Friday: Hili dialogue

August 13, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a Friday the 13th; yes, it’s Friday, August 13, 2021: National Filet Mignon Day, celebrating a tender but flavorless cut of beef.  It’s also International Lefthanders Day, National Prosecco Day, National Kool-Aid Day, and Skeptics Day International.

News of the Day:

The U.S. is sending 3,000 troops back to Afghanistan’s Kabul Airport as a temporary measure to help Americans and Afghans who helped the U.S. evacuate before the Taliban takes over Kabul. (My prediction: Kabul will be in Taliban hands within ten days.) All Americans have been asked to leave the country, and the U.S. has requested that the Taliban spare the American embassy in Kabul under pain of not receiving foreign aid. (As if they’d care!). It’s so sad to see, as I did on the news last night, videos of women shopping by themselves in Kabul, taking yoga classes, and seeing girls going to school—knowing that this will all be gone within a month.

I didn’t believe this when I saw this in the Daily Fail, but The Daily Beast and other sources confirm it.  (h/t Luana) Look at this headline from Newsweek (click screenshot to read:

The vote was 50-49, with 49 Dems voting against the provision (Republican Senator Tom Cotton, author) to block federal funding from being used it to teach critical race theory in prekindergarten and K-12 schools. (This is part of the pending budget bill.) Renegade Dem Joe Manchin joined 49 Republicans (except Mike Rounds, who didn’t vote) to pass this bill, which, remember, is just a Senate vote and must pass the House as well. I’m not a fan of banning the teaching of CRT, much as I’m opposed to some of its tenets, as that banning it smacks of government censorship, and a different Congress could ban other stuff.

Here’s another headline, this one in the NYT, that begs for clicking. Andie Taylor, 48, who transitioned at 45, narrates a 6-minute video accompanying the article.

Taylor’s own decision is that she won’t run in women’s races where she has a chance to win until science tells her that she doesn’t have a biological advantage because she was a man. She doesn’t like the “trans sports” issue being used as a political football, and she’s right, and she’s also right that we don’t have the data she wants (apparently she’s undergone hormonal and surgical intervention. An excerpt:

In the Opinion video above, Ms. Taylor describes how she is eager to compete among women and yearns for inclusion — but only if the scientific research unequivocally shows that her years living as a male did not give her an advantage.

There is little research regarding the performance of transgender athletes, in part because their numbers are so small. Some evidence suggests that trans women retain some athletic advantages after a year of undergoing testosterone suppression. Researchers have also found that those advantages, with time, largely fall away.

As research advances, Ms. Taylor is imploring all sides in the debate to refrain from using the issue for political gain.

“I want to win,” she says, “but I only want to win if I know it’s fair.”

She’s thoughtful and articulate, so what the hell is the NYT doing publishing people with ideas like hers?

I think the data is starting to show that—especially if you transition after puberty—the advantages may decrease, but never disappear. And until we have strength or performance data on women who have undergone medically-supervised transitions, Taylor will be uncomfortable, and the rest of us won’t know how to make the rules.  But there’s one rule I think is absolutely sensible: transwomen who are medically untreated (no surgery, no hormones) should not be competing in women’s sports.

Boston’s famous Skinny House in the Italian North End, which is four stories high, 1,165 ft² in area, but at most ten feet across, is on the market for $1.2 million. There’s a photo below, and the Boston Globe article has more pictures of the interior. Why is it so skinny? The article says that two brothers who had fallen out jointly inherited land around it, and one brother built the Skinny House to block the other’s view. Here you go:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 619,723, an increase of 616 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,349,493, an increase of about 10,700 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on August 13 includes:

What it must have been to cast eyes on that city—aa city on an islet on a lake, with a population of 140,000 or more people! Here’s what it likely looked like:

  • 1624 – The French king Louis XIII appoints Cardinal Richelieu as prime minister.
  • 1889 – William Gray of Hartford, Connecticut is granted United States Patent Number 408,709 for “Coin-controlled apparatus for telephones.”

And here’s the patent for the payphone. Do these even exist any more? I haven’t been in a phone booth in decades!

  • 1905 – Norwegians vote to end the union with Sweden.
  • 1906 – The all black infantrymen of the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Regiment are accused of killing a white bartender and wounding a white police officer in Brownsville, Texas, despite exculpatory evidence; all are later dishonorably discharged. (Their records were later restored to reflect honorable discharges but there were no financial settlements.)

Here’s a photo of the 25th in Montana in 1890:

It was written (the tune, not the lyrics) in 1947, right after Independence. Why did it take Radio Pakistan so long to broadcast it?

Here’s a sort video of the construction of the wall (supposedly constructed to keep people out of the Communist Paradise) on Barbed Wire Sunday. Despite restrictions on leaving that started that day, 800 East Berliners made it out to West Berlin.

  • 1964 – Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans are hanged for the murder of John Alan West becoming the last people executed in the United Kingdom.
  • 1967 – Two young women became the first fatal victims of grizzly bear attacks in the 57-year history of Montana’s Glacier National Park in separate incidents.

Here’s the book about the incidents. It’s a grim tale; one woman would have escaped but the zipper on her sleeping bag got stuck, and the bear dragged her and her bag into the woods:

  • 1969 – The Apollo 11 astronauts enjoy a ticker tape parade in New York City. That evening, at a state dinner in Los Angeles, they are awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Richard Nixon.
  • 2020 – Israel–United Arab Emirates relations are formally established.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1860 – Annie Oakley, American target shooter (d. 1926)

Here’s Oakley, who really was a crack shot:

  • 1895 – Bert Lahr, American actor (d. 1967)

The Cowardly Lion! Here’s the story about how his costume came about and was restored: it weighed 60 pounds and was made from a real lion skin (the mane, however, was made of human hair):

  • 1899 – Alfred Hitchcock, English-American director and producer (d. 1980)
  • 1912 – Ben Hogan, American golfer and sportscaster (d. 1997)
  • 1912 – Salvador Luria, Italian-American microbiologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1991)
  • 1926 – Fidel Castro, Cuban lawyer and politician, 15th President of Cuba (d. 2016)
  • 1948 – Kathleen Battle, American operatic soprano

Here’s Battle in China, singing my favorite opera aria. I prefer Dame Kiri’s version, but Battle, a great singer, was sixty when she sang this. In 1994 she was dropped from the Met for being difficult to work with.

Those who began pushing up daisies on August 13 include:

Semmelweis is famous for introducing handwashing (in Vienna) to reduce infection when doctors who performed autopsies then delivered babies. This was staph infection that caused “puerperal fever” (childbed fever). He is a medical hero, and here are the results of Semmelwis’s introduction of handwashing with chloride of lime. This is percentage of patients dying per month!

Another medical hero: here’s Nightingale (date supposedly 1898, though she looks too young to be 78!):


  • 1917 – Eduard Buchner, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1860)
  • 1946 – H. G. Wells, English novelist, historian, and critic (b. 1866)
  • 1995 – Mickey Mantle, American baseball player and sportscaster (b. 1931)
  • 2004 – Julia Child, American chef, author, and television host (b. 1912)

Here from 1978, when SNL was great, is Dan Akroyd imitating Julia Child:

  • 2010 – Edwin Newman, American journalist and author (b. 1919)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is pondering deeply:

A: What are you doing over there?
Hili: I’m thinking about the collapse of civilization.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tam robisz?
Hili: Zastanawiam się nad upadkiem cywilizacji.
Andrzej saw a hare when he went shopping:

I believe I posted this as a tweet, but it’s funny enough to post again:

From Casual Christian Comedy via Stash Krod:

From Jesus of the Day:


From Masih, and yes, American and British vaccines are banned in Iran because authorities think that the West would be using Iranians as guinea pigs. It’s very sad.

Here’s a tweet of LA Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner making the most effortless slide into home that I’ve seen. In fact, it’s gone pretty viral, being set to music as in the second tweet:

From Luana: I suppose the point of this tweet is to worry the woke about being on the side of capitalists (whose wokeness is entirely mercantile):

Two tweets from Ginger K.: Still good advice after 103 years:

And is it this cat meowing (its mouth doesn’t open). It even gets rubber duckies!

Tweets from Matthew. You know, of course, that in the Monty Hall problem, if you choose a door, and the host opens another door that he knows does not have a prize behind it, you should always switch the door you chose originally. Nobody believes this, but it’s true.

A cowboy and a bison walk into a bar. . .

Yes, mantises can give you a bit of a nip when disturbed, but many people are overly afraid of them:

42 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. The “thumbnail” of the Pakistan broadcast shows an astronomical impossibility – a star (we assume) between the unlit fraction of the moon (we assume) and the observer (we assume).

    Of course, there is always something else that explains this. Gee, what could it be….

  2. Among the notables born on this day, I would also include:
    1844 – Johannes Friedrich Miescher, Swiss physician, discovered DNA.

  3. Don’t think the rubber duckies really help while attempting to wash the cat.

    Joe Manchin will one day have to put on his big boy pants and decide if he is going to be a democrat.

    1. His job is to represent his constituents, the people of W.Va. If he’s doing that in opposition to what his party leadership says, that is wearing the big boy pants. Not-wearing them is when an elected representative of the people sells their people out for party loyalty.

      Does that mean I agree with his vote? No. But I hate this ‘party over people’ cr@p. It’s exactly how the GOP acts, and it’s how the nation has devolved into the partisan rancor that we have.

      1. Sure, congresspersons owe a duty of loyalty to their constituents. But they also have a duty of conscience to do what’s right, not simply to follow the polls to determine what’s popular in their own jurisdictions. Sometimes that latter duty requires that they buck both their party and the folks back home. That’s the whole point of the Profile in Courage Awards.

      2. Yes. With Manchin, he wants to have his cake and eat it too. The people he represents are more republican than democrat. I don’t know what else you call W. Virginia. But he is the road block to voter rights with his love of filibuster. If the democrats cannot improve their situation in the Senate they are screwed along with the entire country.

  4. Of course the woke are on the side of ruling classes:

    Demonising language that does not conform to current upper/middle class tastes.
    Easy virtue signalling for capitalists.
    Ignoring class.
    Divide and rule.

    Pretty much a wishlist for any ruling class.

  5. Simmelweis is indeed a hero and example of the reluctance of man to accept anything new. His charge that the physicians and medical students were introducing puerperal fever (it’s a streptococcal infection) to their patients did not sit well with his colleagues. They roundly rejected his theory and his life-saving hand-washing ritual, eventually confining him to an asylum (this may have been exacerbated by tertiary syphillis, some speculate) where he was beaten, developed gangrene and died of the thing he fought so hard to prevent. Further proof that god is a real piece of work.

    1. Yes, he was lured into the asylum, suppodedly to see a patient. He was basically ambushed and got injured during the ensuing fight. he died of his injuries 2 weeks later. Of course he had made himself popular wby calling -with some justfication- his colleagues ‘murderers’ for going from the morgue to the maternity ward without washiing their hands.
      Only 15 years later he was vindicated by Pasteur

  6. Night of the Grizzlies — I was in GNP that night! I spent the summer of 1967 in western Montana, collecting beetles for the Univ. of Washington museum. I drove into GNP on the 12th, coincidentally encountering and spooking a black bear [thankfully NOT a grizzly] on a west-side trail above Lake MacDonald. I made camp that night at the Many Glaciers CG, on the east side, probably within 3 miles of one of the attacks..

    The trails above Many Glaciers were closed the next day, so I headed south toward Yellowstone. Haven’t returned to either park in 54 years.

    1. Interesting story. Brings back memories of my brief interaction with Dr. Hatch’s group at UW’s Burke Museum. Worst things I ever encountered in the woods were an occasional pit-viper and a freaked out tayra.

      1. When I was there, the back rooms at the Burke were the typical university museum stuff. The Guy Upstairs, Eric Pianka [later a well-known ecologist] was in his desert-rat phase then, and always losing his pets. One of Eric’s snakes, some kind of rattler flopped down from his mezzanine office onto my workspace. Fortunately it didn’t get far before Eric retrieved it. There were kangaroo rats on the loose as well, stock for the Museum’s desert display in the public area, as were a bunch of turtles another student brought home from Iowa.

        Another graduate student was working on the Northern Shrike, and reared about 25 shrike babies in nests lined along the bench next to mine. She also kept Ethelred, a little saw-whet owl she’d rescued from a road-hit. I had the pleasure of being Ethelred’s back-up feeder [just thaw the whole rat….]

        Then, there was Namu’s skull. And the Tibetans. Good times.

  7. I think you should be more worried that fewer Democrats voted against using Federal funds for CRT in schools.

  8. “It was written (the tune, not the lyrics) in 1947, right after Independence. Why did it take Radio Pakistan so long to broadcast it?” – although the tune was written in 1947 it wasn’t adopted as the national anthem then. It seems that the Pakistani government was subsequently embarrassed that it had no national anthem to play when the country had its first visit by a foreign head of state in January 1950. A second such occasion was very imminent so they decided to choose one ASAP. The 1947 tune – without any words – was chosen and played during that visit and a couple of others, but the anthem with lyrics wasn’t officially recognised until August 1954, when it was then broadcast by Radio Pakistan.

    1. Pakistan wasn’t a failed state then. It wasn’t until the monster Zia al Haq in the 1980s went all Islamic that the country really started to ski downhill.
      Now when I see it on TV all I see are crazed young man shouting for somebody’s head for no reason because, y’know, religion of peace. Monotheism / Religion – it’ll get you every time.

      1. My visit to Pakistan started a week or so after General Zia’s death and the country was in a self-imposed state of emergency. Things were tense at time, people mostly spoke respectfully about the old monster, and there were pictures of him on public display all over the place. When I went to the huge new mosque in Islamabad where his fancy marble tomb was being built I was amused to see the workmen casually sat around having a cigarette break on the very spot where he was going to be buried.

  9. If the Senate bill is just a funding bill that specifically prevents Federal funds being used to teach CRT, its practical impact will be nil for the vast majority of school districts as Federal funding is a very small part of their total K12 operating budget. For example, In my locality which has a strong Federal lab and military presence which gives rise to Federal Impact Aid funding, and a large poor population which triggers Federal Title 1 funding, Federal funds are only about $3 million out of a total annual operating budget of over $300 million. The vast majority of K12 funding comes from the state and locality and can be prioritized as the local school board sees fit. If the bill denies any Federal funding to schools that teach CRT, while not catastrophic, would be a bigger deal, as K12 funding is very inelastic with more than 85% generally going to salaries. Still, I believe that just the sense of censorship is cause for concern.

  10. In 1994 she [Kathleen Battle] was dropped from the Met for being difficult to work with.

    Guess they don’t call ’em divas and prima donnas for nothin’.

  11. I heard from an American on Youtube that two things they love about living in the UK are the bread and the cheese, which are both pretty tasteless in the USA. They also love Fish and Chips.

    1. Yes. When I, an American, visited the UK fairly often on business in the 1980’s, I remarked to one of my hosts that I really enjoyed the breakfast toast and butter each morning…that it was so wonderfully rich. After almost 40 years, I still recall his reply that yes, “we are aswim in dairy products”.

      I also enjoyed that pints in pubs were regulated with a line toward the top of the glass, below which had to be beer with foam, at most, above that line….if i recall correctly.

    2. That was certainly true when I was a kid, but it hasn’t been true for quite a while now. Excellent examples of breads, cheeses, beers and many other things, are routinely available in the US these days. I don’t mean imports, though imports are more available than they’ve ever been, but locally made stuff.

    3. I can still taste the grease on my hands from the best fish and chips I’ve ever had from a street vendor in London, but it so long ago I think maybe the queen was a man then. Maybe. Anyway, you limeys get kudos from this yank for the fish and chips. And the beer.

  12. Ben Hogan was a golfer, and he made golf clubs. But he was not a sportscaster. Byron Nelson was a sportscaster after playing, but Hogan was notably reticent and was not.

  13. The caption of the photo of Florence Nightingale on Wikipedia says “Florence Nightingale, c. 1860” making her about 40 in it, which seems more likely.

  14. I can’t let the mention of Boston’s skinny house without mentioning that we also have one here in Long Beach:

    Wikipedia claims it’s the skinniest house in America. The lot is 10′ wide! It is also a free-standing building, unlike the one in Boston. When I happen to be driving in the area and have visitors in the car, I take them to see it. It seems kind of rundown these days and it isn’t in the best of neighborhoods. Some friends were robbed at gunpoint after leaving a restaurant just a few yards from the skinny house.

      1. It’s much more touristy than ours. There’s not even a sign in front of ours. Most people in Long Beach don’t even know about it. The UK one sounds like more fun.

      1. “They” had a vast conspiracy to discredit Lindell. And we know who “they” are, don’t we? The list of traitors grows! (Tune in for the next episode.)

      2. Thanks Ken, that was a very entertaining read – though there’s a worrying aspect about how many people take this kind of nonsense seriously.

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