Wednesday: Hili dialogue

May 18, 2022 • 6:30 am

It’s Hump Day, or, as they say in Estonian, “Küürupäev”. Yes, it’s Wednesday, May 18, 2022: and National Quiche Lorraine Day, an arrant act of cultural appropriation.  It’s also International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and World Hypertension Day.

Some mushbrain put a single duckling into Botany Pond last evening. Several of us tried to rescue it but it got dark and the duckling crawled onto one of the tree “islands” to rest. I am hoping desperately that it’s still alive, in which case I’ll try to rescue it this morning, and that means getting into the pond. I am a wreck and slept very little last night. Wish me luck!  “No duckling left behind.”

Stuff that happened on May 17 includes:

  • 1536 – Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s marriage is annulled.
  • 1673 – Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette begin exploring the Mississippi River.
  • 1900 – The children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, is first published in the United States. The first copy is given to the author’s sister.

Want a first edition and first printing? It’ll set you back a paltry $35,000.

This was an amazing computer used to calculate eclipses and other astronomical events.  Here’s the original, dated between 70 and 60 BC, and a modern reproduction:

. . . and the complex gear scheme from Wikipedia:

(From Wikipedia)A hypothetical schematic representation of the gearing of the Antikythera Mechanism, including the 2012 published interpretation of existing gearing, gearing added to complete known functions, and proposed gearing to accomplish additional functions, namely true sun pointer and pointers for the five then-known planets, as proposed by Freeth and Jones, 2012.[5] Based also upon similar drawing in the Freeth 2006 Supplement[15] and Wright 2005, Epicycles Part 2.[67] Proposed (as opposed to known from the artefact) gearing crosshatched.
  • 1939 – The Columbia Lions and the Princeton Tigers play in the United States’ first televised sporting event, a collegiate baseball game in New York City.
  • 1984 – Prince Charles calls a proposed addition to the National Gallery, London, a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend”, sparking controversies on the proper role of the Royal Family and the course of modern architecture.

The proposal for the addition was dropped after Prince Charles’s criticism, and a different addition was built instead.

Here’s the first to benefit: the happy couple is Tanya McCloskey and Marcia Kadish, with Kadish on the right:

Tanya McCloskey (left) and Marcia Kadish with their marriage certificate outside city hall in Cambridge, Mass.

*Mariupol is on the verge of falling now that 260 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered to the Russians. While many assumed they may be used in a prisoner swap, things might not go that easy for them:

The Ukrainians expressed hope that the fighters would be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war. But Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament, said without evidence that there were “war criminals” among the defenders and that they should not be exchanged but tried.

The AP adds that “An additional seven buses carrying an unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers from the plant were seen arriving at a former penal colony Tuesday in the town of Olenivka, approximately 88 kilometers (55 miles) north of Mariupol.” It’s all over in that town, and it’s a substantial victory for Russia.

*As covid rages throughout North Korea, Kim Jong-un says he will follow the “Chinese plan” for stemming the epidemic. But it’s unlikely to work:

China has used strict lockdowns, mass testing and vaccinations to keep cases low throughout the pandemic. North Korea — which by its own admission is experiencing an explosive outbreak of the virus — lacks the basic therapeutics and food supplies that China has mobilized to enforce the extreme restrictions seen in cities like Wuhan, Xi’an and Shanghai.

Now, public health experts are warning that Mr. Kim’s desire to follow the Chinese model will only worsen the impact of a fast spreading disaster. Already the ​number of new suspected patients in North Korea has soared from 18,000 last Thursday to hundreds of thousands a day this week, though it is impossible to know the true scale of the outbreak.

North Korea wouldn’t even admit there was an outbreak until last week. And we’ll probably never know what happens. Have a gander at this:

North Korea called itself Covid-free for two years until it confirmed an outbreak for the first time last Thursday. Most people are unvaccinated, and the country is so isolated that when an estimated two million people died during a famine in the mid-1990s, the outside world didn’t know about it until the bodies of famished North Koreans started washing up along the shallow river that borders China.

*The saga of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos will not die. Convicted on January 3 and scheduled to be sentenced on September 26 (she faces 20 years but won’t get nearly that much), she’s already been the subject of a television series and is the subject of an upcoming movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.

But now, “Theranos” branded items made for the company are going for huge amounts on the Internet. As the Guardian reports,

On eBay, more than a dozen allegedly authentic products from the now-defunct Silicon Valley firm are being sold – and much like the company itself, are listed at inflated prices.

A set of five Theranos branded pens recently sold for $150. A water bottle is currently listed for $1,500. For $11,000, you can purchase an “authentic” Theranos lab coat (notably “never worn”).

Many of these products are typical of Silicon Valley firms, which are known to hand out branded pens, shirts and water bottles at conferences. But the demand for those emblazoned with the “Theranos” logo have soared following the company’s spectacular downfall.

More Theranos “swag” on eBay. Who knows if it’s genuine?

*As an Andy Rooney in statu nascendi, it’s always bothered me that people lug around water tumblers like baby bottles, sipping from them from time to time to demonstrate the virtue of hydration. To me it seems like a form of adult infantilism, but lacking the opprobrium of carrying around a Linus blanket. Now there’s a “hot” water bottle ($40) that’s taking the country by storm. Do yourself a favor and don’t read this NYT article (click on it if you must):

Lately, a new vessel has found its way into the hands, and onto the social media feeds, of the well hydrated: the Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler from Stanley, a 109-year-old brand that specializes in camping gear and outdoor accessories. It has become the model of choice among a lot of millennial and Gen Z women, many of whom are mothers, and the influencers they trust.

The 40-ounce tumbler, which costs $40, comes in 11 colors and occasional limited-edition shades. It features a lid with a removable straw, a handle and an insulated body that is tapered, allowing it to fit in a cup holder.

The Quencher has inundated TikTok, where the hashtag #StanleyTumbler has received more than 10 million views, and Instagram, where influencers share photos of their tumbler collections spilling out of their arms.

Collections?  Why do you need more than one. Some day archaeologists will dig these things out of landfills and wonder what our civilization was up to.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has made herself comfortable in Andrzej’s chair. He wants it back, but it’s unlikely he’ll get it:

A: Away with you. I will be sitting here now.
Hili: Well, I don’t know.
In Polish:
Ja: Uciekaj, bo teraz ja tu będę siedział.
Hili: No nie wiem.
And little Kulka:

From Merilee:

From Barry:

A New Yorker cartoon by Roland High from Jean:

God advertises his new book, and makes a funny:

One I found myself. There are a LOT of these cables!

A pair of baby dippers from Dom. But why are they dipping? The Cornell site notes a unique feature of the American species, a passerine:

A bird that walks underneath the water, the slate-gray American Dipper is North America’s only truly aquatic songbird. It flits among midstream rocks and logs, rhythmically bobbing its tail, and then disappears for long moments to forage for aquatic larvae on the stream bottom, using its wings to negotiate the current. These birds build mossy, domed nests on boulders, cliff ledges, and bridges. The burbling song is evocative of the rushing whitewater streams this species calls home in western North and Central America.

Sound up.

From Barry: a beleaguered cat escapes a d*g mosh pit:

Tweets from Professor Cobb. Remember this brave women? She’s now living in Berlin and her husband in Russia wants custody:

Matthew’s beloved cat Pepper:

Astro Sam shows the different types of floating on the ISS:

Diptera (the flies) is an underappreciated order of insects. Look at this one!

23 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I’m frankly a bit surprised the DPRK outbreak is happening now. I figured Covid probably already ripped through their population and they had simply hidden it. Heck you could’ve asked me a year ago and I would’ve thought it had already killed a bunch of their populace even back then. I guess that still could be true: with natural immunity only lasting a matter of months, this could be round 2 or 3 for them.

    Now there’s a “hot” water bottle ($40) that’s taking the country by storm.

    My insulated thermos that fits in the car cupholder was a fine thing on my winter commutes (pre-Covid). And I would carry it with me to my desk to finish off my tea. I would argue that since it’s reused, it’s far more eco-friendly than getting a disposable cut of hot coffee at starbucks every morning! But as you say, you don’t need more than 1-2 unless you’re really lazy about cleaning them (I only have 1). And I think I bought it at Target for like $12.

    Still, nothing much to see here but another fashion fad. Sure it doesn’t make sense from an item value perspective..but neither does a name brand handbag, jeans, shirt, etc. The public signal is the point of fashion, not the utility of the item.

    1. Yeah. My grandparents had a thermos for their coffee decades ago. These new insulated mugs just seem to be the natural progression to fit into a car cup holder. We’ve got a few in our household that we use occasionally. Of course, my wife tends to put chilled ‘adult’ beverages in hers.

      And as to your comment on fashions, insulated mugs are certainly more useful than pet rocks.

  2. Ps good luck with duckling rescue.

    I predict you will be rescuing them next year even though they will drain the pond. The ducks that breed thereabouts are surely there as they were hatched at the pond. They may well still nest near. We shall see…

    Anyone got waders they can lend Jerry?

    1. Looks bad. I just tuned in to botony pond live camera (0800 ET) and saw that jerry appeared to be dejectedly walking off with a long-handled net dragging on the sidewalk. I hope my most pessimistic conclusions will prove incorrect when he provides info later this morning.

  3. Buy your copy today and send me a picture of it [God’s new book] and I’ll give you a pony!

    If you keep digging and digging, there must be a pony somewhere under his old book, too.

  4. Not to be an alarmist, but holy crap, it looks like facilities and grounds crew at Botany Pond have hardscaped the beach area with rip rap stones up to the retaining wall. I do not see a duck ramp. This year’s ducklings will have to be very inventive to get out of the pond to rest.

  5. I have always been intrigued by undersea cables. I wonder who first said, “Hey, I bet we could lay a cable under the Atlantic!”

    1. Not just that, I’m astonished they did and that they actually worked, not being destroyed by the forces of nature.

      1. The early ones didn’t, and were. The very first one stopped working, heart-breakingly, within hours. I think the current required to actuate a standard telegraph armature was too much for the cable to tolerate. The dots and dashes of a “cablegram” were therefore created with a tiny fountain pen deflected by much smaller electromagnets which would draw the signal in short and long humps on moving paper. For some reason I remember this from school and it was recapped years ago on the History Channel.

        The enormous value of near-instantaneous transmission of information at any price was obvious for the financial industry. Cables cost $5 a word during Ernest Hemingway’s time as a foreign correspondent. He would cable a dispatch like, “Spaniards cheer Franco bread plan” and the news office would, using the accumulated knowledge of culture and current events in Spain for context, plus liberal application of dramatic licence, rewrite it into a colourful six-paragraph newspaper story that might begin, “Clapping and whistling in the oppressive summer heat, thousands of Spaniards crowded into Madrid’s Santa Maria Square today to voice their enthusiasm for measures proposed recently by General Franco’s government to limit price rises for bread to 3 pesetas . . .” (Freely reimagined but you get the idea.)

        The marine chronometer and the trans-oceanic cable always seemed to me to be two things that ought not to have been able to be invented with the technology of their times, but were.

  6. The Mandatory Vasectomy lady is funny. I just wonder whose minds she thinks she is likely to change. Even a man who smiles at the joke would probably get the message that abortion rights are a fringe issue that needn’t occupy his attention in the voting booth. (Very well, I admit this is so anyway unless he wears socks with his Birkenstocks and enjoyed being told to check his male privilege every time he opened his mouth in college.)

    Or is there some other point of peaceful protest that I’m missing?

    I wonder if a better message would be, “Meet us half way. 20 weeks.”
    Then settle for 15. But that would be Mississippi. Sigh.

    1. The “viability” standard (24 weeks, more or less) has worked out fine for the last 30 years since SCOTUS’s handed down Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) (a majority opinion co-authored by three Republican appointees) — at least for everyone but the religiously besotted who believe in the ensoulment of zygotes. It’s popular with a clear majority of US Americans, so I see no reason to settle for less.

      And I think you’re underestimating the purchase the bodily autonomy issue has on both women and men on this side of the border, Leslie. (Keep in mind that a federal constitution that fails to ensure such a right leaves states as free to compel women to undergo abortions — or to compel men who, lets us say, fall a certain number of months behind in their child-support payments, to undergo vasectomies — as those states are free to prohibit women from having abortions.)

      1. Sorry, the opinion coauthored by Justices O’Connor, Kennedy and Souter in Casey was a plurality rather than majority opinion. Justice Stevens and Justice Blackmun (who had authored the opinion in Roe v. Wade) concurred in the outcome, but did not join the opinion. They would have upheld Roe v. Wade according to its terms.

      2. > The “viability” standard (24 weeks, more or less) has worked out fine for the last 30 years…

        Very true. Unfortunately, it is not future-proof: artificial wombs and inter-species pregnancies are now feasible. A fetus is now viable outside of its biological … pre-mother’s womb (or whatever the term is for a person pregnant with her own egg – or someone else’s – who has not yet given birth and is not yet a mother. Ugh. And that’s before we address of the question of whether she could be a father…). And we still have to discuss abortion in the context of non-human personhood (AI, etc.). The Third Millennium is an interesting time.

        Basing a definition on ‘viability’ is no longer … viable.

      3. I hear you about body autonomy, Ken. Canadians got bodily-autonomy religion during the fuss over vaccine mandates.

        Doctors have a duty to respect bodily autonomy, too, though, no matter what the state thinks. While no medical ethics principle is absolute, I would tear up my medical license (emeritus, non-practising) if doctors ever again allowed themselves to carry out operations at the behest of the state on non-consenting patients. Your best protection against state-compelled abortion, vasectomy, colonoscopy, or anything else is just that doctors won’t do it. The state has the power to prohibit—it can put us in jail—but it has no power to compel because it can’t operate on people. You don’t need to find a Constitutional right. You’ve got us.

        (We would also be ethically obligated to join you in agitating against legislatures who tried to barge in here…if only for the self-interest of not wanting to be punished for refusing the state’s demands in respect of our patients.)

        Now, our medical duty to respect the autonomy of patients undermines the argument that all pregnant women, and all men who’ve not yet had one, could find themselves compelled to have abortion or vasectomy at the whim of the state, and so for self-interest should support a pro-choice view. Not going to happen, thanks to us, and so abortion remains purely a niche, special-interest issue. Certainly lots of people endorse a liberal regime for abortion rights. But few will care much what actually happens, and will not care enough to vote for abortion if it means also voting for CRT and compelled gender affirmation therapy for their adolescent children, to pick two hot-button issues that track with abortion views. (That’s my political prediction, not a prescription. I’m not licensed to prescribe to the United States.)

        My observation about compromise is that you no longer have the viability standard as a Constitutional right. You used to, but it’s gone (or will be if the leak is correct.). Unless a long pass from your 30-yard line hits for a touchdown, the issue goes back to the states where you have nothing except a national sentiment that viability was a reasonable happy place. You don’t have that in Missouri. Or Texas, or Mississippi. Louisiana might ban abortion totally. You say you don’t see why you should have to settle for less than viability/24 weeks. I say unless you play your political cards right you’ll get nothing. In some states at least. But in Mississippi you got 15, which is more than enough time for anyone to get an abortion, the trade-off being the state owns your uterus after that. And as you no doubt know, hardly anyone gets aborted between 15 and 24 weeks now (or after 24 weeks in the 7 no-limit states.) You don’t need a viability standard to get abortions done. That’s an ideological standard.

        Hence, the ejaculation lady confuses me. How does that get her 15 weeks in Louisiana?

        1. Doctors have a duty to respect bodily autonomy, too, though, no matter what the state thinks.

          Wouldn’t that duty impose on OBGYNs the obligation to do what is in the best interest of a pregnant woman, according to that woman’s expressed wishes, notwithstanding laws imposed owing to state legislators’ religious compunctions?

          1. Dr. Henry Morgantaler did exactly that and went to prison, along the way to overturning the law in Canada which required abortions to be done in hospitals after approval by therapeutic abortion committees.

            But no, the obligation to respect bodily autonomy means only that the doctor must not provide treatment without consent. It doesn’t entitle the patient to demand, or the doctor to provide, any treatment she desires, especially if it is illegal, such as conversion therapy now is in Canada, or ivermectin for Covid, even if she and the doctor agreed that the treatment is in her best interests. (With IVM her “interest” would be just that she really really wanted it and it probably wouldn’t hurt.)

            Doctors aren’t a law unto themselves. The best interest of the patient does not trump the state in all cases just because we think it does. There is no ethical duty to break the law and go to jail in the quest of this duty. Rather, a doctor who does break a law will usually, upon conviction, lose her license for a period of suspension which could be permanent at the discretion of the self-regulatory College. (Any sanction that Dr. Morgantaler’s College in Quebec might have imposed on him would have been rescinded when his criminal conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court. He continued to do abortions for many years after.)

            Ethically, doctors must not do abortions if the law says they mustn’t, unless they want to be a hero. But, to your earlier point, they also must not do abortions or any other procedure if the patient doesn’t consent. Your contention which I was rebutting was that the general public needs a pro-choice right enshrined in the Constitution to protect themselves from unwanted state-imposed medical procedures. They don’t.

  7. The N American Dipper’s congeners in Europe and Asia also exhibit this behaviour. I can’t explain why Dippers dip but it may be relevant to note that two other Eurasian species often found on/by the fast flowing streams favoured by Dippers also have a habit of bobbing/dipping, namely the Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos, and the Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea. Perhaps the bobbing makes them more difficult to spot against the background of the rushing water? Just a guess and others may have more convincing theories.

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