Friday: Hili dialogue

July 23, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on a predicted warm and sunny Friday (it’s been a good week): July 23, 2021, and National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, a flavor I eat only when mixed with fruit or maple syrup. It’s also Peanut Butter and Chocolate Day (eat a Reese’s Cup), Sprinkle Day (celebrating those odious bits of wax and sugar they put on top of cupcakes), Gorgeous Grandma Day, and, for Rastafarians, the Birthday of Haile Selassie, born on July 23, 1892. Selassie, who is a human god to the Rastas, visited Jamaica just once, on Thursday, April 21, 1966, a holiday now celebrated as “Grounation Day.” As Wikipedia notes,

Some 100,000 Rastafari from all over Jamaica descended on Palisadoes Airport in Kingston, having heard that the man whom they considered to be God was coming to visit them. They waited at the airport playing drums and smoking large quantities of marijuana.

Selassie in Jamaica:

There’s a Google Doodle today celebrating the start of the 2020 (yes, 2020) Tokyo Olympics, whose opening ceremony is tonight. It’s an interactive anime game featuring a cat; as C|Net reports:

Google joined the Tokyo Olympics hype on Thursday with its “largest-ever interactive Doodle game.” Doodle Champion Island Games casts you in the role of ninja cat Lucky as she competes in various minigames in her quest to become a sporting legend.

It feels like an adventure pulled out of the 16-bit era of gaming as you move around the island and partake in table tennis, skateboarding, archery and other sports challenges. In the spirit of competition, you also join one of the four color teams to contribute to the real-time global leaderboard.

Click on the screenshot to go to the site, and then push the arrow button:

Wine of the Day: Here from Domaine Lafage, is an inexpensive but reliable source of French wine, in a bottle I have no recollection of buying. It’s from 2013, and the price listed at the time of release was about ten bucks. Here’s a review Robert Parker wrote in 2014, which ranks it very high, with a score of 94, but implies that it might be over the hill.

Outer quote mark A custom cuvee and joint venture with importer Eric Solomon, the 2013 Tessellae Vieilles Vignes is 100% Carignan and comes from 70-year-old vines and the schist soils of Maury and Les Aspres. It is an off-the-charts value that offers up thrilling notes of black raspberry, chocolate, graphite, tar and licorice to go with a voluptuous, decadent, yet seamless and gorgeously pure feel on the palate. Seriously, this wine is smoking good and should thrill for 4-5 years, if not longer. Just pretend you paid more for it. Most of these wines are custom cuvees made for importer Eric Solomon. All of these are incredible values and should not be missed! (JD) Inner quote mark

Carignan, says Jancis Robinson, is an odd grape that’s in a lot of plonk but also in some very good wines. That’s an unbelievably high rating for a ten-buck wine, and I should have probably bought a case. Well, let’s try my one bottle with a big pot of turkey chili.

I’ve now had my two glasses, and the wine is superb, not over the hill at all, and fruity and full. At ten bucks, this is a terrific value.  The 2015 and 2017 vintages, both highly rated, are also available for about fifteen buck. Pick one up if you see it!

News of the Day:

FIrst, Chicago had three mass shootings on Wednesday evening, with a total of three killed and 32 injured. It’s typical here, but also unconscionable. Merrick Garland is visiting the town on a five-city anti-gun initiative, but the solution is dumb: they think they can stem the violence here and in other cities by stopping the sale of legally owned guns to others who shouldn’t be buying them. That’s a crock, and it won’t work at all.

In the New York Times, legal Scholar Richard Pildes makes the case for a four-year House term instead of the entrenched two years. I’m convinced:

The ability of the American political system to deliver major policies on urgent issues is hampered by features of our institutions that we take for granted and rarely think about. Take the Constitution’s requirement that House members serve for only two-year terms.

Just a few months into a new administration, as the country grapples with issues of economic recovery and renewal, Congress’s actions are being shaped not by the merits of policy alone but also by the looming midterm elections. It’s not just the fall 2022 election; many incumbents are also calculating how best to position themselves to fend off potential primary challenges.

. . . . . The two-year House term has profound consequences for how effectively American government can perform — and too many of them are negative. A longer, four-year term would facilitate Congress’s ability to once again effectively address major issues that Americans care most about.

. . . . The president’s party nearly always loses House seats in the midterm elections. Since 1934, this has happened in all but two midterms. Yet it cannot be the case that all administrations have governed so poorly they deserve immediate electoral punishment.

So why does it happen so regularly? Presidential candidates can make vague appeals that allow voters to see whatever they prefer to see. But governing requires concrete choices, and those decisions inevitably alienate some voters. In addition, 21 months (Jan. 20 to early November of the next year) is too little time for voters to be able to judge the effects of new programs.

One of the most difficult aspects of designing democratic institutions is how to give governments incentives to act for the long term rather than the short term. The two-year term for House members does exactly the opposite.

Also in the NYT, there’s a discussion of why vaccinated people are still coming down with the virus. (Remember, it was never touted as being “100 effective” at protecting you.) It’s mostly the Delta variant, of course, combined with the high percentage of morons in America who refuse to get vaccinated, and thus can expose even the vaccinated to the virus. Still, if you’ve had your jabs, you’re very unlikely to wind up in the hospital, much less to die. Some useful information:

The uncertainty about Delta results in part from how it differs from previous versions of the coronavirus. Although its mode of transmission is the same — it is inhaled, usually in indoor spaces — Delta is thought to be about twice as contagious as the original virus.

Significantly, early evidence also suggests that people infected with the Delta variant may carry roughly a thousandfold more virus than those infected with the original virus. While that does not seem to mean that they get sicker, it does probably mean that they are more contagious and for longer.

Dose also matters: A vaccinated person exposed to a low dose of the coronavirus may never become infected, or not noticeably so. A vaccinated person exposed to extremely high viral loads of the Delta variant is more likely to find his or her immune defenses overwhelmed.

As for me, I’ll continue wearing my mask indoors until things settle down a bit.

More disappointment from Eric Clapton, who put out a song opposing masking but did get his jab, saying that it made him horribly ill (see here and here). Now, in light of an order from the PM that anyone going to nightclubs and music venues by the end of September must show a “vaccination passport”, Clapton said that he reserves the right not to play at such events:

In response to the government announcement that vaccination passports will be required to access nightclubs and venues by the end of September, the musician has issued a statement saying he would not play “any stage where there is a discriminated audience present.

“Unless there is provision made for all people to attend, I reserve the right to cancel the show.”

Now here’s a twist: the first Orthodox Jewish baseball player drafted by a major league team. Pitcher Jacob Steinmetz, only 17 years old, was picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks as the 77th draft pick. He’s consoled by the fact that Arizona has kosher food on sale. What about pitching on the Sabbath? Steinmetz made a deal with his family (not G-d): he can pitch on the Sabbath so long as he walks to the stadium on the Sabbath. (Hyperorthodox Jews aren’t allowed to take public transportation on the Sabbath, which lasts from sundown Friday until stars appear in the sky on Saturday night.) If he’s not living near the stadium, he’ll take a hotel room within walking distance. Oy!

They had a photo competition in Włoclawek (the largest city near Dobrzyn), and Paulina entered with this photo of “Karate Kit” Kulka and WON! Paulina (Andrzej and Malgorzata’s upstairs lodger) takes great photos.) Kulka got a prize: 50 zlotys worth of cat treats! (There were 800 entries, and the photo of Kulka below is the winner.)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 609,870, an increase of 252 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,152,562, an increase of about 8,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 23 includes:

Here’s a drawing of the first one, which was inefficient. Wikipedia says this:

Burt had two versions of his mechanical apparatus. The first was built in a wooden box that could be carried by hand. The second was a large advanced model that was mounted on four legs. The first working model provided by Burt for his 1829 patent was destroyed in the 1836 Patent Office fire. Although his typographer, as his innovation was first known by, could print neat documents the mechanism was slow as each letter had to be done by hand. His invention ultimately did not accomplish the goal of speeding up office work as he had intended.

(From Wikipedia): Burt’s “typographer” 1830 patent model version mounted on four three foot long legs showing the lever hammer imprinting assembly in up position.

This meant that Canada was still a British colony until 1867, when it became the Dominion of Canada, its own country.

Grant, who was impecunious, sold his memoirs in advance, with Mark Twain buying them at a huge royalty (70%). Grant finished the memoir a few days before he died. Here he is working on the book in June, 1885, near the end.

  • 1903 – The Ford Motor Company sells its first car.
  • 1926 – Fox Film buys the patents of the Movietone sound system for recording sound onto film.

A tweet sent by Matthew commemorating this day in 1943:

Here’s another one of those weird British murders that people still remember. The murderer, Eric Brown, was the son of the victim (wheelchair bound Archibald Brown, aged 47), who killed his dad by putting a Hawkins grenade under the seat cushion. Eric was declared insane and committed until his release in 1975.

  • 1962 – Telstar relays the first publicly transmitted, live trans-Atlantic television program, featuring Walter Cronkite.
  • 1962 – Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Branch Rickey joins Jackie and Rachael Robinson in Cooperstown after Robinson’s induction ceremony in 1962. Robinson Jackie 193.83_HOF Ind_ NBL (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
  • 1967 – Detroit Riots: In Detroit, one of the worst riots in United States history begins on 12th Street in the predominantly African American inner city. It ultimately kills 43 people, injures 342 and burns about 1,400 buildings.

Here’s a short video showing some of the riots and news about them.

  • 1992 – A Vatican commission, led by Joseph Ratzinger, establishes that limiting certain rights of homosexual people and non-married couples is not equivalent to discrimination on grounds of race or gender.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1892 – Haile Selassie, Ethiopian emperor (d. 1975)

See above

  • 1935 – Jim Hall, American race car driver
  • 1961 – Woody Harrelson, American actor and activist
  • 1973 – Monica Lewinsky, American activist and former White House intern.

Those who died on July 23 include:

  • 1948 – D. W. Griffith, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1875)
  • 1973 – Eddie Rickenbacker, American pilot and race car driver, founded Rickenbacker Motors (b. 1890)
  • 1989 – Donald Barthelme, American short story writer and novelist (b. 1931)
  • 2001 – Eudora Welty, American novelist and short story writer (b. 1909)

I read some Welty during the pandemic, and she’s good. Here she is getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Jimmy Cater in 1980:

  • 2002 – Chaim Potok, American novelist and rabbi (b. 1929)
  • 2010 – Daniel Schorr, American journalist and author (b. 1916)
  • 2011 – Amy Winehouse, English singer-songwriter (b. 1983)

It’s the tenth anniversary of Amy’s death. Here’s a song to remember her by. It’s my favorite of hers:


  • 2012 – Sally Ride, American physicist and astronaut (b. 1951)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s hunting in the orchard:

A: Why are you lying here?
Hili: I’m Listening whether a mole is going in my direction.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu tu leżysz?
Hili: Słucham, czy kret idzie w moją stronę.

From Nicole, a book I desperately need:

From Stash Krod, a boat I want!

And another superfluous sign from reader David:

Readers Dom and Jez went to a pub and had some pints of Landlord in my honor. Here’s Dom’s drawing of the venue: the Fox and Duck in Herts.

From Ginger K., who says the emphasis is on “alleged”!

Here’s an animated tweet from Simon, who says it’s “a graphical representation that I thought was good to explain increasing proportions of vaccinated people with covid.”

Tweets from Matthew. I can’t resist some posts showing cute bats:

A heartwarmer; sound on:

Here’s a stupendous gynandromorph, split right down the middle. You know the right side is female because the big jaw is on the left (dorsal view to the left). It’s a good way to compare the morphology of males vs. females in a single individual.

32 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. More disappointment from Eric Clapton, who put out a song opposing masking but did get his jab, saying that it made him horribly ill …

    I wonder whether ol’ Slowhand’s post-vaccination illness might have been a psychosomatic reaction due to his needle phobia. I recall hearing an interview with Clapton years ago in which he said that, back when he was a stone cold junkie, he’d snort smack or chase the dragon, but he’d never run it into a vein (which may be the only reason he lived through it to tell the tale) because he had a thing about needles.

    1. I suspect that a decent proportion of many people’s reactions are psychosomatic…I’d be interested to see the data from the vaccine trials, assuming they used placebo controls, of how many of the symptoms/side effects noted were found in the placebo groups compared to the treatment groups.

      1. When I got my first jab, the man who administered it gave me the leaflet about the side effects and explicitly said “If you read it, you’re more likely to experience them. It’s your choice!”

        1. There are absolutely real reactions, no question. I just think that at least SOME of them, especially those melodramatically conveyed by people who are afraid of vaccines or resist having to get them, are inflated, consciously or otherwise.

    2. Yes, who knew that Eric Clapton was actually a moron. It shows us that even talented people can be very stupid. I wonder why we often think they are not? Talent in many things has nothing to do with intelligence.

      1. Makes me appreciate Brian May all the more. He’s the rare example of being both wonderfully talented and extremely intelligent. Most musicians, artists, actors, and assorted famous persons have such a narrow range of ability and beyond their single talent are, quite frankly, dumber than a bag of hammers.

  2. who killed his dad by putting a Hawkins grenade under the seat cushion.

    That must have been one of the less challenging forensics cases ever.

    [T]his photo of “Karate Kit” Kulka

    How did she get into that position?
    Oh dear. I apologise in advance.
    She was catapulted?

  3. I too am convinced by Pildes’s argument for a two-year House term and would like to add weight to his point about the “constant need to raise funds individually.” In my career I have worked with many elected representatives, including US Congresspersons, and am on a first-name basis with some of them. I have heard stories from the House reps about arriving in Washington, celebrating their victory, then getting up the next morning to begin the daily grind of dialing for dollars. How crushing this grind must be, and what fortitude it must take to continue it day after day!

  4. Selassie, who is a human god to the Rastas,

    I wonder how Rastafarians dealt with the death of their god? That might make a very uncomfortable line of inquiry for an investigator who follows a faith with immortal god(s). Well, if you could find an honest, religious investigator – which is going to be a challenge in itself.

    Does anyone know the more obscure corners of Rastafarianism? I’m just going to bet that there are one or more sects of Rastafarianism who don’t actually accept that Selassie is dead. Probably several sects, with differing claims about where the undead Selassie is, and the conditions under which he will return.

    1. According to Wikipedia

      While he was emperor, many Jamaican Rastas professed the belief that Haile Selassie would never die. The 1974 overthrow of Haile Selassie by the military Derg and his subsequent death in 1975 resulted in a crisis of faith for many practitioners. Some left the movement altogether. Others remained, and developed new strategies for dealing with the news. Some Rastas believed that Selassie did not really die and that claims to the contrary were Western misinformation. To bolster their argument, they pointed to the fact that no corpse had been produced; in reality, Haile Selassie’s body had been buried beneath his palace, remaining undiscovered there until 1992. Another perspective within Rastafari acknowledged that Haile Selassie’s body had perished, but claimed that his inner essence survived as a spiritual force. A third response within the Rastafari community was that Selassie’s death was inconsequential as he had only been a “personification” of Jah rather than Jah himself.

      During his life, Selassie described himself as a devout Christian. In a 1967 interview, Selassie was asked about the Rasta belief that he was the Second Coming of Jesus, to which he responded: “I have heard of this idea. I also met certain Rastafarians. I told them clearly that I am a man, that I am mortal, and that I will be replaced by the oncoming generation, and that they should never make a mistake in assuming or pretending that a human being is emanated from a deity.” […] Critics of Rastafari have used this as evidence that Rasta theological beliefs are incorrect, although some Rastas take Selassie’s denials as evidence that he was indeed the incarnation of God, based on their reading of the Gospel of Luke.

      Pretty much “make it up as you go along” – the fact that “some Rastas take Selassie’s denials as evidence that he was indeed the incarnation of God, based on their reading of the Gospel of Luke” sounds like it comes straight from Life of Brian!

      1. Alternatively, considering the dates, it is quite credible that some of the commentary about Selassie’s death and Rastafarianism’s responses to it went straight into Life of Brian.

      2. A venerable David Frost joke:

        In a survey of African Leaders, one was Haile Selassie, 5 were fairly Selassie and 9 weren’t very Selassie at all.

  5. They waited at the airport playing drums and smoking large quantities of marijuana.

    This is a religion I could really get into.

    I’m pretty sure you are never going to hear about the Rastafrian Inquisition.

  6. I agree with four year terms for congressional seats as long as it is limited to eight years total. Also limit Senate to 12 years total.

  7. Detroit population – 1970 – 1,514,063. today. 622,226
    St. Louis pop. 1970 – 622,226. today. 300,000
    Care to guess why that is? The term white flight comes to mind.

  8. 1967 – Detroit Riots: In Detroit, one of the worst riots in United States history begins on 12th Street in the predominantly African American inner city. It ultimately kills 43 people, injures 342 and burns about 1,400 buildings.
    Here’s a short video showing some of the riots and news about them.

    There was a US-produced drama-documentary about one incident in those riots (if I’m remembering correctly) where a squad of police assaulted and tortured a number of suspects over a period of hours. Mock executions, that sort of thing. I forget the names involved, but it was a really good argument for not ever allowing regular police to have weapons of lethal power.
    I see the lessons have been well learned.
    Ah, found the incident : the Algiers Motel incident.

  9. From Ginger K., who says the emphasis is on “alleged”!

    I’m just getting some bills printed up demanding “Freedom for Yellow Paws”, and will be sticking them all over town.

  10. If Steimetz makes it to the majors there is a large Orthodox community North of downtown and I am sure they will help him find a way to the stadium. But since it is normally over 100F in the summer, i hope he finds a way close so that he isn’t drained before he takes the mound.

  11. I am always suspicious of arguments that say we need to change something in our Constitution in order to get someone’s desired outcome. Congressional term limits, for example, always seem to be championed by people who wish to get rid of certain popular (with their constituents) legislators of the opposing party. It seems that Pildes is concerned about a party not being able to survive the mid-terms, and, thus, being unable to fully implement its agenda. Well, perhaps it needs a better agenda? Neither party has been particular attentive to the countries needs for some time, nor been above reproach for its propriety, so naturally, when one gets a majority, if they don’t do what’s wanted, they lose seats. That seems like a good thing. Imagine a party that wins a majority in both houses as well as the Presidency, and has four years to do its best, or, more likely, its worst. If a party has a popular program (popular with more than just the party loyalists), it will be successful, and one year is enough to get things done. But nowadays, when ALL politicians seem more interested in how they can get around the laws, it makes less sense than ever to decrease the check the voters have on their antics. Imagine if you will (says Rod Serling), that the Republicans win the House in 2022, and have FOUR YEAR TERMS? Does that seem clever? Like the argument about the filibuster, what seems expedient for one party is really only so on the assumption that they never lose. And, frankly, as a conservative, the fact that major policy initiatives can’t get passed seems like a feature, not a bug, in the system.

    1. You are suspicious because of who you are – no other reason is necessary or required. The Constitution and nearly everything in it is more than 230 years old. Why on earth would anything need changing? It is being used by the republican party to perfection. By the way, filibuster was not in the Constitution. Not getting anything done – that is quite a feature.

    2. That may be a bit paranoid. I’m opposed to it too, but I don’t see how the change particularly favors Dems or the GOP over the other. It may favor the party of the sitting President, but that advantage will swing back and forth.

      And it wouldn’t get rid of anyone. Just like changes to pay or numbers or anything else, they would almost certainly put in a clause that the change comes into operation only with the next election cycle, so that no current incumbent is “kicked out” early.

  12. Two thoughts in mild-counter to the 4-year House term proposal.

    1. Senators campaign years before they’re up for election. Moving the House term from 2 to 4 years won’t fix the “they’re always campaigning rather than legislating” problem. Campaign finance rules, however, might (less money, it’ll get saved until closer to the election).

    2. The Senate is hypothetically supposed to provide the long-term thinking, while the House is intentionally there to ensure more immediate needs are not ignored. They have significantly different terms for a reason, and if there’s no legislator who has to think about the immediate impact of a law on their constiutents, that could lead to more callous or draconian policies that hurt people significantly in the short run in exchange for larger benefits in the long run. Maybe sometimes that’s worth it. Maybe sometimes it isn’t. But the point of the design was to ensure the government considers seriously both the long term benefits and short term costs they impose on we the people, for any law. You bump the House up to 4 years, you risk the government caring less about how people could be hurt by a law in the short term. (You’re out of a job for a year? What do I care, I don’t stand for reelection for another four.)

    1. If you are intending to explain the original ideas at the Constitutional convention this would not be it. The House was the only part of the federal government that was elected by the people. The Senate was not, nor was the President. The founders did not think the people competent to do this and the logistics of doing so for president seemed almost impossible. The huge argument between the small states and the large states concerning the senate was won in the end by the small states. That is why we have the mess we have. There is nothing representative about the senate and it is the most undemocratic part of our government. The best solution would be to eliminate the senate with another amendment and change the House to a four year term. We would not only save a ton of money, we would have representation in our congress for the first time ever.

  13. Doctor: Gov. Abbott, I’m sorry to inform you that your parents are dead. Shot in the head by criminals.
    Gov. Abbott: Oh my god! Something must be done! This is a tragedy! Close the border!

    Doctor: Gov. Abbott, I’m sorry to inform you that your parents are dead. Covid19.
    Gov. Abbott: Big deal, they were gonna die anyway. High survival rate! Trump 2024!

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