Monday: Hili dialogue

September 13, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s Monday, September 13, and on Thursday I’m heading to Boston for a week to hang out with friends and get some well deserved R&R. Posting may be light after the 17th for a week. Bear with me as I unwind!

It’s National Peanut Day! (the exclamation mark shows they’re particularly excited).  And it’s also Snack a Pickle Day there should be “on” after “Snack”), Fortune Cookie Day, International Chocolate Day, Bald is Beautiful Day, National Defy Superstition Day, Positive Thinking Day (except for us Jews), Day of the Programmer, Roald Dahl Day (see below), Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary (see below), and Fortune Cookie Day. Fortune cookies are not Chinese, but probably originated in the U.S. Here’s one fortune, probably written by a philosopher:

Wine of the Day: My fondness for good Riojas is well known. Can this six-year-old specimen, bought for only $15, be that good? Is it too young? Others seem to think it’s quite good and eminently drinkable, with perhaps years to improve.  Let’s try it with some aged Gouda cheese, a baguette, and Mediterranean olives splashed with good olive oil. Now THAT is a good dinner!

Although I didn’t decant the wine to let it aerate, as one reviewer recommended, I did use an aerator pourer, which should have some effect. Sadly, the two glasses I drank were somewhat disappointing. The wine wasn’t over the hill, and the smell, of berries and earth, was lovely, but the taste didn’t follow through: it lacked stuffing and was dominated by the acidity. I’ll see tonight whether it’s improved.

News of the Day:

Remember the U.S. drone strike that was supposed to have taken out ISIS terrorists and explosive near the Kabul airport? Well, according to the New York Times, that’s pure fake news.

Military officials said they did not know the identity of the car’s driver when the drone fired, but deemed him suspicious because of how they interpreted his activities that day, saying that he possibly visited an ISIS safe house and, at one point, loaded what they thought could be explosives into the car.

Times reporting has identified the driver as Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group. The evidence suggests that his travels that day actually involved transporting colleagues to and from work. And an analysis of video feeds showed that what the military may have seen was Mr. Ahmadi and a colleague loading canisters of water into his trunk to bring home to his family.

While the U.S. military said the drone strike might have killed three civilians, Times reporting shows that it killed 10, including seven children, in a dense residential block.

Somebody is in serious trouble, and seven kids (and a worker for a U.S. aid group) are dead because of their mistake.

Speaking of Afghanistan, the Taliban isn’t as hard-line as I thought, at least according to a report by the Associated Press on their views about women’s education. Women will now be allowed to go to university, with the proviso that a. all classes will be segregated by sex, and b. women must wear “Islamic dress”, whatever that means. My question involves the implication that if women get to the stage of attending university, they must be allowed to get an education all the way up to that stage. Will the Taliban let them, with their opposition to women going to school? (Last night the NBC News implied that younger girls would indeed be allowed to go to school.)

Internecine war among the Democrats: Biden’s $3.5 billion spending package is in trouble now that Senator Joe Manchin III isn’t having it. He (a renegade Democrat) is suggesting huge cuts in the package—up to 50%— to make it acceptable to himself and presumably to Republicans. Bernie Sanders, enraged, won’t stand for any cuts. But without Manchin’s vote in the Senate, which is split 50/50 between Dems and Republicans, the bill will not pass. (There won’t be any trouble in the House.)

Last week six Palestinian prisoners, all terrorists, killers, and people who set up suicide bombings, tunneled out of an Israeli jail and escaped. Four were caught in Israel after tipoffs from Israeli Arabs, while two are still free. The escape was naturally celebrated by Palestinians, but the return of the apprehended four to jail caused Hamas to fire more rockets into Israel last weekend. Israel retaliated by striking three Hamas targets in Gaza with helicopters and planes. Question: who is responsible for reigniting the conflict and trashing the fragile peace?

The NYT has a review (by John McWhorter) of Randall Kennedy’s new book on race, SAY IT LOUD! On Race, Law, History, and Culture (Kennedy is a black professor at Harvard Law School.) Kennedy is a semi-contrarian: he doesn’t go Full Thomas Sowell but also hews to some mainstream black thought. As McWhorter asks,

Why, then, is Kennedy, a Black professor at Harvard Law School, not typically included on the list of Black conservatives or even “heterodox Black thinkers,” to use the currently fashionable term of art? The anthology “Say It Loud!” teaches us why. This collection of 29 of his essays lends us the fullest portrait yet between two covers of Kennedy’s thought, and just as much of it fits the mold of Black thought traditionally treated as “authentic” as does not.

The review is generally positive. McWhorter does fault Kennedy for some overly scholarly writing in a popular book, but in the end concludes that “as in almost everything about his views on race in America, Kennedy is both resolutely temperate and probably right.”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 659,806 an increase of 1,648 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,645,319, an increase of about 6,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 13 includes:

  • 1501 – Italian Renaissance: Michelangelo begins work on his statue of David.
  • 1541 – After three years of exile, John Calvin returns to Geneva to reform the church under a body of doctrine known as Calvinism.
  • 1609 – Henry Hudson reaches the river that would later be named after him – the Hudson River.

Hudson’s mighty river: 315 miles long from the Adirondack mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. Here it is by Bear Mountain, spanned by the Bear Mountain Bridge:

  • 1788 – The Philadelphia Convention sets the date for the first presidential election in the United States, and New York City becomes the country’s temporary capital.

This was actually the “Constitutional Convention” that drew up the United States Constitution.

You can see the poem here, which is identical to the lyrics of the National Anthem, but our National Anthem is dire. “America the Beautiful” would be much better.

George Eastman filed a patent about the same time, and there was a twenty-year battle over who had the rights. Eventually the dispute was settled in favor of Goodwin, who got five million dollars.

  • 1899 – Henry Bliss is the first person in the United States to be killed in an automobile accident.

Bliss (below) was stepping off a trolley in New York City when he was hit by a taxi, striking his head on the pavement, which killed him.  He was 69, and there’s still a plaque on the spot.

  • 1899 – Mackinder, Ollier and Brocherel make the first ascent of Batian (5,199 m – 17,058 ft), the highest peak of Mount Kenya.

Here’s a 5½-minute video of a climb of Batian:

  • 1948 – Margaret Chase Smith is elected United States senator, and becomes the first woman to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate.
  • 1953 – Nikita Khrushchev is appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
  • 1956 – The IBM 305 RAMAC is introduced, the first commercial computer to use disk storage.

Here’s the computer, with the caption, “IBM 305 at U.S. Army Red River Arsenal. Foreground: two 350 disk drives. Background: 380 console and 305 processing unit.” I’m sure a Mac laptop would have more computing power.

  • 1962 – An appeals court orders the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith, the first African-American student admitted to the segregated university. Here’s Meredith going to class, with the Wikipedia caption, “Chief U.S. Marshal James McShane (left) and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, John Doar (right) of the Justice Department, escorting James Meredith to class at Ole Miss.”

Here’s an 8-minute PBS film explaining the riot and the role of lawyer William Kunstler  (who also defended the Chicago Seven) in the prison negotiations. His kids are interviewed, too.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1851 – Walter Reed, American physician and biologist (d. 1902)

Reed, whose team proved that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes rather than by direct contact between humans (the earlier theory):

  • 1860 – John J. Pershing, American general and lawyer (d. 1948)
  • 1874 – Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian composer and painter (d. 1951)
  • 1876 – Sherwood Anderson, American novelist and short story writer (d. 1941)

Here’s Anderson in 1933. His masterpiece, the short-story collection Winesburg, Ohio, was published in 1919. He never again came close to what he did in that book.

  • 1886 – Robert Robinson, English chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1975)
  • 1887 – Leopold Ružička, Croatian-Swiss biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1976)
  • 1908 – Chu Berry, American saxophonist (d. 1941)
  • 1911 – Bill Monroe, American singer-songwriter and mandolin player (d. 1996)

Here’s Monroe with his Blue Grass Boys:

  • 1916 – Roald Dahl, British novelist, poet, and screenwriter (d. 1990)

I have to admit that I’ve never read anything by Dahl, though some of my friends are great admirers of him:

  • 1944 – Jacqueline Bisset, English actress and producer
  • 1956 – Alain Ducasse, French-Monégasque chef

Those who “passed” on September 13 include:

  • 81 – Titus, Roman emperor (b. AD 39)
  • 1944 – W. Heath Robinson, English cartoonist (b. 1872)

Robinson was the British equivalent of the American Rube Goldberg, famous for designing clever but impossibly complicated machines to do simple tasks. Here’s Robinson’s “Pakcake Making Machine”:

  • 1946 – Amon Göth, Austrian captain (b. 1908)

Göth ran the Płaszów concentration camp during WWII and was played by Ralph Fiennes in “Schindler’s List”. And yes, Göth did take target practice on prisoners from his home balcony. He was executed after the war, but the hanging was successful only on the third try. (You can see the video here.)

  • 1971 – Lin Biao, Chinese general and politician, 2nd Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China (b. 1907)
  • 1996 – Tupac Shakur, American rapper, producer, and actor (b. 1971)
  • 1998 – George Wallace, American sergeant, lawyer, and politician, 45th Governor of Alabama (b. 1919)

Here’s the old racist calling for “segregation forever”. His name stands alongside that of other segregationists like Lester Maddox and Bull Connor as those who became infamous during the Civil Rights era.

  • 2006 – Ann Richards, American educator and politician, 45th Governor of Texas (b. 1933)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is contemplating going out on the tiles:

Hili: Night hunt or a warm bed?
A: You better stay at home.
Hili: I will think about it some more.
In Polish:
Hili: Nocne łowy, czy ciepłe łóżko?
Ja: Lepiej zostań w domu?
Hili: Jeszcze się zastanowię.

And here’s Szaron playing:

A cool optical illusion sent by Peter N. Just watch; the video does the whole thing for you.

From Facebook:

From The Vintage News via Rick:

Titania’s back tweeting again:

From Masih:

From Ken, who explains, “The infamous business card scene from American Psycho reimagined for cat lovers.” I’d never seen that scene before this.

From Barry, who enjoyed the suspense. That’s an amazing way of hunting!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew:

A tiny kitchen hidden behind a faux outlet! See more hidden miniature nooks by following this thread.

24 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. National Defy Superstition Day, Positive Thinking Day

    Uhhhh… isn’t it somewhat superstitious to believe ‘positive thinking’ than have a major effect on one’s life?

    Fully agree with Dr. Brydon above on the taliban; I think we need to be highly suspicious of their claims about womens’ rights. I’ll believe they’re going to let women go to university when the Kabul University class of 2026 graduates >40% women (before their takeover, it was 43%) with a bunch of them being engineers, physicists, chemists, biologists, and business majors.

  2. There is a good, slightly less than two-hour, you tube discussion on Critical Race Theory with 40 minutes from Mcwhorter up front, followed by a panel discussion which includes Randall Kennedy, recorded in December of last year at:

      1. Very good. The panel discussion is a very informative conversation and refers to the mcwhorter material on several occasions if i recall correctly. Randall kennedy is on the panel and after i left this comment i found a video discussion between kennedy and congressman jamie raskin from a popular dc bookstore last week. Url for that is in my comment 10 below

  3. Here’s the old racist [George Wallace] calling for “segregation forever”. His name stands alongside that of other segregationists like Lester Maddox and Bull Connor as those who became infamous during the Civil Rights era.

    In the 1968 presidential election, Wallace got nearly 10 million votes nationwide, and won 46 electoral college votes, by prevailing in five states of the former Confederacy (four of the same states that Republican Barry Goldwater had won in the previous presidential election in the immediate aftermath of passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964).

    1. Third-party candidate Wallace won a majority of the votes in only two states: Alabama and Mississippi. Five other southern states went for Nixon, and Texas voted Democrat.

      1. Five other southern states went for Nixon …

        The start of the Republicans’ “Southern Strategy.”

        Wallace’s wins in Alabama and Mississippi represent the only two southern states in which any candidate won a straight-up majority of the vote in ’68. Wallace finished a strong second in three of the five southern states that Nixon won by a plurality. And Nixon finished second in two of the three states Wallace won by a plurality — Arkansas and South Carolina.

  4. I was struck by Jerry’s comparison the IBM 305 RAMAC to an Apple laptop.

    I looked for performance specs for the IBM 305 RAMAC, but couldn’t find any. I did, however, find that its disk drives had 5MB capacity and reportedly cost about $10,000 per MB (inflation adjusted).

    Today, you can buy an 8TB hard drive for about $1,000. This is $0.000125 per MB (in addition having vastly better throughput and latency).

    So the cost of a MB of disk storage has improved by a factor of 80,000,000.

    In fact, an Apple Watch has vastly better performance and greater storage than all the computers existing in 1956 combined.

    1. Performance doesn’t translate to today’s computers very well (the instruction model is quite different due to the limits of the tech at the time and the primary application being database/accounting. No floating point, for example, so doing real number arithmetic such as for scientific or statistical work, rather than the fixed decimal used in accounting, might have been several orders of magnitude slower), but approx 30ms/instruction, or 33 instructions/s. The current state of the art is about 10^8 times this per core, with 8 cores being common, for a nominal 10^9 in execution.

    2. As someone dating from the punch-card days, what amazes me most is not so much the nine or ten orders of magnitude improvement in computing power, but our ability to take it in effortlessly and consider it the norm. Did anyone contemplate streaming Netflix on your phone in 1956?

    1. It is unfortunately easy to for the courts to ignore (IMO). Firstly because they can just say this is an insincere belief intended to avoid the law. And secondly because they can say that Trinity Lutheran v. Comer and Philadelphia v. Fulton both emphasized that only when a law provides exceptions for other groups must exceptions for religious groups be allowed. Since the Texas law grants no exceptions for other groups, they can argue they do not have to grant a religious exception to TST.

      1. I think you’re ignoring that the underlying Texas statute is blatantly unconstitutional on its face under the existing case law of Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

        This is hardly a standard Free Exercise Clause case seeking an exemption from a facially constitutional statute.

        1. The TX abortion kerfuffle is GOOD news for liberals/sane people. FINALLY the dog has caught the car it has been chasing and the blowback will punish the GoP at the polls.

          Nobody ever seems to think about blowback. To cite a topical example: 20 years ago with the city still stinking of smoke from what we called “the pile” downtown at the WTC – I thought “The blowback on this is going to be so much worse than this terrorist thing.”


  5. Speaking of Mt Kenya, this is a good time to reccommend the book “No Picnic on Mt Kenya” by Felice Benuzzi. It’s the story of how some bored Italian POWs in a British WWII camp came up with a scheme of breaking out of the camp, climbing Mt Kenya, and then breaking back into the camp. A classic of mountaineering literature.

    (Another classic that has nothing to do with Mt Kenya but that I’ll also throw in here: “A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush” by Eric Newby.)

  6. With apologies to our host who has said that he much prefers reading which he does very fast to videos, i just watched a Politics and Prose (bookstore in Washington DC) sponsored videocast which features Prof Kennedy in conversation with Congressman Jamie Raskin, one of his former students at Harvard Law School, discussing Prof Kennedy’s new book. The original one-hour broadcast was last week and should be at url.

  7. It’s a little-known fact that a T. Rex commissioned the invention of the first bidet. The 70 million year old patent has, of course, expired so it’s in the public doman.

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