Saturday: Hili dialogue

April 24, 2021 • 6:30 am

What? It’s Saturday again? That means I must come up with a Caturday felid. If you want to keep reading this feature, do let me know (a comment under today’s post will suffice), as I’ve contemplated deep-sixing it

. It’s April 24, 2021: National-Pigs-in-a-Blanket Day. Here’s a photo of this once-popular American appetizer, which is one appetizer I’m not keen on!

It’s also National Go Birding Day, Eeyore’s Birthday (my spirit animal!), World Day for Laboratory Animals, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, Independent Bookstore Day, Save the Frogs Day, and World Veterinary Day.

Eeyore (and also me):

Yesterday’s Google Doodle celebrated the Spanish “ñ” with the tilde, as it was Spanish Language Day. C|Net gives a bit more information.

Friday’s Doodle, which celebrates UN Spanish Language Day, shows a highly stylized version of the company’s logo framed by a giant Ñ, also known as an eñe (pronounced EN-yay).  Not only is it the only letter with a true Spanish origin, it’s also become a symbol for Hispanic heritage.

Click on the screenshot to see where the Doodle links.

News of the Day:

The Center for Effective Lawmaking, a nonpartisan organization that tracks how good federal legislators are at getting bills introduced and passed, has ranked all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and of the Senate in terms of their legislative “effectiveness score”. (They’re also separated by party.) Have a look at the lists. The most effective legislators—after all, their job is to get bills passed—are often not the big names you’ve heard about. For Republic Senators, Marco Rubio and Roger Wicker are the most productive, while for Democrats the top two are Gary Peters and Jeff Merkley. For Representatives, the top two Democrats are Nita Lowey and Peter DeFazio, and the top two Republicans are Michael McCaul and Christopher Smith.  (Read this article to see how scores are determined.)

I was amused to see that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be good at tweeting and promoting herself, but she’s lousy at lawmaking, as she’s eleventh from the bottom among all 218 Democratic Representatives. (Nancy Pelosi is even lower, but her job is running the House, not so much making laws.)

From the Guardian, we learn of yet another bizarre effect of climate change. Because of melting polar ice caps, the Earth’s axis of rotation is shifting over time:

The scientists found the direction of polar drift shifted from southward to eastward in 1995 and that the average speed of drift from 1995 to 2020 was 17 times faster than from 1981 to 1995.

Since 1980, the position of the poles has moved about 4 metres in distance.

“The accelerated decline [in water stored on land] resulting from glacial ice melting is the main driver of the rapid polar drift after the 1990s,” concluded the team, led by Shanshan Deng, from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The downside? There isn’t one connected with the tilting, really, but the redistribution of water on Earth is just one more reminder of how humans are messing stuff up.

Also from the Guardian, we have the very first time that meteorites striking Earth have been traced back to their source. In 2018, a 6-ton asteroid broke up over the Kalahari, resulting in 21 fragments found in the desert. Using telescopic tracking, astronomers think it likely that the asteroid came from Vesta, a 525 km-wide asteroid about 233 million km from Earth. The fragments that hit Earth were probably from the larger asteroid, which was ejected after a collision of an astronomical body with Vesta about 22 million years ago (h/t: Jez)

Once again the ACLU disappoints. Look at this tweet from the Ohio branch:

Let’s ignore the fact that Ma’Khia Bryant was actually 16, not 15, and look at the details of the case, in which she was shot just as she was about to plunge a knife into another girl, and after the cop had told her to drop the knife. This is NOT a George Floyd style case in which a cop behaved reprehensibly and dangerously. It’s a case in which a cop tried to save the life of someone being attacked. Bodycam video released by the police supports this exculpatory story, just as video supports the murderous actions of Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. It’s very sad what’s happening to the ACLU, once an organization I admired to the point of idolatry. It now sees itself as promoting social justice, not defending civil liberties. But as a reader points out below, the comments on the ACLU’s tweet are almost uniformly negative—some quite scathing.

Back to Covid: the NYT tells us that the “excess death rate” in the U.S.—the death rate above what is expected—was the highest last year ever seen since data were recorded beginning around 1900, and even higher than that seen with the 1918 flu pandemic. Here are the data. The baseline is the expectation, with deviations above and below that in orange and gray, respectively:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 570,746, an increase of 711 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now a 3,101,486, an increase of about 14,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on April 24 includes:

  • 1183 BC – Traditional reckoning of the Fall of Troy marking the end of the legendary Trojan War, given by chief librarian of the Library of Alexandria Erastothenes, among others.
  • 1704 – The first regular newspaper in British Colonial AmericaThe Boston News-Letter, is published.

And here’s the first edition of the first newspaper:

  • 1800 – The United States Library of Congress is established when President John Adams signs legislation to appropriate $5,000 to purchase “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress”.
  • 1895 – Joshua Slocum, the first person to sail single-handedly around the world, sets sail from Boston, Massachusetts aboard the sloop “Spray”.

He succeeded in his 37-foot oyster boat The Spray, though it took him three years to get home. He navigated entirely by dead reckoning, without a chronometer. Here’s his boat:

Check the link; this was the first experiment to demonstrate that the energy in electrons was quantized.

Here’s the wreckage of Dublin’s General Post Office after the rising. 16 rebels were executed and 485 people were killed. Ireland did not gain independence until December, 1922.

This is one of the great adventure stories of all time. Shackleton made it to South Georgia, an island where there was a whaling station, and he helped organize the rescue of all his men. Everyone survived.  Here’s a book that you should read about it. Here’s the crew of the Endurance before the ship was broken up by the pack ice:

Here’s Churchill after being knighted (by the present Queen!). I couldn’t find a photo of his being tapped with the sword. And I thought one didn’t shake hands with the Queen.

The Hubble is still chugging away and getting data after 31 years! Here’s a view of it in orbit, taken by a space shuttle sent up to service it. There have been five such missions, and the telescope may last another twenty years. It was a great investment!

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1815 – Anthony Trollope, English novelist, essayist, and short story writer (d. 1882).

Trollope produced literature that imparted knowledge to us! We learn that some of the personality types present in universities depicted in his novels can still be recognized today!

I couldn’t find any cat paintings by Willem, but I found a photo of his wife Elaine, also an accomplished painter, holding a cat:

  • 1906 – William Joyce, American-born Irish-British Nazi propaganda broadcaster (d. 1946)

Joyce was executed in 1946 for treason—the last person to be put to death in the UK for this crime.

Babs! I love her! Here’s her rendition of “My Man” from Funny Girl (1968), which she sings after having just been dumped by Nicky Arnstein (she’s playing Fanny Brice). What a voice!

Those who cashed in their chips on April 24 include:

  • 1731 – Daniel Defoe, English journalist, novelist, and spy (b. 1660)
  • 1947 – Willa Cather, American novelist, short story writer, and poet (b. 1873)
  • 1974 – Bud Abbott, American comedian and producer (b. 1895)
  • 2004 – Estée Lauder, American businesswoman, co-founded Estée Lauder Companies (b. 1906)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili isn’t luring baby Kulka, and for nefarious purposes. (They’re actually getting along much better now, which is good because I still suspect they’re related.)

Kulka: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m waiting for you to come closer.
In Polish:
Kulka: Co robisz?
Hili: Czekam aż podejdziesz bliżej.

And here is little Kukla disporting herself in the yard:

From Bruce, who suspects that this may be a photoshop. I get at least one of these calls every day:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Divy:

From Titania. This shows how pathetic the UN has become.

A tweet from Barry. I have NO idea what this is about except a guy trying to get a fledgling parrot to float on a pad in a swimming pool.

Tweets from Matthew. A trebuchet is an ancient catapult that uses a long arm to hurl a projectile. Here a dog has learned how to use it to play “auto fetch”.

Matthew is fluent in French, but still had an epiphany:

Then he discovered his epiphany was wrong; we don’t know the origin of “Bordeaux.” This link gives some theories.

Live and learn for biologists. If you are referring to several species of a genus that you don’t identify, you say something like Drosophila spp.

What a great place to get vaccinated!


I may have posted this reently, but can’t be arsed to look it up. Besides, it’s funny enough to be seen twice.

95 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. I have always been a fan of Caturday. However, I know it takes a lot of work to do this on a regular basis and will not worry so much if it is not there. Life will go on with the two cats permanently in the building.

    I would have to see the bills put forward and passed to judge some of these congress persons. What kind of medal does Moscow Mitch get for deep sixing hundreds of bills passed by the house. There is not a worse Senate in the history of the place than the one we have now and for the past several years. How many bills are not even passed in the house because they know they go nowhere after passing. Overall, the congress is a defective and nearly useless government body if it’s job is to represent the people.

        1. I did hear her say the big 2 trillion dollar bill they are working on now should be more like 10 trillion over the ten year period. Where the money comes from to pay for this, she did not say. At least with Warren she will tell you where the money (taxes) should come from.

  2. This may worry some readers. On April 21, Jerry posted a picture of a d*g to his facebook feed. I assume many reached out to him if he was okay, and that his account was not hacked. He however resumed as usual.

    Jerry’s exposure and care of ducks have changed him. Over the years, and with the inclusion of many other species as “honoary cats”, his personality was altered and is no longer, strictly, a “cat person”. Thinking about axing this feature will just confirm what was becoming evident.

    I am okay with this change. I enjoy reading science reporting and “opeds” most. The other features are interesting, too, and some of them add to the texture and flavour of the site, but are not my reason for coming by.

    Thanks for doing this, Jerry. I’d say stick to the roolz. It’s your place. If you don’t enjoy posting saturday cat stories, you don’t need to.

      1. Not that I was super serious there, I meant it generally. Jerry has come a long way of being a cat person, to be more inclusive and diverse, including being ahead with transpeciesm (owls etc as “honorary cats”) 🤓

  3. Hall of Ocean Life will be a COVID-19 vaccination site … The whale is ready.

    “Shots in pectoral fins”?

    1. You started me thinking.
      I am now waiting for the god-squad to stop examining dogs bottoms and burned toast for the face of Christ, and look for a whale with stigmata.
      Considering how much of the visible bit of whales branchial appendages is “hand” rather than “forearm” or “upper arm”, that would clarify the question of whether Junior was nailed up through his palms or through his wrists. Will the DiscoTute and the like take up the challenge?

  4. Please don’t drop Caturday.

    I read it every week. It’s the first thing I do when I get home from the restaurant.


  5. Caturday celebrates all things cats, and PCCe is it’s benefactor. Even before there were ducks to honor, there were cats. Through this site, PCCe was the one who created the official Caturday©, which other sites have now claimed the name.

    It’s also the feature that lured me to this site in the first place! My cats definitely approved this post.

  6. “And I thought one didn’t shake hands with the Queen”- one may, provided that she offers one her hand. There’s more on the crazy protocol for meeting Liz here:

    Dad (90 next month) was in a line-up of actors presented to her on the opening night of a West End play around the time I was born, but sadly no longer has any real recollection of it. Although there’s a photo in the family album, so the moment hasn’t been totally lost.

  7. Saturday Catuday! Come on. Caturday is and crucial part of this website. And it makes me happy because cats. Cats!

    Since I was so late to a the morning post a couple of days ago, I want to reproduce what I wrote about Gentle on My Mind, just in case anyone else is as big a fan of its writer as I am…

    I can’t believe nobody has mentioned that the brilliant John Hartford wrote Gentle on My Mind. John Hartford basically started “newgrass,” particularly with his masterpiece of an album, Aereo-Plain. He was one of the best bluegrass musicians ever. He played multiple instruments masterfully, which led him to create the album Mark Twang, on which he plays and sings every note from guitar to fiddle to banjo to mandolin.

    And Aereo-Plain, in addition to being one of the greatest albums of all time, is a fantastic road trip album. It won’t last you the whole ride, but it’s a lovely way to start!

  8. Moving on from the “to Caturday or not to Caturday” question (Jerry’s mailbox has enough of my submissions, not always accepted, that he knows what I think of it. “Honorary cats” not excepted.), here’s a question of sorts.

    Ñ, also known as an eñe (pronounced EN-yay).

    Neither my Spanish teacher (who had been run out of Spain as a languages exchange student by Franco’s official thugs, but managed to get his “teaching ticket” for Spanish a few years later) nor the class’s “native speaker assistant” (an Argentine refugee) ever gave a name for the N-tilde character. Possibly giving it a name other than “N-with-a-tilde” would have made it easier for some of the pupils who struggled with it as a character (along with “double-L”) of equal but separate status to “N”. I do remember such perplexation in the class, which eventually settled down. I remember getting into the habit of referring to it as a “tilden”, which passed muster with the teachers – they understood what I meant – but didn’t spread.
    Is this “eñe” a Latin-Spanish thing, because it certainly wasn’t mentioned in our Castilian-Spanish course.
    I’m wondering what got our teacher kicked out now. I know he was a trade unionist (I occasionally met him at Labour Party functions) which was always good for a Falange beating, if not a bullet. I also remember him making a few references to Catalan resistance to Madrid rule, which would also have got him a good kicking if overheard by the wrong ears. But I wonder what he really did.

    1. When I learned my (very rudimentary) Castilian Spanish the name “enye” was used when we recited the alphabet. Back then, Spanish still regarded “ch”, “ll”, and ñ as separate letters in their own right and they had their own sections in dictionaries and other alphabetically organised lists etc. although that is no longer the case for ch and ll.

      1. although that is no longer the case for ch and ll.

        I wonder when that happened? And I’d forgotten that “ch” was also a separate letter when I was a student too. (mid-70s)
        One of my issues when I was learning a little Russian was that while I recognised the various symbols of the Cyrillic alphabet, most of them I didn’t have a “name” for. Which, for me, made manipulating the language all the more difficult. If I hadn’t known that taxonomy matters before then, I would probably have had my nose rubbed in it.
        Didn’t German have a night of the long knives for the “long S” and … something else in the early 80s? and a major revision of orthography in the same bout.

          1. Hmmm, 16 years of unclarity there (1994 to 2010).
            Well, nobody expects changing the language to be quick. And not something I’ll worry about terribly, while my Spanish is at “dancing dog” level.

      2. although that is no longer the case for ch and ll.

        I’m off to do nasty things to one of my document templates.

    2. Hello from Madrid!
      The letter was and is still called ‘eñe’ and is the 15th letter of the Spanish alphabet.ñ?m=form
      Maybe your political Spanish teacher saved you the difficulty of the pronunciation (the sound does not exist in English) or perhaps he didn’t want to use the Castilian symbol of Catalan opression -just kidding: Catalan language has no ñ, in fact, Cataluña is Spanish for Catalunya
      ‘ch ‘ (che) and ‘ll’ (elle) went down the drain of old uses, making me rethink when reciting the alphabet, which I learned a-b-c-ch-d… they are still in use of course but not considered separate letters like they used to be.
      Have a nice weekend, everyone!

      1. Maybe your political Spanish teacher saved you the difficulty of the pronunciation (the sound does not exist in English)

        Oh no : he was very clear that it is a different sound (“phoneme”) not present in English, But he had also introduced that concept to almost the same group “(“Class 1E”) in French class over how to pronounce (FR) “Espagnol”. 90% of the last year’s French class learned the joke about “Je parle Francais comme une vache Espagnol” one year, and started to learn Spanish from the same teracher in the next academic year.

        your political Spanish teacher

        “Ginsey” wasn’t afraid of mentioning political things in class (he hated Franco and the Falange with a hatred I have rarely seen except in people who had had strong kidney-beatings from people who know how long people can walk with trashed kidneys), he was a reasonably fair teacher. The only times he beat me with a stick was when I couldn’t contain my laughter over a terrible Anglo-French pun in Spanish class. I was disruptive (and I owe him a punch on the nose ,in the unlikely event I ever meet him). Politics were not a significant element of his classes- but when your teacher who is required to have several years living in the country of the language .. he has to explain why his taught Spanish might be different to the Spanish on the Costa Blanca (the “Coast of the lobsters”) where his students were likely to meet, for example, monuments to the ‘disappeared’ who were ‘officially’ non-existent.
        Going on a hoilday is devoid of politics? When?

        or perhaps he didn’t want to use the Castilian symbol of Catalan opression -just kidding: Catalan language has no ñ, in fact, Cataluña is Spanish for Catalunya

        I am informed. Gracias. . or having just been swapping Romance language with my neighbour, “multu mesk”. Almost certainly my transliteration is wrong, but it’s a Romance language, so you can grab elements from it.
        Sure, “Ginsey” made several comments about Catalunian versus Castillian – it would be hard to say “Spanish has several dialects including Castillian and Catalunian” without mentioning the existence of the separatists. But since Britain at that time was suffering a bombing campaign from our own separatist groups (including those I would get kicked-to-shit for having a name from).
        I do wonder (slightly) over why English language users find the idea of a change in orthography to be utterly alien, while most other languages seem relatively unconcerned by the idea.
        Despite my choices to try languages I wasn’t drug up in ( that’s a local dialect for “dragged up in”, or “brought up using”, I think I may have stick a digit into the power socket of … well, it is probably that multi-faceted concept of “privilege”.
        OK, “mea culpa”. I find it hard to handle languages which use different sets of sounds to what I was brought up in. I do male non-trivial efforts in those directions, but it’s hard work.

        Have a nice weekend, everyone!

        It reminds me of the worst years of my life – at school. Sometimes I remember the good times, but mostly I remember being kicked to fuck by me class”mates” because I was “different”. Children are bastards (by behaviour, ancestry irrelevant).

        1. Sorry for the remembrance, I’m just watching Futurama one episode after another and the good news, everyone! by Fernsworth has really got in. I do hope that life has treated you better than your schoolmates. My school experience, very different, but with daily Catholic ‘agressions’ (weekly compulsory Mass, 15 minutes of praying before classes started…)

          …/… I find it hard to handle languages which use different sets of sounds to what I was brought up in. …/…
          You tell me! I had a tape titled ‘Sheep or ship? which helped me conquer the wicked English sounds Spanish is clearly devoid of!

          And the whole mess of Spain’s different languages… it’s more a political debate than anything, in my opinion, but surely it makes more difficult for foreigners to order ‘dos ensaimadas de cabello de ángel’ in perfect mallorquín! Thanks that la jefa loved money more than the purity of the language.

          Buen domingo!

          1. Remembering the worst days of my life – school time – is always stressful. But generally, to the best of my knowledge, the bastards I grew up with have inflicted more life on more people, so their malice will continue. That is, as they say, life.

    3. Eñe is how ñ is called in Spain and in the rest of the Spanish speaking world, according to the dictionary and the orthography manual published by the Association of the national Spanish Language academies. I had to smile at your Latin-Spanish vs Castillan-Spanish because the latter is probably more Latin that the variants spoken in the Americas. Some Spaniards from non-Castillan regions would even argue against calling their Spanish Castillan. In the south of the country, Andalucía, Murcia, Extremadura, they surely speak differently than the the Castillas; this is what I get after living 20 years with a woman from Murcia. In Italian we have the same sound as ñ but we wrote it “gn”.

          1. I’m not sure that even the Poles, who seem to be able to put 4 or 5 consonants in a row, could pronounce “gs”🤓. But then there is Gdansk….

            1. I am sure G-Hili will inform us,
              We may need a feline pretzel for a … wiring diagram?

              I learned my “bondage and discipline” computer programming with “railway line” diagrams of the syntax of constructs. Back-translating that concept into languages ,,, I get lost. Then using cat-geometry to thread the subjuncts onto the causatives … Gesundheit

      1. My Spanish teacher was very clear that the exam required, and he was teaching, “Castillian” Spanish. And to make that clear, he did mention the existence of other regional accents.
        30 years later, when I rushed into a Mallorquen shop specialising in a Mallorquen dish (“Ensemillasas”, pardon my speelung), and after prefacing my request with (about) “Por favor, no hablo buen Espagnol, pero quiero dos ensemilladas grandes con [whatever]” (my keyboard doesn’t do a Tilde-n, or even “enes”)… the counter staff did a haughty “sniff”, said “Hablemos Mallorqueno aqui” and exited stage left … I was quite gratified when the Boss (la Bossa? feminina? verdad!) pushed back into the serving area, thanked me (in English) for my excellent Spanish (a graceful lie, I am sure), and filled my order. Muchas Gracias.
        In a society of people whose idea of “talking in foreign places” is “shout louder”, even a very small effort of learning gets significant results.

        Thanks for the info. The “Association of the national Spanish Language academies” is the appropriate standards body?
        If (a non-trivial “if”) my Spanish ever gets to that level, I know where to go.

  9. This looks like a good place to finish up the past two days discussions on human space flight. I watched the Crew-2 Dragon docking and ISS welcome aboard ceremony this morning and was moved by the picture of eleven astronauts on station at one time. They were from four different nations and the welcome aboard ceremony included a brief real time video exchange with the leaders of the Japanese space agency, European space agency, and Nasa (which had a personal note for me as the Nasa guy was acting nasa administrator Steve Jurczyk who was my boss in the early 2000’s). Real time video was coordinated from washington, california, texas, japan, france, and, of course, SPACE!. So the capsule that arrived this morning will stay “parked” at station for six months until Crew-2 boards it to return to Earth. The Crew-1 capsule will undock this week and return its crew to Earth. Though i think that these capsules also act as a lifeboat in case for some reason an unexpected emergency return by crew members is required. I hope that i did not violate the “roolz” by this spurious posting.

    1. Wait, so you basically worked for NASA? I mean, you helped create and perfect things used in NASA flights and projects? That’s awesome!

      I agree with you about space flight. I think it’s one of the most incredible things we can do, and it captures the public imagination because even the dimmest people understand how fantastic spaceflight is. Before Yuri Gagarin and those who soon followed him, people flying through space was the stuff of dreams and wonderfully quixotic, romantic fiction. This is the most important reason behind my support for a trip to Mars. I think such a trip would ignite more interest in science among the public. A project like that, if properly promoted, could bring people together. Human beings exploring space always feels like an accomplishment shared between all of humanity, as represented by the ISS.

      Plus, I really want to see people walking on Mars! I hope that a base on Mars can happen during my lifetime, though it’s highly unlikely.

      1. so you basically worked for NASA?

        Or Steve Jurczyk worked somewhere outside NASA 20 years ago.
        I’d like to see people walking on Mars too, but it would be pretty much of a publicity stunt. The duration of a mission “there and back again” would necessitate essentially permanently living in space, which would be a fundamental change from how we’re doing it at the moment. And once you’ve got the technology (hardware and procedures) for living essentially permanently in space, then living in an artefact on the surface of a planet simply adds a gravity well to the problems of living in an artefact in a lethal environment.
        I’m not so sure that a “new” “Space Race” (even if there is only one runner) would do much to raise the public standing of sci-tech. Even with the ISS for 20-odd years now, and the frequent use of EOS (Earth Observation from Space) to better understand our planet, so many people still run (metaphorically) screaming from sci-tech into the welcoming arms of woo and mysticism.
        When the first (human) steps on Mars are broadcast, there will still be people watching the BigGodSquad on the other channel, talking on their 5G (rebranded to “GreenPhone”) phones to friends to organise protests about the cancer-producing 6G phones, which will still call the other side of the world mostly through undersea cables. Satellite phones (“Iridium +++”) will still cost an arm and a leg, but be necessary over the 50% of the globe more than 50km from a coastline. And, of course, the coastlines will be differently positioned.
        Speaking of the “autofetch” dog trebuchet, the first steps on Mars, and that helicopter flight, I bet the first steps on Mars will be taken by a development of those Boston Dynamics (the Roomba and bomb-defusing robots company) walking dog-robots, scurrying around the path of another rover to collect “sticks” (sample containers filled with Mars rock) for returning samples to Earth. It’ll have a lot of camera (NavCam, HazCam, etc) and it’ll widen the search path of the next generation of rovers from a few hundred metres to a kilometre or so. And if it’s battery goes flat, there are fewer destructive plummets in it’s future than for a helicopter while it waits for the rover to bring the RTG along for some go-go juice.

        1. Yes. Both Steve Jurczyk and I worked for NASA at its Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. He worked on space-based Earth sensing systems which included collaborations with the European Space Agency as I recall. I worked with him on a couple of laboratory-wide projects in the 90’s and he was my boss when he was director for research & technology at Langley from 2004-2006. He was a really good, honest person and I am very happy to see him in the top leadership position at the Agency….if only until Bill Nelson is confirmed by the Senate.

  10. “Let’s ignore the fact that Ma’Khia Bryant was actually 16, not 15, and look at the details of the case, in which she was shot just as she was about to plunge a knife into another girl, and after the cop had told her to drop the knife. This is NOT a George Floyd style case in which a cop behaved reprehensibly and dangerously.”

    As I said to my parents the other day, there’s no longer any middle ground in this country when it comes to politics or culture, at least not in the media, academia, and political circles. In this case, either every police shooting of a non-white person is a travesty that must result in widespread unrest, or every shooting is completely justified and saying otherwise means that you don’t support the police and fully support rioting and looting. We were watching the protests and general coverage on MSNBC and asking, “what do they want? Do they think the officer should have allowed this girl to kill at least one person, and possibly more?” As with nearly every issue, the fringes on each side are the ones driving the narratives. You can’t be nuanced. You can’t base your decision on something as stupid as “context” or “reason” or “evidence.” You’re either with one extreme or the other. Meanwhile, the media continues to hammer away at the wedge, from MSNBC and Fox News to HuffPost and Breitbart.

    The saddest part is that most people are somewhere in the middle, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at the media or our politicians, and most people don’t want to express moderation in today’s climate. But if people don’t stand up to this extremism coming from both sides soon we will be doomed to a perpetual swing from one end to the other, with a giant chasm in the middle where policy and politics should actually be.

    1. In line with your comments the replies to the ACLU tweet are overwhelmingly negative and make some of those same points. They also see to be more “liked” for whatever that’s worth, than the original.

      I’ve given up on ACLU for now and stopped donating. I’ll reconsider if they do.

    2. What I don’t understand is why that cop shot her dead, instead of in her butt (an ample, and hence easier, target), which would have stopped the knife attack as effectively.

      1. It is much more difficult to hit a moving target than people might imagine. As I understand it, cops are trained to aim for the center of mass and often miss anyway. Also, a suspect wielding a knife and in a direct confrontation has their adrenalin up. A shot in the butt wouldn’t stop them in time to prevent them plunging a knife into their intended victim.

  11. I always enjoy Caturday but perhaps it doesn’t really need a regular post of its own. Why not just continue to feature cat items in your daily Hili post whenever you happen to have some?

    Just by chance my email this morning included a promotional message from Petsmart titled Caturday News!

  12. 1) Oh dear, I only started following this because of the cats, and particularly the Caturday posts. Perhaps more readers should contribute appropriate posts.
    2) Pigs in blankets, at least in southern England, involves wrapping the sausage in bacon, not in pastry.

  13. Back to Covid: the NYT tells us that the “excess death rate” in the U.S.—the death rate above what is expected—was the highest last year ever seen since data were recorded beginning around 1900,

    I eyeball that chart to give the mean deviation from expectation as about +/-2.5%. so the 15% deviation in 2019-20 is about 6 means off the expectation – assuming a normal distribution, that’s about a 1 in a billion probability of happening by chance.
    It won’t stop the anti-vaxxers and COVID deniers.

    1. Pretty definitive graph indeed.
      Note that the expected death rate has declined over the years. If I’m not mistaken, the total death rate in 2020 is comparable to the expected death rate as little as 2-4 decades ago.

      What I fail to understand is the low death rate of 1919. A dearth of death in 1919 nearly symmetrical to the excess in 1918. The ‘Spanish’ flu raged in 1918 and 1919, and killed predominantly children and young adults.
      Does anybody have a serious explanation?

  14. The first item in the first newspaper in the US is a screed on the dangers of papists and jesuits moving into Scotland to cause trouble. This was more than 40 years before the Jacobite rebellion so it’s interesting to see from our current perspective. A clear reminder that religion has been poisoning everything for a very long time.

  15. Caturday. I understand it’s probably a time-sink for you. I will miss it should you cease publishing it; however, maybe you could do it now and then? It’s such a pleasant way to start the weekend, I’d hate to lose it forever.

  16. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also good at grilling witnesses and nominees, as we’ve seen on quite a few occasions. She puts in the work, unlike others who merely preach. Although she puts herself in the spotlight too often and has made some ill-advised tweets, she does have skills and drive so there’s hope. She just needs to gain more experience. I make no comment on her particular political positions as I don’t know that much about them. Those will likely mature also. Of course, all of this only matters if she manages to stay in office.

  17. I would add that part of the confusion derives from the fact that “species” is both singular and plural. More correct transliterations would be “species,” short e ending for nominative singular, and “speciēs,” long e ending, for nominative plural.🤓

  18. Firstly, I don’t think the Flintstone cartoon is photoshopped. It’s not a real Flintstones cartoon.

    Secondly, there is no such thing as a fair fight with a cat.

    Thirdly, I wonder if the legislation ratings favour “middle of the road” representatives. Does AOC not get involved in a lot of legislation or does her legislation always die because it’s too radical?

    Finally, I can’t lie: I don’t read the Caturday post (except the one time you posted a Youtube video that I found).

  19. PCC. About Caturday. I appreciate everything you post here, but getting new material for Caturday must be getting increasingly difficult and time consuming for you. Personally, I peruse Caturday only occasionally so if you decide to deep six it, I would be fine with that. Particularly if it freed up your time to post more on science, politics, road trip adventures past and present, and, of course, ducks and ducklings.

    1. This sums up my feelings as well. Additionally, if PCC(E) were ever to do pictures of his dinner posts, I’d be game for that.

    1. Yes, me too. I seem to recall that Trollope was anti-Semitic in at least one of the Palliser novels – not sure if that’s the knowledge we should be taking away.

  20. I have always enjoyed Caturdays and would miss it, but if it should go I’m sure you will continue to delight us with felid stories in other posts.

  21. I love Saturdays and so do my cats! I often forward them to my cat-loving friends. Thank you for devoting so much time to this feature.

  22. I love Caturday and I would miss it, but I totally understand that sometimes ya just gotta let certain things go in order to save your sanity.

  23. Saturdays wouldn’t be the same without Caturday Felids! I love to read it. But, as other readers have observed, I can imagine it takes up a lot of your time.
    I continue to be astounded by the quality, thoughtful nature (and volume!) of PCC(E)’s posts.

  24. I wish to note that birthday boy William Joyce was nicknamed “Lord Haw-Haw.” A pity he never married Lady GaGa.

  25. Jerry, the issue in the Ma’Khia Bryant case isn’t with the ACLU for getting her age wrong or drawing straight line to George Floyd. The issue is that the police have no other way of stopping a small woman with a small knife that doesn’t involve shooting to kill. It ties to George Floyd, and to any other case of excessive police violence, because this child’s death – a child let down by society via foster care and education gaps and poor access to mental health care – was completely avoidable. She wasn’t “about to plunge her knife” into anybody. She was waving a knife around and approaching another girl.

    Fine. Too late for talking her down – which would never occur to them anyway? Use your taser (never seem to mix that one up the other way around, do they?). Shoot her in the leg, maybe. You’re the police, tackle her and pepper spray her. There are several choices before four shots to the vital organs. But that’s how we train police. Shoot to kill. And black people are more dangerous than white people. That, in a nutshell, is a large part of their training.

    The issue is the pros were scared of a tiny girl, as they were trained to be, and looked for no solution beyond shoot to kill. I’m sorry, but the ACLU is the least of the problems here.

    1. The cops have explained, and pretty convincingly to me, why trying to shoot someone in the leg or tase them in this situation isn’t feasible.

      Tackle somebody with a knife? Seriously? You haven’t bother to inform yourself about the reasons why the police consider this to be a proper response.

      This statement is ridiculous: “Shoot to kill. And black people are more dangerous than white people. That, in a nutshell, is a large part of their training.” Really? They’re trained to kill black people more readily than whites? Please show me where that is in the training of any police department.

      This is just as ridiculous as saying that the girl with a knife wasn’t preparing to plunge it into the other girl? Where do you get that idea? Surely not from the video, which apparently shows just that.

      And, as you should know (you seem remarkably ignorant of these things), there is no evidence that in situations like this the cops are more likely to murder a black person than a white one given the encounter rate.

      1. A family member who trained and graduated and worked three months for police work declined to stay in this field of work (which he otherwise thoroughly enjoyed) BECAUSE of the shoot to kill training and also the direct peer pressure he was subjected to BECAUSE of his ethical objections. So it might not be in the official handbook but it very much IS in the training.

        1. My objection was that I doubt that they train police to preferentially shoot blacks more than whites, not that they don’t train people to “shoot to kill”. I don’t know enough about police training to give an opinion about whether the “shoot to kill” dictum, or how it’s applied, is flawed.

  26. Overall I agree with Rosetti. The girl wielding the steak knife was about 10 feet from the police officer when he fired. The officer could have easily stunned her by running and smashing into her back (sandwiching her against the car) before Ma’Khia could do much — or any — damage to the other teen. Even if the teen was armed with a knife, aren’t police paid to take risks to save lives, the guilty along with the innocent? Also, stab injuries, even when there is no immediate police intervention, are not usually fatal, something around 8%, whereas gunshot lethality in “street” incidents is about 32% among hospitalized victims in Philadelphia (see summary of linked paper). Police officers, unlike many crooks, use potent semi-automatic pistols, often with hollow-point ammunition in which body shots are almost always fatal (because of their brutality, many countries voted to ban their use warfare in the Hague Convention of 1899: Link at end). One shot in the back almost certainly would have killed her.

    Roger A. Band, et al. 2014. Severity-Adjusted Mortality in Trauma Patients Transported by Police. Annals of Emergency Medicine: DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2013.11.008

    The Columbus police department has an annual budget of approximately 1/3 of a billion dollars. Some recent cases of serious misconduct by its police, including murders, rape, and cover-ups, are given at

    Text of 1899 Hague Convention with regard to hollow-point and similar ammunition.

  27. I LOVE CATURDAYS! Even that weird-assed genetic outrage from Japan (the rolly polly one) today!
    I used to have a moggie who went and met Jay-sus-ah in Cat Heaven after 12 happy years.

    Google.doodle I can do without though. Meh.

    best, and keep up the good work – reading WEIT is one of my favorite parts of the day in the quiet dark hours where I live.
    D.A. (1.12am)
    Mhtn, NYC

  28. I wonder if The Bofton News-Letter ever publifhed tongue-twifters like “fhe fells feafhells by the feafhore.”

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