Friday: Hili dialogue

July 22, 2022 • 6:30 am

How fast the week goes!: it’s already Friday, July 22, and we’re one week closer to our demise. But look on the bright side, for we can celebrate National Penuche Day, honoring a brown-sugar fudge that is basically chocolate fudge without the chocolate (there’s some vanilla, though). I do love the stuff but never see it or eat it. Here’s some with a recipe (it’s easy to make).  Unlike chocolate fudge, nuts are essential in this one to add flavor.

It’s also National Mango Day, Hammock Day, Ratcatcher’s Day (a poem by Robert Browning gives the date of the Hamelin Raticide as July 22, 1376), and, finally Pi Approximation Day, since 22/7 is approximately pi—3.14286.  (There’s another Pi Approximation day on March 14: 3/14 in US date notation.)

Stuff that happened on July 22 includes:

  • 1598 – William Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, is entered on the Stationers’ Register. By decree of Queen Elizabeth, the Stationers’ Register licensed printed works, giving the Crown tight control over all published material.

Here’s the entry, highlighted and the two titles underlined, with the Folger Shakespeare Library saying this:

The Merchant of Venice was entered into Liber C of the Stationers’ Company on July 22, 1598, under “the title the Marchaunt of Venyce or otherwise called the Jewe of Venyce.”

  • 1793 – Alexander Mackenzie reaches the Pacific Ocean becoming the first recorded human to complete a transcontinental crossing of North America.

He painted his arrival on a stone at an arm of the Pacific Ocean (he wanted to reach the open ocean, but the local people were hostile), using vermilion and bear grease. Here’s the inscription he left, but it’s now chiseled into the rock. And I’m not sure this is even the same rock on which MacKenzie wrote; but the message was his:

Here’s the only version I can bear listening to: Ray Charles—performing on the Dick Cavett Show on September 18, 1972.

  • 1894 – The first ever motor race is held in France between the cities of Paris and Rouen. The fastest finisher was the Comte Jules-Albert de Dion, but the ‘official’ victory was awarded to Albert Lemaître driving his three-horsepower petrol engined Peugeot.

The car used in the race, captioned, “Paris–Rouen 1894. Albert Lemaître (pictured on left) was classified 1st in his 3hp Peugeot Type 7 . Bicycle manufacturer Adolphe Clément-Bayard was the front passenger.”

The distance of the race was 126 km (78 mi), and it took the Count 6 hours and 48 minutes to cover that distance, with an average speed of 19 km/h (12 mph).

  • 1933 – Aviator Wiley Post returns to Floyd Bennett Field in New York City, completing the first solo flight around the world in seven days, 18 hours and 49 minutes.
  • 1942 – Grossaktion Warsaw: The systematic deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto begins.

Here’s a photo of the deportation from Warsaw, with Jews being loaded into cattle cars:

More of the deportation, including an old, sick man:

A holding pen for Jews in Warsaw:

  • 1990 – Greg LeMond, an American road racing cyclist, wins his third Tour de France after leading the majority of the race. It was LeMond’s second consecutive Tour de France victory.

Here’s the final time trial in 1990 that LeMond him five minutes ahead of his closest competitor, assuring his victory the next day.  His family is also shown watching.

How did cocaine king Escobar get a “luxury prison?” According to History of Yesterday, it was because he negotiated the conditions of incarceration with Colombia to avoid extradition to the U.S.:

The proposal offered by Escobar to the Colombian authorities was that he would give himself up and would be willing to be prosecuted for how many years they wanted to give him but he would spend all of his time in his own prison which he would build.

. . . Although the prison may look somewhat like a normal prison do not be fooled by the guard posts outside as this prison was extremely luxurious and had no rules whatsoever. The prison was built near his hometown in the mountainside, hidden from his enemies. All of the prison’s “security” was chosen by Escobar, they weren’t there to make sure that Escobar didn’t escape, but to protect him from his numerous enemies.

He had the dough to build this, for, according to the site—and this is amazing—”To give you a better understanding of how rich this man became, he was spending $1,000 per week on rubber bands to wrap the stacks of cash.” OY!

. . .The prison was nicknamed “La Catedral” (The Cathedral) or “Hotel Escobar” as it was more like a vacation home rather than a prison. The place had everything from a football court to a swimming pool and even a beautiful garden with an amazing view.

During his so-called imprisonment, Escobar was visited by over 300 people which were secretly brought to the prison. These were made up of prostitutes, family members, and even other convicted criminals that were on the run.

And that’s why he’s smiling in his mugshot:

La Cathedral, complete view:

The photo was taken outside of the La Catedrala prison (Source: The Life Imagine Collection)

The garden:

a view from the garden of the prison (Source: The Life Imagine Collection)

And prostitutes being smuggled in:

A picture from the camera recording of a transport van with prostitutes being smuggled inside the prison (Source: The Life Imagine Collection)

After 13 months of his sentence, he heard that Colombia had decided to extradite him to the U.S., and, knowing the good times were over, he fled. But he was killed a year and a half later in a shootout with the cops.

  • 2003 – Members of 101st Airborne of the United States, aided by Special Forces, attack a compound in Iraq, killing Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay, along with Mustapha Hussein, Qusay’s 14-year-old son, and a bodyguard.
  • 2011 – Norway attacks: First a bomb blast which targeted government buildings in central Oslo, followed by a massacre at a youth camp on the island of Utøya.

These attacks, by neo-Nazi Anders Breivik, killed 77 people: one in four Norwegians knew somebody who was affected by the massacres.  He was convicted, and his sentence was this: “On 24 August 2012, Breivik was adjudged sane and sentenced to containment—a special form of a prison sentence that can be extended indefinitely; with an approximate period of 21 years and a minimum time of 10 years, the maximum penalty in Norway.”

I think he’ll be in for life if he doesn’t at least pretend to be rehabilitated. After 21 years, if he’s still deemed a danger, his sentence can be extended indefinitely, but in five-year increments with hearings.  I don’t think he’s reforming: he gave the Nazi salute in court in 2017 (below):

From Reuters

Da Nooz:

*From reader Ken I got this email:

Old Uncle Joe has tested positive for COVID.

Biden had had the two-shot initial vaccination PLUS two boosters. The NYT adds this:

Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s physician, said in a letter released by the White House that Mr. Biden was experiencing fatigue, a runny nose and an occasional dry cough.

“I anticipate that he will respond favorably, as most maximally protected patients do,” Dr. O’Connor wrote.

The president is receiving Paxlovid, an antiviral drug used to minimize the severity of Covid-19, Ms. Jean-Pierre said. He will isolate at the White House but “continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time,” she said.

Mr. Biden posted a tweet in the afternoon saying he was “doing great” and “keeping busy!”

. . . Mr. Biden will isolate for five days in the White House residence, Dr. Jha said, and will only resume normal activities once he tests negative.

Kamala Harris has tested negative.

Here’s Uncle Joe’s video tweet on his condition:

*Once again the Supreme Court has reversed a Biden Administration decision, this time about immigration. In September, Homeland Security decided to prioritize arrests of immigrants entering the country illegally, arguing that illegal entry itself shouldn’t mandate arrest, especially if there were mitigating factors like entry as a farm laborer or as a relative coming to care for an American child. The bad actors, like people with criminal records, would given priority for arrest. This would of course reduce the number of arrests for illegal immigration.

From the WaPo:

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that being present in the country without authorization “should not alone be the basis” for arrest or removal, a switch from the Trump administration’s view.

Republican attorneys general across the country filed suits, and those in Texas and Louisiana were successful. Judge Drew Tipton in Texas agreed with the argument that the policy burdened them with the costs of immigrants’ education, health care, and other services, and ignored federal laws that require ICE to detain and deport immigrants who commit serious crimes or have been given a recent deportation order.

Tipton, appointed to the bench by President Donald Trump, sided with the states and vacated the ICE priorities, leaving the agency without any operational guidelines. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit rejected the administration’s plea to put Tipton’s order on hold while it considered the case’s merits.

A U.S. solicitor general asked the Supreme Court for an emergency stay of Tipton’s orders. But the Supremes overruled the stay, so the Big Arrest Policy will go back into action. The curious thing is that the vote was 5-4, not 6-3:

The court instead said it will hear the merits of the case in December. Four justices — Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson — said they would have granted the administration’s request to put a lower court ruling on hold. It was Jackson’s first vote since joining the court.

Barrett joined the liberals! But remember, this is just a request for a stay before a full hearing and a final decision. And I bet the Administration loses this one, too.

*My colleague Neil Shubin, most well known for his role in the discovery of the fishapod Tiktaalik (a lobe-finned fish that was likely a close relative of the first land vertebrate) has now been on a team that made another find, similar in some ways and different in others. The NYT has an article by Carl Zimmer about this land-to-water transition:

On Wednesday, paleontologists unveiled a fossil that proved a potent antidote for the march-of-progress myth. It was a fish that lived about 375 million years ago, when our ancestors were scaly creatures vaguely resembling giant eels, walking across mud flats with four limbs complete with elbows, knees, wrists and ankles. The newly discovered fossil, called Qikiqtania wakei, belonged to this lineage.

But its anatomy suggests that its ancestors, unlike ours, did not continue the move to land. Instead, they gave up walking to swim again.

“We think of evolution in directional terms,” said Neil Shubin, a paleobiologist at the University of Chicago. “That’s not the case here. You have some species going to land and some actually returning to the water.”

. . .The scientists dubbed the fossil Qikiqtania (pronounced kick-kick-TAN-ee-ya) after the Inuktitut names for the region where it was found, Qikiqtaaluk and Qikiqtani. The second part of its name, wakei, honored David Wake, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Berkeley who was a mentor to Dr. Shubin and died last year.

A careful comparison of its anatomy confirmed that Qikiqtania was closely related to tetrapods and might be the closest known relative to Tiktaalik. But after Qikiqtania branched off from Tiktaalik, its evolution took a strikingly different path. For one thing, it got much smaller, likely measuring only about 30 inches long.

In addition, the legs were far more finlike than those of Tiktaalik, which lived at about the same time, with more rays and less flexibility.

Now we don’t know whether Tiktaalik ever actually went on land; its position as a relative of the first “tetrapod” comes from features like flexible limbs and neck position that would have been present in an animal that could walk. One can’t regard Qikiqtania, then, as either a descendant of Tiktaalik or an animal whose own ancestors were terrestrial and then returned to water. That’s because we don’t know who its ancestors were. But it’s clearly a relative of Tiktaalik, and shows that evolution doesn’t follow a directional pathway—in this case a one-way path from water to land.

Dr. Shubin suspected that Qikiqtania abandoned the walking habit that its ancestors had recently evolved, opting instead to swim in the open water something like a modern paddlefish.

To understand Qikiqtania’s striking evolutionary shift, Dr. Shubin pointed to tetrapods that returned to the water millions of years later. About 50 million years ago, for example, land mammals adapted into aquatic animals that would eventually become whales and dolphins. The discovery of Qikiqtania suggested that some of our ancient relatives gave up walking almost as soon as walking evolved.

A scientist at Harvard is quoted saying that this is an important finding, but added that whether the limbs really were used as paddles requires finding and studying more specimens.

*The New York Times is involved in a bout of self-recrimination, and has found eight journalistic penitentes who are willing to admit that they screwed up. Below is a link to the main article and then the subarticles, which will tell you which ones you want to read (probably to NYT op-ed writers you don’t like!)

Mea culpas from Krugman (this, like the one below, is a short extract):

In early 2021 there was an intense debate among economists about the likely consequences of the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion package enacted by a new Democratic president and a (barely) Democratic Congress. Some warned that the package would be dangerously inflationary; others were fairly relaxed. I was Team Relaxed. As it turned out, of course, that was a very bad call.

And from Bret Stephens:

The worst line I ever wrote as a pundit — yes, I know, it’s a crowded field — was the first line I ever wrote about the man who would become the 45th president: “If by now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you’re appalling.”

This opening salvo, from August 2015, was the first in what would become dozens of columns denouncing Trump as a unique threat to American life, democratic ideals and the world itself. I regret almost nothing of what I said about the man and his close minions. But the broad swipe at his voters caricatured them and blinkered me.

*This candidate for the Darwin Award fortunately suvived. The Dazed headline? “U.S. tourist falls into active volcano while trying to take selfie.” Well, he fell a few meters only, but that was enough for the volcano to do a job on him:

Of course, the 23-year-old tourist wasn’t supposed to come face to face with the “engulfing doom” of an active volcano (the last time Vesuvius erupted was in 1944, and it’s still considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world). He was actually visiting the 1,277-metre summit with his family when he veered along an out-of-bounds track, away from the usual tourist trail.

According to local press, he was trying to take a photo in front of breathtaking views of the Naples coast when his holiday snap almost became an inadvertent tragedy selfie, as his phone slipped out of his hand and tumbled into the crater. He then descended into the mouth of the volcano (we shouldn’t need to say this, but: don’t) in an attempt to retrieve it, and fell several metres after losing his balance.

. . . Pictures of the aftermath – showing nasty cuts and grazes along his back and arms – have been shared on social media, but the tourist’s pride arguably took a bigger hit. To rescue him, Vesuvius’s guides had to abseil into the crater, after spotting him from the other side of the volcano with binoculars.

“Four volcanological guides set in motion instantly and, arriving on site, one of them was lowered with a rope for about 15 metres to allow them to secure the inexperienced tourist,” says Paolo Cappelli, president of the Presidio Permanente Vesuvio, a base for guides at the top of the volcano (via the Independent). “He was very lucky; if he kept going, he would have plunged 300 metres into the crater.”

So he was lucky, but here’s a photo of the hapless,, banged-up tourist:

I blame this on the selfie fad, which has encouraged such reckless behavior. It also encourages solipsism.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, which is hot, Hili has taken to lying on the cool driveway pebbles.

A: How many times do I have to tell you not to lie down here?
Hili: As many as you wish.
In Polish:
Ja: Ile razy mam ci mówić, żebyś tu nie leżała?
Hili: Ile chcesz.
And a portrait of the gentle Szaron:


From Ken. This works on both the mental and physical levels:

From Merilee:

From Jesus of the Day:

The Tweet of God. I can think of only one other President who had Covid-19. . .

From Larry the Cat, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Officer:

A tweet from Jeremy, who says, “The second guy standing by just watching absolutely cracks me up.”

Two tweets from the most excellent Twitter feed, “Why you should have a duck.” First, why ducks are useful around the house.

(That tweet has vanished. . .)

Sadly, my ducks don’t like peas. Sound up, please.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, gassed at ten.

Tweets from Matthew. He says about this fellow, “Henry is paraplegic, paints with his mouth and is positively serene despite everything. Before his accident as a teen he was all into sports etc.”  All I can say is that I wish I had just a fraction of Henry’s attitude.

If you insert the genes the other way, you get a centaur:

I am ashamed that I don’t know who Liz Truss is, but Matthew explained:

This idiot will probably be the next Tory leader and therefore Prime Minister. And you thought W was thick…

I just listened and OY VEY! I thought this was a joke at first. Well, she’s clearly a “leave” person, though the article below notes that earlier she was a “remainer”.  And black pudding? Seriously? I’ve since found out that Truss is the Foreign Secretary and this Guardian article talks about why she’s likely to succeed Boris Johnson. But that speech below is deranged. . .

27 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. ^^^^ because it gets out to 3.14159, sufficient to calculate the dimensions of the universe to one hydrogen atom, I believe…

    1. (pedantic math moment… I go through the pi approximations, accuracy, and precision every term when teaching uncertainty propagation in measurement, so I can’t help myself here)

      355/113=3.14159292…. The decimal expansion to here is 3.14159265…., so the difference of about 2.7X10^-7 gives proportional error of 8.5X10^-8. The diameter of a hydrogen atom is roughly 2.4X10^-11 (using the Van der Waals radius of 120pm). This means the approximation is off by a hydrogen diameter for a distance of about 140microns, or 7 H diameter per millimeter. A more visceral image might be that this is about one part in 10^7, which is 1mm in 10Km, or an error of just over 1m in the distance when driving from Washington DC to Chicago

      (end of pedantic aside)

      1. Possibly rhetorical question – just thought of it :

        The “one hydrogen atom” (I did not coin that idea – pretty sure Neil Tyson did ) – does anyone know if that means one atom rolling around the universe on its shell or is the hydrogen atom centered on the edge of the universe – …

        Feature request :

        Drawings in comments.

        Use finger or stylus to make simple line drawings.

  2. I guess Covid is really over, since no one cares in the President masks, or whom he has come into contact with and potentially infected. Covid was probably the C-word he was thinking of the other day when he said he had cancer.

    1. “God” cares, moving in his mysterious partisan Twitter ways. Mr. Biden is the only President to have Covid for whom he wishes recovery. I suppose he is disappointed that President Bolsonaro of Brazil and “President” Boris Johnson also survived. I think there are a few other national leaders “God” wouldn’t much care for either who had it. Some African Cabinet Ministers died but no kingpins to my recollection. But wait! Our own Prime Minister has had it, twice. Surely “God” must be on his side. He even got a foreign intervention endorsement during his last election campaign from none other than Barack Obama.

      “God” is of course a Democrat but His horizons must extend beyond the United States. He does have the whole world in His hands.

  3. I found Paul Krugman’s article “I was wrong about inflation” particularly disturbing. His prior assertion that inflation was not much of a problem was not expressed in one or two columns, but in a series of them over many years. Then he turned out to be wrong. Undoubtedly, Krugman’s confession of error has shaken many liberals. Regardless whether his views on inflation could be intellectually justified, his mistake is another blow against the notion that experts can be trusted in their analyses. In recent years the notion that expertise is essential in formulating public policy in areas such as science, education, and government programs has come under attack by those who believe it should be guided by “lived experience” or holy books. In other words, the efficacy of scientific principles in understanding the world is under assault as unjustified as that may be. Unless the experts become better experts (at least in areas that the public cares about) in what they say and how they message their conclusions and thereby are trusted, society could descend into mindless irrationality.

    1. Seems to me that the lesson is not that experts need to be better experts but that expertise is always provisional. It can always be wrong but stands the chance of being improved by events and facts. The holy book option is almost always guaranteed to be wrong and not subject to improvement.

      1. Of course, you are right about the provisionality of knowledge. But, this reality is what causes an inherent distrust in what the experts say. When an expert makes an assertion about some aspect of how the world works, the retort could be this: “Well, Ms. Expert, you yourself admits that what you are saying could turn out to be wrong, maybe even next week. Thus, I have no reason to trust what you say or recommend such as wearing masks during the pandemic. I think I’ll believe my pastor, who says masks are not necessary. He could be right and you wrong.”

        This is the problem that experts face. On the one hand, they have to convince the public that what they say is more likely true than not, but on the other they need to make clear that new knowledge could reverse prior understanding. This is a difficult task, and in my opinion, not carried out very well. In his column, Krugman states that he should have shown more humility in his assertions about inflation. At least to an extent, if experts do this more often, perhaps the public will be more forgiving in cases where the expert turns out to be dead wrong.

        1. I’m inclined to blame “the experts” less and the public more. That’s where the ignorance primarily resides.

    2. I don’t know about society in general–it seems to me to be an endless murmuration of idiocy. in any case–but I feel much more confident in the words of an expert who recognizes his or her own fallibility and makes corrections when found to be wrong.

    3. I would not think that that aid package was the sole contributor to the high inflation, although it definitely exacerbated it. Don’t forget that rising inflation was a world wide phenomenon, with or without aid packages.
      The largest reason for its persistence is mainly the Russian Ukrainian war, it seems.

  4. Today is also the birthdate of Emma Lazarus (1849-1887). Born in New York City, she wrote the poem The New Colossus in 1883, the immortal words of which are inscribed in a bronze plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

    Lazarus was also an activist on behalf of Jewish causes. She died young, probably of lymphoma.

    The New Colossus

    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
    A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
    Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
    Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
    Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
    The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
    “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

  5. I don’t think Michelle Bloomberg actually said she was wrong ‘about’ Al Franken, just that there should have been an inquiry.
    Note, I think that about all the accusations against Franken are minor (except possibly for the alleged unwanted mouth kiss). Nothing like pussy grabbing or so, no sexually predatory behaviour, mostly just inappropriate.
    I think it is a pity he was sidelined this way, he would not only have had a good chance against about any Republican, but he probably would have made a great president (IMMO).

  6. I didn’t find the Liz Truss speech too surprising. Right now in the US we have the same kind of protectionist thinking in both parties. They’re totally clueless on economics.

    1. The rise of Liz Truss is astonishing and very hard to explain. She has held several ministerial posts and with each one appears to have been over-promoted way beyond her abilities. Boris Johnson certainly surrounded himself with a bunch of mediocrities in his cabinet, whose chief qualification for the job was their loyalty to him. More talented but independent minded Tory politicians have been purged. The idea that Truss may be the next UK Prime Minister is deeply depressing.

      I would say, though, that a good black pudding is extremely tasty.

    1. They shouldn’t.

      As Jonathan Chait writes:

      “The main argument used against Biden’s plan was that it would worsen inflation, with conservatives scolding Biden for ignoring the sage insights of Larry Summers…Whatever the case against Build Back Better, this was not it. The American Rescue Plan did contribute to inflation; its purpose was to stimulate demand by injecting deficit-financed spending into the economy. Build Back Better had a different purpose: to address social needs over a long period of time and finance that spending through taxation.

      “Spending financed by new taxes is not inflationary. That is why Summers himself endorsed Build Back Better. Yet conservatives spent the better part of a year citing Summers as the authority on why Biden’s long-term plans would cause inflation, oblivious to the fact that any economist, very much including Summers, would say otherwise.

      “In deference to public concerns about inflation, Manchin ultimately reshaped the last version of the bill as an anti-inflationary measure. The plan would have raised $1 trillion in new revenue (or reduced spending) and used half the proceeds for deficit reduction. This would not have had a large effect on inflation, but there is no question that, directionally, it would place downward pressure on prices.

      “Conservatives simply refused to acknowledge this aspect of the plan at all. In the end, even Manchin himself abandoned his own plan, which was designed in part to reduce inflation, on account of inflation, which is like deciding not to cut greenhouse-gas emissions because it’s too hot.”


        1. It does tell many of us exactly that, but for too many Americans, if their are perceived problems, they want someone to blame. Complex problems are too easily put into sound bites and blame games. The GOP has mastered this gaslighting skill.

      1. Thanks for this, I remember reading that taxing the wealthy and corporations (which Manchin opposed) would alleviate inflation, but I didn’t feel like responding. Chait explains it well.

  7. “Here’s the only version I can bear listening to…”

    The only other version of “America the Beautiful” I like is Elvis’s live performance (he never made a studio recording). Undoubtedly bombastic and over-the-top, but in a way that works:

  8. Two points:

    1) Even Paul Krugman admits that covid stimulus spending has been inflationary. Just think of how wrong Krugman must have been for him to admit it.

    2) When the CBO scored the BBB bill while assuming new spending programs were made permanent — which we know is the plan — it would amount to 3 trillion dollars of stimulus spending over the next ten years. Definitely inflationary.

    I’m beginning to think that the Democratic party has a death wish.

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