Thursday: Hili dialogue

February 17, 2022 • 7:30 am

Note: Due to the crush of work (mostly filling out forms and doing airline schedules), there will be no readers’ wildlife feature today. It will occur sporadically until I leave for Antarctica.

Good morning on Thursday, February 17, 2022, and National Café au Lait Day. I prefer a latte, but will take the CaL. Straight espresso is too hard on my tummy in the morning.

It’s also National Cabbage Day, National Indian Pudding Day, National Public Science Day, and Random Acts of Kindness Day.

If you haven’t had Indian Pudding, by the way, do try it. You’ll be able to get it only in New England, and it’s time-consuming to make at home, but oy, I love the stuff, particularly when served warm and topped with a melting scoop of vanilla ice cream. Durgin-Park, now defunct, was the restaurant to get it in Boston, but there’s always the Union Oyster House near Goverment Center.  Here’s a good recipe (you can leave out the maple syrup and add more molasses), and here’s what it looks like:

This dessert is unique to America, and you’ll either love it or hate it.

There’s a Google Doodle today honoring the 94th birthday of Dr. Michiaki Takahashi, who died in 2013. (Click on screenshot for links). He devised the vaccine for chickenpox in 1973 and it was certified for worldwide use by WHO eleven years later.  (I don’t even remember it being announced!)

News of the Day:

*When the Taliban took Afghanistan last year, they promised that from then on women and girls would get equal opportunity, including schooling. At the time I was sure that was a lie, for religion-based misogyny always tells, and it did. An op-ed in the Washington Post, “Afghan schools might reopen soon, but girls won’t have the resources to thrive,” by By Shabana Basij-Rasikh, who helped 100 women escape from Afghanistan to Rwanda, tells the tale:

The Taliban reopened schools for all boys in September. Girls in elementary school went back, too. For girls in grades seven and up, though — or to say it another way, for girls either entering or past puberty — nothing. No classes. No education. No future.

The beginning of the school year in Afghanistan is March 23, less than six weeks away. The Taliban told the world that all girls might be allowed to return to school. But now, it’s “a question of capacity,” a Taliban official says. It’s not that teenage girls shouldn’t be educated; it’s that they need to be fully segregated from boys and men. They need their own separate classrooms in their own separate schools. They need their own separate living facilities. They need teachers who are female. [JAC: Apparently there’s a dearth of women teachers—no surprise!]

. . .Yes, reopening schools is absolutely necessary, but it won’t be enough to set this game-changing circle in motion. If the Taliban wants to claim that girls’ education is “a question of capacity,” then the global community must press the group to build that capacity, and build it now. The model exists, and Afghan women stand ready, especially in rural areas where a women-led education infrastructure awaits the international investment it needs to thrive.

Families in the provinces know this and want this. And all the Afghan girls who right now are studying at home, creating in themselves the hope for Afghanistan’s future, know and want this, too.

*Satirist P. J. O’Rourke, writer, satirist, and conservative, has died at 74 of lung cancer. I haven’t read him in decades, but I remember enjoying his collections. (h/t: Ken). Here’s a 34-minute interview with O’Rourke:

The New York Times has a separate analysis of O’Rourke’s work.

*This kind of thing is occurring increasingly often:  a Jewish speaker (it doesn’t matter what the topic is) gives a Zoom talk, and somehow a bunch of bigoted loons get the Zoom invite. They then come onto the site and create pandemonium, shouting anti-Semitic slogans or “Heil Hitler”s.  The Algemeiner reports yet another instance (h/t Anna). An Israeli chemist, Professor Sason Shaik of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was giving a virtual talk in a symposium on the theoretical physics of organic chemistry; the symposium was was sponsored by faculty from the University of Houston and University of California, Davis. This happened:

Shaik’s talk on his career as a chemist was subjected to an antisemitic “Zoom attack,” organizer Judy Wu of the University of Houston explained.

“Suddenly, lots of people jumped into the Zoom, playing background sounds of fighting and very offensive language,” Wu told The AlgemeinerThere were robotic sounds saying ‘Heil Hitler,’ which was very unpleasant.”

Shaik said he learned of the disturbance only after the event, as his meeting settings had muted the audience, but denounced the hateful interruption of an intellectual exchange.

. . . In 2020, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recorded at least 114 Zoombombings that targeted synagogues, Jewish community centers, Jewish schools — making up over a third of the incidents of harassment affecting Jewish institutions that year.

*If you’re interested in women’s figure skating at the Olympics, the NYT has an up-to-date page with pictures and videos, including the latest on controversial Russian skater Kamila Valieva, who may win the singles competition but not get a medal.  (Why, by the way, doesn’t anyone seem to care about men’s skating?)

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 927,115, an increase of 2,113 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,871,228, an increase of about 12,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on February 17 include:

  • 1600 – On his way to be burned at the stake for heresy, at Campo de’ Fiori in Rome, the philosopher Giordano Bruno has a wooden vise put on his tongue to prevent him continuing to speak.

Here’s an early engraving of Bruno, giving an idea of what he looked like (caption from Wikipedia):

The earliest depiction of Bruno is an engraving published in 1715 in Germany, presumed based on a lost contemporary portrait.

And an engraving of his execution:

Here’s a statue involving a famous, but probably apocryphal, story about Myles Standish:

This group illustrates a line from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem The Courtship of Miles Standish. In the poem, Captain Miles Standish asks his friend John Alden to propose to Priscilla on his behalf. John goes to visit Priscilla and does as requested, even though he is in love with her himself. This sculpture shows the moment when Priscilla guesses John’s true feelings and declares, ​Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?”

John Rogers, “Why Don’t You Speak for Yourself, John?”, patented 1885, painted plaster, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Genevieve Wisel in memory of Dan Wisel, 1975.73. Caption from here.
  • 1801 – 1800 United States presidential election: An tie in the Electoral College between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr is resolved when Jefferson is elected President of the United States and Burr, Vice President by the United States House of Representatives.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: The H. L. Hunley becomes the first submarine to engage and sink a warship, the USS Housatonic.

The Hunley was located and raised for reconstruction in 2000. She appears to be sitting in a bath of sodium hydroxide (below):

Here’s a three-minute time-lapse video transit of the Suez Canal, a passage that usually takes about 12-16 hours:

  • 1949 – Chaim Weizmann begins his term as the first President of Israel.
  • 1972 – Cumulative sales of the Volkswagen Beetle exceed those of the Ford Model T.
  • 1980 – First winter ascent of Mount Everest by Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy.

The route they took was the famous South Col route, pioneered by Tenzing and Hillary (line). Below that is Wielicki on the summit:

  • 1996 – In Philadelphia, world champion Garry Kasparov beats the Deep Blue supercomputer in a chess match.
  • 2011 – Arab Spring: Libyan protests against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime begin.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1843 – Aaron Montgomery Ward, American businessman, founded Montgomery Ward (d. 1913)
  • 1864 – Banjo Paterson, Australian journalist, author, and poet (d. 1941)

Paterson, who of course wrote “Waltzing Matilda”, is depicted on the Ausisie ten-dollar note:

  • 1890 – Ronald Fisher, English-Australian statistician, biologist, and geneticist (d. 1962)

Fisher has been canceled for his views on eugenics, but here’s a picture of him in 1913, when he was 23. He was nearly blind in his later years:

  • 1921 – Duane Gish, American biochemist and academic (d. 2013)

How many of you watched Gish spew his creationism onstage? I did once, in Sacramento in the eighties. It was quite a show.  Here’s one of his drawings showing why evolution couldn’t have happened, for a land animal to whale transition would have involved ludicrous “mer-cow” intermediates like this:

  • 1922 – Tommy Edwards, American R&B singer-songwriter (d. 1969)

Here’s the song for which Edwards is famous. What you may not know is that the melody was written in 1911 by Charles Dawes, who became Vice-President under Calvin Coolidge and a Nobel Laureate as well. It’s the only hit song with a co-author who was a Nobel Laureate, much less a VP:

Newton is on the right, and do you recognize the guy on the left? (Another co-founder.) Newton was friends with biologist Bob Trivers and planned to write a book with him on deceit and deception, but Newton was murdered in Oakland:

  • 1963 – Larry the Cable Guy, American comedian and voice actor
  • 1981 – Paris Hilton, American model, media personality, actress, singer, DJ, author and businesswoman

Those who kicked the bucket on February 17 include:

  • 1600 – Giordano Bruno, Italian mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher (b. 1548)
  • 1673 – Molière, French actor and playwright (b. 1622)
  • 1856 – Heinrich Heine, German journalist and poet (b. 1797)
  • 1982 – Thelonious Monk, American pianist and composer (b. 1917)

I have a joke about Monk, which I invented but surely others have as well:

Q: What do you call a friar who steals from the monastery?
A:  A felonious monk.

Here’s the great pianist playing “Don’t Blame Me”:

  • 1982 – Lee Strasberg, American actor and director (b. 1901)
  • 2006 – Bill Cowsill, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1948)

I have to put this song up, because I like it. It was, of course, by the Cowsills, and was a big hit in 1967.  The group consisted of six siblings, later joined by their mother.

This later live version by the group is every bit as good as the original. Billy is at left on guitar.

Here’s the group getting their gold record in 1967 for this song. Oy, were they young! Caption is from Wikipedia:

The group receives their gold record for “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” from MGM Records President Mort Nasatir, 1967. Front L-R: Susan, Barry and Barbara. Back L-R: Bob, Paul, John, Mort Nasatir and Bill
  • 2021 – Rush Limbaugh, American talk show host and author (b. 1951)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, who wants inside, is threatening Kulka!

Hili: Take her away from the window sill and let me in.
A: She will not do anything to you.
Hili: But I may harm her.
In Polish:
Hili: Zabierz ją z okna i wpuść mnie do domu.
Ja: Ona ci nic nie zrobi.
Hili: Ale ja ją mogę uszkodzić.

From Bruce:

From Peter’s collection of Fun With Snow:

Forgive me for posting a silly animated duck meme. Honey should be returning in a few weeks (if they don’t renovate the pond). If she shows up, it will be her sixth year in a row, and I will be elated.

From Titania:

From Barry. I think I saw something cuter today: ducks slipping and sliding as they tried to walk across a partly melted pond surface:

From God, who, you know, is omniscient:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb.  The first is the beginning of a 9-tweet thread about the only American ever involved in the German resistance to Hitler. She suffered the same fate as her ideological confrère, Sophie Scholl. Read the whole thread, as it’s sad but also heartening.


This is a good one:

An interesting tweet, though the in-brain twin is a bit gross. It’s from a while back, but I did you all a favor by looking up the article. I put the “twin fetus” below the fold (you know you’ll look at it!)

Click “read more” to see the “twin”

From paper: Left: Posterior view of the mass. The nervous tissue tapers into a cord-like structure. Below the “buttocks” can be seen the body stalk. Right: Anterior view after fixation and removal of the body stalk. The fourth limb has been placed in its original site.


The twin in the newborn’s brain before removal (the real child, by the way, did fine):

(From paper): Skull x-ray film, anteroposterior view, showing irregular rounded areas of calcification centrally placed in the skull, with regions of translucency. The linear calcific areas extending to the right of the midline correspond to the limbs.

24 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. “On his way to be burned at the stake for heresy, at Campo de’ Fiori in Rome, the philosopher Giordano Bruno has a wooden vise put on his tongue to prevent him continuing to speak.”

    Isn’t it amazing how Christianity managed all that kindness and love in their torture strategies?

    Every time I see the word Christian expressed surrounded by quotation marks when describing heinous behavior, I want to scream. The implication that those people “are not really Christians”, is a load of nonsense. Those people ARE really Christians; that’s how Christians act.

    And, they’d still be doing it, too, if it were not for the possibility of pushback from more civilized sectors of society.


    1. It is likely that Bruno died in part because of his adherence to a religious version of what philosopher Arthur O. Lovejoy had called the ‘Principle of Plenitude,’ the idea that everything has a purpose and that if something is possible, it will exist. This view lead Bruno to postulate the plurality of worlds and that these worlds would necessarily be inhabited. This lead to a troublesome theological dilemma — how could there be an infinity of worlds that could never receive Christ –, which was solved in the traditional way.

  2. Why, by the way, doesn’t anyone seem to care about men’s skating?

    In the dark days of the early 1980’s all us Brits took a keen interest in men’s figure skating. John Curry and Robin Cousins were our only hopes for a gold medal in the winter Olympics.

  3. But now, it’s “a question of capacity,”

    Right. If that’s the case, use all the current classrooms for women, and add men’s classes as more capacity becomes available. I bet if the taliban were forced to do that, sufficient classroom space would magically appear.

    Why, by the way, doesn’t anyone seem to care about men’s skating?

    Initially it was because Valieva was expected to do something no women had ever done in Olympic competition before (land a quad). Then obviously it became about the doping. I don’t think the men’s side this year has either a person doing a jump never done before, nor a drug scandal…and not the same skater as the subject of both!

    1. It really shows just how unserious they were/are, doesn’t it? Well perhaps I should say it shows how seriously they focused on emotional appeal to their own religious community rather than engaging in substantive discussion with the scientific community.

      ID was never truly about science, it was about getting God back in public high schools, with design simply being the latest tool they thought might let them do that. Now with this SCOTUS on the edge of letting Police stations put out official prayer announcements and religious-themed “voluntary” assemblies being in the news, it looks to me like evangelicals are be shifting their legal efforts more into legalizing student-led and teacher-led “voluntary” prayer sessions instead. Science may catch a bit of a break merely because they think they’ve found a legally easier way to get God back into the classroom.

    2. I didn’t know of the mer-cow, but I like the crocoduck better 🙂

      The former US vice president was not entirely unsympathetic towards ID. I wonder what his views on teaching ID in the science classroom are — after all, he is a lawyer and must have some understanding of the constitutional issues involved.

  4. I see that during the 2016 US presidential election P. J. O’Rourke voted for Hillary Clinton, saying “She’s wrong about absolutely everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters”.

    1. My pessimistic thought for the day: While recognizing that Donald Trump was by far the worst president in American history, Hillary Clinton would have been far worse. Unhappily, I suspect that will be the case for bellicose Joe Biden also.

      1. This made me laugh. I guess you didn’t pay much attention when Trump was POTUS. You actually think HC would have shredded our institutions like the State Department, the EPA, cast doubt on our Intelligence agencies and courts, invented “the deep state” propaganda, called the press “the enemy of the people”, passed huge tax cuts for corporations and the richest Americans, cozied up to Putin and other autocrats while distancing NATO and other allies, ignored the emoluments clause, nominated 3 radical right-wing ideologues to SCOTUS, incited a deadly insurrection, lied about a free and fair election, hidden her tax returns and business dealings, treated her Attorney General as her own lawyer and fixer…should I go on? And then you say bellicose (why that word?) Biden is going to be worse than Trump as well? I don’t know if this is a pessimistic thought or simply a delusional one.

    1. No doubt underperforming in part due to stress. The situation sucks all around – for her, for the other skaters, for pretty much everyone. But this is why the rules on doping need to be clear and adhered to rigorously: uncertainty about what will be done encourages risk-taking and bad behavior.

      1. Indeed. I see that the Russians are now planning to get the team gold awarded to them using a narrow interpretation of the IOC’s rules, arguing that they only cover doping that occurs within the Olympic games themselves.

        1. arguing that they only cover doping that occurs within the Olympic games themselves.

          We can begin SNL’s “All-drug Olympics” now…

  5. Mildred Harnack is detailed in Wolfgang Benz’ monograph which I recommended here

    She was initially sentenced “only” to a six-year prison term for her resistance activities. But Hitler personally intervened, so that the next trial ended with a death sentence.

  6. The Panther in the pic with Huey Newton is co-founder Bobby Seale, one of the defendants in the trial that started out as the “Chicago 8.”

    Seale is still among the quick.

  7. The Cowsills entirely passed me by – perhaps they never made it in the UK. Their fictional counterparts The Partridge Family did, though.

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