Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

It’s Sunday, October 18, 2020: National Chocolate Cupcake Day. It’s also National No Beard Day (for some reason you’re supposed to shave off your beard on October 18), National Mammography Day, World Menopause Day, and, in Canada, Persons Day, referring to when a case was decided in 1929 that finally counted women as “persons”  who were eligible to sit in the Senate of Canada.

News of the Day:

The New York Times has an interesting piece on the exponentially increasing use of the term “white supremacy”, and its extension into areas that weren’t thought of as “Klan-like”:

Ten years ago, white supremacy frequently described the likes of the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke, the neo-Nazi politician from Louisiana. Now it cuts a swath through the culture, describing an array of subjects: the mortgage lending policies of banks; a university’s reliance on SAT scores as a factor for admissions decisions; programs that teach poor people better nutrition; and a police department’s enforcement policies.

While many scholars enthusiastically embrace the term’s expansion, others, such as black intellectuals John McWhorter, Glenn Loury, and Orlando Patterson, reject it.

Prof. John McWhorter of Columbia University, a linguist, explained that such expressions are like a crocodile’s teeth. Old ones wear down and are shed; new and sharper ones appear.

“Words lose their rhetorical strength,” he said. “Fifty years ago, in a Norman Lear sitcom like Archie Bunker, if someone was accused of being ‘prejudiced,’ you sucked in your breath.”

Surprisingly for the paper, the article doesn’t wholeheartedly support the expansion of the term.

Here’s Bill Maher on Amy Coney Barrett and the Supreme Court (h/t Enrico)

And, in the Washington Post we have a story of resolution and tenacity in the face of death.  James Wendel Wlliams, a Michigan resident in the final stages of colon cancer, was determined to stay alive long enough to cast his ballot in person.  He did—walking to the deposit box on his own and putting in his vote on the first day of early voting, September 24. I bet you can guess which candidate he voted for.  Here’s a picture of Wiilliams voting, which it makes me tear up:

He died eight days later.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 219,973, a big increase of about 1,500 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll is 1,115,176, an increase of about 5,400 over yesterday’s report.  

Stuff that happened on October 18 includes:

  • 1540 – Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto’s forces destroy the fortified town of Mabila in present-day Alabama, killing Tuskaloosa.
  • 1565 – Ships belonging to the Matsura clan of Japan fail to capture the Portuguese trading carrack in the Battle of Fukuda Bay, the first recorded naval battle between Japan and the West.
  • 1851 – Herman Melville‘s Moby-Dick is first published as The Whale by Richard Bentley of London.

The first American edition, shown below, will set you back a cool $65,000:

Rommel, of course, was forced to commit suicide rather than be tried for conspiring to kill Hitler. In return for his suicide, the Nazis gave him an elaborate state funeral. A short video of part of it, with the song “Deutschland Über Alles”, is shown below:

Here’s a four-minute biography of Evita, who died of cancer at 33:

  • 1954 – Texas Instruments announces the first transistor radio.
  • 1963 – Félicette, a black and white female Parisian stray cat becomes the first cat launched into space.

The launch was part of the French space program. They euthanized Félicette two months after the launch to examine her brain. But here she is, in an autographed photo with pawprint. They should not have killed this brave cat!

Here’s a high-quality video of the walk, showing some of the principals. TRIGGER WARNING!!!!: Trump!

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1859 – Henri Bergson, French philosopher and theologian, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1941)
  • 1870 – D. T. Suzuki, Japanese author and scholar (d. 1966)
  • 1904 – A. J. Liebling, American journalist and author (d. 1963)

Liebling is one of my favorite American writers, and perhaps our best food writer. His book Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris is, in my view, among the very finest food (and travel) books, recounting his youth in Paris and his education in how to eat (he called himself a “feeder” rather than a gourmet). I’d recommend that book highly, or the compendium of his writing in Just Enough Liebling. Here he is (he died at 59 of obesity-related illness):

Here’s a short clip of O’Day singing jazz:

  • 1926 – Chuck Berry, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2017)
  • 1926 – Klaus Kinski, German-American actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 1991)
  • 1939 – Lee Harvey Oswald, American assassin of John F. Kennedy (d. 1963)
  • 1947 – Laura Nyro, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1997)

If you’ve read her often, you’ll know of my admiration for Nyro, who’s been called “The Emily Dickinson of American songwriters.” I won’t dilate on her virtues, but here she singing (live) one of her classic songs, “Wedding Bell Blues“, a big hit for The 5th Dimension:

  • 1984 – Freida Pinto, Indian actress and model

Those who bought the farm on October 18 include:

  • 1871 – Charles Babbage, English mathematician and engineer, invented the mechanical computer (b. 1791)
  • 1931 – Thomas Edison, American engineer and businessman, invented the light bulb and phonograph (b. 1847)
  • 1973 – Walt Kelly, American illustrator and animator (b. 1913)
  • 1982 – Bess Truman, American wife of Harry S. Truman, 40th First Lady of the United States (b. 1885)
  • 2012 – Sylvia Kristel, Dutch model and actress (b. 1952)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, steeped in conspiracy theories that the Jews are plotting to take over the world, has her own analog:

Hili: The mice are conspiring against cats.
A: How do you know?
Hili: Many cats say so.
In Polish:
Hili: Myszy spiskują przeciw kotom.
Ja: Skąd wiesz?
Hili: Wiele kotów to mówi.

Mietek has a monologue, too, but he likes to play with the nuts, not eat them.

Mietek:  Oh, nuts—I like them!

In Polish: O,orzeszki, lubię!

Did you ever wonder what happened to travel guides during the pandemic? Andrew Berry sends us the answer.

Cards for kitties from Divy:

From Facebook:

I retweeted this, but the original tweet came from Simon:

And one more from Simon (with a followup tweet):

Gethyn sent in a tweet that’s a perfect followup to the tweets above:

If you’re following the duplicities (yes, several) of the New York Times’s 1619 Project, and the unhinged behavior of its boss, Nikole Hannah-Jones, follow the thread headed by this tweet:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a lovely weather video:

There’s a Darwin game! It sounds good, but somehow I get the feeling it’s a snoozer. I hope I’m wrong.

I had no idea octopuses could burrow in the sand! Here’s the Google translation from the Japanese.

By the way, I found an octopus during the investigation yesterday, so when I caught it and observed it, he showed me the technique of diving vividly in the sand. There was such a technique! Tacos Goi!



  1. Gingerbaker
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Re A.J. Liebling, from wiki:

    In 2002, Sports Illustrated named The Sweet Science, a collection of Liebling’s essays on boxing, the number one sports book of all time.

    I’ve read it – it is wonderful.

  2. Jim batterson
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Anthony hyman wrote a very nice biography of charles babbage: charles babbage- pioneer of the computer (princeton 1982) in which he discusses the many technological contributions of this engineer who lived during most of the 19th century industrial revolution in england. This wasa time when engineers needed to design even the very tools to support the design and manufacture of new technologies. Very enlightening to me.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    It’s pretty clear from yesterday’s comments we are all doomed, the election does not matter and the Supreme Court is taking over the country. Since the sky is falling I should stay inside.

    My ballot arrived in the mail yesterday. Took three days mailing. Will go out tomorrow. I guess the supremes haven’t taken over the mail yet.

  4. Jenny Haniver
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    The Darwin game must take a very, very,very loooooooooooong time to play.

  5. Tokyo Steven
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    The last two sentences about the octopus might translate better as follows:
    To think that they could do something like this! Octopuses are incredible!
    Google got confused by the word for octopus, tako, and the first syllable of sugoi, meaning incredible.

    • Posted October 18, 2020 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

      Good translation there Steve, I thought the same thing.
      (fmr Tokyo) David

  6. merilee
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Loved the Bill Maher piece!

    • Glenda Palmer
      Posted October 18, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, that at least brought a chuckle over the social justice tragedy that seems to be in store. 😟

    • Posted October 18, 2020 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      Same here.

  7. phoffman56
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    “..Charles Babbage, English mathematician and engineer, invented the mechanical computer (b. 1791)”

    This is not to disparage at all the accomplishments of Babbage, though often frustrated through no fault of his. I admire him greatly, and Ms. Ada Lovelace as well.

    But in my too oft role as a “nattering nabob of negativity”, the real meaning of computer, AKA

    universal (classical–non-quantum) computer with a potential infinity of memory

    is due to Turing, as Godel made plain to everybody. Godel did not quite see how to do that just prior to Turing, though it was very central in his thinking.

    Subsequent developments have reinforced this creative accomplishment of Turing strongly. (There is also the USian logician Church, who simultaneously and differently accomplished the same negative solution to a Hilbert problem.) It is NOT ‘merely’ a mathematical invention, even though a Turing machine is properly thought of as a mathematical object. So it could be overturned, though unlikely. Even a quantum computer cannot compute anything which a classical computer couldn’t in principle. The quantum computer is just extraordinarily more efficient, making some things feasible which are not classically (as far as is known).

    So Turing is far better described than anyone else as the person who “invented”.

    Not Babbage, not Lovelace, not a couple of guys, from Iowa IIRC, who admirably in the 1930s constructed a machine out of vacuum tubes which could do great work, e.g. solving large systems of linear equations.

    Sorry to let one of my bugbears get me hammering too long on the Mac!

    • Posted October 18, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Babbage was an engineer and designed the first general-purpose computer, though he was unable to build much of it. On the other hand, Turing was a theorist, though I suppose he got his hands dirty during his WWII code-breaking activities. I don’t really see the point in giving one primacy over the other. They did different things, tried to solve different problems, and lived in different ages.

  8. rickflick
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    They euthanized Félicette two months after the launch to examine her brain. What were they expect to find?
    “We’d like to get a sample of your brain tissue.”

  9. Robie
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    The story about James Wendel Williams, for whom voting was one of his last acts, was both sad and inspiring.

    It is interesting (maybe not surprising) that the fate of an early ballot, if the voter dies before election day (as happened with Mr. Williams), depends on the state. Most states explicitly allow the vote to count, while some disqualify it. The ability of those latter states to disqualify the ballot is limited by whether they can track who dies close to an election, so some of these ballots that should be disqualified by law probably do get counted.

    Mr. Williams’s family was sad to learn that his state (Michigan) is one in which his ballot will be disqualified because he died before the election. However, if the news story about him inspires a few potential non-voters to vote, he will be ahead of the game in the end.

    • Posted October 18, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it is a shame that Trumpists could use this story as an example of fraudalent votes.

  10. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 19, 2020 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    Well, in a currently rather happier place (NZ), Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government just got returned in a landslide. I don’t see it as a massive swing to the left, more an indication that they managed to convince the population that our strong Covid quarantine and graduated lockdown measures were justified.

    Significantly, none of the other political parties saw anything to be gained by sabotaging Covid control, nor would the main opposition (the National Party) have changed anything much if elected. We’ve all seen the overseas news.

    The usual conspiracy nutters were confined to the Advance Party who got 0.9% of the vote.

    The National Party had a meltdown, a third of their vote swung to Act, which is a slightly odd party, further right economically than the Nats, opposed to stronger gun control (though what NZ has already would give the NRA hysterics), BUT their leader David Seymour inroduced, as a Private Members Bill, the End of Life Choice Act (voluntary euthanasia) which will come into force if confirmed by current referendum (I’ve got my fingers crossed). I suppose you could call Act slightly ‘libertarian’. Speaking as a lefty, I can’t hate them 🙂

    The Nats are blaming their meltdown on two things – one, they had a leadership fiasco a few months back; and Covid. They’re correct that Covid and such crises overshadow the opposition and put the ball prominently in the Government’s court, but it’s a double-edged sword, the PM can show leadership but she also has to impose costly, disruptive and inconvenient quarantines and lockdowns and if she doesn’t carry everybody with her, that’s political poison.

    Anyway, I say a ‘happier’ place, because the election campaign was well-behaved (negligible smears or dirty tricks) and we do have this optimistic feeling of having escaped most of Covid. Even if National had got in, I (as a lefty) would have felt roughly the same. Now we just have to keep it up until a vaccine is developed.


    • Posted October 19, 2020 at 3:58 am | Permalink

      I’m so pleased to hear that your great country has kept and is keeping it’s head. You are an example to the rest of the world.

      I just hope we get things sorted out here in Scotland in time for our next planned visit to NZ (so that you’ll let us in), hopefully in about a year from now.

      Take care 🙂

    • rickflick
      Posted October 19, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      “none of the other political parties saw anything to be gained by sabotaging Covid control”

      That’s pretty laughable. You’d have to be a psychopath to think that. 😉

  11. Posted October 19, 2020 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    Jerry, why “Sunday“?

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