Thursday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

October 3, 2019 • 6:30 am

It’s Thursday, October 3, 2019, and as you read this I will be in Williamstown, Massachusetts, scheduled to give a talk at the extremely woke Williams College. But I’m avoiding all politics there, limiting my discussions to biology and free will. Posting will be very light today and tomorrow.

It’s also National Soft Taco Day (cultural appropriation), National Boyfriend Day, National Kale Day (Jebus, I hate that stuff, and that’s not good because it’s good for you), and National Butterfly and Hummingbird Day. Finally, Wikipedia tells us that “On social media: [it’s] ‘Mean Girls Day’, a widespread phenomenon in celebration of the film Mean Girls.  Why they’d celebrate that is a mystery.

Stuff that happened on October 3 includes:

  • 42 BC – Triumvirs Mark Antony and Octavian fight a decisive battle with Caesar’s assassins Brutus and Cassius.
  • 1283 – Dafydd ap Gruffydd, prince of Gwynedd in Wales, is the first nobleman to be executed by hanging, drawing and quartering.

Perhaps you’re familiar with this gruesome method of execution from the film Braveheart, for it’s the way William Wallace was executed. Apparently the prince of Gwynedd was the first prominent person in recorded history to be executed this way. Wikipedia tells us how it went:

On 30 September [1283], Dafydd ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales, was condemned to death, the first person known to have been tried and executed for what from that time onwards would be described as high treason against the King. Edward ensured that Dafydd’s death was to be slow and agonising, and also historic; he became the first prominent person in recorded history to have been hanged, drawn and quartered, preceded by a number of minor knights earlier in the thirteenth century. Dafydd was dragged through the streets of Shrewsbury attached to a horse’s tail then hanged alive, revived, then disembowelled and his entrails burned before him for “his sacrilege in committing his crimes in the week of Christ’s passion”, and then his body cut into four-quarters “for plotting the king’s death”. Geoffrey of Shrewsbury was paid 20 shillings for carrying out the gruesome act on 3 October 1283.

  • 1789 – George Washington proclaims a Thanksgiving Day for that year.
  • 1932 – Iraq gains independence from the United Kingdom.
  • 1952 – The United Kingdom successfully tests a nuclear weapon to become the world’s third nuclear power.
  • 1957 – The California State Superior Court rules that the book Howl and Other Poems is not obscene.
  • 1981 – The hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland ends after seven months and ten deaths. [JAC: The dead included Bobby Sands.]
  • 1990 – The German Democratic Republic is abolished and becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1858 – Eleonora Duse, Italian-American actress (d. 1924)
  • 1900 – Thomas Wolfe, American novelist (d. 1938)

Wolfe is one of my favorite writers. Here’s a photo (he died at only 38):

  • 1916 – James Herriot, English veterinarian and author (d. 1995)
  • 1925 – Gore Vidal, American novelist, screenwriter, and critic (d. 2012)
  • 1941 – Chubby Checker, American singer-songwriter
  • 1949 – Lindsey Buckingham, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
  • 1954 – Stevie Ray Vaughan, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 1990)

I discovered Fleetwood Mac only relatively late, well after they’d passed their peak. And now I marvel about how great they were, and what a good guitarist Buckingham was. Here he shows off his skills in a 2008 acoustic rendition of “Big Love” (beginning of clip to 3:45). It’s a good specimen of three-finger picking, and I’m especially impressed at how he plays a complicated melody at the same time singing with extreme soulfulness:

Those who snuffed it on October 3 include:

  • 1656 – Myles Standish, English captain (b. 1584)
  • 1867 – Elias Howe, American engineer, invented the sewing machine (b. 1819)
  • 1967 – Woody Guthrie, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1912)

Woody Guthrie died of Huntington’s Disease at age 55—a disease that also killed his mother and two of his daughters—after a long period of decline. Only two videos survive of him performing live. This is one of them, in which Guthrie performs “John Henry” with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee:

His famous guitar had a label: “This machine kills fascists”:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili laments the cold weather, which has already curtailed her nocturnal roaming:

Hili: Nuts are starting to fall off the trees.
A: So what?
Hili: It bodes ill; winter will come.
In Polish:
Hili: Orzechy zaczynają spadać.
Ja: No to co?
Hili: To źle wróży, będzie zima.

And in nearby Wloclawek, Leon has been sick, but he’s recovering now.

Leon: Perhaps it’s time to end being ill.

In Polish: Chyba muszę skończyć z tym chorowaniem.


From gravelinspector: the Quacktress is still peddling woo at her site:

A tweet from God about evolution:

From Barry: A dragonfly that thinks it’s a sexpot:

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. In the first one, a cat pwns a Robo-Vac:

And a tweet (via Ann German) responding to one of Trump’s tweets that said simply, “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT”:

Three tweets from Matthew. This first one shows that ducks don’t always like the rain:

Matthew said this tweet is going to make me feel old. It doesn’t—it makes me feel proud. “Spill the tea” will be one entry on a future “Words and phrases I despise” post. And “retweet” is old hat.

A cryptic moggie:



123 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. I don’t think kale is special- maybe they measured more vitamin A on one day, but big deal – lettuce has vitamin A, lots of leafy foods have it. Plus, they have vitamin A pills.

    I’ll still eat kale but I don’t think it is special nutritionally.

    1. Kale is by far the best source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect against Macular disease. (Spinach is also very good).

      1. By how much?

        I think there are other, more enjoyable foods that have all those nutrients. So that a pinch of crummy kale could be as good as a handful of tomatoes.

    2. My mother used to grow Kale (Boerekool = ‘peasant cabbage’). We ate it with mashed potatoes and the juice of the accompanying cutlets or mince. Very, very nice.

      1. I bet.

        In my view, the discussion about kale is mostly about kale as a main component, and its merit as a food on its own. When heavy, flavorful things are layered on top, that’s another story….

        Kind of like carrots vs. carrot cake. Not at all the same.

            1. I look forward to it being as tasty as this cabbage recipe, from

              Ankh Morpork boiled cabbage

              This recipe is a favourite of all Ankh Morporkians, living as they do in the middle of the biggest cabbage growing district of Discworld.



              Put the water in a pot and boil over a fire until it is boiling hot. Make sure that all the water does not evaporate, it will be needed for the next step.

              Take the cabbage, rip the outside leaves off and feed them to the dog or the snails. Rip off a few of the succulent leaves from the inside of the cabbage. Wash the newly ripped leaves in some water (be sure not to use the boiling water at this point). Place the washed and ripped leaved into the boiling water. Boil for as many hours as is needed to completely remove all taste from the cabbage. Salt to taste.

  2. Get better soon Leon.

    Another born on this day, Stevie Ray Vaughn was a pretty good guitarist and songwriter. Died too soon in a helicopter crash. Speaking of crashes a B-17 WWII airplane crashed yesterday killing at least 7 of the 13 people on board. Not a good idea providing rides is this very old airplane and I think the results needs no further explanation. If you want a safe ride find some old guy with a J-3.

    1. At this point we do not know what the cause of the B17 accident was, so it’s probably premature to draw conclusions about why it crashed.

      In any event, providing people are aware of the risks, why not let them fly in WW2 aircraft? It’s a source of income to keep them flying.

      1. Wow. the first sentence in that comment is a horrible tautology. What I meant to say is that it is premature to start making judgements about the crash or the carrying of passengers.

        1. Your thinking that I have come to a conclusion specifically for this crash is wrong. Note – I did not give one, I said not a good idea to provide rides in this airplane. This is a very old yet complex airplane designed and build long ago to bomb the enemy. The engines, everything about it are very old. It needed lots of maintenance when it was brand new and still crashed many time due to mechanical failure. The ego makes people do strange things and paying $450 bucks for a half hour ride on this plane would be one of them. As I said, there are far safer choices if you want an airplane ride.

            1. Just keep digging. Your attitude is what is wrong. What I am trying to correct. You say why shouldn’t they be allowed to take a ride in this airplane and I briefly told you. It is pretty dangerous and far more so than the need to do it. If you had the money to fly into space on a Russian rocket you can do that as well. But if just taking an airplane ride is your wish, take some advice from someone who knows something about it. If you are about to blow a lot of money on a house you would hire an experienced carpenter to inspect it, right? And that is not nearly as dangerous to your well being as getting into a B-17.

              1. You do understand that the attraction of flying in a B17 comes from the fact that it is a B17? They don’t just want to fly, they want to fly in a legend of the Second World War. As long as they are aware of the dangers, why shouldn’t they?

              2. It is hard to tell if you are just stubborn or just like to argue. The knowledge or lack thereof, for the passenger is not the only problem with this. I am saying the people or pilot who is putting this plane out there for people to take rides in is misguided. And that is what needs to stop. There are only a couple of these B-17s that are even available for this passenger business and now there is one less. Just being a commercial pilot with some time in this airplane does not make you fit to haul passengers in it. How much time/experience do you think any pilot today has with handling this airplane in various emergency situations – like yesterday?

                My grandfather who started flying in 1927 had many pieces of advice for me and one of them was – There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are not many old bold pilots.

          1. What was your opinion on the story here about the guy free climbing El Capitan? That too was certainly dangerous, so obviously he should not have done it. Or does it matter that the price he paid to do it was less than $450, just a number of broken bones and dead friends.
            The plane’s maintenance and inspection schedule had been passed by the CAA (or whoever their American equivalent is. Maybe the Vatican Aviation Authority, if there is a financial advantage to “flying a flag of convenience”), or the operators have got a slightly serious financial penalty coming. (I make it about $1.2 million under Warsaw rules; higher if they can get it into a more favourable jurisdiction.) That doesn’t mean that the aircraft was “safe”, just that it wasn’t ridiculously dangerous. I see the other end of it with my “bus to work” every time I have to watch the pre-flight briefing video, sign a statement that I’ve seen it, and don my survival suit before boarding the aircraft. The aircraft aren’t as low-risk as scheduled fixed-wing passenger planes, but the risk is acceptably low. (A little research says the crash risk is about 9.84 per 100,000 hours versus 6.08 per 100,000 hours for all aviation.)
            You know, I think it’s been over a year since the last helicopter full of people going to work fell out of the North Sea sky. That’s a pretty good record. But it’s unlikely to persist – there have been a number of “good landing that you can walk away from” events which didn’t classify as crashes.

      2. “ … providing people are aware of the risks, why not let them fly in WW2 aircraft? “

        Because what says they wouldn’t have crashed on someone’s house? A highway? Etc….

        So .. “ let them fly” but with restrictions.

        1. Well that’s not an argument against letting people fly as passengers in WW2 aircraft, it’s an argument against flying WW2 aircraft at all.

          Anyway, without looking at the statistics, I would guess that your house is much more likely to be crashed into by a modern light aircraft than a WW2 plane because there are many more of them.

          1. I think the reason and design matter :

            Modern aircraft in general serve a practical purpose- business, getting from point A to point B.

            WW2 aircraft were designed back in the 1940’s for war, with military passengers. To operate them now is entirely for fun, amusement, historical interest, etc. it is entirely unnecessary, and should be regulated as such.

            1. How boring life must be on planet Thyroid, where people can only do things that are necessary, in case they hurt themselves.

              I think we are borderline breaking Da Roolz by continuing this thread, so I’ll leave it at this.

              1. “… people can only do things that are necessary, “

                Where did I assert such a broad rule?

                I focused on the clear case where a plane crashes on innocent bystanders. In one case, it is a modern aircraft ostensibly doing something of practical use. In another, the aircraft is of antique, historical interest. How do we weigh these scenarios? A third scenario could be incorporated, personal hobbyists. It sounds like a problem for likelihood analysis.

                As for the warning that I am violating rules : I thought it was pretty clear I am interested in this topic because it is fresh, and I had never thought about it clearly, and many other topics are brought to bear when thinking about it.

    2. If these planes are well maintained, there should be no problem with flying them or riding in them, which makes them no different than any other plane. The people who own and maintain these B-17s know the challenges.

      1. Please Dr. give us your background and experience that lets you come to this conclusion? Just the fact that you make this statement tells me you know very little on the subject. By the way, the people who were flying this airplane yesterday are either dead or injured today. And by the way, why do you suppose the air force stops flying any aircraft after a certain period of time?

        1. I don’t think any commenters are claiming that it’s an entirely safe thing to do; it’s more that if someone wants to take that risk why should they not be allowed to do so?

          Just saying ‘because it’s dangerous’ isn’t an argument. You could say that about a lot of things that we do all the time.

          1. When PCC discusses something on evolution or biology I listen because he has the background and knows what he is talking about. Years of experience as well.

            On the subject of planes and flying I have a bit of background. However, I detect in some of the comments here that the opinions and comments are from people who know very little about what they are talking about. I think it is a good thing to let others know when they are talking about some they know very little about. I believe I already gave out more information than just it’s dangerous. If you did not get any of that, go back and read again.

            1. There’s really not much we can do about commenters having a mixed background on any given subject. Even if they told us their background, (a) it would be an argument from authority and (b) anyone would be well within their rights not to trust them to honestly report their background. It is the internet after all.

              As far as flying in old planes is concerned, my position is that it is probably more dangerous than it seems and operators are not much motivated to be really honest about the risks. But people should be able to take the ride if they want to.

      2. Yes, but these old planes do drop out of the sky fairly regularly. I know they are required to do maintenance proactively but they are bound to miss things or get complacent. It’s also not in their owners’ interest to make potential paying passengers fully aware of the risks and statistics.

        1. Do you remember what I said about getting that house inspected and get some advice from someone who knows. Try that same idea on getting into an airplane.

          1. Yes, who are you going to ask? I suppose you could ask to see their maintenance records but I certainly wouldn’t know how much maintenance is good enough.

            I get a pretty good bang at seeing a B-17 fly from the ground. I remember seeing one fly up the coast here in So. California about a decade ago. Very cool. Actually flying in one is not that interesting. I’ve seen it in movies and on YouTube. The risk/reward ratio doesn’t seem to warrant getting in one at this point.

    3. At least they do not offer flights on the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, aka ‘the Widowmaker’ (German Air Force and Navy losses totaled 110 pilots!), since they were single seat planes.

      1. What you say is true Nicolaas & it’s good that you bring this up!

        In the USA I think it’s still true that not-for-profits [like the owners of the crashed B17] aren’t permitted by the FAA to take paying customer passengers on historic military fast jets – even classic ones [the FAA might have expanded the regs recently, but I don’t think so]. One has to go to Russia etc. for fast jet historic experiences – Mig 21s & so on.

        The problem faced by these preservers of historic FLYING aircraft is the huge costs involved – a Wright Cyclone engine of the model [with supercharger] used in the Fortress is £60k for one raw non-flying-condition engine of which four are needed, plus spare engines plus spare parts. I read that to get one of these raw engines up to spec with supercharger too is an additional $200k if you go to the pros! I saw the part that seals ONE piston head [called a piston head?] going for $1,250 on eBay – they are the size of ashtrays & are used as such in fact. The market in counterfeit parts in the airline industry is a serious problem.

        The crashed B17 was acquired as an airframe shell – the plane never saw combat & was used in atomic tests & as a water tanker for fires [from memory – haven’t checked] for which four engines etc had to be found afresh along with many other components – the plane had been stripped for spares – it was genuinely a bare bones shell.

        The FAA has special exemptions for aircraft adjudged to be of historic interest & that includes the aforementioned paying passengers – the regs insist that the passengers are given the information necessary to make an informed risks decision about buying a ‘ticket’ & also they are supposed to be lectured on what-to-do-ifs. I strongly suspect this is a tall order to do well in practise.

        Generally speaking the airline industry is self-regulating on trust until the fuck ups happen & then the shortcuts come out into the open, nothing much changes & the cycle begins again. TRUST is huge in interactions between the authorities & the operators & it’s impractical economically to do things differently. Luckily in the western world the two sides of the equation are being reasonably moral, mostly [given that airlines & the authorities are business-driven]. Little rumours bleed out such as Boeing using [unknowingly I expect if true] 3rd/4th party, $9/hr programmers on their most recent fuck up on the 737 MAX. That said, you’re asking for trouble if you fly with an Indonesian airline or a Chinese airline or a number of others…

        With regard to the Fortress, it’s a special skills essential aircraft with no fancy safety features such as involving oil or fuel fires since this is built to 1944? vintage military standard [with some faux components such as guns & presumably the armour is left out around crew & fuel tanks – fuel tanks self sealing against shrapnel but useless if there’s a split] – I’m speculating in this para above.

        A WWII Fortress will get the USAAF brave boys ‘home’ to their UK base in Norfolk from Berlin on just two engines [all the way on two engines for hours & hours since you no longer have a bomb load] – it’s easier on two engines than three engines actually because of trim. Ideally you want your two working engines to be No 1 & No 4, or No 2 & No. 3 with the two other engines stopped & their props set to ‘feathered’ so they don’t turn in the airstream.

        If an engine catches fire on or near take off, then you cut the engine, suppress the flames & prepare to go around & land back at base. If you handle the fire successfully you most likely have a lot of time to consider closing off the matching engine on the other wing, resetting the power & retrimming the plane. You also need to know about the tailwheel on landing if you land with unbalanced thrust you’ll go all over the place on the ground if your tail wheel isn’t locked down on a 3-point nose-up plane.

        The plane seemingly went off the runway on landing & went right & hit a de-icing facility while running along the ground, on the grass. I wondered if the tail wheel wasn’t locked down & the collision with the plant split a wing tank. Pure speculation you understand.

        1. Another thing about historic aircraft as per the B17, there’s no black box requirement. I imagine there was GoPros all over the ship though & maybe one or more were streaming to internet ‘Cloud Storage.’

          I can imagine [speculate] a passenger or two panicking at the smoke coming from an engine & the captain deciding to land back at base quicker than he needed to. There’s no upper age limit to crewing a historic, vintage military aircraft that qualifies for not-for-profit exemptions mentioned above [I’ve been told – I haven”t checked myself].

        2. “Generally speaking the airline industry is self-regulating on trust until the fuck ups happen.”

          The fuck ups are what trigger new regulations.

          1. Yes I know & that’s a good thing – there’s no other way of doing things.

            But there’s always ways to stack the deck – such as the FAA allowed Boeing to set up the 737 MAX as merely a modified 737, thus no aircrew retraining [on a new type] required. IMO the 737 MAX flying characteristics are too far from those of a 737 for that to be a good decision. It happened that way because the FAA/Boeing needed a smooth, quick, cheap [no retraining & no recertification] transition by the airlines to the 737 MAX so Boeing built the MAX on-board controls software to emulate the familiar 737. Didn’t work & confused crews – especially poorly trained, over promoted, inexperienced crews in the expanding south east Asian & Chinese ‘tiger airlines’ market.

            One tiger airline were stuffing six or more cabin crew into the 737 MAX simulator to watch two others learn their stuff at the controls. Quadrupling the numbers of cabin crew signed off on the 737 MAX who hadn’t done the hours in the simulator.

            Regulation doesn’t work if a corrupt hierarchy all fall in line with putting their names to falsified documentation. Old regs & new regs depend on TRUST since everything is built on falsifiable training & maintenance logs & the spares, fuel etc. inventory trail.

            1. Sounds about right. I’m not sure what the feds are going to do at this point. They could punish Boeing, I suppose, charge them a huge fine or something, but then maybe they’ve already taken quite a financial hit. Maybe they’ve learned there lesson, so just let it be? Then maybe a similar disaster won’t happen for 20 years when people have forgotten 737 MAX.

            2. The MCAS was an expedient to avoid the need for 737 crews to be trained on the new type. Nothing wrong with MCAS in principle (I think most newer fly-by-wire Boeings and Airbuses probably include something similar) BUT they all take input from at least two, usually three sensors. Allowing MCAS to be triggered off a single angle-of-attack vane was just an accident waiting to happen. That is one of those things that aircraft designers just do not do, ever. (Allegedly, driving MCAS off two or three sensors would have required some sort of re-certification and incurred delays, but I don’t quite follow the argument.)

              Reputedly at some point the scope and ‘authority’ of MCAS was increased beyond its original limited function. Somebody should have caught it. I can’t help wondering if there’s an ‘Applegate memorandum’ lurking somewhere in Boeing’s files.


              1. I believe MCAS was precipitated by the decision to install new, larger diameter engines on the 737 Max. They changed the center of gravity such that MCAS was necessary.

              2. Wasn’t so much the centre of gravity, as that the big new engines stuck out so far ahead of the wing and also quite high up (they had to be mounted like that because the 737 is so low to the ground). So at high angles of attack (nose-up) they ‘caught the wind’ and added to the nose-up tendency, and along with high thrust settings this was just a bit too much – so MCAS had to be added to give the nose a bit of a nudge down. Unfortunately they botched it, to put it crudely.


    4. According to this Wikipedia item ,it was returning with a smoking engine ,and struck a stanchion on the ground .
      If it had not done that ,maybe it would have landed safely with a smoking engine .

      As for old aircraft not being safe ,they must get checked on a regular basis , and how much of the aircraft are original ,i did read somewhere that the magnesium rivets on Spitfires did used to corrode from the inside .

      1. I’m puzzled as to why it crashed (short of the runway). Any four-engine aircraft should be able to fly all day on three, especially when (I would guess) it only had a light fuel load and the weight of the passengers would be far less than its designed service load as a bomber or when it was in use as a water tanker.

        All I can think of is that the rough-running engine was a symptom of some fuel problem that may have affected the other engines on approach, though I’ve seen nothing in print to suggest any other engines were reported to have failed.


  3. So far as Goop’s ‘medicine bag’ goes, you can buy polished quartz pebbles of various colours on Ebay, from China, post free, for 2 to 3 dollars a piece.


  4. Words and phrases that are used by younger people and not understood by older people:

    A handful of those are from the black LGBTQWZNF+ community which are used now by white VSCO girls** on their brain dead Instagram & TikTok accounts [according to a newspaper article I’ll put up in a mo.]

    Here’s Jasmine Masters* doing “AND I OOP” which I think s/he invented:-

    * The stage name of Martell Robinson, American drag queen, actor, singer & stand-up comedian.

    ** VSCO girls as a ‘culture’, reminds me of the 1980s’ SoCal sub-culture known as Valley girls, as lampooned in Frank Zappa’s 1982 single Valley Girl. A superbly cringey tune he made with his 14-year-old daughter Moon Unit voicing typical Valley Girl phrases. The airplay resulted in an upsurge of Valspeak slang usage…

    A friend’s son aged 25 years uses dank, salty & other 4Chan, Discord & Gaming world words indiscriminately in real world, live convo – even when talking to grown ups. He hasn’t learned to adjust his idiom to match the context. A true basement dweller destined for a life of menial work, assuming he finds work that is. Maybe he’s a late developer? 🙂

    1. Your friend’s son sounds like a bit of a twonk.

      It’s sad that for some kids the modern counterculture amounts to embracing the politics of the average British stand-up comic from the 70s. If you wanted to rebel as a kid in the sixties and seventies you’d look up to Dylan and James Dean, the Sex Pistols…

      Yet now it’s people like Steven Crowder, danktwat with the Nazi dog, people like that. I’m thinking the people who are into all that are the same people who were into Limp Bizkit and Slipknot when I was at school/college. The good thing back then was that there was no really effective way for them to communicate or make friends, so they led solitary, miserable existences and died off without leaving children. Unfortunately social media has changed that.

      1. LOL. I couldn’t have put it better. Yes, he’s a twonk – a nice lad, but somewhat surplus to society, served hand & foot by his dear mum. No telling her of course.

      2. Just this past Tuesday afternoon my daughter, 15 years old, was making fun of Limp Bizkit. We were on our way to the gym when a song of theirs came on the radio. She started out with a disparaging laugh and it got more harsh from there.

        Wish I could remember exactly what she said. Basically she thought they were pathetic. Then again her style is more shred-metal.

        Interesting daughter tidbit. Trying to get her to sleep as in infant, classical music did not work. Day after day I’d put on some classical music, even Mozart, and gently rock her in my arms. But it never worked. Then one evening, for what reason I couldn’t say (cognitively impaired from lack of sleep & stress), I put on RATM and rocked her in my arms more vigorously. She was asleep in less than 5 minutes. Worked almost every time. Her first song request ever, shortly after she was capable of making simple sentences, was “Play the Star song daddy.” The star song was Bulls On Parade.

        1. 😂 from my experience as a mother and teacher and daughter it seems that 15-year-old girls know it all. I remember my daughter as a toddler falling asleep when the duct cleaners came, and waking when they left.

          1. LoL.

            To be fair, 15 year old boys know it all too. At least I certainly did. I seem to have forgotten a lot though.

          2. From Darrelle’s post: “Day after day I’d put on some classical music, even Mozart, and gently rock her in my arms. But it never worked.”

            See?? Even infants agree with me about Mozart…

          1. Hi Merilee,

            Yes, I’m the one with the twins. 🙂

            Her Brother does not share her tastes in music! I’m not really sure what he likes. He does not seem to be a music lover while she very much is.

            But he did go to a Cannibal Corpse concert with her. Unfortunately so did I, as chaperone. She had a great time, I hated it and he somehow, only the gods know how, fell asleep on a bench on the back wall of the mezzanine at the Orpheum.

            1. 😂
              My son, who is now 34, just went to a Beach Boys concert in Vancouver. I took him to see Clapton, The Stones, The Who in his young teens. He’s got good (his mother’s:-) taste, though not expanding to classical. He plays reasonably good guitar. My 32-yr.-old daughter’s not as much into music.

    2. Here are some incomprehensible descriptors used by LGBTQETAL., youth, “Demisexual, biromantic: LGBTQ youth adopting wide array of labels.” Subheading: “LGBTQ youth used more than 100 different terms to describe their sexual orientation in a survey conducted by The Trevor Project.” To echo James Comey, as I do now and then, “Lordy!”

  5. I’ll be interested to hear who it goes at Williams. Student (over-)reaction to speakers seems to be based as much on the speaker’s perceived politics as on their topic.

    1. I wonder if the woke students consider denying free will a political position? That aside, if any of them consult this website, there could be fireworks.

      I have no idea about any of this and wait with bated breath for the report/video?) of the talk.

  6. Re. Woody Guthrie, there’s a terrific, short, sweet version of ‘John Henry’ by massively underrated eighties garage-blues-rock-abilly band The Gun Club, which is where I first heard it:

    If you’ve not heard them before, and you’re into ferocious rock and roll songs mixed with blues and folk covers performed by chaotic, doomed drug addicts, then check them out. They were a kind of precursor to The White Stripes – lots of covers of long-forgotten folk and blues classics, mixed in with their own songs. ‘Fire Of Love’ is their masterpiece, but ‘Miami’ is almost as good an album.

    …A Gun Club original, the classic ‘Sex Beat’:

    …and ‘Mother Of Earth’, a kind of loping Johnny Cash-alike lament:

    1. Sex Beat: Lyrics & vocal delivery, it’s Lou Read II backed by any NYC garage rock/punk band. Very good.

      There’s a good live version on YT at The Haçienda.

      1. The guy wasn’t technically a great vocalist, you can hear it in his voice. But that’s not that important really – they were just so intense and ferocious*. And wrote good tunes.

        I think he died of addiction problems, can’t quite remember. A bit of a cliche. But they were influential and had a primitive, stripped back sound. Punk blues and huge, knife sharp riffs.

        *Did you ever hear about Freddie Mercury’s snarky name for Sid Vicious? He called him ‘Simon Ferocious’.

        1. No criticism implied – I like their stuff.

          JLP was killed by the booze. He was in a bad way for years – there’s no really reliable sources re his health problems, but *reportedly* his liver had packed up, he had a form of dementia brought on by years of heavy boozing [almost incomprehensible in conversation acc. to Nick Cave] & he died, strictly speaking, of a brain haemorrhage in his late 30s. Liver disease & high blood pressure greatly increases risk of brain haemorrhage.

          The Wiki rumour is he went for tests & the docs wrote him off & sent him on his way. It isn’t worth trying medical intervention on a long time alcoholic until they demonstrate a willingness to dry out & even then the damage to mental function etc can’t be reversed AFAIK.

          1. No, I didn’t infer any criticism in your reply don’t worry…that was my opinion entirely. His voice is, like a lot of charismatic frontmen, yer Ian Browns, even yer Dylans and Neil Youngs, not actually that great in a technical sense.

            Thanks for the info on Pierce, that was the impression I had in a vague way. Messed up on the booze, and with severe brain damage. Apart from Hutchence-ing it with an orange in your mouth I can’t think of a worse way to go.

            1. Yes, Hutchinson’s Chorea (*dance) is so terrible, because you know long before it starts that it’s coming, it is slowly progressing and there is nothing you can do about it.
              (well, we are all aging, and there is nothing much we can do about that either, but still)

            2. Nicolass: By “Hutchinson’s Chorea” did you mean to write “Huntington’s chorea?” Anyway Saul was referring to Michael Hutchence, the INXS singer.

              Saul: I don’t think autoerotic asphyxia [particularly the orange in mouth] is the way Michael Hutchence died – are you mixing Hutchence with someone else’s tawdry death?

              1. I believe there were apocryphal rumours about Hutchence’s death(spread by the hyper-lucid and always accurate Paula Yates) that he died from autoerotic asphysxiation. The orange I added for visual flavour.

              2. I think it was suicide, but what do I know? For example I didn’t know, ’til just now, that Peaches Geldoff died from heroin OD in 2014 at age 25 years. Paula Yates lived & breathed deception with a facade of public openness when it suited her narrative & need to be at the centre of things, narcissist, exhibitionist & liar – I discount her speculations re his death, it made a better story for her than suicide.

              3. Yes, I think the post-mortem was suicide.

                It’s one of those things that took on a life of its own though, and now a lot of people just use Hutchence as a shorthand for sexy-fetish-death.

                Probably Richard Gere was just bending over and stroking his kid’s gerbil, the cleaning lady came in, the whole scene looked unfortunate, Gere spluttered an explanation that made him sound even more guilty, and she started talking to her friends about it. Thus a legend was born. That’s how it works.

                …And unscrupulous and lazy online commenters will use those rumours to make cheap jokes, time after time, keeping the legend alive forever. Richard Gere will go to his grave with that gerbil metaphorically wedged up there. It’s just too perfect a story for the truth to ever be preferable.

              4. The Gerbil sold her story to Rodent Reader & jetted back to Mongolia to set up a ‘harem’ of multiple males. Her 300 great-great-grandchildren are flourishing & not one heroin episode. Some good has come of this.

    2. Jeffrey Lee Pierce!
      Love Gun Club. You describe them quite accurately. I saw them at the I-Beam in San Francisco back in ’89 or ’90 iirc. JLP was fucking horrible though. Drunk as shit, yelling obscenities at people, couldn’t play a lick, just staggered around like a pathetic angry punk. His band was trying to play louder to at least keep a beat, and soon the gig was over. I was disappointed, but it was quite a vivid memory. Not surprised that he died a few years later…heroine…”She’s Like Heroin to Me” (she cannot miss a vein). Now there’s one contentious gem of a song. The bad live-experience never dampened my enthusiasm for the music though.

      Some great shows I did see at the I-Beam were Siouxsie and the Banshees, Killing Joke, The Damned, T.S.O.L. and Love and Rockets. More that I forget. I don’t think there were many bands from ’81-’92 that didn’t play there. Located on famous Haight/Ashbury it was probably the hippest small venue on the West Coast.

      1. Well, all my favourite bands were on smack. But I know Pierce’s biggest problem was just getting pissed.

        It sounds like you caught him on his way out…

        But fuck, what a band. For The Love Of Ivy, Ghost On The Highway…just awesome rock and roll songs.

  7. Whenever the Buckingham/Nicks version of Fleetwood Mac gets a call out, I feel the need to mention that they were great in their earlier versions too, though perhaps not as mainstream in their sound. Just to name a few songs, there’s “Oh Well” and “Black Magic Woman” (yes, that one) from the Peter Green era and “Sentimental Lady” and “Hypnotized” from the Bob Welch era. All good.

    1. I never understood the profusion of songs in that era that were about mysterious, vaguely supernatural women; wasn’t there also a big hit called ‘Witchy Woman’ around that time too(it came up in a Seinfeld episode)?

      Ricky Gervais(as David Brent) did an excellent parody of all those daft songs that fetishised ‘mysterious’ women:

      He gets so many of the details right.

      1. Yes, there were a lot of songs talking about mysterious or strange women. I suspect their authors were dealing with rejection. They would have preferred to use stronger language but didn’t think the radio would play it.

        1. That’s a possibility. Those songs seem more naively worshipful and naffly romantic than hostile to me though. There were definitely some pretty shitty attitudes to women back then in the rock world though; just the words ‘red snapper’ say it all.

      2. The “Witchy Woman” I know is by the Eagles, though I’m not sure that they are the original artists.

        *checks the interwebz*

        Yes, Bernie Leadon started writing the song when he was with The Flying Burrito Brothers, and finished it with Don Henley after joining the Eagles. It was on their debut album.

      3. Hey, that’s not bad. Ricky Gervais may have intended it as satire but it’s actually well produced, visually and musically pleasing. It will never be a great song but it’s at least as good as 90% of the genre.

        I could stand to listen to it again.

        (This raises a point about satire of any genre – in order to be a successful satire, the work needs to be at least a well-made example of the genre it’s satirising).


        1. Yes, I agree – the song itself is actually a pretty competent MOR folk song that you could imagine on Radio 2 – it’s more the video and a few lyrical bits here and there that make it funny(and the allusion to all those slightly ridiculous songs from the seventies and sixties that glamourised women who were ‘mysterious’.
          And the final line is quite touching, in a Dylan Thomas, old-man-contemplating-his-youth kind of way – it’s the fact that a chunky fifty-something dressed in gypsy clothing is playing the part of his eighteen-year-old self that makes it absurd.

          Gervais used to be in a pretty serious band in the eighties – Seona Dancing I think they were called. They were competent and bland, a bit like this, only they were new romantics(ish) rather than pseudo-folk.

          My personal opinion is that Gervais fancies himself as a songwriter. A lot of the songs written by his David Brent character are pretty competent examples of meat and potatoes daytime rock. There’s nothing outlandishly silly or ridiculous about the music he writes, not like you find with, say, Flight of the Conchords.

  8. I hope Hili doesn’t get conked on the head by a walnut but if so, I’m sure she’ll come up with a new and improved law of gravity, Hili’s Law.

  9. While our host is away, a gentle puzzle:

    What’s the link between Woody Guthrie and cat massage?

    (There’s a two-part solution.)

          1. I think my Booker would enjoy a lot of this: he loves having his loose belly and back skin pulled and his tail pulled. Not sure about clicking his ears….

            1. Good old Booker! I agree with you, but what about the lifting off the ground by the head as a full-grown kitty? Please report back after your skin is no longer in ribbons. 🙂

              1. 18-lb. (5-yr.-old) Booker LOVES being scruffed off the ground (or bed or couch) and then stretched by his forelegs, but I would be scared to pick him up by head. I would be scared of breaking his neck.

  10. Although a brilliant performance for sure, I don’t like Lindsey’s guitar sound in that clip. Why do guitars sound like that nowadays? Another bugaboo, Elton John’s piano sound these days. Hopefully he didn’t pay a lot for that piano. I liked the old sound. I guess they don’t make sounds like they used to.

    1. Also, he plays “Your Song” differently than the old days. More fancy-schmancy key diddling. Maybe other songs too, I’m not sure. Definitely he fancied-up “Your Song” though. Go back to your roots Elton.

    2. Hi Roger, since you asked… 🙂


      “Although a brilliant performance for sure, I don’t like Lindsey’s guitar sound in that clip. Why do guitars sound like that nowadays?”

      The short answer is “guitars, on the 99% whole, don’t sound like that nowadays”

      Buckingham is using his Gibson Chet Atkins Classical Electric Guitar with Nylon Strings – that’s the guitar he uses for many years on Big Love & Go Insane. Chet Atkins went to Gibson & had it designed/built to his spec & it turned up in the Gibson catalogue from 1982 onwards & it’s still there & fundamentally unchanged in 40 years other than a couple of extra knobs in later versions. Buckingham’s Gibson doesn’t have those knobs so it’s the original 40 year old design.

      If you look at the video you’ll notice it’s very thin [front to back] for what appears to be an acoustic guitar, but isn’t really. Mark Knofler has used it a lot live on tour & in session work with some big names.

      It’s a genius instrument for finger pickers such as Knofler & Buckingham because of the nylon strings & the small sound chamber carved into the solid body to add an acoustic tone to a device that uses piezo pickups under the bridge. It has a fairly faithful classical guitar sound, but not as good as a s real classical acoustic with microphone, but the latter is a hassle in an electric live band setup for many reasons, including feedback from itself & other nearby instruments. I think Buckingham has switched to an acoustic of late despite the drawbacks.

      The sound of this guitar is not typical of guitars today as it’s its own beast. You’ll have to be clearer on your criticism of modern guitar.


      “Elton John’s piano sound these days. Hopefully he didn’t pay a lot for that piano. I liked the old sound. I guess they don’t make sounds like they used to. Also, he plays Your Song differently than the old days. More fancy-schmancy key diddling. Maybe other songs too, I’m not sure. Definitely he fancied-up Your Song though. Go back to your roots Elton”

      Short answer, I’ve just watched & listened to various Elton John’s versions of Your Song on YouTube spanning four decades & I think your assessment is inaccurate in every particular. The only noticeable change in that period is his voice has changed after vocal surgery [late 80s?] – his singing tempo is slower & more gentle in transition [which effects everything else of course], his range is a lot tighter & is almost an octave lower. He sings with other singers a lot today so they can add the top end he no longer reaches.

      The song you mention – Elton John’s original recording of Your Song features a small orchestra led by the arranger/conductor, three guitars [acoustic & electric, 6 & 12 string], drums & a big bass sound [probably a double bass is my guess] played by Dave Richmond [Manfred Mann founder]. On the orchestral side I can hear a plucked harp, various bowed string instruments & some sort of flute-type wind instrument.

      Elton John’s piano is almost entirely buried after the well known 10 second piano opening for the next two minutes & then we hear the piano again briefly for around 5 seconds – the melody carried by a host of instruments with the piano an irrelevance.

      Elton John uses a range of electric & acoustic pianos & if the venue is quality he will use their piano for a concert or something less than perfect for a talk show interlude. It depends! When he has a residence with an orchestra you get close to the original sound as per the record where you can barely notice the piano after the intro section.

      When he’s on tour with his piano & voice only [no orchestra] you can actually hear the entire piano part & there’s no curly bits added – it’s just that you can hear the individual piano notes. His piano style is very basic – lots of chord phrases with some twiddly bits in between. Cocktail lounge stuff.

      I hate the original, classic, recorded schmaltzy, chocolate gateaux recording of Your Song, his best versions are live solo w piano or his more recent vocal duets w piano. No extra twiddly bits detected. 🙂

      1. I prefer the original myself. Better younger vocal like you said, and simpler piano. (Unless I’m imagining things about the simpler piano haha.) I’ll dig up a couple examples in a few. As for guitars I should have specified “acoustic live performances”. I’ll dig up some of those too.

      2. Okay I did a video with a side by side comparison of three of the more noticeable sections from two live versions of “Your Song”, one from 1970 and one from 2016. The 1970 one is more syncopated and “choppier”, and the one from 2016 is more arpeggiated and “flowing”. The piano from 2016 sounds more tinny or “chimey” to my ear. Both are awesome but I like the one from 1970 more.

        My video: watch?v=2kRumEqB8DM

        1. That’s very interesting Roger. It’s pretty great actually! A lot of effort went into that cropping & joining of six clips into 49 seconds total.

          THIS IS WHAT I SEE & HEAR:

          * You’ve taken three different sections [that you’ve labelled 1,2 & 3] of Elton’s Your Song

          * For each numbered section you’ve compared “Old Elton” [OE] & more recent “New Elton” [NE].

          * But I think all the OE is with orchestra & NE is without orchestra. I don’t hear any more notes in NE compared with OE, but I DO hear him stressing some notes in the NE clips when there’s no orchestra to supply a rhythm & melodic backing. It is clear to me that Section 3 has the same number of notes, in the same order [I’m guessing you’ll get that 1971 M&W Andrew Preview reference!] for both OE & NE.

          Can you put links to your source videos in the video description Roger on YT? I want to listen to each of those to see if I can spot these twiddly extra NE bits. Ta.

          Good work.

          1. 1970: watch?v=mXuUtEDp_Mo
            2016: watch?v=RvQHzEw0sQM

            I noticed a difference the other day because I was learning the chords on guitar. By the way I think they may have sped up the 70s album version a little because it’s about 20 cents out of tune. Not sure of that but I dunno why else it would be out of tune. Definitely the 70s Elton was funkier but still plenty of funk left in my dude 2016 Elton haha.

            1. Actually it’s about 20 cents flat, which would mean they would have to slow it down a little. So I dunno. Dunno why they would slow it down. Dunno why it would be out of tune though. I mean, I can see guitar players saying the heck with it and be a little low, but still be in tune with each other. But piano is a different story!

              1. I look at it later today Rog – I’m stuck in a waiting room for probably the next three hours [at NHS clinic – ‘taxiing’ a neighbour & miles from home] on a crappy tablet with tinny sound. Want a fag, but would lose a sitting space! Charity is its own reward – a big finger overhead pointing down saying “mug”.

              2. Ah yeah I’ve had my share of waiting rooms recently. Staying over night with a family member and having to use valet service because nobody wants to walk that far. Valets returning the car with the radio station changed and who the heck knows what else they did or went with the car lol.

        2. I agree about the difference in piano tone, the old piano is warmer while the new piano is unpleasantly harsh. Big difference in his singing key/octave/range too – I like his new inferior, 2016 voice best – more lived in & textured. More real.

      3. Michael, I’m amazed at your detailed knowledge of Elton John (as well as other musical stuff). Do you mind letting us know what your background in music is such that you have absorbed so much? I’m imagining you are either a super-listener or a musician of some accomplishment yourself? Or both.

  11. I have a beef with National Butterfly and Hummingbird Day. First, the hummers have pretty much migrated out of my area by now. Also, why mix hummers and butterflies in the same celebration? True, they are both pollinators of flowers, but don’t they deserve their own day?
    …and get off my grass!!

    1. You shouldn’t have a beef with vegan insects & birds, that’s unholy!

      But, yes but, they deserve their separate honorary days & there needs to be a constitutional amendment that requires communities larger than say 500 pop. to have schools, streets, libraries, parks named for these happy creatures – as well as owls & bees & spiders [maybe cats if we stretch a point].

      I worry that AgentOrange45 will require the migratory ones to carry ID, visa & passports one day soon. And what’s he going to do re South American alligators [not enough on US soil unless he drains the swamp] – he’ll need gangster, evil S. American ‘gators & snakes for his brilliant border moat, which surely goes against his principle of hating on migrants.

        1. I didn’t remember that amusing episode. Congressman Joe Walsh, a Republican from Illinois:

          “If it will take introducing legislation calling for moats and these gators to get you serious about securing the borders, Mr. President, I’m game,” Walsh said, waving the plush toy for emphasis.

          tRump likely doesn’t know idea came from Obama. Fun fact that it did.

        2. Here’s the Colbert video from yesterday:

          Notice the revelation at the end where we learn that Obama’s speech writers of 2011 must have nicked the ‘gator/moat skit from Colbert [in role as his conservative character] who floated that nonsense first in 2006 & a couple of times later.

          This AgentOrange45 presidency is getting funny at last. Now that he’s being mocked in a way that’s genuinely funny I reckon the Orange Goose is cooked – emperor-with-no-clothes mode has been activated successfully at last. My conspiracy theory is AgentOrange45’s writers were fed this gator/moat notion in a Washington D.C. bar on the traditional get pissed Friday night & didn’t ‘due diligence’ the hell out of it.

          The Deep State is real folks! 🙂

            1. Are these beef chickens or vegan chickens? I think chickens will eat their dead young in filmic dinosaur fashion – if that ain’t true it ought to be,

  12. I love Thomas Wolfe, too. He was really as great a biographer as a novelist. His lover, Aline Bernstein, portrayed in several of his novels as Esther Jack, must have been an incredible woman. Wiki has a blurb about her. Wolfe wrote the best biographical sketch by a novelist of another novelist ever in “You Can’t Go Home Again.” In chapters 33-34 Sinclair Lewis appears thinly disguised as Lloyd McHarg.

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