Tuesday: Hili dialogue

September 7, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Tuesday, September 7, 2021: National Beer Lover’s Day. (This site needs to learn to either leave out the apostrophe or put it after “lovers”, for this implies that only a single beer lover is having a day.)

It’s also National Acorn Squash Day, Salami Day, Google Commemoration Day (Larry Page and Sergey Brin officially started it on this day in 1998), the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, and, in Australia, National Threatened Species Day.

Below, in honor of Salami Day, is one of my favorite photos of food. It was shot, I believe, during WWII, and was intended to prompt doting Jewish parents to send their son a good kosher salami. Since then it’s always in the window of Katz’s Delicatessen on Houston Street in New York City.

News of the Day:

The NBC News last night reported that four Americans made it out of Afghanistan overland, by a route the U.S. wouldn’t reveal (I suspect the U.S. helped). But over 100 Americans remain in Afghanistan, and four planes holding many of them, along with Afghans who helped the U.S. military, have been sitting on the ground in chartered planes at  Mazar-e-Sharif airport. The Taliban, who won’t let the planes take off, say the Afghans don’t have proper visas, but that doesn’t apply to the Americans or Afghans with proper documents. I suspect, as I predicted, that the Taliban are holding valid refugees and Americans as hostages, and NBC News suggested as much. My prediction: demands will be forthcoming to let the planes take off.

CNN reports that a Republican has inside information to that effect:

Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he has received classified briefings that American citizens and Afghan allies are stuck at the Mazar-i-Sharif airport in Afghanistan.

“(The Taliban) are not clearing the airplanes to depart. They’ve sat at the airport for the last couple of days,” McCaul said on Fox News Sunday. “We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange. This is really Chris, turning into a hostage situation where they’re not going to allow American citizens leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”

In light of the odious and unconstitutional Texas law against abortion, the U.S. Gubmint is taking action. According to the Washington Post, Attorney General Merrick Garland (who should be on the Supreme Court) “vowed to provide support to abortion clinics that are ‘under attack’ in the state and to protect those seeking and providing reproductive health services.” The article adds this:

“We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services, physical obstruction or property damage in violation of the FACE Act,” said Garland, referring to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, a 1994 law that prohibits threats and the obstruction of a person seeking reproductive health services or of providers.

But really, what can the executive branch do in light of a law cleverly designed to withstand legal challenges? At least we know that the feds are on the right side, even if they’re toothless. The Wall Street Journal suggests two possibilities:

[The vigilante-enforcement] provision could also make it more difficult for the federal government to challenge the law, said University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck. The Justice Department could contemplate ways to sue Texas, he said. The department could also seek ways to restrict federal funding or try to determine whether there are federal medical facilities in Texas that can provide abortions after the six-week period, he added.

There are several deaths to report:

Jean-Paul Belmondo, the magnetic and ruggedly handsome French actor and star of “Breathless” has died at 88. 

Willard Scott, weatherman and beloved cornball t.v. personality, who got his start in Washington, D.C. (where i watched him as a kid), has passed away at 87.

And Michael K. Williams, who I saw in “Boardwalk Empire” and haven’t yet seen in “The Wire”, was found dead in his Brooklyn home at only 54.  No cause of death has been announced.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 648,779, an increase of 1,385 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,590,265, an increase of about 7,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 7 includes:

  • 878 – Louis the Stammerer is crowned as king of West Francia by Pope John VIII.
  • 1695 – Henry Every perpetrates one of the most profitable pirate raids in history with the capture of the Grand Mughal ship Ganj-i-Sawai. In response, Emperor Aurangzeb threatens to end all English trading in India.
  • 1776 – According to American colonial reports, Ezra Lee makes the world’s first submarine attack in the Turtle, attempting to attach a time bomb to the hull of HMS Eagle in New York Harbor (no British records of this attack exist).

Here’s the Turtle submarine with its detachable mine, but it didn’t work (the screw for attaching the mine couldn’t bore through the ship hull), nor did it work the second time it was used. It was then abandoned:

  • 1822 – Dom Pedro I declares Brazil independent from Portugal on the shores of the Ipiranga Brook in São Paulo.
  • 1857 – Mountain Meadows massacre: Mormon settlers slaughter most members of peaceful, emigrant wagon train.

The Mormons killed 170 non-Mormon settlers, including women and all children under the age of 7, and then tried to make it look like Native Americans did it.  Nine people were indicted but only one was convicted, John D. Lee in the photo below. Lee chose to be shot, and in the second photograph you can see the prelude to that shooting::

The caption from Wikipedia: “The scene at Lee’s execution by Utah firing squad on March 23, 1877. Lee is seated, next to his coffin.”

  • 1909 – Eugène Lefebvre crashes a new French-built Wright biplane during a test flight at Juvisy, south of Paris, becoming the first aviator in the world to lose his life in a powered heavier-than-air craft.

Here’s Lefebvrre in his biplane, the same month he crashed:

  • 1921 – In Atlantic City, New Jersey, the first Miss America Pageant, a two-day event, is held.

And here she is, Miss America of 1921, Margaret Gorman. I remember when the Pageant was a big deal, and everybody watched the show on t.v.. Now nobody cares, as beauty contests, despite their attempts to be more relevant, are pretty much passé:

  • 1936 – The last thylacine, a carnivorous marsupial named Benjamin, dies alone in its cage at the Hobart Zoo in Tasmania.

Benjamin was the last individual of what was known as the “Tasmanian tiger”. Reports occasionally surface of tracks or sightings of the species, but it’s pretty much gone. Here’s Benjamin:

His story was sad. Wikipedia says this:

The thylacine died on the night of 6–7 September 1936. It is believed to have died as the result of neglect—locked out of its sheltered sleeping quarters, it was exposed to a rare occurrence of extreme Tasmanian weather: extreme heat during the day and freezing temperatures at night. This thylacine features in the last known motion picture footage of a living specimen: 45 seconds of black-and-white footage showing the thylacine in its enclosure in a clip taken in 1933, by naturalist David Fleay.  In the film footage, the thylacine is seen seated, walking around the perimeter of its enclosure, yawning, sniffing the air, scratching itself (in the same manner as a dog), and lying down. Fleay was bitten on the buttock whilst shooting the film.

Of course you’ll want to see the video. It’s also sad, with the tylacine pacing back and forth in its cage:

  • 1940 – World War II: The German Luftwaffe begins the Blitz, bombing London and other British cities for over 50 consecutive nights.
  • 1978 – While walking across Waterloo Bridge in London, Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov is assassinated by Bulgarian secret police agent Francesco Gullino by means of a ricin pellet fired from a specially-designed umbrella.

Markov died five days after the attack, and doctors extracted a 1.7 mm pellet with two holes drilled in it. It’s only speculation that the poison was ricin.

  • 1986 – Desmond Tutu becomes the first black man to lead the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town.
  • 1996 – Rapper and hip hop artist Tupac Shakur is fatally shot in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. He succumbs to his injuries six days later.
  • 2017 – Equifax announce a cyber-crime identity theft event potentially impacting approximately 145 million U.S. consumers.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1533 – Elizabeth I of England (d. 1603)
  • 1829 – August Kekulé, German chemist and academic (d. 1896)

Kekulé is famous for having discovered the structure of benzene, a six-carbon ring with alternating single and double bonds. The story that he thought of it after having a daydream of a snake seizing its own tail appears to be true, though we’re not 100% sure. Here’s benzene and the tail-nomming snake, an ancient symbol known as the ouroboros.

Grandma Moses painted many pictures, but I cannot find a single depiction of a cat. Here’s one with a horse and a d*g, though they’re hard to tell apart!

  • 1923 – Peter Lawford, English-American actor (d. 1984)
  • 1930 – Sonny Rollins, American saxophonist and composer
  • 1936 – Buddy Holly, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1959)
  • 1951 – Chrissie Hynde, American singer-songwriter and guitarist

Hynde is 70 today. Here’s my favorite Pretenders song, which Hynde wrote.

Those “fell asleep” on September 7 include:

  • 1601 – John Shakespeare, father of William Shakespeare (b. 1529)
  • 1962 – Karen Blixen, Danish memoirist and short story writer (b. 1885)

Blixen is one of my literary heroes, all for her fantastic book Out of Africa, written in 1937 in English though her native language was Danish. Here she is with her brother Thomas on the coffee farm that’s the main locale for the book. This photo was taken in the 1920s:

A first edition and first printing of that book (below) will run you about $6000:


  • 1978 – Keith Moon, English drummer (The Who) (b. 1946)
  • 1981 – Christy Brown, Irish author, poet, and painter (b. 1932)

Brown was played by Daniel Day-Lewis in the acclaimed movie “My Left Foot” (the only part Brown, who had cerebral palsy, could control). Brown both wrote and painted with that foot; here’s one of his paintings:

  • 2003 – Warren Zevon, American singer-songwriter (b. 1947)

Aooooooooh!  Here’s a live performance a year before Zevon died:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili spots a bird:

A: What do you see over there?
Hili: Food, but it’s not accessible.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tam widzisz?
Hili: Pokarm, ale niedostępny.

From Leonora. This is excellent.

From Stephen:

From Patricia Churchland:

From Simon. There’s a big argument in the comments about the explanation, and it’s above my pay grade. Perhaps a reader will enlighten us.

From the Auschwitz Memorial and the diary of one who died there. She lived about eleven weeks after arrival.

From Ginger K.

A talking duck! Tweet from Russ (and Matthew).  You can hear the duck imitating the human voice in the link below (or here) and the original paper at Proc Roy Soc, says this:

Here, we provide evidence for vocal learning in a member of a basal clade of the avian phylogeny: the Australian musk duck (Biziura lobata). A hand-reared individual imitated a slamming door and a human voice, and a female-reared individual imitated Pacific black duck quacks.

The musk duck (Biziura lobata) is native to southern Australia, and the males (one is shown below) have a leathery protuberance under the bill that is missing in females.

Tweets from Matthew. I don’t understand what’s going on here, unless these dogs have been trained to walk flanking each other.

More duck drama, but it all works out fine at the end:

Could you do this?

Belmondo, who just died (see above) like to do his own stunts. Here’s a pretty dangerous one:


33 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. The aeroplane must have been doing a barrel roll. The aircraft effectively flies a helical course around the outside of an imaginary barrel. The g-forces of a correctly executed barrel roll are always downwards from the pilot’s perspective.

    Edit: I see that a lot of the tweets in the thread are arguing about centrifugal and centripetal force. Well, there’s an XKCD for that https://xkcd.com/123/

    Edit 2: A barrel roll causes almost no unusual stresses on the airframe which is why even some really big aircraft can do them, like the Avro Vulcan.

    1. I was deeply impressed by the Vulcan when it came to a local air show when I was a kid. Magnificent thing to see in the air.

      Check out this video of a Spitfire coming to the aid of a defective Vulcan:

      1. I’m just a short distance – fifteen miles or so? – from the Imperial War Museum Duxford. [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_War_Museum_Duxford] We get quite a few historic aircraft flying overhead, both on the weekends leading up to air shows and on the days themselves. The sound of vintage aircraft – regardless of whether they are fighters or bombers – is very distinctive and has us all out in the garden watching them fly over. Simply amazing that they are still flying after all those years.

        1. When I first joined the MOD, young Civil Servants were encouraged to spend some time with each of the Armed Services to see what the sharp end looked like. I was lucky enough to join a Vulcan flight up to the Norwegian Sea to find and identify a transiting Soviet submarine. A memorable experience!

          The crew told me that their favourite trip was to Goose Bay in Canada, because they could fill the (redundant) nuclear weapon bomb bay with salmon for the return journey, and keep it at the right temperature to stay fresh.

  2. Does anyone besides me see the irony of the picture of Belmondo smoking a cigarette while touting the film “Breathless”?


  3. “Belmondo, who just died (see above) like to do his own stunts. Here’s a pretty dangerous one” – Crikey, I’m amazed he made it to 88.

    A duck that can say, “You bloody fool!” – one to file under “only in Australia”!

    1. Belmondo’s costar in Breathless, the lovely and talented Ms. Jean Seberg, died at just 40, essentially hounded to death by that rotten bastard J. Edgar Hoover because he didn’t care for her politics.

  4. My comment has disappeared. If it reappears, this can be deleted.

    The aeroplane in the video with the Red Bull is doing a barrel roll. In a barrel roll, the aircraft flies a helical course round the outside of an imaginary barrel. This means that the g-forces on the contents of the cockpit are always outwards with respect to the imaginary barrel, or downwards relative to the pilot.

    1. Yes, a coordinated barrel-roll: Always keeping pressure on the horizontal stabilizer to create 1-g (or 1+-g) acceleration straight up with respect to the airplane axis system: Keeps the net force just like it were in level-flight throughout the maneuver.

      Nice piloting.

      Similarly, a good commercial airline pilot makes coordinated turns, again keeping a 1-g (or slightly greater acceleration) straight up on the airplane so the passengers don’t feel the turn.

      I’ve been in flight tests where the pilot performed “wind-up” turns, steadily increasing the acceleration in the turn up to about 2.2-g. You really notice 2.2-g! 🙂 (These tests were to determine loads on the airplane structures; we had the structure strain-gauged.)

    2. “My comment has disappeared” – yes, I briefly saw it when I posted myself at #3. I thought (rather jealously) that you still had the much-needed edit facility and had deleted your own comment to rephrase it , but now I see that your comment is back and at #1. As they don’t say at educational institutions that shun capital letters because of white supremacist nonsense, “WTF”?

  5. I remember when the [Miss America] Pageant was a big deal, and everybody watched the show on t.v.

    That’s when it was hosted by Bert Parks from Atlantic City, and there were only three tv channels for your viewing pleasure.

    Last time I can remember ever watching any part of it was 1984, when the lovely and talented Ms. Vanessa Williams won, and that was pretty much by happenstance. My wife and I were flipping around and chanced upon it just as the final 10 was announced. There were two black chicks in it, so we decided to stick around hoping that one of them would be the first to win.

    Turns out they finished 1-2 (which is to say as “Miss America and the first runner-up” as they were called). Vanessa had to give up her crown later that year when that prick from Penthouse, Bob Guccione, published some racy photos she’d posed for before entering the contest. The other black chick, Miss New Jersey, finished out her term, but damned if I can remember her name. Vanessa made out very well anyway, thank you, since, among other attributes, she’s got great pipes.

  6. Here’s a live performance a year before Zevon died …

    As Ol’ Warren was wont to say (and sing), he’ll sleep when he’s dead:

  7. “Can you Explain the Physics behind this[?]”

    The New New Journalist William Langewiesche, who’s also a commercial pilot, wrote an entire article about the physics of the banked turn for The Atlantic. You can access it here (albeit not in optimal format).

    As I recall, it was the first piece of his I ever read. He’s written a bunch of great aviation stuff over the years, including pieces on many of the ensuing aviation disasters (although he writes on a wide variety of other topics, too — from the deconstruction of the WTC towers after the 9/11 attacks, to the Green Zone in Baghdad, to trekking across the Sahara, to the ongoing destruction of the Amazonian rainforest).

  8. The Wire – at the top of my all-time series list. Can’t recommend it enough. (And Michael William’s Omar was one of its best characters…)

    1. I’ll sure never be able to hear anybody whistling “The Farmer in the Dell” again without thinking of that stick-up boy and the shorties yelling “Omar comin’!”

      Best. series. ever.

    2. +1 for the show being at the top of the greatest series list. I can’t think of a show that does as deep as The Wire did in terms of trying to talk about wider forces in society beyond the characters and the stories that unfold around them. Plus it helps to have such iconic characters, none more-so than Omar Little.

  9. Georgi Markov: Once when I subbed for teaching half of Advanced Biochemistry at Pitt, I tried to encourage the students to read the account of his murder, but failed miserably, supporting the adage about horses and water.

    In any event, the mechanism of action of ricin is fascinatingly insidious. It requires two conjoined components, A & B, which machinery in the victim separate. The first component, having entered the cell thanks to the second one, then avoids other machinery that ought to destroy it, and goes on to catalytically clip a specific adenine residue in the ribosome, trashing protein synthesis, ultimately resulting in death. Since this is a catalytic process, a tiny bit goes a long way.

    Also noted from the W’pedia page that I didn’t know before: barley has the A component thankfully but not B, and so has no toxicity. If it also had B, we would not have beer as we know it!

  10. That salami picture reminds me of the wonderful (and still alive) Tom Lehrer:

    “Remember Mommy, I’m off to get a Commie,
    So send me a salami, and try to smile somehow.
    I’ll look for you when the war is over,
    An hour and a half from now”.

    (from ‘So Long Mom, a song for World War III”)

    1. Just for the record: hitherto, the ‘edit’ function has worked fine for me. I have been informed that I have 15 minutes to amend my contribution, and been offered an ‘edit’ button to press to achieve this. That function now appears to have vanished.

      Also, I have to fill in my name and email address each time, even though I have ticked the ‘Save’ box.

  11. Utah Sen. Mike Lee is a descendant of John D. Lee. There are several thousand descendants now. I don’t think any are more misguided as he is. Perhaps there is a mean streak running down through this part of the family.

  12. “(The Taliban) are not clearing the airplanes to depart. They’ve sat at the airport for the last couple of days,” McCaul said on Fox News Sunday. “We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange. This is really Chris, turning into a hostage situation . . . .”

    Well, I guess that I have lived long enough that I am finally a hopeless and helpless case – an iconoclast and “irrelevant” (whatever THAT means in any context.) What on Earth does “Chris” mean in “This is really Chris…” above? I didn’t get the memo or email or text. I can’t keep up with this stuff. Apparently I don’t know the “right people.” I reasonably assume that McCaul believes that a sufficient fraction of his constituents knows what “Chris” means that he can get by using it in a sound bite.

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