Wednesday: Hili dialogue

June 23, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Wednesday, June 23, 2021: National Pecan Sandy Day (this is a cookie, or, to Brits, a “biscuit”). It’s also National Hydration Day, Pink Flamingo Day, Typewriting DayUnited Nations Public Service Day, and International Widows Day 

News of the Day:

The Bidens have still not acquired a White House cat. A campaign promise broken!

Although Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has bent in his opposition to the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to pass a bill, and now favors the Democratic For the People Act, which walks back some of the GOP’s race-motivated “voting rights restrictions”, the Democrats are gonna lose this one. According to the NYT, all 50 Republican Senators are opposed to the bill, and that makes it pretty futile. A key test vote on the legislation wound up with a 50/50 split, and that spells trouble with a capital “T”.

According to the Times of London, Oxford students have voted to establish a board of “sensitivity readers” to vet Oxford’s two student newspapers. Vetting appears to be only at the request of the editors, and was instituted because of this:

The motion put to the students’ union cited a Cherwell article defending the music of Richard Wagner, which was taken down after students complained it was antisemitic. It said: “The need for better editing in student papers but also in JCR [junior common room] affairs, society publications, and other areas of Oxford life is clear from the amount of ‘scandals’, that is, problematic articles being published. These could represent a certain group of people unfairly or inaccurately, be implicitly racist or sexist, or just generally inaccurate and insensitive.”.”

When you see the word “problematic”, run like hell! Of course the NYT and WaPo, along with other liberal media, already have a group of sensitivity readers. They’re called “the editors”.  (h/t: Stash Krod)

Remember the name Richard Scott William Hutchinson, the world’s more premature baby who has survived. (That’s a Guinness world record.) Hutchinson, who just celebrated his first birthday, weighed less than a pound at birth and was said to “fit in the palm of your hand”. He was born in Minnesota 131 days (over 4 months!) before his due date (that’s a gestation half the normal length), weighed 11.9 ounches, and doctors gave him a 0% chance of living. But he’s still here after having spent his first six months in the neonatal intensive care unit.  Here’s the little fighter:

Read this WaPo editorial by Colbert King explaining why we should worry less about prompting Breyer to retire from the Supreme Court and worry more about holding the Senate in the midterms.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. 602,163, an increase of 308 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll is now 3,899,018, an increase of about 9,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 23 includes:

  • 1314 – First War of Scottish Independence: The Battle of Bannockburn (south of Stirling) begins.
  • 1812 – War of 1812: Great Britain revokes the restrictions on American commerce, thus eliminating one of the chief reasons for going to war.
  • 1865 – American Civil War: At Fort Towson in the Oklahoma Territory, Confederate Brigadier General Stand Watie surrenders the last significant Confederate army.
  • 1887 – The Rocky Mountains Park Act becomes law in Canada creating the nation’s first national park, Banff National Park.
  • 1917 – In a game against the Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox pitcher Ernie Shore retires 26 batters in a row after replacing Babe Ruth, who had been ejected for punching the umpire.

Shore did not pitch a perfect game since he didn’t retire all 27 batters in a row, and there have been several perfect games since then. Only one, though, was thrown in a World Series game. Can you name the pitcher?

RIP, SAT: a tool of the meritocracy.

Here’s the photo of the trio and the caption from Wikipedia:

Adolf Hitler visits Paris with architect Albert Speer (left) and artist Arno Breker (right), June 23, 1940

I don’t know how a German pilot could mistake Wales for the European mainland, but here’s a speciment of the single-engine fighter:

Our family traveled to Europe on this liner when my dad was stationed to Athens, Greece in the mid Fifties. In those days, Army officers were given luxurious travel! Here she is as I remember her (not well!). It was, at the time, the fastest ocean liner in the world.

  • 1959 – Convicted Manhattan Project spy Klaus Fuchs is released after only nine years in prison and allowed to emigrate to Dresden, East Germany where he resumes a scientific career.

Fuchs (below in his Los Alamos ID badge) was convicted and imprisoned in England, which is probably why he wasn’t executed.

  • 1960 – The United States Food and Drug Administration declares Enovid to be the first officially approved combined oral contraceptive pill in the world.

  • 1961 – The Antarctic Treaty System, which sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and limits military activity on the continent, its islands and ice shelves, comes into force.
  • 1969 – IBM announces that effective January 1970 it will price its software and services separately from hardware thus creating the modern software industry.
  • 1972 – Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman are taped talking about using the Central Intelligence Agency to obstruct the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the Watergate break-ins.
  • 1972 – Title IX of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 is amended to prohibit sexual discrimination to any educational program receiving federal funds.
  • 2012 – Ashton Eaton breaks the decathlon world record at the United States Olympic Trials.

Eaton garnered 9,039 points, but his record was beaten in 2018 by Kevin Mayer with 9,126 points—still the world record.

Here are highlights of Wallenda’s Canyon walk. I don’t see a safety line. Note his many prayers and thank yous to Jesus!

It’s the fifth anniversary of Brexit! I am not a UK citizen, but I would have voted “stay”. Pity, pity, too late. . .

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1894 – Alfred Kinsey, American entomologist and sexologist (d. 1956)

Here’s Kinsey and his coworkers at the Institute for Sexual Research. He’s the creepy-looking guy in the middle:

  • 1912 – Alan Turing, English mathematician and computer scientist (d. 1954)

Turing, who killed himself at the age of only 41 (some say he was murdered).

  • 1927 – Bob Fosse, American actor, dancer, choreographer, and director (d. 1987)

Here’s Fosse and his habitual partner, Gwen Verdon, dancing in Damn Yankees (see more videos here).

  • 1929 – June Carter Cash, American singer-songwriter, musician, and actress (d. 2003)

Here’s June and her husband singing their well known song “Jackson“:

  • 1940 – Wilma Rudolph, American runner (d. 1994)
  • 1940 – Stuart Sutcliffe, Scottish painter and musician (d. 1962)
  • 1957 – Frances McDormand, American actress, winner of the Triple Crown of Acting

Notables who departed this life on June 23 were few, and include:

  • 1995 – Jonas Salk, American biologist and physician (b. 1914)
  • 2009 – Ed McMahon, American game show host and announcer (b. 1923)
  • 2011 – Peter Falk, American actor (b. 1927)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili aspires to be a rodenticide:

A: Where are you going?
Hili: I have to check that no rodent is gnawing on your wild strawberries.
In Polish:
Ja: Gdzie idziesz?
Hili: Muszę sprawdzić, czy jakieś gryzonie nie podgryzają waszych poziomek.

From Su:

From Bruce:

Another cat meme, this one from Lenora:

A tweet sent from Luana with the official logo of the Chicago Dyke March. Remember when they wouldn’t let Jewish lesbians parade with their rainbow “Jewish Pride” flag in 2017? Now they burn the American flag in one hand, the Israeli flag in the other, and they use the initials for “All Cops are Bastards”.  This is a nasty piece of work (and art)!

From Simon. Drosophilists and those who work on its nematode “model organism” equivalent, Caenorhabditis, are friendly opponents. It really wouldn’t get this bad!

From reader Barry, who says, “That’s impressive work!” Indeed it is. Do you suppose it’s an evolved, stereotyped behavior or a learned behavior?  (It could be a combination of both.)

From Ginger K. Install pet tracking software on your computer!

Tweets from Matthew. First, a great bug dad. Not many insects show paternal care.

Live and learn! I had no idea:

A new letter to Nature from Matthew Cobb and Bob Pollack on the limitations of acceptable research.

Race insinuates itself into cosmology at Cornell University. Read the article to see one take on this course, which confers science credit.

48 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

    1. Beat me to it, Coel! Yes, the £50 is more hassle than it’s worth for most transactions since they are rarely seen and so staff at cash registers tend to be wary of them.

      1. Yeah, that’s probably right. It was before my time, but every American boy of a certain age who ever picked up a Louisville Slugger heard the name and about the feat.

        I know it was for the Yankees against the Dodgers in ’56. There’s a famous photograph of Yankees’ catcher Yogi Berra jumping into Larsen’s arms after the last pitch.

  1. That the Democrats couldn’t get one Republican vote to end the filibuster regarding the voting rights bill should be a surprise to no one. McConnell is using the same tactic he used against Obama and it is working. Whether or not one supports the filibuster, it was always clear that the Biden agenda was doomed from the start. The best that can be hoped for is that people such as Joe Manchin can negotiate a highly watered down compromise, but this is very unlikely.

    The Republicans are not the only ones to blame for this sorry situation in which through voter suppression and gerrymandering minority rule seems to prevail on the state level. Generally speaking, the Democrats have given little attention to state races. As a result, Republicans have controlled most state legislatures and governorships. The states control voting requirements and the drawing of congressional and state legislative districts.

    What the Republicans have been doing is a reflection of the decline of democracy in the U.S. Going along with this is the growing social and cultural divide. I don’t believe this situation can continue indefinitely. The country is sitting on a powder keg that can go off at any moment. More violence, perhaps widespread, seems inevitable. The right-wing is trying to spin the January 6th insurrection with conspiracy theories that the FBI or some other “deep state” actor was behind it. The Republican base believes it. The Republican base doesn’t believe in democracy. The only thing that concerns them is fear of the decline of their cultural domination, to a large extent based on race and religion. Leftist extremists fuel the fire and white fears. The result is we have at least two Americas (maybe more). Distrust of each other has grown to hate and contempt. No one has a solution.

    1. A pretty simple account of the well-focussed, state by state republican gerrymandering enterprise is given in the 2016 book, “Rat F**ked” by david daley.

      1. Thanks for the link. I intend to read the Packer article in full. It is an excerpt from his book. There have been others that have attempted to characterize the basic divisions in American society. But, it is important to remember that no matter how many Americas one sees, there are only two political parties. The Republican Party is dominated by what Packer refers to as “real America.” These people see themselves in cultural and for some economic decline. As Packer puts it: “Rather than finding new policies to rebuild declining communities, Republicans mobilized anger and despair while offering up scapegoats.”

        Fear of cultural as well as economic decline can lead to authoritarianism. Trump is a symptom of this. My attempt to understand history has evolved over the decades. I was taught history to view the unfolding of events through an economic lens. I no longer accept this as the prime determinant (although still important). Now, I much more emphasize the psychological aspects. Most people live their lives in the pursuit of or maintenance of self-esteem (or dignity). Self-esteem is maintained often through the dominance of groups that accord with a person’s world view. When these groups are threatened by other groups with seemingly different values or beliefs, the individual must fight the threat. The Republican base is composed of individuals that perceive their core values threatened and hence their self-esteem. Since maintenance of self-esteem is of the utmost importance, they are willing to jettison democracy to save it. This is why they are fanatics willing to believe almost anything Trump or his surrogates tell them. The divisions in America would be relatively easy to solve if the disputes were over economic issues such as tax policy. But, the divisions are based on core values. These are much more difficult to resolve. The American Civil War was fought not because of economic differences, but over core values. We know what it took to resolve that conflict.

        1. (I know I don’t need to tell you this; but) The Civil War was fought over slavery, pure and simple*. Slavery was both (strongly) a cultural/social and an economic issue. There were other issues, of course; but slavery was the point.

          (* I can highly recommend James McPherson’s The Battle Cry of Freedom. Pulitzer winner. Before the Pulitzer’s luster was dimmed by such as the 1619 Project.)

          1. Yes, the Civil War was fought over slavery, but to say that alone is too simplistic. We need to understand why the South seceded to protect slavery. Particularly, we need to understand why the overwhelming majority of the white South that did not own slaves still supported secession. Historians have much debated these questions. My conclusion is that slavery was at the heart of the white South’s conception of a good civilization. That is, Black slaves were a necessary component of the self-esteem and dignity of white people, whether or not they owned slaves. Poor whites that didn’t own slaves still had a group of people they could feel superior to. Thus, they feared that the growing power of the North threatened their cultural dominance. In essence, I support the conflict of civilizations thesis as to the reason why the South seceded. This fear of cultural decline is the main dynamic that today explains the Trump supporters.

          2. Very good. I agree with you.

            This is on the mark:

            My conclusion is that slavery was at the heart of the white South’s conception of a good civilization. That is, Black slaves were a necessary component of the self-esteem and dignity of white people, whether or not they owned slaves.

            Which was the reason I noted the cultural/social importance of slavery. (Which I think is a big part of the surviving popularity of displaying the Confederate Battle Flag.)

            The poor white really wanted someone to look down upon. And the rich whites wanted them to have that to keep them “quiet”.

            The slaves also helped hold down white labor costs.

          3. The other day I was reading Reginald Horsman’s book “Josiah Nott of Mobile: Southerner, Physician, and Racial Theorist” 1987, Louisiana State University Press, 348 p) to get some idea of how he teamed up with Pennsylvania racial theorists and Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz to write a racist tome on “The Types of Mankind”. Nott, as quoted by Horsman [pp. 254-5], gives the following account of why the South fought tooth and nail to not cave in to Lincoln’s invasion.
            On May 3 1861 Nott wrote to his N.Y. ethologist friend Ephraim G. Squier giving some views on the impending war: “I believed that by unjust tariffs — by denying us an equal right in the territories [I suppose this means the expansion of slavery] — & more than all by, a denial of the right of secession” northern politicians [interprets Horsman] were forcing the South into a major upheaval. He [Horsman continues] said he knew that “when there was . . . a formal denial of the right of self government, the Southern people would rise up as one man & resist it with the old sprit of ’76.” . . . [Horsman goes on:] The region had abundant provisions, cotton vital to Europe, and “more courage, more unanimity, more determination did not exist at Thermopyle.” Every southerner was brought up as a horseman and a marksman . . . The South had officers equal to any in the world and a determination not to stop fighting until it was “free — even the women are mad for Contest.”
            There seems to be no recognition in Nott’s letter [and Nott was an abject racist who, like Lincoln’s friend Agassiz, considered each human race to be a separate biological species] that Lincoln had plans to eliminate slavery in the South or that a perceived threat to slavery had anything to do with the conflict. In a nutshell, the war response by southern states was caused by Lincoln’s inexperience, poor political skills, and bad judgement.

          4. “In a nutshell, the war response by southern states was caused by Lincoln’s inexperience, poor political skills, and bad judgement.”

            I’m not sure what your point is. If that was (the old southerner’s) opinion, it was wrong.

            If one reads about the precedents to the war, it’s blindingly obvious that it was over slavery. Of course a southerner will deny that. They still do. (My mother was from Mississippi.)

            It certainly wasn’t about “states’ rights”! The South demanded that they be able to travel through northern free states with their slaves and retain them. The south demanded that they be able to move to free states and retain their slaves, there, as slaves. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 meant that northerners in free states that didn’t show sufficient enthusiasm and action in hunting down escaped slaves could be prosecuted and punished.

      2. This is an excerpt from Packer’s forthcoming book, which I can’t wait to read. I agree, this is virtuosic writing that went straight into my heart, moving me to strong emotion, especially when he wrote, “I don’t want to live in any of these four Americas.” I agree with Historian that there is no solution in sight. In fact, I think the only course of action is to prepare ourselves for the coming societal crash, metaphorically crouching with our heads between our knees, cushioning the blow and minimizing the damage. Afterwards, we set about repairing the damage and rebuilding. This will be the American Experiment 2.0, which is really Constitution 2.0. Perhaps we need to go through a period of greater federalism before we can achieve that more perfect union, e pluribus unum.

    2. Yesterday’s filibuster wasn’t even to block the voting-rights bill itself, but to block the bill from even coming to the senate floor for debate. The chickenshit Republicans know they can’t plausibly defend their position in public. They would either have to endorse Donald Trump’s lunatic theories that his yooge landslide 2020 election victory was stolen from him by dead Hugo Chavez’s Dominion voting machines, by Italian spy satellites, and by Chinese bamboo ballots — or they would have to disavow those lunatic theories and expose themselves to the wrath of Trump’s lunatic base.

      I used to think that congressional Republicans were in mortal fear of Trump’s base electorally — that they feared they’d be primaried by a Trumpist if they sided against him. But now — given the chants to lynch the traitor Mike Pence’s during the January 6th riots, and given the death threats directed at Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney for opposing Trump — I think congressional Republicans fear for their actual, physical mortality from Trump’s supporters should they cross the Great Man in public.

      1. What you say here sounds right but I think it is even worse. The political tactics that Trump championed have worked so well that they’ve become completely embedded in the GOP’s whole philosophy. This depends a lot less on Trump himself as the Big Lie goes relatively unchallenged. That the 2020 election was stolen has gone from a theory to accepted wisdom among GOP voters. The purpose of the AZ “fraudit” is to keep this idea alive rather than to challenge the last election or reinstate Trump.

        Meanwhile, the GOP base sees all this as political business as usual — two parties lying on their respective media outlets and employing dirty tricks to try to win the next election. I suspect last night’s Senate vote is more about the GOP maintaining this illusion than fear of Trump’s retaliation against defections. This is all they really have and, in fact, its likely a winning strategy in 2022 and 2024. In short, we’re doomed.

  2. 1972 – Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman are taped talking about using the Central Intelligence Agency to obstruct the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the Watergate break-ins.

    If longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover hadn’t upped and croaked less than two months earlier, Nixon could not doubt have handled the matter, and quashed the Bureau’s investigation. with a call to the director himself.

  3. A couple of comments:

    The S.S. United States was built at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. in Newport News, VA and each year it would return to the yard for annual maintenance with an escort of fireboats shooting streams of water and local boats. I was in kindergarten on a bluff above the James River just a half mile downriver from the shipyard and would join a large number of citizens to cheer the United States on to its home just upriver each year. She was really the pride of the shipyard workers and the city at that time.

    Much of the research and exploratory drilling on the Chesapeake meteorite crater was led by Prof Gerry Johnson of the College of William and Mary geology dept. who jerry may remember from his undergrad days. One of the borings was set up just outside the door of my building at Nasa Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA and you can imagine the curiosity and interest it engendered among my thirty or so engineers over several months. I believe that the breccia or crushed rock in the crater compacting as ground water is removed is partly responsible for the sinking of land in the Hampton Roads region. This exacerbates relative sea-level rise in our area.

    1. My family crossed the Atlantic on the SS United States in 1963. It docked at Pier 86 in New York, which is now home to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

      1. All – if you come to NYC you HAVE to go to the Intrepid Museum in the West mid-40s on the Hudson. Even if you’re not terribly into planes and war (I’m partial to both) it is an excellent tourist sight.

        1. I mentioned it because I’ve been to the Intrepid Museum a couple of times, and its location before the museum existed when I was 11 years old. 😉 As you say, it is a good museum. I especially liked walking through the Concorde, or perhaps it was just a look inside. It’s been a while.

    2. My family as well took the United States from New York to Le Havre at the very end of 1963, when I was a child. It was a stormy passage, with 40-foot seas on the worst couple of days. The force of the waves broke open a cargo door, which partially flooded a deck. Most of the passengers were seasick. I remember dishes sliding back and forth on the tables in the lightly attended dining room as the ship swayed.

      Aside from the fascination of watching monster waves, it was very boring for an 8-year-old boy. There were only a couple of pinball machines for entertainment. Not a cruise ship.

      I also imagined that we’d be able to see fish from the porthole of our cabin. But a crew member came in and sealed it shut with a cover, to my disappointment.

      1. We traveled on the same ship in the same year, though my trip was in the summer and a smooth voyage.

        I did a later trip on the Queen Mary from Southampton to New York where it met the tail end of a hurricane. It had to go off its usual course to avoid the worst of the storm and arrived 18 hours late. The waves were sometimes 100 feet high and broke over the sides. They looked a lot like the waves in “The Perfect Storm”. Virtually everyone was seasick and scared except us kids who had the run of the ship due to the crew being totally occupied.

      2. My family took the America to Le Havre in ‘60 and the Independence to Genoa, I believe, in ‘62 (both times from NYC). My brothers and I had a great time running around, seeing movies,
        going swimming, etc. And my “bottomless pit” younger brothers loved the sumptious all-you-could eat midnight buffets, only a few hours after the huge dinners. The only time I’ve been on a ship in heavy seas was on the Illyria, on a cruise between Italy and Greece, via Dubrovnik. Most passengers had cancelled because of issues on Cyprus. Oh, and onHenry Luce’s yacht (sans Henry Luce) between Martinique and Puerto Rico when I was 7 and had a terrible case of ringworm from, guess who, my kitty. My mother was accompanying me to some Army docs on Puerto Rico. Mom said she had blistets on the fops of her toes from trying to hang on.

        1. The America was a basically smaller version of the United States in many ways. The United States was built for speed and heavy seas as it was part of a deal made with the War Dept after WWII to have three large, very fast and sea worthy ocean liners that could be quickly converted to troop carriers in the event of another war. The U.S. had found itself significantly lacking in troop carriers at the start of WWII and wanted something that was quick to convert and fast enough to avoid submarines. But as peace broke out, interest from Congresswaned and only one such ship, the United States was built. As a Gibbs design, it had a lot of aluminum for weight savings and little wood for fire prevention. It was a marvelous piece of engineering.

          1. Thanks for the interesting info, Jim. (After posting I remembered that we got off at Southampton, not Le Havre.)

  4. I haven’t read anything about British espionage law, but Fuchs confessed, and he co-operated with both British Intelligence and the FBI. He wouldn’t have been executed in the US, either, under those circumstances.

  5. I think the Dems are really wasting their time on passing this voting bill. It’s goal, of course, is to push back on the voter suppression bills being passed in red states. Congressional GOPs can’t possibly support it. Those that aren’t completely in Trump’s train will each find something wrong with the bill they can use as an excuse. Dems need to end, or at least modify, the filibuster. If the GOP were in power, they wouldn’t lose any sleep at all ending it.

  6. “Obergefell and Bostock took away the central rationale(s) for LGBT activist groups”
    I take the same stand with political parties. For decades, I reliably voted for Democrats because of these issues. Now that the major civil rights battles have been won (hurray!), I look at economic, foreign policy, etc and vote for the best candidate whether they are Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians.

  7. That “Dyke March” poster looks like a parody drawn by a right-winger. “Look what these people stand for!”

  8. I don’t know how a German pilot could mistake Wales for the European mainland

    He was over Devon which has a wide channel to the North and a wide channel to the South. I suspect he saw the Bristol Channel (the one to the North), glanced at his compass and mistook the North pointing end of the needle to be the South pointing end of the needle (reinforced by his expectation that the English Channel should be South) and flew a reciprocal bearing.

    I don’t think it’s the only time an aviator has flown a reciprocal bearing by mistake (although I don’t count “Wrong Way” Corrigan who knew damned well what he was doing when he “accidentally” flew across the Atlantic).

      1. I don’t think so. It all happened after a dogfight with a whole load of Spitfires. If he’d been drunk, I don’t think he would have survived the experience.

      1. The story was that he sprinkled what he thought was sugar or something harmless on the apple, took a bite, and realized too late what it was. Just a rumor I heard.

  9. I feel bad for the S.S. United States, whose days are almost certainly numbered. The heyday of the ocean liner is long gone (only the Queen Mary 2 remains in service). Restoring and maintaining the United States would cost more than anyone so far has been willing to pay. Even if she survives, it will be as a permanently-moored vessel. Better than the wrecking yard at least.

    And a better fate than what befell the SS America, which broke in two after running aground at Fuerteventura and was then slowly battered to pieces by the waves over the course of a decade.
    ( Pictures of the once-proud vessel, reduced only to its rotting front half, are an eerie sight.

    Here is a fine YouTube documentary on the ship:

  10. World Series perfect game pitcher – Yankee Don Larsen. (I did not look at the comments or elsewhere.)

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