Friday: Hili dialogue

April 8, 2022 • 7:00 am

Good morning on Friday, April 8, 2022; this evening begins the Cat Sabbath, when all cats must cease productive activity at Sundown. It’s National Empanada Day, celebrating a great food that has been culturally appropriated by colonizers (think of the Cornish pasty). Here’s a good one (Chile is full of them):

Stuff that happened on April 8 includes:

It’s pure speculation how the original looks, but here’s one imagined original shown on Wikipedia: “A restoration proposal by archaeologist and art historian Adolf Furtwängler in 1916 showing how the statue may have originally looked.”

Do read the Wikipedia bio for Deter (a German), whose case and its documentation by Alois Alzheimer  did spur important research into a now fairly common disease. Here’s a photo of Deter from 1901, five years before she died.

From Wikipedia:

Superconductivity was discovered on April 8, 1911 by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, who was studying the resistance of solid mercury at cryogenic temperatures using the recently produced liquid helium as a refrigerant. At the temperature of 4.2 K, he observed that the resistance abruptly disappeared. In the same experiment, he also observed the superfluid transition of helium at 2.2 K, without recognizing its significance. The precise date and circumstances of the discovery were only reconstructed a century later, when Onnes’s notebook was found

  • 1924 – Sharia courts are abolished in Turkey, as part of Atatürk’s Reforms.
  • 1942 – World War II: Siege of Leningrad: Soviet forces open a much-needed railway link to Leningrad.
  • 1943 – Otto and Elise Hampel are executed in Berlin for their anti-Nazi activities.

They left anti-Nazi postcards lying around (similar to what the Scholls and Probst of the “White Rose” group did). And, like the three in the White Rose, the Hampels were eventually caught and beheaded. Here’s some of their resistance postcards, labeled by Wikipedia as “One of the Hampels’ postcards; in the middle is a postage stamp bearing Hitler’s face, scrawled with the words “worker murderer”:

  • 1945 – World War II: After an air raid accidentally destroys a train carrying about 4,000 Nazi concentration camp internees in Prussian Hanover, the survivors are massacred by Nazis.
  • 1975 – Frank Robinson manages the Cleveland Indians in his first game as major league baseball’s first African American manager.
  • 2020 – Bernie Sanders ends his presidential campaign, leaving Joe Biden as the Democratic Party’s nominee.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1869 – Harvey Cushing, American surgeon and academic (d. 1939)
  • 1892 – Mary Pickford, Canadian-American actress, producer, screenwriter and co-founder of United Artists (d. 1979)

Pickford at 24 with a friend:

He was born Isadore Hochberg, and has some good lyrics behind him. From Wikipedia, which shows he’s a man you’d like to know:

He wrote the lyrics to the standards “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” (with Jay Gorney), “April in Paris”, and “It’s Only a Paper Moon”, as well as all of the songs for the film The Wizard of Oz, including “Over the Rainbow”. He was known for the social commentary of his lyrics, as well as his liberal sensibilities. He championed racial and gender equality and union politics. He also was an ardent critic of religion.

  • 1911 – Melvin Calvin, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1997)
  • 1937 – Seymour Hersh, American journalist and author
  • 1946 – Catfish Hunter, American baseball player (d. 1999)

The Catfish is gone, but he was a great pitcher (now in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown). He died of ALS, the same disease that killed Lou Gehrig.

Here’s a brief summary showing his pitching:

Those who “fell asleep” on April 8 include:

  • 1973 – Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter and sculptor (b. 1881)

Here’s a lovely Picasso: “Cat Catching a Bird” (1939):

Here’s Bradley with two other distinguished generals in Normandy on July 7, 1944. Brad’s in the middle; do you recognize the other two? the pistol should be a giveaway.

  • 1993 – Marian Anderson, American operatic singer (b. 1897)
  • 1996 – Ben Johnson, American actor and stuntman (b. 1918)

Here’s what I call “Sam the Lion’s Soliloquy” from the 1971 movie The Last Picture Show, one of the greatest of American movies. Johnson, here lamenting a lost love, won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role. I will always show this when Johnson’s name comes up; it ranks among the best bits of acting in cinema:

  • 1997 – Laura Nyro, American singer-songwriter and pianist (b. 1947)

In my view, Nyro was one of the greatest singer/songwriters of our time. You may recognize this song, which she wrote when she was only 17, and sold it to Peter, Paul and Mary. Imagine writing this song at 17: such immense talent in a teenager! The most famous version of the song was recorded by Blood, Sweat and Tears, but hers is far better than all of the covers:

  • 2013 – Annette Funicello, American actress and singer (b. 1942)
  • 2013 – Margaret Thatcher, English politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1925)

Thatcher remains a hero in the Falklands, as she was PM when Britain won the war with Argentina over the islands. Here’s a picture I took in November, 2019 in Stanley, with her statue on Thatcher Drive:

*Here’s today’s banner headline from the NYT; click on screenshot to read:

And the summary:

A Russian strike on a crowded train station in eastern Ukraine on Friday morning left at least 39 people dead and nearly 90 wounded, Ukrainian officials said, in what appeared to be a major attack on a main point of evacuation for thousands trying to flee before an expected stepped-up offensive.

Platforms at the station, in the city of Kramatorsk, had been jammed in recent days with people rushing to safer areas in Ukraine’s west. Photos provided by Ukrainian officials showed people splayed on the ground, surrounded by scattered luggage and debris. In a video from the scene, a woman screams, “There are so many corpses, there are children, there are just children!”

The strike appeared to continue a Russian strategy of targeting civilians and infrastructure that has devastated cities such as Kharkiv and Mariupol, intended to demoralize populations. Russia’s Defense Ministry called the reports that Russia was responsible for an attack in Kramatorsk a “provocation.”

It’s clear now, from this and what is happening in Mariupol, that Russian forces simply don’t want civilians to evacuate, but to stay in place and die. This is a genocide.

*Yesterday I reported on the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson as our new Supreme Court Justice—a bit of good news in a dire time. What pleased me more than the fact that she was a “historic choice” as a black woman (which is a sign that things have changed for the better since 1619!), is that she’s a liberal justice. After all, it’s her votes more than her color that will be her lasting imprint on America. Sadly, though, most of us will be gone before we have anything like a centrist court, much less a liberal one. As the new NYT article is called “A transformative justice whose impact may be limited.” May? Is the following really news?

But that new tableau on the court’s grand mahogany bench will mask a simple truth: The new justice will do nothing to alter the basic dynamic on a court dominated by six Republican appointees.

However collegial she may be, whatever her reputation as a “consensus builder” and whether her voting record will be slightly to the right or the left of Justice Breyer’s, the court’s lopsided conservative majority will remain in charge. Judge Jackson will most likely find herself, as Justice Breyer has, in dissent in the court’s major cases on highly charged social questions.

Brown’s predecessor, Stephen Breyer, will be on the bench until late June or early July, voting with the liberals and consistently losing. Here’s what’s on his pre-retirement plate:

By summer, Justice Breyer will probably write or join dissents from majority opinions undermining or eliminating the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade, expanding Second Amendment protections for carrying guns in public and limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to address climate change.

*NBC News reported last night that Putin’s approval ratings are very high among Russians, and have risen a bit (or at least not waned) since Russia invaded Ukraine. Investigating this claim, I found the chart below, which at its original site can be viewed month to month; right now Putin’s approval stands at 83%, disapproval at 15%, and no answers at 2%. Bloomberg verifies these statistics and adds that this is the highest approval rating since 2017, and that the statistics come from “the Moscow-based Levada Center.”

Blue is thumbs up, black thumbs down:

Bloomberg adds this:

 The proportion agreeing the country is headed in the right direction jumped 17 percentage points to 69%, the highest since Levada began recording responses in 1996.

Now this is Russia, where dissent is illegal and there is no freedom of the press, but there’s also no reason to doubt that many Russians, regardless of where they get their information, support Putin and what he’s done. Of course there’s tremendous dissent as well by some mighty brave people. One more bit from Bloomberg implying that we should’t put a lot of credence in the results:

Opposition activist Maxim Katz said he organized a poll of Russians on the war this month which showed 69% in favor and only 19% against.

“Most people don’t believe in this, it doesn’t fill them with any enthusiasm, but they’re not ready to speak out against it,” Katz said. “The authorities are behaving very aggressively, they’ve made it clear they’ll crack down on anyone who is critical.”

*Inequities in college STEM faculty or students (i.e., disproportionate representation of whites and Asians compared to their prevalence in the population) is usually attributed automatically to “system racism” against blacks and Hispanics on the college and postgraduate level. A new article in Quillette, however, analyzing SAT and ACT test results against college achievement, suggests another explanation:  underachieving minorities simply have too low scores to qualify as “STEM-ready”, i.e. ready to enter the pipeline on equal terms with everyone. The lack of STEM-readiness, of course, likely reflects racism in the past, but the claim is that the system racism in colleges operates now. Those who raise the claim of systemic racism as a cause of STEM inequity should read this article. But if you maintain that the SAT/ACT tests are biased, then all your work is before you to demonstrate that, and in fact demonstrations have failed. (h/t: Enrico).

*Biology news (h/t Matthew): Science Daily reports new research that the malarial parasite Plasmodium malariae in humans, one of six protozoan species that causes malaria (and one of the most benign forms), likely jumped into humans from apes. New DNA analysis shows striking similarity between the ape parasite (they mention chimps but not gorillas or orangs) and the human parasite. The human parasite is also genetically depauperate compared to the ape one, suggesting it went through a bottleneck (a reduction in the species’ size, when it jumped from nonhuman apes to human apes (i.e., us).

*FAKE NEWS DEPT: A famous duet between a cellist and a nightingale, with the bird supposedly responding to the playing of one Beatric Harrison, has been shown to be faked. As the ++ reports (h/t Matthew):

On 19 May 1924, the cellist Beatrice Harrison performed an extraordinary duet with a singing nightingale in her Surrey garden in one of the BBC’s first live outside broadcasts. It was a magical nocturnal event that captivated the nation, inspiring a million listeners, tens of thousands of fan letters and repeat broadcasts every year until 1942.

But now the corporation is acknowledging that the original historic event was in fact faked up using a bird impressionist – someone imitating a nightingale so accurately that people have believed a real one was responding to a rendition of the Londonderry Air.

Nightingales may have been scared off by the crew trampling around the garden with heavy recording equipment. As this was live, the back-up plan was an understudy – thought to have been Maude Gould, a whistler or siffleur known as Madame Saberon on variety bills.

The BBC says the “true story” will be explored in a forthcoming Radio 3 programme, Private Passions, to be broadcast on 17 April.

And you may know one of the debunkers:

It will feature Prof Tim Birkhead, one of the world’s leading experts on birds, who told the Guardian: “It would [have been] a terrible admission, even later, to say that they’d wheeled in Madame Saberon. The temptation to not say anything must’ve been immense. Today, that would be unacceptable but, in 1924, it was probably perfectly acceptable.”

Here’s the original 78-rpm recording.  THE BBC LIED!


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is taking her job as editor seriously:

A: What are you doing up there?
Hili: I’m overseeing.

In Polish:
Ja: Co tam robisz?
Hili: Nadzoruję.

And little Kulka on the table:

From Bruce:

An unusual kat from Nicole:

All raccoons are smart, and this shows a particularly savvy one. However, the fact that this was filmed makes me think the situation was set up.

Life in Ukraine:

Kalmus has a point. Humanity (and other species) are pretty much doomed unless we act now, but we hide our heads in the sand.

From Ginger K., who says, “What could go wrong?”

From Geth, who says, “We all love a happy ending.”  Indeed!

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is excellent, even though the situation there is dire:

Just to show you how weird this is, I’ll put Cornell’s range map for this species (and a key) below this tweet. I find it sad because this lost bird surely died.

Ukrainians and cats are all over the Internet:

And, about Ukraine again, this is a fantastic commercial—or rather, political statement:

55 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

    1. “Venus de milo was a beautiful girl,
      She held the world in the palm of her hand
      Til she lost both arms in a wrestlin’ match
      Over a brown-eyed handsome man”

  1. The Cornish pasty (sic) is historically attested as early as the 14th century, so any similarity to the empanada must be a culinary example of convergent evolution, and not cultural appropriation.

  2. a great food that has been culturally appropriated by colonizers (think of the Cornwall pastie).

    I must rise to the defence of the Cornish pasty. It is a food stuff that has been documented since the 13th century, long before any Cornishman went to South America (or possibly even Spain, from whence the empanada may have originated). I think the superficial similarity is more to do with the practicality of the shape, especially for portable food.

    Oh yes, and the people with Bradley are General George C Scott of the Antarctic and Field Marshall Monty Hall Problem-Gomery.

    1. Cornwall pastie? It’s actually a Cornish pasty. I totally agree. I very much agree with Jerry Coyne on most of his points I do differ from him greatly regarding food. Of course one’s taste for food is subjective and probably is based to a degree on upbringing. Although I now have US citizenship (I’ma dual UK/US citizen) I was born and raised in the UK so my favourite foods reflect this (much to the disgust of my American wife (also now a joint UK/US citizen). To me the world at large is missing out on the best food there is:

      Black Pudding
      Liver and Onions
      Scotch Eggs
      Deviled Kidneys
      Roast Lamb
      British Sausages (no one else makes them better)
      English Cheeses

      I could go on.

      1. Yes, my bd on the pasty; I’ve fixed it. HOWEVER, we don’t disagree on all foods. I like Scotch Eggs, Roast lamb, British sausages, and English cheeses, as well as other British foods that I’ve mentioned repeatedly on my website. I’ll add the real ales served at proper drinking temperature, which to my mind are the best session beers in the world (e.g., Tim Taylor’s Landlord).
        But if you don’t like good French, Chinese, or Indian food, YOU are missing out on some of the world’s finest victuals.

      2. Ditto on the food (excluding the liver, and kidneys though!). I’m also an English expat with a US wife. I’ve learned how to make my own Cornish pasties over here, so that we can have a taste of home every now and then (she misses English food even more than me).

      3. Black Pudding … a definite yes
        Liver and Onions … a definite perhaps, my Mum’s NO!!!, my wife’s yes!!!
        Haggis … never tried it to my recollection
        Scotch Eggs … take them or leave them
        Deviled Kidneys … probably OK – steak and kidney pie YES!
        Roast Lamb … My absolute favourite 🙂
        British Sausages (no one else makes them better) … very variable.
        English Cheeses … Yep
        Marmite … yep
        Bovril … yep – Marmite and Bovril are great for stocks etc.

        In Canada for the last thirty-five years, but grew up in B’ham. Wife’s dual.

    2. I disagree, that is Patton, even if you would efface his face, there is his ‘pathognomonic’ revolver. Yes, the other one is equally unmistakably Montgomery. I can’t place the guy who’s half hiding his face in the background though.

      1. At the risk of dissecting the frog, I knew it was Patton but he was famously played in the eponymous film by George C Scott. I have a very strong association between Patton and this image even though it’s actually Scott.

        1. Oops, there was a gen Scott George, but that would have been kinda anachronistic.
          I must admit I’m not really au courant with all these film stars. My apologies.

  3. 1975 – Frank Robinson manages the Cleveland Indians in his first game as major league baseball’s first African American manager.

    I was at that opening-day game, back home from college on spring break. Robbie was a player-manager his first season with Indians (now “Guardians”), and in his first at-bat, in the bottom of the first inning, he hit a homer.

    The Tribe won 5-3.

  4. The lack of STEM-readiness, of course, likely reflects racism in the past, …

    More likely, the biggest factor acting today, in such group differences, is culture.

    For example, on average, Asian-American kids spend three times as much time on homework as African-American kids. That’s not “racism”, it’s culture — peer-group culture and family expectations.

    And if the lack of STEM-readiness does reflect past racism, how, what is the mechanism? Likely it is not about family income, since if you compare African-American families to Asian-American families of similar socioeconomic level, the Asian-American kids are much more likely to turn out STEM-ready.

    So is it schools? Well, all the evidence is that differences in school quality make much less difference to outcomes than is commonly supposed. That is, most schools are good enough, and outcome-differences that are being attributed to school quality are really about differences in the intake of kids.

    1. The mechanism of past racism IS the culture. Asian culture grew to place value on homework because if you did it, and did well academically, then you would be socially rewarded for your effort. But for blacks living in a highly racist 1870s-1970s America, no amount of study was likely to get you anywhere but a HBCU, so it became culturally less valued.

      After all, why do you think Jews have a cultural association with banking, law, and theater/hollywood? In part, because in the racist bad days of America, those were the professions a bigoted Christian society would actually let them pursue. Why are nursing and teaching dominated by women? Because for most of the 20th century sexist males shut them out of most everything else. The same thing happened to blacks: their culture grew to embrace the avenues that the bigoted surrounding society allowed them to pursue, and place less emphasis on professions and activities that were much harder for a black person to ‘break into.’

      Past racism absolutely is the problem we are dealing with: the lack of a cultural emphasis on homework and good study habits in some (but not all) black families is a symptom of that, not some entirely separate black thing that we can wash our hands of.

      1. “Why are nursing and teaching dominated by women? Because for most of the 20th century sexist males shut them out of most everything else.”

        I agree with most of what you said but perhaps this point was taken too far. I suspect totally free women would still gravitate to these professions. We should still “do the experiment”, of course, but it’s those other professions where work needs to be done.

        It is an interesting problem. We shouldn’t have as our goal the complete erasure of sexual and cultural differences. So what would the perfect society look like with respect to job preferences? We have no way to determine that other than letting it seeks its own level but that implies doing nothing to correct these differences, a position indistinguishable from that recommended by those who want to maintain the racist status quo.

      2. You may well be right. Past racism may well have a lot to do with current black culture.

        But, if that’s right, then the cure has to involve “fix black culture”. Can we say that? (Do Kendi and Di Angelo mention that anywhere? People like Glenn Loury do.)

        Having an open discussion about what mechanisms are acting today, and how to fix them, is better than just labeling any inequality of outcome as being “systemic racism”.

      3. There is a scent of special pleading in your post, or a “just-so” story. You are too quick with the “because” and “absolutely” words when you say that bigotry in white sexist Christian society explains the racial, sexual, and religious sorting that we observe. This can’t be an adequate explanation. Else why would Jews respond consistently to two millennia of persecution by urging their children to study and excel to qualify them in the first place for the well-remunerated professions you say they dominate, while Black families respond to ebbing persecution since the 1970s — today even Black kids can go to Princeton and thanks to affirmative action they do — by allowing their children to fall even further behind scholastically?

        Canada didn’t have enough Black people through most of its history to form a strong official opinion about them….generally negative though it was and the underground railroad refugees had middling success. (Some with farming experience or schooling prospered and sent their children to professional schools.) But there certainly was organized, official persecution of Japanese and Chinese people ever since the building of the transcontinental railways in the 1880s. The Chinese came east along the train lines and were ghettoized as owners of restaurants and laundries — owners, mind you, not just waiters and dishwashers, and the Japanese stayed on the west coast and owned fishing boats. Descendants of both thrived even in the face of outrageous “Yellow Peril” punitive actions taken against them.

        (Women’s work I’ll leave aside. Unlike between white and non-white, or Christian and Jew, the division of labour between man and woman is a marital device to optimize joint utility in one family unit, not an inter-tribal phenomenon, and so has elements beyond mere bigotry.)

        So if white Christians oppress everyone but themselves, why do Jews and Asians thrive in that oppressive culture, but Blacks and Indigenous people go from bad to worse as the oppression lifts? And why do black-skinned people from African countries and Muslims from the Islamic world want to immigrate to North America? (Most would prefer the United States but many have to settle, temporarily they hope, for Canada.)

      4. Some very good points. And quite depressing, since it is very difficult and a long run endeavour to turn a culture around.

  5. ” The lack of STEM-readiness, of course, likely reflects racism in the past, but the claim is that the system racism in colleges operates now.”

    The lack of STEM readiness could also reflect deficits in the elementary and high school systems at present. The causes might be outright racism, differential funding of schools based on property taxes which are based on location, poverty, or other pretty complex situations.

    Consider, for example, that a good predictor of elementary school success is reading engagement with parents. If the parents are working two or three jobs just to stay afloat, they probably don’t have much time or energy to read to their kids. So, poverty may be the proximal cause, but then we have to look at the causes of that poverty.

    And while it is pretty certain that racism has somewhat abated in the last half-century, there are still many examples of racist encounters in elementary schools. Even if the statistics are on the side of progress, if you were one of those Black kids who encountered one or two racist teachers, your chances of being STEM-ready by college diminish.


    1. >If the parents are working two or three jobs just to stay afloat, they probably don’t have much time or energy to read to their kids.

      And when the parents don’t work at all, at any job, what’s the excuse then?

  6. This statement, of course assumes that cats engage in “productive” activity, which is of course false…
    “…this evening begins the Cat Sabbath, when all cats must cease productive activity at Sundown.”

  7. Yip Harburg sounds a great guy. Here’s his poem “Atheist” :


    Poems are made by fools like me,
    But only God can make a tree;

    And only God who makes the tree
    Also makes the fools like me.

    But only fools like me, you see,
    Can make a God, who makes a tree.

  8. The other two American generals were “the one on the left” general George “blood and guts” Patton, and the one on the right is Bernard Montgomery the British general in charge of the failed “Market Garden” push into Holland.

  9. I had an uncle by marriage whose father was General Bradley’s Chief of Staff. He told me that Bradley was the nicest, kindest man. When his parents hosted dinner parties, Bradley would always make a point of going up to my uncle’s room to help him with his math homework.

  10. Stuff that happened on April 8 includes:

    Pink Floyd (feat. Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Boombox) releases its first song since 1994 to support the Ukrainian resistance.

    Слава Україні! Slava Ukraini! Ruhm der Ukraine!

  11. Here’s some of their resistance postcards

    I came across the movie “JoJo Rabbit” the other night. It’s about a German boy growing up at the tail end of WWII. Quite strange and sad at times.But the resistance postcards reminded me of it (I will say no more). Taika Waititi directed (thus the strange), and I recommend it.

    What pleased me more than the fact that she was a “historic choice” as a black woman (which is a sign that things have changed for the better since 1619!), is that she’s a liberal justice.

    Well that was going to be the case for any of Biden’s picks. I am pleased her background includes work as a defense attorney. I’m hoping this translates in to a more robust 4th-6th and 8th amendment than what we’ve had lately. No more strip searches for broken headlights, no more civil forfeiture absent a conviction, etc.

    1. You’re description of “JoJo Rabbit” reminds me of the harrowing novel by Jerzy Kosiński “The Painted Bird”. A movie came out recently, but I haven’t seen it yet.

    1. I’m guessing that putting meat inside dough is as old as the existence of dough and meat. It’s undoubtedly prehistoric. It should be the poster child for our battle against the “cultural appropriation” concept. Similarly for sandwich.

    1. Even that popular article is Chinese to me, but I’m impressed by a margin of error of less than 0,01%.. In what other field do we find such ridiculously small MoE’s?

  12. this evening begins the Cat Sabbath, when all cats must cease productive activity

    When exactly do they begin productive activity?

  13. My favorite Harburg lyric is “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” (music by Harold Arlen), as sung by Groucho Marx in “At the Circus” (1940):

    One of the Marx Brothers’ best musical comedy scenes, though the rest of the film is mediocre and marked the start of their cinematic decline.

  14. I always got that impression of Bradley. Modest, kind, but pretty brilliant. Nothing like either Patton or Montgomery.
    Of course, that is just how these big heads appear to us lesser mortals.

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