Thursday: Hili dialogue

January 14, 2021 • 6:30 am

First, the good news and the numbers (and here are the ten Republican Representatives who voted for impeachment).

Good day on Thursday, January 14, 2021. And it’s Pastrami Sandwich Day: Now you’re talking! It’s also International Kite Day, National Dress Up Your Pet Day, and Caesarian Section Day, which “commemorates the first successful Caesarean (also spelled as Cesarean) delivery or C-section, in the United States, which was made by Dr. Jesse Bennett on January 14, 1794.” In the U.S., it’s Ratification Day (Treaty of Paris; see below), and worldwide it’s World Logic Day, a UNESCO holiday. 

Finally, it’s Feast of the Ass, which, though it sounds bizarre, was a medieval Christian holiday.

News of the Day:

Trump has been impeached, but it’s unlikely that the Senate will start a trial before Biden is inaugurated. The outcome could still bar Trump from holding federal office ever again (though this isn’t certain even if he’s convicted), and of course it does nothing to get him out of office. Trump is trying to make amends, but it’s too late. As the NYT reports:

Not long after the vote on Wednesday, Mr. Trump released a video condemning the violence and urging his followers to avoid a repeat in “the coming days both here in Washington and across the country” as federal authorities warned of a nationwide wave of violence surrounding Mr. Biden’s inauguration. But the president did not mention his own role in instigating the violence or apologize, nor did he concede or mention Mr. Biden’s name.

Mr. Trump recorded the video under pressure from aides, who have warned him that he faces potential legal exposure for the riot, which took place after a speech in which he urged supporters to “fight” the election results.

Religion poisons everything: Irish edition. Ireland’s Prime Minister formally apologized for the dreadful treatment of unwed mothers.

Martin spoke after the long-awaited release of a 3,000-page report from the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes, which investigated conditions for the 56,000 unmarried mothers and 57,000 children who passed through the system — at 18 homes run by the state and by Catholic charities — from 1920 until 1998, when the last facility was shuttered.

The unmarried mothers, often destitute, desperate and young, with nowhere else to turn, sought last-ditch refuge in the homes or were shoved into them, having been cast out by their families.

Infant mortality at the institutions was in many years double the national average. Some 9,000 infants died — 15 percent of all those who were born in the system — a statistic the investigators call “appalling.”

Most of the babies who survived were offered up for adoption, including in the United States, often without full consent by the mothers.

Martin said: “We treated women exceptionally badly. We treated children exceptionally badly.”

The Irish leader said his society had suffered from a “warped attitude to sexuality and intimacy,” with a “very striking absence of kindness.”

Catholicism, and its disapprobation of extramarital sex, is at the bottom of all this, of course. Of course defenders of Catholicism will say that this isn’t the “real” faith, but that’s not true.

A few days ago, an appellate court stayed the execution of Lisa Montgomery, but the Supreme Court intervened and rejected that appeal, ordering in effect her execution.  She was put to death yesterday in Terre Haute—the first woman executed in a federal prison since 1953. Now I don’t think that there’s anything different from executing a man versus a woman (many people seem to think it’s worse to execute a woman than a man), but I oppose all executions, and for Montgomery in particular there was palpable evidence that she was mentally ill. Trump could have stayed her execution, but he didn’t, and hence she died. Two more federal prisoners are scheduled to die before the Inauguration. Biden, of course, would have halted these executions and the barbarism attendant to them. You can read Sister Helen Prejean’s letter opposing Montgomery’s execution here.

Two pet cats in California have been found after going missing for over three years after fires and landslides: Mordecai Jones and Patches.  Their staff are, of course, elated. Both cats were identified from their microchips, so get your cat chipped, even if it’s an indoor cat (it could escape).

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 384,804, a big increase of about 4,000 deaths from yesterday’s figure, or about 2.8 deaths per minute. In less than a week we’ll pass 400,000 deaths: double what the most pessimistic pundits thought we’d have. The world death toll is 1,988,923, a big increase of about 16,600 deaths over yesterday’s total. That’s about 11.5 deaths a minute—roughly one every five seconds. We’ll pass 2 million deaths worldwide by tomorrow.

Stuff that happened on January 14 includes:

  • 1539 – Spain annexes Cuba.
  • 1784 – American Revolutionary War: Ratification Day, United States – Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris with Great Britain
  • 1911 – Roald Amundsen‘s South Pole expedition makes landfall on the eastern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf.

Amundsen’s team, of course, beat Scott’s to the South Pole by a month, and every one of Scott’s team died on the way back. Here are their routes: the pink bit at the bottom is the Ross Ice Shelf:

  • 1952 – NBC’s long-running morning news program Today debuts, with host Dave Garroway.

Although this show has been broadcast continually for 68 years, it’s only #5 on the list of long-running U.S. television shows. Can you guess the winner or the other four? (Go here for the answer.)

Ah, the good old days, when the world was going to be transformed—or so we thought. Here’s the full program of the Be-In (less than half an hour); you’ll recognize some of the participants if you’re of “a certain age”:

  • 1972 – Queen Margrethe II of Denmark ascends the throne, the first Queen of Denmark since 1412 and the first Danish monarch not named Frederick or Christian since 1513.
  • 1973 – Elvis Presley’s concert Aloha from Hawaii is broadcast live via satellite, and sets the record as the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in television history.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1741 – Benedict Arnold, American-British general (d. 1801)
  • 1875 – Albert Schweitzer, French-Gabonese physician and philosopher, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
  • 1896 – John Dos Passos, American novelist, poet, and playwright (d. 1970)
  • 1919 – Andy Rooney, American soldier, journalist, critic, and television personality (d. 2011)
  • 1928 – Garry Winogrand, American photographer and author (d. 1984)

Winogrand was a great street photographer, who died young with 2,500 rolls of film undeveloped. Here’s one of his photos:

  • 1940 – Julian Bond, American academic and politician (d. 2015)
  • 1941 – Faye Dunaway, American actress and producer
  • 1952 – Maureen Dowd, American journalist and author

Here’s Dowd diagnosing Trump’s narcissism. This is in fact the first time I’ve ever seen a video of her:

Those who breathed their last on January 14 include:

  • 1742 – Edmond Halley, English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist (b. 1656)
  • 1898 – Lewis Carroll, English novelist, poet, and mathematician (b. 1832)
  • 1957 – Humphrey Bogart, American actor (b. 1899)
  • 1977 – Anaïs Nin, French-American essayist and memoirist (b. 1903)
  • 1978 – Kurt Gödel, Austrian-American mathematician and philosopher (b. 1906)

Reading Gödel’s Wikipedia entry, I found this disturbing information:

Later in his life, Gödel suffered periods of mental instability and illness. Following the assassination of his close friend Moritz Schlick, Gödel had an obsessive fear of being poisoned; he would eat only food that his wife, Adele, prepared for him. Late in 1977, she was hospitalized for six months and could subsequently no longer prepare her husband’s food. In her absence, he refused to eat, eventually starving to death. He weighed 29 kilograms (65 lb) when he died. His death certificate reported that he died of “malnutrition and inanition caused by personality disturbance” in Princeton Hospital on January 14, 1978. He was buried in Princeton Cemetery. Adele’s death followed in 1981.

Couldn’t Gödel prepare his own food, or just open a can of beans?

  • 1984 – Ray Kroc, American businessman and philanthropist (b. 1902)
  • 1986 – Donna Reed, American actress (b. 1921)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s worried about her social-media accounts:

Hili: I have a different opinion.
A: About what?
Hili: I can’t say because they would close my account.
In Polish:
Hili: Mam odmienne zdanie.
Ja: W jakiej sprawie?
Hili: Nie mogę powiedzieć, bo zamkną mi konto.

And Szaron is still looking sleepy, but he’s really just shy.

Two memes from the Internet:

D*gs take their cue from the Capitol rioters.  “It’s 1776!”

From Bruce:

Some new information on The Queen. Was there a real Queen on which Titania was based, or was she, like Jesus, a myth without a model? Listen to Andrew Doyle below:

Tweets from Matthew. Watch the video on this one:

This is what’s known as a “groaner”:

Why do these bees have such long legs? The answer is in the second tweet (translated): “These legs allow the collection of oils from various tubular flowers, especially the genus Diascia and some orchids. These oils are a source of lipids for the larvae, and they also allow them to coat the nests against water and humidity.”

Plus ça change. . .

It’s a spoiled Bengal! (And some bad grammar.)

. . . and a lovely and colorful pitcher plant. It needs to drain itself a bit.

I can’t vouch for this, but Hemingway, like many writers and artists, was an ailurophile:

37 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. See Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 2, Cl. 1:

    The President … shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

    I appears that Trump won’t be able to pardon himself. He can TRY, but the clear language of the Constitution says he can’t.

    1. This is way Wikipedia says about this exception: “There is currently no universally accepted interpretation of the impeachment exception. Some argue that the president simply cannot use a pardon to stop an officeholder from being impeached, while others suggest that crimes underlying an impeachment cannot be pardoned by the president.” I should hope it means that an impeached president, before being removed, can no longer grant presidential pardons. We shall see.

    2. What does it mean? Does it mean that he can pardon anything except his own impeachment (or that of someone else)? Or does it mean that if he has been impeached than he cannot pardon? In either case, is the impeachment itself enough, or does he have to be convicted?

      If impeached, could a future pardon by someone else retroactively remove the impeachment?

      People are still debating about the meaning of native-born, a well regulated militia, and so on. Is this similar, or is there a consensus as to what it means?

      1. That’s the way I read it. If, for example, Pence were to be impeached, Trump couldn’t pardon him, for anything. Similarly, Biden can’t pardon Trump once he’s President. (God forbid.) It follows that Trump can’t pardon himself, for anything, now that he’s impeached. He’s free to pardon anyone else for anything at all, as long as they’re not impeached.

        I’m sure Dershowitz would disagree.

        1. Me too. While in the public’s mind impeachment seems to be about the President, there’s actually a whole bunch of historic non-Presidential impeachments. I would interpret the clause as meaning he can’t pardon anyone’s impeachment.

      2. Correct. It means merely that a president cannot pardon anyone (himself or others) out of an impeachment proceeding.

        Whether a president can pardon himself for criminal offenses is a great unresolved question of constitutional law (inasmuch as, in the 232 years since the US constitution was ratified, no president has ever tried). The weight of opinion — in both a memorandum prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in the early 1970s during the Nixon Watergate investigation, and the views of constitutional experts — is that a president cannot.

        We will likely get a resolution to this constitutional issue from SCOTUS by the time all is said and done regarding Donald Trump.

        1. Likely I’m wrong, but it hasn’t been tested.
          So here’s my argument for it now removing his power to pardon criminals (a very stupid part of US Constitution in giving it to one person’s sole discretion, though most other countries do have something similar):

          1/ It is understood as a power to pardon convictions for crimes.
          2/ Being impeached by the House is not conviction for a crime, so could never be something that this power could do.
          3/ So impeachment by the House must be what causes this pardoning ability to now have been removed from him, not the other interpretation.
          4/ It says impeachment, not conviction by the Senate, so the Senate’s action subsequent to impeachment is not material here.
          5/ Since he was already impeached a year ago, these other recent pardons are not actually pardons. So Flynn and the other Drumpf gang members must now go back to jail.

          Probably 5/ shows I’m wrong somehow, otherwise someone would have already pointed that out during the last several months.

          Sounds like a stupidly vague Constitutional sentence, which the religious speaker in tongues and other recent Supreme Court appointments would probably decide in the Republican Party’s favour.

  2. Caesarian Section Day, which “commemorates the first successful Caesarean (also spelled as Cesarean) delivery or C-section, in the United States, which was made by Dr. Jesse Bennett on January 14, 1794.

    C-sections were apparently occurring a good two centuries earlier in Great Britain, at the time of Shakespeare, since [Spoiler Alert] Macduff’s having been “from his mother’s womb so untimely ripped” provided the sort of fine-print exception to the witches’ prophesy to Macbeth that he was immune from harm by “any man born of woman.”

    1. It’s unlikely that Macduff’s mother would have survived the experience and so it probably would not be described as successful in modern terms.

      The oft quoted factoid that Julius Caesar was delivered by a C-section (hence the name) is judged to be false on the grounds that his mother is known to have survived his birth. Nevertheless, C-section were being performed in Ancient Rome, according to Wikipedia, but only on women who died in child birth.

    2. The Caesarian section used to be the Regal section. It was the excision of a still living child from a mother that died in child birth. These children ‘belonged’ to the king (rex), later to the Emperor (Caesar), hence Caesarian section. Julius Caesar was not born like that, but it is said Scipio Africanus did.
      The first ‘modern’ Caesarian section, where the mother survived, was carried out by a Swiss hog butcher, Jacob Nufer, in the year 1500. He had the good sense to stitch up his wife’s womb afterwards. How she avoided infection is unknown, probably just luck?

  3. Ah, the good old days [during the Summer of Love], when the world was going to be transformed—or so we thought.

    “Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

    History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened. …

    There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

    And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

    So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

    — Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

  4. Musing on bees because there are a lot of people on this site far more intelligent and knowledgeable than me…

    I was amazed when I read about how the honey bees in Japan and some other Asian countries had adapted to fight off the “murder hornets” in just a few years. They form a sphere around the scout hornet and then vibrate their bodies for about 20 minutes, bringing the temperature inside the sphere they’ve created up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit, which is one degree above what the hornet can survive and one degree below what will kill the bees. This kills the scout hornet and keeps it from returning to its nest and relaying the coordinates of the bees’ hive. (note: the figures in the preceding sentences are from memory and may not be exact)

    What majesty nature holds! How can insects with brains smaller than the head of a pin adapt so remarkably? How can they coordinate and carry out a plan of attack that is so completely novel? How can they problem-solve so rapidly? How is any of this possible? Thank you in advance to the more knowledgeable commenters (and perhaps our host, if he sees this) for any information!

    1. Haha, oh my, that is gold. I rarely engage in schadenfreude, but it’s hard not to in Giuliani’s case. And Trump, who probably started campaigning for President solely with the intention of increasing his brand recognition and status, has likely destroyed much of his business through his actions as President. Things seem to be coming full circle for these two.

      1. It would be very amusing to find Giuliani suing Drumpf, facing criminal charges himself, but also on a defence team for criminal charges against Drumpf, all simultaneously in New York state, say, this summer. The last won’t happen now I guess, but maybe the first two will, with all three in adjacent court rooms, and an O. J. Simpson type of TV audience.

    2. Least surprising betrayal ever.
      Trump’s behavior in this regard is so well known that Giuliani had to know he only had three options: win and (possibly!) get paid, get the money up front, or lose and get nothing.

    3. Poor Rudy. This fee dispute could cost him his much-needed federal pardon (much as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s sudden resignation after the Capitol attack may cost her brother, notorious Blackwater founder Erik Prince, his).

      Many are they who will go down in The Fall of the House of Trump.

    4. I’m not really commiserating with Mr Giuliani, Mr Trump is well-known known for scoffing his bills. He should have known.

      1. On the Donald’s side of the ledger, $20k/day for a guy with runny hair dye and who schedules pressers at Four Seasons Total Landscape in a Philly strip mall next to a porn shop does seem a might high. 🙂

        Never mind that he’s been laughed out of every court in which he’s raised his bogus election-fraud claims.

  5. Kurt Gödel left behind an important insight that I think has become more important, especially in light of Trump’s presidency.

    “Gödel had confided in them that he had discovered an inconsistency in the U.S. Constitution that could allow the U.S. to become a dictatorship. […] The judge turned out to be Phillip Forman, who knew Einstein and had administered the oath at Einstein’s own citizenship hearing. Everything went smoothly until Forman happened to ask Gödel if he thought a dictatorship like the Nazi regime could happen in the U.S. Gödel then started to explain his discovery to Forman. Forman understood what was going on, cut Gödel off, and moved the hearing on to other questions and a routine conclusion.”,_Einstein,_U.S._citizenship

    The following links give more information about Gödel’s considerations.

    1. It would be very interesting if somehow a secret recorder had gotten copies of all the conversations between Godel and Einstein, strolling home in Princeton from the IAS. They had become close friends, and Einstein had joked at that post-retirement age that he went in to his office only so he could walk back with Godel. Einstein and IIRC Morgenstern had gone with Godel to the court for his citizenship event, knew he’d got this proof by contradiction or something about the US Constitution, and tried to joke around enough to divert him from bringing it up, so it’s said. (I wish I’d been the taxi driver with a tape!). But the diversion didn’t work, so it’s a good thing the judge wasn’t some priggish stickler.

      Godel is the greatest logician in history, Aristotle included. His mental difficulties are nothing to joke about, going off and on for 40 years before his death. The Nazi murder of one of his professors was a direct cause, but I think the mental strain of his enormous successful efforts in axiomatic set theory at the time couldn’t have helped. Basically he showed you couldn’t ‘axiomatically’ find a set of Cantor-size strictly between the rational number system and the real number system, if that’s of any interest here. A USian, Paul Cohen, later proved that you also couldn’t ‘axiomatically’ show that none exists. So there seems to be a certain non-uniqueness about the numbers upon which all exact science, in most scientists’ eyes, is based!

      But, a bit of a joke: It’s said that Berkeley’s Tarski, another refugee from the Nazis to US, once privately joked that he himself was at the time the greatest living sane logician. If true, that was basically assuring the listener that Godel was the man, not him! Neither was Jewish, Godel by birth though mistaken by Austrian thugs for one, and Tarski by deliberate conversion as a non-believer living in a dangerous place. Tarski could very well be regarded as among the greatest ever 5 or so logicians, up to now, IMHO. He did insist on `mathematician’ as his `trade’ however.

  6. Purple Pitcher Plant reminds me of a wonderful visit to a black spruce bog in the UP, as a student. It was early spring and I saw the sphagnum moss, pitcher plant, orchids, trillium, and sun dew. Truly a magical place.

  7. This impeachment is similar to all of Trump’s abuses of power. Trump has been impeached for “Incitement of Insurrection” for the phrase “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” but the full quote was

    “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” This was rhetoric and not a call for future violence.

    To make it more obvious Trump said

    “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to PEACEFULLY and patriotically make your voices heard.”

    If Trump was inciting violence why did he use the word peaceful? Trump likes the phrase fight for hell:

    “You know, look, I’m not happy with the Supreme Court. They love to rule against me. I picked three people. I fought like hell for them. One in particular, I fought.”

    Did Trump violently fight against the Supreme Court? No, it is a rhetorical phrase.

    1. As the organizer, convenor, and encourager with violent words, of a group of thugs who then illegally broke into a building in order to commit a major crime against the US constitution, and during which one or more of this criminal gang of his committed the crime of murdering a policeman, the former Mass Murderer is now obviously also guilty of the crime of ‘accessory to murder’. Every other case like that, hundreds I’m sure, would include that in the charges, along with at least accessory-to-murder charges against all the other gang members committing crimes in that building—and possibly against one or more Republican Party Congress-elected-persons or staffers, for reconnaissance activities to help the gang the day before.

      1. Here is a large part of the speech with words that are supposedly violent in the middle. In context, what is violent?

        “We have overwhelming pride in this great country and we have it deep in our souls. Together, we are determined to defend and preserve government of the people, by the people and for the people.

        Our brightest days are before us. Our greatest achievements, still away.

        I think one of our great achievements will be election security. Because nobody until I came along had any idea how corrupt our elections were.

        And again, most people would stand there at 9 o’clock in the evening and say I want to thank you very much, and they go off to some other life. But I said something’s wrong here, something is really wrong, can have happened.

        And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.

        Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun. My fellow Americans, for our movement, for our children, and for our beloved country.

        And I say this despite all that’s happened. The best is yet to come.

        So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and give.

        The Democrats are hopeless, they never vote for anything. Not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help. We’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.

        So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.

        I want to thank you all. God bless you and God Bless America.

        Thank you all for being here. This is incredible. Thank you very much. Thank you.”

        1. Nevertheless, Trump’s crowd left the Save America March rally, walked to the Capitol and violently stormed it. That wouldn’t and couldn’t have happened without Trump’s incitement.

          1. I agree that it would not have happened if Trump was a reasonable politician with a shred of decency or adherence to democracy. That does not mean he incited violence.

            It was a sad day when Trump was elected. It was a sadder day when his supporters attacked the capital build. IMO, it was an even sadder day when most of the nation decided that his disgusting but nonviolent words were worthy of impeachment.

  8. An early hymn inspired by the figurine with the cheese was ‘How Grate Thou Art’, co-written by Edam and Eve?

  9. The extremely hairy and smokey Be-In.
    I’d heard about this and always wondered wtf it was. I’d liked to have been there.
    Answer who “who?” is:
    a. Allan Ginsburg I think (and I was born in 1971 so NYAH!)
    and possibly elsewhere in the footage –
    b. YOU, professor? (re: the pics of you in Greece and out west sans razor or shaving kit)

    They were hairy times, smokey times, unwashed times and by all accounts quite fun times. With pretty girls I note.
    I prefer today’s world but I’ll take their psychedelics. 🙂
    Peace, man.

    Writer (about psychedelics) and attorney (getting people out of jail who take ’em)

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