Monday: Hili dialogue

June 1, 2020 • 6:45 am

June is here! Yes, it’s Monday, June 1, 2020, and now my campus is locked down for two reasons: pandemics and riots. Previously, non-essential workers were allowed to physically be on campus grounds, so we had plenty of “civilian” visitors to Botany Pond. But the Provost and Police have indicated that nobody but people allowed to be here to work are to be on campus. A note from the Provost includes this (note that public transportation in Chicago is suspended as well!)

We are carefully monitoring the situation with protests occurring across Chicago and many neighborhoods, including Hyde Park. These protests are expected to continue into the evening, and a city-wide curfew is in effect from 9 p.m. through 6 a.m. Metra, CTA and, in turn, University Shuttles, are temporarily suspended.

Out of an abundance of caution, the University is limiting access to all campus and University of Chicago facilities to only the most essential personnel on Monday, June 1.

This is the first time since I arrived in 1986 that I have seen the campus physically closed in its entirety save for those allowed to be working on campus. So far only a tiny bit of violence has hit Hyde Park (store windows broken and so on, clearly by Antifa or other provocatuers, lol), but the main demonstrations and attendant vandalism has been largely confined to the Loop, where it will get the most attention.

Here are the food designations for June:

National Candy Month
National Dairy Month
National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month
National Iced Tea Month
National Papaya Month
First Friday in June: National Donut Day

Today happens to be National Hazelnut Cake Day, World Milk Day, National Olive Day, Dinosaur Day, and Heimlich Maneuver Day (see below; the maneuver was published on this day).

News of the Day: Really bad. Protests have erupted in at least 140 American cities over the death of George Floyd. As usual, many protestors are peaceful but there has been lots of violence, too, and the police have participated. Two Atlanta officers were fired for using stun guns when dragging two teenagers out of a car. Violence by protestors has been reported in New York City, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Washington D.C. (where the White House is beleaguered), and Denver. A man in Minneapolis was arrested for trying to drive a tanker truck through a crowd of protestors, though, thank Ceiling Cat, nobody was hurt. The country is melting down. A friend has attributed at least some part of the violence to frustrations and anger from the pandemic, which sounds reasonable, as the reaction is not only excessive, but continuing.

Today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 104,381, an increase of about 600 from yesterday. The world toll now stands at 371,722, an increase of about 3000 from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on June 1 include:

This is recorded on the Exchequer Rolls, with Cor’s mention below:

The entry in question in this instance records: “To Friar John Cor, by order of the King, to make aqua vitae VIII bolls of malt.”

If you can find the exact entry here, good luck!

  • 1533 – Anne Boleyn is crowned Queen of England.

She was beheaded around the age of 36 since Henry wanted to marry Jane Seymour.

  • 1812 – War of 1812: U.S. President James Madison asks the Congress to declare war on the United Kingdom.
  • 1857 – Charles Baudelaire‘s Les Fleurs du mal is published.

Here’s the poet himself:

I lecture about this last trip (mostly about the science they did) in my trip to Antarctica last year. Scott made it to the Pole, only to find that Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian team had beaten him there by a month. All the members of Scott’s five-man Pole Team died on the way back to base. Here they are posing disconsolately at the South Pole after they discovered that they’d been beaten. Scott is back row, center:

  • 1916 – Louis Brandeis becomes the first Jew appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
  • 1962 – Adolf Eichmann is hanged in Israel.
  • 1964 – Kenya becomes a republic with Jomo Kenyatta (1897 – 22 August 1978) as its first President (1964 to 1978).
  • 1974 – The Heimlich maneuver for rescuing choking victims is published in the journal Emergency Medicine.

As I gather, medical advice has decided that the Heimlich maneuver is no longer always the best way to save a choking victim; sometimes one could hit the victim on the back. Here’s a video of the original HM and the alternative, which seems easier. As always, do your own research, as this is only one video.

  • 2001 – Nepalese royal massacre: Crown Prince Dipendra of Nepal shoots and kills several members of his family including his father and mother.
  • 2004 – Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols is sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of a parole, breaking a Guinness World Record.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1801 – Brigham Young, American religious leader, 2nd President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (d. 1877)[10]
  • 1917 – William Standish Knowles, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2012)[15]
  • 1926 – Andy Griffith, American actor, singer, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2012)
  • 1926 – Marilyn Monroe, American model and actress (d. 1962)
  • 1934 – Pat Boone, American singer-songwriter and actor
  • 1937 – Morgan Freeman, American actor and producer

Those who kicked off on June 1 include:

  • 1927 – Lizzie Borden, American accused murderer (b. 1860)
  • 1941 – Hugh Walpole, New Zealand-English author (b. 1884)
  • 1960 – Paula Hitler, German-Austrian sister of Adolf Hitler (b. 1896)

Here’s Adolf’s younger sister Paula; I don’t see much of a family resemblance:

  • 1971 – Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian and academic (b. 1892)
  • 2008 – Yves Saint Laurent, French fashion designer, founded Saint Laurent Paris (b. 1936)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili shows an unwarranted confidence.

Hili: I can fly!
A: Be careful!
Hili: If you’ve chickened out you’re more likely to fall.
In Polish:
Hili: Umiem fruwać!
Ja: Ostrożnie!
Hili: Strachliwi spadają częściej.

And here is Szaron making his way along the roof. Is he also preparing to fly?

A meme from Bruce Thiel:

From Jesus of the Day

Also from Jesus of the Day:

A tweet from Titania:

From reader Barry. Now I don’t know what the hell this thing is, but I’m betting it comes from Madagascar. Does anybody care to enlighten us?

Tweets from Matthew. Is the first one showing a d*g enjoying playing “stringie” with a cat?

This fungus that creates “zombie ants” by altering their behavior was a classic story in parasitism, but there’s a new finding about how it works, and it’s even cooler. Imagine the evolution of a fungal pattern of invasion that controls the ant’s behavior by controlling its muscle cells. It turns the ant into a marionette!

It’s so cool that I reproduce the PNAS abstract here:

Some microbes possess the ability to adaptively manipulate host behavior. To better understand how such microbial parasites control animal behavior, we examine the cell-level interactions between the species-specific fungal parasite Ophiocordyceps unilateralis sensu lato and its carpenter ant host (Camponotus castaneus) at a crucial moment in the parasite’s lifecycle: when the manipulated host fixes itself permanently to a substrate by its mandibles. The fungus is known to secrete tissue-specific metabolites and cause changes in host gene expression as well as atrophy in the mandible muscles of its ant host, but it is unknown how the fungus coordinates these effects to manipulate its host’s behavior. In this study, we combine techniques in serial block-face scanning-electron microscopy and deep-learning–based image segmentation algorithms to visualize the distribution, abundance, and interactions of this fungus inside the body of its manipulated host. Fungal cells were found throughout the host body but not in the brain, implying that behavioral control of the animal body by this microbe occurs peripherally. Additionally, fungal cells invaded host muscle fibers and joined together to form networks that encircled the muscles. These networks may represent a collective foraging behavior of this parasite, which may in turn facilitate host manipulation.

This is ineffably peaceful. Nature is one of the best palliatives during the pandemic, and it can’t infect us. I have my ducks for this:

A beautiful fly that mimics a hornet (and parasitizes hornets):

There’s been some interesting biology in this thread, and here’s one more bit. Did you know there are fish-eating bats that forage in the sea? Be sure to play the video.

58 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. Let’s see, the worst economy since the Great Depression, the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu, and the worst civil unrest since the Yank version of the soixante-huitards. Otherwise, everything’s copacetic.

  2. 1533 – Anne Boleyn is crowned Queen of England.

    She was beheaded around the age of 36 since Henry wanted to marry Jane Seymour.

    Must be 50 ways to leave your lover. And ol’ Henry VIII knew a few.

  3. When I look at the picture of Paula Hitler, I find that there is some similarity in the facial features to her brother: the eyes, even the gaze is similar, the mouth, including nasonabial folds, the narrow lips, which point downwards in an arch, and the prominent chin with a pronounced horizontal crease.

    Btw: As far as I can remember this is actually the first time I have seen a picture of Hitler’s sister.

    1. I see a resemblance also. To test draw a little push broom mustache on her and see what she looks like then.

      1. This is a really good idea – approaching the question from the other side. And it works, visualizing I just placed the notorious moustache over the lips, then shortened the hair a bit – and voila, it’s as if the terrible brother himself is staring at you – creepy.

        1. Yep. Some might feel the urge to click their heels, raise their arm and shout “Heil!”

          Seriously though, Paula seems to be another sad victim of her brother. She says she wished he would have made it as an artist. If only the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts had not rejected Hitler’s application. The world may have turned out very different.

          1. Yes, if only the Academy could have foreseen the catastrophe for mankind that would indirectly result from their rejection of Hitler… Had they had the slightest idea they would have immediately elevated Hitler to the rank of professor, with a lifetime teaching license.

      1. I’ve always thought Angela Merkel strongly resembles Hitler. In her facial features obviously, not her temperament. There couldn’t be a connection, could there?

  4. 1926 – Andy Griffith, American actor, singer, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2012)

    We boomers know him best as Mayberry’s Sheriff Taylor, but Andy Griffith gave a helluva performance as that shitheel Lonesome Rhodes in Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd:

  5. Are those fish-eating bats big ones like fruit bats or little jobs like the kind that feed on mosquitoes? And once they get a fish, do they take off with it, like an eagle, or eat it in place?

    And if this posts, nice to see that WordPress has regained sanity.

  6. “…demonstrations and attendant vandalism….” I think the word you are looking for is “riot.”

  7. “but there’s a new finding about how it works, and it’s even cooler. ”

    Well, maybe cooler for the viewer, but for the ants it’s actually even worse than assumed: If they are not zombie ants at all, because the fungus takes control of the muscle cells and not the brain, then for the poor ant this means nothing else but that it is in a kind of lock down syndrome and has to experience in full consciousness that it has lost control over itself. This terrible experience would have spared her if she had only been turned into a zombie ant.

      1. Yeah, almost. But since salt and pepper are reasonable choices for humans, the control of the fungus over the ants’ muscle cells is better compared to the “choice” of either sitting on a chair or jumping out of a window.
        This is because the fungulized ants have to climb to the top of a plant where they never wanted to go, just so that when the fungus explodes out of the ant’s body from there, it can spread all the better into the environment.

  8. Well, one bright note – I saw reports from Italy that Covid-19 is going all Andromeda Strain and has mutated into a far less harmful form there. Probably too soon to know how accurate this is, but it sounded hopeful at least!

    1. But on a more serious note, that reminds me to mention a rather interesting paper that I found whilst following links from an article in the Guardian about asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19. It’s from the highly-respected biology journal “Cell”, it was published in 2009, and the title is “Redefining Chronic Viral Infection”:

      The paper examines the ways in which viruses can co-exist with us for years or even decades, either by lying dormant or by not provoking any symptoms or (in the case of endogenous retroviruses) by becoming part of our own genome.

      The paper is written at a level that doesn’t require a medical degree or even a biology degree, and it’s fascinating stuff.

    2. Coronaviruses, as RNA viruses, are subject to high rates of mutation since there’s no editing function/mechanism with RNA transcription. I wish I had saved the piece I read about that, but IIRC it was stated that the error rate amounted to something like one error per virion from whatever founded the infection.

      It occurred to me later that it should be possible to come up with a statistical approximation of what % of those mutations result in an actual amino acid change vs. neutral mutation plus mutations resulting in a stop codon, just for starts.

      Anyway, based on the first sentence you can find plenty of refs to coronavirus replication and mutation.

  9. I didn’t see it noted that today marks the sad anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, an event that takes on added significance and horror given the demonstrations and riots that have been ongoing since George Floyd was murdered. CNN has an article and some video on the massacre

    I, too think that the demonstrations and riots (both words are applicable) have been triggered in part by the coronavirus and the quarantine. I also see the frustration over the unbelievably destructive Trump and his horror movie joke of a presidency. I think these factors play a big part in the fact that there have been demonstrations decrying Floyd’s murder that have been taking place all across the world.

    I read that Saturday, during the demonstrations at the White House, Trump went into the bunker to hide.” During this time, he fired off tweets about Democrats being cowards. It’s said that the Secret Service took him to the bunker, but I also read that the demonstrators could never breach the security around the White House; the bunker is for much more serious threats, like planes crashing into the White House. But whoever instigated the move, it seems like so much “overkill” – a term that has ominous resonance these days from what’s happening in the streets to COVID-19, and everything else that this deranged and pitiful excuse for a president has done to destroy America and the world. Now I am beginning to fear that he’ll go full bore on defending his presidency by violence.

    1. “I didn’t see it noted that today marks the sad anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, an event that takes on added significance and horror given the demonstrations and riots that have been ongoing since George Floyd was murdered.”

      The Tulsa massacre is one of the central narrative struts in Damon Lindelof’s recent ‘Watchmen’ adaptation for HBO. Hard going, but worth watching…just about.

  10. One piece of semi good news is that I’ve discovered my log-in issue onto your web site is limited only to my normal browser, Safari. Therefore I can’t really blame WordPress. This webite is now completely functional for me provided I view it in Firefox.

    I suspect I’ve got a cross site cookie handling issue.

          1. Yeah. Although, as Jeremy points out, this means you get tracked by 3rd party trackers whereas previously this tracking was blocked.

            1. Ah, tradeoffs. The bane of the internet. Even with it turned on I was getting advertising related to my searches, so I guess they track me somehow anyway.

              1. Well, the point is that this particular kind of tracking was previously blocked for you, me, Jeremy, and other similar users. This “fix” eliminates one form of tracking protection.

  11. Only saw the Heimlich maneuver practiced once. A guy at a restaurant a few tables away was choking on his food. It was successful. Conversation was very subdued for the next ten minutes, as everyone contemplated life and death.

      1. Yes, I believe so. Of course, no one wanted to stare for fear of invading the party’s privacy and causing embarrassment. Everyone sort of pretended it hadn’t happened while also not being able to come up with a new topic of conversation. I found the whole experience memorable.

    1. I saw a friend of the family perform it on my auntie during a party when I was little. They were alone in an upstairs bedroom, and she wasn’t choking, and it went on for about half an hour…but it was nevertheless quite educational.

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