Wednesday: Hili dialogue

July 14, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Wednesday: July 14, 2021: National Grand Marnier Day, as is appropriate for Bastille Day. It’s also National Mac and Cheese Day, celebrating America’s premier comfort food, Shark Awareness Day, International Non-Binary People’s Day, and, in France, Bastille Day.

News of the Day:

More about the COVID-19 booster shots. Will we need them? After the CDC and the FDA conferred with Pfizer officials yesterday, the government agencies say that we need more data on what infections occur in already-vaccinated people. In the meantime, Israel is already giving third shots of the Pfizer vaccine to immunocompromised people. If history is any guide, though, the U.S. will eventually follow Israel’s lead, and for everyone, not just the compromised.

After Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives fled the state to deny the GOP a quorum for voting on the new bill tightening voter registration, House Republicans voted to track down the fleeing Dems and arrest them. But of course Texas law enforcement doesn’t reach into Washington, D.C., so it’s an empty threat. And, ultimately, the GOP will win this one, as the Democrats can’t prevent a “yes” vote forever. I’m not sure what’s been accomplished by this theater of the absurd except to call attention to what Texas is trying to do, which we already knew. I thought it was amusing, though, that on the news a Texas Republican referred to the fleeing Democrats as “critters.”

Now that consumers are out and about with money, the expected outcome has occurred: big inflation. According to the New York Times, the inflation rate from last June to this June rose to 5.4%, the highest yearly rate since August, 2008. But don’t worry; I predict, knowing nothing about economics, that inflation will cool down after people have had their buying spree. Here’s the NYT’s graph of yearly inflation rates per month (inflation rates for each month reflect inflation for the entire year preceding that month). Pro-tip: don’t buy a house or car now.

For the first time in 400 years, a beaver kit has been born in Britain’s national park of Exmoor (h/t Jez). This is a big deal:

Beavers were hunted to extinction in Britain in the 16th century for their meat, fur and scent glands but have been reintroduced at several sites since early 2000s. The project is part of the National Trust’s Riverlands programme, which aims to increase biodiversity in UK rivers and tackle the effects of climate change.

As desired, the single pair of beavers introduced in January 2020 have already turned a substantial part of the forest/river complex into wetlands, allowing an ecosystem with lots more species. And now there’s a kit! (A baby beaver is called a “kit”.)

Camera footage shows the six-week-old kit swimming to the family lodge with its mother in a large enclosure on the Holnicote Estate in Somerset, where two Eurasian beavers were released for the first time in the trust’s 125-year history.

There’s a short video of parent + baby at the Guardian site. Here’s a screen capture:

The Church of England is set to apologize for expelling Jews from medieval England.  (h/t: Ginger K):

In written questions submitted to the General Synod, the Church’s legislative body which finished sitting on Monday, church leaders revealed plans to offer an “act of repentance” in a move welcomed by Jewish groups who say the action is “better late than never”.

The Church was instrumental in endorsing historic legislation restricting Jews in the county, such as forcing them to wear identifying badges and banning them from certain professions, which ultimately led to the nationwide expulsion of Jews in the 13th century.

The weird thing is that the Church of England didn’t exist until Henry VIII created it in 1534. So why are the Anglicans apologizing for something they didn’t do?

Food tip: Reader Paul informs us, citing an article, that Van Leeuwen, a famed American ice cream maker, is collaborating with Kraft to produce—what else?—Mac and Cheese flavored ice cream. Not only that, but the Eater reviewer said it was good! Look:

Upon taking the first bite, I was hooked. Half of the pint had disappeared by the time I looked up, and I have no regrets. The cheese powder combines with Van Leeuwen’s rich base, made with milk, cream, and sugar, to produce a buttery flavor that’s only slightly cheesy. It doesn’t exactly evoke a bowl of macaroni and cheese in terms of texture, thankfully, but the flavor is strikingly similar. It’s lightly funky, and more complex than the classic blue-box dinner. It’s one of those foods that’s so uniquely compelling that you’re going to be confused while eating it, but definitely won’t want to stop.

Well, I expect one of our more adventurous readers to try this stuff, which was released today. Unfortunately, it’s $12 a pint! Here’s a photo:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 607,369, an increase of 330 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,066,859, a big increase of about 10,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 14 includes:

  • 1789 – Storming of the Bastille in Paris. This event escalates the widespread discontent into the French Revolution. Bastille Day is still celebrated annually in France.
  • 1798 – The Sedition Act of 1798 becomes law in the United States making it a federal crime to write, publish, or utter false or malicious statements about the United States government.

A version of this act, the Alien Enemies Act, allowing the President to deport those deemed dangerous to America, remains in force today.

Here’s the famous Gustave Doré print of that mountaineering disaster:

  • 1874 – The Chicago Fire of 1874 burns down 47 acres of the city, destroying 812 buildings, killing 20, and resulting in the fire insurance industry demanding municipal reforms from Chicago’s city council.

This was after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. We couldn’t get a break.

Here’s the only existing authenticated (and “upgraded”) image of Billy the Kid, who died at 21 after having escaped from prison. He was a serial murderer and a cattle rustler. The gun: “a Winchester Model 1873 lever action rifle”, and The Kid also has a Colt revolver strapped to his waist.

The law is shown below.  Unfortunately, some of the disorders weren’t necessarily genetic, since the “Genetic Health Courts” mandating sterilization often lacked information about the ancestral history of the disorder, and some, like “congenital mental deficiency”, could be caused by many things other than bad genes.

The Monument includes a visitor’s center and the remnant’s of Carver’s boyhood home—a one-room cabin. Here’s all that’s left:

Here’s Goodall in those early days in a photo from the Sierra Club Magazine:

Jane Goodall grooming David Greybeard, the chimp who went on to upend ideas about primate intelligence. | Photo by Hugo van Lawick/National Geographic Creative

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1862 – Gustav Klimt, Austrian painter and illustrator (d. 1918)

Klimt was a cat lover, and here’s a photo of him with his cat, named “Katze” (“cat” in German):

Gustav Klimt and his Cat, Katze, at his Studio on Josefstaedter Strasse, Vienna, Austria, c. 1912Photography by Moriz Naehr, Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Woody with his guitar bearing its famous motto:

  • 1913 – Gerald Ford, American commander, lawyer, and politician, 38th President of the United States (d. 2006)
  • 1938 – Jerry Rubin, American activist, author, and businessman (d. 1994)

Those who became ex-hominins on July 14 were few, and include:

  • 1827 – Augustin-Jean Fresnel, French physicist and engineer, reviver of wave theory of light, inventor of catadioptric lighthouse lens (b. 1788)
  • 1881 – William H. Bonney aka Billy the Kid, American gunfighter and outlaw (b. 1859 or 1860)
  • 1939 – Alphonse Mucha, Czech painter and illustrator (b. 1860)

I would love to have an original Mucha poster on my wall. Here’s a beaut advertising champagne:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is keeping track of the time. But since she doesn’t have a clock or a watch, I asked Malgorzata how she knew what time it was. The response: “I thought Hili was looking at the sun and judging time. To be on the safe side I asked my husband. His answer was: ‘She is looking at the time coming from behind her and getting closer’.” Just let your poor readers decipher it the best they can.

A: What are you looking at?
Hili: Whether it’s time to eat something.
In Polish:
Ja: Na co patrzysz?
Hili: Czy zbliża się czas, żeby coś zjeść.

And here is “Ceiling Cat” (or “Floor Cat”), aka Boris, whose staff are my friends Avis and Bill in New Mexico. The explanation:

Bill was under the house doing plumbing for a bathroom remodel (that hole is our future toilet drain!).  Boris was curious what was going on.

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

From Thomas:

From Facebook:

A tweet from Simon. Don’t some of the fish get hurt? Or don’t they care?

From Gethyn, who calls this “cats against entropy”:

From Luana. This happens to be a true story.

Proof of the above, and a sign of the ideological apocalypse:

Reader Ken explains this tweet:

“This idiot (aka Texas Gov. Greg Abbott) has his eye on the next Republican presidential nomination (assuming Donald Trump doesn’t reclaim it). He’s called the Texas Legislature into special session to address all manner of pressing subjects. Know what’s not on for consideration during the special session? The failure of the Texas electrical grid — the one that left over 150 Texans dead and 4 million without power during the storm last winter. Abbott claims that whole thing was just a clerical error.”

Tweets from Matthew. Bumblebee tracks!

This duck has a beautiful sky-blue bill:

UFO’s apparently prefer to visit Western countries.

And a conundrum:

28 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Little fish: Like mice, their terminal velocity is low enough that they aren’t hurt (generally). Volume to surface area ratio.

    UFOs: Much like searching for references to the Loch Ness Monster: An anglophone meme only.

    1. From the look of that UFO-sightings map, it seems ET grasps “American exceptionalism” in all its glory.

      1. They like the UK as well. Maybe they learn only English as a foreign language at school.

        1. To lightly paraphrase the great Ma Ferguson, if English was good enough for Jesus Christ and Texas school kids, it damn well oughta be good enough for extraterrestrials. 🙂

  2. ‘I thought it was amusing, though, that on the news a Texas Republican referred to the fleeing Democrats as “critters.” ‘ – Republicans in Oregon have pulled the “out of state” trick to prevent meetings being quorate at least twice in recent years in order to stymie gun control legislation being passed.

  3. “The weird thing is that the Church of England didn’t exist until Henry VIII created it in 1534. So why are the Anglicans apologizing for something they didn’t do?”

    Indeed, that is the question – which can be asked for many such scenarios.

    1. It makes total sense that the Anglican Church would apologize for events preceding Henry VIII. The Anglican Church sees itself as being in unbroken succession from the Apostles, and as having always been the Church in England, regardless of changes in governance. (Some Protestant sects don’t care about apostolic succession.)

      The Anglicans are very ecumenical, and have not denounced their Catholic forebears, going so far as to venerate as a martyr Thomas More– who was executed by Henry VIII for opposing the Reformation! It is thus sensible that they would take responsibility for their sins against Jews, as well.


  4. RE: The Texas Dems, you can’t hide from an arrest warrant by leaving the State, although it requires the cooperation of local authorities. It will be interesting to see if any of the Dems are expelled from the legislature, and how they fare at re-election time.

    1. As a parliamentary procedure meant to defeat the will of the majority, I have a hard time distinguishing in principle between denying the Texas House a quorum and invoking the US senate filibuster (or, for that matter, from Republican US senators refusing to do their damn jobs for 10 months by denying Merrick Garland so much as hearing one on his 2016 nomination to SCOTUS).

      BTW, know who doesn’t have a filibuster? The Texas state senate or any of the other legislative senates in the 40 states in which Republicans have introduced or enacted 89 voter-restriction bills. (If those states did have filibusters requiring 60% majorities for passage through their senates, those Republican voter-restriction bills would be stuck in the same legislative limbo that the federal For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act are stuck in in the US congress right now.)

      Now, I’m opposed to any of this anti-majoritarian gameplaying. But I find it rich that Republicans get exercised about the first, but not the others.

      1. Nice to see an actual democrat still hanging around. Especially one who knows a bit about what is going on. By the way, Moscow Mitch went around the filibuster to get one of his white conservative judges in too.

      2. I think the dems are hoping for a federal law which would supersede the Texas law.
        In any case things don’t look good for democracy. Once the GOP suppresses the vote
        Trump might get back in and that’s the end of the game. Trump will, like Putin, try to
        get himself appointed for life. People might start thinking about revolution if this happens.

        1. Isn’t trump being reinstated next month? Millions believe that horseshit, and Trump repeats the conspiracy too. It’s like the “end of times” warnings. What will his cult do when August comes and goes and dear leader is still out of office? Maybe shoot for next Jan. 6th?

          Goddamn, America is the most successful advanced society at keeping its populace credulous and stupefied. To quote our host, “it’s religion, Jake”.

  5. Mac & cheese ice cream: Just say no.

    Like garlic ice cream, just a really bad idea, especially considering the plethora of wonderful alternatives.

    I cannot fathom the current obsession with putting sugar in everything in the USA (and mixing in savory stuff into sweets). Disgusting. I can just tolerate salty caramel or salty caramel ice cream. Just. But I would never choose it or prefer it. Same with fruit in a savory salad, ugh! (I avoid the salad or pick the fruit out for eating on its own.)

    Sugar in pizza crust? Sugar in salty snacks like chips? Sugary ketchup?
    Sugar in everything. Gakk!

    Or fruit in beer (gakk!) unless you go whole hog and make it a Kriek or a Framboise (tart, fizzy, alcoholic fruit juice).

    (Quickly ducking the brickbats.)

  6. The Utah lake-restocking fish-drop fly-over kinda reminded me of the famous “frog sequence” from Paul Thomas Anderson’s film Magnolia:

  7. The beaver kit in Exmoor is certainly good news but perhaps worth pointing out that there have been beaver reintroductions in various parts of England and Scotland, several of which have resulted in successful breeding so this is a first for Exmoor but not a first for Britain. In particular, there is now an established population around the River Tay in Scotland which has been used as a source of livestock for introduction into other river catchments. There is general enthusiasm in conservation circles in the UK for the re-establishment of beavers because of their role as ‘ecosystem engineers’ which is believed to benefit biodiversity and also to reduce downstream flooding by slowing run-off (though of course they can also cause flooding problems in the vicinity of their dams and there have been some conflicts with farmers ).

  8. The Texas Dems escaping to DC does have a purpose. They are undoubtedly going to do some arm-twisting while they are there. Perhaps they contributed to Biden giving his speech on voting rights yesterday. It has also drawn even more national attention to the voting rights issue. I have to think that what they are doing is not popular in TX. Surely some Republican voters in the state aren’t ok with their voting rights being messed with. Finally, although it is perhaps putting off the inevitable in their own state, if they can pass some voting rights laws at the federal level, it may kill at least some aspects of the proposed TX law.

  9. There are a couple of great quotes from the immortal comedy series of a few years ago, Yes, Prime Minister about the Church of England:

    James Hacker : Humphrey, what’s a Modernist in the Church of England?

    Sir Humphrey Appleby : Ah, well, the word “Modernist” is code for non-believer.

    James Hacker : You mean an atheist?

    Sir Humphrey Appleby : No, Prime Minister. An atheist clergyman couldn’t continue to draw his stipend. So, when they stop believing in God, they call themselves “Modernists”.

    James Hacker : How could the Church of England suggest an atheist as Bishop of Bury St Edmunds?

    Sir Humphrey Appleby : Well, very easily. The Church of England is primarily a social organization, not a religious one.

    James Hacker : Is it?

    Sir Humphrey Appleby : Oh yes. It’s part of the rich social fabric of this country. So bishops need to be the sorts of chaps who speak properly and know which knife and fork to use. The sort of people one can look up to.


    Sir Humphrey Appleby : The Queen is inseparable from the Church of England.

    Jim Hacker : And what about God?

    Sir Humphrey Appleby : I think he is what is called an optional extra.

  10. I’m guessing the Mac and Cheese is a bit of a cheat. First, it looks smooth so no macaroni. Second, it’s undoubtedly sweet, unlike real mac and cheese. Third, there are many cheesecake flavored ice creams on the market which taste pretty good, IMHO. So perhaps we should think of it more as cheescake ice cream colored yellow.

  11. It’s possible that the Texas filibuster in absentia might work. The Oregon republican minority has been able to block climate and gun control legislation for several years by running off to Idaho like petulant children.

  12. I was surprised to see the relatively moderate, semi-innocuous formulations in the Nazi sterilization law, including informed consent. It nearly makes sterilization sound like a right which may be granted to you if you want to be sterilized and file an application, though in practice it was something forced on people by the state/doctors on people who were deemed unable to make their own decisions.

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