Friday: Hili dialogue

March 26, 2021 • 6:30 am

Bottom of the work week to you! It’s Friday, March 26, 2021: National Nougat Day (I never liked the stuff). It’s also National Spinach Day (unlike most kids, I liked it), No Homework Day, Solitude Day, Purple Day (raising awareness of epilepsy) and, in Hawaii, Prince Kūhiō Day, honoring the birthday of the man who wrote the first statehood bill for Hawaii. As Wikipedia notes, “Prince Kūhiō Day is one of only two holidays in the United States dedicated to royalty, the other being Hawaiʻi’s King Kamehameha Day on June 11.”  Here’s the Prince:

Richard Dawkins turns 80 today (see below); here’s the obligatory vanity photo (we were having a discussion, but I can’t remember where). Note his unmatched socks and excellent posture.

News of the Day:

Joe Biden had his first press conference yesterday (watch it here), and there were no real surprises. He doubled his vaccination goal to 200 million shots in the first 100 days of his administration (we’re on schedule for that), defended allowing unaccompanied minors into the U.S., said he planned to run for reelection in 2024, grumbled about the Senate filibuster rule (though not coming clean about his plans), and added that passing gun-control legislation was not “his top priority.” So it goes.

Rutgers has become the first American university to require coronavirus vaccinations for students entering next fall. This is nothing new there, and most American public schools also require some vaccinations before enrollment. An excerpt:

Students will be able to seek an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement “for medical or religious reasons,” Rutgers said. The rule would also not apply to students who are in online programs.

Rutgers already requires new or transferring students to show proof of receiving several vaccines, hoping to prevent on-campus cases of diseases from measles, mumps and rubella to hepatitis B and meningitis.

Medical reasons are okay with me, but religious reasons? Really? People can endanger other people in fealty to the wishes of a nonexistent god? There are times when you must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and Caesar wants SHOTS IN ARMS!

The UK’s new £50 note, set to appear in June, will feature Alan Turing along with a lot of geeky stuff that people won’t understand (note his birthday rendered in binary numbers on the ticker tape!). Here’s what it will look like (h/t Simon):

It’s not just in his honor, but also as reparations for his shabby treatment by the Brits:

As well as honoring his scientific achievements, Turing was also selected to appear on the bank note in recognition of his persecution by the UK government for homosexuality. Turing was openly gay among friends, but in 1952 was arrested and charged with “gross indecency” for homosexual acts, which were illegal in England and Wales until 1967. Despite changes to the law, prosecution of same-sex acts continued in the UK for decades afterwards.

Turing died in 1954 after eating a cyanide-laced apple. Although some think it was murder, it’s much more likely it was suicide.

The New York Times reports that Jensen Karp, a man from Los Angeles, found cinnamon-covered SHRIMP TAILS in his box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. The company assured him that they were just misshapen pieces of cereal, but nope, they were shrimp tails. Further inspection revealed what appear to be rat droppings in the box. It may, however, have been tampered with, since the bottom was taped. Here’s Karp’s response to the company’s attempt to exculpate itself

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 546,340, an increase of 1,270 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands at 2,768,663, an increase of about 10,500 deaths over yesterday’s total. 

Stuff that happened on March 26 includes:

  • 1344 – The Siege of Algeciras, one of the first European military engagements where gunpowder was used, comes to an end.
  • 1812 – A political cartoon in the Boston Gazette coins the term “gerrymander” to describe oddly shaped electoral districts designed to help incumbents win reelection.

The famous “gerrymander” cartoon, with Wikipedia’s caption below it:

Printed in March 1812, this political cartoon was made in reaction to the newly drawn state senate election district of South Essex created by the Massachusetts legislature to favor the Democratic-Republican Party. The caricature satirizes the bizarre shape of the district as a dragon-like “monster”, and Federalist newspaper editors and others at the time likened it to a salamander.

When I visited Auschwitz in 2013 (and it’s a place one must visit, as it will change you forever), I photographed these suitcases brought to the camp by arriving Jews. Nearly all of them were gassed immediately, and the suitcases confiscated and stored by the Germans:

  • 1945 – World War II: The Battle of Iwo Jima ends as the island is officially secured by American forces.
  • 1971 – East Pakistan declares its independence from Pakistan to form Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Liberation War begins.
  • 1979 – Anwar al-Sadat, Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter sign the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty in Washington, D.C.
  • 1997 – Thirty-nine bodies are found in the Heaven’s Gate mass suicides.

Here’s the Wikipedia account of the bizarre suicide:

To kill themselves, members took phenobarbital mixed with apple sauce or pudding and washed it down with vodka. Additionally, they secured plastic bags around their heads after ingesting the mix to induce asphyxiation. All 39 were dressed in identical black shirts and sweat pants, brand new black-and-white Nike Decades athletic shoes, and armband patches reading “Heaven’s Gate Away Team” (one of many instances of the group’s use of the nomenclature of the fictional universe of Star Trek). Each member had on their person a five-dollar bill and three quarters in their pockets: this was in reference to Huck Finn, in which it’s stated that it costs five dollars and seventy-five cents to ride the tail of a comet to heaven. Once a member was dead, a living member would arrange the body by removing the plastic bag from the person’s head, followed by posing the body so that it lay neatly in its own bed, with faces and torsos covered by a square purple cloth for privacy. In an interview with Harry Robinson, the two surviving members said that the identical clothing was used as a uniform for the mass suicide to represent unity, whilst the Nike Decades were chosen because the group “got a good deal on the shoes”.  [Founder Marshall]  Applewhite was also a fan of Nikes “and therefore everyone was expected to wear and like Nike’s” within the group. Heaven’s Gate also had a saying within the group ‘Just Do it,’ which used Nike’s slogan. They pronounced Do as Doe, to reflect Applewhite’s nickname.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1859 – A. E. Housman, English poet and scholar (d. 1936)
  • 1904 – Joseph Campbell, American mythologist and author (d. 1987)
  • 1911 – Bernard Katz, German-English biophysicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2003)
  • 1911 – Tennessee Williams, American playwright, and poet (d. 1983)

Here’s Williams talking with Dick Cavett about death, religion, and other matters of import.

Corso was the only Beat I ever met besides Gary Snyder (I went to a poetry reading by Snyder at UC Davis). Corso was hanging arounin Ferlinghetti’s bookstore City Lights. Being a fan of the Beats, I recognized him instantly:

  • 1931 – Leonard Nimoy, American actor (d. 2015)
  • 1940 – Nancy Pelosi, American lawyer and politician, 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
  • 1941 – Richard Dawkins, Kenyan-English ethologist, biologist, and academic

Richard turns 80 today.

  • 1942 – Erica Jong, American novelist and poet
  • 1943 – Bob Woodward, American journalist and author
  • 1944 – Diana Ross, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress
  • 1985 – Keira Knightley, English actress

Those who met their ends on March 26 include:

  • 1797 – James Hutton, Scottish geologist and physician (b. 1726)
  • 1892 – Walt Whitman, American poet, essayist, and journalist (b. 1819)
  • 1902 – Cecil Rhodes, English-South African colonialist, businessman and politician, 6th Prime Minister of the Cape Colony (b. 1853)
  • 1923 – Sarah Bernhardt, French actress and screenwriter (b. 1844)

Here’s Bernardt as Cleopatra (1891):

  • 1945 – David Lloyd George, English-Welsh lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1863)
  • 1973 – Noël Coward, English playwright, actor, and composer (b. 1899)
  • 1980 – Roland Barthes, French linguist and critic (b. 1915)
  • 2011 – Geraldine Ferraro, American lawyer and politician (b. 1935)

Ferraro was the forerunner of Kamala Harris, being the first female Vice-Presidential candidate, running with Mondale in 1984.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili can’t be bothered:

A: Hili, I have a question…
Hili: Not now.
In Polish:
Ja: Hili, mam pytanie…
Hili: Nie teraz.

Here’s little Kulka resting on the blanket by the window:

From reader Mark:

From Bruce:

From Nicole:

Below: the Palestinian “pay for slay” policy in action: a terrorist murderer of an Israeli soldier, with the terrorist being an Israeli citizen, is released from jail, having netted over half a million bucks while in jail. Now, back in Palestine, he gets an additional yearly stipend and a cushy job.

Why are people not calling attention to this hideous policy?

This tweet was unearthed by reader Ken, who notes, “This person actually sits in the United States senate, formerly hailed as the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

Matthew had an epiphany:

More tweets from Matthew. Two examples of insects producing a waxy secretion that hides them and repels predators (Matthew’s guessing it smells bad as well). Be sure to click on the photos to see the whole individual:

What’s going on here is likely to be the same thing going on above.

Here’s a gynandromorph spider: one side male, the other female. It would be interesting to see if it behaved (especially in courtship) as a male, a female, an intermediate, or was completely screwed up:

Watch the video, as Matthew (see below) is fascinated with the penis sheath. No, that waggling hairy thing is not the tail!

39 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Your vanity photo may have been from your conversation with Richard in DC a few years back (which I had the honor of attending), or perhaps one of your other stops on that tour.

    1. You’re correct about DC! From wikipedia comes this photo caption:
      “Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne in discussion at Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University, Washington, DC on May 24, 2017”

    1. Pretty sure that point wasn’t lost on the senator to whom Hyde-Smith was responding, Brooklyn-born senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, either.

      No one in Georgia was ever forced to participate in the electoral (or “elector-ee-al,” as Hyde-Smith pronounces it) process on Sundays. But the recently enacted Georgia statute at issue prohibits citizens from doing so even if they want to.

      This is but one reason the US congress must pass the pending voting-rights legislation, the senate filibuster be damned.

      1. It’s just occurred to me that this must make the law unconstitutional. If the reason for the law is to respect the Christian holy day, it surely contravenes the First Amendment.

  2. 1911 – Tennessee Williams, American playwright, and poet (d. 1983)

    Shortly after I first arrived in Key West in the 1970s, Williams (a longtime Key West resident) got rolled while walking home one night. (In those days, rolling drunks — usually lone sailors or gay men — was something of a rite of passage for local juvenile delinquents.) When asked by police whether he’d recognized the people who’d attacked him, Williams (whose most recent plays had not fared well on Broadway) replied: “I think they were New York drama critics.”

    I have a couple books that used to belong to Williams. At one time, there was a small private hospital right in Key West (since closed). Williams would check in there from time to time (under the pseudonym “Clement Samuels”) to dry out. My wife worked there as a nurse. On his last visit, he left some books behind. The hospital hung on to them, figuring he’d be back eventually. Later, Williams died in a New York hotel room (choking on a plastic nasal spray bottle cap while loaded on Seconal). Afterward, when no one came to claim the books, the hospital was preparing to throw them out. My wife snatched them up, saying “I’m sure my husband would want these.”

    1. “Clement Samuels” – that’s the name of the lawyer in McCabe and Mrs Miller but I’m assuming that isn’t why he chose it? You’d have thunk that plain old Thomas Williams would have been anonymous enough (though the fancy “Lanier” would have been a giveaway).

      1. I took “Clement Samuels” to be a play on the given name of the fella who wrote under the nom de plume “Mark Twain” — Samuel Clemens.

        My guess is that’s also the case for William Devane’s character in Robert Altman’s movie, too.

    2. Seconal? Damn, I just thought he was an alcoholic, didn’t know he was into the heavy shit, nor that he died that way. Yikes. Don’t think that drug is used anymore…don’t remember why I know about that “hypnotic” drug. I must of learned about it from a friend. 🙂

      BTW, can you “prove” those books were from TW? Anything interesting?

      1. They didn’t come with a certificate of authenticity, if that’s what you mean. 🙂

        The books are in storage now, ’cause I ran out of shelf space. There were three, though I can’t remember the titles offhand. One was about clowns, another by a French author I hadn’t heard of before. My guess at the time was that maybe they were research he was doing for a new play.

        Seconal was the brand name for “reds.”

        1. Thanks for the added info. Not a certificate per se, now that I think of it, it’s a dumb question. As if he’d sign every book he owned. LOL!

          1. All I had was my wife’s word for it. I might not have been able to trust her to balance a checkbook, but I knew I could always trust her implicitly to give a straight count on the provenance of a book. 🙂

  3. Evidenced by the inside the beltway press at the press conference yesterday they continue to waste our time pounding on the same subject as if it were all they knew. Emigration and the border is all they know and I finally turned it off. How about some questions on the pandemic – you know, where 500,000 have already died. Maybe a bit more on gun control and how well our govt. is doing there. Good grief those journalist were lame. What is known as one trick ponies.

  4. I’m with you on spinach…I’ve always loved it. Regarding other widely disliked childhood veggies, I’ve also always loved Brussel’s sprouts, and broccoli is one of my favorite things ever. Maybe my mother was just good with vegetables and cooked them really nicely, so I developed good associations.

    I do wonder about nougat…supposedly, that’s what’s in a Milky Way bar, but I don’t know if that’s different from the stuff they’re celebrating today. Maybe there’s more than one kind?

  5. It’s wonderful that Alan Turing is being honoured on a Bank of England banknote, but it’s a pity that most people in Britain will never see one. Fifty-pound notes are not issued by ATMs in Britain, and most retailers won’t take them, supposedly because of the risk of high value notes being forged. The largest note in general circulation is the twenty.

    1. Perhaps that will change. Here in the US, ATMs regularly dispense $100 bills, much to my chagrin. I assume that’s because the bank doesn’t have to fill the ATM as often. Just a wild guess but it wouldn’t surprise me if Britain does the same. Inflation will also push in that direction.

      1. I bank at Bank of America, and they recently installed ATMs where you can pick your own bills in $5, 10, 20, 100 increments. I’ve used the new feature a couple times.

        1. I’m at Chase and they claim to have that feature also but I’ve never been able to make it work consistently. I guess it hasn’t bothered me enough to complain much or to seek an ultimate solution. Since the pandemic started, I’ve tended to rely on my credit card more than cash. At the same time, vendors have also made credit card payment easier. Some won’t even take cash. I should really be using contactless payments but haven’t bothered. In short, I guess this cash denomination problem is rapidly becoming moot.

            1. We don’t really have privacy in the modern world so I wouldn’t worry about it. Privacy is overrated anyway. Better to penalize bad use of personal data, something we have to do anyway.

  6. I hate religious exemptions. Especially when the government gets to decide what is and is not a religion. Freedom of religion if the government approves your religion as an actual religion is more like it. Even if religion is taken to mean any strongly held beliefs then why even have a requirement for it if you are going to have exemptions for anyone who has strongly held beliefs against it.

    1. Doubtless the Pastafarians from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster would have more sense than use the religious exemption even if they were allowed to.

      1. True in this instance, but if any strongly or sincerely held beliefs is enough to get you exempted then why should they even make it a requirement to begin with? Pointless at that point if you ask me. Anyone without a strongly or sincerely held beliefs against it, is going to get it even without the requirement to get it.

  7. That Turing note is wonderful. I’d love to get my hands on one and keep it framed on the wall. The man was a hero whose fate remains a stain on history.

    I remember when I visited the Holocaust Museum in DC. I was very young, but the collection of shoes from prisoners who had been gassed is stuck in my mind forever. I recently found out that an entire wing of my ancestors was wiped out in the Nazi camps, with no survivors from that part of my family. An entire bloodline ripped from existence.

    “Why are people not calling attention to this hideous policy?”
    Because (1) Jews are the victims, and (2) forget it, Jake. It’s Israel.
    Regarding (1), I recently found out that the elected school board member in Jersey City, NJ, who blamed Jews for the deadly shooting at a Kosher supermarket in that city in 2019 was reelected last year. Her new term runs through 2022. Joan Terrell-Paige is her name. She called Jews brutes, asked if people were “brave enough” to listen to “the message” the gunmen were sending with the shooting of those innocent civilians, and said she did not regret her tweets/Facebook posts.

  8. You know, the more effective way for Republicans to stifle the Democratic vote would be for them to put a stake thru the heart of Trump (figuratively). He is not good for them in the sense that with Trump on the ticket it is likely that Democrats will vote early and often.

    1. I suspect many of the GOP politicians know this but their voters still love Trump and Trump still has a huge amount of power to “primary” those that cross him, or simply aren’t his favorite. I just read this morning how 5 GOP candidates for some Ohio position recently went down to Mar-a-Lago to allow Trump to choose one of them. It was basically a sort of Trumpy beauty contest. It’s disgusting.

  9. I agree with Matthew on the “ponytail” weevil. The filaments seem to consist of threads of wax springing from the back edges of the wing covers (elytra). They are apparently produced by both sexes and arise fully formed when an adult beetle emerges from the pupa. I suspect predators (birds, lizards) see them as bits of inedible fluff unworthy of interest. On the down side, the structure likely interferes with flying, at least until the filaments become worn off. Perhaps an entomologist could chime in?

  10. One of my favorite “rock” groups is Porcupine Tree. On their 6th album “Lightbulb Sun” there is a song titled “Last chance to evacuate planet Earth before it is recycled”. After the song lyrics, there is a snippet of a recording spoken by Do himself. I think it’s his last recording before the mass suicide and here’s the excerpt. I can’t believe people can be conned into suicide by this type of claptrap.

    Let me say that our mission here, at this time
    Is about to come to a close in the next few days
    We came from distant space
    And even what some might call somewhat of another dimension
    And we are about to return from whence we came
    It requires that you- if you maybe
    Moving into that evolutionary kingdom
    That you leave behind everything of human ways, human behavior
    Human ignorance, human misinformation
    If I would title this tape, it would be
    ‘Last chance to evacuate planet Earth before it is recycled’

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