Thursday: Hili dialogue

April 15, 2021 • 6:30 am

We’re almost at the weekend: it’s Thursday, April 15, 2021, and National Ham Day, which is not inclusive since it leaves out many Jews and all Muslims. It’s also International Pizza Cake Day (these are cakes that resemble pizzas, see below), World Art Day, Jackie Robinson Day (he broke the “color barrier” in major league baseball when starting at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947), National Glazed Spiral Ham Day, McDonald’s Day (Ray Kroc opened the McDonald’s No. 1 Store—actually the ninth—on this date in Des Plaines Illinois in 1955, World Art Day, Universal Day of Culture, and National Ask an Atheist Day (I did a version of that yesterday).  I am out of sorts today and posting may be very thin.

Here’s a pizza cake (I’ve never seen one before):

Normally today would also be the deadline for filing income taxes, but because of the pandemic that day has been postponed to Monday, May 17.

News of the Day:

Former police officer Kim Potter, who mistook her gun for a taser, resulting in the death of Daunte Wright after a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. (Last night the NBC News said that about one death a year occurs this way, but I’m still baffled at how one can think a gun is a taser.). Here’s the charge:

Under Minnesota law, someone is guilty of second-degree manslaughter if that person causes the death of another through “culpable negligence” and “creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another.” The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Wright’s family, which has called for an end to the riots and looting, nevertheless wants Potter charged with murder.

Bernie Madoff died in prison yesterday at 82—or rather in a Federal Prison hospital—of terminal kidney disease. His machinations constituted the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, creating a loss (on paper) of an estimated $64.8 billion.

Who knew department: Thanks to the pandemic, America is experiencing a ketchup shortage—to the extent that people are selling small restaurant packets of the condiment on eBay and Facebook Marketplace for unmaginable prices. The Wall Street Journal reports the inflation:

The prices in dozens of ketchup-packet listings posted online range all the way from a quarter to $5 each, the latter in a lot of 20 packets for $100. Each has about a third of an ounce of ketchup.

Kent Reining, a Facebook Marketplace seller from Danville, Ill., offered packets for $4 each, or a bargain price of 20 for $50.

“There’s a shortage,” he wrote. “Don’t try to lowball me, I know what I’ve got.”

Twenty packets for $100! You can see various degrees of ketchup- gouging on eBay.

The NYT has a mostly-pictures article on renowned artist Ai WeiWei and his cats. WeiWei, also a political dissident who served time in a jail in China, now lives in Cambridge in the UK. Here’s a sample photo (h/t Barry):

India reported over 200,000 new covid cases yesterday: a one-day figure surpassed only by the U.S. New lockdowns have been reported in both Delhi and the state of Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai (“Bombay”).

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 563,926, an increase of 932 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll stands at 2,987,871, a increase of about 13,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on April 15 includes:

There’s a story, probably aprocryphal, about Johnson’s omission of “objectionable and indelicate words” from his Dictionary; you can read about it here.

  • 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot the previous evening by actor John Wilkes Booth. Vice President Andrew Johnson becomes President upon Lincoln’s death.
  • 1912 – The British passenger liner RMS Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic at 2:20 a.m., two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg. Only 710 of 2,224 passengers and crew on board survive.

There’s a site where you can view (and even buy) some relics of the Titanic. Here’s a notable one: a deck chair from the ship, recovered from the sea after the sinking. Its provenance has been established, and it’s in a private collection:

  • 1920 – Two security guards are murdered during a robbery in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti would be convicted of and executed for the crime, amid much controversy.
  • 1923 – Insulin becomes generally available for use by people with diabetes.

In that same year Banting and Macleod won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for the discovery of the hormone.

Here are some of the lucky survivors upon the camp’s liberation. 60,000 of them were freed, but there were also 13,000 bodies lying about, soon buried in mass graves.  70,000 people died before the liberation:

Here’s a baseball card for Robinson from 1948; it was auctioned a few years ago for $336,000:

Here’s live video of the crush on Irish t.v., but note that some of the scenes are upsetting:

  • 2013 – Two bombs explode near the finish line at the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, killing three people and injuring 264 others.
  • 2019 – The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris in France is seriously damaged by a large fire.

I was lucky enough to have visited the Cathedral, pre-fire, many times, including in the year it was burnt. Here’s a scene of the toppling spire from CNN:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1707 – Leonhard Euler, Swiss mathematician and physicist (d. 1783)
  • 1772 – Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, French biologist and zoologist (d. 1844)
  • 1843 – Henry James, American novelist, short story writer, and critic (d. 1916)
  • 1889 – Thomas Hart Benton, American painter and educator (d. 1975)

This picture, “Still Life with Black Cat,” is said to be by Benton, and it looks like his work, but I can find it only on Pinterest:

  • 1894 – Nikita Khrushchev, Russian general and politician, 7th Premier of the Soviet Union (d. 1971)
  • 1894 – Bessie Smith, African-American singer and actress (d. 1937)

Khrushchev and Bessie Smith were born on the same day!

  • 1907 – Nikolaas Tinbergen, Dutch-English ethologist and ornithologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1988)
  • 1912 – Kim Il-sung, North Korean general and politician, 1st Supreme Leader of North Korea (d. 1994)
  • 1922 – Harold Washington, American lawyer and politician, 51st Mayor of Chicago (d. 1987)
  • 1933 – Roy Clark, American musician and television personality (d. 2018)
  • 1955 – Dodi Fayed, Egyptian film producer (d. 1997)
  • 1959 – Emma Thompson, English actress, comedian, author, activist and screenwriter
  • 1990 – Emma Watson, English actress

Here’s the poignant ending of “The Remains of the Day,” starring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins. If you haven’t yet seen it, do. Ships in the night!

Those who relinquished their ghost on this day include:

  • 1865 – Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States (b. 1809)
  • 1889 – Father Damien, Belgian priest and saint (b. 1840)

Damien, of course, ministered to those afflicted with leprosy (now “Hansen’s Disease”) on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, where they were quarantined. Here’s a photo of him shortly before he died, with the signs of leprosy obvious:

  • 1949 – Wallace Beery, American actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1885)
  • 1980 – Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher and author, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)

Here’s Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir meeting with Che Guevara in Cuba (1960):

  • 1990 – Greta Garbo, Swedish-American actress (b. 1905)
  • 1998 – Pol Pot, Cambodian general and politician, 29th Prime Minister of Cambodia (b. 1925)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s thoughts deserve explication. Malgorzata says, ” A cat’s life is simple and easy: sleep, hunt, eat. In case of cats such as Hili, they even have their bowls filled and get plenty of petting. But Hili wants to be treated as a thinker so she invents ‘complexity'”.

Hili: I’m thinking.
A: What about?
Hili: About complexity.

In Polish:

Hili: Myślę.
Ja: O czym?
Hili: O złożoności

Andrzej also took a photo of Baby Kulka:


A meme from Bruce:

From Nicole:

From Pet Jokes and Puns:

From Titania. I’m not quite sure who Idris Elba is, but clearly the same mishigas we have in the U.S. is also found in Britain:

Here’s a 9.5-miinute debate about whether such “color blind” casting is objectionable. Oy! I’ll let the Brits weigh in here.

From Simon, who says “the microchips in the covid vaccine are redundant”:

Tweets from Matthew. I love nearly all birds, but can’t abide the defecatory and brazen Canada goose. There are more tweets of brazen geese in the thread.

Swimming centipedes!

I’ll see something very like this in a few weeks:

37 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. Idris Elba is a (pretty good) black British actor who first came to prominence in The Wire. A couple of years ago, there was a lot of speculation that he was going to be cast as James Bond.

    1. But why does it suit some people to assert that successful black people are not black enough? Because they don’t look oppressed? Or because it ruins the certainty of narrative flow?

      1. The oppression argument is just a dodge. Their ethos is based primarily on envy, so anyone who seems exceptional or successful is a target.
        Elba does not get a pass, because it was never really about race.

    2. I think he’s very good.

      And if one of his main characters doesn’t act the way some critic thinks blacks should act…that’s why they call it frakking acting.

      I vaguely remember Jennifer Lawrence got a comment something like this. She filmed some highly emotional, tear-jerker scene, water works and all. The moment the scene stopped, she got up calmly and walked off set. The difference in demeanor was so great, someone asked her “how can you turn off your emotions so fast like that?” and her answer was something along the lines of “emotions? It’s called acting.”

  2. For those not familiar with the geography, Molokai is a smaller island not far from Oahu. You can often see Molokai from the south end of Oahu or the Hawaii Kai area.

  3. Khrushchev and Bessie Smith were born on the same day!

    They could both keep a strong beat with their shoes, though unlike Nikita, Bessie tended to keep hers on her feet.

    1. LOL!

      Note also that Thomas Hart Benton was born, and Father Damien died on the same day (April 15, 1889).

      Also that Emma Watson was born, and Greta Garbo died on the same day (April 15, 1990.

      I’ve been keeping a list of these (born on same day, died on same day, and born/died on same day) by following the Hili Dialogue, and have amassed quite a few examples!

  4. Several things:
    1. I agree with Jez that Idres Elba is a pretty good actor. I’m thinking of him now in his role as the hero in the film The Dark Tower, in which role his skin color is irrelevant, just as it would be if he played James Bond.
    2. Bruce’s meme: ROFL🤣
    3. Seeing the photo of the leprous Fr. Damien made me flash back to this riveting scene from the movie Papillon, featuring another great actor with the first name of Anthony, Anthony Zerbe, as the leper.

  5. Former police officer Kim Potter, who mistook her gun for a taser, resulting in the death of Daunte Wright after a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.

    That seems like the right charge for a jury to consider.

    Personally I’d opine that she’s guilty, under the argument that this is exactly the sort of mistake an officer should be expected to avoid. Not doing stuff like this comes with the job responsibility. IMO it crosses the line from ‘even the best makes mistakes in the course of their duty’ to ‘personally responsible.’

    However, that’s just my own uninformed-except-for-watching-the-tape opinion. I’ll frankly be okay with whichever way a jury decides, as they’ll get more data, more information on what counts as the crime under the law, and a deeper discussion of the exact circumstances and events, than I ever will. If they say not guilty, I’ll accept that that was probably the right answer given their deeper understanding.

    1. Just a few years ago a police officer shot and killed a white woman. The woman had called the police. Another mistake? This policeman was convicted of murder and is doing 17 years. What is the real difference between then and now – It’s black and white.

      1. The differences would be in the details, of course. And since I don’t know anything about the case you mention, and I don’t have the comprehensive review of either case the way the jury would, I can’t really comment on whether the verdicts should be the same or not.

        In general, I’m in favor of better police training in the use (and non-use, and appropriate context for use) of lethal force. AIUI this has been shown empirically to correlate with reduced police killings of both the ‘good’ (i.e. justified) and ‘bad’ (i.e. unjustified) shoot varieties. So it’s a win regardless of which specific incidents fall in which category.

        1. I’m sorry but you sound like the politicians who have been running things for many years. That is why we are in the shape we are in, even in Minnesota.

          Let me just make note of another comparison and see if you even noticed. You are familiar I suspect with the police and the national guard who are on the line in Minnesota for the last 4 nights. Do you see how prepared they are with all the tools to take on rioters. Tear gas, body shields, amour and the whole deal. Now go back and look at the insurrection of Jan 6 on the capital building. Notice the lack of equipment and supplied that the limited number of capital police had and therefore how they failed to hold back those rioter. During one night of action in Minnesota the police arrested 80. During the attack on our capital there were no arrests. Do you see a difference?

    2. Lots of commentary online about how incredible it is that a trained officer could pull the wrong weapon. But this has happened several times, and so it must be accepted. Sort of like when you put your coffee in the fridge instead of the microwave to warm it up. Or use the dog’s name when calling your kid to the table. It happens.

      1. It does seem a bit incredible, for a 26 year veteran officer, who keeps her gun on her right side and the taser on her left, with different grips, and different weights. Apparently it’s happened 18 times in the last 20 years, with two convictions, the latest for involuntary manslaughter, resulting in a 2 year sentence in Oakland, CA.

  6. I once watched “Remains of the Day” and “A Handful of Dust” on the same day. I think that makes me British now. I highly recommend both films!

  7. If ‘someone is guilty of second-degree manslaughter if that person causes the death of another through “culpable negligence” and “creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another”’ then all those people who have knowingly failed to protect themselves against Covid-19 and/or failed to take precautions when infected, and have infected any other person who subsequently died are so guilty.

  8. Having survived such an encounter with a Canada Goose, I can say:

    1) Their wings are very strong and will leave bruises.
    2) Never, ever look them in the eyes.
    3) They are even crankier and more brazen during nesting season, I’ve seen them chasing entire families that had the temerity to get too close to their nesting sites.

  9. I’m not quite sure who Idris Elba is …

    Stringer Bell, man.

    I know you’ve watched The Sopranos, Jerry. You should make a point of watching The Wire, too.

    The Sopranos was American tv’s Shakespeare — okay, not top-tier Shakespeare like Hamlet or Macbeth or Lear, but the up there with second-tier Shakespeare like Anthony and Carmela … er, I mean, Antony and Cleopatra. In the same sense, The Wire was American tv’s Dickens or Dostoevsky.

    For my money, as tv series go, it’s the best there ever was.

      1. It’s by David Simon and Ed Burns, the same creative team behind Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Corner. And they recruited some of the best urban crime novelists of their generation — including Richard Price (Clockers and Lush Life), Dennis Lahane (Mystic River), and George Pelecanos, among them — to contribute to the scripts.

        Its dense plotting rewards close attention.

        And, whatever you do, David, gotta keep the Devil Way Down in the Hole. (That’s the theme song for all five seasons, each season by a different recording artist, including one season by the song’s composer himself, Tom Waits.) 🙂

        I’d be interested to hear what you think once you’ve watched it.

  10. Nikita Khrushchev was not a general. He was a political commissar in the Army but that was a communist party apparatchik position.

  11. Canada geese are hard to get rid of. My wife’s home town, Sandpoint, Idaho, has a real problem with them down at the City Beach by Lake Pend Oreille, which has large grassy recreation areas where the wretched birds like to feed, and then they poop everywhere. It’s a health hazard. The city has tried several tricks including rounding them up and driving them 45 miles south to Lake Coeur d’Alene. The geese just flew back. Who knew they’d do that? Then the city bought a bunch of fake coyotes which were impregnated with the smell of coyotes to make them more realistic[1]. Someone was paid to move the coyotes around from time to time so that the geese wouldn’t realise they were fake. The geese were not fooled. Or they were just so mean that they weren’t afraid of coyotes. Sandpoint still has a Canada goose problem.

    [1] In the immortal words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

    1. The first thing I would say is get rid of the water and the geese will leave. Can’t do that you say. Hire a guy with a dog that likes to run around and chase geese. They will not like this and eventually leave. There are a couple of other things they got permission to do here. They get these lazers and go out in the evening before dark and point the lazers at the geese. It does not hurt them but they do not like it. Another thing I have seen them doing is find the nest and spray the eggs with spam oil. Eggs that have been oiled will not hatch. The female does not know what has been done and will continue to sit on the eggs.

  12. In an act of criminal negligence, the death of Joey Ramone was omitted from today’s list of mortality. His assumed surname was taken from a pseudonym Paul McCartney (who is apparently a musician of some kind) used to check into hotels.

  13. Second-degree manslaughter is a bullshit charge for what Potter did because there is no way she thought she was holding a taser.
    She must have aimed the weapon, which means that she would have seen what she was holding, and tasers are not only easily visually discernible from handguns but they also feel different and weigh far less, being completely plastic-bodied.
    Then there’s the fact that unless this firearm-trained officer was shockingly negligent she would have had to release the safety catch on her gun before firing, and the safety on a police-issue handgun is both differently shaped and located than on a taser.
    No, this is not a mistake that an experienced officer of 26 years service could possibly make, and the charge should be murder.

    1. I think it is quite plausible that it was a mistake. Especially after watching the video and seeing her immediate reaction. Despite all the differences between the two weapons, repetitive actions that are ingrained enough that they can be done on “autopilot” can, in my experience, lead to accidents like this.

      But even it were an accident of that kind it is not a valid excuse. Police in general should be trained and vetted well enough that they don’t react on autopilot in situations like this one. If a person can’t keep their cool in such a situation then they aren’t suited to police work. There was no immediate danger to anyone.

      Not only was she a 20+ year veteran police officer she was an instructor and was actually training another officer on the day of the incident. She needs to be held accountable, as do all aspects of the police organization that affect training, vetting and the general attitudes of the police culture.

  14. I like Elba very much. I don’t care for American crime shows, so I have only seen his British performances inLuther, Ruth Rendell series and a couple of others.

  15. I remember seeing the Hilsboro disaster on TV in Australia when it happened but they never showed the entire thing. How horrible.

    There’s nothing I want to buy at — who WOULD?

    Pol Pot /Sar was “helped” into the commie afterlife by his associates, in his mud hut, after he had one of his oldest friends, Son Sen, and the guy’s entire family of 13 rolled over by a tractor. It was a matter of time – the malaria would have taken him down soon enough anyway. Had a 30 year old new wife (he first wife Khieu Ponnary, from his Democratic Kampuchea salad days was probably a schizophrenic). He was burned on a pyre of mattresses and tires in Anlong Veng. (I wrote articles on Cambodia once).

  16. re mistaking gun for taser I think it’s extremely rare but can happen, just as people mistakenly press the gas instead of the brake. I totally believe she thought she drew her taser, as shown by her words and reaction after realizing her mistake. Of course everyone knows she should not have made the mistake; the key point is that it was unintentional.

    1. “key point is that it was unintentional.”

      I’m not sure that should be the key point since that is unprovable and the result is the same. Dead is dead. If that’s a mistake she makes, why should she even be carrying a gun.

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