Sunday: Hili dialogue

November 29, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s the non-Jewish sabbath today: Sunday, November 29, 2020: only about a month till we’re out of this hellish year. It’s National Chocolates Day today, so treat yourself—or a loved one. It’s also Lemon Creme Pie Day (aka Lemon Meringue Pie), Small Brewery Sunday, and, religiously, International Day of the Bible as well as Advent Sunday, the beginning of Advent (the fourth Sunday before Christmas).  Finally, it’s Throw out Your Leftovers Day, though many of them will still be good. After all, Thanksgiving was just four days ago! I once won a bet with my lab for eating, on Christmas, a piece of pumpkin pie that was brought to the lab on Thanksgiving. Granted, it was shrunken by about 75%, had the consistency of beef jerky and tasted like leather, but I won my bet.

News of the Day:

I tweeted this Very Big News:

More big news: The Utah Monolith disappeared!

After Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated several days ago, most likely by Israeli agents, Iran has vowed to retaliate. It’s not clear whether the U.S. helped with intelligence in the killing, but, given Trump’s view of Iran, I wouldn’t doubt it. The problem, of course, is that if Iran retaliates after Biden is elected, and it involves the U.S. that could be a problem. (Biden also has a much more lenient view of Iran’s nuclear program than does Trump.) I have no idea what the retaliation would involve, but if it’s against Israel, big-time conflict is in the offing.

At any rate, despite opposition to Trump’s position from the Left and the liberal media (see here), I’m still not convinced that Iran isn’t building a bomb.  In fact, all the signs are that it is, and perhaps I’ll write about this soon. I suspect that any renewal of an American deal with Iran, then, will represent only a delaying tactic, as Iran will have a bomb in the end. (Does anybody really doubt that?) And if it does, what did all this temporizing accomplish? On the other hand, state-sponsored assassinations don’t seem the way to go.

There’s a literary pedophilia scandal in France: a big-time winner of a literary prize sexually exploited children, and the jury that gave him the prize knew about it. A NYT story exposes the deeply corrupt nature of France’s “elite institutions.”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 265,940, an increase of about 1,200 from yesterday’s figure.  The world death toll is 1,459,822, an increase of about 8,600 over yesterday’s report. 

Stuff that happened on November 29 includes:

  • 1394 – The Korean king Yi Seong-gye, founder of the Joseon dynasty, moves the capital from Kaesŏng to Hanyang, today known as Seoul.
  • 1781 – The crew of the British slave ship Zong murders 133 Africans by dumping them into the sea to claim insurance.

They did this because there wasn’t enough water to give to all the slaves and the crew. So this horrific incident ensued (from Wikipedia):

On 29 November, the crew assembled to consider the proposal that some of the enslaved people should be thrown overboard. James Kelsall later claimed that he had disagreed with the plan at first but it was soon unanimously agreed.  On 29 November 54 women and children were thrown through cabin windows into the sea.  On 1 December 42 male enslaved people were thrown overboard, and 36 more followed in the next few days. Another ten, in a display of defiance at the inhumanity of the slavers, chose to commit suicide by jumping into the sea. Having heard the shrieks of the victims as they were thrown into the water, one of the captives requested that the remaining Africans be denied all food and drink rather than thrown into the sea. The crew ignored this request. In total, 142 Africans were killed by the time the ship reached Jamaica. The account of the King’s Bench trial reports that one enslaved person managed to climb back onto the ship.

There was a trial, but nobody was convicted, of course. Here’s a Turner painting about this shameful episode:

(From Wikipedia): A painting entitled “The Slave Ship” by J. M. W. Turner. In the background, the sun shines through a storm while large waves hit the sides of a sailing ship. In the foreground, enslaved people are drowning in the water, while others are being eaten by large fish.
  • 1877 – Thomas Edison demonstrates his phonograph for the first time.
  • 1899 – FC Barcelona is founded by Catalan, Spanish and Englishmen. It later develops into one of Spanish football’s most iconic and strongest teams.
  • 1929 – U.S. Admiral Richard E. Byrd leads the first expedition to fly over the South Pole.

Byrd also claimed to have flown over the North Pole, but that is hotly disputed, and there are accusations that he falsified his flight records. However, he did fly over the South Pole; here’s a poster for the 1930 movie about it:

  • 1961 – Project Mercury: Mercury-Atlas 5 Mission: Enos, a chimpanzee, is launched into space. The spacecraft orbits the Earth twice and splashes down off the coast of Puerto Rico.

From Wikipedia: “Enos being prepared for insertion into the Mercury-Atlas 5 capsule in 1961.”

  • 1963 – “I Want to Hold Your Hand“, recorded on October 17, 1963, is released by the Beatles in the United Kingdom.
  • 1972 – Atari releases Pong, the first commercially successful video game.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1627 – John Ray, English biologist and botanist (d. 1705)
  • 1803 – Christian Doppler, Austrian mathematician and physicist (d. 1853)
  • 1832 – Louisa May Alcott, American novelist and poet (d. 1888)

Here’s Alcott in 1870, when she was about 38:

  • 1874 – Egas Moniz, Portuguese physician and neurologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1955)
  • 1898 – C. S. Lewis, British novelist, poet, and critic (d. 1963)

Lewis died on the day that Kennedy was assassinated, so his death wasn’t noted as widely as it should have been. (“Should have been” is subjective, of course, since what I’ve read of his theology is pure hogwash. However, it’s probably true that he was the most popular theologian of the twentieth century.). Here he is with his beloved wife Joy, who died of bone cancer, plunging him into depression:

Image: The Marion E. Wade Center / Wheaton College
  • 1915 – Billy Strayhorn, American pianist and composer (d. 1967)
  • 1917 – Merle Travis, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1983)
  • 1942 – Felix Cavaliere, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer

Those who died on November 29 include:

  • 1530 – Thomas Wolsey, English cardinal and politician, Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom (b. 1470)
  • 1924 – Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer and educator (b. 1858)
  • 1981 – Natalie Wood, American actress (b. 1938)

Wood’s real name was Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko, as she was the daughter of Russian immigrant. I’m a big fan of hers; she was a terrific actor and, to me, the most beautiful movie star ever. Here’s the trailer for her movie with Warren Beatty, “Splendor in the Grass” (1961). Directed by Elia Kazan, it got mixed reviews but I like it.

  • 1986 – Cary Grant, English-American actor (b. 1904)

And his real name, as you may know, was Archibald Alec Leach.

  • 2001 – George Harrison, English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and music producer (b. 1943)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili feels the need for speed:

Hili: I should go hunting.
A: Are you hungry?
Hili: No, but I need the exercise.
In Polish:
Hili: Powinnam pójść na polowanie.
Ja: Głodna jesteś?
Hili: Nie, ale mam za mało ruchu.

A meme from Barry, one of many about “how evolution started” (another was this one from Gary Larson):

From Nicole (those poor women named Karen!):

From Diana MacPherson:

Two tweets from reader Barry. First, CAT McDONALD’S!

This sounds like a First Amendment violation; I hope the guy brought a lawsuit, as it’s all on tape (sound up):

Tweets from Matthew. This is one plump capybara!

I still don’t understand why the water level drops or whatever, but I’m sure a reader will explain this:

Ten to one this caterpillar is toxic or distasteful to predators:

I knew this but Matthew didn’t. Live and learn!

Notice that the starlings assume the shape that protects them best against predators:

41 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

      1. It’s important to note that these rocks are just tiny pebbles maybe the size of your thumb or less. Initially it looks impressive because you imagine the rocks to be quite large, but once you realise the scale is quite small it isn’t as impressive I think.

    1. This is the kind of thing that really haunts one. These people, including children, already suffering enslavement, just thrown overboard, just imagine their fear, their realization of the inevitable, plain horror. And this has probably happened more than once. It bears no thinking. Reminds us of the gas chambers in a way. I have difficulty to keep it dry.
      And of course no prosecution, nauseating.
      Even the disgusting Matzneff scandal pales in comparison.

        1. The Turner painting – when you see it close up which you can’t at our resolution here – is even more chilling. The details. I didn’t know it was based on a true story.
          D.A., J.D., NYC

  1. In Switzerland we like to believe that FC Barcelona was founded by the Swiss Hans Gamper. We taught them to play football :-).

  2. Besides the dogs, the Biden’s say they will bring a cat to the White House. What are they going to do, rent one?

  3. “I still don’t understand why the water level drops or whatever, but I’m sure a reader will explain this:”

    The melt-water probably evaporates when it is in liquid form during sunny days. It cannot be very quick at that temperature, but as far as we know the formation of these structures took weeks or even months.

  4. The Matzneff pedofilia scandal and the behaviour of the French (Parisian) elite institutions is from last year and was in the international press then. Why does the NYT talk about it now? Did they not notice when it came to light? But I could only read the first couple if lines since I do not have access to the NYT. Are they talking about a new scandal further down in the article? I watch French TV every night and did not hear anything these days. The scandals these days in France are about policemen filmed while beating up people, especially black people.

    1. Another take, from 10 months ago: “The Matzneff scandal shows France’s attitude to consent is finally starting to change” [Guardian].

    1. Nearly all Turners paintings are like that. And yes, there is no doubt he inspired the impressionists. In my books he’s one of the greatest.
      [Trivia: I’ve read he had a collection of more than 300 portraits of women’s ‘intimate parts’ (vulvas), but I’ve never seen any of those.]

  5. It looks like Baikal Zen is caused by wind, not by the Sun heat. Ice evaporates under strong wind, and it seems like yes, it takes away quite some inches of ice. You can see that it is an action of wind because of asymmetry of ice shape below stones: preferred direction of wind is from left to right on those photos. I believe winds on Baikal are very strong, this is why there is no snow on ice.

    I’ve seen things like this inside caves in north, but on much smaller scale. Will send photos, if I will found them.

    1. I was also thinking that the “burrowing” was, at least partly, due to deflection of the wind by the rock. The deflection could help to chase evaporated water and put some pressure on the ice surface.

      It must take a time to arrive at those amazing “compositions”.

    2. Also some photos and some analysis – apparently with supporting experiments – here:

      “Lake Baikal, in the Russian region of Siberia, is a massive body of water—the world’s deepest and most voluminous freshwater lake. Its location and the surrounding geography can lead to fascinating phenomena in the winter, as ferocious winds and cycles of melting and refreezing build and sculpt works of structural beauty—stones supported on wind-worn pedestals, undulating surface ice, encrusted beaches, crazy icicles, frozen methane bubbles, and more. Below, a collection of some interesting and beautiful images from the clear ice of Lake Baikal.

      1. A small stone stands on a “leg” above the ice of Lake Baikal. At one point the bottom of the stone froze to the surface of the ice, and over time, relentless winds wore away its underpinnings, sublimating the ice and shaping a smooth pedestal within a shallow depression. For a complete scientific examination of this phenomenon, you can view this presentation by Team Ukraine at the International Physicist’s Tournament 2018.”

      [ ]

      40 minute video here: . “PT 2018 Problem 17. Balancing pebble – Ukraine”

      In the first 2 minutes the student show from a simple model that you need wind, sun heating can be involved but is not enough.

  6. This sounds like a First Amendment violation; I hope the guy brought a lawsuit, as it’s all on tape …

    Assuming Aurora Pro Services is a private corporation (and not a state actor), the employee’s firing for refusing to pray would not constitute a First Amendment violation (although it might violate certain civil-rights laws).

    If the employee were to be denied unemployment benefits as being fired “for cause,” however, THAT would violate the First Amendment. See Sherbert v. Verner

  7. “U.S. Admiral Richard E. Byrd leads the first expedition to fly over the South Pole.”

    For the few unaware, I’ll note that Roald Amundsen led 3 other men overland (really ice and snow at 10,000 feet altitude) to the South Pole 20 years or so before Byrd.

    ‘With a little help from his friends”, from dogs and from skis (which are living beings in my world) in this case, and from other humans on the team. They made it seem easy, like a weekend on the Hardanger Plateau in Norway, though pioneering a completely new route up the big mountain chain glaciers, and a 2 or 3 month trip, is somewhat more.

    Being absolutely clueless about both dogs and about skis, at the same time Scott led 4 other men to his and their deaths. So, very often, “easy” has a large element of preparedness, non-arrogance, and real world awareness. Examples are it being kinda dumb to plan on likely being out there as close to the oncoming winter as late as early March, and not knowing how to properly mark where you left food etc. for the return journey.

  8. 1942 – Felix Cavaliere, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer.

    Here’s an interesting interview with Felix Cavaliere on a show dedicated to issues of free speech. In it he talks about playing piano as a teenager in a band in the Catskills, about meeting the Beatles when they were still unknowns playing in Hamburg, about the early days of the Rascals, about writing “People Got to Be Free” after the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, about insisting that the bills The Rascals played on in the South be integrated, and about how growing up a second-generation Italian-American informed his identification with the Civil Rights movement.

    As a white boy growing up with an abiding love for R&B, I’ve always had a special affection for blue-eyed soul bands like The Rascals.

    1. Huh. GW Bush. I’m a “Never India cat” guy. Socks will always be MY favorite W.H. cat.
      BTW — apparently few people though it strange in 2016 that we’d elect a “president” who didn’t have a pet. But then many people don’t seem to notice a lot of strange things lately….
      D.A., NYC

  9. That caterpillar will grow up to be a swallowtail butterfly. It has a strange behavioral method of protecting itself. I’ll bet that on its preferred host plants it’s much better camouflaged than it seems against that wall.

  10. I only wish I had a digital copy of a VHS tape made from a home-movie camera featuring a young Elvis giving rides on his motorcycle to Natalie Wood and Nick Adams in the late 50s. They are all so young and happy.This was pre-Graceland, filmed from the driveway of Elvis’s modest house in Memphis just before he rocketed to superstardom. The film was stashed away until the 90s in the attic of my uncle who lived just a few hours south of Memphis. How he came to be standing outside Elvis’s home with a movie camera will forever be a mystery; he died before anybody could ask him.

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