Thursday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Thursday, July 23, 2020: National Vanilla Ice Cream Day. It’s also National Refreshment Day, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Day (yay, Reese’s Cups), and National Refreshment Day.  For Rastafarians, it’s the Birthday of Haile Selassie (1892), who is worshiped as a god incarnate by many Rastas. (Selassie’s birth name was Ras Tafari Makonnen).  Here he is in full dress uniform:

News of the Day: Well, Trump has announced that he’s sending 200 federal agents to Chicago after the shooting of 14 people at a funeral home the other day. Our tough-ass mayor, Lori Lightfoot, while dubious, says that this is at least better than what happened in Portland, where the agents worked independently. In Chicago they’re supposed to work hand in hand with the city police. Stay tuned.

I’ve finished watching the second season of Ricky Gervais’s After Life, and while it’s very good, it’s become a bit repetitive. And why doesn’t he just have some dates with Emma from the nursing home? (I am also enamored of Mandeep Dhillon as Sandy.)

And the Sierra Club has become the latest penitente in the race to flagellate itself, apologizing profusely because its founder, John Muir, said some pretty nasty racist stuff. But that was ages ago, and yet the club is still apologizing for “perpetuating white supremacy” and causing ““significant and immeasurable harm” to minorities. I think that’s a wee bit exaggerated.

Back to coronavirus. Surprisingly, this Washington Post article notes that we still don’t have a single confirmed case of somebody getting Covid-19 twice, much less how long any immunity lasts (the questions are of course connected).  And we don’t even know how long the antibodies against the virus remain in the body.

Here’s some advice about how to get people to wear masks. In the end it’s not very helpful: be “humble and transparent.”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 143,167, an increase of about 1100 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 623,314, an increase of about 7000 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on July 23 includes:

Here’s a typographer. It was a cumbersome device, but hey, it was a start:

  • 1840 – The Province of Canada is created by the Act of Union.
  • 1885 – President Ulysses S. Grant dies of throat cancer.
  • 1903 – The Ford Motor Company sells its first car.

That car was an early Model A.

Read about this. The victim, paralyzed from the waist down, was killed by his son, who put a bomb in his wheelchair. The son was put in an insane asylum for 35 years.

  • 1962 – Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Here is a lovely a tribute, much in Robinson’s own words, played when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame:

The plane ran out of fuel at 41,000 feet but glided to a safe landing at a Canadian Air Force Base.

  • 1995 – Comet Hale–Bopp is discovered; it becomes visible to the naked eye on Earth nearly a year later.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1888 – Raymond Chandler, American crime novelist and screenwriter (d. 1959)
  • 1892 – Haile Selassie, Ethiopian emperor (d. 1975) [See above.]
  • 1940 – Don Imus, American radio host (d. 2019)
  • 1957 – Theo van Gogh, Dutch actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2004)
  • 1971 – Alison Krauss, American singer-songwriter and fiddler

Here’s Krauss performing “Amazing Grace” on Memorial Day, 2019, at the U.S. Capital Grounds.

  • 1989 – Daniel Radcliffe, English actor

Those who rested in peace on July 23 include:

  • 1875 – Isaac Singer, American businessman, founded the Singer Corporation (b. 1811)
  • 1885 – Ulysses S. Grant, American general and politician, 18th President of the United States (b. 1822)
  • 1948 – D. W. Griffith, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1875)
  • 1973 – Eddie Rickenbacker, American pilot and race car driver, founded Rickenbacker Motors (b. 1890)
  • 2001 – Eudora Welty, American novelist and short story writer (b. 1909)
  • 2002 – Chaim Potok, American novelist and rabbi (b. 1929)
  • 2010 – Daniel Schorr, American journalist and author (b. 1916)
  • 2011 – Amy Winehouse, English singer-songwriter (b. 1983)

Ah, Amy! Here she is performing “Back to Black” in a live concert. Her pair of dancers/backup singers are terrific:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is told to be humble, but that attitude just isn’t in her:

Hili: I’m terrified by the vastness of what I don’t know.
A: We have to approach it with humility.
Hili: It’s a dismal attitude.

In Polish:
Hili: Przeraża mnie ogrom tego, czego nie wiem.
Ja: Musimy podejść do tego z pokorą.
Hili: To zbyt ponure podejście.

From Doc Bill:

More cats: a Dave Coverly cartoon sent by reader Jon:

From Bruce. If you don’t get this, you’re too young!

I tweeted! More on this paper later today (I hope):

A tweet from Simon. Ah, there were the days when I could diagram the whole thing:

From Greg Mayer, who saw this retweeted by Andrew Sullivan. It shows the horseshoe effect, and will greatly anger the Woke:

From sherfolder. I hope I’m like this guy when I’m his age (maybe I am already!):

The Activist Moms of Portland, sent by Ken:

Tweets from Matthew. Is she really this ditzy, or is it an act? More important, why are the forks so far away?

A lovely cloud-frosted island in the Faroes:

I’m glad I didn’t write about this paper (at least I don’t remember that I did!):

Darren Nash, who writes Tetrapod Zoology and accepted the original paper, now aligns with the stances of the critics: this wasn’t a theropod dinosaur, but likely a non-dinosaurian reptile. Moreover, he doesn’t think that Nature should have retracted the paper (see the thread in Twitter for the latter).


  1. jezgrove
    Posted July 23, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    “I hope I’m like this guy when I’m his age” – there’s only one way to find out, but I’m recommending it…

    • jezgrove
      Posted July 23, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      Oops! That was meant to be “but I’m not recommending it” !

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted July 23, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      I saw that movie yesterday, it terrified me. I don’t like heights at the best of times.

  2. jezgrove
    Posted July 23, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    I think you may have posted on the Nature paper, unless I’m getting my hummingbird -sized fossils mixed up (which is entirely possible):

    • Posted July 23, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      It is the same paper. The scientific name given is the same: Oculudentavis khaungraa.

  3. Simon Hayward
    Posted July 23, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Poor Amy, I can’t believe it’s been nine years since she died. A song about shitty relationships and the comfort of heroin sets a cheery tone for another pandemic day!

  4. Posted July 23, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    That does seem odd that the paper was retracted. The only reasons I can think of for doing that normally is because of falsification or significant protocol error that nullifies the conclusions.

  5. darrelle
    Posted July 23, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Base on the little I know about it, I entirely agree with Darren Naish about the retraction of that paper. Since when do studies get retracted because they turn out to be wrong? Shoddy procedures and methods perhaps, but just being wrong? I thought being wrong was supposed to be an important part of the process of science. And if there is some ethics reason for the retraction why has the journal not clearly stated what that concern is?

    • Posted July 23, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Perhaps it is the start of a new era: Woke Science!

      • Loren Russell
        Posted July 23, 2020 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        From what has been made public, retraction is extraordinary, not the least for the legitimacy of the name Oculudentavis, which might encourage someone to swoop in with an unnecessary replacement name. At one time, any sort of publication such as public notices in a newspaper allowed publication. That’s changed, so my proposal of Trumpisanidiota foetida as a replacement name is invalid….

        Darren Naish [who initially accepted the fossil as a bird] seems to imply that at least one of the authors did not believe that it is a bird. But assuming that his arm was not broken, the dissenting author apparently signed off on the paper, and that assuredly happens in multi-author works.

        The bread crumb, I think, is the reference to this being a consequenc of a new specimen. If this turns out to be the postcranial remains of the same individual [er, “dividual”], and if this had been withheld from one or more of the co-authors, we are getting past “correction” and getting into “retraction” territory.

  6. GBJames
    Posted July 23, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Regarding the Mexico find, the pedant in me has to say “not so much for human evolution, but quite a bit for human prehistory”!

    • Posted July 23, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink


      I recently read Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich.

      Seems the old views of migration into the Americas are quite wrong. The 20-30K ya dating doesn’t surprise me.

      The whole ice barrier never made any sense to me. People have been traveling by boat through Alaska, NE Asia since forever. Why not a few times prior to Clovis times? It wouldn’t have taken too many people.

      • GBJames
        Posted July 23, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        Assuming pre-Clovis occupation, it is pretty clear that early inhabitants were pretty thin on the ground. I believe recent DNA analysis supports the more standard understanding of the main source being population spread in post glacial times.

        • Posted July 23, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

          Agreed; but people were here, pre-Clovis, that seems clear. Clovis technology, numbers — or something — must have superior.

          Interesting that Home erectus never made it over from Asia for all those many millennia (or maybe they did and we haven’t found the evidence yet).

          • GBJames
            Posted July 23, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

            Homo Erectus lacked sufficient water-transport technology, IMO.

        • mike cracraft
          Posted July 23, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          Some anthropologists who read the paper but were not involved in the research have said that it’s too early to say that the 30K number is accurate. Only 2 tool like objects were found and there was no DNA at the site. Also there was no evidence of fire or animal material available. This find will need more verification from other researchers.

          • GBJames
            Posted July 23, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

            Indeed. There will be a lot of push back here. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. We’ve been here before in New World Archaeology.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 23, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    1885 – President Ulysses S. Grant dies of throat cancer.

    Has anyone else noticed that, when Donald Trump says the first name of the nation’s 18th president (and commanding general of the Union Army) he always mispronounces it “Ulysseus”?

    Now that may simply reflect Trump’s poor skills in reading from a teleprompter. But given its consistency, I wonder whether it might not mean that in a cobweb somewhere in the vast empty cavern that is Trump’s mind lies trapped the factoid that there’s some connection between the names “Ulysses” and “Odysseus” (though I’d bet dollars to donuts he couldn’t say they are both names for the same Homeric character, the first in Latin, the second in Greek).

    • Posted July 23, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      I’m sure tRump say “nucular” as well. 🙂

      • Posted July 23, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        Apparently, tRump can pronounce nuclear correctly. Even a broken clock …

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 23, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

          Yeah, I think “nucular” is more of a regionalism, one that doesn’t include Trump’s home borough of Queens.

        • Posted July 23, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

          You gave me one of my few literal LOL moments.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 23, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        I think it’s evidence of someone who doesn’t read much. Didn’t his niece say he had a learning disability? Maybe dyslectic.

        • Acolyte of Sagan
          Posted July 23, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          Was your mis-spelling of dyslexic intentional or just an ironic accident?

          • rickflick
            Posted July 23, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            Completely inuntenshionel.
            Actually, I suspect I have mild dyslexia myself.

            • Steve Pollard
              Posted July 23, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

              Private Eye had a cartoon a few years ago, of a man carrying a placard reading ‘Daily sex: please give generously’. The caption had his wife saying ‘George, I think you’d better let me write “dyslexia”‘.

              • rickflick
                Posted July 23, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

                I think it’s an anagram, but I’m not quite sure.

              • jezgrove
                Posted July 23, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

                For British readers, “Stay alert control the virus save lives” is an anagram of “Easily survives travel north to castle”, which explains a lot…

  8. Posted July 23, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed After Life 2, but it was very derivative, almost like part 1 never happened. There was an epiphany of sorts at the end of 1 that did not carry over to 2.

  9. Nobody Special
    Posted July 23, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    1903 – The Ford Motor Company sells its first car.
    That car was an early Model A.

    Would it be overly pedantic to suggest that ‘early’ is a tad redundant there?

    • Posted July 23, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      No, there were two Model As. The “early” 1903 successor to the Quadricycle, and the later 1923 successor to the Model T.

      • Nobody Special
        Posted July 23, 2020 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        True, but by definition the very first Model A sold had to be the early model.

  10. Posted July 23, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    The Sierra Club has cancelled John Muir. Trader Joe’s has cancelled brand names Trader Jose’s, Trader Giotto’s, Trader Ming’s, etc. Racist, apparently.

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 23, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    John Oliver’s latest Last Week Tonight does a whole thing about anti-mask and how to pursed people that they are believing the wrong things on the Internet. It’s a good lesson in critical thinking and he ends by having other people explain to people how to figure out if something they are reading online is BS. It includes Catherine O’Hara, Paul Rudd, Alex Trebek etc. and they are available online…. The videos are all here. Here is a write up of his show.

  12. Posted July 23, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    This young old man, who approaches his task with so much determination and verve, I can’t stop watching this video over and over again.

    By the way: I can’t remember ever having seen so many young people who cheer with enthusiasm about an action of an old guy like this one. He has managed to stun them with his incredible performance: “Look at what we old people are capable of!”

  13. JohnnieCanuck
    Posted July 23, 2020 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Gimli Airforce base was an ex-WWII training facility that was reopened for Cold War jet fighter training from 1950 to 1971. By 1983 it had been decommissioned again and was in use by a motorsport club. The runway in question had had a metal safety rail installed down the middle, for drag racing. This may have helped, as the front wheels did not lock down properly without hydraulic power.

  14. jbussen
    Posted July 23, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    And the reason for running out of fuel: the airline had recently gone metric, fuelers using pounds, air crew using kilograms. Oops.

    Am I wrong in my impression that Jimmy Carter said nuke-you-lur in his Georgian dialect? He was a genu-wine nuke-you-lur engineer, captaining a nuclear sub.

  15. Posted July 24, 2020 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    There’s been a big kerfuffle about Burman/Myanmar amber – it was reported in the Atlantic (maybe N.Y. Times) and Al Jazeera.
    There are a lot of ethical issues around it – which are pretty complicated, so difficult that I’m happy I don’t work in that business!
    D.A., NYC

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