Thursday: Hili dialogue

November 11, 2021 • 6:30 am

Take heart, o readers, as the weekend approaches: it’s Thursday, November 11, 2021: National Sundae Day. It’s been too long since we’ve had a good hot fudge sundae, hasn’t it? In Chicago they’re best at the old-time ice cream parlor Margie’s, founded in 1921 and delighting customers at the same spot ever since.

Look at this puppy, complete with a silver pitcher of their homemade hot fudge sauce (best I’ve ever had) on the side, allowing you to titrate your ice cream properly:

It’s also National Metal Day (as in “heavy metal”), Air Day (marking commercial air service between the Hawaiian Islands, which began on November 11, 1929), Origami Day, Singles’ Day, and World Quality Day, which has now been canceled in schools.

Everybody must have smiles! Or, as Mr. Roarke said, “Smiles, everyone, SMILES!”

And, as you know, it’s the day World War I ended with an armistice. Here are the celebrations, with the big one in the U.S. being Veterans Day (see below for Google Doodle):

  • End of World War I-related observances:
    • Armistice Day (New Zealand, France, Belgium and Serbia)
    • National Independence Day (Poland), commemorates the anniversary of Poland’s assumption of independent statehood in 1918
    • Remembrance Day (United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations, including Australia and Canada)
    • Veterans Day, called Armistice Day until 1954, when it was rededicated to honor American military (Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force) veterans. (United States)

Here today’s Google Doodle celebrating Veterans Day (click on screenshot):

Matthew is lecturing at a school in Edgware today, and apparently this is part of it. Paradise (except for the seagulls and geese):

Wine of the Day: For a Sauvignon Blanc of this quality, $18 wasn’t too much to pay. It is redolent of citrus and honeydew melon, but is also substantial, and, surprisingly, a bit off-dry, which went well with my modest meal of black beans, rice, sauteed onions, and yogurt, all mixed together (it’s what I make when I’m too tired to cook and it’s good–try it.). Its sweetness I attribute to the 15% semillon mixed with the 85% sauvignon blanc. Slightly sweet wines should be drunk with food more often; after all, don’t people have Cokes and milkshakes with their hamburgers? Anyway, this is highly recommended:

News of the Day:

*The SpaceX launch carrying 4 astronauts was a big success: everything was “nominal” and they crew should arrive at the ISS about 7 pm Eastern time this evening.  Here’s a short video of the launch and highlights:

*On Tuesday night, a federal judge ruled that Trump does not have “executive privilege” to keep his White House papers and communications secret from the House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots. He’s trying also to block the National Archives’ scheduled release of the papers on Friday.

Specifically, the Jan. 6 committee has demanded detailed records about Mr. Trump’s every movement and meeting on the day of the assault, when Mr. Trump led a “Stop the Steal” rally and his supporters then sacked the Capitol in an attempt to block Congress from certifying Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Trump’s hoping to tie up the investigation until the House committee is disbanded, but it’s not going to work.  Trump has appealed this ruling to a higher federal court, and if he loses there he’ll go to the Supreme Court, which should be interesting given that the law seems fairly clear As the judge said drily in his ruling, “But presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president.”.

*This is bad news for the economy, which of course means bad news for the Democratic Party. You’ve probably noticed some prices have gotten quite a bit higher lately: have you filled your car with gas in the past month?  Well, economists report that compared with a year ago, the rate of inflation (the consumer price index) was 6.2%—the largest annual increase in 30 years. Wage increases have not kept pace with inflation, which my father (an economist) defined as “too much money chasing too few goods.” It’s the supply chain, stupid!

Here’s a WaPo plot of inflation over time:

*If you want to know why people have chronic pain with no apparent cause, this NYT article is fascinating. It’s the glial cells, long ignored but now found to be the custodians of pain traveling through the neurons.  With this knowledge, scientists may be on their way to conquering chronic pain.

*If you haven’t been following the Yale Law School’s “trap house incident” and are following both abrogations of and defenses of academic freedom, you might be interested in The Washington Post’s summary of the situation: “At Yale Law School, a party ignites a firestorm.” It started like this:

The student, Trent Colbert, who has the unusual profile of belonging to both the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) and the conservative Federalist Society, emailed: “Sup NALSA, Hope you’re all still feeling social! This Friday at 7:30, we will be christening our very own (soon to be) world-renowned NALSA Trap House . . . by throwing a Constitution Day bash in collaboration with FedSoc. Planned attractions include Popeye’s chicken, basic-bitch-American-themed snacks (like apple pie, etc.) . . . Hope to see you all there.”

“Trap House,” according to the Urban Dictionary, was “originally used to describe a crack house in a shady neighborhood,” but “has since been abused by high school students who like to pretend they’re cool by drinking their mom’s beer together.” A popular far-left podcast, by three White men, calls itself Chapo Trap House, without incident.

This was seen as racist, with the predictable consequences.

. . . Within 12 hours, Colbert was summoned to meet with associate law dean Ellen Cosgrove and diversity director Yaseen Eldik. There, he was told that his message had generated nine student complaints of discrimination and harassment, and was more or less instructed to apologize. [Colbert recorded the conversation, which when made public embarrassed the University.]

. . .The administrators leaned on Colbert to think about “asking for forgiveness” to help “make this go away.” They drafted a note that they thought would suffice, apologizing for “any harm, trauma or upset” the email caused,” and adding, in language reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution, “I know I must learn more and grow. And I will actively educate myself so I can do better.” Dunce cap, anyone?

When Colbert resisted, saying he would prefer to discuss the issue face to face with anyone who was offended, the administrators acted on their own that same night, emailing the entire second-year class. “An invitation was recently circulated containing pejorative and racist language. We condemn this in the strongest possible terms.”

Yet later, Yale issued a statement that went like this:

After the Free Beacon story broke, Yale issued a statement denying that it had any intent of disciplining Colbert or alerting bar authorities down the line. “No student is investigated or sanctioned for protected speech,” the statement said.

Excuse me, but that statement sounds like what comes out of the south end of a north-facing cow. Colbert was not only investigated, but damned by the administration via email to his entire second-year class. The fracas continues, but the Post piece, an op-ed by Ruth Marcus, refreshingly defends Colbert.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 758,588, an increase of 1,216 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,091,548, an increase of about 8,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on November 11 includes:

Here’s what’s left of the exploding star; the caption is from Wikipedia:

Tycho’s Supernova Remnant. In 1572, the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe observed and studied the explosion of a star that became known as Tycho’s supernova. More than four centuries later, Chandra’s image of the supernova remnant shows an expanding bubble of multimillion degree debris (green and red) inside a more rapidly moving shell of extremely high energy electrons (filamentary blue).
  • 1620 – The Mayflower Compact is signed in what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod.
  • 1675 – Gottfried Leibniz demonstrates integral calculus for the first time to find the area under the graph of y = ƒ(x).

Some of Leibniz’s notes:

  • 1750 – The F.H.C. Society, also known as the Flat Hat Club, is formed at Raleigh Tavern, Williamsburg, Virginia. It is the first college fraternity.

The William and Mary student newspaper is still called “The Flat Hat.” It was also the first college to have a chapter of the honor fraternity Phi Beta Kappa.

  • 1831 – In Jerusalem, Virginia, Nat Turner is hanged after inciting a violent slave uprising.
  • 1880 – Australian bushranger Ned Kelly is hanged at Melbourne Gaol.

Here’s Kelly, who wore a suit of armor (photo below) during his final shootout with the cops before he was captured:

The armor has 18 bullet holes in it. Also shown is Kelly’s boot and his Enfield rifle:

Here’s a photo after the signing of the agreement (caption from Wikipedia). As I recall, Hitler made the French tender their surrender at the beginning of WWII in the same car—a way of humiliating them.

Photograph taken after reaching agreement for the armistice that ended World War I. This is Ferdinand Foch’s own railway carriage in the Forest of Compiègne. Foch’s chief of staff Maxime Weygand is second from left. Third from the left is the senior British representative, Sir Rosslyn Wemyss. Foch is second from the right. On the right is Admiral Sir George Hope.
  • 1921 – The Tomb of the Unknowns is dedicated by US President Warren G. Harding at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • 1923 – Adolf Hitler was arrested in Munich for high treason for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch.
  • 1930 – Patent number US1781541 is awarded to Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd for their invention, the Einstein refrigerator.

Here’s a drawing from the patent application (remember that Einstein worked as a patent examiner while writing his “miracle year” papers). The refrigerator, unlike the papers, was not a success:

  • 1992 – The General Synod of the Church of England votes to allow women to become priests.
  • 2004 – The Palestine Liberation Organization confirms the death of Yasser Arafat from unidentified causes. Mahmoud Abbas is elected chairman of the PLO minutes later.

Abbas was also elected President of Palestinian Authority in January, 2005 for a four-year term. There have been no further elections, and he’s still President!

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1493 – Paracelsus, Swiss-German physician, botanist, astrologer, and occultist (d. 1541)
  • 1821 – Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, and philosopher (d. 1881)

Here is a signed photo of Dostoyevsky and then a picture of his death mask, both of which I photographed at his apartment in St. Petersburg in July, 2011:

  • 1895 – Wealthy Babcock, American mathematician and academic (d. 1990)

Wealthy Babcock was a woman, but Wikipedia gives no explanation for her first name. She was a mathematician who taught for many years at the University of Kansas. It would be cool if she had two siblings named “Healthy” and “Wise”.

Wealthy Babcock
  • 1904 – Alger Hiss, American lawyer and convicted spy (d. 1996)
  • 1922 – Kurt Vonnegut, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (d. 2007)

A short bit of a lecture by Vonnegut on the “shapes of stories”:

  • 1962 – Demi Moore, American actress, director, and producer
  • 1964 – Calista Flockhart, American actress
  • 1974 – Leonardo DiCaprio, American actor and producer

Those who perished from this Earth on November 11 include:

  • 1831 – Nat Turner, American slave and rebel leader (b. 1800)
  • 1855 – Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, author, and poet (b. 1813)

Why are there no photos of Kierkegaard? I wanted to show one, and he lived when there was photography, after all.

  • 1880 – Ned Kelly, Australian criminal (b. 1855) [see above]
  • 1945 – Jerome Kern, American composer (b. 1885)

It’s a mystery to me why so many Broadway composers are of Jewish ancestry: not just Kern, but the Gershwins, Lerner, Loewe, Sondheim, Rodgers, Hammerstein, Berlin, Hart, Harburg, Arlen, etc.  I have no theory to explain this. But here’s a photo of Kern, who wrote, among other songs, “Old Man River,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” and “Long Ago and Far Away.”

I hadn’t heard “Long Ago and Far Away” in years, so I’m putting it below. What a treat to hear it again; it’s a wonderful tune.  Here’s a version by Dorothy Stafford (Kern wrote the music and Ira Gershwin, George’s brother, wrote the lyrics.) A nice version by Frank Sinatra is here.


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili is again peddling pessimism (she’d say “realism”)

Hili: I’m looking into the future.
A: And what do you see?
Hili: A deficit of optimism.
In Polish:
Hili: Patrzę w przyszłość.
Ja: I co widzisz?
Hili: Deficyt optymizmu.
Little Kulka isn’t so little any more!

Some philosophy. Reader Barry collaborated on an analysis of the Kalam cosmological argument:

From Nicole:

From Facebook. “‘Sold by weight, not volume. Some settling may occur during shipping.”

An old tweet by Titania:

From Barry, showing our kinship with other primates:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a chilling tale:

Tweets from Matthew: the famous “dress illusion”:

Nope, nope, nope, and nope.

A nice man rescues a sheep (or is it a goat?). Good thing he’s strong!

Sound up.

Everything is always wonderful in DodoLand. What a fantastic experience!

Sound up.

33 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. Veterans Day, called Armistice Day until 1954, when it was rededicated to honor American military (Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force) veterans. (United States).

    I’m pretty sure former Coasties get some love, too. And I suppose the “Space Force” will as well, once it’s been around long enough to have veterans.

  2. Trump has appealed this ruling to a higher federal court, and if he loses there he’ll go to the Supreme Court …

    I doubt the case ever makes it to SCOTUS (at least on anything other than a last-ditch request to enjoin the lower courts). Unless the DC Circuit Court of Appeals enters an immediate stay of the district court’s ruling, the National Archives will start releasing the records to the House committee tomorrow, rending further appeals moot.

  3. Veterans Day, called Armistice Day until 1954, when it was rededicated to honor American military (Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force) veterans. (United States)

    …and thanks to you all for your service. I’d like to give a special shout out to my great-uncle, who is 104, fought in the battle of the bulge, and if he makes it a few more years may end up being one of the last WWII vets alive.

    Within 12 hours, Colbert was summoned to meet with associate law dean Ellen Cosgrove and diversity director Yaseen Eldik. There, he was told that his message had generated nine student complaints of discrimination and harassment, and was more or less instructed to apologize.

    It’s infantilizing that the University got involved at all. I view this like an adult on the playground, faced with kids who are arguing over ‘who shot who’ with their pretend-gun fingers. Your job is ensure no kid on that playground gets hurt. It’s not to settle the ‘who shot who’ argument. Let the kids do that; it’s part of learning how to socialize.

    1. That is a really long life and we will hope it goes on. My wife’s mother recently died just short of 102, born in 1919. She just missed WWI but not the depression or anything since. She worked at Being where they made lots of B-17s for that war your uncle was in. They were the greatest generation and that is even more apparent today.

      1. I expect some ‘young whippersnapper’ who entered WWII at the beginning of 1945 at age 17 will outlive him. But we will see.

        1. Of the 16 million GIs who served in WW2, there are about 240,000 still living — about the size of Patton’s Third Army when it made the big turn toward Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

  4. 1918 – World War I: Germany signs an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car in the forest of Compiègne.

    As to Armistice Day, I’m always reminded of the quote by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (a free-thinking atheist) in Breakfast of Champions:

    When I was a boy … all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

    1. There is a recording (made on a wire-recorder, perhaps) around somewhere of the final artillery barrage from 14” rail-guns — naval rifles removed from battleships and transported on specially built rail cars — timed so that the shells would reach German positions a few seconds before the stroke of 11.

      Because of the slow communications and wretched transportation, the armistice agreement had to allow several hours for orders to reach all units on both sides at the front. (There is a rumour that a senior British commander, a Mason, argued to prolong the fighting unnecessarily out of numerical mysticism of “at the 11th hour of the 11th day . . .”). As it was there were several attacks launched that morning by local commanders on both sides in hopes of securing some small advantage or career advancement. In one attack in the final minutes, the German defenders waved white paper copies of the armistice agreement at the advancing American soldiers, hoping that they merely had not got the message. The number of soldiers who died in those last 6 hours is not small. Edit: Wiki gives 2,738, plus the usual horrible maiming injuries.

      1. Yes, I recall watching the Michael Palin documentary The Last Day of World War 1. (Palin, of Monty Python fame, had a great uncle who died in the war that day.) One commanding officer ordered his unit to take a village that morning, at the cost of many lives, so he could have a hot bath that evening.

    2. I always take some time on Armistice Day to read WWI poetry, so here is one poem to share:

      Dulce et Decorum Est
      Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
      Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
      Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
      And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
      Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
      But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
      Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
      Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

      Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
      Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
      But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
      And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
      Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
      As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

      In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
      He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

      If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
      Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
      And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
      His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
      If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
      Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
      Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
      Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
      My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
      To children ardent for some desperate glory,
      The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
      Pro patria mori.

      1. We read Dulce et Decorum Est in school. Thanks for posting it.
        Just heard Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor on the CBC. Composed in 1919, it is hard to believe it’s the same Elgar of the Pomp and Circumstances Marches (“Land of Hope and Glory . . .God who made thee mighty/Make thee mightier yet.”)

      2. Thanks for the poem; I first read it in high school. And Owen died a week before armistice (as Jerry pointed out in an HD last week).

  5. Trap House,” according to the Urban Dictionary, was “originally used to describe a crack house

    Incorrect. Back in the 1920s, or before, a “trap house” was a building used for trap shooting.

  6. Jerry, that was nice of you to post the Kalamity thing I did with Steve Tiger. I’ve now learned from Steve—and others could weigh in on this if anyone cares to—that we apparently missed another aspect of the argument. Or as Steve put it to me in a message on Twitter: “Kalam is a bit more involved, making a distinction between things that exist necessarily vs contingently.” Regardless, I think the two of us captured the essence of Kalam and why it doesn’t work (or persuade).

    1. Thanks to you and Steve, Barry. You’ve given me useful language in responding to the KCA. You’re probably aware of the YouTube videos refuting the KCA. My favorites are the ones by Rationality Rules and Paulogia.

  7. Hitler had soldiers knock a whole in the wall of the museum, drag out the carriage, used it as the venue for signing the surrender, then had the carriage blown up.

    1. I think we’re all pretty much agreed that we need to decarbonise – but it isn’t going to happen overnight and there’s some way to go on agreeing how to achieve it. In the meantime, yes we need to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

  8. Another “nope” on the DNA v. RNA piece in the Mail. Glycolysis (glucose -> pyruvate) takes place in the cytosol. The mitochondria handle the oxidation of acetate to CO2 and the capture of that energy by oxidative phosphorylation to regenerate ATP. (And a whole bunch of other oxygen-requiring processes like killing bacteria.)

  9. Today is also the hundredth anniversary of the official adoption of the poppy by Commonwealth Countries as a symbol of remembrance. As every Canadian schoolchild learns, it was inspired by Capt. John Stuart MacCrae’s “In Flanders Fields”. The MC at the Canadian Legion observance in our little town today informed us that the first use of the poppy for that purpose sprang up spontaneously in the United States the year before. Glad it caught on.

    The 1914-1918 War was an unmitigated catastrophe for the societies of England, France, Germany, Belgium, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and the other continental powers that threw so much into the war. Many colonial nations suffered heavy military casualties but their societies were not sent into terminal decline as in Europe. The United States had the good sense to stay out until being manipulated or possibly tricked by the British into joining in 1917. American troops were instrumental in turning back the last desperate German offensives in 1918 and convinced the Kaiser that victory would not be possible….a truly altruistic act, considering that America’s vital interests were never seriously threatened by Germany.

    Carnage on that scale is difficult to read about. I have never been able to complete a book about the land campaigns — in my mind I get the Somme and Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge and Ypres all mixed up. At the Armistice, the front was pretty much in the same place it was when the first German offensive stalled in 1914. My recommendations for reading to understand the War are therefore:

    Paris 1919, Six Months that Changed the World, by Margaret MacMillan (no relation.) The Treaty of Versailles and its aftermath. Ho Chi Minh, then a cook in a Paris restaurant was most impressed by Wilson’s calls for self-determination; only later did he realize the lofty sentiment didn’t apply to people like him. But he didn’t get mad, he got even.

    The War that Ended Peace, also by Ms MacMillan. A look at the prosperous but mistrustful world order that blundered into war after finessing one crisis after another since the 1870s. And yes, important trading partners do go to war against each other. (Democracies don’t though, reason enough for staying one.)

    The events between the two books are a black box. The only campaign that really mattered, because decisive in the end, was the naval strategy of Great Britain to 1) blockade the German Baltic coast and starve (literally) the war effort, 2) defeat the attempts by German submarines to do the same to her — countries and warships were “her” in those days — and 3) convince the United States to declare war on Germany.) Robert Massey’s Castles of Steel discharges the task authoritatively and with much less bloodshed.

    Today is a big deal for us. We don’t officially celebrate V-E day, or V-J day, or have a separate Memorial Day. Everyone from the Boer War to Afghanistan gets their two minutes of silence today. Thanks for your indulgence of my tears, and my hopes that my children are creating a better world.

  10. While I agree with you (Leslie Macmillan @#15) about the importance of points 1, 2, and 3 in your penultimate paragraph, they raise the usual questions about what we mean by ‘decisive’ and the difficulty of isolating the influence of specific factors in the protagonists’ decisions and actions.

    The naval strategy, for all its ultimate influence, would have come to naught had the German army succeeded on the Western Front in 1914, or 1916 or had the French collapsed in 1917 – all possibilities – or had the German 1918 spring/summer offensives succeeded. Naval strategy and American support made possible the Allied 100-day offensive in 1918, but did not guarantee its success, eg, the Battle of Amiens, which led to Ludendorff’s first loss of confidence in victory.

    Even the Battle of the Somme in 1916, often seen as a failure, succeeded in its immediate aim of relieving pressure on the French at Verdun, persuaded Hindenburg that Germany could not indefinitely fight defensive battles in the West, and increased the pressure to recommence unrestricted submarine warfare, a factor bringing the US into the war.

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