Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s the end of the “work” week: Friday, September 18, 2020, and National Cheeseburger Day (no Coke, Pepsi!). It’s also Rice Krispies Treats Day (I have to admit that I love them), International Grenache Day, International Read an eBook Day (I’ve never read one),World Water Monitoring Day, and National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day.

Here’s a loaded cheeseburger from Kuma’s Corner, one of the most beloved burger joints in Chicago (sadly, I’ve never eaten there). They often add fried eggs to their burgers. This should make you hungry if you’re a carnivore.

News of the Day: Possible good news: FiveThirtyEight prognosticates that Democrats are slight favorites to win back the Senate in November. It’s not a sure thing, of course, but they ran simulations that showed this:

In an average simulation, our forecast has Democrats picking up about six Republican-held seats in the Lite model, around five in the Classic model and about four and a half in the Deluxe model.  And that would be enough for them to win control of the Senate — even if they fail to capture the presidency.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a Democratic House, Senate, and Presidency? But if Trump is re-elected, a Democratic Senate and House is not a recipe for progress.

This is sad: polls show that Americans’ willingness to take an approved coronavirus vaccine seems to be dropping. According to the New York Times:

The Pew Research Group, which surveyed 10,093 American adults from Sept. 8 through Sept. 13, found that 51 percent of Americans said they would get the vaccine. That’s a decline of 21 percentage points from May, when 72 percent indicated they might take it.

Now, 49 percent of respondents said they would “probably” or “definitely” not get it.

Fully 78 percent of those surveyed believed that the development process has been too hasty.

Now some of the doubt comes from ambiguous, mixed, or contrary messages from health officials versus Trump, but the wariness isn’t that different between Democrats and Republicans. As for me, I’ll follow my doctor’s advice, but if people like Fauci approve of a final vaccine, I won’t be too reluctant to take it.

Here’s something that baffles me: people’s willingness to pay for “flights to nowhere”: airplanes that take off, fly around for some hours, and then land back at the same airport. I heard on the news last night that Quantas offered an seven-hour flight that costs anywhere from $800 to nearly $4,000 US (it’s also mentioned in the Washington Post report). I understand that people are sick of not traveling, but traveling to nowhere? Jebus!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 197,529, an increase of about 900 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 945,649, an increase of about 5,400 deaths from yesterday. And we’re approaching a million deaths worldwide., which might happen in about ten days.

Stuff that happened on September 18 includes:

  • 1793 – The first cornerstone of the United States Capitol is laid by George Washington.
  • 1812 – The 1812 Fire of Moscow dies down after destroying more than three-quarters of the city. Napoleon returns from the Petrovsky Palace to the Moscow Kremlin, spared from the fire.
  • 1850 – The U.S. Congress passes the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
  • 1870 – Old Faithful Geyser is observed and named by Henry D. Washburn.
  • 1895 – The Atlanta Exposition Speech on race relations is delivered by Booker T. Washington.
  • 1943 – World War II: Adolf Hitler orders the deportation of Danish Jews.
  • 1948 – Margaret Chase Smith of Maine becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate without completing another senator’s term.
  • 1977 – Voyager I takes the first distant photograph of the Earth and the Moon together.

Here, from NASA, is that photo, taken from 7.25 million miles away.

  • 1984 – Joe Kittinger completes the first solo balloon crossing of the Atlantic.

Here’s a short video about Kittinger’s achievement, though it says he completed the achievement on September 14. He didn’t; he finished on September 18 as it took him four days to cross. He was also the first man to see the curvature of the Earth.

  • 2014 – Scotland votes against independence from the United Kingdom, by 55% to 45%.

Next time the results will be different!

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1709 – Samuel Johnson, English lexicographer and poet (d. 1784)
  • 1819 – Léon Foucault, French physicist and academic (d. 1868)
  • 1905 – Greta Garbo, Swedish-American actress (d. 1990)

Here’s Greta Garbo wanting to be alone:

  • 1940 – Frankie Avalon, American singer and actor
  • 1947 – Drew Gilpin Faust, American historian and academic
  • 1951 – Dee Dee Ramone, American singer-songwriter and bass player (d. 2002)
  • 1954 – Steven Pinker, Canadian-American psychologist, linguist, and author
  • 1967 – Tara Fitzgerald, English actress
  • 1976 – Ronaldo, Brazilian footballer

Here’s a video showing some of the great Ronaldo’s football skills:

Those who gave up the ghost on September 18 include:

  • 1783 – Leonhard Euler, Swiss mathematician and physicist (b. 1707)
  • 1945 – Blind Willie Johnson, blues singer and guitarist. Reader Keith reminded me of this, and added that one of Johnson’s songs, “Dark Was the Night,” was included on the “Golden Records” sent on NASA’s Voyager. Here’s the version sent into space in 1977:

  • 1961 – Dag Hammarskjöld, Swedish economist and diplomat, 2nd Secretary-General of the United Nations, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
  • 1970 – Jimi Hendrix, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1942)
  • 1980 – Katherine Anne Porter, American short story writer, novelist, and essayist (b. 1890)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is urged to have a nosh before her tour so she won’t go after mice (when she’s hungry, Hili hunts mice):

Hili: I’m going for a tour of my territory.
A: Maybe you will eat something at home first?
In Polish:
Hili: Idę na obchód mojego terytorium.
Ja: A może najpierw zjesz coś w domu?

Little Kulka is growing up!

From Facebook:

From reader Charles: fun on the border. “We’re gonna build a playground, and make Mexico pay for it!”

A groaner from Bruce (cartoon by Scott Hilburn):

Titania on l’affaire Rowling:

From cesar. Apparently this big anti-Pinker kvetch, beefing about how the authors of the letter trying to downgrade Pinker’s status in the American Linguistic Society were treated, hasn’t yet been accepted for publication.

From Dom. The spiders come in on little cat feet . . .

From Simon. Too much altruism:

From Barry. A beautiful felid and its cub:

Tweets from Matthew. The first refers to the Maynooth University (Ireland) library cat, whose name is apparently Maynooth University Library Cat.

Baby bears wrassling in the yard! How cool!

Is this blending inheritance or “piecemeal inheritance”? Whatever, but it’s the Tweet of the Day:



  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    The days, they are getting shorter. Instead of worrying about the next election think landslide. Yesterday a Judge ordered the Post Office to return service to before the idiot made all the changes.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Hendrix, Dee Dee, Johnson – there might be something to it! Like hockey players- born mostly near January…

    Happy Birthday to Pinker – I always wonder if he’s browsing The Dialogues…

    … cheebuga cheebuga cheebuga cheebuga …

    it’s a sign : time for coffee…

  3. chrism
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    “2014 – Scotland votes against independence from the United Kingdom, by 55% to 45%.

    Next time the results will be different!”

    You might be right, but it makes absolutely no economic sense. And when they discover how poor they are, the EU won’t have them back. Seems this is all being stirred up for short term political gain by Nicola Sturgeon (aka Wee Jimmy Krankie).

    • Graham Martin-Royle
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      We’re going to go through enormous economic upheaval anyway thanks to brexit and the actions of The Liar so we may as well get something positive (not being ruled by tories) out of it.

      • Posted September 18, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        Scotland isn’t ruled by the Tories now, except in areas of foreign policy and defence. Any issues you have with education, law and order, health etc are the fault of the Scottish government.

    • Alan Jardine
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      Another Tory piece of propaganda! You mean as poor as similarly-sized countries with fewer natural resources – Iceland, Estonia, Denmark … And not just oil, but green energy resources, agricultural land and a well-established science and technology base.

      The insult to Nicola was first made by Johnson, who is so terrified of her that he will not meet her again. And she is one of the few true stateswomen around.

      The EU have indicated that they will be glad to have us back.

      The 2014 figures are now reversed, according to all recent polls.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        Of course the EU will let them in. Scotland is a democratic country with lots of trade links with the EU. I cannot see how they could possibly stop Scotland from getting in.

  4. jezgrove
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Should “He was also the first man to see the curvature of the Earth” be “He was also the first man to see the curvature of the Earth from a balloon”?

    • jezgrove
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      Oops, my bad – I see the curvature of the Earth achievement was from his much earlier balloon adventures. Apologies!

      • kieran
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

        Arthur W. Murray is also noted as seeing it first in 1954 after flying the X-1A to 90000 feet. When you put in he was first to see the curvature of the earth it returns Murray before Kittinger.

    • grasshopper
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      The prophet Elijah was probaly the first person to notice the curvature of the the earth, on his physical ascent to heaven 🙂 I hope the Van Allen belt did him no harm.

  5. eric
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Wouldn’t it be great to have a Democratic House, Senate, and Presidency?

    Yep! Finally, Congress will be able to fail to pass health care legislation due to disagreements on what to add, rather than disagreements on what to take away.

    • Historian
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Even if the Democrats win the House, Senate, and the presidency, their passing desired legislation may still be a problem because of the Senate filibuster. The Democrats could abolish the filibuster by changing the Senate rules (that only requires a simple majority). Liberals have been urging the Democrats to do this if they should retake the Senate. But doing so would be a two edged sword. Many senators like the filibuster because it allows the party in the minority to block legislation they don’t like, which is viewed as more important than passing legislation they like. This is why the legislative filibuster has remained in place for so many decades.

      Norm Ornstein, a respect student of government, has suggested a compromise that would not entirely do away with the filibuster, but could only be used in extraordinary circumstances.

      • eric
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        I would not be opposed to the Dems modifying the filibuster as the article suggests. At least, I think it may be an experiment worth trying. We should, however, acknowledge the realpolitik risk: this would provide the next GOP majority exactly the excuse they need to change the rules even more, and they would. Just as the Dems going ‘nuclear’ in 2013 to confirm lower court judges became McConnell’s justification for going ‘nuclear’ in 2017 to confirm Gorsuch. So if they do this, they’d better be ready to live with consequence of the next GOP majority changing the number from “40” to “current number of Dems in senate +1”, because that is what it will trigger. And the GOP will rightfully claim that the Dems messed with the rules first, they’re just following that precedent.

        • eric
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

          Ah, I got my math backwards. If the Dems “improve” the filibuster rule by changing it to 40 votes needed for cloture, then they’d better be ready for the next GOP majority to “improve” the filibuster rule by lowering (not raising) the number even more.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        The filibuster should go period. It seems to me either you believe in democracy or you do not. If a majority vote in both houses says yes to something then game over, assuming it is not vetoed by the executive. All these internal rules in congress has a lot to do with what is wrong with congress and it should all be done away with. After that they can start on several constitutional amendments that are needed.

        • eric
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

          It seems to me either you believe in democracy or you do not.

          You could use same logic against having a Senate in the first place (2 votes for Rhode Island and 2 votes for California? Clearly undemocratic!). Or having representatives at all, instead of using direct democracy and putting every law out for a vote like referenda.

          One can believe in Democracy and still recognize that checks on ‘the tyrrany of the majority’ make it better than not having them. Or put another way, the concept of “democracy” is bigger and includes many more types of political systems than just straight-up ‘go with the most hands held up’

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

            First of all the constitution created a republic, not a democracy. Most people have a hard time understanding that. If you look at the last sentence to my comment and said, many amendments are needed. One of them would be to alter the Senate by changing the representation. Two Senators per state is very bad. It was done that way as a compromise. One that was won by the small states. It needs to be fixed to make that branch more representative.

            Pure democracy is not good either. It leaves no room to show concern for the oppressed and those treated unfairly. In a republic you look after the poor, the unrepresented and so on. Much better than anything like pure democracy.

            • eric
              Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

              Most people have a hard time understanding that.

              I disagree. I think in fact that you’re making the error here, not me, in thinking that “republic” and “democracy” are mutually exclusive terms, two different categories. The concepts overlap. The original Res Publica of Rome had democratic components similar to the Greek city states they drew inspiration from, and the earlier democracies of the Greek city-states had oligarchic components similar to the non-democratic institutions of the Roman republic.

              In short, “it’s a repbulic, not a democracy” is IMO nothing more than a conservative talking point with no basis in either history or contemporary use of the terms.

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

                The problem is, your opinion does not hold much in the true history of events. To the founders, the word democracy was not a pleasant idea or word. It was considered right on the edge of chaos. Why do you think the house of representatives were the only body that was to be voted on by the public? And remember, the public back then was damn few of the population. Remember what Franklin said to the bystander who ask as they left the building – What do we have? His answer – A republic if you can keep it. As I explained earlier, A republic takes into account doing things for the underprivileged and unfortunate. A democracy in true form cares nothing about that, majority rules. You need to look at American history and not so much what was going on in Greece.

      • BJ
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        The filibuster should go back to the way it used to be: you actually have to stand there and literally filibuster.

      • rickflick
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Two edged sword sounds dangerous.

  6. Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I am reasonably hoping that the polls for taking the coronavirus vaccine will significantly change by next spring when one might become generally available.

    • Posted September 18, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t be too concerned about the numbers in the poll. I think they reflect the fact that everybody thinks a new vaccine will be rushed out by Trump for political reasons and that it won’t have been tested properly.

      • BJ
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        I don’t think anyone should be worried about Trump rushing it out. Pretty sure he doesn’t have the power to do that. FDA guidelines are what they are. He can’t just tell them to approve whatever they’re testing at the moment.

        • Posted September 18, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

          It’s not a question of whether he really can do it but of whether the respondents in the survey fear that he will do it.

        • eric
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          He could absolutely put political pressure on FDA appointees and civil servants to cut corners and change their decisions. Just look at the CDC or EPA and the trouble they’re having with their scientists being regularly overruled, reports changed, etc. by their appointed leaders.

          Even ignoring maliciousness or incompetence, it’s very unlikely a newly approved vaccine will have much data on long-term or large-scale effects. The companies just can’t realistically test drugs on cohorts of millions or track the effects for years before it’s release. There’s IMO a big difference between the anti-vaxx position (paranoid, conspiratorial), and being suspicious that a new product may not be as safe or effective as it’s advertised by the seller to be (reasonable, not anti-science). I would count myself in the latter. Will I take an approved vaccine when it comes out? Absolutely. Will I trust fully in it’s long-term safety and efficacy? Probably not until, oh, 2023-2024 and lots of feedback from users.

          • BJ
            Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

            Agree with your second paragraph completely. And the FDA relies in large part on drug companies to be honest about their own studies, and just imagine the economic incentive for those companies to fudge the numbers and be the first one with a vaccine on the market.

          • Mark R.
            Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

            I see masks in our collective future for a long, long time. As Dr. Redfield said yesterday, masks will probably be more effective at protecting people than a vaccine. Of course, Trump said Redfield “misspoke”. But he didn’t and I believe the doctor, not the con-man.

  7. merilee
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    🐾🐾 (cat feet, not spider feet)

    • jezgrove
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Because otherwise there’d be twice as many!

      • merilee
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Good point. 🐾🐾🐾🐾

  8. rickflick
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Vaccine – 49 percent of respondents said they would “probably” or “definitely” not get it. This attitude is probably driven by fear and confusion. I wouldn’t take that too seriously. At least with Biden in office, there would be a campaign to enlighten and encourage. This would certainly gain millions of inoculees. The question is, will we reach heard immunity as fast as possible?

    • Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      As others have suggested, I take this poll as more reflecting the fact that the vaccine process has been politicized. Since no vaccine is now available, and we have no idea which one under test will be successful, if any, it makes no sense to promise now to take it.

      • rickflick
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        Plus the fact that tRumpets reflexively say “no” to most any question. Once they are reminded they might die, they will likely sing a different tune.

  9. Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    The people taking flights to nowhere are probably the same people who order airplane food as takeout.

  10. Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    “But if Trump is re-elected, a Democratic Senate and House is not a recipe for progress.”

    No, but it might be a recipe for a second impeachment and make it stick. Might serve to keep Trump in line. Of course I’m hoping for a big Biden win, making this purely academic.

  11. Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    BTW, the Hili dialogue lifted my spirits today (mostly) with the jokes and animal vids. And the kid hugging the piñata. Thanks.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      The kid hugging the pinata made my day.

      And then I was immediately depressed again, when I discovered that Toby Young has been associate editor of Quillette for the last two years. I had no idea.

      Then the Ronaldo video cheered me back up again. What a rollercoaster.

      • jezgrove
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        The obnoxious Toby Young was quoted in defence of “meritocracy” on BBC Radio 4 earlier this week. (His father created the term in a satirical short story, The Rise of the Meritocracy, intending it to be a negative concept). Unfortunately, the programme omitted to mention that when young Toby (or perhaps young Toby Young…) failed to achieve the required A level results to get into his chosen Oxford college, his father successfully rang the admissions tutor asking him to make an exception.

  12. Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think PCC mentioned it but Rosh Hashanah starts tonight. I never miss a chance to culturally appropriate if it involves food, so we’re slow-cooking a brisket with carrots and challah rolls for tonight’s sumptuous repast. Can’t wait. Shanah tovah, everyone.

  13. uommibatto
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    The compilation of Blind Willie Johnson covers “God Don’t Never Change” is fantastic! The songs that reference the Spanish Flu epidemic are particularly timely, for obvious reasons. Two standout tracks are “Jesus is Coming Soon” (Cowboy Junkies) and “Trouble Will Soon Be Over” by Sinead O’Connor, who knocks it out of the park.

    Larry Smith

  14. danfromm
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Cheeseburger with a fried egg? Why stop there? What pikers!

    When I visited Paraguay’s National Museum of Natural History in ’92, we lunched in a joint down the street that served wonderful strawberry milkshakes and “Quesoburgesas especiales.” From the bottom up a special cheeseburger contain: the lower half of a bun, special sauce (ketchup + mustard, I think), lettuce, tomato, a cheeseburger (ground beef patty topped with melted cheese), a slice of fried ham, a fried egg and, finally, the bun’s upper half.

    Delicious and much like the Chivito Uruguayo, which contains no kid. Google it.

  15. David Burnley
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I add lettuce, tomato, onion (fried and raw), egg, cheese, beetroot, meat patty, lightly fried pineapple, BBQ sauce and, of course, a roll. Mmmmmm!

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