Saturday: Hili dialogue

November 13, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s Saturday, a Sabbath for felids, and the weekend is here on this chilly November 13, 2021: National Indian Pudding Day. To me, this uniquely American dessert is one of the best of the world’s treats, but you rarely find it. My favorite version used to be at the Durgin-Park restaurant in Boston, but, tragically, it went out of business a few years ago.  The pudding, made from cornmeal, molasses, butter, and spices, has a unique earthy flavor that comes from its ingredients. Not everyone likes it, but everyone should try it. A good recipe is here. It is best eaten warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on top: the way Durgin-Park used to serve it. (I hear the pudding is still on offer at the nearby Union Oyster House). This is how it looks:


It’s also Actor’s Day (which actor?), Wine Tourism DaySadie Hawkins Day, and World Kindness Day. You will recall Sadie Hawkins Day if you’re old enough to remember the Li’l Abner comic strip, which depicted the annual day when, in a reversal of roles, the women of Dogpatch chase after the men:

News of the Day:

*As I expected (and hoped), a federal grand jury indicted Steve Bannon yesterday on two contempt of Congress charges. Can he avoid jail by giving in and testifying? Would he even do that, given that it would anger his pal Trump? Bannon is expected to turn himself in on Monday and perhaps appear in court later that day. From the NYT:

The politically and legally complex case was widely seen as a litmus test for whether the Justice Department would take an aggressive stance against one of Mr. Trump’s top allies in a matter that legal experts said was not settled law.

This refers to Bannon’s (and Trump’s) claims that their testimony and papers are protected by “executive privilege.” For a reader’s pessimistic analysis of the situation (i.e., nothing happens to Bannon), see yesterday’s comment by David Jorling.

*Perhaps we’ll see an end to the Kyle Rittenhouse trial very soon. Highlights: Rittenhouse’s dramatic breakdown on the stand, the admission of one of his victims that he (the victim) was already pointing a gun at Rittenhouse when the latter fired, and the repeated and heated clashes between the judge and the prosecution. I’m betting Rittenhouse will be found not guilty—if the judge doesn’t declare a mistrial before the verdict. Rittenhouse faces five felony charges (and one misdemeanor charge) that could land him in prison for life. Closing arguments start on Monday.

*I thought the headline below from the Washington Post was funny. Will each of the two companies be named “Johnson”? Click on screenshot to read. The company will split into a consumer division (Johnson, Jr.?) and the Big Daddy, a medical-products/pharmaceutical division (Johnson Senior).

*In his latest Weekly Dish column, Andrew Sullivan gives a number of narratives covered by the mainstream media that, he claims, were reported in a false and distorted way (one of them is the early report that Kyle Rittenhouse committed two unprovoked murders). What bothers him is that the narratives all exculpate the Left or buttress Left-wing sentiments.:

We all get things wrong. What makes this more worrying is simply that all these false narratives just happen to favor the interests of the left and the Democratic party. And corrections, when they occur, take up a fraction of the space of the original falsehoods. These are not randos tweeting false rumors. They are the established press.

. . . I still rely on the MSM for so much. I still read the NYT first thing in the morning. I don’t want to feel as if everything I read is basically tilted through wish-fulfillment, narrative-proving, and ideology. But with this kind of record, how can I not?

We need facts and objectivity more than ever. Trump showed that. What we got in the MSM was an over-reaction, a reflexive overreach to make the news fit the broader political fight. This is humanly understandable. It is professionally unacceptable. And someone has got to stop it.

*It appears to be big news that Britney Spears’s conservatorship, headed by her father, has ended, and she’s back in control of her life (her dad started the issue 14 years ago, citing Spears’s mental health problems) The streets outside the courtroom were packed and everyone cheered when the announcement was made. I’m puzzled why this is such big news, though. I know she was a music star years ago, but is that the sole reason? Or has this become some kind of symbolic human-rights issue? Perhaps if I were a fan I’d understand.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 761,354 an increase of 1,120 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,107,127, an increase of about 8,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on November 13 includes:

  • 1002 – English king Æthelred II orders the killing of all Danes in England, known today as the St. Brice’s Day massacre.
  • 1841 – James Braid first sees a demonstration of animal magnetism by Charles Lafontaine, which leads to his study of the subject he eventually calls hypnotism.
  • 1940 – Walt Disney‘s animated musical film Fantasia is first released, on the first night of a roadshow at New York’s Broadway Theatre.

“Fantasia” is a brilliant film. Here’s just a bit: Mickey as “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”:

It’s a semiautomatic rifle that is now manufactured everywhere, and comes with 20- and 30- round magazines. The “47” in the name comes from the year that Mikhail Kalashnikov invented it. Wikipedia notes that about 15% of all the 500 million firearms in the world are in the Kalashnikov family. An early model:

Here are some scenes from that first World Cup:

It’s a beautiful spot and a sad one, bearing the names of 58,320 members of the military killed in Vietnam (these include eight women). I remember when young Maya Lin, then an undergraduate at Yale, submitted the winning design. Now she’s 62!  Here’s a photo; curiously, though I’ve been to D.C. many times (it was the only place before Chicago I thought of as “home,” I’ve never visited it).  I think it would upset me because every name represents a person who died in a war that achieved nothing.

  • 2001 – War on Terror: In the first such act since World War II, US President George W. Bush signs an executive order allowing military tribunals against foreigners suspected of connections to terrorist acts or planned acts on the United States.
  • 2015 – Islamic State operatives carry out a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, including suicide bombings, mass shootings and a hostage crisis. The terrorists kill 130 people, making it the deadliest attack in France since the Second World War.

Notables born on this day include:

Yes, he believed Genesis was literally true but also had metaphorical truth. If someone tells you he saw Genesis as a metaphor, write them off as theological chowderheads. He also believed in angels and was obsessed with classifying them.

Smith was the nephew of the Mormonism founder Joseph Smith. The nephew had six wives and 48 children (!), shown in the photo below from 1901.  Smith is the bearded sage in the middle:

This is the first time I’ve looked for a photo of Stevenson, and he looks pretty much as I imagined. He died of a vascular event on Samoa at age 44, and is buried on a mountain there. The second photo shows him in his house on Vailima, Samoa, which still stands as a Stevenson museum.

Kimura is regarded as the main founder of the “neutral theory” of population genetics, which describes what happens to gene variants when they are not affected by natural selection (it’s a “genetic drift” model). I met him once in Toronto in 1988 and got his autograph on his most famous book, The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution.  (I have a bunch of evolution books and letters that are signed, and some day I will give them away—but to whom?):

  • 1955 – Whoopi Goldberg, American actress, comedian, and talk show host

Her real name is Caryn Elaine Johnson, and she won an Oscar for best supporting actress in the movie “Ghost”.

  • 1969 – Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somalian-American activist and author

Those who said their last farewells on November 13 include:

  • 1868 – Gioachino Rossini, Italian pianist and composer (b. 1792)
  • 1974 – Karen Silkwood, American technician and activist (b. 1946)

Silkwood died under mysterious circumstances, perhaps connected with her attempts to report poor manufacturing practices in a Kerr-McGee nuclear fuel factory.  A photo is below, and then the trailer of the 1983 film “Silkwood,” which starred Meryl Streep as Silkwood and Cher as her friend.

  • 1994 – Motoo Kimura, Japanese biologist and geneticist (b. 1924)

He died on his 70th birthday. See above.

  • 2016 – Leon Russell, American singer-songwriter (b. 1942)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn Hili makes a pronouncement:

Hili: Nature is like a book.
A: Interesting?
Hili: It depends.
In Polish:
Hili: Natura jest jak książka.
Ja: Ciekawa?
Hili: A to różnie.
And a photo taken by Paulina of Szaron and Kulka cuddling:

A meme from Bruce:

From Nicole:

I love this contest; the answers are almost always clever. I remember one from years ago: “Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.” In the list below, I like “Pokemon” best.

A tweet from Yahweh:

From Anna. Apparently the American Mathematical Society has fractured because many people considered it too woke. The offspring society, at the link below (with a list of founders) is the Association for Mathematical Research. Here, “Dr. Abolish the Police” (wouldn’t you know?) demonizes the new anti-woke society.

From Barry; nice pet! (Sound up.)

From Simon. If I saw this sign I’d walk in and say, “I’d like a case of Covid, please.” Note the tweet is from Nate Silver.

From Luana; this is news to me.  “MAPs” are people attracted to minors. I guess they don’t seem themselves as “pedophiles” if they don’t act on their attraction, but I thought pedophile simply means the same thing as “MAP”. Look at the ages of the attractors in the second tweet.

Sound up for the first one:

Tweets from Matthew. The first one reminds me of the nightly foraging exodus of bats from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas.

Speaking of bats, look at this adorable little guy nomming papaya! This is a wrinkle-faced bat from Central America.

57 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. I just want to thank Commenter HISTORIAN for his Nov 3 recommendation of the book, “Robert E. Lee and Me” by BGen (Ret.) Ty Seidule, Professor of History Emeritus at West Point. Prof Seidule speaks of his rearing in the two Southern environments of Alexandria, VA (which was also Robert E. Lee’s family home) and a small town in GA, followed by an undergraduate education at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. His research into the history of slavery, segregation, and the marketing of the civil war, particularly in the U.S. South is very enlightening as are his conclusions about the full impact and meaning Lee’s life. I believe that this book is a “must read” for any local school board member (and university boards of visitors) in the South, impacting discussions both of building names AND curriculum. I also recommend Kate Masur’s recent book, “Until Justice Be Done – America’s First Civil Rights Movement From the Revolution to Reconstruction”.
    Thank you again HISTORIAN for calling the Lee book to my attention. It had particular impact on me as I was raised in Virginia with the Virginia K-12 history curriculum just a few years earlier than the author and also spent a couple of my adult years living in Alexandria, walking the streets of Old Town near Lee’s boyhood home while assigned to work duties in Washington DC.
    And thank you to Jerry for WEIT which stimulates these connections. It is important.

    1. I should have been more explicit: “West Point” is the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

    2. Thank you, Jim. I found the Seidule book important because it illustrates how a person can escape from an environment that fosters the destructive myths of what I have called fairy tale history, in this case the “Lost Cause.” I hope that the book can influence many others, but I dare not get too optimistic.

      1. Unfortunately, as I expect you are aware, we Southern boys and girls are pretty much steeped in the fairy tail myth and simply replacing it with another fairy tail such as the 1619 Project or Kendi at his most extreme, will just be another disaster. One difficulty will be the process that K12 policy makers, ie local school boards, use to consider these issues. I think that it will require significant workshop/retreat time (maybe a day plus a morning), preparatory reading, being open to having the public present and observing, being open to challenging assumptions that they have lived with all their lives, and certainly a very good facilitator. The intersection of these desirements is close to the null set, but some boards may succeed and through presenting their accomplishments at statewide school board conferences and the annual National School Boards Association conference may bring some success. We (just)need one really good example of appropriate change for curriculum and the background information that drive criteria for naming of facilities.

        1. When I was in 5th grade [1970-71], our History class included a book on “American Heroes.” It included a chapter on Robert E. Lee, which said that he did not own slaves, and was, in fact, opposed to slavery. And this was in Connecticut! I can imagine what kids in the South are taught.

          1. Wow that is interesting. Here in the South, I spent the fifth grade in Magruder Elementary School, a White segregated public school in 1959, named for Confederate Army Maj Gen John Bankhead Magruder as attested to on a large bronze dedication plaque in the school’s entrance lobby. After serving a 90% African American student since around 1975, that building was razed a few years ago, its name retired, and replaced by the Southeastern STEM Academy.

  2. There has been several conflicts/wars in American history when they died for nothing. Afghanistan and Iraq are most recent. The first, an actual declared war with England in 1812 was certainly for nothing. It was similar to the insurrection of Jan. 6 with the main difference being a domestic enemy in the latest event. As we should have discovered by now, the enemy is us. I have been to the Vietnam memorial a couple of times and have a classmate named there. In the end, what do any of us die for?

    1. Indeed. Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the Taliban abandoning Kabul as the Afghan Northern Alliance advanced towards the city.

  3. My understanding of the Britney Spears conservatorship issue is that decisions about whether she could marry, get pregnant, when and where she could work, etc. were taken out of her hands and that she claimed to have been made to perform at Las Vegas when she felt unwell. Although she earned millions she couldn’t access the money and a substantial chunk was retained by her father for his expenses. That said, her track record on her ability to take decisions for herself wasn’t good – her first marriage lasted 55 hours(!) and that was years before the conservatorship was put in place.

    1. What control her father has had all these years is a form of slavery. If she was as mentally incompetent as the control seems to show, she should have been in an institution. One has to ask, would he have done what he did if she did not have piles of money. And how much of it is now gone?

  4. For a reader’s pessimistic analysis of the situation (i.e., nothing happens to Bannon), see yesterday’s comment by David Jorling.

    I respectfully disagree with Mr. Jorling. Bannon can, of course, raise the issue whether the House Jan. 6th committee was improperly constituted, but the US constitution is silent on the issue, and I think the courts would find that to be a non-justiciable “political question.” Bannon would be able to appeal that issue from a final conviction, but he would not be able to appeal it before trial and thereby delay his trial. (The circumstances in which a criminal defendant can take such an interlocutory appeal are extremely limited — essentially to the issue of double jeopardy.)

    I also disagree that, if convicted after trial, Bannon would be likely to receive probation. Under the US sentencing guidelines, a trial judge always has the unfettered discretion to give an offender at least six months’ incarceration, and, if Bannon’s refusal to respond to the subpoena was determined to have been done in bad faith (which certainly appears to be the case) a judge may well decide to depart upward from the suggested guidelines range to give him the full year available for a misdemeanor offense (potentially, two years, if Bannon is convicted on both the contempt counts brought against him, and if the district judge decides to run his sentences consecutively).

    1. That is very good far as you take it Ken. However, is the congressional investigation just a side show in the end? Unless they can put Trump away, what do we gain? I see a very poor future for our country which may be decided at the very next election in one year. The republicans will be controlling most of the election committees and many of the school boards. Unless something is done about voting rights very soon, I think it is all over.

  5. Regarding Minor Attracted Persons, I can understand why the speaker in the video would prefer to use a term that isn’t stigmatizing. It remains to be seen whether that is just obfuscation. It seems to be a part of the broader trend on the left to replace words that are stigmatizing with words that aren’t, i.e., ex-con, illegal alien, riot. The substance is still there, though; it just serves to confuse everyone, and allows a tactical advantage in the discourse.

    James Lindsay has coined the phrase “OK groomer” when responding to those who seem to be trying to de-stigmatize the sexualization of children.

              1. Indeed. Alan Rickman’s rendition of his character’s catchphrase that he has always despised, but in the moment finally says with real meaning, is an emotional moment of true genius: “By Grabthar’s Hammer, by the Suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged”. Rickman is much missed. That said, it is a great cast generally.

  6. I don’t know if the fans outside the courtroom where also people from disability rights organizations and ACLU supporters who also fought for an end to her conservatorship.

  7. I just wanted to clarify that the AK-47 is selective-fire. That is, it has a switch which allows it to fire either semi-automatic (each trigger pull fires one shot) or full-automatic (holding the trigger down causes continuous firing). So-called assault weapons sold to American civilians are semi-automatic only.

    1. Oh, well then, makes them much safer and precisely what Madison wanted in the second amendment. I can sleep much better now. The only real difference is – how fast can you reload. Because hunting really requires speedy reloading.

      1. Assault-styled rifles are not used for hunting. The small-calibre reduced-energy bullet does not hit hard enough to kill a deer, moose, or bear reliably with a single shot at the ranges over which game animals are hunted. Real hunters use full-calibre long-barreled rifles that are lethal to people over in the next postal code if not handled safely. A perfectly Canada-legal auto-loading hunting rifle uses the same action as an AR-15, just scaled up to handle the bigger, more powerful bullet, limited by law to 5. Nowadays one shot should be all you need — my relatives who hunt take pride in instant kills with bolt-action Winchesters. But Madison would not have objected, surely, to developing faster-loading hunting arms where successful shooting kept away starvation.

        Fully automatic firearms have been prohibited in the U.S. since the 1930s and who knows how long in Canada. Even gun enthusiasts seem OK with this. Presumably there is a consensus among the firearms community and the authorities that this distinction is sufficiently important that we should indeed sleep better because of it.

        The real reason for owning assault-styled rifles is the same reason the military uses their fully-automatic cousins: to incapacitate unfriendly people accurately at moderate ranges beyond which a pistol is useful. There is pushback in rural Canada against the move to prohibit these weapons — they were already “restricted” — because handguns are almost impossible to own legally and the Mounties are often 45 minutes away in an emergency. I won’t get into whether this is a wise or a foolish precaution, or whether it is widely or narrowly adopted. But that is the argument, even in a gun-control utopia like Canada.

  8. “New list of racist and racism-supporting mathematicians just dropped. People not to work with or send your students”

    This is exactly what I was worried about when people started mentioning the University of Austin; I fully expect to have two separate university networks: the PC one being a walled garden where people refuse to participate with the ‘ideologically impure’ and the ideologically agnostic one that just wants to do research and teach. Unfortunately, the ideologically agnostic network will end up helping the PC network in the long run, much the way that open source software tends to provide useful research for closed source software. I expect this to be taken to the point where university sports teams will not play out-of-network (‘We don’t want to play football against racists – especially not on their home field! We don’t want to let their supporters into our stadiums,either!)

    1. Try ‘Indian pudding recipe’. It’s coming up fine for me on DuckDuckGo. The first five hits refer to this, and then I stopped looking.

      1. I’m not looking for a recipe but a restaurant that serves it. Finding the recipe is even easier than you describe as our host linked to one in this very post. 😉

        This is one case where I wouldn’t trust my execution of a recipe to be a faithful rendition of the dish. These kinds of things are all about texture and subtlety. Corn meal is a particularly difficult ingredient. It depends on the type of corn, moisture content, how it is ground, etc. I would first want to taste the original prepared by someone who knows what they are doing before attempting my own version.

        1. Ah, understood. There are places on the East Coast of the US and Canada that serve traditional colonial cooking (New England, Historical Williamsburg, etc.). I have no idea if there are colonial restaurants elsewhere.

          1. I suspect we have no colonial restaurants here. That would be weird. I was thinking more along the lines of Native American restaurants but perhaps that is not a thing. There’s just no market for pemmican any more. Of course, perhaps the dish is totally colonial and has little to do with what Native Americans ate. Still, that wouldn’t stop restaurateurs intent on celebrating Native Americans from serving it.

            1. They would be accused of cultural appropriation, though, even if offered sympathetically and in good taste. We get this all the time in Canada. Natives don’t want us “celebrating” their culture and try to cancel any that do. They want us to pay them to celebrate it. An academic art historian at a college in Alberta put together a course looking at aboriginal art and its relation to the larger art world. Native activists complained that being a settler, she couldn’t have the “way of knowing” to understand the “spirituality” of the work. They demanded the college hire an aboriginal artist to teach the course, even though he didn’t know anything about art beyond his own stuff.

              Kid you not. During the orchestrated furor over residential school cemeteries that went on all summer here, people were being urged to wear orange T-shirts in an “Every Child Matters” show of virtue. But you were supposed to buy your orange shirts from native-owned businesses that were selling them. Just any old orange shirt from your closet wouldn’t do, even if it was made in the same Bangladeshi factory that theirs were. There were actually angry protests about this.

              Given the tenor of the times, I stopped wearing my solid orange Pearl Izumi cycling jersey out of fear of being harassed on the road by motorists aggrieved that it wasn’t one of their shirts.

              1. Yes, it’s all crazy. I can understand some of the “oppressed” groups using Wokeness to their advantage but who decided to allow it? I must have missed that meeting.

                That all said, we do have people with Native American heritage here that might offer such a pudding without accusations. Of course, they wouldn’t call it “Indian Pudding”. On the other hand, they’d probably have to in order to market it successfully. What a complex world!

            2. I never made this connection. I actually thought it was a dessert served in an Indian (i.e., South Asian) restaurant.

              According to the link our host provided, the dish is not Native in origin. It uses ingredients unknown to indigenous people such as molasses, butter, and spices. The corn meal is theoretically native in that it could conceivably have been made from corn before Contact. There is a Huron/Wendat food called “ottee” that sounds a bit like moistened and cooked ground corn, although this was from a historical novel, The Orenda, which was authored by a guy who claimed to have indigenous origins but probably doesn’t and has been cast out. Good story, though.

              Anyway, according to the link, corn meal was once called “Indian meal” to distinguish it from coarsely ground wheat flour which the early colonists would have been familiar with. Our “corn” is still called “Indian corn” (or maize) in England because “corn” there can refer to other grains such as wheat….at least that’s how The Economist uses it.
              So Indian pudding is a settler food made with locally sourced corn meal. Sounds good, though. Might use maple syrup or honey instead of molasses. (Now *there’s* a slavery food!)

            3. It’s not cultural appropriation; if anything, it is misapplication of a name. It is a European colonial-style desert using what they called “Indian flour” (i.e. corn flour). I’m not aware of Native American dishes doing much with dairy; I thought they have a higher rate of lactose intolerance/lactase deficiency. “Early colonists brought with them to America a fondness for British “hasty pudding,” a dish made by boiling wheat flour in water or milk until it thickened into porridge. Since wheat flour was scarce in the New World, settlers adapted by using native cornmeal, dubbed “Indian flour,” and flavoring the resulting mush to be either sweet (with maple syrup or molasses) or savory (with drippings or salted meat).”

  9. From my distant perspective on the Britney Spears affair, there is a human rights issue. How can a conservatorship be established in such a case without specific conditions under which it would be dissolved as part of the court’s decision? As I understand it, she was acting erratically due to abuse of drugs and alcohol. If so, such abuse should NOT be assumed to be a permanent condition. Shouldn’t all conservatorships contain an automatic periodic review?

  10. The long-running Radio 4 comedy quiz show “I’m Sorry, I Haven’t A Clue” has a regular feature entitled “The Uxbridge English Dictionary”, which is very much along the lines of the Washington Post’s “Neologisms”. Some examples:

    Pretext (n): letters and phone calls
    Eyesore (n): tool made by Apple
    Cardiology (n): the study of knitwear
    Claptrap (n): a condom

    …and of course Perversion (n): the cat’s side of the story

  11. Dr. Abolish the Police is an “interesting” person of color. Checking out her website,, I get the feeling she’s one of those that sees racism and misogyny everywhere. While I didn’t experience what she experienced, it is hard for me to believe that the research mathematics community is as rife with these problems as she claims. Instead, she may be someone who experienced resistance to her ideas and always interpreted it as racism and/or misogyny. Is it really that hard for a Black female mathematical student?

    1. “it really that hard for a Black female mathematical student?” – perhaps for the ones who put two and two together and get five like Dr. Abolish the Police…

    2. Here is CV of this highly accomplished scholar:
      And a blog expressing her worldviews:
      She is a brain behind Liberated Math course that Jerry covered earlier. However, it is unclear if the course will take place, as per this communication:

      1. All I’m saying is that her wailing about everyone being racist, etc. rings hollow to me. She’s clearly feeling some pain but blaming it all on racism and misogyny is not believable. Of course, it doesn’t much matter what I say about it. I don’t know the details. It is just an observation.

        One of the dangers of so-called anti-racism is that it demands that people see racism everywhere. Those that embrace that position run the risk of not being taken seriously. It’s a “boy who cried wolf” problem. It is harder for us to see the real acts of racism if the “racism” label is applied to everything that causes pain in their lives.

  12. That MAP tweet is horrifying and fills me with revulsion. How on earth that thing is justifying pedophilia by normalising an abhorrence with a new term is beyond comprehension. I don’t understand why it isn’t sacked. I don’t believe it deserves a pronoun.

  13. >1002 – English king Æthelred II orders the killing of all Danes in England, known today as the St. Brice’s Day massacre.

    Appears that he got tired of paying the Dane-geld.
    Trigger warning: it’s Kipling. You won’t like it.

    Æthelred, (the Unready) reigned twice, interrupted by the Danes — Viking sea robbers, remember — who didn’t take kindly to being massacred.

    We actually learned this stuff in Grade 9 History.

  14. Hello Prof Coyne. I enjoy your newsletter from up in Ottawa, Canada. I have a comment about your regular posting of the cumulative number of COVID deaths in the US and the world. I thought there would be more notice paid when the US number of deaths passed the 600,000 deaths in the Civil War. I think it is worth mentioning the fact that the US has the highest cumulative number of COVID deaths in the world, ahead of Brazil, India, Mexico and Russia. ( And also fairly shocking that, while the US has 4.5% of the world’s population, it has roughly 15% of the COVID deaths. (I am not good at long division). Worth drawing attention to, I think.

    Thanks for your great commentary, in particular on the infestation of woke-ism everywhere.
    Phyllis MacRae
    Ottawa, Ontario

    1. The United States has the world’s third-largest population. There are a lot of everything there. Even comparing fraction of total world deaths to fraction of total world population is misleading, especially now that several populous poor countries like Brazil and India have been absolutely hammered and it is acknowledged that they haven’t a clue how many cases or deaths they have had. Way more of both than officially tallied. And forget China — they lie. Covid kills preferentially the very old and the obese, with important contributions from genetics and social class, so all “westernized” countries with an underclass and lots of old people should be expected to have more than their random share of deaths…and they do. Even Sweden.

      What would be more useful would be to compare the U.S. not with the whole world but with similar G7 and OECD countries with broadly similar societies and similar ability to tally health statistics accurately. You want to know cases per 100 population, deaths per 100,000 population, and case-fatality rates. The last time I did this, back when the vaccines were just coming out, there were I think 7 OECD countries with death rates per population worse than the United States. Belgium and the U.K were two of them. A lot of water over the dam since then. I am disappointed that the United States has not enjoyed as much of the benefits from vaccination as it could have, but at least deaths have been decreasing steadily for the past six weeks — again.

      And countries are free to decide that some deaths just don’t matter enough to make wrenching public health disruptions in the effort to prevent them. Canada has had ~29,000 deaths to end of October but only 11,000 were less than 80 years old. The Civil War this isn’t.

      Good news is that 2022 will likely see off Covid as a pandemic problem. (The question mark in the link is not part of the title of the article,)

      1. Thanks for your comments Leslie. I realize that country to world comparisons give only a rough picture of the situation . It may be more useful to compare wealthy countries like members of the OECD to each other, and to compare countries with over one million population. Canada has I think done a fairly successful job at delivering vaccinations to those who want them, but continues to rank at 11-14 in numbers vaccinated comparing the medium and larger countries only.
        Another statistic that I find interesting is that the average life expectancy in the US has dropped for the first time in many years. The drop is higher among men than women, so that gap has widened. The largest decline in life expectancy is among Hispanics, with Afro-Americans second. Covid is said to account for most of that decline but there is a major contribution from the opioid epidemic.

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