Saturday: Hili dialogue

April 17, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the Cat Sabbath: Saturday, April 17, 2020: National Cheeseball Day. For non-Americans, a “cheeseball” is a Fifties-era party snack consisting of cream cheese, cream, and other flavorings molded into a sphere and covered with crushed nuts. You put the stuff on crackers.

I’ve never had one, but I’ve been called one. A long time ago, when we received written student comments on our teaching evaluations at the U of C, someone objected to my wearing Hawaiian shirts while teaching, adding, “Dr. Coyne is a cheese ball.” (Well, at least I’m not a Boogaloo Boy!)

Here’s the edible kind of cheese ball:

It’s also Malbec World Day, Bat Appreciation Day, International Haiku Poetry Day, and World Hemophilia Day. 

There’s a Google Doodle today (click on screenshot) celebrating the life of the Italian physicist Laura Bassi (1711-1778), the first woman in the world to earn a doctorate in the sciences (it was on this day in 1732 that she defender her thesis). You can see a short video of her accomplishments here.

News of the Day: 

According to the New York Times, state executions in Arizona will resume after a 7-year pause occasioned by a botched lethal injection. Apparently both Arizona and the federal government have now obtained a fresh batch of the lethal chemical, pentobarbital, from a secret source, and at a hefty price of $1.5 million. The author of the op-ed, Elizabeth Breunig, makes the case that this drug is indeed a “cruel and unusual punishment” because there’s evidence that the condemned dies by drowning as fluid fills the lungs. I have two questions about this beyond my usual, “why are we still executing people at all?”:

1.) The federal government, according to Biden, is supposed to stop federal executions, all of which occur in Terre Haute, Indiana. If his vow is to be trusted, why did the feds obtain a supply of the drug? (The federal government has no power to halt executions ordered by state courts.)

2.) This drug is also used to euthanize animals. Do our pets then suffer the way Beunig claims humans do when they’re “put to sleep”?

The guy who killed 8 people at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis turns out to have been a former employee, a 19-year-old named Brandon Scott Hole. Hole, who took his own life, was known to police and had been interviewed by the FBI after his mom warned that he planned to commit “suicide by cop” (i.e., force the police to shoot him). Reuters adds that Hole had a history of mental illness and had been briefly detained by police after his mother’s report. There’s still no clear motive for the shooting, nor information about the weapon.

More hopeful pushback against crazy wokeness. How can you not read Bari Weiss’s column bearing this title? (click on screenshot).

The letter was written by a parent of a student attending The Brearley School, an expensive ($54,000/year tuition) all-girls private school in New York City. To even be considered for admission, prospective parents and students must take an “anti-racism pledge.” The parent shares the letter with other parents and students, and says that he’s not re-enrolling his daughter in the school next year. Three excerpts:

It cannot be stated strongly enough that Brearley’s obsession with race must stop. It should be abundantly clear to any thinking parent that Brearley has completely lost its way. The administration and the Board of Trustees have displayed a cowardly and appalling lack of leadership by appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob, and then allowing the school to be captured by that same mob. What follows are my own personal views on Brearley’s antiracism initiatives, but these are just a handful of the criticisms that I know other parents have expressed.

. . . I object to Brearley’s vacuous, inappropriate, and fanatical use of words such as “equity,” “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” If Brearley’s administration was truly concerned about so-called “equity,” it would be discussing the cessation of admissions preferences for legacies, siblings, and those families with especially deep pockets. If the administration was genuinely serious about “diversity,” it would not insist on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Instead, the school would foster an environment of intellectual openness and freedom of thought. And if Brearley really cared about “inclusiveness,” the school would return to the concepts encapsulated in the motto “One Brearley,” instead of teaching the extraordinarily divisive idea that there are only, and always, two groups in this country: victims and oppressors.

. . . Lastly, I object, with as strong a sentiment as possible, that Brearley has begun to teach what to think, instead of how to think. I object that the school is now fostering an environment where our daughters, and our daughters’ teachers, are afraid to speak their minds in class for fear of “consequences.”

Oh, it goes on.  I’m not convinced, though that missives like this, eloquent as they are, will change anything. Wokeism is a one-way ratchet and I don’t think it’ll abate during my lifetime.  No, Ms. Weiss, I don’t think the dam is starting to break. (The letter’s author, Andrew Guttman, adds that he thinks most Brearley parents agree with him, but are too cowed to speak up.)

Bunneh theft! Live Science reports that Darius, the world’s largest rabbit, has gone missing. Measuring four feet (1.2 meters) from nose to tail, Darius was of the Flemish Giant breed and had been certified by Guinness as the world’s biggest rabbit.  Police suspect that Darius was stolen from his enclosure in Worcestershire. There’s a reward, and I hope he’s found. A photo  (h/t Ginger K. for the link)

Darius. Credit: Getty Images

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 565,778, an increase of 940 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now at 3,014,777, a big increase of about 13,100 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on April 17 includes:

  • 1521 – Trial of Martin Luther over his teachings begins during the assembly of the Diet of Worms. Initially intimidated, he asks for time to reflect before answering and is given a stay of one day.

  • 1861 – The state of Virginia’s secession convention votes to secede from the United States, later becoming the eighth state to join the Confederate States of America.
  • 1907 – The Ellis Island immigration center processes 11,747 people, more than on any other day.

Both of my maternal grandparents passed through Ellis Island, Jews seeking refuge.  Here are some immigrants being processed. You can visit the island as the National Park Center now runs it, and I recommend a visit (you can combine that with a visit to the Statue of Liberty, which welcomed the immigrants):

  • 1951 – The Peak District becomes the United Kingdom’s first National Park.
  • 1961 – Bay of Pigs Invasion: A group of Cuban exiles financed and trained by the CIA lands at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba with the aim of ousting Fidel Castro.
  • 1969 – Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy.

Sirhan, now 77, has now been in prison for 51 years, and was stabbed by another prisoner two years ago (he survived). He’s incarcerated in California, and here’s his photo from five years ago:

  • 1970 – Apollo program: The ill-fated Apollo 13 spacecraft returns to Earth safely.

Catastrophic failures nearly resulted the death of the three astronauts, two of whom intended to land on the Moon. It’s amazing that Mission Control and the astronauts were able to fix the problems. Here’s a newscast of the splashdown:

The planet is Kepler-186f, is about 500 light years away, and here’s a comparison with Earth of its size and the habitable zones around our respective stars (from Wikipedia). No radio emissions or other signs of life have been found eminating from this planet, part of a five-planet star system:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1837 – J. P. Morgan, American banker and financier, founded J.P. Morgan & Co. (d. 1913)
  • 1897 – Thornton Wilder, American novelist and playwright (d. 1975)
  • 1951 – Olivia Hussey, Argentinian-English actress

Every male loved Hussey in “Romeo and Juliet” (1978). She’s 70 today, but here’s a clip from the movie, when she was 17:

  • 1967 – Liz Phair, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1985 – Rooney Mara, American actress

Those who went to their Great Reward on April 17 include:

  • 1790 – Benjamin Franklin, American inventor, publisher, and politician, 6th President of Pennsylvania (b. 1706)
  • 1988 – Louise Nevelson, Ukrainian-American sculptor and educator (b. 1900)
  • 1996 – Piet Hein, Danish poet and mathematician (b. 1905)
  • 1998 – Linda McCartney, American photographer, activist, and musician (b. 1941)

Linda had four children with Paul during their 29 year marriage, and died at only 56 of breast cancer.

  • 2018 – Barbara Bush, former First Lady of the United States (b. 1925)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, who doesn’t like small humans, is upset that children have appeared.

A: What are you observing so carefully?
Hili: Children returned to the playground.

In Polish:

Ja: Czemu się tak przyglądasz?
Hili: Dzieci wróciły na plac zabaw.
And here’s Kulka, photographed by Paulina sniffing a tree stump:

A “two fer” from Stephen Barnard. I’d gladly watch a bunch of exorcisms to get all the fried chicken I could hold for fifty cents!

From Not Another Science Cat Page 2.0:

From Bruce. Perhaps some health professionals in the audience can tell us why hospital gowns leave your butt bare; as I’ve never understood it. For ease of removal before surgery?

This is how good professional baseball players are. (Acuna plays outfield for the Atlanta Braves, a team name that will probably disappear soon.).Yes, the fan had to move the cup a tad, but jebus, that is an accurate throw!

From Barry.  I don’t know from AC/DC but for those who do, here’s a parrot apparently singing one of their songs.

Wolfcam! I think that at one point he licks his butt.

I think this is the that had a duet with the bassist the other day:

The irascible but hilarious Richard Feynman, turning down an honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago (he’s writing to President George Beadle, another Nobel Laureate—in genetics:

One commenter says that this is a weasel and is actually fetching its mate, not its offspring.


And racehorses emeriti:

38 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Here’s the edible kind of cheese ball”

    Having been subjected to this “delicacy” a number of times, I will suggest that you add the word “allegedly” before “edible”

  2. Mr Guttman’s letter is excellent. It can serve as a model for other parents and for otherwise timid policy-makers at educational institutions. I do not know if the dam is starting to break, but at least folks who are afraid of the “consequences” now have excellent content and an example of initiative to follow. They need not take the trouble to create, but can simply copy and paste. Bully for Mr. Guttman for taking public action and for Bari Weiss for bringing wider attention to it.

  3. 1.) The federal government, according to Biden, is supposed to stop federal executions, all of which occur in Terre Haute, Indiana. If his vow is to be trusted, why did the feds obtain a supply of the drug?

    As president, Joe Biden has the authority to commute federal death sentences and to grant reprieves. But under the applicable federal regulation, 28 CFR § 26.3, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a career employee appointed by the US attorney general, is entrusted with the authority to set the time, place, and manner of federal executions. Biden isn’t required to sign off on the BoP’s purchase of pentobarbital.

  4. I have read in full Andrew Gutmann’s letter to the Brearley parents a posted on Bari Weis’ site. It consists of two parts. The first is a critique of the Woke practices promulgated by the school administration. The second is a commentary on society at large. Assuming his analysis of the school is correct, I am sympathetic to it. It does seem that the school has devolved into leftist extremism. But, then, Gutmann writes this: “I object to the idea that Blacks are unable to succeed in this country without aid from government or from whites.” This sentence summarizes Gutmann’s right-wing libertarian extremism. The tenor of a good portion of his letter is that society would just be fine, particularly on issues of race, if folks such as “BLM Marxists” would just stop agitating. His understanding of society is just as warped and dangerous as that of the Woke.

    Gutmann should have left his right-wing ideology out of this letter. It will do nothing to gain him support from parents and others in attempting to get the school administration to change its policies. Also, I find it telling that Weis by her silence chose not to comment on Gutmann’s extreme right-wingism.

      1. Thank you. I had not read the entire letter. So i amend my comment 2 above per historian’s comment.

    1. Agreed with the above….furthermore, Gutmann completely lost my me with the following:

      “We have not had systemic racism against Blacks in this country since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, a period of more than 50 years.” (4th paragraph)

      And yes, I get it about *systemic* vs *institutional* racism, but to say, as he seems to be saying….well no more interning of people or extermination, no segregated lunch counters, therefore no systemic racism (everything’s okay now)– does he really believe this?

      Why exactly does Weiss think this letter is so stellar?

    2. I had the same reaction. The difficulty in being a liberal anti-woke person is that the right wing grabs the position to advocate for very misguided ideas. He doesn’t seem to realize that one can be anti-woke and still realized that policing (for example) has a serious race problem.

    3. From Gutmann’s letter:

      We have not had systemic racism against Blacks in this country since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, a period of more than 50 years. To state otherwise is a flat-out misrepresentation of our country’s history and adds no understanding to any of today’s societal issues.

      What about segregated housing, Mr. Gutmann, the legacy of decades of restrictive covenants and redlining? The greatest obstacle to full Black equality today is the failure of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to achieve its goals — reason being, the Act was pushed through congress on the strength of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s legislative genius after the white backlash against civil rights was underway — the backlash that later that year gave us the election of Richard Nixon.

      Also from Gutmann’s letter:

      We have today in our country, from both political parties, and at all levels of government, the most unwise and unvirtuous leaders in our nation’s history.

      Really, Mr. Gutmann? Have you ever read “The Southern Manifesto,” the 1956 document in which 19 United States senators and 82 members of the House of Representatives — many of them their respective chambers’ most senior members and the chairmen of their most powerful committees — declared open defiance of the US Supreme Court decision holding that the US constitution requires that US public schools be desegregated? Are you aware that, at one point in this nation’s history, the wise and virtuous leaders of 11 of the country’s then 36 states seceded from our Union?

      Gutmann is at least as ignorant of US history as those at whom he points his finger.

    4. Really? That’s right-wing libertarian extremism? The opposite of what Gutmann says is that blacks are not able to succeed without aid from the government or from whites. That doesn’t strike you as racist? The blanket idea that all blacks are incapable of success without special assistance?

    5. Rejecting the idea that blacks can’t succeed without help from government/whites is “extreme right-wingism”? Really? And yet, plenty of blacks in the US do indeed succeed and do fine.

      Indeed stats show that recent black African immigrant families tend to do better overall than the US average.

  5. I’m no medical expert but I once asked a hospital nurse why their gowns showed your rear end. She said it was to stop wearers leaving the hospital.

    1. If you tie the gowns correctly they are supposed to cover your rear end.
      The problem is that they are designed to 1) be put on while someone is lying supine in bed and 2) also provide easy access to the person (for lead placement, IV access and tubing, dressing changes, etc.).
      These two aspects make them remarkably difficult to wear correctly with exposure of one’s rear end being the unfortunate, and all too common result.
      If this is a concern, and you are going to walk around, my advice is to ask for an extra gown and wear it (the extra one) like a coat, so the original covers your front, and the extra covers your rear.

  6. I agree completely that capital punishment is barbaric. But thiopental/sodium thiopentone is in no way an unpleasant way to go. Most of us older folks have had general anesthesia induced with it (“Start counting”… get to three and wake up in the recovery room). No unbearable pain from the barbiturate, nor any drowning from pulmonary edema, which would take far longer to develop than one becoming unconscious. If you have ever had the wretched duty of taking a beloved pet that is old and suffering for that last ride to the vet, you know how they simply go limp as the solution flows in. And that’s either thiopental or amylobarbital. Safer drugs have replaced them for everyday use in the OR. When my turn comes I hope to go as peacefully and as unknowingly as my cats have done.

  7. Every male loved [Olvia] Hussey in “Romeo and Juliet” (1978). She’s 70 today, but here’s a clip from the movie, when she was 17 …

    She may have played a 17-year-old Ms. Capulet (who’s only 13 in Shakespeare’s play), but, given that Olivia Hussey was born in 1951, she would have been 27 in 1978 when the film was released.

    There’s no question, though, but that she was loverly.

    1. I just checked, and Mr. Zeffirelli’s film was released in 1968, so Ms. Hussey was 17 at the time.

      I was just 15 then, so for me she was practically a cougar. 🙂

      1. She was 15/16 at the time of shooting.

        >Hussey nabbed the sought-after role of Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli’s film, which became an international sensation.

        >“It was actually very overwhelming,” Hussey told Fox News. “Even when we were shooting, we had reporters waiting for an interview during our lunch and tea breaks. And they had come from all over the world.

        >”I celebrated my 16th birthday during shooting… When the film was released, we traveled all over the world and I couldn’t really spend my teenage years like other teenagers… Everyone would come up to us for a photo, an autograph. But it was the experience of a lifetime really.”

  8. Regarding the executions and the NYT op-ed:

    I have been and always will be against executions, but the NYT op-ed is deeply dishonest. The cause of the “cruelty” and mistakes from the executions that had been taking place prior to the stay of the last seven years were other drugs in the “cocktail.” An overdose produced solely by barbiturate is basically akin to going to sleep and never waking up. There is no physical pain whatsoever. In fact, pentobarbital and secobarbital are the kind of drugs often used in assisted suicide and, as noted, in putting pets down.

    Even if the dose somehow proved to be insufficient, it would still put the person to sleep, only for them to wake up later. And not providing a sufficient dose is a hard thing to achieve with this drug given the low LD-50 of barbiturates, which is one of the biggest reasons why barbiturates have been replaced by drugs like benzodiazepenes such as Xanax and Valium in recent decades when sedatives are prescribed to people

    The op-ed author surely knows this information, but is attempting to convince readers that barbiturates alone are likely to cause the same possible problems as the previous three-drug “cocktail.” While I still consider execution cruel and unusual in itself, this particular method of execution is not cruel and unusual among the methods available. In fact, when this topic has come up in conversation over the years, I have repeatedly advocated for execution by overdose of barbiturates (again, often the same way assisted suicide for humans is carried out) because it is the most humane way of carrying out an execution.

    EDIT: Sorry, I see that this has already been brought up by chrism above. Still, it’s important to note that the op-ed seems to be intentionally dishonest, something that is unfortunately more and more common in the NYT op-ed section.

    1. Having had to put several pets to sleep over the years I think it is a lovely and very peaceful death. They just close their eyes to go to sleep. I wish this was an option for us all if needed.

  9. Among your many surprising accomplishments, one of the most surprising is that you have managed to avoid the practically ubiquitous cheeseball. It may be from the ’50s but I assure you it lives in modern times. One can buy them already assembled at any supermarket. You can tell when you’re at a really bad party when the best thing on the food table is the cheeseball. It happens.

      1. It’s been a while since I’ve had one, and don’t really remember the ingredients. Maybe bacon? And pecans on the outside?

        1. The bacon is a new to me variety. I think also onions and yes pecans. [Philadelphia cream cheese not (Creole) cream cheese.]

              1. PS I make a great, simple dessert (when we used to have company…) consisting of mascarpone, a little bit of honey, crumbled up good-quality ginger cookies, and then topped with fresh raspberries.

  10. The value of Gutmann’s letter is that it may give others the example of someone speaking out against this. That is what is needed. If people are afraid to complain (which is the goal of cancel culture), then we’re lost.

  11. I must say the funeral of Prince Philip was very lovely and comparatively subdued. I give props to a man who lived a good life to such a ripe old age and stood by the Queen for 73 years. It was poignant to see her sitting by herself during the service. RIP, PP.

    1. They met when she was 8, and started corresponding when she was 13. I’m surprised that no-one has cancelled them for that. 😐

      Apparently he designed his own funeral, starting several years ago. Of course, even that was toned down more because of the pandemic.

      On the other hand, subdued is relative. For almost anyone else, such a funeral would be regarded as very ostentatious.

      As Steve Martin sang, “Now when I die, now don’t think I’m a nut, don’t want no fancy funeral, just one like old king Tut.”. 🙂

  12. I posted this comment 2 hours ago, but it did’t appear, so my apologies if it becomes a double.

    In Europe and the UK that weasel would be known as a stoat or ermine (Mustela erminea), not as a weasel (Mustela nivalis), the long tail with the black tip being the dead give-away. The traditional royal robes/mantles (that white fur with the black dots) are lined or made of the ermine’s white winter pelts. The were used for this purpose, because it was said that an ermine would rather die than soil itself.
    I was puzzled why an expert would call a stoat/ermine a weasel, so I looked it up for you: what Europeans call a weasel (M. nivalis) is called the least or little weasel in North America. They have very short tails. The longer tailed M. erminea is confusingly called short-tailed weasel. In the Americas there is also the larger long-tailed weasel (M. frenata), which does not occur in Eurasia.
    Apparently nivalis has about a dozen subspecies, while erminea has two dozen ones.

    1. Though Lord Blackadder’s cloak was made of cats, complete with collars and tags (Mr. Friskie…)😿

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