Monday: Hili dialogue

January 24, 2022 • 7:30 am

Welcome to the the start of the “work” week: Monday, January 24, 2022. It’s National Peanut Butter Day, and it’s not too far off to say that “America runs on PB&J”, though that would infringe on “Dunkin’s” slogan.

Here’s Elvis’s version of the sandwich: peanut butter, bacon, and banana, with the sandwich fried in bacon fat. In an Elvis bio I read that one night he and the guys were sitting around at Graceland when Elvis got a hankering for his favorite version of this sandwich, made in a joint in Las Vegas. He and the guys got onto Elvis’s private plane and flew across the country to get their noms.

The recipe:

For the ingredients, you’ll need two slices of white bread, four strips of bacon, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and one sliced banana. First, fry up the bacon in a pan; while you’re doing that, spread peanut butter on one side of each piece of bread. When the bacon is done, remove it from the pan, but leave the grease.

Next, place the bread (peanut butter side up) into the pan, and place the banana slices and bacon on one piece of bread. When both pieces are toasted to your liking, put the sandwich together, give it one more flip in the pan, and press it down until the peanut butter starts to ooze.

It’s also National Edy’s Pie Patent Day (that’s the new and officially approved name of “Eskimo Pie”, though I would have preferred “Inuit Pie”), National Lobster Thermidor Day, Macintosh Computer Day (see below under 1984), Beer Can Appreciation Day, National Compliment Day, and Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day (is that like, “Thar’s gold in them thar hills!”?).

News of the Day:

*The whole editorial board of the NYT has written this op-ed piece: “President Biden’s economy is failing the Big Mac test.” That uses as an index of well-being how many Big Macs your paycheck can buy. And the number is shrinking, though the NYT is careful to give an overall positive appraisal of Biden’s economic efforts and results. But there are still those big Macs (protip: they’re overpriced. Get two damn $1 hamburgers!):

Most Americans don’t share the administration’s sunny view of its economic record, and it is little mystery why: The average worker’s paycheck doesn’t buy as many hamburgers as it did last year. (Using hamburgers to measure inflation is a twist on The Economist magazine’s Big Mac Index, which tracks the price of the classic hamburger in different currencies.) The government’s Consumer Price Index rose by 7 percent in 2021, the biggest jump since 1982. Mr. Biden’s approval rating remains low, and poll after poll finds that Americans are not pleased with his handling of the economy. Nearly two-thirds say the administration is insufficiently focused on inflation, according to a recent CBS News poll. There are similar numbers in other recent polls.

In the end, though, this is not a critical editorial despite its title:

The White House finds itself in the position of a physician who has administered a successful course of treatment but who has neglected to prepare the patient for the side effects or to give the timeline for a full recovery. A lot of pain was averted, but it’s hard to feel gratitude for things that didn’t happen. The economic outlook is strong, but it’s hard to feel gratitude for things that haven’t happened yet. Right now, the pain of inflation is front and center for most.

It’ll be a sweltering day in Chicago in January when you hear that paper give a generally critical assessment of Biden. It’s like expecting Breibart to criticize Trump. Of course Biden is far, far better than Trump, but that’s not saying a lot. He’s still chained to the “progressive left”.

*One sign that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is being taken seriously by the U.S. government:  the U.S. State Department has ordered some of its diplomats to leave the country, as well as all of the families of every diplomat:

Ukraine has been on the State Department’s highest travel advisory — Level 4: Do Not Travel — for months because of COVID-19. Last month, the embassy updated that warning to say, “Russia is planning significant military action against Ukraine,” which “would severely impact the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services” to Americans.

A State Department spokesperson said Saturday that the U.S. will not evacuate Americans like in the operation conducted out of Afghanistan last August.

“American citizens should not anticipate that there will be U.S. government-sponsored evacuations. Currently commercial flights are available to support departures,” the spokesperson said.

Yep, the families are going home on commercial airlines, which, booked at the last minute, will cost a pile. Another sign of how seriously we take the threat of Russia. I still say that invasion is imminent, and Russia will come out of this smelling like a rose.

*How can you not click on this headline from the BBC?

It’s not surprising, for who wouldn’t make a break for it if your job consisted entirely of rolling around on the floor and sucking up other people’s schmutz?  A summary:

A robot vacuum cleaner made a break for freedom after giving staff the slip at a Travelodge hotel.

The automated cleaner failed to stop at the front door of the hotel in Orchard Park in Cambridge on Thursday, and was still on the loose the following day.

Staff said it just kept going and “could be anywhere” while well-wishers on social media hoped the vacuum enjoyed its travels, as “it has no natural predators” in the wild.

It was found under a hedge on Friday.

Staff at the hotel posted the story of the robot vacuum’s great escape on social media, asking for it to be returned, if found.

“Today we had one of our new robot vacuums run for its life,” the assistant manager wrote.

I’d keep the thing chained to the wall until it shows it can behave better.

*The Washington Post reports that a 75 year old Frenchman, Jean-Jacques Savin, was attempting to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean— in winter, when he vanished. the Portuguese coast guard found his overturned boat near the Azores, and of course Monsieur Savin is most likely sleeping with the fishes.  A great pity, as the guy was older than I am, and I would never attempt such a feat. Here he is in the boat that he was set to row across the pond:

The guy had guts, as this wasn’t his first trip across the Atlantic solo:

Savin crossed the Atlantic in 2019, floating 2,930 miles in a bright orange barrel-shaped vessel. He celebrated his 72nd birthday on that trip, for which he had packed wine and foie gras. He also crossed the Atlantic in a sailboat, ascended Mount Blanc and swam four times across France’s Arcachon Bay.

A successful journey this time would have madeSavin the oldest person to row across the Atlantic solo, according to Guinness World Records. The current record holder is Graham Walters, a British man who made the tripin April 2020 at age 72.

The journey was slated to take about 100 days, but he sent out distress signals that triggered the search (the issue was that his desalinization system was kaput). All you can say is “au revoir, mon ami”, as he’d had his share of foie gras.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 865,867, an increase of 2,182 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,615,280, an increase of about 4,100 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 24 includes:

  • 41 – Claudius is proclaimed Roman emperor by the Praetorian Guard after they assassinate the previous emperor, his nephew Caligula.
  • 1536 – King Henry VIII of England suffers an accident while jousting, leading to a brain injury that historians say may have influenced his later erratic behaviour and possible impotence.

A report from Wikipedia:

Late in life, Henry became obese, with a waist measurement of 54 inches (140 cm), and had to be moved about with the help of mechanical devices. He was covered with painful, pus-filled boils and possibly suffered from gout. His obesity and other medical problems can be traced to the jousting accident in 1536 in which he suffered a leg wound. The accident reopened and aggravated an injury he had sustained years earlier, to the extent that his doctors found it difficult to treat. The chronic wound festered for the remainder of his life and became ulcerated, preventing him from maintaining the level of physical activity he had previously enjoyed. The jousting accident is also believed to have caused Henry’s mood swings, which may have had a dramatic effect on his personality and temperament.

Oy! Here he is with his 54 inch waist (portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger):

A poster, perhaps the one that inspired Joni Mitchell’s song:

  • 1857 – The University of Calcutta is formally founded as the first fully fledged university in South Asia.
  • 1908 – The first Boy Scout troop is organized in England by Robert Baden-Powell.
  • 1918 – The Gregorian calendar is introduced in Russia by decree of the Council of People’s Commissars effective February 14 (New Style).
  • 1933 – The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, changing the beginning and end of terms for all elected federal offices.
  • 1961 – Goldsboro B-52 crash: A bomber carrying two H-bombs breaks up in mid-air over North Carolina. The uranium core of one weapon remains lost.

Here’s a photo of workers trying to recover one of the bombs. It’s said that one of them came very close to detonating.

  • 1984 – Apple Computer places the Macintosh personal computer on sale in the United States.
  • 1989 – Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, with over 30 known victims, is executed by the electric chair at the Florida State Prison.

Here’s his mugshot for the arrest of murdering Kimberley Leach. Bundy killed at least 30 women, perhaps many more:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1670 – William Congreve, English playwright and poet (d. 1729)
  • 1712 – Frederick the Great, Prussian king (d. 1786)
  • 1917 – Ernest Borgnine, American actor (d. 2012)

In my view, Borgnine’s two greatest roles were in “From Here to Eternity” and “Marty”; he played completely opposite character types in these roles. Here’s the trailer from the first movie (1953). Borgnine, as the evil sergeant, appears at 2:32:

  • 1918 – Oral Roberts, American evangelist, founded Oral Roberts University and Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association (d. 2009)
  • 1928 – Desmond Morris, English zoologist, ethologist, and painter
  • 1941 – Neil Diamond, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1941 – Aaron Neville, American singer

Here’s Neville singing what I think is his best song, in this case at “Live at Daryl’s House” (a great show):

  • 1943 – Sharon Tate, American model and actress (d. 1969)
  • 1947 – Warren Zevon, American singer-songwriter (d. 2003)
  • 1949 – John Belushi, American actor and screenwriter (d. 1982)

The two best comedians ever to appear on “Saturday Night Live”:

  • 1968 – Mary Lou Retton, American gymnast

Those who “passed” (I dislike that euphemism) on January 24 include:

He was Winston’s dad. Randolph died of syphilis at age 45, after scuppering a promising political career.

Note that Winston Churchill died on the same day as his father, exactly 70 years later.

  • 1989 – Ted Bundy, American serial killer (b. 1946)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili needs a break from editing:

Hili: Nothing draws me to the computer. I may take a vacation today.
A: Have a rest. We will try to manage without you.
In Polish:
Hili: Zupełnie mnie mnie ciągnie do komputera, chyba zrobię sobie dziś urlop.
Ja. Odpocznij. Spróbujemy dać sobie radę bez ciebie.

From Animals in Art Through History, with the note:

It’s great playing in the snow!
Louis Wain (English, 1860-1939)
“The Tabby Toboggan Club”

Wain, was of course, mentally unstable, but his cat pictures are great:

A groaner from Bruce: (And a joke from me Q: Why did the crow sit on the telephone line? A: Because it wanted to make a long-distance caw.

From David. I’m allowed to post this because I’m a senior citizen an older adult:

God’s first tweet of the year:

From Masih. Can we spare a thought for the women of Afghanistan, blatantly lied to and now “disappeared” by the Taliban? This woman vanished after her arrest, shown here:

From Titania.

From Simon. I doubt that this headline is real . . .

Tweets from Mathew. Look how small these beetles are (just 0.4 mm)! There are more posts in the thread.

Seriously, an annelid that BRANCHES? This violates everything I know about biology. Somebody find out more!

As Matthew said in one of his contemplative moments, “If only the world were like The Dodo.” Absolutely!

That’s GEORGE MARTIN in case you don’t recognize him.

40 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

    1. My guess is that “senior” is too close to “seniority,” “…the fact or state of being older or higher in position or status than someone else.

      And “citizen” is “a legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth, either native or naturalized. Suspiciously anti-immigrant.

      Remove the bad words!

  1. Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day

    Seems a fitting occasion to watch Walter Huston (directed by his son John) in Treasure of the Sierra Madre, especially the final scene in which he and his partner discover that the gold dust they’d spent 10 months hewing from the mountains had been returned by the wind to whence it came:

    1. By heaven! I do believe that was a correct construction of “to whence”. Don’t see that in the wild very often. 😎

        1. Sure. All by itself, “to whence” is nonsense because “whence” means “from where”. But do you see what Ken did? The last clause of his sentence could be written, “the gold dust they’d spent 10 months hewing from the mountains had been returned by the wind to where it came from.” Combining “where … from” to yield “whence” still leaves behind a “to”, to indicate directional movement, which must remain in the clause because it’s not part of the “whence” construction; it’s a separate piece of information. Return to sender. Return to where it came from. Return to whence it came.

          (There was a “hic haec hoc” paradigm with all the whences and hithers and thithers we had to memorize in Latin class.)

    1. I watched it last week. It was a decent movie with competent acting, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was unrelentingly dreary and sad. I’ve had enough of dreary and sad lately.

      1. I watched it a couple weeks ago, and I agree with your assessment. Dreary and sad and the cats couldn’t even happy it up (they did a little). Cumberbatch and Foy were great…no surprise there. The psychedelic animations were out of place as well (at least to me).

  2. Ah yes. “if you’re the police, where are your badges?” There’s a gallows humor joke in there somewhere, about Ahmaud Arbery and real life in America in 2022 coming to resemble that movie.

  3. There is a fairly recent movie based on Louis Wain’s life called “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain” starring Benedict Cumberbatch. I don’t know how accurate the portrayal is but Cumberbatch does a wonderful job.

    1. The movie’s now on Amazon Prime. Haven’t watched it yet but did try, unsuccessfully, to watch it virtually from TIFF in September. Did see Power of the Dog.

        1. We saw Power of the Dog twice. That and Old Henry are really enjoyable, gritty, modern westerns.

          Since film is our sub-subtopic, I want to recommend “Beyond the Infinite- Two Minutes” which is a very endearing and clever Japanese time travel film.

  4. Prompted by your crow jokes, here’s another groaner for you: Did you hear about the revolutionary pigeon? It was planning a coo!

    1. If the crow sitting on the telephone line was an ordained minister, and he wanted to be connected to a fellow bird of the cloth, he would ask the operator to make it a parson-to-parson caw.

  5. About syllid polychaetes. For sex they transform the segments in the back part of the worm into a bunch of gonads, and those segments together break off and swim in the plankton to spawn (the front part stays behind in the benthic habitat). One individual can have several clones developing all in a row. Sort of like cloning yourself and sending each of the clones out to a different bar, while also having a cozy night in at home.

    In this genus Ramisyllis, the back part forms more than one axis and each branch can become a planktonic spawning clone. IDK why they do this branching thing. They live inside sponges, maybe the branching structure fits inside the sponge better than a long freight train of clones.

    1. Osedax, the bone-eating worm that disposes of whale skeletons, exhibits branching of the posterior section, the part that is actually embedded in the bone. These branches allow it to feed on the organic material in the bone.
      Different family, I think, but still could be interpreted as multiple body axes.

      1. Ya I was just thinking of syllids (distantly related to Osedax). I should know this but don’t: do the branches of an Osedax break off and become independent clones?

        1. Not that I know of – they appear to be feeding structures, nothing more.
          They stuck in my mind because there aren’t many examples of multiple body axes in the Metazoa.

  6. Re. the Goldsboro B-52 crash involving nuclear weapons – for anyone who’s interested in an extensively researched and very readable account of accidents and near-misses from the start of the nuclear weapons age, I can recommend Command and Control, by Eric Schlosser. It’s horrifying how easily the 1960’s nuclear bombs could have been accidentally detonated, through electrical faults and crashes like that one – and it amazes me that none did. Some dedicated engineers worked very hard to persuade the military that the bombs needed to be made safer.

    A lot of the book traces the sequence of events during one accident at a missile silo in 1980. During maintenance on the missile, a heavy socket fell off a wrench used by one of the workers. It fell about 70 feet down into the silo, bouncing off the sides as it went, until it punctured the fuel tank of the missile. The fuel then vapourised, exploded, and the warhead was blown out of the silo and out past the complex’s fence.

  7. Intended reply to een @14.

    I can hear an awkward, testy conversation with the engineers.
    Mayor of Goldsboro: We want the bombs to never detonate when they fall out of an airplane that breaks up in the air over our town.
    General Curtiss LeMay: Well, we want the bombs to always detonate when they fall out of an aircraft that the Russkies blow apart in the air over Moscow.

    I suppose there has to be some robust logic operator in the arming circuit that knows if you’re over hostile territory or not, which can’t be armed falsely by accidental damage over friendly territory, and can’t be safed falsely by battle damage over hostile. SAC wanted to be sure its bombs would go off when the call came even if the crew were interrupted in the final arming sequence by being dead. No duds allowed. I would be interested to read how the engineers worked this out for the mayor. Wouldn’t a lot of that be still classified? I’ll check out the book.

    From a nuclear safety standpoint, the exploding Titan is a success story. The warhead did not detonate, not even the TNT implosion lens, despite its brief break for freedom and rough landing. Just a good thing no one from al-Qaeda happened to be driving by the fence with a flatbed truck.

    Trivia note: the incorrect reference to 20-megaton bombs may have been picked up by the authors of both Red Alert (which became Dr. Strangelove on screen) and Fail Safe. The SAC bombers in both novels and movies are cast as carrying 20 megaton bombs.

    1. You’re spot on with both points – the military didn’t want any duds, and the Titan warhead did land safely. I won’t say it was lucky – it was carefully designed, with the benefit of experience. A conventional explosive charge surrounds the warhead, and is used to initiate the nuclear chain reaction. The early bombs only had öne point safety” – one electrical fault or concussion in the explosive could set it off, and thence the warhead.

      Later on the bombs were re-designed with several separate sections of explosive that had to go off simultaneously to provide enough energy for criticality and a nuclear explosion. And after several aircraft crashes and fires, live nuclear weapons are no longer carried on standing patrols across the USA.

      In 1958 in Mars Bluff, South Carolina, a Mark 6 atomic bomb (without its nuclear core) was dropped from a US aircraft into the back yard of the Gregg family. The high explosives went off, digging a crater about 35 feet deep and knocking the house off its foundations. The family suffered minor injuries.

      In a scene straight out of Doctor Strangelove, the pilots had received a warning that the bomb’s locking pin hadn’t engaged, and sent the navigator into the bomb bay to re-insert the pin by hand. The navigator didn’t know where the pin was located, and in trying to get a better look he inadvertently grabbed the manual bomb release. The bomb fell onto the closed bomb bay doors, with the navigator on top of it. The bomb weighed 8 tons, and broke through the bomb doors shortly afterward. Luckily the navigator avoided Slim Pickens’ fate, having been able to grab a handhold and pull himself to safety.

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