Sunday: Hili dialogue

March 7, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Sunday, March 7, 2021, a thin day for all holidays. It’s only National Cereal Day and National Crown Roast of Pork Day.

Today there’s an animated Google Doodle (click on screenshot) honoring Masako Katsura (March 7, 1913-1995) a famous woman Japanese billiards player who competed against men and was known as “The First Lady of Billiards”. She specialized in the three-cushion game, shown in the animation.

“Men want to beat me. I play men, six, seven hours a day. Men… they do not beat me.” — Masako “Katsy” Katsura,

Here’s a video about the career of Katsy, with photos and video:

News of the Day:

The good news is that the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill passed the Senate, but narrowly: 50-49, with all Democrats voting for the proposal and one Republican absent (Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska, who had a family emergency). But even had Sullivan been there and voted “no”, Kamala Harris would have broken the tie in favor of the bill.  The provisions include these:

It would inject vast amounts of federal resources into the economy, including one-time direct payments of up to $1,400 for hundreds of millions of Americans, jobless aid of $300 a week to last through the summer, money for distributing coronavirus vaccines and relief for states, cities, schools and small businesses struggling during the pandemic.

It also expands tax credits for children. What happens now is that the bill goes back to the House of Representatives so that both chambers agree on a final bill, and after that reconciliation the bill goes to Biden’s desk for signature. If you’re getting a check, and you’re within the income limits, it should go out this month.  This is both a major accomplishment for Biden and also an abandonment of his desire to be “bipartisan”—something that wasn’t realistic anyway. And it’s a good start at giving a hand up to Americans who are in poverty or not far from it.

Below: one of many reasons I hate HuffPost. Although the news they’re conveying is good, they have to tell you that it’s HUGE! and also put a smiley face in the headline to show you how you’re supposed to feel. Even high-school newspapers don’t put emoticons in the news, for crying out loud.

Religion poisons everything department: All over the news, and hailed as an example of interfaith harmony, is Pope Francis’s visit to Iraq and his meeting with the highest Shi’ite ayatollah (photo below). The thing is, if there were no religion, there wouldn’t be a reason for Iraq to have persecuted its Christian minority (and gays and women, etc. etc.) for decades. There would be no need for interfaith harmony because there would be no faiths.

Everybody’s having a great time! Photo: Associated Press.

Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, is actually auctioning off the very first tweet (his own) to appear on that site, and bidding has reached $2.5 million!  The expensive tweet:

“Just setting up my twttr,” the post, sent from Mr Dorsey’s account in March 2006, reads.

It’s still up! Here it is:

Now how can you auction off a tweet?, you ask.  The BBC says this:

It will be sold as a non-fungible token (NFT) – a unique digital certificate that states who owns a photo, video or other form of online media.

But the post will remain publicly available on Twitter even after it has been auctioned off.

The buyer will receive a certificate, digitally signed and verified by Mr Dorsey, as well as the metadata of the original tweet. The data will include information such as the time the tweet was posted and its text contents.

What chowderhead would pay $2.5 million for that? (h/t Jez)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 523,970, an increase of about 1,500 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands at 2,601,164, 2,593,526, an increase of about 7j,600 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on March 7 includes:

  • 161 – Marcus Aurelius and L. Commodus (who changes his name to Lucius Verus) become joint emperors of Rome on the death of Antoninus Pius.
  • 1850 – Senator Daniel Webster gives his “Seventh of March” speech endorsing the Compromise of 1850 in order to prevent a possible civil war.
  • 1876 – Alexander Graham Bell is granted a patent for an invention he calls the “telephone“.

Here’s one bit of the patent:

  • 1936 – Prelude to World War II: In violation of the Locarno Pact and the Treaty of Versailles, Germany reoccupies the Rhineland.
  • 1945 – World War II: American troops seize the Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine river at Remagen.

The Germans tried mightily to destroy the bridge, which enabled the Allies to establish over 100,000 men on the Eastern side of the Rhine. German artillery finally succeeded in bringing it down, but pontoon bridges were erected to complete the crossing. Here’s a photo of that famous bridge, with the Wikipedia caption,

A side view of the Remagen Bridge in March 1945 before it collapsed into the Rhine. Claude Musgrove took this picture of the famous Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine River at Remagen, Germany. The smoke under and behind the bridge is from German artillery rounds trying to destroy the miraculously surviving link that let Allied forces cross the river.

The Bridge at Remagen” was a 1969 movie starring George Segal, Ben Gazzara and Robert Vaughn.

Watch this excellent video.

All the remains were discovered. It’s still not clear whether any of the crew remained conscious for the nearly 3-minute fall to the ocean.  Here’s the live CNN video; I was watching at the time:

  • 1989 – Iran and the United Kingdom break diplomatic relations after a fight over Salman Rushdie and his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses.
  • 2007 – The British House of Commons votes to make the upper chamber, the House of Lords, 100% elected.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1788 – Antoine César Becquerel, French physicist and biochemist (d. 1878)
  • 1792 – John Herschel, English mathematician and astronomer (d. 1871)
  • 1849 – Luther Burbank, American botanist and author (d. 1926)
  • 1857 – Julius Wagner-Jauregg, Austrian physician and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1940)

Wagner-Jauregg got the prize for one of the discoveries that ultimately didn’t pan out: “”for his discovery of the therapeutic value of malaria inoculation in the treatment of dementia paralytica“.  This is a form of dementia caused by syphillis, and is now cured with antibiotics. I’m not sure how well it worked back then, but the malaria killed 15% of the patients (dementia paralytica, however, was invariably fatal, and is what killed Theo van Gogh).

Heydrich (below) was assassinated by the Czech army in exile, but the Nazis took revenge by destroying two Czech villages, Lidice and Ležáky, shooting every male over 16 and sending everybody else to concentration camps, where they died. The villages had nothing to do with Heydrich’s killing, and this is one of the most brutal actions against civilians during the war.

Magnani, a terrific actor, won the Best Actress Oscar in 1956 for her role in the movie The Rose Tattoo, which Tennessee Williams wrote especially for her. Here’s a clip:

Weisz also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the movie “The Constant Gardner“.  It also starred Ralph Fiennes; here’s the trailer:

Those who expired on March 7 include:

  • 1274 – Saint Thomas Aquinas, Italian priest and philosopher (b. 1225)
  • 1957 – Wyndham Lewis, English painter and critic (b. 1882)
  • 1967 – Alice B. Toklas, American writer (b. 1877)
  • 1988 – Divine, American drag queen and film actor (b. 1945)
  • 1999 – Stanley Kubrick, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1928)
  • 2006 – Gordon Parks, American photographer, director, and composer (b. 1912)

Parks became famous for photographic documentation of African-American life in Chicago; in fact, part of the University of Chicago’s Laboratory School is named the “Gordon Parks Arts Hall“. I walk by it on my way to and from work. Here’s one of his photos:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is brusque:

A: I have a problem.
Hili: So solve it.
In Polish:
Ja: Mam problem.
Hili: Rozwiąż go.

And little Kulka, now a teenager, is up in the trees again. (Photo by Paulina)

From Jesus of the Day:

From Facebook:

Also from Facebook:

Columbia University is having a big graduation ceremony but then all the ethnic groups split off for another mini-ceremony. Two points. Where is the “Jewish graduation”? Are we not oppressed, too? And why are they lumping low income students with first generation students? What is the commonality there? There is no end to this kind of fractionation.

From Barry Look at this needy cat!

Tweets from Matthew. I wish my ducks would eat greens!

A prize-winning wasp photo. My translation: “This photo of two wasps approaching their nest holes won the prize in the category Animal Behavior: Invertebrates. Deschandol captured the moment in the vicinity of his house by by installing an infrared trigger.” #PictureOfTheDay#BildDesTages

Well . . . .

Soon, I hope, we’ll see real video from Perseverance instead of concatenated images. Here’s a faux video from the 33-minute test of the rover two days ago:

A science/linguistics joke tweeted by Matthew:

Science burn! A Nature paper describing feather lice captured in amber apparently feeding on dinosaur feathers was apparently incorrect. David Grimaldi and Isabelle Via showed that in all probability they weren’t parasites but scale insects, probably trapped in amber while feeding on the tree (their rebuttal paper is here).

40 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

      1. You tell me. Any video is just a sequence of still images. This is real video, it’s just that the frame rate has been changed from the frame rate at which it was effectively recorded. I guess you could call it “time lapse”.

        1. I wasn’t disagreeing with you. It’s a problem that has been with us for a while and is only going to get worse. Manipulation can be used to improve how something is seen or heard but it may also be seen as destroying the original or diabolically manipulating the viewer. As with most things, it depends on the intent of the manipulator and the mindset of the observer.

    1. And the science return from video, which you don’t get from higher-resolution still images which can be concatenated “on the ground”, is … ?
      Yes, I’m sure there would be a PR return. That’s a different thing.

      Also, interplanetary bandwidth is far from infinite, and video is greedy. Just because you can do it in a city doesn’t mean you can do it between the city and the sticks.

      1. I just find it interesting. Jerry wants to see real video, by which I assume he means “pictures taken at a frame rate fast enough to be perceived as motion by humans and played back at the same frame rate. Is there a qualitative difference between that and what has been sent back? I would argue no but Jerry would argue yes.

        I once read that a fly in a cinema would perceive the film showing as a very long and boring slide show. I don’t know if that’s true or not.

        1. Well, Jerry’s the fly guy so he’s more likely to know than me.
          The issues of readout speed (which affects frame rate, exposure time and brightness limits, and to a lesser degree contrast or number of grey levels from each CCD bucket) remain, as well as the bandwidth issues. Sometimes, we can’t have nice things because the laws of physics say “no”. Other times, the laws of physics still say “no” to your original idea, but you can still squeeze something similar out of the sideband. In this case, at the driving speeds of the rover, you probably wouldn’t want to watch live video from the NavCams and HazCams, but reprojecting the HazCam images at 20 Hz instead of their actual 0.02 Hz would give a much more interesting “ride”.

  1. Re: bipartisanship – Is bipartisanship limited only to Congress, or does it encompass the citizenry as well?

    If you take the view that it only applies to Congress, then, you’re right, it’s not realistic. I’m trying to remember the last time a Republican dealt in good faith with Democrats, and I honestly can’t.

    But if you take the view that many people in the wider world might have more complex perceptions of what they favor and what they don’t, then the COVID Relief bill IS bipartisan. It is supported by a large majority of Americans, and according to at least some surveys, even a majority of Republicans.

    This brings to mind, for me, a larger question, which I think every candidate for every office everywhere should be forced to answer: In situations where your conscience and your constituents disagree, do you generally vote your conscience or do you vote to represent your constituents?

    In the case of Republican Congress members since 2009, clearly it doesn’t matter to them what their constituents want. They have chosen to put their party over everything else.


    1. You makes many good points. I believe the republican politicians have completely lost their way. They were never working much for their constituents but over the past several years they have decided to follow no policy except to be the party of no. Democrats have in the past been suckers for their games, such as the Affordable Care Act and made many compromises simply to find in the end, the republicans all voted no. That is what they do – just delay and play games and vote no. Right now they are attempting a takeover by restricting voter rights. If the Democrats do not wake up and realize this is the most critical battle we will lose this democracy and all that goes with it.

      1. I agree with what you say, but waking up is not enough. The greatest problem in US politics (IMMO) is the Senate.
        A State like Wyoming has about half a million inhabitants, but they get to elect 2 Senators, a state like CA with nearly 40 million also elects 2 Senators (the same goes for TX, FL or NY). It is not reasonable that a WY vote carries 60 to 80 times the weight of a vote in a more populous state.
        Any attempt to change that skew, fusing states, splitting states, reducing the importance of the Senate, etc, are DOA , since 2/3rds of the Senate needs to approve, and that simply will not happen with the smaller States having that clout in the Senate.

    2. Hell, even when the bill had the $15/hour minimum wage provision 47% of Republicans supported it. The bill that eventually passed has a majority of Republican support. Another important poll: 80% of likely voters (88%D, 83%I, 77%R) said getting Americans the help they need was more important than passing a bipartisan package. So yes, this was a very successful, bipartisan bill. The MSM only sees “bipartisanship” when it has to do with Congress, not when it has to do with the American people. And their spin is both disingenuous and distorted.

      1. “The MSM only sees “bipartisanship” when it has to do with Congress, not when it has to do with the American people.”

        That’s not a fair take, IMHO. The MSM have definitely picked up on Biden’s point and have amplified it. They still have to cover the actual votes in Congress, of course, which leads viewers (rightly) to conclude that kind of bipartisanship has yet to happen.

        I don’t think the Biden administration, and the Dems generally, have done enough to show the American people that the GOP have chosen not to govern and are now only interested in blasting anything the Dems do and genuflecting towards Trump. I suspect they are holding back in the vain hope that Congressional bipartisanship is still possible. They need to find a way to make the GOP hurt without destroying the possibility for future bipartisanship. So far, Biden is not very good at doing that. For example, instead of just calling those mask destroying governors “Neanderthals”, he should have found a way to make it more of a teaching moment.

        1. I think the “Neanderthals” quip was just Biden being Biden. It was sort of an off-hand remark during a press briefing, and wasn’t some kind of formal statement. But I agree that the Dems have yet to show the American people that the GOP’s only answer to governing is to obstruct. This administration is doing a lot better than Obama’s, but they still have a ways to go in hammering that message home.

          1. Agree on Biden being Biden and a big deal should not be made about his Neanderthal quip. I can think of some much more insulting descriptors for Gov Abbot.

  2. On the positive side, and inspired by a headline in today’s WaPo, I’m encouraged that we’re having a discussion about the COVID-19 relief bill in the broader context of the lessening of poverty in the USA. I remember decades ago there was a serious conversation engaged in by both liberals and conservatives about possible solutions to the plight of the poor. George Gilder, who went on to achieve infamy as a member of the Discovery Institute, wrote a book, Wealth and Poverty, stating conservative approaches to ameliorating poverty. Since the publication of that book, I don’t think I have seen any plan concerned for the poor that came from Republicans. That is, until Mitt Romney’s recent proposal for significant aid to children. I think Romney’s idea inspired and informed the Democratic proposal in the relief bill. Let’s seize this occasion to bring the discussion about eradicating poverty back to the fore.

    1. I believe it was LBJ who declared war on poverty and that “war” was lost along with others. A good place to start might be a living wage. Another thing that must happen is good health care for all. Another would be an equal and good education for all. We have none of these things and I do not know how aid to children in the form of tax credits to the tax payer will get the job done. Many of the poor do not pay taxes and some of them have no children.

      1. Minor point: the child tax credits are taken as cash payment to families who don’t pay taxes, so the credit isn’t lost.

  3. “2007 – The British House of Commons votes to make the upper chamber, the House of Lords, 100% elected.”

    Regrettably, and predictably, the following week the House of Lords voted 361 to 121 to retain a 100% appointed upper chamber, so that’s what we still have.

  4. The 2007 vote in favour of a fully elected House of Lords didn’t result in anything quite so democratic coming about. Wikipedia says, “In March 2007 the Houses of Commons and Lords debated the proposals in the 2007 white paper and voted on a similar series of motions to those voted on in 2003. Unexpectedly, the House of Commons voted by a large majority for an all-elected Upper House. One week later, the House of Lords retorted by voting for an all-appointed House by a larger majority.”

    Currently, the House of Lords is a mix of hereditary peers (who are elected by a larger bunch of hereditary peers in a very arcane procedure that I don’t pretend to understand – in some cases, I believe the number of eligible voters is around ten or so…). The rest are political appointees and Church of England bishops and archbishops. The total number of members of the House of Lords is 801, making it the second-largest legislature in the world after the Chinese National People’s Congress. They can’t all fit in the chamber at once – there are benches rather than individual seats so estimates of the maximum seating capacity vary widely (it’s thought to be between 230 and 400).

    Every prime minister claims to want to reduce the number, but can’t resist the temptation to stuff even more of their own cronies in there so I can see no end to this ludicrous situation.

    Edit: Oops, I forgot to refresh the page before posting my comment and now see that David had already commented on this.

      1. Thanks David! The election of the hereditary peers is more ridiculous than I thought. In 2016, after the death of the Lord Avebury the number of eligible voters was just three! Turnout was 100%. Confusingly, the number of candidates standing in the by-election was seven. I told you it was arcane…!

        That’s an extreme case (sometimes all of the hundreds and hundreds of members of the House of Lords get to vote in a by-election), but I’ve seen another case where the number of eligible voters was four (though this time there were only two candidates standing, which passes for relatively sensible in the madness that is the British upper chamber).

  5. “What chowderhead would pay $2.5 million for that?”

    I agree. On the other hand, the digital side of our culture does need some way of making something uniquely owned.

    At first glance, the phrase “non-fungible token” seems odd. I always thought of fungible as meaning easy to buy and sell because what is traded is exchangeable. It’s why trading using money is more flexible than having to trade using real goods. In this case it refers to the token being unique and, therefore, not interchangeable with other tokens. On the other hand, here we are talking about the buying and selling of a tweet. I haven’t had enough coffee yet to wrap my head around this.

    1. “Some people have more money than they know what to do with.”-My father, touring the Vanderbilt mansion.

  6. Well, PCC(E), your ducks would probably eat veggies if served ultra fresh, in the form of floating pond plants such as water lettuce and duck weed. In fact, they would love these treats, as would the toitles! These are good things for ducks and koi to forage on when human-supplied vittles are scarce.

  7. Re. David Baltimore, the introduction to a lecture that I remember most clearly was one that he delivered. I can’t remember whether it was at Rutgers or U Pittsburgh, but in any event it was a Memorial Lecture of some sort where the president of the U is present along with the widow of the person in whose memory the Lecture was endowed, where it is customary to begin with, “President X, Mrs Y, distinguished faculty and students.” DB just started, “Fellow Students.” There was a pause and a somewhat palpable silence, and then he continued, “…and I say Fellow Students because we are all students….” I thought that was pretty cool.

    But otherwise, and before that in any event, in my tenure as a grad student @ Rutgers I was in the biochem lab at the Center of Alcohol Studies. This was a curious institute, with both a biochem and psychology lab downstairs – the latter where early work on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was done. Upstairs was devoted to a library and publication of the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol. In the fall of 1975 the Journal gave me a manuscript to review. Three authors, the middle of which was David Baltimore. I already knew who David Baltimore was at that point, but I didn’t like the manuscript, and whatever it was about made me wonder if David Baltimore even knew that he was on the paper. I recommended rejection. The reason I know that this happened in early Oct ’75 is because it was announced the very next day that David Baltimore had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine.

  8. It took me a while to get Dr. Cobb’s joke. I spent way too much time trying to figure out what a chipper had to do with DNA editing.

  9. The Challenger shuttle disaster was predictable (with hindsight many things are predictable, of course).
    The mistake was to only look at failed O-rings. Those failures were distributed over a range of temperatures, 3 failings at 53°F (about 12°C), one at 57°F, one at 58°F (both around 14 °C), two times one at 70 °F (about 21 °C) and 2 at 75°F (24 °C) . Looks as if this has nothing to do with temperature.
    That is until one looks at O-rings that didn’t fail. The overwhelming majority of launches were at temperatures over 65 degrees F (18 degrees C).
    The Challenger was launched at 31°F (-0.5°C), below freezing point. When you look at the second graph it is obvious a disaster was just going to happen.
    Morale: look at all your data, it will put your special data in perspective.

    Slightly off topic: It reminds me of phising for ‘significance’: if you do 20 tests/measure parameters and one turns out to be ‘significant’, you can rest assured it probably is not.

    1. Lucky there wasn’t a “Hound Dog” in the vicinity – especially if the cat was singing “Stuck on You” …

      1. Did you notice that blue suede shoe?

        If I didn’t write this, I bet you’d have looked. Just an off-hand joke. 🙂

    1. I would have done the necessary, but the “Bernie mittens generator” that our host posted the link to back at the time of the Biden inauguration no longer works so I’m afraid that you’ll just have to imagine Bernie sitting on that corner table!

  10. +1
    I do have a cool little African soapstone carving of a thinker, but iirc the Neanderthals never went back to Africa.

  11. Oh SO good the Pope could go on his super-spreading covid tour to Iraq – a place with such a GREAT HEALTHCARE SYSTEM.    All those crowds! Halle-fk’n-leuya.

    Clap for Christ now! Oh well… .I guess he “fed their souls” BEFORE they died w/out access to either of Iraq’s respirators. Bless you, Pontiff.

    “…poisons EVERYTHING”

Leave a Reply