Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 5, 2020 • 6:45 am

Good morning on Tuesday, the cruelest day: May 5, 2020. It’s Cinco de Mayo, which means that it’s National Enchilada Day, a blatant example of cultural appropriation.  It’s also Oyster Day, even though May doesn’t have an “r” in it, Museum Lover’s Day (which museum lover is being singled out?), National Teacher Day, World Asthma Day, and International Midwives’ Day,

Today’s Google Doodle sees the return of a game, Lotería, a sort of Mexican bingo in which you place a bean on your card to match each picture that’s called out. If you fit the pattern specified, you win. (Others are playing online against you.) When this game first appeared a while back, I spent a fair amount of spare time playing it. Click on the screenshot to play—it’s easy. I love the sonorous voice of the Lotería man.

News of the Day: Bad to worse—or worst. The Trump administration, facing the facts, has now estimated that the coronavirus death tolls will be much higher than previously predicted. Here’s the dire report from the New York Times:

As President Trump presses for states to reopen their economies, his administration is privately projecting a steady rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths over the next several weeks. The daily death toll will reach about 3,000 on June 1, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times, a 70 percent increase from the current number of about 1,750.

The projections, based on government modeling pulled together by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases a day currently.

The numbers underscore a sobering reality: The United States has been hunkered down for the past seven weeks to try slowing the spread of the virus, but reopening the economy will make matters worse.

“There remains a large number of counties whose burden continues to grow,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned.

An eightfold rise in the number of new cases per day!?  That is unbelievable—and depressing. The reported death toll from coronavirus now stands at 69,680 in the U.S. and about 252,000 worldwide.

Elsewhere, there’s is nothing to look forward to in the news.  A NYT columnist offers advice on how to stay sane and occupied during the pandemic, but the advice is lame: do arts and crafts or learn a language. If you’re not artsy and your concentration is gone, that’s useless. Humans are social mammals and we will suffer if constrained to do jigsaw puzzles in an empty house. The mantra, “Remember, we’re all in this together” becomes ever more grating.

The ducklings may hatch and jump today, but it’s about the worst possible weather for that: a high of 46° F (6° C) and it’s raining. I’m a quite worried about the fate of Honey and her brood, for even after they jump in this frigid and wet weather, they still must make their way around the building to the pond. I predict jumping will occur either today or tomorrow. It will not warm up for a week.

Stuff that happened on May 5 includes:

  • 1260 – Kublai Khan becomes ruler of the Mongol Empire.
  • 1821 – Emperor Napoleon dies in exile on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.

The consensus is that Napoleon died of arsenic poisoning, but the compound was not administered deliberately. He is of course buried in Napoleon’s Tomb in Paris.

  • 1835 – The first railway in continental Europe opens between Brussels and Mechelen.
  • 1891 – The Music Hall in New York City (later known as Carnegie Hall) has its grand opening and first public performance, with Tchaikovsky as the guest conductor.
  • 1904 – Pitching against the Philadelphia Athletics at the Huntington Avenue Grounds, Cy Young of the Boston Americans throws the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball.

If you don’t know baseball, a “perfect game” is one in which none of the opposing players get on base (i.e., reach first base). That means that the pitcher has either struck players out or they’ve hit into an out.

Young was one of the best pitchers of all time, and he still holds the major league records for career wins (511), most career innings pitchedgames started, and complete games.  Here’s some rare video of Young. Five players were in the first class at the Baseball of Fame: Ty CobbBabe RuthHonus WagnerChristy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.  What a panoply of greats!

  • 1912 – Pravda, the “voice” of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg.
  • 1920 – Authorities arrest Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti for alleged robbery and murder.
  • 1925 – Scopes Trial: Serving of an arrest warrant on John T. Scopes for teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.

Remember that the Butler Act prohibited the teaching of human evolution, not evolution in general. It was not illegal to teach evolution so long as one didn’t imply that the human lineage had undergone that process.

Here’s a 2013 photo of me at Scopes’s grave in Paducah, Kentucky, where Ben Shelby, one of my hosts, kindly took me when I lectured at the University of Kentucky. (It was hard to find the tombstone!)  The Discovery Institute, via their resident ignoramus Michael Egnor, had a field day with this photo, saying that this photo shows that I admired a racist eugenics advocate because the book from which Scopes taught on the one day he substituted as a biology teacher had a section on race and eugenics. Scopes apparently didn’t teach from that section, nor have I found any evidence that he was a racist (see my response here and another here).

This is just one more example of how, bereft of any evidence for intelligent design, advocates like Egnor will try to tar evolutionists with anything they can, to the extent of making up stuff.  And even if Scopes were a racist and eugenicist (Darwin himself certainly believed in white superiority), that doesn’t do any work toward refuting the theory of evolution. IDers should be sufficiently self-aware to realize that, if they really want to replace evolution with Intelligent Design in the scientific community (one of their stated goals), they need to advance scientific arguments rather than irrelevant and ad hominem ones. But their real strategy is to influence the public by casting doubt on evolution, and then hoping the public was lobby for ID or making laws requiring it to be taught.

  • 1961 – Alan Shepard becomes the first American to travel into outer space, on a sub-orbital flight.

Here’s a one-minute video of that flight, which of course all of us watched live. He didn’t orbit the Earth—that was left to John Glenn. But Shepard, unlike Glenn, went on to walk on the Moon. Shepard died in 1998 at age 74.

And a final video of that great victory. This year they’re running a VIRTUAL Kentucky Derby, which seems to me pathetic. I believe Secretariat is favored in that one.

  • 1981 – Bobby Sands dies in the Long Kesh prison hospital after 66 days of hunger-striking, aged 27.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1813 – Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher and author (d. 1855)
  • 1818 – Karl Marx, German philosopher, sociologist, and journalist (d. 1883)
  • 1914 – Tyrone Power, American actor (d. 1958)
  • 1942 – Tammy Wynette, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1998)
  • 1943 – Michael Palin, English actor and screenwriter

Plagued by multiple health problems, Wynette died at only 55. Here’s her most famous song, performed live on the Johnny Cash Show (she co-wrote the song with Billy Sherrill).

Those who were called home on May 5 include:

  • 1902 – Bret Harte, American short story writer and poet (b. 1836)
  • 1981 – Bobby Sands, PIRA volunteer and hunger striker (b. 1954)
  • 2008 – Irv Robbins, Canadian-American businessman, co-founded Baskin-Robbins (b. 1917)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the only data Hili is processing is her dreams of mice:

A: Are you asleep?
Hili: No, I’m processing data.
In Polish:
Ja: Śpisz?
Hili: Nie, przetwarzam dane.

From Jesus of the Day:

A meme from Stash Krod:

From I Am Not a Grammar Cop. I Am an English-Language Enthusiast:

Titania’s always looking out for problematic language:

From Simon: Pandemic “fun stuff” is getting old! Click on the picture to see the whole thing:

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. I wonder who “someone” is. . . .

I don’t think there’s evidence of “brains” here; the chair removal was just an accident.


Tweets from Matthew. Is this a real photo?

Yes, there are zonkeys: hybrids between donkeys and zebras. They’re also known as zebonkeys, zebronkeys, zebrinnys, zebrulas, zebrasses, zedonks, and zebadonks.

This is okay, but it would be better if it were a duck. God had an off day when he made geese.

This is one of the few unpredictable but enjoyable aspects of the pandemic:


44 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. As President Trump presses for states to reopen their economies, his administration is privately projecting a steady rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths over the next several weeks.

    Call me jaded, but I’m starting to suspect that just maybe “internet troll” and “conman” and “real-estate huckster” and “reality-tv star” are not primo qualifications for a president in the time of pandemic.

    1. He’s earning a new name. Doing nothing to mitigate the virus, rather pushing to “reopen” knowing the death rate will rise to 3000 per day, likely of the more vulnerable in our society, makes him a Mass Murderer.

      1. Republicans value money over life; unfortunately it’s nothing new and the cult doesn’t care.

  2. Hi Jerry,

    A couple of times in the last week you’ve mentioned your time as a conscientious objector. Would you consider writing a longer post about it? How were COs viewed and the time and since? How did you end up working in the hospital? How did you become the lead of the class-action law suit? I think it would be fascinating to know more, and I suspect other readers would too.


  3. 1973 – Secretariat wins the 1973 Kentucky Derby in 1:59 2/5, an as-yet unbeaten record.

    That’s not only the Kentucky Derby record; it’s also the track record — the fastest mile and quarter ever run by any horse at Churchill Downs in any race ever.

  4. An eightfold rise in the number of new cases per day!? That is unbelievable…

    I agree and I don’t believe it. I think there’s a problem with the model.

    I hope there’s a problem with the model

    1. We must remember that a model is just that…a mathematical construct developed by people, sometimes simple, sometimes complex…sometimes simple is better than overly complex. Parameters in models are either good guestimates or better estimates based on measured data. Think about weather prediction models for your local area. These measurements always carry uncertainty. Diana fisher, a retired high school teacher in portland oregon, has taught her students modeling and simulation since the 1990s and written a couple of good books on modeling of dynamical systems using stock and flow logic and STELLA software.

      1. I’m looking for the Dawkins quote about when science can’t get it “right” – and he says were working on it – science can be replaced *by better science*.

        I don’t see it in Wikiquote yet…

      2. I wish when writing these articles (in the Times and elsewhere) they would stop frivolously using words like “will” and similar. They’re more cagey about how they report on hurricane landfalls a few days out, for which we have much more effective and precise predictive models, based on much greater past data. I know that everyone HERE knows enough to recognize that such matters are uncertain, but the public in general is often less educated on such matters. As Neils Bohr is reported to have said (not in English) “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

    2. Someone has to explain how to reconcile an 800% increase in cases with a 70% increase in deaths. That’s not the present relationship between those two things.

      The rate in the US has been hovering around 30K new cases/day since April 2 and holding steady. What reason for the dramatic change in that statistic?

      They are probably calculating the case rate based on some other number, such as the death rate, rather than projecting it separately. That way it fits their model, even though it doesn’t fit reality.

  5. All of us did not watch the first American into space on the tee vee. As I recall it was during school and we had no televisions at school. I took a radio (earlier invention) to school and we heard it on the radio.

    1. I seem to have a recollection of watching Shepard’s flight live. Maybe there was a school assembly where they let us crowd around the teevee set. Or maybe I’m just remembering watching the film on the news that night (or even conflating it with the scene from the movie version of Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff).

      Anyway, I have a distinct memory of watching the second space flight, by Gus Grissom, live since it was a couple months later, during the summer break from school. I wandered down from my bedroom one morning, popped on the tube to watch cartoons, and there it was, live from Cape Canaveral. That one seemed to go off without nearly as much fanfare. Indeed, the whole mission seemed cursed, with Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 space capsule sinking in the Atlantic after old Guff Gus blew the safety bolts off its hatch.

  6. A characteristic of extremism is its relentlessness, whether it comes from the Left or the Right. Its adherents never moderate their views despite any contradictory evidence. Bolshevism in pre-revolutionary Russia is an example from the Left. For the past 50 years in the United States, right wing extremism has been a monolith, never willingly given an inch on a myriad of issues that include abortion, race, guns, religion, social programs, and science (particularly evolution). This coalition of the aggrieved has had significant success in the political arena, taking over the Republican Party and the Supreme Court under the guise of promoting individual freedom. Its savvy use of the media has never been emulated by the center or left. Right wing extremism has primarily benefitted in material terms the business interests, but it’s the cultural issues that garner its rank-and-file. The left wing in the country (think of Bernie supporters) is relatively small and the far left wing (think of old-time Marxists and the cultural left) are even smaller in numbers and influence. Those who are moderate on the political spectrum (those center-left and center-right) have never had the enthusiasm and commitment to engage the extremes with any degree of consistency. This is why the concern of whether the “center can hold” is perennial.

    People concerned about the rise of anti-science in this country, including the attacks on evolution, must understand that this development is but one element in the right wing’s agenda to transform the country into a corporatist, theocratic, anti-democratic, anti-science, white supremacist state. People in the center (certainly still a majority of the population) must realize to counter the right wing’s rise their response cannot be piecemeal, for example, attacking right wing religion and ignoring the rest of the agenda. The response must be on a wide front and relentless. In other words, the center must adopt the tactics of the right wing. Unfortunately, moderates being moderates means that such a movement is unlikely to materialize, hence the danger of right wing extremism is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

    1. There is another way if the “middle” would just do it. Just join with the left, regardless of how far left and vote the right out of office. It takes only a bit of energy to do this.

    2. So true. A bit scary. The Oaf…Oops, Oath Keepers released a statement that the police should resist orders or be deemed enemies of the constitution. No pushback from anyone.

  7. Ol’ Johnny Cash looks pretty slick in that clip with Tammy Wynette. Ain’t many a fella could pull off that outfit. The Seventies sure had some weird, ugly-ass clothes, man.

    1. Not to mention Tammy’s weird-ass hair. I preferred John Belushi’s version of the song.

  8. I happen to get emails that MIGHT be from a certain incompetent in a certain White House. It seems like spam but I’m inclined to think they’re genuine election campaign emails. This one came just after these updates :

    [——- begin email – or possibly spam———]
    [first name of recipient]
    I need your help.

    Despite what the Democrats and their Fake News friends want you to think, my administration is working around the clock to Keep America Safe and carefully reopen our Country as quickly as possible.

    But, the corrupt media refuses to tell the truth about all of the great work we’re doing. We need to take matters into our own hands. If the FAKE NEWS won’t report the truth, then WE WILL.

    My team just launched a brand new ad to FIGHT BACK against their biased coverage and show all the great work we’ve been doing. The Left will do whatever it takes to keep us quiet, which is why we set up our Official Trump Ad Blitz Fund to make sure EVERY Patriot gets the chance to hear the FACTS.

    With your help, I want to raise $3,000,000 in the NEXT 24 HOURS to send a strong message and to FLOOD THE AIRWAVES with this ad.

    Getting this ad to the public is critical. That’s why the next 1,000 donations will be instantly DOUBLE-MATCHED. Most Patriots donate in under 5 minutes, so don’t wait!

    [——— end email ———- ]

    The emails are usually tedious and pathetic but rise to terrifyingly outrageous sometimes. I think it gives some insight to the mind of the supporters.

    1. Team Trump is ramping up big on the canard that Chinese scientists at the Wuhan Virology Institute manufactured the virus in the lab and possibly released it (on themselves!) on purpose (as a way to world domination). This is a particularly vicious piece of propaganda because anyone defending science and the overwhelming likelihood that the virus arose naturally, like 5 or 6 earlier coronaviruses have, will also be portrayed as a communist tool taking the side of China.

      1. This is of course tRump looking for any excuse to blame someone else – China, the WHO, anybody but his own incompetent self.

        Remember a couple of months ago he was praising his ‘good friend’ the Chinese premier?

        Nobody in their right mind (and this means the entire world except his rethug fanbase) would trust tRump as far as they could throw him. And a lot of this is bouncing back on the USA.


  9. When I was a police officer in Londonderry, NH, I had an opportunity to sit and chat with a very elderly lady at her home. Her name was Mrs. Avery. With this being the anniversary of Alan Shepard’s flight into space, I thought I’d share a story she related to me. Shepard grew up in the next town over, Derry, and the strip of I-93 that runs through the area is the Alan Shepard Highway. Mrs. Avery told me that she had been friends with the Shepard family and watched Alan grow up. She said when she was a young girl most women didn’t drive. Shepard’s grandfather took the time to teach her to drive in his Ford Model T. Maybe not the most exciting story, but any time you get to live a piece of history, sit back and enjoy it.

    1. Is that what accounts for the famous portraits of him with his hand tucked into his shirt touching his tummy? Way I originally heard it, Napoleon was thought to have suffered from an ulcer.

      What the agita of spending a cold Russian winter holed up in a burnt-out Moscow waiting without success for the Rooskies to sue for peace will do to a fella, I suppose.

  10. The photo of the cat with watermelon may well be authentic. One of my cats from long ago loved both watermelon and cantaloupe (would snatch the cant. rinds from the sink and work on them at his leisure on the floor). One of his brother’s favorite foods was ripe tomatoes (no canned ones). Another loved falafel, so some will eat a great variety of foods–even beets–if their staff will provide them!

  11. I think part of the problem is stupid reasons syndrome. Once you go down the desperate trail of proving gods with stupid reasons, then why not disprove things you don’t like with stupid reasons.

  12. Jerry, thanks for the Scopes Stone photo.
    It’s unlikely Scopes was a racist, but if one has nothing else to attack Jerry Coyne about, that’ll do.
    After the trial, John Scopes went back to school, earning a Masters in geology. He was hired by Gulf and sent to South America to explore for oil. Scopes converted to Catholicism just before marrying a young woman he met in Venezuela. They settled in Texas where John Scopes worked as a scientist for the rest of his life.

  13. Last May was also very cool and cloudy and when Honey/Katie’s ducklings arrived on May 7 it was chilly, I think we even got snow that week or the following. Here’s a link from your blog of Honey and Gregory keeping ducklings warm a few days after their great leap: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2019/05/12/sunday-duckling-report/

    If last years successful duck rearing is any indication they should be just fine with the cooler weather we’ve been having.

  14. I love the Existential Threat cartoon 😀

    Yes, there are zonkeys: hybrids between donkeys and zebras. They’re also known as zebonkeys, zebronkeys, zebrinnys, zebrulas, zebrasses, zedonks, and zebadonks.

    Sounds like a job for ZeFrank.

  15. I just had to share this.

    For the last two days it has been announced that Trump will visit a Honeywell plant, in Phoenix, Arizona, which is now producing face masks. He is clearly travelling halfway across the country to be publicly associated with this production.

    So today, “Asked about whether he would cover his face, the president told reporters, “I think it’s a mask facility, right? If it’s a mask facility, I will, yeah. I don’t know if it’s a mask facility.” (Source: The Guardian – Corona Virus US Live, which is a site worth watching).

    He’s travelling halfway across the country in Airforce One, and he’s forgotten why!

    1. If he does wear a mask, I’ll wait to see if Ken Kukec’s prediction will come true and we’ll see orange makeup smearing the edges.

  16. Are there talks of yours which are on youtube but not near the top of the searches? Like Paduka? Or ones you have that you haven’t uploaded? Like the ones on the Antarctic trip? Maybe the cruise line didn’t let you do that.
    I like your talks (your Zagreb tour was great) but have seen most (all?) of the ones I could find on search engines.
    D.A., J.D.,NYC

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