Friday: Hili dialogue

November 13, 2020 • 6:30 am

Another week is almost done: it’s Friday, November 13, 2020: an unlucky Friday the Thirteenth. But it’s also National Indian Pudding Day, one of the best desserts in the world. Earthy, grainy, and robust, it’s well worth seeking out, though you won’t find it if you’re far outside of Boston. If you haven’t had it, you’re deprived (warning: many people don’t understand the dish as they have asbestos taste buds.)

The recipe is easy but the cooking time long. Here’s the recipe for the best version I’ve had, at the late, lamented restaurant Durgin-Park in Boston. Below is a photo of the restaurant’s version (the warm pudding demands to be topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). I was devastated when the restaurant closed, as there was never a time I visited, no matter how much I ate for dinner, when I eschewed the Indian pudding.

It’s also Sadie Hawkins Day, started from the comic strip Li’l Abner, in which women are supposed to ask men out.  That would be fine, but if you read the link, you’ll see it has a sexist history, beginning with this cartoon:

And, finally, it’s World Kindness Day. 

News of the Day:

CNN has projected that Biden carried Arizona.  It was a squeaker: Biden’s margin was only 11,000 votes, but this gives him 290 electoral votes, well over the 270-vote winning threshold. Since Georgia is in all likelihood going for Biden too (but North Carolina is a probable Trump state), that would give Biden a final 306-vote victory—exactly what I predicted soon after polls closed. Just remember that Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) not only was the first to call the election, but called it on the nose! Show me justice!

The big news, of course, is the vicious resurgence of the pandemic, including in a once-safer state, Illinois. Chicago is now under a stay-at-home order, with our hard-ass mayor warning us against non-essential trips. Here are the daily new cases for Illinois, which hit a record yesterday with 12,788:

In Germany, pandemic weariness has evolved into pandemic resistance, with huge crowds assembling to protest Germany’s restrictions (among the least restrictive in Europe), and with Molotov cocktails and explosives being used by protestors. The protestors are loosely allied with right-wing political movements.

In other news, Franco remains dead and Trump continues to refuse conceding the election, not allowing the Biden transition team access to government offices or documents.

Barack Obama’s memoir is so weighty that it’s divided into two volumes. But the prose apparently isn’t ponderous; rather, according to the NYT’s review of the first volumeA Promised Land—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Obama is “as fine a writer as they come.”  The review makes me want to read this book, but I’ve always avoided political autobiographies. We shall see.

As the Guardian reports, Japanese erect monster robots to scare away bears in rural areas  (h/t: Jez)

The Monster Wolf has four legs, a shaggy body, blond mane and red, glowing eyes. When its motion detectors are activated, it moves its head, flashes lights and emits sounds ranging from wolfish howling to machinery noises. The maker, Ohta Seiki, has sold about 70 units since 2018.

The real Japanese wolf roamed the central and northern islands of the country before being hunted to extinction more than a century ago.

Here’s a video:

Also in Japan, a 20-kilogram crate containing 100 mandarin oranges sold for a million yen, or about $9,500. That’s nearly $100 per orange! The usual price for that amount is $150 total, but these were prize specimens. Here’s a photo of the pricey fruit from CNN:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 242,860, a big increase of about 1,200 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,300,843, 1,290,986, a big increase of about 9,900 over yesterday’s report.

Stuff that happened on November 13 includes:

  • 1841 – James Braid first sees a demonstration of animal magnetism, which leads to his study of the subject he eventually calls hypnotism.
  • 1940 – Walt Disney‘s animated musical film Fantasia is first released, on the first night of a roadshow at New York’s Broadway Theatre.

Here’s the trailer for the 50th-anniversary reissue of Fantasia.  I haven’t seen that movie in decades, but really should:

This automatic rifle is still used because it’s cheap, durable, and easy to use. The name stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova (‘Kalashnikov’s assault rifle’), so it’s also known as the Kalashnikov. (It was invented around WWII in Russia by Mikhail Kalashnikov. The usual magazine is 30 rounds; here’s one with a bayonet.

  • 1954 – Great Britain defeats France to capture the first ever Rugby League World Cup in Paris in front of around 30,000 spectators.
  • 1956 – The Supreme Court of the United States declares Alabama laws requiring segregated buses illegal, thus ending the Montgomery bus boycott.
  • 1982 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. after a march to its site by thousands of Vietnam War veterans.
  • 2001 – War on Terror: In the first such act since World War II, US President George W. Bush signs an executive order allowing military tribunals against foreigners suspected of connections to terrorist acts or planned acts on the United States.
  • 2015 – A set of coordinated terror attacks in Paris, including multiple shootings, explosions, and a hostage crisis in the 10th and 11th arrondissements kill 130 people, seven attackers, and injured 368 others, with at least 80 critically wounded

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1838 – Joseph F. Smith, American religious leader, 6th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (d. 1918)
  • 1881 – Jesús García, Mexican railroad brakeman (d. 1907)

García (below) saved Nacozari, Mexico, by driving a fiery train loaded with dynamite away from the town; it exploded and killed him. Here’s a photo taken days before his heroic act:

  • 1924 – Motoo Kimura, Japanese biologist and geneticist (d. 1994). Kimura was the main founder of the “neutral” theory of molecular evolution, proposing that many DNA variants were identical in terms of their effect on the reproductive capacity of their carrier, and thus “neutral” (or “equivalent”) to natural selection.  I met him in Toronto at a meeting and got him to autograph his famous book on the theory. My copy is shown below:

Here is Kimura with another great geneticist, Jim Crow. Together they wrote the definitive book on theoretical population genetics, An Introduction to Population Genetics Theory.  I still treasure my copy, which is completely covered with my scribbles as I re-did the equations until I understood them:

Here’s my well-marked copy of the book, and then a note on the last page, commemorating the day that Don Hickey (a fellow grad student) and I finished the book. We spent a year working our way through it together.

I sat next to Kripke in 1972 in the Rockefeller University student lounge (he was faculty and I a beginning student), watching the election returns as Nixon bulldozed George McGovern (for whom I campaigned). Only Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. went for McG; it was a Nixon landslide. I remember Kripke rocking back and forth on the couch, much like an Orthodox Jew davening (Kripke, a very famous philosopher, was also the son of a rabbi).

  • 1969 – Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somalian-American activist and author

Those who became quiescent on November 13 include:

  • 1903 – Camille Pissarro, Virgin Islander-French painter (b. 1830)
  • 1974 – Karen Silkwood, American technician and activist (b. 1946)

Silkwood was a whistleblower about violations at the Kerr-McGee nuclear facility in Oklahoma. After being mysteriously contaminated with plutonium, she died in a mysterious car crash at 28:

This is an undated photo of Karen Silkwood, an employee at Kerr-McGee Nuclear Corp. Her family sued Kerr-McGee Corp alleging that they were negligent in allowing her to be contaminated with plutonium. They were awarded $10 million. (AP Photo)
  • 1994 – Motoo Kimura, Japanese biologist and geneticist (b. 1924)

Kimura apparently died on his 70th birthday (see above)

  • 2016 – Leon Russell, American singer-songwriter (b. 1942)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Kulka once again unsuccessfully tries to make friends with Hili:

Kulka: Hi, how are you doing?
Hili: We are sleeping and we don’t expect any guests.
In Polish:
Kulka: Hej, co tam u was?
Hili: Śpimy i nie czekamy na żadnych gości.

From Ken:

There’s a lot of this going around now, and I assume this one is real and not Photoshopped. From Jesus of the Day:

Also from Jesus of the Day. I did not know this!

Two tweets from Barry. The first is a koala getting a tummy rub. I think we could all use this:

Nevertheless, the rodent persisted. But enough seeds were spilled that it could have a fine feast after its ride.

Tweets from Matthew. I saw these ducks in Hyde Park last week, but they were far away and didn’t show any of this cool behavior (for a cool video, see here):

One of Matthew’s beloved optical illusions.

Leta Powell Drake’s Wikipedia page says that she works as “a broadcaster, television producer, screenwriter and television personality on local stations in Nebraska.”

Really nice illusion. Is it George Orwell?

This video links to a New Scientist article with free access, and a remarkable video of the wasp hunting by immersing itself fully in water:

Matthew is joking, of course:

24 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. … Obama is “as fine a writer as they come.” The review makes me want to read this book, but I’ve always avoided political autobiographies.

    Obama’s initial memoir, Dreams of My Father, was very well written. His second, The Audacity of Hope, was more of a standard campaign book by a presidential hopeful, though it, too, was well written.

    The man can turn a phrase, written or spoken. Even his political opponents will generally grant him that.

    1. Came here to say just this. “Dreams From My Father” was beautifully written and I strongly recommend it. “The Audacity of Hope” is more your standard political fare.

  2. … the 50th-anniversary reissue of Fantasia. I haven’t seen that movie in decades, but really should …

    Fantasia was a staple for stoners at the midnight movies during my college days in the Seventies. I’ll cop to having been in that audience a time or two.

    1. I’ve only seen Fantasia as a young boy and then as a teen. Both times I found it creepy and menacing. Not sure why.

    2. The impact of the film — in attracting audiences to previously reserved music, as well as dramatization of the music — originally intended as pure sound experience — is undeniable.

      There are better recordings, arrangements, and performances of the pieces — so I urge anyone who wants to hear the difference to go find a good recording of a piece they liked. One could even reassemble the Fantasia music from individually-picked singles for a true impression of the original composers’ imagination, but without having to digest everything else all at once. Actually, I might start doing that…

      1. Proofreading error :

        What I mean by “reserved” is maybe the music was sort of locked away from general audiences by it’s nature as specialized music for specialized tastes…

  3. I’m all-on for reading Obama’s autobiography, but highly recommend Herbert Hoover’s 3-vol set from 1951. The first vol covers childhood thru the WWI relief efforts that brought him to national attention.

    1. Yes, Alito is one of the most conservative members of the court and “religious freedom” is always on his mind. The Washington Post says this about his speech at the Federalist Society:

      “He worried about religious liberty becoming a second-class right — although religious conservatives won all three of their cases at the court last year — and that the Second Amendment was not respected. He repeated his criticism of the court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that granted same-sex couples the right to marry. He told those watching that he predicted at the time that those who continued to hold to the notion that marriage is only between a man and a woman would be seen as bigots. ‘That is just what is coming to pass,’ he said.”

      1. Yes, politics and religion are just one big soup bowl to this guy. He worries about respect for the second amendment – if that is not stone age thinking there is none. How did he ever learn law when he was buried in the bible?

      2. I don’t suppose there’s much doubt about how Alito will come down on the case argued this past Wednesday, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, arising from Philadelphia’s termination of its contract for foster-care placement with a Catholic agency that discriminates against same-sex couples.

  4. Very glad to see Arizona going democratic. I lived in Arizona way back when Goldwaters was a retail store.

    1. The family’s original log cabin is on the grounds of a museum here in Prescott (Sharlot Hall.) I walk past it every morning on my constitutional.

      Too bad there isn’ a Barry around right now to give the current guy a hint.

    2. Georgia and NC just called. 306 for Biden.

      Per her 2016 tweet:

      Kellyanne Conway
      306. Landslide. Blowout. Historic.

    3. Georgia and NC just called. 306 for Biden.

      Per her 2016 tweet:

      Kellyanne Conway
      306. Landslide. Blowout. Historic.

  5. Hoping to hear some math nerds give their take on the equations — one superficial question I’d raise is in using a lower case and uppercase letter that, unless typeset with Computer Modern, can induce headaches trying to discern one from the other, especially when adorned with other markings and when the equations are full of the letter. But I understand one might get used to it if they study it long enough.

  6. In Australia, Victoria, where I live has just had 15 days of zero new infections and zero deaths.

    We had severe restrictions for a while, including a police road blocks on a ring around Melbourne and a Curfew in Melbourne.

    I had one of the 4 excuses to traverse Melbourne to countryside and went through the checkpoint many times.
    My partner in Melbourne struggles with the lock down, but, here we are.


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