Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. It’s a warm 51° F (11° C) in Chicago, but temperatures will drop to and below the freezing point within a few days. It’s National Cereal Day in the U.S. and National Teacher’s Day, but only in Albania (it’s celebrated in other places at other times). Has any reader ever been  to Albania?

On March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was given a patent for the telephone. This day in 1965 was “Bloody Sunday” in Alabama, when  hundreds of civil rights marchers were attacked, and many of them injured, by state and local police who gassed demonstrators and ran them down with horses. The images and news horrified many Americans, prompting the Voting Rights Act of that year. And, exactly ten years ago, the British House of Commons voted to make the House of Lords a 100% elected body.

Notables born on this day include John Herschel (1792), Luther Burbank (1849), Maurice Ravel (1875), Brett Easton Ellis (1964), and and Rachel Weisz (1970). Those who died on this day include Wyndham Lewis (1957), Alice B. Toklas (1967), Jacob Javits (1986), and Stanley Kubrick (1999), Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, we have two lovely ladies communing. Monika, once a pupil of Andrzej, is now a translator, and paid a visit to her former mentors (she’s also a great vegetarian cook):

Hili: Do I look good with Monika?
A: Any cat looks great with Monika.
Hili: That is not the right answer; you should change it.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy do twarzy mi z Moniką?
Ja: Każdy kot z Monika wygląda wspaniale.
Hili: To nie jest właściwa odpowiedź; powinieneś ją zmienić.
News of the day: Facebook reported some BBC journalists to the police simply because those journalists supplied to Facebook—at Facebook’s request—images of child pornography that came up in the Beeb’s own investigation of exploitation on social media. As Gizmodo reports (see also the BBC’s report):

As part of an investigation into paedophile groups on Facebook, the BBC flagged 100 pieces of infringing content via the report button. Despite its own rule that “nudity or other sexually suggestive content” is forbidden, Facebook removed just 18. When the BBC pointed this out to director of policy Simon Milner and asked for an interview, he agreed on the condition the BBC provided examples of the images – for which Facebook then reported the journalists involved to the National Crime Agency. [JAC: Facebook then canceled the interview!]

“It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation,” Facebook said in a statement, “When the BBC sent us such images we followed our industry’s standard practice and reported them to Ceop [the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre].”

While it’s possible Facebook was trying to cover its back rather than retaliate for pointing out the (many) issues with content on its platform, they could perhaps have mentioned their plan before requesting examples of images. It’s only journalists’ lives, reputations and livelihoods they were putting on the line, after all.

. . . When the BBC went to the police with what they’d found on the secret groups, one of the Facebook members involved in posting the images was sent to prison for four years.

Great job, Facebook. Great job all round. [BBC]

Facebook really needs to clean up its act. Here’s a tweet from the estimable Nick Cohen:

Reader Barry sent a tweet of “the world’s scariest meow” (NOT!). I think this is a caracal kitten (Caracal caracal):

31 Comments

  1. Graham Head
    Posted March 7, 2017 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately the House of Lords is not an elected body. It’s not even a 100% appointed body since a rump of hereditary peers are still allowed to attend. In a possibly even greater affront to democracy if one if the hereditary peers dies the others get to elect a replacement.

    • Dominic
      Posted March 7, 2017 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      If it were made into an elected body, do you think we might end up with constant disputes with the Commons over who was more representative, & knocking back legislation, or do you think that might be avoided somehow? At present, while it knocks things back & tries to adjust legislation, it cannot block it altogether. I am not sure if that is good or bad!

      • Graham Head
        Posted March 7, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink

        Other countries manage with two elected chambers so I’m sure a method can be found. At present the commons has too much power due to the lords lack of legitimacy. The lords tries to amend bad legislation but governments use their commons majority to force through bad laws.

        • eric
          Posted March 7, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

          The concept behind the two US houses is that the Senate, by being elected every 6 years rather than every 2 years, and by having a much larger constituency (except in a few tiny states), will think about and care about the long-term benefits of policy. While the House, with it’s 2-year election cycle and more local constituency, will think more about the short term costs and benefits of legislation. Thus any bill passed by both chambers will (in theory) balance both the long-term and short-term consequences that affect multiple different constituencies.

          Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work in theory. In practice, party loyalties pretty much trump all that, making House and Senate members much closer in political perspective than they were probably intended to be. The founders also had this idea that both bodies would be very suspicious of Presidential power and act to keep it in check. But obviously party loyalties degraded that ideal too.

          In any event, that’s how and why we ended up with two elected chambers; the point was to balance multiple conflicting interests.

          • Randy schenck
            Posted March 7, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

            The senate was a compromise at the Convention. Madison and others wanted it elected by the people and with the same numbers and representation as the house. The small states believed they would be run over by the big states. Big mistake the way it ended up as history lets us know very well.

            Fear of a king for president they gave the senate some powers over appointments and so forth. Also, many of the colonies already had a two branch legislature so the federal was somewhat designed the same. What most of the states had was a very weak executive and all power was in the legislature.

          • darrelle
            Posted March 7, 2017 at 8:16 am | Permalink

            Another major failing of the concept is the two year term. More often than not it is a lifetime career rather than two years. I think it would be a big plus to limit House of Representative members to two terms in a life time.

            • eric
              Posted March 7, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

              Some states do have term limits on state offices, but SCOTUS has said they can’t impose limits on their federal representatives. Ironically, the GOP was the big backer of a constitutional amendment for term limits, in the 90s.

              There are pros and cons. The pros include (a) reps focus more on doing their job than re-election campaigns, (b) the well known incumbency advantage no longer biases votes so much, (c) special interests can’t “buy” officials for any long term. The big con is that reps are less beholden to their constituencies and have less incentive to reflect their constituents wishes in legislation. Why should they care about doing what their constituency wants if they can’t run again?

              • darrelle
                Posted March 7, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

                The con does make sense, but as things are right now it is the rare congresscritter that gives a shit what his/her constituents think unless it is something so significant that it might threaten their re-election. But that would have to be something major enough to overcome all the gaming of the system that has been so successful at securing lifetime terms in the first place.

            • Randy schenck
              Posted March 7, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

              Would make a huge difference, term limits. Senate and house should have them. The job is not suppose to be a career, although it obviously has become just that. Old wood is rotten wood.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted March 7, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        In reply to Dominic’s original question, if the election process were sufficiently different to the Commons, it might be possible to avoid such disputes. One proposal in the 2008 White Paper was for election by Single Transferable Vote (STV) in multi-member constituencies, with a third of members up for re-election every 5 years, each member eligible to sit for a maximum of three 5-year terms, and a 5-year ban on ex-members standing for the Commons (or vice versa).

        Would it have worked? Who knows? It looks dead in the water at the moment: there is just no appetite anywhere in the system for serious reform. But people are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the unwieldy, patronage-ridden behemoth we have at the moment.

    • Posted March 7, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      Yes, that sounded weird to me, but the Wikipedia entry for March 7 says this:

      The British House of Commons votes to make the upper chamber, the House of Lords, 100% elected.

      Is it possible that they did have such a vote, or is this “fake news”?

      • Graham Head
        Posted March 7, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

        There was a vote on a white paper introduced by the Labour government in which the commons voted in favour of an elected chamber. But no actual legislation was passed and the lords remains appointed (and still has bishops as members).

        • rickflick
          Posted March 9, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          I’m reading Hitchens on Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson loathed the idea of unelected “represetatives”, and peerage. Adams and other Federalists on the other hand, found the British system appealing. It may be we would not have the form of government we enjoy today if he had not been elected over Adams in the election of 1800.

      • Barney
        Posted March 7, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        There was going to be a reform of the House of Lords in the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government from 2010-15; the Lib Dems wanted an elected Lords and the Alternative Vote system for the Commons. The latter was rejected in a referendum; then the former was stopped by a combination of Labour and backbench Tories that the Conservative leaders wouldn’t force to vote with the government.

        See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reform_of_the_House_of_Lords

    • rickflick
      Posted March 7, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Also notable is the Lords Spiritual, a set of Bishops which are insulated from much of any public influence. I think there are 29 of these throwbacks in the House of Lords. Briton should really think about a total redo of their governmental structure.

      • Mike
        Posted March 9, 2017 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        I doubt any Party will agree to a fully elected House of Lords,after all it allows them to reward their more slavish adherents with a Peerage,it’s also a means of getting someone into Government without the need of something as tiresome as an Election, a la Baroness Chakrabarti the Attorney General.

  2. Posted March 7, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Thanks for updating news. According to my point of view media agencies are started blame games rapidly. Because this is the time of competition and lot of media and news agencies trying to engage more and more people towards their channels. As every one knows according to media and news Hillary Clinton’s graph of popularity higher than Donald Trump but actually the people of America disappointed all media agencies. This is reality but hope for the best for all….
    World Latest News
    https://www.facebook.com/WorldNewsMag/

  3. Randy schenck
    Posted March 7, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Have not been to Albania. Across the Adriatic in Italy would be the closest I got. I did make it to Trieste, Yugoslavia once for about an hour but that was it.

    • Posted March 7, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      I went up to the border in the early 70s, just to glimpse the country from the outside, but of course it was closed then. That night I slept by the road and listened to Radio Tirane on my transistor radio.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted March 7, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

        It was early 70s for me as well. We use to rent Fiats and go to Venice on weekends and for some reason we decided to go to Trieste. It was late, dark, and we stopped at a hotel to ask about staying. The guy said no but he wanted cigarettes. Very strange and we left.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted March 7, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        I have sailed to within a mile of Albania while on a flotilla sailing holiday in the North Ionian Islands of Greece. We landed at the northernmost mainland Greek port, Sagiada, I think, just a few miles south of Albania, but were not able to see any of Albania.

  4. mordacious1
    Posted March 7, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    It appears that Monika’s spine is not straight. Perhaps a chiropractor could help?
    (I’ll get my coat)

    • Malgorzata
      Posted March 7, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      I really have to defend Monika (and not only from chiropractors!) There is nothing wrong with her spine but Hili’s winter weight would bend even a person not as slim as Monika is.

      • Rob
        Posted March 7, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        LOL

        Oh darling Hili, we do love you.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted March 7, 2017 at 8:05 am | Permalink

        I’m going to use that winter weight thing to explain Bumper, at least for another month or two.

      • Kevin
        Posted March 7, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        Funny 😂.

        I have to disagree with Hili, I think any cat would look great with Monika.

  5. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 7, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I don’t think that’s the scariest meow I’ve ever heard, but it sure is the funniest.

    CatClick has some great tweets. Here’s one of a certified Ceiling Cat going into occultation https://twitter.com/catclick/status/839059008543682560.

    • bluemaas
      Posted March 7, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      O my, my, Ms Haniver ! .That. one is totally wild ! Quite e x a c t as to its Ceiling Cat – certification that specific kitty is !

      And caused me to become a CatClick twitter – follower ! Its top one, right now, of “half cat / half koala” is just darling !

      Blue

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted March 7, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        I agree re “half cat / half koala,” and enlarging the picture reveals one huge cat. But what, I wonder, is that yellow object with the formidable spikes that the kitty has strapped to its back?

  6. Posted March 7, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Prof. Coyne you forgot to include William D. Hamilton on ‘people who died on this day’ section.

    • Posted March 7, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      OMG if that’s in Wikipedia and I missed it, I tender my abject apologies. He died suddenly, and a great many people in my field miss him. (To my regret, I never met him.)


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