Friday: Hili dialogue

April 16, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s Friday, it’s Friday! Which seat can you take? Welcome to April 16, 2021, the first day of the rest of your life. It’s also National Eggs Benedict Day, but note that Anthony Bourdain said several times that this is the one dish you should never order (he also said that you should avoid brunch in general, as it comprises leftover kitchen scraps). It’s also The Day of the Mushroom, National Orchid Day, National Librarian Day, Save the Elephant Day, Emancipation Day in some areas of the U.S. and several countries, and World Voice Day.

News of the Day:

This just in:  It never ends—there’s been another mass shooting, this time at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, where a shooter killed eight people before turning the gun on himself. Here’s a tweet with a report from the Indianapolis police department.

One quote from the NYT report: ““This made me stand up and actually look out the entrance door, and I saw a man with a submachine gun of some sort, an automatic rifle, and he was firing in the open.”  As of this writing, there is no information about the shooter or possible motives. The subheading of the article could apply nearly all the time in America:

And we had a police shooting in Chicago: 13 year old Adam Toledo, carrying a handgun, was chased on foot by a Chicago cop. The cop ordered him to drop the gun and show his hands. The video I saw on the news appeared to show Toledo complying, but as he turned to face the cop, he was shot in the chest and killed. There was less than a second between the order and the shooting,.

If you got a Pfizer vaccine (or the Moderna one), you’ll probably need a booster shot to maintain immunity. The CEO of Pfizer announced that boosters are “likely” needed within a year after your second shot. We already know that immunity lasts six months, but so far we don’t have data beyond that. If a booster is needed, and I suspect one will be, getting it will probably be an annual event, like getting your flu shot.

Progressive Democrats have introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would expand the number of justices in the Supreme Court from nine (constant since 1869) to thirteen. According to ABC News,

The Judiciary Act of 2021 is co-sponsored by Democratic lawmakers, including House Judiciary Chairman Jerrod Nadler, D-N.Y., Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Reps. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y.

The bill would “restore balance to the nation’s highest court after four years of norm-breaking actions by Republicans led to its current composition,” Nadler said in a statement.

“We are not packing the Supreme Court, we are unpacking it,” Nadler said at a news conference unveiling the bill in front of the Supreme Court Thursday.

I’m not sure whether “unpacking” means “get more liberal justices in there” or something related to postmodern jargon, but the bill will go nowhere. Nancy Pelosi says she “has no intention to bring it to the floor,” though she is in favor of Biden’s commission appointed to study reforms of the court. Biden himself opposes “court packing” (or unpacking), but what else would that commission be about? Despite the odious machinations of Senate Republicans around court appointments in the last several years, this sounds like a dubious idea to me, as when Republicans regain the Congress, which they will, they could simply add a couple more conservative justices. Why 13 justices? Well, with liberals Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, four more liberals would make a majority of 7 out of 13. This wouldn’t work with, say, 11 justices.

The New York Times (!) reports that J.Lo and A-Rod, engaged for two years, have called off their engagement. In case you don’t know the principals, they are the American equivalent of the British royalty: renowed singer and actor Jennifer Lopez 51, and former Yankees baseball superstar, Alex Rodriguez, 45.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 564,835, an increase of 909 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll has passed three million, and is not at 3,001,658, an increase of about 3,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on April 16 includes:

According to legend, 960 Jewish rebels committed suicide lest they fall into the hands of the Romans (this is reported by Josephus). But historians aren’t sure this record is accurate. At any rate, here’s the fortress today, showing why it took several months for the Romans to overcome it. (The Dead Sea is in the background.)

Masterson didn’t die from a bullet; he became a journalist and sportswriter in New York City. But look at this photo of the “Dodge City Peace Commission” during Masterson’s gunfighting days. Wyatt Earp is in there, too:

Wikipedia caption: The “Dodge City Peace Commission” on June 10, 1883. From left to right, standing: William H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, William F. Petillon; seated: Charlie BassettWyatt Earp, Michael Francis “Frank” McLean and Cornelius “Neil” Brown.

Here’s the locomotive that pulled that fateful train; I photographed it in the Finland Station in St. Petersburg (“Petrograd”) in 2011:

Lenin train Finland Station St. Petersburg
  • 1919 – Mohandas Gandhi organizes a day of “prayer and fasting” in response to the killing of Indian protesters in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre by the British colonial troops three days earlier.
  • 1943 – Albert Hofmann accidentally discovers the hallucinogenic effects of the research drug LSD. He intentionally takes the drug three days later on April 19.

Here’s Hofmann, whom I once heard lecture to a class on economic botany at Harvard. He was very staid, and wore an immaculate white lab coat during his talk. But he was always an advocate of the therapeutic effects of LSD, now the subject of a recent book by Michael Pollan.

Novartis, via A.F.P. — Getty Images
  • 1945 – World War II: The Red Army begins the final assault on German forces around Berlin, with nearly one million troops fighting in the Battle of the Seelow Heights.
  • 1947 – Bernard Baruch first applies the term “Cold War” to describe the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • 1963 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pens his Letter from Birmingham Jail while incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama for protesting against segregation.

You can read this famous letter, a call for peaceful civil disobedience and a rebuke to those who said the struggle for civil rights was moving too fast, at this link.

Kevorkian served eight years for his activities, and died three years after his release from prison. Here he is with his “suicide machine”, which, he said, helped end the lives of 130 people.  He was a pioneer in the movement for assisted suicide. His smile is a bit unseemly!

Notables born on this day include two great comedians:

  • 1889 – Charlie Chaplin, English actor, director, producer, screenwriter, and composer (d. 1977)
  • 1918 – Spike Milligan, Irish actor, comedian, and writer (d. 2002)

Here’s Milligan’s acceptance speech for lifetime achievement at the British Comedy Awards in 1994:

  • 1919 – Merce Cunningham, American dancer and choreographer (d. 2009)
  • 1922 – Kingsley Amis, English novelist, poet, and critic (d. 1995)
  • 1939 – Dusty Springfield, English singer and record producer (d. 1999)

There’s a recent (and positive) article about Dusty Springfield in the New Yorker, which you can read here.  Her most famous song is surely “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” which is great, but I like this one better:

  • 1947 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, American basketball player and coach
  • 1971 – Selena, American singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer (d. 1995)

And I have to show a Selena song; here’s Bidi Bidi Bom Bom, performed at the Astrodome. She was, of course, shot by the President of her fan club and manager of a line of Selena boutiques, and died at only 23.

Those who cashed in their chips on April 16 include:

Here is “Cats Fighting” by Goya (1786; you can see it in the Prado):

Here’s Soubirous (“St. Bernadette” whose reported visions founded the healing mecca at Lourdes). She died of tuberculosis at 35:

  • 1947 – Rudolf Höss, German SS officer (b. 1900)
  • 1958 – Rosalind Franklin, English biophysicist and academic (b. 1920)
  • 1991 – David Lean, English director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1908)
  • 1994 – Ralph Ellison, American novelist and critic (b. 1913)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is birdwatching:

Hili: I wonder whether this bird can be an inspiration?
A: Inspiration to what?
Hili: To examine it closer.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
Hili: Ciekawe czy ten ptak może być inspiracją?
Ja: Do czego?
Hili: Żeby przyjrzeć mu się bliżej.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

A cartoon from Mark, who asks readers to spot the error:

From Not Another Science Cat:

From Nicole: I’m afraid my bed is a bit like this:

Here’s a nice lecture by The Pinkah on love and sex, part of his Harvard course on Psychological Science. On top of everything else, he gives a great class!

Barry calls this “a beautiful tweet”, and it is. Look at the excitement of that chimp!

Tweets from Matthew. He sent me this one of Hook the Duckling to cheer me up:

The neko Coco-chan saved a man, but they had to dress the moggie up in clothes for his award? How humiliating! SAYS News gives more information:

It alerted its owner about the fallen man, and ultimately saved his life.

In honour of its bravery, Koko-chan was appointed as police chief for one day on 13 April, reported Japanese news outlet NHK.

In a solemn ceremony, Koko-chan was handed a certificate that officiates its one-day police role.

Those are some teeth! I thought that the marine iguana was the world’s only herbivorous lizard, but it turns out that several species of iguanas, chuckwallas, and other lizards are plant eaters as well.

Here is an odd kitty:

I had to guess why this video is particularly British, and I’m still not convinced by Matthew’s explanation. YOU guess, and only if you’re a Brit!

It took me a while to get this one because I’m thick:

49 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. …. Anthony Bourdain said several times that this is the one dish you should never order (he also said that you should avoid brunch in general, as it comprises leftover kitchen scraps).

    I sure as hell haven’t ordered the Sunday brunch seafood omelette since reading the essay that served as the basis for Kitchen Confidential in The New Yorker.

    1. I enjoy eggs benedict made using our local thinly-sliced (salty) Smithfield or Virginia ham and also our local seafood version, crabcake benedict, which substitutes a Chesapeake Bay crabcake for the ham. Maybe its the treyf forbidden fruit to this secular Jew, but I find that the poached egg yolk makes the Hollandaise sauce even richer and, with a counterpoint of black coffee, provides an elegant beginning to the day…but as breakfast only…never brunch.

    2. I would generally trust Bourdain’s advice but I’m doubting this bit. Sunday brunch’s are so popular at many restaurants, their menus during the rest of the week seem like an afterthought. They extend the hours to be pretty much all day Sunday and some also do Saturday Brunch as well. It seems more likely that the scraps are leftover from the brunch and served on non-brunch days. I don’t do brunches myself so perhaps I don’t know what I’m talking about.

  2. Hi, I’m British and I can’t see what is particularly British about this video, unless it’s to do with posting a video of yourself being a disastrous failure at making crappy liqueurs designed only to extract money from tourists.

    1. Some guesses: he swallowed his limocello in one gulp instead of sipping it; he did not drink it at the end of a meal; he did not keep the glas in the freezer before serving. But nothing of this would be specifically British. Maybe his accent?

  3. I have a somewhat relevant query on the nature of evidence and how thorough and accurate it must be before it can be passed as supporting a claim. It’s not really anything to do with criticising or judging the vid, more just using it as an example.

    So, the chap spitting the drink out and subsequent reaction. Does that get a pass as indicating the drink is flawed ?
    It seems obvious, but on the other hand, someone could say he’s just acting for the sake of entertainment. Who considers it evidence the drink is flawed ? And any other thoughts on this are welcome.

  4. Biden himself opposes “court packing” (or unpacking), but what else would that commission be about?

    Personally, I’d like the court to institute a regular replacement cycle. If we replace the longest-serving member every two years that would effectively create an 18-year appointment and would mean every President, regardless of party, picks 2 judges per each 4-year term. If we pick the date right we can avoid all this ‘not before the election’ nonsense and maybe even minimize the time in session when the court is short a member. But, I expect that would require a constitutional amendment, so basically impossible.

    1. It would definitely require a constitutional amendment, given that the “shall hold their offices during good behaviour” clause of Article III, Section 1 has unequivocally been held to guarantee federal judges lifetime appointments.

      And, even were your plan to be adopted, there would still be issues that arise when sitting justices die or retire or resign before their 18-year term on the bench expires. (Since the US constitution was ratified, the average term served by SCOTUS justices has been just under 17 years.)

  5. … he [Albert Hofmann] was always an advocate of the therapeutic effects of LSD, now the subject of a recent book by Michael Pollan.

    Sam Harris recently did an interesting podcast with James Fadiman, a leading expert on psychedelics, including so-called “micro-dosing” (who got his first dose in the Sixties, in Paris, from Richard Alpert — later known as Ram Dass — Tim Leary’s old LSD running buddy at Harvard).

    1. The jury is out, scientifically, on micro-dosing. I myself am skeptical but hey… it can’t HURT.

      The jury is IN regarding the efficacy of LSD (full therapeutic dose, supervised) in treating the symptoms of both treatment resistant (and non) clinical depression, some addictions, and PTSD- problems – all of which work in similar ways on the brain’s serotonin system. There have been thousands (yes) of studies before 1970 and after 2010 on this. It blows SSRIs out of the water statistically speaking.

      That said – don’t go off tripping alone counsellor, nobody needs a tripping lawyer: “Your honor… I …um… whatda yacall it…. yeah… right…. object!” hehehe

      Thx for the reference though – I subscribe to Sam’s excellent podcast – can’t imagine how I missed that one.

      1. Just finished reading it, thanks. I’d read a bit about Dusty and that album before, but hadn’t heard the story about her having had her visa to perform in South Africa revoked because she insisted on performing before integrated audiences. Props to her.

  6. Oh, Dusty Springfield. I love the song “What Have I Done To Deserve This” that she sang with the Pet Shop Boys. It helped to revive her career.

  7. Referring to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as American Basketball Player and coach is like referring to Charles Darwin as English naturalist. 3 time NCAA champion, 88-2 in college, 6 time NBA MVP, 5 time NBA champion, the all-time leading scorer in NBA history.
    He is also much more noted as an author and opinion writer than as a basketball coach.

      1. But in his role as a basketball player, it was said he didn’t work hard enough on defense.
        And that lots of times, he didn’t even run down court. And that he didn’t really try… except during the playoffs.

        1. The hell he doesn’t! Listen you…he’s been hearing that crap ever since he was at UCLA. He was out there busting his buns every night! Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.

    1. Generally you keep your center out of the fast break so you don’t tire him out. And he can be the stopper for a quick counter break which often happens with fast breaks. And nobody played defence in that era. The scores were ridiculous back then.

  8. Re Bernadette Soubirous, the French nun and saint who founded the healing mecca at Lourdes and who died of tuberculosis at 35

    If only she had thought to visit Lourdes and get cured.

  9. The limoncello tasting video was the funniest thing I have seen all month. Perhaps the “stereotypically” British aspect is the contrast between the jolly and self-deprecatory build-up and the sudden lapse into red-faced profanity at the end. But it would have been funny in any language.

  10. That song you link to in the first line, “Friday” by Rebecca Black, is a good one. It’s not a genre that usually appeals to me but it’s an exception. Sounds even better played at 1.5x speed.

  11. Spike Milligan wanted to have written on his grave-stone “I told you I was ill”. However the po-faced guardians of the grave-yard in Winchelsea thought this unsuitable and wouldn’t allow it. After some negotiation, and because Spike was Irish, a compromise was reached and his preferred wording was allowed; provided it was in Gaelic.

    1. There is a gravestone in the Key West cemetery with the inscription, “I told you I was sick.” The stone (a plaque, really) is for Pearl Roberts, and the story is that it was her husband’s work, as she was a noted hypochondriac–but I can’t verify the story. The cemetery sexton could certainly do so.

  12. I don’t get the Britishness of the video either. Obviously there’s the accent and the external drainpipe on the wall behind him. These drainpipes are so common that there’s even a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band song about them, “My Pink Half of the Drainpipe”:

    It’s an excellent tune. The title refers to the common sight of a drainpipe dividing semi-detached properties where the left and right houses are painted using different color (or colour) schemes, splitting the drainpipe right down the middle!

          1. I think I quote that movie more than any. I don’t know why. For one, I’ve seen it many times, but it just fits a certain way of my thinking. “Find one in every car, you’ll see”, “That’s why there ain’t a repo man I know that don’t take speed.”, “But it still hurts…” It goes on and on and the quotes fit so many experiences outside the movie. Though I didn’t guess Robert’s quote either, I knew for sure it wasn’t “Repo Man”. At the same time, good guess. 😉

  13. As somebody who has researched and written about psychedelics for 30 years now (it is good to have a hobby) Michael Polan’s book isn’t fantastic – hard as it is to write about that topic he misses a lot and makes a lot of moral judgements I wouldn’t have. And – as usual for him – thinks of himself as an “expert”.

    PCC (E)’s actual hearing Dr. Hoffman lecture is incredibly cool though. 🙂

    “Saint” Bernadette obviously wasn’t well looked after by her god, eh?


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