Friday: Hili dialogue

October 1, 2021 • 6:30 am

Note: I’m having the customary reaction to the booster shot I got yesterday, so don’t expect much from me today. Flu-like symptoms, general malaise, headache, etc. In lieu of regular posts, there’s an extra-long Hili today.

Good morning on Friday, October 1, 2021. October has come again, has come again, and I always celebrate the month with a passage from Thomas Wolfe’s novel Of Time and The River, a passage that captures the feel and color of the month in America better than any prose I know. Read on!

Now October has come again which in our land is different from October in the other lands.  The ripe, the golden month has come again, and in Virginia the chinkapins are falling.  Frost sharps the middle music of the seasons, and all things living on the earth turn home again. The country is so big that you cannot say that the country has the same October. In Maine, the frost comes sharp and quick as driven nails, just for a week or so the woods, all of the bright and bitter leaves, flare up; the maples turn a blazing bitter red, and other leaves turn yellow like a living light, falling upon you as you walk the woods, falling about you like small pieces of the sun so that you cannot say that sunlight shakes and flutters on the ground, and where the leaves. . .

October is the richest of the seasons: the fields are cut, the granaries are full, the bins are loaded to the brim with fatness, and from the cider-press the rich brown oozings of the York Imperials run.  The bee bores to the belly of the yellowed grape, the fly gets old and fat and blue, he buzzes loud, crawls slow, creeps heavily to death on sill and ceiling, the sun goes down in blood and pollen across the bronzed and mown fields of old October.

The corn is shocked: it sticks out in hard yellow rows upon dried ears, fit now for great red barns in Pennsylvania, and the big stained teeth of crunching horses. The indolent hooves kick swiftly at the boards, the barn is sweet with hay and leather, wood and apples—this, and the clean dry crunching of the teeth is all:  the sweat, the labor, and the plow is over. The late pears mellow on a sunny shelf, smoked hams hang to the warped barn rafters; the pantry shelves are loaded with 300 jars of fruit. Meanwhile the leaves are turning, turning up in Maine, the chestnut burrs plop thickly to the earth in gusts of wind, and in Virginia the chinkapins are falling.

It’s also National Pumpkin Spice Day (ecch on lattes), Homemade Cookie Day, International Coffee Day, World Vegetarian Day, International Day of Older Persons (older than whom?), National Black Dog Day, National Denim Day, National Diversity Day,  and, last but not least, International Raccoon Appreciation Day. It’s hardly international, though, for the natural range of Procyon lotor is in red below below, and blue areas are where it’s been introduced:

We do love our raccoons! Here’s a lovely video of a mother raccoon teaching its baby to climb a tree:

And it’s all these food months: National Apple Month, National Applejack Month, National Caramel Month, National Cookbook Month, National Cookie Month, National Dessert Month, National Pasta Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month, National Seafood Month, and, on the second Weekend in October—National Kegger Weekend!

Finally, it’s Hispanic Heritage month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), and if you click on the new Google Doodle below, you’ll go to the page that gives scenes of Hispanic culture, centered on Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, a Chicano boxer, activist, and poet (1926-2005; Wikipedia bio here). I believe the lines accompanying each scene are from Gonzales’s poetry.

News of the Day:

Okay, it’s October 1: 253 days since the Bidens moved into the Executive Mansion. So where is the First Cat they promised? Will somebody please ask Jen Psaki that question so she can equivocate and “circle around” to the d*g? Remember—the Bidens vetted a prospective moggy with their one surviving d*g, and they got along.

*This just in: the House delayed a vote on the President’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan as the “progressive” Democrats were going to scupper it without the bigger social safety-net bill passed first. They may re-vote on Friday, but the other and bigger bill is waiting in the wings, and there’s no agreement there, either. This is not good optics for Biden.

*As you probably noticed, the U.S. government didn’t shut down at midnight last night. That’s because Congress handily approved a short-term spending bill that not only funds the government into December, but provides money to help resettle refugee Afghans in America. But the trouble ain’t over: centrist Democratic Senator Joe Manchin III, whose vote is needed to pass Biden’s “social safety net bill”, says his offer is to support a $1.5 trillion bill, less than half of Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion proposal. The Dems are going to try to pass it through the back door of “budget reconciliation,” but I’m doubtful that can be done.

*When I heard this on the NBC News last night, the old Curtis Mayfield song done by the Impressions came to mind.  Lester Holt reported that the U.S. border patrol is expecting 400,000 migrants crossing the Mexico/U.S. border in October alone, doubling the monthly record of July’s 210,000 migrants. (NBC News online says 350.000-400,000 are expected). This is based on the assuming that the Covid restrictions on immigration, Title 42, were lifted yesterday per court order. It’s clear that this amount of influx will overwhelm our ability to process people properly. The border was supposed to be Kamala Harris’s issue, but all we hear from her are. . . crickets.

*A prestigious program in history and leadership at Yale is in turmoil, with its leader, history professor Beverly Gage, resigning after rich donors bridled when an instructor in the course wrote an op-ed calling Trump a “demagogue who threatened the Constitution”—a statement that is is of course correct. The donors, trying to exert influence over the course’s academic content (a no-no in academia), then created an academic advisory board comprising conservatives, including, to Gage’s dismay, Henry Kissinger. Gage bailed. Yale denies it buckled under pressure from donors. If you like academic soap opera, read the link.

*An op-ed in the Washington Post by Kate Cohen has a provocative title, “If they’re going to keep passing all these religious laws, we’re going to need exemptions.” But what she means is that the nonreligious need exemptions from having to obey religiously-based laws like the ridiculous Texas anti-abortion bill. (h/t: Bruce). A quote:

But ever since the Texas abortion ban went into effect, I’ve been rethinking exemptions. Maybe we actually need more of them.

If religious people can opt out of secular laws they find sinful, then maybe the rest of us should be able to opt out of religious laws we find immoral.

That’s right: immoral. We act as if religious people are the only ones who follow a moral compass and the rest of us just wander around like sheep in search of avocado toast. But you don’t need to believe in God or particular religious tenets to have a strong sense of right and wrong.

I am not a believer, but I have beliefs. Strong, sincerely held beliefs. Such as: A seven-week-old embryo — which is a week too old to abort according to the Texas law — is not a person. It’s the blueberry-sized potential for a person.

There is no moral component to aborting a seven-week-old embryo. None. But it is immoral to force people to bear children they do not want to have.

*The NYT reports a recent resurgence of interest in the The Sopranos, the television show that ran from 1999-2007, and which I watched in its entirety this year. A question is posed in the article’s title, “Why is every young person in America watching The Sopranos?” Why a new interest in a show that ended 14 years ago?  And the interest is from the Left (h/t Matthew)

One oddity that can’t be ignored in this “Sopranos” resurgence is that, somewhat atypically for a TV fandom, there is an openly left-wing subcurrent within it — less “I feel so seen by this” lefty than “intricate knowledge of different factions within the Philadelphia D.S.A.” lefty. This is especially true on Twitter, where just about everything takes on a political valence. But it goes beyond that: There’s a Socialist “Sopranos” Memes account on Facebook with 22,000 followers, run by a Twitter user called @gabagoolmarx. There’s a podcast called “Gabagool & Roses,” “the ONLY leftist ‘Sopranos’ podcast,” a presumably ironic claim, because there’s also the much more popular “Pod Yourself a Gun,” which frequently brings in guests from the expanded Brooklyn leftist podcast scene. The queens of downtown leftish podcasting, at “Red Scare,” sell “Sopranos”-inspired merch; the “Irina Thong” ($21) and “Capo Tee” ($30) both have the podcast’s name styled just like the Bada Bing’s logo. The “leftist ‘Sopranos’ fan” is now such a well-known type that it is rounding the corner to being an object of scorn and mockery online.

One interpretation: it’s a metaphor for contemporary America.

The show’s depiction of contemporary America as relentlessly banal and hollow is plainly at the core of the current interest in the show, which coincides with an era of crisis across just about every major institution in American life. “The Sopranos” has a persistent focus on the spiritual and moral vacuum at the center of this country, and is oddly prescient about its coming troubles: the opioid epidemic, the crisis of meritocracy, teenage depression and suicide, fights over the meaning of American history. Even the flight of the ducks who had taken up residence in Tony’s swimming pool — not to mention all the lingering shots on the swaying flora of North Jersey — reads differently now, in an era of unprecedented environmental degradation and ruin.

This sense of decline is present from the show’s very beginnings. .  .

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 697988, an increase of 1,927 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,799,731, an increase of about 10,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on October 1 includes:

  • 331 BC – Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia in the Battle of Gaugamela.
  • 1861 – Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management is published, going on to sell 60,000 copies in its first year and remaining in print until the present day.

A first edition and first printing of this indispensable book will run you only $4,200:

Sunset, Yosemite by the late Galen Rowell:

Boston beat Pittsburgh to win the best-of-nine series 5-3. Here’s the crowd at Boston’s Huntington Avenue Grounds then:

  • 1908 – Ford Model T automobiles are offered for sale at a price of US$825.
  • 1936 – Spanish Civil WarFrancisco Franco is named head of the Nationalist government of Spain.

Here’s Franco with H*tl*r in 1940. And yes, Franco’s still dead:

  • 1938 – Germany annexes the Sudetenland.
  • 1946 – Nazi leaders are sentenced at the Nuremberg trials.

Here’s a contemporary newsreel of the verdicts; it’s quite interesting to watch:

  • 1949 – The People’s Republic of China is established.
  • 1957 – First appearance of In God we trust on U.S. paper currency.

This is unconstitutional, but it’ll never go away. A $20 bill:

  • 1961 – The United States Defense Intelligence Agency is formed, becoming the country’s first centralized military intelligence organization.
  • 1964 – The Free Speech Movement is launched on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley.

Here’s part of Mario Savio’s famous speech on the Sproull Hall steps delivered on December 2, 1964:

  • 1971 – The first practical CT scanner is used to diagnose a patient.
  • 1982 – Sony and Phillips launch the compact disc in Japan. On the same day, Sony released the model CDP-101 compact disc player, the first player of its kind.
  • 2017 – An independence referendum, declared illegal by the Constitutional Court of Spain, takes place in Catalonia.

The vote was 92% “yes,” but of course Catalonia is still part of Spain.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1903 – Vladimir Horowitz, Russian-born American pianist and composer (d. 1989)
  • 1910 – Bonnie Parker, American criminal (d. 1934)

Bonnie posing as a “cigar-smoking gun moll”:

  • 1924 – Jimmy Carter, American naval lieutenant, politician, 39th President of the United States, and Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1935 – Julie Andrews, English actress and singer

Those who became stiffs on October 1 include:

  • 1972 – Louis Leakey, Kenyan-English archaeologist and paleontologist (b. 1903)
  • 1985 – E. B. White, American essayist and journalist (b. 1899)
  • 2004 – Richard Avedon, American photographer (b. 1923)

Avedon was a superb portrait and fashion photographer. Here’s his famous photo of Marella Agnelli (1953):


  • 2013 – Tom Clancy, American author (b. 1947). 

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili mourns the onset of autumn. Look at that sad face!

Hili: It’s starting again.
A: What?
Hili: Leaves are falling from the trees again.
In Polish:
Hili: Znowu się zaczyna.
Ja: Co się zaczyna?
Hili: Znowu liście spadają z drzew.

From Peter:

DaliCats from Facebook via Merilee:

From Not Another Science Cat Page.  You can find everything on the Internet! Call me mushy.


From Simon. I believe, from Sagan’s appearance, that this is the last interview he gave before he died:

Yes, I think I was right, though it may just have been his last interview with Charlie  I found the full interview and put it below: it’s 20 minutes long.  It aired on May 27, 1996. Sagan died on December 20.  It’s well worth listening to this. Eloquent to the end. At 7:15, he disses religion fairly strongly, approving of its poetry but asserting that it doesn’t provide truth. At 17:26 he discusses his myelodysplasia, thinking he’s been cured. He wasn’t.

From Barry, who says, “I can’t believe it worked, either.” But I hope they let the gator go in a more appropriate place.

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. Wild boar in Rome! Too bad things like this will go away after the pandemic.

Matthew says, “Watch to the end.”

Dog guides kitten get home and helps it up the doorstep. You can translate it if you wish, but there’s no need. Sound up.

A lovely photo that makes one ponder the complexities of development. A single fertilized egg cell is programmed to create an octopus.

38 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. That Wolfe hit the spot. Such a great idea as an annual event – to read it – I’d have never known about this excerpt if not for this website.

  2. Jerry,
    Copy edit mistake: you’ve got a Hili comment about her cuteness stuck in the last sentence on Carl Sagan’s death.

  3. We were given a copy of Mrs Beeton as a wedding present, and I still keep it in the kitchen and use it over forty years later. Just about anything you could want to know how to make is in there, though generally not in low fat or low calorie forms. My 1970’s edition lacks the earlier chapters on household management, and while I have never needed to know anything about hiring and firing scullery maids and under-butlers, I’m sure it would make for an interesting read!
    And with respect to Carl Sagan’s bone marrow transplant, we know now he would have been better off with an unrelated (but matched) donor; it is the sum of all the mismatches that allows the graft to attack the “foreign” native marrow and kill off that last remaining cell. That’s the theory and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    1. Kathryn Hughes’ excellent 2005 biography of Isabella Beeton, The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton is highly recommended. Contrary to the common misperception of her as a middle-aged matronly type, Isabella was only 28 when she died.

  4. Raccoons in Germany and Japan…ok, maybe due to large US military presence? for some reason

    But the Caucasus??

    1. I doubt US soldiers go around carrying racoons in their luggage.

      I guess the Caucasus population originated from escapes from fur farms. I think in Western Europe there were also some illegal introductions, besides the fur farms.

    2. Possibly descended from escaped pets. That is the case in Japan at least. There was a cartoon there many decades ago about a boy and his pet raccoon, and that sparked a fad for having them as pets.

      1. And I saw a doc maybe 10 years of the raccoon population getting so large in Japan (and, iirc, Germany) that extreme measures had to be taken to control them. I think that they were chewing off the roofs of some traditional woodland huts.)

    3. I have a general life rule – don’t mess with the racoons. Especially the sub-yurt Oregon State Parks populations. Once, while staying in said yurt, and brazen racoon came onto the porch (where there was a picnic table with our food supplies), while we were sitting there and stole and entire loaf of bread. It scampered below the neighboring yurt, and I, foolishly decided to attempt to retrieve it. As I got down on my hands and knees to peer beneath the yurt, and V shaped formation of five racoons below advanced on me. Behind them, a pile of their treasure. Teeth and claws bared, I decided it would be prudent to retreat and forfeit the loaf.

      On another camping trip to an Oregon State Park (they really have an amazing parks system, would recommend), I awoke in the night to something attempting to pilfer our supplies. Armed with the hatchet, I emerged from my tent into the drizzly light. My headlamp primed, I scanned the site. There standing on hind legs and clutching a can of La Croix horizontally in its little hands, the racoon looked me squarely in the eye and bit down on the can. Clear, bubbling beverage spouted forth into his mouth (I don’t know if it was a him, but let’s roll with it). Seemingly surprised, he coughed a bit and chucked the can towards me before running off. I believe he thought it would be soda and got a nasty shock instead.

  5. Received my third Pfizer dose 29 September, and as in both prior events noticed absolutely no physical sequelae whatsoever. On the other hand, I remain subject to the medical-professional-sneaking-up-with-needle paranoia that always afflicts me for several days after any vaccination.
    Most of my acquaintances report “flu-like” symptoms similar to those mentioned by PCC. Perhaps something is wrong with me?

    1. Nope. More or less the same for me (I haven’t had the booster, but I actually had Covid a few months prior to my first shot, so I had three exposures), other than a bit of very mild soreness in my deltoid for about a day. It was frankly a joke compared to a tetanus booster I got years ago in the Navy…couldn’t even move that arm for a day, and it was so sore that when I banged it (accidentally) on one of the secured, metal tables in the mess deck, I couldn’t even feel it. Now that was a shot!

  6. “Wild boar in Rome! Too bad things like this will go away after the pandemic.” – I’ve a feeling that the boar have been around in Rome since before the pandemic started; rubbish collection has been abysmal for years and various animal populations have been attracted by the piles of discarded food. The latest boar sighting has become a topic in the city’s upcoming mayoral election (being held this coming Sunday and Monday) and the incumbent’s re-election is at risk.

  7. 2013 – Tom Clancy, American author (b. 1947). Doesn’t she look mournful?

    Perhaps the question belongs elsewhere? 🙂 Maybe it refers to the cat mourning the ‘onset of autumn’?

  8. … it’s Hispanic Heritage month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), and if you click on the new Google Doodle below, you’ll go to the page that gives scenes of Hispanic culture, centered on Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, a Chicano boxer, activist, and poet …

    Corky Gonzales’s pending trial in Los Angeles on trumped-up firearms charges, along with the investigation into the death of Mexican-American journalist Ruben Saiazar from a teargas shell fired into his head by an LA county sheriff’s deputy, were among the events Hunter Thompson wrote about in his 1971 saga concerning the burgeoning Chicano movement, Strange Rumblings in Aztlan. This was the longform Rolling Stone article that introduced the broader world to Gonzales’s then-lawyer, one Oscar Zeta Acosta, the so-called “Brown Bull,” or, as Thompson described him in the piece, “one of God’s own prototypes — a high-powered mutant of some kind who was
    never even considered for mass production … too weird to live and too rare to die.”

    Acosta, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances a few years later in Mexico, was the inspiration for “Dr. Gonzo,” the 300-pound Samoan attorney who serves as the narrator’s sidekick during the road trip chronicled in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

  9. I think at this point we must conclude that what is happening on the southern border is exactly what the administration wants to happen.

  10. According to this article in the Smithsonian Magazine, raccoons were introduced into Japan after an American children’s book featuring a raccoon named Rascal was turned into a TV cartoon series in Japan. Kids then wanted their own pet raccoon …

    Japan has its own native raccoon-like canid known as a raccoon dog or tanuki. These were celebrated in the Studio Ghibli anime movie “Pom Poko”, which deserves to be as well known as “Spirited Away” or “My Neighbour Totoro”.

    1. Technically, a “prequel,” I think. I also think it opens wide today (or, at least, at the local cinema; I’ll be seeing it this weekend).

    1. My daughter enlightened me about the Florida Man Birthday Challenge – just type “Florida Man” and the day and month of your birthday into a search engine and see what crazy news headlines pop up. I got “Florida man accused of masturbating in Walmart toy section”.

  11. In its way, The Sopranos even anticipated “wokeness,” avant la lettre, particularly as regards Meadow’s stint as a student at Columbia — from her relationship with a multiracial boyfriend, to Carmela’s taking exception to Melville’s Billy Budd being interpreted as a gay text, to Meadow (then contemplating a career in the law) objecting to the state’s intrusions upon the privacy interests of citizens. (Asked Tony: “New Jersey?” 🙂 )

  12. …the chestnut burrs plop thickly to the earth in gusts of wind,

    And if the efforts of the American Chestnut Foundation succeed, that will once more be part of fall in the Appalachians. The chinquapins may follow suit as well.

    Otherwise, Bonnie Parker has her foot on the bumper of a 1932 Ford V8.

  13. Re Cohen’s piece in the WaPo, I have a radical suggestion: If lawmakers propose laws based on religious prescriptions or proscriptions, they must first prove that the religion is true.

  14. I had no reaction to my second Moderna. But re. the difference, Moderna v. Pfizer, mentioned in passing in a recent episode of TWiV, which was the first time I had heard this, it is that Moderna has 3x the amount of RNA.

    But as to the detailed composition of the two mRNA vaccines, I just learned here, in this excellent summary that the key is replacement of all the uracils with pseudouracil! This affords the exact same base-pairing, but pseudoU somehow keeps the RNA from being recognized as foreign and triggering an inflammatory response that would remove it. It also somehow produces something like a 100x increase in translational efficiency.

    Way, way cool, and how lucky are we that SARS-CoV-2 came along a few yrs after these facets had been discovered. Otherwise, we’d still “just” have inactivated virus, adenovirus vector, and protein pieces as vaccine strategies. These discoveries weren’t in place when the first SARS hit, nor MERS.

  15. Mario Savio was a cat willing to put his ass on the line to cover the checks he wrote with his mouth. The summer before he gave his touchstone “bodies on the gears” speech at Sproul Hall during the Fall 1964 semester, at the height of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, he spent in Mississippi registering black voters and teaching at an impoverished all-black school.

    Took a bad beatdown from a some racist sons-a-bitches that summer for his efforts.

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