Friday: Hili dialogue

October 30, 2020 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Friday, October 30, 2020. It’s gonna be a bad day because it’s National Candy Corn Day: one of the very few candies I detest.  Here: see in the video below how this odious “comestible” is made. As the video notes, “It starts with a slurry”.  No candy should start with a slurry! Also in the video: “The secret? Edible wax and glaze.” Curiously, some readers like this stuff, as one confessed the other day.

It’s also Buy a Doughnut Day, National Breadstick Day, Pumpkin Bread Day, and, in spite of all this, Sugar Addiction Awareness Day.  Finally, it’s World Lemur Day. Here’s a photo of running ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) that I took at the Duke Lemur Center in 2006. One has a cute baby.

And here are Coquerel’s Sifakas (Propithecus coquereli), which can run sideways by hopping bipedally as well as having tremendous abilities to leap from tree to tree.

Today’s Google Doodle is an animated game with a Halloween theme. Click on the screenshot to begin; this page explains the creation of the game and how to play it.

News of the Day:

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from his party, not for the anti-Semitism that was rife when he was in charge, or his failure to discourage it, but for reacting to a report. Yesterday Britains Equality and Human Rights Commission issued a report indicting Labour for failing to deal with anti-Semitism and for harassing those who tried to report it. Corbyn responded by pushing back, saying “One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”  And that statement did him in. Now he’s an ex-Labour leader, singing with the Choir Invisible.

A recent attempt using the CRISPR method to fix human embryos carrying a mutation that caused blindness failed miserably. The editing process resulted in the loss of entire chromosomes, and an embryo like that is doomed. This may be a serious setback for attempts to fix genetic diseases using CRISPR editing. (Remember that Doudna and Charpentier received the Nobel Prize this year for the method.)

Until now, Illinois has been one of the better states in terms of “flattening the curve”. But our halcyon days are over: yesterday we recorded the highest number of new cases since the Covid pandemic began: 6,363 new cases and 56 deaths.

The country as a whole set a new record, too, with over 86,600 cases reported yesterday. Since there are 86,400 seconds in a day, that’s more than one new case per second.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 228,701, a big increase of about 1,000 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,187,273, 1,179,992, a big increase of about 7,200 over yesterday’s report. 

Stuff that happened on October 30 includes:

  • 1817 – Simón Bolívar becomes President of the Third Republic of Venezuela.
  • 1831 – Nat Turner is arrested for leading the bloodiest slave rebellion in United States history.
  • 1938 – Orson Welles broadcasts his radio play of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, causing anxiety in some of the audience in the United States.

My father, who was 20 when this was broadcast, well remembered the pandemonium it created when many people thought that Martians had invaded. Here’s a recording of the entire broadcast:

  • 1942 – World War II: Lt. Tony Fasson and Able Seaman Colin Grazier drown while taking code books from the sinking German submarine U-559.
  • 1944 – Holocaust: Anne and Margot Frank are deported from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they die from disease the following year, shortly before the end of WWII.
  • 1945 – Jackie Robinson of the Kansas City Monarchs signs a contract for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the baseball color line.

Here’s Jackie Robinson signing his contract beside Branch Rickey, one of the Dodgers owners:

  • 1961 – The Soviet Union detonates the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful explosive device ever detonated.

I posted recently declassified footage of the Tsar Bomba recently; you can see the video here.

  • 1961 – Due to “violations of Vladimir Lenin’s precepts”, it is decreed that Joseph Stalin‘s body be removed from its place of honour inside Lenin’s tomb and buried near the Kremlin Wall with a plain granite marker.

Here’s Stalin’s grave (his body used to be on display) next to that of Mikhail Suslov:

  • 1973 – The Bosphorus Bridge in Turkey is completed, connecting the continents of Europe and Asia over the Bosphorus for the second time.
  • 1995 – Quebec citizens narrowly vote (50.58% to 49.42%) in favour of remaining a province of Canada in their second referendum on national sovereignty.

Canadian readers: is there any chance that a. the vote will be taken again someday, and, b. if it is, would Quebec secede?

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s Sisley’s “The Cat’ (1870);

  • 1871 – Paul Valéry, French poet and philosopher (d. 1945)
  • 1885 – Ezra Pound, American poet and critic (d. 1972)

Here’s Pound’s passport photo from 1919 (from Wikipedia):

  • 1893 – Charles Atlas, Italian-American bodybuilder (d. 1972)
  • 1932 – Louis Malle, French director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1995)
  • 1939 – Grace Slick, American singer-songwriter and model.

Hard to believe that Slick is 81 today. Here’s a photo:

  • 1981 – Ivanka Trump, American model and businesswoman

Those who up and died on October 30 include:

  • 1923 – Bonar Law, Canadian-English banker and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1858)
  • 2000 – Steve Allen, American actor, television personality, game show panelist, and talk show host (b. 1921)
  • 2007 – Washoe, American chimpanzee (b. 1965)

Washoe, who learned about 350 signs for words, nevertheless couldn’t use language in its normal sense. Along with Rin Tin Tin, she’s one of the only two animals I’ve seen in Wikipedia’s obituary page.

  • 2009 – Claude Lévi-Strauss, French anthropologist and ethnologist (b. 1908)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s worried about the content of Listy:

A: We have too few good articles about science.
Hili: You have to encourage scientists to write plain English.
In Polish:
Ja: Mamy mało dobrych artykułow o nauce.
Hili: Trzeba zachęcać naukowców do pisania ludzkim językiem.

Here are Kulka and Szaron bunking together, as they always do. Look how big the kitten has become! The blanket, though, formerly belonged to Hili. (She has another one.)

And Kulka playing outside:

Posted by Diana MacPherson on FB, this is SO true!

I can’t remember where I got this, but thanks to whoever sent it. This would also hold true for me:

From Bizarro Comics by Dan Piraro:

From Titania. I didn’t know who Humza Yousaf was until I looked him up, but now I’m worried about free speech in Scotland. He sounds like a real Pecksniff.

Here’s the first of a 15-part tweet that untangles the issue of race, and how different groups don’t have to differ dramatically in gene frequencies to be statistically distinguishable with a very high degree of accuracy. There are lots of linked references in the thread so you can check for yourself:

From Simon. Crows love to pull tails. And the only possible explanation for this is that they like to mess with mammals for fun:

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is a fascinating but someone gruesome life history.

A cool magic trick on Tik Tok:

You can buy and grow these cool plants. (One source, for example, is here.)

Majority of today’s housecats? Even in rare breeds with genes from other species, like Bengal or Savannah cats, the majority of genes come from Felis silvestris lybica. 

Finally, one of the world’s weirdest spiders, in the genus Ariamnes.


51 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. And that statement did him in. Now he’s an ex-Labour leader, singing with the Choir Invisible.

    Just to clarify, he’s not the ex Labour leader because of his reaction to the report but because he lost two general elections to the most inept bunch of incompetent idiots ever to run the UK. He’s actually an ex member (temporarily) of the Labour party because of this reaction to this report.

    Also, there’s an apostrophe missing from “Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission”.

    Also, does the Polish version of Hili’s wisdom literally translate to “You have to encourage scientists to write plain Polish” or is it an equivalent idiom?

  2. I didn’t know who Humza Yousaf was until I looked him up, but now I’m worried about free speech in Scotland.

    Agreed, it was a bad idea (and pure virtue signalling from the SNP) to put a Muslim in charge of revising laws on allowable speech (1,2).

    (1) Which, just in case there is any doubt, is a comment on his *ideas*, not his ancestry.

    (2) Though having said that, I’d be ok with Maajid Nawaz in that role.

  3. Yay! A very happy New Zealander here.

    The End of Life Choice Bill has just passed a referendum 65% to 33%.

    It provides for voluntary euthanasia for terminally ill people.

    It was passed as a Private Members bill last year, but one small political party (New Zealand First, who got wiped out in the election just past, serve them right, trying to make themselves important as usual) managed to insert a clause that a binding public referendum should be held. Which it has been, and it passed 65-33. Special votes still to be counted. This means the Act will come into force in one year.

    We had the usual bombardment of scaremongering, lies and bullshit from the usual hypocritical sanctimonious oh-no-we’re-not-religious ‘pro-life’ scum. (I almost wrote ‘low-life’. Woulda fitted). I hope they’re all sobbing into their communion wine.

    Of course, when the time comes for me to cark it, I hope I have no need of it, but I damn well want the option.


      1. I tend to get a little bit personally involved on the subject. My mother died of cancer of the throat and her last few days were agonising for her and for us. A terrible way to go.


    1. I remember Steve Allen’s Saturday night TV show fondly. One of his occasional bits was to invite four random audience members to come up and hit one note on his piano and from those four notes he would improvise a short song.

      1. Allen always had a taste for the offbeat and unusual. Here he is introducing a national tv audience to a young, unknown Frank Zappa (who came on to play, of all things, the bicycle. It seems like the kind of idea Frank might’ve come up with hanging out with his childhood buddy, Captain Beefheart):

        1. “How long have you been playing the bicycle?”
          “About two weeks.” LOL!
          Though the video cuts off before he actually starts getting down with the bike. Thanks for this interesting clip though- very cool.

            1. He is so Hot Rats and allures the Zoot. Man, that guy had the right shtuff. As a youngin’ he was da bomb. Shoulda been an astronaut. I reckon he was.

  4. Here is an appropriate quotation from one of today’s birthday people:
    May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof (White House). -John Adams, 2nd US President, and the first one to live in the White House (30 Oct 1735-1826)
    This quote is featured in A Word A Day.

  5. Watch just the first minute of this debate video that took place in the Georgia Senate Race the other day. Senator Purdue has pulled out of the last debate scheduled, I wonder why?

    1. I’ve seen that before. It went on quite a bit longer than that one minute in much the same vein. Purdue’s expression was the best bit. Either he has enough self awareness to know he richly deserves that spit roasting (actually refreshing to see in a GOP politician) or he has just soiled himself on TV.

      1. Yes, I saw all of it on TV news last night but could not find the entire bit today. Ossoff ripped him up in every way and I don’t think he ever raised his voice or yelled as most politicians do. Georgia could lose two Senate seats held by republicans.

        1. Georgia could lose two Senate seats held by republicans.

          WorldsTiniestViolin,GIF is going to get a hammering at that prospect.

    2. Mr Perdue was also one of many clamouring “no SC nomination in an election year”.
      I hope that all these devious and lying Senators (and there were a lot of them), who contended there should be no nomination in an election year, but proceeding happily with the nomination of Justice Barret, should be voted out.
      I am not sure what I’d savour more: the ouster of Mr Graham or the ouster of Mr McConnell. It is a difficult (albeit hypothetical) choice. I think I’ll go for Mr MConnell. Yes, that would be the most satisfying.

    3. Also remember that Perdue released an election ad where they took a photo of Ossoff and lengthened his nose- Ossoff being Jewish and all. I’m pretty sure Jerry highlighted this when it happened. Perdue is a real piece of shit, and I hope Georgians have enough sense to dump this GOP hack. Is there anyone left in the GOP who isn’t a hack? I think McCain was the last decent GOP politician. Romney tried, but with his failure to hold Trump accountable after his impeachment and his ACB vote, he lost any status of “decency” he may have been nurturing.

      1. I suppose by comparison, speaking relatively, that yes, McCain could be considered the last decent Republican. But I never considered him to be reliably decent. Over the last 12 years or so of his service, every now and then he would take the decent position in opposition to the RP consensus. But more often than not, he didn’t. He’d make noise like it was bothering his conscience, but usually he’d vote for the indecent position anyway. Or he’d vote for decency, or abstain, in a preliminary round but then for indecency later in the vote that counted.

        But, yeah, he was a bona fide paragon of respectability and decency compared to any RP member of the House or Senate today.

        But, you might have to go all the way back to Barry Goldwater. Though there is probably many to choose from that were less well known nationally, or at least not known to me.

        1. Yeah, you’re right, McCain walked the tightrope of decency, and he never quite lived up to his “maverick” nickname either. Though he was certainly a maverick when he voted against overturning the ACA. I’ll always be thankful to him for that.

          1. There was the time when a disturbed lady at a Town Hall called Obama a Muslim (I forget what else, and McCain sighed and stopped her with ‘No, Maam, he’s a decent American.’

  6. Speaking of Welles’s War of the Worlds, I noticed the other night how large Mars is in the evening sky right now. Apparently, it was its closest on the sixth, so the Martians may already be on their way! For an very interesting read on the WoW broadcast and subsequent furor, I recommend Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News (which is not a reference to Trump).

      1. Brings back happy childhood memories, back when Sesame Street was good.

        This is the first time I’ve actually sat and listened to the whole War broadcast. It holds up remarkably well. For full effect I should have waited until the nighttime though, when I could sit outside with a scotch in hand and the moon and Mars above.

  7. While COVID skyrockets, we are also getting better at treatment. From a colleague in Critical Care last night, this is (of course) not because of hydroxychloroquine, and it’s not Remdesvir, either, it’s use of steroidal anti-inflammatories.

    But there are still severe cases and deaths. I think the net result of this is that there is about a steady-state in numbers of severe cases.

    1. And I’ve been seeing new reports on “brain fog” or the “brain aging 10 years” in some Covid patients. It’s terrifying how little we know about this virus and its myriad deleterious effects- both short and especially long term. Science save us!

    1. And if you melt candy corn with peanut butter and let it cool, it becomes a Butterfinger. No joke! My wife’s made it and it’s amazing- the taste AND texture are identical. I hate candy corn, but, like Bart Simpson, I love Butterfinger.

    1. I think they look like King Julian. Mr Baron-Cohen has soured my love for the Katta’s. I find it difficult to look at them and not being reminded of the “I like to move it, move it”. Curse on him!
      I like lemurs, maybe we should name them ‘honorary’ cats?
      Of course -as Jerry pointed out- the real dancers are the Verreaux Sifakas.

  8. Wait….that video!

    We know where Candy Corn lives and breeds?

    Can’t we send in the military to stop it?
    This is our chance!

    1. You cannot marginalize us candy corn lovers! Candy corn is a legitimate and tasty snack, and we will not go down without a fight. There are dozens of us! Dozens!

  9. “It’s gonna be a bad day…” That’s an understatement. All I have to look at the posts you’ve subsequently published here, up to the time I write this, to see that it’s shaping up to be a very bad and very crazy day — but what else is new?

  10. Now when will the Russians comes to their senses and bury Lenin too? I guess his tomb attracts lots of tourists, but it’s free to visit and brings in no money. More importantly, Lenin and his Bolshevik friends brought disaster to Russia. Chuck him in the dustbin of history!

    As for Stalin, a public grave is too good for that monster. Maybe someday the Russians will dispose of his remains the way they did Hitler’s. Genocidal dictators do not deserve public memorials. Their victims do.

  11. 2007 – Washoe, American chimpanzee (b. 1965)

    A West African chimpanzee who was “captured for use by the US Air Force for research for the US space program.”
    I was watching some of the recently broadcast Samuel L. Jackson series about slavery (with relatively little footage of SLJ) last night, and couldn’t but notice the parallels.
    I recognised several of the airfields they were using in Gabon – installed to service the oil industry. Which also paid for a lot of the roads in the area. We got AOA’d from one of those airfields (though not one I noticed in their footage) due to an elephant having decided to wander along the runway. Makes a change from AOAing because the wheels are going sideways.

  12. The Quebec Referendum… Basically whenever Quebec wants some political favours, they threaten to separate, there is a big fuss, and then the government gives them something. This is not surprising since a large proportion of the federal politicians are from Quebec.

    The separatists don’t really want to separate. This is why the referendum question is never “Do you want to leave Canada?”, and instead some word salad of a question like “The Government of Quebec has made public its proposal to negotiate a new agreement with the rest of Canada, based on the equality of nations; this agreement would enable Quebec to acquire the exclusive power to make its laws,levy its taxes and establish relations abroad — in other words, sovereignty — and at the same time to maintain with Canada an economic association including a common currency; any change in political status resulting from these negotiations will only be implemented with popular approval through another referendum; on these terms, do you give the Government of Quebec the mandate to negotiate the proposed agreement between Quebec and Canada?” That is the actual 1980 referendum question.

    They just want the benefits of being part of Canada, without having to deal with the responsibilities of being part of Canada. So rather than separate, they want to have a “sovereignty association”, which was summed up well by a political cartoon in which a person catches another person raiding the fridge and responds with “I thought to you left’. So they want to have Canadian passports, but not be saddled with their share of Canada’s debt.

    Personally I think there would be some quick backpedaling if the next separation referendum passed, or Canada would be having the same problems that England is having with Brexit.

    1. Thanks for going into detail on this issue. You make a lot of good points, and I agree with your last paragraph. I think the Brexit debacle adds perspective to a Quebexit.

  13. Well, to answer about Quebec staying in Canada, I’m turning 79 very soon, so it isn’t going out on a limb too far to say it won’t happen while I’m still around. But I claim a very vigorous health, so let’s say 2 decades. No one could expect a confident prediction for any longer.
    I’m of course anglophone, but was born and raised in Quebec province till 14 years old. Given my observations then and for a while after, it seems likely to me that I’d have been a supporter of Parti Quebecois as a young man, had I stayed there, so a supporter of separation. But not later.

  14. Scotland seems to be high on the list of places to avoid.

    Imagine staying at a hotel there and an event like at Nice happened and I said “Islam is the motherload of bad ideas”.

    Next minute the Scostapo kicks the door in and hauls me off for prosecution under the hate speech laws.

    No thanks. And this creeping extension of so called hate speech is, in my opinion, a tactic that politicized Islam has mastered and I don’t think it is a coincidence that a political Muslim is trying to ban any criticism of Islam anywhere and everywhere, private or otherwise.

  15. Never read about the “twig” spider before – loved it!

    Here’s the first of a 15-part tweet that untangles the issue of race, and how different groups don’t have to differ dramatically in gene frequencies to be statistically distinguishable with a very high degree of accuracy.

    We all know that from medicine (well, maybe not the accuracy) as well as continental ADMIXTURE clustering and other labeling.

    But it doesn’t seem to fulfill the race idea of looking at a single trait like skin color to do a simple labeling. Instead clustering is “multivariate [with] multiple loci”. It is also very small differences – the propensity to marry “in the next village” makes the principal components across a continent on the order of 10^-4 of the total variation. Medical interesting (“health and disease related traits”), yes. Obvious, no.

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