Thursday: Hili dialogue

October 29, 2020 • 6:30 am

The week has flown by, and this week it’s been cold and wet in Chicago. Today it’s Thursday, October 29, 2020:  National Oatmeal Day, a breakfast of which I’m quite fond, but can’t abide in cookies. It’s also International Internet Day and National Cat Day. The first AMERICAN reader to send me a picture of their cat (it is a “national” day) will have the picture posted right below.

And. . . the winner is John McLoughlin, who was not late:

Probably a bit late, but here is Higgs Boson, the God Particle, so named for his appearance in our lives on the day of the announcement of the CERN discovery of the eponymous Particle.  Generally known as simply the Particle, he is distinguished by his hatred of “fidget widgets” and other small mechanical toys, which Must Be Destroyed.

News of the Day: Only five more days until I get sliced like a lox.

Jeannie Suk Gersen, a professor at Harvard Law School who writes for The New Yorker, has a new article on the Supreme Court that’s both free and worth your time, “What the Democrats achieve by threatening the pack the Supreme Court“.  What’s to gain is the hope for court reform in the face of a threat (term limits, etc.), and for Justices becoming less partisan in the face of a move that would nakedly reveal the partisanship of the court. A quote:

If Democrats were to increase the number of Justices at this politically polarized moment, in reaction to the highly contentious and partisan events that brought us the past three Court appointments, it would not merely dilute the power of the current conservative bloc. It would also constitute such a frank acknowledgement of partisanship as the main determinant of the Court’s decisions that even the tiniest fig leaf protecting the Court’s remaining aura of impartiality would be ripped away. Whether liberal or conservative, Justices have an institutional and personal interest in keeping that fig leaf.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, it just voted 4-4 to allow Pennsylvania  (and 5-3 for North Carolina) to receive and count mail-in ballots from 3-5 days after election day. The tie vote means that the State Supreme Court ruling stands. Had ACB been there to vote, it would have gone the other way for sure, but she didn’t have time to study the issue and so did not vote.

From Matthew: Doorkins Magnificat, the resident moggy of Southwark Cathedral for 12 years, and much beloved (she even met the Queen), was laid to rest on Thursday after a thanksgiving service for her. The Bishop of Burnley objective that feting a cat was “insensitive”, but he’s a boor.  A quote:

[When she got ill], Paul Timms, the head verger, took her home to care for her. Following a stroke, she died in his arms on 30 September.

Nunn, who confessed he was “not a cat person usually”, said Doorkins had been “a godsend”. He added: “She did more to bring people to this place than I will ever do.”

RIP Doorkins:

This is one reason I am not enamored of the Washington Post: this front-page article could well have appeared in HuffPost. Look at the word “dragged”—in a supposedly respectable newspaper! And really, this isn’t news—it’s a report on how social media reacted to an incident. Any paper that depends on the reaction of social media for any of its stories is a paper worth avoiding.

This is news??

A feel-good moment that shouldn’t be missed on the BBC: a former piano teacher with dementia improvises a lovely tune from four notes, and then the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, without his knowledge, creates a full piece from his piano composition. It’s played back to him, and his reaction is priceless. But by all means do NOT miss the surprise at the end of the video!

Finally, the inevitable bad news: today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 227,697, a big increase of about 1,000 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,179,992, a big increase of about 7,000 over yesterday’s report. 

Stuff that happened on October 29, 2020 includes:

Note that the date given below, from Stephen Wolfram’s website, differs from that above.

Of course, Leibniz’s most famous notations are his integral sign (long “s” for “summa”) and d, here summarized in the margin for the first time, on November 11th, 1675 (the “5” in “1675” was changed to a “3” after the fact, perhaps by Leibniz):

  • 1787 – Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni receives its first performance in Prague.
  • 1863 – Eighteen countries meet in Geneva and agree to form the International Red Cross.
  • 1901 – In Amherst, Massachusetts, nurse Jane Toppan is arrested for murdering the Davis family of Boston with an overdose of morphine.

Toppan, a nurse had the twisted ambition “to have killed more people—helpless people—than any other man or woman who ever lived”. She confessed to killing more than 31 people and spent the rest of her life in an insane asylum in Taunton, Massachusetts. Here’s the murderer:


  • 1901 – Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of U.S. President William McKinley, is executed by electrocution.
  • 1921 – The Harvard University football team loses to Centre College, ending a 25-game winning streak. This is considered one of the biggest upsets in college football.
  • 1923 – Turkey becomes a republic following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.
  • 1929 – The New York Stock Exchange crashes in what will be called the Crash of ’29 or “Black Tuesday”, ending the Great Bull Market of the 1920s and beginning the Great Depression.
  • 1969 – The first-ever computer-to-computer link is established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet.
  • 1998 – Space Shuttle Discovery blasts off on STS-95 with 77-year-old John Glenn on board, making him the oldest person to go into space.

Here’s a brief video of Glenn’s Senior Mission into space. There’s hope for me yet!

  • 2015 – China announces the end of One-child policy after 35 years.

Notables born on this day include:

Fanny Brice was, of course, played by Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl”. Here’s Brice in one of her roles, “Baby Snooks”, appearing with Judy Garland:

Goebbels was a scary man. Here’s a segment of his famous “total war” speech delivered at Berlin’s Sportpalast on February 18, 1943, calling not just for “total war” but also for the extermination of the Jews.

  • 1910 – A. J. Ayer, English philosopher and author (d. 1989)
  • 1948 – Frans de Waal, Dutch-American ethologist, author, and academic
  • 1971 – Winona Ryder, American actress and producer

Those who ceased to live on October 29 include:

  • 1618 – Walter Raleigh, English admiral, explorer, and politician, Lieutenant Governor of Jersey (b. 1554)
  • 1901 – Leon Czolgosz, American assassin of William McKinley (b. 1873) [see above]
  • 1911 – Joseph Pulitzer, Hungarian-American publisher, lawyer, and politician, founded Pulitzer, Inc. (b. 1847)
  • 1971 – Duane Allman, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1946)
  • 1971 – Arne Tiselius, Swedish biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)
  • 1995 – Terry Southern, American novelist, essayist, screenwriter, (b. 1924)
  • 2011 – Jimmy Savile, English radio and television host (b. 1926)

Here’s a rare video of Duane Allman performing with the band, in this case “Whipping Post” at the Fillmore East (September 23, 1970, a bit more than a year before he ate a peach):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili continues her dislike of Szaron. Poor Szaron—he only wants to be friends!

A: What are you hunting?
Hili: Szaron.
In Polish:
Ja: Na co polujesz?
Hili: Na Szarona.

Here’s a still life of baby Kulka with an apple. She looks a lot like Hili, and, coming from the same tiny town, they may be related:

A meme from Nicole (a cartoon by Mike Lukovich, who has two Pulitzer Prizes):

A musical meme from reader Bruce:

From Jesus of the Day:

Here’s the scene of Trump stalking off of his interview with CBS’s Leslie Stahl, who is clearly trying to be professional but polite.

A tweet from reader Charles:

From Simon; not a pleasant sight but an amazing one:

Tweets from Matthew. This is the world’s neediest cat, but she’s still adorable:

Matthew is puzzled about what this orchid was mimicking (if that’s what it’s doing), and so am I. The paper describing it is here. Any guesses?

A highly placed staff extols its cat over a millennium ago:

I believe these are not fabricated quotes, but real excerpts from Trump’s speech. The Lincoln Project is good at this:

I believe this is a strong Irish accent, but correct me if I’m wrong:




63 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. I tried to watch the one minute lincoln project video, but had to quit at 28 seconds…my mental health, such as it is these days, just could not stand anymore.

  2. 2011 – Jimmy Savile, English radio and television host (b. 1926)

    Not sure that’s really what he’s remembered for.

    1. Yes, I came here to say the same thing. He was a famous DJ and media personality but that side of him has been somewhat overshadowed by the discovery that he was a serial sex offender and that people knew about it in his lifetime but covered it up.

      1. Could replace Trump with the kid? Wouldn’t change the government much, and such semi-serious pronouncements are more entertaining coming from a kid, rather than a grown man.

    1. While pseudocopulation is a common pollination mechanism in orchids, that does not look like a wasp. I have no idea what it mimics, but I will let the authors of theg 2014 article know about this thread; they surely have an idea.

  3. Packing the court is a terrible, terrible idea, which is predicated on 1) the idea that justices only ever rule according to their political convictions, and 2) that liberals are always right. Seeking to assure that a certain political group could never win on Constitutional questions is a denial of pluralistic government. In my experience the Court is not nearly as partisan as people think. If there is a broad consensus that something needs to change, that is why there is an amendment provision. And if there isn’t a broad consensus, then perhaps seeking to force change isn’t the right idea.

    1. If there is a broad consensus that something needs to change, that is why there is an amendment provision.

      The number of Supreme Court justices is not set by the constitution, so there is no need to amend the constitution to change it. Indeed, the Article III, Section 1 of the US constitution commits the number of SCOTUS justices to the sole discretion of congress, which allotted the Court six justices at the time the constitution was ratified (a number that congress has seen fit to alter five times in the ensuing years).

      I don’t recall the GOP seeking a constitutional amendment before it took the unprecedented step of leaving the nomination of Merrick Garland twisting in the wind for 10 months, or before it took the equally unprecedented step this week of ramming a new justice onto the Court an the eve of a presidential election (on the chance — a chance justices Kavanaugh and Alito are openly champing at the bit to exercise — of altering this election’s outcome).

      Republicans think they can pull these kind of screwjobs when they have the power, but then turn around and expect Democrats to go back to playing the game strictly according to Hoyle when the power shifts to them? The hell with that; those days are over.

      But, hey, don’t think of it as Court “packing”; think of it as Court “rebalancing,” if that makes it easier to swallow.

      1. Ken, I think you will find interesting this article in Politico by John Harris in which he discusses the Supreme Court and hypocrisy.

        One of his several good observations is:

        “The high-minded, tut-tutting view is that it would be terribly unfortunate if Democrats — were they to gain control of the Senate and the presidency — seek payback for McConnell’s gambit on Coney Barrett by increasing the size of the Court to offset the three justices named by Trump. The tut-tutters are no doubt responsible and right. On the other hand, by the dictates of Trump-McConnell logic Democrats should by all means stack the court to their advantage. There’s nothing in the Constitution that puts the number of justices at nine. As Trump non-hypocritically argues, if you have power you get to do what you want.”

      2. The time has arrived for Democrats to explain to the public how minority conservative rule has packed the courts and then have Congress “unpack” them.

    2. “…liberals are always right…”

      Here’s the way it works: liberals are people who sincerely believe that they’re right and people who disagree with them are misguided; conservatives are people who sincerely believe that they are right and people who disagree with them are wrong.

      1. Seems more like, “. . . conservatives are people who sincerely believe that they are right and people who disagree with them are wrong can fuck off.”

    3. It’s a matter of what rules are going to be used. Nine justices and no appointments close to an election are gentleman’s rules, not laws, reached over time to make things work. After all, you can’t have a law for everything. MCConnell broke those rules. Ok, so what rules are in play now? No gentleman’s rules? I’m a tennis player. Players call their own lines. The assumption is players are honest. If my opponent calls a ball out that is obviously in then I know that’s the rule today instead. Calvin Ball.

    4. I did First Legal Studies a few millennia ago at Uni.
      Even at that stage it became apparent quite quickly that the political inclination and other biases judges might posses influenced the interpretation and direction of their decisions.

  4. 1901 – Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of U.S. President William McKinley, is executed by electrocution.

    Czolgosz’s two-day trial began just 12 days after McKinley died. Even though Czolgosz tried to plead guilty at his first appearance and even though he refused to cooperate with his lawyers, there was no hearing to determine his competency to stand trial. There was also no psychiatric testimony presented at his trial — indeed, no defense case of any kind. The jury convicted Czolgosz and sentenced him to death after less than a half-hour of deliberations. No appeal was taken, nor any post-conviction proceedings conducted to determine whether Czolgosz had received the effective assistance of counsel that was his due under the constitution’s Sixth Amendment. Czolgosz was put to death in the electric chair just over a month after his trial concluded.

    Whatever one might call this, it doesn’t sound much like justice, but it was certainly swift.

  5. If legislatures did their jobs we could stop so much worrying about the courts. And by the way, judges can be removed. If they are so much worry, why give them lifetime appointments? There was no reason for the court to be considering that voting business back east. They could because the legislatures of those states do not do their jobs. In California, as example, the votes will be counted up to 17 days after the election day as long as it is post marked by election day. Why is this? Because the legislature said so. And the courts cannot touch it.

    1. The constitution says “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour,” which means, I think, you can’t remove them by means of term limits or for coming to decisions you don’t like or being of the wrong political persuasion.

      Judges can’t be removed unless they’ve done something impeachable.

      +1 to the rest of your post.

      1. Yes, and my point there is – the constitution is often in error and can be changed. But hey, that requires action from a legislature. I am reminded of this – the laws written by the legislatures and the legislatures elected by the people will normally be the will of the people. This is not the case if we let the courts make the laws.

  6. Anyone looking for a good modern murder mystery movie should check out Knives Out – I don’t want to spoil it, but perhaps I can say the Massachusetts nurse murderer spurred the movie to mind… Knives Out setting is Massachusetts…

      1. Yeah – I’d like to write about how impressive it was (it was written and directed at least partially by Rian Johnson of Star Wars VIII), but the risk of spoiling it is too great!

        Also filmed – entirely? – in Massachusetts… in the fall, I believe – very Northern hemisphere season-appropriate.

  7. Maybe the Particle doesn’t so much hate the fidget widgets but just needs to interact with them so that they can acquire mass and don’t go spinning off at the speed of light.

  8. (September 23, 1970, a bit more than a year before he [Duane Allman] ate a peach)

    ABB bassist Berry Oakley ate that same peach little more than a year later and three blocks away.

  9. Thank you a million times for sharing that BBC story. I’m trying not to be caught crying at work…me, a fifty-one year old “ex-con” in Florida. I guess not all tears are an evil, are they?

  10. Breaking news from the UK which might interest those here: an independent report on the Labour Party has found them to be antisemitic, and they have just suspended their former leader Jeremy Corbin.

  11. “Of course, Leibniz’s most famous notations are his integral sign (long “s” for “summa”) . . . .”

    I would have liked to have known that taking calculus as a college freshman , as well as other math symbols. E.g., “c” in E=mc^2, from the Latin “celeritas,” “speed.” (Same with the word “calculus” itself. Re: “calculi,” the very small bits of hard material strongly sticking to and accumulating on teeth which have to be forcibly removed by the hygienist, “integrating” or “summating,” so to speak, themselves eventually into a larger mass.)

    Same with for a few seconds clarifying gold-plated words in chemistry (and other sciences), like “diastereomer” and “enantiomer,” instead of students having to memorize them by brute force. (Though of course motivated students can invest in an etymological dictionary)

    Why is calculus referred to as “the calculus”? Just customary, a habit? We don’t say “the algebra” or “the geometry.”

    1. Interesting! Good call!… call, get it? telephone number… never mind…. I’m not too sharp in the mornings….

    2. Though I replied at 8:55 AM sharp, it appears my pun has fallen flat.

      How do we write those on WordPress comments like that?

      I’ll try some other tricks:


  12. It would also constitute such a frank acknowledgement of partisanship as the main determinant of the Court’s decisions that even the tiniest fig leaf protecting the Court’s remaining aura of impartiality would be ripped away.

    I’m frankly not a big supporter of the court-packing scheme, but this argument against it is terrible. It’s victim-blaming, in a sense: McConnell’s and the GOP Senate’s refusal to even consider Garland, followed by quickly seating Barrett, shows that it’s the GOP which has completely ripped apart the aura of impartiality. The Dem plan for court-packing is purely responsive, self-defense following an attack, as it were. McConnell basically signaled that he would do anything within the law to give the GOP power over SCOTUS, no matter how hypocritical. So now the Dems are responding by pointing out there are perfectly legal means, however hypocritical, for them to change the balance of power in SCOTUS back. Reasonable people can argue, I think, about whether they should, but let’s be very clear here: the fig leaf was already ripped off. By Mitch McConnell. If the dems choose not to take the low road, play their game, etc. in the hopes that this may recover some of the court’s legitimacy, that’s fine. If they do that though, it’s with the acknowledgement that they’re trying to fix what Mitch broke, they aren’t breaking something he merely made weaker.

  13. That WaPo article is pathetic. “In the U.K., where new restrictions have recently kicked in, a third social media user noted..”

    A third social media user! Wow! “Many others”! Amazing! This is real news.

    Washington Post editorial board meeting, 10/28/20:

    Editor: “Mr. Armus, what do you have for tomorrow’s edition?”

    Armus: “Well, I found several tweets where people are mad at Kim Kardashian for throwing a birthday party.”

    Editor: “Social media? Kardashians? This is the kind of story we’re looking for, people! You could all learn a little something about journalism from Teo. Find some tweets about celebrities and then make a story out of them. That’s how you get to the front page.”

    Reporter #2: “I wrote a piece on how apple pies represent white supremacy.”

    Editor: “That’s why you’re our best reporter. Well, this was a good meeting. Speaking of being oppressed: should we order from the really expensive sushi place or go to Ruth’s Chris steakhouse?”

  14. Man, Duane Allman was really something. What a loss, especially with him and Dicky Betts in the same band. Whipping Post is tied with Little Martha for my favorite ABB song, but they’re two very different songs.

  15. “Had ACB been there to vote, it would have gone the other way for sure, but she didn’t have time to study the issue and so did not vote.”

    I could be she didn’t really need more time. She probably could have waited impatiently through a quick verbal briefing and voted to abbreviate vote counting to give her sugar daddy 4 more years. But, it would have revealed too brashly the fact that she is a political appointee, and given the Dems more of an excuse to do some packing.

  16. The Trump campaign has been sending emails that repeat the notion that “we won’t be so lucky” with Biden as President.

    The con being that it’s all only down to luck, that anyone is surviving this at all, but, with Trump, we will be luckier than with Biden. Trying to say they are both a gamble, but Trump is luckier.

    I find it fascinating – in a grotesque way – how these notions get cooked up – formulating the election in the language of the casino. The campaign knows what it is doing.

  17. I notice that the French police shot but didn’t kill, the suspect so it’s possible that we will know about the reasons behind the attack.

  18. I wonder how many cancel crazed SJW’s would, had they been at the rally at the Berlin Sports stadium, have jumped to their feet and shrieked in frenetic enthusiasm for “Total War” and for the “radical exterm… exclusion of the Jews”?

    But not with their current sensibilities, with those of that time.

  19. The inclussion of “Jimmy Saville” in Birthdays without the information that he was the most prolific, exploitative & evil sociopathic Paedophile in UK history is deeply concerning.

Leave a Reply