Tuesday: Hili dialogue

November 3, 2020 • 6:45 am

Well, it’s Slice and Dice Day: November 3, 2020, and as you read this I’ll either be under the robot (or the knife), or lying in some godforsaken cubicle, an IV in my arm, waiting for the dreaded “wheeling into the OR.”  That part always freaks me out. Wish me luck. If all goes well, I’ll be home by the late afternoon.

It is, of course, Election Day, and many are tense about what will happen. I’ve bet a few hundred on Biden, and have already voted. I’m not as worried as others about the outcome, but, given that several states are counting mail-in ballots up to several days after the election, I do worry a bit about Trump’s reluctance to surrender power should he lose.

It’s a thin day for holidays: National Sandwich Day, World Jellyfish Day, and Skeptics Day International, coinciding, as always, with Election Day.

News of the Day:

21 states allow counting of ballots postmarked by election day, but some will arrive after the election, and expect Trump to raise a fuss about this if he loses. At any rate, steel yourself for the possibility that the final certification won’t take place for a few days—or weeks.

After Anthony Fauci praised Biden’s coronavirus plan and implicitly criticized Trump’s “plan,” the “President” has been dissing Fauci in public.  The Associated Press reports some of this:

Speaking at a campaign rally in Opa-locka, Florida, Trump expressed frustration that the surging cases of the virus that has killed more than 231,000 people in the United States this year remains prominent in the news. That sparked his supporters to begin chanting “Fire Fauci.”

“Don’t tell anybody but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump replied to thousands of supporters early Monday, adding he appreciated their “advice.”

Like firing Fauci is going to halt the pandemic! Let’s hope The Big Orange Deplorable is tossed out of office tomorrow, or at least is shoved towards the door.

If you’re still in fear about the election results, read Henry Olsen’s WaPo op-ed which has two different titles. The one on the front page is this (click on screenshot):

A quote (the numbers are in the article):

Democrats need not fear. This, my sixth published biennial election prediction essay, is perhaps my easiest: Former vice president Joe Biden will win comfortably unless we experience the greatest polling failure in modern history. Democrats will also gain control of the Senate and expand their majority in the House. While not the landslide that some hope for, Democrats will simultaneously control the presidency and both houses of Congress for only the third time since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980. That alone is a historic achievement that will give them the upper hand to determine the next stage of our ongoing national crisis.

There’s an excellent op-ed by David Kaplan in yesterday’s New York Times explaining why the Supreme Court should stay a million miles away from this election.

A Dutch metro train crashed through the “stopping” barrier, but the lead car was saved from falling 32 feet to the ground because a conveniently placed whale sculpture caught the car on its tail. Photos below: (h/t: Jez):

Getty images (both photos)

Science news: Platypus fur is biofluorescent, glowing blue-purple under UV light. Why? (A few other mammals are like this, too). Who knows. The link gives some adaptive speculation, but it may simply be an epiphenomenon. Here’s a photo of the top and bottom of the monotreme (h/t Nicole):

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 231,470, an increase of about 500 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,212,500, an increase of about 6,400 over yesterday’s report.

Stuff that happened on November 3 includes:

  • 1493 – Christopher Columbus first sights the island of Dominica in the Caribbean Sea.
  • 1534 – English Parliament passes the first Act of Supremacy, making King Henry VIII head of the Anglican Church, supplanting the pope and the Roman Catholic Church.
  • 1838 – The Times of India, the world’s largest circulated English language daily broadsheet newspaper is founded as The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce.

Here’s the first issue:

  • 1908 – William Howard Taft is elected the 27th President of the United States.
  • 1936 – Franklin D. Roosevelt is re-elected President of the United States.
  • 1957 – Sputnik program: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2. On board is the first animal to enter orbit, a dog named Laika.

Poor Laika, a stray found in Moscow (the Russians thought strays would be able to endure temperature extremes better), died from overheating within a few orbits. Here’s her picture:

  • 1964 – Lyndon B. Johnson is elected to a full term as U.S. president, winning 61% of the vote and 44 states, while Washington D.C. residents are able to vote in a presidential election for the first time, casting the majority of their votes for Lyndon Johnson.
  • 1986 – Iran–Contra affair: The Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa reports that the United States has been secretly selling weapons to Iran in order to secure the release of seven American hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon.
  • 2014 – One World Trade Center officially opens. It is the replacement for the World Trade Center Twin Towers, in New York City, after the towers were each destroyed by airplanes during the September 11 attacks.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1618 – Aurangzeb, Mughal emperor of India (d. 1707)
  • 1794 – William Cullen Bryant, American poet and journalist (d. 1878)

Bryant’s most famous poem is “Thanatopsis“, and my father used to recite the final verse to me at bedtime. I still know it by heart:

 So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Here’s Bryant in 1876:

  • 1918 – Bob Feller, American sailor, baseball player, and sportscaster (d. 2010)
  • 1933 – Michael Dukakis, American lawyer, academic, and politician, 65th Governor of Massachusetts
  • 1933 – Amartya Sen, Indian economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1943 – Bert Jansch, Scottish-English singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2011)

Here’s Jansch in later life playing “Angie” (originally written by Davy Graham as “Anji”), perhaps Jansch’s most famous song:

  • 1949 – Anna Wintour, English-American journalist
  • 1987 – Colin Kaepernick, American football player

Those who began pushing up daisies on November 3 were few, including these three, one of whom I never heard of (but he may be a distant relative):

  • 1926 – Annie Oakley, American entertainer and target shooter (b. 1860)
  • 1957 – Wilhelm Reich, Ukrainian-Austrian psychotherapist and author (b. 1897)
  • 2013 – William J. Coyne, American lawyer and politician (b. 1936)

I always put in Coynes, though I don’t know who any of them are. This one served for 22 years as a Pennsylvania congressman. There is no resemblance:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s still helping with the apple picking:

Hili: Get the ladder and come here.
A: There are still many apples here.
Hili: Yes, but the ones here are nicer.
In Polish:
Hili: Weź drabinę i chodź tutaj.
A: Ja: Tu gdzie jestem jest jeszcze dużo jabłek.
Hili: Tak, ale tu są ładniejsze.

From Bruce. I note with satisfaction that the cat has rejected the candy corn:

From Pradeep:

From Su:

From Andrew Sullivan. I’m immensely heartened by this, but I doubt that he is:

From Ken: 56 years ago today, MLK endorses LBJ over Goldwater; the tweet is from MLK’s youngest child:

Tweets from Matthew: First, a science tweet you didn’t know about:

He made it!!!!!

Matthew sent me this with the header, “This will cheer you up.” He was right:

Have a look at this weevil:

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose:

And Matthew’s really worried about the election:

36 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. If Biden wins the Presidency and Democrats win the Senate, and consolidate the House, then there will be great expectations – but no-one else obvious to blame if those expectations are not fulfilled.

    Yet the nature of politics is that at least some of those expectations will end in disappointment.

  2. Donald Trump has no more power to declare himself the winner of today’s election than he has to declare the COVID pandemic crisis at an end — or than King Canute had to declare that the tides should cease rising and falling.

    Be prepared to watch Trump enter his full-on late-stage mad-king phase this evening, rambling out his increasingly incoherent personal grievances, blaming everyone but himself for his impending defeat — which is to say, a lot like the last four years, except even more so.

  3. Good luck with the operation. Many will be glad when today is over. They should stop referring to this as election day and call it end of election day. Nearly 100 million have already voted. Trump will lose and the republicans will lose. What will they do next? Fade into more bad memories and just go away. Find another nut job to support. Their lawyers are losing all the battles to suppress the election so I guess they did not buy up all the judges. I think the republicans must go the way of the Wigs and find a new name.

  4. 1957 – Sputnik program: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2. On board is the first animal to enter orbit, a dog named Laika.

    Dubbed by some wag of a headline writer in the US press corps: “Muttnik”.

  5. Any bets on what time tonight Trump will declare victory? His advisors will probably have told him to hold off on it until about 11.30, for the best ratings, but I doubt he’ll have the patience.

    My bet is about 10 pm, from the White House.

    1. Maybe but not likely. Florida is a fast counter and may have bad news for Trump early. If he loses there, it is over.

      1. I hope so.

        An American friend who lives in Germany most of the time and switched her residency to Florida after what happened in 2016 was counting the days since then when she could send off her absentee vote.

  6. Very best of luck with the operation – and those election bets!

    Some great things in this post (as always)- that remarkably calm toddler was very sweet.

  7. “What are those things you are wearing?”
    “Medical scrubs.”
    “OR they?”

    ^^^paraphrase from a movie dialogue – Luke Wilson in Rushmore, I believe…

    Enjoy the sedatives, PCC(E) — we all wish we could be as lucky today!!

    1. It’s actually:

      Max Fischer: I like your nurses uniform, guy.
      Dr. Peter Flynn: These are OR scrubs.
      Max Fischer: ‘Oh, are’ they?

      One of my favourite films!

    1. After listening to it I’m not so sure. He seems to say that Trump’s traits are all the opposite of the far left and that is why his cult loves him. Now if everyone fit into these two extremes on the right and left but we know they don’t. Harris certainly does not either. So I guess he is saying the Trump cult looks at all democrats, all liberals as the same. I mean, he requires complete loyalty from his cult, his republican party. If he does not get it, he goes after whoever crossed him. And the cult loves that? If the cult is primarily sadistic then sure, I get it.

    2. I think he hits one of Trump’s nails on the head certainly. I would add that he says all his lies with bulletproof confidence. Some people judge others based on whether they sound truthful. Trump always lies with supreme confidence. He’s amazing in that way. As Harris points out, many people hear him and immediately know he’s full of shit but I am convinced that many are deaf to whatever we’re hearing. Then there’s the Fox News and right wing information bubble.

    3. I was a bit disappointed with Sam’s take.

      I do think he has put his finger on ONE aspect of Trump’s appeal to certain voters.

      But I’ve seen so many Trumpers say “look, as a person Trump doesn’t appeal to me, but he gets my vote because I like his policies, they affect me, and he has delivered, unlike many other politicians.”

      Sam’s take just seems to ignore this on-it’s-face reasonable response. Sam’s idea that Trump’s character allows for essentially the worst parts of people’s character to go unjudged seems just another way of still holding to the idea Trump voters are “others” and still deplorable in character.

  8. The figures in the Bob and Sally cartoon could just as easily have been Lindsey and Dianne, or Don and Hillary for that matter.

  9. Here’s to a fast, easy recovery from your surgery, Jerry—and to all of our recoveries from the past four years of toxic political surrealism.

  10. Having recently undergone surgery myself, I understand that feeling. Hoping all goes well and a speedy recovery!

  11. Sabethes albiprivus mosquitos are day-flying transmitters of yellow fever. They lay their eggs in water that accumulates in tree holes, broken bamboo stalks, and other enclosed spaces, places where spiders and other small predators often lurk. By shooting their eggs into the water from outside the cavity, females reduce their risk of being eaten. Their behavior of catapulting eggs is probably adaptive and not a random quirk of nature.

  12. “I do worry a bit about Trump’s reluctance to surrender power should he lose.”

    I read somewhere that DT doesn’t have a choice about whether to surrender power. According to the Constitution, it’s automatic as soon as the count is certified. Wheeling him out of the White House might take a large truck dolly, but no big deal really. So, there’s that.

  13. Hope all goes well, Dr. Coyne!

    Covid question: The positivity rate is a calculation of positive cases as a percentage of all tested. But wouldn’t it be better to compare positives to the entire population of a region/county/state? It seems that in some areas, because of expense or availability of tests, only those with serious symptoms will be tested and in other areas, a bigger and more diverse population will be tested. In these cases, the positivity is calculated from a widely different baseline. I’d like to understand this better. Thanks!

    1. Dividing by the population size would still give biased comparisons since the counries/regions/states that only test symptomatic persons would have lower positive rates compared to those that test a wide range of the population, including asymptomatic positives. The only way to get comparable results would be by testing random samples of the different populations.

      1. That’s right and it’s important to remember that positivity rates are dynamic. It’s important to understand the difference between prevalence and incidence. One of the goals of testing isn’t (just) to determine the fraction of the population infected (prevalence) but to determine the rate infections are changing (incidence).

  14. Henry Olsen says “unless we experience the greatest polling failure in modern history.”

    It is reasonably likely that this will occur because this is the oddest election ever. With coronavirus, mail-in-ballots, early voting, etc., the pollsters are having to make more guesses than ever before. They try to estimate the number and kind of voters from past elections but there is no precedence for this election.

    There are probably going to be several states where the polls are off by an usually large amount. Unless these errors are all in Trump’s favor, Biden will still win but we should expect the unexpected.

  15. Hope the surgery goes well Jerry. By now, you’re probably recuperating. At least you don’t have to spend the night in hospital- that must be a relief.

  16. Hoping for a speedy recovery.

    Re: Thanatopsis

    I learned that very verse in high school; although, unlike Jerry, I am only able to recite parts of it now. At any rate, my proud parents had me recite the verse for my grandfather (who completed schooling only through the 4th grade). He promptly recited the ENTIRE poem.

    On a different matter, some years later I was home for a weekend and was regaling my father, brother, and grandfather with some of what I was learning in my first physics class at college. In particular, there’s a point on a rolling wheel that is instantaneously at rest. After using a milkcan lid to trace the cycloid on the milking parlor wall, father and brother were convinced. No so my grand father.

    Some months later, I was again home and helping to milk the cows. Grandfather proceeded to recite a poem he had just remembered:

    There’s a point on the wheel
    That’s very still,
    and the Mississippi River
    Runs uphill.

    So now Grandfather was convinced about wheels but he couldn’t explain the reference to the Mississippi River. Later, I learned it had to do with the fact that the Earth is an oblate spheroid so that the mouth of the Mississippi River is farther from the center of the Earth than the headwaters are.

  17. Hope your surgery was a success.

    My final election prediction.

    Hello on Election Day. 3 November 2020
    I have voted and I hope all of you have done so.
    My prediction of a landslide for Biden and the Democratic Party still stands. My prediction is not just a hope. It is based on some solid reasoning.
    Here it is. Massive voter turnout is a plus for the Democrats, not the Republicans. We will see records set in terms of turnout across the board. Participation by women, blacks and hispanic voters will set new records.
    There are more women, blacks and hispanics running this year than ever before. These down ballot races will pull voters to the polls.
    The Democrats raised more money than the Republicans.
    People do not just dislike Trump. Many actually hate him and see him as the worst President this country has ever had to endure.
    Trump was impeached and was only saved by the Republican Senate.
    No President has won re-election after impeachment.
    The pandemic, the economic uncertainty, reckless turnover of personnel in the White House and various environmental disasters (forest fires and hurricanes) have diminished peoples’ confidence in Trump. Trump’s margin of support was always narrow to begin with. His victory in 2016 was on a technicality. He was not a popular choice.
    Most Americans are not ideological right wingers, even fewer are outright reactionaries.
    I think we will know the results in general outline by 10 pm Eastern Standard Time. Trump will accept the results, but more importantly most of the Republicans and the public will accept the results.
    Enjoy the election returns!
    John J. Fitzgerald

  18. This didn’t survive well:

    Former vice president Joe Biden will win comfortably unless we experience the greatest polling failure in modern history. Democrats will also gain control of the Senate and expand their majority in the House. While not the landslide that some hope for, Democrats will simultaneously control the presidency and both houses of Congress for only the third time since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980. That alone is a historic achievement that will give them the upper hand to determine the next stage of our ongoing national crisis.

    So no comfortable win, if any, and the polls were failing in the same way, in any of the three elections. If the Democrats are lucky they will keep one house and luckier still they will get one president.

    it was supposedly to stop demagogues and rabble rousers from manipulating the system

    ??? I thought it was set up to explicitly favor manipulation because of compromises. How was it supposed not to, and was there an opportunity to go for a clean democratic system that was wasted!? Yikes.

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