Sunday: Hili dialogue

February 20, 2022 • 7:30 am

Welcome to the formal beginning of the week: Sunday, February 20, 2022: National Muffin Day. They’re loaded with calories, but I rarely eat them anyway, as I much prefer a bagel with lox and cream cheese.

It’s also National Cherry Pie Day (much better!), Love Your Pet Day, Clean Out Your Bookcase Day (seriously?), and, World Day of Social Justice.

Below is the world’s largest muffin, certified by Guinness:

The largest muffin weighed 88.7 kg (195.55 lb), measuring 79 cm (2 ft 7 in) in diameter and 45.5 cm (1 ft 6 in) in height, was baked by master baker Gerhard Hinz (Germany) at the Schanzenbackerei bakery in Hamburg, Germany, on 27 February 2010.

Aber “Backen mit Marshmallows”?  Das ist ja Wahnsinn!

News of the Day:

*The big news is that Paulina and her husband, the lodgers who live upstairs from Andrzej and Malgorzata, found another kitten. This one was in bad shape but, knowing Paulina, it will survive and thrive. Malgorzata’s report:

Today Paulina found an abandoned kitten. She took it directly to the vet: it’s a female, 2 month old, very sick with every illness a stray cat can have, with only half of the tail left and probably something wrong with her hind paws. She walks in a very strange way. But she is very energetic, eats ravenously (she is just skin and bones), loves to be petted and has a very beautiful color: light grey, almost white. She must be kept for now away from the other cats (some of her illnesses are contagious) so she is in a room they do not use (you slept in this room once) and we all come into her from time to time so she wouldn’t feel abandoned. She doesn’t have a name yet – now the most important thing is to cure her. Next visit to the vet is on Monday.

Pictures will be coming, and then there will be four cats in the yard: Hili, Szaron, Kulka, and now this new one. Stay tuned.

*Outside of Dobrzyn, matters in the case of Ukraine v. Russia are heating up, with over 100 clashes this weekend between Ukrainian soldiers and Ukrainian pro-Putin separatists. (This is how the world ends: not with a bang but a whimper.) The separatists are firing artillery, and ginning up the rumor that an invasion by Russia is imminent:

But separatist leaders on Saturday urged women and children to evacuate, and able-bodied men to prepare to fight. And the ginned-up panic was already having real effects, with refugees frantically boarding buses to Russia and refugee tent camps popping up across the Russian border.

At the same time, the firing of mortars, artillery and rocket-propelled grenades by separatist rebels along the front line roughly doubled the level of the previous two days, the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said. Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five wounded, the military said.

Those are two of the many deaths that will be on Putin’s head.

*In the NYT, Christopher Buckley writes a sort-of memoriam for P. J. O’Rourke, emphasizing P. J.’s humor.

P.J. O’Rourke’s death marks the end of a particular and an essential sensibility. He found humor everywhere and in everything, especially in his fellow Republicans. We’ve lost more than the man The Wall Street Journalcalled “the funniest writer in America.” We’ve lost the last funny conservative.

…Along with his peers Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker, he was hyperaphoristic.

“The good news is that, according to the Obama administration, the rich will pay for everything. The bad news is that, according to the Obama administration, you’re rich.”

“If government were a product, selling it would be illegal.”

“If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free.”

Come to think of it, are there any social justice warrior comedians? Sarah Silverman’s getting more wokeish, but she’s no longer funny.

*The NYT reports that a search is underway for the remains of the famous ship Endurance, which Ernest Shackleton, 27 men, and one cat (we will speak no more of the moggy) sailed on the British Trans-Arctic Expedition beginning in 1914. The rest of the story is famous: the ship broke up in the ice, the men camped out for over a year and then made it to Elephant Island. Shackleton then set out with four other men in a lifeboat, making the long journey to South Georgia island to get help. They succeeded, and arranged the rescue of the 22 men who had camped on Elephant Island, eating seals and penguins, for 4.5 months. Here’s the Endurance in its final breaking-up by the sea in 1915.

And a drone going down to look for Endurance (from the NYT article, also the source of the caption):

(From NYT): One of two underwater drones being launched from the ship. Images and data are sent to the surface via fiber-optic cable.

*Sarah Haider’s new Substack column asks a question that hasn’t struck me before, “Is Wokeism uniquely Christian?”  Her answer is “probably.” I can’t think of many woke Jews (though there are some) and no woke Muslims at all, although there are Woke non-Muslims who see Muslims as the oppressed with Jews (and sometimes whites) being the oppressor. But Muslims lack notions of “social justice” as we understand them (think of how they treat women and gays), so they’re hardly woke.

The moral architecture of wokeism isn’t just merely religious – it is quite clearly Abrahamic, more specifically Christian. Said another way, it is at least more Christian than it is Muslim or Jewish, and very little like Hinduism, Buddhism, or Confucianism.

Perhaps this is the case because wokeism has evolved right here in the West – atop the laws, norms, institutions – and yes, moral and ethical frameworks of Christianity.

For example, wokeism relies quite heavily on a reservoir of “guilt” (specifically, white guilt, but also male guilt, heterosexual guilt, neurotypical guilt, etc) that appears to be par for the course in Christianity but doesn’t quite map as well on Islam.

I disagree with Sarah, however, on whether atheists are woke. Her take is that atheists are, by and large, less inclined to Wokery than are Christians. I’m not so sure.

But aside from some very visible atheists, the “secular community” as a whole has not exactly followed. Some atheist leaders and organizations appear to be very clearly captured by the new woke dogma (the American Humanist Associations withdrawal of an honor from Richard Dawkins comes to mind), but some go even further – becoming priests of the new faith.

Yes, but I suspect more of them are than Sarah thinks. Let me throw out a few names: Pharyngula, the FFRF (sadly, though they’re not nearly as bad as the ACLU), the ACLU itself, everyone who blogs at the Orbit, and any number of friends of mine who are nonbelievers but who adhere to many Woke doctrines.

*The student union of the University of Toronto has voted to support the BDS movement, which of course is anti-Semitic, though it pretends to be otherwise.

It instructs the union to “wholly divest funds & further forbid investment to firms complicit in the occupation of Palestinian Territory.”

. . .In November, UTSU Scarborough voted to “refrain from engaging with organizations, services, or participating in events that further normalize Israeli apartheid,” and specifically targeted providers of Kosher food.

“Time and time again, we see student unions and groups contributing to growing division and hate toward Jewish faculty and students who support Israel,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, FSWC’s director of policy. “Last night’s vote is testament to the disappointing reality that antisemitism is alive and well at UofT.”

So it goes

*Abigail Shrier (h/t Divy)

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 933,485, an increase of 2,283 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,903,198, an increase of about 8,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on February 20 include:

Charles Darwin was visiting the area while on the second voyage of HMS Beagle and recorded his observations of the earthquake in Valdivia and its effects and the subsequent tsunami in Concepción and Talcahuano. He remarked:

An earthquake instantly reverses the strongest ideas, the earth, the very emblem of solidity, has trembled under our feet like a thin crust placed on a fluid, a space of a second was enough to awaken the imagination a strange feeling of insecurity which hours of reflection would not have occurred. … But I confess that I saw with great satisfaction that all the people seemed more active and happier than it would have been expected after such a terrible catastrophe. It has been noted, with some truth, that being general destruction, no one felt more humble than his neighbour, no one could accuse his friends of coldness, two causes which always added a sharp pain to the loss of wealth.

The Met, soon to be ruined by ideological interpretations of its art.

A bit o’ Swan Lake, with Nureyev and Fonteyn, to brighten your morning:

  • 1905 – The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of Massachusetts’s mandatory smallpox vaccination program in Jacobson v. Massachusetts.
  • 1933 – The U.S. Congress approves the Blaine Act to repeal federal Prohibition in the United States, sending the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution to state ratifying conventions for approval.
  • 1935 – Caroline Mikkelsen becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.

Mikkelson (below) probably didn’t set foot on the Antarctic mainland, but on an island (she was traveling with her husband, a sea captain):

O’Hare, a Navy flyer, is of course the man after whom Chicago’s O’Hare airport is named. Here he is in his F4F-3 Wildcat with the squadron’s “Felix the Cat” insignia. He was shot down in 1943, but had already received the Medal of Honor.

The first painting published was “Freedom of Speech”. Here’s a friend standing in front of the original (photographed in the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, Oct. 2012):

  • 1952 – Emmett Ashford becomes the first African-American umpire in organized baseball by being authorized to be a substitute umpire in the Southwestern International League.
  • 1962 – Mercury program: While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth, making three orbits in four hours, 55 minutes.

Glenn’s capsule was very small, and is now on special exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum where you can get right up to it for a limited time:

  • 1991 – In the Albanian capital Tirana, a gigantic statue of Albania‘s long-time leader, Enver Hoxha, is brought down by mobs of angry protesters.

Hoxha gets cancelled:

Here’s Lipinski’s gold-medal performance in Nagano; she was the same age as Kamila Valieva was in the latest games, but nobody beefed about Lipinski being too young:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1901 – Louis Kahn, American architect, designed the Salk Institute, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Bangladesh Parliament Building (d. 1974)
  • 1902 – Ansel Adams, American photographer and environmentalist (d. 1984)

Adams: The Tetons and the Snake River (1942)

  • 1925 – Robert Altman, American director and screenwriter (d. 2006)
  • 1927 – Roy Cohn, American lawyer and political activist (d. 1986)
  • 1927 – Sidney Poitier, Bahamian-American actor, director, and diplomat (d. 2022)
  • 1950 – Walter Becker, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2017)

Becker and Fagan, 2007:

Here’s Hearst helping with the SLA bank robbery and her mugshot when caught the next year. She spent 22 months in prison:

  • 1967 – Kurt Cobain, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1994)

Those who were issued their harp and their cloud on February 20 include:

  • 1920 – Robert Peary, American admiral and explorer (b. 1856)

Peary in 1909, the year he claimed to have reached the North Pole with Matthew Henson. However, most experts suspect he didn’t get to the Pole:

  • 1961 – Percy Grainger, Australian-American pianist and composer (b. 1882)
  • 1972 – Walter Winchell, American journalist and actor (b. 1897)
  • 1999 – Gene Siskel, American journalist and critic (b. 1946)
  • 2005 – Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author (b. 1937)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Thompson with the lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta on the trip that, turned into a book, made Thompson famous:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili insults Andrjez. (It’s not fair because Hili’s outside the window waiting for someone to go out and carry her in.)

A: Why are you so blurred?
Hili: Because you are a very mediocre photographer.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu jesteś taka zamazana?
Hili: Bo jesteś marnym fotografem.
And here are Kulka and Szaron looking out. Little do they know that they have a little sister whom they will soon meet!


Another snow sculpture from Peter:

From Divy, a groaner:

From Merilee:

A tweet from Titania:

Reader Barry apologizes for this groaner, and this better be the last species in this genus!

From Simon, who notes, “This is pretty much our,now 21-year-old, cat working up the commitment to jump onto anything.

From Ginger K.:

Tweets from Matthew. This moth is about as cryptic as you can get. Look at those wings!

Patrick Matthew is said to have been the only person besides Wallace to independently hit on Darwin’s idea of natural selection. It was, of all places, in the Appendix to Matthew’s 1831 book  Naval Timber and Arboriculture: a book about shipbuilding. I read what Matthews wrote a long time ago, and thought the similarities were striking, but a new analysis shows that his idea differed substantially from Darwin’s. I haven’t read this latest paper yet, but I will. Meanwhile, if you want to read this for yourself, go here and read pp. 364-369.

Matthew goaded me by saying I should “go ahead and give this tweet a kick.” So, Dr. Cobb, here it is.  Read this gobbledygook and see if it convinces you that there can be libertarian free will despite determinism:

Next up is the challenge from determinism, with which we are already familiar. The keystone aspect of the challenge is that determinism seems to imply that there are no alternative possibilities. Therefore, a person is incapable of making a choice. List replies by arguing that determinism in the fundamental physics does not necessitate ‘agent-level’ determinism, which is the level of a person’s choice. This stems from the central argument that free will is a high-level property. In this case, mental states like choices can be realised by multiple brain states. For example, all of our brains are slightly different, and yet we can each still form the intention to move a coffee cup. In this way, mental states are multiply realisable. List argues that this means there are multiple alternative possible intentions I could form, even if my brain state is predetermined by deterministic physics. Therefore, there can still be indeterminism at the agent level, even if there is determinism at the physical level.

Does that make sense to you? I didn’t think so. All it means is that if your brain was in a different state, you could make a different decision. That’s not free will!

The kicked tweet:

A lovely embroided kitty:

27 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. I cannot believe that hawkmoth is 1) real and 2) actually a moth.

    Another kitten! I hope it thrives and that the news from the next vet visit is encouraging. I also hope we get to see photos soon. I think I already know what Hili’s opinion of it will be.

      1. At the comments on her substack, I noted (and then saw at least two other commenters making the same observation) that the headlines and report mention CPS (Chicago Public Schools), but the linked or embedded materials themselves are identified as D65. District 65 is in Evanston and Skokie, and is distinct from CPS.

      2. Agree. I’m counting my blessings that this stuff hasn’t come to my kids’ schools in conservative liberal (the term makes sense) Lake County, Illinois…for now. I’m vigilant about monitoring the school board’s agendas, and I haven’t seen anything related to Wokeism on them yet, and my kids haven’t reported anything out of the ordinary. But still, vigilance!

  2. With regard current events, the blood is on the hands of everyone who when Putin annexed the Crimea marched shouting ‘The West Needs to Fix It’s Problems First’, after all if they had not shown Putin the fault lines he has so effortlessly manipulated…

  3. In other news, Queen Liz has tested positive for Covid. At 95, that can’t be good, although she’s believed to have had all of the recommended jabs and only has mild symptoms so far. Not shaping up to be a good year for the royal family so far, and it’s only February…

  4. The Adams photograph transported me, thanks! And I’m reminded to thank goodness that the French-Canadians named that mountain range, perhaps my favorite in the world.☺️

    1. In my teens, I joined a group of kids of similar age, chaperoned by a few adults, and we hiked and camped well up into the Tetons. We were provisioned with trail mix and glacial meltwater. Later, we rafted down the rapids of the Snake River. I don’t know if this sort of adventure would be allowed today.

    2. We are there right now. We just finished a 6 day snowshoeing trip through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. The place is absolutely amazing in the winter.

  5. Is wokeness a Christian phenomenon?

    Salient features of this social phenomenon are virtue signalling worn like the clothes on Church Sunday, the performative admission to sinful thoughts (implicit bias, white guilt), missionary orientation both inwards (having to do more “work”) and outwards (callout proselytisation), and excessive hostility towards the outgroup (everyone else). I don‘t know enough about Islam, but I think struggle is the original idea behind jihad. It’s just that the US is largely Christian, not Muslim.

    I’d say it is a uniquely American Christian phenomenon, largely due to America’s deeply conservative version of Christianity paired with American exceptionalism. I suspect it went overdrive because many Americans could not tolerate having a president who was uniquely disliked by the world, and who honestly represented America‘s Christianity openly and accurately and as ugly as it is, as a vulgar theology where the poor and unlucky deserve their fate, wheras the rich and opulent are somehow better human beings. When the US was seen as that, and not the benevolent force of democracy, it seriously undermined many people‘s identity. They had a psychological need to get ontop of everyone else again, to feel morally superior. That‘s how wokeness quite naturally became cultural imperialistic so that there are probably woke white Poles apologising for being white guys.

    1. In broad terms, wokery is a religion. If we open up a bit about that, then we find that the woke mental state of righteous superiority + vicious belittlement of others who are found deficient is also found in all manner of fundamentalist religions. Instead of smiting those with white fragility, religionists are happy to smite the sinners.

  6. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Thompson with the lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta on the trip that, turned into a book, made Thompson famous …

    F & L in LV was actually a highly fictionalized composite (it’s generally classified now as a novel rather than memoir) of two trips Thompson and Acosta made to Las Vegas — one for which Thompson had been hired by Sports Illustrated to write a thousand words or so, and some photo captions, regarding the Mint 400 motorcycle race, and another to cover the annual National District Attorneys Association meeting.

    The Las Vegas book was where Thompson slapped his hand down on the big oak bar of American letters and everyone around took notice, but he’d already gained a degree of notoriety in journalistic circles for his pre-gonzo writing, including his first book about the Hells Angels.

    1. Thanks, Ken. As usual, your nuance of HST arcane knowledge is non-pareil and I owe you many thanks for fleshing out the complex gonzo artist that HST is. That’s a hard caper to crack. 😉

  7. As a name for the new kitty and based on the description, suggest Grey Ghost, which in Polish seems to be szary duch.

    Otherwise, it would be really cool if pieces of Endurance were found!

  8. “We’ve lost our last funny conservative.”

    When P.J. O’Rourke was on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” he was asked “Why aren’t there more funny conservatives?” He answered defensively “There are a LOT of funny conservatives.


    Oh, you mean INTENTIONALLY funny. I was going to say Jerry Falwell . . .”

  9. Re the wokeness of Pharyngula. I have been following PZ since the days his blog was on a computer in his zebrafish lab. Watched his kids grow up and his becoming a grandfather. I can’t express how sad I am that he has bought into the hyper progressive left. I prefer the balance here (almost as much as lox and cream cheese on a bagel) !!!

  10. I hope there’s nothing seriously wrong with the new kitteh. Half a tail might look cute…I love the looks of Manx, but I don’t think I’ve seen a half-tailed moggie. I bet Kulka will like her new friend and they’ll become thick as thieves. 🙂

  11. Re Patrick Matthew: Darwin’s reply, published the month following Matthew’s claim of priority in the same periodical, is an oft-quoted classic lesson in how not to publish (naval timber studies are not a “thing” these days, but in the age of sail, it was a major concern of the Royal and other navies):

    I think that no one will feel surprised that neither I, nor apparently any other naturalist, had heard of Mr. Matthew’s views, considering how briefly they are given, and that they appeared in the appendix to a work on Naval Timber and Arboriculture.

    That Matthew’s views did not, in fact, closely track Darwin’s has long been known. Berkeley’s Museum of Paleontology evolution website says, for example

    There are nearly as many deep differences between Matthew’s theory and Darwin’s as there are similarities. Matthew was a catastrophist… According to Matthew, the earth had periodically been rocked by upheavals, which left an “unoccupied field… for new diverging ramifications of life.” Evolutionary change took place right after these upheavals; between catastrophes, species did not change,and natural selection would act to stabilize species, not alter them… Matthew’s theory lacked Darwin’s concept of evolution as an ongoing, continuous process. Matthew did not see evolution as the gradual accumulation of favorable variations leading to adaptation, nor did he believe in extinction except by catastrophe.

    I am glad, though, that there has been another thorough documentation of this in the literature; the first thorough analysis was by Kent Wells in 1973 in the Journal of the History of Biology; I am slightly chuffed to note that Wells is a herpetologist!


  12. Re: The free will gobbledygook. It seems to be saying that multiple brain states, (different because they are in different brains) can cause mental states that result in the same choice (to move the cup), therefore a single brain state can cause multiple mental states resulting in multiple choices. It then passes off that bad logic to someone named List.

  13. “…the earth, the very emblem of solidity, has trembled under our feet like a thin crust placed on a fluid….” — Charles Darwin referring to the Chilean earthquake of 1835. It seems our Charles was a solid theoretician on many fronts. It would be a century before plate tectonics was generally accepted.

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