Thursday: Hili dialogue

August 26, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a sultry Thursday, August 26, 2021: National Cherry Popsicle Day. It’s also National Burger Day in the UK, National Toilet Paper Day, National D*g Day, and Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the adoption on August, 26, 1920 of the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote.

News of the Day:

It’s now been 218 days since the Bidens moved into the White House brandishing promises that they would adopt a First Cat. Is there a First Cat? I haven’t seen one. Would some reporter please query Jen Psaki?

The New York Times reports that it’s not so much the Taliban that the U.S. fear when rushing to meet the August 31 evacuation deadline, but a branch of ISIS called ISIS-K that’s already carried out many terrorist attacks in Afghanistan this year and hates the Taliban as much as it hates America. A quote:

Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, said on Sunday that the threat from ISIS-K was “acute” and “persistent,” and that American commanders and other officials were taking all possible steps to thwart any attacks.

That includes striking an unlikely accommodation with the Taliban, at least temporarily, not only to allow safe passage to American citizens and Afghan allies to the airport for flights out of the country, but also to actively defend against an ISIS-K attack.

Another August 31 deadline: the trial of Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos for wire fraud will begin after a long delay due to the pandemic. You may recall that Holmes (and her partner Sunny Balwani) ran a company, Theranos, that promised to do diagnostic tests on as little as a tiny drop of blood. Theranos was founded in 2003, when Holmes was just 19, and with the help of influential endorsers like Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, it skyrocketed in value, with Holmes briefly worth more than a billion dollars. (She’s broke now.) But allegations by people like reporter John Carryrou of the Wall Street Journal showed that data was faked, the testing machine didn’t work, and now Holmes faces 11 counts of wire fraud for defrauding investors. She could be sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison. Do read Carryrou’s great book about Holmes and this swindle, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. It’s a fascinating bit of investigative journalism and a page-turner.

Over at the Washington Post, columnist Henry Olsen argues that the Supreme Court decision upholding the “remain in Mexico” policy for immigrants applying for asylum was properly upheld by the Supreme Court. His reason: only Congress has the power to make laws, and although exceptions have been carved out allowing Presidents (Trump earlier and Biden in this case), to effectively make a law these exceptions must be extensively vetted in a public process, and haven’t been. But the court’s been evenhanded about at least this, for, using the same rationale, it refused Trump his executive order to rescind the DACA program. It seems to me that in the past two decades entirely too much legislation has come from the executive branch.

According to the New York Post, a recent survey by a Sports Apparel Company found that the University of Notre Dame mascot (a leprechaun, since the team is the Fighting Irish) has been rated the fourth most offensive mascot in the nation, after San Diego State’s Aztec Warrior, Florida State’s Osceola and Renegade and the University of Hawaii’s Vili the Warrior. The leprechaun seems to be offensive to Irish people, but I have yet to find one who has been offended by it. I suspect it started with one offended person. Anyway, the University is defending its mascot, shown below  (h/t: Barry):

But a rep for the Indiana-based college was quick to defend the feisty, pot-of-gold-hiding trickster, along with the term “The Fighting Irish” — which began as a derogatory term for Irish Catholic students during the early 1900s.

“It is worth noting … that there is no comparison between Notre Dame’s nickname and mascot and the Indian and warrior names [and[ mascots used by other institutions such as the NFL team formerly known as the Redskins,” the school said in a statement to in the Indianapolis Star.

“None of these institutions were founded or named by Native Americans who sought to highlight their heritage by using names and symbols associated with their people,” it read.

Reader Pyers informed me yesterday of this:

One of the most distinguished British ( indeed Scottish) painters of recent years, Dame Elizabeth Blackadder, died on August 23.  Amongst her many attributes she was a great painter of cats as this link shows.

Here’s a photo of her, a British postage stamp she designed (part of a series), and one of her paintings, “Black Cat, Abyssinian Cat, and Tulips”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 632,522, an increase of 1,165 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,477,546, an increase of about 10,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on August 26 includes:

  • 1542 – Francisco de Orellana crosses South America from Guayaquil on the Pacific coast to the mouth of the Amazon River on the Atlantic coast.
  • 1768 – Captain James Cook sets sail from England on board HMS Endeavour.

Cook first sailed to Tahiti to make astronomical observations (he failed), then mapped the coast of New Zealand and visited Australia (being the first outsider to see the indigenous people) before heading to Indonesia, St. Helena, and home to England.

But another man, James Rumsey, was also granted a patent for a steamboat the same day, leading to conflict and ultimately the demise of Fitch’s company. But it was Robert Fulton who developed the steamboat into a successful commercial enterprise. Here’s Fitch’s patent drawing of the piston for steamboat propulsion:

  • 1863 – The Swedish-language liberal newspaper Helsingfors Dagblad proposed the current blue-and-white cross flag as the flag of Finland.

Wikipedia, however, says this: “The first known “Flag of Finland” was presented in 1848, along with the national anthem Maamme. Its motif was the coat of arms of Finland, surrounded by laurel leaves, on a white flag.

Well, whoever invented the design, here it is:

I can’t find any photos of the eruption (that’s not surprising!), but here’s a coral block hurled onto Java by the eruption; Java is 31 miles (50 km) from Krakatoa. The man standing beside it shows the scale:


  • 1920 – The 19th amendment to United States Constitution takes effect, giving women the right to vote.

See above.

The Nazis and their local minions were particularly brutal in Ukraine. Here’s a photo of shootings, labeled by Wikipedia:

Executions of Jews by German army mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) near Ivangorod Ukraine. The photo was mailed from the Eastern Front to Germany and intercepted at a Warsaw post office by a member of the Polish resistance collecting documentation on Nazi war crimes. The original print was owned by Tadeusz Mazur and Jerzy Tomaszewski and now resides in Historical Archives in Warsaw. The original German inscription on the back of the photograph reads, “Ukraine 1942, Jewish Action [operation], Ivangorod.”

Note that the woman is holding a child.

Here’s a newsreel of the liberation of Paris, showing de Gaulle’s entry:

  • 1977 – The Charter of the French Language is adopted by the National Assembly of Quebec
  • 2009 – Kidnapping victim Jaycee Dugard is discovered alive in California after being missing for over 18 years. Her captors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido are apprehended.

This is a horrific story, and you can see it summarized in this ABC news story:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1740 – Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, French inventor, invented the hot air balloon (d. 1810)
  • 1743 – Antoine Lavoisier, French chemist and biologist (d. 1794)
  • 1873 – Lee de Forest, American engineer and academic, invented the Audion tube (d. 1961)
  • 1880 – Guillaume Apollinaire, Italian-French author, poet, playwright, and critic (d. 1918)

Here’s the famous poet ; he died in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918:

  • 1901 – Jimmy Rushing, American singer and bandleader (d. 1972)
  • 1904 – Christopher Isherwood, English-American author and academic (d. 1986)
  • 1910 – Mother Teresa, Albanian-Indian nun, missionary, Catholic saint, and Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1997)
  • 1949 – Leon Redbone, Canadian-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2019)

Here’s Redbone singing an old classic:

Those who jumped the Cosmic Shark on August 26 include:

Here’s a nice Hals from 1623, “Jonker Ramp and His Sweetheart“. The Dutch sure had rosy cheeks back then (or perhaps this couple is drunk):

  • 1723 – Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Dutch microscopist and biologist (b. 1632)
  • 1974 – Charles Lindbergh, American pilot and explorer (b. 1902)

Lindbergh was an unapologetic anti-Semite, America Firster, and Nazi lover. In 1940 hegave a famous sin Des Moines, Iowa, on September 11, 1941, urging America not to enter the war because our entry was being promoted by the British, the Roosevelt administration, and the Jews. Here’s a photo from Esquire of Lucky Lindy giving, yes, the Nazi salute.

Caption: Senator Burton K. Wheeler (1882-1975), Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974) the spokesperson for the America First Committee (AFC) and novelist Kathleen Norris (1880-1966) giving the Nazi arm salute during the rally on October 30, 1941 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. The AFC was the pressure group against the Americans joining World War II.

In 2020 HBO made a minseries about Lindbergh winning the Presidency, “The Plot Against America” (based on the eponymous novel by Philip Roth), limning the dire consequences of such a victory, including forcible relocation and murder of Jews. I should see that; it sounds intriguing. You can watch the first episode for free here.

  • 1989 – Irving Stone, American author (b. 1903)
  • 2018 – Neil Simon, American playwright and author (b. 1927)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili channels Newton:

A: What are you looking at?
Hili: At the effects of gravity.
In Polish:
Ja: Na co patrzysz?
Hili: Na efekty grawitacji.

From Facebook. I haven’t ascertained whether this is real, but perhaps a reader can find out.

From Stephen:

From Science Humor: Ms. Berry gets revenge on her employers for pulling a nasty trick:

From Masih: more video leaked by opponents of Iran’s regime, who hacked into the closed video system of Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Remember, homosexual acts are a capital crime in Iran, with reports that thousands have been hanged. The government even subsidizes gender reassignment surgeries (almost all from male to female) so gays can continue to have sex with men, but legally (those who have the surgery are legally recognized as female).

From the Auschwitz Memorial site:

Titania finds some allies:

From Ginger K. My response would be to stop traffic to let this lovely animal cross.

Tweets from Matthew. First, the earliest SCUBA tank.Rea

Read the linked article, which involves Einstein, black holes, and the bending of light by mass. You’ll see that this photo is pretty amazing.

A lovely scorpionfly—not a “real” fly in the order Diptera, but in the order Mecoptera.

Rainbow lorikeets, from Australia, are gorgeous parrots, but this mutant is  messed up (but still pretty!). I put a “normal” lorikeet below it so you can see the difference:

A non-mutant rainbow lorikeeet:

30 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. I realized late yesterday and was reminded in this morning’s Hili dialogue that in addition to crediting the DoD with an incredible mobilization to get people out of Afghanistan over the past two weeks, as I wrote in yesterday’s comments, we must also credit the State Dept and NSC as they are tirelessly working some very fragile and unstable diplomatic channels with a clear mission of getting people out safely. As the days go on we start to see glimpses of their critical but quiet roles in comments by Sec of State Blinken and NSA Sullivan as Jerry reported above.

    1. I take it you mean “incredible” in the sense of “extraordinary” rather than “not credible”? Dunkirk was an extraordinary mobilization, but as Churchill pointed out, still a defeat. This seems more of a SNAFU. With a Taliban deadline of Tuesday for an end of operations, the Administration is already pulling out the troops. It seems likely that by September 11 there will be more Americans left to the tender mercies of the Taliban than died in the 9/11 attacks. It’s the Retreat from Kabul all over again.

  2. I’m kinda surprised about the Hawaii mascot. Meaning; I’m surprised to hear the mascot wasn’t developed initially with the input and consensus of the native population, since the islands have such a strong sense of identity. I’ve also never heard of “Vili” before; I thought they were the Rainbow Warriors? Ah I am probably woefully dated at this point.

  3. For more and a non-technical treatment of the Krakatoa eruption, I recommend Simon Winchester’s 2003 book, “Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded”.

    1. On the other side of the ledger is the film “Krakatoa, East of Java.” Though the movie is largely forgettable, I remember it as one of Sal Mineo’s last films.

      1. The most memorable thing about the movie is that upon release, it was pointed out that Krakatoa is actually west of Java.

  4. The Hals painting appears to depict Jonker Ramp taking a selfie of he and his lady friend. And almost 500 years ago! Imagine!!

    1. Baldric: Didn’t you promise them the painting would be finished tomorrow?

      Elizabeth Blackadder: Baldric, I have a cunning plan.

    1. There was also mass starvation in Ukraine and surrounding Russia roughly corresponding to the 1930s dust-bowl years, due to drought, badly conceived collective farms, and Moscow’s (=Stalin’s) pigheadedness on meeting production quotas. Odessa at the time was about equally populated by ethnic Russians, Jews, and Ukrainians. Many of the latter, especially northward and westward, were strongly nationalist and aligned with Hitler prior to WWII. If Ukrainians are investigating the Odessa graves, don’t expect completely unbiased reporting.

  5. 1920 – The 19th amendment to United States Constitution takes effect, giving women the right to vote.

    By its terms, the 19th amendment provides that “[t]he right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” The amendment does not, however, guarantee to women the right to hold national elective office. Under a straightforward application of the “originalist” and “textualist” interpretation of the US constitution favored by conservative US Supreme Court justices, women should not be eligible for the office of the presidency of the United States. It was plainly not the intent of the delegates to the constitutional convention in 1787, or of those who ratified it in 1788, that a woman should ever be president. And the text of the Article II of the constitution expressly refers to the president by male pronouns.

    This matter would have been unambiguously resolved by passage of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, which seemed destined for ratification in the 1970s. Yet despite broad popular support, the ERA remains in ratification limbo, the deadline for its consideration having expired decades ago.

  6. I should see [the HBO miniseries “The Plot Against America”; it sounds intriguing.

    Better yet, read the novel, which is “eponymous” in a deeper sense, in that its narrator is named “Philp Roth” and the Roth family at the story’s center is essentially the same as Roth’s own family when he was growing up in the Weequahic neighborhood of Newark, NJ, during the relevant time period.

    In the miniseries, the family name is changed to “Levin.” The novel is also written against a much broader background of the USA in the late 1930s and early 1940s than is possible to capture in a miniseries. (Still, the miniseries is very good, written and directed by the same creative team that produced the great HBO series The Wire.)

    1. The “Plot” is running for the second or third time right now on Brazilian cable TV. It fits in right well, broadly speaking, with some of the darker aspects of local politics.

  7. The Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos is an interesting one. Alex Gibney’s documentary, “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” on HBO is excellent. I haven’t read the book but you have to see and hear Elizabeth Holmes. She has a certain charisma if you like blank stares. It still seems unclear whether she deliberately scammed everyone or if she truly believed what she was saying. Perhaps the trial will tell us.

      1. Actually, there is another possible explanation. They may have convinced themselves that their basic product idea is sound. It is normal for a startup to present an idea for a product, and a company to build it, without having everything nailed down in advance. After all, the point of getting the venture capital is to fund refining the basic technology and turning it into a product. They may have felt that the missing pieces in their technology were easy to solve at first but they turned out to always be just out of reach. Many companies fail to make money for their investors and some never even release a product. It is also common for a CEO to present a rosy outlook to investors. It is up to investors to ask tough questions and demand detailed answers. If they don’t, why wouldn’t the startup keep pursuing their goal? In the Theranos case, it seemed like the investors really didn’t protect their investment.

        On the other hand, it seems that the Theranos prototype machine was at least somewhat of a fake. It will be interesting to see how the case unfolds.

        She may well be a sociopath. No law against that. She was certainly playing the game. The question is whether she cheated more than is allowed.

      2. She also had a big advantage in that old men with venture money were happy to give her the money, while pretending that proved how “enlightened” they were. An older man or woman would likely not received any funding for the same idea.

  8. Interesting in the Dugard case, “In 2009, his father, Manuel Garrido, said his son was a “good boy” as a child, but changed radically after a serious motorcycle accident as a teenager.” This seems a confirmation of the notion that most criminals and deviants suffer from a brain abnormality and are actually not morally responsible for their actions.

  9. Here, where I live in East Amwell Township in NJ, there is a Lindbergh Rd (where he lived at the time of the kidnapping.) Should I petition my town to cancel him and change the name? 🙂

    1. Yes, definitely looks like an anaconda, with those round markings. Even apart from the field marks, the people are speaking Portuguese so this is in Brazil and can’t be a python unless it is escaped (as in Florida).

      One of the onlookers says “How beautiful!” Nice to see how everyone behaved.

      1. Yes, I also was happy to see that; always makes me think what would have happened to the poor snake almost anywhere here.

  10. And noted in passing, it appears that DeGaulle is riding in a 1937 Lincoln Zephyr (V-12) convertible sedan, probably with some French custom coachwork. The side of the hood, anyway, shows more ventilation grillework than factory.

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