Wednesday: Hili dialogue

January 5, 2022 • 7:00 am

Welcome to the first Hump Day of the year (in Malayalam, it’s ഹമ്പ് ദിവസം ):Wednesday, January 5, 2022. It’s National Whipped Cream Day. Whipped cream needs another food to complement it unless it’s being used for salacious purposes.

It’s also National Keto Day, National Bird Day, the Twelfth day of Christmas, and, in Harbin China, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Here are two photos:, one showing one of the giant, lighted architectural erection, and another a snow sculpture:

News of the Day:

*For the first time ever, the number of new Covid-19 cases reported for a single day, Monday, exceeded a million: 1,082,549. This may reflect late reports, but it’s still an all-time high report.

The new daily tally brings the total number of cases confirmed in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic to 56,189,547. In total, the virus has caused at least 827,748 deaths across the country.

The record single-day total may be due in part to delayed reporting from over the holiday weekend. A number of U.S. states did not report data on Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve, and many do not report data on weekends, meaning that some of these cases could be from positive tests taken on prior days.

Nonetheless, as of Jan. 3, the seven-day average of daily new U.S. cases is 480,273, the highest such metric of new cases in any country tracked by Johns Hopkins.

*A news report from reader Ken (my emphasis):

New Hampshire has a new anti-abortion law. It prohibits abortions after 24 weeks’ gestation, including in cases of rape, incest, and fatal fetal anomaly (meaning a woman will have to carry a non-viable fetus to term and watch it die). It also requires that women seeking abortions at ANY stage of pregnancy undergo transvaginal ultrasound examinations. Doctors who assist women in violating the new law are subject to criminal prosecution and up to seven years’ imprisonment.
The bill was signed into law by NH Gov. Chris Sununu — that rara avis, a putatively pro-choice Republican. Sununu contends he had to sign the bill because Republicans in the NH legislature had embedded it in the state budget, which he did not feel he could veto.

*The Webb Space Telescope is still functioning “nominally”, as they say. NASA reports that the heat shield has been deployed on schedule, with the mirrors beginning to open in a week. I recommend following the daily process of the scope on this constantly updated NASA “Where is Webb?” timeline, which as of 6:30 last night looked like this (click to enlarge):

Here’s what it’ll look like when the mirrored scope itself is deployed. NASA adds this:

Temperatures on the Sun/hot side of the sunshield will reach a maximum of approximately 383K or approximately 230 degrees F and on the cold mirror/instruments side of the sunshield, a minimum of approximately 36K or around -394 degrees F. Due to the engineering of the sunshield, this incredible transition takes place across a distance of approximately six feet.

*In “What the Elizabeth Holmes jury got right,” WaPo regular columnist Megan McArdle is upset that Holmes wasn’t found guilty of providing false results to patients, but admits that doctors subsequently used reputable testing facilities so that nobody was harmed. But McArdle does applaud three things about Holmes’s four “guilty” verdicts:

 Still, we can take comfort in a few things.

First, the jury was scrupulous, only finding Holmes guilty on four of the 11 counts where everyone was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. This is how the jury system is supposed to work, even if we’re sometimes uncomfortable with the results.

Second, Holmes is still probably going to jail for a good long time. Her time in prison will offer justice for those she wronged, send a somber warning for any future entrepreneurs tempted by such deceptions and provide an opportunity for Holmes to rethink her appalling life choices.

And third, while she might not have been convicted of health-care fraud, the fact that she ran a health-care business best explains why she’s going to prison. . .

. . . But fake-it-until-you-make-it doesn’t work with a health-care start-up. Morally, overselling someone on your buggy electronics or overhyped subscription service is very different from administering a lab test you know to be unreliable. Even assuming you are the sort of sociopath who just doesn’t care about the risks you’re taking with patients’ lives, trying to fake a diagnostics company still looks completely daft.

I assumed that Holmes would get a light sentence, but Those Who Know are predicting substantial prison time. Were I a judge, I’d consider her a flight risk and confiscate her passport.

*The Guardian has an article by Johann Hari that is disturbing: “Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen.” It’s about how “devices” like iPads and smartphones are ruining our attention span—and why. It does do that, at least to me, and I fight it by devoting uninterrupted time most evenings to reading. Hari’s description of a sad yet hilarious incident in Graceland’s “Jungle Room” drives the point home. (This excerpt is from Hari’s new book  Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attentionwhich comes out in the UK tomorrow and on January 25 in the U.S.)

*”There is justice in the world!”, says reader Paul, who sent me a link to a report that that a lawsuit filed against the band Nirvana for featuring a naked baby (the plaintiff!) on the cover of its Nevermind album, has been dismissed. Here’s the cover at issue:

Part of the report on Pitchfork:

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Nirvana’s naked-baby artwork for Nevermind constitutes child sexual exploitation, BBC News reports and documents viewed by Pitchfork confirm. The baby in question, Spencer Elden, who is now 30, claimed he suffered “lifelong damages,” including loss of wages, as a result of the album cover, and described the enterprise as a “sex trafficking venture.” Last month, a lawyer for the band filed to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Elden’s claim “is, on its face, not serious.” The lawyer added that the statute of limitations on the claims had expired in 2011. Elden’s team had until December 30 to respond to the motion to dismiss, but missed the deadline.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 828,436, an increase of 1,323 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,476,309, 5,467,767, an increase of about 8,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 5 includes:

  • 1781 – American Revolutionary War: Richmond, Virginia, is burned by British naval forces led by Benedict Arnold.
  • 1875 – The Palais Garnier, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, is inaugurated in Paris.

Here’s a photo I took of the Palais Garnier in Paris on February 20, 2019, right when the pandemic was starting up. There’s now another opera house near the Place Bastille.

Here’s a stereoscopic picture of Dreyfus in his cell on Devil’s Island in 1898. He was vindicated and released the next year:

  • 1912 – The sixth All-Russian Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Prague Party Conference) opens. In the course of the conference, Vladimir Lenin and his supporters break from the rest of the party to form the Bolshevik movement.

Three of the original members: Trotsky, Lenin, and Kamenev:

Moscow. Lev Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin and Lev Kamenev (L-R). Photo TASS
Москва. На снимке слева направо: Лев Давидович Троцкий, Владимир Ильич Ленин. и Лев Борисович Каменев в перерыве работы 2-го съезда III Интернационала. Репродукция Фотохроники ТАСС.
  • 1914 – The Ford Motor Company announces an eight-hour workday and minimum daily wage of $5 in salary plus bonuses.
  • 1919 – The German Workers’ Party, which would become the Nazi Party, is founded in Munich.

Here’s Hitler’s membership card of the Party (DAP_ with the membership number 7, which the Wikipedia photo says was “altered from the original”

  • 1925 – Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming becomes the first female governor in the United States.

Here’s Ross, who won a special election after her husband, the former governor, died. She later became director of the U.S. Mint. She remains the only woman ever to govern the state.

From Wikipedia: “A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands on a foggy morning at sunrise.”

  • 1941 – Amy Johnson, a 37-year-old pilot and the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia, disappears after bailing out of her plane over the River Thames, and is presumed dead.

Here’s Johnson in her Gipsy Moth. She is presumed to have died of a combination of hypothermia and drowning, and she was spotted in the water calling for help:

  • 1953 – The play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett receives its première in Paris.
  • 1968 – Alexander Dubček comes to power in Czechoslovakia, effectively beginning the “Prague Spring”.
  • 2005 – The dwarf planet Eris is discovered by Palomar Observatory-based astronomers, later motivating the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term planet for the first time.

Notables born on this day include:

He built this as a tomb for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, when she died at 38:

Yes, he invented the most popular safety razor with thin, disposable metal blades. I can’t find out the source of his first two names.

We all know him as “Superman” (below). Reeves, depressed that he couldn’t get other acting parts, committed suicide at age 45.

  • 1932 – Umberto Eco, Italian novelist, literary critic, and philosopher (d. 2016)
  • 1934 – Phil Ramone, South African-American songwriter and producer, co-founded A & R Recording (d. 2013)
  • 1946 – Diane Keaton, American actress, director, and businesswoman. 

I never thought that Keaton was much of an actor—except when she plays herself, as she did in the great movie “Annie Hall.” Here’s one of the best scenes, contrasting a quiet Easter dinner with the goyische Halls with Woody’s Jewish family:

  • 1969 – Marilyn Manson, American singer-songwriter, actor, and director

Those who took the Big Nap on January 5 include:

  • 1589 – Catherine de’ Medici, queen of Henry II of France (b. 1519)
  • 1922 – Ernest Shackleton, Anglo-Irish sailor and explorer (b. 1874).

One of the most intrepid of all polar explorers, Shackleton is buried on South Georgia Island, which he reached years earlier after a 16-day journey in an open lifeboat in a successful effort to get help for the rest of his crew, marooned on Elephant Island.  He was a successful lecturer:

  • 1933 – Calvin Coolidge, American lawyer and politician, 30th President of the United States (b. 1872)
  • 1942 – Tina Modotti, Italian photographer, model, actress, and activist (b. 1896)

She had a full life, and, after modeling for other photographers like Edward Weston, became a photographer in her own right. Here’s one of her photos: “Woman from Tehuantepec carrying yecapixtle. 1929.”

Carver at work in his lab. He’s known for promoting products containing peanuts, though he did other things that were more successful (none of his peanut products came into use):

  • 1963 – Rogers Hornsby, American baseball player, coach, and manager (b. 1896)
  • 1970 – Max Born, German physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1882)
  • 1981 – Harold Urey, American chemist and astronomer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1893)
  • 1998 – Sonny Bono, American singer-songwriter, producer, actor, and politician (b. 1935)

Cher was his second of four wives. Bono, whose given name was “Salvatore”, died in a skiing accident

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hil, snoozing on the calendar,i refuses a request from Andrzej:

A: May I turn the pages of the calendar?
Hili: There is no reason for that.
In Polish:
Ja: Czy mogę odwrócić kartki w kalendarzu?
Hili: Nie ma powodu.

The meme below was posted by Seth Andrews. My father loved liver and onions, and thus my mother cooked it, making the whole house unacceptably odiferous. The rest of us couldn’t stand the stuff:

From The Onion:

From Divy: Cats telling horror stories around the campfire:

Here’s the trailer for the third and final season of Ricky Gervais’s “After Life,” a series whose first two seasons I much enjoyed. And it has Philomena! (Diane Morgan). I’m looking forward to seeing if the widowed Gervais finds love.

Yesterday I forgot to announce that it was the Earth’s perihelion: our closest annual approach to the Sun. Simon sent two tweets from Neil deGrasse Tyson that explain it:

Now I’m not sure why the speed cancels out the gain in solar energy; perhaps some reader can explain. But I do know why it’s winter here despite our greater proximity to the Sun: we’re in the part of our orbit in which the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun.

The Museum of English Rural Life asked for some tweets on ducks, and lo, there was a response. This is only the beginning of the thread. Long Boi is an Indian Runner Duck, but has the markings of a wild mallard drake.  Here’s his Instagram page, and a page about his Big Prize:

Longboi has been crowned the best waterfowl in the country in the University of Bantshire’s Waterfowl University Rankings.

The dapper duck was a crowd favourite from the start, winning his heat with 67% of the vote.

The Indian Runner Duck cross beat the Lancaster Ducks in the finals by more than 90 votes, and beat Swansea’s swans by more than 1000.

YUSU President has pledged to name a table in The Forest, YUSU’s outdoor venue, after Longboi’s win.

He told Vision: “I am delighted that Longboi has rightfully claimed the title as Waterfowl of the Year. I would be incredibly disappointed if an honorary degree is not bestowed upon him immediately, in recognition of his contributions to the University of York”.

This must be a British contest, as Honey is surely deserving of as much fame as Long Boi!

A medieval duck. Note that it’s saying “querk”—or is it “queck”?

From Ginger K.:

Three tweets from Matthew. First, an elderly lady in Berlin saving a wayward young swan who got lost on the street and couldn’t find its way back to the water. Note: do NOT grab a waterfowl (or any wild bird) by the wings; you could injure them. Try to pin the wings against its body and secure the head. (You can find more about this incident on Instagram.)

You don’t want to mess with coconut crabs! The do open coconuts. . .

This is really, really heartbreaking, but did anybody believe the Taliban when they said they’d play nice after taking over Afghanistan? I weep for the Afghan people.

120 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Aphelion vs perihelion: At perihelion, the velocity of the earth is higher than at aphelion (in inverse relation to the radii-due to conservation of momentum), so the greater solar flux in northern winter has less time to provide heating then the relative lower heating value in the northern summer, so the NET gain to the planet over the northern winter isn’t much more than the net gain over the northern summer. The RATE of heating is greater, though, so I would not be surprised if southern summer daily extremes are hotter then northern at equivalent latitudes (no, I did not check)

    1. I really wanted to see that. On my first visit to Christmas Island (assuming this is the Kiribati one) I did something stupid with a crab. We were sitting around by the beach eating sashimi and some land crabs were scuttling around. I used to do a lot of crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay so I knew how to safely pick up a blue crab. Found out it doesn’t work with these crabs. Hurt like bloody hell, to the great amusement of my companions.

  2. Lots to comment on today:

    Nonetheless, as of Jan. 3, the seven-day average of daily new U.S. cases is 480,273, the highest such metric of new cases in any country tracked by Johns Hopkins.

    On the day that the USA reported a million cases, the UK reported 200,000 cases. If you correct for population size, we’re about the same. I bet the same applies to the seven day rolling average.

    You are not alone.

    Our government, by the way is in paralysis because the introduction of restrictions to contain omicron (which I think are merited) would result in Boris Johnson being ousted as PM by his own party.

    Now I’m not sure why the speed cancels out the gain in solar energy

    It might be as simple as the fact that we spend fewer days in the more than average half of the orbit than in the less than average half of the orbit. You might even find that, because of Kepler’s equal area rule, it exactly cancels out.

    Edit: Forgot that I meant to comment on Elizabeth Holmes too.

    A lot has been made of the fact that Holmes was not convicted on any of the cases of patient fraud.People claim it’s because the justice system will always punish you for stealing from rich people, not so much for stealing from poor people. I’ve even seen people blame the jury for this alleged bias.

    I don’t really find it credible that the jury would have this bias since I assume it is selected randomly in some way and probably consists mostly of people who aren’t rich. I think it’s far more likely that the prosecution simply failed to prove its case to the standard required. They couldn’t bring enough evidence to court to meet the high bar for a criminal conviction.

    This makes me happier because it speaks to the probability that the jury did its job diligently and wasn’t swayed by all of the media coverage, only the facts put before them.

  3. Were I a judge, I’d consider her [Elizabeth Holmes] a flight risk and confiscate her passport.

    Generally, defendants in federal criminal cases are required to surrender their passports and other documents related to international travel as one of the conditions of their initial release on bond pending resolution of their cases by trial or plea.

  4. Providing the number of daily deaths by covid is kind of a meaningless piece of information. Now, if they also stated how many of those deaths were unvaccinated it might mean something. So why do they leave it out. It would offend someone – how? They are dead.

    1. Most people probably wouldn’t understand what it means if they have that statistic.

      Here in the UK, it got out that most of the people hospitalised with COVID19 are vaccinated. I can’t remember the exact number, but let’s say it was 60%. What conclusion can you draw from that? Actually, nothing, but it didn’t stop some people from claiming that the vaccine was ineffective or even positively dangerous. Even after it was explained that, most hospitalised people were old and that age group had something like a 90 – 95% take up rate of vaccinations, the myth persisted.

      1. Most people probably wouldn’t understand what it means if they have that statistic. I thought I was the one here who called people stupid? Providing meaningless statistics may not be stupid but it is certainly useless. I do not know about the U.K. but over here in cult land the overall vaccination rate is about 62 percent. I suspect people need another incentive to get vaccinated.

      1. But because they are a lagging indicator, they tell you only what the pandemic was doing weeks or even months ago. (Most people, other than those from nursing homes, who die of Covid, or almost everything else these days, die in an ICU and with Covid that can take months.)

        The most useful thing to pay attention to seems to be ICU admissions. In the UK, Omicron has led to almost zero ICU admissions. No ICU admissions, likely no deaths through the winter.

        This optimism likely explains the British government’s unwillingness to lock the country down again. Staff absences are a problem everywhere.

  5. Whipped cream needs another food to complement it…

    Like maple syrup, whipped cream is underrated as a standalone dessert.

    1. Although our host acknowledges this use, it’s underrated for salacious purposes, too, you ask me.

      There’s nothing quite like a woman showing up unexpectedly at your door, naked under her coat, with a can of whipped cream in one hand and a magnum of Dom P in the other — unless it’s a woman showing up unexpectedly at your door, naked under her coat, with a can of whipped cream in one hand, a magnum of Dom P in the other, and a winning lottery ticket tucked under her arm. 🙂

      1. I wouldn’t call that salacious purposes but merely erotic purposes. Salacious has a negative connotation. And your account sounds thoroughly wholesome to me (assuming no confounding factors).

  6. I’m not sure why the speed cancels out the gain in solar energy; perhaps some reader can explain

    I took it to be talking about the overall contribution of energy delivered to the Earth over the course of the year. I.e. northern hemisphere winter and northern hemisphere summer contributes about the same amount of energy to the Earth, with “closer to the sun” adding to the winter value and “less time in it” subtracting from it, with the overall net effect that summer and winter contribute about the same in terms of energy delivered.

    I could be wrong but I bet this is a direct consequence of Kepler’s second law (equal orbital areas are swept in equal time increments).

    1. My simplistic approach is that you can pass your finger right through a candle flame without getting burned provided you are quick about it. If you hold your finger 6” above the flame for several seconds you will get burned.

  7. Spencer Elden’s lawsuit about the Nevermind album cover photo was ridiculous.

    In December, lawyers for the defendants sought to dismiss the lawsuit, saying it was filed too late and that its claim that the image depicts sexual abuse is “not serious”. They noted that Elden had “spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby'”, having recreated the artwork several times, and that he had the album title tattooed on his chest.

    1. Let’s hope this discourages the naked mannequin with angel wings on the cover of In Utero from bringing suit too.

  8. ” New Hampshire has a new anti-abortion law. It prohibits abortions after 24 weeks’ gestation, including in cases of rape, incest”

    24 weeks is 6 months. In many places, abortion after three months is illegal. 6 months seems generous, even allowing for the fact that the pregnancy might not be noticed right away. Especially in the case of rape or incest where women are more likely to want an abortion, it makes little difference if it is 3, 4, 5, or 6 months; plenty of time.

    Whatever one thinks of the right to abortion at whatever stage of the fetus, one can’t claim that an upper limit of 6 months is in any way a serious limitation in the case of rape or incest.

    1. No, what is right is that women have the right to their own health and their own body and the plenty of time people like yourself just go away. It is odd that what seems generous to you, a male person is just what women want. Seriously.

      1. Seriously, the whole abortion debate is not about women’s right to their own health and bodies, but about the life of the fetus and whether that fetus counts as a human. You don’t have to agree with the other side, but you have to intelligently counter their arguments (by pointing out that the fetus is not human, if that is what you believe, for example). Just stating your own position as if it clears everything up is just like the bumper sticker “God said it; I believe it; that settles it”, i.e. an argument from (supposed) authority.

        As for the (rather literal) ad-hominem attack, by the same token since you are a man so what you say should also be irrelevant.

        You seem to be saying that a woman who wants an abortion due to rape or incest needs more than half a year to make up her mind.

        1. you have to intelligently counter their arguments (by pointing out that the fetus is not human, if that is what you believe, for example).

          There are plenty of counters for pro-life arguments. Here’s two.

          1. Personhood is irrelevant because we do not coerce organ donation or transplant. We see that as a profoundly immoral violation of bodily autonomy, even when someone’s life is in the balance. IOW, we do not force one person to use their body to keep another person alive. So even under the pro-life claim that the foetus is a person, their demand to criminalize abortion is immoral and inconsistent with society’s generally accepted morality around bodily autonomy.

          2. The pro-life position is hypocritical and inconsistent, with most of them not actually treating a foetus as a person. Two obvious and glaring examples is – RCCers excepted – the right’s support for IVF, where something like an average of 10 fertilized embryos are destroyed for every embryo successfully implanted (and if you like hypothetical trolley car problems, think also about the ‘fire in an IVF clinic’ variant). The second glaring example is of course in child support and citizenship, which they object to for a foetus. If a foetus is a person, then a person conceived in the U.S. is a U.S. citizen. But pro-lifers say no. This hypocrisy matters for both morality and law because if what they’re actually doing is regulating women rather then embryos, that’s unconstitutional. The game was actually admitted by N.C. State Senator Saxby Chambliss when asked why his legislation specifically excluded protection for IVF embryos. His response: ‘those don’t count because they’re not in a woman.’

          1. With regard to the second argument, there is of course some hypocrisy, but that is just an indication of inconsistency. One could also argue that, if they knew the facts, more pro-life people would be opposed to IVF (and the IUD).

            With regard to the second argument, suffice it to say that no serious philosopher takes it seriously. It has been discussed extensively in the literature and bringing it up here is a complete red herring.

            1. One could also argue that, if they knew the facts, more pro-life people would be opposed to IVF (and the IUD).

              Many Roman Catholics are, but the vast majority of Evangelicals are not. They are in fact the opposite: supportive of IVF. Did you not see the Saxby Chambliss quote at the end of my post?

              This is ‘quacks like a duck’ territory (apologies to the mallards). When a pro-lifer talks about zygotes in women, and passes legislation that regulates zygote treatment only in women, then yes it makes absolutely good sense to draw the conclusion that what they really want to do is regulate women.

        2. What a fetus is or isn’t is not really the question. The question is whether an actual human being should be forced to sacrifice their body for the sake of another.
          That a fetus is not fully human, that it doesn’t and can’t suffer as a full human does makes the argument even more simple.
          But bodily autonomy is the real issue.
          As to when the ‘person’ decides, well, who are you or anyone to say anything about it. It may take six months for the full horror to take hold or any number of other influences.

    2. I didn’t realize that. I just looked it up. It looks like only four states do not place a time limit on abortion (Alaska, New Mexico, Colorado, and Oregon.) Even the most liberal or progressive countries have some kind of time limit, usually around 12 weeks. Of course, it varies by reason; the Netherlands, for example, has a 24-week limit for any reason, except health of the mother (‘birth parent?’) or fetus, where there is no limit.

      1. The reason that there is usually some kind of limit is because the reason to allow it is that in the early stages the fetus is not sufficiently human such that abortion is murder, but is in the later stages (hence no limit only if one has to choose between the life of the mother and of the fetus).

        By the same token, there is essentially no abortion debate (at least compared to the USA) in countries with such a three-month rule, which is a compromise even the more extreme on both sides can apparently live with. My guess is that the problem in the USA is mainly that most “pro-choice” advocates make the “women should control their own bodies” argument, which utterly fails to convince the “pro-life” side because the argument of the latter is not that someone else should control women’s bodies, but rather because they believe abortion is murder. So the way for the “pro-choice” side to achieve their goals is to deconstruct the “abortion is murder” argument, rather than accusing the “pro-life” side of believing something they don’t (never a good tactic in debate).

      2. (EDIT: I dug deeper into the Wikipedia page. It was not quite consistent. Probably just an update issue. The numbers are somewhere in the range of 4-7 states having no limit on at-will abortion. Most states have no limit on abortion in case of health risk. Many states limit abortion in case of rape to the first 24 weeks.)

      3. The Wiki is wrong about Canada. Abortion is legal everywhere in Canada at any gestation for any reason, or for no reason at all. The Criminal Code simply does not mention it. Now, the provinces may regulate it as health care and hospitals and clinics have policies about how late they will allow their doctors to do it. This comes down to the more sophisticated staff and equipment needed for later gestations. (Hospitals have to fund abortions out of their global budgets from their provincial ministries of health, along with everything else they do. The doctors bill fee-for-service, again like they do for everything else. For patients, the procedure is fully covered, free.). A very late abortion, as for a mentally retarded woman or an incest victim who was still fearfully living with her rapist, would be fully legal; it would just take some working the system to arrange for an operating room and a trained specialist. Several small provinces do not have clinics, doctors, or hospitals willing to do abortions but if you have to travel out of province it’s still covered.

        Despite having the most liberal abortion regime in the world for 35 years, abortion rates in Canada continue to fall, third-trimester abortions are rare, no one dies, and public support remains strong. By margins of 7:1, Canadians who say the current system is “about right” outnumber those who say it is not strict enough, and a quarter to a third say it is too strict, a reference I think to the uneven access I mentioned above. This is true today even though it was a murky Supreme Court decision, not democratic consensus, that ended the law. It remained highly contentious and several efforts to write new laws in the 1980s failed by the narrowest of margins due to political calculus, not votes.

        Relevance to other jurisdictions:

        Because our small pro-life lobby today lacks influence beyond their own committed, it is not necessary to engage them in discussion. It’s different in places where they have influence—there you do have to compromise if you want to find people in the middle and accomplish anything legislatively, assuming you fail in the courts. For my money, if you banned almost all third-trim abortions it would probably fly in most states even though it would annoy the hard pro-choicers…doesn’t apply to states where all abortion is already legal, of course. No philosophical basis for this; it’s just the art of the possible. To get what you want against opposition, you have to either stomp them or give them a win.

        Oh, and it has to be free. And no unnecessary medical procedures just to intimidate the patient. Doctors ought not to comply with such requirements.

        1. Abortion is legal everywhere in Canada at any gestation for any reason, or for no reason at all.

          How many fully-viable fetuses in the 9th month of gestation (35 or 36 weeks and onward), where there’s no threat to the mother’s health, are aborted in Canada in an average year?

          Many, many children are born, quite healthy, after 35 or 36 weeks’ gestation.

          I am generally in favor of abortion rights; but aborting fully viable fetuses after 35 or 36 weeks seems unnecessarily harsh to me (where there’s no threat to the mother’s health, in country where abortions are legal and freely available). I would not support such a provision, where I a Canadian. I don’t think there’s an absolute right to an abortion. Some limitations (such as late term, unless the health of the mother is threatened or there is a surprise, late finding of unviability, perhaps through ultrasound) seem appropriate to me.

          Reductio ad absurdum: How far out the birth-canal can the being be before it changes from being a fetus (can be aborted) to a child (cannot be harmed)?

          By margins of 7:1, Canadians who say the current system is “about right” outnumber those who say it is not strict enough

          I would wager this is only because:

          third-trimester abortions are rare

          As noted above, I’d like to know exactly how rare, were I a Canadian voter.

          You do bring up some types of cases where such abortions could be judged acceptable. How many of these actually occur? There are gray areas, for sure. Who decides in these cases? Why isn’t adoption chosen? I’d want to know.

          1. >How many fully-viable fetuses in the 9th month of gestation . . .
            Don’t know. Abortion statistics collected by Canadian Institute for Health Information do not break down past 21+ weeks, which altogether account for 1-2 % of all abortions. CIHI’s files are in pdf and xls formats so not attachable here, but you can find them at
            For a substantial number, gestational age is “unknown”. I do not know the data well enough to speculate on what implications to draw from that.

            Not a reductio ad absurdum at all. The Criminal Code of Canada addresses exactly that:

            When child becomes human being

            223 (1) A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not
            (a) it has breathed;
            (b) it has an independent circulation; or
            (c) the navel string is severed.

            Marginal note:Killing child

            (2) A person commits homicide when he causes injury to a child before or during its birth as a result of which the child dies after becoming a human being.

            R.S., c. C-34, s. 206
            (Anyone contemplating a very late abortion would have to be careful here.)

            The frequency with which this happens does not seem high enough to trouble the average voter, if they are not already strongly pro-life. If it does come up, the decision is between the doctor and the patient (or guardian), and no one else, unless a third party brings the Court into it, as happens occasionally for more “normal” early abortions.

            If the doctor felt abortion in the circumstances was unconscionable, though legal, he would have to refer the patient to someone who would give the patient what she wanted. If no one would, then that would be a statement of prevailing medical practice that would protect them from successful complaints. But as I say, Canadians are sufficiently reassured that this is rare that they don’t require detailed information about it to inform their continued denial of support to pro-life politicians.

            If you asked why not adoption, the response would surely be MYOB.

            1. Since the state (and the taxpayers) provides these services, IMO, MYOB doesn’t suffice. There are (I’m sure) many people in line, waiting for adoptions.

              (Again, I am talking about very late term, with fully-viable fetuses. And I am, generally, in favor of abortion rights (really, in the vast majority of cases). Based on your numbers for +21 weeks, I’m sure I would be comfortable with the results.)

              It’s a good thing there are very few abortions occur at +21 weeks. This is appropriate and expected.

          2. The answer is probably that they are so rare that it is not worrying about it. By the same token, one could have a sensible limit (3 months seems to work in many places) and reduce the intensity of the debate and all its negative effects at essentially zero cost.

            There was a blog called Choice in Dying or something where one debate hinged on such topics. IIRC, my opponent in that conversation (I’m not sure, maybe the owner of the blog) stuck to his guns and justified infanticide on the same grounds that he accepted extremely late-term abortions. I disagree with his position in this detail, but I can’t fault his logic.

            There is much irrationality in the debate. For example, if the fetus can feel pain, it must be tranquillized before being killed. But who would say that otherwise murder is OK if the victim is unconscious? Yes, I can see the point that if the abortion will happen anyway, why not reduce the pain. But then you have to answer the question whether a fetus which feels enough pain that people think that it is necessary to tranquilize it doesn’t qualify as human.

            I personally knew someone who was born a full 10 weeks before term and survived with no ill effects with no neonatal care whatsoever. Wasn’t even born in a hospital.

          3. Why postulate extremely rare, if at all occurrences, when if they do happen presumably there is a good reason, a reason you don’t need to know, to support legislation encroaching on women’s health and bodies.

            1. You have a lot of assumptions baked in there. The taxpayers of Canada are providing these services.

              You seem to be saying that the fetus has no rights or interests right up to the moment of birth. (I don’t see it that way.)

              One could ask: Executions are extremely rare. Why bother asking about them? We’re sure there’s always good reasons for them.

              1. Executions? They don’t occur where I am and where they do I would argue against them, but it is totally irrelevant. Totally.
                Taxpayers are paying. Really, you would use that argument. So every taxpayer gets to decide medical decisions over anyone eh? Weird, and immoral. Smokers getting treated? No way. Drinkers? Nope. Motorbike riders? Meat eaters? Good grief.
                And I am saying that a fetus has minimal rights and or interests, ‘compared’ to the rights and interests of an actual person, but that is minimally relevant.

                I asked a question. My answer is. You postulate extremely rare occurrences to justify more stringent restrictions across the board.

                My lot of assumptions is nothing compared to yours and I am not forcing suffering on person who can suffer for the sake of something that can’t, and I am not making the same tired relentless anti women assumptions that anti-abortionists always trot out.

      1. Possibly he should send all his reasons to Poland, to the family of Ezabela, who died in the hospital still pregnant because she could not get an abortion.

        He might also want to come clean with his real reasons – his religion.

        1. If you are referring to me, I have been a very convinced atheist for the most of my life. I have written thousands of blog comments and it is easy to verify my consistent stance. It seems that your prejudices are so strong that they prevent you from understanding my clear comments. Note also that Poland is not one of the countries I was referring to where a compromise has been reached and there is essentially no debate. (For those not familiar with current events, Poland is one of the most religious and most right-wing countries in Europe).

        2. I think you are being unnecessarily combative with Mr. Helbig. He is discussing things in a reasonable manner — things which are debatable. Most states in the US (the great majority) have a time limit on abortion. I would guess that great majority of Americans (male and female) support such limitations (with exceptions in rare cases). (I know very few people who advocate for an absolute, completely unrestricted right to abortion.)

          With regard to religion.

          I am a very strong atheist. I am a 6.99 on Dawkins’ scale. (Or, if only whole numbers are allowed, a “6”, like Dawkins himself, “I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”)

          However, as I’ve told my son (thorough-going atheist), if you really believe that a fertilized egg is a full human being, as many religious people do, especially Christians, then you are simply being morally consistent in opposing abortion.

          I would wager that essentially every reader and commenter on Jerry’s site advocates for protecting human lives and works to ensure that happens, within their means. I do.

          So, if we believed (I don’t) that a fertilized egg or a 6-week embryo were fully human, we too, would be advocating to protect them. I grant to (most) religious people the courtesy of accepting their beliefs as they state them. I disagree with them and I vote against them and I advocate against them.

          1. My thoughts exactly. I’m sure that most readers here agree as well.

            Note that Randall’s tactic is also one commonly used by the woke: if you disagree with even one small aspect of what I believe, then I will libel you as taking the opposite extreme view on every position. Case in point: claiming, with no evidence whatsoever, that I am religious.

          2. Why do you so casually dismiss the women’s bodily autonomy claim? Even if someone believed a fertilized egg was fully human how does that grant it a right to leech of the body of another.
            Anyone who does thing a fetus is fully human doesn’t have a properly functioning brain though.

            1. Whoosh, the sound of missing the point.

              I was noting what some people believe and the resulting actions from those beliefs, if held consistently. Nothing more.

              1. “I would wager that essentially every reader and commenter on Jerry’s site advocates for protecting human lives and works to ensure that happens, within their means. I do.”

                The point of bodily autonomy of an actual person is the point being missed.

              2. Yes, the bodily autonomy of the fetus is being missed. Not an issue if you believe it is not human, but an issue if one believes that it is.

                Again, the reason the abortion debate in the States is such a problem is because of people like you trotting out arguments which caricature the positions of the other side.

      2. Yes, it matters. I didn’t mention it because my point was that 6 months is more than enough time to decide if one wants an abortion because of race or incest, thus criticizing the 6 months in those cases proves no point other than that the critic is not interested in rational discussion. I agree that there should be no limit if saving the fetus would lead to the death of, or even seriously injure, the mother, nor should there be if the fetus is clearly non-viable..

        1. %Ok, so after 6 months you will tolerate abortion ‘even’ for serious injury of the actual human. Nice.
          Oh, and if the fetus is ‘clearly’ not viable.
          So what do we have? You want woman to bear some injury, just not serious. How much injury are you advocating?
          Is it fair that women have to be injured to a point proscribed by you?

          How ‘clear’ does the viability of the fetus have to be? 90%, 50%, 20%.

          It seems as though you want a women to carry a possibly non viable fetus, that she doesn’t want, while enduring at least some possibly significantly injury, and suffering pretty much all along the way.

          That is not nice.

          1. What is not nice is, as noted above by someone else, you completely missing the point and trotting out ridiculous arguments in a failed attempt to make those who think differently than you look silly. But you are convincing no-one.

    3. Late term abortions are exceedingly rare (fewer than 1.3% of abortions are performed after 21 weeks) and are generally done under exceptional circumstances — such as severe fetal abnormalities, or young girls or mentally handicapped women who may have been unaware that they were pregnant earlier, or were afraid to tell a parent or guardian that they are pregnant (including some who have been abused by a parent or guardian). Pace what religious right extremists would have you believe, they’re not done as a form of birth control for sluts who want to enjoy a few more months of the side effects of pregnancy.

      Moreover, I’m opposed in principle to the regulation of abortion though the blunt instrument of our criminal justice system.

      Finally, the requirement of trans-vag ultrasounds, even for women seeking abortions immediately after missing their first period, is naught but harassment meant to discourage women from exercising their (at-least-for-the-time-being extant) constitutional right to reproductive autonomy.

      1. By arguing that it is a constitutional right, your argument hinges on the courts continuing to hold that view. Certainly the Constitution does not mention abortion, so it is a matter of interpretation.

        1. The language of the Bill of Rights is spare and always requires interpretation. There is nothing in it about the right to travel freely between states, the right to marry, or the right to associate freely with others, although all those have all been interpreted to be constitutionally guaranteed, too.

          For that matter, the Double Jeopardy clause guarantees only that no person shall “be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” — does that mean it shouldn’t apply to offenses for which the punishment is merely imprisonment, fine, or probation?

          And, although the First Amendment has a Free Speech Clause, it says nothing about the doctrines of prior restraints, or captive audiences, or fighting words, or incitements to imminent violence, or public forums. Are you proposing a form of strict constitutional constructionism that would foreclose these glosses created by judicial interpretation?

    4. There is no generosity and it is absolutely a serious limitation to force a woman to carry to term a foetus with a fatal anomaly. There is not even a pro-life purpose served here, since no life will be saved or continued – the foetus is either dead in the womb or DOA. The demand she carry it to term is horrific.

      If you disagree, please tell me the valuable social purpose or generosity being given to women by forcing them to carry a dead or soon-to-be dead foetus to term.

      1. Where did I make such a claim? If you scroll up a bit, you can see that I wrote: I agree that there should be no limit if saving the fetus would lead to the death of, or even seriously injure, the mother, nor should there be if the fetus is clearly non-viable. If you read the whole thread it is clear that I never even implied something like that.

  9. For some reason, Long Boi remineds me of Seurat’s “Sunday in Park.” I think he could slide in there very easily.

    1. Me too. My father used to cook it for us kids when our mother was away helping her elderly parents. He learned to cook it for the men he messed with in the tuberculosis sanitarium during the War.

    2. It was a staple dinner in my childhood. Liver was very cheap, and we always cooked it with bacon along with onions.

      1. There was a restaurant in Berkeley in the 60’s called The Albertine a few blocks from my house, and they served a dish called “smothered”. Absolutely delicious liver and onions. As a kid I didn’t like liver-sans onions- and tried to slip it surreptitiously under the table to our dawg Spike.

    3. I don’t really like beef liver and onions, but chicken liver and onions I find very yummy- especially done with an asian flare.

        1. Gizzards? You mean rubber bands? 🤣

          I give gizzards to the dogs after poaching. No use wasted them, and the dogs don’t mind rubber bands because they inhale meat, never chew it.

  10. Here’s one of the best scenes [in Annie Hall] …

    That’s a virtually unknown Christopher Walken sitting at the end of the Easter dinner table, playing Diane Keaton’s younger brother (even though Walken’s three years older than Keaton), a year before his breakthrough role in Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter.

    1. He played a part in To Kill A Mockingbird, a long time before that. I would not say he faded into obscurity in any fashion. Maybe you did not see The Godfather, oh well.

    2. Mockingbird and Arthur Penn’s 1966 film The Chase (an underrated classic, you ask me) — in which he played Janice Rule’s cuckolded husband — are the first two films I recall seeing Duvall in.

      1. The first film I NOTICED Duvall in was “The Great Santini.” I said “This guy’s amazing! Why haven’t I seen him before?” It was only after that I realized that I had seen him in plenty of movies, from “True Grit” [he the guy who calls John Wayne a “one-eyed fat man” and the Duke yells “Fill your hand, you son-of-a-bitch!”] to “The Seven Percent Solution” [he plays Dr. Watson]. When I’d rewatch one of these old movies, I’d say, “Oh, THAT was him.”

        1. Duvall’s first truly defining role was probably as Tom Hagen in the first two Godfather movies. He was also pretty memorable as Lt. Col. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now and in Tender Mercies, as the washed-up-country-music-singer-turned-preacher — the second instance, after Santini, in which I recall him carrying a film in the lead role.

      2. I first saw him in The Godfather. I watched To Kill a Mockingbird and The Chase later. Having read your comment above, I shall watch The Chase again. I glimpsed Duvall in The Conversation, a film I like very much.

        1. The Chase had a helluva cast, and a helluva scene where Brando gets his ass kicked by the local rednecks trying to find out where Robert Redford’s character is hiding out following his prison escape.

          It was Arthur Penn’s film between his Oscar-nominated directorial efforts in The Miracle Worker and Bonnie and Clyde.

  11. The story about the Nirvana album cover lawsuit is quite amusing, and the New York Times has a good article summarizing the case. Spencer Elden’s claim of harm is patently absurd, as the Nirvana defense made clear. The guy has made a career out of his famous connection to the band, recreating the scene many times for money over the years. I suspect now that the case has been dismissed, he may have inadvertently killed his golden goose!

  12. I remember watching George Reeves as Superman as a kid. He seemed to be born for the role and certainly defined for me how Superman was supposed to look. Same with Sean Connery as James Bond.

    1. But for some reason, Adam West never seemed like Batman to me as a kid. Maybe it was too campy, I don’t know. But now that Batman’s been played by everyone from Affleck to Keaton to Kilmer to Bale and Clooney, I’m just confused. Though I liked Keaton’s voice and Kilmer’s jaw line. I think perhaps Christian Bale is my favorite, but was he “born for the role”? I continue to vacillate.

      1. Adam West as Batman is one of the all-time greatest acting performances. The whole point of the Batman television series is camp. Can’t define “camp”? Just watch Batman. It is so over-the-top absurd, but that wouldn’t be funny without West’s deadpan delivery, playing one of the most absurd roles ever completely straight.

        Over the heads of the main audience were many references to current events and so on, often very satirical.

        Interestingly, West was asked to play Bond, but declined, saying that Bond should be played by a Brit. (In the official Bond films, up until now, Bond has been played by a Scotsman, an Australian, two Englishmen, a Welshman, and an Irishman.)

        1. West hailed from my state of WA, specifically Walla Walla. A late friend owned the West family home & delighted decorating and dressing up as West for Halloween – he’d let folks tour the memorabilia as they got their candy. The town has an Adam West day & park.

      2. Adam West’s Batman was so far removed from the Batman comics. I remember it was quite controversial when the show premiered. I didn’t care and I suspect neither did most TV viewers. It was a fun show.

          1. Although my memory is faint, I have to disagree. They did make some changes to the format after the first couple of years but it was campy right from the start and a total contrast to the comic book version. Wikipedia details the changes but they imply that it was still a campy comedy all the way through. They do say that the absurdity of the situations increased over the length of the series.


            1. But what made the show campy was that it adapted the silliest aspects of the Silver Age Batman comics (which had storylines about Batman turning into a baby or alien, the Joker committing “boner crimes,” etc.) with a completely straight-face, even though they looked silly in live action. The source of the camp was in being true to the comics, not diverging from them, and the show adapted multiple Batman comics:

              Later seasons diverged more from the comics and tried coming up with self-consciously wacky material that didn’t work as well as the comics-derived concepts.

        1. I remember seeing the first commercial for Batman and being excited about one of my favorite comic book characters coming to live television. Then I saw the campy mess they made of it. I probably watched only the Catwoman episodes. Julie Newmar in that skintight outfit almost made up for the rest of the show.

          1. Yes, I too remember the outrage from comic book fans. It’s understandable. When they heard that Batman was going to be made into a TV show, they expected it to follow the version in the comics. I would be pissed too.

      3. I thought this was just a throw away comment of my comic book musings after Paul wrote about what Superman was supposed to look like. I was happily surprised to see all the comments defending the early Batman show. And don’t get me wrong, I love Adam West, and he’s a great human, but I guess I will need to watch some episodes again to get my aesthetic straight…or not. Either way, I enjoyed reading everyone’s erudite comments on the Batman show.

        1. Just to set the record straight, I liked Adam West’s campy Batman AND the serious versions in more recent films. I was never a comic book fan though. Nothing against them but just not a consumer. They were ubiquitous during my childhood but they didn’t click with me.

  13. “Due to the engineering of the sunshield, this incredible transition takes place across a distance of approximately six feet.”

    And due to the properties of a vacuum. Still, it’s impressive engineering.

  14. My wife and I both like liver and onions, but she insists that it only be eaten out and not cooked in the house. My mother used to do liver in a tomato sauce, which I liked.

  15. That piece by Johann Hari was interesting – though also worrying. And the scene at Graceland was terrifying – what on earth are we doing/letting happen to ourselves?!

  16. The boat Shackleton sailed to South Georgia, the James Caird, was gifted to his old school, Dulwich College, after his death and, apart from 20-odd years at the National Maritime Museum, has remained there ever since.

    I went to Dulwich in the 60s, and the James Caird was then kept in a very modest niche. It is now in a rather splendid space of its own:

  17. In his book The Man and His Wonderful Shaving Device—King C. Gillette, biographer Russell B. Adams, Jr. … . Biographer Adams wrote, “His royal first name honored a Judge King who was a friend of George Gillette’s.”

  18. Johann Hari has been a very naughty boy on multiple occasions, and as a professed atheist, he really let the side down. I would double-check any factoids he comes up with.

    1. Indeed, although everything seemed to be properly attributed in the article our host linked to today. Hopefully Hari has learned his lesson at last.

  19. At least one juror said they found it hard to convict Holmes because she was so likeable.
    But at least they did.

  20. It’s not entirely clear that George Reeves committed suicide. There were suspicious circumstances, although there is also not enough evidence to prove murder.

    1. I vaguely remember that Reeves had trouble finding work after Superman was cancelled. Typecasting is a bitch! Perhaps casting directors also thought that he wasn’t that good an actor. The assumption was that this led to his suicide.

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