Tuesday: Hili dialogue

June 8, 2021 • 5:30 am

Welcome to Tuesday, June 8, 2021: National Jelly-Filled Donut Day (I wouldn’t say no, though jam filling is better than jelly). It is also Best Friends Day, Thomas Paine Day (he died on this day in 1809), Call Your Doctor Day (if you’re fine, just say “hi”), World Brain Tumor Day and World Oceans Day,

News of the Day:

At last the hacker-blackmailers have  got what they deserve. Colonial Pipeline paid millions in bitcoin ransom to a group of hackers known as Darkside; but, with the help of the FBI, at least $2.3 million of the $4.4 million ransom has been recovered. But that’s not enough to deter these scammers. Now if they could just track down the hackers and get them arrested.

Here are two related articles (one an op-ed) on Kamala Harris from the New York Times. As you may know, she is visiting both Guatemala and Mexico to see what we can do to slow down the record immigration to the U.S., and she’s also been put in charge of the administration’s actions on voting-rights issues.

This article, “U.S. Aid to Central America Hasn’t Slowed Migration. Can Kamala Harris?” describes how the U.S. has poured billions of dollars into Central America hoping that the infusion of cash would deter those seeking to immigrate for financial reasons. But that hasn’t worked. A quote:

Here in Guatemala, which has received more than $1.6 billion in American aid over the last decade, poverty rates have risen, malnutrition has become a national crisis, corruption is unbridled and the country is sending more unaccompanied children to the United States than anywhere else in the world.

That is the stark reality facing Ms. Harris as she assumes responsibility for expanding the same kind of aid programs that have struggled to stem migration in the past. It is a challenge that initially frustrated her top political aides, some of whom viewed the assignment from Mr. Biden as one that would inevitably set her up for failure in the first months of her tenure.

. . . But experts say the reasons that years of aid have not curbed migration run far deeper than that. In particular, they note that much of the money is handed over to American companies, which swallow a lot of it for salaries, expenses and profits, often before any services are delivered.

If that’s the case, then Harris is bound to fail, and that failure will be held against her by Republicans.


Kamala Harris Can’t Win” by Frank Bruni. Bruni notes,

“If I was Vice President Harris and President Biden kept giving me the toughest assignments, I’d be like, ‘What’s up, dude?’” David Chalian, CNN’s political director, said on the CNN Political Briefing podcast on Wednesday. “Add this now to her plate with immigration and she’s got some truly tough political battles ahead.”

And yet, says Bruni, Harris asked for the voting-rights assignment. I can’t help but believe that the much of the opprobrium directed at her from conservatives comes from her being a woman. But I’m pulling for her, and if she manages to advance both of these issues, she’ll be in a good position to succeed Biden as President.

Here’s a statement made yesterday by Harris, discouraging “illegal migration” from Guatemala to the U.S.

The article below from the Wall Street Journal (click on screenshot).describes “selection in action”—resistance to industrial pollution that evolved in New Jersey fish.  The killifish in particular shows remarkable resistance evolved since pollutants began being dumped into the water in the late 18th century, and that is a lot of generations for selection to do its thing. The WSJ calls this “natural selection”, and it is, sort of, but it’s natural selection caused by rapid human change of the environment. You could equally well call it “inadvertent artificial selection”. Well, that’s a semantic issue, and not of great import. The article also gives several other intriguing examples of how anthropogenic change in the environment has promoted the evolution of species in nature.

The FDA has approved the first new drug, aducanumab, for Alzheimer’s disease in 20 years, a drug that reduces the accumulation of amyloid clumps in the brain. But does it slow cognitive impairment? We don’t know. One problem is that there are serious doubts about whether the drug really works (there have been clinical trials, but the FDA is requiring new ones). The other problem is that the drug, administered via a monthly injection, will cost $56,000 a year—on top of the high costs of diagnosis and other treatment.

AOC has donated $5000 each to a number of Democratic House candidates that she favors. I’m not sure about the ins and outs of this, but Politico implies that the donations aren’t that welcome—or kosher:

As the midterm campaign’s first fundraising deadline approached this week, several vulnerable House Democrats got an unwelcome surprise in their accounts: $5,000 from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The New York Democrat sent the contributions to her colleagues to help keep the House majority ahead of a tough cycle without directly contributing to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, with which she’s publicly clashed. But Ocasio-Cortez’s largesse — and an oversight at the campaign headquarters — has instead raised awkward questions among her colleagues as some swing-district Democrats fret over whether to return her money before the GOP can turn it into an attack ad.

Apparently the donations were made without asking and without warning, which carries a danger to vulnerable candidates in areas where Ocasio-Cortez is regarded as a satanic uber-Leftist. These are the very candidates that she apparently wanted to help. This could all have been avoided had she just given the money—a total of $160,000) to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where it could have been dispersed without the source being divulged.

Rome got its first pizza vending machine. It makes a pizza from scratch in just three minutes, and there are four choices: margherita, four cheeses, spicy salami, and bacon. How is it faring? As predicted: Romans have greeted it with universal disdain. Here’s a photo from the NYT:

Yara Nardi/Reuters

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 597,533, an increase of 459 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,752,900, an increase of about 8,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 8 includes:

  • 793 – Vikings raid the abbey at Lindisfarne in Northumbria, commonly accepted as the beginning of Norse activity in the British Isles.

I”m not sure how the remarkable Lindisfarne Gospel manuscript survived this raid, as the book didn’t leave the abbey until about 875 AD, but we’re lucky they survived.  I believe they’re on display in the British Library in London:

Here’s the granted patent and a replica of the sorting and tabulating machines:

  • 1906 – Theodore Roosevelt signs the Antiquities Act into law, authorizing the President to restrict the use of certain parcels of public land with historical or conservation value.

This law allowed the government to create “national monuments” (over a hundred), some of which, like Death Valley, have been converted to national parks.

Hellen Keller? Danny Kaye? What a joke!

A first printing of the first edition of this classic will run you between $12,000 and $15,000:

  • 1953 – The United States Supreme Court rules in District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co. that restaurants in Washington, D.C., cannot refuse to serve black patrons.
  • 1972 – Vietnam War: Nine-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc is burned by napalm, an event captured by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut moments later while the young girl is seen running down a road, in what would become an iconic, Pulitzer Prize-winning photo.

Here’s that photo:

She still bear the scars; a photo from the Wisconsin State Journal labeled: “Kim Phúc shows burn scars on her back and arms after laser treatments in Miami in September 2015. Photo:

  • 1987 – New Zealand’s Labour government establishes a national nuclear-free zone under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987.
  • 1992 – The first World Oceans Day is celebrated, coinciding with the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • 2009 – Two American journalists are found guilty of illegally entering North Korea and sentenced to 12 years of penal labour.

Thanks to Bill Clinton’s intervention and his visit to North Korea, the journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling (below), were released that same year.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1867 – Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect, designed the Price Tower and Fallingwater (d. 1959)
  • 1916 – Francis Crick, English biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2004)
  • 1925 – Barbara Bush, American wife of George H. W. Bush, 41st First Lady of the United States (d. 2018)
  • 1944 – Boz Scaggs, American singer-songwriter and guitarist

Here’s Scaggs with one of my favorite of his songs, “We’re all alone“. A cover by Rita Coolidge became a big hit.

  • 1947 – Sara Paretsky, American author

Those who Went to a Better Place on June 8 include:

  • 1809 – Thomas Paine, English-American theorist and author (b. 1737)
  • 1845 – Andrew Jackson, American general, judge, and politician, 7th President of the United States (b. 1767)
  • 1889 – Gerard Manley Hopkins, English poet (b. 1844)

I do like Hopkins’s poems, though I still think that my advocating them in an interview for a graduate fellowship (they asked me what poets i liked) cost me that fellowship (he’s seen as sappy). Here he is; he died at 44 of typhoid:

  • 1982 – Satchel Paige, American baseball player (b. 1906)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili spots a friend:

A: What do you see there?
Hili: A galloping snail.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tam widzisz?
Hili: Galopującego ślimaka.

From Stephen:

From Facebook. Is this real?

From Nicole:

Simone Biles just claimed her record-setting seventh all-round women’s gymnastics title.  No surprise when you see stuff like this:

How did this woman go off the rails?

See the tweet below this one for a corrective:

From Simon, another Oded Rechavi tweet coopting photos to give science lessons.  This makes hash of the tweet just above.

Look at this lovely sexually dimorphic bird. You can read more about this bird, a denizen of the Indian subcontinent, here.

This is a great animation, showing where a raindrop falling anywhere in the U.S. will wind up (you can specify):

The males of this species are the world’s most beautiful ducks, but the females are also lovely:

And a really pretty snail to start a dolorous Tuesday:

31 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Thanks to Bill Clinton’s intervention and his visit to North Korea, the journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling (below), were released that same year.” – according to The Grauniad yesterday, North Korea is in the midst of a huge crackdown on human rights in the country. Unfortunately I can’t post a link as The Guardian, along with a huge chunk of the internet, including The Financial Times, NYT, and Amazon are all offline: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-57399628

  2. National Jelly-Filled Donut Day (I wouldn’t say no, though jam filling is better than jelly).

    Now I’m confused, I thought Americans didn’t have jam and jelly i.e. I thought what we call jam, you call jelly. Can somebody from your side of the pond explain the difference please?

    Also, the shelf can’t be LSD because the bottom left hexagon should be a pentagon. OK, maybe the design was based on LSD, but getting bent out of shape because of it seems to be an over reaction.

    1. We have at a minimum: preserves, jam, and jelly in order of decreasing viscosity. Preserves have large chunks of fruit in them (please make mine strawberry); jam has no chunks of fruit but is comfortably thick; jelly has no chunks and is thinner than jam. At least those are my experiences on the east coast of the U.S.

      1. And jelly is made with fruit juice, usually clear, jam is made with fruit pulp and preserves are made with chunks of fruit.

        1. Thanks all.

          So what we call jam is actually, what you call preserves. We probably do have the other two things, but we would call them both jam too.

          What we call jelly is actually gelatin based and the closest thing you have looks to be jello.

    2. You were misinformed on US jam and jelly, sir.

      I’m with our host on the jelly doughnut. I’ve always thought of jelly doughnut filling as a cheap substitute for the far superior jam. Often the jelly is nothing more than sugar, gelatin, food coloring, and artificial flavoring — no fruit involved.

  3. Regarding the article on Vice President Harris, at least we don’t have to worry about any articles on Trump or any republicans taking on the hard issues because they never did and never will. In fact they mostly created them.

  4. The guy in the pic with the vending machine pizza has the look on his face, and is making the gesture, that, among the old Italian fellas in my neighborhood growing up, was almost always accompanied by the expletive “minchia!”

  5. 1949 – Helen Keller, Dorothy Parker, Danny Kaye, Fredric March, John Garfield, Paul Muni and Edward G. Robinson are named in an FBI report as Communist Party members.

    Not an honest-to-Engels Red among ’em.

    J. Edgar Hoover was one rotten S.o.B., through and through.

    1. Given what context I’ve been able to find, it seems likely that they were listed as members of Communist-front organizations, rather than as Party members.

    2. Not an honest-to-Engels Red among ’em.

      Sounds like Right-wingers today. To them, Nixon and Reagan’s policies count as socialism.

      I love how 1984 was published on the same date though. Great coincidence.

      1. To them, Nixon and Reagan’s policies count as socialism.

        No small irony there given that, in the era under discussion, Nixon was making his bones as a red-baiter as a member of HUAC and Reagan, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, was appearing before the committee as a “friendly” witness “naming names.”

  6. Reportedly, Kamala was greeted with signs proclaiming “Trump Won!” Now that the problem can be framed as one involving Trump supporters, I think we can expect quick action on immigration.

    On another note, if someone could direct me to the text of the June 8, 1949 FBI report on Hollywood Communists, I would appreciate it. The online stub of a June 9, 1949 story in The New York Times says that the list was part of a file in the Judith Coplon spy case.

  7. I dropped rain near where I grew up (mostly). It flowed into the Winooski River as expected. When it then flowed into Lake Champlain, it was listed as ‘Unknown River/Stream’ (twice) and then Canada. Since the image labeled Lake Champlain, I had not expected it to be Unknown. Once in Canada, the rain would flow into the St. Lawrence.
    Other drops I tried worked fine, with all waterways identified.

  8. much of the money is handed over to American companies, which swallow a lot of it for salaries, expenses and profits, often before any services are delivered.

    It would be easy enough (in principle) to write the contract to either require a certain amount of the funding be used for services, or at a minimum require the companies report how much is being used for services (i.e. with the implication being that in an open competition, you’d better be able to provide the same or better level of service as a competitor).

    I believe a lot of legit charities function that way; I.e. they report on what percent of their donations go to mission-related services vs. overhead.

  9. Speaking of Vikings, I want to recommend an excellent book that was published last fall. “Children of Ash and Elm” by Neil Price. He is professor and chair of archaeology at Uppsala University, Sweden and has been researching, teaching and writing on the Vikings for nearly 35 years. He is an excellent and entertaining writer who has written the definitive history of the Vikings and their time. This book pokes fun at all the Viking bs we see on tv and in the movies.

    1. Iirc, Naomi wasn’t always this bat-shit crazy.
      This was supposed to go under David Anderson’s comment #18. WP😖

  10. Simone biles is amazing. I watched a lot of meets over 14 years of my granddaughter’s gymnastics competition and always had to leave the room or hold my breath during her beam performance. I am the same way with simone on beam. One of the announcers this weekend said her confidence and movement on the beam is like most women on floor. And she does it all with a smile.

  11. “The WSJ calls this “natural selection”, and it is, sort of, but it’s natural selection caused by rapid human change of the environment. You could equally well call it “inadvertent artificial selection”. Well, that’s a semantic issue, and not of great import.”

    True, but it almost seems that we need at least three terms. I like to reserve artificial selection to cases where humans select on a particular character, like wing size in fruit flies or tameness in silver foxes. There is some desired outcome and a particular character will evolve if there is sufficient standing genetic variation.

    When humans instead cause evolutionary change, either inadvertently or intentionally, by changing the environment (like switching an insect population to a new host plant), they are not consciously selecting for any particular character – they merely change the environment and see what happens, i.e., which characters change in response. Ditto for when humans inadvertently change the environment in nature and organisms respond, as in this article. Some have called this “quasi-natural selection” or it can be thought of as human-mediated natural selection. But, ultimately, it is indeed a semantic issue.

    1. From the paper, a really cool thought experiment:

      “We envision three scenarios. In the first, we assume that in
      two closely related species, males differ in the type or degree
      of their sexually dimorphic traits, and that the traits were originally
      expressed in both sexes but later suppressed in females
      by the accumulation of modifiers. (These modifiers could be either
      trans-acting genes or regulatory elements, or closely linked
      cis-regulatory elements). If these two species were interfertile,
      their F1 female hybrids would carry some genes for sexual dimorphisms
      from each parental species (except for W-linked genes,
      because female birds are heterogametic), but only a haploid set of
      suppressors from each species. Unless the suppressors are completely
      dominant, hybrid females should show some expression
      of the male traits.”

  12. It’s always useful to bring up the Cult of the Supreme Being whenever some God-botherer blames atheists for the worst parts of the French Revolution. France would have benefited from more atheists and fewer Robespierres.

  13. ‘Never underestimate the power of a duck.’

    Not to deprecate the awesome powers of a duck, the damage to those gates probably occurred at night-time.
    The gates have a non-reflective matte-black finish, which makes them hard to see, even when headlights are on, if there is nothing behind the gates to make them stand out.

  14. Whether relevant I have no idea, but killifish are euryhaline teleosts, able to adapt almost instantly between fresh and ocean-strength salt water, via their gill Na+/K+ ATPase, pumping Na+ in against NH3+ out in fresh water, and Na+ out against K+ in (which remains about the same on either side) in salt water. I did my master’s work @ U Richmond on ATPase from killifish that we’d collect out at Mobjack Bay (near Gloucester, between the Rappahannock & York), a long time ago.

    Otherwise, it was on Hollerith tabulators, presumably successors to the above machine and made by IBM that enabled the Nazis to determine/keep track of the degree of people’s Jewish ancestry, as detailed in IBM and the Holocaust (Edwin Black). Recommended.

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