Monday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

August 30, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Monday, August 30, 2021: National Toasted Marshmallow Day. I must admit that I like mine burnt to a crisp—ignited over a fire until the outside is black. It’s also National Holistic Pet Day, International Whale Shark Day, Frankenstein Day (Mary Shelly’s birthday), and the International Day of the Disappeared.

News of the Day:

Biden continues on his desire to get revenge for the suicide bombing that killed 13 American military personnel and 140 Afghans. Another U.S. drone strike yesterday took out a vehicle near the airport reported to be carrying explosives. Afghans of unknown provenance say that civilians were killed, including children, but one must assess the morality of this strike against the toll that would have occurred had the vehicle exploded. Five rockets were fired at the airport today, but all were shot down by U.S. anti-missile systems. And the U.S. said it was unlikely to keep diplomats in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of troops.

Who’s to blame for the horrible mess at the Kabul Airport? I am not a pundit and don’t want to lay blame on this one, but the New York Times has dueling editorials blaming Biden on one hand and Trump on the other.

Speaking of the NYT, it was a mistake for them to have enlisted Tish Harrison Warren, an Anglican priest, as a regular contributor along the lines of John McWhorter. Her last column was lame—a firm osculation on the rump of faith—but her latest, “Why poetry is so crucial right now,” is even worse. What she should have done was inserted “to me” after “crucial”, and then it would be particular rather than general. But nothing can save her tired and anodyne sentiments:

This past year in particular was marked by vitriol and divisiveness. I am exhausted by the rancor.

In this weary and vulnerable place, poetry whispers of truths that cannot be confined to mere rationality or experience. In a seemingly wrecked world, I’m drawn to Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Autumn” and recall that “there is One who holds this falling/Infinitely softly in His hands.” When the scriptures feel stale, James Weldon Johnson preaches through “The Prodigal Son” and I hear the old parable anew. On tired Sundays, I collapse into Wendell Berry’s Sabbath poems and find rest.

. . . Indeed, in our age of social media, words are often used as weapons. Poetry instead treats words with care. They are slowly fashioned into lanterns — things that can illuminate and guide. Debate certainly matters. Arguments matter. But when the urgent controversies of the day seem like all there is to say about life and death or love or God, poetry reminds me of those mysterious truths that can’t be reduced solely to linear thought.

There’s that “other way of knowing” she was hired to purvey! What are those “mysterious truths” that can be conveyed only in verse? In fact, it’s not true that poetry is more important right now than, say, a year ago, just as novels or music aren’t more important right now than a year ago, save as balm for the soul needed during the pandemic. But that’s not what the Lachrymose Osculator means; she means that poetry gives us truths that mere cogitation can’t. When will the paper turn off her fountain of meaningless verbiage? (I needn’t add that I love good poetry, but not because it conveys “truth” unreachable by other means. It is music in words.)

The Washington Post emphasizes that now that Covid vaccinations are fully approved by the FDA, and can be mandated, the costs of being unvaccinated will rise. If you get fired for refusing vaccination when your employer requires it, you won’t qualify for unemployment benefits. Or the cost of your health insurance could rise substantially. I have no issues with these penalties.

Surprise! North Korea has restarted a nuclear reactor that can produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. If you think the DPRK can be negotiated out of making deliverable bombs, you probably think the same about Iran, too. Yes, we can denuclearize the Korean peninsula, but Koreans aren’t stupid, and know about U.S. nuclear submarines lying in wait nearby.

Ed Asner, the man who will forever be remembered for playing the curmudgeonly editor Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore show, has died at 91.

Stuff that happened on August 30 includes:

Here’s one of the weirder species. Do you recognize it? If not, go here.

Here’s Point Wild on Elephant Island, where Shackleton’s 22 men camped for four and a half months, subsisting on penguin meat. I photographed this in December, 2019. The bust, on the spot where the men camped, is of Pilot Luis Pardo Villalón, commander of the Chilean Navy cutter Yelcho that rescued the men. It’s a grim place!

Kaplan (photo below), a Russian Jewish revolutionary, was executed by the Cheka on September 3. Lenin never fully recovered from the attack, and died in 1924 of a stroke.

I sailed on two of its successors; the S. S. United States, which set a later record, and the Queen Mary II. Here’s the original, moored at Long Beach, California:

Here’s the bridge of the newer Queen Mary II, photographed by moi in 2006 (I was lecturing aboard):

  • 1967 – Thurgood Marshall is confirmed as the first African American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • 1984 – STS-41-D: The Space Shuttle Discovery takes off on its maiden voyage.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1720 – Samuel Whitbread, English brewer and politician, founded Whitbread (d. 1796)
  • 1871 – Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand-English physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1937)

Here’s Rutherford at McGill in 1905. Though he won the Prize for the discovery of radioactive decay and half lives of elements, his most famous work, which came later, was the demonstration that atoms had a nucleus. This was based on rare scattering of alpha particles used to bombard gold foil, showing that while most of an atom is empty space, there are small islands of high-density particles that can deflect helium nuclei.

  • 1884 – Theodor Svedberg, Swedish chemist and physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1971)
  • 1893 – Huey Long, American lawyer and politician, 40th Governor of Louisiana (d. 1935)

Long could be considered as the Donald Trump of Louisiana, though he was smarter. Here he is giving one of his populist speeches. Every man a king! He was assassinated by the son-in-law of a judge whom he, Long, removed.

  • 1901 – Roy Wilkins, American journalist and activist (d. 1981)
  • 1930 – Warren Buffett, American businessman and philanthropist

Still with us at 91!

I love Crumb, and have a stack of his original comics. I see that they’ve risen in price. Here’s one of my favorite covers:

  • 1944 – Molly Ivins, American journalist and author (d. 2007)
  • 1982 – Andy Roddick, American tennis player

Those who took leave of existence on August 30 were few, and include:

Here’s the part of the famous Zapruder film showing JFK getting hit by two bullets. Warning: grisly!

  • 2013 – Seamus Heaney, Irish poet and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1939)
  • 2015 – Oliver Sacks, English-American neurologist, author, and academic (b. 1933)

Though Sacks was deeply eccentric, he was a great storyteller; and many of us, including me, used to read his books religiously. Here he is, and, if you want to see his NYT piece that he wrote after learning he had terminal cancer, go here.

  • 2019 – Valerie Harper, American actress and writer (b. 1939)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili pulls the old “in or out” stunt.

Hili: Could you let me in?
A: But you went out a moment ago.
Hili: Yes, but I forgot what for.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy możesz mnie wpuścić do domu?
Ja: Przecież przed chwilą wyszłaś.
Hili: Tak, ale zapomniałam po co.

Mietek mourns the passing of summer:

Mietek: How come it’s the end of summer holidays?

In Polish: Jak to koniec wakacji?

From Facebook:

From Science Humor:

And a nice cartoon:

From Masih. Do you still think that the Taliban 2.0 is going to be “nicer”? I doubt it, but they sure suck at public relations!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

From Dom. Henry Gee, an editor of Nature, is correct in his assertion, but he has a way of being arrogantly, annoyingly and unpleasantly right. As for the “missing link”, that isn’t even mentioned by the Natural History Museum.

From Barry, who adds “This has to be the craziest thing you’ll ever see or hear from any believer. I don’t know how this can be topped.”  I’m with him!

From Ginger K.: Man, that was one fraught relationship! Didn’t work out, but it sure produced some great music.

Tweets from Matthew.  A Crested Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) from eastern Asia raids a nest. I presume the feathers protect it from stings, but what about its eyes?

Cats will be cats!

This looks like a ctenophore ingesting another ctenophore:

38 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

  1. If you get fired for refusing vaccination when your employer requires it, you won’t qualify for unemployment benefits. Or the cost of your health insurance could rise substantially. I have no issues with these penalties.

    Yes, let those who refuse to participate in reasonable public-health measures bear the cost of choosing not to do so. That’s the difference between “free choice” and “free beer.”

    1. If being free means anything, it means the right to be wrong. Otherwise truth is just what the politicians and bureaucrats say it is.

      1. It also means taking responsibility for the costs of being wrong, especially when one’s errors are easily avoidable and produce potential (and predictable) harm to other people.

  2. It is nice that the Queen Mary is preserved and still in use at its mooring. Unfortunately the S S United States is rusting and decaying at a pier in Philadelphia. After she was retired from passenger service in 1969 while at the Newport News Shipyard, where she was designed and built, for annual overhaul, the owners tried to find a buyer. Over the ensuing fifty years numerous schemes were proffered from refitting as a Carribean cruise ship to serving as a dockside hotel and casino to scrapping. I believe that currently the nonprofit United States Conservancy has responsibility and is attempting to save her. I almost cried everytime I drove past her when she was docked and deteriorating away for several years next to the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel at the mouth of the James River in Newport News. The United States was an extraordinary example of engineering.

    1. I crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Mary when I was 11. We skirted a huge storm and had 100′ waves crashing on the decks. It was spectacular.

      I also crossed on the United States. My parents preferred taking ships to go home to the UK for their vacations.

      Now I live in Long Beach, the current home of QM! Unfortunately, it has never made money and now no one wants it. I suspect that it would be scrapped but for the cost which no one wants to pay. A sad end but all good ships have to come to an end somehow.

        1. A deaf Admiral misheard when Queen Victoria asked him how his sister was; thinking she was asking about his ship he replied along the lines of “all is well with her, but her bottom badly needs scraping”. Contrary to the myth, Victoria was “much amused”!

  3. Ed Asner, the man who will forever be remembered for playing the curmudgeonly editor Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore show, has died at 91.

    I thought Asner was great as Guy Bannister, the real-life shady New Orleans ex-cop and private investigator who drunkenly pistol-whips Jack Lemmon, in Oliver Stone’s JFK — a film that made for great cinema, albeit dreadful history.

    1. I thought using the Lou Grant character in a drama was a bold move for a spinoff of Mary Tyler Moore. The show turned out to be pretty good as he took over as editor of the newsroom of a Los Angeles daily. Too bad there aren’t re-runs available.

  4. My favorite quotation of Mr. Natural: “Get the right tool for the job!” And I recommend Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated. After reading it the first time, I thought all Christians and Jews should read this version. It will be a revelation (pun intended) to them what a collection of sordid, atrocious, and disgusting tales Genesis is.

  5. I have a young relative who works in a zoo here in Florida. The zoo was going to mandate vaccines, but the entire maintenance staff said they would quit, and good luck finding replacements for us in this economy. The zoo is not mandating vaccines.

    1. I do hope they also refuse to follow any mandates preventing them from wandering unprotected in the tiger cages. As Hobbes said, “Humans provide some very important protein.”

    2. The “entire maintenance staff” of the zoo? Every last one of them, really? Has this been publicly reported anywhere, or is it just something your young relative has related?

      Florida zoos are imposing mask mandates on unvaccinated visitors at indoor exhibits. See, e.g., here and here. And the Brevard County Zoo is offering visitors free COVID shots and free admission for those receiving the shot.

  6. I had Peter Meyer for Common Core Physics at Chicago. Meyer studied under Hans Geiger who studied under Rutherford. One day Meyer told a story about someone asking Rutherford who is was that he always seemed to be at the crest of the wave for new discoveries in Physics. Rutherford is reported to have answered, “I make the wave!”

  7. [Fanni] Kaplan … , a Russian Jewish revolutionary, was executed by the Cheka on September 3. Lenin never fully recovered from the attack, and died in 1924 of a stroke.

    Lenin had Jewish ancestry, too, although the extent to which he was aware of it is unclear. Leon Trotsky was certainly aware of his.

  8. Bella Spanier was a beautiful woman. When I see something about Theresianstadt, I think of the storyline in Winds of War (or War and Remembrance) about a Red Cross visit. The Nazis staged a bucolic environment in an attempt to prove how well the incarcerated were treated, to sit out the war in peace. Orchestras rehearsed and played in the park, theatrical presentations staged, outdoor cafes, bright clean playgrounds, and excellent food. The Jews who were trapped there were working on ways to send signals to the Red Cross on how the Theresianstadt was very much a place of crueltly and deprivation. I wonder if, as an actress, Spanier was kept in Theresianstadt in order to stage such events, such Potemkin madness.

    My she rest in peace.

  9. Who’s to blame for the horrible mess at the Kabul Airport?

    Why not General Milley and the joint chiefs who had a year plus a three month extension to devise and execute a coherent evacuation plan.

  10. Although the pigeon is NOT the direct descendant of T. Rex, it seems a bit too strong to say there’s no such thing as a missing link. I know it is a term that has fallen in disfavor among biologists because it ignores the branching nature of the tree of life. Still, it makes sense as a term for a gap in the fossil record, doesn’t it? What do we use in its place? “Missing branch” doesn’t seem right since that would imply that we don’t know about its descendants. Missing fork, anyone?

  11. Re Fleetwood Mac, I hope whatever biopic shows up will clearly explain the complicated situation…reminds me of a brief bit from an all-too-brief TV series:

      1. Make sure you catch Wellington Paranormal then … I understand it’s been available in the US for a few months now.

  12. Robin Bullock (the televangelist) seems to be in a ‘race to the bottom’ with Kat Kerr to make up the most ridiculous claim of their vision of heaven.

    Bullock is notable/amusing because he seems to be plagiarizing old Sci-Fi to get his visions of heaven. His last vision was of a circular portal of water leading it to it – obvious Stargate reference – and this one evokes the personal shield special effect used in David Lynch’s Dune.

    1. That tweet in post actually pisses me off. It seems as if the author has never encountered these people before and therefore it would be better if he just didn’t comment. Why would Steve Schultz need to be a master of keeping a straight face? Schultz is as much an amalgam of deluded and grifter as are the televangelistic “prophets” he regularly hosts.

  13. [ivermectin] “… please get yourself spayed at the same time”

    “Meta-analysis of 15 trials found that ivermectin reduced risk of death compared with no ivermectin (average risk ratio 0.38, 95% confidence interval 0.19–0.73; n = 2438; I2 = 49%; moderate-certainty evidence). This result was confirmed in a trial sequential analysis using the same DerSimonian–Laird method that underpinned the unadjusted analysis. This was also robust against a trial sequential analysis using the Biggerstaff–Tweedie method. Low-certainty evidence found that ivermectin prophylaxis reduced COVID-19 infection by an average 86% (95% confidence interval 79%–91%). Secondary outcomes provided less certain evidence. Low-certainty evidence suggested that there may be no benefit with ivermectin for “need for mechanical ventilation,” whereas effect estimates for “improvement” and “deterioration” clearly favored ivermectin use. Severe adverse events were rare among treatment trials and evidence of no difference was assessed as low certainty. Evidence on other secondary outcomes was very low certainty.”

    1. Elgazzar is included in the one you cite. That report has been withdrawn, and any credible meta-analysis should not include it.

      Meanwhile, the view of a colleague in Critical Care here in Pittsburgh, who treats COVID patients, and who had early experience with it, is flatly, “It doesn’t work.”

    2. Ivermectin is a drug for single use. One single dose for deworming.
      The chronic use of Ivermectin has some serious side effects: it is quite hepatotoxic, damaging livers. Moreover, it can mask early Covid symptoms leading to patients presenting late, often too late to save them.
      All this according to the SAn council of anesthesiologists and Intensive care practitioners.
      I have more trust in them (they are confronted with the Ivermectin debacle on a daily basis) than in a discredited and withdrawn ‘study’.
      Curiously this Ivermectin suicidal craze appears to be a mainly white thing in South Africa, very few coloureds, and basically no blacks buy into this dangerous drug.

  14. Yes that’s a ctenophore (Beroe) eating another ctenophore (some lobate like Bolinopsis). It’s what they do. Some of the cilia around the mouth are even fused together to make teeth: if the prey can’t be engulfed, then chunks can be bitten out.

  15. “A Crested Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) from eastern Asia raids a nest. I presume the feathers protect it from stings, but what about its eyes?” – I’ve posed the question on the Wikipedia talk page.

    Interestingly (to me, anyway) on a separate note Wikipedia says:

    The similarity in plumage between juvenile crested honey buzzards and the Nisaetus hawk-eagles may have arisen as a partial protection against predation by larger raptors. The eagles have stronger bills and talons, and are likely to be less vulnerable than the Pernis species. Similar mimicry is shown by the juveniles of the European honey buzzard, which resembles the common buzzard. Although the northern goshawk is capable of killing both species, it is likely to be more cautious about attacking the better protected Buteo species.

  16. Another notable born on this day (in 1919) was University of Chicago trained virologist and vaccine developer Maurice Hilleman (d. 2005). Anthony Fauci described Hilleman as follows: “Hilleman is one of the true giants of science, medicine and public health in the 20th century. One can say without hyperbole that Maurice has changed the world.”

  17. I wish we’d all stop working and raising the temperature for the de-nuke of Iran and NK – neither will use them. I’m no fan of either hell hole but I understand why they want nukes. Leaders of each are dreadful but not suicidal.
    My question (I’ve been unable to find an answer to) is WTF did we do when Red China got the bomb? Given the circumstances then (1960s) it is amazing we’re all still here.

    ps – Yes, Flight of the Conchords was excellent.

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