Friday: Hili dialogue

April 9, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Friday, April 9, 2021: National Chinese Almond Cookie Day. I’m home after my jaunt to Texas, and am starting my kale juice cleanse! (Only kidding—but I’m going vegetarian for at least a week.) Yes, I am home, and the anxiety is already creeping in, much of it related to ducks.

News of the day:

Prince Philip died at 99.

Good for Uncle Joe, who declared some modest gun-control measures via executive action yesterday. These include banning “ghost guns” (guns that can be made from kits, lacking the serial numbers that make them traceable), as well as “closing background check loopholes, banning assault weapons and stripping gun manufacturers of protection from lawsuits.” Republicans, of course, are incensed, and too bad for them. I just wonder if these measures could be derailed by the courts. The NYT however, did do a fact-check on Biden’s claims, and found some errors or misrepresentations, including his claim that only gun manufacturers can’t be sued (they can for certain things, and some tech companies can be immune from lawsuits).

An article in Quillette called “Diversity, inclusion, and academic freedom: the case of gender biology,” tells a harrowing tale of how a seemingly respectful lecture by a pediatric endocrinologist on disorders of sexual development, particularly congenital adrenal hyperplasia, led to an explosion of outrage that led to the doctor’s being replaced in his course. Gender and medicine is a minefield these days.

Important news from HuffPost! (Click on screenshot):

Irresponsible undergraduate students at my university have created a big outbreak of Covid-19 on campus . According to CBS2 News, and reports sent to us at the University of Chicago, more than 50 undergraduates have just tested positive for the virus, most of them having attended “parties held at off-campus fraternities” over the last week. Severe restrictions have been imposed on all undergraduates, including include 7-day mandatory quarantining for all students in residence halls, no in-person classes for undergraduates for at least a week, and no lab work for those undergrads doing research. The student government has called for disciplining those who facilitated the parties, but the U of C has been loath to punish anyone for violating the “Health Pact” that we all had to sign.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 559,575, an increase of 595 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll stands at 2,917,645, an increase of about 13,400 over yesterday’s total.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is wheedling for a snack:

Hili: What’s the time?
A: A quarter to.
Hili: So it’s time now.
In Polish:
Hili: Która godzina?
Ja: Za kwadrans.
Hili: A, to już pora.
Kulka and Szaron are on the steps outside, and it looks as if a little butt-sniffing is going on:

A meme from Facebook. Canada geese are the worst!

From Jesus of the Day:  I hope this is real. If it is, Matthew needs to go to this hotel!

From Nicole. Again, I wonder if this is real. I know that every country in Scandinavia makes fun of every other country in Scandinavia. I once had a Danish officemate, for instance, who told me, “The Finns drink gasoline, you know—regular on weekdays and unleaded on Sundays.”

A tweet from Barry. I’m told that these lizards can really make a mess of you.

Tweets from Matthew. I’m not sure whether this book involved “moveable” type, with each character re-used, or was simply engraved in toto. I’m too lazy to look it up.

Matthew calls this one “Stalin,” and he’s pretty much on the money:

Look at this fat hamster get under a door!

Ah, the beautiful wood ducks. They and their congeners, the Mandarins, are the world’s most beautiful ducks. We had a female and two male wood ducks for a few weeks last fall on Botany Pond:

Cod and chips please; hold the chips:

A duck nesting on a seventh floor balcony. If you worry about how the ducklings get down, read the next tweets.

45 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

    1. Yes, “News of the Day” in the UK is that the queen’s husband Phil the Greek has popped his clogs at the age of 99 – we won’t hear the end of it for days, and the BBC has already abandoned its scheduled programmes to yak on endlessly about him.

    2. Prince Philip you mean. He was born in Greece but he was not really Greek in any other respect. His father was half Greek and has mother was English/German.

      ETA: the tweet pics are coming through when I view this page in Safari on an iPhone.

      1. He was born in Greece, into the Greek royal family (and also the Danish royal family, because that’s how monarchies tend to work, of course).

        According to Wikipedia,

        After the war, Philip was granted permission by George VI to marry Elizabeth. Before the official announcement of their engagement in July 1947, he abandoned his Greek and Danish titles and styles, became a naturalised British subject, and adopted his maternal grandparents’ surname Mountbatten.

      2. Depends how you view nationality. I take the view that it is where you are born, so if you were born at sea you are Neptunian! To say he was / was not Greek – what does that actually mean? His male line ancestors were from North Germany. Is nationality ethnicity? I would say not. It is complicated…

    3. A sad time for his family.
      I wonder how the cargo cult of the Yaohnanen tribe, on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, are going to view this? They thought of the Duke as some sort of messiah.

      1. Maybe they’ll toast him a fond adieu with a stiff drink of psychoactive kava.

        The Yaohnanen tribe in Vanuatu, that is, not Phil’s family (though they could probably do with a stiff drink of kava, too, considering the travails of the royals these days).

        1. If they do, Ken, they’ll be sorely disappointed. I’ve researched and written about psychedelics for decades now so obviously… in Fiji… I had to try the much heralded kava root. And what a disappointing experience it was. A slight tingle around the mouth, a bit of a pulse jolt hardly better than a double espresso: if my dealer sold it to me I’d fire him. No stars for kava.

      2. I wonder how long it will be before some members of the tribe start telling stories about how they met him (after his death) and had dinner with him. If they did, it wouldn’t even be the second time this has happened to a cult following the death of their messiah figure.

    4. Same here for my Mac computer, as of maybe a couple days ago. I’ve tried all measures to fix it, including having Safari forget all my browsing history. Still does not work.
      They load just fine in Google Chrome. They never loaded in Firefox.

    5. I was hoping Prince Philip would reach 100 just so the Queen could send him a congratulatory telegram.

  1. I recently learned that female v. male brain-eye connections are significantly different. If I understood : Source : Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax, MD, PhD

    1. Some of literature cited in this book – specifically about the human visual system – is :

      Horvath and Wikler – “Aromatase in developing sensory systems of the rat brain” J. Neuroendocrinology 11:17-84 1999

      Kaplan and Benardete “the dynamics of primate retinal ganglion cells” Progress in Brain Research 134:17-34 2001

      Meissirel and associates “early divergence of magnocellular and parvocellular functional subsystems in the embryonic primate visual system” PNAS 94:5900-5905 1997

      Sax writes (italicized) “Every step in each pathway, from the retina to the cerebral cortex, is different in females and males. (citation: Horvath and Wikler)”

      Hope that is interesting to someone.

  2. I would not worry for the jump of ducklings: I have seen a whole bunch of them jumping from a street lamp 12 m high (mallard females choose very strange places to nest!) and land harmlessly on the concrete below. Their life was more at risk just after that because of the traffic, but luckily the drivers stopped in time.

  3. Just a heron in the queue at the fishmonger.

    He’s better behaved than most kids. I’d be sorely tempted to give him a fish (but just a small one a day…).

  4. With regard to Biden’s action on guns, the devil will be in the details. How will assault weapons and high-capacity magazines be defined? Gun opponents tend to have overbroad and imprecise definitions of assault weapons, a term not actually used by gun enthusiasts or the gun industry. A ban on high-capacity magazines (larger than ten rounds) was the subject of the Supreme Court’s Heller decision. This struck down the ban for multiple reasons, but one consideration was that it would have impacted many firearms with integrated magazines, such as pistols that commonly hold more than ten rounds now, which were so broadly owned that eliminating them would have been a substantial restriction on the Second Amendment. Of course, Biden reminds us that the Second Amendment isn’t “absolute,” which is as true for this amendment as it is for the First or Fourth, but since the Constitution deals with the limits of government authority, I am not really interested in Executive claims on the limits of citizens’ rights that can only be for self-aggrandizement.

    1. Is that the way you see it – all for self-aggrandizement. I was thinking the same about a person who buys a semi-automatic hand gun or an assault rifle. And by the way, just because you’re definition of the second amendment matches a dead Supreme Court Justice does not make it so or something that cannot one day be reexamined to mean what it use to mean and was intended to mean.

    2. I agree, pretty much.

      Q: Define “assault weapon”

      People come down on what it looks like. It looks scary. Yes, all useable guns are scary.

      Long guns of all types are used in less than 3% of gun deaths. As I have said before, this (banning “assault weapons”) is window dressing. It will not nudge the needle.

      Also as I have said before, it’s nearly impossible to find a rifle with a semi-automatic action that isn’t built on the AR-15 or AK-47 platforms. This is because of market forces: People want to buy these. And they want to buy them because of reliability, usability, effectiveness, and standardization. The same reasons militaries want to buy them. (Why would one want to buy a crappy (or crappier) tool?)

      I found it interesting that people (NPR reporters anyway) think there are fewer restrictions for obtaining a firearm that meets the BATF definition of “pistol” as opposed to “rifle”. It’s the opposite. (This came up WRT the Ruger AR pistol used in Boulder. These kind of pistols can be configured as “rule-beaters” for hunting regulations; not for avoiding purchase restrictions/requirements.)

      Handguns are the issue. Let’s hear some suggestions that moves that problem.

      As a life-long gun owner and shooting enthusiast, I would be in favor of:

      1. Registering of every gun
      2. Holding gun owners legally responsible for the fate of their guns. They should be required to report all guns sales, losses, theft, gifting, etc. to the police or other government body.
      3. Close all sales loopholes for anonymous buying (gun shows, person to person, etc.)
      4. Legally require guns to be locked when not in use
      5. Require gun owners to complete a safety course prior to purchase
      6. Prohibit, among others, those on the terrorism watch list and convicted felons from owning guns
      7. Universal red-flag law
      8. Magazine size upper limit (12?*) No one needs a 40-round magazine for a handgun.
      9. Prohibit fully-automatic actions, bump-stocks, etc. that convert to high fire rates
      (I’m sure I am forgetting some things.)

      So: The “ghost-gun” measure is a good one.

      (* Many, many popular pistols have standard 12-rnd magazines. E.g. S&W M&P 40 series.)

      1. Also as I have said before, it’s nearly impossible to find a rifle with a semi-automatic action that isn’t built on the AR-15 or AK-47 platforms. This is because of market forces: People want to buy these. And they want to buy them because of reliability, usability, effectiveness, and standardization. The same reasons militaries want to buy them. (Why would one want to buy a crappy (or crappier) tool?)

        Actually, I think the main reason why (civilian) people still buy AR-15 style weapons is because they can pretend they are in ‘Nam with them.

        But, as long as you are allowed guns at all, I’m actually fine with that.

        I am agreement with all of your bullet (sorry) points except number 8 where I’m in the meh category. If you’re going to have guns but limit the number of bullets that can be fired without any kind of intervention, I think the limit should be one (effectively ban semi-automatics) or don’t bother.

        I would add an extra point which is that carrying guns should be banned in all public spaces except shooting ranges and other places where you might reasonably want them for hunting game.

      2. James — Isn’t it also possible to require that a test round be fired from every new firearm so that it can be registered in a database, such that any round found at a crime scene can be traced back to the gun that fired it?

      3. I just thought of one more to add to your list – do away with handguns for civilians. That is where most of the deaths occur. And why do the pisols have 12-rnd magazines. Because it takes that many shots to hit anything?

        1. Your last two sentences make a funny but very real point. When I was in competitive target shooting, though the 22s we used had magazines with 10 or more bullet capacities, we NEVER put more than 5 rounds in, even during practice…partly because of the restrictions of competition, but mainly because to do so ruined the springs over time and led to many more feed jams. I wonder how many gun enthusiasts are even aware of this tendency.

          Likewise, it’s a terrible idea to load a revolver fully with all six (usually) rounds, because then there’s a round sitting under the firing pin, and it doesn’t take TOO much jostling to make it go off. Even gunfighters in the “Old West” were, supposedly, aware of this danger.

          And needless to say, it is NOT considered a good thing to need all five rounds (or more) before one hits the center of the target. One would hardly be kept on the team if that happened.

    3. Gun manufacturers aren’t idiots; they know how to adapt to new regulations just as any other corporation does. Were Heller overturned, the likely immediate result would be: gun manufacturers sell a huge amount of the 10+ capacity guns before whatever federal deadline is set for no longer doing so, then they’d sell a huge amount of newly designed legal 9-capacity versions of those same guns after the deadline. Consumers’ wallets could be impacted, but not their right to own or carry. Substantial restriction? That’s a laugh. Absent a buy-back program for the now-illegal higher capacity guns, such a ruling would probably result in most gun owners owning more guns – the old 10-cap version, and the new 9-cap version, of all the guns they really cared about. (To be clear: this, in my mind, is a compelling argument for a buy-back program as in integral part of such gun control legislation, not a compelling argument against gun control.)

  5. “I’m not sure whether this book involved “moveable” type, with each character re-used, or was simply engraved in toto. I’m too lazy to look it up.” – According to Wikipedia,

    Bi Sheng (毕昇) (990–1051) developed the first known movable-type system for printing in China around 1040 AD during the Northern Song dynasty, using ceramic materials.

    Given that the tweet about the Korean book says it was “printed between 1011 and 1087”, I presume it must have been created using a woodblock non-movable type technique. But like Mañuel in Fawlty Towers, “I know nothing”.

    1. OK, so it looks like they used woodblocks with unmoveable type, but the scale of the project is staggering:

      The thickness of the blocks ranges from 2.6 to 4 centimeters and each weighs about three to four kilograms. The woodblocks are almost as tall as Mount Baekdu at 2.74 km when stacked, measure 60 km long when lined up, and weigh 280 tons in total.

      Those dimensions refer to a second set created between 1237 and 1249 (the originals were destroyed during the 1232 Mongol invasion).

    1. It’s worse than that. The same schedule is being broadcast on ALL of the BBCs radio stations. And the two tv channels are showing the same programme. Basically the BBC is not showing anything that might entertain someone. It’s like 1951 rather than 2021.

  6. The Turkmenistan video looked like North Korea.

    Wood ducks have the most beautiful plumage.

    As a Canadian, I wish Canada geese had a different name.

  7. If the current ongoing NRA Bankruptcy trial keeps going the way it is now, there won’t be any NRA left to steal all your money in the future. Wayne LaPierre thought he had pulled a fast one by getting the bankruptcy moved to Texas but it is not going well for him. I don’t know who is the bigger sleeze bag – Matt Gaetz or Wayne LaPierre. This guy LaPierre took several trips to the Bahamas in private Yachts at no expense to him. Took the whole family. $300,000 for Italian suits at Zegna of Beverly Hills. This guy was spending NRA donations like a drunk sailor. What a guy.

    1. I can’t imagine that squeezing under like that would do the poor creature’s internal organs any good!

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