Tuesday: Hili dialogue

June 22, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Tuesday, June 22, 2021: National Chocolate Eclair Day. It’s also National Onion Rings Day and World Rainforest Day.

Here’s a photo of a “blue jeans frog”, one morph of the “strawberry poison-dart frog” (Oophaga pumilio) that I took in the Costa Rican rainforest (La Selva field station) in January, 2012. It’s a tiny frog, smaller than your thumb.

News of the Day:

Reader Ken reports on a new and unanimous Supreme Court decision about compensation of college athletes. As he wrote me yesterday in an email titled “About damn time department”, (backed up by CNN):

A unanimous SCOTUS ruled today that college jocks can receive limited payments. I think this will prove to be an interim decision on the way to at least quasi-professional status for college athletes. Justice Keggers said as much in a concurring opinion — and on this, I agree with him.

I bet you can guess who “Justice Keggers” is!  At any rate, he and all the others ruled that the existing caps on scholarship compensation, ostensibly in place to protect a false distinction between “amateur” and “professional” athletes, was unconstitutional.

Before there was Rosa Parks there was Martha White, who was thrown off a public bus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for sitting in the “whites only” section.  This was in 1953, 2½ years before Rosa Parks was arrested for the same “crime”. White’s defenestration didn’t move the country the way that Parks’s did, but she was brave nonetheless. White died on Saturday at 99. (h/t verotaxis). Here’s a pictureof her and her friends as well as the caption from the NYT:

Martha White, seated at right, in 2018 when she reunited with civil rights activists and other residents of Baton Rouge, La., on a 1953-era bus. Her refusal to give up a “whites-only” seat sparked a pivotal bus boycott in the civil rights movement.Credit…Russell L. Kelly Sr.

Another death: one of my French mentors, Jean David, has passed away at the age of 90. He was the force behind the evolutionary genetics of Drosophila in France, and produced a number of students and postdocs who carry on the tradition today. A lovely guy and a hard worker. In 1989 I did a six-month sabbatical in his lab at Gif-sur-Yvette outside Paris at the CNRS. What a time it was! (That’s where I met Matthew.)

Au revoir, Jean.  (Photo below.)

Reuters reports that Laurel Hubbard, a 43 year old transgender woman, has joined the New Zealand women’s weightlifting team.  She meets the Olympic criteria, based on testosterone titer, to compete with other women, but there are issues with a hormonally based criterion. Some women athletes have objected to her competing, but the New Zealand government and Olympic organization are supportive. (h/t: Luana)

An excerpt from Reuters (source tweeted by Colin Wright via Luana):

Hubbard has been eligible to compete at Olympics since 2015, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

Some scientists have said the guidelines do little to mitigate the biological advantages of those who have gone through puberty as males, including bone and muscle density.

Advocates for transgender inclusion argue the process of transition decreases that advantage considerably and that physical differences between athletes mean there is never a truly level playing field.

As I reported a while back, though, two new studies show that even three years of testosterone suppression does not eliminate all the strength advantages of being born a biological male, which first appear at puberty. (Second tweet.)

Animal encounter news of the week: the Guardian reports, with cool video, that an elephant poked its head through a kitchen wall in a Thai village in search of noms. It wasn’t hurt, but it didn’t get any noms, either (h/t: Jez):

Most villagers were respectful of and sympathetic toward the elephants, Plotnik said. “They are frustrated that this is happening, and really want to find solutions to stop it, but they don’t usually blame the elephants.”

Itthipon said volunteers from the local community and an officer of the national park work together to monitor the elephants, and use loud noise and other deterrents to try to push them back towards the forest.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. 601,730, an increase of 311 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll is now 3,889,455, an increase of about 6,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 22 includes:

Here are the King and Queen:

Here are the Germans preparing that car (of course a deliberate attempt to humiliate the French) for the second armistice in 1940:

  • 1941 – World War II: Nazi Germany invades the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa.
  • 1942 – The Pledge of Allegiance is formally adopted by US Congress.

The words “under God” weren’t added until 1954. Remember that!

  • 1969 – The Cuyahoga River catches fire in Cleveland, Ohio, drawing national attention to water pollution, and spurring the passing of the Clean Water Act and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

I remember this, and here’s a photo:

Original Caption: Firemen stand on a bridge over the Cuyahoga River to spray water on the tug Arizona, as a fire, started in an oil slick on the river, sweeps the docks at the Great Lakes Towing Company site in Cleveland Nov., 1st. The blaze destroyed three tugs, three buildings, and the ship repair yards. ( Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images)

Here’s that famous goal, which, experts agree, was indeed a handball. Of course Maradona’s other goal was both legit and superb.

Here’s the checkpoint photographed in 1963 from the American sector. My family and I actually walked through it when my Dad (in U.S. Army uniform) took us to East Berlin around 1964 (such tours were allowed then so long as my dad wore his uniform):

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1837 – Paul Morphy, American chess player (d. 1884)
  • 1887 – Julian Huxley, English biologist and academic (d. 1975)
  • 1898 – Erich Maria Remarque, German-Swiss soldier and author (d. 1970)
  • 1903 – John Dillinger, American criminal (d. 1934)

The Biograph Theater in Chicago, photographed six days after Dilliger was shot after going to a movie:

  • 1933 – Dianne Feinstein, American politician
  • 1936 – Kris Kristofferson, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor
  • 1941 – Ed Bradley, American journalist (d. 2006)
  • 1949 – Meryl Streep, American actress and singer

Note that Streep is just six months older than I, so I can judge how I’m aging relative to her. She still looks damn good, so I am heartened.

  • 1953 – Cyndi Lauper, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress
  • 1960 – Erin Brockovich, American lawyer and environmentalist

Here’s Brockovich; Julia Roberts won a Best Actress Oscar for playing her in the eponymous movie (which is very good):

Those who ceased to exist on June 22 include:

  • 1956 – Walter de la Mare, English poet, short story writer and novelist (b. 1873)
  • 1987 – Fred Astaire, American actor and dancer (b. 1899)
  • 1988 – Dennis Day, American singer and actor (b. 1916)
  • 2008 – George Carlin, American comedian, actor, and author (b. 1937)

Of course I must show this classic bit by Carlin on God and religion:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili is sniffing about:

Hili: This smell reminds me of something.
A: Do you know what?
Hili: I have no idea.
In Polish:
Hili: Ten zapach coś mi przypomina.
Ja: A wiesz co?
Hili: Nie mam pojęcia.

Two memes from Facebook:

What is this about?

From Jesus of the Day:


Two tweets from Ginger K. The first shows exactly what kind of Father’s Day card a cat would send to its staff:

And a great exchange on Twitter:

Tweets from Matthew. I have no idea what this sport is, but seems to be about getting butted by a bull:

I don’t know if this is a horse or a donkey, but it loves having its bum scratched. Sound up:


A good one!

As Matthew said, “If only it were a duck”:

Barnacles were one of Darwin’s great biological interests (he wrote a big and important monograph on them). This one is sculpted in metals—a fabulous work of animal art.

24 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. “… does not eliminate all the strength advantages of being born a biological male, which first appear at puberty.”

    While puberty greatly enhances the differentials, the evidence is that boys are also generally better at sport even prior to puberty. Some of that might be socialisation, in that boys’ play is generally more physical and sporty — boys tend to play-fight, kick balls and throw things at every play opportunity — but even that results largely from their biology.

    1. What I’ve never understood is why any trans woman would want to compete against women in the first place. If they come out on top, there will be an asterisk, so what have they proved? I don’t think their successful performance will be respected by anyone, including themselves.

      1. I think there’s a huge amount of self-kidding going on. Part of what they get is public affirmation that they are “women”. They also get to think of themselves as champions rather than (as most of are at most things) just mediocre.

      2. The same could be said for Lance Armstrong, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and plenty of current sticky ball pitchers. But I suppose they feel that fame and fortune is worth the lying and self-delusion, just ask Tom Brady and the Patriots or the Houston Astros.

          1. The talent and ability make the cheating all the worse. But perhaps for many that is part of the drive to win.

    2. There is a good article in today’s (London) Times by the South African sports scientist Ross Tucker about the unfair and ineradicable advantages enjoyed by trans athletes who have already gone through puberty as males. He concludes:

      “The upshot of the scientific picture is that the three key imperatives for any sport – fairness, safety and inclusion – cannot be balanced or achieved simultaneously”.

      Worth reading the whole article if you can get past the paywall.

      1. “The upshot of the scientific picture is that the three key imperatives for any sport – fairness, safety and inclusion – cannot be balanced or achieved simultaneously”.

        Well they can, just include the biological males in the biological-male category. Fairness, safety and inclusion all at the same time. Simples!

  2. The most cat Father’s Day card ever pic.twitter.com/HOpujms4cs

    See also the reply tweet with the inner pages of the card, where the cat heaps on the humblebragging.

  3. Another view of Semibalanus in metal…

    Hans Geiger would be proud.
    (Hans? The “Alien” designer. More often “H.R.“, but he was a “Hans”.)

    1. Giger. By the way I am not sure that a Hans Ruedi is considered a Hans 🙂 The Hans Ruedis I have known always called themselves Hans Ruedi, never just Hans. I guess Hans alone sounds too German for a Swiss.
      I live 30 minutes by car from a village with a HR Giger Museum but I never bothered to visit it. I mean the museum; the medieval village is beautiful in spite of the too many tourists. Giger’s art is probably appealing to teenagers.

      1. Ah, it’s a … binomial (?) like “Billy-Jo” and Pierluigi? OK. Didn’t know that.

  4. “Of course Maradona’s other goal was both legit and superb.” – fellow Argentinean Lionel Messi watched the Goal of the Century so many times while receiving hospital treatment that years later he recognised he was standing on the same spot on the football pitch and with the defending players in the right configuration for him to replicate it! (A few weeks later, he copied the Hand of God goal, too.) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Messi#Club_career

  5. In my tewwts today were several barnacles with an interesting choice of substrate to settle on :
    [Image link didn’t post – you’ll have to visit the tewwt.]
    The specimen also has a clear “tide mark” of bryozoa (a marine life form that resembles lichen at first glance, but are also in the paraphyletic group “animals in unfamiliar packages” like the crustaceans alongside), showing (probably) where the tooth settled onto the sediment surface before being grabbed by the hoomin.

  6. The American Girl thing must be fairly old or someone just noticed but yeah, the dolls can come with little toy hearing aids and a little case for them, or canes for your “blind” doll, all sorts of little choices to personalize your toy yet there is still no Tom Petty companion doll…for shame!

  7. 1969 – The Cuyahoga River catches fire in Cleveland, Ohio, drawing national attention to water pollution, and spurring the passing of the Clean Water Act and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Randy Newman wrote a tune about it:

  8. I have no idea what this sport is, but seems to be about getting butted by a bull …

    They start handing out inflatable outfits like that, might be I could yet be convinced to head to Pamplona to run with the bulls during the San Fermín festival.

  9. Here’s that famous goal, which, experts agree, was indeed a handball.

    Even the great Maradona, the ultimate expert on the ‘hand of god’ goal, agrees that it was handball.

    Gary Lineker, who played in the ‘hand of god’ game for England, interviewed Maradona many years later. Maradona did not see his handball goal as cheating; he was just being ‘clever’ 🙂 Intentionally breaking the rules of the game to gain an advantage over the opponent was clearly not Maradona’s definition of cheating 🙂

    Or course, this kind of equivocation is not uncommon among those caught cheating or lying. It is a virtue in politics.

    About his wonder goal, Maradona said it would have been difficult to score a goal like that against Italy, Uruguay, or Brazil. He said ‘The English player is a lot more noble, much more honest on the pitch.’ Ouch! He’s got you coming and going 🙂

  10. I am a fan on the National WOMENS Soccer League (NWSL) but its rules on transgender are odd. Transmen, transwomen and non-binary people are all allowed to compete with various restrictions. There is a transman (Kumi Yokoyama) competing and a least one nonbinary person. I do not know of any transwomen playing.

    “This policy is evidence based, it’s very progressive and it ensures that trans folks and nonbinary folks can compete and play the sport that they love and continue to push the sport forward”



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