Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 4, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the Cruelest Day of the Week: Tuesday, May 4, 2021: National Hoagie Day. Why is a big fat submarine sandwich called a “hoagie”? There are many theories, but nobody knows for sure. It’s also National Candied Orange Peel Day (I love the stuff!), National Orange Juice Day, Bird DayWorld Give Day, International Respect for Chickens Day, National Teacher Day, National Weather Observers Day, and World Naked Gardening Day:


Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates the life of HIsaye Yamomoto (1921-2011), who wrote about the experience of Japanese immigrants to the U.S. This is part of the celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.


Wine of the Day: Below you can read my go-to wine critic, Robert Parker, reviewing the 2013 vintage of Bootleg Proprietary Red, which is now unavailable but the estimated price is $37, and I must have paid somewhere around $25 at my wine store Vin Chicago (I don’t remember acquiring it), which must have been close to the price it sold for at Costco. (Don’t turn up your nose at all Costco wines!) Parker gave it a 94, an excellent score, but I haven’t yet cracked it (it’s Monday evening). My own evaluation follows his, but of course I am now conditioned to find what he found!  You don’t often find Cabernet blended with Petite Syrah, much less Zinfandel!

I was in the mood for a big, good wine because it was a long, hard day on the duck pond. I will have this with chicken breast, rice, and green beans. First, the review:

The 2013 Proprietary Red from Bootleg is a major sleeper of not only the vintage, but in its entire concept. There are just over 8,000 cases of this wine, which has been culled from KJ vineyards on Atlas Peak, Oakville, Mt. Veeder, Rutherford and Spring Mountain. The wine is a blend of 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petite Sirah, 21% Zinfandel, 12% Merlot, and the rest Malbec and Petit Verdot. That’s like throwing in the entire kitchen sink, but the result is a stunningly delicious, complex, big-time, sexy style of wine with a deep, opaque purple color, a beautiful nose of blackberries and blueberries, with some lavender Provençal herbs, licorice and a touch of espresso. The wine has a fabulous texture, a plush, full-bodied mouthfeel, and beautiful purity and depth. It’s something that could only be made in California, given the blend, but it is off-the-charts in terms of its hedonistic appeal. At the same time, it is complex enough to satisfy the intellectual senses as well. Drink it over the next 5-6 years. A big-time winner.

Let us now see if it’s over the hill . . . .

Answer: NO! The wine, deep purple, is gutsy, fruity, and a pure delight to drink. No, I can’t identify any of the grapes in it (I thought I’d be able to detect the Zin), but the various varietals have melded into pure, fruity pleasure.  I’d say this wine hasn’t peaked, but has at least five more years. If you see it and can get it for a decent price, do so. No airing needed, ready to drink right out of the bottle. I can’t tell if there’s a sediment, as I’m pouring gently and haven’t come near the bottom. If you want a heavy, fruity, and yet easy-drinking wine to accompany hearty food, this is your baby. I’m looking forward to another two glasses this evening.

News of the Day:

This is unthinkable: after 27 years of marriage, Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced. Here’s their announcement on Twitter (h/t Simon):

Apparently this is not a surprise for some, but there are questions about what will happen to the couple’s pathbreaking foundation:

Mr. and Ms. Gates have faced relationship struggles over the past several years, two people close to them said. There were several times when the relationship neared collapse, but they worked to keep it together, the people said. Mr. Gates decided to step down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway, in part, so he could spend more time with his family, these people said.

. . . Even so, the divorce will create new questions about the fate of the Gates fortune, much of which has not yet been donated to the Gates Foundation.

Late last night a subway overpass collapsed in Mexico City, killing at least 23 people and injuring “dozens” (70 are in the hospital). Here’s one photo of the wreckage:

Opponents of “anti-racism education” won a victory, with voters repudiating a proposed school antiracist curriculum. However, this happened in Texas, so the Left can fob off the defeat on Republicans or on Southern racists. And indeed, that seems to be the case:

On one side, progressives argued that curriculum and disciplinary changes were needed to make all children feel safe and welcome in Carroll, a mostly white but quickly diversifying school district. On the other, conservatives in Southlake rejected the school diversity plan as an effort to indoctrinate students with a far-left ideology that, according to some, would institutionalize discrimination against white children and those with conservative Christian values.

Joe Biden has done a dramatic turnabout on immigration. After announcing he’ll keep the number of immigrants to the U.S. capped at 15,000 per year, and after facing criticism for that, he’s upped the limit over fourfold—to 62,500.

The Biden administration announced that it will try to ban the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes. Why? It’s not that they are more dangerous per se than regular cigarettes, it’s that the idea is that people get hooked more easily on them. It’s also going to be harder on African-Americans. As Eugene Robinson,  an African-AmericanWaPo columnist and Pulitzer winner,  notes:

Making it illegal to make or sell Newports, Kools and other such brands will have a massively disparate impact on African American smokers, nearly 85 percent of whom smoke menthols. By contrast, only around 30 percent of White smokers and 35 percent of Hispanic smokers choose menthol-flavored varieties. Black smokers have every right to feel targeted by the planned prohibition.

Public health experts can reasonably argue that the pending rule targets African Americans in the best possible way. The real disparate impact, so this thinking goes, is in the way tobacco companies have aggressively marketed menthol cigarettes in Black communities over the decades. I understand all of that. But I can’t rush to cheer a new policy that puts a terribly unhealthy — but perfectly legal — practice enjoyed so disproportionately by African Americans on the wrong side of the law.

What do you think?

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 577,378, an increase of 733 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,228,000, an increase of about 10,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 4 includes:

  • 1626 – Dutch explorer Peter Minuit arrives in New Netherland (present day Manhattan Island) aboard the See Meeuw.

Imagine! A boat named after a cat!

  • 1776 – Rhode Island becomes the first American colony to renounce allegiance to King George III.
  • 1814 – Emperor Napoleon arrives at Portoferraio on the island of Elba to begin his exile.
  • 1886 – Haymarket affair: A bomb is thrown at policemen trying to break up a labor rally in Chicago, United States, killing eight and wounding 60. The police fire into the crowd.
  • 1904 – The United States begins construction of the Panama Canal.

Here are the locks under construction in 1913:

Here’s Capone’s mugshot. Suffering from syphillis in the brain, Capone was released from prison in 1939, retired to Florida, and died of a stroke in 1947:

This camp practiced “extermination through labor”:

The Neuengamme concentration camp was run under the SS practice of “extermination through labour” (German: Vernichtung durch Arbeit). Prisoners worked for 10–12 hours per day and were killed both due to the inhumane conditions in the camp as well as active violence from the guards. 42,900 prisoners died from difficult slave labour combined with insufficient nutrition, extremely unhygienic conditions contributing to widespread disease, and arbitrary brutal punishments from the guards.Although hospitals existed in the camp, medicine was scarce and entrance into the hospital was almost always a death sentence. In 1942, a typhus epidemic entreated the SS to allow former doctors imprisoned in the camp to work at the camp hospitals; prior to this reversal, the hospital staff comprised almost no former medical professionals. The hospitals were also used as a place to murder large groups of weakened Soviet prisoners via lethal injection.

Here are the sleeping quarters for the prisoners; I suspect there were at least three per tier, including on the ground:

Because this is a fairly recent book and because the first print run was 50,000 copies, you can pick up a first edition for the paltry sum of $5000-$17,000, with the higher prices for signed editions.

Here’s a photo of some Freedom Riders being beaten up by segregationists. The Wikipedia caption is “A mob of white people beat Freedom Riders in Birmingham. This picture was reclaimed by the FBI from a local journalist who also was beaten and whose camera was smashed.”

  • 1970 – Vietnam War: Kent State shootings: The Ohio National Guard, sent to Kent State University after disturbances in the city of Kent the weekend before, opens fire killing four unarmed students and wounding nine others. The students were protesting the Cambodian Campaign of the United States and South Vietnam.
  • 1979 – Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
  • 1989 – Iran–Contra affair: Former White House aide Oliver North is convicted of three crimes and acquitted of nine other charges; the convictions are later overturned on appeal.
  • 1998 – A federal judge in Sacramento, California, gives “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski four life sentences plus 30 years after Kaczynski accepts a plea agreement sparing him from the death penalty.

Kaczynski, who killed three and injured 23, now sits in Supermax prison ADX Florence, the toughest prison in the U.S. He will never get out. Here’s his mugshot:

Notables born on this day include:

Huxley, aka “Darwin’s Bulldog,” with a sketch of a gorilla skull, taken about 1870.

Liddell was of course the recipient of and model for the story Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Here’s a photo of Alice taken by Carroll in 1858, when she was six or seven:

Here’s a print of what is thought to be that faithful dog, who is supposed to have sat by the grave of his deceased master for FOURTEEN YEARS. The story has been challenged, but still appeals to people from around the world, including me, who come to Edinburgh to visit the grave of Bobby and his staff (and heft a pint at the nearby tavern). Here’s what purports to be a photo of Bobby along with his actual collar:

  • 1922 – Eugenie Clark, American biologist and academic (d. 2015)
  • 1929 – Audrey Hepburn, Belgian-British actress and humanitarian (d. 1993)
  • 1941 – George Will, American journalist and author

Those who flatlined on May 4 include:

Stevens, whose work was undervalued because she was a woman in what was then a man’s field, never got a real job at a university. I have read old papers in which she’s acknowledged as “Miss Stevens”, even though she had a Ph.D. Here she is:

  • 1975 – Moe Howard, American actor, singer, and screenwriter (b. 1897)
  • 2013 – Christian de Duve, English-Belgian cytologist and biochemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1917)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being very pompous:

Hili: Behind this bush a different reality is hidden.
A: Slightly different.
In Polish:
Hili: Za tym krzakiem ukrywa się inna rzeczywistość.
Ja: Nieznacznie inna.

And here’s little Kulka in the trees, photographed by Paulina:

From Stash Krod. If there’s any sign that would make you wear a mask, this is the one. From Meanwhile in Canada:

From Jean:

From Bruce:

A tweet from Dom. These otters have found a FEAST!

A tweet from Barry. It’s really moving!

A tweet from Simon, who says the second one looks like a cat, but I think the third one looks like a duck!

Titania presents a deep philosophical discussion:

Tweets from Matthew. I don’t know who Mr. Fantastic is, but he doesn’t know much biology:

This is a true cat lover! Sound up.

A geometrid moth caterpillar with “tentacles”. What is it trying to mimic, if anything? See thread for Matthew’s answer:

Finally, this has to be the tweet of the month, even though it’s only May 4.

91 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Don’t turn up your nose at all Costco wines!

    I would say “don’t turn up your nose at wines sold by Costco.

    When I lived in Seattle, a couple of decades ago now, I met the wine buyer for Costco (I’m sure it’s a different person now, or a team of people). At the time, he bought more wine (dollars’ worth) than any other person on the planet (this still may be true of Costco; I don’t know). He was a nice, modest guy; but he knew his wine. (We were both doing volunteer work at a friend’s winery.)

    I used to buy excellent Bordeaux, vintage Port (I still have some 1994 vintage Port I bought at Costco), Champagne, etc. from Costco. They also have excellent food, including meats and cheeses from around the world. (And they have large crates of rubbish food as well.)

    Nothing wrong with (some of the) food and drinks from Costco. And at excellent (world-beating) prices. My local Costco can’t compete with our local gem, Surdyk’s, for range of wine and beer or, especially, range of cheese (Surdyk’s stocks 200+ (excellent) cheeses and sources 600+ for order); but they do pretty darned well, considering they are a “big-box” store.

    I was a member twice, once in Seattle, and once here in Minnesota. I stopped my membership for the same reasons both times: I just don’t buy enough “stuff” to make it attractive, the locations weren’t convenient, and I really dislike the Costco shopping experience.

    Back in the Pleistocene (1984 or a year or two after), a friend of a friend of mine was the store manager for a new Costco (Seattle area). I think it was their 5th or 6th store (something like that). AFAIK, he stayed with Costco. Wonder how many million he’s worth now?!

  2. Hmm, I’m trying to compare opposition to regulations on menthol cigarettes, on grounds of disproportionate impact on African Americans to opposition to gun regulations, on pretty similar grounds. Equal reasoning would make for some strange bedfellows.

    Perhaps best not to go down that route too far …

    1. I expect education levels equate with deaths from tobacco, & suppose educationally African Americans are not as well served by society. It is a public health issue but I would target all cigarettes.

      Naked gardening day is Saturday 7th! No Jez, I am not taking part…

    2. The black panthers used to be against gun control
      and one might say that opposition to stop and frisk is in fact oppsition to the enforcement of strict gun control in cities like Chicago and New York.

      Targeting menthols is neither fair nor sensible, I believe. One could also make good wine illegal because it tastes nice, or even more pertinent, make trans-oceanic travel illegal because it’s really bad for the climate. The population that would get targeted is the same that’s making the laws, so that won’t happen.

  3. Going after menthol cigarettes is really strange, particularly by claiming they are more addictive. If you are going for addictive then nicotine would be the thing, eh? It is like saying lets do away with all the soda pop with corn syrup. Any that use sugar are okay.

    As a non smoker who quit many years ago my guess is you are just going to make a lot of people mad. But they will switch to smoking non menthol because it’s the nicotine, stupid.

    1. My analogy is that we don’t halt fruit-flavored alcohol or light beer to discourage drinking by the young or the overweight (or is that the ‘extra weight’?).

      1. Not too sure about that. The light beer trend, which I do not drink at all, does seem to be really popular to many of all kinds. It probably does add more to drinking beer. But it is not new. We had 3.2% states many years ago and that allowed 18 year old kids to legal buy and drink well before the age of 21. It was a (light) beer before the term was invented.

        On the cig issue, try this. Make a menthol cigarette with no nicotine and see how that goes. I would bet it goes nowhere.

        1. I suppose so. I am not up to date on such things but I know that light beers have become the norm. In many places that is all they serve and they carry no straight beer. That makes me mad. As I recall, prohibition did not work. Gambling is done in nearly all states now and many thought that would be the end of us. It is all addictive to some. Nicotine is addictive to damn near everyone who ever used it for some time. Yet they still start smoking. But I would still say, try making that menthol cigarette with no nicotine and see how long that last.

          1. Let me back up a second. We may have a slight transatlantic disconnect.

            An alcopop is the British term for something that looks and tastes like a soft drink but contains alcohol. The reasoning behind the attempts to ban them is that it encourages drinking among the young allegedly i.e. alcohol is supposed to taste nasty to discourage its abuse. Not sure how valid that is, as I recall, it didn’t take me very long to acquire a taste for it after I started drinking it.

            I’m not really sure what you mean by a light beer. Would something like Bud-lite qualify in that category?

            1. Yes, as I recall miller lite was one of the first labeled as light beer. Then they all started making lite beer. Ultra lite and on and on. It is all low alcohol beer. Very fashionable. Most people in Europe would spit it out. I don’t think it would ever go in the UK. Low alcohol Ale? I know it would not go in Germany. But over here where they are use to low taste beer it goes well.

              1. Their marketing people insisted that people refer to it as “Lite Beer from Miller”. It made them feel superior to the Budweiser competition.

            2. To add to Randall’s explanation, US light beers are also low calorie, which is the main marketing hook. They aren’t necessarily bad tasting so much as simply lacking in taste. Similar to the difference between a flavored water drink and actual fruit juice.

              Light beers are popular with people that prioritize drinking large quantities of beer over taste. People drink them for other reasons too of course. At the end of a day working outdoors in the heat if I want something other than water a light beer could be a good alternative, though I pretty much never have any in the house. But if I really want a beer a light beer won’t cut it.

              1. Lite beer is diet beer originally made to try to get women to drink more beer. It didn’t work (at first) so they enlisted NFL players to sell it to the manly men.

                But as the saying goes, lite beer is like sex in a canoe…

    2. Flavored cigarettes were banned long ago because they were designed to be marketed to young people. An exception was carved out one flavoring, menthol, which are mostly marketed to black smokers.

      And, of course, smoking menthol cigarettes will not become illegal. The target of the ban is the industry, not the smokers. Civil rights organizations have long wanted an end to this product.

      1. I don’t know anything about the history of this, but it seems as if the tobacco industry has at least partially worked around the ban on flavored cigarettes or found a loophole. Flavored mini cigars are available at all convenient stores and I see people buying them all the time. Mostly younger people.

            1. I’m a former smoker, although I quit so long ago that it hardly qualifies me. Still, I did it for five years as a young person doing a pack or two a day. After quitting I went through a period of a decade or so where I found the smell of tobacco profoundly distasteful… disgusting. Almost a moral outrage.

              It is nice to live in a mostly smoke-free public world now. Eleven years ago (in Wisconsin, anyway) bars and restaurants were fearing that their businesses would all be threatened. Turns out that a lot of non-smokers really like to go into these establishments now that they can not come out reeking.

              1. Yes! When I see movies (or the radio reminds me of the history) I can hardly believe we lived like that. At my first “real” job, guys had ash trays on their desks. Bars and restaurants were smoky. And the back of commercial airliners!*

                I well remember when offices went smoke-free, then restaurants, then bars.

                It’s so nice not to have to deal with the smoke.

                My Dad never smoked. He got issued cigarettes in the service and bartered with them very successfully. Mom “smoked” when she was in college and for a brief while afterwards (about a pack a month); but she had quit long before my memories start.

                I worked for the Federal government for a while. The office (stand-alone office building, purpose-built) had a (very nice) little shack by the back parking lot, heated, for the smokers. I used to joke to my boss that I was going to go out to the parking lot every hour and spend 10-minutes walking around with a Bic pen held between my fingers.

                (* The smoke on airliners did actually have one advantage. It leaked out of small cracks in the pressure vessel, making crack identification easier, from the brown streaks.)

          1. Many states and cities have already banned flavored vape cartridges, and plenty more have pending legislation. Vaping is a relatively new thing, and we know government isn’t exactly quick to act, but they are slowly acting against it, just as they did flavored cigarettes. My guess is that flavored vape cartridges (all flavors other than “tobacco” flavor, that is) will be banned throughout the US within the next ten years, and likely in less time than that.

            1. Yes, let’s ban methadone while we are at it, just for the cruel symmetry of denying addicted people access to to a less deadly fix. This is sarcasm, but the excesses of the Nanny state are in full form here.

              Adults are well aware of the risks of tobacco products and vaping products. Do they not have the right to these products? Alcohol cayuses problems, perhaps we should prohibit that as well? How about nitrated meats? Is that the road we want to go down?

              The idea that adolescents may be enjoying flavored vaping products should necessarily result in a banning of such products for adults is draconian, totalitarian and is hurting people who have an addiction.

              1. Hey now! Restrict and tax some one else’s vice, not mine! 😉

                This may be dubious: “Adults are well aware of the risks of tobacco products and vaping products.”

                I once heard this from a former colleague (a nicotine addict), who was a middle-aged highly educated engineer: “You can’t prove any cancer resulted from someone smoking!”

                (My response was, Do I need to?)

              2. Slow your roll, Mr. Assumptions. I never said get rid of vaporizers. I said get rid of fruity flavored cartridges obviously aimed at kids, just as we did with cigarettes. No, kids are not very aware, and they’re even worse at long-term planning versus instant gratification.

                I’m a huge supporter of methadone clinics, needle exchanges, Subutex/Suboxone, and everything else involved in supporting heroin addicts. I’m against BS like banning trans fat and soda.

                And you have no idea whether or not vaping is actually less harmful than cigarettes over decades of use. None.

              3. TOTALLY! I’m NOT a libertarian but I deeply believe in the peoples’ right to poison themselves any way they want. And I DO! I smoke, I vape, I do other things on occasion and it is MY DAMN BUSINESS!
                I won’t smoke on your plane – don’t tell me what I can do with my own blood chemistry!

              4. In reply to DA-NYC (4-May-21, 11:20pm):

                In general I agree with you. But it’s not simple.

                Society picks up the cost of medical care, one way or another. Smoking is one of the most diagnostic factors for overall health. It wreaks havoc on the body in many ways. (As an internationally-famous pain specialist once put it: “It’s just like smoking meat. In fact it IS smoking meat. It hardens and destroys the soft tissues in your body: Spinal discs, cartilage, the lens in the eye, tendons, ligaments.” (Ignoring for a moment its implications for heart disease and cancer, the #1 and #2 causes of death in the US (both usually long, slow, painful, and expensive ways to go).)

                But, as we can all see, one person’s sin is another’s indulgence or pleasure.

                We can list many examples where society has decided regulation is needed (age restrictions, laws against drunk driving, seat belt laws, motorcycle helmet laws, licensing requirements, banning certain substances, etc., etc.)

                Smoking is just as clear-cut a threat to health as not wearing seat belts. And so is living a sedentary life.

                Where does one draw the line(s)? People will disagree.

                Should we economically penalize people for their (high) BMI? (BMI is a terrible measure of health for individuals.)

                Smoking is still legal, so, for now, society has said it’s OK. But, in my lifetime, it has changed from smokers having the right to impose their smoke on me to their being legally prohibited from doing so, in almost all situations.

            2. Vaping is a nicotine delivery system, a bit like nicotine chewing gum and nicotine patches. It helps quite a few to quit actual smoking.
              Although I’m sure vaping is not healthy, it’s detrimental health effects should be way lower than those of inhaling actual smoke. The lack of CO (carbon monoxide) alone should severely cut down on the cardio-vascular risks.
              Banning vaping would be a BIG mistake from a public health POV.

              1. Banning vaping is a bit different from banning flavored vaping. The former can, as you point out, help smokers quit. The later is intended to attract kids to the product so they can become nicotine addicts.

              2. With the number of lung injuries we’ve had where I live, I question the relative safety of vaping products. I know very little of this; but I hope they are FDA-controlled and I hope they have to have accurate labeling (contents).

                I agree that they can help some people quit smoking. A nicotine patch or gum seems safer though.

              3. As I replied to Roger above: I never said we should ban vaping. I said we should ban flavored vape cartridges (except for tobacco flavor), just as we did with flavored cigarettes, because they’re obviously a way to get kids to use them.

                I’m one of the people who stopped smoking by switching over to vaping. I’ve been trying to quit vaping for several months, but it’s just as difficult to quit. It is NOT like gum or patches. It is inhaled into the lungs, and I can tell you that after six years of vaping I am certainly experiencing multiple issues, including shallower breathing, lower oxygen absorption, and I’ve become much quicker to fatigue and need a break when exercising.

          2. In South Africa these hookah pipes (waterpipes).have become a rage among the young. All kinds of flavors. Because the smoke (smoke, not vapour) is cooled through the water, large amounts can be inhaled at once. I rate them more dangerous than cigarettes or cigars.

    3. The point is that it is easier to start smoking menthol cigarettes because the taste is not as offensive. It is not the menthol itself which is addictive, but it allows the nicotine addiction to happen more easily.

      1. As a former smoker of menthol cigarettes, I would have to disagree. Menthol cigs are stronger tasting, and harder on your lungs than regular cigs. In my humble opinion, it would be much easier for someone trying their first smoke to tolerate non menthol cigarettes.

        I smoked menthols because I grew to enjoy that insult to my lungs.

      2. I smoked between 16 and 21 and started with unfiltered self-rolled heavy stuff, as this was what my peer group smoked. I liked the taste as quickly as I developed the taste for coffee/tea/alcohol after puberty onset, which is practically immediately. Black chocolate, a later addiction of mine, took longer to get used to.
        I just don’t think that menthol is much of a factor. Peer groups are, poverty and stress are.

    4. “As a non smoker who quit many years ago my guess is you are just going to make a lot of people mad. But they will switch to smoking non menthol because it’s the nicotine, stupid.”

      The point is far less about getting current smokers to quit and far more about keeping others from starting. When I started smoking, I started with menthols. Why? because I was young, stupid, and they tasted much better than regular tobacco. I hated regular cigarettes, but I loved cigarettes once someone gave me some menthols! See how that works?

      It’s about reducing the number of new smokers. Yes, it is more addictive because it’s easier to inhale, and thus easier to pick up the habit. There’s a reason other fruit-flavored cigarettes have been banned, and it’s because they’re an easy way to get children to smoke.

      1. This is fascinating to me. Back in the day, my smoker friends would joke about keeping a pack on menthols on hand in case anyone asked to bum a smoke – they’d likely decline once they saw they were menthols. I wonder if it is a regional thing? PNW snobbery could certainly extend to cigarettes.

    5. I believe the concern with menthol cigarettes is that the menthol disguises enough of the harshness of normal cigarettes that people find it easier to start smoking.
      Kind of like bubblegum flavored vape liquid.
      The flavor makes the initial experience pleasant (or at least less unpleasant, for cigarettes); but it’s the nicotine that keeps you coming back.

  4. Of course the true “First Edition” of The Old Man and the Sea was the September,1952 edition of Life Magazine (which I think was Life’s all-time best-seller), and you can pick up a ‘good’ one on eBay for $140.

    1. I enjoying reading books in facsimile form; some were expensive (Pickwick Papers for about $100, but in facsimile of the original Individual chap-book format), and some relatively cheap (First Edition Library and a series of famous detective novels curated by Otto Penzler).

  5. You just GOTTA be familiar with who Mr. Fantastic is–his teammates are The Thing, The Human Torch, and The Invisible Girl (now Woman)….

  6. The Biden administration announced that it will try to ban the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes…

    …What do you think?

    Sounds vaguely like the Biden administration is making the same mistake he made supporting harsher sentences for crack cocaine (vs. other types).

    I get that if a social ill is suffered more by a specific minority, he may want to do a targeted action to help that specific community. But we gotta emphasize the helping aspect and stop with the punitive targeted actions. Want more social support for black communities in which smoking is endemic? I’m all for it. Want to fund an education program? Sounds good. Banning the specific type of tobacco product most used by blacks? No.

    1. Do you think the ban on other flavors of cigarettes is punative? After all, the people who used to smoke them no doubt enjoyed them.

    2. Just my two cents worth – there are plenty of white people who smoke menthol cigs. I smoked them for years. But we always have to make everything a black /white issue don’t we?

        1. Maybe so, marketing is not my thing. But I smoked long time ago and I don’t recall, even in the days when commercials were still legal on television, that menthol cigs were pushed to African Americans. I suspect if you can go back and look at the ads on TV there were very few people of color in them. Salem was one of the early menthol brands. Later others took off. Virginia Slims was the one I landed on and they made both menthol and non menthol. I think they were marketing toward women.

          1. Billboards in Black communities were dominated by menthol cigarette ads for decades. These were, of course, put up by cigarette companies, not smokers.

        2. Perhaps we are putting the cart before the horse here, and tobacco companies market menthol cigarettes to the Black community because that is where the sales are?

          1. Perhaps you don’t understand the difference between marketing and sales. Sales is the response to demand. Marketing is the effort to increase demand.

            1. As a scientific products and pharmaceutical salesman for more than twenty years, I daresay I understand the difference between marketing and sales. You market product where the sales are. There is more than one brand of menthol cigarette.

              Do you think some cigarette marketeer woke up one fine morning and said “Hey – lets market menthol cigarettes to Black people – they will LOVE them!”

              1. The good marketeer understands that you build your customer base. The idea that cigarette companies just try to take share from each other is, at best, rhetorical slight of hand. The tobacco industry has a long and sinister history of denying the hazards of their products and devising ways to build sales among young people. I’m surprised you seem unaware of this.

              2. GBJames

                Perhaps you might want to take advantage of my experience here?

                Marketers regularly get sales reports which help them devise strategies. I used to get huge reams of data monthly, broken down by zip codes, which showed me where all my different products sales and my competition’s sales were going up or down.

                When you have a portfolio of cigarettes to market, and you see that your competitors menthol cigarettes are spiking in certain zips, that is where you will divert extra monies to market your menthol smokes.

                You do not wake up some day and decide that, for some unknown or even nefarious reason, blacks will best succumb to menthol cigs marketing and then you decide to relentlessly market menthols to them until you see sales go up.

      1. The most famous smoker of menthol cigarettes was probably the late former Chancellor of Germany, Helmut Schmidt. Allegedly he had stockpiled cartons and cartons of them for fear that they might be banned. When smoking was still a thing on television (and Schmidt was allowed to smoke when others no longer were), sometimes he would smoke a pack in a one-hour interview. And snort snuff.

        He lived to a ripe old age, but smoking did affect his health: heart attacks, IIRC amputation, loss of hearing. The last particularly interesting because he actually cut a couple of records for Deutsche Grammophon, even more interesting because he had no formal musical education.

    3. At the time when sentences were increased for crack cocaine, black communities and leading black activists were pushing such reforms. You can see videos of many town hall meetings and speeches making impassioned pleas for the change, as there was the hope that this would reduce the sudden ravage of gang violence and addiction caused by the drug. This was not something randomly done by a bunch of white politicians to punish black people; rather, it had enormous support in the black community and was a response to their concerns.

      Furthermore, there is absolutely no way that one can say crack cocaine is just like powdered cocaine, with the only difference being that the former is used by poor people and the latter used by the rich. They impart two very different highs. Crack cocaine is far more addictive and destroys lives much quicker and easier than powdered cocaine. It also brought a wave of gang violence with it that powdered cocaine did not, because of how much more addictive it is.

      1. Supposedly, according to the Chief of Pharmacology at Harvard Med School, both forms of cocaine have identical addiction potential.

        1. They can say what they want, but I’ve seen the difference. I’ve lived in that world. The people I knew who used powdered cocaine are almost all normal people now who quit the drug and party life long ago. The people who used crack were far worse off back then, and I don’t know if any of them are even around anymore now.

          Crack cocaine delivers the substance much more quickly and in on big shot. It’s like the difference between snorting heroin and shooting up. And, similarly, the people I knew who snorted heroin mostly ended up being able to quit, but I don’t know where any of the shooters are now or whether they survived.

        2. Yes and no Roger. The route of admission does effect the dose-response curve between crack and powder (crack is faster leading to a quicker and possibly more irresistible high as the lungs are The Fastest route to the mesolimbic pathway in the brain).

          Both are addictive, for sure though (I don’t take either – too busy studying neurology).


    1. Yes, I’m puzzled whu Biden wants to create a black market of menthol cigarettes. Makes no sense.

  7. Checked out the Meredith Bull TikTok site. She takes short TikTok clips, mostly animal themed ones, many with requests/challenge to turn them into a song. She does a short teaser version, but one became a favorite and transitioned into a commercially available song.

    It was inspired by a disgruntled cat repeatedly banging it’s empty food dish on the floor. The majority of the clips seem to be cats.

  8. I think the tentacled caterpillar is imitating certain swallowtail caterpillars that extrude foul-smelling tentacles when disturrbed.

    1. If I’m not mistaken, caterpillars #1, 2, 5, 6, and 9 have stinging hairs. I must get out my caterpillar book . . .

  9. Imagine! A boat named after a cat!
    Actually it was named after a gull: the common gull or sea mew (Larus canus). Long ago when the world was young I heard that “mew” referred to the sound that a cat makes, but I can find no confirmation for that.

  10. Saying that banning menthol cigarettes will “disproportionately affect” black people and that this is somehow harmful or unfair or “targeting” is like claiming that banning flavored cigarettes and vaporizers will disproportionately affect children negatively and is therefore harmful to children. There has been a call to ban menthol cigarettes for as long as there have been calls to ban other flavored tobacco, as flavored cigarettes are often targeted at children.

    I can’t take this anymore. Apparently just about anything can be spun as unfairly impacting minorities, even when it’s for the sake of their own health. As Robinson notes, these cigarettes are often marketed to black people because most black people who smoke cigarettes end up smoking menthol. How is it a bad thing to stop this marketing and, by extension, stop some young black people from taking up smoking in the future? And perhaps even get those who are already smokers to quit?

    1. That’s where I’m at. If they were favored equitably, they would still be banned. If they were favored by white people, they would still be banned. All the fretting over this is pure theater. A reflexive display of virtue signaling.

    2. Would it not be be smarter to allow flavored vaping products? It is the non nicotine components of tobacco that cause the health problems. Surely it would be more beneficial to the health of smokers to have access to a much less dangerous product in a form factor they prefer.

    3. It’s certainly not a bad thing to stop marketing (of all cigarettes to anyone). Cigarette marketing should not be allowed. One could also ban production of cigarettes generally, though this tends to produce black markets with inferior and even more a hazardous products, as seen with other illegal drugs. Banning a specific type of cigarettes if its taste attracts the very young to smoking ist also okay (fruity flavors). But I don’t quite see the rationale for banning a type of cigarette that happens to be the favoured cigarette type of adult smokers among a certain segment of society.

  11. 1. There will soon be a black market for menthol cigarettes. We should ask Eric Garner’s family about what happens when people smuggle cigarettes.
    2. Flavored vapes are much less dangerous but they have been banned.
    3. It’s a good thing that black people have progressives looking out for their best interests. They are too stupid to be allowed to make their own decisions. (/S obviously.)

    1. Black civil rights organizations have been pushing the FDA to force the industry to cease marketing menthol cigarettes in their communities. It’s a good thing that the tobacco industry has conservatives looking out for their best interests.

  12. Here are some Kent State shooting facts:
    1. Ten of the 13 kids who were shot and the four who were killed by the National Guard were 75 or more yards away from the shooters.
    2. One wounded guy closest to the troops was making an obscene gesture when shot; none was attacking or throwing rocks at the soldiers.
    3. Only two girls were among the 13 victims, but both died.
    4. One of the injured students was paralyzed from the waist down.
    5. All of the victims were students enrolled at Kent State University.
    The official government report on Campus Unrest, including that at Kent State, can be downloaded here:

  13. The Scottish dog reminds me of Hachiko, for whom there is a statue in Shibuya, Tokyo: an Akita dog who waited for his owner to come home from work every day at the station until he didn’t because he was killed in WW2. Hachiko still waited at the station and is celebrated in Japan.

    The menthol cigarette thing reminds me of the disparate sentences between crack and powdered cocaine. Obama helped fix that…to an extent. Crack (which is more popular with black people) sentencing was 100x more severe than white people’s more expensive powdered version.

    Of course…. the thought that the government should dictate (at the point of jail) how we alter our own body and blood chemistry is an utter outrage against liberty —- as I learned as a criminal defense attorney in NYC years ago. A worse failure of justice and government is hard to imagine than our War on Drugs.
    Surely our chemical decisions should be as private as our sexual or reproductive ones – especially since our idiot drug laws work IN REVERSE of the medical harm done by the individual drugs prohibited themselves.

    smoker but non-cocaine/non crack user, attorney

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