Wednesday: Hili dialogue

July 21, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on a humpy Wednesday, July 21, 2021: National Crème Brûlée Day, and thus a day of cultural appropriation. The weather will be “clement” this week (as opposed to “inclement”) with lots of sun and high temperatures ranging from 72° F (22° C) today to the mid 80s later in the week. Good weather for ducks!

It’s also National Junk Food Day, National Hot Dog Day, Legal Drinking Age Day (“celebrating” the lowering of the legal drinking age in the U.S. on this date in 1984), and Take a Monkey to Lunch Day (that could be another person, as we’re all monkeys).

News of the Day:

It’s been 182 days since Biden took office, and that’s six months. Where in tarnation is the White House cat that they promised us? Below are Joe and Dr. Jill saying that a female cat was “waiting in the wings”. That was on May 20, and clearly they already had a candidate for First Cat. Fricking lies!

You know the news: COVID hospitalizations and deaths are rising in the U.S., and in every state. One thousand Americans are infected every hour. In some states, like Louisiana, fewer than 40% of the residents are fully vaccinated. What is wrong with these people? In Tokyo, 71 people connected with the games, and a few more athletes, are now infected while the city-wide rate of infection spikes. Opening ceremonies are on Friday; will the games really go on?

And there’s a scary report from three Indian scholars: the real COVID-19 death toll in that country could be as high as ten times the official count of 414,000 dead:

It said the count could have missed deaths that occurred in overwhelmed hospitals or while health care was disrupted, particularly during the devastating virus surge earlier this year.

“True deaths are likely to be in the several millions not hundreds of thousands, making this arguably India’s worst human tragedy since Partition and independence,” the report said.

In fact, since about a million died in the 1947 Partition, this tragedy would be much greater than that. And a death toll of four million would put India way above the next most afflicted country: the U.S., which has about 609,000 deaths so far (see below).

Bezos, of course, made it to space with his three buddies, in a picture-perfect flight that lasted ten minutes. Unfortunately, he also made a post-flight gaffe: as the Washington Post reports:

During an event after the flight that had been billed as a news conference but where only three questions were asked, Bezos said, “I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.”

I wonder if that sits well with the Amazon employees who work their butts off, don’t get proper bathroom breaks, make low wages, and can’t afford a $125,000 ten-minute space ride.

On his Substack site, “The Why Axis”, Christopher Ingraham gives the mainstream media, including the New York Times, some responsibility for keeping alive the bogus practice of “dowsing” (finding water with sticks held in the hand). (I wrote about this more briefly a few days ago.) An excerpt:

There are a lot of ways to cover this story. You could frame it by asking why people continue to believe in the practice, despite the overwhelming empirical evidence against it. You could situate dowsing within the broader context of rising misinformation and conspiracy-mongering in the U.S. At the very least you could make it clear — without equivocation — that dowsing is a pseudoscience no different from Ouija board divination or telepathy.

Alas, in its recent story on dowsing in California the New York Times did none of those things. It described dowsing as a “disputed method for locating water,” as if it were a topic of political debate rather than a claim about objective reality. It gave dowsers a platform to spread misinformation at length — one described how the “energy around him changes,” boasted of laughing at critics “who don’t know the facts” and claimed he was “rarely wrong” — without being challenged.

The story gave the strong impression that dowsing is a valid economical alternative to scientific well-digging methods . .

What is going on with this “he said/she said” coverage of science? And it’s not just the New York Times, either; according to Ingraham, it’s also the Associated Press, Outside Magazine, and other venues. (I’ll add that the NYT is soft on religion, too.)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 608,717, an increase of 249 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,134,856, an increase of about 21,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 21 includes:

The 356 BC destruction was of third temple erected. Here’s a model in Istanbul of what we think the Temple of Artemis looked like and, below that, a photo what remains of the original: only fragments. (Only one of the famous Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still remains; do you know which one?)

  • 365 – The 365 Crete earthquake affects the Greek island of Crete with a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme), causing a destructive tsunami that affects the coasts of Libya and Egypt, especially Alexandria. Many thousands were killed.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: First Battle of Bull Run: At Manassas Junction, Virginia, the first major battle of the war begins and ends in a victory for the Confederate army.
  • 1865 – In the market square of Springfield, MissouriWild Bill Hickok shoots and kills Davis Tutt in what is regarded as the first western showdown.

The duel involved the men standing 75 yards apart and aiming at each other, firing simultaneously. Tutt missed; Hickok didn’t. Here’s Wild Bill four years after the shootout:

The gang, which robbeed and murdered, was headed by Jesse James and his brother Frank, shown here in 1872 with Jesse on the left. Jesse was shot at 24, but Frank, who never spent a day in jail, lived to the ripe old age of 72.

  • 1904 – Louis Rigolly, a Frenchman, becomes the first man to break the 100 mph (161 km/h) barrier on land. He drove a 15-liter Gobron-Brillié in Ostend, Belgium.
  • 1925 – Scopes Trial: In Dayton, Tennessee, high school biology teacher John T. Scopes is found guilty of teaching human evolution in class and fined $100.

Scopes’s guilty verdict was overturned because the judge levied the fine, while fines over $50 were supposed to be levied by the jury. Note again that the law Scopes brook prohibited the teaching of only human evolution, not evolution in general.

Here’s Campbell’s record-setting run. Note that he’s wearing a tie while driving.

Here’s an informative ten-minute video of von Stauffenberg’s plot and his execution:

  • 1959 – Elijah Jerry “Pumpsie” Green becomes the first African-American to play for the Boston Red Sox, the last team to integrate. He came in as a pinch runner for Vic Wertz and stayed in as shortstop in a 2–1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
  • 1960 – Sirimavo Bandaranaike is elected Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, becoming the world’s first female head of government
  • 1969 – Apollo program: At 02:56 UTC, astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the Moon, followed 19 minutes later by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.
  • 1983 – The world’s lowest temperature in an inhabited location is recorded at Vostok Station, Antarctica at −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F).

Here’s Vostok Station, a Russian research base, and its location in Antarctica. It looks cold!

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1899 – Ernest Hemingway, American novelist, short story writer, and journalist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1961)
  • 1911 – Marshall McLuhan, Canadian author and theorist (d. 1980)
  • 1948 – Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), English singer-songwriter and guitarist

Which one is Cat Stevens?

  • 1951 – Robin Williams, American actor, singer, and producer (d. 2014)
  • 1968 – Brandi Chastain, American soccer player and sportscaster

Those who made their final exit on July 21 include:

  • 1796 – Robert Burns, Scottish poet and songwriter (b. 1759)
  • 1899 – Robert G. Ingersoll, American soldier, lawyer, and politician (b. 1833)

The Great Agnostic! Here’s the only known photo of Ingersoll addressing an audience:

See above.

You should learn about Lee Miller, who managed to pack more life into 70 years than just about anybody.  Photographer and photojournalist, and one of the very few women who photographed WWII (including the concentration camps), perhaps the most famous photo is of her, not by her. Here she is in Hitler’s bathtub! The caption from the Guardian. She her own photos here.

  • 1998 – Alan Shepard, American admiral, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1923)
  • 2015 – E. L. Doctorow, American novelist, short story writer, and playwright (b. 1931)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili shows her usual pessimism:

Szaron: The fog is lifting.
Hili: There may be another storm.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Szaron: Mgła się podnosi.
Hili: Pewnie znowu będzie burza.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

From Facebook:

From reader Bruce:

Another superfluous sign from reader David:

A tweet from reader Ken, who notes, “Here’s the type of trenchant medical discussion concerning COVID vaccines that Fox & Friends morning viewers are being exposed to”:

From Ginger K.  I’m waiting for the papers, too.

Tweets from Matthew. I wonder if drakes make better guard duck than hens, as only the females can quack:

These look like disguises that Austin Powers would wear:

A very clever Venn diagram:

Parallel movies 43 years apart:

Now this is a headline!

This has got to be the Tweet of the Week:

49 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Weit just a minute – have I been following a cat’s website all these years?
    Or is Prof (E) CC a doppelgänger?

  2. Many years ago I worked at a place that actually had a guard duck. She was a Mallard hen, and her name was Thalidomide. She hung out under a trailer (this was in Las Cruces, so there was no danger of frozen pipes, hence no skirting).

    Whenever someone showed up whom she didn’t know, she would come flying out from under the trailer, quacking her head off and sticking her neck out in a threatening manner.

    She really was a true Watchduck.


    1. Yeah, that puzzled me too. Did they raise it then lower it, or raise it in different places, or what?

      1. It was 18 when I graduated from high-school in 1981. They gradually up’ed it until 1984 when they settled on 21.

        1. That must have been really irritating.
          Though I do remember a classmate whose student ID card (used for entry, amongst other things, to the in-city Student’s Union) was stamped with “UNDER 18” for all three years she was at university. I forget her exact birthday, but it was in that awkward window of the year where the school year and university year don’t align. Her 18th birthday was a week or two after her third “Fresher’s Fair”, and by then, all the bar staff knew her favourite tipples.

      2. The Federal legislation, passed 1984, allowed the Federal government to penalize any US state that allowed legal sale of alcohol to persons younger than 21 years old, by withholding a portion of annual Federal Highway Funding.

        Prior to 1984 each US state, or even smaller jurisdictions in some states, set drinking age limits themselves. Some were 18, some 19 and some 21. The summer of my 16th year I was in League City, Texas, a suburb of Houston, and at that time minors were allowed to drink alcohol if their legal guardian served it to them. I can’t remember how young it was, 14 – 16 years old. I found this out when I had lunch at a restaurant with my father and some friends and my father poured me a glass of beer.

        1. Prior to 1984 each US state, or even smaller jurisdictions in some states, set drinking age limits themselves.

          I remember seeing occasional references in “steampunk” SF that “This City” or Thatsville was “dry”. What a peculiar way of doing things.
          Mind you, the world is full of weird drinking laws – Aberdeen, for example, refuses to issue a late licence (for drink sales) to any premises which doesn’t have at least 15sq.m of dance floor and a sound system. It’s almost impossible to have a late quiet drink and a chat with someone. Except at the casino. Utterly insane.

          1. Even as a USian I find the idea of “dry” counties in 21st century US bizarre. A few friends and I used to do annual camping and motorcycle riding in the mountains of western North Carolina / Tennessee and the area is “dry” to this day. We always make sure to pack in enough beer and whiskey for the whole week. Usually bring way to much actually.

            1. Yeah, well … spend enough time in “dry” countries – and I don’t just mean in the sense of endless sand dunes – and you sort-of develop an extra sense of smell to lead you to the right place.

  3. Take a Monkey to Lunch Day (that could be another person, as we’re all monkeys).

    Apes, surely. Though I’d have to check what the distinction(s) is(are). Frequent bipedal gait (and consequent/ enabling skeletal adaptions), I think. “Dry” noses? (or is that a distinction within “monkeys”?)

    Where in tarnation is the White House cat that they promised us?

    Hear that distant wailing sound? It’s the photographer tasked with getting a photo of “Mouser@1600”, or whatever it’s name will be, once it deigns to pose for (polite) photos.

    n some states, like Louisiana, fewer than 40% of the residents are fully vaccinated. What is wrong with these people?

    My thesis is that they’ve all read WEIT, and are dedicated to proving the validity of it’s central hypothesis. Do the book sales support my hypothesis?

    And there’s a scary report from three Indian scholars: the real COVID-19 death toll in that country could be as high as ten times the official count of 414,000 dead:

    That wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. Even bearing in mind that India has far from the worst population-level health services in the world. I shudder to think what is happening 2up-country” in various African states. They may have been lucky. “May.”

    365 – The 365 Crete earthquake affects the Greek island of Crete with a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme), causing a destructive tsunami that affects the coasts of Libya and Egypt, especially Alexandria. Many thousands were killed.

    Just from the description, it seems pretty clear that the quake was on the south side of the island. This area is a bit of a tectonic mess, with the Anatolian plate being pushed westwards into the Aegean and Greek Mainland, while the African plate encroaches from the south. There’s a significant earthquake (M3+) in the region practically every week, and stronger ones on a regular basis.
    The Mercalli scale is a description of shaking intensity – which archaeological evidence, literature records etc can present with some degree of reproducibility. But it’s only moderately associated with the “moment magnitude” (“Mm”) measure currently used to classify earthquakes instrumentally, which quantifies the energy released as ground accelerations. You do need a lot of energy (high Mm scale) to produce a lot of ground shaking, but the effects of repeated shaking by oscillation of soft sediments and amplify the ground destruction in one place while adjacent “hard rock” areas are much less affected. There were several examples of this in recent (last few decades) quakes in the San Francisco area, where the soft ground of the “bay area” (I may be rough on my geography of San Francisco – it’s the west coast without Hollywood, isn’t it? Seattle being the city waiting for “the Big One”.) produced much larger ground motions than the adjacent uphill areas.
    The Wikipedia article includes a contemporaneous description of the impact of a tsunami.

    From reader Bruce:[First you must answer his riddles (cat flopped on toilet]

    Wasn’t the Sphinx a “she”? Not that it matters. More significantly, given the crossover in Japanese culture between love of cats and love of automated lavatorial gadgetry, someone, somewhere in Japan must be selling toilet seats with a cat-ejector function. Remote controlled, obviously.

    1. All apes are monkeys, if ‘monkeys’ is a monophyletic taxon. (Which, as used in the vernacular, it is not.)

    1. I have seen in German reports that many GDR residents quickly recognized the “disguised” Stasi agents. These often wore clothes (like jeans) that the normal citizen could only get at with great difficulty, if at all. Loyal citizens of the state, such as those Stasi agents, naturally had completely different possibilities and connections.

  4. 1959 – Elijah Jerry “Pumpsie” Green becomes the first African-American to play for the Boston Red Sox, the last team to integrate. He came in as a pinch runner for Vic Wertz and stayed in as shortstop in a 2–1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

    The Red Sox had a chance to sign Jackie Robinson in 1946, a year before Branch Rickey signed him with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but took a pass after giving him a perfunctory try-out at Fenway Park. The Bosox longtime owner, Tom Yawkey, had a lousy record on integration, all the way until he died in the mid-1970s.

    The standard line about the Red Sox around baseball was that they’d have one top-notch black player — a George Scott or a Jim Rice, say — and then that they’d keep another black player on the roster to room with him on the road.

  5. Yeah that wasn’t what was asked of Cohen. He was asked about the meaning of the poem. And gave no reply.

    1. Still, it’s a great story, even if apocryphal.

      The story reminded me of one told of Paul Dirac, the physicist. After a lengthy explanation of something in the classroom, a baffled student asked if Dirac could possibly elaborate or clarify what he had just said. Dirac paused briefly, and then repeated what he had just said verbatim.

  6. The only remaining one of the seven wonders of the ancient world are the Great Pyramids of Gizeh.
    All the others were destroyed (The statue of Zeus in Olympia, The Colossus of Rhodes, The Lighthouse-tower of Alexandria, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the -as mentioned- Temple of Artemis at Ephesus).

    1. In September 1987, the Terracotta Army was hailed as the Eighth Wonder of the World by the former French President Jacques Chirac.

      Don’t know if Pres. Chirac’s hailing has any merit or not…but if so, there are 2 that have survived. Is there some kind of world-board to make such things official?

      1. In ancient times, it seems to have been an intellectual game: “What’s YOUR list of the Seven Wonders?” since different lists exist. Eventually, one list became the “Classic” Seven.

        Here’s another trivia question: Which is the only one of the Classic Seven Wonders to be mentioned in the Bible?

          1. The Temple of Artemis is mentioned in the Book of Acts, Chapter 19. Paul lived in Ephesus for two years, and won so many converts that locals feared that the Temple (a major money-maker from tourists and pilgrims) might lose its prestige.

            (The Temple had been rebuilt on the same spot after the arson, so some people may argue that this is not the same building that was on the list. It’s an old question: how much of the original structure has to be left for it to be the same building?)

            1. I always thought the temple in Jerusalem was built of stone. How does one burn that?

              Failed sportscaster (consider THAT) Brian Kilmeade is by far the intellectual furnace of Faux Noos. I often wish the Daily Show would run a reel of his genius over the years as some of it is stunning.

              D.A., NYC

  7. Another significant obituary was published in today’s LA Times: Kurt Westergaard, that Danish cartoonist who became famous for depicting the prophet Muhammad back in 2005. He was 86.

  8. Yet another interesting obituary. Lithofayne (“Faye”) Pridgon passed at the age of 80. Didn’t know her? Me either. She’s the likely inspiration for Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”. What a name!

    1. Another recent death in the music world was hip-hop artist Biz Markie, whose tune “Just a Friend” (a mash-up based on Freddie Scott’s 1968 soul song “(You) Got What I Need”) I picked as my “guilty pleasure” in a post our host did on the topic a while back.

    2. Another interesting obituary is in today’s The Times of London. Ex RAF pilot Lawrence ‘Benny’ Goodman who took part in the Dam Buster Squadron, the bombing of the Tirpitz, and Hitler’s Eagle Nest. Jewish he lived to 100.

  9. “What is going on with this “he said/she said” coverage of science? And it’s not just the New York Times, either; according to Ingraham, it’s also the Associated Press, Outside Magazine, and other venues. (I’ll add that the NYT is soft on religion, too.)”

    It’s “another way of knowing,” which we must respect. What are you, some kind of white supremacist who only believes in “science” and things that have “evidence” and “haven’t been completely debunked and shown to be utter BS”?!?

    1. Too, he may outrageously believe it not racist to expect students to arrive sufficiently early to start class on time, and for hospital medical interns/residents to arrive on time to start daily clinical rounds with chief residents and chiefs of staff.

  10. The Biden family may not have a cat yet – but our new feline companion arrived last night. Shadow, as he is called, is quite the charmer. I haven’t had a kitten fall asleep purring in my lap in so long. I was feeling cat-skeptical (kiddo was the pusher on this idea), but I think he’s won me over.

    1. Very cool; I’m guessing he’s black. The only fear I have of cats is: will they become litter-box trained? I’ve had one that wouldn’t, and after many articles of clothing in laundry baskets getting soiled and just about every inch of carpet behind sofas and such, we sadly had to give him to a “cat lady”. Excellent cat in all other aspects, but not wanting to go in a litter box (and we ended up putting 4 or 5 around the house) was a deal breaker.

      1. Yes, this is a fear of mine too. So far so good – I’ve got one upstairs and one downstairs and little Shadow has made use of both – pretty tidily, I might add! He’s got one sliver of white on his chest and his face is almost sphynx like.

        1. Yes, that is a good sign. If he’s using the box as a kitten, I’m sure he’ll continue using it. He sounds like a striking kitten. How exciting.

  11. Regarding Bezos, today in my local hard copy McClatchy paper the Associated Press states that Blue Origin’s New Shepard is named after America’s first astronaut. First I’ve known of that. Duh. Shoulda figured. (I guess I thought that Bezos was “shepherding” in a new era of commercial space endeavor.) Also, that Bezos picked July 20 for its historical significance. Forgive my cynicism. He did it for its public relations significance. He wants the patina, cache, panache, aura, shekinah of the first Mercury and the Apollo 11 flights to rub off on his mighty shoulders.

    The paper said that Alan Shepard’s daughters were introduced at a press conference a few hours later. I wonder how they feel about Bezos exploiting their father’s name? (Would Bezos have been willing to learn what was necessary to pilot and bear up under the stress of riding on the temperamental Redstone rocket?) Is there anything in it for them? They’d come off looking bad if they protested it. Is Bezos making any charitable donation on behalf of Shepard? I speculate he thinks he’s doing enough to keep Shepard’s name before the short attention-spanned public. Since Mercury-Gemini-Apollo and beyond were funded by the U.S. taxpayer and therefore in the public domain, I take it Bezos doesn’t have to pay one LIN penny. Subsidize the Risk and Privatize the Profit.

    Per Kenneth Chang in the NY Times today, Mr. Bezos is also working on “New Glenn.” (Did Bezos worry whether his heat shield would hold?) Where will it end – “New Carried Interest”? “New Taxpayer Subsidy”? I wonder if Bezos will eventually name a new project “New Apollo 1” or “New Challenger” or “New Columbia”? He might be better served with naming new projects the likes of “New Narcissist” or “New Navel-Gazer” or “New Look At Me!”

  12. “National Crème Brûlée Day, and thus a day of cultural appropriation.”

    According to the woke, it’s only cultural appropriation when the item is “appropriated” from a more marginalized/persecuted group or minority. The rest of the time it’s just ordinary culture or even payback, since by a tortuous chain of reasoning the appropriated item is proved to have somehow originated with the appropriator.

    This (non)logic is akin to the idea that a non-white person cannot be racist (unless of course they are “white adjacent”). Their racism was really a reaction to white supremacy.

  13. Changing the subject, some unexpected Women’s Olympic Soccer scores today in Japan
    Holland 10 x Zambia 3
    Brazil 5 x China 0
    Sweden 3 x USA 0

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