Monday: Hili dialogue

January 11, 2021 • 6:00 am

It’s damn Monday again: January 11, 2021: National Hot Toddy Day. It’s also National Milk Day, National Gluten-Free Day, National Clean off your Desk Day (do it!), Girl Hug Boy Day (not this year), and National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. 

News of the day:

Weather news first: There was a huge snowfall in Spain, with Madrid receiving 20 inches (51 cm) in two days!  Everything ground to a halt, of course; there hasn’t been a snowfall like that in decades. But one enterprising guy mushed his dogs through the city!

Here’s a tweet courtesy of Dr. Cobb:

The impeachment/resignation/removal movement is proceeding on all three fronts. The House is voting this morning to ask Pence and the Cabinet to proceed with enacting the provisions of the 25th Amendment, getting Trump to resign. That’s a foolish waste of time, as Pence has already indicated he has no inclination to do that. Several Republicans have now called upon Trump to resign. That’s foolish too; if you know Trump, there’s no way he’ll leave office in his last ten days.

The big hope lies in impeachment, which looks increasingly likely as Republican Senators are moving toward voting for conviction. The problem with that, of course, is that it derails Biden’s legislative agenda with a long Senate trial. Biden may have a Democratic Senate for only two years, and he needs to start enacting his agenda now. Some, like the House majority whip (a Democrat, of course), have suggested that the House can draw up articles of impeachment now, but wait several months before sending them to the Senate for trial. That sounds like a reasonable compromise.

According to last night’s NBC News, every single FBI field office is working on identifying the suspects photographed in the Capitol takeover. The New York Times describes some of the notable arrests. I was particularly pleased to see the guy who put his feet on Pelosi’s desk (Richard Barnett) and the guy who stole her lectern (Adam Johnson) doing the perp walk. Jake Angeli, the fur-hatted, face-painted Viking warrior with a spear, has now been nicknamed “Q Shaman.” He’s been at many pro-Trump rallies in Arizona since the Orange man was elected, and now is charged with “one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.” I say throw the book at all of them; this kind of behavior needs longer-than-usual sentences as a means of deterrence.

There’s a big kerfuffle about when prisoners should be vaccinated; many people are objecting to some states’ rules that prisoners should be given the Covid-19 vaccination before the elderly. This is a tough problem given that prisoners are five times more likely to be infected than “civilians.” My own view is that their risk alone, along with any underlying conditions like age or comorbidities, should be the sole determinants on vaccination. Being a convicted prisoner should not bump you out of the queue, as you’re already serving your punishment. Being put at an extra risk beyond that due to your overall chance of dying doesn’t seem warranted—it’s punishment on top of punishment. Do you agree?

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 374,428, an increase of about 1,800 deaths from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,944,516, an increase of about 8.200 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 11 include:

  • 630 – Conquest of Mecca: The prophet Muhammad and his followers conquer the city, Quraysh surrender.
  • 1569 – First recorded lottery in England.

This was held by Queen Elizabeth I, and every ticket holder won a prize.

  • 1879 – The Anglo-Zulu War begins.
  • 1922 – Leonard Thompson becomes the first person to be injected with insulin.

The first dose was contaminated, but Thompson, 15 years old, took more and purer doses, and lived until he was 28.  Here’s Thompson:

Hoxha ruled until 1973 as one of the last old-time Marxists. Here he is on a poster with Mao:

  • 1949 – The first “networked” television broadcasts took place as KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania goes on the air connecting the east coast and mid-west programming.
  • 1964 – Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Luther Terry, M.D., publishes the landmark report Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States saying that smoking may be hazardous to health, sparking national and worldwide anti-smoking efforts.
  • 2003 – Illinois Governor George Ryan commutes the death sentences of 167 prisoners on Illinois‘s death row based on the Jon Burge scandal.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1807 – Ezra Cornell, American businessman and philanthropist, founded Western Union and Cornell University (d. 1874)
  • 1842 – William James, American psychologist and philosopher (d. 1910)
  • 1889 – Calvin Bridges, American geneticist and academic (d. 1938)

Here’s the colorful Bridges looking at Drosophila. By now you should know who he is.

  • 1906 – Albert Hofmann, Swiss chemist and academic, discoverer of LSD (d. 2008)

As I’ve said, I once heard Hofmann speak on his discovery of LSD in a lecture in Richard Schultes’s Economic Botany course at Harvard. He lectured wearing an immaculate white lab coat, as below, and was about the straightest guy I’d ever seen. I guess I was expecting a hippie.

  • 1923 – Carroll Shelby, American race car driver, engineer, and businessman, founded Carroll Shelby International (d. 2012)
  • 1946 – Naomi Judd, American singer-songwriter and actress

Those who conked out on January 11 include:

  • 1843 – Francis Scott Key, American lawyer, author, and songwriter (b. 1779)
  • 1882 – Theodor Schwann, German physiologist and biologist (b. 1810)
  • 1928 – Thomas Hardy, English novelist and poet (b. 1840)
  • 1941 – Emanuel Lasker, German mathematician, philosopher, and chess player (b. 1868)
  • 1988 – Isidor Isaac Rabi, Polish-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1898)

Here’s Rabi (who discovered nuclear magnetic resonance, the basis of NMR imaging), with two other Laureates. Rabi is on right with E. O. Lawrence on the left and Enrico Fermi in the middle.

Mitchinson was the sister of J.B.S. Haldane and a noted poet and author. Wikipedia reports this:

When asked on her 90th birthday whether she had any regrets in life, she replied, “Yes, all the men I never slept with. Imagine!”

She had an open marriage, though, and did sleep with quite a few men. Here she is:

  • 2008 – Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer and explorer (b. 1919)
  • 2010 – Éric Rohmer, French director, screenwriter, and critic (b. 1920)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili manages to carry on a conversation while she’s asleep:

A: Are you asleep?
Hili: I’m asleep.
A: Are you dreaming?
Hili: I am.
A: What about?
Hili: I’m not telling.
In Polish:
Ja: Śpisz?
Hili: Śpię.
Ja: Śnisz?
Hili: Śnię.
Ja: A o czym?
Hili: Nie powiem.

Here is a portrait of little Kulka; she can be told apart from Hili because a. she’s much smaller and b. she has golden rather than green eyes. Photo by Paulina R.

And Szaron stalking in the snow:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Stash Krod:

From Facebook:

From Titania. Besides her sarcasm, I find it hard to believe that the Chinese Embassy in Washington really tweeted that. It’s so slimy! But there’s a blue checkmark, so it must be real.

Barry calls this “the power of confidence.” Indeed. And I have to give a shout-out to Steve Stewart-Williams for producing the many tweets we reproduce in the Hili dialogues:

Tweets from Matthew. Although his cat Ollie may be nefarious, he doesn’t do this:

Two tweets showing that the “retreating” Capitol police officer was doing a damn good job, and being courageous to boot:

I retweeted this, which was sent by Matthew. If we have to have Republicans, why can’t they be more like Arnold? Do listen to his spiel:

This “rock art” is freaking amazing:

And, as NBC News says at the end of its show when it puts up a feel-good piece, “There’s good news tonight!” But where did Isaac go? We’ll never know:



47 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Being put at an extra risk beyond that due to your overall chance of dying doesn’t seem warranted—it’s punishment on top of punishment. Do you agree?”

    Conditions are significant – someone elderly in a remote area at this point has less risk than someone elderly in an AL facility –

    And that’s the big problem – the cost of ameliorating an outbreak in an isolated area.

    I propose (but not really) Vaccination priority:
    1. elderly _in AL OR prison facilities_
    2. Prisoners
    3. Elderly in remote areas

    Perhaps factor in distance to hospital, number of ambulance, family….

  2. Agree with you on the prisoner question, JAC, with a slight/small change. Risk of catching/transmitting should be the primary factor, and in that respect, jailed criminals should get their ‘correct’ place in line based on their risk.
    My only disagreement is that don’t think risk should be the *only* factor. I think it’s fine to give some higher priority to protecting emergency services , even those that may not necessarily be high risk – thinking specifically fire department staff, for instance (EMTs are likely covered by their risk). So I might bump them up in line. But the ‘spirit of your question’ is should we treat prisoners differently than we would non-prisoners with the same risk factors, and my answer to that is basically no.

    1. Agreed. Also keep in mind corrections officers. Their vaccines should be included with other law enforcement, but it also helps keep their risk down when the prisoners are vaccinated as well.

      1. Yes, of course. They are jammed in with the prisoners, and as far as I know they have the same elevated rate of infection as do prisoners. So they must also be taken into consideration; I just forgot to mention them.

    2. Yes, I think risk of transmission to the public needs to be considered. So on ThyroidPlanet’s list in #2, I disagree that people living in remote areas should be prioritized. People living in crowded conditions in urban centers should be prioritized over them.

      When we think about how many lives a given strategy may save, we have to do something similar to what we do when we think about kin selection. We have to add up all the downstream lives that would be saved by a given strategy.

      I would rather vaccinate one urban tenement dweller than eight remote hermits.

      1. I disagree that people living in remote areas should be prioritized.

        Well, but that’s a good example of an “other factor” which I might accept as reasonable. Specifically, the argument that while the likelihood might not be higher, the consequences might be (i.e. because of the more limited availability of medical care). So your overall ‘risk score’ could be just as high as someone who has a higher probability of getting it, but more access to life-saving health care.

        It’s a complicated situation, and probably one of those where reasonable people can disagree on how to prioritize potential victim populations because there are lots of factors that might be reasonable to consider. How do you weight them? However getting back to Jerry’s original question, I fully agree with him that simply being a convicted criminal is not an eithical (or medical!) reason to drop someone lower on the list.

        1. Yes, I think most commenters here tend to agree.
          This is not a question of ‘punishment’, but of public health.
          Increased risk of infection (eg. densely populated areas, old age homes, health care workers), increased risk of death (eg. age, pre-existing conditions) and increased risk of spreading (eg. health care workers, wardens) should all be taken into consideration (not to mention death risk vs life expectancy).
          I think an epidemiologist worth his/her salt should be able to find an algorithm without too many difficulty. I agree 100% that the fact that someone is a convicted felon -or an ‘illegal’* for that matter- should not be included in the calculation, for all the reasons mentioned.
          [*It is not as if an ‘illegal’ somehow magically cannot spread the virus.]

          1. Too much difficulty or too many difficulties. My ‘edit’ function has disappeared, I only had it for a day or 2. 🙁

      2. Thanks a lot – yeah absolutely I agree -my dumb list was just to look at elderly and prisoner populations together – but as other populations are incorporated, they’d be free to interleave.

    3. I am glad to see that this issue has swung around again. It seemed clear that prisoners should be moved up when I first saw the list of prioritized vaccinations. Bumping up the prisoners will be difficult b/c of the damnable tradition of being extra punitive in this country, but its still the right thing to do.
      I can wait longer for my vaccination.

      Meanwhile, I’ve read the Trump admin has been slowing vaccine distribution because they want to ensure that people who get shot #1 won’t skip out on shot #2. So batches of vaccines are sitting there, and some have even been discarded.

  3. Although I agree, in principle on the prisoner vaccination: Good luck to the politician that has to explain to someone that their grandma isn’t going to get vaccinated for another month because this murderer/rapist/robber is in line in front of them.

  4. The big hope lies in impeachment

    Yes, if your primary goal is to make sure he can’t run for office again. No if you want to remove his finger from the nuclear trigger and other levers of power like pardoning people (including himself).

    The impeachment process doesn’t immediately remove the president from power. I could see Trump lashing out in all directions as soon as it starts. The 25th puts Pence in charge immediately and, although Trump can object and try to overturn the decision, it will take him until after his term expires to do that.

    On the other hand, I think Pence is technically correct in refusing to invoke the 25th because it applies in situations where “the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”. Trump is not unable to discharge his powers and duties, he is simply unwilling.

    The real problem is that the correct process for removing a president who is manifestly unfit for office is impeachment and that is a political process. One party sabotaged it because it was in their short term interests to keep him in power.

    1. “not unable to discharge his powers and duties, he is simply unwilling”

      This is a difference with no distinction, IMO.

      1. Unwilling? As if there is free will? On WEIT we know that there is not really such a thing 🙂 . Invoke the 25th! However, Mr Pence does not appear to be going to do that, despite having good grounds. Can he do otherwise?

    1. The irony is that the main reason Trump jumped into the 2016 presidential race was his hope that the publicity generated thereby would increase the value of the Trump brand. Now, that brand is pretty much shot anywhere in the western world (though Trump may still be able to do business in the nations under the thumb of his autocrat pals).

      1. I have got to thinking that Trump might be a ‘flight risk’, and imagine him receiving political asylum in one of those autocratic nations. Of course it would be out of character for him to give away US national secrets – he would sell them.

  5. Being a convicted prisoner should not bump you out of the queue, as you’re already serving your punishment. Being put at an extra risk beyond that due to your overall chance of dying doesn’t seem warranted—it’s punishment on top of punishment. Do you agree?

    Yes. Prisoners’ risks — including any additional risks created by their being incarcerated in close quarters — should be factored the same as anyone else residing in the US in determining the order of COVID vaccinations.

  6. I think there are two legal questions related to an Impeachment. One is, if the House votes articles of Impeachment, does that survive when the new Senate convenes? Chamber business typically dies when a new Chamber is convened. Secondly, and more importantly, can Impeachment be used against someone who is no longer a sitting office-holder? The purpose of Impeachment is to remove someone from office. Once that is done the courts take over, which they could do here without Impeachment.

    1. This already is the new Congress. That happened on January 3rd. What will change is control of the senate because the current tie-breaker is a Republican (Pence) but on the 20th a new VP takes the role.

      There is more than one purpose for impeachment. There is no “court taking over” aspect to the process. It has nothing to do with courts.

      1. Yes, the 117th United States Congress convened on January 3rd of this year and will sit until January 3, 2023.

      2. When do the two new senators from Georgia take their seats? Because it needs them to be in place too.

        One thing that I found a bit surprising (although not really given it’s the GOP) is that the day after losing the election for her seat, Kelly Loeffler was in the Senate fully expecting to object to the Georgia Electoral College result and she only decided to withdraw her objection after the storming of the Capitol.

        1. Georgia results have to be certified before they can be sworn in. Officials have until the 22nd to do that. Loeffler is still in office until Ossoff is sworn in. Georgia has, right now, only one seated senator.

    2. “Chamber business typically dies when a new Chamber is convened.”

      Only if the new Chamber wants it to.

      “… can Impeachment be used against someone who is no longer a sitting office-holder?”

      While someone might dispute this, it seems clear that they should be able to do this since the Articles of Impeachment can contain remedies that hold sway after the President is out of office. One of the articles in this case is that Trump can never hold office again. The fact that they started the impeachment process while he is still in office may help establish the validity. A president shouldn’t be able to escape impeachment by running out the clock and a claim that the impeachment is moot after he no longer holds office is simply wrong based on the articles containing punishments that continue beyond that point.

    1. “The city of Chicago has paid $83 million alone in settlements related to torture cases under Burge, according to figures compiled by the People’s Law Office.” —Chicago Tribune, Sept 2018

      It’s a disgrace the police union fights against any reform. He was the worst of the worst, a true monster.

  7. Instead of Owl and Pussycat its great horned owl and a presumptuous red breasted woodpecker. Talk about Confidence.

    Not a follower of Arnie but I can’t think of anyone who can get the public to pay attention, at least for a minute.

    1. I don’t think that is a Great Horned Owl; too small and the ears are too far in front and too isolated, and the facial ruffs are too gray (should be more rusty for a Great Horned Owl).

  8. I totally agree with our host on vaccinating prisoners. If they are vulnerable and spread disease, vaccinate them. I am totally against the too-prevalent idea that they deserve additional punishment beyond that handed out by our justice system. If one believes the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, make a case for changing sentencing guidelines, appointing of stricter judges, or changing of laws. To punish prisoners beyond their sentence is a version of Cancel Culture. Plus, the state has a responsibility to keep its prisoners safe. This is not only a human rights issue. The state can be sued for endangering prisoners.

  9. The big hope lies in impeachment, which looks increasingly likely as Republican Senators are moving toward voting for conviction. The problem with that, of course, is that it derails Biden’s legislative agenda with a long Senate trial…

    Much as I despise Trump and worry he’ll give the US some sort of last minute whammy (beyond self-pardoning and pardoning his entire family, which is practically a given IMO), I would much prefer Congress work on extending and expanding Covid response, including economic aid packages. AIUI they just let the last one run out. This is inexcusable. Help Americans get back on their feet first,THEN worry about punishing Trump, please.

  10. Yesterday, I became aware of a podcast from one of my favorite freelance journalists – Leah Sottile. She covers anti-government extremism with a focus on the west US. Early this year, she began work with BBC4 on a podcast called Two Minutes Past Nine – looking into the Oklahoma city bombing and it’s ties to today’s patriot movement. There are ten fifteen minute episodes and I ‘binged’ them all. It is chilling, informative and prescient. Would recommend.

  11. “Name this Band”

    Alright, let me give this a go.

    1. The White Stains
    2. Megameth
    3. Fleetwood Crackheads
    4. Blink 182 Dumbasses
    5. The Backwoods Boys
    6. Plaid Zittlin
    7. Lynyrd Skinheads
    8. The Allmanchild Smothers
    9. Bush Whacker

    And finally

    10. 311 Virginian C***s

  12. 1922 – Leonard Thompson becomes the first person to be injected with insulin.

    The first dose was contaminated, but Thompson, 15 years old, took more and purer doses, and lived until he was 28.

    I did a little search to try to find the untreated prognosis for a type-I diabetic in the 1920s, but couldn’t find any numbers. I assume that living to 28 was a significant improvement on the incomprehensible workings of a loving god.
    Any of the medics hereabouts got any numbers?

  13. Aidan – I did a little search too, and also came up empty. But there is this vignette that I have told many times and as it was related to me long ago.

    My mother (b1908) had a neighbor-friend of about the same age in Southern Minnesota, Molly, at about the advent of insulin, so I think we can infer about 1923. Molly was diabetic and this was a relatively affluent neighborhood – my grandfather was the first dentist in LacQuiParle County. Molly had been going downhill, but began to receive injections, and began to improve. But then her Xtian “Scientist” parents decided that this was counter to God’s Will, and stopped the injections. Predictably, Molly died.

    “She lived for a number of years but ultimately died,” was not part of the story.

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