Friday: Hili dialogue

May 28, 2021 • 6:30 am

The Memorial Day weekend officially kicks off today, May 28, 2021, with Monday being an official holiday in the U.S. And hooray—it’s National Brisket Day, which must be celebrated in Texas with a BBQ brisket. It’s also International Hamburger Day, Amnesty International Day (see below), Menstrual Hygiene Day, and National Heat Awareness Day. 

Wine of the Day (below): This puppy probably cost me a bit south of $20, and Vacqueyras is not a wine I often drink outside of France, where it’s relatively inexpensive in restaurants. (I don’t buy expensive wine in French restaurants.) As it was highly rated by my erstwhile go-to critic, Robert Parker and others, I was eager to try it, and had it with a chicken breast, steamed rice, and fresh tomatoes drizzled with olive oil.

It’ a blend of 80% Grenache with 20% Syrah, made from vines 80-100 years old, with the juice aged for two years in concrete tanks. The wine smelled strongly of cherries, and, as the reviews note, is redolent of ripe fruit. It’s not a particularly gutsy wine, so I wouldn’t have it with steak, but it’s a great accompaniment for anything that calls for a racy and elegant red. Verdict: worth the money.

News of the Day:

The New York Times reports that, slowly but surely, the Taliban is taking over Afghanistan as U.S. troops pull out. Rural outposts of the Afghan military are surrendering, and provincial capitals are surrounded. Afghanistan will not be a good place to live for a very long time.

The Detroit Metro Times reports the rectification of a very shoddy conviction: Gilbert Lee Poole, Jr.  spent 32 years in prison for murder based on a supposed match between tooth marks on the victim and Poole’s teeth. It turns out that tooth-mark matching is pretty lousy at identifying criminals. It was DNA evidence from blood at the crime scne that exonerated Poole. How do you give a man 32 years of his life back?  (h/t: Ken)

Yesterday’s HuffPost Personal section had an especially interesting article about stuff you really need to know. Click on the screenshot. (Note: TMI!)

Wanna buy a whole town? Nipton, California, population 25 and 80 acres in size, is for sale for $2,750,000. I don’t know who would want that ragtag collection of trailer parks, general stores and The Hotel California, all in the middle of nowhere, sitting right on the border with Nevada. What would you do with such a town? However, the Wikipedia entry for Nipton is interesting.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 592,938, an increase of about 496 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,526,317, an increase of about 12,700 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 28 includes:

  • 585 BC – A solar eclipse occurs, as predicted by the Greek philosopher and scientist Thales, while Alyattes is battling Cyaxares in the Battle of Halys, leading to a truce. This is one of the cardinal dates from which other dates can be calculated.

This story may be true, but nobody has any idea how Thales predicted the eclipse.

  • 1533 – The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, declares the marriage of King Henry VIII of England to Anne Boleyn valid.
  • 1588 – The Spanish Armada, with 130 ships and 30,000 men, sets sail from Lisbon, Portugal, heading for the English Channel. (It will take until May 30 for all ships to leave port.)
  • 1830 – U.S. President Andrew Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act which denies Native Americans their land rights and forcibly relocates them.
  • 1892 – In San FranciscoJohn Muir organizes the Sierra Club.

Here’s Muir with Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. The Scottish conservationist lived in Yosemite Valley for two years.

They were identical quintuplets, and two of them are still alive. Here’s a video from when they were young:

  • 1936 – Alan Turing submits On Computable Numbers for publication.
  • 1937 – Volkswagen, the German automobile manufacturer is founded.

A prototype from 1935. Comissioned by Adolf Hitler, this was the best-selling car in history:

  • 1948 – Daniel François Malan is elected as Prime Minister of South Africa. He later goes on to implement Apartheid.
  • 1987 – A West German pilot, Mathias Rust, who was 18 years old, evades Soviet Union air defences and lands a private plane in the Red Square in Moscow, Russia.

Here’s a tweet about that with video:

Here’s the restored version, and though I lived in Milan for over a month, the work was under restoration when I visited:

  • 2002 – The last steel girder is removed from the original World Trade Center site. Cleanup duties officially end with closing ceremonies at Ground Zero in Manhattan, New York City.

Notables born on this day include:

Agassiz, who worked at Harvard (ironically, its Museum of Comparative Zoology is named after him) was a staunch opponent of Darwin, a creationist who never gave in. Here’s a portrait:

  • 1888 – Jim Thorpe, American decathlete, football player, and coach (d. 1953)
  • 1908 – Ian Fleming, English journalist and author, created James Bond (d. 1964)

Here’s a short video interview and biography of Ian Fleming, who explains the origin of the name “James Bond”:

  • 1912 – Patrick White, Australian novelist, poet, and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1990)
  • 1944 – Rudy Giuliani, American lawyer and politician, 107th mayor of New York City
  • 1945 – Patch Adams, American physician and author, founded the Gesundheit! Institute
  • 1947 – Leland Sklar, American singer-songwriter and bass player
  • 1968 – Kylie Minogue, Australian singer-songwriter, producer, and actress
  • 1985 – Carey Mulligan, English actress and singer

I first saw Carey Mulligan in the 2009 movie “An Education,” in which she was stunning. She went on to star in one of my favorite recent movies (2010), “Never Let Me Go,” based on the eponymous Ishiguro movie. I love both the movie and the book, though others don’t appreciate them as much as I do.  Here’s the trailer for the movie.

Those who ascended to their cloud on May 28 include:

  • 1843 – Noah Webster, American lexicographer (b. 1758)
  • 1849 – Anne Brontë, English novelist and poet (b. 1820)
  • 1971 – Audie Murphy, American soldier and actor, Medal of Honor recipient (b. 1925)
  • 2014 – Maya Angelou, American memoirist and poet (b. 1928)

Angelou getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama in 2011:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata explains, “One often hears that the world is developing/moving forward. But Hili is happy for the moment so she decided to stand still where she is.”

Hili: The world goes forward.
Paulina: And you?
Hili: I’m standing still for the moment.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Świat idzie do przodu.
Paulina: A ty?
Hili: A ja chwilowo stoję.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

From Bruce. I cannot guarantee this is a real screenshot of a t.v. report:

A meme from Nicole. I believe the emblem has something to do with the cars lighting.

From Fat Cat Art:

I get included in an anti-Semitic list of Jewish atheists trying to cash in on the Godless Book Market!

From Titania: The Spanish postal service goes woke, but in a curious way: making the darkest stamp the least valuable. Titania has a wry take on this, but there’s a real fracas going on in Spain about it, as described in The Washington Post.

From Simon: Rechavi’s usual academic take on nonacademic matters, in this case parkour. Simon asks, “I wonder how much blood we are not seeing?

Tweets from Matthew. First, jumping spiders become Honorary Cats:

An earlier livestream of a cat giving birth; you can rewind the link to see the action:

Matthew doesn’t understand this, but then I don’t understand cricket. What crappy defense: the first baseman should have had his foot on the  bag for the throw from third, and then someone should have covered first base when the first baseman tried to chase down the runner.

Oy! They’re turning Down House (Darwin’s home), once a fantastic and understated place to visit, into a theme park. NO!

Vulgar slang from the 18th century. I like “dog booby”.

58 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Don’t worry about Down House. We visited two days ago and it’s fine. Part of one of the upstairs rooms (about 10ft square) has been made to look like Darwin’s cabin on the Beagle (from the sketches of one of his shipmates). There’s an unobtrusive soundtrack of creaking timbers, seabirds and waves. There’s also a hologram of a man looking a bit like Darwin doing various things. Not theme-park material at all.

    Most of the exhibition space is devoted to explaining the ‘Origin’, its background and its reception, with due credit given to Wallace. The whole of Down House and its gardens is still a fascinating and moving place to visit. I would strongly recommend it to anybody, including visitors to the UK, once we are allowed to welcome you all back.

    1. Thank you. We loved visiting Down House in 2015 (one of my UK cousins lives in Westerham, a very short distance away).

      I fully second your recommendation to visit. We loved it; and walking the Sandwalk was like touching the past.

      1. We lived in a neighbouring village called Knockholt in the 80s, and hadn’t visited Down House since. It’s even better than I remember it from those days.

    2. I would be all for a reproduction of the Beagle, kitted out like it would have been in Darwin’s time, including any scientific gear and books he might have had. Surely there’s a coastal town in England where that could be placed , with real waves and seagulls and no weird holograms.

  2. Re: Brisket day…I made a brisket yesterday! Only turned out average though – the online recipe I used probably had too much paprika in the rub. The meat turned out flavorful and tender, but it’s hotter than what I was going for.

    Re: Jewish atheist writers. I have to say, you’re keeping some great company there!

  3. The slang dictionary reminded me that Cambridge University Press have just published a new Ancient Greek lexicon. According to The Guardian

    Victorian attempts to veil the meanings of crude ancient Greek words are set to be brushed away by a new dictionary 23 years in the making. It is the first to take a fresh look at the language in almost 200 years and promises to “spare no blushes” for today’s classics students.

  4. I first saw Carey Mulligan in the 2009 movie “An Education,” in which she was stunning. She went on to star in one of my favorite recent movies (2010), “Never Let Me Go,” based on the eponymous Ishiguro movie. I love both the movie and the book, though others don’t appreciate them as much as I do.

    I think you meant the eponymous Ishiguro novel.

    I’m one of the people who didn’t appreciate the film. The performances were outstanding but the story was thoroughly depressing. It didn’t help that the film’s premise was too incredible for me to suspend my disbelief. In fact I found myself getting angry at the author for having the temerity to think that such a dystopian view of Britain in the 90’s was even possible.

  5. 2002 – The last steel girder is removed from the original World Trade Center site. Cleanup duties officially end with closing ceremonies at Ground Zero in Manhattan, New York City.

    One of my favorites among the so-called “new New Journalists,” William Langewiesche, wrote a book about the dismantling of Ground Zero, American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center. The Atlantic published three long excerpts from the book. They can be accessed starting here.

      1. Highly. Read the first of the three free excerpts I linked to at The Atlantic. Bet you won’t be able to stop at just one! 🙂

  6. Wine of the Day: Interestingly, Domaine La Garrigue in Vacqueras, Vaucluse (adjacent to Gigondas, Baumes de Venise, Sablet, and Seguret) is our go-to winery for buying (superb) Provencal wines en vrac (from the tank).

    Cheers! I wish I could raise a glass of La Garrigue tonight! I LOVE grenache-based wines.

    Their vineyards are all over the Vacqueyras and Gigondas AOCs.

    Here are some views of and from the place:

    Mostly head-trained vines on the valley floor:

    1. I see this wine is imported by Eric Solomon. Eric Solomon is also a very reliable importer of French wines. Buy his wines with confidence.

      Robert Kacher used to be my 2nd importer to Kermit Lynch; but he retired a while ago.

      I can highly recommend reading Kermit Lynch’s memoir: Adventures on the Wine Route, about his times and travails buying French wines for import to the USA.

  7. At risk of dominating the thread, I will comment on John Muir.

    I have read all of Muir’s books, in my 20s, and loved them. Particularly, My First Summer in the Sierra. He was certainly one of my heroes in my youth.

    I recently had a go at re-reading his A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf. I didn’t finish it; though I will do so later. The racist language really was hard to take. More evidence that our sensitivities change over time (for the better in this case).

  8. All the first baseman had to do was turn around and touch first base. The guy was running back to home plate? What was he thinking….

    Afghanistan will not be a good place to live much longer? Okay, I’ll book a flight right away.

  9. That play was awesome. How was it scored? I see at least two errors. Did the batter get a hit or an error?

    1. The batter, Baez, was safe at first by a fielder’s choice. He reached second on a throwing error by the catcher. No error for the first baseman. My favorite part of the video is Anthony Rizzo literally doubled over from laughter in the dugout. One commenter said he was placed on the 10-day disabled list because of abdominal strain from laughing so hard.

  10. 1985 – Carey Mulligan, English actress and singer

    Ms. Mulligan costarred in the disturbing 2011 film by the Academy-Award winning director Steve McQueen, Shame, as the psychologically damaged sister of Michael Fassbender’s psychologically damaged main character. In it, she takes a nightclub stage to perform a very slowed down, bluesy version of the tune most closely associated with Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli, New York, New York:

    1. Man, that was an incredible movie. Not only shows how sex addiction can be real, but does perhaps the best job ever at conveying the shame about and hiding of mental illness really feels. Steve McQueen’s direction and Michael Fassbender’s acting really make the movie.

      I love Mulligan in Drive, but then I love everything about Drive. One of my favorites.

      1. I think Shame is an incredible movie, too. I’ve watched it a couple times, but I have to psyche myself up to do so. It’ll never be one of those movies — like, say, Goodfellas or Lebowski or Pulp Fiction — that, when you run into it on a cable channel, feels like an old buddy you want to spend some time with.

        Mulligan’s been great in any number of films, including Inside Llewyn Davis, another flick where she gets to show off her pipes.

    2. I saw Mulligan recently in The Dig, a fictionalized story about the sutton Hoo excavation. Not a great movie but definitely worth seeing.

  11. “It turns out that tooth-mark matching is pretty lousy at identifying criminals. It was DNA evidence from blood at the crime scne that exonerated Poole. How do you give a man 32 years of his life back?”

    It infuriates me so much when I see shows and movies pretend that this horseshit is a viable form of evidence, on par with DNA. We need to bring courts into the modern age. Woo like this, which has been studied and shown to be ineffective over and over, needs to be stricken from the list of reliable evidence. For example, also need to take eyewitness accounts a lot less seriously. The studies on the mistakes in eyewitness testimony will stun people who haven’t read them. Eyewitness testimony is sometimes less reliable that a freaking coin flip.

    1. Eyewitness identification between strangers, especially across racial or ethnic lines, and even more especially when it involves a brief, stress-inducing situation, is notoriously unreliable — an unreliability aggravated by the suggestive identification techniques employed by some law-enforcement agencies. Elizabeth Loftus, who was the subject of a post a while back by our host regarding recovered memories, has done pioneering work examining its fallibility.

      1. Yes, I was thinking of that post when I wrote the post above, though I’ve been aware of the issue for many years. The number of studies demonstrating the often horrifyingly deleterious effects of using eyewitness testimony as critical evidence is quite significant.

        And yes, I do not think I’ll be sitting down and viewing Shame again any time soon. It’s not exactly an easy watch 🙂

    2. Yeah, it seems that people’s teeth are mostly just not unique enough to serve as a point of individual difference. And I always thought that any bite marks on human bodies would be affected by bruising, and so difficult to define accurately anyway.

  12. “I don’t know who would want that ragtag collection of trailer parks, general stores and The Hotel California, all in the middle of nowhere, sitting right on the border with Nevada. What would you do with such a town?”

    You would drive out the original occupants with good offers (and by more nefarious means if necessary) and then hijack two nuclear missiles, launching them to hit the San Andreas fault and sink California into the Pacific, creating a new West Coast that you would own!!

    Bwa-ha-ha-haa! Only Superman could possibly stop you!

    1. Buying the town? Nope, especially not after the Legion incinerated it (and mayor Steyn), leaving Boxcars as the sole survivor in the town (Swanick boogied). Lots of unfriendly mongrels left in the town hall, though. To be fair, it was a fun place to visit.

  13. Re Carey Mulligan; I first encountered her in one of the very best Dr. Who episodes (I am a Dr. Who fan) entitled “Blink.” Worth a watch. Also a note re Kylie Minogue; she was also in a good Dr. Who episode entitled “Voyage Of The Damned.”

    1. You took the words right out of my…keyboard. I’ve only recently started watching Dr. Who, and that was definitely one of the best I’ve seen so far. She was great, as was everyone else in the show, and the writing of that episode was very clever. It was almost a Dr. Who meets The X-Files.

    2. Oh, and I think that’s Andrew Garfield in the preview video a couple of seats over from her, and he was also in two Dr. Who episode, “Daleks in Manhattan” and “Evolution of the Daleks”. He does a pretty good Tennessee accent.

      1. Agassiz’s reaction on encountering Black servants in a Philadelphia hotel (from a Harvard Crimson article):

        Agassiz had never seen an Black person at home in Switzerland. During his stay in Philadelphia, he noticed that all the servants at his hotel were Black men. When he looked at them, he saw a “degraded and degenerate race.” Entrenched in the Western ideals of his home country, he experienced great horror and disgust. “It is impossible for me to repress the feeling that they [the men] are not of the same blood as us,” he confessed to his mother. “In seeing their black faces with their thick lips and grimacing teeth, the wool on their head, their bent knees, their elongated hands, their large curved nails, and especially the livid color of the palms of their hands, I could not take my eyes off their face in order to tell them to stay away.”

      2. Louis Agassiz, despite being an abolitionist, was profoundly racist. He believed and taught that the races of man were separate species created by Divine will, with each best adapted to the geographic region and climate that it originally inhabited. For Agassiz race mixing was degrading, unhealthy, and a sin. Agassiz, along with Nott, Gliddon, Morton & Co., was a scientific racist and held, on supposedly scientific grounds, that the several human species were scaled, with white Europeans at the top and dark-skinned people Africa at the bottom. On the zoological side, his origins theory taught that geographic varieties of animals, what we call sub-species, were in fact separate god-created species. For this Agassiz was known as a “splitter”: Anything that looked different was “split off” as a separate biological species.

        Abraham Lincoln apparently thought highly of Agassiz and had him for a visit at the White House in early 1865. Afterwards, when Lincoln was asked why he didn’t engage Agassiz in deeper conversation, Abe replied that there was no need, for everyone knew Agassiz’ scientific teachings. [Lincoln likely read “Types of Mankind,” to which Agassiz had contributed, in the years between 1855 and 1860.] In 1863, when congress was creating the National Academy of Sciences, Agassiz participated as one of the principal organizers and afterwards was numbered among the 50 charter members.

    1. I visited Louis’s grave last time I was in Cambridge Mass.
      My favorite animal in the world was named for him (Gopherus agassizii)

  14. The Pirates play was dumber than you think. There were two outs! There was no need to worry about the runner. If the first baseman steps on the bag the inning is over!! The runner is completely irrelevant. Stupidest play in baseball history.

  15. So, whilst chimping merry, and thoroughly betwattled by balderdash, I kicked the Duke of Limbs square in the tallywags, knocked the head rails out of his jolly nob, then hopped the twig like the dicked-in-the-nob dog booby that I am! Huzzah!

  16. I can recommend Kitten Academy to all ailurophiles. It’s run by a couple in Connecticut. They take in pregnant cats from animal shelters, and foster the kittens until they are old enough to be adopted. The newest momcat gave birth to five healthy kittens yesterday. Alas, the live stream can only be rewound 12 hours, so you won’t be able to go back to see the birth by now. But if you do tune in, you’ll see the previous class of seven ginger kittens (now about 9 weeks old) and their mother as well as the newest class.

  17. “I don’t know who would want that ragtag collection of trailer parks, general stores and The Hotel California, all in the middle of nowhere, sitting right on the border with Nevada.” – sounds like a real-life Schitt’s Creek in the offing?

    1. …as is explicit in the headline of the WSJ article linked (cool drone footage btw).

      I know Nipton very well. I have been stopping there for 35 years, first because it was the closest payphone to my field site in the southern Ivanpah Valley, then for the cold drinks from the store, then for the unique lodging. Celebrated my 60th birthday there by renting the entire hotel (only very recently renamed the Hotel California, always the Nipton Hotel before…Clara Bow was a regular back in the teens and twenties)–all 5 rooms–plus some teepees and ‘ecocabins’ for a September weekend. The food and craft beers at the little cafe were excellent! Alas, now all closed down. But still the best shade for many miles around.
      It’s precisely the middle-of-nowhere-ness that makes it a special place. And it’s right on the edge of the East Mojave National Preserve (almost…but not quite…a Park), which contains fascinating multitudes.
      I’d definitely buy it if I could come up with the down payment.

      1. D’oh! I followed the link to the Wikipedia article (and saw the plans for Nipton to be the first “Pot Town, USA”!) but not the one to the news report. Shame everything has closed down now.

        1. Btw, do I recognise your profile picture from the cover of Terrapin Station, Chas? Just blew the dust off my old vinyl copy and it looks like a match.

            1. My youngest was amazed when I pulled out the album and asked her if she thought it was the same image. Can’t remember exactly when I bought my copy, but it was probably a couple of years after you.

              It sounds like the recording and production processes were somewhat fraught, with the studio door nailed shut with the band inside at one point!

          1. I was thinking of a hotel I met which is only 2 miles from a paved road – but you do them by boat. Unless you’re a minor deity or very hardy.

  18. That twitter was killer. Well I’m proud to be “another Jewish atheist bookworm” like Hitch, Harris, Coyne (kudos, btw, PCC.E) – good company – and I’m a writer/attorney no less. Who used to work on Wall St. (not with George Soros, sadly, as I adore him) and a Noo Yawker to boot!
    I never miss our world domination meetings with the Rothschilds, particularly regards our space laser project and blood drinking pedo rituals. Can’t miss them!

    Sometimes I think I’m the living embodiment of a MAGA nightmare! And it makes me happy! HAHAHAH

    ((D.A.)) J.D.

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