Friday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Friday, August 7, 2020; it’s been a lovely week in Chicago with dry, cool days—a great week for ducks. No so much for Professor Ceiling Cat, who is becoming increasingly restive, peevish, and distracted with lockdown. Bear with me if posting is lighter or less substantive than usual for a short while.

We can celebrate the weather, at least, with a treat, as it’s National Raspberries and Cream Day. It’s also Braham Pie Day, named after the city that’s the pie capital of Minnesota (go here if you want to know why). The first Friday in August is Pie Day in Braham.  It’s also International Beer Day, and, finally, Purple Heart Day, honoring the recipients of the eponymous medal given to those wounded in combat. (The honor was established on this day in 1782 on orders from George Washington, but the medal was not given out, nor the criteria for its award established, until 1932.)

Here’s what it looks like:

Wikipedia caption: Purple Heart Medal with ​5⁄16 Inch Gold Star in presentation case. USN-USMC, World War II.

News of the Day: The good news. Eurasian Beavers (Castor fiber, not the same species as the North American beaver, which is Castor canadensis) have been extinct due to hunting in England for 400 years, and nearly went extinct all over Eurasia. They have recovered in most places, but not in old Blighty. Now, according to the Guardian, after a five-year trial, approximately 15 family groups of introduced beavers will be allowed to stay—in, of all places, the River Otter in East Devon. It’s the first legal introduction of an extinct mammal native to England. Cheers to you, beavers: may you live long and gnaw. Here’s one (h/t: Jeremy):

Eurasian beaver in Estonia (photo from Wikipedia)

New York’s Attorney General is suing the National Rifle Association (NRA) charging that “years of corruption and misspending had irreparably undermined its ability to operate as a nonprofit.” The NRA is countersuing, claiming political motivation. And the attorney general of Washington D.C. is also suing the NRA for misspending millions of dollars, seeking to make changes in the organization.

The editorial board of the Washington Post has a depressing editorial about all the things that could go wrong with developing and distributing a coronavirus vaccine, “What if the coronavirus vaccine doesn’t arrive soon?” And they’re right about the problems, but the piece ends this way:

Let’s suppose it is summer of 2022, and there is still no vaccine. What would we wish we had done today? Let’s do it.

For chrissake, do these people know that we cannot DO many things we want to do today? I want to travel, you scribbling mushheads!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 159,588, an increase of about 1000 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 713,195, an increase of about 5400 deaths from yesterday. Some predict we’ll reach 200,000 deaths by December, which seems likely. 

Stuff that happened on August 7 includes:

  • 1782 – George Washington orders the creation of the Badge of Military Merit to honor soldiers wounded in battle. It is later renamed to the more poetic Purple Heart. [See above.]
  • 1786 – The first federal Indian Reservation is created by the United States.
  • 1890 – Anna Månsdotter became the last woman to be executed in Sweden for the 1889 Yngsjö murder.

Månsdotter was beheaded.  In Sweden!

And that horrible incident gave rise to a famous song:

In 1937 Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher from New York City and later the adoptive father of the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, saw a copy of Beitler’s 1930 photograph. Meeropol later said that the photograph “haunted [him] for days” and inspired his poem “Bitter Fruit”. It was published in the New York Teacher in 1937 and later in the magazine New Masses, in both cases under the pseudonym Lewis Allan. Meeropol set his poem to music, renaming it “Strange Fruit”. He performed it at a labor meeting in Madison Square Garden. In 1939 it was performed, recorded and popularized by American singer Billie Holiday. The song reached 16th place on the charts in July 1939, and has since been recorded by numerous artists, continuing into the 21st century.

Here’s Billie Holiday’s immortal rendition of that song:

  • 1942 – World War II: The Battle of Guadalcanal begins as the United States Marines initiate the first American offensive of the war with landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands.
  • 1944 – IBM dedicates the first program-controlled calculator, the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (known best as the Harvard Mark I).

The Harvard Mark II thing was huge: here are the left and right sides of the computer:

  • 1962 – Canadian-born American pharmacologist Frances Oldham Kelsey awarded the U.S. President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service for her refusal to authorize thalidomide.
  • 1974 – Philippe Petit performs a high wire act between the twin towers of the World Trade Center 1,368 feet (417 m) in the air.

Here’s a short video of the 50-minute walk:

  • 1987 – Lynne Cox becomes first person to swim from the United States to the Soviet Union, crossing the Bering Strait from Little Diomede Island in Alaska to Big Diomede in the Soviet Union.
  • 2007 – At AT&T ParkBarry Bonds hits his 756th career home run to surpass Hank Aaron‘s 33-year-old record.

Here’s the record shot; Bonds went on to hit 762 homers in his career, but he’ll likely never get into the Hall of Fame because he used steroids. It’s dubious, to me at least, whether his home run record should even stand:

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s a lovely painting by Nolde:

Those who took the Dirt Nap on this day were few, and include these two:

  • 2005 – Peter Jennings, Canadian-American journalist and author (b. 1938)
  • 2012 – Judith Crist, American critic and academic (b. 1922)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili riffs on Ecclesiastes 3:

Hili: Wilderness, freedom and comfort.
A: I don’t understand.
Hili: There is a time for wilderness and a time to return to a warm bed.
In Polish:
Hili: Dzikość, wolność i komfort.
Ja: Nie rozumiem.
Hili: Jest czas dzikości i czas powrotu do ciepłego łóżka.

A meme from reader Bruce:

From Jesus of the Day.  I make no guarantees of authenticity.

From Lori Anne: “Blame Tiktaalik”:


I tweeted! What a ridiculous situation:

Titania has been doing a series of tweets about things that have been deemed racist, and some of them are bat-guano insane. Number 26 includes the roundworms we discussed the other day.

From Simon, who captioned this, “Choosing a postdoc based on the hotness of the field.”

From Simon. I WANT ONE OF THESE SHIRTS! (see second tweet):

Here’s one of them!

Tweets from Matthew. In this first one, God doesn’t take kindly to Trump’s claim about what Biden’s election will do to him. Do listen to the blabbering. Trump, of course, is not religious at all, and I suspect that, despite his posing, he’s an atheist.

Hugo de Vries (1848-1935), the great Dutch botanist and geneticist, was one of the rediscoverers of Mendel’s “laws” of genetics, and finally admitted the monk’s priority. Here’s a very rare sound recording of de Vries discussing his work with primroses in which he mistakenly thought chromosomal aberrations were the same phenomenon as Mendel’s pea varieties, which were based on single-gene mutations.

A rare interview of Gary Larson that aired in 1987, 8 years before he stopped producing The Far Side (yes, he’s back again at a low level). This is well worth watching.



54 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. So even the vile and disgusting abuse of power at the top of the NRA with corruption and fraud by the officers of this non-profit “charity”, Trump says it was a terrible thing to do to them and they should just move to Texas. I wonder, why didn’t he move his corrupt charity out of New York when the same office did the same to him? Idiots never change.

  2. Just to properly attribute credit, the comment about choosing a postdoc based on the hotness of the field was from Oded Rechavi (@OdedRechavi) who is really worth following for his video legends. Many of his real tweets are in Hebrew so I miss the point of those.

    My concern was for the guy scooping the magma – he seems to be wearing ordinary sneakers. A dollop of stray magma on one of those would not feel good!

  3. Since North Paulding is a public high school, the censorship there violates the First Amendment. As SCOTUS said in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

    There are limits on First Amendment rights that apply to students below the university level, but this type of censorship doesn’t fit within any of the established exceptions.

    1. Sorry ken. I did not notice your comment before i posted a similar one below. Well said!

    2. The hypocrisy (if that’s the right word) of the school administration is just stunning. From one side of their mouth they’re going to try and tell the community it’s safe to send the kids back, and from the other side they’re going to prevent anyone taking pictures of conditions inside the school.

      They’re lying about the safety. They know they’re lying. They’re acting exactly like a criminal who might get caught by covering up their crime. And the real kicker is, this isn’t some financial scam or bending the rules to bring in some unqualified teacher, in this case their actions will spread a potentially fatal disease throughout their entire community.

      1. The fact that they make mask-wearing in their schools optional tells us everything we need to know. Red states are gonna do what red states are gonna do!

  4. The Gary Larson video was fascinating – and his mother’s comment about his favourite childhood book was priceless!

  5. Re. the Dolt’s blathering on Biden, I don’t recall ever seeing numbers on the % Atheist vote that he got in 2016. Expect it’s in the low single-digits. Those numbers must be out there somewhere. If the closest available category is None, I’d expect a larger number.

  6. Re. the Dolt’s blathering on Biden, I don’t recall ever seeing numbers on the % Atheist vote that he got in 2016. Expect it’s in the low single-digits. Those numbers must be out there somewhere. If the closest available category is None, I’d expect a larger number.

      1. Thx, too bad they don’t have an explicit Athiest category, but the best thing I was was the largest uptick in turnout was the Unaffiliated. It would be helpful if that trend continues.

        I suppose the deck is stacked for it to do exactly that given that the Religious overall are losing market share.

        1. Disappointingly, 31% of those who said they never attended a religious service nevertheless voted for Trump.

  7. A completely deranged Trump claims Joe Biden will “hurt God” if elected president …

    It’s naught but arrant bullshit, of course, though, you ask me, it would make a pretty good platform for Biden to run on — the same way the bullshit “amnesty, abortion, and acid” trip Nixon’s thugs laid on George McGovern during the ’72 race sounded like a pretty solid platform to me at the time, too.

  8. “The student has been suspended”….I am not an attorney, but did serve on a local school board for eight years in the 80s and 90s. When developing our student rights and responsibilities handbook, we recognized the guidelines from the supreme court in the 1969 case of tinker vs des moines independent school district in which the court said, if i recall correctly something to the effect that, the students do not shed their constituional rights of freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. That case, again if i recall correctly, was about political speech in opposition to the viet nam war, but it has been interpreted very broadly since. On the face of it (we do not have all of the facts of the case here)the administration has overstepped and the board should reinstate the student with support to make up any work missed.

    1. The student in question was interviewed on CNN last night. She admitted that she did violate some school rules but that she would gladly do it again. She said that her actions were “good trouble”, echoing John Lewis’s philosophy. Ironically, when asked why the students were not socially distancing and wearing masks, some school official claimed that such rules were hard to enforce. Such BS! This also doesn’t say much for the culture in Georgia as the students are clearly old enough to know better. Evidently both students and administration are in pandemic denial.

  9. “Trump, of course, is not religious at all, and I suspect that, despite his posing, he’s an atheist.”

    Do we want to count Trump as an atheist? My guess is that he’s never even thought about it. We need a new term, if only to avoid sharing this belief with him. How about “untheist”?

        1. Actually there is someone Trump worships.(They currently reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, though hopefully for not much longer…)

          1. Wouldn’t surprise me if he went to the reflecting pool on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial to gaze at his image … and fell in, orange face first.

            1. I’m both impressed and disappointed in myself for laughing out loud at that imagery.

              1. And of course the beauty in the imagery is also the perfect retelling of the literal Narcissist. Perfecto! It would make a good illustrated children’s book.

      1. And of course the female nudist chicken is wearing harlequin glasses🤓
        Who’s the blonde interviewer with the obnoxiously chirpy voice?

      1. Sounds like a lovely guy: “In 2019, Reuters reported that Falwell asked Trump fixer Michael Cohen for a personal favor: to help get rid of photos described by Cohen as being “personal” and of the sort that would typically be kept “between husband and wife.” Falwell’s lawyers refused to comment.[34] Most of the photos were later discovered to be of Falwell’s wife.[35] “:

  10. >Some predict we’ll reach 200,000 deaths by December…

    December?! I’d put money down with a 90% confidence level that we’ll have hit that by October. We’re currently averaging over 1K/day. And it’s likely that number will rise as school reopen. By December it will be over 250K.

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