Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on the cruelest day of the week: Tuesday. Time to go to the Hofgarden and drink coffee!

It’s February 11, 2020: National Peppermint Patty Day. It’s also International Day of Women and Girls in Science, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the US, National Make a Friend Day (easier said than done!) , and White Shirt Day, honoring the foundation of the United Auto Workers Union when GM finally recognized the union after a sit down strike on February 11, 1937 (see below). Why the white shirts? The link explains:

Each year on White Shirt Day men and women throughout the UAW wear white-collar attire traditionally donned by management to remember the sacrifices and victories of workers.

Here’s a UAW video about the strike;

. . . and a newsreel video of violence as strikers go after the scabs:

Stuff that happened on February 11 includes:

  • 660 BC – Traditional date for the foundation of Japan by Emperor Jimmu. [Note that this story is a legend.]
  • 1534 – Henry VIII of England is recognized as supreme head of the Church of England
  • 1812 – Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry is accused of “gerrymandering” for the first time.
  • 1858 – Bernadette Soubirous‘s first vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes, France.

Here’s Bernadette of Lourdes, who created a monster. She died of tuberculosis at only 35:

  • 1937 – The Flint sit-down strike ends when General Motors recognizes the United Auto Workers trade union. [See above]
  • 1938 – BBC Television produces the world’s first ever science fiction television program, an adaptation of a section of the Karel Čapek play R.U.R., that coined the term “robot”.
  • 1943 – World War II: General Dwight D. Eisenhower is selected to command the allied armies in Europe.
  • 1953 – Cold War: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower denies all appeals for clemency for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
  • 1978 – Censorship: China lifts a ban on works by Aristotle, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.
  • 1979 – The Iranian Revolution establishes an Islamic theocracy under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The theocracy is still going strong forty years on, and we know that many Iranians despise it. Here’s a recent tweet by Masih Alinejad about the governmental repression of the recent Iranian protests:

  • 1990 – Nelson Mandela is released from Victor Verster Prison outside Cape Town, South Africa after 27 years as a political prisoner.

And remember this one?

  • 2006 – U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney shot Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old Texas attorney, while participating in a quail hunt on a ranch in Riviera, Texas.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1839 – Josiah Willard Gibbs, American physicist, mathematician, and academic (d. 1903)
  • 1847 – Thomas Edison, American engineer and businessman, developed the light bulb and phonograph (d. 1931)
  • 1898 – Leo Szilard, Hungarian-American physicist and academic (d. 1964)
  • 1915 – Patrick Leigh Fermor, English soldier, author, and scholar (d. 2011)
  • 1926 – Paul Bocuse, French chef (d. 2018)
  • 1936 – Burt Reynolds, American actor and director (d. 2018)
  • 1939 – Gerry Goffin, American songwriter (d. 2014)
  • 1964 – Sarah Palin, American journalist and politician, 9th Governor of Alaska
  • 1969 – Jennifer Aniston, American actress and producer

Those who evinced their mortality on February 11 include:

  • 1650 – René Descartes, French mathematician and philosopher (b. 1596)
  • 1948 – Sergei Eisenstein, Russian director and screenwriter (b. 1898)
  • 1982 – Eleanor Powell, American actress and dancer (b. 1912)
  • 1994 – Paul Feyerabend, Austrian-Swiss philosopher and academic (b. 1924)
  • 2012 – Whitney Houston, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress (b. 1963)
  • 2015 – Bob Simon, American journalist (b. 1941)

This is one of my favorite Fred Astaire duos: Eleanor Powell and Astaire tapping their hearts out to “Begin the Beguine.” It’s from  Broadway Melody of 1940. Few of Astaire’s partners made it look as effortless as he did, but she does in this number.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrjez and Malgorzata are now feeding four feral cats in their barn. One might even be tame-able! I don’t think Hili likes it:

Hili: More and more cats are visiting our backyard.
A: Probably because I’m putting out cat food for them.
In Polish:
Hili: Coraz więcej kotów odwiedza nasze podwórko.
Ja: Pewnie dlatego, że wystawiam im jedzenie.

Posted by Rivka:

From Jesus of the Day:

Also from Jesus of the Day:

I guess a lot of Russians don’t like Putin:

Paw Patrol is an animated cartoon series for kids that features cool rescue dogs and I’m told is a big hit with kids between 2 and 6. Inevitably, some humanities wonk has found it “problematic”, and James Lindsay pushes back (Do read the abstract of Kennedy’s paper!)

From Gethyn: somebody kvetches a lot but then posts a nice cat video:

From reader Jon; if this cat is really imitating its lame owner it’s hilarious! But some commenters say the cat is lame and the staff is imitating it. What do you think?

From Heather Hastie;  Procyonid peekaboo:

Three tweets from Matthew. This chapter opening is unbelievable. Click on the picture to read it. You will laugh.

Adorable African penguin chicks:

And yes, this is a real book:


  1. Roger
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    “To Serve Cats”

    • DrBrydon
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      “To Serve Mankind”

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Before 1936 GM probably had moral officers in the plants. The motto was: The beatings will continue until moral improves.

  3. David Harper
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    From the typography, I’d hazard a guess that the thermodynamics chapter is from the Feynman Lectures on Physics. The twisted humour of the opening paragraph has Feynman written all over it too.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      I think you’re right.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Well, I’m not finding it here :


    • ratabago
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      It’s from Goodstein’s “States of Matter”. It’s kind of become a meme.

    • Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      It’s David L Goodstein


      • uommibatto
        Posted February 11, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        And could this book be used in school today, or would this opening paragraph be seen as a trigger to students who had been scarred by a loved one’s suicide?

        L. Smith

        • Posted February 11, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

          Well it’s a fact that Boltzmann took his own life and so did Ehrenfest. In fact, since Ehrenfest committed suicide after fatally shooting his son with Downs Syndrome (according to Wikipedia), I find your use of the word “triggering” triggering.

          Not really.

          But it wouldn’t surprise me if somebody somewhere did try to have this book banned for that reason.

    • harrync
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Ah, thermodynamics; one of the last physics classes I took before switching to econ. IIRC, I did OK – no A, no D, something in between. I can only remember three things: first day of class, the professor announces that if there is no objection, this Tues-Thur-Sat 8:00 am class will be Tues-Thur 7:30. That the three laws of thermodynamics are: 1) you can’t win; 2) you always lose unless you are at absolute zero; 3) you can’t be at absolute zero. The other thing I remember is walking into class one morning and seeing that someone has written on the chalkboard: Professor Hofstadter has won the Nobel prize in physics. The professor comes in to polite applause, looks at the chalkboard, erases it, and we have class as usual.

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Scooby-doo >>> Paw Patrol

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Paw Patrol is ok, in my humble opinion.
      Scooby-doo on the other hand, is always unmasking voodoo, vampires, ghosts and other woo-scares as scams. If it were not for the dismal animation it would be absolutely brilliant.
      (I know, since I have a 9 year old and a 6 year old)

  5. Frank Bath
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire dance sequence is a feast for the eye, but does anyone know if the taps are genuine, and if so how mic’ed, or added afterwards by a percussionist?

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      There’s something going on with audio-video sync – sometimes it’s clear, other times not – I think it’s something to do with the film rate … I don’t understand how film was edited back then – my guess is it’d have to be one take… so no overdubs… maybe it’s a little inaccuracy with the rollers in the recording equipment?

      But yeah, this is a great performance.

      … so this is the 1940’s or whenever equivalent of Shakira (not that I know what that means) or … Britney Spears (I’m old)?

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted February 11, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        I’d like to emphasize : this, like any other performance, is show biz. In this case especially, it is a motion picture – a critical element of Fantasyland. They are in the business of casting illusion, and I am a willing participant. That’s how it works.

        That a production technique is used to produce the finest product as judged by the producer is not a surprise. It’s not like Astaire is a hack. Are there better dancers? I wouldn’t be surprised. But he was in a great movie – made possible by 100’s of forgotten workers – they didn’t. Oh well.

        … still, there’s a let down of sorts. My own personal example is learning that Fleming Rasmussen recorded Metallica’s Master Of Puppets- and possibly other recordings- slower than normal, so playback sounded especially strong. They never really played as well live, but it’s show biz. Oh well.

        But it would really suck if Itzhak Perlman played live -even with sound support- and had some trickery at work in the console. That would precipitate an existential crisis and despair.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      TAP FOLEY: Broadway Melody of 1940, Begin the Beguine sequence, Astaire/Powell:

      There’s a lot of artifice in musicals from all eras – the live recorded product is always unpublishable. It is this artifice that gives Astaire et al a mystique out of all proportion to the reality. They were good or great, but far from as good as portrayed on the silver screen.

      If you watch/listen to the video you’ll notice the set is large – it’s impossible to mic that & keep the volume & timbre constant – just like today it was handheld [or overhead] mics with the audio recordists invisibly moving around with the actors. Not possible on such a set from a visual or audio perspective.

      And even if you DID try to record the tap live there would always be plenty of tap mistakes to edit out & replace, thus it made sense to aim for all the tap to be Foleyed. The general practise back then was to use a cheap, highly trained female ‘day player’ to re-dance the routine on a tap dance board [say one metre square] while watching the reel. She doesn’t have to do the fancy twirls, wear high heels etc.

      A Foley artist, Lara Doyle, has this to say:

      Gene Kelly did his own Foley work and Fred Astaire’s choreographer, Hermes Pan, did the Foley for all his numbers, because Pan had created them, and knew exactly what they should sound like. Pretty sure some uncredited day player would have done Powell, though Fred was a perfectionist so maybe Hermes did her tapping as well.

      Actually, if you listen to [Begin the Beguine], you could possibly construe that only one person was doing the tapping & adding extra taps where Powell is not in sync with Astaire, which I find quite interesting, so perhaps it was Hermes tapping wherever there were feet moving, and they didn’t need a second tapper. though I have since read that Powell was doing tap Foley for many films as well

      • rickflick
        Posted February 11, 2020 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Makes sense. I know romantically inclined fans would be deeply shocked and disappointed to learn about this. I won’t tell a soul, or even a sole with a soul.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 11, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          LOL. This was the fourth & last of the “Broadway Melody of xxxx” musicals & from my reading I gather the plot was as generic & trite as any Rocky movie, but back then you’d be watching a double feature at the various local cinemas twice or thrice a week – that’s an awful lot of studio movie product to get out the door non stop. An amazing industry that burned up its contractual stars with merciless, long, busy, mainly low quality product. All things considered I think, if I were a 1940s fish, I’d watch that movie happily just for this highlight – given the enormous amount of dross that came off the production line.

          As pointed out by TP above, I think I spot a few differences between the visual & audio tap, especially from Powell, but I’d have to get my tap eye/ear in over a few hours to be sure. I don’t have any love of tap so I can’t be bothered to do that labour.

          • rickflick
            Posted February 11, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

            If I was forced to I could download the film and in the editor step through to see if the peaks of the sound track match the position of the feet. But, I have to go prune the prunes, peaches and vines.

  6. Hempenstein
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Small consolation, but for his troubles at least Boltzmann had a Constant named for him.

    If Wikipedia had been around when I was a grad student, I might’ve had a chance of wrapping my head around what it was all about. As it was, I was left to ask my P Chem professor such questions – an old German guy who would just get angry and red in the face.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      He even had a brain named after him…🙂

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Do your kids watch #PawPatrol? Did you know it ‘encourages complicity in a global capitalist system that produces inequalities and causes environmental harms?

    Thank god. I was afraid it was all climate change and diversity these days. “@CultureCrime providing a vehicle for those working at the intersections of criminological and cultural inquiry.” I feel safer already….

  8. JezGrove
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Good g*d, is it really 14 years since Dick Cheney’s shooting mishap?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Cheney thought the gun wasn’t loaded but he was.

  9. W.Benson
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Re: Putin portrait in the elevator, I suspect portraits os Trump, Bernie, or whoever would elicit similar responses in the US — not to mention that the videoed responses may have been cherry-picked. Putin got more than 3/4 of the popular vote in the last election and is very popular in Russia (this table is from Wikipedia).

    2018 Russian presidential results:

    Candidate Party
    (votes – % of total)

    Vladimir Putin Independent
    56,430,712 76.69%

    Pavel Grudinin Communist Party
    8,659,206 11.77%

    V, Zhirinovsky Liberal Democratic Party 4,154,985 5.65%

    Ksenia Sobchak Civic Initiative 1,238,031 1.68%

    Grigory Yavlinsky Yabloko
    769,644 1.05%

    Boris Titov Party of Growth
    556,801 0.76%

    Maxim Suraykin Communists of Russia 499,342 0.68%

    Sergey Baburin Russian All-People’s Union 479,013 0.65%

    Invalid/blank votes 791,258 1.08%
    Total 73,578,992 100.00%

    Registered voters %turnout
    109,008,428 67.50%

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Given the state murder of political opponents, given the almost total control that Dobby The House Elf has over mass media, public services and the judicial system, as well as the routine threat of extreme violence to anyone who dares speak out against him, those figures are utterly meaningless.

      Leaders in authoritarian states often do rather well in elections; that’s not a sign of popularity. Neither are polls of the public.

      ‘How good a job is the current Russian government doing?

      a. good
      b. very good
      c. flawless
      d. please come around in the middle of the night and break my legs.’

      • Mark R.
        Posted February 11, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Yep…propaganda, pure and simple. Hell, they can manipulate foreign elections; when Putin holds all the levers of power in his own country- child’s play.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:46 am | Permalink

        Well obviously those people in the elevator weren’t too intimidated to give their opinions.

        I expect the same reaction would happen with a pic of tRump in a US elevator – or of Bojo in a lift, for that matter.


        • rickflick
          Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          I wonder how selective they were in which subjects to include in the film. There may have been some that had no reaction or seemed to genuinely admire the guy, that didn’t make the cut.

  10. rickflick
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Sergei Eisenstein (died today, 1948), was very important in the development of film art. His Battleship Potemkin, his most well known work is on YouTube. The baby carriage part in the remarkable Odessa Steps scene, beginning at 4:55, was recapitulated in the film, The Untouchables in 1987.


  11. Dominic
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

  12. Posted February 11, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    There’s lots of information around for cooking your own cat food. I’m sure it is driven by the high price of the stuff. I’m guessing the profit margin on cat food is enormous. They put crap in a can, slap a nice label on it, and then sell it for prices higher than a lot of human food. I have read a little about cooking for cats. Just enough to make me not want to do it.

  13. Harrison
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Four DOJ attorneys just resigned in protest over Trump and Barr intervening to reduce the sentencing guidelines for Roger Stone.

    To the people who thought it could never happen here, it did. We’re there.

    • Posted February 11, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      Stone and Trump’s other criminals are all going to be pardoned the day after Election Day, so this is just Trump letting everyone know that he now has hold of practically all the reins of power. Now he doesn’t even need to pardon anyone that hasn’t already been sentenced.

  14. Posted February 12, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I smell a hoax on the Paw Patrol paper – it is written too clearly. (As Bunge puts it, one of the problems with pomo is that makes students unlearn how to write.)

    But who knows?

    In any case, I have seen a few episodes with my older nephew. Like with Scooby Doo, it has *one* plot, but none of SD’s (early) redeeming virtues, namely practical skepticism and the important message of: someone who can exploit your fears can also exploit your wallet!

  15. Andrea Kenner
    Posted February 15, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    A good one today!

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