spending 17 months in a North Korean prison and dies a week later.
  • 2018 – United States President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea held the first meeting between leaders of their two countries in Singapore.

Nothing came of it, of course, and I doubt anything will ever come from our negotiations with the DPRK. Lots of avoirdupois here!

Da Nooz: 

*It’s a fraught summer in Kyiv, as the Associated Press reports in this article and in the video below. The fighting is mostly elsewhere, but the air raid sirens blow regularly, and many of the male residents are preparing to fight in the east or south.

Many, but by no means all, of the 2 million inhabitants who Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said had fled when Russian forces tried to encircle the city in March are now returning. But with soldiers falling by the hundreds to the east and south, the surreal calm of Kyiv is laced with nagging guilt.

“People are feeling grateful but asking themselves, ‘Am I doing enough?’” said Snezhana Vialko, as she and boyfriend Denys Koreiba bought plump strawberries from one of the summer-fruit vendors who have deployed across the city, in neighborhoods where just weeks ago jumpy troops manned checkpoints of sand bags and tank traps.

Now greatly reduced in numbers and vigilance, they generally wave through the restored buzz of car traffic, barely glancing up from pass-the-time scrolling on phones.

With the peace still so fragile and more treasured than ever, many are plowing their energies, time, money and muscle into supporting the soldiers fighting what has become a grinding war of attrition for control of destroyed villages, towns and cities.

*Photos of the prisoners at the US base in Guantanamo Bay are rare, but Wikileaks released some, and the NYT has now published several it got via the Freedom of Information Act.  Here’s one of them.  We should not be keeping prisoners there; they need to be tried or released; indefinite detention without trial is illegal on US soil.

*On Friday evening the average price of a gallon of gas hit $5 for the first time ever. the Rubicon has been crossed!

Some drivers are purchasing fewer gallons on each visit to gas stations but making more frequent trips to fuel up. Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at price tracker GasBuddy, said consumer resilience has remained relatively strong, even as demand has started to waver. He projects people will more significantly adjust their driving habits when gas hits between $5.40 and $5.50.

That is around the price that, adjusted for inflation, would surpass the 2008 peak for gas prices, Mr. De Haan said.

Read the new WaPo editorial by Madline Voschl, “I’m a Texas teacher. Here are all the thinks I’m asked to be“. If you think you have a tough job, trying being a public high-school teacher in a district where 60% of the students are economically disadvantaged, with many so hungry that the teacher buys snacks for the kids. On top of that, they had to maintain covid and mask regulations, and many are the family’s main breadwinners, leaving them little time to study.  (h/t David)

We’re asked to be guards, caretakers, public health officials, life coaches. It’s impossible to do everything, but we’re asked to do it all because no institution outside our schools will.

The police won’t keep my students safe. Politicians won’t regulate guns. Billionaires won’t pay their taxes, money that might go to the schools. So we teachers do more. And when we can’t, it’s the most vulnerable children who feel the effects.

The teachers in Uvalde acted as human shields, giving their lives to try to save their students. But the truth is, no matter how hard we try, we can’t keep them safe on our own.

Truly, dedicated teachers like Vosch are the unrecognized heroes of America.

*Analyzing the Congressional hearing on the January 6 insurrection, The New York Times suggests that Congress is laying the grounds for a criminal case against Trump.

The first prime-time hearing into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol this past week confronted the fundamental question that has haunted Mr. Trump, the 45th president, ever since he left office: Should he be prosecuted in a criminal court for his relentless efforts to defy the will of the voters and hang on to power?

. . . Several former prosecutors and veteran lawyers said afterward that the hearing offered the makings of a credible criminal case for conspiracy to commit fraud or obstruction of the work of Congress.

But there are many obstacles to putting the Orange Man in an Orange Suit, one of the most daunting being to prove that he acted with the intent of fomenting an insurrection:

“Unless there’s more evidence to come that we don’t know about, I don’t see a criminal case against the former president,” said Robert W. Ray, a former independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton and later served as a defense lawyer for Mr. Trump at his first Senate impeachment trial.

“Whatever the Proud Boys had in mind when they stormed the Capitol, I don’t see how you’d be able to prove that Trump knew that that was the purpose of the conspiracy,” Mr. Ray added. “Whether or not he ‘lit the fuse’ that caused that to happen, the government would have to prove he knowingly joined that conspiracy with that objective.”

*Below is a re-election ad for the biggest loon in Congress, Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert.  She shows her political prowess by winning a demolition derby. (Note that she’s also packing heat.)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gets a taste of her own medicine:

Hili: This borders on persecution.
Małgorzata: What are you complaining about now?
Hili: About the lack of inclusivity.
In Polish:
Hili: To zakrawa na prześladowania.
Małgorzata: Na co znowu się skarżysz?
Hili: Na brak inkluzywności.

And a photo of Kulka from Paulina:


From David:

From reddit:(h/t Merilee)

The last box on earth from cats

From Bruce:

God is flogging His new book. But he doesn’t need money, and why couldn’t he convey his book to others as a revelation?

From Bette Midler, retweeted by Sarah Silverman:

A tweet from Barry. His caption: “Get a room!”video

A tweet from Ricky Gervais, showing what he’s reading. He seems to have a penchant for nonscience and fiction, but doesn’t he know that E. O. Wilson has been canceled? I have to say that the Wilson book, though, is far from his best, and was panned in magazines by both Richard Dawkins and me.

From the Auschwitz Memorial. As noted above, it’s Anne Frank’s birthday and the day when, at 13, she was given the first book of her now-famous diary:

Tweets from Matthew Cobb, who wonders how long this turtle can keep exhaling under water. A long time, I suspect!

Wouldn’t you love to have a bobcat family living in your back yard?

This fish may be deepening its hole to lay eggs, to protect it from predation, or any of a myriad of other reasons:

This winds up as a beautiful story; be sure to read Joe Biden’s letter at the end:

Saturday: Hili dialogue

June 11, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the Cat Sabbath: Saturday, June 11, 2022. It’s National German Chocolate Cake Day, but not a case of cultural appropriation. The name “German” comes from the recipe on the German’s Chocolate Cake Box, a company now owned by Better Crocker. It’s GOOD! The recipe for the cake is here, but you’ll also need the filling and frosting recipe, which you can find here.


It’s also King Kamehameha Day in Hawaii.

Stuff that happened on June 11 includes:

  • 1509 – Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon.
  • 1748 – Denmark adopts the characteristic Nordic Cross flag later taken up by all other Scandinavian countries.

Here are all the Nordic flags with the Wikipedia caption:

Nordic flags, from left to right: Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark

Here are all the Nordic flags

  • 1770 – British explorer Captain James Cook runs aground on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • 1837 – The Broad Street Riot occurs in Boston, fueled by ethnic tensions between Yankees and Irish.
  • 1895 – Paris–Bordeaux–Paris, sometimes called the first automobile race in history or the “first motor race”, takes place.

This is a bit misleading, at least where the term “race” is involved. Wikipedia notes:

The Paris–Bordeaux–Paris Trail race of June 1895 is sometimes called the “first motor race”, although it did not fit modern competition where the fastest is the winner. It was a win for Émile Levassor, who came first after completing the 1,178km race in 48 hours, almost six hours before second place. However, the official winner was Paul Koechlin, who finished third in his Peugeot, exactly 11 hours slower than Levassor, but the official race regulations had been established for four-seater cars, while Levassor and runner-up Louis Rigoulot were driving two-seater cars

Here’s Sir Barton, who lived to be 21 (the jockey is Johnny Loftus, the venue is the Preakness:

  • 1920 – During the U.S. Republican National Convention in Chicago, U.S. Republican Party leaders gathered in a room at the Blackstone Hotel to come to a consensus on their candidate for the U.S. presidential election, leading the Associated Press to coin the political phrase “smoke-filled room”.

The Blackstone is still operating as a hotel, and is downtown on Michigan Avenue. Here’s a photo (from Wikipedia):

You can still visit the USS MIssouri in Pearl Harbor. Here’s a photo of the original surrender and my own photo from 2018 of the spot where the war officially ended:

  • 1955 – Eighty-three spectators are killed and at least 100 are injured after an Austin-Healey and a Mercedes-Benz collide at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the deadliest ever accident in motorsports.

Here’s a video account of the accident, which you may not want to watch, as it’s grim (accident footage begins at 3:27):

Here’s Wallace standing in the door, a door that you can still see. It was a symbolic segregationist gesture, as the Feds shortly thereafter forced him to move. Here he’s encountering Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach:

  • 1963 – Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức burns himself with gasoline in a busy Saigon intersection to protest the lack of religious freedom in South Vietnam.

The story of the burning monk, and again, bits are disturbing, so be warned:

  • 1963 – John F. Kennedy addresses Americans from the Oval Office proposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which would revolutionize American society by guaranteeing equal access to public facilities, ending segregation in education, and guaranteeing federal protection for voting rights.

Here’s JFK’s speech committing his government to a civil right act, which begins with a reference to the black students who, on that same day, finally registered at the University of Alabama:

Hayes is first, then Hoisington

  • 2001 – Timothy McVeigh is executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • 2010 – The first African FIFA World Cup kicks off in South Africa.

Here’s the official song of the 2010 World Cup, which I show because I love Shakira and, especially, this catchy song, even though though it’s taken from a Cameroon marching song, “Zamina Waka Waka” (below):

Note that the group, Zangalewa, is partly in whiteface:

Da Nooz:

*Fasten your seat belts; it’s gonna be a bumpy economic ride. The Washington Post reports (along with many other venues) that inflation has risen again this month, giving us a yearly rate of 8.6%: a 42-year high.

Compared to April, May prices rose 1 percent, according to the latest snapshot issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and known as the consumer price index. The brutal report surprised economists and brings into sharp relief just how inescapable inflation has become for millions of American households, dealing with higher rent, bigger gas bills, and rising grocery costs.

“Whatever Washington has done to try to fix the cost of living crisis in America, it isn’t working,” Chris Rupkey, the chief economist at the research firm FWDBONDS LLC, said in an analyst note. “This isn’t just Russia and Ukraine anymore.”

. . .Gas and other energy prices were not the sole drivers of May’s bleak inflation report. Categories for shelter, airfare, used cars and trucks and new vehicles were among the largest contributors. The cost of medical care, household furnishings and clothing also rose.

The food index increased 10.1 percent for the 12 months ending in May, the first double-digit increase since 1981.

Here’s a timeline of yearly inflation rate, showing that the most recent year that outstripped this one was 1981:

*Anti-Semitism rears its ugly head in Boston, but I’ll let Nellie Bowles describe it infrom Bari Weiss’s Substack column). This has been reported in several other places, like the Jerusalem Post, but I haven’t found a mention of this in the liberal mainstream media like the Washington Post, New York Times. or even The Boston Globe.

 Anti-Zionists are now just mapping Boston’s Jewish population: The Boston Boycott Divest and Sanction movement is circulating a map of Zionist “entities.” The elaborate map —which looks like something a crazy person makes in a movie—has pins with lines drawn between places like . . . a brewery, the JewishBoston publication, county jails, and the Jewish Teen Foundation of Greater Boston. All of whom are somehow “responsible for the colonization of Palestine.”

Here’s what the “Mapping Project” creators have to say: “Our goal in pursuing this collective mapping was to reveal the local entities and networks that enact devastation, so we can dismantle them. Every entity has an address, every network can be disrupted.”

Nothing antisemitic to see here.

*AOC, in one of her less sapient moments, has gone on what she called a “mini-rant” about the use of the term “Latinx” to refer to Hispanics. (She favors the term, though most Hispanics ignore and abhor it). Her words as reported at The Hill:

“I also have a mini-rant about this because there are some politicians, including Democratic politicians, that rail against the term ‘Latinx.’ And they’re like, ‘This is so bad, this is so bad for the party,’ like blah blah blah.

“And like it’s almost like it hasn’t struck some of these folks that another person’s identity is not about your re-election prospects,” Ocasio-Cortez said during a video message posted to her Instagram account.

“Gender is fluid, language is fluid, and I think people right now are using the ‘e’ term as gender-neutral [JAC: I assume she means “Latine”] in order to be as inclusive as possible. Don’t have to make drama over it.”

As NBC News reported last December:

. . . a new survey of 800 registered voters of Latin American descent showed that only 2 percent described themselves as Latinx. The poll, conducted in November by Bendixen and Amandi International, a Miami-based Democratic firm, also showed that 68 percent prefer Hispanic and 21 percent favor Latino. A whopping 40 percent found the word Latinx offensive.

In fact, AOC is using a term spurned by Hispanics precisely to flaunt her virtue to white people and thereby increase her reelection prospects.

*But good news: be aware that as Sunday morning, you will no longer need a negative covid test to board a flight to the U.S.

On Friday, a senior official for the Biden administration said that it had decided to lift the requirement on Sunday at 12:01 a.m., after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials determined that the widespread adoption of vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 no longer make it necessary.

The decision was met with joy in the travel industry, which for months has been lobbying the administration hard to get rid of the testing rule.

These tests were the bane of many trips, including my two recent ones, for the test had to be read within 24 hours of boarding your first flight to the U.S. Returning from Santiago, Chile after having taken a PCR test, we all got very nervous until the results came when we were about to walk two blocks to the departure airport. The same late results made us equally anxious in Lisbon. This is a great mitzvah!

*Andrew Sullivan’s column of yesterday, “The vibes they are a-shiftin’“, not only details some missteps of the Woke Left, but suggests that maybe the pushback is beginning—even in the liberal media.

And many people have now experienced firsthand what happens to a workplace when crusades for “social justice” trump every other value. The Washington Post this week was convulsed by public infighting — initiated by a reporter, Felicia Sonmez, whose crusade to dismantle the “oppressive systems” she endures at the WaPo went on for a week of public name-calling, vitriol, and victim-mongering. As a professed victim of sexism, Sonmez felt fully justified in destroying any shred of civility or decorum — because she assumed she couldn’t be punished. The same applies to the unethical journalism of Taylor Lorenz, another social justice warrior at the WaPo.

And yet even in this wokest of woke newspapers, the editor finally had enough. Sonmez was fired yesterday for “misconduct that includes insubordination, maligning your co-workers online and violating The Post’s standards on workplace collegiality and inclusivity.” Today, Erik Wemple casts a skeptical eye at the countless corrections required to sustain the career of Lorenz. That strikes me as another vibe shift. Not so long ago, a brilliant young editor, Bari Weiss, was forced out of the NYT by a relentless campaign of bullying, Twitter-mobbing and Slack vileness. Now, a purveyor of exactly those kinds of tactics is the one who had to go.

Sullivan sounds as if he wants the Democrats to win, and I’m sure he does, so long as they’re not “progressive” (i.e., woke) ones:

Can the Democrats de-toxify and regroup? I’m not sure they have time before November; but even if they did, I doubt at this point that Biden can do it. He doesn’t seem to understand the legitimate criticisms of the cultural left he has yoked himself to during his first two years. And in a very rare interview this week — Jimmy Kimmel’s — he seemed to blame the press for his inability to get his voice above the din. This is not the kind of thing a successful president says.

There’s an opening here for a future Democratic presidential candidate. Be your generation’s Bill Clinton. Be the person who finally takes on woke intolerance and leftist delusion. Focus on crime, income inequality, affordable healthcare, getting inflation under control, and beefing up the border. These issues should not be conceded to the GOP — as Clinton and Obama showed. The consequences of staying on the current course are more fatal now than they were when Clinton and Obama dragged the Dems to the center, and won over conservatives like me. The result could be the re-election of Donald Trump. If that doesn’t merit a shake-up, what would?

But who’s our candidate? Where is an electable Democrat?

*And there’s more good news tonight, or there was in 2017, when this was reported in the New Zealand Herald. There’s a nice movie at the site, too, where you can see the Star the Duck quaffing a good pint. Click to read; this headline is clickbait if ever there was such a thing:

The whole story (note that the d*g started it!):

A duck wearing a bow tie suffered injuries following a brawl with a dog in a pub in Chulmleigh, Devon, UK.

The dapper duck, named Star, was enjoying a pint with his owner Barrie Hayman when Hayman’s dog Meggie reportedly started the fight.

Star’s beak was injured in the brawl, which took place at The Old Courthouse Inn.

“Star pushed his luck too far and Meggie snapped – splitting Star’s bottom beak right down the middle,” Hayman told the Cheddar Valley Gazette.

“He gave her a stare, then promptly stood on her back. It was not pretty and not nice. We were so scared we would lose Star.

“He had to be rushed to the vets and go under anaesthetic, which is always risky and could go either way with ducks and other small animals.

“Thankfully our Star is a tough cookie and it looks like he came out okay.”

Here’s the indomitable Star and his staff:

Star the duck and his owner Barry Hayman with a pint of ale at The Old Courthouse Inn in Chulmleigh, North Devon. Star has developed a taste for Ale and he is often seen drinking at the pub. Photo / SWNS/Mega

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron and Hili have displaces Andrzej from the couch:

A: Is there a place for me?
Hili: Yes, but you have to chase Szaron away.
In Polish:
Ja: Czy jest tu miejsce dla mnie?
Hili: Tak, ale musisz wygonić Szarona.

And Paulina’s photo of Baby Kulka:


From Facebook:

From The Cat House on the Kings:

. . . and a True Fact from Amazing Things:

A tweet from Titania about her latest article.

A quote from that article:

At a recent “comedy” show in Los Angeles, a brave audience member peacefully attacked comedian Dave Chappelle in self-defence against his violent jokes. Some reports have suggested that the assailant wasn’t a social justice activist at all, but a victim of mental illness. But the two are by no means mutually exclusive. Many of my best friends are clinically insane. 

I probably posted this before, but it’s worth seeing again. There’s even a Wikipeda article on Tombili, a name often given to a chubby pet. The Turks do love their kitties!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. This photo is from Chicago, and notice the even spacing!

A lovely transit of Greenland:

If you don’t know what this doctor is talking about, go here.

A wonderful dive:

There is nothing, no matter how bizarre, that you cannot find on the Internet:

Thursday: Hili dialogue

June 9, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Thursday, June 9, 2022: National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. Once again I must kvetch about the use of vegetables in dessert pies. Yes, I know it’s a matter of taste, but all I can say is that those who prefer rhubarb along with strawberries in a pie are deficient in the taste department.

It’s also La Rioja Day, celebrating the province in Spain that makes some of the world’s best red wine.

Stuff that happened on June 9 includes:

  • 68 – Nero commits suicide, after quoting Vergil’s Aeneid, thus ending the Julio-Claudian dynasty and starting the civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors.

Fun facts about Nero.: He is said (there are dissenters) to have kicked his wife Poppaea to death in 65 A.D. and then, says Wikipedia,

In 67, Nero married Sporus, a young boy who is said to have greatly resembled Poppaea. Nero had him castrated, tried to make a woman out of him, and married him in a dowry and bridal veil. It is believed that he did this out of regret for his killing of Poppaea.

Nero couldn’t bear to kill himself after he’d been repudiated by the Senate, so he got his private secretary to do the deed for him. As for Sporus, he committed suicide in 69 AD to avoid being killed publicly.

Here’s a remnant of the trail in Nebraska with a present-day trail marker.

  • 1954 – Joseph Welch, special counsel for the United States Army, lashes out at Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Army–McCarthy hearings, giving McCarthy the famous rebuke, “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Here’s a video explaining the exchange, which involved McCarthy breaking a promise he made. This exchange really was the beginning of the end for McCarthy, and a good thing it was, too. But there was a bit of planning by Welch too: it was not a spontaneous lecture he delivered to Sen. McCarthy.

Broad Peak is in the Karakorum and is 8,051 metres (26,414 ft) high. Here it is:

This, of course, was due to a “revelation” that was later than it should have been. I wonder why God changed his mind. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

During this time [1849-1878], the church taught that the restriction came from God and many leaders gave several race-based explanations for the ban, including a curse on Cain and his descendants, Ham’s marriage to Egyptus, a curse on the descendants of Canaan, and that black people were less valiant in their pre-mortal life. Church leaders used LDS scriptures to justify their explanations, including the Book of Abraham, which teaches that the descendants of Canaan were black and Pharaoh could not have the priesthood because he was a descendant of Canaan. In 1978, it was declared that the restriction was lifted as a result of a revelation given to the church president and apostles. The 1978 declaration was incorporated into the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of Latter-day Saint scripture.


*As I reported yesterday, the “progressive” Left suffered a stinging defeat in the recall election of district attorney Chesa Boudin, who was recalled by a vote of about 60%. The NYT paints this as a warning for the progressives’ policy on police:

The elections on Tuesday showed the extent to which the political winds have shifted even in Democratic cities in the two years since George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer. The initial rally cry on the left then — “defund the police” — has since become so politically toxic that it is now more often used by Republicans as an epithet than by Democrats as an earnest policy proposal. And the crusading energy to overhaul policing in the face of rising crime has waned.

For Democrats, the issue of crime and disorder threatens to drive a wedge between some of the party’s core constituencies, as some voters demand action on racial and systemic disparities while others are focused on their own sense of safety in their homes and neighborhoods.

“Defund the police” was a losing mantra for the outset, yet there are still those who call for it, especially on campus. Some of our own students want the University of Chicago Police defunded, even though those police patrol a huge area of the South Side outside the campus. This baffles me.

*Here’s more backlash reported in The Washington Post, and this worries me more, “Across the country, educational equity was in vogue. And then it wasn’t.” In Colorado Springs, as in other parts of the U.S., conservatives are taking over school boards using the “threat” of CRT teaching as leverage. But the byproducts of conservative school boards, however, are not just unconscionable rules about what to teach, but censorship of books and other educational material.

*As of Wednesday evening, the U.S. House of Representative is set to vote on gun-control measures that the Washington Post says are “some of the most aggressive gun-control measures taken up on Capitol Hill in years“.  And they are, but they’re still weak beer—and worse, they’re like to fail. The bills include:

1.) “raising the minimum age for the purchase of most semiautomatic rifles to 21 and banning high-capacity ammunition magazines”


2.)  “proposals that would crack down on gun trafficking, create new safe-storage requirements for gun owners, and codify executive orders that ban untraceable “ghost guns” as well as “bump stock” devices that allow a semiautomatic rifle to mimic machine-gun fire.”

But the big impediment to this is, of course, are the Republicans:

The House votes, however, will amount to little more than a political messaging exercise because of firm Republican opposition to substantial new gun restrictions. That has left hopes for a bipartisan deal that could be signed into law in the hands of a small group of senators who are exploring much more modest changes to federal gun laws. Those talks continued Wednesday in hopes of sealing a deal in the coming days.

I presume by that the Post means that even if the bill passes the Democratic-majority House, it will fail in the Senate. I’m not sure why unless they’re referring to a filibuster, because even Joe Manchin is in favor of stronger gun control than nearly all Republicans want (which is NONE).

UPDATE: The bill passed the House last night by a vote of 223-204, but it’s doomed by the filibuster, as I guessed:

Though the bill passed 223 to 204, it stands no chance in the evenly divided Senate, where solid Republican opposition means it cannot draw the 60 votes needed to break through a filibuster and move forward.

The vote on Wednesday only underscored the intractable politics of gun control in Congress, where all but five Republicans voted against Democrats’ wide-ranging legislation, and talks on a compromise remained unresolved.

Bipartisan negotiations in the Senate continued among a small group of Republicans and Democrats on more modest measures that might actually have a chance of drawing sufficient backing. But one crucial player, Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, warned that there were “sticking points everywhere.”

*A group of 90 women gymnasts, including big names like Simone BIles and McKayla Maroney, are suing the FBI for a billion dollars over its admitted mishandling of claims of sexual abuse by team doctor Larry Nassar.

The women are collectively seeking more than $1 billion from the FBI in a lawsuit filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, a 1946 law that makes the United States liable for injuries “caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment.” They join 13 others who in April filed a similar lawsuit against the FBI, citing a July report released by the Justice Department’s inspector general that found the bureau failed to properly investigate serious sex-abuse allegations against Nassar.

Normally you can’t sue the government unless you file a request to the relevant agency asking them to allow you to sue them. But this suit involves a specific law dealing with individual negligence.

*The other day we discussed the continuing phenomenon of food “shrinkflation,” whereby containers get smaller and prices either stay the same or rise, which causes an increase in the price of a given amount of comestible. The Associated Press reports that, in these lean and inflationary times, shrinkflation is coming on strong.

From toilet paper to yogurt and coffee to corn chips, manufacturers are quietly shrinking package sizes without lowering prices. It’s dubbed “shrinkflation,” and it’s accelerating worldwide.

In the U.S., a small box of Kleenex now has 60 tissues; a few months ago, it had 65. Chobani Flips yogurts have shrunk from 5.3 ounces to 4.5 ounces. In the U.K., Nestle slimmed down its Nescafe Azera Americano coffee tins from 100 grams to 90 grams. In India, a bar of Vim dish soap has shrunk from 155 grams to 135 grams.

The perfidy goes on and on and on. . . .

[Consumer advocate Edgar] Dworsky said shrinkflation appeals to manufacturers because they know customers will notice price increases but won’t keep track of net weights or small details, like the number of sheets on a roll of toilet paper. Companies can also employ tricks to draw attention away from downsizing, like marking smaller packages with bright new labels that draw shoppers’ eyes.

That’s what Fritos did. Bags of Fritos Scoops marked “Party Size” used to be 18 ounces; some are still on sale at a grocery chain in Texas. But almost every other big chain is now advertising “Party Size” Fritos Scoops that are 15.5 ounces — and more expensive.

PepsiCo didn’t respond when asked about Fritos. But it did acknowledge the shrinking of Gatorade bottles. The company recently began phasing out 32-ounce bottles in favor of 28-ounce ones, which are tapered in the middle to make it easier to hold them. The changeover has been in the works for years and isn’t related to the current economic climate, PepsiCo said. But it didn’t respond when asked why the 28-ounce version is more expensive.

Likewise, Kimberly-Clark — which makes both Cottonelle and Kleenex — didn’t respond to requests for comment on the reduced package sizes. Procter & Gamble Co. didn’t respond when asked about Pantene Pro-V Curl Perfection conditioner, which downsized from 12 fluid ounces to 10.4 fluid ounces but still costs $3.99.

Earth’s Best Organic Sunny Day Snack Bars went from eight bars per box to seven, but the price listed at multiple stores remains $3.69. Hain Celestial Group, the brand’s owner, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

No company will comment, but of course they’d only make things worse if they did.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is fixing to chase Kulka, who is hiding behind the bench.

Hili: I know that she is sitting over there.
A: Does it bother you?
Hili: Theoretically – no, but I will chase her in a moment anyhow.
In Polish:
Hili: Wiem, że ona tam siedzi.
Ja: Przeszkadza ci to?
Hili: Teoretycznie nie, ale i tak ją zaraz pogonię.


From the Cat House on the Kings:

From Seth Andrews. This is nerfarious:

From Merilee:

This is from Simon, and I have posted it before, but I’m posting it again because this is a wily and evolved escape behavior of ducks, and I had to catch little ducklings yesterday (they can do this at one day old) who pulled this stunt when I sent for them. But I got five of them!

Also from Simon: this is a truly amazing stunt (oops; it showed a kid solving three Rubik’s Cube puzzles while juggling them! The tweet was removed, but I found a YouTube video (below):

From Barry, who sent a tweet yesterday showing that baby owls sometimes sleep on their front, face down. This one is no baby, but does have a temporary impediment:

It’s followed by a tweet showing this owl’s “WTF” moment after it was humiliated.

From the Auschwitz Memorial: today we have someone who survived. (tweet sent by Matthew)

Tweets from Dr. Cobb, who had a nice day off yesterday celebrating his daughter’s birthday. First a frog evades a predatory spider:

A cat finds the perfect napping spot:

A lovely moth with weird legs:

This isn’t Harpo or Chico, but they did do a skit like this (see below):

Here’s the original


Wednesday: Hili dialogue

June 8, 2022 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, a Hump Day, or, as they say in Nepali, “हम्प दिन”.  It’s National Jelly-Filled Donut Day, a decent pastry so long as the filling is good. The best version I’ve had is actually the Polish variant, pączkiYou can get them in Chicago since we’re the second largest Polish town in the world after Warsaw. Here are some (occasionally they’re filled with rose-petal jam). German Berliners are also good. 

It’s also World Brain Tumor Day and World Oceans Day.

Stuff that happened on June 8 include:

The Vikings apparently overlooked the great treasure of the abbey: The Lindisfarne Gospels (now in the British Library). A page:


Although the Bill of Rights has ten amendments, one of the other two was approved as the 27th Amendment in 1992, and the other is still pending. Here’s an original copy of the amendments (caption from Wikipedia):

  • 1794 – Maximilien Robespierre inaugurates the French Revolution’s new state religion, the Cult of the Supreme Being, with large organized festivals all across France.
  • 1856 – A group of 194 Pitcairn Islanders, descendants of the mutineers of HMS Bounty, arrives at Norfolk Island, commencing the Third Settlement of the Island.

Only one of the four volcanic islands is inhabited, and the population is all of 47. Here’s the sole settlement, Adamstown:

Helen Keller? Danny Kaye? Edward G. Robinson? Oy, those were dire times!

A first edition and first printing of this classic will cost you $10,000-$15,000, and you should read it again now.

  • 1953 – The United States Supreme Court rules in District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co. that restaurants in Washington, D.C., cannot refuse to serve black patrons.
  • 1968 – James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. is arrested at London Heathrow Airport.

Ray fled to Europe via Canada, but was arrested in London two months after King’s death. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison in 1969 and died in prison of hepatitis C in 1998. Here’s the FBI’s wanted poster when Ray was on the lam:

  • 1972 – Vietnam War: Nine-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc is burned by napalm, an event captured by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut moments later while the young girl is seen running down a road, in what would become an iconic, Pulitzer Prize-winning photo.

Here’s that Prize-winning photo.

Phúc just wrote a piece for the NYT called “It’s been 50 years. I am not ‘Napalm Girl’ anymore.” Here’s a new photo of her in Canada.

(From the NY Times): The author at her home in Ontario. Credit: May Truong for The New York Times
  • 1987 – New Zealand’s Labour government establishes a national nuclear-free zone under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987.
  • 1992 – The first World Oceans Day is celebrated, coinciding with the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


*American voters are pushing back on rising crime, and pushing back at the polls:

Voters in California delivered a stark warning to the Democratic Party on Tuesday about the potency of law and order as a political message in 2022, as a Republican-turned-Democrat campaigning as a crime-fighter vaulted into a runoff in the mayoral primary in Los Angeles and a progressive prosecutor in San Francisco was recalled in a landslide.

The two results made vivid the depths of voter frustration over rising crime and rampant homelessness in even the most progressive corners of the country — and are the latest signs of a restless Democratic electorate that was promised a return to normalcy under President Biden and yet remains unsatisfied with the nation’s state of affairs.

“People are not in a good mood and they have reason not to be in a good mood,” said Garry South, a Los Angeles-based Democratic strategist. “It’s not just the crime issue. It’s the homelessness. It’s the high price of gasoline.”

If you don’t think “progressive” Leftists are hurting the Democrats, you’re wrong. The SF prosecutor vowed to cut back on “tough-on-crime” policies, which voters took that to mean that incarceration and arrests would be severely curbed for everyone.

*If you’re expecting anything substantive to come out of the bipartisan confab about gun control, forget it. Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas is the GOP’s head negotiator in the discussions, and he’s already reduced expectations to zero:

His message: There won’t be sweeping changes to gun laws. “Law-abiding” citizens’ ability to purchase weapons will not be curtailed. The size of gun magazines will not be limited. The age of assault weapons won’t be raised. Cornyn stressed that any proposal on guns would focus on incremental changes.

    • “What I’m interested in is keeping guns out of the hands of those who, by current law, are not supposed to have them: people with mental health problems, people who have criminal records,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor.

His discussions with Democrats are narrow. Cornyn and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) are leading talks on a modest package of proposals encompassing mental health resources, school safety mechanisms, enhanced background checks and state incentives for red flag laws.

The Republicans are putting all their eggs in the “mental health resource” basket, but I’m betting that the majority of people who buy guns would easily pass a test of sanity. And the government doesn’t have time for extensive vetting of prospective gun owners by psychologists.

*Jean Lee, a NYT reporter who has covered North Korea extensively, says “There’s a reason why Kim Jong-un wants us to know about North Korean’s covid outbreak.” Remember that the DPRK denied the existence of covid for a long time, but now it’s sounded the virus alarm. Why?

In a series of urgent dispatches, North Korea’s state media announced that an unspecified fever was spreading “explosively.” The nation went into lockdown. More than four million cases have been reported, with dozens of deaths.

It’s a frightening prospect for an unvaccinatedundernourished nation of 25 million people. But bad news does not escape North Korea without a reason. Finally acknowledging a viral outbreak may be part of a strategy by its leader, Kim Jong-un, to re-engage with the outside world. The world should be ready to engage, too.

Since the collapse of his nuclear negotiations with President Donald Trump in 2019, followed soon by Covid’s global spread, Mr. Kim has retreated into an isolation that is deep even by North Korea’s hermetic standards. This has been devastating to its people. It’s also a threat to peace and security beyond the Korean Peninsula: He has spent the intervening time shoring up his power — and expanding his nuclear arsenal.

So why admit a Covid outbreak now? Just as Mr. Kim is sending a message with his missile launches, he’s sending another by admitting the outbreak.

. . .But there is likely also an element of political timing involved in announcing the outbreak just before a recent trip by Mr. Biden to South Korea and Japan.

Mr. Kim may be pursuing a dual-track strategy. The missile launches maintain tension with the United States and South Korea — which helps him to justify building up his nuclear arsenal, putting him in a stronger position for any future standoffs or negotiations.

And the Covid confession serves as a face-saving way to secure humanitarian help and other goods from Beijing — which is always concerned about its neighbor devolving into crisis — after Mr. Kim rejected China’s previous offers of vaccines. Just days after announcing the outbreak, North Korea reportedly sent three cargo planes to Shenyang, China, to pick up emergency supplies. More arrived recently by rail. It may be receiving Chinese vaccines already.

But is this profound—or surprising? It’s just a way of getting more stuff from China!

*The Oxford English dictionary traces the word “chief”, used as either an adjective or noun, to Middle English via Old French:

Forms:  Middle English chef, ( chiue), Middle English–1600s chefecheif, (Middle English cheyffcheef(fchif(echyfe), Middle English–1500s cheffechyef, 1500s–1600s cheefechiefe, Middle English– chief.
Frequency (in current use):
Etymology: Middle English chefchief, < Old French chefchief (= Provençal cap, Spanish cabo, Italian capo head) < Romance type *capu-m < Latin caput head.
But about 10% of Native Americans object to the word used in any context other than Native American leadership, reports John McWhorter at the NYT. He also notes that because of the minority who are offended, the San Francisco Unified School District (the same district that originally planned to rename secondary schools originally named after George Washington and Abraham Lincoln) is eliminating the word “chief” from the entire school system. One would think McWhorter would object, but, surprisingly, he says this is a complex problem:


There are no easy answers on this one. One might argue that the interaction between Indigenous people and white people in this country over the centuries justifies defining the word primarily in relation to its use in the hierarchies of different Native American nations.

Still, it is difficult not to notice that, often these days, what is touted as proper terminology is only thought of that way by a small minority of a group, usually those who have had a particular formal education or who are politically active. “Latinx” is probably the most notorious example today.

But we can’t dismiss genuine offense or insensitivity out of hand just because it isn’t felt by a majority of the members of a group. Neither can we dismiss the majority for not being offended. I worry about a looming implication that the less vocal members of a group are missing something that their presumed leaders possess the insight to perceive.

Well, yes, you can dismiss it even if it’s held by less than a majority if it’s used in a pejorative sense. But in this case it isn’t, and I have no idea what McWhorter is talking about in the last sentence.

*The Washington Post reports that provocateur Milo Yiannopoulus has started work as an intern for Congressional loon Marjorie Taylor Greene. And—get this—he was hired for an unpaid internship!

Yiannopoulos announced Monday that he had “finally been persuaded out of retirement,” writing in a Telegram post that he was hired for an “unpaid internship with a friend.”

He attached a photo of a congressional intern identification badge, on top of a Louis Vuitton bag, showing he is an intern in Greene’s office.

How can you be “hired” and not get paid? Well, he and Greene are made for each other, so we can grin a bit and move on.

*Jonathan Chait at the New York Magazine “Intelligencer” column calls out Georgetown University for using a double standard  for free speech with respect to the Right versus Left, going harder on the former. It’s about the offensive tweets of professor Ilya Shapiro, which got him so demonized that his existence at Georgetown was no longer tenable.


Everybody supports freedom of speech for ideas they agree with. The concept only has meaning if it’s applied to ideas you don’t agree with.

I don’t agree with the idea conservative lawyer Ilya Shapiro expressed in January, when he objected to President Biden’s promise to appoint a Black woman to the first Supreme Court opening. (I wrote a column attacking his position.) But rather than simply refute his easily refutable arguments, Shapiro’s critics demanded he be fired by Georgetown, which had just hired him to teach at its law center. Georgetown agreed on principle with the demand that he could be fired for his opinions but kept him on staff on a technicality.

Shapiro is quitting his position on the grounds that Georgetown refuses to grant his opinions the same protection afforded to people with progressive points of view, and I have to admit he appears to be correct about that.

Shapiro was investigated for three tweets, and social media called for his head. The investigation didn’t find him culpable but, curiously, still called for “appropriate corrective measures.” Shapiro quit, and Chait sees a double standard here:

Georgetown has previously (and correctly) allowed left-leaning scholars to express ideas that could certainly be construed as offensive or threatening. Shapiro cites professor Carol Christine Fair of the School of Foreign Service tweeting during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation process: “Look at this chorus of entitled white men justifying a serial rapist’s arrogated entitlement. All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine? Yes.” In practice, Georgetown is revealing a double standard in which conservatives must avoid giving offense while progressives are free to express any unguarded thought.

. . . Conservatives don’t generally care about free speech. They use the cause cynically to defend their allies.

But we shouldn’t take the fact that conservatives don’t care about free speech to mean liberals shouldn’t either. Just the opposite, in fact.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili ponders her morphology, insisting that she’s still wild:

Hili: White socks would indicate domestication but the totality of behavior allows cats to be classified as wild animals.
A: There are such theories.
In Polish:
Hili: Białe skarpetki wskazywałyby na udomowienie, ale całość zachowań pozwala koty zaklasyfikować do zwierząt dzikich.
Ja: Są takie teorie.

And Baby Kulka on the roof, photographed by Paulina:


From Stephen Law: An American family and its guns:

From Jez, a Scott Hilburn cartoon:

From Tom, a Wiley Miller cartoon:


Ricky Gervais whines about his privilege. This is from his new Netflix special, which I haven’t seen:

A Roomba Dog from my magical Twitter feed (I may have posted this before):

This kid REALLY wants to feed the d*g:

From Barry.  We’ll have a related owl video later this week:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: This isn’t Anne Frank, but it’s a Dutch Jewish girl who died in the camps, and there is a resemblance:

Tweets from Matthew. This first one involves a really bad case of misidentification by American Airlines, and they’re getting the pants sued off of them:

This person has a huge following on Twitter, and if she has stories like this one, it’s no wonder. Listen to the end:

This appears to be a real picture, but how did the cat get inside the sleeve? Plus it’s in danger!

This is very sweet:


Tuesday: Hili dialogue

June 7, 2022 • 7:00 am

Good morning on The Cruelest Day: June 7, 2022: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. The best version I’ve had of this treat is the “rich chocolate” flavor at Dr. Mike’s in Bethel, Connecticut: one of the best ice cream shops in America. (Years ago, I once made a long detour to get there; it was worth it.) There’s a new owner now with new flavors, so report back to me if you’re near Bethel. (The chocolate lace flavor is also terrific.)

From Michael Stern at The Daily Beast:

The one flavor you can always count on. . . is rich chocolate, the most chocolaty food imaginable. It is a devastating concoction with an explosive Dutch cocoa taste carried in custard that is as smooth as iced velvet and as rich as clotted cream. Chocolate Lace and Cream, another daily flavor, is made of sweet cream (not vanilla) and chunks of brittle sugar candy sheathed in bittersweet chocolate.

Stuff that happened on June 7 include:

  • 1099 – First Crusade: The Siege of Jerusalem begins.
  • 1494 – Spain and Portugal sign the Treaty of Tordesillas which divides the New World between the two countries.

Here’s an original page of the treaty, which is written in Spanish:

  • 1654 – Louis XIV is crowned King of France.
  • 1862 – The United States and the United Kingdom agree in the Lyons–Seward Treaty to suppress the African slave trade.
  • 1892 – Homer Plessy is arrested for refusing to leave his seat in the “whites-only” car of a train; he lost the resulting court case, Plessy v. Ferguson.

There are no authentic photos of Homer Plessy, but, sadly, he lost his case. The Supreme Court ruled that segregation was not unconstitutional so long as “separate but equal” facilities were maintained for different races. Of course, they were separate but never equal.

  • 1899 – American Temperance crusader Carrie Nation begins her campaign of vandalizing alcohol-serving establishments by destroying the inventory in a saloon in Kiowa, Kansas.

Her real name was Carrie Moore but she used “Carrie Nation” as she wanted to “Carry the Nation” towards temperance. Here she is with her symbolic axe used to destroy booze:

The U.S. won, but it was a tough battle (and gave its name to Chicago’s smaller airport.  Below is the ship Hiryū sinking, one of three Japanese carriers lost in the battle, and a severe blow to the Japanese navy.

Hiryū, shortly before sinking, photo taken by a Yokosuka B4Y off the carrier Hōshō[134]
  • 1946 – The United Kingdom’s BBC returns to broadcasting its television service, which has been off air for seven years because of World War II.
  • 1965 – The Supreme Court of the United States hands down its decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, prohibiting the states from criminalizing the use of contraception by married couples.

Black and Stewart dissented. Griswold was a member Planned Parenthood who started a birth-control clinic in Connecticut to directly challenge the law. The court rendered a 7-2 decision, with the majority opinion written by William O. Douglas (below).

  • 1977 – Five hundred million people watch the high day of the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II begin on television.
  • 1982 – Priscilla Presley opens Graceland to the public; the bathroom where Elvis Presley died five years earlier is kept off-limits.

Here’s the most famous room at Graceland, Elvis’s “Jungle Room,” which served as his “mancave.”  The Atlas Obscura says this:

The Jungle Room also became the King’s final recording studio, where he recorded much of his last two albums.

Graceland could be considered the mecca of American mid-century kitsch, but the Jungle Room is truly its best signifier. Its tropical trimmings are reminders of a bygone trend in luxury, now largely considered silly and over-the-top. It was allegedly a favorite place of Elvis’ and his family’s, and the room’s tiki vibe is said to have reminded him of his time spent in Hawaii.


*The head of the violence-prone and right-wing extremist group the Proud Boys, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, was indicted, along with four of his associates, for seditious conspiracy.

The charges expand the Justice Department’s allegations of an organized plot to unleash political violence to prevent the confirmation of President Biden’s election victory on Jan. 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol.

Tarrio, 38, was not in Washington that day, but allegedly guided the group’s activities from nearby Maryland as Proud Boys members engaged in the earliest and most aggressive attacks to confront and overwhelm police at several critical points on restricted Capitol grounds. One co-defendant, Dominic Pezzola, of Rochester, N.Y., broke through the first window of the building at 2:13 p.m. with a stolen police riot shield, authorities said.

*The results of our poll the other day on the future of Ukraine is below. As you see, most people think that after the dust settles, Ukraine will be partitioned into a smaller country, with (probably) a fair chunk going to Russia:

*The NYT has a funny video of Jonathan Pie trying to explain to Americans why the Brits consider PM Boris Johnson a wanker. (h/t David). Meanwhile, Johnson will face a no-confidence vote from his own party (I’m writing this Monday evening and may have results Tuesday), all stemming from his hosting a bunch of booze parties during the covid lockdown—a time when those parties were forbidden.

*As of 5 p.m., yesterday Boris survived the vote.

Johnson won the backing of 211 out of 359 Conservative lawmakers, more than the simple majority needed to remain in power, but still a significant rebellion of 148 MPs. With no clear front-runner to succeed him, most political observers had predicted he would defeat the challenge.

But the rebellion represents a watershed moment for him — and is a sign of deep Conservative divisions, less than three years after Johnson led the party to its biggest election victory in decades.

*I don’t know if this is an excuse for Elon Musk to back out of buying twitter, but he is kvetching about the secretiveness of the organization as a possible reason for him to give up. According to the Wall Street Journal,

Elon Musk threatened to terminate his deal to buy Twitter Inc.  in a letter accusing the company of not complying with his request for data on the number of spam and fake accounts on the social-media platform.

Mr. Musk said Twitter has refused to provide the data necessary for Mr. Musk to facilitate his own evaluation of the number of spam and fake accounts. In April, Twitter accepted Mr. Musk’s $44 billion bid to take over the company and go private.

In a letter to Twitter Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde that was disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday, Mr. Musk’s lawyer Mike Ringler said Mr. Musk is entitled to the requested data, in part so that he can facilitate the financing of the deal.

It sounds to me that he’s had second thoughts about saying he was going to buy the entire company. Or perhaps Twitter is holding out, as they made the deal with Musk reluctantly.

*Remember this optical illusion that I posted the other day?

The New York Times has an article about it that reveal, among other things, the following:

  • The image is actually static, and has much to teach us about how our brains and eyes see the world. In a study published last week in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, psychologists tested this illusion on 50 men and women with normal vision, and, using an infrared eye tracker, found that the greater a participant’s response to the illusion, the stronger the pupil dilation response.
  • They also discovered some people — perhaps even you — can’t see it.
  • When you look at this illusion, the hole is not darkening. But the perception that it darkened was enough to make your pupils respond.

“There is no reason per se that the pupil should change in this situation, because nothing is changing in the world,” said Bruno Laeng, a psychology professor at the University of Oslo and an author of the study. “But something clearly has changed inside the mind.”

The researchers hypothesize that the illusion works because the gradient on the central hole makes it look as if the viewer is entering a dark hole or tunnel, prompting the participants’ pupils to dilate. They also found the illusion’s effect varied against different colors and was strongest when the black hole was atop a magenta background.

There’s more, including a bit about the evolutionary adaptations that foster such illusions.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has chosen her spot:

Hili: There are borders.
A: Between what?
Hili: Between the grass and gravel, on which it’s not comfortable to lie.
In Polish:
Hili: Są granice.
Ja: Między czym a czym?
Hili: Między zielenią, a kamykami, na których źle się leży.
. . . and a cute picture of Kulka by Paulina:


From Divy:  A cartoon by Sarah Anderson:

Bathtime for baby elephants! (h/t) Malcolm)

From Stash Krod:

A tweet of God:

Two tweets from Barry: A real hero performs CPR on a goat!  I’d do it, too, if I knew that CPR was needed.

Bathtime for birds! A chicken getting blow dried after it had a bath along with a raptor in a birdbath!

From the Auschwitz Memorial. She lived but a month after arrival:

Tweets from Matthew.  Queen Elizabeth does have a sense of humor, though it’s not often on display. Here’s one case where it was. I believe the first part of the anecdote is true, but not the big where she starts cursing.

Adam Rutherford is taking over the reins from Alice Roberts as President of the British Humanists. His “platform” doesn’t sound overly woke. . .

A wryneck is one of a group of Old World woodpeckers, so named because they can turn their heads almost completely backwards. Sound up; the song is faint.

Just to be clear: the hologram of the queen was inside a real carriage: