Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s CatSaturday, October 17, 2020, and National Pasta Day. I used to eat more pasta, but now am more abstemious because pasta has CARBS and carbs = Satan. And since I’ve started watching The Sopranos on Matthew’s advice, I have become hungrier for pasta (it makes its appearance at least twice per episode). Did I tell you that Tony loves ducks?

But it’s also Sweetest Day, when you are asked to bestow candies and other such goodies on your significant other. It’s Four Prunes Day, a day to eat the dried fruit, with the day so named “because it is believed that someone looking for digestive regularity will get it by eating between four and nine prunes in a sitting.” (Do not trust phrases like “it is believed”!) It’s National Pasta Day,

Finally, it’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, World Trauma Day, and International Sloth Day. Let us honor these amazing creatures by watching a short (and rare) video of a three-toed sloth giving birth in the wild (see a video of a rescued baby sloth here).

News of the Day: Yes, there’s been another terror attack in Paris (well, a northern suburb), and a grisly one. Multiple sources, including NBC News, report that a man attacked a French teacher in his classroom, decapitating him before his students. The crime? The teacher reportedly showed caricatures of Muhammad during a free-speech lesson.  He paid with his life. So did the killer, who was shot by police. There is no end to this madness, but the disappearance of religion would help.

Here’s a useful op-ed from the New York Times about the unnecessary war that the Trump administration has waged on science (click on the screenshot):

Amy Coney Barrett claims that she, like her mentor Antonin Scalia, is an “originalist,” whose job as a Supreme Court justice will be to divine the views and do the presumed will of those who wrote the American Constitution, views that were fixed at the time of its writing. I regard this legal philosophy as intellectually vapid, most obviously in the courts’ interpretation of gun ownership via the Second Amendment. A Stanford law professor, writing in the Washington Post, offers a good critique of originalism.

After 60 years, Coca-Cola is finally canning (as in discontinuing) Tab, the very first version of Diet Coke. Sweetened with saccharine, it was definitely an acquired taste (I detested it), but was kept going by those who acquired it. But the aquirers were Baby Boomers who now don’t drink so much soda due to age and death.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 218,494, an increase of about 900 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll is 1,109,833, an increase of about 6,200 over yesterday’s report.  

Not much stuff happened on October 17 in history; it includes:

  • 1604 – Kepler’s Supernova is observed in the constellation of Ophiuchus.
  • 1771 – Premiere in Milan of the opera Ascanio in Alba, composed by Mozart at age 15.
  • 1814 – Eight people die in the London Beer Flood.

Of the eight dead, five were mourners at an Irish wake for a two-year-old boy. As Wikipedia notes, “A wave of porter some 15 feet (4.6 m) high swept into New Street, where it destroyed two houses and badly damaged two others.”

Sent to Alcatraz and then to a hospital (he had neurosyphillis), Capone was released in 1942 and died in 1947, age 48. Here’s a mugshot from 1939:

  • 1933 – Albert Einstein flees Nazi Germany and moves to the United States.
  • 1956 – The first commercial nuclear power station is officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in Sellafield, England.
  • 1979 – Mother Teresa is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1992 – Having gone to the wrong house, Japanese student Yoshihiro Hattori is killed by the homeowner in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Hattori was going to a Halloween party and showed up at the wrong house. This being America, he was shot to death by a homeowner who thought Hattori was an intruder. The homeowner was acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of a civil offense and fined $650,000. Here’s the unfortunate Hattori:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1903 – Nathanael West, American author and screenwriter (d. 1940)
  • 1915 – Arthur Miller, American playwright and screenwriter (d. 2005)
  • 1918 – Rita Hayworth, American actress, singer and dancer (d. 1987)
  • 1920 – Montgomery Clift, American actor (d. 1966)

Clift was a great actor until he had an automobile accident which paralyzed part of his face and drove him to alcoholism. Here’s the final scene of his most famous movie, “A Place in the Sun” (1951), in which Clift was a murderer who goes to the chair. You will recognize his co-star:

  • 1933 – The Singing Nun, Belgian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and nun (d. 1985)
  • 1938 – Evel Knievel, American motorcycle rider and stuntman (d. 2007)
  • 1948 – Margot Kidder, Canadian-American actress (d. 2018)
  • 1969 – Wyclef Jean, Haitian-American rapper, producer, and actor

Here’s one of my favorite live performances: Wyclef Jean with Shakira performing “Hips Don’t Life.” If you look up “energetic” in the dictionary, you’ll find this film.

  • 1972 – Eminem, American rapper, producer, and actor
  • 1974 – Ariel Levy, American journalist and author

Those who went to their Just Reward on October 17 include:

  • 1849 – Frédéric Chopin, Polish pianist and composer (b. 1810)
  • 1910 – Julia Ward Howe, American poet and songwriter (b. 1819)
  • 1979 – S. J. Perelman, American humorist and screenwriter (b. 1904)
  • 2008 – Levi Stubbs, American singer (b. 1936)

Stubbs was of course the lead singer for The Four Tops. And here’s a live performance in Paris (1967) of one of his best songs, “Ask the Lonely.” I regard this as perhaps the best—or at least the most “soulful”—soul song ever filmed live:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is musing, and here’s Malgorzata’s explanation: “Humans have a strong inclination to use dichotomies: everything is either good or evil. Hili dislikes such dogmatic thinking and she went to sit among the leaves where categories of good and evil do not apply.”

A: So, here you are.
Hili: Yes, I perched beyond good and evil.
In Polish:
Ja: Tu jesteś?
Hili: Tak, przysiadłam poza dobrem i złem.

And look! The caption of these photos is “Kukla is growing up.” She is!

And, like Hili (maybe her relative), Kulka loves to climb:

From The Cat House on the Kings:

From Nicole:

We’ve had two cats, so how about some d*g stuff? This is from Jesus of the Day:

From Simon, we have a tortosaurus (sound on):

A shark from Mark:

Tweets from Matthew. This exchange is a good one:

Sadly, this person is going to be disappointed:

Is this a mimic of a Batesian mimic? This innocuous moth may be mimicking a non-stinging wasp (an ectoparasite) that mimics stinging bees or wasps.

A cute jumping spider chewing its toenails:

Click on the picture to see a beautiful tiger beetle:

Beautiful lepidopteran murals. Google translation:

Two articles introducing three-dimensional paintings by French artist Mantra on the walls of buildings around the world.  All of them are drawn with butterflies, and the three-dimensional effect is very high. Especially, the ones including the specimen box are wonderful. Butterflies perched on the wall also appear to have raised wings.



  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    “an “originalist,” whose job as a Supreme Court justice will be to divine the views and do the presumed will of those who wrote the American Constitution, views that were fixed at the time of its writing. ”

    I find it a symptom of religion, and of the failure of “compartmentalization”, to regard the constitution as one does The Bible. There are no amendments to The Bible. A person so gleefully committed to the cult of “originalism” can do so in the comfort of their own home, or as an employee in a wax museum.

    • Posted October 17, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Seems to me that Originalism is getting a bad rap here.

      Originalism does not assert that there is one clear and obvious “original meaning” that is easy to discern.

      Nor does Originalism mean “the constitution must stay the same”, it means that updating it should be done by elected politicians, not by unelected judges.

      • Posted October 17, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        “…. it means that updating it should be done by elected politicians, not by unelected judges.”

        That’s certainly putting a favorable spin on originalism. No, it doesn’t mean that at all. In fact, it can equally be claimed that originalist judges use that interpretation selectively to further their preferred agenda.

        • Posted October 17, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          The original expectation was that there would be a Constitutional Convention every generation or so, because the consent of “we the people” was considered of high importance.

          That has never happened (have you ever been asked for your consent to the constitution or to the composition of the Supreme Court?).

          In the absence of voters and elected politicians updating the constitution, there has developed a “living constitution” doctrine that the Justices should do the updating, based on what they think the constitution *should* *be*. But that gives them way too much power and makes them way too politicised.

          Current shenanigans are not a good advert for this system.

          • Posted October 17, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

            And just to add, Ireland’s system seems better. They don’t have unelected judges deciding whether gay marriage or abortion are constitutional, they have a referendum on the matter.

            Isn’t that better?

          • Posted October 17, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

            Yes, I agree that the Constitution needs updating. Of course, it is easy to see problems on both sides of that debate. If the Constitution was too easy to change by the party in power, we could quickly say goodbye to our country. Court packing wouldn’t be the half of it.

            Never changing it isn’t so dramatic a problem but results in the country getting more and more sluggish in its response to change. Some might say that’s where we are now but today’s problems are more than just an out-of-date Constitution. A poorly educated electorate is more to blame right now, IMHO. We got Trump because the people wanted him(ignoring the Electoral College vs popular vote issue).

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        Sounds great. How’s that worked out with Scalia, or as discerned with Barrett’s statements? It seems to me you can call it what you like, but it isn’t a mistake that minds polluted by religion are drawn to it.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 18, 2020 at 12:45 am | Permalink

      As an outsider, it looks to me as if ‘originalism’ is very similar to Biblical literalism, with very similar results – a blind worship (or lip-service) to archaic texts, an inability to adapt to changing circumstances, and the only way to bring about necessary change is by ‘interpreting’ the sacred texts in convoluted ways. And widespread misquoting / selective quoting of its wording to suit partisan aims.

      I think the Constitution was originally intended to be subject to ongoing change to suit the circumstances, hence the famous ‘Amendments’ which have now become as ossified as the original.

      I’m not sure any Constitution can stand up indefinitely to continued attacks by corrupt politicians. I’m not sure what your answer is – elect a better class of politician?


      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted October 27, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        I just had a late cascade of thoughts on this.

        Originalism is consistent with myths and legends of a leftover and degrading people fallen from a far off Golden age – a Paradise Lost. Clearly, religion has every stake in such a view, and there’s every reason to suggest the (now confirmed) supreme court justice is all in on using her powers to save the poor decrepit souls in her land from our decaying state by getting back to that Original Paradise.

        What spurred this thought was a BBC documentary on Tolkien, featuring Christopher Tolkien, in which Middle Earth was the fallen land with remnants of the golden age – the elves – a story telling form taken from previous mythological/religious stories.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    … since I’ve started watching The Sopranos on Matthew’s advice, I have become hungrier for pasta …

    Carmela makes a mean baked ziti.

    When The Sopranos was in first run, a friend gave me copy of the eponymous cookbook, ostensibly authored by Tony’s restaurateur buddy, Artie Bucco. I cooked a few recipes from it for the family and friends (which was part of the deal, I think, for giving me the book), including the one for “Sunday gravy” (very heavy on meats, but very tasty, too).

    My siblings, my nieces and nephews, and I gorged out on pasta and other paisan food last night, picked up from the famous “Little Italy” neighborhood of Murray Hill in Cleveland. It was every bit as good as I remembered it from my youth.

    • Posted October 17, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      I too get a craving for pasta when I see anything on TV like s’ghetti and meatballs.

      We’ve been gorging on all kinds of pasta here. After all, we need something to send down the gazillion heirloom tomatoes we’ve harvested from our patio ‘farm’. We’ve never had tomatoes this good! Some the heirloom varieties are called Green Zebra (green with stripes even when ripe), Mennonite Orange, Dark Galaxy, Jaune Flamme, Japanese Black Trifele, Violet Jasper, Golden Oxheart (makes the best BLTs), Oxheart, Dwarf Purpleheart, Black Krim, Pink Passion, Subarctic Plenty, Beaverlodge and Blue Beech (a giant roma-type that makes the best sauce).

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    A really good line in that article on the court – Advocates for the originalist theory are lawyers, not historians. And that is all you need to know about that idea.

    Scalia’s opinion in Heller was a complete reversal of settled law orchestrated and funded by the NRA. See U.S. v Miller, 1939, right to bear arms conditional upon service in the militia. This is what you get when lawyers do history. For more on this suggest you consider American Dialogue, Joseph Ellis, copyright 2018.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Stubbs was of course the lead singer for The Four Tops. And here’s a live performance in Paris (1967) of one of his best songs, “Ask the Lonely.”

    Yep, I’d put Levi’s performance on “Ask the Lonely” right up there with David Ruffin’s on the Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”

    Another one I’d rank up there for pure soulfulness is “None of Us is Free” by the soul singers’ soul singer — the soul singer other soul singers would pay a cover charge and two-drink minimum out of their own pockets to go watch on their nights off — Solomon Burke. Here, I give you King Solomon:

  5. Historian
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Jack Rakove is an historian, not a law professor.

    I was amused that Rakove refer to Scalia’s decision in the Heller case “a travesty of historical unreason.” I have always been puzzled why Scalia has been termed a brilliant jurist, even by liberals. If one disagrees with most of his decisions and still thinks he was brilliant, doesn’t that make the person rather dim witted for not agreeing with Scalia?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      I recall seeing an interview with Scalia and the question was asked, Where do you go for your origins on the constitution? He said the Federalist Papers were his first choice. This answer shows how little his understanding was on this history. After all, the Federalist Papers were first and foremost a sales job, an advertised argument by Hamilton, Madison and Jay in favor of the constitution.

  6. pablo
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Can’t wait for Barret to reinstate the 3/5″s compromise.

  7. rickflick
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    In the last scene in A Place in the Sun, Monty is walked to his execution willingly without any restraints, head held high. I doubt that has ever happened, but it makes a nice dramatic touch.
    I’m often surprised by how high the youthful voice of an actor was. Liz sounds like she’s 16 or 17. Was I ever that young?

  8. BJ
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    The story of that teacher beheaded in France gets worse: a parent (supposedly) of a child in the class posted a twitter thread about it, calling others to action on the matter.

    We can’t know yet whether the attacker was prompted by this post or not, but there’s a good chance.

    In 2015, after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, a BBC poll of Muslims in Britain found the following:

    “…a fifth said they thought Western liberal society could never be compatible with Islam.”

    “Almost 80% said they had found it deeply offensive when images depicting the Prophet were published.”

    And, most worrying, these two responses:
    (1) “[b]27%[/b] of the 1,000 Muslims polled by ComRes [b]said they had some sympathy for the motives behind the Paris attacks[/b].”

    (2) Asked if acts of violence against those who publish images of the Prophet Muhammad can ‘never be justified’, 68% agreed that such violence was never justifiable. But [b]24% disagreed with the statement[/b], while the rest replied “don’t know” or refused to answer.

    So, one in four British Muslims in the poll did not agree that acts of violence against those who publish images of Muhammad can “never be justified,” and one in five believed that “Western liberal society” could never be compatible with their religion. The combination of those two things is pretty scary, especially considering that it’s likely those two groups overlap significantly, if not completely.

    • BJ
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Whoops, used brackets instead of carets for the bolding script. I’ve become too used to posting on Steam forums lately.

    • jezgrove
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      There’s a bit more detail on the attack now. The attacker had no connection with the teacher or the school; he waited outside and asked pupils to point out the teacher, then followed him and attacked him in the street.

  9. Posted October 17, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    How ironic that Capone was sent to Terminal Island. He should have died there but it sounds like he didn’t. Actually, “Terminal” refers to places for ships to dock rather than death. There is still a low-security federal prison there, just over the bridge from Long Beach where I live.

  10. uommibatto
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t realize Montgomery Clift was later paralyzed on half of his face. This info helps explain a lot about the Clash’s great song about Monty Clift (“His Right Profile).

    Larry Smith

  11. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    My aunt, Lois Chartrand, has a small 5 to 10 minute role as the cousin of Liz Taylor’s character (Angela Vickers) in “A Place in The Sun”. At a party where Clift’s character (George Eastman) doesn’t know anyone, Marsha (played by my aunt) looks straight at him and says “Oh, THERE you are!! I’ve been looking all over for you”, but turns out to be talking to someone immediately behind Clift/Eastman.

  12. jwwalker
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Carbs is not Satan, refined carbs is Satan. Just eat whole wheat pasta and you’ll be fine.

  13. revelator60
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    “I regard this as perhaps the best—or at least the most ‘soulful’—soul song ever filmed live.”

    A very good choice—the greatness of Levi Stubbs is impossible to deny!

    Several other candidates for that honor would include Otis Redding and Sam & Dave in the TV program “Stax/Volt Revue Live In Norway 1967,” which has been released on DVD and belongs in every soul fan’s household. Backed by Booker T and the MGs, Sam & Dave perform “You Don’t Know Like I Know,” “Soothe Me,” “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby” and “Hold On! I’m Comin’.”

    Otis has to follow that incendiary double-act and matches it with “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa,” “My Girl,” “Shake,” “Satisfaction,” and “Try A Little Tenderness.” The only omission is “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” but that’s included in the film “Monterey Pop”…and
    also qualifies as one of the most soulful songs caught on film.

  14. Posted October 17, 2020 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Since you mentioned The Sopranos as a good series to watch, I’d like to suggest the Belgian series, Professor T., to whomever can get it online on PBS or IMBD. It’s a quirky, witty, and funny murder investigative series with the hero investigator having severe OCD.

  15. Posted October 17, 2020 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to buy: that colorful charismatic bug, the Jurassic tortoise, and the wasp.

    I’d like to hear more about that lobster feud, hear even more from Trump’s poor niece, aaaand… keep a tiny double headed shark to take to parties with me, and a 6 pack of pink TAB.

    “Tab cola, what a beautiful drink. Tab cola for beautiful people, tab tab cola you’re beautiful to me…’cause every can has less than 2 calories…”

    Nobody remembers that? Nobody?
    Ugh. I’m getting old. Just me and my new 2 headed shark. Without any Tab. 😦

    D.A., NYC
    D.A., NYC

  16. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I just had a thought on this :

    “… pasta has CARBS and carbs = Satan”

    There’s decent pasta on the grocery shelves made from things like lentils and other non-wheat plant flours – point is, less or no satan and more … whatever the protein-equivalent angel/supernatural humanoid person is… hmmmm…

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