Wednesday: Hili dialogue

Welcome to a Hump Day: Wednesday, July 22, 2020: National Penuche Day. What is penuche, you ask? Wikipedia explains:

Penuche (Italian: panucci) is a fudge-like candy made from brown sugar, butter, and milk, using no flavorings except for vanilla. Penuche often has a tannish color, and is lighter than regular fudge. It is formed by the caramelization of brown sugar; thus, its flavor is said to be reminiscent of caramel.

Here’s some with nuts, the best kind, and it’s a pleasant change from its phylogenetic relative, fudge:

It’s also Mango Day, National Hot Dog Day, and Pi Approximation Day, since the date (written European style) is 22/7 (3.14285), which approximates π (3.14159). It’s always struck me as strange that pi is an irrational number, as I don’t understand why it has to be that way. It could, for example, have been simply 3.14. Readers can enlighten us if there’s some proof that pi must be irrational. After all, it shows up in any number of non-geometric equations.

News of the Day: In yet another incident of gun violence that’s plagued our city, 14 people were shot outside a Chicago funeral home yesterday evening. Their condition is unknown, but this is one of the worst mass shootings we’ve had in the past few years.

Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, has been canceled because she favored eugenics: her name has been removed from a Manhattan Clinic. No matter that her views had no weight in American policy, they have been cited as causing “harm” to people of color. A Planned Parenthood official said this:

“The Sanger legacy unchecked or unmet with a reckoning has been weaponized against women of color, and has effectively hampered our ability to be in a right relationship with women of color,” McGee said. “And we have left women of color to grapple with the totality of Sanger’s legacy.”

This is not even wrong. No woman of color abjures going to Planned Parenthood because of Margaret Sanger’s views.

Should Aristotle be canceled because he not only condoned slavery but defended it? A philosopher at my school, writing in the New York Times says “no”, because that defense was just “messaging context,” because he was a man of his times, writing his own society into his ethical theories. Sadly, though I agree with her conclusion, her reasoning is dubious, for it could apply to everyone who was “canceled”, including Confederate officials and generals.

“President” Trump resumed his pandemic briefings yesterday, but not with any health official—just by his lonesome self. At least he admitted that things will get worse before they get better, and called for mask wearing, even though he almost never wears masks. I didn’t watch the lying, narcissistic s.o.b.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 142,031, an increase of about 1200 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 616,402, an increase of about 7000 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on July 22 includes:

Here’s a re-enactment of that battle from the movie Braveheart. FREEEDOM!

Here’s that entry. If you can make it out you’re better than I:

  • 1793 – Alexander Mackenzie reaches the Pacific Ocean becoming the first recorded human to complete a transcontinental crossing of North America.
  • 1893 – Katharine Lee Bates writes “America the Beautiful” after admiring the view from the top of Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
  • 1933 – Aviator Wiley Post returns to Floyd Bennett Field in New York City, completing the first solo flight around the world in seven days, 18 hours and 49 minutes.

Here’s Jane Pauley recounting Post’s solo feat. His plane, the Winnie Mae, is on view at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, now in northern Virginia.

  • 1937 – New Deal: The United States Senate votes down President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • 1942 – Grossaktion Warsaw: The systematic deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto begins.
  • 1990 – Greg LeMond, an American road racing cyclist, wins his third Tour de France after leading the majority of the race. It was LeMond’s second consecutive Tour de France victory.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1849 – Emma Lazarus, American poet and educator (d. 1887)
  • 1882 – Edward Hopper, American painter and etcher (d. 1967)

Here’s one of Hopper’s few paintings with cats: “Cat Study” (1941).

  • 1888 – Selman Waksman, Jewish-American biochemist and microbiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1973)

Waksman was born in Ukraine to Jewish parents and came to America in 1922. Why is he identified as “Jewish-American”? Are other non-Jewish immigrants identified as “Christian-American”?

  • 1923 – Bob Dole, American soldier, lawyer, and politician
  • 1940 – Alex Trebek, Canadian-American game show host and producer
  • 1992 – Selena Gomez, American singer and actress

Those who “passed” on July 22 include:

  • 1916 – James Whitcomb Riley, American poet and author (b. 1849)
  • 1934 – John Dillinger, American gangster (b. 1903)

Dillinger, fingered by Anna Cumpănaș, the “Lady in Red,” was gunned down by the FBI after going to the Biograph Theater  in Chicago (the lady in red was an accomplice of the law). Here’s a photo from Wikipedia labeled “The crowd at Chicago’s Biograph Theater on July 22, 1934, shortly after Dillinger was killed there by FBI agents.”

  • 1969 – Judy Garland, American actress, singer, dancer, and vaudevillian (b. 1922)
  • 2004 – Illinois Jacquet, American saxophonist and composer (b. 1922)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is miffed that Szaron is eating from her bowl. Andzej response with a social-justice answer, implying that Szaron is a minoritized cat:

Hili: Isn’t he too insolent? After all, this is my bowl.
A: Maybe he decided that you are abusing your white-paw privilege.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy on aby nie jest bezczelny? Przecież to moja miseczka!
Ja: Może uznał, że nadużywasz przywileju kota z białymi łapkami?

From the Grammarly blog. This could be me!

A meme from Bruce:

And a cartoon from Charles:

I tweeted again about the world’s highest mammal (it used to be Hunter Thompson):

From Titania. The AP’s rationale for printing “Black” and “white”, referring to racial groups, is completely bogus; read for yourself. More on this later today:

A tweet retweeted by Ziya Tong:

Tweets from Matthew. Dr. Johnson’s love for his cat Hodge is well known.

This is a good question. Another answer is “God works in mysterious ways.”

Read the thread, which is good. Farrar runs the Wellcome Trust:


Be sure to click on the tweet that Matthew is retweeting here:


50 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Falkirk, my hometown!

    But Braveheart…I won’t lie, that film triggers me. It’s so inaccurate! Another battle in the film was described by my history teacher as ‘the Battle of Stirling Bridge…without the bridge’. Argh!

    Here are some more inaccuracies:

    Usually I’m not such a stickler for such things, and Braveheart is a well-made and quite good film, but because the inaccuracies are so glaring and because it’s become such a symbol of Scottish history, I can’t help but be annoyed about it even now.

    1. Indeed! The History Club at my university used to do showings of Braveheart, billing it as something like “The most historically inaccurate historical film ever.”

  2. Should Aristotle be canceled because he not only condoned slavery but defended it?

    Following the adage of “”Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” I would think it much better to teach Aristotle including the point that he defended slavery, than not teach him at all.

    1. Right, and I would also add (and have students read) that his defense includes the interesting idea that slaves are only to be used for activities for which tools are not possible. His theory of artifacts does not explain this somewhat elliptical remark.

  3. The PCC posting on Twitter on the leaf-eared mouse would only show the picture after clicking through this warning:
    “The following media includes potentially sensitive content.”

    1. Yes, I’ve written to Twitter about this issue. I think they’ve done this with ALL external media I post, and it’s probably because of my Jesus and Mo posts. I’m trying to get this fixed.

  4. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, has been canceled because she favored eugenics …

    This view isn’t coming exclusively from the Woketariat. Just read the 20-page dissent by far right-wing justice Clarence Thomas from SCOTUS’s denial of certiorari in Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana, in which he reaches out to rail against Sanger’s support for eugenics in an undisguised effort to set the stage for overruling Roe v. Wade.

    1. Yes, I’ve seen Sanger’s support for eugenics raised numerous times by anti-abortion advocates, often as a cudgel against non-white pro-choice advocates. “Sanger wanted abortions so that black people wouldn’t breed,” is a common form of that argument.

  5. “President” Trump resumed his pandemic briefings yesterday, but not with any health official—just by his lonesome self.

    Trump was rather subdued and brief (if customarily substance-free) in his briefing yesterday. By the standards we’ve come to expect from him anyway.

    His most outré exchange came in response to a query from the press in which he extended his well-wishes to Ghislaine Maxwell, the recently arrested alleged accomplice of the late Jeffrey Epstein — not the type of felicitation one ordinarily expects to hear from a US president toward someone accused of spending decades procuring underage girls for a sex offender.

    1. It drove me crazy that many pundits said Trump “changed his tone” because of that one comment. Yet his second sentence referred to Covid as the “China Virus”. I know scientists sometimes call viruses by the country they thought they originated in, but when Trump says it, it’s to be divisive. Is there anything Trump says that isn’t divisive? Either way, I just don’t understand why the media continues to think Trump has the ability to pivot or “change his tone”. NO HE WILL NEVER CHANGE HIS TONE!!! Ok, I feel better now.

      1. There was a slight tone change but a long way from “presidential”. I think he had a head cold or something. Regardless, his usual tone will be back tomorrow for sure.

    1. That’s what I love about Prof Ceiling Cat’s website: value-added comments. Because the nitwit himself keeps bringing it up, I now want to take the stupid test myself.

    2. I was just reading the same article. A test for the early stages of Alzheimers. But Trump commented that Joe Biden could not pass the test and I gotta say he may have a point there.

        1. Good to call me on that. Only that when Biden is giving an explanation that is a few sentences long and is not rehearsed, he does get lost in recalling what he just said a couple sentences ago.

  6. The cartoon about the English teacher left out the meaningless quotation mark, e.g. “Try Our “Soup” Of The Day.”

  7. 1937 – New Deal: The United States Senate votes down President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court of the United States.

    This was when a coalition of Republicans and conservative southern Democrats realized they had the strength to stand in the way of Roosevelt’s legislative agenda despite his sweeping second-term victory in 1936.

    Congress gave Roosevelt a comparatively free hand when it came to conducting US participation in World War Two, but after his failed court-packing plan, Roosevelt never again managed to get another piece of progressive New-Deal legislation through congress.

    1. The main reason FDR proposed the court packing scheme was that the Supreme Court invalidated several New Deal measures. However, as the Encyclopaedia Britannica points out: “Meanwhile the court itself in a new series of decisions began upholding as constitutional measures involving both state and federal economic regulation. These decisions, which began an extensive revision of constitutional law concerning governmental regulation, made the reorganization plan unnecessary; the Senate defeated it in July 1937 by a vote of 70 to 22. Roosevelt had suffered a stinging political defeat, even though he no longer had to fear the court. Turnover on the court was rapid as older members retired or died; by 1942 all but two of the justices were Roosevelt appointees.”

      By the late 1930s, the New Deal was running out of steam. FDR began to turn his attention to foreign affairs as the Nazi threat grew greater. Liberal moments are rare in American history and don’t last very long. There were the brief periods of progressive legislation under TR and Wilson, the New Deal, and LBJ’s Great Society. Overall, American society has historically been quite conservative. The circumstances for progressive legislation emerge only rarely. This is why Biden rather than Sanders is the Democratic nominee. Most Americans are not opposed to reform, but they like it slowly and incrementally. This is a fact that the far left has ignored or has been unsuccessful to change.

      1. … even though he [Roosevelt] no longer had to fear the court.

        A primary reason FDR no longer had to fear the Court is that, in his second term, he finally had the chance to replace several of the Court’s old reactionaries who had been blocking his New Deal legislation — McReynolds, Sutherland, Butler, Hughes — with appointees of his own like Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, and William O. Douglas.

  8. In 2008, Michael Mann was directing the film “Public Enemies” on location here in Chicago. We walked past the Biograph Theater on Lincoln Avenue one evening, while the film crew had reconstructed the theater and street to look as it did in 1934. It was great fun to see.

  9. I had not read the Associated Press’s rationalization for capitalizing black and not white. It is tendentious in the extreme, and like many of these attempts at accomodation that making “Black” into its own, special thing is also something racists would do.

    1. I had not read that explanation, either, and I suspect I’m not alone in being confused about the new usage rules. I think the AP justification is ok, but it really seems like the differential capitalization is not an adequate fix to the problem. To my mind, language functions best when terms are unambiguous and widely accepted. Something more or better is needed, perhaps the use of an underline, an italic, or just better terms that capture the historical complexity of ethnic and cultural diversity. Neither white nor black seems up to the job.

    2. I can get behind the idea that black Americans who are the descendants of slaves, brought over in the two centuries from the colonial period to the abolition of the slave trade at the beginning of the 19th Century, have a common culture, almost like an ethnicity, in a way that the peoples from Europe who came to North America over four-hundred years of varying waves of immigration and at different times and in very different economic and social capacities don’t. But this reasoning collapses as soon as we start treating Caribbean, South American, or certainly African immigrants, most of whom came in the past 40 to 50 years and are in many cases relatively wealth and highly educated, as part of a common “Black” culture.

  10. … the world’s highest mammal (it used to be Hunter Thompson) …

    Woody Creek Tavern is only 7,346 feet up in the Rockies, though Owl Farm probably couldn’t much higher. 🙂

  11. Why “Pi is IRRATIONAL” (I’ll let the Mathologer do the talking):


  12. I did watch the Trump press briefing. It was mercifully short. Although he did admit that it will get worse before it gets better and did ask people to wear a mask, he did that thing wear he is visibly reading the speech from a sheet of paper, thereby telling his followers that he is being forced to say these things. Also obvious by its absence was any promise of action. The closest he got was that they were working on a plan. I suspect that “plan” is as real as the long-promised “infrastructure week” and “really good health plan”.

  13. According to the Bible, pi is a rational number. An integer even, 3.

    Kings 7:23
    And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

    Who are you going to believe? The Bible or some pointy-headed mathematician?

    1. No. This is not a definition of π but a description of a physical vessel. Such a vessel

      – need not be perfectly round
      – need not be a perfect prism (i.e. have perfectly vertical sides
      – need not have zero thickness to its walls.

  14. I have to admit Trump resuming the Pandemic Briefings, and his recent remarks about wearing a mask, have me a bit uneasy.

    Most of the analysis I’ve seen on Biden’s lead in polls suggest Trump’s handling of the pandemic has had the most influence, even if eating in to his own base who see him as having fumbled and then abandoned the problem.

    If Trump somehow manages to get back to talking about the pandemic, keeping a more even keel and not doing anything completely insane, he may erode the impression that he’s not taking the pandemic seriously and re-enforce to his base, and those undecided, that he’s on top of things. It may be utterly transparent to most of us Trump haters, but may be enough to assuage and paper over some misgivings and reduce that “pandemic gap” in voters.

    Of course, Trump seems to exemplify the notorious scorpion in the Scorpion and The Frog story, where he can’t truly change his character, and his self absorption combined with his ignorance actually makes him regularly seem to act against his own self-interest. May be too hard for him to keep sailing straight even for a couple months.

    But still…a bit worrying if he can make it look like he cares for a while.

    1. Yes, I agree. I believe many of his supporters are only looking for an excuse to vote for him again. On the other hand, sickness is sickness. Nothing much Trump can say that will change that. I predict Trump will never actually do anything more about the pandemic. One “tell” in yesterday’s speech that is significant in my mind is that he said they were going to come up with a plan. If they were actually going to do something, they would have made the plan before the speech and used it to convey the gist of what they were going to do. The other tell is that Trump was clearly reading the speech. He does that to tell people that he was forced to say the words and that he doesn’t really believe them.

    2. The fact that Trump didn’t appear with any health officials completely undermined his meaningless speech. If he thinks just standing there every day reading a piece of paper is going to help his chances in November, he’s stupider than I know him to be. He bragged in the beginning that his press briefings had “incredible ratings”…well, that was because in the beginning, people were starved for information and there were health experts actually giving information. I don’t see how saying “it’s going to get worse before it gets better” is any form of deep wisdom or a “change in tone”. The press has put the bar so low, if Trump can actually have a short speech where he says a couple obvious truths, they think it’s some kind of huge success. Makes me nauseous.

    3. I suspect that Trump as of today is dropping coronavirus as a campaign issue and from here on will be fear mongering about socialist anarchists out to destroy the country and the evilness of China and its threat to the free world.

  15. Regarding the question of why pi is irrational. In other geometries, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter can be rational, even an integer. Perhaps, taking a multiverse approach, it is merely chance that our universe is euclidian and the ratio is, for us, the irrational number pi. Further, even though the sets of rational and irrational numbers are both infinite, there are more irrational numbers than rational numbers (and, I think, more transcendental irrational numbers than algebraic irrational numbers), so maybe the odds favored the ratio (our pi) being irrational in our universe.

    1. Thinking more on this, in a non-euclidian universe the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle isn’t necessarily a constant. So it can be many things. For example, for a spherical universe the ratio is pi for a small circle but 2 for a large circle. Does anyone know if the ratio can be constant but not equal to an irrational number for some geometry?

    2. I know I’m conversing with myself now, but I am fairly sure that in any non-euclidian geometry, the ratio of the circumference to the diameter is not a constant. Only in euclidian space is the ratio equal to a constant, our old friend pi. Again speculating about PCC’s question, perhaps in order for the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle to be a constant, it must be irrational.

  16. A small point, but it should read that LeMond trailed the majority of the 1990 Tour de France, not lead. He only overtook Chiappucci following the time trial on the penultimate stage. It basically took him the entirety of the race to recoup the huge mistake the peloton made letting a four man breakaway win by over 10 minutes on stage 1.

  17. “Sadly, though I agree with her conclusion, her reasoning is dubious, for it could apply to everyone who was ‘canceled’, including Confederate officials and generals.”

    That reasoning is dubious only if she (or you) believe that Confederate officials and generals should be canceled.

    I prefer to go precisely where that reasoning leads: Nobody should be canceled.

  18. If ever there was a hero in the women’s movement it is Margaret Sanger.

    Her views on eugenics had nothing to do with race and were an attempt to understand and deal with a very real problem of unfettered breading and consequent squalor, misery and suffering in the context of the early 1900’s, when things were very different.

    Nobody has done more to relieve women of the burden of relentless unwanted pregnancy.

    Many, if not most of the freedoms women enjoy today are due to the tireless efforts of Margaret Sanger to find a way for women to get some control over the reproductive process.

    She is one of the most amazing women I have ever heard of and is one of my heroes.

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