Thursday: Hili dialogue

October 21, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Thursday, October 21, 2021: National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day. What a travesty! Either pumpkin pie or cheesecake are good on their own, but not this ill-conceived combination! It’s almost as bad as the popular pumpkin latte.

It’s also Apple Day (mostly celebrated in the UK), International Day of the Nacho, Garbanzo Bean Day, Celebration of the Mind Day, Reptile Awareness Day, Birth of the Báb, and Back to the Future Day, so called because the movie Back to the Future, Part II “starts out set in 1985 where the previous film in the series left off. Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, along with Doc Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, and Jennifer Parker, played by Elisabeth Shue, travel to the future in Doc’s DeLorean to save Marty and Jennifer’s future children. The date they travel to is October 21, 2015.”

Here’s the opening scene of that movie (see 4:08 for the date of October 21, 2015).

News of the Day:

*Brian Laundrie, a “person of interest” in the widely publicized murder of his girlfriend Gabby Petito, had gone missing for over a month, but may now have been found—dead. Some of Laundrie’s possessions, along with a body, were found in a nature reserve in North Port, Florida. The curious thing is that investigators were led to the area by Laundrie’s parents. Did their son call them before he killed himself? For those remains are almost certainly those of Laundrie.

*Have a look at Megan McArdle’s op-ed in the Washington Post: “Democrats cannot afford to cater only to a hyper-educated class. It’s time to pop the bubble.” She worries that what matters to that class and to the media may not matter to the average American, and Republicans shouldn’t beef about a left-wing media bias:

Lately, though, I’ve begun doubting whether Republicans and those who agree with them are right — wondering whether media defenders shouldn’t just say: Hell yes, Republicans, the media has a left-wing bias, but don’t worry, that hurts Democrats more than you.

My most recent occasion for these musings was a column that Ezra Klein of the New York Times wrote about David Shor, a progressive election analyst. Shor thinks the left has a major problem with its youthful and well-educated activist base, which staffs left-leaning newsrooms and runs campaigns. They focus, naturally, on issues that excite them, and Shor told Klein “the things that are most exciting to activists and journalists are politically toxic.”

There’s a lot more, and we need to think about these things before November, 2022 rolls around.

*If you’re as young as 40 (but not younger), and got the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, it looks as if the government will soon authorize Covid-19 boosters for these youngsters. Further, according to CNN:

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and said any of the three authorized vaccines could be used as a booster in a “mix and match approach” for eligible individuals.

*The gang that kidnapped the 17 missionaries in Haiti is holding firm in its demands, still asking for $1 million ransom per hostage. The FBI is on the ground trying to find the hostages, which according to NBC News last night are likely to be held in the area where they were kidnapped. I fear carnage, for the FBI and US is not inclined to negotiate a price, and may try an assault to free the hostages.

*The fracas over Dave Chapelle’s latest Netflix show, for which he’s been deemed transphobic, has escalated as hundreds of Netflix staff walked off the job and picketed the company’s Los Angeles headquarters. According to Varietyhowever, they clashed with Chappelle’s fans, who were also there:

Counter-protesters were also out in full force, bearing signs with messages like “Jokes Are Funny,” and “Netflix Don’t Cancel Free Speech.” At times the situation threatened to devolve as counter-protestors pushed up against trans speakers. One man’s “Jokes Are Funny” sign was ripped out of his hand by a pro-trans protestor and split in half, leaving him with a stick and little else. Crowd members said he was wielding a weapon and asked for his removal. Chappelle’s supporters said they were demonstrating in support of free speech.

My prediction: this will not die down, and Netflix will both apologize and meet some of the demands already been made by the protesting staff.

*The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports good news for Bright Sheng: the University of Michigan professor and composer booted from teaching undergraduates after he showed the movie “Othello”  to his students. The problem was that the 1965 movie had Laurence Olivier in blackface, which is taboo (see John McWhorter’s take on it here).  The University was actually going to open a formal investigation of Sheng, which is unbelievable. Fortunately, Michigan came to its senses. As FIRE reports:

UPDATE 10/19/21: The University of Michigan, which had been considering opening a formal investigation into Professor Sheng for his classroom showing of Othello, has determined that it will not do so after reviewing the complaints against him.

Sheng’s attorney, David Nacht, confirmed the development to FIRE.

While it remains discouraging that Sheng has “stepped away” from teaching this semester, Michigan’s decision not to launch a formal investigation into a professor’s course content was the right one to make. Such investigations produce profound chilling effects inimical to a university’s role as a marketplace of ideas. FIRE hopes that this controversy over Sheng’s protected expression will signal to Michigan faculty and administrators that it’s time for the university to make a serious effort to protect and defend faculty members’ First Amendment rights and academic freedom.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 731,512, an increase of 1,532 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,939,737, an increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on October 21 includes:

  • 1512 – Martin Luther joins the theological faculty of the University of Wittenberg.
  • 1520 – Ferdinand Magellan discovers a strait now known as the Strait of Magellan.
  • 1797 – In Boston Harbor, the 44-gun United States Navy frigate USS Constitution is launched.
  • 1854 – Florence Nightingale and a staff of 38 nurses are sent to the Crimean War.

Nightingale, pictured below around 1858, was somewhat of a polymath, too; Wikipedia notes:

Nightingale was a prodigious and versatile writer. In her lifetime, much of her published work was concerned with spreading medical knowledge. Some of her tracts were written in simple English so that they could easily be understood by those with poor literary skills. She was also a pioneer in data visualization with the use of infographics, using graphical presentations of statistical data in an effective way. Much of her writing, including her extensive work on religion and mysticism, has only been published posthumously.

  • 1879 – Thomas Edison applies for a patent for his design for an incandescent light bulb.

The patent was granted on January 27, 1880, and here’s the drawing accompanying the patent. The birth of the light bub!

  • 1921 – President Warren G. Harding delivers the first speech by a sitting U.S. president against lynching in the deep South.
  • 1940 – The first edition of the Ernest Hemingway novel For Whom the Bell Tolls is published.

A first edition and first printing of this puppy, signed by the author, will run you about $17,500. 


The ship suffered several kamikaze attacks; here’s the aftermath (this is supposedly the first allied ship hit by kamikazes, though some hold that the damage was by Japanese non-suicide fighters that decided to ram the ship):

Why so many kids? Because the coal spoils destroyed not only a row of houses, but also a school. Here’s a photo of the village showing the damage right after the collapse (the spoils were mixed with water from a heavy rain, creating a slurry that engulfed much of the village.

  • 1973 – Fred Dryer of the Los Angeles Rams becomes the first player in NFL history to score two safeties in the same game. 

Usually, a safety occurs when someone with the football is tackled in his own end zone; two points are then awarded to the opposing team.

  • 1983 – The metre is defined as the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second.
  • 2019 – In Canada, the 2019 Canadian Federal Election ends, resulting in incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remaining in office, albeit in a minority government.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1772 – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet, philosopher, and critic (d. 1834)
  • 1877 – Oswald Avery, Canadian-American physician and microbiologist (d. 1955)

Avery, along with his colleagues Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty, did the crucial 1944 experiment showing that the genetic material was almost certainly DNA. They did this by seeing which fraction of a bacterial cells could “transform” the properties of living cells. It wasn’t protein, but the nucleic acids. It was a thorough and careful experiment, and the trio deserved the Nobel Prize for this feat. But they didn’t get it.   Here’s that classic paper. Look at the subtitle, which tells the tale.

I know that many readers loved his columns in Scientific American, but did you know he was a University of Chicago product? (He was also a Lewis Carroll expert, and produced the bestselling book The Annotated Alice.) Here’s the man:

Gillespie playing his famous “Salt Peanuts,” and trying to get the audience to cooperate. Those cheeks are amazing; they would do a chipmunk proud.

  • 1956 – Carrie Fisher, American actress and screenwriter (d. 2016)
  • 1980 – Kim Kardashian, American reality television personality, actress, model, businesswoman and socialite

Those who were called away on October 21 include:

  • 1805 – Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, English admiral (b. 1758)
  • 1969 – Jack Kerouac, American novelist and poet (b. 1922)

Kerouac (right) with his pal and crazy man, Neal Cassady—the model for Dean Moraiarty in On the Road:

Yes, that Asperger, the one who created the diagnosis of autism. Here he is with a patient in Vienna, ca. 1940:

  • 2012 – George McGovern, American historian, lieutenant, and politician (b. 1922)

I campaigned for McGovern, and even wrote a little poem about him that I still remember:

Yes, he’s the man for me!
Though his head is as bald as a billiard ball,
He’s the freakiest one of all.
(Repeat first three lines.)

  • 2014 – Ben Bradlee, American journalist and author (b. 1921)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is making a nuisance of herself:

A: Hili, you are lying on my mouse mat.
Hili: You have another one.
In Polish:
A: Hili, leżysz na mojej podkładce pod mysz.
Hili: Masz drugą.

From Stash Krod:

From Stephen:

Grooming a lynx, from Fabulous Nature Photos and Videos on FB. Look at the size of that cat!

Here’s a thread I came across giving

a few reasons why IKEA is a psychological manipulator. Since I’ve never been in an IKEA store, I can’t vouch for its accuracy or analysis. I’ve added the first reason of the twelve.

From Masih. I hope the women of Afghanistan as well s Iran start communicating more with her so we can understand what’s going on with the Taliban. Meanwhile in Iran, things for women are as bad as ever.

From Ken, who explains, “This is a tweet from an actual, currently serving member of the United State House of Representatives abetting persons to obtain illegal, phony Covid vaccine records — you know, ‘hypothetically;'”.

ETHICAL my tuchas!

From Simon: I only wish these were real robot ducks! Also, their sombreros are ideologically incorrect. Sound up, though.

Tweets from Matthew: I haven’t yet read the paper yet, but I will; it’s about the reasons people “detransition.”

This is your brain on. . . nothing. What an amazing photo!

I love border collies. When I spent time in the UK, and the show was still running, I would always try to watch “One Man and His Dog.” I could watch this stuff for hours! Sound up.

50 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge also composed some remarkably good symphonic music – they play it on the radio occasionally – I’d have to look it up, but I’m pretty sure I’m right…

          1. Same here. I was stoked when I heard of the song’s release, but was disappointed when I bought the album and listened to it.

          2. It’s better than 99% or rock music, but many of their songs are better.

            I’ve known about them for about as long as they have existed, but had never actually heard anything by them, being put off by their goofy image. However, a few years ago, I came across something by chance on YouTube, and now have all of their albums. Despite what one might think, the music is really good and the lyrics head and shoulders above most heavy-metal music. While they are definitely a heavy-metal band, they are closer to hard-rock bands such as Thin Lizzy, Wishbone Ash, UFO, the Scorpions, and progressive acts such as Jethro Tull and Rush. That’s not a contradiction: Toronto is closer to many places in the US than it is to many places in Canada, but it is definitely a Canadian, not a US, city.

            For those unfamiliar with heavy metal: I am not exaggerating when I claim that there is more variety in heavy metal than in the rest of music combined.

            1. Yeah, they do have better-than-usual music in general. And I agree about metal, it is much more musically interesting than most people think. I just felt that their Ancient Mariner was a little unremarkable…possibly because they had been quite ambitious in taking on the poem, and trying to write music for the whole thing while keeping that music interesting all throughout is really an opera-composition-level challenge. So I don’t hold it against them.

              1. I am a big Iron Maiden fan, and I really like this song, but the principal riff isn’t my favorite and it does get a little tired, repeating as it does for several minutes.

                The middle movement of the song, with quotes from the poem in spoken verse, is pure gold though, especially the transition into the final movement.

              2. I think the first point you made was my real problem, that they ended up repeating musical passages too much. I’m sure I could have done no better, of course, so I’m not really saying they “failed”. And I strongly admire their ambition.

            2. It’s also some of the most complex music out there. Have you heard Sweden’s Meshuggah? Many prestigious music schools actually incorporate their music in their curriculums. I must say, it’s a little to heavy for me, but I respect the music immensely.

          3. I know that the version on Live After Death (for those following along, that is “Live” pronounced “Lie-v” because it is a live recording… ahem)… has a great middle section with creaking ship sounds and a chilling narrator…. set in augmented triads shifting by a whole step…

            “Water, water, every where,
            And all the boards did shrink;
            Water, water, every where,
            Nor any drop to drink. ”

            … that was just asking to be made into an epic metal tune!

  2. … hundreds of Netflix staff walked off the job …

    Seemed more like a couple of dozen, from the videos.

    My prediction: this will not die down, and Netflix will both apologize and …

    I’m feeling optimistic, so my prediction is that Netflix will have been distinctly unimpressed by the numbers walking out, and so will conclude that it can just ignore them.

  3. My prediction: this will not die down, and Netflix will both apologize [for the Dave Chappelle special] and meet some of the demands already been made by the protesting staff.

    Screw that nonsense. I watched Chappelle’s Netflix special “Closer” the night after Jerry first posted about it. Was some of it “offensive”? Oh, hell yes. But being offensive is practically the job description for a stand-up comic — at least for the good ones with something to say.

    You’re a stand-up and afraid to offend anybody, go set up shop in Branson, MO, and cash out playing for the Winnebago crowd — or tour college campuses where some lunkhead committee will vet your material in advance for political correctness.

    1. I agree. Netflix has to fight this or they are going to be increasingly called upon to self-censor their content, gradually turning into the Disney+. Since Disney+ already exists, that would be marketing suicide.

  4. The 1972 presidential election is just another good example of how massively wrong the American voter can be and is. Not the first time and certainly not the last.

    1. Have you read H.S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72? It’s one hell of a roller-coaster ride, and he has many brilliant observations…he also has similar feelings re. the American voter.

  5. A first edition and first printing of this puppy [For Whom the Bell Tolls], signed by the author, will run you about $17,500.

    For that kinda dough, I wanna feel the earth move, just like Jordan and Maria.

  6. The curious thing is that investigators were led to the area by Laundrie’s parents. Did their son call them before he killed himself? For those remains are almost certainly those of Laundrie.

    I suspect they’ve known where he likely was and what he was doing all along. The fact that the police are finding “remains” rather than “a body” says to me the parents didn’t pinpoint his location to the police until they were pretty darn sure he was dead.

    I’m ambivalent about what the authorities should do about this. On the one hand, they may have (in my opinion) obstructed justice and in fact let their son commit suicide when earlier intervention may have kept him alive. On the other, it’s a bit like the ‘marital privilege’ – as long as you don’t think the person is a danger to others (in which case, yes compel them through force of law), we might want to think twice about forcing parents into the painful situation of testifying or giving information about their criminal children.

    1. On the other, it’s a bit like the ‘marital privilege’ …

      The law recognizes no “parental privilege.” Nevertheless, in Florida, where the Laundrie family resides, the law exempts from prosecution as an accessory after-the-fact parents (and other family members within the first degree of consanguinity) — but only for third degree felonies, not for life or capital felonies such as murder.

      Given that Brian Laundrie is now dead it will be interesting to see how the State Attorney’s Office in Sarasota County exercises its discretion regarding any potential prosecution of his parents.

      I was surprised that the State Attorney did not slap a subpoena on Laundrie’s parents, even before he went missing, as soon as Gabby Petito was reported missing. Brian Laundrie himself had made it clear through counsel that he would refuse to cooperate based on his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. But Laundrie’s parents could have been compelled to give sworn statements regarding what he had told them (and, after he disappeared, regarding what they knew of his whereabouts), if necessary under a grant of statutory immunity from prosecution.

  7. Given that you mentioned the launch of the USS Constitution, I feel that the lack of the mention of The Battle of Trafalgar is something of an omission. You’d struggle to find a more significant naval battle this side of the classical world.

      1. As a kid I was fascinated by Nelson’s blood-stained uniform in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, only to discover years later that the blood was regularly touched up artificially.

  8. Hell yes, Republicans, the media has a left-wing bias, but don’t worry, that hurts Democrats more than you.

    Its pretty clear that .1% support “culturally liberal” positions on social issues, but are hard right on economic issues. Further, “radical leftwing views” like CRT and DEI ultimately end in support for affirmative action, which provides social justice camouflage to multinational corporations that “hate racism” but are happy to have their phones manufactured in plants where conditions are so terrible that they have to install nets to prevent workers from jumping off and killing themselves, when the local nation states aren’t using ethnic minorities for organ harvesting. “Radical leftism” has nothing to say about capital gains tax rates, for example, and reparations talk is just a way to divide people and manufacture political logjam, the best way to kill any program to benefit ordinary people.

    The MSM is owned by capital and supports the program of capital, which is class warfare against workers. The boutique social issues of the capitalist class and professional managerial class can call itself “left” all it wants, but its ultimately about dominating, humiliating and erasing the proles, very similar to the conduct of a colonialist enterprise on a colonial people.

    Its not clear that it helps or hurts Team A or Team B, because neither party represents the interests of the majority, which are the American workers.

  9. I look forward to reading the detransitioners study. I was in Seattle in Feb 2020 for a talk by feminists (protesters tried to disrupt the “TERF”s, of course.) Following, I was invited to a pizza and sharing session of detransitioners. When you meet these young people in person, and hear their stories, it’s a bit more difficult to dismiss the pressures they faced from those who convinced them they’re transgender.

  10. I furnished my first apartment from IKEA, back in 1988. The company had just opened its first UK store, in northwest England, not far from where I lived. It was a lot cheaper than pre-made furniture, and I was on a tight budget. I still have much of that furniture, more than thirty years on, including the bed, three wardrobes, three bookcases and several chests of drawers. My original Poang armchair collapsed under me after many years of book-reading comfort when one of the curved wooden sides cracked at the hole where the metal seat frame attaches, but I’m on my second Poang and I still love it.

    1. For some reason that I can no longer remember, I once taught English to IKEA employees when the company opened a Spanish branch. I was also asked to educate them about the company’s history – excluding the founder Ingvar Kamprad’s links to fascism, naturally…

  11. He [George McGovern]’s the freakiest one of all.

    The candidate of “acid, amnesty, and abortion” as Dick Nixon’s campaign thugs smeared him — although, to 19-year-old me voting in his first election, that sounded like a pretty cool platform.

    In truth, ol’ George was a preacher’s son from the plains of South Dakota — the “peace candidate” who’d flown 35 missions as the captain of B-24 bomber in the flack-filled skies over WWII Europe (as opposed to Navy ensign Dick Nixon, who spent the war without hearing a shot fired in battle).

    McGovern was probably one of the straightest, squarest guys ever to enter national politics, and I’m proud to have cast my first ballot for him.

      1. I should have mentioned Stephen Ambrose last book in 2001, Boys to Men, was mainly about the B-24 and George McGovern.

        1. I am especially glad McGovern’s story of the accidental bombing of the Austrian farmhouse had a happy ending. The version of the story I read, probably in Newsweek, during the 1972 campaign was much darker and morally troubling. Sorry, can’t remember if McGovern himself told the story, or if a journalist got the story from one of McGovern’s surviving crew members. The problem with the story that McGovern told on NPR is that in level flight the pilot can’t see the ground beneath and behind him, so he would have no way of seeing the hung-up bomb hit the farmhouse.
          The 1972 version had the B-24 aborting a raid because of bad weather over the target. The full load of bombs had to be jettisoned ASAP in order for the fuel to last the trip home. McGovern ordered his bombardier (who had an unobstructed view forward from the glazed-in nose) to scope out a safe place to drop them, once away from the populated areas around the intended target. McGovern handed control of the aircraft to the bombardier down forward at his bombsight, as he would do on a bomb run, and instructed him to drop when clear. Soon the bombardier reported Bombs Away, and returned control to McGovern who flew the rest of the way home. At some point (in the air or back on the ground) there was a raging stream of profanity from the ball-turret gunner, who can see below and to the rear. He saw a farmhouse destroyed by the cluster of bombs exploding around it and he was convinced the bombardier had deliberately targeted it with his bombsight. In the story, the gunner had to be restrained once on the ground from jumping the bombardier (an officer) and beating the crap out of him. McGovern did not physically drop the bombs — only the bombardier had that control — but he was aircraft commander and felt responsible for what he still believed in 1972 was the killing of an Austrian farm family.

          So that phone call must have been an enormous relief for him, more than his NPR listeners including the Austrian farmer could ever know.

          Very good and thoughtful blog, I must say. I’m not a surgeon but a physician who has wished I’d had a retrospectoscope myself on occasions.

  12. McGovern was the first presidential candidate I was old enough to vote for. After Watergate and Nixon’s disgrace (damn, I wish he would have been impeached and removed instead of resigning!), I saw a lot of bumper stickers saying “Don’t blame me, I voted for McGovern.”

    Lynx: oh those feet! You can see how they’d be able to run over the snow.

  13. This marking of the anniversary of the tragic colliery spoil collapse reminds me of one of my favorite books, Llewellyn’s How Green was My Valley, which contains its own tragedies.

  14. The “Reptile Awaremess Day” link leads to the “Celebration of the Mind” site. So does the “Celebration of the Mond” link.

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