Thursday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Thursday, October 8, 2020: National Fluffernutter Day. This is one of the year’s worst food days, for a “Fluffernutter” is a peanut butter sandwich on white bread liberally spread with marshmallow “creme”. Here, take my fluffernutter—please!

And it is a One Bun Day, that is, I saw one Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) on my walk to work. According to my superstition, that means the day will be just okay (the number of bunnies is proportional to the quality of the upcoming day). The record, set not too long ago, was a Four Bun Day, but nothing particularly good happened. Ergo, my superstition is false.

It’s also National Pierogi Day, which, though it involves cultural appropriation (do you really know about the historical plight of the Poles?), is much better than fluffernutters.  It’s also World Octopus Day, International Lesbian Day, and two days from the end of World Space Week (October 4–10).

News of the day:  The Commission on Presidential Debates has just announced that the next Biden/Trump debate, a week from today, will be virtual:

“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” the commission said in a statement. “The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate.”

Important News: The Fat Bear Contest, run by Katmai National Park in Alaska, has finished, and we have a winner. It’s bear 747. As the site declares, “747’s voluminous visage eclipsed 32’s chunky chassis. No longer the runner-up, 747 fulfills the fate of the fat and fabulous as he heads off to hibernation.”  Here are the two finalists, with the portly winner at the bottom (h/t Jez).

Look at that porker, 747!


You’ll want to read this new (and free) article in Nature on face masks. The verdict: worn properly, they can be efficacious, but you need to know what kind of mask to where and when and how to wear it. Click on the screenshot:

Here’s a photo from that article:

US baseball players wore masks while playing during the 1918 influenza epidemic.Credit: Underwood And Underwood/LIFE Images Collection/Getty

As for the debate last night, well I lasted through only the first half, as it was boring and, as one reader said, a series of stump speeches rather than answers. Both candidates bobbed and weaved rather than answer questions, but Pence also lied and, contrary to the rules, went way overtime with his answers and interrupted Harris. It was, as expected, a referendum on Trump’s presidency, which Harris hit hard. But that won’t move Trump supporters. All things told, and given Harris’s calm demeanor and Pence’s lies, I count it a win for the Democrats, but the moderators of these things need to be far more strict.

The Washington Post has a piece on “Fact checking the vice-presidential debate between Pence and Harris“. As I said above, Pence lied a lot, and far more of the fact-checks apply to him, though Harris was guilty of two gaffes. The New York Times has a similar article, but much more detailed. Again, Pence comes off as mouthing a lot of falsehoods, while Harris didn’t do badly here.

The NYT also has “Six takeaways from the first Vice-Presidential debate,” but they, like the debate itself, are a snoozer. I take issue with one of their “takeaways”. “Pence’s interruptions revealed the stage’s gender dynamics.” True, Harris set out her credentials, which the paper says is a requirement for a woman but not a man, but one could say that not all voters know her as well as Pence. And then there’s this:

There were other gender dynamics at play, including Mr. Pence’s regular interruptions.

“I’m speaking,” Ms. Harris pushed back at one point. “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking,” she said at another. “He interrupted me, and I’d like to just finish, please,” she said a third time.

It was hard not to see the interjections and pushback refracted through the lens of gender in a contest where the outsize support of women is lifting the Democratic ticket. (In the end, CNN calculated the two candidates had almost equal time.)

For sure Pence interrupted Harris a lot, but Trump interrupted Biden, who is not, to my knowledge, a woman. It may be true that this reflects sexism on Pence’s part, but it could also be that he was following Trump’s strategy, or is just someone who interrupts everyone. You can see it through several lenses, and the Times‘s analysis here, seeing it “through the lens of gender,” is the choice of a woke paper.

The best thing about the debate was THE FLY!:

More news: “President” Trump has declared that his contracting Covid-19 was a “blessing from God”. Why a blessing? Listen to him in the tweet below. The sick thing is, beyond his claim that his own experience will now virtually halt the whole pandemic, that I don’t even think Trump believes in a god.

On another viral note, Rick Bright, former director of the NIH’a Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, explained at the Washington Post why he resigned.  In short:

Public health and safety have been jeopardized by the administration’s hostility to the truth and by its politicization of the pandemic response, undoubtedly leading to tens of thousands of preventable deaths. For that reason, and because the administration has in effect barred me from working to fight the pandemic, I resigned on Tuesday from the National Institutes of Health.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 211,750, an increase of about 1,000 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll remains at “1.0 million +”, with 5,994 deaths reported yesterday.

Stuff that happened on October 8 includes:

  • 1645 – Jeanne Mance open the first lay hospital in North America.

This was the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, which does have “god” in the title.

The Chicago fire did start in or near the O’Leary’s barn, but there’s no evidence that a cow kicked over a lantern.

  • 1918 – World War I: Corporal Alvin C. York kills 28 German soldiers and captures 132 for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

York was originally a conscientious objector, as portrayed by Gary Cooper in the famous 1941 movie about the soldier, “Sergeant York.” Here’s the real Alvin York, wearing the Medal of Honor (on the left).

  • 1939 – World War II: Germany annexes western Poland.
  • 1944 – World War II: Captain Bobbie Brown earns a Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Crucifix Hill, just outside Aachen.
  • 1956 – The New York Yankees’s Don Larsen pitches the only perfect game in a World Series.
  • 1967 – Guerrilla leader Che Guevara and his men are captured in Bolivia.
  • 1970 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wins the Nobel Prize in literature.

Which reminds me; the Nobel Prize in literature will be awarded today, and we had a contest. I’m sure there will be a winner unless the new Laureate is very obscure.

  • 1978 – Australia’s Ken Warby sets the current world water speed record of 317.60 mph at Blowering Dam, Australia.
  • 1982 – After its London premiere, Cats opens on Broadway and runs for nearly 18 years before closing on September 10, 2000.
  • 2001 – U.S. President George W. Bush announces the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security.
  • 2014 – Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola, dies.

There were four confirmed Ebola cases in the U.S., and one person died. That’s a far cry from the current pandemic. Duncan contracted the disease in Liberia, where the infection and death rates were much higher.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1883 – Otto Heinrich Warburg, German physiologist and physician, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970)
  • 1890 – Eddie Rickenbacker, American soldier and pilot, Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1973)

Rickenbacker was the U.S.’s most prolific fighter pilot “ace”, bringing down 26 planes during WWI. Here he is in his  SPAD S.XIII. Note the machine guns synchronized to fire through the propeller:


Here’s Zog!

  • 1895 – Juan Perón, Argentinian general and politician, 29th President of Argentina (d. 1974)
  • 1939 – Harvey Pekar, American author and critic (d. 2010)

A bit of one of Pekar’s “underground” comics:

  • 1943 – Chevy Chase, American comedian, actor, and screenwriter
  • 1949 – Sigourney Weaver, American actress and producer
  • 1970 – Matt Damon, American actor, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1985 – Bruno Mars, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor

Those whose lives were quenched on October 8 include:

  • 1754 – Henry Fielding, English novelist and playwright (b. 1707)
  • 1944 – Wendell Willkie, American captain, lawyer, and politician (b. 1892)
  • 1967 – Clement Attlee, English soldier, lawyer, and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1883)
  • 2015 – Paul Prudhomme, American chef and author (b. 1940)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Hili dialogue gets an explanation from Malgorzata: “The morning news was, as usual, horrible. Hili wants Andrzej to calm down and go into the garden to see all the beauty, for picking tasty apples gives some balance and perspective.

Hili: Get a basket, we will go and pick apples.
A: Now?
Hili: Yes, it will do you good after morning news.
In Polish:
Hili: Weź kosz, pójdziemy zrywać jabłka.
Ja: Teraz?
Hili: Tak, to bardzo dobrze robi po porannych wiadomościach.

A meme from Charles:

And from Nicole:

From Jesus of the Day:

I tweeted, but the original tweet was sent by Matthew:

From Barry, who adds, “With asshats like these, we don’t stand a chance.” Amen!

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is a 10-minute timeline of Trump’s hamhanded handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

I grow old. . .  I grow old. Do I dare to eat a peach?

A Muscovy mom takes her brood for their first swim. It looks as if the hatching time for Muscovies is the same as for mallards:

Look at this fantastic owl! I hope it’s okay. They don’t hunt by sight, so the poor sight of albinos wouldn’t be much of a handicap. Maybe the color would be extra visible at night, though.

The caption tells it all:

I think this rates as Tweet of the Month:



  1. bill
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    my respect for flies is a notch lower today.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      If I remember the Obama years correctly, doesn’t that mean he’s in league with the Prince of Darkness, or a lizard person, or some similar idiotic bull crap?

      • Doug
        Posted October 8, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        It means Pence is Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies.

    • Otternaut
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Just proves what we know attracts flies

  2. Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The Commission on Presidential Debates has just announced that the next Biden/Trump debate, a week from today, will be virtual

    The BBC is reporting that Trump has refused to take part.

    He says:

    the move to virtual was to “protect” his rival

    which, for once in his life, is the truth: nobody sharing a room with Trump is safe at the moment.

    • Historian
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      The reason for Trump rejecting a virtual debate is obvious. Such a format would make it much more difficult for him to interrupt Biden and to turn the debate into a freak show. We’ll see if the Commission backs down. I hope it doesn’t. Of course, Trump can change his mind in a flash if he concludes that the virtual format will help him.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted October 9, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

        A few things here: I remember saying Trump would try and wriggle out of the debates, but at the time I was imagining him up against Sanders and running as the favourite.
        The fact that the guy’s wriggling out of this one too, even though he should be begging them to allow him to take part given how badly he’s doing, suggests that he’s not even trying to appeal to voters anymore; his sole focus from now on will be to warp and disfigure the election outcome and cheat his way to a win. He’s given up even the pretense of appealing to the electorate, which is inevitable with fascists.

        One thing that I sort of got right is that Trump would have a much harder go of it employing his 2016 tactics against Biden, for the simple reason that people like him, while they didn’t like Hillary.
        Notice Trump’s pathetic attempt to gotcha Joe with the sniping about Hunter in the debate: if he’d done that against Hillary, with some dig about Bill or the Clinton family’s so-called ‘corruption’, it would have stuck.
        With Biden it doesn’t. He’s almost comically approachable and down to earth. And sincere. Some people sneer at sincerity but the majority love it. It’s reassuring. Even I like it, and I’m not at all sincere, and I say that sincerely.

        They’ve heaved the kitchen sink at Biden, then the fridge and the cupboards, and the terrible little bin with the foot pedal that always breaks after a few days, and none of it has stuck. Trump will now train all his weasel-emperor cunning on derailing this election and cheating his way to another four years.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    As for the debate last night, well I lasted through only the first half, as it was boring …

    The highlight of the night was the fly that got stuck in Pence’s hair for what seemed to be about 10 minutes. Apparently even it found the debate boring since it checked out before the end.

    Did anyone else see the “MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT!” Trump posted on twitter yesterday?

    You ask me, he looks like hell. I’m used to seeing him in the orange pancake makeup, but for yesterday’s video (presumably to cover up his pale and sickly complexion), he seems to have packed on the bronzer with a backhoe; he’s the color of a lightly circulated copper penny.

    Plus, his face all of a sudden seems asymmetrical, with a slight droop to the right eye and a swelling (or a covered over growth of some kind) on his right cheek. He also apparently hasn’t been able to make it to his regular Clairol summer-blonde dye job, since his white hair is showing through.

    Weirdest of all in the video, he claims “it’s a blessing from God” that he caught COVID-19:

    • Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Did anyone else see the “MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT!” Trump posted on twitter yesterday?

      Yes, I did. I saw it posted by Jerry in the Hili dialog today just below the discussion on the VP debate.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 8, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I was rushing to an appointment this morning and posted the comment above before I finished reading today’s Hili dialogue. Sorry.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted October 8, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

          Don’t be sorry for the duplicate twitter video. I missed the video up top and if I hadn’t read your comments I’d never have enlarged the screen on the video you posted so that I could see the weirdness of his face, and indeed, his eyes are strange, uneven.

          Not long ago a reader commented on Trump’s newly white hair; but he’s been doing that for at least a month. What’s Lindsay Graham going to do now — just a few months ago he had his hair dyed to the same hue Trump was sporting at that time, He’s been darkening his face intermittently* for quite a while but more frequently now. Bandy Lee, the Duty to Warn psychiatrist (some would say Cassandra, others would say fear monger and wacko) has a theory about that; she posits subconscious reasons are at play. I’m one of those inclined to go along with the shrinks and psychologists, and I think this must be the case. Wish she would take the matter up again.

          *He’s definitely using more than makeup. Several days ago, before he went into the hospital, he gave a press conference or something and one could clearly see the mark of some kind of a mask on his forehead, and it was lopsided. I can usually tell by the little white circles around his eyes that he’s been under tanning lights but this was very strange; the line was so obvious, across the middle of his forehead but lopsided; in fact the outline looked more like a mask to cover the nose. I can’t figure out what was going on there.

  4. Hempenstein
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    “The stars might lie but the flies they never do.” – Mary Chapin Carpenter.

    Also, Mister we could use a woman like Betty Boothroyd again!

  5. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    “President” Trump has declared that his contracting Covid-19 was a “blessing from God”. Why a blessing?
    Wait for it! This could be a blessing since tRump is in no position to declare victory. As I understand, it’s fairly common for patients to get much worse as they come of steroids. He’s personally responsible for 10s of thousands of deaths and for increasing hatred and division in the country. I hope that he ends up incapacitated without the ability to spread hate.

  6. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    “what kind of mask to where and when and how to wear it.”

    Should be wear

  7. BJ
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    A very poor tactical move by Trump. When I saw that they’d be doing a virtual town hall I despaired because I knew that would require Biden speaking for long, uninterrupted periods of time. Trump constantly interrupting Biden was the best thing that could have happened in the first debate. Things often go wrong when Biden has to speak contemporaneously for more than a minute.

    I’m really glad Trump pulled out.

    Meanwhile, last night’s debate was pretty terrible. Harris’ only job was to seem “presidential,” but I didn’t feel like she gave a sense of “don’t worry, I’ll be an excellent President if Biden dies or is incapacitated.” That’s really what everyone is thinking and what everyone who is considering voting Biden/Harris wanted to see. I’m obviously voting for them regardless because Harris would be better than Trump or Pence, but she really could have done a far better job. She doesn’t seem to be very good at debating. I doubt her performance reassured anyone who is on the fence, but I doubt it put them off either. It wasn’t a loss, but it wasn’t a win.

    • BJ
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      BTW, my favorite part of the debate was when Pence tried to interrupt and Harris said, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.” He shut up.

  8. Historian
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    As a sign of the time, the New England Journal of Medicine, in a rare political editorial, has skewered the Trump Administration for its handling of the coronavirus crisis. Without actually mentioning Trump’s name in the editorial, the journal concludes:

    “Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment. Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates. But truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

    The journal has taken a risk by publishing this editorial. It opens itself up to a vicious attack by Trump and his minions. Obviously, the editors realized this, but still felt it was necessary to proceed. As future historians face the daunting task of putting the Trump Administration into perspective, its handling of the pandemic will probably be the number one issue discussed. I will go out on a limb and predict that the wannabe Mussolini will be rated the worst president ever, by far. At least, James Buchanan will be happy.

    The New England Journal of Medicine’s editorial is discussed in this NYT article.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Very good to see such organizations making such statements. This is the sort of thing that really should give anyone on the fence pause in considering Trump.

      Of course, most people that already support Trump will not be swayed in the slightest. They simply won’t believe anything that doesn’t validate the pro Trump position they already hold.

      I had a first-hand experience to remind me of this just yesterday afternoon. During a conversation that had turned towards the pandemic I mentioned the over 200,000 and counting covid-19 related deaths in the US and the other person said, “Yeah, but that’s just it. The CDC says that only about 6% of those are actually covid -19 related.” This person’s position is that the supposed severity of the covid-19 pandemic is a hoax. This person went on to say that the election was very simple for him. One side will open the economy back up and the other side will shut it down.

      That’s what the problem is. A significant number of people that take it as obvious that “it’s” all a liberal conspiracy. Even though their leaders have had a majority of the power for nearly all of the past 25 + years, somehow all the woes our society is experiencing right now are all caused by evil liberals. They are delusional.

      I had no idea where the person had picked up this particular lie, it was the first time I’d heard it. After looking into it, turns out it started with QAnon. Surprise.

      Here’s a run down from Fact Check, that commie pinko scumbag far left site.

      CDC Did Not ‘Admit Only 6%’ of Recorded Deaths from COVID-19

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    I thought the best in the so-called debate last night was when Trump’s baby Pence kept asking Harris if they were going to pack the court. First she told about what Lincoln did when a opening in the court came up. Then she referred to the latest 50 incompetent judges they stuffed through congress. And not one was black.

  10. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    tRump’s covid will only be a blessing from God if he dies of it. (Not a blessing for him, obviously, just for everybody else).
    Hey, God, how about doing some smiting properly for once?


  11. Jenny Haniver
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Wonder if the fly laid any eggs in Pence’s hair?

  12. rickflick
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I was hoping Biden or Harris would itemize in some detail the timeline shown in “Trump Plays Golf”. Maybe Biden will do so in the upcoming event. Just reading a summary during one or more segments would be very powerful stuff. “Trump Plays Golf”.

  13. W.Benson
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I wonder if the maskless Evangelicals gathered at the Lincoln Memorial realize that shortly they will be providing herd immunity for the faithless?

  14. boudiccadylis
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Gotta love Dog. Such machismo and the mustache is to die for.

    • boudiccadylis
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink


      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 9, 2020 at 5:12 am | Permalink

        The one thing I know of Zog is that he used to insist on driving the engine of the Orient Express when it passed through his country. (Doubtless watched respectfully but cautiously by the real driver).

        So he can’t have been all bad.

        Hey, what’s the use of being King if you can’t drive the train sometimes?


  15. nay
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I managed to sit through the whole VP debate – I had to turn to the computer and play solitaire in the middle of the other one (I could still hear it, but couldn’t stand to watch it). Perhaps because I’m a woman, I took Pence’s interruptions as sexism. (Trump’s interruptions were because he’s rude. I think we all expected Pence to be more polite.) Moreover, I wondered if the moderator was showing too much courtesy to Pence, not cutting him off at the 2-minute mark while still trying to limit Harris’ time – she had to say “he interrupted me, now I’d like to finish my answer”. I haven’t seen the analysis showing they had “about the same” amount of time, but would point out that “about” is not “equal”. Anyway, contrast this administration’s performance with Joe Biden’s speech at Gettysburg, then vote.

  16. Jeff Lewis
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I know I’m not going to change PCCe’s mind (nor would I try), but that fluffernutter sandwich as the lead in graphic is tempting enough to make me want to cheat on my diet. Especially with the goo just barely oozing out – it looks delicious.

    I particularly like that picture of Rickenbacker. So many WWI airplane pictures look old timey or nostalgic, but there’s just something about that one that looks menacing. It drives home just how deadly serious those machines were.

  17. Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    forget the “message from the president.” I want a video message from the fly that landed on Pence’s head, complete with buzzing voice and subtitles.

  18. revelator60
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    “I don’t even think Trump believes in a god.”

    I bet Trump believes God is basically a big Trump in the sky, who lives in a great big Trump Tower in heaven and approves of everything Trump does. If he didn’t, Trump wouldn’t believe in him! A raging narcissist believes the world is a reflection and outgrowth of himself. Therefore Trump’s God is nothing more than Trump with superpowers and a white robe.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted October 9, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      I think Trump is so intellectually incurious that the question ‘where did the universe come from?’ has never occurred to him, not even when he was a child. He has a very hectic outer life, but I don’t think he has any kind of inner life at all. He has no need for thoughts because everything pours out of his mouth at a mile a minute.

      There’s a scene in a romcom called What Women Want, where noted actor, director and anti-Semite Mel Gibson has just gained the ability to read women’s minds. He hears their thoughts bubbling away whenever he goes near them.
      But in this scene he’s stood next to his dumb secretaries, and he can’t hear anything at all, the premise of the joke being that they’re so stupid they don’t have any thoughts. That’s how I imagine Trump’s inner life. Dead silence, with the occasional dog barking way in the distance.

  19. Posted October 9, 2020 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Thank you for King Zog – one of my favorite weirdos.

    It looks like ebola killed fewer Americans in this country than O.J. Simpson did. Trump was very critical of Obama’s handling of it at the time on twitter.
    Lucky Trump has done a better job, eh?

    D.A. NYC

  20. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted October 9, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    I thought it was fair to infer sexism from Mike Pence’s interruptions. This is a man who marinates in rank religious misogyny, it seems entirely plausible that having to deal with an uppity woman in debate made him feel more aggressive and entitled than normal. Doesn’t he call his wife ‘mother’ or something?

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