Tuesday: Hili dialogue

November 16, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the cruelest day: Tuesday, November 16, 2021: National Fast Food Day.

It’s also Have a Party With Your Bear Day, National Button Day, and International Day for Tolerance

Party with your bear! (More bears to come in the next post.)

News of the Day:

*Yesterday Biden signed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which must have passed the Senate quickly. I guess the Republicans were bipartian enough not oppose it unanimously, because they could have used the filibuster. Now I’ve often read that the filibuster can actually be bypassed by using the ‘”reconciliation” process, but I don’t know if that’s kosher—nor do I even know how it works. Someone please explain below. At any rate, the NYT touts this as not only helping the country, which it does, but also puts us more even with China, which is something I’m not hugely worried about. Here’s what the bill will do:

  • $73 billion for the electricity grid.
    Upgrades to the country’s power systems that, among other things, will help the grid carry renewable energy.

  • $66 billion for rail.
    A significant investment in Amtrak, which has a major maintenance backlog, as well as funding for new rail lines and upgrades to existing ones.

  • $65 billion for broadband.
    Funding to provide high-speed internet access to hard-to-reach populations, including Native American communities.

  • $47 billion for climate resiliency.
    New funding aimed at combating wildfires and preparing coastal regions for more frequent hurricanes and flooding.

  • $21 billion for environmental projects.
    Increased funds for cleaning up abandoned mines, contaminated waterways and other polluted sites overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • $15 billion for removing lead service lines.
    Modernizing water systems to address contaminated drinking water that has affected multiple large population centers.

  • $7.5 billion for electric vehicles.
    Increasing the availability of charging stations across the country, which is part of Mr. Biden’s pledge to build 500,000 stations nationwide.

  • $2 billion for underserved rural areas.
    A grant program aimed at expanding transportation projects in rural areas.

Now it’s time for the Dems have to worry about the Build Back Better bill, which wlll face considerably more opposition in both chambers of Congress. Representative are awaiting cost estimates from the nonpartison Congressional Budget Office, but things look a bit grim there:

The White House has begun bracing lawmakers for a disappointing estimate from the budget office, which is likely to find that the cost of the overall package will not be fully paid for with new tax revenue over the coming decade. Senior administration officials are urging lawmakers to disregard the budget office assessment, saying it is being overly conservative in its calculations, failing to properly credit the return on investment of additional I.R.S. resources and overlooking the deterrent effects that a more aggressive tax collection agency would have on tax cheats.

Catch more tax cheats? That’s not gonna do squat for raising the dosh, nor will raising taxes on billionaires. My own prediction is that most of us will have to ante up to pay for the bill. I don’t mind at all, so long as the poor don’t have to shoulder the burden.

*The NYT analyzes the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on death-penalty cases in an article depressingly called, “Supreme Court shows growing hostility to death row inmates.” An egregious example of this hostility is that the Court recently rejected an appeal in a case that even the prosecution thought deserved a new hearing:

Still, the case the court turned down two weeks ago was exceptional, providing a telling glimpse of the state of capital punishment in the United States. The court rejected the inmate’s petition even though the prosecution agreed that his case deserved a fresh look.

In an 11-page dissent, Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan, said the majority had crossed a new bridge.

“To my knowledge, the court has never before denied” such relief “in a capital case where both parties have requested it, let alone where a new development has cast the decision below into such doubt,” Justice Sotomayor wrote.

If you think that Biden (who said he opposes the death penalty) can overrule the Supreme Court, the answer is “not usually”. BIden can pardon or commute the sentences of prisoners only if they were convicted of federal crimes, and the majority of those executed violated state laws and can be pardoned only by the governor or a parole board. I can’t tell if the condemned man described above was eligible for federal pardon, but I doubt it.

*Over at The Weekly Sift, Doug Muder asks the question “Does America Need an Anti-Cancel-Culture University?” He is of course referring to the newly created University of Austin, a venue and refuge for the anti-woke. So far enthusiastic endorsements for it have been few, even from liberals and free-speech advocates, and I too am dubious. So is Muder. One quote:

Which makes me wonder: Will Austin U really have more “free inquiry and discourse”, or will it just be a safe space for those who like to say things that are racist, sexist, transphobic, or otherwise offensive to people who didn’t previously complain because they didn’t previously have a voice? Kanelos’ essay may criticize institutions that “prioritize emotional comfort over the often-uncomfortable pursuit of truth”, but looking at his list of participants, I have to ask if the University of Austin will just prioritize the emotional comfort of a different set of people. (h/t Karl)

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 763,178, an increase of 1,129 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,124,727, an increase of about 7,000 over yesterday’s total.

The first link above shows that Covid cases are no longer decreasing, but in fact have risen a bit in the U.S. We may have yet another “surge” in the winter as people congregate indoors. No matter what you think, it’s hard to quash Covid in the U.S., for we have too many people who won’t get vaccinated and love to congregate without masks.The data on new cases since February of 2020:

Stuff that happened on November 16 includes:

  • 1532 – Francisco Pizarro and his men capture Inca Emperor Atahualpa at the Battle of Cajamarca.
  • 1849 – A Russian court sentences writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky to death for anti-government activities linked to a radical intellectual group; his sentence is later commuted to hard labor.

Here’s Dostoevsky’s desk, where great literature was spawned. I took this in his apartment (now a museum, but most of the place is as it was in his time) in July 2011. He would often sleep during the night on the couch to the left:

Victoria Falls (click to enlarge). The caption is from Wikipedia:

Aerial panoramic view of the Victoria Falls of the Zambezi River, border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Victoria Falls is the largest sheet of falling water in the world based on its combined width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft). This picture is the result of stitching 5 frames taken from a helicopter.
  • 1904 – English engineer John Ambrose Fleming receives a patent for the thermionic valve (vacuum tube).
  • 1933 – The United States and the Soviet Union establish formal diplomatic relations.
  • 1938 – LSD is first synthesized by Albert Hofmann from ergotamine at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel.

Here’s Hofmann in 1993, “at the 50th Anniversary of LSD Conference sponsored by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals and the Swiss Psycholitic Association of Analysts.”  I saw him lecture at Harvard on his discovery of LSD, and he was the farthest thing from an acidhead you could imagine: laconic, formal, and strait-laced. He even wore a white lab coat while lecturing.  Hoffman also isolated and synthesized psylocibin:

Here are the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, built in the 14th and 15th century, after the bombing:

And the ruins of Hamburg:

A tweet showing how the Jews were sealed off:

A child dying on the sidewalk in the ghetto. About 100,000 inhabitants died of starvation of disease before the deportations even began.

And a group of captured Jews being marched to the holding pens, later to get on the cattle cars and travel to the camps:

She was the first woman elected to head the government of a Muslim state. I was much smitten with her and was sad when she was assassinated. Here she is at Harvard (her nickname, given by her family was “pinkie”, as she was a pink baby) with her friend Peter Galbraith in the 1970s, and in a photo by Yousuf Karsh.

Here’s their song “Girl you know it’s true” on video. The voices are not theirs:

Here’s a reconstruction of how the treasure was arranged when it was found in an oak box and fiber bags.

And the famous “Empress Pepper Pot,” part of the hoard:

Here’s that shootout. Australia qualified, but Italy won the cup:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 42 BC – Tiberius, Roman emperor (d. 37 AD)
  • 1895 – Paul Hindemith, German violinist, composer, and conductor (d. 1963)
  • 1896 – Oswald Mosley, English fascist leader and politician (d. 1980)

Mosley founded and was the head of the British Union of Fascists, and was interned by the British for a while during WWII. Here he is getting. . . well, a salute:

They don’t mention here that Saramago won the Nobel Prize for literature (1998).

Those who went six feet under on November 16 were few, and include:

  • 1960 – Clark Gable, American actor and singer (b. 1901)

Gable’s great love was actress Carole Lombard, whom he married in 1939. In 1943 she died in a plane crash, devastating him. Here are the pair.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Paulina greets Hili on the veranda and then snaps her picture:

Paulina: Here you are!
Hili: And you are here. We are here together.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Paulina: Tu jesteś!
Hili: Ty też tu jesteś. Razem tu jesteśmy.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

From Facebook: How religions get started.

From Doc Bill, staff of Kink the Cat:

From Nicole:

There’s a movie about Masih Alinejad’s campaign against the oppression of women in Iran. Here’s her publicity for it in a tweet:

Translation: “A film about my life and the campaigns I launched against the compulsory hijab, and my reports on Aban and Dadkhah’s mothers, will be screened at the New York Film Festival on November 16, the anniversary of Aban. The audience of the documentary “Be My Voice” is the politicians and media of the world to know the face of ISIS.”

Here are some scenes from the movie:

From Barry: Yesterday in Kansas, now in Anchorage. The is the height of stupidity, comparing yourself to a Holocaust victim because you don’t want the jab. What about your kids who are required to get jabs in school? (I count ten different vaccinations required for kids to attend public school in the state.) Do they wear yellow stars, too?

From Simon. I’m sure this is a setup, but also clever:

From Ginger K., a lovely triple eclipse:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a reminder that it wasn’t just Jews killed in the camp. Others who died include gays, Romani, political prisoners, criminals, Soviet prisoners of war, and others. Here’s a Catholic priest beaten to death.


Tweets from Matthew. This first one’s a stunner:

A wonderful cat-based klezmer song. It should be called “Nom Nom” (or “Fress Fress”:

Yoda cat!

48 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. “1896 – Oswald Mosley, English fascist leader and politician (d. 1980) Mosley founded and was the head of the British Union of Fascists, and was interned by the British for a while during WWII. Here he is getting. . . well, a salute” –

    Despite all the fuss over the statue of Cecil Rhodes, some colleges of Oxford University (and also of the University of London, though not mentioned in the link below) have just accepted millions of Mosley’s money via a family foundation. “Oxford Mosley donation needs explanation, say Jewish students”

        1. D’oh – I entirely forgot to mention that Max’s mother was indeed a Mitford (Diana). She married Oswald in 1936 at Joseph Goebbels’ home – Adolf Hitler was guest of honour.

      1. LOL – yes, the leader of the Black Shorts was a great literary invention. I’m not sure how PG Wodehouse was accused of deliberately aiding the Nazis after parodying fascism like that.

  2. “Triple lunar eclipse of Jupiter”…. My first experience that astronomy was more than just looking at static images of stars and planets and that there was some dynamic behavior to be observed was when I spent a couple of hours on the roof of our physics building at William and Mary one night looking through a 10inch Dynascope reflector, manually controlled (it was around 1970) and seeing the shadow of one of Jupiter’s moons move across the face of the planet as the evening progressed. It was very exciting to see “something happening” right before my eyes. Some years later I had a similar experience as I watched a central peak in a moon crater go from shadow into sunlight over an hour through my own little 4-inch Astroscan reflector rich field telescope while conducting an observation evening with a class of fifth graders.

    1. Some years ago when my kids, and many neighbor kids, were younger I’d set up my telescope when conditions were favorable so they could all have a look. It’s a modest 90 mm Maksutov-Cassegrain with an auto-tracking mount. Convenient, easy to use, decent optical capabilities.

      The kids would line up, and then the parents too. The biggest hits were Saturn with prominent rings, Mars when close and ice cap easily visible, and the moon of course. But the biggest hit was Jupiter when close with several of the Galilean moons clearly visible, and watching them move throughout the night.

      1. Your auto tracking description reminded me that a (and only) value of having to manually adjust the direction of the astroscan in its cradle every few minutes was that people could really get a feel for the rate of the earth’s rotation. People with a little math capability could even calculate a 24 hourish day from timing the moon or any object moving across a 3 degree or 1.5 degree (depending on eyepiece) field of view.

        1. Yes indeed. Looking through a telescope makes the rotation of the Earth very evident.

          My auto-tracking mount definitely spoiled me. I can’t imagine manual tracking anymore. Once set up I can point to something and it stays there. Or I can select an object from a variety of onboard catalogues, or enter coordinates, push a button and it points to them. My only real hardship is that viewing conditions in my area are absolutely horrible. More often than not so bad that I can’t even get it set up properly for auto-tracking.

          1. Question about this. How does the telescope make the rotation of the earth more evident than just watching the moon and stars “move” across the night sky? Or watching shadows shorten and lengthen as the day goes on and then (carefully) watching the sun set below the horizon? Watching the full moon rise against a reference like a tree branch makes it obvious that something is moving even as you look at it. Granted it’s faster when magnified — I apologize if I missed that point.

          2. The movement in the telescope case can be seen in real time. We only sense the motion of the moon with the naked eye by noting its position with respect to some fixed earth point and then noticing sometime later that it’s no longer aligned.

          3. It’s just a matter of scale. As you say, if you make a point to observe the movement of celestial objects across the sky by measuring them against a fixed object like a tree branch, it’s pretty easy to see. But when viewing through a telescope it is simply much more apparent.

            It varies with magnification & field of view but even at magnifications that my meager 90 mm scope can deal with fairly well an object can move out of your field of view in moments. Quickly enough that you won’t be able to keep up with it manually at higher magnification, even with a modest scope like mine. You’ll have a hard time simply keeping the object in your field of view let alone getting a good look at it. Practice and expensive precision manual mounts can give better results but many amateurs give up astronomy after a few tries with a ‘budget’ scope for just this reason.

        2. Before the invention of the marine chronometer, these events were the basis of the only method for determining longitude. The local times, as measured by crude clocks calibrated each day to local noon, would be compared to a table of times predicted for that date for the event at some reference observatory, like Greenwich. From that you could work out the east-west angular separation between the two locations.

          The method was practical for surveying the new colonies but wasn’t useful at sea due to the unsteadiness of the ship’s deck as a viewing platform, and because Jupiter is not always visible when you need him.

          Watching things move through the sky independent of the earth’s rotation is a humbling experience. On a clear night you can often see at least a couple of Jupiter’s moons with ordinary 8×50 binoculars, even in a town if light pollution in the south isn’t too bad.

    2. “My first experience that astronomy was more than just looking at static images…”

      Unlikely a novel point to anyone here, but I cannot help noting again that Galileo got kind of excited about that too! Would one believe it, but x can rotate around y, without y = earth.

      No—burn the damned heretic!

  3. The bill just signed by Biden was not subject to the filibuster and neither is the next one. The next one, called the build back better is covered mostly by tax increases. I cannot understand why anyone who is reasonable would be against either one of these bills. Either you are a republican or you are not. The last much smaller infrastructure type bill was signed by a president who is now dead. That is why logistics in this country is crap and inflation is high.

  4. I think the photo of Hamburg was not taken after the raid on this day in 1940, which caused only a small amount of damage in comparison to later raids, in particular the one at the end of July 1943 which caused a firestorm and killed 40,000 people. I think the photo was taken after the latter raid.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. The Lancasters and Halifaxes were still in the future.

      Edit: And so was DrBrydon @#9. Electronic navigation and bombing aids had yet to be developed to allow night bombing to be more than a shot in the dark.
      Coventry was a legitimate military target, by the way. They made Spitfires there.

  5. The Senate passed the infrastructure bill in August with 19 Republican votes. It took the House about three months later to pass it.

    Reconciliation is a Senate rule that allows certain legislation dealing with the budget to be passed with a simple majority (or 50 votes plus the vice-president). It is quite complicated, but it is explained in this Brookings article.


  6. I can’t tell if the condemned man described [in the NYT piece] was eligible for federal pardon …

    The death-row prisoner in the case is eligible for a presidential commutation of his death sentence. The case is Coonce v. United States. It involves a murder committed by an inmate at a federal prison, and the death penalty was imposed by a federal district court. If the case had arisen in a state system, it would be styled Coonce v. that state.

    1. Love it. The world is still full of wonderful surprises.

      How appropriate that pop music is banned and some respond by going metal. Like an extra big middle finger, with added flourishes.

  7. I saw him [Albert Hofmann] lecture at Harvard on his discovery of LSD, and he was the farthest thing from an acidhead you could imagine: laconic, formal, and strait-laced. He even wore a white lab coat while lecturing.

    Owsley Stanley, he wasn’t.

  8. The items listed for infrastructure come to only $297 billion of the trillion. I guess I’ll have to read the bill to see what’s in it, since MSM stories don’t seem to add up. Even CNN puts it this way :

    President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law Monday, finalizing a key part of his economic agenda.

    It will deliver $550 billion of new federal investments in America’s infrastructure over five years. . . .

    With regard to the anti-cancel-culture university, I think we do need one (many), but more importantly, we need to see if one can be created.

    Finally, on Hamburg, the picture of bombed-out Hamburg is undoubtedly from after the raid in 1943 that created the firestorm. Given the laughable accuracy of British bombers at this point in 1940, the five raids on Hamburg in November (totaling about 200 bombers) probably caused very little damage. As far as I can tell, they aren’t even noticed in the standard history (Webster and Frankland, The Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany).

  9. That klezmer montage is great! There are plenty of radio programs centered on Bluegrass, Indian music, techno, classic country, etc, but I don’t think I’ve ever run across anything like a Klezmer Hour anywhere.

    Anyone? Especially if Alexa can haul it in for me.

      1. Thanks for this! In return, you may like this – it’s not really klezmer, but I think it has overtones of it – the (Danish) Peruna Jazzmen’s version of King Oliver’s Sobbin’ Blues, which I just happened to have dug out for someone else. I think Peruna’s version is superior to KO’s, also available on YT, but I surely would’ve loved to see KO et al playing their version. (Occurs to me that the faster KO tempo may have been so they could fit it all on a 78.)

  10. Catch more tax cheats? That’s not gonna do squat for raising the dosh,

    Well I don’t know how much of a difference to the overall revenue stream it will make, but a quick google brought up an article saying every $1 more invested in the IRS yields $6 in additional revenue. That’s a remarkable return on investment (ROI), so I’d say fund them up until the ROI curve starts to flatten out.

    This is another issue that, in a sane world, would be a bipartisan political no-brainer. Nobody should want tax cheats to get away with it. Any true conservative should look at that number and agree with liberals that as long as preventing tax cheating actually makes the country money, we should do it. But since tax cheats tend to be rich and donate to GOP campaigns, we currently have one major party in the US looking at that ROI and deciding that the IRS’ budget needs to be slashed.

  11. In Switzerland too, we had a groups of idiots wearing yellow stars at antivax protests. Unfortunately, stupidity is everywhere.

  12. Re the cartoon with the cat pointing to the Double Stuff Orioles…


    It reminds me that Double-stuffed Oreos repulse me.

    I love a good classic Oreo cookie. It’s one of nature’s perfect foods, the balance of that stuffing and cookie being just right. But the double stuffed makes the stuffing just too much, way to prominant, and it only points out the artificial play-dough-like feel of the stuffing that is otherwise nicely hidden in the balance of the original cookie.

    And double-stuffed Oreos are to me of the same type of blight coming from the “More Is Better” school of thought, which I admit I chauvinistically tend to ascribe to america. Though it certainly shows up here in Canada. It’s the “So you like this element in a snack/meal? Then we’ll give you WAY MORE of that! So you get chocolate chip cookies “Now with twice the chocolate chips!” or pizza with TWICE THE CHEESE! And on and on. But good tasting food is all about balancing the flavor. Just increasing one aspect doesn’t mean it tastes better. Nobody would want “Fries Now With 4 Times The Salt!” I remember when one of my favorite breakfast cereals back in the day, Raisin Bran, ended up advertising “Now with TWICE the scoops of raisins!” It became inedibly sticky and sickly sweet as the original balance was thrown off.

    I’ll never get the More Of It Is Better thing.


    1. Your mention of chocolate chip cookies struck a resonant nerve with me. Most chocolate chip cookies have way to many chocolate chips in them! Both factory produced and recipes for home baking. I want cookies damnit, not just chocolate. When I bake at home I use half or less the amount of chips the typical recipe calls for. And always bitter-sweet! Milk chocolate is too sweet.

      1. Though when it comes to savory food with lots of herbs/spices, if I’m following a recipe, I’ll always add more. 1/4 tsp. thyme and oregano for an entire pot of soup or sauce? I’ll do a teaspoon of each. 1 tsp. of salt and 2 tsp. lemon juice for a cup of home-made mayo? I’ll do 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 1/2 T. lemon juice. And so forth. At the same time, I cut down the oil in most recipes (esp. Italian recipes that usually go overboard with the olive oil).

        I haven’t made chocolate chip cookies in years, but if I ever do, I’ll see how I like fewer chips. But yes, bitter-sweet chocolate is a must.

        1. Yep, I think you are right on about typical seasoning amounts in recipes. Usually way to conservative. Especially salt. One thing that still manages to surprise me is how big of a difference that a proper amount of salt can make to a dish.

          Even as recently as 2 weeks ago when I was making a pot of red beans from a recipe for ‘authentic’ Southern style red beans. The recipe called for what seemed to me an entirely inadequate amount of salt. When the beans were done except for tasting and adjusting seasoning, I found I was right. The beans were pathetic. None of the flavors, for example sage, came through at all. They were flat. I added salt, in stages, tasting as I went and then reached a point were it was as if the lights had been turned on. All the flavors came out and the beans were completely transformed. That’s the point where you stop. If you go further it just begins to taste salty. But most recipes don’t have near enough salt to bring out the flavors in the dish.

          1. You’re right about salt. But I also think that restaurants (and some home cooks, I suppose) hide poor ingredients by oversalting, particularly with soups and the like.

          2. 100% agree on the salt. There are a few chefs whose recipes are spot on, but inadequate seasoning is the norm. Especially for dishes like beans, soups, stews and the like. There are great recipes online from amateur cooks, and you can find just about anything, but I haven’t prepared one recipe that had the seasoning correct (at least correct for me). That’s fine though, I know what I like and can usually tell from the ingredients if a recipe has potential.

      2. darrelle


        I’m a fanatic about chocolate chip cookies! I try them wherever I find them (and occasionally bake them). Too much chocolate ruins them. I’m fortunate that just down the street from where I live is a cafe run by people with excellent baking bona fides, french trained etc, so literally everything they make, from butter tarts to filled beignet to cookies all have a perfect balance of flavor, never anything too strong or sickly sweet. Their chocolate chip cookie is for me the paradigm of the species: It has some crunch on the outside, has some soft chew, but isn’t of that undercooked sludgy variety that so many seem to associate with “gourmet cookies.” And just the right amount of chocolate chips. So the perfect taste of the cookie itself is the star of the show, with chocolate chips adding just the right amount of interest – basically the cookies a Perfect Grandma would have ready for you when visiting 🙂

        1. The sludgy undercooked texture is often down to enormous amounts of sugar put in not just for sweetness but for its humectant effect — prolongs shelf life. It’s a scam, really. My wife and I bake for each other. She puts much less sugar in cookies than most recipes call for. The downside is that I can’t stop at one because they don’t “cloy” like commercial cookies. And butter, always. Accept no substitutes.
          In bread, I use less salt than bakery bread but yes you definitely need some. And an old trick but a good one is to salt at the table, not during cooking— the effect is stronger with less. (Ms M. does the sauces and there you need salt during to get the chemistry right.)

  13. The bit about the treasure discovered by metal dectorists reminded me of the excellent British show, “Detectorists”. It’s very funny and thoughtful at the same time.

    1. Yes, that’s a great series. Loved the “Simon and Garfunkel” rival detectorists. Haven’t been able to get season 3 yet. I haven’t looked for a while, so maybe it’s available now.

  14. As one might expect, Albert Hofmann is extensively covered by Michael Pollan in his book How to Change Your Mind. I’m almost done with the book and recommend it. I’m looking forward to reading Pollan’s This Is Your Mind on Plants.

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