Thursday: Hili dialogue

July 9, 2020 • 6:30 am

Already the “work week” is drawing to an end: it’s Thursday, July 9, 2020: National Sugar Cookie Day. It’s also the day honoring the Martyrdom of the Báb (a day for adherents to the Baháʼí Faith; see below),  well as National No Bra Day. I’ve heard that the pandemic has greatly reduced the use of this garment, as many women (and men) spend more time at home, but when I was in college, the brassiere was a garment largely unknown. (That was the Sixties.)

News of the Day: Everything is bad—very bad. For the first time since 2003, the Federal government is resuming executions, with three men slated to die in the Indiana Federal pen next week in lethal injection. I oppose all capital punishment. Last night, the state of Texas, which executes with alacrity, put to death another man, Billy Wardlow. Here’s a tweet:

The pandemic continues to rage, with the U.S. setting another one-day record for cases (the fifth in nine days): 59,000 infections reported in a single day! Remember when Trump said it would go away in the warm weather? Cases are surging in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with health officials blaming the Trump rally. Many Americans abjure masks and social-distancing, of course, claiming that it’s their “rights and freedoms” at stake. But since when have those factors outweighed public health. For example, you wouldn’t be allowed to smoke in a Wal-Mart. Doesn’t that infringe on your “freedom” as well? But I rant.

In the meantime, Trump and his minions are demanding that schools open this fall, the CDC and virus be damned. Many officials, including the governor of Illinois, are wary. The “President” is also threatening to cut funding for schools that don’t open, despite the inability of many schools to adhere to the 6-foot-distancing rule. In fact, just this morning the CDC has refused, over Trump’s objections, to revise its standards for reopening schools.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 132,237, an increase of about 1000 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 549,166, an increase of about 5300 from yesterday.

A bright spot: the latest anti-Trump (and anti-Republican) ad from The Lincoln Project, a group of Repubs and ex-Repubs set on defeating Trump this year (h/t: Gregory):

A report from the Moscow Times says wild boars are taking over the parks of Moscow. I love it! (h/t: Jeff). And Usain Bolt has named his new daughter:

Finally, my hair continues to grow, showing that I’m still alive. But I badly need a haircut, and am a bit wary of one. Here I am five minutes ago; as the song goes, “I’m a hairy guy.”

Stuff that happened on July 9 includes:

  • 1540 – King Henry VIII of England annuls his marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.
  • 1762 – Catherine the Great becomes Empress of Russia following the coup against her husband, Peter III.
  • 1776 – George Washington orders the Declaration of Independence to be read out to members of the Continental Army in Manhattan, while thousands of British troops on Staten Island prepare for the Battle of Long Island.
  • 1789 – In Versailles, the National Assembly reconstitutes itself as the National Constituent Assembly and begins preparations for a French constitution.
  • 1850 – U.S. President Zachary Taylor dies after eating raw fruit and iced milk; he is succeeded in office by Vice President Millard Fillmore.

Raw fruit and iced milk shouldn’t kill you, but Taylor apparently got a stomach ailment like dysentery. And the milk may have been tainted; as Wikipedia notes, “The identity and source of Taylor’s illness are the subject of historical speculation, although it is known that several of his cabinet members had come down with a similar illness.”

Taylor was in office a mere fifteen months.

Here’s a photo of a 1905 Wimbledon Match, with the Wikipedia caption, “May Sutton, the first U.S. women’s champion to win at Wimbledon, in her match with Dorothea Douglass (U.K.), 1905.Culver Pictures”

  • 1893 – Daniel Hale Williams, American heart surgeon, performs the first successful open-heart surgery in United States without anesthesia.

Without anesthesia!!!

Bryan won the nomination, but lost the election to William McKinley

Here’s a picture of that wreck:

The world record has dropped considerably for this event; it’s now 46.91 seconds, held by the Brazilian swimmer Cesar Cielo.

  • 1986 – The New Zealand Parliament passes the Homosexual Law Reform Act legalising homosexuality in New Zealand.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1819 – Elias Howe, American inventor, invented the sewing machine (d. 1867)
  • 1927 – Ed Ames, American singer and actor
  • 1933 – Oliver Sacks, English-American neurologist, author, and academic (d. 2015)
  • 1937 – David Hockney, English painter and photographer
  • 1947 – O. J. Simpson, American football player and actor
  • 1964 – Courtney Love, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actress

Here’s a famous clip of Ed Ames teaching Johnny Carson to throw a tomahawk. Carson does one of his classic double-take, adding “Welcome to frontier bris” (circumcision), and telling Ames, “I didn’t even know you were Jewish.” (Hear Ed McMahon talk about this incident here, calling it the “biggest laugh ever on television”)

Those whose meter stopped running on July 9 include:

Here’s van Eyck’s most famous painting, the Arnofini Portrait (1434). Note that there is a d*g but not cat, perhaps because van Eyck, like many artists of his time, couldn’t draw cats.

In fact the d*g, like many cats that artists attempted to draw in that period, looks a bit human as well:

  • 1797 – Edmund Burke, Irish-English philosopher, academic, and politician (b. 1729)
  • 1850 – Báb, Persian religious leader, founded Bábism (b. 1819)
  • 1856 – Amedeo Avogadro, Italian chemist and academic (b. 1776)
  • 1974 – Earl Warren, American jurist and politician, 14th Chief Justice of the United States (b. 1891)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili went missing for a while. As Malgorzata wrote me: “Hili was inside the wardrobe. We were looking for her for quite a long time.”

Hili: What are you looking for here?
A: You.
In Polish:
Hili: Czego tu szukasz?
Ja: Ciebie.

A lovely cat photo, in the style of Maxfield Parrish, from reader Reese, who says, “A picture of one of my cousin’s two cats on her balcony in Colorado. I thought you might find it cheerful, or poignant, or something . . .”

A meme from reader Charles:

Another Covid-19 meme from Nicole:


A tweet from Titania on Critical Theory, enhanced by her reading the passage on the video:

From Simon. The cat could also bribe his way into college by pretending it’s a coxswain:

From Barry. LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT BUNNY (be sure to watch the video):

From Heather Hastie. Kitty see, kitty do:

Tweets from Matthew with a short video. Be sure to also watch Adrian Smith’s 7-minute video at the link.

The wonders of sexual selection! These are Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis), the most famous of which is Wisdom, the oldest confirmed wild bird in the world. She’s about 66, has flown over three million miles, and is still producing chicks! Here we have a would-be Wisdom; can you guess which is the female and which the male?

A beef from God. When I saw this, I was reminded of Delos McKown’s famous quote: “The invisible and the nonexistent look very much alike.” (The original tweet has somehow magically disappeared.)

When I saw this, I immediately wanted a pair of New York “dirty dogs” with mustard and kraut:


54 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. There should be a sign in front of the White House warning when the psychopath is in, psychopath is out. Today we will see just how bought and paid for the Supreme court really is. It’s see my taxes day.

    1. Maybe a different colour light our something. When I worked for a volatile & nasty person, we devised a scheme where my friend would put out a different coloured marker on her white board marker tray to indicate the mood of our boss.

  2. …the **** is also threarening to cut funding for schools….
    There really is not much federal share of funding for k12 schools budgets in the us. States are responsible for k12 education-a tenth amendment thing and, in general, the vast majority of revenue is state and local. When i was on a local school board in the 1980s and 90s, about 2% of our $200M budget was federal and today it is less than 2% of a $300M budget…and we were a highly federally impacted community which meant we received federal funds to make up for tax losses due to military bases and other local federal facilities. (The percentage did rise in CA in the 90s for some time when they passed freezes on local taxes and thus their local and state revenues decreased). That said, k12 budgets are very inelastic, some 85% tied to salaries, and thus every dollar is important. But the bigger funding issues in this next fiscal year will be the economic downturn in the state and locality that leads to greatly depressed revenues available for all public services, including the schools.

  3. That bunny is HUGE! And the Laysan Albatross ritual is brilliant. (I’ve no idea which is the female.)

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rabbit that big.

      It reminded me of the old Watership Down joke: You’ve read the book, you’ve seen the movie …. now eat the pie

      I’ve been cooking my own food for too long!

    2. Surely that’s at least partly due to clever use of perspective and making sure that the rabbit’s fur covers part of the girls’ nearest wrist.

      1. Yeah, it’s a bit of both. The real trick was putting the nearby rabbit head and distant girl’s head in close juxtaposition, and letting a small f-stop visually compress the space between them.

        But I think the rabbit is probably a Flemish giant, and they really are huge. When I was a kid I used to have one that frequently beat up my Father’s cattle dog. He weighed about 7 kilos and was about a metre long, and only around average size for his breed. They are very good pets.

  4. Last week my wife and daughter rushed to the hairdresser as soon as they opened. Go for it!

    I just shave mine.

  5. Last week my wife and daughter rushed to the hairdresser as soon as they opened. Go for it!

    I just shave mine every few days.

    1. Bright colors, but it’s also somehow subdued. Hard to explain, maybe because I’m used to digital photos now that are always a bit saturated.
      Terrific photo….Paul Simon knew what he was singing about. 🙂

  6. I think the bunny is a Flemish Giant(Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus). They’re large domestic rabbits. In my animal rescue days, these rabbits were fairly easy to place, although we didn’t get many.

  7. Dang, those albatross make a helluva racket; now I see why the ancient mariner went full grey-beard loon.

  8. I’m not certain why surgeons wear masks. The germs found in the nose and throat are not the kind that would infect an incision. Are they? In any event, I doubt that it critical for events like childbirth or small operations on limbs, etc. I could be wrnog.

    1. That’s a very interesting question. Staph aureus tends to colonize the nasal passages, so that might be a concern, though I doubt this was the SPECIFIC reason for the original practice. I don’t know how much clear data on the matter there is. If anything, though, I think it’s better to err on the side of caution in such cases as a full surgery.

        1. We must keep in mind that surgeons and other medical personnel have an interest in avoiding infection from the patients. Blood borne infections are the very worst to deal with and any aerosols or droplets from surgical techniques (have you ever seen a bone saw in action?) are real risks.

          1. …very much so… ortho surgeon friend of mine describes in detail the ‘atomising’ effect of some of the tools he uses… when a hip or knee joint replacement has become infected and needs to be operated on, you don’t want to be breathing in that ‘aerosol’…

    2. The provide as much barrier to germ transport as practical under the circumstances. It has worked well, so it continues.

      Imagine an uncovered sneeze by a surgeon or scrub nurse over an open surgical wound.

      Perfect? No.

      I myself witnessed how differently things proceeded (in some places) under COVID 19. An EMT arrived dressed in a full “space suit” with air supply for a 911 call.

      1. But with a sneeze, you are mainly worried about a cold virus, which shouldn’t be able to colonize a bloody wound. But, you never know, there could be bacteria that would, I suppose.

    3. The evidence for mask use in surgery is antiquated and flawed but for decades no one has really bothered to check whether they reduce post-op infection rates or not. Because post-op infections are rare you would need to run a massive trial to find out the answer and it is kind of not worth the hassle (or the risk if, for instance, it turns out infection rates doubled in the non-mask arm of the study).
      Do masks protect the surgeon from disease transferred from the patient? Probably not much (if at all) and they might give the surgeon a false sense of security.
      All this does not mean that masks do not have a real but limited role in reduction of transmission of Covid-19. In fact the meme is misleading in a strictly evidence-based sense as it makes a false equivalence between two wildly different scenarios.

      1. Well, it isn’t true that no one has checked their effectiveness (a quick search at google scholar shows many studies going back decades) but the most recent ones do show that they are generally not effective or even really necessary.

        However, the risk of infection through the respiratory tract is non-zero, so although few of the masks made before the early 2000s were effective, the ones today (which fit and filter better than older ones) are used because even a tiny risk is not acceptable to surgeons.

        1. Thanks for the info on studies. I guess the practice, or ritual, is doing no harm anyway, so it looks like it will continue.

        2. I did rather carefully phrase my comment to restrict my meaning to studies looking at effects on post-op infection rates. There is a randomised trial looking at this from 1991 (Tunevall, WorldJSurg) but really not much else since, probably for the reasons I mentioned. Most of the related articles are discussion pieces rather than trials. As you say, the evidence that does exist points to masks being unnecessary.
          There is a nice summary of the evidence here (from 2015):

  9. From what I’ve read, I believe it is relatively low risk to get your hair cut now providing your shop takes the necessary precautions. I got mine cut a couple of weeks ago. OTOH, what’s the rush?

    1. I am not sure this isn’t a sort of win for Trump. Congress can’t get access, and the case is sent back to the lower court where tRump can drag it out until after the election.

    2. Too bad we the people won’t be able to see the tax returns before the election. At the same time, I doubt it would matter much at this point.

  10. CDC refused to change guidelines for school opening. The Christian, robot VP announced yesterday that they would be weakened, so there will probably be more firings of people doing their jobs properly.

  11. From US News and World Report
    ‘Pediatricians say students should be in classrooms for in-person learning as soon as possible – the most full-throated endorsement yet for getting children back into schools amid the coronavirus pandemic and one that was included in a set of recommendations released by the American Academy of Pediatrics for how schools should safely reopen.

    “The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020,” the group representing 67,000 pediatricians wrote. “Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.”

    “This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality,” the guidance continued. “Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and families.”‘

    1. That is all fine and true, but America doesn’t have the leadership or common sense to open schools properly, regardless of the terrible side-effects these pediatricians point out. Among other things, schools are going to need a lot of federal aid to re-open. The feds don’t help schools in America very much, and the states are facing extreme budget shortages. Most other countries who have opened schools are supporting the schools financially and with equipment, including PPE, cleaning crews and laptops for poorer students who don’t have access to computers. Without real leadership and a clear path forward, states will do what they see fit. Some states will reopen before they should, some states won’t. Depends on the governor…again, if we had true leadership here, and a real effort to help financially, it wouldn’t be such a haphazard mess.

      1. There is very little leadership by any politicians. In Oregon, the governor is pretending that there is no financial crisis and refuses to even consider making any cuts. I do not think other states should pay for her fiscal irresponsibility. Oregonians elected her and it is our fault and should be our burden.

  12. Taking into consideration his fondness for the Periodic Table of Elements, today would have been Oliver Sacks’ Francium birthday.

  13. Excellent tennis photo. Tennis has become too easy and boring. All players should be required to wear ankle-length skirts. Men included.


    According NHTSA in 2018 there were 6.734 million traffic accidents in the U.S. There were 10,511 alcohol-related fatalities. 10511 divided by 6.734 million is 0.0015 or just 0.1%. In other words, if you are in an accident you are only 0.1% likely to die because of a drunk driver.

    With such high odds for survival we demand the right to drive drunk.

    The current drunk driving laws are the nanny state infringing on drunk drivers’ rights! Driving drunk should be a decision made by individuals, not by deep state tyrants in government.

  15. “Cases are surging in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with health officials blaming the Trump rally.”
    Tulsa officials have pointed out that the difficulty of ascribing any particular infection to any particular event. I wouldn’t say that health officials are blaming the rally but they are saying that between the rally and the protesters, they is probably some correlation. Now if we had good contact tracing, you could probably state this authoritatively but at the moment you just have probable cause. The health officials have not come out as strong on this point as you imply.

  16. On the mask meme, masks are rather ineffective compared to social distancing – I think WHO now claims statistics says people can visit a shop for 15 minutes without them.

    While on that subject, I want to say again (I left a longer comment on yesterday’s Hili Dialogue that mentioned a NYT article from an economist) that the science of comparing epidemic models with data is in for Sweden’s approach of voluntary distancing. It has been nearly as effective as lockdown distancing.*

    We need more cats! Here is a 1000 year old find of a cat burial:

    “Common domestic cats, as we know them today, might have accompanied Kazakh pastoralists as pets more than 1,000 years ago. This has been indicated by new analyses done on an almost complete cat skeleton found during an excavation along the former Silk Road in southern Kazakhstan.”

    [ ]

    *If people want to compare death rates instead, the science is not clear. But in the context, indeed Sweden does not have higher death rates than some other nations with lockdowns (say, Belgium).

  17. I think you look cool with your crazy-hair. Like a silver backed gorilla: gravitas!

    Gravitas – you can’t buy it.

    I also have crazy covid hair and I’m bald on top.
    Wear with pride, prof.
    D.A., J.D., NYC

  18. Your long hair reminded me of when I met the late magician Harry Anderson. He shook my hand and said, “Hi, I’m Harry. But then aren’t we all.”

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