Saturday: Hili dialogue

October 24, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s nominally my day off, Saturday, October 24, 2020: National Bologna Day. It’s also World Tripe Day (I tried it once, couldn’t stand it), Food Day, National Good and Plenty Day (celebrating the candy said to be “the oldest branded candy in the United States”), National Pit Bull Awareness Day (“awareness” may be a double entendre), World Polio Day (celebrating the birthday of Jonas Salk in 1914), and United Nations Day, the anniversary of the 1945 Charter of the United Nations.

News of the DayCBS News “Speaking Frankly” show created a 26-minute show, “How ‘cancel culture’ changed these three lives forever.” You might give it a look; it’s amazing that a mainstream t.v. network tackled the issue.  One of the three “cancelees” is TNT’s Cenk Uygur, but he’s hardly been “canceled.” He lost his run for Congress, but that’s about it.  Another is Bret Weinstein, who argues that his platform is actually much larger than before, though of course the social-justice mobs cost him his job. (h/t Barry)

The Guardian reports that the U.S., in conjunction with a passel of other “pro-life” nations, has signed a “Geneva Consensus Declaration” (see statement here) that puts our government squarely against abortion and in bed with a bunch of repressive and misogynistic regimes. From the report (h/t: Jószef):

The US has today [Oct 22]signed an anti-abortion declaration with a group of about 30 largely illiberal or authoritarian governments, after the failure of an effort to expand the conservative coalition.

The “Geneva Consensus Declaration” calls on states to promote women’s rights and health – but without access to abortion – and is part of a campaign by Trump administration, led by secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to reorient US foreign policy in a more socially conservative direction, even at the expense of alienating traditional western allies.

The “core supporters” of the declaration are Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia and Uganda, and the 27 other signatories include Belarus (where security forces are currently trying to suppress a women-led protest movement), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Sudan, South Sudan, Libya.

Most of the signatories are among the 20 worst countries to be a woman according to the Women, Peace and Security Index established by Georgetown University.

A NYT op-ed by a research librarian, who decided to edit the Wikipedia entry on “Sichuan pepper” from the ground up, revealed how shoddy a source Wikipedia can be, supporting Greg Mayer’s thesis that the site is nearly useless. I disagree, but I have found plenty of errors. One day I’m going to go through the “Evolution” entry and see how accurate it is.

Yesterday set the record for new cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began: at least 82,600 infections reported. The last record, on July 17, was 76,533. It’s going to be, literally and figuratively, a long, dark winter.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 223,948, a big increase of 1,900 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is  1,150,140, a big increase of about 6,400 over yesterday’s report.  

Lots of stuff happened on October 24 and includes:

Here’s a picture I took of the Cathedral from the main square two years ago. Sadly, the day was overcast, so the full glory of the stained-glass windows was muted:

  • 1795 – Poland is completely consumed by Russia, Prussia and Austria.
  • 1857 – Sheffield F.C., the world’s oldest association football club still in operation, is founded in England.
  • 1861 – The first transcontinental telegraph line across the United States is completed.
  • 1901 – Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Taylor went over on her 63rd birthday—and survived! Here she is with her barrel and her cat (the cat didn’t go over with her):

  • 1926 – Harry Houdini‘s last performance takes place at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit.

That night before the show, an admirer, testing Houdini’s stomach muscles, punched him repeatedly in the stomach. This may have caused the ruptured appendix from which Houdini died seven days later. (Houdini was born into a Jewish family and was named Erik Weisz.). Here’s a Wikipedia photo labeled “Heavyweight boxer Jack Dempsey mock-punching Houdini (held back by lightweight boxer Benny Leonard)”. Houdini was small: only 5’6″. 

  • 1929 – “Black Thursday” on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • 1945 – The United Nations Charter comes into effect.
  • 1946 – A camera on board the V-2 No. 13 rocket takes the first photograph of earth from outer space.

This is a V2 launched by the U.S. over White Sands Missile Range. The photo, below, was taken at an altitude of 65 miles—five times higher than any photograph previously taken:

Here’s part of Disney’s testimony. Sort of erodes his grandfatherly image, doesn’t it?


  • 1949 – The cornerstone of the United Nations Headquarters is laid.
  • 1975 – In Iceland, 90% of women take part in a national strike, refusing to work in protest of gender inequality.
  • 1980 – The government of Poland legalizes the Solidarity trade union.
  • 1992 – The Toronto Blue Jays become the first Major League Baseball team based outside the United States to win the World Series.
  • 2002 – Police arrest spree killers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, ending the Beltway sniper attacks in the area around Washington, D.C.
  • 2004 – Arsenal Football Club loses to Manchester United, ending a row of unbeaten matches at 49 matches, which is the record in the Premier League.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1632 – Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Dutch biologist and microbiologist (d. 1723)
  • 1923 – Denise Levertov, British-born American poet (d. 1997)
  • 1926 – Y. A. Tittle, American football player (d. 2017)
  • 1930 – The Big Bopper, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1959)

The Big Bopper (real name Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.) in a plane crash with Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly on February 3, 1959—The Day the Music Died. He was 28. His most famous song was, of course, “Chantilly Lace.”  Here’s the B.B. singing it (or rather lip-synching it) on Dick Clark’s show:


  • 1936 – Bill Wyman, English singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer (The Rolling Stones and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings)
  • 1985 – Wayne Rooney, English footballer
  • 1986 – Drake, Canadian rapper and actor
  • 1989 – PewDiePie, Swedish YouTuber

Those who began playing the harp on October 24 include:

  • 1601 – Tycho Brahe, Danish astronomer and alchemist (b. 1546)
  • 1852 – Daniel Webster, American lawyer and politician, 14th United States Secretary of State (b. 1782)
  • 1945 – Vidkun Quisling, Norwegian soldier and politician, Minister President of Norway (b. 1887)

Quisling, a Nazi collaborator, was executed on this day for collaborating with the Nazis when he was head of occupied Norway.  He was so detested that “quisling” is a well-known term for “traitor.” Here he is during his trial:

  • 1958 – G. E. Moore, English philosopher and academic (b. 1873)

Two famous and courageous people who helped integrate America died on this date: Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson.

  • 1972 – Jackie Robinson, American baseball player and sportscaster (b. 1919)

Here’s a short video of the great Robinson:

  • 2005 – Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist (b. 1913)

  • 2016 – Bobby Vee, American pop singer (b. 1943)
  • 2017 – Fats Domino, American pianist and singer-songwriter (b. 1928)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is pondering feline identity politics:

A: What are you thinking about?
Hili: I’m checking cat privileges.
A: And:
Hili: They are still there.
In Polish:
Ja: Nad czym myślisz?
Hili: Sprawdzam kocie przywileje.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Trzymają się.

From Fat Cat Art:

From Jesus of the Day: a bromide with a twist:

From Old Guys Drinking Beer:

Titania on the return of segregation:

Maarten Boudry, who conferred on me PHILOSOPHY CRED, sent a tweet of his cat Winston Purrchill playing the piano:

This tweet was sent me by both Matthew and reader Charles. Can you guess why the antennae are so elaborate and long? (Don’t ask me!)

Reader Barry says, “Awww, this is a nice kitty.” It also appears to be a leucistic kitty:

Tweets from Matthew: I cannot imagine Trump doing this, at least with any sincerity. Be sure to put the sound up.

Somewhere along the line, mantids with a mutation or mutations creating fake bird poop on their exoskeleton left more offspring than those lacking the poop pattern.

And look at that tail!

This is just plain weird:

33 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. Ref. the Geneva thing, one thing we rarely hear anymore is anything to do with Zero Population Growth. I think that is because it was because Republicans used to support it. At least, the late Richard Mellon Scaife, who later on fueled the Vince Foster suicide investigations, was a big contributor. Now, of course, they’re all in bed with the Right to Lifers.

    But in the Ray of Hope Dept, someone near my place has a sign that reads: I’m a Republican But Not a Fool. Biden 2020 A friend on the opposite coast has seen an identical one.

  2. Only way you would see Trump doing anything close to that – If it were a young nice looking woman with money wrapped around it.

    1. I don’t think Trump could stand to be touched by anyone handicapped. He takes it as a sign of weakness. Look at the way he mocked NYT reporter Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a congenital joint disease.

      The first natural disaster of Trump’s presidency was Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Houston area in 2017. Trump and Melania had to make a return trip to the disaster area to pose for pictures holding some children, since they had shown such little empathy for the survivors in their first visit.

      And that was before Trump’s trip to Puerto Rico, later that hurricane season, where he tossed paper towels to the survivors of Hurricane Maria, as though he were shooting three-pointers from the top of the key on the basketball court at Madison Square Garden.

      Trump displays the symptoms of narcissistic sociopathy, incapable of experiencing empathy for fellow human beings.

      1. “…displays the symptoms of narcissistic sociopathy, incapable of experiencing empathy for fellow human beings.”

        Other than that though, he has many fine qualities. 🙃

  3. Minor correction on July 17 COVID numbers, I think it’s supposed to be 71,533, not 17,533. Even republicans might start taking it seriously if our record jumped from 17,000 to 80,000 cases…maybe.

  4. I interpreted the research librarian’s article as being something of a celebration of the effort that goes into creating the beast that is Wikipedia. Yes, all articles require improvement, and some are even “shoddy” – but they won’t get better if people who know about the subject of an article and spot mistakes simply gripe about the quality of the encyclopedia and make no effort to fix them by putting their knowledge to good use.

  5. That’s a good idea for a series of posts- going through the Wikipedia page on evolution and judging it. Sciencey but not as difficult as getting through academic papers! And I’d be interested to know how accurate it is. I remember Dawkins once saying that whenever he’d looked up stuff he knew about on Wikipedia, it was quite accurate, so he trusted it on other stuff too.

    1. I remember that, too. I think I recall him even saying that he had deliberately changed something once to make it false, and when he came back very soon after it had been corrected. I may be misremembering that, though.

  6. Cancel culture is characterized by its unforgiving nature. It believes that a mistake a person made, perhaps many years ago, marks that person as irredeemably “bad” for life unless and not always that the individual issues a public pronouncement of shame and begs the accusers for forgiveness.

    Cancel culture has developed a tactic that has proven quite effective when its ire is based on cultural, not economic grievance. In the past, when a group had a grievance against a person working within an organization, who had initiated or implemented a perceived noxious policy, usually economic in nature, such as lowering wages, the reaction would be to bring harm upon the organization, such as through a boycott. Now, it is not the organization but the individual that is attacked. When the goal is not to bring fundamental structural change to an organization, but to get it to admit its cultural failings, individual shaming works well.

    All this brings me back to the 1619 Project and the critique that the socialists made of it. Although I have supported the project, the socialists made a good point: concentrating solely on race as the source of the nation’s project, while not giving equal or perhaps more weight to social and economic class, will not bring the needed structural change that could result in a more equal society. In other words, cancel culture, with its emphasis on racial inequities, serves the ruling class because the more racial issues divide the masses, the more likely it will retain its powers.

    The strategy employed by Martin Luther King to bring about racial equity was in stark contrast to that employed by cancel culture. He understood the interaction between race and class. The race problem could not be solved without also solving the class problem. This is why he helped organize strikes. The best way to solve racism was through class action. If the masses think in terms of class rather than race, all working people would see their lives get better.

    Of course, King failed and even if he had lived longer, he probably would still have failed. The divide-and-conquer strategy of the ruling class in America has a long and successful tradition. Cancel culture is aiding and abetting the ruling class. Symbolic shaming and exiling of selected individuals only makes real change more difficult. It’s happy days in the corporate boardrooms

    1. He [MLK] understood the interaction between race and class. The race problem could not be solved without also solving the class problem.

      Indeed, look no further than The Poor People’s March on Washington, or the Sanitation Workers’ Strike (which is why MLK was in Memphis when he got clipped), or his opposition to the Vietnam War (which Martin viewed through the prism of class, both as to the Southeast Asian peasants being slaughtered and the predominantly poor and working-class American boys being shipped over there to do the slaughtering and to be slaughtered themselves).

  7. Can you guess why the antennae are so elaborate and long?
    They get a better reception and increased picture clarity across a wider range of channels.

    1. That may not be far from the mark. In some moths, the males have elaborately branched antennae and the females have only a single filament. The idea is that the many branches of the feathered antennae provide much greater surface area for the sensory receptors by which the males detect the female’s sex or “calling” pheromone. Each receptor is specifically “tuned” to the specific pheromone blend, and they allow males to fly upwind to the source of the signal. Females have no need for such greatly enlarged surface area.
      If the beetle pictured is similarly sexually dimorphic, it is reasonable to hypothesize that male antennae are indeed multi-branched for “better reception” and greater “picture clarity” with respect to the location of females!

      1. If I told you that was what I was hinting at….I’d be lying. But your explanation makes perfect sense and the analogy with tv signals works, too, since generally the more complex the aerial the better it receives signals.

  8. Don’t forget what Bismarck said, “Those who love laws and online encyclopedias should never inquire too closely into how they are made.”

  9. Annie Taylor’s story is pretty tragic. She did the stunt because she was an out of work teacher, and hoped she could makes a decent living from touring/speaking and such. Unfortunately her manager stole her barrel and toured with a younger, more attractive imposter. She died in poverty at 82.

  10. It’s going to be, literally and figuratively, a long, dark winter.

    It’s shaping up to be, to quote Steinbeck quoting Shakespeare, “the winter of our discontent.”

    An ominous portent for the upcoming presidential election came wrapped in good news from SCOTUS this week. An evenly divided 4-4 Court, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the three remaining liberals, declined to stay the decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that mail-in ballots postmarked by election day would be counted as long as they are received by the board of elections within three days of election day (viz., by Friday, November 6, 2020).

    That’s the good news. The bad news is that the SCOTUS’s four most conservative justices — Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh — voted in favor of staying the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision (which is to say, in favor of refusing to count such mail-in ballots). The Court issued a one-page order without opinion.

    The regulation of the voting franchise is almost entirely a matter of state rather than federal law, and the PA Supreme Court grounded its decision on its interpretation of the Pennsylvania state constitution. Since the dissenting votes were unaccompanied by opinion, there’s no explanation for why the dissenting justices believed they had jurisdiction to overrule the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s interpretation of its state’s own constitution, but it seems like shades of Bush v. Gore. And it leaves little wonder why Republicans are so hot to ram a fifth right-wing vote onto SCOTUS before election day.

    There’s a ‘splainer on the SCOTUS order here.

    1. What you have written about bodes not well for the stability of civil society in this country. The left (and I just don’t mean the far left) are growing frustrated with minority rule. No matter who wins the election, civil unrest looks more and more likely. There exists two or more Americas – fiercely divided on almost every issue. I cannot see any remedy, at least in the short run. Trump has brought things to a head, but the underlying patterns were present long before 2016. His departure, as needed as it is, will not cure the disease.

      1. Speaking of growing frustrated with minority rule, I can imagine the level of frustration in places like Syria. There, as in many other places, it led to a civil war.

  11. One day I’m going to go through the “Evolution” entry and see how accurate it is. —- It should be possible, if time permits, to make corrections.

    1. … one error at a time, until the good copies outnumber the bad.
      I do try to correct something within my baliwick every week.

  12. The British comedian, Lenny Henry, once told about seeing the wiki page about him. He said that it was very accurate, although it did get his date of birth wrong. And place of birth. And his full name. And his brother’s name. Oh, and the school he attended. And the name of the place where he grew up. And the date of his first tv appearance.
    But apart from that, it was perfect.

  13. Jerry Jeff Walker, the scofflaw king of Texas and New Orleans, died yesterday at age 78. He’s best known for writing (and doing time in the hoosegow with) “Mr. Bojangles,” but I’ll always think of him in connection with his cover of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother”:

    1. So sorry to hear that. He was a Texas tradition and a behind-the-scenes supporter of progressive causes like environmental protection. He and his wife often helped with Austin environmental battles when we needed it.

      My favorite was his cover of Gary P Nunn’s “London Homesick Blues”

      1. That was the theme song of the progressive country show on Upsala College’s WFMU that I listened to while in exile in Jersey in the ’70s. Upsala’s long gone now but WFMU, I just found, is still with us – apparently a pioneer in livestreaming.

        And Jimmy Buffett’s first trip to Key West was via Jerry Jeff in his maroon & silver ’47 Packard limo, dubbed “The Flying Lady”.

  14. I suppose one’s view of Disney’s testimony depends on how one feels about communism, and whether they believe it was a threat after the war.
    Dave Hilberman, one of those named, was certainly a member of the CPUSA. He stated himself that he joined in 1935, and remained a member until the organization was dissolved in 1944.
    Herb Sorrell joined CPUSA under the name “Herbert Stewart” in 1936.
    William Pomerance, when asked whether he was a member of the party, invoked the fifth amendment. However, he was presented with an issue of “People’s World” (16 Dec 1943), where he was listed as a committee member. Other, similar evidence was presented to him regarding published records of his attendance at CPUSA meetings and on committees of affiliated organizations.
    Maurice Howard was an instructor at the “Peoples Educational Center”, which was headed by Dorothy Healey, head of the Communist Party of Los Angeles.

    Of course, lots of people in the 30s saw communism very differently than it was viewed postwar. But it was founded with the view of “armed insurrection as the only means of overthrowing the capitalist state”.

    Disney did not fabricate accusations of communism to discredit rivals or target enemies. He also could not have known how the HUAC would be viewed after his testimony in 1947. He answered the questions honestly, and qualified his answers as his own opinions.

  15. Annie Edson Taylor
    (the cat didn’t go over with her)

    Well, of course the cat didn’t. Such selfless, slavish devotion is what humans have dogs for.

  16. This is just plain weird:
    My new fridge came with a noise description.

    For those of us who have had to decipher “English” language manuals for, for example, computer hardware which refer to the “golden fingers”, I actually appreciate the effort. The targetting may not be perfect, but it was launched at a reasonable target.

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