Tuesday: Hili dialogue

July 13, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on a rainy Chicago Tuesday: July 13, 2021: National French Fry Day, or, as they once were called by Republicans after France refused to invade Iraq, “Freedom Fries”.  It’s also Bean ‘n’ Franks Day (what? only a single bean?), Embrace Your Geekness Day, and Barbershop Music Appreciation Day. Here’s a barbershop quartet, Signature, for your delectation.


News of the Day:

It’s now 174 days since Biden moved into the White House. That’s nearly six months, but WHERE IS THEIR PROMISED CAT? Does anybody want to bet me that the Biden’s will get a cat? (I’m guessing no.)

BIG TROUBLE IN TEXAS! In an attempt to sabotage the restrictive Republican voting-rights bill before the Texas legislature, at least 58 Democratic members of the state House of Representatives plan to flee the state for Washington, D.C. That would deprive the House of the two-thirds majority needed to enact regulation. But the Dems would have to stay away through the entire legislative session, which could go on for more than a month. But wait! There’s more!:

The lawmakers risk arrest in taking flight. Under the Texas Constitution, the Legislature requires a quorum of two-thirds of lawmakers be present to conduct state business in either chamber. Absent lawmakers can be legally compelled to return to the Capitol, and the source said Democrats expect state Republicans to ask the Department of Public Safety to track them down.

I don’t think they can be arrested if they’re out of the state. But the GOP is going to lasso those renegade Democrats and drag ’em back to Austin! Stay tuned for big fun.

Is your car warranty up to date? The government has initiated a new partnership with phone companies to block these odious robocalls, and the NYT has an article about that scheme and some tips about what to do to stem the annoying tide of people asking about your warranty. Some info:

At the center of the effort is Stir/Shaken, the technology that aims to verify calls as they move through networks to recipients. (The name Stir/Shaken is derived from Secure Telephone Identity Revisited and Signature-Based Handling of Asserted Information Using Tokens. You can see why they went with the nickname.)

. . .While some robocalls are legal — such as recorded messages about school closings and political campaigns — most are not, according to industry estimates.

YouMail, a call-blocking company, estimates that 4.4 billion robocalls were placed to consumers in the United States in June, about 573 million of them auto warranty and health-related scams.

I wrote this in the news items yesterday:

Furnace Creek in Death Valley, where I spent several months (in Spring!) working on fruit flies, hit 130°F (54.4°C) Friday, tying a mark from August of last year. It’s not yet a record as there’s a disputed recording of 134°F from that site in 1913. But if the earlier record proves untrustworthy, then we have a new record for the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth. (The standard measurement is taken 1.5 meters above the ground, with the recording device shielded from direct sunlight. Temperatures might even reach 132°F today.

I found the photo below on public Facebook, and if it were true it would be a world record high for the entire planet, breaking the dubious 1913 record of 134 degrees. But I couldn’t verify the temperature below, which is at a place I know well, Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center. In fact, I just found out from a WaPo article that this is a fake record:

But the big digital National Park Service thermometer that caused so much excitement sits in intense sunlight, while the National Weather Service draws its official readings from a shaded sensor with more complex instrumentation. By 5 p.m. Saturday, that sensor had peaked at 129.4 degrees — a touch lower than the record.

But another record was set on Sunday, as the WaPo reports:

When dawn broke Sunday in Death Valley, Calif., the low temperature was a sweltering 107.7 degrees, the highest ever recorded in North America. By the late afternoon, the mercury had swelled to a blazing 128.6 degrees. The combination of the two produced the highest daily average temperature observed on the planet: 118.1 degrees.

This temperature was recorded at Stovepipe Wells, near the northern Park entrance—not the usual spot for setting heat records. I’ve been to Death Valley when it was about 120°F (49°C), and the heat was ungodly—i.e., hellish. Even as an impecunious postdoc, I had to spring for a $50 motel room at Furnace Creek to get the air conditioning. I was trying to see if there were any Drosophila flies there in the summer, and guess what? Not a damn fly to be found. Yet they appear in the millions in March.

Speaking of booster shots, the Washington Post reports that Israel is already giving third-dose Pfizer booster shots to severely immunocompromised patients. Older people may be next in line. A quote:

Eyal Leshem, an infectious-disease specialist at Sheba Medical Center, said that while Israel’s Health Ministry would likely not make a third shot available to the general public any time soon, this move may open the path toward targeting specific vulnerable populations who are known to have reduced protection when compared with the healthy population.

Also from the NYT: Three black players for England who missed penalty kicks in their team’s loss to Italy, and who happen to be black, have been subjected to racist abuse on social media. This is unconscionable and may even be illegal in the UK (though not in the US). Legal or not, it does nothing to lift the veil of racism and roughneck-ism draped around British soccer.

And Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter theme park is now adding a replica Tower of Babel. And it deals with race!:

According to Ark Encounter’s press release, this Tower of Babel model will “tackle racism issues, showing how all people groups have developed from one biological race.” This attraction will also be accompanied by an indoor scale model of what Jerusalem may have looked like at the time of Christ alongside a ‘themed carousel.’

I wonder what the Ur-race will be. (h/t Ginger K)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 606,577, an increase of 255 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,056,845, an increase of about 6,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 13 includes:

  • 587 BC – Babylon’s siege of Jerusalem ends following the destruction of Solomon’s Temple.
  • 1793 – Journalist and French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat is assassinated in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday, a member of the opposing political faction.

Here’s Jean-Louis David’s famous painting of that incident, The Death of Marat (1793) with a detail:

Corday was guillotined for the murder. Wikipedia gives a closeup of the letter he’s holding and a translation:

Detail of The Death of Marat showing the paper held in Marat’s left hand. The letter reads “Il suffit que je sois bien malheureuse pour avoir droit a votre bienveillance” which means “Given that I am unhappy, I have a right to your help

  • 1863 – New York City draft riots: In New York City, opponents of conscription begin three days of rioting which will be later regarded as the worst in United States history.

This was not just a protest against the draft for the Civil War, against the fact that richer men could buy their way out of the draft, combined with racism based on fear that free blacks could take the jobs of whites.

This is regarded as the foundation of AI as a field. The summer workshop included the following participants:

For the full period:

1) Dr. Marvin Minsky
2) Dr. Julian Bigelow
3) Professor D.M. Mackay
4) Mr. Ray Solomonoff
5) Mr. John Holland
6) Mr. John McCarthy

For four weeks:

7) Dr. Claude Shannon
8) Mr. Nathanial Rochester
9) Mr. Oliver Selfridge

For the first two weeks:

10) Mr. Allen Newell
11) Professor Herbert Simon

Here’s Butterfield’s BIG REVEAL:

So much for defunding the police! Here’s a photo:

Here are the epic 21 minutes of Queen’s Live Aid performance. It was watching this that made me appreciate Freddy Mercury:

  • 1985 – Vice President George H. W. Bush becomes the Acting President for the day when President Ronald Reagan undergoes surgery to remove polyps from his colon.
  • 2016 – Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron resigns, and is succeeded by Theresa May.

Notables born on this day include:

This is also included under July 12 (see yesterday). Get it straight, Wikipedia!

One of the richest men in the world, Astor, a business magnate, was also the richest man on the Titanic, but he perished when it sank. Here’s a photo:

  • 1894 – Isaac Babel, Russian short story writer, journalist, and playwright (d. 1940)
  • 1937 – Ghillean Prance, English botanist and ecologist
  • 1940 – Paul Prudhomme, American chef and author (d. 2015)
  • 1940 – Patrick Stewart, English actor, director, and producer
  • 1942 – Harrison Ford, American actor and producer
  • 1942 – Roger McGuinn, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1946 – Cheech Marin, American actor and comedian

Cheech and Chong today (Cheech, contrary to what you think, doesn’t speak fluent Spanish):

Credit: Douglas Mason; Getty Images

Those who were no more on the 13th of July include:

  • 1793 – Jean-Paul Marat, French physician and theorist (b. 1743)
  • 1946 – Alfred Stieglitz, American photographer and curator (b. 1864)

Steiglitz was the father of modern American photography. Here’s one of his famous photos, “The Steerage” (1907)

  • 1951 – Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian-American composer and painter (b. 1874)
  • 1954 – Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter and educator (b. 1907)

Here’s a 1951 photo of Kahlo by Florence Arquin; I believe Kahlo’s wearing one of her casts because of her back injuries, and has decorated it appropriately:

  • 1960 – Joy Davidman, American-English poet and author (b. 1915)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being bossy about the garden again (power is now restored in Dobrzyn!):

Hili: You have to clear away these apples.
A: I don’t have time.
Hili: I’m not going to do it for you.
In Polish:
Hili: Musisz pozbierać te jabłka.
Ja: Nie mam czasu.
Hili: Ja tego za ciebie nie zrobię.

A meme from Barry:

A useful tip from Nicole:

From Facebook:

This was tweeted by Gervais himself, and yes, it’s pretty embarrassing:

Luana sent a tweet showing CRT in action at Penn State:

A tweet from Barry. Do watch the entire video, as there are some amazing shots of octopuses in action—presented with humor (and profanity):

Tweets from Matthew, who must be worn out:

Live and Learn Department:


Matthew’s caption: “Reading the rude bits before chucking them on the fire.”

There are lots of answers in the thread. . .

Yes, she did have a pet lion. Its name was Neil, and he sometimes slept in bed with her.

59 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

    1. I’m not sure why Fogerty’s songs are so overlooked – most people think that “Rockin’ All Over the World” was written by the band that on this side of the pond we are obliged to call “the mighty Quo”. (On your side of the Atlantic, Status Quo are doubtless seen as a second-rate Grand Funk Railroad copy, if they are even thought about at all. Though they did open the Live Aid Wembley gig that our host mentioned…)

    2. Love John Fogerty and CCR. “Proud Mary” being mentioned here made me think that the Ike and Tina Turner version was a lot more popular. Not so. According to Wikipedia, the CCR version reached #2 whereas the Turner version only got to #4. Still, I imagine the Turner version gets more play and they did win a Grammy for it.

      1. In the 1980s, John Fogerty refused to play CCR songs due to legal issues with his record company and former bandmates. He once performed at a jam session with Taj Mahal, George Harrison and Bob Dylan. Dylan requested “Proud Mary;” when John hesitated, Bob said “If you don’t start playing it again, everyone will think it’s an Ike & Tina Turner song.” John played it.

        1. John Fogerty seemed to disappear for a couple of decades after CCR. He’s such an excellent guitarist, singer, and songwriter. I suspect that these disputes swallowed up a lot of work he would have done otherwise.

        2. Bob oughta know. There are plenty of people who think several of his songs belong to The Byrds and “It Ain’t Me Babe” to The frickin’ Turtles.

          1. In Dylan’s case, it really boils down to lackluster performances of his own songs. I’d take Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” over Dylan’s every day of the week. This isn’t a problem shared by Fogerty and CCR.

  1. Three black players for England who missed penalty kicks in their team’s loss to Italy, and who happen to be black, have been subjected to racist abuse on social media.

    Though we should not blow this out of proportion. According to Channel 4 analysis, there was a UK TV audience of for the match of 30 million, and in the hour around the penalty shoot-out there were of order 1 million Tweets about it. Of those, about 200 contained “serious” racial abuse.

    So, of order 1-in-100,000 fans (mostly complete nobodies with small followings) posted racial abuse on social media. Then, as is the modern fashion, people trawl to find this stuff and blow it up into an “it’s an outrage!” story.

    1. One of these players was Marcus Rashford, Mancunian, Man United player and campaigner against childrens’ poverty. On Monday a mural of him was defaced with (I think non-racist) graffiti. By this morning the graffiti was completely covered by locals leaving messages of support for him and the other players.


      I mention this in no way to excuse the abuse, of course.

  2. I’ve always considered Queen the best band of all time, above the overrated Beatles. Freddie’s voice was in pieces for Live Aid, with his doctor advising him to not perform at all.
    While I’m on the subject, I wonder how many people know Brian May has a PhD in astrophysics, is a former university chancellor, and built his famous Red Special guitar (along with his dad) from converted materials such as knitting needles, bicycle seat components and fireplace wood ?!

    1. I remember Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend being interviewed during Live Aid. The interviewer asked them how much rehearsing they did (remember that The Who actually reformed for the gig having split up). They said something like “we ran through the set a couple of times”. Then one of them said mockingly “we heard that Queen rehearsed for three weeks”.

      Well, frankly, it showed. Queen played the best set by a country mile. Even more, it resurrected their careers.

      But the Beatles are still better than Queen. In fact, it is unlikely that Queen could have existed without the Beatles.

    2. Queen above “the overrated Beatles”?

      Well, as a general matter de gustibus non est disputandum — though, with an outré claim like that, you’re flirting with some major disputatione around these parts, fella.

      1. True – though I wonder if Jimmy’s original comment was specifically referring to the Beatles’ live performances rather than their music more generally?

        1. And also “Octopus’s Garden” … Though on the other hand, there’s “I’m in Love with My car” ( for which Roger Taylor received as much in royalties as Freddie did for penning the single’s rather better A-side!)

      1. “I’ve always considered writing the most hateful kind of work. I suspect it’s a bit like fucking, which is only fun for amateurs. Old whores don’t do much giggling.”

        — Hunter Thompson

        1. Oh man, haven’t read that one. HST must be one of the most quotable writers in history…the rated “R” Mark Twain. 🙂

  3. I would think that if a valid warrant were issued for the arrest of a Texas legislator, then it could be executed in any State, and they could be extradited and hauled back to Texas. It seems to me that that has happened before, although I don’t think it was related to Texas.

    1. I believe it’s happened at least once before in Texas, although in that instance I think the legislators merely decamped for neighboring Oklahoma. I’ve a recollection of Molly Ivins covering it and writing about

      being embedded with the troops at the Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma, singing “I’m Just an Asshole from El Paso” with Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, and “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother” with Ray Wylie Hubbard [and] laughing at the loonies in the lege.

      1. I love Kinky Friedman’s music and detective novels, but an old high school friend’s hubby, who is a (liberal and Jewish ) judge in Austin, has had personal dealings with Kinky and says he’s a real a-hole.

  4. Does anybody want to bet me that the Biden’s will get a cat?

    Yeah, OK, I’ll take that bet. $100 against a signed copy of WEIT that the Bidens bring a cat to live in the Whitehouse before 20/01/2025 at midday. If I win I’ll pay for shipping the book to the UK.

  5. 1864 – John Jacob Astor IV, American colonel and businessman (d. 1912).

    Husband of the famed “Mrs. Astor” (Caroline Schermerhorn Astor), the keeper of “the Four Hundred,” the quasi-secret list of the most prominent families in New York — the Gilded Age social milieu satirized by Edith Wharton in novels such as Age of Innocence.

  6. Tippi Hedren is still with us at 91, so sharing a bed with Neil clearly didn’t result in any harm. And to think she complained to Hitchcock about a few little birds…!

  7. The Economist’s Espresso app features a Quotation of the Day on the last page of each issue. Today’s was a good one from Frida Kahlo:

    “I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.”

    1. If Kahlo said that first, then U2/Bono stole it, as that line is in their song “End of the World”

  8. Does anybody know why French fries are called French? In French-speaking Europe they are considered as being quintessentially Belgian. One can not imagine Belgium without thinking fries (with mussels) and comics but you do not associate France with fries.

    1. From wiki:


      In the United States and most of Canada, the term french fries, sometimes capitalized as French fries, or shortened to fries, refers to all dishes of fried elongated pieces of potatoes. Variations in shape and size may have names such as curly fries, shoestring fries, etc. In the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand, the term chips is generally used instead, though thinly cut fried potatoes are sometimes called french fries or skinny fries, to distinguish them from chips, which are cut thicker. In the US or Canada these more thickly-cut chips might be called steak fries, depending on the shape. The word chips is more often used in North America to refer to potato chips, known in the UK and Ireland as crisps.

      Thomas Jefferson had “potatoes served in the French manner” at a White House dinner in 1802. The expression “french fried potatoes” first occurred in print in English in the 1856 work Cookery for Maids of All Work by E. Warren: “French Fried Potatoes. – Cut new potatoes in thin slices, put them in boiling fat, and a little salt; fry both sides of a light golden brown colour; drain.” This account referred to thin, shallow-fried slices of potato (French cut) – it is not clear where or when the now familiar deep-fried batons or fingers of potato were first prepared. In the early 20th century, the term “french fried” was being used in the sense of “deep-fried” for foods like onion rings or chicken.

  9. With regard to the average-white-guy video, that seems rather mild if it is supposed to be demonstrating CRT. He seems to be addressing prejudice regarding job applications and so on. That has been confirmed by many tests: send exactly the same application, but change the race, name, place of birth, etc., and the chances are different. That does appear to be a real problem, and there has been some move to blind applications as a result. He doesn’t seem to be saying that the white guy is inherently superior, but rather that he is often perceived so. Some CRT types might agree with that, but if we disagree with it just because they agree with it, we make ourselves look absurd.

    1. The “name on the resume” issue is perhaps made more interesting by the fact that 85% of resumes contain lies and 30% admit to having lied on a resume. Sounds like their best shot is to lie about their name, though that brings other problems. 😉

  10. Tippi Hedron is a long-time friend and supporter of big cats. I have her book “The Cats of Shambala” (1985), about the Shambala Preserve for captive exotic big cats. She has been a major financial supporter of the sanctuary since the 80s, and is still listed as president.

    According to their web site: “Tippi is founder and President of The Roar Foundation and resides at Shambala in a cottage surrounded by big cat compounds. ‘I awaken to their roars.'” Now THAT sounds like a living situation I could get used to!

  11. The bumblebee bat is not only arguably the smallest mammal and about the laziest, but also about the cutestas expected it is ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN list

  12. OK, this comment is too late, but does anyone else think that the picture of John Jacob Astor looks like Freddie Mercury??

  13. What’s with all the nail salons? If you were a kid before the ’80s or so, you don’t remember them as a kid. What happened? Why did they appear? Tippi Hedren.

  14. Hmmm. I wonder if Ken Ham’s monstrosity’s new woke exhibit will mention that pesky of Shem/Ham dichotomy…. or the fact that at any time slavery was on the agenda the 3 monotheisms were ALL FOR IT. Think?

    I’d still go to Answers in Genesis (but I’d definitely go tripping… it’d be hilarious. I’d be thrown out quickly of course).

  15. In today’s climate, with many employers trying desperately to increase the diversity of their workforces, is it a given that the Penn State white student will have an advantage?

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