Saturday: Hili dialogue

September 25, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Cat Sabbath: Saturday, September 25, 2021. I’m back in Chicago and posting should be back to normal in a day or so. In the meantime, it’s National Quesadilla Day.

It’s also National Research Administrator Day, National Lobster Day, Fish Amnesty Day, International Rabbit Day, Museum Day, National Cooking Day, World Pharmacist Day, and National Wildlife Ecology Day.

Today’s Google Doodle honors the life and work of Christopher “Superman” Reeve (1952-2004).  He broke his neck in a horse-riding accident in 1995 and lived nine years paralyzed from the neck down and breathing with a ventilator, but also became a disability activist and embryonic stem-cell research while continuing his creative work. Click on the screenshot to go to link about his life:

News of the Day:

*The oldest evidence of Homo sapiens in America has been found in New Mexico: human footprints that date between 23,000 and 21,000 years ago. Up to now, the date that we teachers have felt confident in giving our students is arrival across the Bering Strait about 15,000 years ago, so this considerably extends the time humans have trod the Americas.

The dating was precise because there was sedimentary rock both directly above and below the footprints (only sedimentary rock can be dated). They used radiocarbon dating, which is quite accurate but can’t be used in rocks over 50,000 years old. “Based on their sizes, scientists think the tracks were made mainly by teenagers and younger children travelling back and forth – along with the occasional adult.” Scientists speculate further:

The scientists don’t know for sure what the teenagers were doing, but it is possible they were helping the adults with a type of hunting custom seen in later Native American cultures. This was known as the buffalo jump and involved driving animals over a shallow cliff edge.

The animals “all had to be processed in a short period of time,” explained Dr Sally Reynolds, co-author from Bournemouth University. “You’d have to start fires, you’d have to start rendering the fat.” The teenagers could have been helping out by collecting firewood, water or other essentials.

A photo of the prints, which are remarkably well preserved. We clearly didn’t evolve a change in toe number over 23 millennia!

Photo courtesy of Bournemouth University

*I got this email from reader Ken this morning:

The clownish pro-Trump “Cyber Ninjas” — the group that’s been conducting the election audit (aka the “fraudit”) of the Arizona presidential election results since last April — is scheduled to release their results at 4 pm Eastern today.
According to a leaked report, their results show that, of the over 2 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, AZ, in 2020,  Donald Trump actually received 261 votes fewer, and Joe Biden 99 votes more, than was initially reported.

The NYT has copies of the three-volume (!) draft report, and the tally above appears to be correct. Biden won with a slightly wider margin than reported. Maricopa County’s heavy vote for Biden is a major reason why he won the state. (Just remember that on election night I was the first to call Arizona, Georgia, and the overall winner, beating the news!) The official report was supposed to be released to the Arizona Senate yesterday at 4 pm Eastern time, but I can’t find a note of that release.

Maricopa county responded to the draft with a scathing series of tweets:

*I’m almost finished with Andrew Sullivan’s new book Out on a Limb: Selected Writing: 1989-2021, and will give a brief review soon (preview: well worth reading). One of the essays I didn’t like was a long screed on the importance of faith, coupled with the assertion that everyone, including atheists and scientists, has a form of “faith.” I’ve answered that claim before, but it recurs sporadically, as in the new Wall Street Journal. Read, if you wish, “Why atheists need faith” (subtitle “Science is becoming more mystical as we learn more about the universe”) by Michael Guillen, identified as “author of ‘Believing is Seeing: A Physicist Explains How Science Shattered His Atheism and Revealed the Necessity of Faith’”.

One brief quote from the above that testifies why science is spooky so scientists need faith: “Witness supernatural-like concepts such as virtual particles, imaginary time and quantum entanglement.” I will not deal further with this essay, as it’s not even wrong.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 687,247, an increase of 2,062 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,752,605, an increase of about 9,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 25 includes:

  • 1237 – England and Scotland sign the Treaty of York, establishing the location of their common border.
  • 1513 – Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa reaches what would become known as the Pacific Ocean.

Read “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” by Keats. He may have mistaken Cortez for Balboa, but it’s a great poem anyway.

Here’s that one-time newspaper, published in Boston.

Here’s the Senate revisions to the amendments that were passed by the House (p. 1 of 3):

  • 1926 – The international Convention to Suppress the Slave Trade and Slavery is first signed.
  • 1957 – Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, is integrated by the use of United States Army troops.

Here are the “Little Rock Nine” being escorted to class on September 25, along with photo of Elizabeth Eckford as she tried (and failed) to enter class on September 4 (the National Guard blocked the door, but Eisenhower then federalized the state National Guard, who are the escorts in the top photo):

  • 1974 – Dr. Frank Jobe performs first ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery (better known as Tommy John surgery) on baseball player Tommy John.
  • 2018 – Bill Cosby is sentenced to three to ten years in prison for aggravated sexual assault.

As you know, he was set free for violations of his due process, although of course he was guilty. At least he’ll never sell pudding again.

Notables born on this day include:

Morgan, my academic great-grandfather, founded the discipline of Drosophila genetics and won the Nobel Prize for it. Here he is in the “Fly Room” at Columbia University. Professors always worked in coat and tie back then!


  • 1897 – William Faulkner, American novelist and short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1962)
  • 1903 – Mark Rothko, Latvian-American painter and educator (d. 1970)
  • 1930 – Shel Silverstein, American author, poet, illustrator, and songwriter (d. 1999)

Here’s Silverstein’s poem “Zombie Cat”:

  • 1932 – Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist and composer (d. 1982)
  • 1951 – Mark Hamill, American actor, singer, and producer
  • 1952 – bell hooks, American author and activist
  • 1952 – Christopher Reeve, American actor, producer, and activist (d. 2004)
  • 1965 – Scottie Pippen, American basketball player and sportscaster

Pippen of course played for the Chicago Bulls during our great years. Here are ten of his best plays:

Those whose lives were terminated on September 25 include:

  • 1849 – Johann Strauss I, Austrian composer (b. 1804)
  • 1933 – Ring Lardner, American journalist and author (b. 1885)

Lardner’s photo is below. As Wikipedia notes, “His contemporaries Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, and F. Scott Fitzgerald all professed strong admiration for his writing, and author John O’Hara directly attributed his understanding of dialogue to him.”

  • 1960 – Emily Post, American author and educator (b. 1873)

And here’s Post, who looks pretty much like what a writer on etiquette should look like:

  • 1971 – Hugo Black, American captain, jurist, and politician (b. 1886)
  • 2003 – George Plimpton, American writer and literary editor (b. 1927)
  • 2016 – Arnold Palmer, American golfer (b. 1929)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has become a penitente:

A; Why are you lying down on the concrete?
Hili: I’m mortifying myself for my ancestors’ sins.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu leżysz na betonie?
Hili: Umartwiam się za grzechy przodków.

A lovely photo of Baby Kulka, showing her tongue, from Paulina:

From Divy:

From the Emporium of Unique and Wondrous Things:

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

From Titania on RBG:

A tweet from Barry. Do you think the cat is really trying to save the baby?

From Ginger K. If you own exactly two moggies, you can participate in some citizen science sponsored by UC Davis and the University of British Columbia. And you get to watch ten cat videos! Click on the link in the tweet.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, one who survived:

Tweets from Matthew. He stole my duck joke so I retweeted his with my own duck joke:

And somebody responded to Matthew’s tweet:

Chicago’s streets in the loop run straight east-west, so the light shines down them on the equinox:

From BugGuide: “[Cryptocephalus] larvae are casebearers, living in and protected by a case constructed of their fecal matter and sometimes plant debris. The case is shorter than the larva that remains folded inside it.

Imagine scenarios for how this could have evolved (it’s an “extended phenotype” reflecting larval behavior).

46 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. With half the USA not vaccinated, the covid-19 death rate seems to have settled at half the pre-vaccination rate. What a surprise!

  2. Most likely reason the fraud election count in Arizona found no indications of wrong doing or fraud is because there was none and the democrats in the house had sent letters to these people saying they would be called before congress to explain and provide their findings. So they did the only thing a coward could do after 5 months of nonsense and that was to find nothing. Trump continues to control the republican party and calls for more states to recount. The only problem — he does not control the democrats.

    1. Yes. Here in Texas our vile governor Abbott has already kissed Trump’s rear end and
      at his request has ordered the state to spend millions on an election audit in spite of the fact that
      Trump won here.

      1. As with the AZ audit, the TX audit report will undoubtedly come with all sorts of “official recommendations that the state GOP scum can use to justify their anti-voting moves.

      2. The light on the footprints comes from the left below, makes it very difficult to see them as depressions instead of elevations. Apparently our brains are geared to light from above.

      3. I should think that any Republicans who won tight local elections in any of the four targeted Texas counties would be none too happy about these otiose audits.

        Not that anyone else’s interests have ever mattered to a stone-cold narcissist like Donald Trump.

  3. “Do you think the cat is really trying to save the baby?” – no idea, but I haven’t got a better alternative hypothesis!

    1. Not surprising that the Rasmussen poll might say that–they tend to lean right. Ipsos Public Affairs research director Mallory Newall said in 2018 that “Rasmussen Reports uses research techniques that make its polls favor Republicans”. FiveThirtyEight gave the firm an overall rating of “B,” reporting it had a 1.5-point bias in favor of the Republican Party.

      1. Rasmussen generally is an outlier (nevertheless rated as ‘B’ by 538), with generally more favourable numbers for conservatives.
        Nevertheless, it is clear that Biden is under water (negative net approval rating) since Afghanistan.
        [Note I think that is a bit unfair, there are many responsible and Biden is far from the worst. And nobody had forseen the speed of melting away of the Afghan army (except with hindsight)].

    2. In times of economic and/or social crisis, there always exists a segment of the population in any country that will look to a fascist for salvation. This is because democracy as a principle means nothing to them. For them, the only thing that counts is their economic and psychic welfare and that of their family. If they perceive that democracy does not provide them these benefits, they will drop belief in it in a minute.

    3. … if the election were held today.

      But it isn’t being held today, is it? It will be held in 2024, by which time I make Trump even money to have been indicted. Not that that will diminish his standing with his cult, which will see him as a martyr, one more of Donald Trump’s many Christlike qualities.

      In its final tracking poll for the 2020 presidential election, Rasmussen had Trump and Biden in a virtual dead heat, whereas Biden won by 4.4% (a result no doubt due to the massive voting fraud committed by long-dead Hugo Chavez and Dominion Voting Systems). In its final 2018 midterm poll, Rasmussen had congressional Republicans ahead by 1%, whereas they lost by 9%, the largest polling error by any national firm.

      You getting your news these days from the far-right National Pulse?

      1. Of course, the elections of 2022 and 2024 are way off. But, let’s not kid ourselves. At least for the moment, Democrats are in trouble. Per FiveThirtyEight, Biden’s unapproval number is at 49.0%. There are many reasons for this: incessant right-wing misinformation (including anti-vaxxer propaganda), his handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, and probably most importantly, the disarray within the Democratic ranks. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats find unity difficulty. Joe Manchin is now king of the world. So, as much as we dislike it and find it frightening, a fascist takeover is not out of the question in 2022 or 2024. Democrats, the appallingly bad politicians they are, once again find it difficult to counter right-wing propaganda.

        1. A big factor in Republican unity is that they choose loyalty over principle. I don’t know that Democrats should emulate the Republicans.

      2. And a lot of the polls coming out right now were taken right after the Afghanistan exodus. And the media did a horrible job by only covering the negative aspects, and nothing about the hard choice that was made (and that the Trump admin. made worse). From the beginning, the media said he could never airlift the amount of people he airlifted in two weeks, but they never said “Wow, he really did it.” They had a negative narrative from the beginning and decided they had to stick with it. By election time in 2022/2024, no one is going to be deciding anything based on Afghanistan.

        And for DrBrydon, his comment is just schadenfreude.

  4. I am often struck when looking at early 20th century photos like the Little Rock Nine, that almost no one seems overweight. The great national belly swelling must have emerged more recently.

    1. My obesity doctor firmly believes it began to become a serious issue in the early 1980’s when corn syrup was apparently added to almost all processed foods.

      1. It coincides with the food pyramid of the 1980. In it, starches were promoted as the basis, and fats and -to a lesser degree- proteins, were vilified as a source of food.
        Of course, this is not completely independent from the ubiquitous use of corn syrup in highly processed foods and otherwise unpalatable low fat products.
        I also note that at family meals water or milk was drunk, now it is sweet fizzy drinks, generally served from 2l bottles.
        Correlation is not causation, but a good starting point (can’t remember who said that).

        1. I also note that at family meals water or milk was drunk, now it is sweet fizzy drinks, generally served from 2l bottles.

          Is this actually a thing? I don’t know anyone that drinks soda with a meal. I would posit, that rather than HFCS being the villain (and hasn’t it been shown that it isn’t any worse than cane sugar?), it would be households switching from one income to two. Cooking healthy, nutritious meals takes time and effort. With both parents in homes working, processed foods are just easier to work with.

          1. I think the real cause is the arms race between fast food providers. Now, fries smothered in stuff like cheese and pastrami are widely available. This seems a long way from the McDonalds single burger and fries or the simple Taco Bell tacos of yore. Also, fast food, at least for young people, has become the go-to source for many more meals. Now, breakfast burritos are dominating the scene. Then there’s spicy Nashville fried chicken sandwiches.

          2. There are also many “food deserts” in dense urban areas where only processed foods are available. And even where grocery stores are convenient, for a poor person, fresh food is way more expensive than processed or fast food (and the pandemic has sent food prices through the roof). Around here, the Food Banks have fresh produce and meat, but I don’t know if that carries across America.

  5. Regarding the footprint evidence of human habitation in North America, it may be true that in this case only the sediments could be dated, but it is also common practice to date igneous rocks by various methods, mostly involving radioactive decay. Sometimes this is Rb-Sr or U238-Pb206 or K-Ar or many other approaches. I don’t want to leave the impression that igneous rocks can’t come to the dating party. Read more here:

    In practice it is often necessary to bracket ages of sedimentary rocks by dating volcanic ash deposits (igneous rocks) that sometimes occur above and below the sediments, rather than date the sediments themselves. In the case of this study, radiocarbon methods could be used to date the sediments directly, which, in principle, yields more accurate results.

    1. I suspect the radiocarbon datings for the footprints are in error. First, the measurements are much out of line with almost everything that has been previously reported concerning the peopling of America. Second, the new dates, according to a geneticist interviewed, do not jive with the genetics of Native Americans. Third, and surprisingly for a place called “White Sands”, the lake sediment is largely composed of ancient (calcium) carbonate. This gives rise to the possibility that carbon samples were contaminated or otherwise affected and diluted with ancient C02, biasing measures towards an erroneous, more ancient time frame. Time will tell if this new interpretation survives or not.

  6. (Mea Culpa. This was meant as a reply to rick’s comment 7.). Yes. These pics are even later- mid 20th century and you reminded me of a similar comment made by an observer of a streaking activity by a couple of hundred boys at the College of William and Mary just a few years later in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. There was surprise at the generally healthy looks of these naked guys and the general lack of obesity among them.

    1. Hey, at least it looks like your edit function works. I haven’t been able to edit for months it seems. I have noticed it still works sometimes on my iPad…maybe that’s the platform you’re using.

  7. The fossil footprints are amazing. The mention of the possibility that the people that made them were at a buffalo jump reminded me of my visit to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta, Canada ( It was an amazing experience and a dramatic reminder of human dominance over the local wildlife. Even the name of the place is memorable. By the way, the name refers to a teenager’s head that got smashed. Teenagers, then as now, do stupid things.

    And, yes, I do believe the cat was saving the child from falling down the stairs. I think they understand that babies are helpless humans. The ability to assess another creature’s competence and intent gives obvious selective advantages to a cat.

  8. Chicago’s streets in the loop run straight east-west, so the light shines down them on the equinox …

    The same thing happens with the east-west streets of Manhattan, except not during the equinoxes, but around the time of the summer and winter solstices. It’s known as Manhattanhenge.

    1. Damn it counsellor: Manhattanhenge (being an atheist, it is my favorite day) STARTED the whole henge thing. (with the exception of some guys in the UK but that was a long time ago.)

      Now everybody is aboard. What’s next? Preoriahenge where the sun sets between the McDonalds and the Jiffy Lube? Sheesh!


  9. Here are the “Little Rock Nine” being escorted to class on September 25, along with photo of Elizabeth Eckford as she tried (and failed) to enter class on September 4[, 1957.]

    One of the heroes of that incident, along with Elizabeth Eckford and the other eight students, was Grace Lorch, the white woman who rescued Elizabeth Eckford from the mob threatening to lynch her by putting her arm around Ms. Eckford and walking her home.

  10. I love the Jesus card trick!

    That aligns with a point I’ve made to Christians many times:

    We get claims from their old book of an all powerful God producing astonishing miracle after miracle, creating the universe, the world, human beings, flooding the earth, splitting the ocean, raising the dead etc.

    But when we ask Christians for examples of the miraculous from this God today, the “evidence” is no better than parlour tricks – you get Benny Hinn waving his jacket at people, faith healers doing cold readings, etc.

    It’s like “I know this God who could create another moon in the sky or levitate all of us right now!”

    Cool, can we see that?

    “Well…no not really, he doesn’t do that stuff anymore, but let me show you this cool card trick He passed down to us…”

    1. The trick also reminded me of The Life of Bryian, how something really mundane becomes “proof” that you’re the messiah. “OMG! That’s my card, you ARE the messiah!!!”

Leave a Reply