Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 18, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Tuesday, May 18, 2021: National Cheese Souffle Day.  It’s also I Love Reese’s Day (their peanut butter cups are one of America’s finest commercial candies), International Museum DayWorld AIDS Vaccine Day, National Stress Awareness Day, and Dinosaur Day.

In honor of Dinosaur Day, here’s a greeting to Matthew featuring his favorite flavor of dinosaur, a stegosaur:

Posting may be light today as I have errands outside the University.

News of the Day:

According to the NYT, Joe Biden has finally called for a cease-fire in the battle between Israel and the Palestinian Territories. He did this in a phone call to Netanyahu.  I wonder if he also called representatives of Hamas? But never mind; whether a cease-fire works, and it’s badly needed, will depend on each side ceasing to attack the other. In the meantime, Israel continues to target Hamas’s network of underground tunnels.

Have a look at Bret Stephens’s column on the dispute, “If the left got its wish for Israel,” assuming that the agenda of “progressive” Democrats were fulfilled. It’s stuff like this that puts the kibosh on my hopes for a two-state solution:

. . . a Hamas administration in the West Bank wouldn’t take long to duplicate the formula that paid such dividends for it in Gaza: the complete militarization of the territory, putting every Israeli at immediate risk of rocket attack.

In this it would be greatly assisted by Iran, especially if rising oil prices and the potential lifting of economic sanctions as part of a new nuclear deal replenish Tehran’s coffers and its appetite for regional adventures. Jordan, too, would be at risk if a radical Palestinian state turns its sights on a fractious Hashemite regime.

And what about peace? A Hamas government would likely renege on any agreement with a Jewish state that does not honor the “right of return” of the descendants of Palestinian refugees. Anti-Zionist groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace would make the Palestinian case in the United States while the Tucker Carlson wing of the Republican Party would call for sharp restrictions on immigration.

As for Israelis, they would eventually emerge from the morass, at a terrible cost in blood, because they have no other choice. When they did, they could be sure the progressive wing of the Democratic Party would be quick to denounce them for having the temerity to survive.

I vaguely recalled that Peter Yarrow, of the famed folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary, had been convicted of child molestation, but didn’t know that President Jimmy Carter, of all people, surreptitiously pardoned Yarrow, who served only a few months in jail, for molesting a 14 year old girl. According to the Washington Post, thia was “perhaps the only [pardon] in U.S. history wiping away a conviction for a sexual offense against a child. (Yarrow, now 83, is still alive.) Now another putative victim appeared just a few months ago.

A tiger that had  been missing in Houston for a week was finally found and given a good home at a sanctuary. From the video below it appears to be a young cat, and was illegally owned (or taken care of) from a city resident who has been arrested.

According to the BBC, a croquet match has decided how a river’s name should be pronounced. The River Nene flows through both Northamptonshire, where it’s called the “Nen”,  Cambridgeshire, where it’s pronounced “Neen”. Northampton won a croquet match, and so both areas have to call the river the “Nen.” (h/t: Jez)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 585,897, an increase of 613 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,405,658, an increase of about 11,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 18 include:

  • 1096 – First Crusade: Around 800 Jews are massacred in Worms, Germany
  • 1756 – The Seven Years’ War begins when Great Britain declares war on France.
  • 1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte is proclaimed Emperor of the French by the French Senate.
  • 1860 – Abraham Lincoln wins the Republican Party presidential nomination over William H. Seward, who later becomes the United States Secretary of State.

Here’s a photo taken of Lincoln in 1860 which, coincidentally, happens to have been snapped by Matthew Brady, born on this day in 1822 (see below):

Sadly, no photos exist of Homer Plessy, an “octaroon” (one eighth-black) who, as the Rosa Parks of his day, boarded a whites-only train car and was expelled. The case went up to the Supreme Court, where Plessy lost.

There are arguments about whether this was really the first full-length Indian film (the cameraman was British and the film processed in London), but you can judge. There are no videos I could find, but here’s a poster for the movie at the time it came out (May 25, 1912 in the Times of India):

Ah, Sister Aimee. If you don’t know about her and her phony disappearance, as well as her many followers, read at least the Wikipedia bio. Here she is in full splendor at her L.A. temple:

Here’s Cochran in her F86, talking to her pal Chuck Yeager, who also broke the sound barrier, but bearing a penis:

Jackie Cochran in the cockpit of the Canadair F-86 with Chuck Yeager. (Photo courtesy Air Force Flight Test Center History Office)

Here’s a photo of the eruption taken at 8:32 a.m. on that day:

  • 1994 – Israeli troops finish withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, ceding the area to the Palestinian National Authority to govern.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1048 – Omar Khayyám, Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet (d. 1131)
  • 1822 – Mathew Brady, American photographer and journalist (d. 1896)

Here’s another Brady photo, and you surely recognize the subject:

Here’s Russell at Trinity College in 1893:

  • 1912 – Perry Como, American singer and television host (d. 2001)
  • 1944 – W. G. Sebald, German novelist, essayist, and poet (d. 2001)

Those who crossed the Great Divide on May 18 include:

  • 1909 – George Meredith, English novelist and poet (b. 1828)
  • 1911 – Gustav Mahler, Austrian composer and conductor (b. 1860)

Here’s Mahler’s grave in the Ginzing Cemetery in Vienna:

  • 1995 – Elizabeth Montgomery, American actress (b. 1933)
  • 2015 – Raymond Gosling, English physicist and academic (b. 1926)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are having an unpleasant chinwag (they are getting along much better now, though):

Szaron: Did you hear that the starlings have chicks already?
Hili: Yes, but all the nests are inaccessible.
(Photo Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Szaron: Słyszałaś, że szpaki mają już pisklęta?
Hili: Tak, ale wszystkie gniazda są niedostępne.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

From Facebook:

From reader John, some great advice:

From Jesus of the Day: I think this Scout has a case for defamation:

Stephen Fry is going to be on “The Simpsons”:

From reader Barry, who says, “This cat is too weird for me. I don’t think I would enjoy its company. It’s too high-strung.”  I disagree; I love this cat!

Tweets from Matthew. This one will warm your heart.

A 20-shilling ticket to see Dylan (and boo him if you were so inclined):

What a fantastic creature!

Just a worn-out chair:

If squirrels were religious, their god would be an enormous acorn, existing outside of space and time.

What’s the problem with this cat?

47 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Pretty sure the cat v horse video has been here before…??

    Who is the southern gentleman in the second Brady photo? A general I suppose?

    If you have not read WG Sebald, do. Matthew waxes lyrical about him. He was a fine writer & lived in Norfolk, teaching at theUEA.

    1. What? I only see one Brady photo, albeit labelled “Here’s another…”

      and it’s Ulysses S Grant – not a “southern gentleman”.


      ETA OK, I see it now – the first one is a portrait of Lincoln.

      1. and it’s Ulysses S Grant – not a “southern gentleman”.

        I thought it was most likely “Genocide” Custer, seeing as how he was studiously not using the chair. Not a “Yankee gentleman”.

  2. Re International Museum Day, in the UK the Science Museum Group (which includes the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, and the National Railway Museum in York, amongst others) has been busy putting up digitised images of its collections, many of which have never been seen, even by the staff since it was a largely automated process. They have launched a new web tool called Never Been Seen – visitors to the website are shown a heavily pixellated image of one of the unviewed items and invited to be the first to see it or else choose another unviewed exhibit. Once you click on the blurred picture you get to see the clear image and some information about the exhibit, which is then removed from the “Never Been Seen” list. The link is here: https://thesciencemuseum.github.io/never-been-seen/index.html

    1. They also have an occasional “WTF?” moment as they find things in the back corners of store rooms with “inadequate curation information” – typically nothing at all.
      Oh, hang on – that’s a github link. I rather doubt that’s a finished, released project – more a work in progress. Expect rough edges and pslinters.

  3. I really appreciate the daily Covid mortality updates on this site where we are seeing that U.S. deaths from Covid-19 seem to be continuing apace at about 600 or so a day; this works out to about 220,000 a year…a number which when raised a bit over a year ago totally shocked people by its size. So though I am fully vaccinated since early March, i think that I will wait for a factor of ten decrease in daily death rate before throwing all mask and distancing cautions to the wind. Sixty deaths a day, a factor of ten decrease, means about 22,000 a year which is on the order of a moderate flu season which I believe to be a decent metric. All of my family including children and grandchildren are fully vaccinated and we gather both outdoors and indoors for play and meals, but I will continue to use caution in my excursions to the market, the bookstore, and dining establishments. There is still a lot of virus out there both in the global reservoir and in the U.S.

      1. Yes jeremy, me too, but we are steadily reducing the number of susceptibles through vaccination. So eventually death rate has to break. Maybe a similar number of unvaccinated people to those getting vaccinated are throwing caution to the wind and increasingly ignoring public health measures. I have not looked at new case rate trends.

          1. A note of (possible) comfort. The case counts fell to about 70,000 per day on Feb 20th from a peak of 250,000 in early Jan. They then plateaued until April 15th (73,000), but have since come down steadily. to around 32,000. Deaths hit a peak in late Jan, came down to this plateau (actually a slow drop) at 775 by April 10th and now into the 600s. I think we are just seeing the deaths as a lagging indicator of the plateau in cases and this should start to drop soon. Certainly I hope so!

          2. People tend to focus on the rapid rises of exponential curves, but miss the long tail of a slow build up. Exponential decays are, unsurprisingly, symmetrical.
            Plus, the data is noisy. And incomplete.

            1. Deaths usually lag cases by two or three weeks. I didn’t know that the US had a long plateau of cases (see Simon’s comment) so that’s probably the explanation for the death figure not moving much. If we are both correct, deaths should start declining again soon.

              1. I didn’t know that the US had a long plateau of cases

                Given how the previous administration tried to destroy case reporting, and how long it takes to repair such systems, that’s something I’d file under “data … incomplete”.

    1. The NYT reports 385 new deaths for May 17th. It reports a 14 day average of 613 (NOT the number of new deaths for the day), which is a 12% drop. I believe this to be a moving average. The number of new cases is down 35% for a 14 day average. Although there are hot spots throughout the country, the overall trend is very good

      1. And there is still a good number of folks getting first doses. Anecdotally, my wife is a retired nurse who has been giving vaccines since march four mornings a week. Her office, a small operation with three nurses giving jabs did 129 shots this morning…mostly first doses and included several 12-16 year olds. We should be on the shoulder of the logistic curve and as gravelinspector points out, things will be less startling than the earlier meteoric rise. And the seven-day rolling average process smooths out daily noise. But i still want numbers that are closer to a normal flu season before i change my public health habits acquired over the past year.

  4. Could the F-86 make it to mach 1? Some think only going down hill. The next Air Force jet, the F-100 is generally considered the first mach 1 jet. I think even the F-100 needed to be stripped down, maybe no external drop tanks but the F-100 had afterburner and the F-86 did not.

    1. Could the F-86 make it to mach 1?

      Not in level flight or so I thought. The aircraft she broke the sound barrier in was a one off prototype built by Canadair to test a new jet engine which had a lot more power than the standard F86 power plant..

    2. There were quite a few variants of the F-86, some of which did have an afterburner. The engines in the D and H models had afterburners.

      But you are right, it was not readily capable of supersonic speeds. A commonly listed top speed is Mach 1.02, which is no doubt stripped and under ideal conditions. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Cochrane’s F-86 was modified in some way. At the least it was specifically set up for top speed.

      An interesting exception was the F-86F(R) that was fitted with a supplemental Rocketdyne liquid fueled rocket engine. Listed top speed was Mach 1.22.

      1. I’m surprised they did so much additional tinkering with this airplane. I guess jet engine technology was advancing and did so for several years. The problem with the F-100 was with the engine. Kind of under powered and needed the afterburner to get off the ground. One of the names for the 100 was lead sledge. Compressor stalls was another important problem with the J-57 engine.

  5. “What’s the problem with this cat?”
    – it’s called ‘being a cat’, and I can’t stand the damn things

      1. He was probably herded here by cats. We all know that the “as impossible as herding cats” thing is pure misdirection to cover up their cooperative hunting behaviour. Damned lions, messing it up for the rest of the Felidae.

      2. “Calm down. I think you entered the wrong building.”
        – typing words doesn’t require me to be something other than calm

      1. “Those who don’t like cats come back in their next life as mice.”
        – tin foil hat alert

          1. Ok, the relevant rules are ‘don’t insult the host’ & ‘don’t diss moggies’ (the latter appearing at all is humourous, had no idea that was there !), Which applied to this context is coming across as ‘don’t say anything you don’t approve of’. Ok, I won’t, and really, I had no idea that cat rule was there !

  6. “A 20-shilling ticket to see Dylan (and boo him if you were so inclined):” – I remember the pre-decimal coins and notes, but have no idea why the ticket is priced at 20/ since twenty shillings were equivalent to £1.

    They just played the “Judas” moment from the Manchester gig in a new Dylan documentary on Radio 4 to mark Bob’s 80th birthday. I’m never sure how accessible these things are outside the UK, but the link to the series is here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000w331

  7. I was a fan Peter Yarrow and PP&M, starting when I was a little older than his first accuser. (My experiences being alone with him, completely above board.) Ended up knowing him well enough to visit backstage whenever he was in Chicago. He once briefly addressed the first accusation in a post-concert Q&A saying it was a “frame.” I don’t know if that’s true, but I do believe there was more to the story.

    Years later, probably after the last time I met him, a woman at some unrelated non-profit event, completely out of the blue told me she was married to him. I thought that highly unlikely, as he was recently married to Gene McCarthy’s daughter. (Of all the “celebrities” in the world, and she mentions one I knew?) So I offered her a ride home, hoping to find out more. Why she picked him or why she felt the need to tell me. Told me all about him on the way, and it was quite clear that her story had no basis in any reality. And now, another accuser comes forward 50 years later? I am skeptical.

    But why should it be a surprise for Carter to pardon him? (Especially when there may have been more to the story?) Unlike our other “religious” presidents, Carter really believes in forgiveness and redemption.

    1. Unlike our other “religious” presidents, Carter really believes in forgiveness and redemption.

      And Trump couldn’t get a really big bonfire organised?
      Oh, obviously. “Trump” and “organised”. In the same sentence. Wrong universe.

      1. Trump doesn’t have to organize anything; he has people for that. And Trump combined with anything is the wrong universe, IMO.

    2. Oh my, on Peter Yarrow, does that now mean the magic dragon went poof? Or do we continue to love the art, whatever the artist?

      A dragon lives forever, but not so girls and boys.

  8. I don’t agree with Tom Cotton on almost anything, but he hit the nail on the head: “If Hamas puts down its weapons, there would be peace. If Israel puts down its weapons, there would be no Israel.”

  9. his favorite flavor of dinosaur, a stegosaur:

    Somewhat like tough chicken, I bet. Maybe “overgrown ostrich” would be a valid comparison,

  10. Northampton won a croquet match, and so both areas have to call the river the “Nen.”

    Those of us drug up proper-like didn’t need a match to know the correct result. I’ve seen original maps from the Queen Anne era with the correct, phonetic speelung of “Nen”. (OK, prints made in the era, not the original copper plates – they were probably re-used within months of the print run finishing.)
    We always suspected those people living down the river at Cambridge. Then again, we knew where our cess pits overflowed and where they drew their water. And they thought they discovered gravity.

  11. 2015 – Raymond Gosling, English physicist and academic (b. 1926)

    My memory is linking him to the Watson-Crick-Fleming discovery of the structure of DNA … Ah yes, thought so.

    In May 1952, Raymond Gosling, a graduate student working under the supervision of Rosalind Franklin, took an X-ray diffraction image, labeled as “Photo 51”,[194] at high hydration levels of DNA.

  12. I miss eating Reese’s but like most candy and cookies and other sweet stuff they switched to using palm oil and for some reason, the taste of rampant deforestation doesn’t taste too good to me. And no, I won’t buy their b.s. line about “sustainable palm oil”, which I suppose means the rainforests were cut down already so it’s ok to use. I’d much rather live in a world without peanut butter cups than one without orangutans or proboscis monkeys. Too bad nobody seems to give a damn anymore.

  13. To connect two apparently disparate elements in this post: In Blackadder the Third Stephen Fry, playing the Duke of Wellington, himself replaced his line “the king is mad” with “the king grows increasingly eccentric, and believes himself to be a small village in Lincolnshire, commanding spectacular views of the Nene Valley”. If memory serves, he pronounced it “”Neene”, and he’s right about everything (except the monarchy).

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