Monday: Hili dialogue

November 8, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning at the start of a new work week, for it’s Monday November 8, 2021: National Cappuccino Day, and I’m having one as I type.

It’s also National Harvey Wallbanger Day, Cook Something Bold Day, National Dunce Day, World Pianist Day, X-ray Day, (International Day of Radiology), celebrating the day X-rays were discovered in 1895 (see below), World Urbanism Day, and Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the other Bodiless Powers of Heaven Day, celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox Church. (I don’t often list religious holidays, but this one had a good name).

Finally, there’s a Google Doodle today (click on screenshot) honoring the life and work of Kamal Ranadive, born on this day in 1917 (died 2001), known for her work on the connection of viruses to cancer, tissue culture, and fostering science education, particularly among women.

News of the Day:

*After a lot of bad national publicity, the University of Florida has finally allowed three professors to testify against the state’s new voter-restriction law. The profs also filed a lawsuit. But the state government now says they can’t receive compensation for their testimony, (h/t Ken):

The concession appeared to be an unqualified victory for the three professors, all nationally known experts in their fields. Drs. Smith and McDonald have frequently testified in election and voting-rights cases nationwide. Dr. Austin is an expert on African American political behavior and the author of a number of books on that and related topics.

All three had given depositions and submitted expert reports in the Florida lawsuit despite the university’s effort to block them. They are scheduled to testify in the case in January.

I don’t think there’s a law forbidding such testimony (originally nixed because it “went against the interests of the state of Florida), and I doubt there’s one against receiving remuneration. The threat of a lawsuit made the university cave.

*NYT columnist Ross Douthat, who has suffered for several years with Lyme Disease, recounts how a bit of quackery helped him. In particular, he says he benefited from using the Rife machine, which pumps electricity into the body through the hands and feet (its principle is that each malady has a special “electromagnetic frequency”).

There were two channels listed for Lyme disease, each one containing dozens of frequencies. I set the machine up inside the drop-leaf desk in our back bedroom, my office, the most private space that I could find. I dampened the terry cloth and gripped the cylinders, like a robot recharging his batteries or a video game player with a control in either hand. Then I punched in the first channel and hit start.

Naturally, it worked.

He wants people to take a position in between quackery and scientific medicine, because sometimes the “Establishment” will be wrong. Perhaps, but I don’t like the idea of a national figure touting electromagnetic cures for diseases when there’s no evidence for it. (Granted, Lyme disease is a toughie.) People not as rich as Douthat might get bilked.

*Speaking of quackery, you’ve heard about how the great Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers misled people into thinking he was vaccinated when he told reporters he was “immunized.” It turns out that he didn’t get the vaccination, but took IVERMECTIN as well as monoclonal antibodies and zinc. Well, he wasn’t really immunized because he got Covid and is now sidelined for a while. Now the Washington Post analyzes five misleading statements Rodgers made and what the experts say about them. Here’s one:

Rodgers: “To my knowledge, there’s been no zero long-term studies around sterility or fertility issues around the vaccines. So that was something I was definitely worried about.”

What experts say: Rodgers cited his hopes of becoming a father as one of the reasons he declined the shot. But there’s a greater risk of infertility caused by the virus he has.

The same misconception about infertility from getting vaccinated was raised by singer Nicki Minaj and has spread online, despite dismissals from experts including the American Society for Reproductive Medicine(h/t Randy)

*The NYT ha a decent article called “Your easy, no-sweat guide to picking wines for Thanksgiving.” The advice is sound but the spelling is not. Here’s part of a list of the type of wines you don’t want (my bolding):

• Transgressive wines. Thanksgiving is a time for making people happy, not for persuading them to drink avant-garde styles that you love but that may bewilder mainstream drinkers. You don’t have to sacrifice principals or suppress your own tastes, just look for styles that can be easily understood by most people.

Has the paper given up editing? I think this isn’t a typo but a misspelling, and it’s the first one I can remember seeing in the paper.

And they recommend one wine that is a house staple of mine, which I’ve touted here before (my emphasis):

Florence, who generally brings American wines, picked as her white a 2020 California blend of chenin blanc and viognier from Pine Ridge that was bright, floral and slightly spritzy.

That is a great white and costs about ten bucks. For Thanksgiving I’d choose a decent but not too gutsy Beaujolais, preferably by Georges Duboeuf. No rosés! The article is right on about avoiding gutsy and high-alcohol wines.

*This might be seen as good news except that it won’t do anything to rescue the critically endangered Amur leopard, a subspecies of the leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) found in SE Russia and NW China. Only about 60 individuals are estimated to survive in the wild, but a female cub named Marta, born in August at the Sant Barbara zoo. According to the AP, Marta just made her public appearance. Go see the photos, like this one:

One leopard in a zoo, cute as it is, will do nothing to save the subspecies.  You could say it will educate people about the leopard, and that will help save it, but that’s not the way it works.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 754,051, an increase of 1,217 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,066,912, an increase of about 4,700 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on November 8 includes:

Cortés’s army later killed the Aztec ruler. Here’s the spot on the causeway between the mainland and Tenochtitlán (now Mexico City, once on an island) where the two men met:

  • 1602 – The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford is opened to the public.

I’ve been to Oggsford (Gatsby’s pronunciation) many times, but never to the Bodleian (below);

From Wikipedia: “First medical X-ray by Wilhelm Röntgen of his wife Anna Bertha Ludwig’s hand.” This was taken about six weeks after the discovery. When his wife saw the x-ray, she supposedly said, “I have seen my death!”

Eight people were killed in these riots following the publication in a newspaper of the Gospel of Matthew into demotic Greek—the language spoken by the people.

  • 1923 – Beer Hall Putsch: In Munich, Adolf Hitler leads the Nazis in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the German government.
  • 1932 – Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected as the 32nd President of the United States, defeating incumbent president Herbert Hoover.
  • 1937 – The Nazi exhibition Der ewige Jude (“The Eternal Jew”) opens in Munich.

Here’s a poster advertising the exhibit, organized by Goebbels:

A film of the same title was released in 1940. It’s very hard to find on the Internet, but there’s a low-resolution YouTube version with English narration and subtitles here. If you want to see anti-Semitism at its worst, have a look.

JFK was in office for 1,036 days before he was murdered.

Brooke(below) was a liberal Republican, and co-wrote the 1968 Civil Rights Act forbidding housing discrimination. Talk about bipartisanship!

  • 1988 – U.S. Vice President George H. W. Bush is elected as the 41st president.
  • 2016 – Donald Trump is elected the 45th President of the United States, defeating Hillary Clinton, the first woman ever to receive a major party’s nomination.

Oy! It was even worse than we imagined, wasn’t it?

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1656 – Edmond Halley, English astronomer and mathematician (d. 1742)
  • 1847 – Bram Stoker, Irish novelist and critic, created Count Dracula (d. 1912)

Here’s Stoker, and Wikipedia notes:

“The original 541-page typescript of Dracula was believed to have been lost until it was found in a barn in northwestern Pennsylvania in the early 1980s. It consisted of typed sheets with many emendations, and handwritten on the title page was “THE UN-DEAD.” The author’s name was shown at the bottom as Bram Stoker. Author Robert Latham remarked: “the most famous horror novel ever published, its title changed at the last minute.” The typescript was purchased by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.”

The first page of the once-lost typescript:

A first edition, first printing of this novel in good condition (below) will run you about $50,000:

  • 1922 – Christiaan Barnard, South African surgeon and academic (d. 2001)
  • 1947 – Minnie Riperton, American singer-songwriter (d. 1979)
  • 1949 – Bonnie Raitt, American singer-songwriter and guitarist

Here’s one of my favorite Bonnie Raitt songs (writers: Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin) with Bruce Hornsby on the piano. The video quality is poor but the sound is very good, and the vocals and piano are terrific.  Note that she’s only two months older than I:

  • 1954 – Kazuo Ishiguro, Japanese-British novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer.

A great novelist. By all means read Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.

Those who were put on ice on November 8 include:

  • 1308 – Duns Scotus, Scottish priest, philosopher, and academic (b. 1266)
  • 1674 – John Milton, English poet and philosopher (b. 1608)
  • 1887 – Doc Holliday, American dentist and poker player (b. 1851)
  • 1978 – Norman Rockwell, American painter and illustrator (b. 1894)

Here’s one of Rockwell’s famous magazine-cover paintings, “Saying Grace.” In 2013 it sold for $46 million!

  • 2020 – Alex Trebek, Canadian-American television personality and longtime host of Jeopardy! (b. 1940)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is having Deep Thoughts:

A: Are you asleep?
Hili: Don’t disturb me, I’m dreaming about something delicious.
In Polish:
Ja: Śpisz?
Hili: Nie przeszkadzaj, marzę o czymś smacznym.
And Kulka is sleeping too. Doesn’t she look like Hili?

Car dashboard symbols from Jesus of the Day:


From Cole & Marmalade:

From the Purrfect Feline Page:

From Masih, a horrendous fate:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. Dürer drew felids!

This is indeed real history:

Look at this fish! And then explain those barbels.

I may have posted this before, but I’ve forgotten. That is one clueless keeper!

Google search hacks that can be useful:

Remember the brouhaha about the Lancet cover?

44 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. That is a great song and a fine singer to sing it.

    Most would expect the quarterback to be one of the smarter player on the team and this guy, Aaron Rogers even hosted Jepardy for a week or two. Apparently makes no difference if you obtain that worst disease of all – Trump Syndrome.

    1. Rogers was smart enough to lie about it. This was IMO willful. He knew what the team rules meant, and he knew his chosen treatment didn’t meet the definition, and that he didn’t want to face the consequences of saying ‘no.’

      But yeah, agree with you that the origin of Covid vaccination opposition is in this weird irrational association of vaccines with Democrats and/or ‘Big Pharma.’ What catapults this to a newer level of lunacy than previous (lefty) anti-vaxx movements is that it’s followers loudly proclaim their paranoia/distrust in vaccine manufacturers, then go buy ivermectin etc. from the same set of corporations.

      1. Rogers seems to be making all kinds of excuses, even that, I want to have kids some day. Worst of all he says people should do their own research. Like what? Watch Fox? Yeah Rogers is pretty sick- but he also has Covid.

        1. His distrust is a reason to not get the vaccine. But it’s not a reason to lie about it. The player’s union is quite strong, it’s very likely he could’ve said “no, I’m not vaccinated” and still been allowed to play. Whether the optics of that would’ve been pleased the owner, coach, his teammates, or himself is another story. But, as the saying goes, choices have consequences. Lying about it says he knew that, and didn’t want to face them.

          1. As I understand it, the NFL allows players to not be vaccinated but they must be tested every day and there are strict rules about them wearing masks. So he skirted all of that. Now he has possibly exposed other players, coaches, staff, and their families to Covid.
            A drop in the ocean, as this kind of dumb crap happens every day. But great fame may come with great retribution.

        2. He did his own research: He got his Covid advice from Joe Rogan. Not a doctor, or a scientist, but an ex-MMA fighter and comedian. What a dope. And the Packers lost yesterday to the Chiefs since their back-up QB isn’t very good. They would have won handily had Rodgers played. Selfish dope.

  2. As reported by the great David Spiegelhalter & Anthony Masters in the Observer yesterday (p.55), the Economist estimates that the actual number of dead world wide is 10 to 19 million more than the 5 million. Nit credible are claims if zero deaths like Turkmenistan & North Korea.

  3. I’ve been to Oggsford (Gatsby’s pronunciation) …

    Technically, I think that was the pronunciation by Gatsby’s hoodlum associate, Meyer Wolfsheim.

  4. (my bolding)

    The NYT ha a decent article called “Your easy, no-sweat guide to picking wines for Thanksgiving.” The advice is sound but the spelling is not

    Pereira’s fourth law of the Internet: Any attempt to criticise spelling or grammar on the Internet will contain at least one error of spelling or grammer.

    1. Indeed! Muphry’s law is worth bearing in mind, too.

      Still, if that’s the only misspelling our host has seen in the NYT it’s doing pretty well. The Grauniad used to have a special section in the Corrections and Clarifications column entirely devoted to the accidental use of the wrong homophone such as in the “principals/principles” example highlighted by PCC(E).

      1. Instead of

        The badgers have dwelt there for generations

        the Guardian once said

        The bodgers have dealt there for generators.

        Note: My recollection of Yes Minister may not be accurate and I don’t have the book with me to check.

  5. I Can’t Make You Love Me is one of my favorite songs as well, but Bonnie didn’t write it. It was written by Mike Reid, a former NFL player and concert pianist turned country singer, with Allen Shamblin.

  6. Not going to jump on the Lyme disease band wagon, but national diet recommendations have been crazy for decades. New publications on Carbohydrate Insulin Resistance model of obesity suggests that high carb recommendations are a recipe for obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Super low protein recommendations (based on fear of kidney/liver disease) are completely unnecessary, and protein provides greater satiety than carbs, thereby putting people on the death from diabetes path. Last, products like eggs and dairy fats have been maligned, but a recent large study in Japan found they were protective for heart disease. They have been killing people for decades on this stuff.

    Exercise recommendations favor cardio over resistance training, and bad resistance training over full body exercises with barbells, when cardio does nothing to help you stand up from a toilet or get off the floor when you have fallen. This means more people in nursing homes who could have had higher quality of life in their dotage, assuming you haven’t already killed them off with refined sugar.

    Not to mention all the unreplicated crap in social sciences, people have every reason to be skeptical of public health recommendations.

    1. On Covid, the CDC has been out to lunch as well. First, they told us masks did not help (e.g. they lied to us on purpose because they wanted to horde masks for medical providers), they took their damn time shutting down international flights, they told us that vaccinated people can’t transmit the virus (oops), I remember Fauci telling us vaccines would protect for somewhere between 6 months and 10 years (looks like the low end), etc. etc.

      I don’t want to sound anti-vax here, but if I were the average member of the public, I wouldn’t have a whole heck of a lot of faith in the government health authorities, and it directly relates to mis-messaging and incompetence by the CDC.

      1. Unfortunately you do read as being very biased.
        >The very early call for us to not buy up the specialty masks (N-95s) is b/c they were indeed in short supply, and our front line medical workers really did need them waaay more than the public. It was highly urgent. They weren’t hording them — wtf.
        > I doubt the cdc can shut down international flights. They can at best recommend it. It made no difference, btw, since Covid was already in the country before anyone even knew it was in the country.
        > The early estimates on vaccine effectiveness is based on other vaccines. All of us, including the medical experts, are literally learning as they go.

        They did make mistakes, though. The worst was the announcement that vaccinated people could remove their masks in public. That was surprisingly tone deaf, since once you let that cat out of the bag, it does not want to go back in again.

      2. The trouble with much of it is that the way it is covered in the media is not consistent with the scientific hedging that is almost always apparent in the actual publications of studies (though not always, unfortunately).

        It was always a guess how long the vaccines would protect us…how could it be anything else when the vaccines hadn’t been in existence for even six months yet? As for masks, at the beginning I remember getting the clear impression that they were not saying they were useless, but that they weren’t sure enough that they’d be useful for the public to be encouraged to use them, because they feared shortages among the healthcare providers, who really need them (which made sense when you looks at the stupidity that happened with toilet paper). I don’t recall that information being withheld but being blatantly expressed, and when it became clear that masks were useful–you know, as time passed and scientists got a chance to study the matter–they changed their recommendations, with clearly explained reasons.

        People have to remember that public health recommendations are not ex cathedra statements direct from God, nor are they diabolical attempt to manipulate the public and mislead them or play with their lives, but are recommendations based on the available science at the time. And sometimes the health authorities speak too soon about things for which the evidence is far from settled (I’m thinking of the low-fat, high-carb fiasco you mention in your first comment, which was a real cluster…uh, bomb laid by overenthusiastic recommendations, then media and food companies seizing upon excellent ways to sell new products to people by making them think they were being healthy. But there have always been medical scientists who thought that the recommendations were too extreme and premature and that the media were also reckless in the way they promulgate medical (and other) science…especially in the era of news as entertainment and titillation rather than news as sober evaluation of events. If there ever has been much of the latter.

        As for the Lyme treatment, it seems highly unlikely that it does anything beyond the placebo effect, as described; I can’t even readily imagine a mechanism by which it would work. I can just barely imagine that the electricity could have a luckily beneficent effect on some of the neurologic symptoms of Lyme disease, which can be horrible, but otherwise it sounds like a throwback to the early days of Galvanism as panacea.

        It is frustrating when otherwise intelligent people like Aaron Rogers, who probably didn’t even do particularly well in high school bio, and who probably can’t remember much of what they learned even if they did do well, suggest people doing their “own research”, but that research doesn’t include actually learning the basics of biology, let alone immunology, virology, epidemiology, parasitology, etc., but merely to go to blogs and popular treatments. Some of these can be good, but there are no barriers to entry with online media, so the average layperson can’t tell on its face whether a source is good or not…one needs to learn about the basics of the matter before one can even TELL whether a source is reliable. This is why we have experts. And when experts from numerous reputable organizations, from the CDC to the WHO to Johns Hopkins and Harvard medical schools, to the NHS in the UK and similar organizations in other nations are consistent, it’s at least worth paying attention.

        The world is complicated. It takes actual intellectual work to understand any situation with more than a single, first-order variable. We should not expect or ask for simple answers. (I’m not saying you did ask for that, KD, I just used your comment as a launching point, so don’t take this as something against you, please. It’s not intended to be that.)

        1. No offense taken, and I wasn’t trying to justify Douthat or the stupid foot ball player’s actions, just that they are understandable given the messaging. I try to look at the data and the study designs when I can, and test what the guberment tells me I should be doing. If I wasn’t so good at that, I would be completely lost and probably injecting horse dewormer.

      3. “…and it directly relates to mis-messaging and incompetence by the CDC.”

        If I badmouth the CDC, I’m likely to be accused of being a conspiracy theorist or anti-science. In fact, I’m neither. But when it comes to the CDC I’m not sure “incompetence” gets to the core of the problem. I spent over 15 years dealing with the CDC as a science editor for the Kaiser Permanent Center for Health Research. Typically, when an organization such as a pharmaceutical company contracted with the Center for a study, it had to sign an agreement that the Center retained the right fo publish the results regardless of whether they were favorable to the grantor. For the CDC grants, however, we had to sign an agreement that the CCD reserved the right to publish or not publish the results at their discretion. In CDC language, this was in keeping with the CDC’s mission to “ensure that programs will have a meaningful impact for CCD and public health, and complement CDC’s priorities and ongoing work.”

        I won’t go into specific instances when the CDC suppressed valid findings that didn’t “complement CDC’s priorities and ongoing work” (and to be fair, I’ve never known them to manipulate, as oppose to simply suppress, findings). Nor will I go so far as to say that you can’t trust the CDC. You can, in fact, trust the CDC to tell you what the CDC has decided is likely to get you to do what they think you should do. A case in point the CDC’s decision last April that the public needed to know only the number of breakthrough cases that led to hospitalization or death—presumably to allay vaccine hesitancy. Similarly, when the CDC announced in May that people who were vaccinated didn’t have to wear masks, it wasn’t because they had evidence that not wearing masks was safe for people who weren’t vaccinated, it was to incentivize more people to get vaccinated.

        I’m not even sure what one should call all this rather than “incompetence”—“well-intended misdirection” perhaps? I certainly wouldn’t dignify it with the name of “science.”

  7. I knew three of the six google hacks. The search within a site has been very useful. I’ll have to try out the others.

    1. It’s too bad at least one them doesn’t work worth a damn. I use the –keyword all the time and still get pages of results full of that word.

  8. See Veritasuim’s excellent video on how most research done via Google is biased toward your expected answer, and how to avoid that. If you don’t know this science channel, I can’t recommend it enough.

  9. I don’t care what anyone says – that Rockwell painting is expressive and mesmerizing. Oddly, I never saw it before.

    1. Rockwell was dismissed for a very long time a schmaltzy purveyor of Americana kitsch, but in the past couple of decades he has bene receiving more respectful attention from the art world, and his paintings are collected by wealthy folks like Steven Spielberg for very high prices.

      I have always liked Rockwell’s work. On a technical level he is excellent—his work has a warmth that derives not merely from subject matter but the vitality of his figures, compositions, and sense of color. Being a magazine illustrator, his subject matter was dictated by editors and can be saccharine or silly. But I defy anyone to look at a painting like “The Problem We All Live With” ( and tell me he wasn’t a skillfull and significant artist.

      1. I think artists get hammered for photo-realism.

        As for kitsch – that is part of what I find fascinating about the works – what IS it with kitsch?

  10. Ref Rodgers, mumps infections post-puberty do sometimes result in testicular swelling when the virus lodges there, and there has been some worry about the impact of that on fertility, but as far as I’ve been able to tell, there’s no consensus on that. And NB: that’s with natural infection, NOT mumps vaccine.

    Otherwise, Google searching: “verticle” bar??

  11. Ross Douthat is an incurably religious loon and Royal Rife was a fraud/quack so they absolutely go together. When you reach Douthat’s level of scientific illiteracy, magic *always* works just fine.

    Rife “invented” an optical microscope that he claimed could magnify 60,000X, which is totally impossible when using visible light (the upper limit is actually below 2,000X) and he claimed to be able to even see viruses. He worked for Zeiss and Leitz for a time as a lens grinder (but never a microscope designer) and was quite fond of building optical microscopes with ridiculous amounts of even redundant mechanical adjustments. The National Bureau of Standards (NBS, currently NIST) has a Rife Universal microscope and they had a lot of trouble getting it to form a coherent image, even at much lower magnifications. Here is a link to a photo of the one that the NBS (NIST) has:

    Rife went on to declare that he could cure all kinds of diseases (including cancer, naturally) by subjecting them to appropriate optical frequencies, which he claimed caused the viruses/diseases to suddenly “burst”. This has spawned a *very* large market of quack electronic RF&audio frequency devices to cure diseases and achieve inner peace, infinite wealth, and infinite health, etc. There is zero evidence that Rife was ever a medical Dr. or a PhD. as his totally deluded die hard fans (and rather obvious Rife machine hucksters) like to claim.

    Rife quackery in action: <== tune up all 7 chakras at once!

    If you do a Google search for "Rife Machine" you would currently get more than 10,000,000 hits from peddlers of these terminally nonsensical quack machines.

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