Monday: Hili dialogue

November 23, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s Monday, November 23, 2020, and the beginning of Turkey Week in America. And you can wake up to National Espresso Day, as well as Eat A Cranberry Day, National Cashew Day (again?), Fibonacci Day (11/23—get it?; it’ll be even better on November 23, 2058), and, in Frederick County, Maryland, Repudiation Day. 

News of the Day:

Joe Biden was supposed to name his cabinet choices tomorrow, but he’s already in effect named three.

Antony J. Blinken, a defender of global alliances and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s closest foreign policy adviser, is expected to be nominated for secretary of state, a job in which he will try to coalesce skeptical international partners into a new competition with China, according to people close to the process.

. . . .Mr. Biden is also expected to name another close aide, Jake Sullivan, as national security adviser, according to a person familiar with the process. Mr. Sullivan, 43, succeeded Mr. Blinken as Vice President Biden’s national security adviser, and served as the head of policy planning at the State Department under Hillary Clinton, becoming her closest strategic adviser.

. . . Mr. Biden is also expected to name Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year veteran of the Foreign Service who has served in diplomatic posts around the world, as his ambassador to the United Nations, according to two people with knowledge of the process. Mr. Biden will also restore the post to cabinet-level status after Mr. Trump downgraded it, giving Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, who is Black, a seat on his National Security Council.

Was it kosher for the NYT to give the race of the black person but not the others?

Here’s Elisabeth Rosenthal asking the questions we all want to ask Dr. Anthony Fauci. One of them:

When do you think we’ll all be able to throw our masks away?

I think that we’re going to have some degree of public health measures together with the vaccine for a considerable period of time. But we’ll start approaching normal — if the overwhelming majority of people take the vaccine — as we get into the third or fourth quarter [of 2021].

The NYT has a photo essay on the infamous Kolyma Highway, 2000 km of road built to connect railroad stations with Stalin’s gulags, or prison camps. It’s called the “Road of Bones” because an estimated quarter million to a million people died while building the road on permafrost, and it was considered easier to fold the dead bodies into the nascent road than to bury them. The essay has some intriguing photos calling up a terrible period in Russian history.

Two federal prisoners are scheduled for execution before Inauguration Day. I guess it’s too much to expect the sociopath Trump to have enough empathy to stay their executions until Biden can decide whether to issue a permanent stay. According to this 17-month-old Tweet, Joe is opposed to the death penalty:

In the Washington Post, law professor and ex-prosecutor Randall Eliason argues “The case against indicting Trump.” I largely agree with him, but only because it’s likely that Trump will face state criminal charges—for which a President can’t pardon him—after the election.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 256,587, an increase of about 800 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,394,833, an increase of about 6,900 over yesterday’s report.

Stuff that happened on November 23 includes:

I haven’t read the pamphlet, whose title page is below, but Hitchens always recommended this as one of the must-read pieces for discussing freedom of speech. (See this wonderful video at 1:50).

  • 1876 – Corrupt Tammany Hall leader William Magear Tweed (better known as Boss Tweed) is delivered to authorities in New York City after being captured in Spain.

After an unsuccessful attempt to escape, Tweed was jailed until his death two years later. Here’s a Thomas Nast cartoon of Boss Tweed with the Wikipedia caption below it:

A Group of Vultures Waiting for the Storm to “Blow Over”—”Let Us Prey.” by Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly newspaper, September 23, 1871. “Boss” Tweed and members of his ring, Peter B. Sweeny, Richard B. Connolly, and A. Oakey Hall, weathering a violent storm on a ledge with the picked-over remains of New York City.
  • 1910 – Johan Alfred Ander becomes the last person to be executed in Sweden.
  • 1924 – Edwin Hubble‘s discovery, that the Andromeda “nebula” is actually another island galaxy far outside of our own Milky Way, is first published in The New York Times.

Here’s Andromeda, 2.5 million light years away:

  • 1963 – The BBC broadcasts An Unearthly Child (starring William Hartnell), the first episode of the first story from the first series of Doctor Who, which is now the world’s longest running science fiction drama.

Here’s the Tardis taking off for the first time in that early series:

  • 1976 – Apneist Jacques Mayol is the first man to reach a depth of 100 m undersea without breathing equipment.
  • 1981 – Iran–Contra affair: Ronald Reagan signs the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), giving the Central Intelligence Agency the authority to recruit and support Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
  • 1992 – The first smartphone, the IBM Simon, is introduced at COMDEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Here’s that rather unwieldy smartphone, which is clearly not meant to be carried around in your pocket or purse.

  • 2005 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is elected president of Liberia and becomes the first woman to lead an African country.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1804 – Franklin Pierce, American general, lawyer, and politician, 14th President of the United States (d. 1869)
  • 1887 – Boris Karloff, English actor (d. 1969)
  • 1888 – Harpo Marx, American comedian and musician (d. 1964)
  • 1942 – Susan Anspach, American actress (d. 2018)

It’s sad that Susan Anspach is gone; I’ll always remember her role in the great movie Five Easy Pieces as the pianist and unwilling love/lust object of Jack Nicholson. Here’s one scene showing the tension between them:

  • 1953 – Rick Bayless, American chef and author
  • 1992 – Miley Cyrus, American singer-songwriter and actress 

Those who passed on on November 23 include:

  • 1572 – Bronzino, Italian painter and poet (b. 1503)
  • 1682 – Claude Lorrain, French-Italian painter and engraver (b. 1604)
  • 1976 – André Malraux, French theorist and author (b. 1901)
  • 1991 – Klaus Kinski, German-American actor and director (b. 1926)
  • 1992 – Roy Acuff, American singer-songwriter and fiddler (b. 1903)
  • 1995 – Louis Malle, French-American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1932)
  • 1995 – Junior Walker, American singer and saxophonist (b. 1931)

Here’s Junior Walker performing his best song, “What Does it Take“, live on the Letterman show:

  • 2006 – Anita O’Day, American singer (b. 1919)
  • 2014 – Marion Barry, American lawyer and politician, 2nd Mayor of the District of Columbia (b. 1936)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili comments on the world. About the lunatics, Malgorzata explains, “Don’t you see lunatics all around you? Flat=earthers, antivaxxers, medicinal quacks—not to mention the world of politics? I do, and Hili does.”

Hili: A strange world.
A: Why?
Hili: Plenty of lunatics everywhere.
In Polish:
Hili: Dziwny świat.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Wszędzie pełno lunatyków.

Szaron has been cured of his Giardia, and Kulka and Szaron are again sleeping snugly together, with the dark Szaron taking good care of the kitten. (Photo by Paulina R.)

Caption: Kulka comforter.

In Polish: Kulka pocieszycielka.

A meme posted by Seth Andrews; you should be able to figure it out:

From Mark:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Barry. A man rescues tiny dog from jaw of tiny alligator, all while keeping his cigar lit.

From Ken, who says, “I’d feel a bit more confident regarding their claim that they met with Trump to discuss additional COVID-19 assistance for Michigan, were they not sitting at the Trump hotel maskless and non-socially distanced.”

From Simon. The fish don’t look all that stressed, though.

Tweets from Matthew. I found Zlamany’s portraits both inspiring and depressing, the latter as an exploration of the decrepitude of aging. You can read more about the exhibit here, and below this tweet I’ve put a 100-second video with all the portraits.

This is infinitely preferable to any fancy cat-platform you can buy:

Yes, how much knowledge could any of us impart to people two millennia ago in a way that would advance their society?

We need more of these overpasses. After all, the critters were here before we were:

This is surely not random, but I have no idea why. It has not escaped our notice that both Matthew and my last names begin with “C”.


52 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Was it kosher for the NYT to give the race of the black person but not the others?”

    I admit in the moment, reading it, I just went along with it — but there’s something peculiar about it, I don’t know what…

      1. Yeah, I assume it’s because she’s only the second African-American woman to hold the position of US ambassador to the UN, after Susan Rice.

        May we all look forward to the day when such appointments are no longer novel enough to merit such a mention.

  2. I think masks are a good idea in any event — I have found I don’t remember or care about masks when talking to people with masks on -that is, my conversations flow uninhibited, or I pull the mask up momentarily a bit to get better sound. We shall see how that works in winter — the hardest thing is remembering the mask in the first place.

      1. It occurred to me that people who are babies now won’t remember a time when people didn’t wear masks in public. It will be interesting to see how (or if) they react when it stops.

  3. A man rescues tiny dog from jaw of tiny alligator, all while keeping his cigar lit.

    Hey, that’s a “Florida Man,” man.

    Credit where credit’s due.

    1. There was no need to kill him, just to change his mind (“open his heart”). In this story, God did not really care about “free will” because he influenced the mind of Pharaoh.

      1. Yes, in this case the Bible and Jerry are on the same page: No free will!

        Several times in the Exodus story, the King James Bible explicitly says that “God hardened the Pharaoh’s heart.” The last time, when God got to go on a killing spree, is in Exodus 11:9-10.

        If you read Exodus, God comes across as an insecure high school student who desperately needs over and over again to show off, so that everyone will think he is so great. Thus, he kept hardening the Pharaoh’s heart in order to have a thin justification for the next plague.

        1. Exactly. In fact, it hints that the Pharaoh was wavering, planning to release the salves, but that God hardened his heart…I guess to make sure everyone got the whole plague and slaughter show.

    2. And why did the Lord need the Israelites to mark their door posts with the blood of a lamb, so He would know to pass over that house rather than to kill the firstborn?

      God can’t tell who lives inside an abode — Egyptian or Israelite — without being left a clue?

  4. Regarding correlation of paper citations with first letter of last name: Well now i feel like even more of a failure at age 72 comparing number of citations of papers by you or matthew to those by me. I guess that’s statistics.

  5. It would not bother me in the least if they go after Trump until his dying days. Surrounded by lawyers in prison is just about right.

    1. Emotionally, there is nothing more I would like to see than Trump in an orange jumpsuit. It galls me that he may get away with his crimes. Yet, criminal prosecution on the federal level (assuming he can’t pardon himself) would send his cult into a frenzy. The social consequences could be great, perhaps permanently ending any chance for national healing. It would also set a precedent for future former presidents to be prosecuted by their successors for alleged crimes that, in contrast to the present situation, is done purely out of retribution. Criminal prosecution on the state level for financial crimes may create less of a furor among his followers, but that is not certain. So, the problem comes down to this: justice versus social unrest. It’s not an easy choice. I’m still thinking about it.

      Of course, even if Trump is not prosecuted, I see no reason not to go against the rest of his crime family.

      1. After four years of Trump, and after Bill Barr’s Roy Cohnesque performance as attorney general, it is crucial that this nation re-establish fealty to the rule of law — including, in particular, to the principle that no man is above the law.

        Any potential federal prosecution of Donald Trump (or of his family) should be turned over to career professionals inside the Justice Department, without interference from political appointees, for consideration under the same principles and policies that guide the investigation of any other suspected perp — no more, no less.

        If that upsets Trump’s dead-end base, tant pis. We live in a constitutional democratic republic.

        1. As long as we have this great wide view of the first amendment Donald Trump will gather his cult on one TV network or another and continue with the lies and conspiracies. Also the idea that no one is above the law will continue to join that lie. All the crooks thinks America is great. I wonder what the founders would have thought of this place now?

          1. Biden will in fact make the decision by appointing, to replace Barr, a person who will take credit/blame for prosecuting/not the mass murderer. That decision will be very likely known to Biden before he decides who gets the job.

      2. “It would also set a precedent for future former presidents to be prosecuted by their successors for alleged crimes that, in contrast to the present situation, is done purely out of retribution.”

        This is why I don’t think the feds should go after him, unless we uncover a very serious crime against the US. Let the states put him a real orange (jump)suit.

        Since everyone thinks they have a crystal ball these days, I can prognosticate too (something I don’t like to do – mostly because I usually turn out to be wrong).

        Here goes…

        While Trumpism and it’s effects will sadly, tragically be with us for years to come, the orange cheeto will soon be out of the public eye and …here’s my take from the crystal…support for the man will vanish like a fart in the wind. After the media stops covering him 24/7 ,I am not so worried about rabid armed Trump defenders.

        1. apologies for the typos and wandering apostrophes I can;t seem to stop making them and I usually neglect to proof read….

    2. Anyone who, like me, is shamefully gloating and wallowing in schadenfreude at the unbelievable antics of the Trump campaign should get a load of Sidney Powell. A person who is so wacked-out she makes Rudy Giuliani look almost human.
      Did anyone ever see such a zombie? If you hooked a speech synthesizer up to a teleprompter and a ventriloquist’s dummy you’d have more convincing signs of life. Shouldn’t a PR frontperson have at least some persuasiveness and animation?

      Okay, it would appear that her ‘theories’ are so deranged that even the Trump ‘legal team’ are now backing cautiously away while keeping sharp objects carefully out of her reach.


  6. I looked up how many people have a last name starting with the letter B and this is what I found “S, B, H, M, and C are the most common initials for last names” maybe that has something to do with it?

  7. It’s sad that Susan Anspach is gone; I’ll always remember her role in the great movie Five Easy Pieces as the pianist and unwilling love/lust object of Jack Nicholson.

    Anspach played the girlfriend of Nicholson’s brother — so bad on Bobby Dupea for that one. Matter of fact, Jack pretty much plays the prick throughout the flick — a relatable prick, but a prick nonetheless. He even just up and abandons his girlfriend, played by Karen Black, at the Gulf gas station at the movie’s end, hitching a ride on a logging truck. I’ve always loved the way Rafelson holds that final shot of the logging truck disappearing down the highway:

  8. Being an annoying five year old younger brother in 1963, I remember waking the day after the first Dr Who episode and saying to my brother “What was the name of that programme? Doctor….Doctor…Doctor who?” No doubt he threw a pillow at me, but at least he restrained himself from smothering me with it.

  9. I’ve been to the Hebrew Home during my Geriatrics rotation, back when I was still alive, myself. It’s a pretty good place. Those paintings are really quite good! It’s a nice thing to do for the residents…a small gesture, but quite positive, reminding them that they’re still human beings and they matter.

  10. For his 1934 PhD thesis my father Horace Babcock determined the rotational velocities of matter in the Andromeda galaxy vs.distance from the center. It showed evidence for “non luminous” matter, one of the first pieces of evidence for dark matter. This line of research was picked up in the 70’s by Ford and Rubin and repeated for many other galaxies.

    1. He ought to be given credit for that, along with Fritz Zwicky, where it always seems vaguely to be written “..early 30s..”. I believe Zwicky coined the “dark matter” term.

  11. “Was it kosher for the NYT to give the race of the black person but not the others?”

    Kosher to focus on the race of a person? It’s mitzvah to the Woke. So is capitalizing it.

    The practice at the NYT and elsewhere is meant to convey three things;
    1) The NYT is virtuous and righteous.
    2) In the woke religion it is forbidden to neglect to point out the most important quality of a person for any job or public office; the color of their skin.
    3) If they didn’t take pains to point out the race of someone they are discussing, how would anyone know about rule #1?

  12. I understand the arguments against Biden’s Justice Department investigating Trump but that risks setting the equally dangerous precedent of ignoring crime for political expedient reasons. This would virtually demand that Biden pardon Trump, abhorrent though that may seem, in order to allow Justice not to pursue Trump’s crime. Perhaps there’s another way. I hope so.

  13. It must have been quite sensational when the public learned that the Andromeda “nebula” was another galaxy like our Milky Way. It was a point at which our understanding of the size of the universe went up a few orders of magnitude.

    Also interesting is the future collision of Andromeda with our own galaxy. In fact, some scientists suggest the collision has already begun! Can you imagine what it will look like in the night sky? Of course, we won’t be around to see it. 🙁

    1. Andromeda is also the furthest object that can be seen with the naked eye, once you know how to find it. I have seen it many times in dark skies from southern Oregon.

  14. eliason reasons

    “In this country, we don’t use the criminal justice system to punish political opponents.”

    and states

    “We also don’t prosecute political misdeeds that aren’t actually criminal. Many of Trump’s actions fall into this category.”

    i see this as fallacious, substituting “to punish political opponents” for “to punish criminal actions”, and ignoring some criminal actions because not all were criminal.

    in particular, obstruction of justice into an investigation o collusion with foreign entities to corruptly influence an election merits its own investigation.

    and if we’re to permit presidents to enjoy temporary immunity while in office, and exempt them from ethics rules while they govern, failing to follow up after they leave office invites malfeasance. now that a precedent has been established that a president doesn’t have to disclose finances or divest holdings (guaranteeing self-biased decisions), special scrutiny should be applied after office.

  15. “Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 256,587, an increase of about 800 from yesterday’s figure.”

    The average, over the last 3 weeks of the (week-long, monday to sunday) daily death US toll has gone from about 1000 to 1200 to 1550 deaths. Rather ominous.
    One 9/11 every two days, and getting worse.

    The total number of deaths, cranked up by population for a selection of other countries would come to roughly (the actual number of deaths is of course much less since all have smaller populations by factors of 4 or more):

    Norway— 18,700
    Finland– 23,100
    Iceland– 25,300
    Denmark– 45,000
    Germany– 56,800
    Canada— 99,900

    These are calculated using the Worldometer site, as of last night.
    Most of these numbers in reality should be increased quite a bit, if deaths are defined as the number which wouldn’t have happened had there been no coronavirus. This uses the actual deaths minus the statistically expected deaths over the appropriate time period.

    It’s time my country, Canada, stopped patting itself on the back, merely comparing itself to US as 2½ times better. If you just took all of Canada minus Quebec, you’d get a number quite close to Germany’s. I am an ashamed ‘Quebec-ophile’ having been born and lived there till 3rd year high school.

    It is pretty obvious how stupid Sweden’s ‘herd immunity’ policies have been, and yet they persist with much of that.

    Iceland’s numbers are not as stable, with only about ⅓ of a million population, and 26 total deaths.

    Several other Euro countries are around as bad as US it seems for now, e.g. Italy, Spain, UK, Belgium, in successively worse numbers.

    Perhaps Belgium’s won’t be much if at all larger in the end. Reliable sources indicate that US’s will increase by 30% to 35%, i.e. by about adding ⅓, which gives more like 350,000 deaths so far. Italy’s may well now be deflated by even more, i.e. more like adding 50% once the stats are known in a few years.

    My wife can vouch that I said maybe late February for a vaccine for us old guys, certainly not sooner. Looks quite possible my optimism might be close.

    1. The erroneous social media idea on Sweden continues today again!?

      I’ll just repost what I just said on yesterday’s Hili dialogue. “It is pretty obvious how stupid” that claim is:

      There’s a vicious resurgence of coronavirus in Sweden, to the extent that they’re now requiring lockdown protocols, which nevertheless seem mild (early closing of bars, etc.) But clearly, the Swedish strategy of promoting herd immunity seems to have failed.

      Wgat?! Now you are pulling my leg by using foreign and speculative sources – this is a science blog – Sweden never had a strategy of “promoting” or else having herd immunity.

      Look at what the Swedish authorities themselves said instead:

      However, the current state epidemiologist has nothing left to do to possibly experiment with the spread of infection in society as a whole, in order to achieve flock immunity more quickly, for example:

      – Experimenting with the spread of infection is a dubious method, says Anders Tegnell.

      Anders Tegnell sees no major risks with the state’s current method of limiting and slowing the spread of infection as much as possible.

      [ ]

      Clearly, we never had a strategy of herd immunity. Equally clearly Sweden *did* suppress the initial epidemic voluntarily, equally as well as lockdown protocols – we have the numbers and even peer published science that finds that – and has moved on to local restrictions as most effective. The resurgence is much milder than the first rise.

      We can’t yet – if ever – compare national responses. But on the outward appearences, it would be US that tries the herd immunity path. And some European nations that practice national lockdowns have had it worse (say, Netherlands).

      Now I urge you to give it a rest, and study the facts instead. The claims about herd immunity, or noteworthy bad outcome, won’t be true how many times you repeat unsupported, erroneous claims.

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