Friday: Hili dialogue

April 23, 2021 • 7:00 am

End of the week again! It’s Friday, April 23, 2021: National Picnic Day. It’s also National Cherry Cheesecake Day, German Beer Day, World Book Day, UN English Language Day, UN Spanish Language Day, Lover’s Day,  National Lost Dog Awareness Day, and World Laboratory Day. Hili is half an hour late today as I’ve been doing ducky things.

News of the Day:

If you watched the launch of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and its crew of four, you’ll have seen that it was a big success, with nothing going wrong. The crew is now in orbit, heading for the ISS, and the first stage has landed successfully on the recovery barge. You can review the launch, orbiting, and recovery here, just scroll back until the launch and then watch for about ten minutes: that’s about how long the whole process took. I’m still amazed and stupefied that humans can actually do something like this—imagine all the things that have to work properly to get four astronauts from Florida to an orbiting space station.

The New York Times has a “Springtime Politics Quiz,” with 14 questions and three choices of answers for each. I’m sad to say that I got only 8 out of 14 right. Clearly I haven’t been paying sufficient attention to domestic politics.

Cat bites man Department:  Of all things, an African serval (Leptailurus serval) ) bit a fireman trying to extinguish a house fire in—get this—FELIDA, Washington. Firehouse reports:

Firefighters got the fire under control within 25 minutes, but at least one encountered the serval, a savannah wild cat native to Sub-Saharan Africa, and suffered a minor injury from a bite to the fingers.

Officials estimated the cat weighed 60 to 70 pounds, though the cats typically only weigh up to 40 pounds in the wild.

With the fire out, the firefighters decided to close up the house with the cat inside until the homeowner and animal control officers could contain it. It was later captured safely.

Fire district officials said the serval was “unharmed, just a little freaked out.”

Here’s a photo of the cat after capture:

Reader Loren, who sent me this report, notes that it’s legal to own a serval in Felida.

And more animal news from the BBC via reader Jez: A tiny ungulate, a Lesser Mouse-Deer (Tragulus kanchil) , also called the Lesser Malay Chevrotain, was recently born in Bristol. This species is the smallest known hoofed mammal:

A tiny mouse deer, born during lockdown at Bristol Zoo, is only 20cm (8ins) tall to its shoulder, the height of a pencil.

The lesser Malayan mouse deer was born to first-time mother Brienne and father Jorah almost a month ago.

Its sex is not yet known however it is only the second mouse deer to be born at the zoo in the last decade.

Mouse deer are native to South East Asia and when fully grown the infant will weigh about 3lb (1.5kg).

Here’s a BBC photo of the baby. Isn’t it cute?

Credit: Bristol Zoo Gardens

Here’s a video of an adult of the species. THEY’RE DEER THAT ARE SMALLER THAN CATS!

Not long ago, Siddhartha Mukherjee wrote a piece in the New Yorker about the amazing paucity of Covid deaths in India, and gave a number of speculations why this was the case. Well, it ain’t the case any longer. As I’ve reported several times, the virus is exploding in India, and yesterday the country set a new record for covid cases in any country: nearly 315,000 new cases reported in a single day.  And that must be an underestimate. Things are grim:

As the health system breaks down, there are fears that law and order may follow: Oxygen tankers are traveling under police guard to fend off looters. The black market trade in medical equipment has soared. Vaccines were stolen Thursday from a hospital warehouse in Haryana – but then the thief returned them hours later, with a note of apology. Police say the thief may have intended to steal anti-viral drugs, which are also in short supply.

People are stockpiling oxygen tanks at home, figuring there’s no use in even trying to get into a hospital anymore.

Social media are full of desperate pleas from Indians seeking hospital beds, oxygen, anti-viral drugs, vaccines. One longtime journalist live-tweeted his declining oxygen levels until he died.

Here is one of those live tweets by the dying journalist, and the sad resolution:

The links above are heartbreaking. Why the big outbreak given that few have been vaccinated, even now? Perhaps it’s a new variant.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 569l,869, an increase of 719 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now at 3,087,230, an increase of about 13,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on April 23 include:

  • 1516 – The Munich Reinheitsgebot (regarding the ingredients of beer) takes effect in all of Bavaria.

It still holds generally; Wikpedia says this: “Modern versions of the law have contained significant exceptions for different types of beer (such as top-fermented beers), for export beers, and for different regions. The basic law now declares that only malted grains, hops, water and yeast are permitted.”

The school is still doing business, and is still rigorous: “Its curriculum follows that of the 18th century Latin school movement, which holds the classics to be the basis of an educated mind. Four years of Latin are mandatory for all pupils who enter the school in the 7th grade, three years for those who enter in the 9th grade.”

  • 1914 – First baseball game at Wrigley Field, then known as Weeghman Park, in Chicago.
  • 1927 – Cardiff City defeat Arsenal in the FA Cup Final, the only time it has been won by a team not based in England.
  • 1945 – World War II: Adolf Hitler‘s designated successor, Hermann Göring, sends him a telegram asking permission to take leadership of the Third ReichMartin Bormann and Joseph Goebbels advise Hitler that the telegram is treasonous.

Göring surrendered to American troops (if the Germans got him back, they would have shot him), was tried at Nuremberg and found guilty of war crimes, sentenced to hang, and then committed suicide the night before his scheduled execution by swallowing a postassium cyanide capsule. Here’s his body:

  • 1968 – Vietnam War: Student protesters at Columbia University in New York City take over administration buildings and shut down the university.
  • 1985 – Coca-Cola changes its formula and releases New Coke. The response is overwhelmingly negative, and the original formula is back on the market in less than three months.

The lesson: don’t monkey with a popular and well-established brand.

Here’s that very first YouTube video:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1621 – William Penn, English admiral and politician (d. 1670)
  • 1813 – Stephen A. Douglas, American educator and politician, 7th Illinois Secretary of State (d. 1861)
  • 1858 – Max Planck, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1947)

Here’s a brief video biography of Planck:

  • 1901 – E. B. Ford, English biologist and geneticist (d. 1988)

Ford (photo below) was influential but a twit and a HUGE misogynist. I’m told by those who took his classes that he would not answer questions asked by women when they raised their hands. And here’s a possibly apocryphal anecdote from Wikipedia:

Professor Ford would come into first year biology lectures at Oxford University – which were quite large, with about 150 students, and address the mixed group “good morning gentlemen”, ignoring the ladies, who even at that time were maybe 30% of student numbers – they are now 48%. The students thought that was amusing, and decided that, for one lecture in 1965, no men would attend. So he walked in to the lecture theatre with about 50 women sitting there waiting attentively, but no men. He put his notes on the lectern and looked up. “Oh dear, nobody here today I see, might as well go home”! Picked up his notes and walked out. (This story is also told of Arthur Quiller Couch, and has to be treated as apocryphal)(It is not apocryphal – I was there, but will verify with other Agriculture students 1964-67, Jon Cook}.

  • 1928 – Shirley Temple, American actress, singer, dancer, and diplomat (d. 2014)
  • 1936 – Roy Orbison, American singer-songwriter (d. 1988)
  • 1954 – Michael Moore, American director, producer, and activist
  • 1968 – Timothy McVeigh, American terrorist, Oklahoma City bombing co-perpetrator (d. 2001)

Those who cashed in their chips on April 23 include:

Here is the baptismal record of Shakespeare, still in existence. I’ve outlined what I think is the name.

And here’s the burial record; again, I’ve outlined what looks like his name:

  • 1850 – William Wordsworth, English poet and author (b. 1770)
  • 1915 – Rupert Brooke, English poet (b. 1887)
  • 1992 – Satyajit Ray, Indian director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1921)

Ray was a very great director, but not to everyone’s taste (if you love India, as I do, you’ll be more likely to appreciate him). Here’s one of his very short films (12-minutes) called “Two”. It was made in 1964 and has no words in it.

  • 1998 – James Earl Ray, American assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. (b. 1928)
  • 2007 – Boris Yeltsin, Russian politician, 1st President of Russia (b. 1931)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili quotes Spinoza; the phrase means, “God is nature.”  Oxford Reference says this: “The slogan of Spinoza’s pantheism: the view that god and nature are interchangeable, or that there is no distinction between the creator and the creation.”

Hili: Did Spinoza have a cat?
A: Why do you ask?
Hili: I wonder about him saying “Deus sive natura”.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy Spinoza miał kota?
Ja: Dlaczego pytasz?
Hili: Zastanawiam się nad tym jego powiedzeniem Deus sive natura.

Kulka and Szaron are playing outside:

From The English Language Police (a site you should join):

From Bruce. As an unruly child, I was sometimes taken out in public on a leash, and I tell you—it still traumatizes me.

From Jean:

Here are graphs showing the increased frequency of attention to race by the New York Times; the trend holds for both whites and blacks:

From Gregory, who alerted me to an entire Twitter site devoted to bodega cats. Can you spot the moggy in this first tweet?


Tweets from Matthew. Anyone who owns a cat knows this behavior:

Matthew, a nonbeliever, nevertheless sent two religious tweets. The first one was posted in honor of the Feast of St. Anselm two days ago:

Matthew also sent this famous Biblical tale of God overreacting to mockery. When I told Matthew that this shows God at his worst, he responded, “No, it shows HE LOVES THE BALD AND RIGHTEOUS.”

Lol, for behold: Matthew himself is somewhat depilated.

Ah, I haven’t taken a train from Union Station (a classic on its own) for ages:

Seen any springtails lately? I doubt it!


31 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. ” . . . graphs showing the increased frequency of attention to race by the New York Times; the trend holds for both whites and blacks . . . .”

    I’d like to see a similar graph for the Times’s use of “populism” and “populist” (as compared to, say, “elitism” and “elitist”?).

    1. Thank goodness for those graphs – I thought I was losing my mind over the past few years. So many days reading my hometown paper I’ve looked up and thought: “Is race ALL we think of these days?”
      It is at the paper, that’s for sure. Nice to see the metric on that.

      The other day I was reading an article on increased pet adoptions during lockdown – with a paragraph devoted to “of course, the expense of owning a pet is a privilege denied poorer and marginalized peoples….”
      Lucky I have my pet and my priv. already. Both are doing fine, but the Times is doomed. 😉


  2. Firefighters got the fire under control within 25 minutes, but at least one encountered the serval, a savannah wild cat native to Sub-Saharan Africa, and suffered a minor injury from a bite to the fingers.

    Every fire-fighting kit that I’ve ever donned (only on the training grounds – for actually fire fighting, it has been “available equipment”) has included heavy-duty leather gloves extending well up the forearm. If the cat got through to contact meat, this was not a little love nip.

  3. As I’ve reported several times, the virus is exploding in India, and yesterday the country set a new record for covid cases in any country: nearly 315,000 new cases reported in a single day. And that must be an underestimate.

    Which would have been precisely why the Chinese acted relatively fast and hard when they realised they had a problem.
    Probability of this shutting the bowdlerise up for anti-vaxxers and COVID deniers? Zero.

    1. Why the big outbreak given that few have been vaccinated, even now? Perhaps it’s a new variant.

      There is at least one variant specifically associated with India, but that has been doing the Grim Reaper rounds for several months, so it’s not likely to be that one. I’d suspect that it is primarily a reporting issue. Regardless, it isn’t going to end well. There is only an aspiration that it will end, without long-lasting changes to our societies. Optimistically, only a virus booster every year or two. Per person.

      1. Yes, that was my thought. Last year when we all had disastrous levels of the virus and India, a country with a lot of poverty, had basically none, I thought that can’t be right. They must have the virus but just not know it.

        1. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.
          Whose line was that, anyway? It gets trotted out a lot. [searches] Not very surprisingly, it’s immediate antecedent is Sagan ( but I’ve never read any of his books, so how immediate is it), but I doubt it is uniquely his. There’s a very similar idea in Hans Reichenbach’s “The Philosophy of Space and Time” (written in 1928, translated into English in 1957, in good time to come to Sagan’s attention) that (section 32) “physics does not commit the fallacy of regarding absence of knowledge as evidence for knowledge to the contrary”. But even that I doubt is anything like original : Russell said some similar things in the ’20s.

  4. That’s quite a quiz from the NYT. It’s essentially “don’t forget that Republicans are horrible” and “what’s Joe Biden’s middle name”.

      1. 10/14, which elicited the robo-response “you got a B plus.”

        Forget the skew of the questions, I want to know since when is 71% a B+?

  5. 1621 – William Penn, English admiral and politician (d. 1670)

    Penn of -sylvania? No, Penn(-sylvania’s) father.

  6. If we hadn’t put our son on a leash (harness that fastened around his body and had shoulder straps), we would have had two choices: Never let him leave the house or have dead son.

    He would run for whatever dangerous thing was nearby. He nearly succeeded in dying a few times. He was very fast and crafty. And small. And we were old (46 and 45) by the time he got really mobile. I don’t feel the tiniest bit of guilt about using that leash.

    1. We used a leash for our son. No guilt here either. We would not have had a son if we hadn’t. When #2 came along, a daughter, it was the exact opposite. She stuck to me like velcro. Funny how kiddies are so different.

      1. Indeed. Making fun of children with problems is not funny. The alternative is to keep such handicapped children in cages. And those who are still traumatized by it would probably not be alive had they not been on a leash.

        1. I was a harness kid for a time, apparently. Don’t think this was my being “a problem”. My mother was post-TB and simply couldn’t run after a 3-yo boy, any 3-yo. Things settled down when I was a little more verbal and began reading — my parents could just set me down with a book and I’d be there when they finished an errand.

    2. There was one time at least when I wished I’d’ve had my older son on a leash. We were at a Kmart — don’t ask me why, like the Rainman, I think “Kmart sucks”; my wife must’ve asked me to pick something up there — and, when I turned around, my little boy (who also had the habit for bolting) had disappeared.

      This was shortly after Adam Walsh had been abducted from a South Florida Sears (and right after the tv movie about his abduction and murder had aired), and for several minutes I ran around not knowing where he was. Eventually I found him in the first place I should’ve looked: way over on the other side of the store, playing in the toy department. But for those several minutes I felt a heart-pounding panic the likes of which I’ve never known before or since.

      1. Kiddo did that to me once, at the most disorganized western store you can imagine. Teetering towers of boot boxes, piles of clothes on hanger, jam packed with belts and buckles. Turns out, he was hiding in a circular hanging clothes rack. It was terrifying.

        Tangentially, the store owner was a dude who had been living in there. One night, a kid broke in and stole some of those belts. He chased him outside, and as the kid rode away on his bicycle the owner shot him with a shotgun and he died. The county declined to prosecute as apparently it’s legal in my state to ‘shoot a fleeing felon’.

        1. My daughter liked to hide in the circular hanging clothes racks. A friend’s son suddenly disappeared when a bunch of us were at a mall with rides. We found him in one of those balls rooms like in IKEA.

          1. … liked to hide in the circular hanging clothes racks.

            Reminds me of how, in American Hustle, Christian Bale and Amy Adams liked to hide out in the rotating circular clothes rack at the dry cleaners his character owned:

  7. Just want to say thanks for Yesterday’s post by Jim Batterson – in particular a classic piece by Feynman. Not sure I read any of it before – I also liked the classic web format of plain text for it – an almost forgotten format.

  8. The baptism and burial records are in a style of handwriting called “secretary hand”, which was the standard form for official documents in those days. I don’t read it myself, but my wife took several years of classes at the county record office in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk to learn to read it. She confirms that the baptismal entry says “Guilielmus fillius Johannes Shakespere” i.e. William son of John Shakespeare, in modern English, whilst the burial record says “Will. Shakespere gent”, and the line drawn through the ‘ll’ in ‘Will’ indicates that it’s an abbreviation for ‘William’.

  9. I recall the “New Coke” kerfuffle and that a “Bring Back Old Coke” organization was hastily formed at the time. I also seem to recall that the president of the organization agreed to a blind taste test between Old Coke and New Coke, which resulted in him stating preference for New Coke three times out of three. His response was “I don’t care, I still like Old Coke better.”

    Umm, no you don’t, actually.

  10. 1813 – Stephen A. Douglas, American educator and politician, 7th Illinois Secretary of State (d. 1861)

    Douglas also attained the office of US senator from Illinois, having defeated Abraham Lincoln in the 1858 election following their famous series of debates. (And, as the northern Democrats’ nominee, he was Lincoln’s main opponent in the 1860 presidential election.)

  11. I took a train out of Chicago Union Station a few years back (Ca. 2018 I believe). Had to wait around for a while so I took a look around. Nice place, especially the gallery upstairs.

    I did think the security theater was particularly absurd there though. To board the train, you have to go through a lounge where they check your bags for explosives residues. Meanwhile, the train south stops at a station after about half an hour where there is apparently no one on duty and people just walk onto the platform and get on. In true rail-travel style they don’t really have any interaction with any of the Amtrak personnel until the train has started again and they check the tickets of the new comers while walking up and down the isles.

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