Saturday: Hili dialogue

October 9, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Caturday, October 9, 2021: National Moldy Cheese Day (by this they mean cheeses like Roquefort and Stilton). I used to hate them but now like some of them.

It’s also Submarine-Hoagie-Hero-Grinder Day (all synonyms for large sandwiches), Astronomy Day, International Beer and Pizza Day, International African Penguin Awareness Day, National Chess Day, National Sneakers Day, Nautilus Night, Leif Erikson Day in the U.S., Iceland and Norway, National Nanotechnology Day, and World Post Day (see 1874 below).

Here’s a lovely baby Nautilus from the Toba Aquarium in Japan:

News of the Day:

*If this don’t beat all! The House committee investigating the Trumpian insurrection of January 6 has requested documents from the National Archives dealing with Trump’s and the White House’s communications around that time. Trump has tried to block the Archives from releasing the material (why, I wonder?), and–get this–is using as a reason “executive privilege.” Biden has refused to use his own executive privilege to accede to Trump’s request, and the White House counsel noted pointedly that former Presidents do not HAVE “executive privilege.”

*Ezra Klein has an absorbing editorial in the NYT: “David Shor is telling the Democrats what they don’t want to hear.” Shor, a political analyst, is pessimistic about the future of our party. One excerpt:

But here’s the truly frightening thought for frustrated Democrats: This might be the high-water mark of power they’ll have for the next decade.

Democrats are on the precipice of an era without any hope of a governing majority. The coming year, while they still control the House, the Senate and the White House, is their last, best chance to alter course.

Read the column to see why, and what Shor recommends Democrats do if they don’t want to lose power in Congress. He may, of course, be wrong about all of this.

*Tony Bennett just entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest singer to release an album of new material. When the album “Love for Sale” (a selection of Cole Porter tunes with Lady Gaga) was released October 1, Bennett was 95 years and 60 days old. Sadly, the great crooner is afflicted with Alzheimer’s, but, as the 60 Minutes segment below shows (do watch it!), he becomes like his old self when the music starts playing, and was able to do a final show at Radio City Music Hall. At 13:20, when Lady Gaga joins him on stage, he says her name for the first time in a long time. Such a sweet moment, as she recounts later.

A blackface incident has occurred at the University of Michigan, involving, Bright Sheng, Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Composition and a well known composer and pianist. But he happened to show the wrong film. As the student paper, the Michigan Daily, reports:

On Sept. 10, Music, Theatre & Dance freshman Olivia Cook attended her first composition seminar with Sheng. This semester, the course focused on analyzing Shakespeare’s works, and the class began with a screening of the 1965 version of “Othello.” Cook told The Daily she quickly realized something seemed strange, and upon further inspection, noticed the onscreen actor Laurence Olivier was in blackface.

“I was stunned,” Cook said. “In such a school that preaches diversity and making sure that they understand the history of POC (people of color) in America, I was shocked that (Sheng) would show something like this in something that’s supposed to be a safe space.”

The predictable outcry occurred, with claims that the film made the students feel unsafe. This resulted in Sheng’s removal as a teacher of undergraduates. He apologized to the faculty and students, but his apology was considered insufficient. Sheng says that he didn’t realize the cultural offense conveyed by blackface.  As the Dean of Sheng’s division revealed in an email, “the incident had been reported to the Office of Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX.”  Sheng will be lucky if he’s not fired for showing that movie.

*IFL answers the long-standing question, “Why do marathon runners poop themselves  so often?” Well, read on if you want the answer. Trigger warning: involuntary defecation:

First off, runner’s diarrhea, as it is known, is a real thing. A study published in the National Library of Medicine in 1992 asked 109 long-distance athletes about their bowel movements around their runs. Sixty-two percent reported that they had stopped for a bowel movement during training, 43 percent said that they had “nervous” diarrhea before a race, 51 percent said that they had experienced diarrhea after a race, and 12 percent reported full-on fecal incontinence while running.

Often these episodes occurred alongside abdominal pain and rectal bleeding. The study states that “any form of ‘runners’ diarrhea was unrelated to age, previous intestinal infection or food poisoning, food allergies, or dietary fiber.” A separate study found that up to 90 percent of participants in endurance races experience some sort of gastrointestinal symptom.

As for the cause, it’s a mixture of factors.

“During physical exercise, the increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system … redistributes blood flow from the splanchnic organs to the working muscles,” one review suggests. “A severely reduced [blood flow to the abdominal gastrointestinal organs] may frequently cause GI [gastrointestinal] ischaemia [a condition, which causes the symptoms of diarrhea and abdominal pain, among others]”.

On top of that, runners may find it difficult to control their anal sphincters while they work so hard with their other muscles.

“Someone in the middle of a strenuous physical activity, it’s really hard to voluntarily keep the muscle closed while engaging in other activities with other muscles in the legs and pelvis,” colon and rectal surgeon with Novant Health in Charlotte, North Carolina Michael Dobson told Mental Floss. “You can’t control the muscle when using muscle.”

There are photos and links to others, but you don’t want to see them.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 712,822, an increase of 1,770 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,857,914, an increase of about 6,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on October 9 includes:

The clock, originally built in 1410 (and repaired several times) is the oldest clock of any type that still operating. Here’s a video of the hourly show, when the saints come marching it. (I’ve seen it!)

  • 1604 – Kepler’s Supernova is the most recent supernova to be observed within the Milky Way. There’s a picture below; Wikipedia notes that

“Visible to the naked eye, Kepler’s Star was brighter at its peak than any other star in the night sky, with an apparent magnitude of −2.5. It was visible during the day for over three weeks. Records of its sighting exist in European, Chinese, Korean, and Arabic sources.”

(From Wikipedia): A false-color composite (CXO/HST/Spitzer Space Telescope) image of the supernova remnant nebula from SN 1604
  • 1701 – The Collegiate School of Connecticut (later renamed Yale University) is chartered in Old Saybrook.
  • 1874 – The Universal Postal Union is created by the Treaty of Bern.
  • 1919 – The Cincinnati Reds win the World Series, resulting in the Black Sox Scandal.
  • 1967 – A day after his capture, Ernesto “Che” Guevara is executed for attempting to incite a revolution in Bolivia.

You will have seen the picture of Guevara below; it’s been reproduced a gazillion times, and I have it on two tee-shirts. Taken by Alberto Korda, it’s called “Guerrillero Heroico“, and was taken in Havana on March 5, 1960 at a memorial service for victim of an explosion. It’s the classic iconic portrait of a revolutionary:

I find Che, like Eva Perón, I find a fascinating and ambiguous figure, a mixture of fervor, goodness, and badness. Except Che’s badness was much worse than Evita’s.

  • 1969 – In Chicago, the National Guard is called in as demonstrations continue over the trial of the “Chicago Eight“.

Bobby Seale was originally one of the “Chicago Eight,” but when his case was dismissed on a mistrial (they were accused of crossing state lines to incite a riot), it became the Chicago Seven: Abbie HoffmanJerry RubinDavid DellingerTom HaydenRennie DavisJohn Froines, and Lee Weiner.

  • 2006 – North Korea conducts its first nuclear test.
  • 2012 – Pakistani Taliban attempt to assassinate outspoken schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai.

Shot at 15 for promoting the education of girls, Malala later won the Nobel Peace Prize. The details from Wikipedia:

On 9 October 2012, a Taliban gunman shot Yousafzai as she rode home on a bus after taking an exam in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Yousafzai was 15 years old at the time. According to reports, a masked gunman shouted: “Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all.” Upon being identified, Yousafzai was shot with one bullet, which travelled 18 inches (46 cm) from the side of her left eye, through her neck and landed in her shoulder.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1835 – Camille Saint-Saëns, French composer and conductor (d. 1921)
  • 1852 – Hermann Emil Fischer, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1919)
  • 1859 – Alfred Dreyfus, French colonel (d. 1935)

Here’s a stereoscopic photo of Dreyfus on Devil’s Island in his stone hut, taken in 1898.  He spent four years and two months in this godforsaken place before he was completely exonerated of the charges of treason.

Sister Aimee—what a time that was! Here’s a short bit of stock footage of the evangelist/huckster:

Killed by Communists, young Nazi Wessel became the first National Socialist martyr and the inspiration for the song that became the official anthem of the Nazi Party, the “Horst Wessel Song”, which you can hear here.

  • 1922 – Philip “Fyvush” Finkel, American actor (d. 2016)
  • 1940 – John Lennon, English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 1980)

Here’s the “bed in” in Montreal (there was another in Amsterdam) with John, Yoko, and, I think, Julian Lennon:

  • 1948 – Jackson Browne, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1975 – Sean Lennon, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor

Sean was born on his father’s birthday.

Those who took The Big Nap on October 9 include:

Here’s Jack Daniel. I can’t remember how much I drank of that stuff when I was younger, but I remember calling up the company in Lynchburg, Tennessee when I was drunk on the stuff and asking to speak to Lem Motlow, identified on the label (second photo) as the “proprietor”. Of course I didn’t get him—he died in 1947

Jack Daniel

  • 1967 – Che Guevara, Argentinian-Cuban physician, politician and guerrilla leader (b. 1928) [see above]

Che again, probably smoking a Cohiba Lancero. Both he and Fidel eventually gave up smoking cigars, thinking it a bad example:

  • 1987 – Clare Boothe Luce, American author, playwright, and diplomat, United States Ambassador to Italy (b. 1903)
  • 2004 – Jacques Derrida, Algerian-French philosopher and academic (b. 1930)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s acting like the alpha cat she is:

Szaron: You are drinking water from my and Kulka’s bowl.
Hili: You forget that I’m the indigenous cat here.
In Polish:
Szaron: Pijesz wodę z miski mojej i Kulki.
Hili: Zapominasz o tym, że ja tu jestem rdzennym kotem.

From Barry. Yes, this is a real quote (#373 here):

From The Emporium of Unique and Wondrous Things:

From Jesus of the Day: a Senior Winnebago:


From Masih, another Iranian jailed for improper or missing hijab. Click to start video, but it’s looped, so stop it after one view.

A tweet from reader Simon. Rechavi takes videos and gives them a scientific theme (picking worms means sorting the roundworm C. elegans). Simon asks if “picking flies” (we call it “pushing flies”) has a similar learning curve.  I don’t think so!

Sound up (but not too loud!)

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. The best reason not to take a phone call:

A quotation and an example:

Yesterday was World Octopus Day, so this is a bit late but still astounding. Why the color hange on only one side?

Here’s one that feeds Matthew and my love of stoats. You won’t see this very often!

18 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. This is Ezra Klein’s summary of Shor’s analysis of why according to him the Democrats are in deep trouble:

    “Shor has built an increasingly influential theory of what the Democrats must do to avoid congressional calamity. The chain of logic is this: Democrats are on the edge of an electoral abyss. To avoid it, they need to win states that lean Republican. To do that, they need to internalize that they are not like and do not understand the voters they need to win over. Swing voters in these states are not liberals, are not woke and do not see the world in the way that the people who staff and donate to Democratic campaigns do.”

    If, in fact, the Democrats actually experience electoral disaster in 2022 and 2024, we know some of the reasons: voter suppression, gerrymandering. But, we need to know why so much of the white working class vote against their best economic interests. One reason is that they perceive the Democratic Party as concerned with only the interests of minorities. Another reason, one that many Democrats ignore, is that the party is viewed by working class whites as elitist. That is, they view Democrats as looking upon them as ignorant, prejudiced yahoos. There is some truth to this. Such sentiments got Hillary Clinton and Obama into trouble. Aided by Fox News and other right-wing propaganda outlets, they believe that Democrats insult and demean their dignity as human beings. Nothing is more important to people than their sense of dignity and self-esteem. As a result, when it comes to a choice for them between voting for a political party that advocates programs that enhance their economic well-being or one that caters to their grievances, their choice is obvious. This condition, along with the structural defects in the American political system, has set the stage for a fascist takeover.

    FDR was a master in understanding how to connect with the white working class, despite being a rich, aristocratic New Yorker. Contemporary Democrats need to learn why he was so successful before it is too late or, perhaps, it is already too late.

    1. I was going to say that the Democrats are behaving to tyrannically that they can only be assuming that there is no way they could ever be voted out of power. As they are going, though, I don’t see any honest way they couldn’t be. I haven’t seen a poll on any issue that doesn’t indicate a majority disapproval of the Administrations actions and policies. Given the tame Press, this is remarkable. The Democrats have moved so far to the left that they think that anyone who votes against them is a fascist, much as Stalin viewed his enemies, even the Social Democrats. They have also moved so far to the left that they themselves are on the verge of fascism. Who would have imagined that the Federal government would stoop to intimidating parents in order to protect the Left’s program of racial indoctrination? At this point, I would not be surprised if we begin hearing calls that the situation is so dire that elections can’t be held. If we are truly concerned about an autocratic government, the thing to do is to slash the size and reach of government, not to grow it.

      1. The democrats have moved to the left? They elected the most moderate of the presidential candidates and espouse centrist policies on virtually every issue, and continue to try to reach compromises with the opposition. Unlike the Republicans, their extremists are not in control.

        Unfortunately the radical Left continue to provide sound bytes to the Right for use in propaganda and distortions. The Democrats need to find a way to counter the negative images.

    2. I could shorten the summary a great deal by just saying people are stupid. If you can get lots of poor to middle class white people to vote republican because they “think” the democrats are against their interests, I do not know what else to call it. The republican cult hangs on because of two important items – Fox news and internet platforms. Down is up and up is down. Fox news is possibly more important to this cult than the web. Republicans will continue to refuse the vaccine and die from covid because of Fox. The Fox institution itself, requires vaccination of all employees and that means all of those goons have been vaccinated at the same time they go after other companies that go mandatory. If a Fox watcher is not stupid, what would you call it?

    3. I think the wild card here is SCOTUS. If that joke of a court continues to demean women and strip away long-held constitutional rights, there is going to be a backlash of massive proportions…at least that’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.

  2. I empathise with the poor kid trying to “pick worms” – chopsticks are not my favourite utensils…

      1. Oh my!
        The sad thing is that the chef who made that comment, has an otherwise sensible piece about table manners, making a case for fingers and utensils, but then had to spoil it (or I guess, needed to be seen as woke) by calling knifes and forks racist!
        I give up 🙁

  3. Fresh from watching The Boy In The Striped Pajamas (Netflix) last night, the picture from Auschwitz Memorial was all the more sad: what life might she have had were it not for the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust.

  4. Democrat politicians seem to be in total denial about their impending doom. It’s mostly the fault of progressives. They should be making Biden’s administration as their first and only priority. Instead, they seem to think that they have some sort of mandate or perhaps it is just the “feeling” that voters would love them if only they understood. Still, it is quite possible that the Republicans will offer such bad candidates, because Trump chose them, that they implode in 2022. Even if that’s true in some cases, it won’t be the case for all offices.

  5. Since yesterday was Octopus Day, this was meant for yesterday’s day in history:
    On Oct. 8, 1862 Kentucky hosted at Perryville what was perhaps the sharpest small battle of the Civil War. In an intelligence snafu, a Confederate army of 16,000 approached what it thought was a small Union force – but which in fact was 55,000 strong – and decided for an immediate afternoon attack and seeming easy victory. The Federals, for their part, overestimated the enemy’s strength and began preparing for a major battle to begin the following morning. Battle began at 2 p.m. with an all-out Confederate surprise attack on the 22,000 Union soldiers already in place along a ridge line. When fighting wound down 4 hours later, at sunset, 1350 soldiers were dead or would shortly die from their injuries and 5500 were wounded, a casualty rate of 18%. An average of 5+ men died every minute of combat and 23 were wounded. One survivor described his unit’s bayonet charge as follows: “The guns were discharged so rapidly that it seemed the earth itself was in a volcanic uproar. The iron storm passed through our ranks, mangling and tearing men to pieces. The very air seemed full of stifling smoke and fire, which seemed the very pit of hell, peopled by contending demons.” – Sam Watson, 1st Tennessee.

  6. My guess is that the octopus detected two threats coming from different angles, or maybe it’s just a defective octopus.

  7. I’m a bee guy, so I don’t know a lot about cephalopods. However, part of a male squid’s mating ritual requires that he flash pretty colours at the girl while showing white to any guys wandering by. If he accidentally shows white to the female, the courtship is off. That’s for at least one species of squid; perhaps there is the same sense of romance in the octopus world.

  8. The Prague clock is not the oldest working clock. It is the oldest working clock with a face or dial. A clock in Salisbury Cathedral is the oldest working clock.

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