Sunday: Hili dialogue

October 3, 2021 • 6:30 am

Today is the Sabbath for goyische kats (גוייישע קאַץ): it’s Sunday, October 3, 2021: National Soft Taco Day (and it’s not even Tuesday).

It’s also National Caramel Custard Day, Global Smoothie Day, National Virus Appreciation Day, National Boyfriend Day, and Country Bed and Breakfast Day.

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) honors  the 105th birthday of María de los Ángeles Alvariño González (October 3, 1916 – May 29, 2005), identified by Wikipedia as:

. . . a Spanish fishery research biologist and oceanographer globally recognized as an authority in plankton biology. She was the first woman ever appointed as scientist aboard any British or Spanish exploration ships. She discovered 22 new species of marine animals and published over a hundred scientific books, chapters and articles.

News of the Day:

*One of the biggest impediments to migrants heading to the U.S. from South America is crossing the Darien Gap, a roadless stretch of jungle and watershed about 106 km long, spanning parts of Colombia and Panama. The NYT reports on the harrowing journey that would-be immigrants, mostly Haitians, must take to cross that gap. The story is unbelievably depressing, and even if they make it, the migrants have to get through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and the length of Mexico before they get to the U.S. border.

The photos of the trek, taken by Federica Rios, are amazing. Here’s one:

*Have you heard of Drew Weissman? If you haven’t, read this Washington Post profile of the man who, in concert with his colleague Katalin Karikó, harnessed the power of messenger RNA to make vaccines, including the one used to combat Covid-19. It took years of laboring in obscurity and in the face of repeated failure, but they tweaked the molecule in a way that made it resistant to the body’s immune defenses, and voilà—a fantastic accomplishment.  They both won the Lasker Award, which often precedes a Nobel Prize, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Karikó were invited to Stockholm. And there’s more in store:

Weissman wants to use messenger RNA vaccines to defeat influenza, stop the next coronavirus pandemic, prevent herpesend HIV. He sees even broader opportunities on the horizon: a cure for sickle cell anemia that could be scaled up and deployed in Africa, unlike current treatments, and pave the way for other therapies.

Speaking of the pandemic raises the perennial question, “Do masks work?” A new study of Arizona K-12 schools released Friday by the CDC says “definitely—at least for children in secondary schools.” The upshot:

One study looked at data from schools in Arizona’s Maricopa and Pima Counties after they resumed in-person learning in late July for the 2021-22 academic year. The two counties account for roughly 75% of the state’s population.

The CDC found that the K-12 schools that did not have mask requirements at the beginning of the school year were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID outbreaks than schools that required all people, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask indoors from the first day of school.

Of the 999 schools analyzed in the study, 21% had an early mask requirement, 30.9% enacted a mask requirement between nine and 17 days after the school year began, and 48% had no mask requirement. Of the 191 COVID outbreaks that occurred in those schools from July 15 to August 31, 113 were in schools that did not enforce masks at all. Schools with early mask requirements had the lowest number of outbreaks.

The CDC also looked at 520 counties throughout the US, with 198 having school mask mandates and 322 which didn’t. The per capita rate of infection during the first week was twice as high in the schools without mandates than in those having them.

*The Supreme Court’s new term starts tomorrow, and it’s gonna be a big one. The Associated Press highlights the most important cases on the docket, including issues of abortion (a Mississippi anti-abortion law that could ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade), gun rights (NY State’s restrictive gun laws), and the legality of taxpayers’ funding of religious schools (a case in Maine involving tuition programs for religious schools in towns without public schools). I hold out no hope for a liberal ruling in any of these cases.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 701,047, an increase of 1,882 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,812,836, an increase of about 5,700 over yesterday’s total.

Matthew sent a tweet that gives some perspective on what 700,000 deaths mean:

And from Simon:

Stuff that happened on October 3 includes:

  • 42 BC – Triumvirs Mark Antony and Octavian fight a decisive battle with Caesar’s assassins Brutus and Cassius.
  • 1789 – George Washington proclaims a Thanksgiving Day for that year.
  • 1863 – The last Thursday in November is declared as Thanksgiving Day by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.
  • 1919 – Cincinnati Reds pitcher Adolfo Luque becomes the first Latin player to appear in a World Series.

He was the first Latino pitcher to win a Series game, and the first to lead the league in shutouts.  Here’s “Dolf” (his nickname):

  • 1942 – A German V-2 rocket reaches a record 85 km (46 nm) in altitude.
  • 1952 – The United Kingdom successfully tests a nuclear weapon to become the world’s third nuclear power.

Here’s a newsreel of the UK’s first test, on an island off Australia:

The book, of course, was by Allen Ginsburg. A first edition, first printing can run between $3,500 and $45,000 depending on who signed it:

  • 1962 – Project Mercury: Wally Schirra in Sigma 7 launched from Cape Canaveral for a six-orbit flight.
  • 1981 – The hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland ends after seven months and ten deaths.

Here’s a mural in Belfast of the ten dead hunger strikers. Bobby Sands (lower left), the first to die, is the most famous.

  • 1990 – The German Democratic Republic is abolished and becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • 1995 – The O. J. Simpson murder case ends with a verdict of not guilty.

Here’s the verdict. If you were alive and sentient then, you saw this live:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1858 – Eleonora Duse, Italian-American actress (d. 1924)
  • 1867 – Pierre Bonnard, French painter (d. 1947)
  • 1900 – Thomas Wolfe, American novelist (d. 1938)

Wolfe is one of my literary heroes even though all my English-lit friends find his writing overdone and sophomoric (I have to agree with a bit of that). But he wrote about the nature of America better than any of his peers. Here’s Wolfe with his mother Julia (who figures largely in his books) on the porch of his childhood home (also a boardinghouse) in Asheville, North Carolina:

  • 1916 – James Herriot, English veterinarian and author (d. 1995)
  • 1925 – Gore Vidal, American novelist, screenwriter, and critic (d. 2012)
  • 1941 – Chubby Checker, American singer-songwriter
  • 1949 – Lindsey Buckingham, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer

Below is a great performance: Buckingham soloing on “Big Love” from the video of Fleetwood Mac’s superb “The Dance” live album. I don’t know how someone can sing so well at the same time he plays such intricate guitar:

  • 1954 – Al Sharpton, American minister, talk show host, and political activist
  • 1969 – Gwen Stefani, American singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer

Those who flatlined on October 3 include:

  • 1226 – Francis of Assisi, Italian friar and saint (b. 1181 or 1182)
  • 1656 – Myles Standish, English captain (b. 1584)
  • 1867 – Elias Howe, American engineer, invented the sewing machine (b. 1819)
  • 1967 – Woody Guthrie, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1912)

Guthrie with his guitar and its famous sticker, later modified by Pete Seeger for his own banjo:

  • 2004 – Janet Leigh, American actress (b. 1927)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili refuses to be used as a dustmop:

Hili: Your keyboard is dirty.
A: May I use your tail?
Hili: Don’t even think about it.
In Polish:
Hili: Twoja klawiatura jest brudna.
Ja: A mogę użyć twojego ogona?
Hili: Nawet o tym nie myśl.

From Bruce, who says this seems directed at Diana MacPherson:

From Irena:

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

From Titania. For more on Laurel Hubbard, see here.

From Simon, a tweet that is an insult to all molecular geneticists (even I did that kind of genetics for a while):

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. The left picture may be real but the right is definitely a fake, as I’ve seen it with various animals. But it’s funny anyway.

Speaking of giant birds, have a gander at this one. (And don’t forget the coot in the corner!)

A sweet video from The Dodo of a rescued starving piglet who befriends a cat:

This is even worse than hunting for your glasses while you’re wearing them (which I’ve done). Excerpt from the Independent‘s story:

Officials said Mr Mutlu, 50, wandered into a forest and could not be found by his friends, Turkish media outlet Daily Sabah reported.

A search party was dispatched to the area and Mr Mutlu ended up meeting them in the woods, according to the report.

Officials reportedly had no idea that Mr Mutlu was the man they had been looking for and he joined the search party for several hours before “finding himself”.

Reports say Mr Mutlu became aware that he was the one the search party was looking for after they began shouting his name.

My first duck-feeding painting! And it’s by Mary Cassatt!


29 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. So guns are designed to insert metal cylinders into the skin. Syringes are also devices designed to insert metal cylinders into the skin.

    I’m just brainstorming here… just puzzling this one out….

      1. Referring to Becker & Fagen’s Naked Lunch namesake, obvs, though its author, Old Bull Lee, certainly knew a thing or two about syringes, in the days before disposables.

    1. Thank you for this link to another amazing story from WW2 in Europe. I am halfway through Matthew’s “The Resistance”and amazed at the randomness of escape from Nazi and collaborator terror. In hebrew school in the 1950’s, I grew up with the stories of the concentration camps(at that time just ten or so years in the rear view mirror), but little was said about the good guys who tried to aid people to keep them off the trains and out of the camps.

  2. The enormously cool thing that Weismann and Karikó discovered and capitalized on for the vaccines is the protective effect of certain modified nucleoside bases in mRNA vs. triggering inflammatory responses. The presence of pseudouracil in place of uracil somehow keeps the body from recognizing the RNA as foreign, has no effect on base-pairing (and so you get exactly the same protein from translation of the message), AND translation is on the order of 100x faster than from translating RNA containing the standard four bases. (What’s responsible for that last part? My guess is that H-bonding between pseudo-U and the tRNAs is weaker, so there’s a faster off-rate during translation )

    So, it appears that the mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contains pseudouracil. That’s far more the key to their success than encapsulation in lipid nanoparticles.

    1. Pseudouracil is key for the mRNA to survive long enough to make it to a cell. It still needs to be encapsulated in nanoparticles to penetrate the cell membrane and get inside, as I understand it.

  3. Of those 400,000 dead since the vaccine became available, I imagine a large percentage are Trump Republicans. Probably another reason why the GOP needs to suppress the vote.

      1. Confusingly, the tweets in today’s Hili both cited the 400k figure (the first one was from January, and the second examined the first 400k deaths in light of the new number).

        1. D’oh! I meant to add that Mark correctly referred to, “those 400,000 dead since the vaccine became available”.

  4. I still have trouble picking up whether someone is talking about Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938) or Tom Wolfe (1930-2018). I believe both have been called Thomas and Tom in various contexts, plus I’m getting slower…

  5. Immortal words from late, great poet Ginsberg:

    For the world is a mountain
    of shit : if it’s going to
    be moved at all, it’s got
    to be taken by handfuls.

    I have used this verse many times, for myself and others, to lighten the mood on a bad day. Always get a smile. 😊

  6. The Supreme Court’s new term starts tomorrow, and it’s gonna be a big one..I hold out no hope for a liberal ruling in any of these cases.

    Given Sotomayor’s (unprecedented?) announcement the other day, I expect Roberts will not be able to mediate the other five right-leaning justices, and there’s going to be some crazy right rulings.

  7. Sometimes I look up the towns the victims (from your Holocaust series) came from on google maps and do a “street walk” around them.
    They’re mostly still there today and look like pleasant, quiet, banal little places. Very eerie.

  8. Interesting – that Cassatt does not resemble what I (vaguely!) recalled for her, but in the one above her technique is like Carl Larsson’s, which is characterized by outlining the figures – a Japanese technique. Larsson was also active in 1895, so perhaps she was experimenting with the technique that he had embraced?

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