Friday: Hili dialogue

August 27, 2021 • 6:30 am

We’ve reached the end of the work week: it’s Friday, August 27, 2021: National Burger Day (didn’t we just have one of those?) It’s also Lyndon Baines Johnson Day (Texas), National Banana Lovers Day, National Pots De Creme Day (cultural appropriation), Kiss Me Day, World Rock Paper Scissors Day, and Tarzan Day, explained here:

Today we celebrate Tarzan, the popular tree-swinging and ape-raised character, who made his first appearance on today’s date in 1912. Tarzan debuted in the novel Tarzan of the Apes, which was originally published in installments in The All-Story magazine, starting with the October 1912 issue, which came out on August 27.

And here’s that issue:

News of the Day:

By now you’ve heard that yesterday there were at least two explosions outside the Kabul Airport, and they killed 13 American military personnel and “dozens” of Afghans. And yes, it was ISIS, not the Taliban:

The bombs were set off near a crowd of families at the airport gates who were desperately hoping to make one of the last evacuation flights out. Gunfire was reported in the aftermath of the explosions.

The Islamic State released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack.

. . . One Afghan health official said at least 60 people were confirmed dead and at least 140 wounded. Another health official said at least 40 were dead and 120 wounded. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Taliban told them not to brief the press, they said.

At least two explosions were set off by someone wearing a suicide vest, and there was also hostile gunfire. They couldn’t even wait until August 31.

Biden has vowed to exact revenge, saying this:

“To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said in an address to the nation early Thursday evening. “I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.”

Biden said he had ordered his commanders to develop operational plans to strike key assets, leadership and facilities of the Islamic State terrorist group in Afghanistan, which he said had been planning a complex set of attacks on U.S. personnel in recent weeks.

“We will respond with force and precision at our time, at a place we choose, in a moment of our choosing,” Biden said. “These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans and we will get our Afghan allies and our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated.”

Oy gewalt! This is the kind of stuff that got us there in the first place. Let’s get our people and our allies out, and then worry about retribution. There is, you know, a danger of ISIS taking hostages.

I just read that the Supreme Court struck down another decision of Biden: to end evictions in the U.S. during the pandemic, an order set to expire October 3. Again the vote was 6-3, with the three liberal justices dissenting. The basis for the decision was again the usurpation of Congressional power by the executive branch:

“It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant,” the majority’s eight-page opinion said. “But our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends. . . . It is up to Congress, not the CDC, to decide whether the public interest merits further action here.”

Reader Woody sent me this graph that he found on reddit (I don’t vouch for its accuracy, but it might be right), and adds, ” The only explanation necessary is that the curves are 7-day running averages (across US counties) for new daily cases (so I infer) per 100,000 population.” If this is true, the magnitude of the most recent surge is closely connected to the degree of Republican-ness of the county in the U.S. in which covid cases were counted:

Yesterday I wrote a bit about how U.S. Presidents are arrogating unto themselves legislation that should be the purview of Congress. The DACA act Obama and the “Remain in Mexico” act of Trump are two examples. Now, in a NYT op ed called “End the imperial presidency“, Stephen Wertheim argues that this presidential overreach also applies to war. According to the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war, but the last time it did so was World War II. Since then, every conflict we’ve been in has been declared not by Congress, but by the President. For decades, there’s been too much legislation not enacted by the legislature.

But there’s good news tonight! The AP tells us that an Aussie farmer, who couldn’t attend his beloved aunt’s funeral because of the pandemic, made a tribute to her out of sheep munching barley. Here it is: love ewes!

Photo by Jackson for the AP

How did Ben Jackson do it? He did a few experiments and figured out that if he dropped barley in a certain shape from the back of a truck, the sheep would briefly assume that shape as they scarfed up the barley.

“It took me a few goes to get it right … and the final result is what you see. That was as close to a heart as I could get it,” Jackson said on Thursday.

. . . .“This heart that I’ve done for my auntie, it certainly seems like it’s had a bit of an effect across Australia,” he added, referring to emotional social media responses.

Now doesn’t that warm your heart?

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 634,734, an increase of 1,233 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,490,028, a big increase of about 12,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on August 27 includes:

One of many paintings of the Sack of Rome by the Visigoths:

Here’s that first oil well:

  • 1883 – Eruption of Krakatoa: Four enormous explosions almost completely destroy the island of Krakatoa and cause years of climate change.
  • 1896 – Anglo-Zanzibar War: The shortest war in world history (09:02 to 09:40), between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar.

A thirty-eight minute war! The British bombarded the Palace for a few minutes and it was all over: Zanzibar surrendered. Here’s some damage to the Sultan’s Harem during the short war:

It’s worth reading about the bad old days. From Wikipedia:

On 27 August 1927, the five women, who became known as the Famous Five, sent a petition to the Governor General of Canada. The petition requested that the government ask the Supreme Court if power was vested in the governor general in council, the prime minister of Canada, or both, to appoint a woman to the Senate of Canada; and if it was constitutionally possible to make provisions that would allow for the appointment of a woman. In response to the petition, the Canadian government referred the following question to the Supreme Court: “Does the word ‘Persons’ in section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?”

On 24 April 1928, the Supreme Court held that women were not “qualified persons” within the meaning of s. 24 of the British North America Act. The ruling was based on the premise that the term should be interpreted in the same way as in 1867, and that the act would have specifically mentioned women if they had meant to make an exception for the Senate.[12][4]

The Five then appealed the decision of the Supreme Court to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. On 18 October 1929, the Judicial Committee allowed their appeal and overturned the decision of the Supreme Court. The Judicial Committee concluded that the term ” ‘persons’ does include women, and that women are eligible to be summoned to and become members of the Senate of Canada”. The judgment was delivered by the Lord Chancellor, Viscount Sankey, who stated:

[The] exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours […] their Lordships do not think it right to apply rigidly to Canada of to-day the decisions and the reasonings therefor which commended themselves […] to those who had to apply the law in different circumstances, in different centuries, to countries in different stages of development.

  • 1928 – The Kellogg–Briand Pact outlawing war is signed by fifteen nations. Ultimately sixty-one nations will sign it.

Among those who signed this well-meaning but useless document were Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, the Irish Free State, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, and the United States.

  • 1956 – The nuclear power station at Calder Hall in the United Kingdom was connected to the national power grid becoming the world’s first commercial nuclear power station to generate electricity on an industrial scale.

Calder Hall:

The club ran out of money, and didn’t pay the players and staff. As Matthew says, “It was all very sad.”

Notables born on this day include:

Dawes was the only Vice-President (as far as I know) who won a Nobel Prize—for his “Dawes Plan” for WWI reparations.  But, more important, he was the only Vice President or President to write a song that became a pop hit (the Tommy Edwards version in 1958; Dawes wrote the melody in 1911, but the lyrics were written by Carl Sigman much later). Do you know the song? Here it is:

  • 1871 – Theodore Dreiser, American novelist and journalist (d. 1945)
  • 1906 – Ed Gein, American murderer and body snatcher, The Butcher of Plainfield (d. 1982)

Gein killed two women and dug up bodies, from which he fashioned artifacts. He was ruled legally insane and died in a mental institution.

  • 1908 – Don Bradman, Australian cricketer and manager (d. 2001)

Here’s Bradman in 1930 at about 22. Without doubt, he was the greatest batsman of all time:

Here’s a 15-minute video of Bradman’s achievements, with video of the man in action, testimony from his contemporaries and Bradman’s own words:

  • 1908 – Lyndon B. Johnson, American commander and politician, 36th President of the United States (d. 1973)
  • 1909 – Lester Young, American saxophonist and clarinet player (d. 1959)

Young is one of my favorite (if not the favorite) jazz saxophonists. I particularly like his rendition of “Sometimes I’m Happy“. His tone was light, but his playing was impeccable.  To hear Sarah Vaughan singing the lyrics, go here.

  • 1937 – Alice Coltrane, American pianist and composer (d. 2007)
  • 1939 – William Least Heat-Moon, American travel writer and historian

Part Native American, Least-Heat Moon is most famous for his 1982 book Blue Highways, which I read when it came out. I came remember much about it, but I have the feeling that if I did reread it, it wouldn’t make as strong an impression on me as it did in my thirties. That, at least, is the way I feel about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I did reread and didn’t like nearly as much the second time. There are some books that resonate only at certain periods of your life. Has anybody read it lately?

  • 1942 – Daryl Dragon, American keyboard player and songwriter (d. 2019)
  • 1943 – Bob Kerrey, American lieutenant and politician, Medal of Honor recipient, 35th Governor of Nebraska
  • 1973 – Danny Coyne, Welsh footballer

Probably no relation, but I post all Coynes. Here’s Danny:

Those who “fell asleep” on August 27 include:

  • 1576 – Titian, Italian painter and educator (b. 1488)
  • 1664 – Francisco de Zurbarán, Spanish painter and educator (b. 1598)

Like Titian, Zurbarán was a very great painter; here’s his “St Serapion”, painted in 1628:

  • 1931 – Frank Harris, Irish-American journalist and author (b. 1856)
  • 1948 – Charles Evans Hughes, American lawyer and politician, 11th Chief Justice of the United States (b. 1862)
  • 1963 – W. E. B. Du Bois, American sociologist, historian, and activist (b. 1868)

Du Bois, of course, was a famous activist for African-American writes and one of the founders of the NAACP. In November of last year, 58 years after Du Bois’s death, the Du Bois Center of the University of Massachusetts had Fellows from the Center read a series of quotations from him. You can read the quotes, and see who’s speaking them, here.

His real name was Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, and I visited Chandigarh, his famous accretion of government buildings in the capital of the Punjab and Haryana in India. It is in disrepair, as shown in this photo I took in 2018. The bare concrete has gotten stained and the whole project looks shabby now:

  • 1967 – Brian Epstein, English businessman and manager (b. 1934)
  • 1971 – Margaret Bourke-White, American photographer and journalist (b. 1906)

Bourke-White was the first woman given credentials as a photojournalist during a war. She was a superb photographer of street life, too,, and here’s one specimen of her work, perhaps the most famous. “Flood Refugees” shows the displaced lined up for food and water after a great flood in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937.

Mountbatten and several others, including his daughter, were blown up by the IRA in their boat. He was the governor-general during the trouble time of Partition (1947), and it’s said that his wife, Edwina, had an affair with Nehru (among many others). Here he is as Governor-General with Edwina and Nehru:


  • 1990 – Stevie Ray Vaughan, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1954) (Double Trouble)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron reach an uneasy agreement;

Szaron: We have no choice, we have to like each other.
Hili: I’m afraid I have to agree.

In Polish:

Szaron: Nie mamy wyboru, musimy się polubić.
Hili: Też się tego obawiam.

And a treat: an old picture of Darwin (the late d*g) with baby Hili.

Caption: Nine years ago, Paulina and her sister Anetka brought Hili to us.

In Polish: Osiem lat temu Paulina i jej siostra Anetka przyniosły nam Hili.

Here’s a refreshing take on the Bible and its stories by a renowned theological scholar, Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou, professor of Hebrew and Bible and Ancient Religion of Exeter University. Have you ever heard such Bible-dissing from a Biblical scholar?

From Jesus of the Day:

From Science Blogs. All these six vegetables are derived by selecting on the same wild species, but emphasizing different traits, and all are in fact are members of the same species. This shows the ubiquity of genetic variation: you can get a response if you select on nearly any feature of an organism.

A tweet from Masih, showing the hypocrisy of Islamic regulation of sexual behavior.

A tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial:

A tweet from Ginger K.. I haven’t gone through any of these stages save the first, nor do I know what “dark mode” is:

Tweets from Matthew. What is up with this butt-grabbing moggy?

Woke capybaras say, “Death to capitalism!”

This is a fossilized crinoid (also called “feather stars”), a group in the phylum Echinodermata.

Yes, their wings do look like this. Matthew says, “This is basically a butterfly”.  (The second photo may be a tad color enhanced.) It’s the only species in the family Eurypygidae, is found in central and South America, and, according to Wikipedia, the patterns are used for courtship displays, threat displays, or to scare predators. (I am dubious about the last one.)

22 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. All these six vegetables are derived by selecting on the same wild species, but emphasizing different traits…

    For evil. Pure, unadulterated, evil. Surely nothing shows the horrors of eugenics more clearly than people using artificial selection to produce broccoli and kale from the same plant.


    1. The fifth vegetable from the left in the diagram of brassicas is calabrese, not broccoli. Proper broccoli is vastly superior and absolutely delicious. It takes ten months to mature, is vulnerable to winter gales, and does not have a very high yield, so it is rare and expensive. With an alkaline soil and patience it is not difficult ot grow, and the end result is right up there with aspargus.

      1. I don’t have the taste bud or gene or whatever needed to like it, so no ‘better preparation’ or ‘better variety’ is likely to change my mind. Unless the better preparation consists of smothering any flavor of the weed by overwhelming it with some other flavor. But just in case this wasn’t clear, my post WAS supposed to be a bit tongue in cheek.

  2. Oddly enough, I did know that Dawe’s wrote the music for the song “It’s All in the Game.” I just learned that in the last couple months, but I can’t remember how I learned it. I was looking something up about Dawes.

  3. Was there supposed to be a link in the paragraph about Francesca Stavrakopoulou? I’m always up for some Bible-dissing!

        1. Yeah? That’s when I stopped watching. And reflected on how tolerance of any beliefs “you believe want you want to believe” props up the Taliban, ISIS, and the the like and the beliefs of those Pakistani men.
          I’ll go the Dawkins way everyday and not the weak minded accommodation of actual evil believe.

    1. Peter, I did not see the link either when I looked at the page on my browser, but the link appeared in the email and I could click on it there and watch the video. I have no idea what interweb magic is happening here.

  4. Horrifying video of those Pakistani men. I’m astounded to see how many of those guys were attacking her and how few of the crowd (maybe none) defended her. It is a very revealing video about the depravity of that population.

  5. Jerry, how could you forget the Carpenter Center at Harvard when mentioning le Corbusier? It was roundly criticized when it first appeared, characterized as” 2 pianos, copulating,” but it no longer gets a second look. It’s on Quincy Street, just a couple of hundred yards from your old haunts.

  6. It was around 1979 or 1980, not long after my state started issuing vanity plates, that I passed a car that had the cryptic plate nunber YX32. After passing, I looked in the mirror to find that it now read “SEXY”.

  7. “Mountbatten […] was the governor-general during the trouble time of Partition (1947), and it’s said that his wife, Edwina, had an affair with Nehru (among many others)” – their diaries and other private documents like letters were acquired using public funds a decade ago and are kept at Southampton University. A biographer has since spent £250,000 of his life savings trying to force the Cabinet Office and the university to allow him access to them, but in defiance of rulings in his favour both have insisted on keeping them secret. Then in the last couple of weeks, and without any announcement or explanation, most of the material has been posted online. The exceptions are their letters and diaries from 1947 leading to speculation about what they might contain.

  8. They missed the seventh stage of Twitter: realize that it fills your life with rage, quit, and find your life improved.

  9. Re Lester Prez Young: Radio station WKCR from New York is playing Lester Young tracks all day – what a treat! You can hear them on the internet, just type WKCR into google.

  10. Jerry mentioned that he is dubious about sunbitterns scaring predators but they do actually use their wings this way. I conducted the first ever study of nesting wild sunbitterns (in Costa Rica) and watched a nesting pair for a month. One day an eagle landed not too far from the nest, presumably intending to grab a chick from the nest. The sunbittern flew to the eagle and repeatedly did threatening startle displays at it and the eagle eventually took off.

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