Wednesday: Hili dialogue

August 12, 2020 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Wednesday, also known as Mittwoch (“mid-week”) in German. It’s August 12, 2020, and National Julienne Fries Day, which are the kind of fries you get at McDonald’s. I prefer curly fries or waffle fries, but there’s no such thing as a bad fry (unless they’re a day old and become soggy and tough). It’s also Vinyl Record Day, World Elephant Day, World Calligraphy Day (does anybody write any more?), Baseball Fans Day (I feel bad for them this year), and International Youth Day, a UN holiday.

I’m getting my car emissions-tested today, which is a long drive and perhaps a wait in line, so bear with me if posting is lighter than usual.

News of the Day:Joe Biden, as you all know, selected Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate. My guess is that Biden, at 77, will be a one-term President, leapfrogging Harris to the front of the line in 2024.  As is befitting the times, Biden announced his choice in a tweet:

There was some discussion of this in the last post yesterday, but feel free to continue it below.

In a breathtaking display of hubris, Russia has approved a vaccine for Covid-19, before Phase 3 clinical trials, involving tests on thousands of people, have been completed. This represents a cutting of corners that could endanger people, not only through a vaccine that might not work, but may have serious side effects. But this is a scientific endeavor, not—as many perceive—a race for national prestige, so I do hope that when proper trials are done, the vaccine proves safe and effective.

Carmen Best, Seattle’s first black police chief (and a woman), resigned after the City Council, in an ill-advised move to placate the far Left, voted to “defund” the city’s police department by cutting the budget by $3 million and trimming 100 officers. The kneejerk cutting of police forces throughout the U.S., a move opposed by most citizens, qualifies as the Bad Idea of the Year.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 164,462, an increase of about 1400 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 740,846, an increase of about 6000 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on August 12 includes:

  • 1492 – Christopher Columbus arrives in the Canary Islands on his first voyage to the New World.
  • 1851 – Isaac Singer is granted a patent for his sewing machine.
  • 1865 – Joseph Lister, British surgeon and scientist, performs 1st antiseptic surgery.

Here’s a short video documenting that first history-making operation:

This is the only quagga ever photographed alive, not the last quagga. Caption from Wikipedia:

Quagga (Equus quagga quagga) is an extinct sub-species of zebra. Mare, London, Regent’s Park ZOO. Quagga mare at London Zoo, 1870, the only specimen photographed alive
  • 1944 – Nazi German troops end the week-long Wola massacre, during which time at least 40,000 people are killed indiscriminately or in mass executions.
  • 1950 – Korean War: Bloody Gulch massacre: 75 American POWs are massacred by North Korean Army.
  • 1964 – South Africa is banned from the Olympic Games due to the country’s racist policies.
  • 1981 – The IBM Personal Computer is released.
  • 1990 – Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton found to date, is discovered by Sue Hendrickson in South Dakota.

Here’s Sue, back on display at Chicago’s Field Museum after a work-up and reassembly. Look at those tiny arms!

  • 1994 – Major League Baseball players go on strike, forcing the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1831 – Helena Blavatsky, Russian theosophist and scholar (d. 1891)
  • 1860 – Klara Hitler, Austrian mother of Adolf Hitler (d. 1907)

Here’s Hitler’s mom, who looks more like Hitler than did his dad Alois:

  • 1866 – Jacinto Benavente, Spanish playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1954)
  • 1880 – Christy Mathewson, American baseball player and manager (d. 1925)
  • 1881 – Cecil B. DeMille, American director and producer (d. 1959)
  • 1925 – Norris McWhirter, Scottish publisher and activist co-founded the Guinness World Records (d. 2004)
  • 1925 – Ross McWhirter, Scottish publisher and activist, co-founded the Guinness World Records (d. 1975)
  • 1949 – Mark Knopfler, Scottish-English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer

Here’s Knopfler demonstrating the guitar riffs from “Sultans of Swing”, Dire Straits’s best song by far. The playing starts at 1:57:

Those who passed away on August 12 include:

  • 1865 – William Jackson Hooker, English botanist and academic (b. 1785)
  • 1982 – Henry Fonda, American actor (b. 1905)
  • 1989 – William Shockley, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1910)
  • 1992 – John Cage, American composer and theorist (b. 1912)
  • 2000 – Loretta Young, American actress (b. 1913)
  • 2009 – Les Paul, American guitarist and songwriter (b. 1915)
  • 2014 – Lauren Bacall, American model, actress, and singer (b. 1924)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, it looks as if Hili hasn’t warmed up to Szaron:

Szaron: What are you thinking about?
Hili: Whether not to go a bit further away because it’s terribly crowded here.
In Polish:
Szaron: Nad czym myślisz?
Hili: Czy nie pójść kawałek dalej, bo tu jest straszny tłok.

Here’s a photo of Paulina with the two BFF’s Szaron and  kitten Kulka:

Posted on FB:

From Jesus of the Day. I had this exact struggle at the grocery store on Saturday, and believe me, it took a long time to get the damn plastic bag open.

From Bad Cat Clothing:


I tweeted again! The good news is that the otter was saved.

A tweet from Barry. And here we have that wonder of wonders: a cat that eats cabbage (or lettuce):

Tweets from Matthew. This first one is fricking amazing!

Each square has its own video and sound; turn sound up and click on the squares:

This cat not only sings for his supper, but plays piano for it:

The problem with this is that you lose a year of life:

The elephant’s clearly trying to scare away the rhino. My only question is why it balances the branch on its forehead.

I apologize to the world for all Americans like this:



66 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Asuming the next administration is Democratic, I think its longevity will be determined by the policies it pursues. If it rolls over for the Wokiees, panders to the lawless, and embarks on any trillion dollar programs, I think it would lose the House at the mid-terms, and the Senate and Whitehouse at the next Presidential election.

    1. With the Senate likely to stay in GOP hands, Biden would fail to do any of the things you suggest, even if he wanted to (which, AFAIK, he doesn’t).

      The sorts of legislation we’re likely to get will be things that can swing the support of
      2-3 Republican Senators in purple states. So, a slight upgrade to ACA. Reduction of Trump’s trade barriers. Increased funding for DHS…used to improve the immigration system (i.e. reduce adjudication times, improve conditions for held immigrants, etc.). Stuff like that.

      1. If the Republicans still control the Senate, it is unlikely that it would pass anything of significance that the Democratic House would agree to. Even if two or three Republican senators would agree to pass legislation that the House would agree to, the legislation would have to overcome the filibuster rule, which in most cases (there are exceptions) would require 60 votes. Even if the Democrats should regain control of the Senate, the filibuster rule would stymie most legislation, unless the Senate should vote to abolish it, which is not an outlandish possibility, although I don’t think it will happen.

        So, for most things of significance to happen, the Democrats must regain the Senate and abolish the filibuster (although tax legislation under what is called budget reconciliation can bypass the filibuster — only a simple majority is needed). If this should happen, the Democrats in a Biden administration would have the opportunity to do big things. The Republicans abolished the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees. So, future Court openings would allow the Democrats to confirm anyone Biden should nominate.

        I think the Senate, even under Democratic control, will be reluctant to abolish the filibuster because both parties would like to have a near veto power over legislation when in a minority. It may happen if the Democrats take charge, but I would be mildly surprised.

        1. The 2022 Senate Electoral map is terrible for the GOP, and may end up creating a lot more compromise than McConnell wants or can prevent (assuming he is reelected; he’s got the edge right now in the polls). You’ve got GOPers retiring in WI an NC (both purple-ish), and GOP seats up in FL, PA, and OH (all Obama-Trump states). I could see any of those Senators deciding that getting reasonable things done (such as passing budgets, health care improvement) is politically better for them than toeing the party line. On the blue side, VT and NH are Dem now but traditionally GOP, so those should be considered vulnerable. Also possibly NV. Honestly beyond that there aren’t a lot of Class III Dem senators in vulnerable state positions.

          It’ll definitely be interesting if Biden wins but the Senate is close. But I do not think filibustering everything is going to be a viable political option for the GOP in the 2020-2022 period.

          1. Looking ahead to electoral calendars is a big part of what is destroying our government’s ability to function. If each party treats the period in which it is not in full control of the Presidency, House of Representatives, and Senate as a lame duck period in which to say “No” to the other party and simply campaign on whatever happens in the meantime and see what happens come election time, the country is doomed. The GOP hoped to do this with Clinton and the Lewinsky scandal, the Democrats did it for the bulk of Bush’s second term, and the Republicans did it for 3/4 of Obama’s presidency. And of note, “full control” has both times in the past 10 years meant heavy swings in the House come midterm time. Not to mention the loss of both houses in 2006 after the Republicans held all three chambers when Bush was re-elected in 2004.

            My theory is that both parties are wildly out of step with the people who vote for them, and upon assuming “full control” pass very unpopular legislation or take otherwise very unpopular action that only their donor-activist base likes; and quite frankly, such laws or actions are mostly aimed at undoing what was done the last time the other party had full control.

    2. Biden-Harris will turn on the protestors for sure. They will be accused of being “infiltrated by Russians” and the police state will continue to crack down on them with brutal violence.

  2. There’s something intriguing about the quagga as shown.

    First, the Latin is amusing, three names with one doubled, two double g, and a double u. Repeating patterns.

    Next, the striped region of the animal – on its fore region (?), is pointed towards where the background is brick, almost answering the vertical stripes with its own horizontal set to match.

    Lastly, the aft region of the animal – with a flat coloration – is positioned in a background with a sort of wooden veneer with only a horizontal pattern, as if teasing the poor animal that the striping machine ran out of ink.

    In all, a poem of patterns, with a melancholy end. (Though this isn’t the last quagga, we know how this pattern turns out).

    1. Meant vertical not horizontal for the wood section.

      I think I’m shutting off autocorrect- it’s taking up too much background neural activity and I’m usually fighting it.

  3. Regarding plastic bags: hold it at each top corner and give a sharp tug (not too hard). The slight stretching of the bag at the top that this causes makes it easy to open.

        1. I have seen some where the cut between bags is offset between the two sides, making them much easier to open. They probably cost a fraction of a cent more and so stores don’t use them. Can’t remember where I saw them.

    1. I wear gloves at the market as there is so much to touch that other people may have very recently touched. I keep a second wet paper towel like the one that i usedto wipe the cart handle with me as i shop and have found that it keeps my gloved fingers moist enough to wrangle the produce bags.

    2. I hold the end of the bag with the opening between my palms and vigorously rub my palms together. Doing this for a few seconds usually creates enough of a gap where the bag opens to use it.

  4. Excellent photoshopping for the YearQuil picture. Very authentic-looking. I bet more than one idiot has asked their pharmacist for a pack.

  5. Man, do I love a good waffle fry. “Steak fries” are the worst because their thickness makes renders a large portion of them too soft; I like my fries very crispy. After waffle fries, I like “matchstick” fries for crispiness. Waffle fries are usually spiced, which I love, but when I have something like matchstick fries, my favorite dipping sauce is a nice garlic aioli, but never straight-up mayonnaise. It’s aioli of some sort or, if that’s not available, I’ll use a very small amount of ketchup.

    “Biden announced his choice in a tweet…”


    I encourage fans of folk, rock, bluegrass, and just nice music to check out Mark Knopfler’s solo releases. Here’s one of my favorites from his more folksy side:

    And, since we’re discussing that, here’s a cool-as-ice song about…hamburgers and Ray Kroc.

    1. Sorry, I just have to say some more about Atkins and Knopfler together. So Soft, Your Goodbye is one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded, and that’s no hyperbole. They’ve also got some absolutely bonkers tit-for-tate riffing. Go on Youtube and search for them together and you’ll find some amazing live performances where they exchange some awesome pickin’.

      OK, I’m done now. I promise.

    2. I too like a wide variety of fries. One example, a thicker cut fry, think Bennigan’s or Ruby Tuesday’s style of fries, nice and salty with a chocolate milk shake for dipping. Yum.

      1. The last time I went to a Bennigan’s or Ruby Tuesday’s was 20 or more years ago, so I can’t remember any of their food. But dipping fries in chocolate milk? Ewwww. Well, whatever floats your boat 🙂

        1. 🙂
          Not chocolate milk, milkshake. Crunchy fries + salt + sweet + chocolate, what’s not to like? Think more dessert than a savory side.

        1. Knopfler’s technique is unusual in several ways. He uses several techniques. Check out this article, as well as his videos on Youtube:

          Part of what makes him unique is his speed. Without a pick, you should be significantly slower. A pick can go up and down on a string, but your fingers can only go up, essentially cutting the number of times you can hit the string in a given time period in half. Knopfler had incredible speed (he’s slowed down in recent years) and played very complex riffs. Check out his videos with Chet Atkins. You know you’re good when Chet wants to play with you!

  6. Might the elephant put the branch on its head because it uses its trunk as part of its threat display? It will also need full extension of the trunk for vocalisation which it cannot do if it’s holding the branch.

    1. I wonder even if it was thinking of trying to look like a much bigger rhino, but couldn’t quite get the branch to stick up straight like a horn. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but elephants are very clever.

    2. I wondered if the elephant out the branch there to represent horns. Are rhinos concerned about horned beasts? Like cape buffalo perhaps. Don’t nail me for geographical anomalies. Not my perview.

    3. Right. That’s also what I was thinking. Plus, elephants must have learned that rhinos don’t like sticks waved at them. I suspect that rhinos don’t need much discouragement to go on about their business.

  7. Put those day old fries in a dry skillet over low heat. Turn them often and be patient. When they are hot and crispy savor them. They are almost always better recycled like this. I never throw away uneaten fries.

      1. Yes, twice fried are the best. I was referring more to Jerry’s comment about what to do with those left over fries that are taken home to, ostensibly, “feed the dog”. The method was imparted to me by a waiter at an expensive french restaurant here in Saint Paul, but only in strict confidentiality. The hit man should be showing up at my door soon.

  8. For anyone who is interested and hasn’t seen it the 538 model launched this morning. More bullish on Trump than I’d like!

    They also posted an explanation of how it works and how they have modified it to take the plague into account. Worth reading as it gives some insights into their levels of certainty.

    1. Fivethirtyeight gives Biden a 71 out of a 100 chance to win. This means that his victory is far from assured. There cannot be any complacency in the swing states.

        1. Locally, just in the past two weeks or so there has been a very big increase in Trump signs on vehicles. Many of them written on the back windows of big trucks as large as possible, often accompanied with either 1 center mounted flag or 2 side mounted flags, one on each side.

          It’s depressing, I tell ya, seeing how many people in my neighborhood still remain deluded enough even after Trump’s 1st term to continue to fervently support him.

      1. If you go back to the Election Day model from 2016 they gave Hilary a 71.4% chance. So the two are very much in line. Of course this is much further out.

  9. That poor, starving orca! And now, of course, countless future sea urchins, crabs, other shellfish and so on that will fall prey to the ravenous appetite of the otter. Nature can be so cruel.

    1. The problem with twice-fried is that the fries take on too much oil and tend to be greasy as they cool. My own method is to first put the sliced potatoes into boiling water for a couple of minutes until cooked through, drain, leave for a minute or two until the surface moisture has evaporated then put into very hot oil.
      Because they’ve already cooked in the water they crisp up very quickly, and because the frying is so fast the fries don’t have time to absord the oil.

      1. As long as the oil temperature never drops below a certain point, they are drained properly and the fries aren’t left to cook until all the water is driven from them, they won’t take on a significant amount of oil.

        Particularly when frying at home it can be difficult to prevent the oil from dropping too low. The big commercial fryers hold many gallons while most people frying at home are only using a fraction of a gallon, or perhaps a single gallon. One way to reduce that problem is to use one of those big turkey frying set ups. Both a big burner to allow quick temperature adjustment when you need it and an extra large pot that allows you to use much more oil. But, making fries at home, properly, is a lot of work.

  10. Are we to believe that the cheetah had 6 kittens. Where and when. Obviously in captivity.
    I have a cat that eats lettuce. Cabbage doesn’t interest him though. He’s also fond of oat grass which I grow for him

  11. The star moving at 8% of the speed of light is, in fairness, orbiting the four-million-solar-mass black hole at the centre of our galaxy in a highly eccentric orbit which brings it within 13 Earth-Sun distances of the black hole, according to the paper in The Astrophysical Journal cited in the article linked in the tw**t.

  12. From what we know, Klara Hitler was a decent woman. Very caring of her children, especially Adolph, on whom she doted. Her death, when Hitler was still a teenager, was devastating to him. Her doctor said he had never witnessed such grief.

    I sometimes wonder if Hitler would have turned out different, later in life, if Klara had lived. Or was the twig already bent? Unanswerable questions, and perhaps meaningless ones in a deterministic universe, but intriguing. I am a sucker for “what if” questions about hypothetical histories.

      1. Klara’s doctor, Eduard Bloch, was indeed jewish, but Hitler probably did not hold him responsible. After his mother’s death, Hitler expressed great gratitude to Bloch. And, in 1938, after the Austrian anschluss, Hitler ordered protection for Bloch and his wife, and the Nazi government subsequently permitted them to emigrate to the US with their money, a permission not granted to other Austrian jews. If Hitler harbored ill will toward Bloch, I think he would have been sent directly to the Dachau concentration camp.

  13. I know the Russian should not be using a basically untested vaccine but I am wondering about the odds of it being successful. If it works, it would be great even though the test method is clearly unethical.

    “The vaccine consists of two shots that use different versions of adenoviruses, some of which cause the common cold.” It sounds like the Russian company is using genetic engineering to modify the common cold to be mores Covid-like. Does anyone know if this is a reasonable idea or a dangerous one?

    1. One of the things I heard that makes sense to me is that because COVID-19 kills a relatively small percentage of those it infects, it places a high safety bar on any vaccine. Such a vaccine will have to have a very low incidence and severity of side effects in order for vaccination with it to be substantially better than getting the disease itself. Until a very broad test is made of the vaccine, this will remain unproven.

      Furthermore, if the Russian vaccine fails in this respect, it will depress faith in everyone else’s COVID vaccine and vaccination in general.

    2. A genetically engineered adenovirus is the basis for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. It’s based on an attenuated adenovirus engineered to express the novel coronavirus spike protein. See here

      A clever part of their plan is the use of a chimpanzee adenovirus as the vehicle. A concern about other coronavirus vaccines that use engineered human adenoviruses is that most humans have already been exposed to most human adenoviruses, and may fight off the adenovirus vehicle before it has a chance to generate a strong immune response to the spike protein. Most people have not been exposed to chimpanzee adenoviruses, so when given the vaccine are not likely to immediately fight off the vehicle.

      1. That means that the Russian vaccine is reasonable good science? Thanks Mike.

        I would have guessed a human virus would be a better base. Is there strong evidence for the chimp one being better? Or is in the makes sense according to the data we have?

  14. “Sultan’s of Swing” is the best Dire Straits’ song “by far”? I admit I really like the song, but Brothers in Arms was a phenomenal album with almost every song hitting the charts, and which is my favorite at any instant depends on my mood.

    Oh, additionally, I LOVE the movie Clue. Hilarious.

    1. Yes, Brothers in Arms is the Dire Straits’ best overall album, even if Sultans of Swing might be their best song. The Straits were an oddball group, in that they always sounded at once both five years behind and five years ahead of their time; they didn’t fit neatly into any trend or were particularly representative of any era or genre in rock.

  15. I lol’d when that man-baby was lifted out of the store by (I guess) his son. It was so cartoonish. This virus has really revealed the stupid in Americans- just as Trump has.

  16. When I first saw the clip of the elephant-rhino fracas a couple years ago, my first guess was that the elephant was trying to play with the rhino, who didn’t understand his intentions. I dismissed this guess as anthropomorphism, but it seems an elephant expert agrees with me:

    “Watch an Elephant Invite a Rhino to Play”


    “The male in the video’s foreground can be seen exhibiting three distinct behaviors.

    “First, he exhibits ‘distant frontal attitude.’ By curling his trunk into an ‘S’ shape, he signals an interest in dueling or sparing with the rhino. Approaching with this posture indicates he is waiting for the rhino’s next move.

    “The elephant then solicits play further by bending his head down and resting his trunk on his tusk and pressing his ears against his head. It’s at this moment the rhino becomes threatened.”

    The moment when the elephant flings the stick away is hilarious to me. It’s like he’s saying to the rhino “You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!”

    1. Nah! Elephants aren’t that stupid. Did you see the horn on that thing? A full-grown elephant would not take the risk of being gored in the side. It’s not like rhinos are known for their playful behavior. I seem to remember that they are quite unpredictable.

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