Thursday: Hili dialogue

August 19, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Thursday, August 19, 2021: National Soft Serve Ice Cream Day. It’s also “Black Cow” Root Beer Float Day (root beer and vanilla ice cream), National Hot and Spicy Food Day, National Potato Day, International Orangutan Day, World Photo DayNational Aviation Day and World Humanitarian Day.

News of the Day:

The Taliban didn’t wait long until it began resorting to violence against Afghans.  Facing street protests in Jalalabad, the Taliban fired at the crowd with live ammunition, killing at least two and injuring a dozen. But if these protests grow (2 dead is not enough to deter protestors), Taliban violence will increase. People trying to get to the Kabul airport (and the 1500 remaining Americans must get there if they’re to be evacuated) are being beaten and turned away by the Taliban. One slight note of hope though:

While many were skeptical of those assurances, in Kabul the rhythms of daily life started to return — but they were in many ways circumscribed.

There were noticeably fewer women on the streets. Some of those who ventured out did not cover up in the traditional burqa, the full-length shroud that covers the face that was required the last time the Taliban ruled. At homes and businesses, a knock on the door could stir fear.

Will Afghan women be heartened enough to eschew the burqa? I have no idea, and wouldn’t ask them to, lest they be killed. Afghans, and especially women, need the support of the West.

And from another NYT article painting the fear that besets Afghan women (and also men who helped the Americans):

Even as they cling to hope of being rescued by the American government, Afghan women who worked with the United States over the past 20 years are destroying any hint of that association — shredding documents written in English, deleting social media apps and then burying their cellphones.

Current and former U.S. officials and activists described the desperate steps Afghan women have taken since the Taliban’s takeover of their country this week as a grim reminder of the heightened threat they face because of their gender.

Any attempt to contact American or international refugee agencies is a risk that most Afghan women are not willing to take, the officials and activists said. Even going to the airport in Kabul, to try to secure a place on an American or international flight overflowing with anguished Afghans, has become a life-or-death decision.

Has it been eight months since you’ve finished your second Covid vaccination? If so, then according to the Biden administration you’ll be eligible for a booster by the end of September (just when I’m at eight months). “Dr. Fauci” (I’m getting irritated at the way he’s always called “Dr.”!) says that a booster will increase the level of antibodies against the virus tenfold. Still, the FDA must approve the boosters and the CDC must recommend them. They will.( I unwisely had my vaccine card laminated after the second shot, and hear that it’s impossible to unlaminate it to record a booster shot.) Healthcare workers and the immunocompromised will go first, followed by those of us in our dotage.

Here we have what may be a hoax perpetrated by someone desperate to look like a victim (this happens fairly often with college students). In this case, as NBC News reports, Dr. Michelle Fiscuss, Tennessee’s top vaccination expert, who was fired—she claims “for political reasons, as she tried to ” placate lawmakers who disapproved of the Health Department’s outreach to vaccinate teenagers against Covid-19″—received a muzzle in the mail and prominently displayed it to the media. She was supposedly sent the muzzle two weeks before she quit, and argued it was a gesture to make her shut up.

Fiscus could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday. She told NBC affiliate WSMV of Nashville that she acknowledges that the muzzle was paid for using an American Express that belongs to her but that she “vehemently denies” buying the muzzle and sending it to herself.

And indeed, there is exculpatory evidence, including no record on her Amazon account that she bought the thing. But how did they get her credit card number? The law is investigating, so stay tuned.

DUCK NEWS! A giant rubber duck, 25 feet tall and emblazoned with the word “Joy,” has appeared in Belfast Harbor, Maine. Nobody has the slightest idea how it got there. Since it poses no danger to boats, the locals, who love it, want it to stay. Here’s “Joy”:

Photo courtesy New England Cable News/Kenn Tompkins via AP.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 624,365, an increase of 809 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,407,134, an increase of about 11,000 over yesterday’s total.

Lots of stuff happened on August 19, including:

  • 43 BC – Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, later known as Augustus, compels the Roman Senate to elect him Consul.
  • 1561 – Mary, Queen of Scots, aged 18, returns to Scotland after spending 13 years in France.
  • 1692 – Salem witch trials: In Salem, Province of Massachusetts Bay, five people, one woman and four men, including a clergyman, are executed after being convicted of witchcraft.

Giles Corey, one of the accused, refused to enter a plea so he was “pressed to death”, crushed under a platform piled with heavy stones (below). It took him three days to die. As Wikipedia recounts:

As a result of his refusal to plead, on September 17, Corey was subjected to the procedure by Sheriff George Corwin, but he was steadfast in that refusal, nor did he cry out in pain as the rocks were placed on the boards. After two days, Corey was asked three times to enter a plea, but each time he replied, “More weight,” and the sheriff complied. Occasionally, Corwin would even stand on the stones himself. Robert Calef, who was a witness along with other townsfolk, later said, “In the pressing, Giles Corey’s tongue was pressed out of his mouth; the Sheriff, with his cane, forced it in again.” There are several accounts of Corey’s last words. The most commonly told one is that he repeated his request for “more weight”, as this was how it was dramatized in The Crucible, but it may also have been “More rocks.” Another telling notes it as, “Damn you. I curse you and Salem!”

The Brits patented the process just before the French made it free, so Britain was the only place in the world you had to pay licensing fees to use the process.

  • 1848 – California Gold Rush: The New York Herald breaks the news to the East Coast of the United States of the gold rush in California (although the rush started in January).

Here’s an ad from 1850 advertising fast ships to get you to the gold as fast as possible:

This used to be a huge deal when I was a kid, with the winner making the national news (and fabricating crude but fast wooden cars). Here’s a video from the first one. Now it’s high-tech and boring. Like the Miss America contest, people don’t pay attention to this contest any more.



  • 1934 – The German referendum of 1934 approves Hitler’s appointment as head of state with the title of Führer.
  • 1936 – The Great Purge of the Soviet Union begins when the first of the Moscow Trials is convened.
  • 1945 – August Revolution: Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh take power in Hanoi, Vietnam.
  • 1960 – Cold War: In Moscow, Russia, Soviet Union, downed American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers is sentenced to ten years imprisonment by the Soviet Union for espionage.

Less than two years later, Powers, who was shot down by the Russians, was freed in a prisoner swap with a Soviet spy held by the Americans. Here’s a brief video; I’m always fascinated by these East-West prisoner swaps over the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin, also known as “The Bridge of Spies”.

The checkpoint on the bridge was the only one between West Berlin and East Germany that was under full Soviet control (the other checkpoints were under East German control). Here’s the midpoint—the border between East and West—where the spy exchanges occurred:

  • 1989 – Several hundred East Germans cross the frontier between Hungary and Austria during the Pan-European Picnic, part of the events that began the process of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
  • 2003 – A car-bomb attack on United Nations headquarters in Iraq kills the agency’s top envoy Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 other employees.

Vierra de Mello, enormously talented and by all accounts a nice guy, was in line to be the next UN Secretary General. The bomb was set by Al-Qaeda, and here’s the damage at UN headquarters:

US Army (USA) Soldiers assigned to the 203rd Combat Engineer Battalion, Missouri Army National Guard (ANG) use a tracked excavator to remove tons of rubble and debris as rescue worker search for victims a the United Nations (UN) Office of Humanitarian Coordinator Building in Baghdad, Iraq, after a truck bombing destroyed much of the building during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
  • 2017 – Tens of thousands of farmed non-native Atlantic salmon are accidentally released into the wild in Washington waters in the 2017 Cypress Island Atlantic salmon pen break.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1631 – John Dryden, English poet, literary critic and playwright (d. 1700)
  • 1871 – Orville Wright, American engineer and pilot, co-founded the Wright Company (d. 1948)

Here are the Wright Brothers; Orville is the one with the moustache:

Wikipedia describes the fashion guru as not only an anti-Semite, but also as a Nazi spy. Her products should therefore be deplatformed. Here she is:

Here’s Nash with the model and actress Dagmar. I think this may have been the first time i saw a photo of Nash, and he looks pretty much like I imagined.

(From Wikipedia): Photo of panelist Ogden Nash and Dagmar from the television game show Masquerade Party, 1955
  • 1919 – Malcolm Forbes, American publisher and politician (d. 1990)
  • 1921 – Gene Roddenberry, American screenwriter and producer (d. 1991)
  • 1930 – Frank McCourt, American author and educator (d. 2009)
  • 1939 – Ginger Baker, English drummer and songwriter (d. 2019)

My friends who are experts in rock drumming say that Baker was the greatest of them all. Given that he was a lifelong heroin addict, and also afflicted with osteoarthritis, heart problems, and COPD from smoking, it’s amazing that he lived to 80. Here’s a great (though fuzzily photographed) solo by Baker with Cream in 1968.

  • 1946 – Bill Clinton, American lawyer and politician, 42nd President of the United States

Clinton is 75 today.

Those who croaked on August 19 include:

  • AD 14 – Augustus, Roman emperor (b. 63 BC)
  • 1662 – Blaise Pascal, French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher (b. 1623)

Pascal’s death mask:

Here’s the legendary outlaw, whose feats were exaggerated, though he did kill quite a few men. (And he did, kill a man for snoring, firing several bullets into the next room, but that death was an accident.) Hardin was imprisoned for 19 years and then, within a year of release, was shot to death in a saloon:

  • 1929 – Sergei Diaghilev, Russian critic and producer, founded Ballets Russes (b. 1872)
  • 1936 – Federico García Lorca, Spanish poet, playwright, and director (b. 1898)
  • 1968 – George Gamow, Ukrainian-American physicist and cosmologist (b. 1904)
  • 1977 – Groucho Marx, American comedian and actor (b. 1890)

Groucho had a wonderful spontaneous wit. Here he’s faced with a very weird contestant on his t.v. show “You Bet Your Life”. Notice that the weirdo, Albert Hall (!), said the secret word, “food”, and so the duck dropped from the ceiling with its reward.

  • 1980 – Otto Frank, German-Swiss businessman, father of Anne Frank (b. 1889)
  • 1994 – Linus Pauling, American chemist and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1901)
  • 2009 – Don Hewitt, American television producer, created 60 Minutes (b. 1922)
  • 2017 – Dick Gregory, American comedian, author and activist (b. 1932)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is trying to find “green” mice:

Hili: I’m going to see whether there are some ecological mice.
A: Maybe you’d prefer a vegetarian dish?
In Polish:
Hili: Idę zobaczyć, czy nie ma tu gdzieś ekologicznych myszy.
Ja: A może wolisz jakąś potrawę wegetariańską?

And here is Szaron napping:

From Divy, who swears her cat has this app on its phone:

From Jesus of the Day, a cat makes itself fearsome:

From Stephen:

Titania has gone strangely quiet lately, so there are no tweets from him/her. But here’s one from Masih:

A tweet from Luana; do you agree with Stewart-Williams’s interpretation? Maybe the d*g was trained. After all, there’s somebody right there to video the whole caper.

A tweet from Ginger K.

Tweets from Matthew. First, a new discovery in astronomy:

Wally the Lost Walrus is now off the coast of Ireland, and apparently went boating. I hope the guy is heading north, for that’s where Wally should be:

This would make a nice poster:

I don’t know the answer to Matthew’s question, but I’m chuffed that there are so many women here:

42 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. Re: People trying to flee Afghanistan (and Hong Kong, too) – I’m always fascinated by the authoritarians’ desire to keep everyone from leaving.

    On the surface, it makes more sense to let them leave. You’re going to have more trouble from people who don’t want to be there than from people who want to stay.

    So, why the rush to corral them all? Two reasons, I think. Despite all the common-sense advantages to getting them gone, there’s an economic argument. If you lose a big chunk of your workforce, a big chunk of your GNP goes with it.

    In the US, the Republican coup attempt, and now the steps they’re taking toward rigging all future elections in their favor, recognize this reality. They don’t want people participating who disagree with them, but they don’t want to lose all that tax money, either. If authoritarians here ever took over, despite all their “love it or leave it” rhetoric, they would lock us down, too.

    And the other reason to keep people in? Taking over completely is no fun if you can’t make your enemies kiss your ass.


    1. Yes economic but also with their brutal sexism, they have to take care some huge percent of women don’t leave the country and create a shortage of trophy wives for their soldiers.

  2. There are several accounts of [Giles] Corey’s last words. The most commonly told one is that he repeated his request for “more weight” …

    Reminds me of the anarchist Italian immigrant Giuseppe Zangara who, when asked if he had any final words before his execution in the electric chair for the murder of Chicago mayor Anton Cermak (committed in the course of his failed 1933 attempt to assassinate president-elect FDR), said, “Push da button! Go ahead, Push da button!”

  3. When we got our shots (at Walgreen’s), I asked about what we could do if we lost our vaccine cards. They said that they could replace them, since they had the records in their system.

  4. Less than two years later, Powers, who was shot down by the Russians, was freed in a prisoner swap with a Soviet spy held by the Americans.

    The prisoner-swap was recreated in a scene from Steven Spielberg’s 2015 film Bridge of Spies:

  5. I’m a drummer and a huge Ginger Baker fan, but I don’t think it is fair to call him the greatest rock drummer, as there are other candidates who influenced rock drumming way more than Ginger. Indeed, I would argue that Mr Baker would himself rather be touted as one of the greatest jazz drummers or perhaps the greatest African rock drummer.

    Who, imho, might those other candidates be? Well, for a start – Ringo Starr, John Bonham, possibly Neil Peart.

    1. Baker, Bonham, Keith Moon, Charlie Watts, and some of the other early Brits all started out as jazz drummers. Not Ringo, though.

      1. Learning jazz is very helpful for a rock drummer, because it reinforces the use and feel of playing 3/4 time within a 4/4 time signature. And triplet fills are the bread and butter of rock drumming. 🙂

        1. Yup. Peart did a lot of jazz drumming in the 90’s, and you can even see him play at the Buddie Rich tribute. Though for those who are looking to learn about his enormous talent as a rock drummer, they should seek out something else. He was clearly not interested in showing off here (he never was. An incredibly humble man. Though he of course did a solo. You ask Peart to solo and you’re gonna get a solo!).

        2. It really starts getting good at 4:30, and his solo at 5:15 is very interesting just because it’s fun to watch him do it with about 50 fewer drums and cymbals than he normally has 😛

          (where’s that damn edit button?!?)

      1. Jeez, I was impressed enough to see him switch from a matched grip to a standard grip (at about the :40 second mark) and back again that I missed the shirt change. 🙂

    2. Peart. Peart, Peart, Peart. Certainly the one most full of sheer talent and complexity of the three you mentioned. It’s not even close. His ride work alone…the accuracy, the insanely ambition of his work…it’s just astounding when you listen to it.

      And there was certainly no greater polymath rock drummer than Peart. If he hadn’t been a drummer, he would have been a poet and philosopher (and photographer, and novelist, etc.). Indeed, he was all of those things. Just as examples, reading the lyrics to songs like Hemispheres, Entre Nous, and Natural Science is as good as reading any poetry. It can be read on its own, without music. It’s sheer brilliance.

      1. Agree. What puts him over the top of most drummers is that he goes toe-to-toe with them on skills and then wrote all the lyrics for most of Rush’s hits since the 1970s.

  6. As I think back to the fall of South Vietnam nearly half a century ago, I seem to recall that there was much less furor in the U.S. about that event then about the current fall of Afghanistan. If my recollection is correct (maybe it isn’t), I wonder why that is so. Perhaps it was because most U.S. troops were out of the country for several years after Kissinger struck a deal with the North Vietnamese two years earlier. Or, maybe it was because most Americans had already forgotten about the war that divided the country. Maybe Americans viewed the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong as less repulsive than the Taliban, and many on the Left were not very upset that the Americans lost the war. It is interesting to speculate.

    1. I suspect you are correct. After the peace deal in 1973 the American public began to forget about the Vietnam war and were wanting to leave it all behind. Of course the families of 58,000 or so dead from the war could not forget so easy. When the North rolled into Saigon in 75 it was long over. The military and the people spent a lot of time trying to figure out Vietnam and what took place. The Pentagon Papers helped to show the mess that our government, military and all of it went down. At the end of the study, Vietnam was not winnable anymore than Afghanistan. The purpose never made sense and the end was very predictable. The removal of the draft is what allows our government to use the military for purposes it was not designed for. To help this idea along the people are not even asked to pay for wars. It just goes on the credit card.

    2. Yeah, I think that it was that US troops, except for the Marines guarding the US embassy, had been withdrawn two years before the fall of Saigon. (The ARVN managed to keep up the battle for those two years, unlike the Afghan security forces, which collapsed in a matter of weeks, before US troops had even been withdrawn.)

      Still, those images of the pro-US South Vietnamese clinging to the skids of helicopters taking off from the embassy roof — as well as of the Vietnamese boat people taking to the South China Sea in rickety craft in the hope of escape — were a major international embarrassment.

  7. Not onlly did Pascal write the famous Wager that seems so convincing as a reason to at least pretend a belief in God (as if they could fool God,) he invented the roulette wheel with its multiple wagers. If faith is an either/or proposition in the initial wager, the Roulette Wheel illustrates how the correct wager is one among many, and more a matter of luck than anything else. Be born to the right religion and you get the chips, otherwise it’s the trap door to Hell. It’s not a matter of the Lady or the Tiger, it’s a matter of the Lady or all the species of big cats.

    Incidentally, he invented the Roulette Wheel in order to test whether or not a perpetual motion machine is viable.

  8. I suppose it depends on the method of lamination but many can be delaminated (unlaminated?) using a sharp knife as the plastic isn’t actually bonded to the paper. If that fails, I believe there’s a way to request a replacement. And, of course, these things are recorded electronically. In CA we have an online system.

  9. Yes, soap box derby used to be a big thing. It has been replaced by robotics contests which are way cooler. I suspect they don’t reach poor school districts but I don’t know that for a fact. Those still messing with soap box cars are just behind the times.

    1. The NYT had an article about a group of Afghan girls who formed a robotics club. And they were good! Among other things, they made ventilators out of old car parts. Sadly, they won’t be doing any of that anymore. 🙁

      1. Yes, I noticed the article but didn’t read it. Amazing! I hope those girls and their helpers got out of the country. I suspect some with good connections got out early.

  10. Re: Groucho Marx: Note that when the weird contestant talks about working at a printer’s, Groucho puns that he lost his job because “you weren’t their type.” Not a peep from the audience! How many other Marxisms were slipped past us?

  11. The dog was clearly trained. An untrained dog would approach the stove, sniff over the edge to detect desirable food and undesirable heat. Assuming the right data, it would then leap directly onto the stove in order to snarf the goodies. That’s my theory anyway.

  12. Will Afghan women be heartened enough to eschew the burqa?

    NPR had on a Taliban spokesman the other day, and he said women would be allowed to continue working & schooling as long as they donned abaya – which was interesting as it allows the face to be uncovered.

    Re: Boosters! I received the J&J vaccine right before they paused back in the spring, and now I’m wondering what this means for me. I want a booster – but apparently they’ve forgotten about us. I have a friend who just went down to Costco and got a moderna (he also got the J&J) – but I don’t know if I’m comfortable doing that. Anyone else in the same boat?

      1. Well, I would no more take issue with Bob on the composition of lyrics than I would with Escoffier on the proper technique for preparing the mother sauces. 🙂

        1. I think you taught me the word (which I now forget) when an artist changes tense or other grammatical “errors” to make the lyrics sound better. The example was Simon’s lyric: “Me and Julio down by the schoolyard.”

          1. Enallage is probably the rhetorical term your thinking of, Mark.

            Dylan uses it a lot, as in “Lay, Lady, Lay” or “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”

            1. “The tune don’t have to be clever,
              And it don’t matter if you put a couple of extra syllables in a line.
              It sounds more ethnic if it ain’t good English
              And the words don’t even gotta rhyme.”-The Folk Song Army by Tom Lehrer

            2. That’s it! Thanks, Ken. Have you ever used that word in an everyday conversation? It would be fun to work in somehow. Hmmm.

              1. Generally, I can work myself into that level of pedantry only in written form, Mark. 🙂

  13. Does anyone else think that the photo of the walrus was photoshopped? The scale and lighting are wrong. 🙁 Or is this a joke that has gone completely over my head? Wouldn’t be the first time I missed a joke!

  14. During the 1920’s through 1945, there were more women in all professions then there were 1946-1960. After WWII ended, various religious and political leaders encouraged women to leave their jobs so that the returning soldiers would be able to find jobs. By “encouraged”, I mean shamed into leaving good jobs, and labeled as being unfeminine if they continued in their chosen professions.

  15. Visiting a young friend lately who is “vaccine hesitant” it turns out – I nearly bit him. He says he likes “natural” and doesn’t know what’s in the vaccine.
    Then…. he pulls out a vial and snorts some cocaine he bought on the street. I think people should be free to take any drugs they like – I see it as a right although I don’t use coke myself – but be consistent, mate! Do you really know what was in that vial?
    I trust Modena/Pfizer before I trust Rocco from the Bronx.


    1. I appreciate the analogy but it’s worthwhile pointing out that the choice is really a tradeoff between the risks associated with the vaccine and catching COVID. I think a lot of anti-vaxers aren’t fairly accounting for the catching COVID side of the equation.

Leave a Reply