Wednesday: Hili dialogue

July 7, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on a humpish Wednesday, July 7, 2021: National Strawberry Sundae Day (I prefer hot fudge  but with strawberries). It’s also World Chocolate Day, National Macaroni Day, and Global Forgiveness Day.

Wine of the Day: I’ve had this wine for a while, and it wasn’t cheap, but I’m sure I didn’t pay even half of the $90 estimate that gives for its present retail price. I love Southern Rhones, and a good Chåteauneuf can be a terrific wine. So, though the weather was hot last night, I chose a wine that I thought would to be rich and gutsy to accompany my weekly/biweekly t-bone steak (my first meat in several days).

The wine was fabulous, with the peppery and black olive-y nose of a good Rhone. Although it had a bit of sediment, there wasn’t much, and I suspect this wine could improve for at least five more years. Lots of stuffing in this one: a good exemplar of the robust but refined style of this appellation.  I’d gladly drink many more bottles but I ain’t got no more and it’s not only expensive but unobtainable.

News of the Day:

It’s now 168 days since Joe Biden occupied the White House, and, as far as I know, there is no cat. Because I’m guessing he won’t run again in 2024, I think Joe’s scammed us with his promises of getting a First Cat. #FirstCatNow

Have some pity for the good people of Afghanistan as the Taliban quickly ingests the country. Women are doomed, dogged by morality police who will beat them if they’re not sporting the proper covering, and the theocracy will soon be in place. Although the terrorists are trying to buff up their image a bit, it’s all window-dressing:

But the signs that the Taliban have not reformed are increasingly clear: An assassination campaign against government workers, civil society leaders and security forces continues on pace. There is little effort to proceed with peace talks with the Afghan government, despite commitments made to the United States. And in areas the insurgents have seized, women are being forced out of public-facing roles, and girls out of schools, undoing many of the gains from the past 20 years of Western presence.

. . . In places they now rule, the Taliban have imposed their old hard-line Islamist rules, such as forbidding women from working or even going outside their homes unaccompanied, according to residents in recently captured districts. Music is banned. Men are told to stop shaving their beards. Residents are also supposed to provide food for Taliban fighters.

It’s religion, Jake!

The homicide and shooting total for Chicago’s holiday weekend has been revised upwards: the police now report that 100 people were shot in this toddlin’ town, and 18 of those died. (Shooting victims included two cops and a dozen children, all of whom survived.) This madness won’t stop until Americans give up their guns, and as we all know, that’s an absolutely futile hope, especially with the present Supreme Court, which is soon to allow tanks inside shopping malls.

Track star Sha’Carri Richardson, who had been given a month’s suspension by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after testing positive for marijuana, a drug banned by the Olympics, has been booted off the U.S. Olympic track and field team. Although the IOC suspension prohibited Richardson from running in her star event, the 100-meter dash, the USA Track & Field association still could have let her participate in the 4 X 100 m relay. It declined to do so. Marijuana is considered a “performance enhancing drug,” though I don’t know of hard evidence supporting that, and Olympic athletes can still use it if they have a therapeutic reason. It’s all a mess, but right now I agree with Biden: break the rules and suffer the consequences. But those rules need examination.

Here are the results of yesterday’s admittedly unscientific poll about whether the International Olympic Committee should ban political protests from the podium at the Games. People were pretty much divided on the issue, with a slight tilt towards banning political gestures on the podium:

The world’s tallest horse, a giant Belgian named Big Jake, has crossed the Rainbow Bridge at the age of 20. As HuffPo (yes, sorry) notes: “Big Jake was 6-foot-10 (nearly 2.1 meters) and weighed 2,500 pounds (1,136 kilograms). The Guinness Book of World Records certified him as the world’s tallest living horse in 2010.”

Here’s a video of the giant stallion:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 605,507, an increase of 250 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,010,233, an increase of about 8,500 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 7 includes:

  • 1456 – A retrial verdict acquits Joan of Arc of heresy 25 years after her death.
  • 1534 – Jacques Cartier makes his first contact with aboriginal peoples in what is now Canada.
  • 1863 – The United States begins its first military draft; exemptions cost $300.
  • 1865 – Four conspirators in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln are hanged.

John Wilkes Booth, the assassin, had already been killed in the manhunt. Here’s a photo of the hanging (trigger warning: hanging) of four conspirators (caption from Wikipedia):

Execution of Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt on July 7, 1865, at Fort McNair in Washington City
  • 1911 – The United States, UK, Japan, and Russia sign the North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911 banning open-water seal hunting, the first international treaty to address wildlife preservation issues.
  • 1928 – Sliced bread is sold for the first time (on the inventor’s 48th birthday) by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri.

The inventor was Otto Rohwedder, and his invention was taken up widely, leading, with the advent of standardized slices, to an increase popularity of toasters. It also produced the phrase, still in use, “The best thing since sliced bread.”

Here’s what may be Rohwedder’s machine in use:

(From Wikipedia): This photograph depicts a “new electrical bread slicing machine” in use by an unnamed bakery in St. Louis in 1930 and may well show Rohwedder’s machine in use by the Papendick Bakery Company

Did you know this? (From Wikipedia):

During 1943, U.S. officials imposed a short-lived ban on sliced bread as a wartime conservation measure. The ban was ordered by Claude R. Wickard who held the position of Food Administrator, and took effect on January 18, 1943. According to The New York Times, officials explained that “the ready-sliced loaf must have a heavier wrapping than an unsliced one if it is not to dry out.” It was also intended to counteract a rise in the price of bread, caused by the Office of Price Administration’s authorization of a ten percent increase in flour prices.

The ban was rescinded in March

The journey was recorded in a book by Che and in the excellent eponymous movie from 2004. Here’s Che starting the motorcycle, a 1939 Norton 500 cc job named La Poderosa II :

Here’s a 1979 protest by Iranian women against the possibility of sharia law. Sadly, they lost.

  • 1981 – US President Ronald Reagan appoints Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female member of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • 1985 – Boris Becker becomes the youngest player ever to win Wimbledon at age 17.

Here’s Becker’s victory:

A few women have taken advantage of this law, but it hardly need be said that the city isn’t full of topless women in hot weather.  Here is a breastless Daily Fail video of women at a demonstration for the right to doff their tops:

  • 2005 – A series of four explosions occurs on London’s transport system, killing 56 people, including four suicide bombers, and injuring over 700 others.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1843 – Camillo Golgi, Italian physician and pathologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1926)
  • 1860 – Gustav Mahler, Austrian composer and conductor (d. 1911)
  • 1861 – Nettie Stevens, American geneticist (d. 1912)

Stevens discovered sex chromosomes using mealworms, and was well known and widely respected among geneticists, though still referred to in their papers as “Miss Stevens” (she did have a Ph.D). Despite her accomplishments, the times being what they were, she never held a regular academic job. Here she is:

  • 1906 – Satchel Paige, American baseball player and coach (d. 1982)
  • 1940 – Ringo Starr, English singer-songwriter, drummer, and actor
  • 1949 – Shelley Duvall, American actress, writer, and producer

Duvall was born to play the role of Olive Oyl in the Popeye movie, also starring Robin Williams. She looks just like Olive did in the comics!

  • 1980 – Michelle Kwan, American figure skater

Those who Crossed the Great Divide on July 7 were few, and include:

Here’s Conan Doyle in 1893 when he was about 34. I read all of his Sherlock Holmes stories when I was a lad:

Photo by Herbert Rose Barraud
  • 1950 – Fats Navarro, American trumpet player and composer (b. 1923)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili defines the perimeters of her job:

Hili: I’m going to check whether there is something interesting in the orchard.
A: Have a look to see whether the grass needs mowing.
Hili: That’s not my business.
In Polish:
Hili: Idę sprawdzić, czy jest coś ciekawego w sadzie.
Ja: Zobacz, czy nie trzeba już trawy skosić.
Hili: To nie jest moja sprawa.

And some lovely pictures of baby Kulka from Paulina.

Caption by Andrzej: “Paulina got mobilized and grabbed the camera.” (In Polish: “Paulina zmobilizowała się i złapała za aparat.”)

Here’s a quiz meme from Bruce. The answer is at the bottom of this post:

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

This Jesus of the Day post has 23 cool new names for animals. Click on the screenshot to go through them:

A tweet from Stephen Fry, who has wit.

Tweets from Matthew. Look at this amazing video screen!

A beautiful goal in the USA vs. Mexico women’s soccer match:

Another chance to watch that great interview with Dick Lewontin:

A tour de force of cinematography, though I’m not a fan of Superman movies (or any action-hero movies). The first clip is a speeded up gif; the second in real time (sound up):

Matthew’s notes on this one: “Slightly gross and grim thread, but usefully demonstrates that a flatworm’s mouth is in the middle of its underside. The last picture is great, reminding us about the internal shells of some slugs.”

Matthew’s comment, which I echo: “Look at these moths!”


Answer to Bruce’s quiz above: In these states, the number of cattle exceeds the number of humans.

50 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. “The tube just tumbled to the floor as I was screwing on the top.”

    My first thought was that he shouldn’t be surprised if the television fell to the floor while he was screwing on the top of it. 🙂

    1. I lived in three of those states and three others as well. Have no idea what the answer may be.

    2. My guess was for sheep, not coos. The absence of New Zealand bering a clue.
      Anyone heard from Heather recently? I can’t remember the last time I saw her here.

  2. This madness won’t stop until Americans give up their guns,

    I don’t disagree as a general principle. However AIUI the murder rate generally – and temporarily – goes up with high temperatures. So this particular sudden rise in Chicago murders may have more to do with the recent heat wave than anything else.

    1. You’ve got to be kidding. Every holiday weekend in summer has a high death rate. One could, I suppose, correlate average weekend temperatures on non-holiday weekends with the number of homicides. I would have thought that hot weather would reduce homicides, keeping people indoors, but this is Chicago and guns are everywhere.

      1. I would have thought that hot weather would reduce homicides,

        Nope, the correlation goes the other way. Hot temperatures correlate with higher crime rates. I’m not sure anyone really knows why, or how they may be causally connected, but yes, I’m not kidding. When Chicago (or any other city) undergoes an unusual heat wave, it’s a good bet that there will be a higher number of murders than usual. Google the subject if you don’t believe me; it’s easy to pop up everything from WashPo and NYT articles to scientific publications on the ‘temperature aggression hypothesis.’

        I’ll reiterate that I don’t disagree with you about gun control. The US murder rate is something like 10x the European murder rate. I believe some of that is due to gun availability. However seasonal or temperature-correlative rises and falls in the murder rate occur in both the US and Europe, and so that’s probably a different effect.

        1. Don’t disagree with anything you said. But I also think our culture is simply more violent that those in European nations. (Hence the sneering at Europe by US conservatives: Bunch of sissies!)

              1. Your argument would be stronger if you could tell us what parts of US culture, if not gun culture, you think is responsible? Are we really that different than most other rich cultures? I can’t think of any that would account for the violence differential other than guns. Although hunting is certainly part of gun culture, it is only a small part and has been getting smaller every year. The real gun culture is the Big Lie that one can better protect their family by owning a gun.

    2. The correlation between violent crime and heat waves is fairly good in Britain. “Violent crime” most frequently involving a busted nose, and rarely exceeding a non-fatal stabbing. I think the presence of a superabundance of guns is the main point here.

  3. … the Popeye movie …

    One of the lesser lights in the Altman oeuvre, though it has its fans.

  4. 1928 – Sliced bread is sold for the first time (on the inventor’s 48th birthday) by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri.

    When my parents were children during the Great Depression store-bought sliced bread was considered a luxurious treat. Three decades later when my siblings and I were kids, and store shelves were crammed with Wonder Bread and the like, going to our grandparents’ homes and having some of our grandmothers’ fresh home-baked bread was a delicacy.

  5. Re: The Superman clip. It reminds me of the scene near the end of Kill Bill: Volume 2, in which Bill says that Clark Kent is Superman’s critique of the human race. I’d never thought of it that way before, but I haven’t been able to do otherwise since hearing that.

  6. A tour de force of cinematography, though I’m not a fan of Superman movies …

    You want tour de force of cinematography (since Altman’s now on my mind), consider the opening long take (with its swooping crane and dolly shots) of his biting satirical masterpiece The Player. The single shot sets up the entire film, with the added irony that, in the middle of this long take, the Fred Ward character is commenting about how American movies no longer use long takes, but are all just “cut, cut, cut” (and the double irony that Ward’s character is a retired cop who’s the head of studio security, yet is the only one on the lot who seems to be concerned with the aesthetics, rather than the business end, of filmmaking):

  7. I’m disappointed to hear that Ms. Richardson won’t be participating in the Olympics. I just heard of her for the first time a few weeks ago and based on that was looking forward to seeing her run in the Olympics. She is an impressive sprinter.

    1. Yeah, it’s a pity and “breaking the rules” doesn’t cut it for me. Her mom died last month, she was in Oregon where recreational is legal and she seems to have been self-medicating. The Olympics allow marijuana for medical reasons, but hey, this was an “emotional/mental problem” and those kinds of problems are stigmatized.

      The team will miss her. She’s FAST, flashy and we share surnames, so I’m doubly disappointed. 🤬

        1. Agree – It’s never had that effect on me. Rather than going out for a run, all I want to do is blob out on the couch, watch crap TV and eat chocolate biscuits.

      1. While I’m sure mental health issues are still stigmatized, isn’t it also part of the solution to treat mental health as seriously as any other health issue? If so, then shouldn’t an athlete drop out of the competition if they are suffering mental health issues so severe they can only cope by breaking the drug rules? Why should it be different than, say, breaking a leg or spraining an ankle? When an athlete has a physical injury that stops them competing at the highest level, they give their place on the Olympic team to someone else. IMHO, some people seem to want it both ways.

      2. I do not understand, Cannabis is definitely not performance enhancing, especially not in events like the sprint. Why is it banned in the first place?

  8. Wine of the day: Sediment is the sign of a well made and well-bottled wine. If it throws no sediment, then it’s likely been filtered to death.

    Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

    1. My dessert drink last night had some sediment in it. A double porter brewed with prunes and aged in a Cognac barrel. The last trickle slid out of the can darker than molasses and nearly as thick as a syrup, and with a wee bit of sediment. It was excellent. You got the Cognac and the prunes, but subtle. Just right.

    2. My 40p litre of machine-made chemical-lab flavoured bottle of “I’m thirsty, give me anything wet” last week had thrown down sediment, clearly visible in it’s polycarbonate bottle. I was surprised enough to notice it.
      I don’t think the presence of sediment itself says much about the drink other than whether the chemist in charge wanted it to produce sediment.

      I wonder what the actual chemistry of wine (and other) sediments is. There is probably a journal on the subject.

      1. Very few winemakers employ chemists (at least small-to-moderately sized French winemakers anyway). Though bulk producers may.

        Lack of a sediment in a big Rhone wine bottle that had been in bottle for 7 years indicates over-filtering (which makes a wine taste bland and sometimes even like cardboard). A sediment is an expected result in a good red wine, aged in bottle. (And tartaric acid crystals often drop out of white wines as well.)

        The sediment in red wines is primarily tartaric acid, tannins, and the last remnants of yeast cells, M-L bacteria cells, finings, grape solid tissue material, etc. (and other flora cells). Many makers sterile-filter to remove all these cells, etc., and such filtering clobbers a wine. My favorite wine importer to the USA, Kermit Lynch, refuses to buy filtered wines.

        My point is that a healthy sediment is not a flaw in a wine. Many reject wines due to sediment. This is usually an error. (There can be grossly excessive sediments or bad-tasting/smelling sediments; but these are very rare in my experience.)

  9. Answer to Bruce’s quiz above: In these states, the number of cattle exceeds the number of humans.

    Four of those nine states also get the minimum number of votes states are allotted in the electoral college, three, even though their populations are smaller than some urban neighborhoods, thereby giving their voters an outsized per capita influence on US presidential elections. A Wyomingite’s presidential vote, for example, counts for 3.6 times as much as a Californian’s.

    1. The E.C. is a blight upon our democracy, let alone plain ludicrous. And these states’ representation in the Senate is similarly at a great advantage; and the Dakotas were split in two just so they could get more representation. All those states should fuse into one or two giant states, and then it would be fair. I guess I wouldn’t complain as much if some of those states were blue…

    2. The EC? 3.6 times? That’s peanuts compared to the Senate: A Senate vote in Wyoming weighs more than 70 times a Senate vote in California (or, close, NY, TX or FL)

  10. Marijuana is considered a “performance enhancing drug,”

    Definitely has not been my experience! It renders me nearly catatonic.

    1. I know, that made me LOL!

      It’s strange, marijuana has been around for over a hundred years, and so many people (and their laws and institutions) are completely clueless as to what it actually does. In this case, the drug can definitely enhance concentration and mood, but that wouldn’t affect physical performance. Anyway, that’s only if you’re high; Ms. Richardson just had it in her system, which is meaningless.

      1. This particular drug rule may well be worthy of review but surely we don’t respond to someone breaking a rule by throwing out the rule and letting them compete? This would be unfair to all the other athletes. It also might open up the floodgates to future rule challenges by athletes that simply got caught.

        1. I wouldn’t say throw out the rule and let them compete. I would say they should have evaluated her situation and gave it more consideration; this was a knee-jerk reaction, and it’s not a black and white world. Either way, pot doesn’t give her any kind of advantage (even if she was high while competing), but definitely not if it’s just in her system. I’m sure other athletes would be fine if they allowed her to compete, knowing the circumstances. They should get rid of the inane rule and no floodgates to worry about.

          1. It is a black and white situation. There are drug rules that she knew about and broke anyway. That’s really the end of the story. It’s sad her mother died but no way can the IOC or the US Olympic team accept that as an excuse to waive drug rules. Where do they draw the line? If someone’s mother is deathly ill but hasn’t yet died, is that good enough to suspend the rules? What if a beloved pet dies?

            1. Ridiculous line of logic there, Paul. Sorry.
              How arrogant for the IOC (or anybody) to presume her problems and judge them.

              If it isn’t performance enchasing (and it most assuredly isn’t) wtf business is it of the drug warrior IOC anyway?

              1. This might make sense if every person responded to drugs in the same way. We know this is not the case (hence trials and labeling specific to certain groups).

              2. Yes, but we can’t go there when it comes to athletic competition. Imagine an athlete claiming the rules don’t apply to them because banned drug X, which they take regularly, doesn’t improve their performance. “Cross my heart. I use it only because it makes me feel good.”

              3. How is the IOC presuming or judging her problems? They aren’t and shouldn’t. They are saying that there are drug rules that she knew full well, which she has acknowledged, and she broke them. End of story from the IOC’s point of view.

                If she hadn’t broken the drug rules, she should decide whether she’s sufficiently healthy (mentally or physically) to compete. Her team may also have a say in that as each team wants to put forward its best. Presumably this is the same for all Olympic athletes.

        2. I would be fine with this rule being thrown out and her, and anyone else disallowed due to failing the pot test, being allowed to compete. I don’t even need any extenuating circumstances. And I don’t smoke pot myself, never have. And yes, throwing out rules is not without precedent and I think it is a very good thing for any kind of regulatory / legal / justice system to allow for.

    2. My senior year of high school, it was raining all day and I was sure baseball practice was going to be cancelled, so I smoked some weed with some buddies right after school. Sure enough the skies cleared a little later, and practice proceeded as scheduled.

      I’m here to tell you, it didn’t help my performance none. 🙂

      Then again, there’s the case of Dock Ellis, the infamous pitcher for the Pittsburg Pirates, who once tossed a no-hitter while tripping on acid. But it was 1970, man, and did I mention it was Dock Ellis?

    3. Yes, precisely my experience. In an earlier life I once made that mistake, in a short 10km run, where I usually ended in the top 10%, I ended up close to last. If it had been a marathon or the 100km I would have dropped out completely.
      Cannabis is even worse than alcohol in these events.
      Performance diminishing substance.

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