Sunday: Hili dialogue

September 12, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on  Sunday, September 12, 2021: National Chocolate Milkshake Day! (It’s their exclamation mark, not mine.)

It’s also National Hug Your Hound Day, National Police Woman Day, Racial Justice Sunday, Video Games Day, National Grandparents DayNational Day of Encouragement, and United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation. 

News of the Day:

Ceremonies throughout America yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorists attacks in 2001, including at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and the field in Pennsylvania where United flight 93 went down as passengers attacked the terrorists in the cockpit. (That, and the phone call messages that were played, are the most poignant bits of the day that stays with me.)  Any words I can say would lie meaningless before the nearly three thousand innocent people who died.

The Wall Street Journal reports on a striking and increasing imbalance of the sexes in American 2- and 4-year colleges. There’s a huge glut of women and a dearth of men and it’s quite a serious inequity:

Men are abandoning higher education in such numbers that they now trail female college students by record levels.

At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5%, according to enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group. U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71% of the decline.

This education gap, which holds at both two- and four-year colleges, has been slowly widening for 40 years. The divergence increases at graduation: After six years of college, 65% of women in the U.S. who started a four-year university in 2012 received diplomas by 2018 compared with 59% of men during the same period, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

In the next few years, two women will earn a college degree for every man, if the trend continues, said Douglas Shapiro, executive director of the research center at the National Student Clearinghouse.

No reversal is in sight.

There are huge ramifications, of course, but the first thing I could think of was “well, I guess it will be easier for male students to get a date.” I am a horrible person.

What counts as a religious exemption for vaccination against the coronavirus? The New York Times describes a number of ways people are using religion to get their exemptions. The overwhelming impression one gets from the article is that conservatives are trawling the Bible looking desperately for reasons to get religious exemptions, but they’re not finding much fodder. However, authorities are all too eager to cater to the faithful. There’s a strong odor of mendacity about this. As I’ve written before, I don’t think there should be any religious exemptions from Covid vaccination. United Airlines is taking a good approach:

Some private employers are taking a hard line. On Wednesday, United Airlines told workers that those who receive religious exemptions will be placed on unpaid leave at least until new Covid safety and testing procedures are in place.

Below: “MMA” is mixed martial arts, and reader Bill tells me it’s a real sport, not a fake sport like “professional wrestling.” Now that you know that, go read this article from the New York Post (click on screenshot).

The article describes a fight in the women’s division:

Alana McLaughlin, the second openly transgender woman to compete in MMA in the United States, won her debut Friday night via submission at the Combate Global prelims in Miami, Fla.

The 38-year-old used a rear-naked choke against Celine Provost to end the match 3 minutes, 32 seconds into the second round.

McLaughlin, who began her gender transition after leaving the U.S. Army Special Forces in 2010, said she hopes to be a pioneer for transgender athletes in combat sports.

McLaughlin meets the hormone levels required to fight women, but look at those muscles (transitioning well after puberty doesn’t get eliminate of male bone density and muscle mass). Some cisgender woman is going to get killed this way.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 659,556, an increase of 1,666 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,639,025, an increase of about 6,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 12 includes:

  • 490 BC – Battle of Marathon: The conventionally accepted date for the Battle of Marathon. The Athenians and their Plataean allies defeat the first Persian invasion force of Greece.

Here’s an eight-minute video of that famous battle, which, as you’ll see, was the source of the Marathon now run in the Olympics and elsewhere.

  • 1609 – Henry Hudson begins his exploration of the Hudson River while aboard the Halve Maen.
  • 1846 – Elizabeth Barrett elopes with Robert Browning.

It was a great romance. Here’s Barrett with her son (ca. 1860), and Robert Browning in about 1888:

Here’s the victorious Arbroath team:

  • 1910 – Premiere performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in Munich (with a chorus of 852 singers and an orchestra of 171 players. Mahler’s rehearsal assistant conductor was Bruno Walter).
  • 1933 – Leó Szilárd, waiting for a red light on Southampton Row in Bloomsbury, conceives the idea of the nuclear chain reaction.

The first controlled reaction, of course, was carried out at the University of Chicago, just a block from where I’m sitting now.

  • 1938 – Adolf Hitler demands autonomy and self-determination for the Germans of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.

Here’s a four-minute video of the Germans invading Czechoslovakia, which began on March 15, 1939. Note the ebullient citizens, most of them surely of German descent. Hitler and Tito are both in here:

The caves are closed to visitors now, as their body heat and breath were eroding the paintings, but you can see a replica cave. Here’s what it looked like before it was closed:

A two-minute video of the wedding. What a handsome pair they were!

  • 1959 – Bonanza premieres, the first regularly scheduled TV program presented in color.

“Hoss: Pass the potatoes, Adam.”

Here’s that famous snipped from JFK:

  • 1977 – South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko dies in police custody.
  • 1984 – Dwight Gooden sets the baseball record for strikeouts in a season by a rookie with 276, previously set by Herb Score with 246 in 1954. Gooden’s 276 strikeouts that season, pitched in 218 innings, set the current record.

Here’s Gooden setting the record, though Wikipedia gives the wrong figure for Herb Score’s previous record. It was 245, not 246, and the strikeout below is Gooden’s 246th of the season.

In an article yesterday, HuffPo criticized the Museum for “having a problematic legacy.” Can you guess what the problems are?

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1852 – H. H. Asquith, English lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1928)
  • 1880 – H. L. Mencken, American journalist and critic (d. 1956)

There are very few records of Mencken’s voice, but here’s an interview he made in 1948 for the Library of Congress. Mencken is one of my favorite writers, with a unique (and acerbic) style. To get a good flavor of his prose, I’d recommend A Mencken Chrestomathy: His Own Selection of His Choicest Writing

  • 1888 – Maurice Chevalier, French actor, singer, and dancer (d. 1972)
  • 1897 – Irène Joliot-Curie, French chemist and physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1956)
  • 1913 – Jesse Owens, American sprinter and long jumper (d. 1980)
  • 1931 – George Jones, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2013)

In Ken Burns’s “Country Music” series, most of the famous singers, asked to name the archetypal country song, named “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones.  Here he is performing it live:

  • 1944 – Barry White, American singer-songwriter (d. 2003)

I wasn’t a huge fan of either Barry White or Ally McBeal, but this clip from the show, in which a lawyer is given a live appearance by White as a birthday present, is pretty cool:

  • 1967 – Louis C.K., American comedian, actor, producer, and screenwriter

Those who croaked on September 12 include:

  • 1977 – Steve Biko, South African activist (b. 1946)
  • 1977 – Robert Lowell, American poet (b. 1917)
  • 1993 – Raymond Burr, Canadian-American actor and director (b. 1917)
  • 2003 – Johnny Cash, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1932)

This is classic: Cash and June Carter singing “Jackson” on his t.v. show:

  • 2014 – Ian Paisley, Northern Irish evangelical pastor (Free Presbyterian Church) and politician, 2nd First Minister of Northern Ireland (b. 1926)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Kulka has learned not to try to steal Hili’s food when she’s eating:

Kulka: It’s better to escape.
Hili: That’s the right choice.
In Polish:
Kulka: Lepiej uciekać.
Hili: Właściwy wybór.

Big news! From Effing Chicago, a Facebook group, a newspaper header with the caption, “St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri, October 18, 1896.” (h/t Su)

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

From FB, a comic strip from Bizarro:

Titania has a new poem. Oy.

From Masih. She isn’t alienated from her mother (though her sister denounced her on Iranian television), but Masih can’t ever go back to Iran so long as the theocracy, which wants to kill her, is in power.

A tweet sent by Luana. Priorities!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

From Barry, who says, “I love the cat on the right. Too bad there’s no sound. That would’ve added some fun to the proceedings.”

Tweets from Matthew. Look at the belly on this bobcat! What did it eat?

Pycnogonids, or sea spiders, are marine arthropods that are weird in many ways (just look at that thing!). But I didn’t know the males carried the embryos. Somebody needs to study this case of weird sexual selection. In pipefish and seahorses, in which males carry the embryos while females are the elaborately decorated sex, we know the cause. Females can produce eggs faster than they can incubate them, and males have brood pouches to carry the developing eggs (and give birth), but there’s a deficit of male pouches. Therefore, to get their new eggs incubated, females have to compete for males. And that’s why, when only one sex is ornamented in seahorses and pipefish, it’s the females–unlike birds or most other groups.) Anyway, we don’t know what’s going on with sea spiders, but only males incubate eggs and care for young.

Matthew loves Martian landscapes, and this one is undoubtedly a montage of photos taken by the Mars Rover:

24 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. I don’t think “dearth” is the word you meant to use here. As a man who went to a college with a big excess of men, that story sounds like progress to me.
    Apparently men are not able to keep up academically these days…

    1. It’s not “progress” when the numbers start getting so out of wack and have been trending in that direction endlessly for decades, and the gap widens even further as the degree level rises. The same people who are constantly carping about gaps between men and women in e.g. computer science don’t seem to have any problem with the disparity in earning degrees generally. There are also far more significant disparities in particular fields, but the only ones we hear about are the few where the disparity is “in favor” of men; in those few fields, it’s taken as imperative that we “equalize” the numbers. In the many fields where the numbers are “in favor” of women, there’s silence. In the former, there are tons of scholarship and other types of programs to get more women into them, and in the latter there are no such programs for men.

      This is one of the issues I have with people who talk about these things. Disparities only seem to matter when it’s the “right” group that has lower numbers in a field. And remember, all of those fields are white collar work, meaning higher pay and far less dangerous work (men account for about 95% of workplace injuries and deaths. I can’t imagine what the media and activists would be saying if those numbers were reversed! I guess that’s why we don’t hear about getting more women into logging or garbage collection).

  2. In other news, the 18-year-old British tennis player Emma Raducanu won the US Open women’s final, beating 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3. It was the first US Open final between teenagers since Serena Williams v Martina Hingis in 1999.

    Raducanu, who was ranked world No. 338 at the start of Wimbledon this summer, didn’t drop a set or play a tiebreak in the entire competition – including in the qualifying rounds; she’s the only singles qualifier (man or woman) to become a Grand Slam champion in the Open era. She’s the first British woman to win at Flushing Meadows since Virginia Wade in 1968 and also the first to win any Grand Slam title since Wade’s victory at Wimbledon in ’77.

    1. Also winner of BBC SPotY for 2021.

      I feel a bit sorry for Fernandez. Her own achievement as an unseeded teenager was also pretty amazing, especially as she knocked out three of the top five seeds but it has been totally overshadowed by Raducanu.

      1. I agree about Fernandez – although she lost a bit of her sympathy with her vociferous protests about Raducanu having her bleeding leg attended to in the final game. (Raducanu had no choice, and was also fearful about the consequences of the break in the flow of the match.) But to be fair, Fernandez was on a roll and in the heat of the moment at that stage in the final she can be forgiven – she’s only a few weeks older than Raducanu, after all.

  3. “‘MMA’ is mixed martial arts, and reader Bill tells me it’s a real sport, not a fake sport like ‘professional wrestling.'”

    Indeed, it is very much not a fake sport. MMA is like boxing with far more ways to render your opponent unconscious.

    This person is, as you note, the second transgender woman to compete in MMA. The first was Fallon Fox, who knocked out quite a few people. Here’s a little information about one of her opponents (from Wikipedia) (Fox didn’t have a long career): “During Fox’s fight against Tamikka Brents on September 13, 2014, Brents suffered a concussion, an orbital bone fracture, and seven staples to the head in the 1st round. After her loss, Brents took to social media to convey her thoughts on the experience of fighting Fox: ‘I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right,’ she stated. ‘Her grip was different, I could usually move around in the clinch against other females but couldn’t move at all in Fox’s clinch …'”

    I found it interesting that Brents mentioned Fox’s “grip strength.” The average man has a far higher grip strength than even the strongest woman. I can’t find the study now, but there was one comparing average men with professional female athletes, and it still found a disparity that was something like 40% in favor of the men. The “clinch” is very important in MMA and relies on grip strength (among other things), and it’s just one area of many — OK, every area — where a transgender woman has an enormous advantage over a biological woman. Yes, someone very well might get killed one day if this continues.

    1. Agreed CC. Even just looking at the photos it doesn’t look like a fair fight.

      Also: It felt sort of anachronistic reading today’s post as I didn’t know there was anyone left who didn’t know about MMA 🙂

      (But then, I’ve been a fan from the beginning, and there are certainly sports I don’t know much about).

    2. From the photo it doesn’t appear they should have even been in the same weight class. The trans athlete looks to outweigh her opponent by 20-30lb.

      1. I just watched the fight video.

        It looked like a fairly unskilled male fighter against a skilled female fighter. The female fighter just kept landing punch after punch with the other fighter mostly just walking through the punches, until finally picking up the opponent, slamming her, and wrestling her in to a submission.

        Unfortunately, it just had the look of someone with a physical advantage allowing them to overcome the skill of another fighter.

    3. The question is: when will this farce of letting biological malescompete in female sports, end?
      I cannot see it otherwise than cheating.

  4. Notable born on this day: Stanislaw Lem, science-fiction writer, one of the greatest. His exact birth date is debated however. His parents possibly changed it from 13th to 12th out of superstition.

    (I am not posting under my usual handle, because I am unable to login to WordPress…)

  5. NOTABLE BORN ON THIS DAY: Neil Peart — greatest drummer ever, author, poet, photographer, incredible polymath.

    I know you’re not a Rush fan, but he really deserves to be on your list of notables. His influence on music was and continues to be enormous. Artists from jazz drummers to Billy Corbin and Dave Grohl have talked about how influential he was. Many of them started playing because of him. Anyone who’s “in the know” in the worlds of drumming, rock, progressive rock, etc. know who Neil Peart is and his imposing stature in the history of music (and lets’ not forget Geddy and Alex!).

    1. He was also an avid motorcycle rider. It was his way of unwinding from the gilded cage of being on stage. As he was very much an introvert, he needed his time away from the spotlight, and two wheels on blacktop was his haven.

      1. Indeed! I know at least one of his books was about that, as I read it. He also talks about it quite a bit in the phenomenal documentary Time Stand Still, about their last tour. It was on Netflix, though I don’t know if it still is. If you can’t find it on the streaming services, I recommend getting a copy. It’s fantastic. The previous documentary, Beyond the Lighted Stage, it also very good, and was/might still be on Netflix.

        “Emotional feedback on a timeless wavelength, bearing a gift beyond price…almost free.”

  6. “Ally McBeal” is an ok, not great, show. It is impossible for me to hear Barry White’s “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” without visualizing the character John Cage’s dance. In the show it was a recurring thing, as Cage used it to sync himself up.

  7. ‘2011 – The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City opens to the public. In an article yesterday, HuffPo criticized the Museum for “having a problematic legacy.” Can you guess what the problems are?” ‘

    Well, I guessed Islamophobia would be on the list – though as a memorial to the world’s most deadly Islamic terrorist attack…

    Without visiting the centre in person it’s hard to judge some of the criticisms made, but it seems that HuffPo’s real problem is with the entire concept behind the centre – that it memorialises and curates the events of a single day instead of being the “National Museum of US Relations with Islam/Afghanistan/Iraq since September 2001” or some such.

    It sounds like the operation of the museum isn’t beyond reproach, though. The $24 entry seems pretty steep (especially to Brits, who expect entry to national museums to be free albeit with a voluntary donation from those who can afford one). And as the museum’s Wikipedia article notes

    Families were further angered after a May 20, 2014 black-tie, VIP cocktail party for donors at the museum. Among the 60 attendees were former mayor Michael Bloomberg and representatives of Condé Nast. Family members objected to a party near unidentified remains; the sister of victim Robert Shay, Jr. tweeted, “Did you enjoy having drinks on top of my brother’s grave last night?” Shay and dozens of other visitors were angered that first responders were turned away from the museum the previous day while staff prepared for the party. She said, “I am outraged that I can’t visit my brother’s final resting place without an appointment but people like Mike Bloomberg can wine and dine there whenever they want. This memorial and museum is sacred ground and last night it was desecrated.” A retired FDNY fire marshal said, “You don’t have cocktail parties at a cemetery.”

    Even judged by the museum’s own more limited remit than the one HuffPo calls for, that cocktail party does seem to have been very badly thought through.

  8. I have visited the reproduction at Lascaux. It is very well done. At the end of the tour our guide turned off the lights and produced a 3 inch flame with a modified zippo lighter. In the flicker of the flame the animals absolutely came to life! I have seen living mammoths! If you get a chance don’t miss it.

  9. The list of songs that Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) suggested that radio stations in its network “might not want to play” in the aftermath of 9/11 is interesting. Some are obvious, but others are bizarre – Louis Armstrong’s “It’s a Wonderful World” was deemed too cheerful, and only some artists’ versions of other songs were included. AC/DC tops the list of named songs banned (seven) but the entire recorded output of Rage Against the Machine was included on the list!

  10. I’m surprised by how few comments there are below the line today. I appreciate that it’s Sunday, but that’s surely no excuse for WEIT readers – it’s not like we’ve got church, for g*d’s sake…

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