Wednesday: Hili dialogue

January 19, 2022 • 7:00 am

Greetings on Hump Day, or “Dan Grba” as they say in Croatia:  January 19, 2022, National Popcorn Day!! (I didn’t put the two exclamation marks in; somebody’s really excited about popcorn. It’s also World Quark Day (not the physics quark, but a cheeselike comestible), Brew a Potion Day, Tin Can Day, New Friends Day, and, in Iceland, Husband’s Day (Iceland).  Here’s the ritual:

Bóndadagur in Icelandic means “Farmer’s day”, and an early (generally considered humorous) reference to it was made in 1864 by Jón Árnason in his book Þjóðsögur (Folk Tales). According to Árnason, the master of the house should arise on the celebration day, put only one leg of his trousers and underwear on, and hop around outside calling men on neighboring farms to attend a feast to welcome the month of Þorri.

Here’s the male version of the Icelandic national costume:

There’s a Google Doodle today urging us all to mask up and get our jabs. Click on the screenshot of this gif to see where it goes. Note everybody celebrating their shots.

News of the Day:

*I am not sure how much to believe the hysteria about 5-G-endangered plane safety being promulgated by the major airlines. As you’ve undoubtedly heard, the new 5G internet rolling out this month has been claimed by airlines to cause landing issues in bad weather, because it messes up the altimeter. My doubts come from the fact that for years we’ve been told to turn off our cellphones in flight because it would interfere with navigation, but it doesn’t really. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t see flight attendants—and many others—talking on their cellphones in the air.

However, the airlines might be right, and we should err on the side of safety. Accordingly, both AT&T and Verizon have agreed to deactivate 5G networks from towers within two miles airport runways. But even that’s not good enough for some airlines, as the Wall Street Journal reports:

Nonetheless, a handful of international airlines said Tuesday they plan to suspend some U.S. flights starting Wednesday, citing operational concerns stemming from the Federal Aviation Administration’s restrictions and Boeing Co. ’s guidance not to operate the 777 jet.

Emirates Airline said it would suspend flights to nine U.S. cities. Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. said Boeing had advised them not to operate the 777 to the U.S. in light of 5G deployment. Air India also announced the cancellation of some U.S.-bound flights operated by 777 jets.

*Over at the NYT, columnist and Supreme Court analyst Linda Greenhouse tells us “What the Supreme Court’s vaccine case was really about.” Greenhouse mentions “a now-obscure case from 1981, American Textile Manufacturers Institute v. Donovan,” and then explains that in that case, the Court agreed that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.(OSHA) had the right to regulate safety in the workplace—exposure to toxic cotton dust in factories. Now the court is apparently shifting direction:

That case stands for a time when the Supreme Court was willing to rescue an administrative agency’s authority from the storms of politics. Was that the dissenters’ point in citing it? I don’t know, but what jumped off the page to me was the contrast between how the court behaved in 1981 and what happened last Thursday in National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, when six justices yielded to politics to disable an agency from carrying out its statutory mission to protect the health and safety of the American work force. That is where we are now. That’s how far the court has fallen.

The fact is that this dispute — which, remarkably, found 27 states aligned against the federal government — was never principally about the vaccine. OSHA’s “emergency temporary standard,” under which employers of 100 or more people were to require vaccination or weekly testing, was mainly a target of opportunity. It offered the conservative justices a chance to lay down a marker: that if there is a gap to fill in Congress’s typically broadly worded grant of authority to an administrative agency, it will be the Supreme Court that will fill it, and not the agency.

In other words, this decision is about power, and about the Supreme Court’s power—though Justices are not health experts—to rule on decisions that are the purview of an agency that does have the expertise. Justice Alito even got himself pretty balled up in the decision:

Among the more head-snapping moments during the nearly four hours of argument in the two vaccine cases on Jan. 7 came with Justice Alito’s comments in the OSHA argument to Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar.

Justice Alito suggested that the vaccine policy was more onerous than other OSHA health measures because employees who accept the vaccine run some personal risk, presumably of a bad reaction. The justice, who like the eight others has received two vaccine doses plus a booster, wanted to have it both ways: to cast a cloud over the vaccine requirement while not being labeled an antivaxxer. “I don’t want to be misunderstood in making this point because I’m not saying the vaccines are unsafe,” he told the solicitor general. Then what was he saying, exactly?

Indeed. Another relevant difference: if you get lung disease from cotton dust, you can’t give it to anyone else. If you get Covid from refusal to get the jab, you can endanger others. The judges not only erred, but erred in the wrong direction.

*The Washington Post offers what seems to be helpful advice on “How often can you safely re-use your KN-95 or N-95 mask?” But the article seems less concerned with my query: “If you take off your mask and let it sit, how long till any Covid viruses are dead?” than with “How long should you wear your masks before they become ‘soiled.'” Dirt is one thing, and won’t abate with time, but viruses do. So forgive me if I cock an eye at this:

“In the ideal world — or pre-pandemic — many masks were really viewed as single-use,” said Michael G. Knight, an assistant professor of medicine at George Washington University. “The reality is they do have a little bit more length in the amount of time we can use them.”

What’s crucial, Knight said, is making sure the mask has “maintained its integrity.” Think about how many times you’ve used it and for how long, he said.

“If I’m just putting a mask on to go to the grocery store for 45 minutes and I’m taking it off, that mask very well should be able to last me a couple of days,” he said.

But if you’re wearing a mask all day, such as during a long work shift where you may be sweating and talking all day to the point the mask becomes soiled, “then that may not be a mask that I can reuse.”

“If I’m wearing it for three hours, I’m going for a workout and I’m sweating, then that mask is most likely going to be soiled,” Knight said.

When you start seeing signs that the mask is soiled, “you’re getting to the point that that mask needs to be replaced,” he added.

They’re conflating three things, two of which are concerning (“virus absence” and “integrity”) with “soiling”. Now I throw away my masks when they get unsightly, and I rotate the new ones so any virus dies (I expect three days should do fine, but I’m not going to pitch a mask because I get toothpaste on it (that is my most common contaminant). I bet that if you put your masks under a UV light for a day or so, they’d last until they started falling apart—when they lose “integrity.”

*I’ve used Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik as an example of how a humane justice system treats even the worst criminal. In 2011 Breivik, a right-wing nationalist and white supremacist, killed 77 people, mostly children, in two attacks. He got the maximum sentence possible, 21 years, with his first parole review after only ten years. (After 21 years, they review him for “reformation” every five years, so he’ll likely be in for life, but at least has a comfortable existence.) Still, he’s making things very hard on himself:

Sporting a stubble beard and a two-piece suit, he entered the makeshift courtroom in a prison gymnasium by raising his right hand in a Nazi salute and holding up homemade signs with white supremacist messages. One sign was pinned to his suit.

Asked by the prosecutor who the messages were aimed at, he said they were directed at millions of people “who support white power.”

The Associated Press resists being used as a conduit for speech or images that espouse hate or spread propaganda and is not publishing images showing Breivik’s Nazi salutes and other white supremacist propaganda.

So they published the photo below instead. Is this going to stop white supremacy because they don’t show his hand? Would others make the Nazi salute if they saw Breivik’s hand. After all, it’s clear what he’s doing. At any rate, this loon is likely to be in for life—as he should be because he”s still a danger to society and isn’t in the least reformed.

(From AP): Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik arrives in court on the first day of a hearing where he is seeking parole, in Skien, Norway, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Breivik goes to court Tuesday, after 10 years behind bars, claiming he is no longer a danger to society and attempting to get an early release from his 21-year sentence. (Ole Berg-Rusten/NTB scanpix via AP)

*yahoo! news reports yet another case of British legal failure to protect the un-woke. A group of demonstrators gathered in front of J. K. Rowling’s home (guess why?) and then posted a photo of the demontstration in which you could make out her address. In other words, they doxxed her.  That is, I believe illegal in Scotland, but the Scottish courts let the protestors off (see the article for the photo–sans address)   (h/t: Divy)

Police Scotland investigated the protest, but confirmed on Monday that no criminality had been established.

At the time, the 56-year-old writer had accused the actors, who were in Edinburgh to perform in a “drag murder mystery” stage show, of “doxxing” her – a term which means to maliciously reveal private information about someone on the internet.

She claimed that the actors had positioned themselves carefully “to ensure that our address was visible” in an attempt to “intimidate me out of speaking up for women’s sex-based rights”.

“They should have reflected on the fact that I’ve now received so many death threats I could paper the house with them, and I haven’t stopped speaking out,” she added.

“Perhaps – and I’m just throwing this out there – the best way to prove your movement isn’t a threat to women is to stop stalking, harassing and threatening us.”

The three actors deleted their social media accounts after they were confronted online by Ms Rowling.

Rowling is good with the zingers, and if it weren’t transphobic, I’d say she had cojones. 

*Sinema and Manchin won’t vote to overturn the filibuster. That means that the federal bill preserving voting rights is dead on arrival—rather, dead before arrival. Biden’s approval ratings continue to sink, though he’s not responsible for Sinema and Manchin.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 853,740 an increase of 1,889 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,575,173, an increase of about 9.800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 19 includes:

Another pictures of the convicts arriving in Botany Bay.

(From Wikipedia): An engraving of the First Fleet in Botany Bay at voyage’s end in 1788, from The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay.[51] Sirius is in the foreground; convict transports such as Prince of Wales are depicted to the left.

The crossing (caption from Wikipedia):

(From Wikipedia): Generals José de San Martín (left) and Bernardo O’Higgins (right) during the crossing of the Andes.
  • 1829 – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy receives its premiere performance.
  • 1853 – Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Il trovatore receives its premiere performance in Rome.
  • 1883 – The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service at Roselle, New Jersey.

Edison as a young man (I can’t find any photos of an illuminated Roselle):

2019- The ACLU begins its terminal dissolution.

  • 1945 – World War II: Soviet forces liberate the Łódź Ghetto. Of more than 200,000 inhabitants in 1940, less than 900 had survived the Nazi occupation.

The children of the Łódź Ghetto being rounded up to be sent to the Chelmo concentration camp, where they were exterminated:

  • 1953 – Almost 72 percent of all television sets in the United States are tuned into I Love Lucy to watch Lucy give birth.

Lucy goes into labor:

  • 1978 – The last Volkswagen Beetle made in Germany leaves VW’s plant in Emden. Beetle production in Latin America continues until 2003.

Here’s the last Beetle, bedecked with flowers, rolling off the line in Emden:

The Beetle era ended in West Germany today when the last of the insect shaped Volkswagen autos rolled off an assembly line in Emden, Germany on Jan. 19, 1978. Here workers at the Volkswagen factory are stroking the last one during a farewell party. (AP Photo/Heinz Ducklau)

An original Lisa:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1807 – Robert E. Lee, American general and academic (d. 1870)
  • 1809 – Edgar Allan Poe, American short story writer, poet, and critic (d. 1849)

Poe, in a retouched daguerrotype:

Cézanne painted no cats that I know of, and I don’t like his work much anyway. You have to imagine the cats in there:

  • 1908 – Ish Kabibble, American comedian and cornet player (d. 1994)
  • 1923 – Jean Stapleton, American actress and singer (d. 2013)

Her greatest role, as Edith Bunker:

  • 1933 – George Coyne, American priest, astronomer, and theologian (d. 2020)

Coyne was a Jesuit who headed the Vatican Observatory, and probably is no relative. He was also a vocal accommodationist:

VOF Board Meeting
  • 1939 – Phil Everly, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2014)
  • 1943 – Janis Joplin, American singer-songwriter (d. 1970)

Joplin in 1966 or 1967 with Big Brother and the Holding Company:

  • 1946 – Dolly Parton, American singer-songwriter and actress

Dolly singing one of my favorite songs that she released (a Mann/Weil composition, though she wrote most of her own songs):

Sherman’s oeuvre consists almost entirely of self portraits. Here’s one:

Those who perished from this earth on January 19 include:

  • 1729 – William Congreve, English playwright and poet (b. 1670)
  • 1968 – Ray Harroun, American race car driver and engineer (b. 1879)

Harroun, driving a Marmon Wasp (below) won the first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911. Here’s the original car on display at the Indy Speedway Museum:


Here’s his painting “Again,” which isn’t hard to figure out:

  • 1980 – William O. Douglas, American lawyer and jurist (b. 1898)
  • 1990 – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Indian guru and mystic (b. 1931)

The “guru” was deported from the US as part of a plea bargain (his ashram was rife with criminality) and died in India:

  • 1997 – James Dickey, American poet and novelist (b. 1923)
  • 1998 – Carl Perkins, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1932)
  • 2000 – Hedy Lamarr, Austrian-American actress, singer, and mathematician (b. 1913)

It was Steve Pinker who informed me that Lamarr was Jewish (as was Lauren Bacall), which astounded me. She was also smart and helped develop technology for radio guidance of torpedoes, technology incorporated into the modern Bluetooth system:

  • 2006 – Wilson Pickett, American singer-songwriter (b. 1941)
  • 2008 – Suzanne Pleshette, American actress (b. 1937)
  • 2013 – Stan Musial, American baseball player and manager (b. 1920)

Musial, the “Donora greyhound”, remains my favorite major-league baseball player of all time. Humble, civil (he NEVER questioned an umpire’s call), and wicked with a bat or on the basepaths, I believe he’s still the only major leaguer to hit five home runs in one day—during a double header. I saw him play only once, with his beloved Cardinals.

Here’s a short 6.5-minute video retrospective of his career.


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has special knowledge of where pens go. (She knocks them off the desk, of course).

A: Could you tell me where my pen is?
Hili: It probably fell under your desk again.
In Polish:
Ja: Czy możesz mi powiedzieć, gdzie jest mój długopis?
Hili: Pewnie ci znowu wpadł pod biurko.

From Jesus of the Day, which labels this a *head desk*:

A duck cartoon from Facebook:

A snow cat army from Lorenzo the Cat:


The Tweet of God:

From reader Paul. Michael Shermer takes on Scientific American, as every good scientist should do. More on our attempt to criticize the magazine in an hour or so:

From Simon. This is why I almost never use Excel:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. I’ve seen this display in action, and it’s quite impressive.

This is the beginning of a long thread, and documents the beginning of a career. It shows the importance of mentorship, and answering everybody who shows a genuine curiosity. Varney is a postdoc working on marine invertebrates at the University of California at Santa Barbara:

A lovely photo from Gil Wizen. Did you spot the ____?

Velvet ants are wasps in the family Mutillidae, and the females are always wingless:

And a playful thread:

43 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. “If it didn’t, I wouldn’t see flight attendants—and many others—talking on their cellphones in the air. (I don’t!)”
    It might just be too early to focus, but I’m having trouble unpacking that.

    “calling men on neighboring farms to attend a feast to welcome the month of Þorri”
    And on the subject of confusion am I the only one who glanced at this sentence and misread the last word as “porn” – the price of bad eyesight!

    Happy Wednesday

  2. I’ve been wearing N95 masks for over a year. A requirement for N95 certification is that the mask must meet the 95% filtration standard for at least 8 hours. Therefore, I throw out my mask before 8 hours of cumulative use. In practice, I find that with repeated donning and doffing* that I have trouble getting a good seal around the nose before 8 hours of cumulative use, and therefore I usually throw out the mask sooner.

    *Yeah, I got to use the word “doffing.”

  3. *Sinema and Manchin won’t vote to overturn the filibuster. That means that the federal bill preserving voting rights is dead on arrival—rather, dead before arrival. Biden’s approval ratings continue to sink, though he’s not responsible for Sinema and Manchin.

    Yeah, but he could’ve negotiated with the House majority to set aside the bigger bills and create something smaller which had a hope of getting M&S’s support. So for example, scupper the For The People Act’s provisions on gerrymandering, campaign finance, DC statehood, etc. and narrow it to just same day registration for federal elections. You’re never going to get Manchin to agree on the federal government interfering in boundary drawing, so just get the win you can get.

    Same strategy with the John Lewis act; you’re probably never going to get Manchin’s support on all the pre-clearance requirements that bill has in it because that interferes with the state’s power to run their own elections, but you might get his support for making federal election days a federal holiday. So put the big bill to the side and make a smaller one you *can* pass. Baby steps accomplish two purposes: they do some good (though obviously not everything the party wants), and they demonstrate to mid-term voters that the folks in charge actually get things done (…so maybe it’s worth voting for them, so they can keep getting things done).

  4. My doubts come from the fact that for years we’ve been told to turn off our cellphones in flight because it would interfere with navigation, but it doesn’t really. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t see flight attendants—and many others—talking on their cellphones in the air. (I don’t!)

    I feel you have somehow flipped an auto-negative switch in the middle of that. Perhaps I have got this wrong, but I think you are saying you do see flight attendants using their phones.

    However, my feeling is that I will give the airlines the benefit of the doubt on this. We have to remember that they are not worried about an individual using their mobile phone, but the effects of hundreds of individuals all using – or trying to use – their phones at the same time. Even if the reasoning is bogus, I’m quite happy not being forced to sit next to a person who is on the phone for three hours.

    As for the 5g thing, I kind of think that they wouldn’t be making the fuss if they didn’t think there was a problem. Don’t forget that, even if the risk is very low, the consequences could be horrific.


    The wasp photo gives me an excuse for the following

    Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
    And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
    And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on;
    While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so

    which I was delighted to find was written by Augustus De Morgan who did a lot of work in Boolean logic which circles back tenuously to my first comment about the auto-negative.

    1. As for the 5g thing, I kind of think that they wouldn’t be making the fuss if they didn’t think there was a problem.

      AIUI the problem is that the US, being the wild west of government nonregulation that it is, let the cell companies install 5G towers (a) 2-3x the power that the Europeans did, (b) miles closer to airports than the Europeans did. So now we have this issue where Europe has a functioning 5G network that the airlines have no problem with, while we here in the US can’t make it happen. My cynical side suspects telecom contributions to campaign chests made sure such building and installation regulations never saw the light of day.

      However in the telecoms defense, it is also pretty regular for an industry to cry gloom and doom over any change that they think might affect their bottom line. So it could be that there is some relatively easy fix the airlines could make to address the problem, but they’re going to claim the world is going to end all the way up until the point where the federal government makes them upgrade, because it’s cheaper to lobby against the change than make the change. The shipping industry did that with double walled hulls. The world did not end and they did not all go bankrupt merely because they were required to start building and using safer ships. The chemical industry did that when DHS started requiring tighter site security – again, the world did not end when they were required to upgrade security. The world will not end if airlines and airports are required to upgrade their operational systems to account for the presence of 5G signals.

      The upshot being, I think probably the airlines have a legitimate concern, but not as big a concern as they make it out to be. I bet the telecoms are downplaying a real problem (that they created by installing strong towers near airports), and the airlines are exaggerating a fixable problem, because these exaggerated claims on both parts are the industries’ way of telling the government “I’m not willing to pay for the fix. Make the other guy pay for it.”

      1. The whole issue seemed very odd to me from the first, just because so many other countries are already using 5G. That would imply that the interaction between the towers and aircraft is an issue that has been studied in depth, confirmed through experimentation, then observed after implementation.
        I don’t know much about cell phone signals, but I do know that the aircraft are in many cases the same ones used here and in places like Japan.
        Assuming the 5G systems here are different than the ones in the dozens of other countries, one naturally wonders why, and particularly why it is just now becoming a crisis.
        I am sort of cynical about this. I do think the airline industry, or any industry, would exaggerate issues like this in order to generate public support for whatever their actual goal is. If they wanted more of the spectrum allotted to them, as an example.

        If the airline concerns are valid, then the implication is that someone seriously messed up in the design or permitting process so far. I hope someone here with in-depth specific knowledge will enlighten us.

        1. I read somewhere that the issue might be with older versions of the radar but not with newer versions. Since airlines have suffered greatly during the pandemic, they are very reluctant to do the upgrades. Perhaps European regulatory agencies have been more aggressive in forcing airlines to upgrade to the newer equipment. European countries are often ahead of the US when it comes to infrastructure.

  5. I’d say that “Grbavi Dan” (adjective + noun) would sound more natural in Croatian language for Hump Day than “Dan Grba” (noun + noun), which translates more like Day of Humps. That being said, I have to admit this is my first time to see this idiom, both in English and Croatian.

  6. The Supreme Court’s decision in the OSHA should not be viewed in isolation. The right wing justices are eager participants in the movement to, as Steve Bannon calls it, deconstruct the administrative state. That is, the ultimate goal is to reduce the power of the federal government, and in many cases, state government to regulate the affairs of business and individuals. This particularly applies to the areas of health, safety, the economy and civil rights – all under the argument that their interpretation of the Constitution is that its primary purpose is to foster individual freedom (businesses, of course, are persons). Unless the other branches of government can somehow check the Court or somehow the ideology of the Court majority changes (both unlikely), we can expect over the next 10 years to witness the transformation of the country’s social and economic structure to that of a twin of the libertarian utopia of the 1890s. Because the change will not be dramatic, but slow and steady, the analogy to the frog in the boiling water is apt.

    1. … the libertarian utopia of the 1890s.

      This is generally referred to as the Lochner era, after the 1905 case Lochner v. New York, in which SCOTUS struck down a NY statute limiting the time employers could require bakers to work to 60 hours per week.

      The era lasted into the 1930s, when SCOTUS struck down much of FDR’s early New Deal legislation, and was the primary motivating factor behind Roosevelt’s court-packing plan. It’s generally considered to have ended in 1937 when Justice Owen Roberts, then one of the Court’s swing votes, decided to change his vote in West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish thereby upholding Washington state’s minimum-wage law — sometimes referred to as “the switch in time that saved nine.”

      Justice Clarence Thomas, for one, has expressed a longing to return to Lochner era jurisprudence.

  7. 1980 – William O. Douglas, American lawyer and jurist (b. 1898)

    The longest-serving justice in US Supreme Court history. Although he sat on SCOTUS for 36 and a half years, he was the senior justice on the Court for only the last three, since Hugo Black, who was appointed a year and a half earlier, served for 34 years.

  8. “Safety” and “health” are the great weasel-word of our time. Anything can be framed as a health or safety issue. The role of government has never been to protect us from everything, but people who want control always invoke safety to intrude government into new areas in support of their hobby horses. Yes, OSHA has a remit for workplace safety, but there is a limit to that remit, just as there is to the power of the Federal government in general. It is not corruption of the court to make a distinction between different government actions. OSHA make regulate workplace hazards (hazards caused by the work done and the work environment), but to say that they can mandate healthcare measures for individual employees is not the same thing, and it is not corrupt for the Supreme Court to parse the difference, and to say there is one. To say that OSHA and the Federal government has that power is to say that they can mandate any measure so long as they claim it is for “health and safety.” What price bodily autonomy now? If they say that abortions are dangerous, then they can outlaw them. If they say that population growth contributes to climate change, which, it is being said, is a health care issue, then they could mandate a one-child policy and require abortions. Not for nothing is systemic racism now being claimed as a healthcare issue. As Pitt the Elder said, “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” The fundamental question of our time is, Do we run government or does government run us?

    1. Yes, OSHA has a remit for workplace safety, but there is a limit to that remit…
      … To say that OSHA and the Federal government has that power is to say that they can mandate any measure so long as they claim it is for “health and safety.”

      Nobody is saying “any measure.” The requirement being challenged is specific (vaccination required against only one disease), it is narrow (only businesses with 100+ people), and it is clearly linked to a significant ongoing health threat – a desease that has killed 800,000 USAians in the past three years. Heck at this point there’s probably a stronger scientific case for vaccines reducing covid hospitalizations than pollution causing health problems, and yet nobody has an issue with OSHA air quality regulations.

      The fundamental question of our time is, Do we run government or does government run us?

      Doug Parker was confirmed by our Senate. By your elected representatives. We run government – at least as best a representative democracy of 380+ million people can. Now if your requirement for “the people run government” is that the heads of Executive branch agencies such as OSHA must be directly elected, then no, we don’t run government. Is that the sort of “we run government” that you want to see?


    2. Dr B, it is not ‘any measures’ -it is exquisitely specific-, and it is not about ‘health care measures for individual employees’, since we are talking a highly contagious and pretty deadly disease. The unvaccinated are a real health hazard to their co-workers. OSHA is fully justified in this case.
      I think your comparisons and extrapolations ad absurdum are not really warranted, to put it mildly. And obviously the SC Justices (well, a majority of them) haven’t a clue about epidemiology, and failed to get themselves informed properly (if we want to be charitable, that is).

      1. The seriousness of the disease just does not seem relevant to whether OSHA has the authority to enforce Covid immunizations.
        Of course, there are people here very well trained in the law, and I am not one of them. I can look at it from a military perspective. There, we make a big deal about “unwarranted assumption of authority”. Each NCO, Officer, or department has a defined area and specific personnel that they can give orders to. There are limits on the scope of those orders, and narrowly defined punishments they can use to enforce their authority. If there is any branch of the government not similarly constrained, I am unaware of it.

        If someone parks in a handicap zone, and a paraplegic needs the space, a lineman from the utility company cannot issue them a citation or tow the car off to the power plant. It is not that the guy does not deserve the citation, or that it is inappropriate for their car to be towed, but it is beyond the scope of authority for the lineman to do those things. A law can be passed to give lineman that particular authority. Until that happens, the most the lineman can do is call the parking enforcement people. It is not a perfect analogy. For the car in the handicapped space, there is an extant system of laws and penalties, and people who have it in their authority to give the ticket or impound the car. If the CDC was seem as having the workplace immunization authority, they likely would have used it. Instead, they tried OSHA, an agency that does not seem to have that specific authority.
        In the same way, the CDC declared that people could stop paying rent. There may be a method and agency that could do such a thing, at least in specific cases. However, Dr. Walensky did not have the authority to unilaterally make such a proclamation.

      2. … obviously the SC Justices (well, a majority of them) haven’t a clue about epidemiology …

        Obviously. And just as obviously they’ve taken measures to protect themselves that workers covered by OSHA can’t. The justices have all received a full complement of two COVID shots and a booster. They also worked remotely in 2020, and since resuming in-person oral arguments this term, spectators are prohibited to view those arguments live in the courtroom. In addition, the lectern from which advocates address the Court has been moved back 15 feet and a plexiglass shield has been placed between it and the justices on the bench.

        The protections afforded by the OSHA regulations, OTOH, were plainly something The Little People did not need.

  9. “(I expect three days should do fine, but I’m not going to pitch a mask because I get toothpaste on it (that is my most common contaminant).”

    I usually take my mask off when I brush my teeth.

  10. So, do walking sticks in fact have knees?? Great story!
    Anyone else having issues with WP recently? I have to put in all my info every time and I still do not get comments by email.

    1. Mine is highly conditional. On Safari with this laptop, it autofills my credentials and works good (though off and on it takes a few minutes for my comments to appear). But on other browsers, and on all my other devices I have to fill in everything and I don’t know why.

  11. This comment bears only accidental relations to anything in today’s Hili Dialogue. But this has come up before on WEIT – The Website :

    The song “A Horse With No Name” is by … anyone?…


    The band America!

    It has nothing to do with … you know… anyone else! How did I not know that?!?

    Thank you, carry on.

    1. It must have been the memorable lyrics that threw you: blockquote>There were plants and birds and rocks and things
      There was sand and hills and rings

      1. That’s exactly what I recall discussing here – the lyrics – the sound in the music is waaaay better than the poetry!…

        But I’m astonished they essentially wrote a CSN&Y song that does not exist! That is the CSN&Y or Neil Young sound – nobody is allowed to steal it (I’m being facetious of course)!

        How this occurred to me now is … byzantine … but somehow, somewhere, a small part of my mind has been put at ease…. Ahhhhhh.

  12. “*Sinema and Manchin won’t vote to overturn the filibuster” – In the words of Stephen Colbert:

    Stop acting like the filibuster is anything other than an anti-democratic tool – which is also a pretty good description of Kyrsten Sinema.

  13. I find that I agree with SCOTUS’s decision that a vaccine mandate is outside OSHA’s scope. Do we think OSHA employs epidemiologists like the CDC? If not, would anyone at OSHA really be making this kind of decision? Or does the head of OSHA get a phone call from someone in the Biden administration instructing them to issue a vaccine mandate right away? It sounds like a sort of department shopping. Someone asked CDC and FDA if they had the authority to issue such a mandate and they said they didn’t have the authority, so they went to OSHA. That doesn’t sound right to me.

    It was also strange that the mandate only applied to employees working at larger companies. Were people at small businesses or unemployed not at risk? Of course they were at risk. This is one more bit of evidence that it is the wrong way to go about imposing a vaccine mandate on the population.

    I’m all in favor of a broad vaccine mandate. Why shouldn’t the government be able to impose a mandate to maintain the health of the country? It’s ridiculous that they can’t. Of course, we know why they can’t. It’s because of “freedom”. Evidently the freedom to be infected by fellow citizens is paramount.

    1. This would all be moot if we “mandated” good science education! If most of the population had solid grounding on basic cell biology, DNA replication and translation, and evolution, the mRNA vaccine would be greeted like sliced bread.
      I would have loved to see little educational snippets about ribosomes instead of “trust us, we’re from the government” campaigns.
      That’s my very unpopular opinion.

    2. Agreeing where to mandate and where not to is the tricky part. If this virus were considerably more dangerous then far more people would agree to require vaccinations. But it is usually not so dangerous, and so lots of otherwise reasonable people flip to where they don’t want the government getting involved in requiring vaccinations.

      1. Trouble is it is dangerous to a few but no one knows ahead of time who’s at risk. It also depends on virus dose which is not something we can control. I would judge a virus that can fill up hospitals and (soon) kill a million people in the US as serious. How serious does a virus have to get before people would submit to a mandate? Doesn’t “mandate” presume that some will not want to get vaccinated and need to be coerced or even forced?

    3. Paul, you appear to take two steps backward and then two steps forward. You are confusing me about what you think. What are you trying to convey?
      I fully agree it apparently makes no sense to limit it to companies with more than 100 workers, but maybe some epidemiologist can explain that? I’m not convinced they can though.

      Note, with the ascent of the even more contagious omicron, that appears much less virulent (albeit not as innocuous as a proper vaccine), even in the unvaccinated and not previously exposed, the whole question may become moot. Some kind of ‘natural vaccination’, since it appears that omicron gives good protection against earlier, more virulent strains.
      The omicron can evade the humoral immunity a vaccine conveys (but not the cell mediated immunity), which gives it a great selective advantage in the vaccinated and previously exposed, it ‘easily’ infects them. It about completely replaced the deadly delta there. In the unvaccinated and unexposed, omicron has not such a great evolutionary, selective advantage. It will replace deadly delta much slower (but still replacing, since much more contagious) in the unvaccinated and previously unexposed. So yes, it still makes sense to get vaccinated.

      1. I don’t know how what I wrote was confusing but here’s the short version: I’m definitely in favor of a vaccine mandate for the entire US. However, OSHA seems like the wrong way to do it. I get that Biden didn’t have much choice but that’s no reason to abuse our governmental structures, which is something that SCOTUS is meant to police.

        1. Thanks, that is much clearer. And I think we agree on the basics.
          However, I think we disagree on OSHA, I think it is OSHA’s duty to mandate vaccines for a contagious deadly disease that threatens co-workers in the work place. A vaccine that reduces chances of transmission.
          As said above, with omicron the whole question may become kinda moot. At least that is the optimistic scenario.
          I mean, you forbid TB patients in the work place until they are not contagious anymore (generally a few days after starting treatment), But that is somehow not controversial.

          1. Ok. If someone shows up to their welding job with likely symptoms of TB, what results do you think a call to OSHA will yield?

  14. It’s true that the default ‘copy down’ mode in Excel is to ‘fill series’ as shown, but it’s 2 easy clicks to change to ‘copy cells’ instead. This minor inconvenience seems a petty reason to reject outright such a powerful and useful tool.

    1. I like that feature, so I usually keep it on in the columns where it’s useful. Also, since I know it’s on, when I want to copy something with the same number, instead of dragging to copy, you just copy the cell’s contents, highlight the cells you want the data copied into and control-v. Pretty darn simple. I also thought it strange that that was a reason to disuse Excel.

      I will say that Excel has done some strange things to some of my spreadsheets for no apparent reason, but there’s an easy solution for that too: backup, backup, backup.

  15. The GREAT frigate bird is Frigata minor. I wondered if there was a Frigata maior and how much greater it would be. I could only find the ‘magnificent frigate’ Frigata magnificens, a beautiful bird living mainly at northern Peru’s coast. Apparently it is a bit larger than the great frigate bird, but closely resembles it, including the showing of the gular sack in mating rituals, it appears.

  16. “Another relevant difference: if you get lung disease from cotton dust, you can’t give it to anyone else.”

    Another relevant difference is that there’s no danger of having an adverse reaction to eliminating toxic dust from the workplace. Ditto for wearing a mask. Getting vaccinated for Covid, however, is a different animal altogether. While the risk of serious adverse reaction may be small, it is nevertheless real (not that anyone would know this from reading the NY Times). Consequently, the question of whether one should be forced to take that risk as a condition for employment is not the slam dunk that Linda Greenhouse would have us believe it is. It could go either way, and to ascribe political motives to the Supreme Court for erring on the side of individual free choice is, IMO, unwarranted.

    1. “risk of serious adverse reaction – the question of whether one should be forced to take that risk as a condition for employment”

      Every worker has already taken the risks from numerous vaccines – but there is no requirement because they were vaccinated as children.

      If a worker was unvaccinated for measles or polio it is hard to see objection to require a measles or polio vaccine as a condition of employment.

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