Wednesday: Hili dialogue

March 24, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Wednesday, March 24, 2021:  National Cake Pop Day (this is a useless yuppified dessert). It’s also National Cheesesteak Day, National Cocktail Day, National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day , and World Tuberculosis Day. (also called “Rabbit Poo”), and World Tuberculosis Day.

Here’s a great Philly cheesesteak, this one is from the famous Pat’s King of Steaks®. And unless you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you’ll be wanting one of these right now.


News of the Day:

According to the Washington Post, North Korea fired “multiple short range missiles” last weekend, probably in response to joint U.S./South Korean military exercises, even though those exercises are “virtual.” Coyne’s Fifth Law dictates that all countries developing nuclear weapons will eventually produce them, and there’s little Biden can do to stop it.

Is there a new law of physics? The Guardian reports that experiments at the Large Hadron Collider may suggest that something’s wrong with the Standard Model of particle physics (h/t Matthew). A bit from the news:

The mathematical framework that underpins scientists’ understanding of the subatomic world, known as the standard model of particle physics, firmly maintains that the particles should break down into products that include electrons at exactly the same rate as they do into products that include a heavier cousin of the electron, a particle called a muon.

But results released by Cern on Tuesday suggest that something unusual is happening. The B mesons are not decaying in the way the model says they should: instead of producing electrons and muons at the same rate, nature appears to favour the route that ends with electrons.

. . . “If it turns out, with extra analysis of additional processes, that we were able to confirm this, it would be extremely exciting,” Parkes said. It would mean there is something wrong with the standard model and that we require something extra in our fundamental theory of particle physics to explain how this would happen.”

This is above my pay grade, so perhaps a reader or two could explain the significance of these observations.

Yesterday’s poll on whether Bret Stephens will leave the New York Times, whether it be by resignation or firing, gave these results (as of 6 a.m. today). Most say that Stephens’s days are numbered:

And some good news. The BBC reports that the world’s largest painting, by British artist Sacha Jafri, has been sold for £45 million. Jafri painted the 1,600 sq m (17,000 sq ft) piece in a deserted ballroom in Dubai, and, though he planned to sell it in bits, it was bought as a whole by “French cryptocurrency businessman Andre Abdoune.” It is the most expensive painting by a living artist ever auctioned off, and was inspired by drawings that children sent Jafri. As for the dosh and the good news:

Jafri said the money would be spent on healthcare and sanitation for “the poorest communities in the world” and to connect them to the internet so children can have access to educational platforms. “The biggest divide at the moment is those with the internet and those without,” he said.]

Here’s the artist and part of the painting (h/t: Jez):

Meanwhile, a painting by the cryptic artist Banksy, depicting healthcare workers as superheroes and called “Game Changer,” has been auctioned off for £16.7 million ($23 million), more than doubling his previous record. And, more good news according to CNN: “The proceeds from the hammer price will be donated to University Hospital Southampton as well health organizations and charities across the country, according to the auction house.”

Here’s the painting:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 543,479, an increase of just 892 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands 2,747,680, an increase of about 11,000 deaths over yesterday’s total. 

Stuff that happened on March 24 includes:

The allegro movement of Concerto in B-flat major is my favorite piece of classical music. Does that mark me as a know-nothing? Here it is by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The violinists are good, and I like the way the tall guy moves around with the music.

Smith, jailed later in Nauvoo, Illinois, was killed by a mob in 1844.

Here’s Koch in his lab:

There were ten events, all in track and field, and here’s the UK’s star athlete of the event, Mary Lines, who won four gold medals (two in relays). She went on to win five more golds in later Olympiads.

  • 1944 – World War II: In an event later dramatized in the movie The Great Escape, 76 Allied prisoners of war begin breaking out of the German camp Stalag Luft III.

76 escaped but 73 were recaptured. Of those, fifty were shot by the Germans after recapture. Three men made it to freedom.

  • 1989 – In Prince William Sound in Alaska, the Exxon Valdez spills 240,000 barrels (38,000 m3) of crude oil after running aground.
  • 2008 – Bhutan officially becomes a democracy, with its first ever general election.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1834 – William Morris, English textile designer, poet, and author (d. 1896)
  • 1874 – Harry Houdini, Hungarian-Jewish American magician and actor (d. 1926)
  • 1884 – Peter Debye, Dutch-American physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1966)
  • 1902 – Thomas E. Dewey, American lawyer and politician, 47th Governor of New York (d. 1971)
  • 1909 – Clyde Barrow, American criminal (d. 1934)

The end for Bonnie and Clyde:

  • 1919 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti, American poet and publisher, co-founded City Lights Bookstore (d. 2021)
  • 1930 – Steve McQueen, American actor and producer (d. 1980)

McQueen, of course, starred in the movie “The Great Escape,” which anyone alive back then has seen:

Here’s the trailer for that movie (1963):

  • 1976 – Peyton Manning, American football player and entrepreneur

Those who relinquished their existence on March 24 include:

This purports to be a de Hooch, and there’s a cat in it. The moggy isn’t bad, either:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s on the hunt.

Hili: Something may be hiding behind this stump.
A: How do you know?
Hili: You never know with such stumps.
In Polish:
Hili: Za tym pniem może się coś ukrywać.
Ja: Skąd wiesz?
Hili: Z takimi pniami nigdy nic nie wiadomo.

Little Kulka’s climbing around in the hallway downstairs:

From Jesus of the Day:

Another bad placement of letters from Bored Panda, sent by reader Su:

From Stash Krod:

From gun nut and open-carry advocate Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO), and a response:

More of the Titania educates series. She’s really good at riposte:

I retweeted a query that Matthew sent me, with my answer (below). Now if you ask me which example of mimicry I like, that would be hard. Perhaps caterpillars with fake snake heads?

Readers are invited to contribute their favorite adaptation below in the comments.

More tweets from Matthew. This surely isn’t a three-headed ant, but what is it? I asked an ant expert, who said it could be a developmental aberration or a hoax, but the ant appears to be in the genus Camponotus. 

“Finer football” means “a great display of incompetence”:

I haven’t done this, but I would. Matthew, on the other hand, says, “No way!”

A statistics expert takes down two misleading graphs:

[Addendum from GCM: Cairo seems to have gotten this wrong. The guy who made the graph Cairo criticizes was responding to a tweet that said capitalism was racism. So the guy made the graph to show that there wasn’t much of a relationship, and to the extent there was one, it was the opposite of what the ‘capitalism=racism’ tweet said. He reported the r^2 was .14, and was well aware that the relationship explained little. Cairo must not have looked at the context of the tweets.]

42 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

    1. I used to have a pet rabbit. Every dog that ever came to visit my house during that time loved to eat rabbit turds.

  1. Favorite adaptation: toxoplasmosis being a cat parasite that makes infected animals (people, mice, etc.) like cats. Evil, yet also somehow funny. All apologies to those rare humans who suffer from it’s other potential side effects…and to the mice.

  2. “Finer football” means “a great display of incompetence”:

    I disagree, unless you mean that the team in yellow, who were 3-1 up at the start of the clip should have done more time wasting.

    McQueen, of course, starred in the movie “The Great Escape,” which anyone alive back then has seen

    When I was a child, the children’s programme Blue Peter interviewed two survivors of the real Great Escape (as depicted in the film, many of them were executed). The presenter asked them what they thought of the film and one of them answered “it was a complete travesty” (which is true).

  3. There is no better adaptation: The little bobtail squid harbors bioluminescent bacteria, and it can control their glow to match the g.d. phases of the g.d. moon. This is so it can feed on plankton near the surface at night while “hiding” in the moonlight of the night sky. I drop my mic.

    I can go with the comment in the Twitter thread about the 3-headed ant. The extra heads are the severed heads of its enemies, each still in a death grip on the antennae of the middle ant.

    1. I like Henning Wehn’s rationale behind his decision to stay in the UK:

      I initially planned to stay in the UK for only 12 months to improve my English, but the good weather, the tasty food and the classy women made me stay. In order to blend in with the locals, I decided to get extremely lazy, spend money I don’t have and, most importantly, to unjustifiably bang on about my great sense of humour.

      1. When I was working in England, I colleague from Germany who was coming to visit from Italy, where he was (and still is) working, and, never having been to England, asked me what to expect. I said that it is just like Italy, except there is no good weather and no good food. When he arrived, he said that I had hit the nail on the head.

  4. In other news, I loved Sidney Powell’s defence in her defamation lawsuit:

    A key member of the legal team that sought to steal the 2020 election for Donald Trump is defending herself against a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit by arguing that “no reasonable person” could have mistaken her wild claims about election fraud last November as statements of fact.

  5. Professor, I love that Bach movement, too. I want it to be played at my funeral. Respectfully, a correction: Those are violas, not violins.

    1. I‘m a huge fan of Bach. Here is my favorite performance of my favorite piece:

      And, yes, violas. It was originally written to include three viols and double bass as well as what you see above, though. And of course not a piano, which didn‘t exist then; the continuo was probably a harpsichord most often, but could also be organ or lute or theorba.

        1. No,since I don’t have any. I‘m sure that they’re all good, though. I just found her on YouTube, but also saw a long interview with her on German television.

          Why no albums from her? I‘ve had the complete works of Bach on CD for years and years.

      1. What’s the difference between a viola and a trampoline?

        You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline….

        (I’m not quite sure why violas/viola players are the butt of these jokes, it’s rather like drummers and rock bands.)

        1. Why?

          Because ‘they’re neither here nor there’ , said while pointing to the 1st violinist and to the cellos.

          And I suppose because the rock drummers are way at the back.

          Going back in time instead, I can remember this free concert by musicians at noon hour, way back around 1965 at UManchester. It was of one of the late Mozart string quintets. The extra is an extra viola, rather than extra cello like Schubert’s very famous one. And that woman playing that viola was just unbelievably intense and musically excellent, for me anyway. The quartet whom she supplemented were all male, so I knew who was the extra.

          1. I think with rock drummers the main qualification criterion is “Do you own a van?”

            Q: How do you know if the drum riser is level?

            A: The drummer drools out of both sides of their mouth.

            1. My son has been a professional drummer for years, and you got it exactly right about the van in his experience.

              1. My sixteen-year-old son.plays drums. I’m not sure where (if anywhere) he plans to take his talent, but I have mentioned the van trope just in case!

        2. I once turned up to orchestra practice to find one of the violists beating the percussionist to a pulp. I asked him what he was doing.

          “The percussionist has put one of my strings out of tune”, said the violist.

          “Yes, but stop beating him up.”

          “Not until he tells me which one”.

  6. When my son was about 4 years old, he heard us talking about Steve McQueen. He thought his name was “Steve The Queen”. We still call McQueen by that name to this day. My son is now 44.

  7. My brother lives a block from Pat’s steaks. When I visit, I must endure the appetizing aroma of cheesesteaks wafting through the air 24/7. It’s difficult to limit the number of walks to Pat’s. My brother has fortunately become resistant after years of exposure.

    1. Seems like somebody ought to mention Geno’s here, in the interest of equal time and fair competition.

      1. Good point. The smell emanates from there, too (it’s 75 feet away), and it’s also open 24/7. Same cut of beef (eye round), but kept in slices and not chopped like Pat’s. The choice is largely habit (and some subtle cultural distinctions).

  8. Re: John Hancock Center tilting windows:

    Yes I’d do it.

    Though I have developed terrible fear of heights that started in my late 20’s (and I was the best and most fearless tree climber around for most of my childhood). But my fear of heights comes out when there is any possibility of actually falling, e.g. high narrow stairways, baloneys, even really high escalators. As many with fear of heights know, the problem is that I start to feel woozy with anxiety which makes it feel all the more possible I could fall off or over wherever I’m standing. Ski chair lifts, being way up high with this slender rickety bar between me and the ground, are the ultimate trigger.
    I had to at some point simply stop skiing on our family skii vacations, which was a bummer.

    But I have little fear of being up high were there is no plausible way I’d actually fall, like that John Hancock Center feature, or flying which is totally abstracted from the fear of falling.

    1. I’m pretty frightened of doing much in caves, esp. the idea of swiimming underwater to a new part almost makes me nauseus feeling–claustrophobia I suppose. I can even remember the psychological discomfort of merely squirming backwards on my back under a heavy bed to fix the phone landline.

      But heights not at all, though I was never a serious rock climber. That’s even profitable for me, as I’m up on the roof (e.g. clearing snow) for my solar panels, probably 20 or 30 times a year, last 10 years. Enphase had some unreliable inverters, early on at least, but the 15 year warranty means they keep sending me free replacements to go up there and replace, just unplug/plug both DC and AC. But that’d cost a fortune to hire an expert to do.

      1. Peter,

        I admire the fact you can deal with heights so well!

        When my fear of heights first starting coming on I decided to face it head on and go cliff climbing while in Thailand. All seemed to be going well until I had to make what amounted a leap from one side of a crevice to another. Contemplating it, then looking down my fear of heights over came me and I was frozen on the side of the cliff. Absolutely terrifying. But overcame it and finished climbing.

        I always used to directly confront my fears. So for instance as a long time fan of Jaws one of my fears was sharks when swimming in the ocean. So in south africa I went on a boat to do some cage diving among great whites. (Actually turned in to a terrifying ordeal due to weather that I think I actually told here before). It didn’t happen so the first thing I did when I got home to “make up for it” was book skydiving. But sky diving was easy, like flying. It was so abstract relative to being on a high balcony or chair lift that I could fall off. The mind is a strange thing.

        These days I’m way more cautious as I age. Like, I now feel like I was nuts about the shark diving stuff and wouldn’t do it now. Bit of a bummer. But, I like being healthy. Give me a fine dining experience at a restaurant over caving or cliff climbing.

    2. Dawkins talks about our fear of heights being evolutionarily burnt into us – vs., say, fear of being in cars passing other cars at a combined speed just as fatal as a fall. Always liked that one.

      I’d never take the “Handcock Challenge” but I’d like to hear the good professor’s review of doing it…
      Well do you feel lucky, Professor?

  9. Regarding the Brandenburg Concerti, as a horn player I’m partial to #1. And, of course, #2 has a fabulous trumpet part. Oh, and my daughter attended Swarthmore, which is in a suburb of Philadelphia. You definitely want to get a cheesesteak if ever in that area.

  10. That Bonnie & Clyde ‘Death Car’ was exhibited for many years (probably still is for all I know) in the casino at Whiskey Pete’s, on the California/Nevada state line.

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