Sunday: Hili dialogue

November 1, 2020 • 6:30 am


Good morning on Ceiling Cat’s Day, November 1, 2020; remember that the sabbath was made for cats, not cats for the sabbath. For food, it’s both National Bison Day and National Paté Day.

And it’s also a multiple food month, to wit:

National Fun with Fondue Month
National Georgia Pecan Month
National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month (again, implying only one peanut butter aficionado is being honored)
National Pepper Month
National Stuffing Month
National Raisin Bread Month
November 1-7: National Fig Week

As always, I start November by posting a lovely and appropriate poem by Wallace Stevens


Yillow, yillow, yillow,
Old worm, my pretty quirk,
How the wind spells out
Sep – tem – ber….

Summer is in bones.
Cock-robin’s at Caracas.
Make o, make o, make o,
Oto – otu – bre.

And the rude leaves fall.
The rain falls. The sky
Falls and lies with worms.
The street lamps

Are those that have been hanged.
Dangling in an illogical
To and to and fro
Fro Niz – nil – imbo.

On top of that, it’s National Calzone Day, National Deep Fried Clams Day, National Cinnamon Day, National Vinegar Day, National and World Vegan Day, and National Brush Day, celebrating the toothbrush.

Only two days remain until I get sliced like a porterhouse steak at Peter Luger’s: I report for slicing and dicing at 6 a.m. on Tuesday. I took my first COVID test yesterday morning (required before surgery) and it came back negative less than 24 hours later.

Today’s Google Doodles (click on screenshot) goes to a “how to vote” page:

News of the Day: According to a New York Times/Siena College poll, Biden is leading Trump by a “clear advantage” in four key states: Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, and (by a wide margin) Wisconsin. People are fed up with Trump, he’s going to lose, and I’ll win abut $400. (I also have a bet that if Biden wins, the election will not be taken to the Supreme Court.) I won big time in 2012 and 2008, winning two dinners and several hundred bucks betting on Obama. I lost on Hillary last time, but will recoup my losses this November.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a clear advantage over President Trump across four of the most important presidential swing states, a new poll shows, bolstered by the support of voters who did not participate in the 2016 election and who now appear to be turning out in large numbers to cast their ballots, mainly for the Democrat.

Mr. Biden, the former vice president, is ahead of Mr. Trump in the Northern battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as well as in the Sun Belt states of Florida and Arizona, according to a poll of likely voters conducted by The New York Times and Siena College. His strength is most pronounced in Wisconsin, where he has an outright majority of the vote and leads Mr. Trump by 11 points, 52 percent to 41 percent.

A journalism scandal at The Atlantic. A Washington Post story gives the link to the Atlantic piece and the “correction”. A quote from WaPo

The Atlantic’s widely read story on niche sports and ambitious parents took a strange turn late Friday night, when the publication appended a nearly 800-word editor’s note claiming that its fact checkers had been deceived — including by the author of the piece. According to the note, Ruth Shalit Barrett — the former New Republic writer who left journalism in 1999 after scandals over plagiarism and claims that she embellished quotes and exaggerated details — participated in a scheme to mislead the magazine about at least one detail relating to the story’s central character.

What I want to know is why Barrett was allowed to publish a piece in The Atlantic 20 years after she left journalism because of intolerable journalistic behavior. Once a journalistic miscreant, always a journalistic miscreant, as we know from Jonah Lehrer.

Oy! Well, this next story proves that all police training isn’t innocuous. The Manual (Kentucky) Redeye reports that, for a brief period, well, I’ll let the paper tell you: (h/t Saul)

A training slideshow used by the Kentucky State Police (KSP) — the second largest police force in the state — urges cadets to be “ruthless killer[s]” and quotes Adolf Hitler advocating violence.

Yes, it’s true, though they haven’t used that slideshow for a long time. See the site for the slides.

For the third day in a row, Illinois has set a daily record for new coronavrus cases: 7,899. I was tested yesterday as well, as all pre-surgery patients must be. It was painless, even though they said it would be “uncomfortable.” As I expected (see above), I was negative.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 230,494, an increase of about 800 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,201,232,, an increase of about 6,600 over yesterday’s report. 

Stuff that happened on November 1 includes:

It took the old guy ten years (in two dollops) to paint that ceiling, and I must see it one day. Italy is the one European country that I’ve almost never visited. I’ve never been to Florence, Rome, or any of the great cities, having spent only three days in Padua (for a conference) and a month in Bellagio on Lake Como (for a writing stint).

  • 1520 – The Strait of Magellan, the passage immediately south of mainland South America connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, is first discovered and navigated by European explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the first recorded circumnavigation voyage.
  • 1604 – William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello is performed for the first time, at Whitehall Palace in London.
  • 1611 – Shakespeare’s play The Tempest is performed for the first time, at Whitehall Palace in London.
  • 1755 – In Portugal, Lisbon is totally devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami, killing between 60,000 and 90,000 people.

One of the deadliest earthquakes in history, this disaster features in Voltaire’s Candide as an example of how this is not the best of all possible worlds (and, by extension, God isn’t doing a good job).

  • 1800 – John Adams becomes the first President of the United States to live in the Executive Mansion (later renamed the White House).
  • 1894 – Buffalo Bill, 15 of his Indians, and Annie Oakley were filmed by Thomas Edison in his Black Maria Studio in West Orange, New Jersey.

Here’s a short documentary of that first movie studio and a few film clips, including one of Annie Oakley doing some sharpshooting.

  • 1896 – A picture showing the bare breasts of a woman appears in National Geographic magazine for the first time.

Here’s that picture: a Zulu bride and groom on their wedding day:

  • 1928 – The Law on the Adoption and Implementation of the Turkish Alphabet, replaces the Arabic alphabet with the Latin alphabet.
  • 1941 – American photographer Ansel Adams takes a picture of a moonrise over the town of Hernandez, New Mexico that would become one of the most famous images in the history of photography.

And of course I must reproduce that deservedly famous image (the link tells the story):

A thermonuclear weapon differs from the Hiroshima bomb by using both fission and fusion reactions, with the fission reaction starting the fusion. These are also known as hydrogen bombs or “H bombs.”

  • 1968 – The Motion Picture Association of America’s film rating system is officially introduced, originating with the ratings G, M, R, and X

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1880 – Alfred Wegener, German meteorologist and geophysicist (d. 1930)

Beginning about 1912, Wegener proposed the “continental drift” hypothesis, and was poo-pooed by his colleagues. He was, of course, right: we now know of plate tectonics. Sadly, Wegener (pictured below) died before his hypothesis was confirmed (one of its opponents, curiously, was the famous paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson).

Prof. Dr. Alfred Wegener, ca. 1924-1930
  • 1886 – Hermann Broch, Austrian-American author and poet (d. 1951)
  • 1935 – Edward Said, Palestinian-American theorist, author, and academic (d. 2003)
  • 1944 – Kinky Friedman, American singer-songwriter and author
  • 1957 – Lyle Lovett, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer

One of my claims to fame is that the boot store Texas Traditions (in Austin) posted an Instagram photo of my ancient T. O. Stanley boots, made by T. O. for himself and acquired by me, and Lyle Lovett liked the boots:

Those who took the Big Nap on November 1 include:

  • 1955 – Dale Carnegie, American author and educator (b. 1888)
  • 1972 – Robert MacArthur, Canadian-American ecologist and academic (b. 1930)
  • 1972 – Ezra Pound, American poet and critic (b. 1885)
  • 1985 – Phil Silvers, American actor and comedian (b. 1911)
  • 1993 – Severo Ochoa, Spanish-American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)

Ochoa and Arthur Kornberg shared the 1959 Medicine or Physiology prize for work on the synthesis of DNA and RNA.

  • 1999 – Walter Payton, American football player and race car driver (b. 1954)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s arguing with Andrzej again. And Hili’s life is FAR from difficult!

Hili: Life is always difficult.
A: Now it’s easier than it was in the past.
Hili: These are objective data which have no impact on our subjective feeling.
In Polish:
Hili: Życie zawsze jest ciężkie.
Ja: Teraz jest łatwiejsze niż dawniej.
Hili: To są obiektywne dane, które nie mają wpływu na nasze subiektywne odczucia.

Here’s a formal portrait of Kitten Kulka:

From Phil:

From Charles, a tweet from Bette Midler:

From Jesus of the Day, some great Halloween costumes:

A tweet from Simon. Evolution of masks (but the end product is not on an adaptive peak).

Tweets from Matthew. Check out this fossil, which clearly represents a deformed embryo that didn’t thrive.

I got one of these in the head in Costa Rica in 1973. The larvae entered on a mosquito proboscis:

I wonder if this is true:

The best carved pumpkin of 2020:

This is a moth caterpillar, turned upside down in the first picture. In normal posture, it’s a stunning leaf mimic.

Matthew explains: Halloween in Japan involves people wearing placards around their necks describing their situation, adding “They imagine themselves in some trivial but slightly anxiety-inducing normal situation and then dress up appropriately (so in first tweet woman has a tray of food).”


36 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is so impressive that visitors forget to look at the walls, painted, among others, by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino.

  2. The Sistine Chapel is beautiful, the most famous painting is, well, rather small actually! (No pun intended) The museum holds an amazing collection of the all the pillaging they did in the name of god. Note however, there’s amazing art by the greatest artists throughout Rome that can be viewed for free. You may take a liking to the museum in Ospedale di Santo Spirito in Sassia. Oldest hospital in Europe next door.

    1. With the huge population of 802, the Vatican has 0 Covid deaths. Does that prove Jesus is the man, not Yahweh nor Allah?

    2. The Vatican Museum is enormous, and very, very crowded. The only place we found that was not crowded was the section with paintings by the modern artists, which is just off the route to the Sistine Chapel. The hallways were jammed with people heading to the chapel and the galleries were practically empty. I was surprised at how small the Michelangelo painting was. The chapel was so crowded it was unbearable so we did not stay long.

    1. If PCC(E)’s experience is anything like mine he did type “Candide” but autocorrect thought it knew better.

      1. It probably does know better…isn’t the incumbent Candidate telling us that, despite the pandemic, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, and all because of him?

        1. Very good, CR.

          There I was hoping that the autocorrect Candidate was going to be the only one to get through by accident this week…

  3. That Kentucky police slide show looks like it belongs in a Marines boot camp. No wonder the police are lost.

  4. In one of the few surprises of the campaign, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette just endorsed Trump. This paper has been so blue that in the 1990s Dick Scaife set up a rival newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, just to challenge it. (Both Scaife and the Tribune-Review wound up as part of Hillary’s “vast right-wing conspiracy.”)

    1. Sadly I’ve never been to Rome or Florence either. A few years ago I went to a conference in Rapallo and checked out Cinque Terre and then stayed in Genoa and Milan on the way back. Since high school I had had more of a desire to see Athens than Rome (I did make it to Athens in 2009) and it wasn’t until that trip to Italy that I put the rest of the country on my bucket list.

  5. I wonder how many photographers have gone to Hernandez and tried to duplicate Ansel Adams’ photo. I can imagine, as Adams said, it is not all that unusual. The main variable would be the clouds, which would never be quite the same twice.

    1. You can easily find the location, but it no longer looks like it did when Adams was there. The locals do not like people stopping and may chase you away if you stop and try to take a picture.

    2. The site is fairly easy to find, but it does not look like it did when Adams was there. If you try to take a picture, it is likely that the locals will chase you away as they are tired of people stopping there.

  6. I went over to The Atlantic for that article. It includes this tone-deaf quote about the poor little rich kids from Stamford etc. whose college application plans depended on getting recruited into a niche varsity sport (squash, fencing, lacrosse): “They’ll always wonder what would’ve happened and who they could have wowed…To have that opportunity lost…The kid who would have gone to Yale now goes to Georgetown. The kid who would have gone to Georgetown now goes to Loyola. On and on. And then eventually you get down to Wentworth. And then you just don’t play college sports.”

    Oh, the humanity!

    In other news this week, Olivia Jade’s mom went to jail at last.

    1. Isn’t some Hollywood celebrity in jail now after getting caught bribing to get her daughter into Stanford as a rower (or coxwain)?

      1. Felicity Huffman just reported to Camp Fed in Dublin, California, for – I think – three months. Her husband – recollection again – got six; and I don’t remember whether he’s done his time yet. But perhaps they’re letting them take turns, since the two children they tried to bribe/fake into USC will presumably be home.

  7. Oh my heart aches that you have not seen Rome or Florence–I find this shocking, I say, shocking! PCC you must go. Make it your first adventure after this mess is over. You will never regret it or forget it. The Italians don’t get much done these days, but they sure know how to live.

  8. “I’ve never been to Florence, Rome,…”

    Never been to Venice, and don’t want to go. Even the winter is stuffed with goofy tourists I’ve been told.

    “…a month in Bellagio on Lake Como..”

    Two weeks in Varenna on Como–almost killed myself coming down a mountain at the bottom end (Lecco) of that west fork of Como, when on the weekend break of the conference, after staying in a climbers’ cabin Saturday night. At least it was Sunday, so maybe I’d have avoided hell.

    1. Forgot to add: we took the hovercraft ferry between Varenna and Bellagio once at the time.
      Looks like it might not exist anymore–the hovercraft there??

  9. Wegener! I have a powerful memory of the professor in my Geology 101 class telling us students that Wegener was full of it–that it just looked that way by accident. That was the “other” science class I took in my 4 undergrad years–along with “A Bomb,” AKA the History of the Atomic Bomb. Some science education, eh?

  10. Viewing the Sistine Chapel is something every art lover should attempt, but doing so can be an unpleasant experience. The Vatican Museum is one of the most visited museums on earth and the crowding can be unbearable. Luckily the Vatican offers Friday night visits from 7 to 11pm, but certain parts of the museum are closed during those hours (thought not the Sistine Chapel) and there are still many visitors.

  11. THAT, the Taiwanese “anxious situations” like the food court lady, is the best Halloween idea I’ve heard in years.

    30 years ago I lived in Tokyo and Halloween was pretty much unknown then but recently, last decade or so it has quite taken off (I watch the Fuji news from there). They go at it with a typical Japanese ferocity and creativity.

    D.A, NYC

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