Sunday: Hili dialogue

March 28, 2021 • 5:30 am

Good morning on Sunday, March 28, 2021: National Black Forest Cake Day. It’s also the beginning of PassoverSerfs Emancipation Day in Tibet, National Hot Tub Day, and, most important, Respect Your Cat Day. Remember, though you must respect your cat, your cat will not respect you.

News of the Day:

The damn container ship Ever Given is still stuck in the Suez Canal, and they’re contemplating offloading some of the TWENTY THOUSAND CONTAINERS to lighten it. But that has to be done very carefully lest it capsize.  Over 300 cargo ships are in the queue behind it, and despite workers having freed the rudder and dredged 18 meters near the bow, there’s still no guess as when it will be freed, though prognostications are a week or so. And this is grim:

With the ship sagging in the middle, its bow and stern both caught in positions for which it was not designed, the hull is vulnerable to stress and cracks, both experts said.

Oy! Other reports say that huge numbers of sheep (and possibly cattle) are stranded on the waiting ships, and they could run out of food and water.

A pathetic photo of dredging:

And there’s still trouble in Myanmar, with soldiers and police firing into crowds and brutally beating protestors calling for democracy. Over 110 people were killed yesterday, and local diplomats from many countries, including the U.S., are condemning the violence. But the junta doesn’t care.

Over at the NYT, Frank Bruni has written one of his more forgettable columns, claiming that America is reluctant to give up its guns because the phrase “gun control”. That, he argues, smacks of repression, and we need a new term that emphasizes “gun safety.” Is the man nuts? Does he think the NRA will be gulled by new euphemisms to allow us to pry weapons from their warm, living hands?

The AP reports that there’s a rash of corvid thefts, with rapacious ravens plundering the groceries of shoppers in an Anchorage, Alaska Costco. They even went for short ribs. An excerpt:

Rick Sinnott, a former wildlife biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game, said hundreds of ravens fly to Anchorage in the winter for food. After winter turns to spring, most of the ravens leave, Sinnott said.

But before they do, the ravens stick around to pluck assorted meats, fruits and vegetables.

“For years, decades, they’ve watched people in parking lots of grocery stores with all this food,” Sinnott said. “They know what a piece of fruit looks like in a grocery cart because they’ve seen it on the ground or seen it in a garbage can.”

(h/t: Martin).

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 548,377, an increase of “just” 777 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands a 2,790,890, an increase of about 9,900 deaths over yesterday’s total. 

Stuff that happened on March 28 includes:

Five men claimed the title of emperor that year! Three were killed.

  • 1842 – First concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Otto Nicolai.
  • 1871 – The Paris Commune is formally established in Paris. The government served from March 18 to May 21.

Here’s a barricade erected by the Communards on March 18:

The Communards lost, and many were executed:

  • 1939 – Spanish Civil War: Generalissimo Francisco Franco conquers Madrid after a three-year siege.
  • 1959 – The State Council of the People’s Republic of China dissolves the government of Tibet.
  • 1978 – The US Supreme Court hands down 5–3 decision in Stump v. Sparkman, a controversial case involving involuntary sterilization and judicial immunity.

In this case, the court ruled that judge who ordered a 15 year old to get a tubal ligation could not be sued since he was performing a judicial function.  (The girl was told she was having her appendix removed.)

1990 – United States President George H. W. Bush posthumously awards Jesse Owens the Congressional Gold Medal.

Notables born on this day include:

Bartolomeo: “Christ with the Four Evangelists”

  • 1483 – Raphael, Italian painter and architect (d. 1520)

Here’s a great Raphael (caption below):

  • 1868 – Maxim Gorky, Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright (d. 1936)

Gorky in 1906:

  • 1892 – Corneille Heymans, Belgian physiologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1968)
  • 1905 – Marlin Perkins, American zoologist and television host (d. 1986)
  • 1914 – Edmund Muskie, American lieutenant, lawyer, and politician, 58th United States Secretary of State (d. 1996)
  • 1936 – Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian writer, politician, journalist and essayist, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1942 – Daniel Dennett, American philosopher and academic

Dan is 79 today. Here’s a photo of him standing in front of Norman Rockwell’s painting, “Freedom of Speech”. Stockbridge, MA. October 25, 2012

  • 1986 – Lady Gaga, American singer-songwriter, dancer, producer, and actress

Those who went the way of the dinosaurs on March 28 include:

Ironically, it was this Mussorgsky who achieved fame despite his name, while his twin, Immodest Mussorgsky, languished in obscurity.

  • 1941 – Virginia Woolf, English novelist, essayist, short story writer, and critic (b. 1882)

  • 1943 – Sergei Rachmaninoff, Russian pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1873)
  • 1953 – Jim Thorpe, American football player and coach (b. 1887)
  • 1969 – Dwight D. Eisenhower, American general and politician, 34th President of the United States (b. 1890)
  • 1977 – Eric Shipton, Sri Lankan-English mountaineer and explorer (b. 1907)
  • 1985 – Marc Chagall, Russian-French painter and poet (b. 1887)

Chagall did a number of paintings including cats (see them all here). Here’s one:

. . . and the Trapp Family. Wikipedia caption: “Trapp Family Singers preparing for a concert in Boston in 1941. Maria is the third from left, with a dark suit. The director is probably Franz Wasner.”

  • 2000 – Anthony Powell, English soldier and author (b. 1905)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is offended:

A: Kulka criticized your picture from yesterday.
Hili: Youth today lacks both taste and culture.
In Polish:
Ja: Kulka skrytykowała twoje wczorajsze zdjęcie.
Hili: Dzisiejsza młodzież nie ma ani gustu ani kultury.`


And little Kulka:

From Bruce:

From Nicole:

From Jesus of the Day, a new example of sexual selection in humans:

Andrew Doyle, on an interview show, discusses what he’s trying to do with Titania’s tweets:

From Barry: John Cleese vs some clerics:

From Mayor Pete, now Secretary Peter. Inequity among pedestrians:

Tweets from Matthew. This is a diopsid fly, soon after it “eclosed” (hatched from the pupal case), pumping up its big eyestalks with air.

The marvels of cephalopod camouflage:

Quolls: carnivorous marsupials from Australia and New Guinea—and cute!

It still surprises me that these great songs involved laying down a vocal track atop prerecorded melody:

This first tweet is one of the year’s best. And look at that pervy cat!

45 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. “It still surprises me that these great songs involved laying down a vocal track atop prerecorded melody”

    In this case, they are probably just in a sound booth to get their voice clearly and the music in the background is from the remaining band jamming in the next room, put possibly picked up from the headphones.This comes about because there are three different needs that require different solutions.

    First, musicians need to hear each other, and themselves well while playing. But that “live mix” does not nexessarily produce a great radio friendly sound, especially when stereo became the norm.

    Second, if you want to have a great wide stereo sound, you cannot just put two microphones left and right. You still want to get the vocals cleanly from the singer’s mic, for instance, and without too much noise from the other instruments. Later on, the different drums and cymbals would also have their own place in stereo, not just the overall kit.

    And third, producers started to enhance the sounds early on with various tricks, adding reverbs, and EQs and so on, which necessiate the track to be separated from the other instruments, you want reverb on the vocals, say, but not on the bass.

    The consumer market of “hi-fi” and the audiophiles demanded more of this early on, already in the era of “these great songs”. Eventually, picking the best takes, just hiring one good studio guitarist who would play all parts and so on became too useful and the playing “live together” is now uncommon.

    1. I would expect the audible music is from a working instrumental track being played thru their headphones, and they are singing to that. Else why even have headphones? Their singing is in sync with the music after all.

    2. “In this case, they are probably just in a sound booth to get their voice clearly and the music in the background is from the remaining band jamming in the next room, put possibly picked up from the headphones.”

      There were only four in the Fab Four. John was a brilliant songwriter and musician but even he wouldn’t be able to play lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and the piano simultaneously.

  2. For me, Jim Thorpe’s greatest athletic accomplishment was the winning of two gold medals in the 1912 Olympics in demanding multi-activity events: the pentathlon (no longer competed) and the decathlon. To my way of thinking the winner of the Olympics decathlon is the greatest athlete in the world at the time.

  3. The two older guys in the John Cleese clip are Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark; the amused presenter is Tim Rice. I can vividly remember watching the show with my sister when it was originally broadcast.

  4. I won’t use tw@tter at all, so maybe I’m missing something here with Pete’s equity street stuff but are we sure it’s not a cultural issue, or even more related to where people live (city vs suburb vs rural)? If you’re willing to plumb the depths of satan’s bung hole (aka tw@tter) by all means do so and give me your take on his data and more likely interpretations that aren’t crt-based hoo-ha.

    1. I have been reading the report he referenced. I recommend it, as it is an excellent analysis of how urban planning around moving cars quickly has resulted in pedestrian safety trade-offs. The fix is to change transportation paradigms that recognize all road users, not just focus on how to move the maximum number of private automobiles as quickly as possible. I’m so glad the new secretary of transportation is on the job.

      1. I’m sure it is interesting but definitely not my cuppa tea. If I get your meaning, it’s similar to what Bill Bryson kvetched about in A Walk in the Woods, that America is being built for cars, not people, and you can’t walk anywhere safely in far too many communities. But you are more likely to have sidewalks in cities vs suburbs, (almost none where I live in the boonies) at least as connections between homes and shops, not to mention alternative transportation, population and service densities, but then more cars, more people… But that’s just part of the problem. I’m sure this is fairly complex issue. There is a cultural aspect, a behavioral aspect that must be included. Crossing at crosswalks, with the light, holding your child’s hand, not walking in front of traffic…people who are blind can do it, so can everyone else, and not to mention difference between drivers! Like my trip to belgium, the difference between French-speaking and Flemish-speaking areas (same race, different cultures) was like night and day. The tweet, at least to me, suggests that somehow it MUST be racism, but not having read into it, I could be jumping to conclusions (but then, isn’t everything racist theses days?) I’d like to see things broken down by region, by city/suburb/rural, by age, by sex, not just race, (what about ethnicity within presumed race, or immigrant/native born?) because there are so many different ways to look at a problem.

        1. Apparently pedestrian hits and deaths are closely corelated with alcohol use – of the pedestrian, not the driver. I’m always very careful not to “drink and walk” in Manhattan.

  5. The Evergreen problem over in the ditch is an example of modern engineering doing more than is required and building bigger just because they can. A ship this size should not be going where it is. There are few ports where these ships can even be worked. The economy of scale is broken. We do that with buildings and we do it with airplanes.

      1. How I miss John Clarke’s humour. His wit was dryer than a flor fino sherry. Thanks for the memory, David.

        The ship referred to in the Clarke and Dawe video was the “Kirki”, off the Western Australia coast in 1991.

    1. Not because they can, but because of efficiency, which relates directly to shipping cost. I have taken Maersk E-class ships through there a bunch of times, and they are only 8 feet shorter than the Ever Given. These are not self-unloading ships (with cranes and ramps), so they go to container terminals. Loading/unloading can be very quick, which again goes to cost. I have been in some ports for about 20 minutes. It took longer to tie up than it did to move the boxes. That was at an intermediate port, so it was a small number of containers to be offloaded, but even that would have taken much longer in the old days.
      The phrase we use is “safe speed for the prevailing conditions and circumstances”, which usually keeps such things from happening. I don’t know the exact reasons why they hit the bank, but dust storms are not particularly rare there.
      One complicating factor is that most of the action needed to solve this problem is on the east side. There is just nothing on that side. A big sand berm from the dredging, some burned out tanks and other wrecked equipment from past conflicts, then just nothing but dust and sand for miles. If they want to bring a large crane to the bow of the ship, they are probably going to have to build a road.

        1. Moving containers with a regular crane is super tedious.
          I am so glad this is not my fault. One of our ships, with a friend of mine as captain, went sideways in the canal, but it was in an area further north with two lanes. They also sorted it out through ballasting in just a few hours.
          The Suez is not much fun. The pilots come aboard with big empty duffel bags, and spend the whole transit filling them with loot. They also take sort of a distracted and casual attitude, which can be super stressful for the officers and crew.

          1. Goodness! I’d believe there’s that kind of corruption in Egypt – I have witnessed it – but I can’t imagine what kind of loot there’d be on a tanker like that. Cigarettes? Booze? I know next to nothing about shipping, however. it seems like a shady industry in some places.

  6. Regarding the stuck tanker, I have seen several reports calling it the Ever Given, but if you look at the photos its name is Evergreen.

    1. Evergiven is the name of the ship. Evergreen is the name of the shipping co. It is Taiwan based. So you have a Japanese ship, leased to a Taiwan shipping company and Panamanian flag.

    2. Apparently… “Ever Given” is the name of the ship. And “Evergreen Marine” is the company that owns the ship. Signage-wise, I guess “Evergreen” gets the big billing.

  7. Five men claimed the title of emperor that year! Three were killed.

    Like Artic fisherman or high-voltage power lineman, Roman emperor was one of those inherently dangerous occupations.

  8. In this case [Stump v. Sparkman], the court ruled that judge who ordered a 15 year old to get a tubal ligation could not be sued since he was performing a judicial function.

    Stump was a hard case, but the result was as it must be. Imagine how quickly our courts would become clogged to a standstill were disgruntled litigants able to sue judges. A judge can be sued for coming down off the bench and slugging someone, or for slandering someone in the courthouse hallway, or for any other tort she or he commits as a private citizen, but they cannot be sued for any acts performed in their official capacity as jurists. It’s similar to the “Speech or Debate” clause immunity granted congresspersons for statements made from the floor of congress under Article I, Section 6, Clause 1 of the US constitution.

  9. Re: thieving corvids. Years ago I went on a winter snowcoach tour in Yellowstone National Park. At the Old Faithful geyser parking area there were a group of snowmobiles, with one person standing among them while the other riders went to watch the eruption. The man waiting told us he was protecting the snowmobilers’ snacks and belongings from ravens, who had learned to open packs and storage bags, even though closed with zippers, velcro, or buckles, in search of food. Apparently this was standard practice for the tour groups. We didn’t witness any theft attempts though we did see ravens. If I recall, the temperature was around -20F (-29C).

    1. in Tokyo crows are a huge urban problem mainly b/c they’re so SMART. They recognize individual people, patterns, play havoc with waste collection, seem to pick locks, do tricks, use tools and LEARN. They’re the smartest birds. I ADORE them. 🙂

      There are a lot of videos in English and Japanese online about their intelligence and their eerie “funerals” for one and other.


      1. In a documentary on bird intelligence I saw some years ago there was a segment about a program that trained crows (or some similar corvid) to pick up trash around town. They used vending machine like contraptions where crows could make a deposit and receive a snack. I’d love to know how that program worked out in the long run. I bet the birds outsmarted machines.

        After a quick search I mostly see references from 2017-2018 about a French park that trained rooks to pick up trash. But the program I remember was from many years earlier.

  10. When I first read “corvid thefts”, I was thinking more about people keeping corvids as pets and someone was stealing them.

    “I’ll give you my crow when you pry it from my cold, dead hands”

    Still, corvids stealing stuff is also cool.

  11. “Maria is the third from left”

    I’d at first omitted the director, and concluded that Maria apparently had a very prominent mustache.

          1. Jeez, they’d’ve treated Ms. Markle as well, she mightn’t’ve been such a thorn in the side for HRM. 🙂

  12. I am not sure why you list Eric Shipman as being Sri-Lankan – English. He was born in 1909 in then Ceylon (which was part of the British Empire), to English parents and came to England at the age of 8. I was similarly born in Bangalore, South India to English parents and came to England at the age of 6. I would seriously object to be described as Indian – English. I have never held anything other than British nationality.

      1. I’ve fixed it now. As so often, the main article was correct but an error had been introduced in the list of events \births\deaths on a particular date.

        My theory, which is mine, is that the articles about a particular person or event are (mostly!) edited by people who know about the subject, and any errors get fixed pretty promptly, whereas the list articles aren’t and mistakes go unnoticed for longer.

        A similar situation arose with Lawrence Durrell the other week (also born in India to colonial-era parents) although his case was more complicated since he fell foul of later rules on British citizenship.

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