Wednesday: Hili dialogue

April 28, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s a hump day: Wednesday, April 28, 2021: National Blueberry Pie Day. It’s a great pie, with the best specimen to be had at Helen’s, in Machias, Maine (have a look at the photos here). It’s also Stop Food Waste Day, Denim Day, (not celebrating jeans, but denigrating rape excuses; read the link) Great Poetry Reading Day, International Guide Dog Day, and, in Canada, National Day of Mourning, commemorating “workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness due to workplace related hazards and occupational exposures.”

I saw no rabbits on my way to work, which means that this day will not go well.

And reader Rick found a “Thought for Today” from someone who died exactly six years ago:


There is a rumor going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist. -Terry Pratchett, novelist (28 Apr 1948-2015)

News of the Day:

The CDC now says that any fully vaccinated American can go maskless outdoors, even in small groups of people that include the unvaccinated. Masks are recommended only in big outdoor groups, and always when indoors, even when you’re vaccinated.  Given that the chances that, if fully vaccinated, your chances of being an asymptomatic carrier are virtually zero, it seems to me that the vaccinated don’t need to wear masks at all except, perhaps, in large indoor crowds, the CDC seems hyper-cautious. Still, I do what they say.

The Washington Post has a pretty funny article about Richard Barnett, the guy who stormed the Capitol and put his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. He apparently left a note that said, ““Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch.” Except the lawyers defending Barnett says that the note actually read, ““Hey Nancy Bigo was here biatd.” Biatd???? Either the guy can’t spell or “Biatd” is really “Biatch”, a kind of slang. This apparently makes a difference to his attorneys!

Reuters reports that a New York City man, Jarrod Powell, has been arrested and charged with attempted murder, and that as a “hate crime”, after the horrific beating of  Yao Pan Ma, a 61-year old Asian man. Isn’t it relevant, though, that the assailant was black, something that Reuters doesn’t mention? Doesn’t that bear on whether the act reflected white supremacy? ABC7 News reports this:

Ma’s wife was at the event but was too upset it speak. Instead, community activist Karlin Chan passed along her message.

“The Ma family understands this is the act of a single depraved individual and has nothing to do with the community of Harlem at large,” Chan said.

I’m horrified at what’s going on in India with the coronavirus: it’s the world’s largest dumpster fire. And although I predicted it, I take no joy in that. This New York Times article gives the view from Delhi (my favorite city in a country I love), where the positivity rate is an astonishing 36% (the paper reports that it was only 3% a month ago). Look at this horrifying photo:

(From the NYT). A mass cremation of those who died from Covid-19 at a crematorium in New Delhi on Monday. Photograph by Atul Loke

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 573,001, an increase of 696 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,150, 786, an increase of about 15,100 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on April 28 includes:

  • 1253 – Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist monk, propounds Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō for the very first time and declares it to be the essence of Buddhism, in effect founding Nichiren Buddhism.
  • 1789 – Mutiny on the Bounty: Lieutenant William Bligh and 18 sailors are set adrift and the rebel crew returns to Tahiti briefly and then sets sail for Pitcairn Island.
  • 1869 – Chinese and Irish laborers for the Central Pacific Railroad working on the First Transcontinental Railroad lay ten miles of track in one day, a feat which has never been matched.

The railroad’s western section was built largely by Chinese laborers. Here’s a photo of some of them:

Here’s an original ferrotype of Billy the Kid (the only photo I could find of him save a questionable one I’ve presented before); he was shot dead at 21:

After he and Petacci were shot, their bodies were hung upside down in public: here’s a photo from Wikipedia with the caption, “The corpse of Mussolini (second from left) next to Petacci (middle) and other executed fascists in Piazzale Loreto, Milan, 1945″. Their bodies were further defiled and beaten, and there’s a photo of them in the morgue, which you can see here, but it’s very gruesome. 

  • 1947 – Thor Heyerdahl and five crew mates set out from Peru on the Kon-Tiki to demonstrate that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia.

But of course Heyerdahl was wrong: Polynesia was not settled by people from South America, but from Southeast Asia.

Here’s the original raft at the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo:

  • 1970 – Vietnam War: U.S. President Richard Nixon formally authorizes American combat troops to take part in the Cambodian campaign.
  • 1973 – The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, recorded in Abbey Road Studios goes to number one on the US Billboard chart, beginning a record-breaking 741-week chart run.
  • 1986 – High levels of radiation resulting from the Chernobyl disaster are detected at a nuclear power plant in Sweden, leading Soviet authorities to publicly announce the accident.
  • 1988 – Near Maui, Hawaii, flight attendant Clarabelle “C.B.” Lansing is blown out of Aloha Airlines Flight 243, a Boeing 737, and falls to her death when part of the plane’s fuselage rips open in mid-flight.

It”s amazing that nobody else was killed, though a few were injured. Here’s what the plane looked like when it landed:

  • 2004 – CBS News released evidence of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse. The photographs show rape and abuse from the American troops over Iraqi detainees.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1878 – Lionel Barrymore, American actor and director (d. 1954)
  • 1906 – Kurt Gödel, Czech-American mathematician, philosopher, and academic (d. 1978)

Here’s Gödel, who, like many philosophers, was an eccentric. In his later life he’d eat only food that was prepared by his wife. When she was hospitalized for 6 months, he refused to eat and died of starvation, weighing only 65 pounds when he died!

Schindler, who of course helped rescue Jews during WWII, died destitute, having spent his fortune saving people. He is the only member of the Nazi Party (he had to join to be credible) to be honored with the designation Righteous Among the Nations in Yad Vashem.  Here is the hero:

  • 1916 – Ferruccio Lamborghini, Italian businessman, created Lamborghini (d. 1993)
  • 1926 – Harper Lee, American novelist (d. 2016)

Lee wrote only one real book, To Kill a Mockingbird, but it as a classic, now in the process of being erased. A later manuscript was published, Go Set a Watchman, but is was poorly reviewed and it’s not clear that Lee was compos mentis when she agreed to its publication. Here’s her photo from the dust jacket of her famous first novel:

  • 1937 – Saddam Hussein, Iraqi general and politician, 5th President of Iraq (d. 2006)
  • 1948 – Terry Pratchett, English journalist, author, and screenwriter (d. 2015)
  • 1950 – Jay Leno, American comedian, talk show host, and producer
  • 1960 – Elena Kagan, American lawyer and jurist, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
  • 1974 – Penélope Cruz, Spanish actress and producer

Those who “passed” on April 28 include:

  • 1903 – Josiah Willard Gibbs, American scientist (b. 1839)[14]
  • 1945 – Benito Mussolini, Italian journalist and politician, 27th Prime Minister of Italy (b. 1883)
  • 1992 – Francis Bacon, Irish painter (b. 1909)

This is probably Bacon’s most famous painting: Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1953.

Here’s Velázquez’s original:

  • 2013 – Paulo Vanzolini, Brazilian singer-songwriter and zoologist (b. 1924)

As I said, Vanzolini was both a herepetologist and a famous writer of sambas; I met him when he’d come to Harvard to work with curator of herpetology Ernest Williams.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili must not be hunting very successfully:

Hili: Sparrows tell conspiracy theories to each other.
A: On what subject?
Hili: Some baloney about cats.
In Polish:
Hili: Wróble opowiadają sobie spiskowe teorie.
Ja: Na jaki temat?
Hili: Jakieś bzdury o kotach.

Hili and Szaron are getting along better these days. Here’s a photo with the caption “Rapprochement”:

In Polish: Zbliżenia

From Facebook:

From Nicole. I may have posted this before, but internalize the warning!

From Jesus of the Day. There’s no question about what I would do!

From Barry: a rooster who appears to pass out from crowing (hypoxia?)

Another from Barry. Checkmate, creationists! This site appears to be a spoof of creationist arguments, but it could have been a site that makes creationist arguments. The two purposes give very similar results!

From Luana. Rufo is a conservative, but the thread after this tweet thread gives a number of anecdotes involving woke education that you can check. The ones I recognize seem accurate:

Tweets from Matthew. I found this first one very soothing at 4 a.m. after three hours of tossing and turning:

From the 1860s! And the underwater painting is very lovely:

I’d be excited to see this, too. Be sure to enlarge the video in the first tweet:

This is the first observation of sponge trails suggesting that the animals (yes, they’re animals) are mobile. See the original paper here.

I like Matthew’s comment on this. The deep sea is about as unknown to us as is Mars.

35 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Re Terry Pratchett, he was actually BORN on this day in history in 1948. His death was March 12 2015.

  2. When we see how bad it is in India, think what it might look like here if the orange idiot were still president.

  3. [Harper] Lee wrote only one real book, To Kill a Mockingbird, but it as a classic, now in the process of being erased.

    And erased not always by the usual suspects. The adamantly un-woke state legislature of Idaho, for example has passed a bill prohibiting the teaching of critical race theory in Idaho public schools (and never mind that there is zero evidence that any Idaho public school is actually teaching critical race theory). As evidence that antiracism has been “creeping through our schools forever,” one state legislator speaking in support of the bill cited the teaching of To Kill a Mockingbird, the message of which, she claimed, is that “white people are bad, black people are innocent victims, and the students were encouraged to believe that there was an endless era of black victimization.”

    1. Actually, Harper Lee did another book that was not known for many years – Go Set A Watchman. Some fans did not like it so much but I thought it was pretty good. Much more honest about some of the main characters.

  4. I was still living on Oahu when the 737 came apart and one was killed. The investigation showed that these older planes had much more stress and corrosion than previously thought. Lots more stress due to constant short flights between Islands and many more pressurizations. Lots more corrosion because this is the tropics. Rust and mold are more popular than surfing.

    1. This is more or less correct. Several of my bosses and coworkers were on the investigation team (on the ground in HI).

      The failure on Aloha 243 was due to metal fatigue and multiple site cracking of the skin of the pressure vessel. Some of the multiple site cracking was due to corrosion. Corrosion can be more aggressive in tropical and marine climates. Heat and moisture and ions (e.g. salt) all tend to accelerate corrosion. Corrosion pits are nasty stress concentrations and “excellent” places for cracks to start.

      Corrosion and fatigue cracks are the bane of airplane structural engineers.

      And N73711 did have a very high cycle count, more than 90,000, which was beyond the design life of the airplane design (I used to work on various Boeing airplanes in design and maintenance, including the 737). And they were very short flights (island-hopping in the Hawaiian Islands): around 20 minute average flight time, which is really short.

      The root cause was inadequate inspection and maintenance.

      This failure and some others led to the FAA’s and manufacturer’s Aging Aircraft Program, which analyzed older airplanes and defined additional inspection and repair programs to keep them airworthy beyond the original design life. Additional inspections gives one more opportunities to find and repair cracks. And find them when they are smaller.

      When I worked at an operator (airline), I helped keep some 40+ year-old airplanes airworthy and flying.

      Airplanes are designed to be robust against skin cracks. The fuselage skin stringers (longitudinal stiffeners) are spaced at 9 inches to 10 inches. The frames (circumferential stiffeners) are spaced at about 20 inches. The intent of the design is for a skin crack to encounter the stiffeners and turn there and allow for a “flap” of skin to open, which relieves the cabin pressure, which is the main loading for most the pressurized fuselage skin (hoop stress: running load, W is P * radius of the fuselage. Basic stress is W/t, t=skin thickness). What caused the catastrophic failure of N73711 was that there were very many cracks along the same line of fasteners and multiple locations (“multi-site”) and when the shock of the failure crack propagation happened (failures like this are somewhat akin to explosions — even without the pressure release), it blew past the stiffeners and linked up all those cracks.

      The pressure-driven skin failure occurs during a pressurized flight and depressurizes the cabin and prevents repressurization. This is another good reason why you do want to keep your seat belt fastened while not moving in the airplane. The enormous rush of air out of that 10X20 inch hole will extrude almost anything through the hole. 200 in^2 X 9 psi is 1800 pounds. That’s a lot of force.

      Here’s a nice video of a pressurized airplane failing catastrophically (bomb damage):

        1. So was my boss, director of structural engineering (Boeing)!

          He told me: The floor boards and control cables were carrying fuselage bending loads. And he wasn’t kidding.

  5. Got to admit that Jay Leno is one of the few people I am jealous of, because he got to drive Steve McQueen’s ’56 XKSS, the most fabulous car ever made. Talk about a lucky guy!

      1. The car is nice but I’m always impressed by the size of Jay Leno’s head. Maybe he doesn’t mind the lack of safety features in old cars because there isn’t an airbag on earth that could safely decelerate that melon of his. Seems like a nice guy though.

  6. @TakeThatDarwin is one my favorite Twitter accounts. I don’t know if the person who runs it is an evolutionary biologist or not, but his goal (I think it’s a guy) is to highlight and ridicule the craziest anti-evolution claims he can find on Twitter—and to always do it in a “who’d a thunk it?” deadpan manner.

  7. That’s a great quote from Terry Pratchett!

    Re vaccination and transmission, according to the BBC,

    A single dose of a coronavirus vaccine can reduce household transmission of the virus by up to half, a study shows. Those given a first dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines – and who became infected three weeks later – were between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus on than unvaccinated people, PHE [Public Health England] found.

      1. This TP quote:

        There is a rumor going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist. -Terry Pratchett, novelist (28 Apr 1948-2015)

          1. I think PCC(E) added it as an update to this post, so you might not have seen it if you read today’s Hili as soon as it came out.

  8. What is ironic (or not) about the National Park sign….?… I suspect something I do not know about the meaning of “Donner Camp”….

    1. The Donner Party famously got stuck and resorted to cannibalism before being rescued – they left too late. Three is a fantastic, very creepy, novelization of the account called The Hunger by Alma Katsu.

    1. Thank you … sort of… as in, I needed to know, but now I didn’t need to know…. but now it is impossible to un-know… :^)

  9. Re: Donner Camp picture. My son, Zack, visited the park once when driving to Tahoe to ski. He told us that one of the park’s fire pits had a REALLY big BBQ spit.

    1. 😹big fire pit. My bf and I had to pull over at the summit during a fierce windstorm a couple of years ago. We thought the dog was eyeing us hungrily.

  10. “1881 – Billy the Kid escapes from the Lincoln County jail in Mesilla, New Mexico.” Oddly, the Lincoln County jail is in Lincoln, not Mesilla. The court house is still there and a mandatory shrine for Billyites. Fun to combine with a visit to the Trinity Site and/or White Sands. I realize the mistake, which will now be permanent because of nearly infinite repostings, is not yours. About 150 miles between the two places. Billy was tried in Mesilla, and found guilty of killing Sheriff Brady in the Lincoln County wars, and then sent to Lincoln to be hanged, from whence he escaped. Details!

  11. India is screwed for the same reason the US was and Brazil is: right wing populist leaders. Modi allowing the Krumb Mela to continue and large BJP rallies.

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