Friday: Hili dialogue

September 3, 2021 • 6:00 am

Good morning on Friday, September 3, 2021: National Baby Back Ribs Day. Now you’re talking (though, truth be told I’d prefer rib tips, which I haven’t had since the pandemic began).

It’s also National Welsh Rarebit Day, National Chianti Day, National Skyscraper Day, and Wear Teal Day, designed to “spark conversations that will help educate others about the symptoms and risk factors of [ovarian] cancer.”

Dream of the Rarebit Fiend,” an early 20th-century comic strip by Winsor McCay (one of my and Matthew’s favorite cartoonists), tells the story of people whose pre-bedtime consumption of rarebit makes them have weird dreams. Here’s an example (the strip was way ahead of its time), with the rarebit bit highlighted (click to enlarge):

News of the Day:

The Supreme Court finally voted on whether to keep Texas’s restrictive new abortion law alive, and they did so by a vote of 5-4. Reader Ken, who knows his law, gives his take:

The five most conservative justices of SCOTUS issued an unsigned order last night officially refusing to enjoin the Texas abortion statute. The order acknowledges that the parties seeking the injunction “have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue.” The order also stresses that it does “not purport to resolve definitively any jurisdictional or substantive claim in the applicants’ lawsuit.” The order nonetheless declined to issue the injunction on rather recondite procedural grounds.

All four of the other justices, starting with Chief Justice Roberts, wrote separate opinions dissenting from the denial of injunctive relief, some of them scathing.
You can read the order and the dissenting opinions here
The signs thus far regarding the continuing vitality of Roe v. Wade are not propitious.

Heartbeat/bounty-hunter anti-abortion bills patterned on Texas’s are already under consideration in Florida and Arkansas.

Indeed, new op-ed in the Washington Post, “Supreme Court order on abortion ban show threat to Roe v. Wade”, sees this decision as a bad portent:

Increasingly frustrated liberal justices, routinely outvoted in these emergency cases, sounded off.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote that her colleagues on the other side “barely bother” to explain why “a challenge to an obviously unconstitutional abortion regulation backed by a wholly unprecedented enforcement scheme is unlikely to prevail.”

She added: “The majority’s decision is emblematic of too much of this Court’s shadow-docket decisionmaking — which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend.”

Kagan was criticizing the court’s one-paragraph order, which she wrote was reached “after less than 72 hours’ thought.”

From the dissent of liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor:

“The court,” she wrote in her dissent, “has rewarded the state’s effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional statute, enacted in disregard of the court’s precedents, through procedural entanglements of the state’s own creation.”

We may have Biden in the White House, but remember that that ultimate validity of laws is decided by a very conservative Supreme Court.

Two officials of the American Civil Liberties Union have written an op-ed in the NYT saying that mandating vaccinations for certain privileges (like holding a job) does not violate civil liberties. I concur, though the authors somehow manage to imply that this is the official position of the ACLU. A quote:

At the A.C.L.U., we are not shy about defending civil liberties, even when they are very unpopular. But we see no civil liberties problem with requiring Covid-19 vaccines in most circumstances.

While the permissibility of requiring vaccines for particular diseases depends on several factors, when it comes to Covid-19, all considerations point in the same direction. The disease is highly transmissible, serious and often lethal; the vaccines are safe and effective; and crucially there is no equally effective alternative available to protect public health.

In fact, far from compromising civil liberties, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties. They protect the most vulnerable among us, including people with disabilities and fragile immune systems, children too young to be vaccinated and communities of color hit hard by the disease.

You do not have a “right” to endanger the lives of others by reckless behavior that violates medical dictates.

The “Vineland Map”, once considered evidence that Europeans had made it to North America centuries before 1492, is now proved to be a fake.   According to Wikipedia:

The Vinland map was claimed to be a 15th-century mappa mundi with unique information about Norse exploration of North America but is now considered to be a 20th-century forgery. It became well known due to the publicity campaign which accompanied its revelation to the public as a “genuine” pre-Columbian map in 1965. In addition to showing AfricaAsia and Europe, the map depicts a landmass south-west of Greenland in the Atlantic labelled as Vinland (Vinlanda Insula).

. . . The map describes this region as having been visited by Europeans in the 11th century.

Now, however, the Yale News says it’s a fake for several reasons, foremost among them that the ink on the map contains titanium, and could not have been produced before the 1920s. There are many other reasons, too, and if you want a good scientific detective story, read the article.

However, the Wikipedia article, after discussing all the evidence in favor of and against the authenticity of the map, has a section called “Identification as a forgery, 2018.” (They also concentrate, like the Yale News, on the binding and the ink.) The difference is simply that the new study is more thorough, but it still arrives at the same conclusion: the map is a fake, and we have no evidence of an 11th century visit of Europeans to North America.

Here’s the fake; I’ve highligted “Vinland”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 645,383, an increase of 1,521 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,558,500,, an increase of about 11,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 3 includes:

Here’s a map of where this tiny country (61 km2, or 24 sq mi., population of 33,562) sits:

Wikipedia adds that “It is one of only three countries in the world to be completely enclosed by another country”. Can you guess the others? It’s also the third smallest country in Europe, following Monaco and Vatican City, and the fifth smallest in the world

  • 1189 – Richard I of England (a.k.a. Richard “the Lionheart”) is crowned at Westminster.
  • 1658 – The death of Oliver Cromwell; Richard Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England.
  • 1783 – American Revolutionary War: The war ends with the signing of the Treaty of Paris by the United States and the Kingdom of Great Britain.  Here’s the last page of the treaty, signed for the U.S. by John Adams, John Jay, and Benjamin Franklin:

Here’s the great absolitionist and orator, who learned to read and write while enslaved in Baltimore (treatment was more humane there than in the real South); he was taught by the wife of his “owner”:

Here’s Communism Peak:

  • 1939 – World War II: France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia declare war on Germany after the invasion of Poland, forming the Allied nations. The Viceroy of India also declares war, but without consulting the provincial legislatures.
  • 1941 – The HolocaustKarl Fritzsch, deputy camp commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, experiments with the use of Zyklon B in the gassing of Soviet POWs.

Few gas chambers remain; here’s the one at the Majdanek gas chamber (Poland). The blue residue is from the Zyklon B, which is a compound containing hydrogen cyanide. The fate of Fritzsch is unknown, with various stories about what happened to him, including perishing in the Battle of Berlin or suicide after he was reportedly captured later. Note that its use on prisoners of war is itself a war crime. 

  • 1944 – Holocaust: Diarist Anne Frank and her family are placed on the last transport train from the Westerbork transit camp to the Auschwitz concentration camp, arriving three days later.
  • 2016 – The U.S. and China, together responsible for 40% of the world’s carbon emissions, both formally ratify the Paris global climate agreement.

Notables born on this day include:

One of the glories of Chicago architecture, the store is still there, and has this fantastic wrought-iron entrance. Sadly, it’s no longer a department store: the first two floors are leased by Target. . . .

  • 1907 – Loren Eiseley, American anthropologist, philosopher, and author (d. 1977)
  • 1913 – Alan Ladd, American actor and producer (d. 1964)

Below: my father (right) posing with Alan Ladd in front of the Parthenon in Athens, ca. 1956. Ladd was in Greece to film the movie “Boy on a Dolphin” with Sophia Loren, and my dad helped as a liaison with the U.S. Army, which provided the film with jeeps and fuel.


  • 1942 – Al Jardine, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1963 – Malcolm Gladwell, Canadian journalist, essayist, and criticv

Those who ended their earthly careers on September 3 include:

  • 1658 – Oliver Cromwell, English general and politician (b. 1599)
  • 1962 – E. E. Cummings, American poet and playwright (b. 1894)

I’m surprised that Cummings hasn’t been canceled yet; here are two of his poems reproduced from Wikipedia:

one day a nigger
caught in his hand
a little star no bigger
than not to understand

i’ll never let you go
until you’ve made me white”
so she did and now
stars shine at night.


a kike is the most dangerous
machine as yet invented
by even yankee ingenu
ity(out of a jew a few
dead dollars and some twisted laws)
it comes both prigged and canted

Here’s the miscreant:

  • 1970 – Vince Lombardi, American football player and coach (b. 1913)
  • 1986 – Beryl Markham, English-Kenyan pilot, horse trainer, and author (b. 1902)

Markham’s book about her flying experiences, West with the Night, is second only to Out of Africa as biographical writing about independent women in British-occupied Kenya. Do read it. Here’s Markham in 1930:

  • 1991 – Frank Capra, Italian-American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1897)
  • 2001 – Pauline Kael, American film critic and author (b. 1919)
  • 2005 – William Rehnquist, American lawyer and jurist, 16th Chief Justice of the United States (b. 1924)
  • 2012 – Sun Myung Moon, Korean religious leader and businessman, founded the Unification Church (b. 1920)
  • 2017 – Walter Becker, American musician, songwriter, and record producer (b. 1950)

Here’s a video about the making of one of Steely Dan’s most famous songs, “Peg” (1977), featuring Becker, Fagen, and others. What a great studio band they were, though they sucked in live performance!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili doesn’t want to be in a photo with her nemesis. But she is! (We need DNA testing to see if Kulka’s related to Hili. Dobrzyn is, after all, a very small town.)

Hili: Are you taking a picture of me or of Kulka?
A: Both you and Kulka.
Hili: You will not succeed.
In Polish:
Hili: Mnie fotografujesz, czy Kulkę?
Ja: I ciebie i Kulkę.
Hili: To ci się nie uda.

From Bruce, a political cartoon emitted by Robert Reich:

From Thomas, an evolution meme from cartoonist Wiley Miller:

From Larry, a prescient Carl Sagan:

A tweet from Masih, including a nine-minute video interview  with a former t.v. presenter. The message is in the tweet’s header; it appears that the new and “nicer” Taliban is a fiction. They won’t let women work.

Today’s tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial:

A tweet from Ginger K: What believers think about atheists:

Tweets from Matthew. In the first, Oded makes an academic joke, but, as Matthew says, “The video is better than the joke.” (An “HFSP grant” is a “Human Frontier Science Program grant, and I guess they’re hard to get.) But I love the crow trained to take money from other people and put it in your drawer!

A friendly squirrel:

A fun fact that will make you a hit at parties:

And this is indeed cool; have a look at the link:

A relaxing morning. Sound up, and don’t miss the mallards at the end!

This is a bit unfair to the lad, no? Maybe people had rakes for hands back then. . .


54 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

    1. Ha! I wrote that yesterday, suggesting what people should do.

      I think people against this law should fill up the docket with false abortion “sightings”. Just fill up every real and virtual mailbox with false claims and accusations and watch the Texas legal system collapse like their electrical grid did.

      1. Yes, this ‘bounty hunter’ part of that law is particularly evil.
        I hope the tactics of inundating with fake accusations will work.
        I also noted that other legislations could be passed that would allow for all kinds of suing by bounty hunters, offenses against global warming, second amendment, underpayment ,etc.
        I think the SC has halfway opened a can of worms they do positively not like. I’m sure some legally trained minds can come up with more specific examples of how ‘bounty hunting’ could be used.

  1. Since individual rights are white supremacy, everyone should be pleased with the Texas bill, because what are abortion rights if not individual rights. The only problem is that Texas did not restrict people’s right to advocate against the law, because that would restrict the First Amendment/White Supremacist right to free speech, which is the biggest impediment to social justice.

    Further, doing away with the First Amendment, and letting the government tell you what to think and censoring dissent, obviously that is more fundamental than abortion rights, because you can’t advocate for abortion if you don’t know what it is, and you can’t organize if you can’t communicate. People should celebrate the elimination of racist individual rights like abortion rights, because it means that racist stuff like the rest of the Bill of Rights will likely follow.

    I can’t wait for woke evangelicals to figure out that abortion is white supremacy, and start cracking down on white supremacist groups like NARAL. Trust me, if social media is threatened with breaking up their lucrative monopolies (based on stealing people’s personal information) or suppressing white supremacists like NARAL, they will follow the money. The Democrats are losing the Hispanic vote, and all that remains are college educated white people, and so if the GOP can capture the Hispanics, you could have 40 years of this stuff, now that we have decided individual rights and free speech are bad.

    1. What exactly are you trying to convey? I’m sure you’re making a good argument, but it is not very clear to ordinary mortals like me.

  2. Interestingly, back in the early 2000s the ACLU opposed federal and state requirements for the smallpox vaccine to hold a first responder job. They cited the known (albeit small) risk of side-effects associated with that vaccine.

    Side effects are different, and there’s also a big quantitative difference in the risk of catching Covid in 2021 (high) vs. smallpox in 2002 (practically nonexistent). So I’m not calling out the ACLU as hypocrites or for being inconsistent. I am pointing out, however, that “civil rights” can’t be thought of as a pure legal concept. The science or empiricism of how a rule impacts people can be the deciding factor on whether a policy supports or opposes civil rights. The philosophers would say: our conception of civil rights is not deontological (means are moral or immoral in an of themselves, regardless of their consequences) but rather consequentialist (sometimes the ends justify the means).

  3. What a great studio band they [Steely Dan] were, though they sucked in live performance!

    It’s true that The Dan quit the road in the Seventies due to their disappointment with being unable to reproduce their studio sound in live performances. But with advances in technology, when they toured later, they sounded great. Here are couple concerts they did in the Oughties — one in St. Louis in 2006, another in Bonn in 2007.

    1. I’ve got tickets already for their West Coast tour next Spring. Of course now it’s just Fagan and some hired guns. But he hires the best guns!

    2. I saw them live twice and have watched many youtube videos of them live. They always use top notch musicians so I don’t know where the claim “they suck live” comes from.

  4. The Treaty of Paris on this day in 1783 is the important date for independence, not July of 1776. I guess they should have had Jefferson write a declaration at that time. He loved the French so he could have added a special consideration – we couldn’t have done it without you.

  5. My favorite aspect of the current abortion kerfuffle is the mocking of Jen Psaki when responding to question about how the President squares his support for abortion with his Catholicism, for responding that the reporter as a man couldn’t understand what it was like to be a pregnant woman. A conservative pointed out that she must be a trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) for denying that men can have babies.

    1. Nice to see that you consider women in the largest of the contiguous 48 states being completely denied their extant constitutional reproductive rights under Planned Parenthood v. Casey (and women in other red states in immediate danger of being likewise) to be naught but a “kerfuffle” and that your favorite part of it is some right-wing troll’s wiseass remark.

      1. Thanks for this, Ken. I’m struggling to understand how folks are taking this as no big deal, funny or who knows what else. This is a monstrous reality for far too many people now. I’m angry about it, not snarking about the woke.

  6. The evidence for European (specifically Norse) visitation to North America in the 11th century is overwhelming. The Vinland Map never formed any part of that evidence, but only of later knowledge of the Norse visits. The evidence for Norse visitation to North America is (in order of strength of evidence from weakest to stringest) i) the well attested Norse settlements on the west coast of Greenland, from which it would be very unlikely that they had not reached North America; ii) the accounts of the visits and settlement in the Sagas; and iii) the Norse settlement discovered in 1960 by archeologists at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.


  7. The Carl Sagan quote was indeed prescient and chilling. The celebration of ignorance is reaching new heights. What this means to me is regardless of whether religion goes or stays, the emergence of a rational world is as likely today as in the year 1200. Human nature remains unchanged. Civilizations can collapse suddenly and the technology that has created a “better world” can actually facilitate this. We cannot predict the future, but it will hardly be surprising that in a hundred years from now the year 1999 will be viewed as the apogee of the ever getting better world followed by a quick descent into chaos. All civilizations decline and fall, some gradually over a period of decades; others seemingly over night. Now “civilization” is really worldwide. Its continued existence is hanging by a thread.

    1. I’m reminded of something my favorite professor in graduate school said, to wit: “We can predict the future. It’s going to be like the past.”
      Related to Sagan’s words, as I like to say, the election of Trump showed us that Steve Allen’s “dumbth” is now triumphant.

      1. Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Dan Quisenberry, known for his wit and poetry, said “I’ve seen the future, and it is like the present, only longer”.

        1. And his wicked submarine-style delivery. Wouldn’t’ve wanted to be a righthanded batter trying to hang in there against one of his breaking balls.

    2. Yes, the only question is — Will it be a long period of suffering in a new dark ages or will it end quickly. My hope is I will not be around to see it. Viewing the build up is bad enough.

      1. I think either date could have sufficed in your example. After all, in 1999, we still didn’t have a 9/11, a “war on terror”, the wars in Afghanistan/Iraq or Trump and his continued poisonous aftermath. The apogee may as well be 1999.

      1. Yeah, that’s what I thought after reading the next sentence (not highlighted) where he mentions Dumb and Dumber as being the most popular movie. By that time, manufacturing jobs had been leaving in droves for years, and the country was most of the way to becoming a “service and information economy”. Of course, he didn’t know about social media/smart phones yet, and I think that phenomenon sped up his bleak (and correct) prediction.

    1. Lesotho yes, but Swaziland (or Eswatini as it is now known) borders on both South Africa and Mozambique.

      1. He referenced Vatican City as one of the smallest states, not as one enclosed completely by another country.
        Note, there are dozen or so small pieces of Belgium in the south of the Netherlands (Baarle-Hertog-Nassau), completely surrounded. I’m not sure whether there are other enclaves like that.

  8. Ken the movie expert should know this: TCM is showing as we speak, several old Alan Ladd movies in this order: Drum Beat, 1954, The Deep Six, 1958, The Iron Mistress, 1952, Santiago, 1956, and The Big Land, 1957.

      1. Don’t go, Shane! In middle school, we were tasked with writing an alternate ending for Shane. I put together what I thought was a real barn-burner. I cut some of the stump stuff, because that part was boring. Had the wife fall in love with Shane, poison the husband with an apple pie and ride of with Shane and the kiddo into the sunset. My teacher was not amused.

        1. Sounds like Shane as directed not by George Stevens, but David Lynch. 🙂

          I recall reading the stump-cutting scene in the novel by Jack Schaefer as a schoolboy. It worked on the page, and provided a pivot point for character development of Shane and the father (at least in my vague recollection), but I agree it wasn’t particularly effective on the screen.

    1. Same for Africa, although Pharao Necho’s Phoenicians and Strabo knew that, Ptolemy’s view was ‘victorious’ in the Middle Ages (IIRC),

  9. Wikipedia adds that “It is one of only three countries in the world to be completely enclosed by another country”. Can you guess the others? It’s also the third smallest country in Europe, following Monaco and Vatican City, and the fifth smallest in the world

    Well, if they are counting the Vatican City as a separate country, it must be one of the other two since it is enclosed by the capital city of Italy.

    IIRC there’s a country that’s completely enclosed by South Africa (I had a South African friend who was fond of quoting this factoid): Lesotho, I think.

    Edit: I promise I didn’t read reply #10 before writing this comment.

  10. Tyramine (decarbozylated tyrosine) is the likely basis of wild dreams after Welsh rarebit. It’s high in aged cheeses, and if the sauce is made from dried-out rinds there’s even more of it.

    And it seems that in FL it’s illegal to sell or possess tyramine – I guess that’s consistent with the other aggressive efforts to protect public health down there.

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