Thursday: Hili dialogue

January 27, 2022 • 7:30 am

Good morning on a frigid Chicago Thursday, January 27, 2022, National Chocolate Cake Day. Make mine a Sachertorte. It’s also National Geographic Day (the society was founded on this day in 1888), Thomas Crapper Day (he invented the ballcock, and died on this day in 1910), World Breast Pumping Day, and these two liberation holidays:

News of the Day:

*The good news is that Joe Biden finally gets to nominate a Justice to serve on the Supreme Court. The bad news is that it’s just to replace one of the three liberal justices already on the court: Stephen Breyer. For Stephan Breyer has announced his retirement. CNN reported that Breyer will stay on till the end of the term (summer, I think) or until a replacement is confirmed. Biden hasn’t commented but  has said that his first nomination for a Justice will be a black woman.

The ideological balance of the court won’t change, but Democrats have urged Breyer to retire now lest the balance of Senatorial and Presidential power change towards Republicans. And he did that. Now if only Clarence Thomas could retire, too. . . isn’t he getting up there?

*This new paper in Science Advances reports that a cocktail of five drugs, put in a “BioDome”—a plastic device affixed to the amputated limb of an African clawed frog—promoted substantial regrowth of the limbs, to the point where  frogs could swim with it. This is, to my knowledge, the first limb regrown to such an extent in vertebrates that aren’t salamanders (salamanders can regrow limbs). The Wall Street Journal, covering this, also reports:

In previous research, scientists tried to prompt limb regrowth in various animals using techniques including electrical stimulation and cell transplants. For the new study, a team led by Tufts University biologist Michael Levin took a different approach. They amputated the hind legs of more than 100 anesthetized African clawed frogs and treated the stumps of some of the frogs with five growth-promoting drugs.

Silicone caps containing a drug-infused gel—including compounds known to encourage the growth of nerve, blood vessel and muscle tissue and to block the formation of the collagen involved in scarring—were sewn onto the stumps. The caps, which the scientists call BioDomes, were left in place for 24 hours before being removed.

Within two weeks, the researchers saw a significant increase in soft tissue growth among frogs that had been treated with the drug cocktail. Over the next 18 months, those frogs also showed increased bone regeneration and nerve and muscle development compared with their untreated counterparts. Ultimately, the treated frogs grew appendages with new knee joints and several boneless toes—not fully formed legs but good enough for the frogs to swim with.

The drugs were not leg-specific, and that raises the question of whether this technique would work not only in other species, but in humans. It’s all unclear now (humans, for one thing, begin producing scar tissue almost immediately), and way into the future, but I’m betting that in a few years, new human amputees will be lining up for trials with the BioDome. Imagine if we could regrow severed limbs!

*In a NYT op-ed, Thomas Edsall discusses the increasing political polarization in the U.S. and reports on a new study of polarized democracies, “What Happens When Democracies Become Perniciously Polarized?,” written by Jennifer McCoy of Georgia State and Benjamin Press of the Carnegie Endowment. The U.S. has not only become more polarized politically, but is among the most polarized democracies on Earth. Here’s a chart from the paper showing comparisons of polarizations in several areas over four decades:

Note: Polarization ratings are aggregated among countries by region, with not all regions shown. A rating of 0 indicates that opposing political groups tend to interact in a friendly manner, ranging to a rating of 4 that indicates that they tend to be hostile.Source: Varieties of Democracy Institute By The New York Times

What happens in polarized democracies is not good. They generally become less democratic:

In their report, McCoy and Press make the case that there are “a number of features that make the United States both especially susceptible to polarization and especially impervious to efforts to reduce it.”

The authors point to a number of causes, including “the durability of identity politics in a racially and ethnically diverse democracy.” As the authors note,

The United States is perhaps alone in experiencing a demographic shift that poses a threat to the white population that has historically been the dominant group in all arenas of power, allowing political leaders to exploit insecurities surrounding this loss of status.

An additional cause, the authors write, is that

binary choice is deeply embedded in the U.S. electoral system, creating a rigid two-party system that facilitates binary divisions of society. For example, only five of twenty-six wealthy consolidated democracies elect representatives to their national legislatures in single-member districts.

The outlook? According to Edsall, bad:.

As the McCoy-Press report shows, only 16 of the 52 countries that reached levels of pernicious polarization succeeded in achieving depolarization and in “a significant number of instances later repolarized to pernicious levels. The progress toward depolarization in seven of 16 episodes was later undone.”

That does not suggest a favorable prognosis for the United States.

*Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who disappeared after she accused Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier of China, of sexual misconduct, still seems to be missing. While she made an occasional awkward (and apparently staged) appearance in government video, the Women’s Tennis Association, which has suspended all play in China, hasn’t been able to talk to her directly. And now she’s saying her initial accusations were “misunderstood,” and has retracted them.

But the WTA, whose leaders still have been unable to make direct contact with Peng, has not softened its stance or its demands, fearing that she has been coerced into the retraction.

“We appreciate seeing the support continue for Peng Shuai,” Simon [chief executive of the WTA] said Wednesday in an email. “The WTA is proud of Peng Shuai in speaking out for what is right, and we continue with our unwavering call for confirmation of Peng’s safety along with a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault. This is an issue that can never fade away.”

Magda Linette, a leading Polish player and member of the WTA player council, said she hoped Peng could speak with players directly or with Simon. “If we could see her in an environment where we know she is not being really controlled and we can have at least a conversation, because she has been refusing that, I think that would be a really good step to trying to rebuild the trust, trying to rebuild the relationship again to see how things are going and how she is actually,” Linette said.

*I thought fish could live longer than this. The Associated Press has a report on the oldest aquarium fish still alive, an Australian lungfish named Methuselah:

Methuselah is a 4-foot-long (1.2-meter), 40-pound (18.1-kilogram) Australian lungfish that was brought to the San Francisco museum in 1938 from Australia.

A primitive species with lungs and gills, Australian lungfish are believed to be the evolutionary link between fish and amphibians.

Here is (if I can use the phrase), the 84-year-old Senior Fish, who dwells at the California Academy of Sciences:

Senior biologist Allan Jan feeds Methuselah, a 4-foot-long, 40-pound Australian lungfish that was brought to the California Academy of Sciences in 1938 from Australia, in its tank in San Francisco, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

But is this the oldest known aquarium fish? Nope, but Methuselah isn’t far from the record:

Until a few years ago, the oldest Australian lungfish was at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. But that fish, named Granddad, died in 2017 at the age of 95.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 874,733, an increase of 2,466 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,647,268, an increase of about 8,100 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 27 include:

  • 98 – Trajan succeeds his adoptive father Nerva as Roman emperor; under his rule the Roman Empire will reach its maximum extent.
  • 1302 – Dante Alighieri is condemned in absentia and exiled from Florence

It was politics, Jake! Dante (did he always wear a red robe?):

Posthumous portrait in tempera by Sandro Botticelli, 1495

Fawkes’s signature before (below) and after (top he was tortured.  The difference is clear:

There is no evidence that Polynesians were the first to discover (i.e., set eyes on) Antarctica.

Here are the Mussorgsky brothers in 1858, with Modest to the right and Immodest to the left:

The drawing of the lamp accompanying the patent:

Here’s Lenin’s body on display? Is it real, or is it wax? Who knows? I’ve seen Mao’s body in Beijing, and Lenin’s corpse is on my bucket list. I wanted to see Stalin, too, but they cancelled him and buried him by the Kremlin wall:

A short news report on the fire:

  • 1973 – The Paris Peace Accords officially ends the Vietnam War. Colonel William Nolde is killed in action becoming the conflict’s last recorded American combat casualty.
  • 1983 – The pilot shaft of the Seikan Tunnel, the world’s longest sub-aqueous tunnel (53.85 km) between the Japanese islands of Honshū and Hokkaidō, breaks through.

Here’s that big breakthrough! The tunnel connects the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido (second picture):

  • 2010 – Apple announces the iPad.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1756 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian pianist and composer (d. 1791)
  • 1832 – Lewis Carroll, English novelist, poet, and mathematician (d. 1898)

Here’s a photo of Alice Liddell (yes, the Alice) taken by Carroll in 1858:

  • 1836 – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Austrian journalist and author (d. 1895)
  • 1885 – Jerome Kern, American composer and songwriter (d. 1945)
  • 1921 – Donna Reed, American actress (d. 1986)
  • 1956 – Mimi Rogers, American actress

She was born with a Jewish father and Christian mother, but then was a member of the Church (?) of Scientology for a long time. Rogers has since left the church(?). Here she is during her two-year marriage to Tom Cruise:

Those who perished on January 27 include:

  • 1596 – Francis Drake, English captain and explorer (b. 1540)
  • 1851 – John James Audubon, French-American ornithologist and painter (b. 1789)

Audubon has now been canceled, but here’s his photo and his painting of mallards from Birds of America:

  • 1901 – Giuseppe Verdi, Italian composer (b. 1813)
  • 1910 – Thomas Crapper, English plumber and businessman (b. 1836)
  • 1922 – Nellie Bly, American journalist and author (b. 1864)
  • 2004 – Jack Paar, American talk show host and author (b. 1918)
  • 2009 – John Updike, American novelist, short story writer, and critic (b. 1932)
  • 2010 – J. D. Salinger, American soldier and author (b. 1919)
  • 2014 – Pete Seeger, American singer-songwriter, guitarist and activist (b. 1919)
  • 2021 – Cloris Leachman, American actress and comedian (b. 1926)

Here’s Leachman, as Coach Popper’s wife, in the stirring last scene of The Last Picture Show.  Sonny, with whom she had an affair, comes to visit her long after their relationship had ended. Then they reconcile—or so it seems.  Leachman won the Best Supporting Actress in 1972 for her performance in this best of all American films. (If you haven’t seen it, you can’t be my friend.)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s dialogue is a bit hard to understand. Malgorzata explains, “Hili is learning formal logic and is having some trouble with it. Andrzej commiserates with her difficulties.”

Hili: If A then not B and out of two evils…
A: I do understand you.
In Polish:
Hili: Jeśli A to nie B, to z dwojga złego…
Ja: Ja cię rozumiem.

From Jesus of the Day. This is a good person.

From Facebook:

A cartoon from Episcopal Church Memes via Jenny. Click to enlarge:

The tweet of God, who I’m sure is a Democrat (he’s Jewish, for crying out loud!)

From Paul, first animated lighthouses of Europe, then all the world’s lighthouse. Do you think there would be a way to do away with these cumbersome objects that are often inhabited?

Press the arrow to see the animation:

From Barry: an amazing glass octopus:

Watch this to find out more about the species (only 3 min long and a good video):

From Ginger K.  Of course some people will beef because they claim that Pluto isn’t a planet.

Tweets from Matthew. This is a very spiffy cat.

This anteater had cojones:

A nice reconstruction:

49 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. The Seikan tunnel may be the longest tunnel that goes under the sea, but the Channel Tunnel (Tunnel sous la Manche) has the longest under the sea segment because it’s shorter overall but more of it goes under water.

    The cartoon of the alternative version of All Things Bright and Beautiful is quite funny, but, of course, the Monty Python Team got there first.

    All things dull and ugly,
    All creatures short and squat,
    All things rude and nasty,
    The Lord God made the lot.
    Each little snake that poisons,
    Each little wasp that stings,
    He made their brutish venom.
    He made their horrid wings.

    All things sick and cancerous,
    All evil great and small,
    All things foul and dangerous,
    The Lord God made them all.

    Each nasty little hornet,
    Each beastly little squid–
    Who made the spikey urchin?
    Who made the sharks? He did!

    All things scabbed and ulcerous,
    All pox both great and small,
    Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
    The Lord God made them all.

    1. You beat me to it, Jeremy! First thing I thought of when I saw that cartoon! Of course for the full effect it has to be sung in a Cockney accent.

        1. Definitely! But it also appears on one or more of their albums. It’s on “Monty Python Sings” and I think one other album.

    2. Loved the cartoon. Just yesterday I checked out a book from my local library for my grandson. The very first page provided a classification of the animal kingdom as: there are six major groups of animals — mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile, fish, insect. Where I wondered were such kid-favorites as worms, spiders, or crabs?

  2. With regard to Peng Shuai, the organisers of the Australian Open initially banned spectators from wearing t-shirts with the slogan “Where is Peng Shuai?”, but  then rapidly did a reverse ferret when tennis stars and fans objected. In contrast to the admirable Women’s Tennis Association, which has supported Peng Shuai and put its money where its mouth is, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is maintaining a friendly stance towards China in order to capitalise on the upcoming Winter Olympics. The IOC claims it will be meeting Peng Shuai in Beijing, although under what degree of freedom remains to be seen.

  3. It would be interesting to see how England compares in terms of polarisation, given that unlike most of Western Europe we have a (predominantly) two party system with no proportional representation and are still undergoing the divisive aftermath of Brexit.

    1. I wondered about that too. It’s an interesting situation in that the Tories ran on a broadly populist ticket (as far as I could see from the other side of the Atlantic) and poached a lot of traditionally labour constituencies. In some ways that parallels the Rs picking up a lot of traditional but socially more conservative Dem voters as that party moves further towards the nutty left (a space once occupied by the likes of Foot, Kinnock and Corbyn in the Labour Party – with their notable electoral triumphs).

      In Britain it’s hard (for me anyhow) to see Labour winning an outright majority unless the SNP collapses. And really a majority seems a better recipe for success there. So it would seem to set the stage for some strife.

      At least in a parliamentary system a government can move its agenda (for better or worse), which is not true when you have a “party of no” representing a minority of the population (41.5 million more people represented by Ds than Rs in the senate) blocking every electoral promise. I don’t know if the ability to move an agenda helps – it might.

      1. Yes, Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party didn’t help in the December 2019 general election, but Brexit was probably the major factor in the so-called “red wall” seats flipping to the Conservatives.

        Brexit was pretty unique in splitting voters along lines that didn’t align with the traditional party boundaries – and now that Boris Johnson’s supposed “sunlit uplands” are being increasingly recognised for the mirage that Remainers claimed them to be all along it is hard to know if the Conservatives will be able to retain the seats they gained next time around. They’re trying hard to push their populist “levelling up” agenda, but with huge domestic energy bill price rises (over 50% in some estimates) and other inflationary pressures on the very near horizon I can’t see them succeeding.

        And that is leaving aside the other factors that are making Johnson and his government so unpopular right now, of course. Some opinion polls last week said 66% of UK adults wanted Johnson to resign over the “party gate” kerfuffle , so perhaps he’s uniting rather than dividing us after all!

        1. On your last paragraph, I would like to think you’re right, but I suspect he will sidestep the Gray report on the grounds that the Met are investigating; and we will then discover (probably after several months’ painstaking investigation) that the Met can’t pin anything on him personally.

          But I think the Tories really haven’t got the faintest idea how to make their ‘levelling up’ slogan work in practice, and it’s this that will cost them seats both at the local government elections in May and at the next GE.

  4. On the topic of the Supreme Court, with the retirement of Justice Breyer and the death of RBG the number of Jews on the court would go from 3 to 1 in two years. Jews on SCOTUS were secular. They are replaced by Protestants like Amy Coney Barrett and the current leading candidate to replace Breyer, Ketanji Brown-Jackson, who is apparently Baptist.

    1. ACB is a Catholic but affiliated with a charismatic movement called People of Praise that smells like the Protestant evangelicals.Worst of both worlds, some might say.

  5. Breyer will stay on till the end of the term (summer, I think) …

    The Supremes always duck out of DC by the Fourth of July (usually releasing their most controversial decisions shortly before they do so). And, although they handle cert petitions, emergency motions, and matters on their so-called “shadow docket” in the interim, they don’t reconvene again as a group until the first Monday in October.

    Nice hours if you can get ’em.

    1. PS – Clarence Thomas is 73. It only seems like he’s been around forever because Poppy Bush put him on the SCOTUS bench when he (Thomas) was just 43.

    2. Meh. I get 5 weeks paid leave because I’ve been at my company for a while. Most of Europe I’d bet gets more. If the Supremes take 9, I have no complaints. Frankly, when I’m around their age, I plan to be taking 52 weeks of leave per year, not 9.


      In terms of their release schedule, I expect that the demolition of Roe will come in late June or maybe even Friday July 1st. The Dems in the House, Biden, Harris, and others should be working on their PR and legislative plan for that right now so they can drop it, ready-made, on the country the day after the Supremes issue their ruling. But true to form, I expect that come Friday July 1st, they’ll be scrambling around trying to figure out how to respond to the ruling.

    3. Will the Republicans be able to block Biden from ushering in a new Supreme Court Judge? They will certainly do their worst to stop him, (after all Biden stole the election); and I don’t think Biden is up for this. I would like to believe there’s no chance of that happening, but I don’t believe that.

      1. Republicans don’t have enough votes to block Biden’s nomination since McConnell removed the filibuster for SCOTUS nominations. Sinema and Manchin can block it, but so far, (afaik) they’ve approved all of Biden’s nominees and there have been a lot, including Ketanji Brown Jackson who is probably on his short list. She’s currently sitting on the court of appeals in the D.C. circuit.

        1. AIUI Senate and House rules can be set or reset with every new Congress. So while McConnell removed the filibuster requirement for SCOTUS appointments for the 116th, I’m sure he will argue that it is absolutely necessary and a complete mockery of the democratic process if it is removed for the 117th. The question is whether Manchin will agree with him.

          1. Manchin has already made it clear that he would vote for someone who is more liberal than he is. It might be another matter if this wasn’t a (D) replacing a (D). It’s not really a big deal in regards to the court’s balance, so I doubt either of the (D) stooges will block the nomination.

  6. There is every chance that Pluto will be a planet once more because there is a growing consenus that the IAU’s criteria for a planet are less than scientific. Edit: Mind you, our moon and many other objects including other planetary moons will become planets, so the mnemonic will need considerably more letters!

    Somewhere in the depths of your email should be a link to the story and/or the paper!

      1. The third criterion of clearing the orbit can be reasonably be claimed to be a hasty and arbitrary contruct to exclude Pluto to avoid inclusion of other bodies that have an equal claim, simply because there will be significantly more bodies that would qualify as planets. Pluto’s orbit is as clear as Earth’s, the fact that it crosses another orbit is not a good reason.

        The paper’s assertion that classifying something because of where it is and how it moves, rather than its structure, is something that wouldn’t be applied to somethig like mammals – if you defined mammals as something that exists in groups on land to include wild horses, whales would no longer be mammals under this definition, neither would solitary land dwelling mammals.

        Not sentiment, rather an honest questioning of the validity of a classification criterion. This is especially true because there are objects in Earth’s orbit that the planet hasn’t cleared, and it is unlikely ever to clear them – it isn’t sentiment that keeps the Earth as a planet.

        1. The mammal analogy is not an argument. Planets and other bodies that orbit the Sun are not part of the tree of life. Mammals are.

          A classification system is valuable if it helps somebody in some way. For example, when my brother was doing stats on British agriculture, ostriches were classified as livestock along with pigs and cows and not poultry. The reasoning was that their requirements for land use etc more nearly matched cows than chickens.

          Similarly “land mammals” might be a grouping that somebody finds useful, so why not?

          So the question is do astronomers find it more useful to classify Pluto as a planet than not. I’ll defer to their wishes.

          1. It isn’t astronomers in general though, it is the IAU – Sedna spooked them and they overreacted by eliminating Pluto to make sure Charon and a host of other objects wouldn’t need to be counted as planets.

            I wouldn’t say whether they are correct one way or another but the appeal to taxonomy is a useful analogy: you don’t classify mammals by the characteristics of where they are found or how they behave, you classify them by their distinctive characteristics.

            If you wish to classify celestial bodies as planets and you lay down specific criteria, the only one of which Pluto fails is clearing of the orbit, Earth is not a planet and you could equally make the argument that Neptune isn’t a planet because it hasn’t managed to remove Pluto from its own orbit.

            I am sure astronomers have mixed feelings about the classification but I don’t dismiss the conclusions of this paper as lightly as you, I have the same attachment to Pluto as the Prof and regard the IAU’s decision as hasty and simply redundent – they could have kept Pluto as an historical anomaly and move forward, instead they laid down some rules that are not consistent with the 8 remaining planets, so the decision can be argued as arbitrary and ultimately unscientific, as in the paper.

            1. you don’t classify mammals by the characteristics of where they are found or how they behave, you classify them by their distinctive characteristics.

              I’d say having such an elliptical orbit that you cross the (more round) orbit of another planet is a pretty clear and distinctive characteristic. Whether they choose to use it or not, that characteristic of Pluto is NOT analogous to “how they behave” but much more like “has hair.”

              1. I suppose I phrased it badly. The demotion of Pluto was so long ago that I have forgotten the details, the impression I retain is that it wasn’t so much a consultative process as a committee decision to avoid having a planet called Sedna, followed by Eris, followed by …

                I can remember a lot of grumbling back in the early 2000s about it being a poor decision and there is evidently some simmering disquiet to have a paper like this surface.

                The question of Pluto in itself is neither here or nor there, it is the scientific validity of the three criteria that is being addressed and the third criterion definitely has a “nip this in the bud” feel to it that has evidently rankled with some. Especially since the elimination of Neptune as a planet would be perfectly reasonable under the self same criteria, the neighbourhood of its orbit definitely has a planet half the size of Mercury that it hasn’t eliminated and shows no signs of doing any time soon.

                I will learn my lesson one day and not drop a facetious comment.

  7. The mammal warding off the hawk attack appears to be a tamandua, which is indeed a species of anteater. The original tweet in portuguese is from Biodiversidade brasileira. If we assume the footage itself is from Brazil (admittedly not necessarily a safe assumption), the anteater is a southern tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla). The hawk appears to be a White Hawk (Pseudastur albicollis). I well remember seeing one of these gorgeous hawks soaring low overhead on my first full day of birding on my first visit to the Neotropics (Costa Rica) almost thirty years ago. A magical day.

    A tamandua seems like very ambitious prey for a large but not huge hawk. According to Wikipedia, white hawks mainly hunt reptiles. Perhaps the hawk was simply defending its territory/nest.

  8. If at any time, half the country was silent, there would be the most profound terror at what they are scheming now.

  9. Joe Biden finally gets to nominate a Justice…

    …But Sinema and Manchin will still have to agree to remove the filibuster to get her appointed, because I absolutely guarantee that anyone Biden nominates, McConnell will call “too partisan” or “not qualified.” There’s greater hope in this case than in the case of legislation, since McConnell did exactly this during the last session. However if Manchin’s objection to removing the filibuster is strongly ideological, or his motivation is to simply not align himself with the administration because he thinks West Virginian voters oppose the administration, then the nomination could stall out the same way Biden’s bills have.

    Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai…still seems to be missing.

    Unfortunately not sure what we can do about this. Long-term, she needs to travel outside of the country to a tournament and then use the opportunity to go to and Embassy arnd request asylum. Which is all very low probability.

    In the “symbolic resistance” department, I was thinking the other day that someone could start reprinting shirts from the old movie “P.S. I Love You” and tennis folk could wear those in tournaments (in interviews etc., they probably couldn’t and wouldn’t wear a cheap cotton tshirt in play). It’s not exactly subtle, but if the shirt has a scene or pictures of actors/actresses from the movie on it, that may be sufficiently double-meaninged to get around most Tennis tournament’s “no political statements” rules. Kind of a blue-sky thought, I’ll admit. And it doesn’t accomplish anything, except showing support.

    1. The filibuster has already been removed from judicial appointments, so it doesn’t apply. They do need to get yea votes from Manchin and Sinema, though, but just to confirm.

      1. Manchin and Sinema have been supporting the lower court nominees, so it would seem likely that they will back Joe’s pick for the Supreme Court – and maybe redeem themselves a teeny bit by doing so.

    2. There’s no filibuster on Supreme Court nominations; otherwise the Democrats could have stopped Barrett. Only Democratic votes (including Kamala Harris, acting as president of the Senate) are needed.


  10. 1606 – Gunpowder Plot: The trial of Guy Fawkes and other conspirators begins, ending with their execution on January 31.

    Having recently seen Joel Coen’s cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare’s Scottish play, I did a bit of reading about the play’s background and came to learn of the role the Gunpowder Plot had in the play’s writing.

    It is by its allusions to the Gunpowder Plot that Shakespeare scholars date the play’s drafting to 1606-1607 (although there does not seem to be a solid academic consensus regarding that date).

  11. That portrait of Dante clearly shows that he hasn’t put his facemask on properly, and has got it stuck under his hood. He shouldn’t be allowed into any nightclubs looking like that.

    I visited Lenin’s mausoleum during a work visit to Moscow in about 1998. We had to take our hats off and keep moving, and we weren’t allowed to talk, point or take photos. Lenin looked extremely well and very cheerful, all things considered.

  12. I visited the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi. There was a long, long line. No pictures were permitted, and people were guided by no-nonsense guards to walk through single file with arms straight down to the side.

  13. All Canadian lighthouses are long automated and were dis-inhabited many years ago.

    Lighthouses are the archetypal public good developed from the technology of the day. In introductory economics classes, a useful thought experiment is to devise a system that accomplishes the same benefits to seafaring but lacks the two orthogonal public-good characteristics of indifference to free-riders and indivisibility, i.e., invent private-good lighthouses. Anything using GPS doesn’t count because the current satellite network is itself a public good.

    1. I was surprised at the quantity of lighthouses along the coast of Brazil. They put the United States to shame. Perhaps they are to light the way for people who prefer swimming at night, when it is cooler?

  14. “Do you think there would be a way to do away with these cumbersome objects that are often inhabited?”
    – you philistine! Lighthouses are buildings of great character, history and intrigue!

Leave a Reply