Thursday: Hili dialogue and Mietek monologue

May 20, 2021 • 6:30 am

The weekend is fast approahing: it’s Thursday, May 20, 2021: National Quiche Lorraine Day. It’s also Hummus Day, Pick Strawberries Day, Flower Day, International Red Sneakers Day (?), National Apértif Day (make mine a green Chartreuse), National Rescue Dog Day, as well as Josephine Baker Day (an honor from the NAACP), World Bee Day, and World Metrology Day (note that it’s not “Meteorology”; today’s holiday has to do with weights and measures, not weather, as you can see below).

Perhaps you didn’t know that Baker had a pet cheetah named Chiquita that she walked on a leash. See?:

News of the Day:

Four thousand five hundred and twenty-nine. That was yesterday’s death toll from Covid in India, the highest death toll for any single day in any single country during the pandemic. That’s about one person every twenty seconds, and that is surely an underestimate of the toll.

Lock Him Up Department: The office of New York’s attorney general announced that it’s launched a criminal probe into the Trump organization’s business practices, expanding what was previously a civil investigation. This is separate from the Manhattan D.A.’s own criminal probe, which has been going on for four years. Trump, of course, has decried the investigations as “witch hunts,” but will we someday see the Orange Man in an orange jumpsuit? An excerpt:

[Attorney General Letitia James’s]disclosure of a widening investigation is not necessarily an indication that she is planning to bring criminal charges. In New York, if that were to happen, the state attorney general can do so through a county district attorney, like Vance, or with a referral from Gov. Andrew Cuomo or a state agency.

James’ civil investigation and Vance’s criminal probe had overlapped in some areas, including examining whether Trump or his businesses manipulated the value of assets — inflating them in some cases and minimizing them in others — to gain favorable loan terms and tax benefits.

Vance’s investigation also included a look at hush-money payments paid to women on Trump’s behalf and the propriety of tax write-offs the Trump Organization claimed on millions of dollars in consulting fees it paid, including money that went to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.

Here’s the NYT’s “live” section on the Israel/Palestine crisis. Is something missing here?

Here’s an Atlantic science article you’ll want to read. Where did your butthole come from (in an evolutionary sense)? Click on the screenshot to read (h/t Paul):

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 587,499, an increase of about 700 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,432,963, an increase of about 13,000 over yesterday’s total.:

Stuff that happened on May 20 include:

  • 325 – The First Council of Nicaea is formally opened, starting the first ecumenical council of the Christian Church.
  • 1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovers the sea route to India when he arrives at Kozhikode (previously known as Calicut), India.
  • 1570 – Cartographer Abraham Ortelius issues Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas.

Here’s the map from that atlas. Not too bad for 1570, eh? South America is a bit pudgy, but otherwise it’s passable:

  • 1609 – Shakespeare’s sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe.
  • 1873 – Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis receive a U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets. The style hasn’t changed much in 150 years!

Here’s that patent:

How long is a meter? Wikipedia says this:

The metre was originally defined in 1793 as one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole along a great circle, so the Earth’s circumference is approximately 40000 km. In 1799, the metre was redefined in terms of a prototype metre bar (the actual bar used was changed in 1889). In 1960, the metre was redefined in terms of a certain number of wavelengths of a certain emission line of krypton-86. The current definition was adopted in 1983 and modified slightly in 2002 to clarify that the metre is a measure of proper length.

  • 1883 – Krakatoa begins to erupt; the volcano explodes three months later, killing more than 36,000 people.
  • 1891 – History of cinema: The first public display of Thomas Edison’s prototype kinetoscope.
  • 1932 – Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland to begin the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a female pilot, landing in Ireland the next day.

Here’s a video of Earhart leaving Newfoundland in her Lockheed Vega:

Here are suitcases I photographed eight years ago in Auschwitz; they were taken from arrivals, who were promptly gassed. Note the carefully written addresses and Star of David. I recommend everyone visit Auschwitz at least once in their lives. You will never be the same afterwards.

Here’s a YouTube video of the explosion. God lord!

Both Wilson and Penzias received the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery.

  • 1980 – In a referendum in Quebec, the population rejects, by 60% of the vote, a government proposal to move towards independence from Canada.

I wonder if the vote would be close to this today.

And here’s the Wikipedia history of how the kilogram was defined:

The kilogram was originally defined in 1795 as the mass of one litre of water. This definition was simple yet difficult to use in practice. However, even modern, superceding definitions of a kilogram are accurate to within 30 ppm of the mass of one litre of water. In 1799, the platinum Kilogramme des Archives replaced it as the standard of mass. In 1889, a cylinder of platinum-iridium, the International Prototype of the Kilogram (IPK) became the standard of the unit of mass for the metric system, and remained so until 2019. The kilogram was the last of the SI units to be defined by a physical artefact.

The kilogram is now defined in terms of the second and the metre, based on fixed fundamental constants of nature. This allows a properly-equipped metrology laboratory to calibrate a mass measurement instrument such as a Kibble balance as the primary standard to determine an exact kilogram mass, although the IPK and other precision kilogram masses remain in use as secondary standards for all ordinary purposes.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1806 – John Stuart Mill, English economist, civil servant, and philosopher (d. 1873)
  • 1908 – James Stewart, American actor (d. 1997)
  • 1944 – Joe Cocker, English singer-songwriter (d. 2014)

Here’s Cocker’s famous performance “With a Little Help from My Friends” at Woodstock in 1969. Remember when John Belushi imitated him when they were standing next to each other?


  • 1946 – Cher, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress

Cher is 75 today.

  • 1958 – Ron Reagan, American journalist and radio host

Here’s Ron Reagan’s famous ad for the Freedom from Religion Foundation:

Those whose neurons ceased firing on May 20 include:

  • 1506 – Christopher Columbus, Italian explorer, discovered the Americas (b. 1451)
  • 1896 – Clara Schumann, German pianist and composer (b. 1819)
  • 1989 – Gilda Radner, American actress and comedian (b. 1946)

Gilda was fantastic, and it’s terribly sad that she died so young. Here’s her skit of The Judy Miller Show from Saturday Night Live:

  • 2002 – Stephen Jay Gould, American paleontologist, biologist, and academic (b. 1941)
  • 2012 – Robin Gibb, Manx-English singer-songwriter and producer (b. 1949)
  • 2013 – Ray Manzarek, American singer-songwriter, keyboard player, and producer (b. 1939)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Paulina continues to stalk the kitties with her camera:

Hili: I was missing you.
Paulina: Really?
Hili: Yes, nobody took my pictures for 10 minutes.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Brakowało mi ciebie.
Paulina: Naprawdę?
Hili: Tak, od dziesięciu minut nikt mi nie robił zdjęć.

And we have a Mitek monologue, but the statement is cryptic:

Mietek: VIgilance is an attitude.

In Polish: Czujność to podstawa

A meme from Pyers, though I don’t know why physicists fall into the “playing with mice” category.

From Woody. Hisses, anyone? Yes, there are some cat lovers who would pay half a buck for a hiss!

From Nicole:

From Frank, an example of interspecies bonding. Grania would have loved this;

A tweet from Luana. Do we even have a chance against the Russkies?

From Ginger K., a lovely diagram of how the solar system moves about:

Tweets from Matthew, and this one is personal.  Drosophila workers used to get all their fly bottles as used milk bottles, often with dairy emblems on them. They’re no longer used, but I still keep some like this for sentimental reasons.

What a lovely honorary cat!

Yes, goslings are adorable, cute, and sweet, but they grow up into those big aggressive honkers!

One of the many craneflies that mimic wasps. The second tweet shows it flying around the base of a banana tree:

65 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue and Mietek monologue

  1. FFRF – become a lifetime member if you can.

    Maybe they will let Trump run the country from prison.

  2. Here’s the map from that atlas. Not too bad for 1570, eh? South America is a bit pudgy, but otherwise it’s passable:

    Well Australia isn’t so great, but the Europeans didn’t really start exploring it until 35 years later, and Cook didn’t start his explorations and colonization until about 200 years after this map was drawn.

    I used to have a big tapestry of this hanging on my living room wall (ex kept it).

    1. I used to have a big tapestry of this hanging on my living room wall (ex kept it).

      So, a compliment on your taste.

    1. Letitia James has no actual conflict of interest in the Trump matter, as far as I know. So the question is whether any statements she’s made create “an appearance of impropriety” — sometimes referred to as the “Caesar’s wife” test.

      I’m generally aware that James made some statements regarding Trump during her campaign to become NY’s state attorney general, but I don’t recall what they were with any specificity. and Rosenberg doesn’t spell them out in his Lawfare post. Nevertheless, Chuck Rosenberg is nothing if not an experienced prosecutor, and he’s always struck me as a straight-shooter. So I’m loathe to reject his conclusion.

      Counsel for the Trump organization remain free, of course, to litigate this issue. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if Trump prefers to keep a black woman as the face of the the AG’s investigation so he can point at her and claim it’s some sort of vendetta against him.

      1. I don’t know the full story behind Letitia James’s comments but I did see a “hot mic” video where she made it clear that she wanted to pursue Trump. Since she’s not the judge in a Trump case, I really don’t see much of a problem. It’s hard for anyone not to have an opinion about Trump.

        I totally agree that Trump will be ok with her since it supports his “witch hunt” narrative. This is also why some will call for her recusal in order to better convince Trump’s voters and captured politicians to drop him.

        1. All republicans have a big hate for her while most of us consider her a national hero for the work she has done on the NRA.

  3. … will we someday see the Orange Man in an orange jumpsuit?

    I make it better than even money. Matter of fact, for the right price, I’d take a three-Republican parlay bet right now — Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Florida congressman Matt Gaetz all to do time between now and the next presidential election.

    1. That is a pretty easy bet I would say. Gaetz already has one leg in, or is that his mouth.

    2. I am doubtful Trump will be convicted. He’s been a criminal for a long time and knows how to stay ahead of the law. Also there are many people who won’t want to convict a former president for all kinds of reasons. Those other guys are a different story.

      1. Bernie Madoff, Ivan Boesky, and Carlos Ponzi all got away with their scamming for a long time, too. Life’s a bitch when the bill finally comes due.

        This republic has long proclaimed that “no man is above the law.” We’ll see if this principle has teeth.

          1. But that was just one in a long line of scams, some more successful than others.

            Trump’s been working long cons for a longtime now, too. Some of those have gone bust, and he’s had to use his daddy’s money to pay out, or ended up in bankruptcy court. But thus far he’s managed to evade the long arm of the criminal law, although he and his kids came close to taking a fall for fraud at the failed Trump SoHo (which, in typical Trump fashion, wasn’t actually in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood).

  4. “Yes, there are some cat lovers who would pay half a buck for a hiss!” – I wonder if our host paid up the $1 to Matthew’s cat Ollie for that “deft swipe”?

    1. I have been to Dachau. When I had an opportunity to visit again, I declined; the first time was traumatic enough. At this point, I don’t think I could visit Auschwitz either. A day at Dachau is enough holocaust horror for a lifetime.

      1. I’ve been to Dachau as well. Must have been about 1977 or 1978. I’ve never had such a disturbing experience in all the years since then. Everything about it was horribly disturbing, but one gestalt that was most seared into my memory was standing in the oven room. Not just the visual, but the smell. Definitely no need to repeat that experience.

        1. I was there in ‘85. Another factor of horror for me were the moans and outbursts from fellow visitors. And the photos of the experiments. OK, enough remembering.😪

          1. I think I was at Dachau in either 1969 or ‘77, and Mauthausen in 1963 or ‘64. Harrowing experiences.

            1. I wonder if there was any change in the experience between your experiences 20 years before mine. Did the German government continue to spend money in expanding or adding to the concentration camps. I suspect not so much. Which is good, I think. People experience the aftermath similarly from generation to generation.

  5. Re: Russian Army ad:

    I highly recommend reading One Soldier’s War by Arkady Babchenko to see what it’s like inside the Russian Army. Really harrowing. I doubt they are nearly as effective units as the US Army.

    It is the story of Babchenko’s military life during the war in Chechnya.

  6. I despise the cloying music that’s often added to pet videos. Why do people feel the video isn’t good enough to speak for itself?

  7. I despise the cloying music often added to cute animal videos. Why do people do this??? Just let the video speak for itself; stop trying to show off your production skills, it’s not working.

    1. Hmmm, is the site’s edit function not working again?

      I too detest those who put soundtracks onto videos that don’t demand them. I don’t know why people do it. Generally I stopped watching after the first bar or two – does YouTube (etc) still pay people for videos that are only partly watched? Often I don’t even bother to follow the link because the practice is so prevalent and so annoying, which might upset Youtube’s advertising sales department seeing their business model considered so user-repellent.

  8. Contemplating Baker’s calves in the photo (ahem!), I, of a certain age, am reminded of the times I witnessed my mother, aunties, and other women fussing to keep the seams on the back of their stockings straight. You’ve come a long way, baby!

    1. When did those seamless stockings hit the market?

      Josephine Baker was a beautiful woman . In the RSA she would be called a ‘yellow girl’ ‘geelmeissie’ (her biological father was reputed to be white). Nevertheless, I think she might have been instrumental in the ‘black is beautiful’ notion.

  9. Remembering with gratitude the work of Ray Manzarek and especially his eerie, transporting solo in the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm.” I’m getting goosebumps thinking of it now. And the song will surely be my earworm today.

  10. Four thousand five hundred and twenty-nine. That was yesterday’s death toll from Covid in India, the highest death toll for any single day in any single country during the pandemic. That’s about one person every twenty seconds, and that is surely an underestimate of the toll.

    Sadly, I am sure it’s an underestimate. I was listening to an episode of More or Less the other day discussing this exact topic. A lot of people in India are dying without being tested so they don’t make it into the official figures. The estimate of the real impact at the time (about three weeks ago) was more like 17,000 deaths a day. Yes, that is more than the official estimate for the entire world.

    It’s pretty grim.

      1. You could probably get a useful estimate of the death toll by using satellite imagery. All those funeral pyres use around 100kg of wood per body, and fairly rapidly that is going to show up in deforestation – which is likely to be visible to satellites.
        I bet someone is already working on this.

        Only a fairly small, affluent part of the population can afford to have their body taken to the banks of the Ganges.

    1. “Four thousand five hundred and twenty-nine…..It’s pretty grim”

      It certainly is, and I have no wish to whitewash that daily death count, or minimize its significance and horror.

      But again, with these numbers, it seems instructive to point out that the population of India is quite close to 4.5 times that of U.S. And so, on a per capita basis, that is the equivalent of about 1,000 deaths per day in the U.S. And one must again look at the Trump era of Covid, where the average number of deaths per day ranged up to close to 3,500 (just when he finally pissed off to Florida). The average number of deaths per day reached 1,000 on about Nov. 5, 2020 and remained like that till about the end of March, so for about 145 days. Over that whole period, the daily average was much higher than 1,000. There were also two earlier periods, lasting for some weeks each, when the toll stayed above 1,000 per day.

      Discussion of the Mass Murderer President (not all deaths due to his regime, but a large proportion) in this light seems to seldom have occurred, almost never now.

      I am perfectly well aware that the real death toll, still officially well above 500 per day now, despite the Biden regime’s heroic efforts, is actually higher, about 35% higher in 2020 in U.S. Also in India it is probably 2 or 3 times higher than the official counts, though I hope not that much. I doubt it has reached 15,000 in a day, the equivalent of the Trump era’s 3,500.

      But I do get fed up with, in the media and elsewhere, the innumeracy, the ridiculously brief memory spans, and the failure to relate context, so shoot my (figurative) mouth off on this, probably the 4th time here.

  11. That’s a fantastic milk bottle Mathew. And may I assume your grandfather always served his customers while wearing that famous Dagenham smile?

  12. What do you care about weekends Jerry – you are retired! 😁 I have to complain though about the lack of daily duck reports! The Duckfather’s work is not completed 😉

  13. Perhaps you didn’t know that Baker had a pet cheetah named Chiquita that she walked on a leash.

    If only she had lived in Paris at the right time to meet Gérard de Nerval taking Thibault for a walk on his (?) blue silk ribbon. That would have been a photo to see.

    1. I had always thought it was Sartre with the lobster, but I think you’re correct about Nerval.

      1. A beetle, not a lobster—My sense of humor is possibly screwy (no accounting for taste in …..!), but look up ‘Le Blog de J.P. Sartre’ under old New Yorker humor (for us, ‘humour’ isn’t it?).

      2. Again, thank Flanders – I remember going “What?” at his comment “Chap with the lobster” in the preamble for “Je Suis le Tenebreux”. (Or was it the post-amble for “Paris”? I’d have to listen to the recordings again to e sure.)

  14. Regarding the Venn diagram with physicists playing with mice, I found 3 tidbits.

    1) In 2019, a team at Princeton University recorded neurons in the brain of a mouse as it was running in a virtual maze. They applied theoretical physics tools developed for non-living systems to the neural activity data from the mouse brain.
    2) The best-laid plans of MICE and muons did not go awry: Physicists at the International Muon Ionization Cooling Experiment, or MICE, collaboration have achieved their years long goal of quickly sapping energy from muons.
    3) Teaching Physics with a Massive Game of Mouse Trap. Mark Perez and his troupe of performers tour the country, using a life-sized version of the popular game to explain simple machines.

  15. I recommend everyone visit Auschwitz at least once in their lives.

    Not feasible, without some serious fast-tracking of visitors, which wouldn’t work too well for getting people to think.
    – The site can handle around half a million visitors per year (as currently organised);
    – Population is growing at about 80 million a year.
    Not going to happen in the foreseeable future – while the population is above about a billion (which was probably last the case in the 18th century). I doubt you could even get all European residents through the gates without significant fast-tracking.
    The remembrance project needs a different strategy. At the very least, every currently remaining KL would need to be getting the same levels of visiting as Auschwitz.

    1. Reminds me of a quick calculation I made at a (poorly-organized) wedding reception.

      The food line was moving very slowly (and the supplies looked inadequate). There were 300 guests. I timed a couple of them through the line: > 1 minute per person. 300 minutes (5 hours) to feed everyone. We were hungry. We went into town to a restaurant.

      1. Once you start thinking that way, there is no way out.
        Not that you’d necessarily want one.

  16. With regard to the origin of the anus, as deuterostomes (mouth second) the anus in mammals is formed at the point where the gut invaginates and it is the mouth that has to be punched through to complete the tubular gut.

      1. It is not birth, marriage or death, but gastrulation which is truly the most important time in your life..
        Lewis Wolpert, 1986

          1. I guess it would be after fertilization day 🙂 But yes, more presents – or for us older folks, more dining out!!

              1. Thankfully in Colorado, we never actually stopped. We first went to places with outdoor dining, then to places that had limited capacities, and now we are at 75% to full capacity. Had lunch today at a nice brewpub, Kokopelii Beer Company.

              2. Can’t wait till Ontario opens up again. I haven’t eaten in a restaurant in over a year. Fortunately I like to cook.

  17. Today is also the 10th anniversary of the death of Macho Man Randy Savage, one of the greatest and most legendary professional wrestlers. Even those who don’t enjoy wrestling can enjoy his Dadaist promos. Here’s one that shows he was truly the cream of the crop:

  18. You really need to be clutching your b*alls and banging your angry fist on the table which has a Russian flag behind it to appreciate the Russia vs US Army recruit videos. It is PURE TESTOSTERONE!!! if you understand the Russian.

  19. I’ve never been to the Nazi camps but Tuol Sleng in Phnom Pehn in Cambodia is similarly day wrecking and mind altering.

    I’m told there is another – a church – in Rwanda of similar stripe. It is worth nothing Rwanda is the most Catholic country in Africa and many employees of that church were indicted after the genocide.
    Just sayin’.

Leave a Reply