Sunday: Hili dialogue

November 14, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s the non-felid Sabbath, Sunday, November 14, 2021 and National Guacamole Day (they forgot the chips).

It’s also National Pickle Day (make mine half sour) National American Teddy Bear Day, International Girls Day, International Tongue Twister Day, and World Diabetes Day.

Here’s my teddy, Toasty (I’ve removed his overalls so you can see how worn out he is):

You can find a list of international tongue twisters here. I’ll give three:

In French:  Il était une fois, un homme de foi qui vendait du foie dans la ville de Foix. Il dit ma foi, c’est la dernière fois que je vends du foie dans la ville de Foix.

In German: Am Zehnten Zehnten um zehn Uhr zehn zogen zehn zahme Ziegen zehn Zentner Zucker zum Zoo.

In Polish: W wysuszonych, sczerniałych trzcinowych szuwarach sześcionogi szczwany trzmiel bezczelnie szeleścił w szczawiu trzymając w szczękach strzęp szczypiorku i często trzepocząc skrzydłami.   (I called Malgorzata and had her read it to me, and believe me, you won’t be able to pronounce this even if you have Polish as a second language.)

English translation of the Polish: In the dry, blackened weeds, a six-legged sly bumblebee rustled cheekily in the sorrel, holding a shred of chives in its jaws and flapping its wings frequently.

There’s an animated Google Doodle today (click on screenshot, as the “go-to” page is also animated) honoring the life and work of Fanny Mendelssohn, born on this day in 1805 (d. 1847). Wikipedia notes that she

. . . was a German composer and pianist of the early Romantic era. Her compositions include a piano trio, a piano quartet, an orchestral overture, four cantatas, more than 125 pieces for the piano, and over 250 lieder, most of which went unpublished in her lifetime. Although praised for her piano technique, she rarely gave public performances outside her family circle.

She was also the older sister of composer Felix Mendelssohn.

Wine of the Day: This 2012 Pinot from an excellent maker comes with high “regular folks” ratings and a currently suggested price of about $52, but about $30 several years ago. (I bought it a long time ago and surely paid substantially less than that.) Nobody will mistake this elegant wine for a cabernet, and it’s full of ripe berry and cherry flavors. I was worried that this might be over the hill, but no, I think it’s at its peak now. If you see a Patricia Green pinot, pay attention. This was drunk with my weekly steak, a baguette, and fresh tomatoes.

News of the Day:

*The COP26 climate summit in Glasgow is over, and the “deal” that was struck is deeply disappointing, though I expected such a thing. There is no concrete plan for action beyond: “We’ll all come back here next year with emissions goals.” No tangible goals were agreed on, nor would I believe those commitments were they made.

With the bang of a gavel, diplomats from nearly 200 countries on Saturday struck a major agreement aimed at intensifying efforts to fight climate change, by calling on governments to return next year with stronger plans to curb their planet-warming emissions and urging wealthy nations to “at least double” funding by 2025 to protect the most vulnerable nations from the hazards of a hotter planet.

. . . . But the agreement established a clear consensus that all nations need to do much more, immediately, to prevent a catastrophic rise in global temperatures. It outlined specific steps the world should take, from slashing global carbon dioxide emissions nearly in half by 2030 to curbing methane, another potent greenhouse gas. And it sets up new rules to hold countries accountable for the progress they make — or fail to make.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, as we’re destroying the planet out of short-sighted greed.

*The hyper-conservative Fifth Circuit Court, a federal appeals court in New Orleans, has overruled Biden’s mandate for vaccination or weekly Covid testing in all business with 100 employees or more. They called Biden’s mandate “fatally flawed and staggeringly overbroad”—in other words, probably unconstitutional:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which polices workplace safety for the Labor Department, developed the requirements under emergency authority established by Congress. That authority allows the agency to shortcut the process to issue workplace safety and health standards, which normally years.

OSHA can use its emergency authority if the Labor Secretary determines that a new safety or health standard is necessary to protect workers from a “grave danger” posed by a new hazard. The judges on Friday questioned whether Covid poses a grave danger to all the workers covered by the requirements, and argued that OSHA already has tools it can use short of a sweeping emergency safety standard.

This one is headed to the Supreme Court for sure, but they better take it and rule quickly. Lives are at stake here, for we know that the vaccination saves lives and about 1200 people die from the virus every day.

*The Wall Street Journal, whose reports started the downfall of Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos, summarizes the first ten weeks of the trial—so far just the prosecution’s case. (The defense will begin soon.) Holmes faces ten counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. So far—and remember that we just know the prosecution’s case—the evidence against Holmes looks strong. It includes the company’s forging of logos from companies like Pfizer to help sell the startup:

Prosecutor Robert Leach showed jurors a document with the Pfizer logo that he said Ms. Holmes portrayed to investors as evidence of the pharmaceutical company’s support. In fact, he said, it was a forged document.

“Pfizer did not write this. Pfizer did not put its logo on this. Pfizer did not give its permission to put its logo on this. Pfizer did not make the conclusions in this report,” Mr. Leach said during opening statements.

Pfizer did have a $900,000 contract before 2009, he said, but after seeing initial reports from Theranos it concluded it had no use for Theranos’s technology and never did business with the company again. A former Pfizer scientist took the stand and confirmed the company didn’t endorse Theranos or give permission to use its logo on any documents.

*Megan McArdle’s op-ed in The Washington Post discusses the challenges facing the newly founded, curriculum-less University of Austin, whose main mission seems to be challenging wokeness. I don’t think that’s sufficient for a university, no matter how many Big Names signed on, and I predict, sadly, that the academics won’t participate in much teaching and that the University will fold. McArdle isn’t very optimistic, either:

In the best possible future, the school overcomes these hurdles through the sheer power of independent thinking, attracting brilliant iconoclasts who go on to success as entrepreneurs or academics, and become walking advertisements for the benefits of liberal education. But in the worst one, the school attracts students and parents who are united less by a love of learning than their passionate hatred for “wokeness” — and then must cater to that market by becoming a funhouse-mirror-image of its worst opponents.

Aaron Hanlon at The New Republic is even more critical, claiming there’s no need that this university fills.

*Essential travel information from HuffPost (click on screenshot). Protip: use your own toilet paper, not the stuff in the lav.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 761,818 an increase of 1,128 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,113,059, an increase of about 6,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on November 14 includes:

As I believe I posted recently, a first edition, first printing of this great novel will run you about $65,000It was first printed in England, where it was titled The Whale.

  • 1889 – Pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly (aka Elizabeth Cochrane) begins a successful attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days. She completes the trip in 72 days.

Here’s a publicity photo taken by the New York World before her trip. She had great trouble landing a job because of her sex, but got attention when, feigning insanity, she got herself admitted to an asylum to report on conditions there (dreadful).

And here’s a picture of that very first takeoff:

  • 1922 – The British Broadcasting Company begins radio service in the United Kingdom.
  • 1960 – Ruby Bridges becomes the first Black child to attend an all-White elementary school in Louisiana.

Here is a brave little girl. As Wikipedia reports:

The Bridges family suffered for their decision to send her to William Frantz Elementary: her father lost his job as a gas station attendant; the grocery store the family shopped at would no longer let them shop there; her grandparents, who were sharecroppers in Mississippi, were turned off their land; and Abon and Lucille Bridges separated. Bridges has noted that many others in the community, both black and white, showed support in a variety of ways. Some white families continued to send their children to Frantz despite the protests, a neighbor provided her father with a new job, and local people babysat, watched the house as protectors, and walked behind the federal marshals’ car on the trips to school. It was not until Bridges was an adult that she learned that the immaculate clothing she wore to school in those first weeks at Frantz was sent to her family by a relative of Coles. Bridges says her family could never have afforded the dresses, socks, and shoes that are documented in photographs of her escort by U.S. Marshals to and from the school.

Here she is escorted from school by U.S. Marshals.  Thank goodness a situation like this wouldn’t occur today: there has been progress! The second photo is Norman Rockwell’s famous Saturday Evening Post cover showing Bridges and her escort:

Rockwell’s 1964 painting “The Problem We All Live With”, which has been criticized, wrongfully, for including the forbidden word:


When he was President, Obama asked for the painting to be borrowed by and displayed in the White House. Here’s Obama and a grown-up Ruby Bridges admiring the painting:

  • 1967 – American physicist Theodore Maiman is given a patent for his ruby laser systems, the world’s first laser.
  • 1982 – Lech Wałęsa, the leader of Poland’s outlawed Solidarity movement, is released after eleven months of internment near the Soviet border.
  • 1991 – American and British authorities announce indictments against two Libyan intelligence officials in connection with the downing of the Pan Am Flight 103.

Only one of these officials was convicted, and he served but ten years before being given “compassionate release” because he supposedly had terminal prostate cancer.  He lived a lot longer than expected, dying in 2012.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1765 – Robert Fulton, American engineer, Early steamboat pioneer (d. 1815)
  • 1805 – Fanny Mendelssohn, German pianist and composer (d. 1847)

[See above.]

Monet depicted at least one cat: “Cat Sleeping on a Bed” a pastel done in the late 1860s. One reader has a cat named Clawed Monet.

  • 1889 – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian lawyer and politician, 1st Prime Minister of India (d. 1964)

Here’s Nehru with the Nobel-Prize-winning poet and polymath Rabrinath Tagore in 1936:

  • 1900 – Aaron Copland, American composer, conductor, and educator (d. 1990)
  • 1908 – Joseph McCarthy, American captain, lawyer, and politician (d. 1957)
  • 1944 – Karen Armstrong, English author and academic
  • 1948 – Charles, Prince of Wales

Those who crossed The Great Divide on November 14 include:

  • 1263 – Alexander Nevsky, Russian saint (b. 1220)
  • 1716 – Gottfried Leibniz, German mathematician and philosopher (b. 1646)
  • 1915 – Booker T. Washington, American educator, essayist and historian (b. 1856)

For several decades Washington was the leader of America’s black community. Here he is giving a speech at Carnegie Hall in 1909:

  • 1997 – Eddie Arcaro, American jockey and sportscaster (b. 1916)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej has two cats on his lap!

Szaron: We can’t disturb him.
Hili: Why?
Szaron: He is reading Paulina’s Master’s thesis.
In Polish:
Szaron: Nie możemy mu przeszkadzać.
Hili: Czemu?
Szaron: On czyta pracę magisterską Pauliny.

From Doc Bill:

From Facebook:

Also from Facebook:

A tweet from God:

A tweet sent by Frank:

From Simon, another comparison of nature with academia:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man who lived about six weeks after arrival.

Tweets from Matthew.  There are six tweets in this thread; be sure to read them all—especially the last one:

At least it’s not the wrong kind of snow!

And each flag is associated with a substantial number of dead humans. Matthew wants to see a similar map for American ships; I think there would be fewer.

Japanese translation: “May be overweight.”  May??

39 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Well, that Polish tongue twister (but Polish IS a tongue twister) certainly knocks Peter Piper and his pathetic peck of pickled peppers into a cocked hat!

  2. The adventures of Cowie was very sweet.

    Is it just me, a does Nellie Bly have a strong resemblance to Greta Thunberg?

    1. Thought so too. What Greta might have looked like at that age, when she could smile more and could enjoy being a kid, without the weight of the world on her shoulders.

  3. Growing up, my favourite tongue twister was the description of the battling tweetle-beetles in Dr Suess’ Fox in Socks. I can probably recite more of it now than I would care to admit.

  4. I remember learning that French tongue-twister during the summer my family spent near the village of Pernay, France in 1967. So it’s been around a while!

  5. As the country heads toward 800,000 dead certainly we would want everyone to choose freedom and death vs an evil vaccine. Continue to deny climate change because tomorrow no one will be around to care. Damn those progressives and that unpopular democrat in charge. This inflation is much worse and it is all their fault. Brought to you by fox.

    1. Since 1775 millions of Americans have chosen to risk death in order to preserve freedom. Surrender would have preserved lives in every case. The Mandate is not about the vaccine, either for the government or the people who don’t want it. It’s about the government’s power to force people to do anything the government says they should. For almost 250 years we’ve said that that’s wrong; I don’t understand why it is different now. With the exception of habeas corpus (“unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it”), none of our rights have exceptions that say “unless it’s super-duper important.” If someone doesn’t want to die, they can get the vaccine; the government says it’s great.

      1. You‘re completely missing the point. The unvaccinated endanger those who for medical reasons cannot (yet) be vaccinated, young children for example. In general, the USA doesn‘t have much personal freedom (unless you count firearms) compared to many other places. It‘s not like you can just do whatever you want because freedom. Why is corona, which is a clear and present danger, any different?

        1. You are correct but he is doing more than missing the point he is rewriting history as well. The cause of 1775 was about not sharing power between mother England and the colonies. The actual numbers who risk death in this dispute were as follows. About one third were for going to war with England. About one third absolutely against war and the rest in the middle. Also, England did as much to start the war as any one did. In 1775 they shut down Boston and evaded their colony. Yet, the colonies as a whole did not declare independence from England until the summer of 1776. The American colonies never had more than roughly 10 thousand poorly feed, poorly paid people who risk life in this long struggle. The struggle would not have ended in their favor without massive support from France. Looking at it today I am not sure they did us a favor.

      2. Nobody’s strapping anybody down and forcing shots on them against their will. This is simply about the unvaccinated being denied certain privileges and opportunities if they insist on putting others at risk of a potentially deadly disease.

          1. I wish it was true that we don’t see any beefing about that. Most beefers do submit, though, because home-schooling is a drag.

      3. … none of our rights have exceptions that say “unless it’s super-duper important.”

        What “right” are you referring to, DrBrydon, and what is its source? Unlike habeas corpus, I see nothing in the US constitution that addresses this.

        I thought you rightwingers claimed to be “textualists” and “originalists.”

      4. I disagree [with DrB]: it’s not different now. All rights, everywhere, are subject to abridgement when the state is faced with its own destruction if it allows its authority to be defied by the citizens. No matter what a constitution, written or unwritten, says, the supreme arbitration body — in the U.S., the Supreme Court; in Westminster countries, Parliament providing an impediment to the Crown, even though we do have an activist Supreme Court ourselves — will find a way to prevent this from happening. It will accept arguments from the Executive that it would not accept in less dangerous times. If it can find a right to abortion, as I’m glad Supreme Courts in U.S. and Canada did, it can find support for compulsory vaccination — which the OSHA mandate isn’t, of course — if it has to. (The very nature of public health is coercive in contagious diseases. Sovereign power in this domain pre-dates the rise of the modern state.)

        Only Americans can figure out whether the American federal OSHA mandate abridges American individual or States’ rights at all, and whether the abridgement, if any, is justified as a “reasonable” response to 1200 deaths per day and other public-goods implications of the pandemic. (“Reasonable” in quote marks because the word “unreasonable” does appear in the text of the U.S. Constitution.)

        In the end, though, what is necessary must be permissible.

      5. “It’s about the government’s power to force people to do anything the government says they should. For almost 250 years we’ve said that that’s wrong.”

        What? So, we as American’s for 250 years have said it’s wrong for the government to force people to do things the government says they should do? First of all, the vaccine isn’t “forced” on anyone. But putting that aside, the government forces us to do things all the time. Security checks before getting on a plane, being 21 to buy alcohol or weed, being licensed to practice medicine, or law, or drive, mandatory back ground checks for purchasing guns or having certain jobs. The government forced segregation and de-segregation and has forced drafts and rationing. A country couldn’t be a country if the government couldn’t “force” it’s citizens to do, or not do all sorts of things.

  6. My favourite tongue twister is the Pheasant Plucker song- great fun for vocal warm-ups!
    I notice Fanny M is playing low in the bass notes but writing high up in the clef (pedantique, moi?).
    And I reckon that cat on the rails is chasing the Mallard.

  7. I read the Fifth Circuit Court’s ruling last night. It’s amazing that the media aren’t quoting extensively from it, or even summarizing it. I would urge everyone to read it; it’s only twenty-two pages.

    At the same time, the Mandate is also underinclusive. The most vulnerable worker in America draws no protection from the Mandate if his company employs 99 workers or fewer. The reason why? Because, as even OSHA admits, companies of 100 or more employers will be better able to administer (and sustain) the Mandate. See 86 Fed. Reg. 61,402, 61,403 (“OSHA seeks information about the ability of employers with fewer than 100 employees to implement COVID-19 vaccination and/or testing programs.”). That may be true. But this kind of thinking belies the premise that any of this is truly an emergency. Indeed, underinclusiveness of this sort is often regarded as a telltale sign that the government’s interest in enacting a liberty-restraining pronouncement is not in fact “compelling.” [p.15]

  8. The mandate is unconstitutional. The US Constitution grants very limited powers to the Presidency, and many Executive Orders violate its limitations. If someone wants to grant Presidency the power to regulate business, consider supporting a Constitutional Amendment. If you don’t want to amend the Constitution, ask your legislator to introduce a bill mirroring the Executive Order.

      1. The Oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

        The President has the duty to uphold the Constitution (and frankly, most haven’t followed through). The President presides over the government, and does not legislate individuals or businesses. The President, as chief of the Executive Branch, executes the decisions of Congress.

      2. One more point: the Preamble describes the goals of the federation. The body of the Constitution itself describes the means by which the goals are to be accomplished. Protecting the people could be interpreted as part of the Preamble (‘promote the general welfare’), without the Presidency itself having the power to implement that. Feel free to look through Article Two.

        The Constitution outlines a very short set of enumerated powers and explicitly grants them to Congress because the authors of the Constitution did not want the federal government – or a single person therein – to have too much power. Again, I’m not arguing that the feds shouldn’t have that power, but it would have to be granted through amendments to the current Constitution – or to a future one.

        I am extremely wary of ‘protect the people’ and ‘promote the general welfare’ because both terms are ambiguous enough that they could be exploited by extremists from every corner of the political spectrum. That is precisely why there is such a short list of enumerated powers.

        [EDIT: Yah, I realized after I hit ‘save’ that my response was partially orthogonal, which is why I added this post. For some reason, the site didn’t let me see or edit my earlier post in the 15-minute window. I only saw your response after I posted this one. Fortunately, I could edit this. Hrm… I’ve hit that technical bug a few times here.]

        1. Our Constitution can easily be bent to evil purposes as our 45th President demonstrated. It still depends heavily on the good intent of its citizens and politicians.

          While I worry about overreach of any part of government, protecting citizens against pandemics seems to clearly belong at the federal level. The freedom of people to move easily between states and their lack of isolation makes responses by states alone ineffective and a non-starter. Also, the right of our government to demand people get vaccinated, except in cases where there is a medical excuse, seems clear to me. People have to make sacrifices for the common good. Sometimes that must override the freedom to do nothing. There is no freedom to infect others in the Constitution.

          1. > “There is no freedom to infect others in the Constitution.”

            Of course there’s not. The Constitution states how the government is constituted. The Amendments in the Bill of Rights were an afterthought, subsequent limitations placed on the legislative process defined by the Constitution. The Ninth and Tenth, of course, are crucial reminders that the Feds have no other powers beyond what is explicitly granted to them by the Constitution. Logically, they are redundant.

            > “protecting citizens against pandemics seems to clearly belong at the federal level”

            Which is precisely why Congress can legislate it. It is not a Presidential power.

            1. The President can respond to an invasion or a natural disaster. COVID is both of those things. It’s in the Constitution to my satisfaction.

              Making constitutional arguments against vaccine mandates seems disingenuous to me. Surely you have reasons that you dislike the mandates that don’t have anything to do with the constitution. If SCOTUS was to declare the mandates constitutional tomorrow, what would you say then? Would you be happy with them? I suspect not.

              1. > “The President can respond to an invasion or a natural disaster.”

                That is not a Constitutional action. The fact that an organization or an office exists does not grant it the legitimate power to take an action. The United Nations exists, too. If anything, given the global nature of the pandemic, a UN mandate would be much more appropriate than a Presidential mandate. Neither mandate, though, is supported by their establishing documents.

                > “Would you be happy with them?”

                My emotions are irrelevant. The Constitution is not regulated by emotions. There is no ‘If people are emotionally happy, the President can do …’ clause.

                Again, I do not oppose a Congressional mandate. Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce. The President does not. Please ask your representative to introduce a pro-vaccine motion.

                > “I suspect not.”

                I recognize that you are, of course, free to have whatever suspicions you choose, regardless as to their factuality.

    1. Congress delegated to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (a department within the executive branch) the power to issue Emergency Temporary Standards regarding workplace safety in Chapter 29, section 655, subsection (c) of the United States Code.

      One can, perhaps, argue plausibly that OSHA misapplied this power with regard to the vaccine mandate (as the Fifth Circuit suggests in its order staying the mandate). But, given this delegation of congressional authority to OSHA, one cannot maintain (as you do above) that the OSHA standards violate the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.

  9. The hyper-conservative Fifth Circuit Court, a federal appeals court in New Orleans, has overruled Biden’s mandate for vaccination or weekly Covid testing in all business with 100 employees or more.

    In Texas, the largest of the three states the Fifth Circuit comprises, the unvaccinated are 40 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than are the fully vaccinated.

    Covid doesn’t pose a sufficiently grave danger to workers covered by the OSHA mandate, my ass.

    1. It’s quite remarkable how nonchalant some people are about the risk of death from covid. Nationally about 1 out of every 7 Americans has gotten covid, and about 1 of every 430 Americans has died of it. If we continue like that until everyone has had covid, 1 out of 62, or over 5 million people, will have died from it. We really do have to do something about it, and vaccines are the answer.

  10. She [Nellie Bly] had great trouble landing a job because of her sex, but got attention when, feigning insanity, she got herself admitted to an asylum to report on conditions there (dreadful).

    Recalls the 1973 Rosenhan experiment, in which subjects feigned auditory hallucinations to get admitted to psychiatric hospitals. After being admitted, the subjects acted normally and told staff they were no longer experiencing hallucinations, but still had a hell of a time getting released. As at the Hotel California, you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.

  11. 1908 – Joseph McCarthy, American captain, lawyer, and politician (d. 1957)

    McCarthy got a direct commission in the Marine Corp during WW2 because he was a college grad. He served as an intelligence briefing officer for a bomber squadron in the Solomon Islands. He went along for the ride on a few low-risk missions and, on one of them, the crew let him fire rounds from the tail gun at coconut trees to his heart’s content. That was the source of the nickname he gave himself, “Tail-gunner Joe.” He later lied, claiming he’d flown 32 combat missions, so as to qualify for the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    Add “stolen valor” to the long list of McCarthy’s malfeasance.

    1. Too bad the coconut trees couldn’t shoot back.
      It would have made a good final verse for Shel Silverstein’s, “Killed by a Coconut” song.

      Edit: Sorry, little finger hit Post before typing last name MacMillan.

  12. Notice Mark Twain on stage behind Booker T. Washington. The event was a fund-raiser for the Tuskegee Institute, America’s first Black college. Twain was a great admirer of Washington, calling him “a man worth one hundred [Teddy] Roosevelts.”

    There is now a statue of Ruby Bridges at her old school. How long before she says something problematic and there are calls to remove it? And the sculptor is white! How could they have allowed this to happen!?

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