Friday: Hili dialogue

July 16, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Friday, July 16, 2021: National Corn Fritters Day, celebrating a comestible rarely seen but well worth eating. Here are some; I prefer the round to the flat versions, and they’re best served with a bit of syrup:

It’s also National Fresh Spinach Day (curiously, I loved this vegetable when I was a kid), Guinea Pig Appreciation Day, World Snake Day, and, in France, Holocaust Memorial Day.

News of the Day:

Due to the dimwitedness or ignorance of many (especially in the U.S.), or governmental lassitude, COVID-19 is having a resurgence as the infectious Delta variant strain spreads rapidly through the unvaccinated, of which there are many. Infection rates in Tokyo are higher than they’ve been in six months (some athletes have dropped out), yet they’re still going on with the Olympics. Los Angeles Country has reimposed restrictions, requiring everyone, including the vaccinated, to wear masks indoors, and infection rates (though, thank Ceiling Cat, not death rates, are rising in 40 of our 50 states. According to the Voice of America:

Only 45% of Republican have received their first dose, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. The same poll showed 86% of Democrats and 54% of independents had received at least one vaccine shot. Some minority groups are also lagging in getting vaccinated.

That is WAY too low. 98 million Americans remain unvaccinated, and most of these are not too young nor immunocompromised. They’re just dumb or too ignorant to do the most elementary research.  Vaccine is available everywhere. Right now, only 0.8% of COVID deaths occur in people who are fully vaccinated.

More divisions in America: From a YouGov/Bright Line Watch poll, analyzed on Christopher Ingraham’s Substack site, we learn that a substantial proportion of Americans, especially in the South, want to secede from the U.S. and form a regional country. Here are the data, which also show nearly half of the Democrats on the Left Coast favoring seceding as well. Is there a new civil war in the offing. Not likely! This is just sentiment—but it’s sentiment showing the deep rifts among Americans. (h/t Paul)

Liberals have been calling for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who is 82, to retire, allowing Biden to appoint a presumably liberal replacement. (This argument is made out of fear that the Republicans will win the Presidency in 2024). According to the CNN report below, Breyer has made no decision about retirement.

In a remarkable achievement, involving 128 electrodes implanted in speech-related areas of the brain of a paralyzed man and AI training of a computer, researchers have enabled the man to “speak” sentences to a computer, which can either display them or speak them itself.

[Pancho] has not been able to speak since 2003, when he was paralyzed at age 20 by a severe stroke after a terrible car crash.

Now, in a scientific milestone, researchers have tapped into the speech areas of his brain — allowing him to produce comprehensible words and sentences simply by trying to say them. When the man, known by his nickname, Pancho, tries to speak, electrodes implanted in his brain transmit signals to a computer that displays his intended words on the screen.

His first recognizable sentence, researchers said, was, “My family is outside.”

The achievement, published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, could eventually help many patients with conditions that steal their ability to talk.

I’m just glad I’m alive when I see stuff like this. When the world looks bleak, science and its ability to help people make it a bit brighter.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 607,704, an increase of 280 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,084,260, an increase of about 8,700 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 16 includes:

  • 622 – The beginning of the Islamic calendar.
  • 1228 – The canonization of Saint Francis of Assisi
  • 1661 – The first banknotes in Europe are issued by the Swedish bank Stockholms Banco.

Here’s what they looked like:

  • 1769 – Father Junípero Serra founds California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá. Over the following decades, it evolves into the city of San Diego, California.
  • 1790 – The District of Columbia is established as the capital of the United States after signature of the Residence Act.
  • 1858 – The last apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France.

Bernadette joined the Sisters of Charity, and died of tuberculosis at 35. Here’s a photo of her as a nun in 1866. Her visions, of course, created a cottage industry of Catholic “healing” at Lourdes.  Yet it’s failed to restore sight to the blind, or regrow a single amputated limb.

  • 1861 – American Civil War: At the order of President Abraham Lincoln, Union troops begin a 25-mile march into Virginia for what will become the First Battle of Bull Run, the first major land battle of the war.
  • 1915 – Henry James becomes a British citizen to highlight his commitment to Britain during the first World War.
  • 1935 – The world’s first parking meter is installed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
  • 1941 – Joe DiMaggio hits safely for the 56th consecutive game, a streak that still stands as an MLB record.

The next closest player is Willie Keeler, who had 45 consecutive games with hits, but over two seasons in 1896–7. This is considered one of baseball’s “unbreakable records” (read the Wikipedia entry on that topic.)

Here’s Little Boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima: “Little Boy was 9,700 pounds, 10-feet long, and just over 2 feet in diameter.”

This was the famous “Trinity Test,” and here’s a nice 45-minute documentary of the endeavor that will get you up to speed. I still think that a “test” demonstration that didn’t kill anybody might have brought the war to an end without the horrendous toll of life.

Here’s the beginning of that famous expedition—the launch.

  • 1979 – Iraqi President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr resigns and is replaced by Saddam Hussein.
  • 1999 – John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, died when the Piper Saratoga PA-32R aircraft he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
  • 2004 – Millennium Park, considered Chicago’s first and most ambitious early 21st-century architectural project, is opened to the public by Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Here’s what may be the most famous artwork in Chicago, “the bean”, whose formal name is “Cloud Gate“. You haven’t visited Chicago unless you’ve photographed your reflection in The Bean:

Notables born on this day include:

I can’t find any cat paintings by Reynolds, but here’s a print “after Reynolds” by Francesco Bartolozzi, “The girl with kitten” (1787). If you’re a good reader, you’ll find out if Reynolds drew an original. 

  • 1821 – Mary Baker Eddy, American religious leader and author, founded Christian Science (d. 1910)
  • 1887 – Shoeless Joe Jackson, American baseball player and manager (d. 1951)
  • 1911 – Ginger Rogers, American actress, singer, and dancer (d. 1995)

She was perhaps most famous for being one of Fred Astaire’s best dance partners. Here are some highlights of their performances:

The first Jewish Miss America!

A one hit wonder in the U.S., Dekker did a song I do like: “Israelites

Those who began pining for the fjords on July 16 include:

  • 1882 – Mary Todd Lincoln, First Lady of the United States 1861-1865 (b. 1818)
  • 1981 – Harry Chapin, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1942)

Chapin, who died young in a car crash, was perhaps best known for this song (there’s a bit of biography at the beginning). It reminds me (as it must remind many) of coming home from college:

  • 1999 – John F. Kennedy Jr., American lawyer and publisher (b. 1960)
  • 2014 – Johnny Winter, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1944)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the power is back, and so is Hili! Here she ponders free will

Hili: There is no choice.
A: About what?
Hili: I have to lie down here until I get up.
In Polish:
Hili: Nie ma wyboru.
Ja: W jakiej sprawie?
Hili: Muszę tu leżeć dopóki nie wstanę.
And Szaron is on the prowl:

From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe:

Posted on Facebook by Seth Andrews:

From Jesus of the Day. This person knows how to advertise!

Two tweets from Barry. First, a cat fails at math!

And of course you need to see a tree kangaroo eating broccoli:

From gravelinspector. I can’t verify that the episode is real, but it’s still funny:

Tweets from Matthew. I love this first one:

And I especially love these old clay tablets that show that although the medium has changed, the message hasn’t

Finally, Matthew’s cats. In order from left to right: Pepper, Harry, and Ollie the Devil Cat:

40 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. From Jesus of the Day. This person knows how to advertise!

    Why does that make me think “Glasgae!” ?

  2. Most of the people who favor secession do not know that it has been tried before.
    Perhaps with a few more deadly virus we will no longer have a problem with republicans.

    1. If the Democrats in the West got together with the Democrats in the North East would it be considered a secession or just booting out the Republicans in the middle?

      OTOH, if the South seceded it probably wouldn’t be like last time because (I assume) it would be the end result of a democratic process (is there a constitutional provision for secession?). I can’t see the USA going to war against the Southern states again.

      1. “I can’t see the USA going to war against the Southern states again.”

        Correct: That won’t happen. Not in my lifetime anyway. Then again, I would never have predicted President Voldemort (POTUS 45).

      2. There actually is nothing in the Constitution concerning secession. However if we can go on precedent from Lincoln’s time he believed it was not possible. At least not without approval by other states. Only congress can make the laws and it would require some specific action by congress to allow separation to happen. No state in its right mind would ever do it. It would lose far more than any gain.

      3. Let them do it, and not just strut around threatening action. Show us the plan— how are you going to handle interstate trade? And will you exile or execute anyone who doesn’t go with the program? Details, people!

    2. The polarisation in US politics is really something when it leads to all this talk of secession – as I mentioned below the line the other day, seven Republican-dominated counties in Oregon want to join Idaho.

      1. Again, the only way anything like that can happen is with action by congress. If you look at W. Virginia that would be your example, created from the removal of several counties from Virginia.

      2. Yeah, that and the whole Cascadia thing are nothing new around here. The problem is population. Without the tax-base of the more urban west side of the state – they’ll be broke. The west-side subsidizes the east side. Also, you might tell those Oregonians that Idaho has both income & sales tax (OR has no sales tax, WA has no income tax – for reference). Whinging and moaning about the ‘wrong’ side of the state is practically a state hobby over here.

    3. And last time they tried it, the South had slaves and lots of agricultural products the world wanted; if they succeeded with secession, they would probably still have a pretty good economy based on the slavery economic model (at least for a while). Nowadays, most of those states are being kept afloat by the wealthier states which all tend to be blue, except Texas, which is becoming less red by the year. So GOOD LUCK Southern states, enjoy your 3rd-world country.

  3. Due to the dimwitedness or ignorance of many (especially in the U.S.), or governmental lassitude

    Especially in the USA? I think you’ll find the UK government is equally bent on destruction. On Monday, we are lifting all restrictions but the stats are looking quite scary.

    Also, I absolutely agree that Stephen Breyer needs to resign ASAP. It’s not just the chance of having a GOP president, but would you bet against the GOP retaking the Senate at the end of next year? I wouldn’t, and if they do, there will be no new Biden nominated Supreme Court Justices. Remember the RBG fiasco?

    1. The insanity with regard to lifting restrictions is mainly in England, rather than UK-wide. And some of the English metro mayors are trying to do what they can within their own local areas. It’s still going to be a worrying mess, though.

    2. The second point, regarding the possibility of McConnell as senate majority leader in ’22 blocking any Biden nominee was exactly what I came to say. I completely agree. If RBG had taken the advice Breyer is now getting the court wouldn’t be in its current unbalanced state. And if McConnell didn’t put party before country we could have a 5-4 left leaning majority. (And if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle, as they used to say). We really need to make changes to the system – but there needs to be some consensus. An 18 year term with presidents selecting a new pick every two years seems a sensible compromise reflecting the public will in electing specific presidents. and would avoid octogenarian justices.

      The exponential rise in covid case counts in the UK over the last month or so look alarming from here, and seem to indicate what we might be looking at in a few weeks. It’s notable that the proportion of fully and partially vaccinated people in the UK are both significantly higher than the US overall. And much higher than in some pockets of resistance here.

    3. Re: Justice Breyer. I wish people would leave the poor man alone (wished the same when RBG was getting slings/arrows, though that didn’t work out so well – she tried hard to outlast the administration, but it was not to be). The calls for retirement ASAP are rude – I want him to wait until “thisclose” to the midterms so Biden can nominate and the 50-50 Senate can confirm a new justice “thisclose” to an election because that’s what the lying faction did for their last nominee and there is no filibuster on judicial nominations. Okay, that’s my fantasy. I suppose it’s too dangerous with a 50/50 Senate should one get sick/hit by a bus, etc. Sigh.

    4. Based on the CNN segment I watched yesterday, it reported Breyer’s response to the retirement question as being a bit stronger. He evidently made it very clear that he is not going to retire now. His biggest concern would be his health which happens to be great. He’s happy to be the senior liberal justice and plans to write a book while he’s still on the bench. At least he doesn’t have a long history of serious health problems like Ginsburg did.

      1. He’s 82. He doesn’t need a long history of serious health problems to be at risk.

        Democrats never seem to learn. If they lose the Senate next year and the presidency after that, Breyer has to last until he is nearly 90 at least, or you’re up to 7-2 Republican bias.

  4. The Washington Post reports that vaccine hesitancy is now become vaccine hostility. It states: “The notion that the vaccine drive is pointless or harmful — or perhaps even a government plot — is increasingly an article of faith among supporters of former president Donald Trump, on a par with assertions that the last election was stolen and the assault on the U.S. Capitol was overblown.”

    In retrospect, it is clear that this response should not be surprising. It is one element of the right-wing’s growing distrust of a government that is run by people that do not share its belief that the country’s “traditional values” are under assault by its changing demographics. Traditional values, of course, means white Christian nationalism. This has driven the far right, abetted by the Republican Party establishment and right-wing media, into libertarian madness. Their argument is simple: 1) government run by Democrats is illegitimate; 2) it must be opposed in everything that it proposes; 3) since it supports vaccination, the vaccine must not work and should not be taken.

    As a consequence of this, civil society is breaking down. The right-wing doesn’t care who gets sick or dies. Such group madness has happened before in history. The current mania is illustrative that no matter how much better the world may be in material terms than previously, it is not immune to mass bouts of irrationality. It is a reflection of human nature and will not change. Large swathes of the population are psychologically wired to become easy dupes. Right-wing “influencers” and Trump in particular have instinctively grasped this.

    1. This radicalization of the right has started taking a toll on some old friendships. A couple of old friends have progressively drunk the kool aid and are now full on Qonspiracy guzzling patriots. It’s depressing.

      I fear that this will be a long term issue. These people that have so thoroughly bought into the demonization of the other side that they sincerely believe that any DP political power is illegitimate, they aren’t likely to ever change their minds about that and will likely take that view to their grave. It will take generational turn-over to get past this.

      1. I agree, and it may end up in violence before we can get past it. I’m not talking civil war, but definitely major civil unrest in parts of the country and a true Constitutional crisis. When you have millions of people who are willing to embrace cruelty and lies and become a massive tribe of assholes, and a political party and news propaganda infrastructure whose platform is, cruelty and lies are the point, then you’re setting up a scenario where liberals/democrats (basically anyone anti-Trump at this point) are believed to be an evil force determined to take away “their” America. And many (most?) of these millions take the word “evil” literally, as in, there is a supernatural force behind it. For people in this mindset, there is no level of violence, destruction and even death that will dissuade them from acting on what they “know” is a righteous cause. It’s no wonder so many in the Trump cult were already in the cult of whiteright-wing christianity. As we all know, religious zealots of any stripe can easily rationalize murder. And this new cult of Trumpists show signs of wanting to go there.

    2. Missouri is going through this anti-vaxx hostility now, spearheaded by the lump of shit we are forced to call Governor. I’m sick of this shit. They put us in severe danger for well over a year, actually 4 years since the pricks that refuse to mask up, refuse to social distance, and refuse to lock down are the same assholes who voted in tRump. Anti-science, anti-vaccine, anti-intellectual, anti-environment, anti-democracy, anti-gun laws…All I can say is fuck it. Let ‘em die. Give them all Darwin Awards.

  5. From the Archives: Libyan Desert glass, the canary-yellow material used for the central scarab on King Tut’s pectoral, was formed about 29 million years ago by a meteorite impact in Egypt’s western desert

    When I saw that one, I suspected that the “proof of meteoriticity” would likely be simply matching the chemistry of the glass from the impact structure (there are several candidates that fit the description of “in the Western Desert”) to the glass of the scarab moulding. Nice, simple, zap it with the hand-held X-ray Fluorescence hand held device (around $10k, but you can rent them – I wanted one to play with at work and the Boss turned me down. Reluctantly.) Non-destructive technique, undemanding conceptually.
    Oh no, it’s far more interesting than that. That’s brute-force chemistry, not subtlety. Think sledgehammers and walnuts, not thin sections and back-scattered electrons.
    The microscopic mineralogists found, in field samples of the “Libyan Desert Glass” (which the archaeologists identified as the source of Tut’s fancy 1970s (BCE) “medallion man” bling – I doubt they got permission to chop up King Tut’s bling.) grains of zircon which had been heated so much that they’d broken down into zirconium oxide (zircon is zirconium silicate) minerals, including ones with an arrangement of crystal axes that indicate they had (briefly) formed crystals of an unusual mineral, “reidite” – another zirconium silicate mineral with a different crystal structure to zircon. And crucially, reidite isn’t stable at pressures below about 20 GPa (at 2000degC, where reactions are reasonably speedy) to 30 GPa (at laboratory temperatures, where reactions are sedate and tardy, until the diamond-anvil breaks). So, not only is this distinctive yellow glass of meteoritic origin, but it also had to have formed in an actual impact, not in an airburst (like Chelyabinsk) – which might yield high temperatures, but can’t yield the necessary pressures.
    The paper is here, from 2019. (The Archaeology Mag tweet is “from the archives”.
    That’s the second time I’ve seen reidite come up in a couple of months. It looks as if people are getting a handle on reading a new geothermobarometer.
    As Leonard Nimoy used to understate it, “Fascinating.”

    1. Thanks – I was wondering how they made that determination without getting a scraping off a priceless artifact. (I almost understand your explanation).

      1. My strong suspicion is that the “art historians” have put the scarab carving into the “Libyan Desert Glass” category on whatever grounds they use (which can be perfectly strong, but not my field), and distinctly the geologists looked at their field samples of glass from the “Libyan desert” (within tens of km of 2 recent impact structures), and did quite destructive analysis of them.
        Then the magazine editors applied the Tut’s Bling picture to the technical results.
        None of it is “wrong”, but the end result is … not exactly “right”.

    1. Yes, and one wonders why, of all people, she wasn’t ‘cured’ of her TB? Were God and Mary busy with other stuff? Like spying on gays and masturbators?

  6. I was talking to a friend last night who works at a major hospital in Florida. He mentioned that they are currently experiencing the largest spike in Covid admissions that they’ve ever had.

    The Apollo 11 launch video brought a tear to my eye. The scenes of people gathering to watch the launch from various countries around the world made me wonder what sort of event(s) would it take to draw so many people from so many places together these days, even if just momentarily.

    1. The 2019 Apollo 11 documentary movie was amazing. Yes,it’s hard to picture what event today would bring the world together like that.

  7. I believe demonstrating a nuclear bomb was considered at the time, but rejected as risky (what if the bomb didn’t work properly, or was dismissed as a trick? That last was the actual response by one Japanese war cabinet minister to Hiroshima) and unlikely to persuade the Japanese government while depleting the number of bombs available for use.

    Given that the massively lethal incendiary attacks didn’t lead to surrender, that Nagasaki and the Soviet attack on Manchuria, which destroyed the last Japanese hope of a mediated surrender, still left the war cabinet evenly divided, I suspect a demonstration would have had zero effect. One way or another – bombing, invasion, starvation by blockade – the Japanese military’s refusal to acknowledge defeat was certain to cost huge numbers of lives.

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