Saturday: Hili dialogue

October 30, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s felid Sabbath again, Saturday October 30, 2021, and oh, dear lord, it’s National Candy Corn Day. Fie on the miscreant who concocted this tooth-jarring confection made solely of paraffin, artificial color, and sugar!!!!! Not one kernel of this faux and toxic corn will pass my lips for the rest of my life.

Here is an appropriate cartoon from The Oatmeal (h/t  Erik and several other readers):It’s also Buy a Doughnut Day, Pumpkin Bread Day, and, by way of contrition, Sugar Addiction Awareness Day. And let’s not forget Hug a Sheep Day and Mischief Night.  Also, tomorrow is Halloween, though I suspect some kids will come scrounging for candy tonight. 

Wine of the Day: Now here’s a biodynamic (basically, organic) wine that’s infinitely better than c*ndy c*rn, an 11-year-old syrah from the famed Stellenbosch region of South Africa. (I almost never have a South African wine, which is surely a mistake.) When I bought it and how much I paid is lost in the mists of time (it’s now quoted at $25), but the critics like it (Robert Parker gave it a 94, saying “This is a glorious Syrah from one of South Africa’s finest winemakers. This is world class. Drink now-2020,” while the overly generous Wine Spectator, usually giving higher scores, gave it just a 91; and the regular folks at Cellar Tracker say it’s holding up well. I will try it within the hour with a honking big porterhouse steak with rice and black beans.

. . . . It was very good, though not “world class”, but perhaps because it’s a wee bit past its apogee. The tannins are gone but it shows no oxidation; a bit of its stuffing is, however, gone.  Keep a lookout for younger vintages, however. It improved in the glass over half an hour, so today’s half-bottle will be interesting.

News of the Day:

Two vaccine stories: First, the FDA has authorized emergency use Pfizer vaccinations for children 5-11 years old. My own opinion, though I have no offspring, is to get your kids vaccinated pronto. The side effects have proven so far to be minimal—and no reports of heart problems. The mortality rate from the virus is infinitely higher than from the vaccination, so get your kids signed up now.

*Second, in a decision that surprised me, the Supreme Court has refused to block Maine’s vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, even though that mandate did not allow religious exemptions. Three judges dissented: Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch. And the dissent was based on the religion issue:

“Where many other states have adopted religious exemptions, Maine has charted a different course,” Justice Gorsuch wrote for the dissenting justices. “There, health care workers who have served on the front line of a pandemic for the last 18 months are now being fired and their practices shuttered. All for adhering to their constitutionally protected religious beliefs. Their plight is worthy of our attention.”

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and the health of the general public is Caesar’s, not God’s.  If it were God’s, we wouldn’t have the pandemic in the first place.

*At 95, it’s about time for Queen Elizabeth to slow down. Much as I decry the existence of royalty in the UK as a special class, you have to hand it to the old bird that she takes her duties very seriously. Now, though, after a night in the hospital last week, doctors have ordered her to rest for at least two weeks, and she’s cancelled all her appointments. It’s time for her to retire and hand over the reins to Prince Charles, dimwitted though he may be. He’s been waiting for a long time!

*There is lots of news about a pair of California condor chicks, raised in captivity, that were parthenogenetic; that is, their mother, like the Virgin Mary was not inseminated. There are a number of ways this can happen, and it’s not a first in birds: turkeys and chicken sometimes produce young without having bonked. Because both young condors had health issues and died young, I suspected that the birds were homozygous, with two identical copies of each gene. (This can happen when two identical haploid egg cells after the second part of meiosis fuse back together again.) Postmortem DNA sequencing showed that they were homozygous, as reported in this paper in Heredity. What I suspected had indeed happened.
The California condor is endangered, but you don’t want to try conserving it by trying to get parthenogenetic offspring. As I wrote to Matthew, ” As I expected, these birds are completely homozygous for all markers. They’re fricking inbred to the max; no wonder they were sick!”  I have no idea how Jesus was produced, but he surely wasn’t haploid, as he would have been inviable. 

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 745,075, an increase of 1,366 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,006,932, an increase of about 8,300 over yesterday’s total. We’ve now passed five million people dead from the disease.  

Stuff that happened on October 30 includes:

  • 1831 – Nat Turner is arrested for leading the bloodiest slave rebellion in United States history.
  • 1938 – Orson Welles broadcasts a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, causing a massive panic in some of the audience in the United States.

The broadcast is below. My dad remembers this (he was 20 then), and tells me about people running around the streets in a frenzy.

They volunteered to jump into the sub and find the code books, but water was pouring in and it was completely dark. Suddenly the sub sank, killing both of them, but not until they transferred sheets of code to sailors in a small boat.  Brave men!

Anne (right) and Margot Frank. If you’re in Amsterdam, try to see the “annexe” where they and their family hid away. You’ll have to reserve in advance now; it’s very popular.


Here’s Jackie, who turned out to be a fantastic player in the majors, eventually entering the Hall of Fame. Here he is signing the contract while Branch Rickey (nicknamed “The Mahatma”) looks on. Note Rickey’s cigar:

Somebody find out how much more powerful this bomb was than the ones we dropped on Japan.  Two planes were there, and Wikipedia says this about the one that dropped the bomb:

Both aircraft were painted with special reflective paint to minimize heat damage. Despite this effort, Durnovtsev, and his crew, were given only a 50% chance of surviving the test.

They survived, but the reflective paint was scorched, even though the planes were a considerable distance away when the bomb detonated.

Here’s Russian footage of the explosion, previously classified but released after many years. Below that is a map of where where the Bomba was dropped:

The mushroom cloud as it looked 161 km (ca 100 miles) away:

  • 1961 – Due to “violations of Vladimir Lenin’s precepts”, it is decreed that Joseph Stalin‘s body be removed from its place of honour inside Lenin’s tomb and buried near the Kremlin Wall with a plain granite marker.

This is what Stalin gets now, but also a bust:

  • 1983 – The first democratic elections in Argentina, after seven years of military rule, are held.
  • 1995 – Quebec citizens narrowly vote (50.58% to 49.42%) in favour of remaining a province of Canada in their second referendum on national sovereignty.

That was a squeaker! My Canadian friends tell me there’s unlikely to be another such referendum, but what do I know?

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1632 – Christopher Wren, English physicist, mathematician, and architect, designed St Paul’s Cathedral (d. 1723)
  • 1735 – John Adams, American lawyer and politician, 2nd President of the United States (d. 1826)

A contemporary portrait of Adams by Gilbert Stuart:

Here are DUCKS by Alfred Sisley:

  • 1871 – Paul Valéry, French poet and philosopher (d. 1945)
  • 1885 – Ezra Pound, American poet and critic (d. 1972)

Pound was arrested for treason in 1945 after making anti-American broadcasts in Italy during WWII. As Wikipedia notes:

Styling himself “Dr Ezra Pound” (his only doctorate was the honorary one from Hamilton College), he attacked the United States, Roosevelt, Roosevelt’s family, Churchill, and the Jews. He praised Hitler, recommended eugenics to “conserve the best of the race”, and referred to Jews as “filth”. The broadcasts were monitored by the United States Foreign Broadcast Monitoring Service, and on 26 July 1943 the United States District Court for the District of Columbia indicted Pound in absentia for treason. According to Feldman, the Pound archives at Yale contain receipts for 195 payments from the Italian Ministry of Popular Culture from 22 April 1941 to 26 January 1944. Over 33 months, Pound received 250,000 lire (then equivalent to $12,500; $185,000 as of 2013).

Man, if that’s not enough to get his poetry cancelled, I don’t know what is. But of course I don’t favor that; he was a great poet, even though he went a bit bonkers toward the end. (He was kept in St. Elizabeth’s mental hospital from 1945-1958.)  Pound heavily edited The Waste Land at T. S. Eliot’s request, reducing it by 50%, with the result that Eliot dedicated the poem to him, using an Italian phrase that I also used in the dedication of Why Evolution is True. 

Pound in 1913, when he was about 28:

His mug shot in 1945:

  • 1893 – Charles Atlas, Italian-American bodybuilder (d. 1972)

Remember this comic adveritising Atlas’s bodybuilding program? It was everywhere!

Freisler, the Nazi judge, was a bad piece of work, and sentenced everyone to death. He loved to shout in court.  Freisler was eventually killed by an American bomb falling on the courthouse. Here’s the judge in action:

  • 1900 – Ragnar Granit, Finnish-Swedish physiologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1991)
  • 1932 – Louis Malle, French director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1995)
  • 1935 – Robert Caro, American journalist and author

We’re all hoping he lives at least long enough to finish his biography of Lyndon Johnson. Do read his brilliant biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker. 

  • 1939 – Grace Slick, American singer-songwriter and model
  • 1960 – Diego Maradona, Argentinian footballer, coach, and manager (d. 2020)

Maradona died last November. Here are some highlights of his career:

  • 1981 – Ivanka Trump, American model and businesswoman

Those who “passed” (I dislike that euphemism)on October 30 include:

  • 1923 – Bonar Law, Canadian-English banker and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1858)
  • 1988– T. Hee, American animator and screenwriter (b. 1911).

His real name was Thornton he, but he was always credited as “T. Hee”, surely as a jest.  Here’s a piece T. Hee designed, the “Dance of the Hours” from Disney’s “Fantasia”:

  • 2000 – Steve Allen, American actor, television personality, game show panelist, and talk show host (b. 1921)
  • 2007 – Robert Goulet, American actor and singer (b. 1933)

What a pity that Goulet, who starred in the Broadway version of Camelot, didn’t play Sir Lancelot in the movie (he was replaced by Franco Nero). Here he is singing (to Queen Guenevere) one of the great songs from that musical. My parents loved it, so I heard the original cast album repeatedly as a child.  They don’t write songs like this for Broadway any more.

  • 2009 – Claude Lévi-Strauss, French anthropologist and ethnologist (b. 1908)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is The Cat That Walks by Herself:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I revel in solitude.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Rozkoszuję się samotnością.
And a photo of Szaron by Paulina, who got her advanced degree with honors yesterday:

More on costume appropriation this weekend. From Bruce:

From Facebook, a recipe for deviled eggs:

From Nicole:

Titania is busy tweeting again:

Now this should be an interesting book. The man is inexhaustible.  This one’s out November 11, and the U.S. Amazon link is here.


From Masih, who is correct:

Tweets from Matthew (if you ain’t got wildlife photos, send a tweet or two). First, Matthew says of this one “d*gs, but still . . . ”

No, this does not provide hope for recovery because the parthenogenesis produces completely homozygous individuals, i.e. completely inbred. Both condors were sickly and died early.  See the “news” above for a reference. Notice the “condor hand puppet” they use to feed the chicks.

What a wonderful surprise!

These calves are having a fine romp!

This is fascinating:

44 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. That duck video! What a beauty! You always manage to find the most wonderful animal photos and videos. Thank you.

  2. “I have no idea how Jesus was produced, but he surely wasn’t haploid, as he would have been inviable” – Er, well… he wasn’t produced and isn’t viable, surely?

    1. It certainly has some of that woo. Biggest part of that is burying cow horns with manure in them in the field, but that is, I would think, basically harmless. The rest is basically just organic grape production and it can produce some interesting wines. Alice Feiring writes about it. She is not a fan of Robert Parker.

      1. I buy only organic groceries (except for a few cases where it doesn‘t matter, such as sugar). Some of the stuff is biodynamic if there is no alternative. Basically, the people who make it are anthroposophists, members of a cult of woo, and their agriculture involves stuff like the horns, taking the phases of the Moon into account, and so on. I try to avoid such products, for two reasons. One, I don‘t want to pay extra only for woo. Two, I don‘t want to support a cult, which can be dangerous in some ways (almost all are anti-vaxxer’s, for example).

  3. You may remember that the January 1974 National Lampoon included a Popular Science parody, Popular Evolution. They hit many of the relevant ads, one of which was The Insult That Made a Meat Eater out of a Mouse. Charles Darwin, of course. Oh, and Ichthyostega says, “You can have a big future on dry land.”

  4. “Somebody find out how much more powerful this bomb was than the ones we dropped on Japan.” – According to the Wikipedia article on the Tsar Bomba our host linked to:

    The bhangmeter results and other data suggested the bomb yielded around 58 Mt (243 PJ), which was the accepted yield in technical literature until 1991, when Soviet scientists revealed that their instruments indicated a yield of 50 Mt (209 PJ). As they had the instrumental data and access to the test site, their yield figure has been accepted as more accurate.

    For the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima, again according to Wikipedia,

    In 1953, Frederick Reines calculated the yield [of the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima] was
    as 15 kilotons of TNT (63 TJ). This figure became the official yield.

    The Fat Man bomb dropped on Nagasaki had an estimated blast yield of 21 kt (88 TJ). (Once more, Wikipedia is the source.)

    So 50 Mt for the Tsar Bomba as compared to a combined 36 kt for the nukes dropped on Japan – that’s an enormous difference given 1Mt = 1,000 kt!

    1. Oops, I meant to add that, “In theory, the [Tsar Bomba] would have had a yield in excess of 100 Mt (418 PJ) if it had included the uranium-238 fusion tamper which figured in the design but which was omitted in the test to reduce radioactive fallout”. Yikes!

      1. The result of this omission is that most (97% says Wiki) of the energy released was from the thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen and lithium, the rest being from fission of the plutonium (Fat-Man-type) implosion device. In the typical “H-bomb”, a second purpose of the fusion stage is to generate the neutrons of sufficient energy to cause plain old U-238, normally non-fissile, to undergo fission. The more U-238 in the third stage, the more boom, but also much more fallout of longer-lived radioactive daughter nuclei. With fusion into heavier nuclei but still very light and non-radioactive, chiefly helium, you get immediate radiation but fallout “only” from the plutonium primary.

        The “tamper” is an important determinant of the nature of the bomb. If plain steel, a very large pulse of neutrons and high-energy photons (gamma rays) is delivered to humans at the target but the blast and heat yield is much lower, down around Nagasaki range. Thus, the “neutron bomb” intended for tactical theatre use in Europe. Or, as the Russians liked to say: “The ideal capitalist weapon: it kills people but doesn’t destroy property!”

        Richard Rhodes’s “Dark Sun. The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb” is informative. It takes up where his earlier “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” leaves off. It begins with post-war events including the stunning and unexpected test of a plutonium device by the USSR in 1949 and the eventual partial discovery of the espionage ring that had penetrated the Manhattan project. This stimulated development of fusion weapons, which the Soviets also were able to match soon after. His work was assisted by access to KGB archives opened after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The details of American and British weapons — they were developed independently — are somewhat speculative as the designs have never been de-classified.

        One thing I learned was that “thermonuclear” is itself a misnomer. What initiates fusion is not the pulse of heat from the plutonium primary but high-energy X-rays acting like a giant sledge hammer.. The “thermo-” may have been deliberate disinformation to steer Russian spies in the wrong direction.

    2. I think you are saying it is something like the difference between a small fire cracker and a thousand pound bomb.

  5. I don’t care for monarchies, either. The English monarchs function little, but have good business networking bred into them enabling their accumulation of wealth. That being said, I think that by the time Elizabeth is elevated to her Heav’nly Throne, Charles will also be so old he will be “King for a Day.” All Hail King Wills, long live the King.

    1. Queen Elizabeth will never step down. Palace-watchers say she devoutly believes in her duty to God to reign as the personification of the British state until she dies, as have nearly all the monarchs before her. It goes with the territory. Voluntary abdication is what Edward VIII did, putting his own wishes ahead of the nation’s and she does not want to be seen the same way. Abolition of the monarchy is another story and may gain headway if Charles hangs around too long. The problem is what to replace it with. There are even some constitutional questions for us in Canada, and other countries who have the Queen as head of state, that would arise were the British to end their monarchy.

  6. ” 1938 – Orson Welles broadcasts a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, causing a massive panic in some of the audience in the United States.

    The broadcast is below. My dad remembers this (he was 20 then), and tells me about people running around the streets in a frenzy.”

    There’s a small problem with this. It wasn’t the alien invasion that was made up. It was the “panic” that supposedly happened that was the fiction. The NYT and other newspapers made up the panic because papers were losing audience to the new medium of radio. In order to counter this, they created the hysteria in order to show how dangerous and irresponsible radio was. In reality, not many people even listened to the Welles’ broadcast and actual (non-NYT) reports of panic are virtually non-existent.

    Here’s a good summary of what actually happened:

      1. The lesson I took away is that the NYT and the media in general are a bunch of self serving liars, but I’m what you might call “jaded.” And you might call me that because I’m jaded. Really, really jaded.

        There’s probably a more useful lesson in there somewhere, but I’m too jaded to see it.

        Also, if you type out the word “jaded” a lot you begin to wonder if it really means what you think it means and go look up the actual definition. And by you I mean me. I did that.

      1. Absolutely. And it is possible that there was something of a localized panic in the area your father was at the time. But it seems more likely that the panic was media created, then mythologized by society and, as memories are apt to do, every time your father recalled the event he added a bit of the mythology to the memory until memory and mythology were similar. It’s a wonderful insight into the nature of memory.

  7. Regarding Queen Elizabeth: I would say that she’s a pretty nice girl, though she doesn’t have a lot to say. And I know that you would tell her that you love a lot were it not for the need for your belly-full of wine…which is, after all, the appropriate prioritization.

  8. … in a decision that surprised me, the Supreme Court has refused to block Maine’s vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, even though that mandate did not allow religious exemptions.

    That decision isn’t all that surprising. Under existing precedent, Employment Division v. Smith, a law satisfies the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause so long as it is facially neutral and was not intended to target a specific religious practice. The Maine vaccine mandate meets this standard.

    Now, last term, several members of SCOTUS — very likely enough to form a solid majority — expressed dissatisfaction that Smith did not go far enough in protecting religious freedom, in the case addressing the prohibition on adoptions by same-sex couples at Catholic social service in Philadelphia.

    The Court, nonetheless, found that it need not reach the continuing validity of Smith in that case, because it struck down the Philadelphia ordinance that stopped the Catholic Church from prohibiting same-sex adoptions on other grounds. If SCOTUS was unwilling to expand Free Exercise protection in that case — after full briefing and argument — it’s no surprise that it would refuse to strike down Smith on summary review of the Maine vaccination mandate, particularly given the criticism the Court has come under recently regarding its handling of abortion cases on its so-called “shadow docket.”

  9. In other news a group of tiki-torch wielding individuals dressed as Trump supporters came to a Youngkin rally in VA. After being picked up on twitter, eagle-eyed users identified at least two of them as Democratic operatives. Skepticism was ended when the Lincoln Project took responsibility. They don’t explain why they didn’t just have people carrying tiki torches protesting openly. Unfortunately, this actual ‘false flag’ operation gives credence to those who suggest that the government itself is using provocateurs at protests and school board meetings. Bad call.

    1. I should know better by now, but I still am amazed at how stupid people can be. They didn’t think they would get caught? As DrBrydon says, they don’t realize that they were giving ammunition to the enemy? No one connected with this said “Maybe this isn’t a good idea?” How can anyone this dumb function?

  10. My parents loved it, so I heard the original cast album [of Camelot] repeatedly as a child.

    Yeah, I hear Jack & Jackie liked it, too. 🙂

  11. The two bombs dropped on Japan at the end of WWII were each around 15 kilotons. According to Wikipedia, Tsar Bomba was between 50 and 58 megatons. So it was around 3000 times as powerful. This illustrates the difference between an atom bomb and a hydrogen bomb.

  12. I enjoyed the story of the Titanic survivor…what an ordeal. After all those years, it seems he still had a bit of PTSD.

    Those dogs with the panda/lion costumes had me and my wife cracking up. 🤣🤣🤣

  13. The titanic remembrance was chilling. I can’t begin to imagine the cold and fear. Hanging onto a board near the props and finally dropping into the water must’ve been beyond surrealism.

    1. The Titanic interview was fascinating!
      As to Camelot, I saw the original version on Broadway in 1960, the night before we took the America to London. I think I was too young to appreciate it, but saw it maybe 20 years later in Toronto, with Richard Burton as the king (can’t remember who played Lancelot) and realized how good the songs were. Goulet was fantastic!

      1. In some later productions Goulet himself played King Arthur. That would have been interesting to see as well. Burton was not a natural singer but with his wonderful voice he could “talk-sing” and no one complained.

      2. I’d not spent quite an entire minute total ever thinking about it, but sort of had in my mind Goulet was Canadian. Not true, but had he been, so being even a native North American, saying he was “American” would ‘still’ have been correct of course.

        I guess it’s considered the garrulousness (garrulity?–garrulosity??) of my old age that insists on old fashioned literal correctness of ‘American’ and ‘native’. The cultural overwhelming of sleeping next to an elephant, so to speak, is however irreversible. Let’s hope not also political.

        Lots of performance talent. I probably prefer Spamalot however, with my peculiar musical taste.

  14. Orson Welles references the The War of the Worlds broadcast in the last movie he completed, “F For Fake,” a wonderful essay film about the art forger Elmyr de Hory and writer-fraudster Clifford Irving.

    “What a pity that Goulet, who starred in the Broadway version of Camelot, didn’t play Sir Lancelot in the movie (he was replaced by Franco Nero).”

    Indeed. None of the principal cast members from the Broadway production were retained for the film. Richard Harris was a poor and hammy substitute for Richard Burton. Vannessa Redgrave was a pleasing presence but hardly the singer Julie Andrews was. Factor in somnolent direction from Joshua Logan and you get a very disappointing adaptation of a classic musical. As Pauline Kael wrote, “the sets and people and costumes seem to be sitting there on the screen, waiting for the unifying magic that never happens…[the film is] like a huge ruin that makes one wonder what the blueprints could possibly have indicated.”

  15. My wife brought home some generic candy corn from the grocery store. It is mostly sugar and corn syrup with several additives including artificial flavors and colors. At least, this type does not contain paraffin. It does contain carnauba wax, which I understand is used to add a shine to the surface. Carnauba wax comes from a type of palm, while paraffin is a petroleum product. The texture of candy corn certainly seems like you are eating candle wax, though.

  16. Grace Slick is 82. Even though she’s quite a bit older than me, somehow that makes me feel pretty old.

    Never mind. ‘Feed your head’!

Leave a Reply