Thursday: Hili dialogue

April 14, 2022 • 7:00 am

Good morning on a rainy Chicago Thursday: April 14, 2022: National Jelly Bean Day. (Jelly Bellies and their ilk are the only ones worth eating.) It’s also National Pecan Day, Maundy Thursday, National Dolphin Day, Ex-Spouse Day, and South and Southeast Asian New Year, celebrated on the sidereal vernal equinox.

Stuff that happened on April 14 include:

Here’s a drawing of the phenomenon with the caption, “The celestial phenomenon over the German city of Nuremberg on April 14, 1561, as printed in an illustrated news notice in the same month.” We don’t know what it was, but isn’t it strange that we don’t see such things these days? I suspect this was a sun dog:

Here’s the rocking chair Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot:

Rocking Chair Used by Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater the Night of His Assassination, April 14, 1865. Photographed by Michelle Andonian

As Wikipedia says, “The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight was a famous gun fight that occurred on April 14, 1881, on El Paso Street, in El Paso, Texas. Witnesses generally agreed that the incident lasted no more than five seconds after the first gunshot, though a few would insist it was at least ten seconds. Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire accounted for three of the four fatalities with his twin .44 caliber Smith & Wesson revolvers.”

Here’s Stoudenmire, shot to death in another gunfight the next year:

  • 1894 – The first ever commercial motion picture house opens in New York City, United States, using ten Kinetoscopes, a device for peep-show viewing of films.
  • 1912 – The British passenger liner RMS Titanic hits an iceberg in the North Atlantic at 23:40 (sinks morning of April 15th).

The Titanic leaving Southampton on April 10, 1912:

And the last photo of the Titanic two days later leaving Queenstown, Ireland. Three days later 1,544 people would die as it sank:

I can’t find a video of that incident, but here’s a video of a series of dreadful hailstorms, one of which killed a guy who was hit in the temple:

  • 2003 – The Human Genome Project is completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99%.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s a rare video of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller demonstrating how the former taught the latter to speak:

  • 1889 – Arnold J. Toynbee, English historian and academic (d. 1975)
  • 1904 – John Gielgud, English actor, director, and producer (d. 2000)
  • 1932 – Loretta Lynn, American singer-songwriter and musician

Lynn singing “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man”):

  • 1936 – Frank Serpico, American-Italian soldier, police officer and lecturer

Those who “passed” on April 14 include:

  • 1759 – George Frideric Handel, German-English organist and composer (b. 1685)
  • 1925 – John Singer Sargent, American painter (b. 1856)

One of Sargent’s great pictures, “Madame X” (Madame Pierre Gautreau) painted 1883-1884:

  • 1964 – Rachel Carson, American biologist and author (b. 1907)

Here’s a nine-minute clip from American Experience discussing Carson and her famous book Silent Spring (what a great title!):

  • 1986 – Simone de Beauvoir, French novelist and philosopher (b. 1908)
  • 1995 – Burl Ives, American actor, folk singer, and writer (b. 1909)

Here’s Burl Ives and Paul Newman as Big Daddy and Brick in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. It’s the famous scene where Ives goes off on mendacity:

  • 2007 – Don Ho, American singer and ukulele player (b. 1930)
  • 2015 – Percy Sledge, American singer (b. 1940)
  • 2021 – Bernie Madoff, American mastermind of the world’s largest Ponzi scheme (b. 1938)

Here’s today’s NYT upper-left headline on the Ukraine/Russia war; click to read:

And the news summary:

Russia suffered a blow to its forces on Thursday when its flagship in the Black Sea was “seriously damaged” and its crew was forced to abandon it. Russia said an onboard fire had caused the damage, but Ukraine claimed it had struck the vessel with missiles.

The head of Ukrainian military forces in the nearby city of Odesa announced that two anti-ship missiles had hit the Moskva guided-missile cruiser, which would mark the first time Ukraine had struck a Russian vessel at sea in the seven-week war, rather than at a port. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that a fire had caused ammunition on the ship to explode and reported no casualties among its approximately 500 sailors, but the possible loss of the warship marked another setback for Moscow, as the United States and Western allies bolster Ukraine with new military aid.

If I’m not wrong, that’s the very Russian ship that ordered the Ukrainian border guards on an island to surrender, and they replied, “Go fuck yourself.”

In other news, a million of the 4 million or so refugees from Ukraine have returned. But before we take this as good news, news that we’d all welcome, remember that Russia and its media are ratcheting up rhetoric against Ukraine:

 After a month of fighting, the architects of Moscow’s war against Ukraine had to explain to Russians why Kyiv had not fallen. That’s when the most menacing rhetoric began.

On state television, a military analyst doubled down on Russia’s need to win and called for concentration camps for Ukrainians opposed to the invasion.

Two days later, the head of the defense committee in the lower house of parliament said it would take 30 to 40 years to “reeducate” Ukrainians.

And on a talk show, the editor in chief of the English-language television news network RT described Ukrainians’ determination to defend their country as “collective insanity.”

“It’s no accident we call them Nazis,” said Margarita Simonyan, who also heads the Kremlin-backed media group that operates the Sputnik and RIA Novosti news agencies. “What makes you a Nazi is your bestial nature, your bestial hatred and your bestial willingness to tear out the eyes of children on the basis of nationality.

*I’m always amazed at how fast the cops can apprehend a suspect when there’s not that much evidence, which is a good argument for not getting rid of police. And, in fact, yesterday the police caught the suspect in that shooting in the Brooklyn subway that wounded ten people. From the NYT:

Frank R. James, who law enforcement officials suspect of having perpetrated the worst attack on New York’s subway system in years, was taken into custody on Wednesday, more than 24 hours into an expansive search that erupted after at least 10 people were shot at a Brooklyn train station.

Mr. James was arrested in the East Village, officials said, and has been charged with having committed a terrorist act on a mass transit system, according to Breon S. Peace, the U.S. attorney for New York’s Eastern District. If convicted, Mr. James could face a sentence of up to life in prison.

Officials said that Mr. James was apprehended thanks to a tip that came in from a McDonald’s on Sixth Street and First Avenue. Officers responded, and when Mr. James was not present, they began driving around the neighborhood. They found him on the corner of St. Marks Place and First Avenue, one of the busier intersections in the East Village, and took him into custody without incident.

“We were able to shrink his world quickly,” said New York’s Police Commissioner, Keechant Sewell.

I like that last sentence! It turns out that James actually called in the crime tip that got him arrested, telling police he was at a certain McDonald’s. He was apprehended nearby shortly thereafter.

 

*Emma Camp, the U. Va. senior who wrote a pretty tame but much-discussed op-ed in the NYT promoting free speech (see here), has followed it up with an article in Persuasion about the reaction to her piece. It’s not bad, and even calls out the NYT for its stupid op-ed mistaking “free speech” for “speech free from criticism or social-media mobbing.” Her new piece discusses some of the over-the-top reactions to her NYT piece, and decries tribalism. It’s good to see a college student voicing these opinions, but they should be ingrained in our culture already. In the fall Ms. Camp will go to work for Reason magazine. (h/t Paul).

 

*Reader Simon wrote me this: “Did you see that Russia has announced sanctions on 398 members of Congress? The question on everyone’s lips is, of course, ‘Who are the 37 that didn’t get hit? (And will they take a Russian vacation now?)'”.

Can anybody find out? I tried but I couldn’t. Who would the Russians exempt?

 

*Once again: do you need a second booster if you’re older than 50 or immunocompromised? The NYT asks the experts, and of course the experts differ. But not really, because they do agree that geezers and the compromised should still get the booster (my emphasis below).

Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research in San Diego, says the F.D.A. made the right call. “No one wants to get a booster shot, and I wish we didn’t need them,” he said. But in his view, the data from Israel are compelling, and older adults or those with risk factors for Covid-19 should get the second booster. When it comes to the first booster, which federal authorities authorized last November for all adults, he says the shot had “a vital effect” and should have been pushed out sooner.

But others disagree. “I’ve always been skeptical of the first booster, and I’m even less sure about the second booster,” said Dr. Phil Krause, the former deputy director of the F.D.A.’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review.

Dr. Krause left the F.D.A. last fall after the White House endorsed the initial booster shot before his agency had reviewed the data. Like Dr. Topol, he says that boosters make sense for the elderly and people who are at high risk for severe Covid-19. But for everyone else, he says the data show that the initial two-shot mRNA vaccines provide strong and durable protection against severe illness, and the need for extra shots is, at this point, not warranted.

Are these people really in disagreement? The differences, according to the NYT persist not only because the data aren’t that strong, but because of this:

One big point of dispute concerns the purpose of boosters. “Are we trying to keep people out of the hospital, or prevent mild illness, or decrease population-wide transmission?” said Dr. Luciana Borio, a former acting chief scientist at the F.D.A. “If you don’t have a clear, agreed-upon goal, I think it’s easy for there to be disagreement.”

I did what the television recommends but which isn’t possible for most people: I ASKED MY DOCTOR. He said that I can get a shot if I want, but that the benefits are truly marginal.

 

*Writing on Bari Weiss’s site, Zoe Strimpel asked “Who hijacked feminism?” Her thesis is that the first several waves of feminism brought women the equal rights they wanted, and now feminism has become the purview of arcane academic theory. She goes on to say that this is part of a larger identitarian movement. I don’t fully agree with her assertion women have succeeded in getting what they deserve (especially treatment with respect, both personal and professional), but there’s a lot of sense in some of Zoe’s argument:

By the 1980s, women had won several key victories. Equal pay was the law (if not always the reality). No-fault divorce was widespread. Abortion was safe and legal. Women were now going to college, getting mortgages, playing competitive sports and having casual sex. In the United States, they were running for president, and they were getting elected to the House and Senate in record numbers. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

In the wake of all these breakthroughs, the movement began to lose steam. It contracted, then it splintered, and a vacuum opened up. Academics took over—hijacked—the cause.

. . . Unfortunately, identity politics cannot content itself with simply defending women’s rights or LGBT rights or the rights of black people to be treated equally under the law. It must persist indefinitely in its quest for ever-narrowing identities. (The ever-expanding acronym of gay and gay-adjacent and vaguely, distantly, not really in any way connected communities, with its helpful plus sign at the end, neatly illustrates as much.) Everyone is entitled to an identity, or a plethora of identities, and each identity must be bespoke—individualized—and any attempt to rein in the pursuit of identity runs counter to the never-ending fight for inclusivity. Even if that inclusivity undermines the rights of other people. Like women.

This dynamic, with the most marginal interest trumping all others, easily took over a feminism long primed by whacky postmodern ideas like Butler’s—paving the way for its second, related hijacking. This one by biological males.

 

*Finally, Elon Musk has launched a hostile takeover bid to acquire Twitter.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk is seeking to buy the social media platform Twitter and make it a private company, promising to “unlock” the company’s “extraordinary potential,” the latest twist in a stunning multiweek saga.

In a securities filing dated Wednesday, Musk described his offer of $54.50 per share as “my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder.”

The hostile takeover bid comes after a wild two weeks between Musk and Twitter, which was full of head fakes and at least one lawsuit.

The company’s share price closed on Wednesday at around $46 per share but it was up 10 percent in premarket trading. If Musk decided to unload his shares, it could send the company’s stock price sharply lower.

Musk owns 9.2% of Twitter’s share. If he gets the company, what will he do with it?

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili goes a’-hunting:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m lying in wait.
A: What for?
Hili: I don’t know yet.
In Polish:
Ja: Co ty robisz?
Hili: Czaję się.
Ja: Na co?
Hili: Jeszcze nie wiem.

Here’s Karolina reading.

Andrzej’s caption: A Ukrainian girl is looking for familiar words in a Polish book.

In Polish: Ukraińska dziewczynka poszukuje znajomych słów w polskiej książce.

From Thomas: Talk to the cat!

From Ginger K., a Mark Parisi catoon:

From Doc Bill:

Two tweets from my magical Gmail thread:

Look at this needy penguin!

Reader Simon thinks that (despite the typo–should be “join”) this is a big fuck-up because it’s just going to make Putin more desperate. I don’t think we should predicate our foreign police on what makes Putin more desperate.  The Washington Post editorial board favors NATO membership for Sweden and Finland? What do you think?

A tweet from Ken with commentary:

Yesterday, Joe Biden named former federal prosecutor Steve Dettelbach to be the new head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. While doing so during a Rose Garden ceremony, Biden made a grandpa joke about  Dettelbach being responsible for the nice weather, too.

The Republican National Committee found this joke to have a dark anti-Semitic subtext [JAC: Dettelbach is Jewish]

From Ginger K: This “scholarship” was published by Robin DiAngelo (see refs. at bottom).

Tweets from Matthew: Look at that preservation!

Nature not pretty: barnacles have hijacked a crab (which is doomed) to facilitate their reproduction:

Can the Standard Model of particle physics be wrong?

42 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Those who “passed” on April 14 include:

    1759 – George Frideric Handel, German-English organist and composer (b. 1685)”

    How about, particularly for a musician :

    Those whose V chord resolved to the tonic.

    1. Handel was one of the greatest ever, close -if not equal- to the genius of Bach.
      There are many beautiful pieces I discovered, but never knew before, that were actually written by Handel.
      Born in Germany, honing his musical skills in Italy and ending up in England, he was a truly pan-national composer.

      1. Yes

        At some point I was tired of listening to the Bach I knew and was stuck, and somehow hit *uponn Telemann (*I left the typo because I like it)…

        The Handel I lately am delighted with is Concerto Grosso – there’s I think a London recording, immaculate sound…

        1. You have to listen to his oratorios (not Messiah). Solomon is likely his greatest
          along with Belshazzar, Judas Maccabeus, and Jephtha.

          1. This is good – I’ll check it out.

            Messiah – what I take away from it :

            “BRRAAAA – BRAAAH ”
            [ rrrrrn ] <- organ stab
            "MRRRR RRRHAAAN CRRR NAAAAA"
            [… RRRRRRN ]

            … is that wrong?

  2. I would open the Nato door myself if Sweden and Finland wanted to join! Talk about the law of unintended consequences. Putain (sic) hates Nato and one of his stated aims was to prevent expansion of the organisation. Well, that has backfired spectacularly !

    1. The Deputy Secretary of the Russian Security Council (ex-President) Medvedev says: Sweden and Finland are now officially enemies of Russia.

      This threat will certainly make a big impression on Sweden and Finland and persuade them not to join NATO. *Irony off*

  3. Apropos the bizarre “aerial battle” over Nuremberg in 1561, Robert Greenler’s book “Rainbows, Halos & Glories” contains photographs of complex arcs and circles of light surrounding the Sun, which bear striking similarities to the features in the illustration. Sun dogs – bright (and often rainbow-coloured) spots either side of the Sun – are just one part of these displays. They are caused by reflections from ics crystals of very specific sizes, shapes and orientations.

    Greenler’s book explains, in non-technical language, how each type of arc and halo is generated, and it contains many illustrations. It was published in 1980, but second-hand copies may still be available.

    1. I agree with David. I have not read the book mentioned, but a quick Google image search for “sun halos” will yield a spectacular array of astonishing photos exhibiting multiple arcs and halos that include but are not limited to sun dogs.

      I can’t explain the dynamic aspects reported by the original observers back in 1561 with objects apparently falling toward the earth, unless they meant the arcs statically reached from some point in the sky down to the horizon. Parts of halos can appear and disappear at times due atmospheric conditions….similar to how a rainbow is not always completely visible. I would not rule out, however, that active imaginations might have been in play at the time.

    2. When I was a teenager my dad became enthralled by a book called iirc The Spaceships of Ezekiel, one of several books inspired by the Ancient Astronaut craze in which ancient stories and artifacts were force-fit into being evidence that we’d been visited by space aliens. This time a NASA engineer had looked closely at a heavenly vision in the Old Testament of “wheels within wheels” and so forth and designed a working model space ship from prophet Ezekiel’s poetic “blueprints.” Result: proof positive that space aliens had visited.

      The first time I went to TAM my dad asked me to ask Randi about it. Wasn’t it clearly a spaceship? Randi referred me to Phil Plait who had a ready explanation: if we assume Ezekiel was real and had actually seen something in the sky, it was probably a sun dog. The arcs & halos were the “wheels.” They could be pretty impressive.

      My dad wasn’t impressed. Aliens.

    3. I have rarely if ever witnessed an excellent sun halo. But whomever the artist was who produced the ancient drawing, they were also probably compelled to attempt a recording of the moment-to-moment variation as perceived – a primitive video composite.

      That is, all the apparently excessive detail might have been the sort of glimmering flashes one might notice if they view such phenomena for a long, continuous span of time.

      I imagine the artist wanted to get it all into the drawing/painting, as the phenomena was, effectively, never known or seen before.

  4. Russia said an onboard fire had caused the damage, but Ukraine claimed it had struck the vessel with missiles.

    These two statements are not mutually exclusive. Ingress of missiles with high explosives and rocket fuel often leads to onboard fires.

    On state television, a military analyst doubled down on Russia’s need to win and called for concentration camps for Ukrainians opposed to the invasion.

    And on a talk show, the editor in chief of the English-language television news network RT described Ukrainians’ determination to defend their country as “collective insanity.”

    “It’s no accident we call them Nazis,” said Margarita Simonyan, who also heads the Kremlin-backed media group that operates the Sputnik and RIA Novosti news agencies.

    There’s some spectacular irony.

    And yes, I think Finland and Sweden should join NATO. It would be symbolic of the utter stupidity of the invasion that was supposed to prevent a common border between NATO and Russia, that it has led directly to a common border between NATO and Russia.

    1. Agreed about the irony. But a common border between NATO and Russia already exists (Estonia and Latvia).

    2. Although I’m kinda happy the Ukrainians succeeded in destroying the ‘Moskva’, but I’m still worried about Ukraine’s position.
      The Russians have taken Izyum and are advancing to Kramatorsk. If they succeed, they maybe able to encircle the eastern Ukrainian forces with devastating results. The Ukrainian forces in Mariupol are running out of ammunition (as they say themselves).
      I think the West has been too shy to deliver more serious weapon systems than Stingers and Javelins (as valuable they have been).
      Look, I think Biden played it very wisely, trying to afford WWIII, but I think delivering some serious amounts of cruise missiles, multiple rocket launchers and mobile howitzers would not create a nuclear retaliation.
      Czechia delivered some (admittedly not really state of the art) T 72 tanks, and nothing happened.
      As for the U$Ds, the amount provided to Ukraine should at least be as great as that what was spent in Iraq -it is not at present. Ukraine is fighting NATO’s war, the West’s war, Democracy’s war, our war, we should support them as much as we can.

  5. Regarding getting the second booster – any added benefit will probably wane after some months, so waiting until late summer or Fall (when cases are predicted to increase) may be wise.

  6. “: National Jelly Bean Day. (Jelly Bellies and their ilk are the only ones worth eating.)”

    Oy, I object to being eaten! Graham AKA Jelly Belly.

  7. On April 14, 1865 there was also a ceremony at Fort Sumter in Charleston that featured the raising by Colonel Robert Anderson of the flag that had flown over the fort during the Confederate bombardment in 1864. Anderson had kept the flag in the intervening years. There was also a dinner that night in Charleston. Secretary of War William Stanton had wanted Lincoln to attend the Charleston events. Lincoln, however, begged off pleading fatigue, which is easy to believe after four years of war. Instead, he went to the theater. Such is the role of contingency is History.

      1. I am not sure if I am remembering correctly, but he didn’t want to do that either, but Mary convinced (or nagged) him.

  8. I think Finland and Sweden should join NATO. It will enrage Putin, but he’s already made threats against them, and, with the example of Ukraine in front of them, they are without a doubt taking them seriously. BTW, if the Moskva is lost, it will be the largest naval vessel lost in combat since WWII, bigger than the General Belgrano lost in the Falklands War.

  9. ‘If I’m not wrong, that’s the very Russian ship that ordered the Ukrainian border guards on an island to surrender, and they replied, “Go fuck yourself.” ‘ – Indeed it is, karma or what?

    1. ‘Karma’ doesn’t exist, I’d rather call it ‘just desserts’.
      It is kind of to be expected (‘expectable’?) that who lives by the sword, dies by the sword, no supernatural ‘karma’ needed.

  10. Actually, there was quite a bit of evidence in the NYC subway shooting case. Not only were there many witnesses, the perpetrator left his gym bag containing, among other things, a key to a rented van that allowed them to find the van and identify the renter. Once they did that and got a look at his history and social media activity, it became pretty clear they had their man.

  11. I think the Washington Post is premature in calling Musk’s attempt to buy Twitter a “hostile takeover”. According to Wikipedia, it is only considered hostile if the company’s board rejects the offer and the bidder finds a way to take control anyway. Musk has already said that his offer is final and, if rejected, he’ll move on. Also, the board has indicated they will consider his offer seriously. They may well choose to put it before the shareholders. I’m no expert so if someone knows more, I would be interested in hearing it.

    Although Musk is a bit of a loose cannon, he does have a lot of good ideas. Twitter has always seemed like a great idea that has not reached its potential but no one yet has come up with a great idea for what changes should be made. Or, if they have, they have yet to be recognized. At the same time, there are lots of things about Twitter that are broken: all the fake accounts spewing misinformation and disinformation is a biggie. Although Musk’s personal ideas about what should be changed might be suspect, he’s shown many times that he has the ability to inspire smart people to join him and do good work. Paypal, SpaceX, and Tesla have all revolutionized their fields. Finally, Musk can’t run for US President so that’s a plus.

    1. When Musk announced he bought 9.2% of Twitter, the share price rocketed from like $39 a share to ~$50. He said if Twitter does not accept his offer, he will have to reconsider his investment in the company. If offer rejects and he sells, shareholders will likely get hit pretty good. I’m not a legal expert, but I imagine there was a less deceptive approach he could have used. Even if he takes over, I doubt Twitter changes much. I don’t see how it’s not going to still be hideously toxic. Trump would probably come back. Matt Yglesias suggested Trump coming back might actually be good for the Democrats. Biden’s polling could sure use a boost and he ain’t gonna get it from inflation. FWIW, I think Tesla is amazing and so is Musk. I just don’t think what he’s doing here is very responsible. It’s also pretty erratic behavior.

      1. I agree that Musk seems to take delight in trolling everyone, including markets. He seems to take pleasure in pushing the envelope, both in good ways and bad.

  12. “*I’m always amazed at how fast the cops can apprehend a suspect when there’s not that much evidence”. You’re easily impressed, he left his credit card and keys at the scene, called the cops from a McDonalds, and was ultimately apprehended when a bodega worker saw him walking down the street. Trying to spin this as a demonstration of the police doing anything useful is comical. That won’t stop you from trying, though, apparently boot is just that delicious.

    1. I didn’t know about the credit card and keys, and I’m still impressed at many other cases where suspects are apprehended on what I see as little evidence.

      I see here
      a. a rude person (you)
      b. someone who thinks that the cops don’t do anything useful (i.e., an ignoramus).

      By the way, they did apprehend him and take him off the streets, and he’ll go to jail. Isn’t that “something useful?”

      1. Nato knows what happened. As I type (16:11 GMT) there is a US ELINT (Rivetjoint) plane together with a Nato AWACS aircraft circling over Romania ….

    1. It is official now. The Russian Defence Ministry itself has announced that the “Moskva” sank in stormy seas when it was to be towed away. Stability problems were reported beforehand.

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