Thursday: Hili dialogue

It’s Thursday, August 13, 2020, and Dorothy’s ducks are ending their seventh week of life. I expect them to be flying soon, and that will be exciting. It’s National Filet Mignon Day, placating those who prize soft texture above flavor in their beef. Do yourself a favor and eat a ribeye or a t-bone instead. It’s also National Prosecco Day,  and International Lefthanders Day.  In honor of those in this category, you can find a list of famous left-handers here. Here are the left-handed U.S. Presidents (there may have been earlier ones whose sinistrality we don’t know about):

James A. Garfield  (1831-1881) 20th
Herbert Hoover  (1874-1964) 31st
Harry S. Truman  (1884-1972) 33rd
Gerald Ford  (1913-    ) 38th
Ronald Reagan  (1911 –    ) 40th
George H.W. Bush  (1924-    ) 41st
Bill Clinton  (1946-    ) 42nd
Barack Obama  (1961-    ) 44th

News of the Day:  I have misplaced my keys, which is a real pain, and so must go home and search for them after the morning duck feeding. Posting may be very light today! Wish me luck.

I watched Joe Biden’s introduction of Kamala Harris yesterday, and it was impressive, especially Harris. She is smart, energetic, and will be a vigorous campaigner—a real asset to the ticket. I’d recommend you watch this; Harris takes the podium at 17:00 (about halfway through).

The New York Times reports that due to lags, underreporting and other irregularities, the death toll in the U.S. from coronavirus may have already passed 200,000. That was a figure unimaginable a few months ago.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 165,936, an increase of about 1500 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 748,007, an increase of about 7200 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on August 13 includes:

  • 1521 – After an extended siege, forces led by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés capture Tlatoani Cuauhtémoc and conquer the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.
  • 1889 – William Gray of Hartford, Connecticut is granted United States Patent Number 408,709 for “Coin-controlled apparatus for telephones.”
  • 1918 – Women enlist in the United States Marine Corps for the first time. Opha May Johnson is the first woman to enlist.

Johnson, below, enlisted in the Marine Corps reserve in 1918, worked as a clerk, and then was disenrolled after the war, so her tenure was about a year.

  • 1942 – Major General Eugene Reybold of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorizes the construction of facilities that would house the “Development of Substitute Materials” project, better known as the Manhattan Project.
  • 1961 – Cold WarEast Germany closes the border between the eastern and western sectors of Berlin to thwart its inhabitants’ attempts to escape to the West, and construction of the Berlin Wall is started.

Here’s a six-minute video of the construction (and destruction) of the wall. I passed through it in about 1963, as my father (in U.S. Army uniform) took the family into East Berlin for a tour. That was allowed then:

They were both males; Gwynne (apparently not a transgender woman) was born “John Walby”.  The murder was committed during the home robbery of the driver of a laundry van. As support for the death penalty was waning in England, the execution by hanging was somewhat of a surprise.

  • 1967 – Two young women became the first fatal victims of grizzly bear attacks in the 57-year history of Montana’s Glacier National Park in separate incidents.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1860 – Annie Oakley, American target shooter (d. 1926)
  • 1895 – Bert Lahr, American actor (d. 1967)

Here’s Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, showing his inner cowardice:

Luria won the Nobel Prize with Max Delbück in 1969; the pair demonstrated that mutations in bacteria were not induced by antibiotics, but were spontaneous occurrences that arose regardless of the antibiotic. This was a demonstration of Darwinian evolution rather than Lamarckian evolution in bacteria. That is, mutations occur regardless of the “needs” of the organism (read more about it here).  Here are the pair, with Delbrück on the left:

  • 1919 – George Shearing, English jazz pianist and bandleader (d. 2011)
  • 1926 – Fidel Castro, Cuban lawyer and politician, 15th President of Cuba (d. 2016)
  • 1948 – Kathleen Battle, American operatic soprano
  • 1951 – Dan Fogelberg, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2007)

Those who became defunct on August 13 include:

  • 1865 – Ignaz Semmelweis, Hungarian physician and obstetrician (b. 1818)
  • 1910 – Florence Nightingale, Italian-English nurse and theologian (b. 1820)
  • 1946 – H. G. Wells, English novelist, historian, and critic (b. 1866)
  • 1995 – Mickey Mantle, American baseball player and sportscaster (b. 1931)
  • 2004 – Julia Child, American chef, author, and television host (b. 1912)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, where it’s hot, Hili is trying to keep cool:

Hili: When it’s so hot you don’t know where to hide.
A: It’s cool inside.
Hili: But I’m not complaining.
In Polish:
Hili: W taki upał nie wiadomo gdzie się schować.
Ja: W domu jest chłodno.
Hili: Przecież ja nie narzekam.

Here are two new photos of kitten Kulka (and one with Szaron) at Andrzej’s and Malgorzata’s:

Kulka likes Szaron’s tail:

From reader Bruce:

From Jesus of the Day (anybody know what the music is?):

A grammar lesson from cats, conjugation of “lie”. Courtesy of Fat Cat Art:

I haven’t yet seen the Scottish National Party’s “hate crime” bill, but perhaps a reader can direct us. Of course Titania favors it:

Two tweets from Simon. Ariel Atkins is an organizer for Black Lives Matter. Do they really think that this kind of rhetoric will help the cause? No, but it will certainly help Trump!

Poor pummelled kitty!

A tweet from Ginger K. And yes, I find it funny, too, though it’s definitely a geek joke:

Tweets from Matthew. Both of us love mud dauber wasps and potter wasps because of the fantastic fact that  the complex architecture of their larder is coded in a brain the size of two grains of sand. Have a look at the whole thread, which has some lovely videos:

And a really nice physics video, though it’s surely time-lapse photos:

The lamebrain sheriff’s reason: “The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t.”

I’m sure I’ve put this up before, but I love this song (and Joni) so much that I retweeted it:


41 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. The Hate Crime Bill in Scotland has drawn together a motley crew of oppositionists- the Catholic Church, the National Secular Society, feminists, police, and many more. I’ve written to my representatives and to the Justice Committee consultation on it. The main issue is that it’s so vaguely worded that it could seriously chill free speech. Under the Bill, one wouldn’t even need to ‘intend’ to ‘stir up hatred’- if one’s speech has the likely effect of doing so, then it can be prosecuted. Here’s an open letter organised by Humanist Society Scotland featuring various people, including writers, philosophers, and actors, airing their concern about the bill:

  2. I am excited about Biden/Harris, but…

    I read reporting this morning that the Post Office has begun removing sorting machines from some of their facilities. This, coupled with their overtime ban, is the beginning of their election sabotage plan.

    It’s why I still have no opinion regarding the outcome of the election. Biden and Harris appear to have a large edge, but Trump still has the power.


    1. While Trump (and loads of rumours) claim otherwise, fivethirtyeight says there’s no evidence mail voting favors either party. So while Trump’s actions might depress overall turnout, the data indicates it shouldn’t change the election outcome. If he thinks he’s getting an edge this way, he’s likely wrong.

      I also wouldn’t be surprised if states made provisional mail-in ballots available via libraries and other civil buildings, the same way they make basic tax forms available, so that people not receiving theirs in time can get them at the last minute.

      1. That’s assuming we know all of what Trump has up his sleeve. Even though we’ve watched him cheat for 3-1/2 years, he can still surprise as to the depths he’s willing to sink. It’s hard to see into the mind of someone with no scruples and no shame.

        One thing the MSM seems to miss is that Trump doesn’t really object to voting by mail but to mailing every registered voter a ballot. I don’t believe this allows cheating on the vote but the MSM keeps pretending that he’s against all voting by mail and so they aren’t addressing his concerns. They very rarely get into how states verify registered voters and signatures on ballots.

        I also don’t buy the idea that suppressing mail in voting hurts Trump. This is based on older people favoring Trump and voting by mail. This would be true in a normal election but not necessarily during this pandemic-filled election. Many people won’t want to risk voting in person and catching COVID. We have no real idea what their voting preferences will be. Trump is betting that they’ll be Dem voters and I bet he’s right.

  3. Since we recommend books around here, I’ll recommend Salvador Luria’s autobiography Slot Machine, a Brokan Test-tube.

    1. I think what was unthinkable is that the most powerful nation on the planet, with the world’s most-advanced health-science establishment, would have a quarter of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, despite having under 5% of the world’s population — especially after the leader of the free world first assured the nation’s citizens that the coronavirus would disappear, then repeatedly telling them it was “under control,” all the while refusing to demonstrate any coherent leadership on the matter.

      1. “World’s most-advanced health-science establishment” – is that a claim based on evidence?!
        I think maybe for the rich…!! But you pay enough for it! Compared with other countries with different systems. In my view, based on no evidence, we generally resort to doctors -GPs- far too frequently & often, many times for things that will go away eventually (reversion to the mean) or will never go away regardless of what a doctor does. I think specialists are different however.

        1. That’s precisely why I worded it “health-science establishment” (emphasis added), rather than “health-care establishment.” On the latter score, the US is sadly lagging.

          Even so, with competent leadership at the top, this nation could have done much, much better, likely at a savings of tens, or even over a hundred, thousand(s) of American lives to this point alone.

        2. I appear to remember that the WHO named the US as the country best equipped to handle a pandemic a few years ago.
          Man, were they wrong!

      2. What’s unthinkable to me is responses like this. It was completely predictable that not everyone would follow health and safety guidelines about masks. It was even predictable that some pundits would come out in opposition to them. But I never in my life thought I’d see a sheriff’s office ban face masks with the force of law.

      3. It’s intriguing that the comparative percentages parallel our percentages of the world’s prisoners. I don’t know if there’s any reason for the specific similarity, but the mind-set (or mind-type) in action behind the two statistics is probably the same.

  4. I’d like to ask the woman advocating for looting what she thinks the reparations would be for and where she thinks insurance companies get the money from to pay the claims for looted shops.

  5. It’s National Filet Mignon Day, placating those who prize soft texture above flavor in their beef. Do yourself a favor and eat a ribeye or a t-bone instead.

    But one side of the longitudinal axis of a t-bone is cut from the same part of the tenderloin (albeit thinner) as filet mignon (and, on the other, a strip steak).

    1. I’m split on this. I generally favor the leaner cuts of beef for their flavor but I have had some good Filet Mignon steaks. I guess I’ll just have to order both.

  6. What will Trump run on. The answer may be scared. Trump is running scared. Rip up the post office and burn the mail. Dictators don’t allow democracy – it has no future.

  7. I just sat through the Biden/Harris link – they can both read a good speech. Which is certainly a step up on Trump. The Harris/Pence debate may be one to watch, her performances cross questioning on the intelligence committee have been interesting to watch.

    Does Trump really want to run on Biden’s mental competency?

    In other news our host missed an important birthday yesterday:

    Edwin Schröedinger, born 1887, Nobel prize in physics 1933: describer of quantum mechanics with the eponymous equation….but also, of greatest interest here the. man who put cats of unknown viability into boxes in a famous thought experiment,

  8. Re the FL sheriff banning masks:

    After MUCH searching, I was able to leave a comment on the of office’s website.

    It will do ZERO, and the Sheriff will never even see it, but it made me feel better…

    “I’m just wondering if you could ask the sheriff that since he forbids mask-wearing, what other health and disability restrictions he is imposing.

    “Do I have to leave my cane in my vehicle before I enter the building? Are glasses ok? I don’t necessarily need them if I’m not driving. Should I wait to take my daily medicines until AFTER my visit? I assume there are no handicap entrances, since the simple act of wearing a mask is forbidden.

    “The reason I ask is that I thought that health and safety controls were normally applauded by law-enforcement. Things such as seat belts aren’t an infringement on my rights, so I’m baffled that masks would be.

    “Sarcasm aside, I’m a cancer survivor, and wear a mask EVERYWHERE, not only to protect myself, but as a simple American common courtesy to others.

    “Thank you for your time.”

  9. The older I get the more I love Joni and consider her to be one of the most interesting singers in history. Kind of like a one-off. Bjork is kind of like that too. Simply not like others.

  10. Don’t you know, professor? – ALWAYS check the freezer first. Its such an ‘old guy’ thing and, ever proud to be ahead of the curve, at 50 (!) I do it all the time. I absentmindedly put all manner of stuff in there or in the fridge.

    –hold on…. where’s the damn dog?

    D.A., J.D., NYC

  11. Hi Jerry,

    If you liked that version of Joni Mitchell singing and playing her song “Coyote”, check out this one from 1976:

    1. She sings the song in such a relaxed and loose way. It has an amazing flow, especially since the story line is long and winding. Beautiful.

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