Wednesday: Hili dialogue

September 8, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on a humpish Wednesday, September 8, 2021: Date-Nut Bread Day (I believe the hyphen is superfluous).

It’s also National Ampersand (&) Day, in which you’re supposed to use the & symbol as much as possible, Virgin Mary Day, Star Trek Day (the series debuted on Sept. 8, 1966), World Physical Therapy Day, & International Literacy Day.

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) goes to a YouTube video about a Swedish musician and humanitarian known as Avicii. Though I don’t know of Tim Bergling, he’s probably well known, so excuse my ignorance. I read on Wikipedia that he died by suicide at age 28, and he was born on this day in 1989.

Today’s video Doodle celebrates the 32nd birthday of Swedish superstar DJ, producer, songwriter and humanitarian Tim Bergling—known best by his stage name Avicii. Whether blaring from speakers of a music festival mainstage or into the headphones of millions of listeners worldwide, Avicii helped elevate electronic music to mainstream global success.

News of the Day:

Yesterday the Taliban let its mask slip big time, giving the lie that they were reforming. They formed an all-male government of The Usual Suspect hard-liners. As the Associated Press reports:

The Taliban on Tuesday announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan stacked with veterans of their hard-line rule from the 1990s and the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition, a move that seems unlikely to win the international support the new leaders desperately need to avoid an economic meltdown.

Appointed to the key post of interior minister was Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is on the FBI’s most-wanted list with a $5 million bounty on his head and is believed to still be holding at least one American hostage. He headed the feared Haqqani network that is blamed for many deadly attacks and kidnappings.

The announcement came hours after Taliban fired their guns into the air to disperse protesters in the capital of Kabul and arrested several journalists, the second time in less than a week that heavy-handed tactics were used to break up a demonstration.

In the meantime, NBC News reported last night that the planes with Americans and Afghan “helpers” are still sitting on the tarmac at Hamid Karzai International Airport. According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban, but the hitch is that the people trying to leave are heterogeneous:

Mr. Blinken said the latest indications from the Taliban are that they would allow American citizens or others to leave on charter flights if they all have proper documents, but flights with mixed groups with and without proper identification won’t be allowed to depart. “Because all of these people are grouped together, that’s meant that flights have not been allowed to go,” Mr. Blinken told reporters.

My prediction: the Taliban will make “demands” of the U.S. and other countries to release those trying to leave, because, right now, Afghanistan and its hard-line new theocratic government, with a criminal interior minister, doesn’t look so good.

Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday to decriminalize abortion, previously a crime in most of the country. Prior to yesterday, only three of Mexico’s 32 states had legal abortions. This decision, coming at a time when the U.S. is going in the opposite direction, presages a more progressive legalization of abortion in all states of our southern neighbor.

Belarus, a dysfunctional autocracy if ever there was one, has given two dissidents long prison sentences. The brave Maria Kalesnikava, a 39 year old musician, was sentenced to 11 years in jail for “conspiring to seize power, creating an extremist group, and calling for actions that could damage national security.” She was in custody for 11 months, and got the maximum sentence, all for criticizing the regime. (She also tore up her passport so they couldn’t depart her, as they did with some other dissidents.  Her fellow activist Maxim Znak drew ten years in a high security prison.

A bit of biology from the “Trilobites” section of the NYT, which covers science. Author Richard Sima describes new experiments showing that the dung crab spider of SE Asia (Phrynarachne ceylonica) not only avoids predators by looking like bird droppings (bird predators don’t want to eat poop!) but also attracts insects drawn to bird droppings, which become the spider’s lunch. Here’s a photo of the spider with caption from the New York Times: (h/t: Jean)

A bird dung crab spider, whose coloring and smell are used to hide from predators, but also to lure prey. Credit…Oliver Thompson-Holmes/Alamy

Today, with Ceiling Cat willing & if the creeks don’t rise, Derek Jeter, shortstop & captain of the New York Yankees, will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with “the former outfielder Larry Walker; the former catcher Ted Simmons; & the union chief, Marvin Miller, who died in 2012.”  Of all players I’ve seen in the last several decades, Jeter most impressed me with his combination of fielding & hitting. He played his entire 20-year career with the Yankees, & accrued these stats given in Wikipedia (besides a lifetime batting average of .310):

He is the Yankees’ all-time career leader in hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602) and at bats (11,195).  His accolades include 14 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. Jeter was the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits and finished his career ranked sixth in MLB history in career hits and first among shortstops. In 2017, the Yankees retired his uniform number 2.

Shortstop is, to me, the most athletic of all positions, requiring speed, accuracy, good reflexes, a great arm, & savvy. Here: have a look at some of Jeter’s defensive plays. Some of them are unbelievable:

Meanwhile, every HuffPost “personal” article has the patronizing caption “Here’s what I want you to know” or similar phrases. This is becoming common in the respectable press as well. What chowderhead came up with that hook?:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 650,998, an increase of 1,497 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,601,131, an increase of about 10,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 8 includes:

It took Michelangelo three years to complete the sculpture, often regarded as the world’s finest carved art. It stood outside the town hall until 1803, when it was moved inside to the Galleria dell’Accademia.  There’s a replica in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum that has a detachable fig leaf to go over the genitals, supposedly made when Queen Victoria was shocked at David’s nudity and attached to the statue when the Queen visited.

  • 1727 – A barn fire during a puppet show in the village of Burwell in Cambridgeshire, England kills 78 people, many of whom are children.

The doors had been nailed shut to prevent people from getting in.

  • 1883 – The Northern Pacific Railway (reporting mark NP) was completed in a ceremony at Gold Creek, Montana. Former president Ulysses S. Grant drove in the final “golden spike” in an event attended by rail & political luminaries.
  • 1892 – The Pledge of Allegiance is first recited.

This was adopted by Congress in 1942, given the name “The Pledge of Allegiance” in 1945, & then, on a dark day in 1954, with Americans fearful of Godless Communism, the words “under God” were added. This remains unconstitutional.

  • 1914 – World War I: Private Thomas Highgate becomes the first British soldier to be executed for desertion during the war.

Highgate was the first soldier executed for desertion during the war, was shot two days after he was convicted (he offered no defense). He was one of 306 executed British soldiers pardoned in 1966.  here’s a low-quality photo:

  • 1930 – 3M begins marketing Scotch transparent tape.

I think the name has to be changed as it’s a slur on the Scots, for it originated when an employee complained that the stingy “Scotch” bosses weren’t putting enough adhesive on the tape. Here’s an early form of packaging:

  • 1935 – US Senator from Louisiana Huey Long is fatally shot in the Louisiana State Capitol building.
  • 1941 – World War II: German forces begin the Siege of Leningrad.

The siege ended on January 27, 1944, lasting 872 days & leading to the deaths of around 800,000 civilians & 700,000 soldiers from battle or starvation. Here’s a poignant note about the siege from Wikipedia: a photo with a caption.

The diary of Tanya Savicheva, a girl of 11, her notes about starvation & deaths of her sister, then grandmother, then brother, then uncle, then another uncle, then mother. The last three notes say “Savichevs died”, “Everyone died” & “Only Tanya is left.” She died in hospital of progressive dystrophy shortly after the siege. Her diary was used by the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials.

One more note to appreciate the privations suffered by the inhabitants:

Civilians in the city suffered from extreme starvation, especially in the winter of 1941–42. From November 1941 to February 1942 the only food available to the citizen was 125 grams of bread per day, of which 50–60% consisted of sawdust and other inedible admixtures. In conditions of extreme temperatures (down to −30 °C (−22 °F)), and with city transport out of service, even a distance of a few kilometres to a food distribution kiosk created an insurmountable obstacle for many citizens. Deaths peaked in January–February 1942 at 100,000 per month, mostly from starvation.  People often died on the streets, and citizens soon became accustomed to the sight of death.

  • 1945 – The division of Korea begins when United States troops arrive to partition the southern part of Korea in response to Soviet troops occupying the northern part of the peninsula a month earlier.
  • 1966 – The landmark American science fiction television series Star Trek premieres with its first-aired episode, “The Man Trap“.

Here’s the two-minute opening of the first episode:

Here’s Ford’s announcement on television of his pardon of Nixon:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1830 – Frédéric Mistral, French poet & lexicographer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1914)
  • 1886 – Siegfried Sassoon, English captain, journalist, & poet (d. 1967)
  • 1897 – Jimmie Rodgers, American singer-songwriter & guitarist (d. 1933)

Rodgers, the “singing brakeman”, is regarded as one of the founders of modern country music. Famous for his yodeling (as in “Blue Yodel” below), he died at 35 of tuberculosis.

  • 1922 – Sid Caesar, American comic actor & writer (d. 2014)

Caesar was a great comedian. Here he is with his sidekick Imogene Coca, going to his first health food restaurant:

  • 1925 – Peter Sellers, English actor & comedian (d. 1980)
  • 1932 – Patsy Cline, American singer-songwriter & pianist (d. 1963)
  • 1941 – Bernie S&ers, American politician
  • 1954 – Michael Shermer, American historian, author, & academic, founded The Skeptics Society
  • &American singer-songwriter, producer, & actress

Those who hied themselves underground on September 8 include:

Carl Weiss was the doctor who shot Louisiana Senator (previously governor) Huey Long, & was immediately riddled with bullets by Long’s bodyguards. The motive: Long gerrymandered the district of Weiss’s father-in-law, a judge, out of existence. Here’s Weiss:

Strauss wrote one of my favorite songs, “Beim Schlafengehen” (“Upon falling asleep”), a song about death & one of his “Vier Letzte Lieder” (“Four Last Songs”), written at the end of Strauss’s life & first performed only after his death. I’d like this played either when I’m dying or after I’m dead (remember that). I think this version, by Jessye Norman, is the best, with that tremendous high note from 3:01 to 3:13 that shakes your bones.

  • 1980 – Willard Libby, American chemist & academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1908)

Libby (below) won the prize for devising the extremely useful method of radiocarbon dating, a technique still in wide use:

  • 1981 – Roy Wilkins, American journalist & activist (b. 1901)
  • 2003 – Leni Riefenstahl, German actress, director, producer, & screenwriter (b. 1902)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is upset as there’s a sign of winter approaching:

Hili: All this looks bad.
A: I don’t understand.
Hili: Winter apples are getting ripe.
In Polish:
Hili: To wszystko źle wygląda?
Ja: Nie rozumiem.
Hili: Zimowe jabłka zaczynają dojrzewać.

And Kulka on the prowl. You can see Andrzej’s shadow photographing him:

A meme from Nicole:

From Stash Krod:

From Facebook. I have another version of this cartoon on my lab wall:

Two tweets from Masih, who keeps us up to date on the plight of women in Afghanistan (women send her their videos):

From the Auschwitz memorial:

From Barry; this tweet has gone viral with people calling the rat-eating heron a “hero.” I know nature can be cruel, and we should accept this, but it still bothers me:

Tweets from Matthew. Enlarge the photos:

Really? They’re going to raze Britain’s oldest synagogue to build high-rises? As the BBC link says, “Bevis Marks was built in 1701 and was the first synagogue to be created after Jews were allowed back into England by Oliver Cromwell, following their banishment by Edward I in 1290.”

I retweeted a tweet Matthew sent me; go look at the thread.

This tweet shows that cats are 85% fluff:

44 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. The Star Trek clip reminded me that Jim Kirk had three ears. A left ear, a right ear, and space, the final front ear.

        1. I agree. One of the best movies of all time. I’ve seen it several times and that’s not something I do for many movies. I heard recently that someone called Galaxy Quest “the second best Star Trek movie after Wrath of Kahn”.

          There’s a new comedy sci-fi movie coming out on Christmas Day in theaters and streaming on Netflix. It has some very big stars (Leonardo diCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, with many other biggies in cameo roles). It strikes me as very much in the Galaxy Quest vein.

          DON’T LOOK UP | Official Teaser Trailer | Netflix

          1. There’s a really good Galaxy Quest documentary on Amazon prime. It opens with a quote (or something written?) from David Mammet. He listed 4 “perfect” movies. Godfather was there, as well as Galaxy Quest.

            1. Yes, saw that too in a theater perhaps a year or two ago. It was good. The Fifth Element was also good and one I would put in the same category.

  2. 1974 – Watergate scandal: US President Gerald Ford signs the pardon of Richard Nixon for any crimes Nixon may have committed while in office.

    After leaving office in 1977, and for the rest of his days, Ford carried around in his wallet a scrap of paper from SCOTUS’s 1915 decision Burdick v. United States that said a presidential pardon “carries an imputation of guilt” and the acceptance of a pardon constitutes “a confession of it.”

    Ford wouldn’t hesitate to whip that scrap of paper out anytime anyone, including his many celebrity golf partners. would criticize the Nixon pardon. The extent to which it actually assuaged Ol’ Gerry’s conscience for the foul deed of having granted it is anyone’s guess.

    1. Sheriff Joe Arpaio didn’t understand this and thought that Trump’s pardon proved his innocence. Joe was not the brightest man to wear the bronze star.

      1. None of Trump’s other political padonees seems clear on the concept either — or at least won’t fess up to it — from Dinesh D’Souza to Roger Stone to Steve Bannon to the rest of the miserable motley crew.

        1. You may be right about Arpaio’s intelligence, of course, but even a smart pardonee knows that pretending it means he’s innocent will work just fine with Trump’s base. They’ll all wear their pardons proudly.

            1. Even then they’ll portray their imprisonment as the unfair actions of the Deep State. Of course, they’ll still have to serve the time but that just doesn’t seem enough if they can fund-raise off it and still destroy our democracy.

        2. Amazing. ALWAYS with Trump it was the SLEAZIEST people. You or I’d fire any friend who introduced you to those crooks because after living a little in life we realize it is a fact that some people are trouble, mad or simply bad news. THESE, to a person, were “all the best people” he promised.
          I’ve never met anybody like that crowd – and I used to be a criminal defense attorney. No kidding.


  3. I believe the London synagogue is threatened with loss of daylight and a risk to its foundations if the towers are built not its demolition.

  4. They’re going to raze Britain’s oldest synagogue to build high-rises?


    There are planning applications to build two office blocks on land adjacent to the synagogue. This will cut down the natural light entering the windows and, apparently the existing electric lighting is inadequate (it was installed in 1928) and the owners are not allowed to improve it because it is a listed building. So it may end up being too dark to use for daily services.

    Frankly, I think they simply don’t want two new office blocks near them or the disruption associated with the construction of two new office blocks.These are just arguments they are lining up so they can object to the planning enquiry.

      1. It must be something to do with the placement of the lights, because they are probably already using LED lighting. Incandescent bulbs have been unobtainable in the UK for a while.

    1. Sounds to me like the city needs to ‘put up or shut up’ about listing it as a historical building. If they really believe in that listing, they need to preserve it and it’s functioning even in the face of popular and profitable development. And if they really don’t care about preserving it as a historical but functional place, they need to just say so and stop trying to look good. Right now they seem to want to have it both ways: claim they want to preserve it as a historical landmark, but not stop development that’s going to negatively impact it.

      1. The City did not list it. That’s a function of the central government through Historic England. The local council is, however, responsible for enforcing listing status.

        There is a process for granting planning permission to make alterations to a listed building and I would expect that the trustees could get permission to upgrade the lighting so as to make the building safe to use. They might even be able to get the developers of the office blocks to pay for it.

        Anyway, the council hasn’t yet granted planning permission for the two office blocks, so nothing has been decided either way.

  5. I will say that I find “Here’s what I want you to know…” marginally better than the even more presumptuous “Here’s what you NEED to know…” That’s not saying much, admittedly, but it’s something, at least. I would much prefer something along the lines of, “Here’s something you might find interesting…” or similar, if they’re going to stoop to such headlines.

    1. I can’t decide if it’s an improvement over the “we need to talk about” trope that it replaces. Both induce me to scroll past the article.

      1. I generally don’t like things that use the “need” concept because it’s SO presumptuous and, just as with you, it tends to make me avoid articles, even about topics that I might find interesting.

  6. I remember that first Star Trek episode as being pretty bad. Of course, as a teenager at the time I was still thrilled by the fact that we were seeing the future in space. The series improved though that first series always had some pretty cringeworthy bits. Star Trek: The Next Generation was the apotheosis of the Star Trek franchise, the best episodes coming about seasons 4 or 5.

    1. I have to note, original Trek had pretty darn impressive special effects for 1966 TV, though. Compare to Dr. Who at the same time, for instance. But, yeah, there were some curious choices at times. I still like the episode, and pretty much all original Trek, but TNG was definitely something special. Weirdly enough (to me, anyway, once I realized it), some of the best Next Gen episodes were directed by Jonathan Frakes…not the greatest actor, but boy, what an excellent director!

      1. I didn’t have a problem with the special effects in the original show. Our expectations in that department have grown apace with the technology.

        One thing still bugs me about most special effects involving space is that they’re too crowded. Ships battling each other at only a couple of ship-lengths separating them makes no sense. We know they do it because they want the battle to occur within the frame. Star Trek mostly avoided that problem right from the start. They turned the bug into a feature by making sure you understood the enormous distances and energies involved.

        Yes, Jonathan Frakes is a good director. There were some really good writers involved in TNG too.

      2. Don’t forget that back then they produced an episode a week; considering that, and the technology at the time (Spock would have said “stone knives and bear skins”), the effects were really good, so I can forgive the same styrofoam rocks on every planet.

  7. That Sid Caesar video has an appearance of the great Carl Reiner, Caesar’s straight man and second banana.

  8. Personals: *two* “Here’s What I Want You To Know”? I don’t want to know anything about either of you.

    And… Scotch tape still is, and has always been Scotch tape ®, a trusted brand.

  9. Re: London synagogue: Sorry (some) folks here – Although I think old architecture should generally be preserved there isn’t a church, mosque or synagogue that deserves saving in my priorities.

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