Saturday: Hili dialogue

August 7, 2021 • 6:30 am

Happy Cat Sabbath to you on Saturday, August 7, 2021: National Raspberries and Cream Day.  It’s also National Jamaican Patty Day (the Caribbean equivalent of a British pasty), Mead Day, National Mustard Day, International Blues Music Day, Beach Party Day, and National Purple Heart Day [see below under 1782].

Here’s my latest reading. I believe a reader called my attention to this book, which was bought by one of the members of Team Duck, who read it, liked it, and loaned it to me. It’s actually very good: Tarte is an engaging, humorous, and affecting writer. And it’s not just about ducks, but about a diverse array of pets that all enslaved the author. You can buy used copies for six or seven bucks. The photo was taken by Greg Mayer, who came to visit the pond and carefully excavate the two turtle nests to see if there were eggs. More about that later.

News of the Day:

As anybody with sense knows, Andew Cuomo is toast. As his circle of defenders wanes, he’s circled his only wagons around him—Cuomo himself and his lawyer. CNBC reports that 70% of New York voters think he should resign as governor, and 55% think he should be charged with a crime. In fact, yesterday a criminal complaint was filed by one of his eleven accusers, claiming that Cuomo groped her breast. According to the New York Times,

Legal experts have said that Mr. Cuomo’s conduct toward the assistant, as described in the attorney general’s report, could be charged as forcible touching, a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to one year in prison.

There are ten other women who have come forward. I wonder if Cuomo will actually find himself in jail.

NASA has begun accepting applications for a position of “faux living on Mars for a year”. Four paid test subjects will be sequestered in a windowless Mars-like environment of 1700 square feet, created with a 3D printer and placed inside the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Associated Press gives the details:

The paid volunteers will work a simulated Martian exploration mission complete with spacewalks, limited communications back home, restricted food and resources and equipment failures.

NASA is planning three of these experiments with the first one starting in the fall next year. Food will all be ready-to-eat space food and at the moment there are no windows planned. Some plants will be grown, but not potatoes like in the movie “The Martian.” Damon played stranded astronaut Mark Watney, who survived on spuds.

“We want to understand how humans perform in them,” said lead scientist Grace Douglas. “We are looking at Mars realistic situations.”

The application process opened Friday and they’re not seeking just anybody. The requirements are strict, including a master’s degree in a science, engineering or math field or pilot experience. Only American citizens or permanent U.S. residents are eligible. Applicants have to be between 30 and 55, in good physical health with no dietary issues and not prone to motion sickness.

That shows NASA is looking for people who are close to astronauts, said former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

There’s no information about what the pay will be. This seems a bit silly to me, as I think it’s a waste of money (and probably lives) to send people to Mars.

See below. Wait a minute! Do countries pay their Olympic athletes cash for winning medals? I had no idea: I thought they just paid for transportation and expenses, and perhaps for training. But cold, hard cash? Here’s an Instagram video that purports to show the amounts paid by different nations. (The U.S. is a piker!) I guess I’m naive to still see the Olympics as games for amateurs.

Over at his Substack website, “It Bears Mentioning,” John McWhorter explains why he doesn’t expect anti-racists like Kendi and Di Angelo to debate him. Why, he asks, should two people whom he’s raked over the coals want to engage with him in a slugfest? Nor would McWhorter debate anybody who criticized him with the same ferocity he’s leveled Kendi and Di Angelo. As McWhorter notes:

Life is short. Why should someone spend even an hour or two of their time engaging with someone who has given all indication that they heartily disapprove of their work and even find them off-putting personally? Whether it was about winning or losing, who does this?

But wait—there’s more! He gets in some licks at Kendi by saying that the man wouldn’t be adept at debating anyway because people like him haven’t had to face and deal with serious challenges to their ideas.

This kind of [lack of] training is why Kendi’s response to criticism is irritation. “How can anybody not agree with my scholarship?”, he all but says straight out. Many interpret this as him being some kind of power seeker. This is inaccurate – he gives no indication of being that kind of person. He is irritated at real questions because he has had no experience with actual academic give and take.

He likes referring to his work as “my scholarship,” for example, apparently thinking of “scholarship” as unquestionable: you just gather and present facts and you have achieved “scholarship” immune to question. Naturally, then, he assumes that criticism can only come from someone who just wants to give him trouble. Here, for example, he complains that his critics are dissing views he never expressed – genuinely unaware that clarification is a major part of defending one’s ideas (and often altering them). He openly says he won’t debate Coleman Hughes because it would entail denying that he meant this or that – genuinely unaware that this is much of what debate consists of.

Still, I’d like to see these guys have a serious debate with rules, time limits, and so on. It won’t happen.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 616,257, an increase of 497 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,290,958, 2,481,716, an increase of about 10,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on August 7 includes:

According to Wikipedia, though, the medal, “designed by Washington in the form of a purple heart. . . . was intended as a military order for soldiers who exhibited, “not only instances of unusual gallantry in battle, but also extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way.” There’s no indication that at the time being wounded was a requirement. Here’s one of the originals, and only three were handed out during the Revolutionary War:

Grammar! How many women were executed for the 1889 Yngsiö murder? Only one.

These were of course black men, and you can see the photo of their lynching here, but I didn’t want to embed it in this post.

  • 1942 – World War II: The Battle of Guadalcanal begins as the United States Marines initiate the first American offensive of the war with landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands.
  • 1947 – Thor Heyerdahl‘s balsa wood raft, the Kon-Tiki, smashes into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands after a 101-day, 7,000 kilometres (4,300 mi) journey across the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to prove that pre-historic peoples could have traveled from South America.

Here’s a three-minute video of the voyage, but of course we know now that the inhabitants of Polynesia came not from South America, but from Southeast Asia. Further, the South Americans were descendants of people from northern Asia who crossed the Bering Strait about fifteen thousand years ago.

You can see the raft (it must have been spruced up) at the Kon Tiki Museum in Oslo:

  • 1962 – Canadian-born American pharmacologist Frances Oldham Kelsey awarded the U.S. President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service for her refusal to authorize thalidomide.

Thalidomide was prescribed widely in Canada, Europe, and Africa as a drug for morning sickness and as a tranquilizer and painkiller. Kelsey demanded further studies before she’d approve it for use in the U.S. Soon enough, they discovered that the drug caused severe birth defects. Here’s the hero, who was one of eleven doctors vetting drugs for the FDA:


  • 1970 – California judge Harold Haley is taken hostage in his courtroom and killed during an effort to free George Jackson from police custody.
  • 1974 – Philippe Petit performs a high wire act between the twin towers of the World Trade Center 1,368 feet (417 m) in the air.

The walk, without a security line, took all of 50 minutes! The video below shows how the whole stunt was set up surreptitiously:

Here’s a video of Cox talking about her swim. She’s superhuman: she swam for two hours in 38°F (3.3°C) water to bridge the distance. I don’t know how she does it. (Press “Watch on YouTube”.)

  • 1990 – First American soldiers arrive in Saudi Arabia as part of the Gulf War.
  • 2007 – At AT&T Park, Barry Bonds hits his 756th career home run to surpass Hank Aaron‘s 33-year-old record.

Bonds went on to hit 762 home runs. Although he still holds the homer record, he has not been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame because of deep suspicion that he used performance-enhancing drugs at a time when there was no testing for them. His ten years of eligibility for Cooperstown expires in 2022.  Here’s his record-breaking homer:


Notables born on this day include:

  • 1867 – Emil Nolde, Danish-German painter and illustrator (d. 1956)

This 1911 painting by Nolde is called “Exotic Figures II”, but those are clearly cats.

Shot by a firing squad as a spy for Germany, it’s not 100% clear that she did any spying, though she did take money from the Germans for that purpose. Here she is in her dancing outfit:

  • 1903 – Louis Leakey, Kenyan-English palaeontologist and archaeologist (d. 1972)
  • 1904 – Ralph Bunche, American political scientist, academic, and diplomat, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1971)
  • 1929 – Don Larsen, American baseball player (d. 2020)

Larsen remains the only major league pitcher to hurl a perfect game (nobody reaching first base) in a World Series. It was in the fifth game of the 1956 World Series, and Larsen was pitching for the Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Yanks won, 2-0.  Here’s a short video of the game:

  • 1942 – Garrison Keillor, American humorist, novelist, short story writer, and radio host
  • 1954 – Jonathan Pollard, Israeli spy

Pollard was convicted in 1987, the only American ever convicted of spying for an ally. Though given a life sentence, he was released in 2015 and moved with his wife to Israel.

  • 1975 – Charlize Theron, South African actress

Those whose Krebs cycle stopped cycling on August 7 were few, and include:

Here’s the room in which Tagore died, which I photographed in 2014. It was part of the sprawling family home where he was born.

Tagore in 1931 in Germany; the caption says he’s celebrating his 70th birthday on the day of the photo.

Rabindranath Tagore, der indische Dichter-Philosoph, 70 Jahre alt!
Der bekannte indische Dichter Rabindranath Tagere, welcher am 6. Mai seinen 70. Geburtstag feiert.

Tagore was a polymath: artist, poet, songwriter, playwright, philosopher—he did it all.  Here’s my favorite of his songs that I’ve heard (he wrote over 2,200 of them!). It’s gorgeous and haunting: “Tai Tomar Aanondo”. I had the privilege of hearing it performed live in Santiniketan, the intellectual enclave in West Bengal founded by the Tagore family. The song is in Bengali, and you can read more about it here.

  • 1957 – Oliver Hardy, American actor, singer, and director (b. 1892)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili rejects a compliment, because she knows that Andrzej isn’t sincere.

Andrzej: Welcome, o tiger’s cousin.
Hili: I’m not in the mood for stupid jokes.
In Polish:
Ja: Witaj kuzynko tygrysa.
Hili: Nie jestem dziś w nastroju do głupich żartów.

And Little Kulka had a bird encounter.

The caption: A young swift collided with our window and sat, stunned, on the window sill. Kulka was enchanted. It recovered and flew away after 30 minutes.

In Polish: Młody jerzyk uderzył o szybę i siedział oszołomiony na parapecie (odleciał dopiero po 30 minutach). Kulka była zachwycona.

From Laurie Ann:

And another cat meme from Divy:

From Bruce:

From Ginger K. It appears to be the Synchronized Napping event:

Two tweets from Simon. In the first, he said, “Don’t try this at home. Although apparently they did!”

The Lightning Round of the Vaccine Game Show.

Did the sign say, “No bears allowed”?

I count only four:

Man, ping pong (or “table tennis” has gone way beyond anything I could imagine:

Here’s a devastating landslide in India:

This is an absolutely fantastic comic strip (click to enlarge):

24 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. Man on Wire, the 2008 documentary about Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers, is a great film.

    1. If you watch carefully, you can spot the places where the film was edited so that you can’t see them hiding the thermite…

  2. I saw that Don Larsen no-hitter on our families first tv when I was just turned 9. I was cheering for the other team though. I see to remember some hope from the announcers when Jackie Robinson came up to bat. It was not to be, which is a good thing in retrospect although I didn’t think so at the time.

  3. …NASA faux living on Mars for a year…. I believe that this not really anything new. NASA has, for many years, developed Earth-bound simulations of living in space and other non-terrestial environments such as the moon, asteroids, or Mars. I think that there are several locations around the world for these studies on ‘human-environment interactions’ including Hawaii, Russia, and, of course, NASA’s Johnson Sace Center in Houston. The experiments vary in duration from several months to a year and are used to anticipate and prepare for human needs and infrastructure design in order to develop engineering design requirements for possible future NASA missions.

  4. Guadalcanal was the U.S. military’s training ground in the pacific just as North Africa and Italy provided the time and training in Europe. These were necessary if the military was to gain the experience for future success to win the war.

  5. Mata Hari, born as Margaretha Gertruida Zelle iin Friesland (The Netherlands) married McLeod, had a bad marriage. In order to provide for her livingafter her divorce, she became an exotic dancer inspired by a visit to the Dutch Indies (Indonesia). I suspect an ‘Exotic Dancer’ implies prostitution. Yes, she received money from the Germans( probably for sex), but there is no evidence whatsoever she was a spy (as Jerry mentions).
    I consider her execution as scapegoating and punishment for her sex with Germans. It was/is unwarranted. (regardless from my opinion about the death penalty).

    1. I have that “Memento” film recorded on the idiot box. It’s going to be a trip, watching that again.
      Evil plan : find a copy online, then re-cut it into an even more confusing pattern, where your suspicion that “this doesn’t actually make sense” really is true.

      1. From my terminal :

        INFO: Downloading tv: ‘Memento – – (b01brdx5) [original]’
        17.7% o 17.8% of ~4426.60 MB @ 9.7 Mb/s ETA: 00:50:20 (hvfhd1/bi) [audio+video]

        Don’tcha just love technology? Errr, “mwuhahahaha”?

  6. “… it’s a waste of money (and probably lives) to send people to Mars.”

    Perhaps, but just recently Perseverance rover tried to take its first soil sample on Mars and came up empty. A person would almost certainly do this job better. Based on this article, their “solution” is to simply try again. If that turns up empty, I don’t know what they’re going to do. I would have thought that they would have a camera to take a video of the sampling process which would tell them what went wrong but the article doesn’t mention this. Even if they do eventually gather a sample, it is going to be many years before earth scientists get a look at it. It’s going to require another robotic mission to gather the samples from the surface and put them into Mars orbit, followed by another to bring them home. I may not be around to see what they discover.

    1. I think the quest for ‘colonising’ Mars has to do with the quest to leave our solar system. Musk is right that our Solar System has no eternal life and that in order to survive mankind needs to be able to leave it. Mars woild be but the first small step. Luckily we have ample time.
      Less luckily is that, although I’m sympathetic to his quest, he’s an engineer and not particularly well versed in biology.

      1. I think Musk is right. Putting a self-sustaining colony on Mars would probably double the human race’s chances of long-term survival. Considering all the potential threats from space, I think it’s a good idea. We are creating our own threats here on Earth but it is doubtful they would end the species. The truly species ending ones come from space.

    2. There is a “hand lens” camera on the drilling arm, IIRC, but whether it can operate at the same time as the drill is operating is a separate question. There will be at least 4 data channels feeding from the drill head back to the monitoring computer and transmissions.
      Some wireline companies supply both rotary sidewall coring and borehole imaging in compatible toolstring segments, but for the same reason – limited bandwidth – you can’t operate both tools at the same time. Getting a data rate much above 100kbps through 20,000ft of heptacore is really challenging ; if you have to go to a 40,000 ft cable spool (and the rig to mount and drive it), you’ll be down to more like 10kbps.

      1. I was thinking of “MAHLI”, on “Curiosuity”. Perseverance has an Xray fluor device, a UV Ramen spectro device, and … a MAHLI-alike “WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering)” including imaging of the drill target.

  7. 1930 – The last confirmed lynching of black people in the Northern United States

    By inference there have been unconfirmed lynchings more recently. Any one going to take the bet?

    “What doesn’t kill you, mutates and tries again”

    Many a less-true word was spoken not in jest.

    Video footage from my son stranded in Himachal, India. Landslide, an entire road disappearing

    Look at the slope angles : more than 30-several degrees, it’s going to go downhill at some point in the future, guaranteed. You are entirely dependent on the proficiency of the slope maintenance engineering. (This includes entirely artificial structures.)

  8. Even though thalidomide wasn’t “approved” it was prescribed in this country. And there were the unfortunate consequences.

  9. It is thought there were about 10 000 cases, 40% of which ended in miscarriage or stillbirth. Most of them in Germany.
    Some countries (eg the Netherlands) were reluctant to approve a drug for use during pregnancy. Those countries had few cases.
    In a sense it was a blessing, ‘Only’ a few thousand, and it really improved drug testing and regulations. A turning point.

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