Saturday: Hili dialogue

September 18, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s Caturday in beautiful Cambridge, Massachusetts: September 18, 2021: National Cheeseburger Day. No fries, cheeps! No Coke, Pepsi!

It’s also Eat An Apple Day, Rice Krispies Treats Day (I have to admit that I love ’em), International Red Panda Day, International Bamboo Day, International eBook Day (never read one, never will), National Dance Day, National Gymnastics Day, Locate An Old Friend Day (easier now with Google), National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, and International First Love Day (Devon Powell, sixth grade, we were safety guards together and sometimes raised the American flag. This should make for some good stories of first loves in the comments. Remember yours? (Mine never went anywhere; you don’t date when you’re 11.)

News of the Day: Once again I haven’t kept up with the news, so here are a few tidbits. Feel free to put news of interest in the comments, which I do read.

*Today’s the big right-wing rally at the Capitol in Washington in support of the earlier thugs who invaded the building on January 6.  There are no credible threats (yet), but the police/military presence will be strong:

In what the Capitol Police chief called the “new normal” of security amid rising threats from domestic extremists, the administration will deploy 100 unarmed National Guard troops to downtown Washington on Saturday. The additional military presence comes after intelligence officers tracked online threats made against members of Congress and reported that some rally attendees supportive of former President Donald J. Trump “may seek to engage in violence.”

*A genetic analysis of 3000-year-old Central European skeletons of warriors from a battle shows that they didn’t have the genetic variant for lactase persistence, and so couldn’t digest milk. Since that variant was very common by 1000 A.D., it seems as if the gene spread rapidly (other estimates have given it a selective advantage of about 10% over the alternative, non-digesting gene). Remember, 2000 years was only about 100 human generations at that time. As Science notes (linking to the original paper in Current Biology),

“That means that within about 100 generations, the mutation had penetrated populations across Europe. “That’s the strongest selection found in the human genome,” [co-author Joachim] Burger says.

*John McWhorter’s new column in the NYT reports an example of cancellation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at least as egregious as the removal of the Rock of Shame. Read it for yourself. It seems that one of his two weekly columns will be about linguistics and the other about race.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 672,811 an increase of 1,992 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,694,219, an increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s total.

Today was a thin day in history. Stuff that happened on September 18 includes:

Here’s a painting of the event. What would George think about what’s going to happen there today?

And here’s part of the front page from 1851:

  • 1948 – Margaret Chase Smith of Maine becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate without completing another senator’s term.

She served from 1949, the year I was born, until 1973, and was also the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress. A moderate Republican, she was also one of the first to oppose Joe McCarthy’s red-baiting tactics. A photo:

  • 1997 – The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention is adopted.
  • 2001 – First mailing of anthrax letters from Trenton, New Jersey in the 2001 anthrax attacks.
  • 2014 – Scotland votes against independence from the United Kingdom, by 55% to 45%.

I think the next vote will have a different outcome, och aye?

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1709 – Samuel Johnson, English lexicographer and poet (d. 1784)
  • 1905 – Greta Garbo, Swedish-American actress (d. 1990)

Here’s Garbo’s most famous line, and she did wind up alone.  From Wikipedia:

She is closely associated with a line from Grand Hotel, one which the American Film Institute in 2005 voted the 30th-most memorable movie quote of all time, “I want to be alone; I just want to be alone.” The theme was a running gag that began during the period of her silent movies.

  • 1933 – Jimmie Rodgers, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1940 – Frankie Avalon, American singer and actor
  • 1954 – Steven Pinker, Canadian-American psychologist, linguist, and author

It’s Pinkah’s birthday, and he’s 67: the most unfairly despised intellectual in America! Here he is from February of last year wearing his custom cowboy boots made by Lee Miller of Austin—the same guy who made mine:

  • 1967 – Tara Fitzgerald, English actress
  • 1971 – Lance Armstrong, American cyclist
  • 1976 – Ronaldo, Brazilian footballer

One of the many greats who played from Brazil, Ronaldo shows his skills in this “best of” video:

Those who gave Charon his coin on September 18 include:

  • 1783 – Leonhard Euler, Swiss mathematician and physicist (b. 1707)

Remember, his last name is pronounced “OY-ler”, as in “Oy vey!”

  • 1961 – Dag Hammarskjöld, Swedish economist and diplomat, 2nd Secretary-General of the United Nations, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
  • 1970 – Jimi Hendrix, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1942)

I must of course show a video of Hendrix, and here’s one of him performing perhaps his most famous song:

  • 1980 – Katherine Anne Porter, American short story writer, novelist, and essayist (b. 1890)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s kvetching about food again:

Hili: Life is cruel.
A: Why do you think so?
Hili: I do not see anything I could eat.
In Polish:
Hili: Życie jest okrutne?
Ja: Dlaczego tak sądzisz?
Hili: Nie widzę nikogo kogo mogłabym zjeść.

And a picture of Kulka by Paulina:

From Jean:

From Gregory: a Darth Vader tabby found on Facebook. He says, “May the Force be with mew.”

I can’t help but reproduce this excellent Gary Larson cartoon. I don’t have a phobia, because ducks are often watching me.

A tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial:

From Barry: Geese enjoying a man playing the harmonica (or maybe they think he’s making goose noises):

From Luana. It seems that Anya Taylor-Joy just won a Golden Globe Award and a SAG Award for best actress for her performance in The Queen’s GambitHere’s her ancestry from Wikipedia:

Her father is an Argentine of English and Scottish descent, son of a British father, Alfred Royal Taylor, and an Argentine-British mother, Violet Mary Forrest. Her mother was born in Zambia, to an English diplomat father, David Joy, and a Spanish mother, Montserrat Morancho Saumench, from Barcelona.  She is the youngest of six siblings, four from her father’s previous marriage.

Wilfred Reilly a person of color, is amused by Taylor-Joy being lumped in with other PoCs.  Be sure to look at her photo. One thing you know for sure, the PoC category has nothing to do with pigmentation. I always thought it had to do with oppression, but I doubt Taylor-Joy is oppressed.

Tweets from Matthew. Are the koi following the swan to get food? Is the bird dipping the food in the water to moisten it? (I doubt it’s feeding the fish!):

Another coronavirus in a wild bat similar to the one that started the pandemic in Wuhan. People on the thread are still pushing the lab-leak theory, which, though possible, seems improbable to me given the epidemiology of the spread

Look at this beautiful photo!

And a beautiful cup. Is that a leopard?

Finally, a beautiful spider:

50 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

      1. And honestly, I can’t understand how anyone with actual familiarity with any of Pinker’s work and at least his public persona can hate him! Only those who might be envious or are true, mustache-twirling villain types who hate all goodness and decency could seriously dislike Pinker.
        At least it does provide an excellent marker for identifying people who DON’T bother learning about the person they’re vilifying.

  1. First love? Her name was Ann but our parents forced us apart when they moved. I know she was only 2 miles away but, when you’re 6 that’s a bloody long way!

  2. What would poor old George Washington think of his country today. It would be another planet and he would recognize nothing. George would have thought campaigning for office far beneath anyone and party affiliation a disgusting idea. His falling out with Jefferson and Madison was their politics and their backstabbing behavior. He simply wrote them off. His circle of friends today would be one although he probably would have gone to see Hamilton.

      1. Yes Ken, I did not mean he would be digging him up. By the way, the partnership of Washington and Hamilton was probably one of the best in History. Like Burns and Allen or Martin and Lewis.

  3. First love: Judy S in sixth grade her…seventh grade me. My main reason to attend shul on Friday night and Saturday morning, Sunday school, and pretty much all Jewish holiday services. We lived more than a bicycle ride apart but by the end of the year, she had fallen for an older man, a ninth grader I think.

    1. Speaking of Blind Willie Johnson, the collection of covers of his songs “God Don’t Never Change” is terrific.

    1. I have read Tevis’ book, and having watched the series first I think the novel does a better job of portraying the Russian chess players. They are treated as people in the novel and figures in the series.

      I don’t recall if the novel refers to Gaprindashvili as never facing women, but if it does, I would think the Tevis estate should be named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit. Either way, it does seem that someone should have done better research before naming a living person in a piece of fiction and making a truth claim about her life. Or, does the “work of fiction” disclaimer provide a valid defense?

      All that said, I’m not really sure what I think about awards, and especially the Golden Globes, but if they have to be a thing, this one is well-deserved. I thought it was a good series, played will not only by Anya Taylor-Joy, but also by the younger actors who played Harmon as a child.

      1. I have read Tevis’ book …

        Nice to see my old undergraduate creative writing professor — best known for his classic pool-shooting novels The Hustler and The Color of Money, and his sci-fi novel The Man Who Fell to Earth — getting a shout-out here.

    2. I saw this also. I wonder if Gaprindashvili has a case since the book and movie are works of fiction. On the other hand, most of what they tell about the chess world is based on fact and only certain characters are fictional. Does that mean she has a case? If she’s smart she’s going for an out-of-court settlement. If Gaprindashvili had a bigger presence in the book and movie, instead of being mentioned in a few lines, she could have parleyed it into a book deal as there’s surely a market for anything related to “Queen’s Gambit”. Unfortunately, as she’s Georgian, she can’t claim to be the real Beth Harmon.

      1. Apparently Gaprindashvili first asked Netflix for an apology and correction of some sort, and was denied. At least according to some commenters here:

        And I agree with Michael Haubrich above: why wasn’t this caught by the chess consultants working on the series? If the screenwriter(s) wanted to make the Beth Harmon character appear to be a super-trailblazer, then don’t use Nona’s name. This is just a problem that never needed to occur.

        That being said, I don’t see what true damages resulted from what was essentially a throwaway line. And it’s hardly that Nona, one of the greatest female players of all time, was herself the first woman to play against men, either.

        1. I can see why Gaprindashvili is angry. The tv show names her as an actual female chess player, then makes her out to be less of a champion than she really was, and replaces her with a fictional one who does beat men. In effect, the writer used Gaprindashvili to boost his/her story.

          I have found no mention of whether Gaprindashvili is dissed in the 1983 novel. The bit of dialog in question occurs in the last episode of the screen version. I scanned the last chapter of the book and didn’t spot any mention of Gaprindashvili. Unfortunately, I don’t have the electronic version so I can’t do a proper search.

          I wonder if the novel was inspired by Gaprindashvili and its main character given a different name and country in order to allow the author more freedom to invent the character.

  4. Inspiration4 Space Tourists Splashdown tonight scheduled for 7:06 pm eastern daylight time in the Atlantic off Florida coast. Hopefully it will still be light enough to see whole thing. At least it should still be daylight at altitude. Should be broadcast live a couple of places…certainly within a click or so on spacex site at url.

      1. Thanks paul. I think that spacex expects to start transmitting an hour before splashdown and it looks like is just relaying the spacex broadcast. In any case these guys seem much more audience-friendly than my former colleagues with nasa tv.

        1. Yeah, it’s all probably the same feed. The advantage of the YT one is that it will give you a reminder when it goes live. There may also be an Everyday Spaceman feed where Tim Dodd gives commentary.

  5. Re the painting of George Washington: I see that he and all the onlookers are wearing masonic aprons and other regalia. Is that historically accurate or was the painting produced for those in the know, whilst no one actually wore masonic dress at the ceremony?
    I was surprised to find masonry so overt on moving to Canada (bumper stickers!), as in the UK it was a furtive activity and not discussed or membership acknowledged to the world at large.

    1. I don’t know. But back then the fraternal organization was rather large and powerful and not at all underground in the states. From Wikipedia:
      “After the American Revolution, independent U.S. Grand Lodges developed within each state. Some thought was briefly given to organising an overarching “Grand Lodge of the United States,” with George Washington, who was a member of a Virginian lodge, as the first Grand Master, but the idea was short-lived. The various state Grand Lodges did not wish to diminish their own authority by agreeing to such a body.”

  6. Re 3000-year-old skeletons & lactose tolerance, the surprise (if this holds up) is that the date is well after the indo-european replacement. And they claim that the people aren’t some fringe group, but drawn from a wide area without major ethnic divisions visible, hence probably fairly representative of who was living in that part of Europe. While IIRC many of our words for talking about cows come from the indo-europeans, it appears that our genes for digesting their milk do not. Anyone know how likely this is to hold up?

    > “suggesting that the surge of rs4988235 in Central and Northern Europe was unlikely caused by Steppe expansions.”

    1. It is still possible that the allele had spread with the Indo-European expansion. It was juts simply not very common among them. Note I am not saying that it certainly did spread with them, I am just saying these results do not disprove it.

      It was actually suggested years ago based on other archaeogenetic results that rs4988235 reached its modern near fixation frequency in North Europe as late as in high Medieval times.

  7. John McWhorter’s new column in the NYT reports an example of cancellation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at least as egregious as the removal of the Rock of Shame.

    I read McWhorter’s piece yesterday in an email. It’s about the University of Wisconsin’s cancellation of actor Fredric March (a Wisconsin alum) by removing his name from a campus theater, because, as a student in 1920, he belonged to a campus group called the Ku Klux Klan (although it apparently bore no connection to the racist organization of that name, famous for its white sheets and burning crosses).

    March was a stalwart of the old studio system, with probably a hundred movies or more to his credit, but I recall him best for three films generally beloved by liberals — two about the problems faced by traumatized GIs returning from World War II, The Best Years of Our Lives and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, and the roman à clef regarding the Scopes Monkey Trial, Inherit the Wind, in which he played “Matthew Brady,” the character modeled on William Jennings Bryan.

    And, according to McWhorter, March and his wife also supported numerous causes dear to liberal hearts, including being on the side of the angels against HUAC and Joe McCarthy during the Second Red Scare.

    1. Yup, March’s anti-Nazi credentials were pretty good, but that matters little to those determined to cancel him, I daresay. According to Wikipedia:

      Throughout his life, he and his wife were supporters of the Democratic Party.

      In July 1936, March co-founded the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League (HANL), along with the writers Dorothy Parker and Donald Ogden Stewart, the director Fritz Lang, and the composer Oscar Hammerstein.

      In 1938, March was one of many Hollywood personalities who were investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and the hunt for Communists in the film community. In July 1940, he was among a number of individuals who were questioned by a HUAC subcommittee which was led by Representative Martin Dies Jr.

      Wikipedia also has some info about the latest kerfuffle:

  8. In other news France has recalled her Ambassadors to the US and Australia after a new agreement for Australia to buy US subs screwed France out a pre-existing deal with Australia. Macron said Biden was acting like Trump.

  9. My first love was myself, I guess…but like all true loves, one day it withered on the vine. We’ve grown further and further apart over the years, and now we can’t stand each other.

  10. Anyone seen Ellen Pao’s editorial in the NYT about how Elizabeth Holmes is only being prosecuted because of sexism (and, of course, that Ellen Pao was only fired as head of Reddit because of sexism, and not because she was completely incompetent and ended up causing a near-site-wide revolt against her)? It’s peak woke. And it of course serves Ellen Pao’s own victim narrative: that of the extremely wealthy, highly connected woman who was a victim of sexism because she did a terrible job running a company and was canned. The fact that she has an obscene amount of money apparently doesn’t calculate into the victimhood equation. She’s apparently still bitter after all these years…

      1. Oops! Sorry, I missed that. Or maybe I didn’t. No, I’m pretty sure I saw it somewhere else.

        My mind is getting old…

      2. Although I must say that the editorial is ridiculous. The best comparisons she could come up with for Theranos were Uber and WeWork? Seriously? You know what the difference is between those and Theranos? They have a tangible freaking product. Have they done some (even many) things wrong? Oh yes. But they had a product, they didn’t defraud their investors, and they didn’t know from basically the moment they started their businesses that their products would never, ever exist, and then continue to raise money. The only reason to continue raising investment money when you know you have absolutely no chance of ever producing the product you’re promising is personal enrichment. Elizabeth Holmes is far more like Bernie Madoff than any of the people/companies Pao tries to convince the reader are just as guilty as Holmes, but have avoided the same treatment simply because they’re men.

  11. If Anya Taylor-Joy —who was born in Miami, F.L.A.—, is PoC, so is Pope Francis, who was born in Buenos Aires. But how did Pope Francis become PoC if all his ancestors were white (they were from northern Italy)? Are the woke implicitly acknowledging that transracialism is real? What would they say if Bergoglio says that he is brown?

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