Monday: Hili dialogue

April 5, 2021 • 6:30 am

Howdy from Georgetown, Texas on Monday, April 5, 2021: National Caramel Day.

News of the Day:

I’m woefully deficient on the news, and I haven’t turned on the t.v. since I’ve been in Texas and don’t listen to the radio as I drive (I have Siri giving me directions). All I know is what I get from websites, which most of you know already. So I try to find odd bits and bobs.

Some lagniappe: If you’re a Beatles fan, the Guardian has a good article on Astrid Kirchherr, once engaged to the ex-Beatle Stu Sutcliffe, and who photographed, mothered, and molded the style of the Beatles (i.e., suggesting their “mop top” haircuts) when they played in Hamburg before they were famous. She also received lots of letters from the Beatles, One is below, along with a photo of her with Ringo and John.

Kirchherr died in 2020, and the letters are up for auction. (h/t: Jez)

Letter from Paul McCartney to Astrid, 1963. Photograph: Melike Cinpolat/TBC

I’ve been asked a few times if the severity of side effects you get with the second Pfizer or Moderna jab is positively correlated with your subsequent degree of protection from the virus. (This is based on the theory that a strong reaction to a second shot means that your immune system is well primed to attack the virus.) Well, The New York Times says “no”, that there’s no relationship. To support that, they say this:

A lack of side effects does not mean the vaccine isn’t working, said Dr. Paul Offit, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel. Dr. Offit noted that during the vaccine trials, a significant number of people didn’t report side effects, and yet the trials showed that about 95 percent of people were protected. “That proves you don’t have to have side effects in order to be protected,” he said.

Well, yes, fewer than 95% of people have significant side effects, yet your chance of not being infected is 95%.  So yes, just because you don’t have side effects doesn’t mean you’re not protected. But that’s not the way to look at the issue. Suppose that every one of the 5% of doubly vaccinated people who nevertheless got infected in the trials (that’s about 1500 people) had no big side effects. That would show that Offit is wrong: that a lack of side effects does suggest that you’re less protected. (We don’t know the answer to this.) To answer the question, you need to show that the proportion of people having weak side effects is the same in vaccinated people who catch the virus as in vaccinated people who don’t catch the virus.

In a totally blah column in today’s NYT, writer Jennifer Finney Boylan gives us the answer to her title: “I know why I am here on Earth“. I thought it would involve God, but it doesn’t, for she doesn’t know what she believes. Instead, the answer turns out to be “because my mother and father mated with each other.” I’m not kidding! Oh, and there are flowers, too:

Did Christ rise from the dead? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But I know that I am here on earth because my father loved my mother. There are hyacinths rising in my garden. I know what it is like to be loved.

Is “love” a euphemism here? Because, you know, love is not enough.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 554,579, an increase of just 277 deaths over yesterday’s figure—a sign that the pandemic is waning. The reported world death toll stands at 2,867,681, an increase of about 6,300.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a dialogue with Paulina, who lives upstairs and is the staff for Kulka (and half of Szaron). Paulina took the photo, too.

Paulina: You look very threatening.
Hili: That was my intention.
In Polish:
Paulina: Strasznie groźnie wyglądasz.
Hili: Taki był mój zamiar.

And a photo of kitten Kulka. Look how big she’s grown! Here’s she’s sitting in Malgorzata’s chair in the kitchen.

Caption: At the Easter table.

Caption in Polish: Przy wielkanocnym stole.

Some memes, including leftover Easter memes.

From Divy:

From Barry:

From Bruce:

A tweet from Titania which is the first one I remember in which she tacitly admits she’s spoofing:

From Merilee, who found it on Facebook. I’m afraid that with my extreme love of Marshmallow Peeps, I’d gnaw that dress to nothing in a few minutes flat:

Tweets from Matthew. Sound up on this one. He says, “I don’t care about basketball but this is exciting.” This is the UCLA/Gonzaga game in which Gonzaga sunk a three-pointer in the final seconds of overtime to win 93-90. See below what was happening on the court.

Can you believe it: a gecko that squirts foul-smelling fluid from holes in its tail! I had no idea.

This is a good one. I don’t know the conductor, but I’m sure at least one reader will.

This artist must have been very busy!

Caterpillars that group stand a better chance of individual survival than if they strike out on their own. The translation of this tweet from the Portuguese:

Popular mourning pink butterfly, Heraclides anchisiades caterpillars stay close together to ensure greater chances of survival against parasitism and predation.

49 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. Paul Offit of the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia and the Vaccine Education Center has been a well-spoken advocate of vaccination and a source of education to counter the anti-vaxer movement for many years. I suspect that his comments may have been edited by the reporter or editor or he was speaking in general for a general audience and if questioned about the precision of these remarks would agree with Jerry on the experiment that is required. There is an excellent recent interview with Dr. Offit on This Week in Virology episode 720 (TWiV 720) at url https://www.microbe.tv/twiv/twiv-720/
    In which he devotes significant remarks toward his experiences with anti-vaxers.

    1. I saw him make this comment on the news a while back and though the same thing. But you don’t distort matters to communicate with a general audience. He could have said any effect was small, which would likely be accurate, but I bet they actually have the data to answer this question.

    2. “That proves you don’t have to have side effects in order to be protected,” he said. That is basically correct of course, but I indeed strongly suspect Offit said much more than that (he’s a big shot in the FDA, after all). As our host points out, you should compare the group that had no side effects with the one that did, or whether those 5% that did get sick despite the vaccine disproportionally had no side effects.
      I had the J&J vaccine (no second jab), without any side effect, apart from feeling more vigorous and optimistic, but I ascribe that more to the psychological effect of knowing I was vaccinated than to a physiological effect of the vaccine itself.

    3. Happy Easter white killer rabbits, was that not “In Search of the Holy Grail”?

      I love that tail-spouting gecko. I hope it works against snakes.
      Why is it that such a disproportionate number of foul and venomous animals of all groups (snakes. spiders, jellyfish, and a mammal with a venomous spur) are found in Australia? Is there more than 1% of animals in Australia that are not out to kill you? 🙂

    4. There is an excellent recent interview with Dr. Offit on This Week in Virology episode 720..

      in which he conveys more in one hour than that crew usually manages in three. They’re an excellent source of information but, man, can they run on.

      1. My knowledge of classical composers is extremely limited, but Dudamel stands out in the same way that Carlos Acosta does in ballet – brilliant young artists from modest backgrounds who reached the top of their fields in the West against the odds.

        1. Compare his style with Leonard Bernstein in his twilight, conducting sometimes with only his facial expressions. I prefer the latter’s economy of movement.

  2. The OP says, “a lack of side effects does suggest that you’re less protected. (We don’t know the answer to this.).” My wife and I have each received both Pfizer doses, and neither of us noticed any side effects whatsoever.
    I’m reminded of certain persons who seek medicines to assist in “strengthening their immune systems,” and who tell me that because I rarely experience colds, flus, etc., I must have a “weak immune system.” Odd. I have always thought that if I seem disease-resistant, it is because my immune system is doing as it should.
    Similarly, I spent a childhood involving hunting, fishing, gutting my prey without gloves, sailing, digging, constantly getting cuts and bruises, etc. Consequently, I suspect that perhaps my immune system has previously been exposed to sufficient coronavirii that it was able to assimilate the Pfizer virus without overmuch difficulty. Or not.
    But just because the Pfizer jabs do not yet seem to have turned me into (more of) a minion of Bill Gates and the Lizard People (nice name for a rock band, no?), I’m not convinced that for some reason it didn’t work. None of my other vaccines has bothered me either, except of course for the immense trauma, thank you very much, of having a spike punched into me arm by a mean little nurse the size of my thumb. I think it’s possible that people unbothered by the vaccines are simply doing ok, and will be as well-protected as anyone else. Just possible.

    1. My guess is that you and other who might think the effects of the vaccine determines your immunity, are all wet. Lots of people that get the virus die. Many others do not and many others have very light effects. What does it mean. Many of the dead end up there because the virus attacks the lungs. When I got it, fortunately it did not go after my lungs. I was still in bad shape but not close to death. Since then I have had the vaccine (pfizer). I had some effects from both shots. So if I already had the virus, why all the side affects from the vaccine. Attempting to answer a theory like that is rather a waste of time.

        1. I wasn’t real clear on that but guess they were saying a strong reaction to the vaccine was expected because of already having the virus earlier.

    1. The finals match up should answer one of the great theological questions of our time. The game pits the Catholics (Gonzaga) vs the Protestants (Baylor) and the winner will show who is the favorite of the Christian god 😁

  3. Why is it necessary to have a response to the Covid vaccines when there are no notable responses to the flu or shingles vaccines. Somebody is dreaming of being an internet personality.

      1. I had fairly severe responses to both Shingrix shots and the double-barreled flu shot for seniors, but virtually nada to Pfizer #1. No idea what that means, if anything. Fwiw I almost never get colds or flu. Last flu I remember getting was a whopper: the Hong Kong flu in early 1969 (I was laid low in Lyon, France, for a good week, though it never occurred to me to be angry at the Chinese, or Asians in general…)

        1. Me too, and the whole family stuck in Hyde Park Chicago—at Xmas, and worried about getting back to longterm job and students.

          We got similarly laid up in Dublin by Eyjafjalla (sp?) volcano…

            1. …with ‘jokull’ being ice cap or glacier on its own, but it’s actually part of the mountain’s name, as I forgot. e.g. Snaefjelljokull is the one from the start of ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’—‘snow mountain glacier’.

              1. No, I understand the falafel was invented in a stroke of genius by a mountain man standing at the summit of a different Snaefell–there are two more in Iceland, one very much in the east, whereas that Jules Verne one you are purported to occasionally be able to see Greenland from. And also Snaefell is the mountain on the Isle of Man.

            2. Pronunciation:
              Main thing is the ‘j’s sound much like ‘y’. Icelandic seems very difficult, and is far closer to the language of the Vikings 1000 years ago than is Norwegian/Danish/Swedish, I’m told.

              I think Faroese is also closer. They are not in Google Translate (but Icelandic is). So they did their own version. It is very entertaining and amusing, to me at least.

              Virtually everybody speaks English in both places. When a BBC (Brit) announcer is interviewing an Icelandic vulcanologist or geologist, the latter’s English is usually much easier for me to follow—I think these days the BBC takes pride in having thick accents from deepest, darkest Manchester, London, Liverpool, Glasgow….And the last time I lived there was 1975-76, so those are like foreign languages

  4. The phrase “Se a vida te der limões….” is the start of the popular Brazilian expression “If life gives you lemons, … make lemonade.” The host-plant is, of course, a lemon tree.

  5. I’d forgotten this earlier. Speaking of Paul Offit, he recently published a book, Overkill, a well-referenced consideration of all manner of widely “understood” medical misinformation (e.g., currently relevant, the value of vitamin D supplementation). It should be especially valuable to anyone (including many here, I’d imagine) recognized by friends and family for having some expertise in such matters. We just bought a copy for our physical therapist son-in-law, who will find interesting what Offit says about surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee.

  6. “…I’m afraid that with my extreme love of Marshmallow Peeps, I’d gnaw that dress to nothing”

    and then?

  7. Here is another take on the vaccine and side effects. Some people develop antibodies after the first shot (or after getting Covid), and don’t really need a booster. They have an antibody-triggered reaction to a subsequent shot of vaccine. Other people don’t develop much antibody after the first shot, and do need a booster. They don’t react to the second shot because they don’t have enough antibody yet.They are the reason some vaccines recommend two shots. The prediction is that a third shot would elicit a reaction from most of the recipients.

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