Tuesday: Hili dialogue

August 31, 2021 • 6:30 am

Well, the month is almost gone. Good morning on Monday, August 31, 2021: National Trail MIx Day! (My favorite trail mix is a mixture of salted peanuts, M&Ms, and raisins—not exactly the healthiest combination.) It’s also Eat Outside Day, National Matchmaker Day, and National Diatomaceous Earth Day, celebrating the sediment of fossilized algae).

News of the Day:

The fat lady has sung in Afghanistan: the U.S. finished its withdrawal of military and other personnel yesterday, a day early. The Kabul airport is now in the hands of the Taliban, though the NYT estimates that perhaps 100,000 people remain in the country who would be eligible for a U.S. visa. These include Afghans who aided the U.S. military, and Ceiling Cat have mercy on their souls. From the NYT:

More than 2,400 U.S. military personnel and nearly 50,000 Afghan civilians died in the 20-year war, in addition to tens of thousands of casualties among U.S. contractors, the Afghan military and national police, insurgents and others, according to the Costs of War Project at Brown University.

President Biden said in a written statement that he would address the nation on Tuesday to mark the end of the war.

The NYT also has a seven-minute video of Afghan women showing their reaction to the Taliban takeover: “I won’t go 20 years back in time: Young Afghan women speak out.”  It features three career women (boxer, musician, and t.v. presenter) who will surely lose their jobs under the Taliban, but still have the courage to speak out publicly.

This site, Sorry antivaxer.com, shows pictures of anti-covid-vaccination people who died of the virus. It could serve to prompt the unvaccinated to get their jabs, along the lines of those gruesome warnings on cigarette packages, but of course antivaxers won’t look at the site. Although some people celebrate these deaths, joking about “survival of the fittest”, I get no joy in celebrating their demise, for these folks, however ignorant, leave behind others who are bereft.   (h/t Su)

The Associated Press reports that many birds of prey are endangered worldwide. The problems, of course, include habitat loss and global warming, but also the ingestion of toxic substances. The problem is more severe than I would have imagined:

A new analysis of data from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and BirdLife International found that 30% of 557 raptor species worldwide are considered near threatened, vulnerable or endangered or critically endangered. Eighteen species are critically endangered, including the Philippine eagle, the hooded vulture and the Annobon scops owl, the researchers found.

Other species are in danger of becoming locally extinct in specific regions, meaning they may no longer play critical roles as top predators in those ecosystems, said Gerardo Ceballos, a bird scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and co-author of the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Andean condor, the world’s largest bird, is one of those endangered species. You can see the PNAS paper by Cruz et al. here.

A professor not only quit, but retired in the middle of a class after a student refused to wear a mask and then, when provided with one, refused to wear it properly. As the Red & Black, the University of Georgia student newspaper, reports, psychology professor Irwin Bernstein was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it any more:

The 88-year-old psychology professor explained to the student that he could die from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and age-related problems, Bernstein said in an email to The Red & Black.

Only about 15 minutes into the Tuesday lecture, which consisted of Bernstein taking the student attendance, he asked the student to pull her mask up again, but this time, the student did not respond.

Bernstein, who was already informed that two of his absent students tested positive for COVID-19, then announced his resignation on the spot and left the class immediately.

“At that point I said that whereas I had risked my life to defend my country while in the Air Force, I was not willing to risk my life to teach a class with an unmasked student during this Pandemic,” Bernstein said in an email to The Red & Black. “I then resigned my retiree-rehire position.”

An alpha female macaque has emerged as an alpha-primate in a troop at a Japanese nature reserve, the first time that’s been observed in the 70-year recorded history of a troop on the island of Kyushu (h/t Ginger K):

In a rarely seen phenomenon in the simian world, a nine-year-old female known as Yakei has become the boss of a 677-strong troop of Japanese macaque monkeys at a nature reserve on the island of Kyushu in Japan.

Yakei’s path to the top began in April when she beat up her own mother to become the alpha female of the troop at the Takasakiyama natural zoological garden in Oita city. While that would have been the pinnacle for most female monkeys, Yakei decided to throw her 10kg weight around among the males.

In late June, she challenged and roughed up Sanchu, the 31-year-old alpha male who had been leader of “troop B” at the reserve for five years.

Meet the new boss:

(from The Guardian): Nine-year-old female known as Yakei, pictured, has become the boss of a 677-strong troop of Japanese macaque monkeys at a nature reserve on the island of Kyushu in Japan. Photograph: Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 639,081, an increase of 1,348 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,525,210,, an increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on August 31 includes:

In the middle of this edition of Police News is the sensationalized report of Nichols’s murder:

  • 1895 – German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin patents his navigable balloon.
  • 1897 – Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.

This established the principle of all film projectors: conveying the illusion of motion by passing a series of still images past the viewers. Here’s one of the earliest Kinetoscope films, “Fred Ott’s Sneeze“. Ott was one of Edison’s assistants who had just taken snuff.

The Gleiwitz (Gliwice) Tower, a real historical relic, still stands (below). It’s the tallest wooden structure in Europe at 118 m (387 ft).

  • 1943 – USS Harmon, the first U.S. Navy ship to be named after a black person, is commissioned.

The ship was named after Leonard Roy Harmon, who got the Navy Cross posthumously for standing between Japanese fire and a wounded shipmate. Here’s a photo and a poster:

The Princess with the two Princes:

  • 2006 – Edvard Munch‘s famous painting The Scream, stolen on August 22, 2004, is recovered in a raid by Norwegian police.

There were two versions of this painting; both were stolen at different times but both were recovered.

Notables born on this day include:

  • AD 12 – Caligula, Roman emperor (d. 41)

The historical records of his perfidy show that he wasn’t nearly as dreadful as people think.

  • 1870 – Maria Montessori, Italian physician and educator (d. 1952)
  • 1907 – William Shawn, American journalist (d. 1992)
  • 1924 – Buddy Hackett, American actor and singer (d. 2003)

Here’s Hackett telling several stories, including a duck joke (the last one) on Johnny Carson’s show:

  • 1935 – Eldridge Cleaver, American activist and author (d. 1998)
  • 1940 – Robbie Basho, American guitarist, pianist, and composer (d. 1986)

A note on Basho, whom I used to listen to, from Wikipedia: “Basho died unexpectedly at the age of 45 due to an accident during a visit to his chiropractor, where an “intentional whiplash” experiment caused blood vessels in his neck to rupture, leading to a fatal stroke.” Here’s some rare live footage of Basho, who reminds me of John Fahey:

  • 1945 – Itzhak Perlman, Israeli-American violinist and conductor

Those who slipped away on August 31 include:

Here’s an intense Baudelaire, photographed in 1863:

Here’s Braque with his cat. Why do so many artists have Siamese cats?

  • 1969 – Rocky Marciano, American boxer (b. 1923)
  • 1973 – John Ford, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1894)
  • 1979 – Sally Rand, American actress and dancer (b. 1904)

Rand’s popularity derived largely from her “fan dances,” in which she appeared to be nude, revealing glimpses of her body from behind a large fan made of feathers. In reality, she usually wore a body stocking. Here’s a modest fan dance from the 1934 World’s Fair:

  • 1986 – Henry Moore, English sculptor and illustrator (b. 1898)

A famous Moore sculpture, “Nuclear Energy” (1963-1967) sits just a block from my office, placed on the site where the first nuclear chain-reaction took place. It’s supposed to represent both the peaceful and destructive aspects of nuclear energy, but to most people it looks like an atomic bomb. It’s ironic when busloads of Japanese tourists unload in front of the sculpture to be photographed. The building in the background is the Regenstein Library (the main library of the University of Chicago), which is across the street from my building.

  • 1997 – Diana, Princess of Wales (b. 1961)
  • 2000 – Dolores Moore, American baseball player and educator (b. 1932)
  • 2002 – Lionel Hampton, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (b. 1908)

There’s never been a jazz vibe player as good as Hampton. Here he is playing “Flying Home,” a hit for Benny Goodman’s group:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili ponders a nap:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m considering different possibilities of lying down.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Rozważam inne możliwości leżenia.
And Szaron sharpens his claws:

From Alex, a real heartwarmer (and tearjerker):

From Cats, Beavers, and Ducks, with the caption, “Look at my bikini! LOOK AT IT!”

From Facebook (I have a feeling I’ve posted this before):

From Masih, retweeted. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. . .

Today’s tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial offers a free online course; the other “chapters” are in the thread after this one.

The New School has adopted a social-justice mascot with binary pronouns.  You can read about Gnarls Narwal here. (The old mascot was a plain old unwoke narwhal.)

A tweet from Ginger K. What the hey?

Tweets from Matthew. Nothing changes under the sun. . .

If you’re in the UK, you can watch this, but otherwise you probably can’t hear this tear-inducing interview with paralympic swimmer Eleanor Robinson.

I missed this yesterday, but only because Matthew didn’t send me the tweet. You can read more about this remarkable man here. He developed over 40 vaccines, and it’s estimated that his work continues to save 8 million lives per year. (Hilleman worked at Squibb and later at Merck & Co.) Why didn’t he win a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine?

And an artist who could draw angry cats:

18 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. the U.S. finished its withdrawal of military and other personnel yesterday, a day early.

    Actually, it was right on time. While it was the 30th here yesterday afternoon Eastern, it was the 31st in Kabul, as noted in the Pentagon briefing, which I thought was impressive.

  2. A professor not only quit, but retired in the middle of a class after a student refused to wear a mask and then, when provided with one, refused to wear it properly.

    A good response, but unfortunately not one I expect younger professors and lecturers could economically afford to do. Still, he’s doing what he can.

  3. Re Mary Ann Nichols; I recommend highly a recent book by Hallie Rubenhold, titled “The Five.” It is a fascinating and long overdue look at the five victims of JtR and the reasons that they were vulnerable. They were not prostitutes, but down on their luck, and the position of women in society at the time led to their deaths.

  4. Paul Offit wrote a biography of Maurice Hilleman, Vaccinated. Quick read and excellent. A reminder that industrial and government scientists are often overlooked by history.

    1. Thanks ken. I was unaware of this book by Offit. I really like Offit’s presentation interviews and on TWiV. Will order and put it on the to be read soon stack.

  5. Hilleman got his PhD in Microbiology at the University of Chicago. We celebrate his life and achievements every year with a named lecture.

  6. 1969 – Rocky Marciano, American boxer (b. 1923)

    The only heavyweight champ ever to retire undefeated. In 1951, Rocky defeated his teenaged idol, the great Joe Louis, essentially ending the career of the over-the-hill Louis, who was making an ill-advised comeback in an effort to pay the federal income taxes his Uncle Sam was unfairly dunning him for, some dating to Joe’s time in military service during WWII.

    Here’s the famous Round 8 of that bout, in which Marciano hit Louis with a combination that not only knocked Joe out, but sent him sprawling through the ropes:

    1. I recall fighters who fought Marciano talking about what it was like. He just kept hitting you and it didn’t matter where. Your arms would be sore and tired from blocking punches and you just wore down. Then when your arms were too tired to block he would knock you out.

      1. Forty-nine professional bouts, 49 victories, 43 by knockout.

        Larry Holmes had a chance to tie that record in the 1980s, but ran into Michael Spinks (and then Spinks again, and then Mike Tyson). Very few heavyweights who’ve had a taste the world championship know when to quit. In that respect, Marciano was in a class all his own.

  7. Also, born on this date are Van Morrison, whose music I like, if not his personality; William Saroyan, Richard Basehart, Daniel Schorr, Alan Jay Lerner, James Coburn, Jean Beliveau (Habs,) Frank Robinson, Bob Welch, Richard Gere, Tsai Ling-wen (president of Taiwan,) Gina Schock of the Go-Go’s, Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, Hideo Nomo, Debbie Gibson, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman, and my dearly departed twin sister, Mary Haubrich (1960 – 2017.)

    1. Thanx for that. I remember several at a Munch exhibit in DC at (I think) the Corcoran about 1973, altho I may be vastly off on that, and I can’t find any mention of it online. In any event, I remember being surprised at multiple versions.

  8. Robbie Basho was kind of the original “modern” fingerstyle guitar player. (Of course many, many other guitar players played fingerstyle: Notably classical players and many jazz players (e.g. Django Reinhardt).)

    He was a strong influence on, among many other, John Fahey and William Ackerman.

    So your being reminded of John Fahey is no accident! 🙂

  9. “There’s never been a jazz vibe player as good as Hampton”

    hmm. Maybe never one ‘better’, arguably, but ‘as good’?
    Hamp was a great player for sure, swung like hell and had the blues feeling for real. But he was a man of his time and relatively unsophisticated harmonically (I also find his tone distractingly clanky, but no doubt he had to hit hard with firm mallets just to be heard).
    For bebop, see Milt Jackson (mostly with the MJQ, but see also his fine later CTI album Sunflower, with Freddie Hubbard).
    For post-bop, see Gary Burton (whose stuff is a bit cerebral for some; maybe start with his duets with Chick Corea. I love his band with Pat Metheny too).

    1. I’ve still got an old vinyl of the LP Burton cut with Keith Jarrett in the early Seventies. He sounded great on that one.

  10. “More than 2,400 U.S. military personnel and nearly 50,000 Afghan civilians died in the 20-year war, in addition to tens of thousands of casualties among U.S. contractors, the Afghan military and national police, insurgents and others…”

    ‘And others’

    1,144 dead non-US soldiers are lucky enough to get a mention in the NYT. Their families must be thrilled.

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