Thursday: Hili dialogue

August 11, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Thursday, August 11, 2022: National Panini Day, a blatant case of cultural appropriation. Wikipedia notes that the word gave rise to another term in Italy:

During the 1980s, the term paninaro arose in Italy to denote a member of a youth culture represented by patrons of sandwich bars such as Milan‘s Al Panino [JAC:: this is only one letter off “Al Pacino”] and Italy’s first US-style fast food restaurants. Paninari were depicted as right-leaning, fashion-fixated individuals, delighting in showcasing early-1980s consumer goods as status symbols

It’s also National Raspberry Tart Day, National Raspberry Bombe Day,Mountain Day in Japan, and Ingersoll Day, celebrating the birth of The Great Agnostic on this day in 1833.

Stuff that happened on August 11 include:

They climbed the west flank of the mountain, but the real obstacle—the North Face (below)—was first climbed only on July 24, 1938. The climbers were Anderl HeckmairLudwig VörgHeinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek, and here’s the route they took (Harrer’s book about the history of attempts to climb the treacherous “Morderwand” (the “murder wall”), The White Spider, (1958), is a classic of mountaineering literature.

The North Face (at 6,000 feet from base to summit, it’s the longest face in the Alps):

The route taken in 1938:

The snow formation that gave the “white spider” its name (climbing over this patch of snow and ice is the key to getting up the wall):

The Babe currently stands at 714 for lifetime homers; this is third place. Can you name who was ahead of him?

Here’s the patent, proposing a coded rapid change of radio frequencies to avoid jamming or interception. As the website notes:

Patent # 2,292,387 for a “Secret Communication System,” granted to actress Hedy Kiesler Markey. At the time it was filed, in 1941, Lamarr was married to Gene Markey, a Hollywood screenwriter. She felt that having her married name on the patent would give it more credibility. This system could have inspired the scientists and engineers who developed GPS.

And in the movies with Charles Boyer. After “Algiers”, the screenplay for “Casablanca” was written with Lamarr in mind as the female lead (eventually played by Ingrid Bergman).

Here’s Regan’s fake announcement, just testing the audiovisual system. The Soviet Union didn’t really take it seriously or go on alert, but they were OFFENDED.

Da Nooz:

*Questioned by the New York State Attorney General’s office about his finances, Donald Trump repeatedly pleaded the Fifth. I would have thought that was the sensible thing to do, but according to the NYT it’s risky.

Donald J. Trump declined to answer questions from the New York state attorney general’s office on Wednesday, a surprising gamble in a high-stakes legal interview that likely will determine the course of a civil investigation into his company’s business practices.

Shortly after questioning began on Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump’s office released a statement saying he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, explaining that he “declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.”

Two people with knowledge of the matter confirmed that he was refusing to answer questions, citing the Fifth Amendment.

So what are the risks? I wasn’t aware that pleading the Fifth could hurt you in a civil case, which this is:

Mr. Trump had not been expected to invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination. He has long considered himself his best spokesman, and those who had questioned him in the past, as well as some of his own advisers, believed he was unlikely to stay quiet.

His decision could have a significant impact on any trial if Ms. James’s [the NY state Attorney General’s] investigation leads to a lawsuit. Jurors in civil matters can draw a negative inference when a defendant invokes his or her Fifth Amendment privilege, unlike in criminal cases, where exercising the right against self-incrimination cannot be held against the defendant.

Staying silent could also hurt Mr. Trump politically at a time when he is hinting that he will join the 2024 presidential race; it could raise questions about what he might be trying to hide.

In the past, Mr. Trump has ridiculed witnesses for invoking their Fifth Amendment rights, once remarking at a rally that, “You see the mob takes the Fifth,” and, “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

But of course nobody expects Trump to behave according to standards he imposes on others. And nobody expects that it will change his supporters’ enthusiasm, either.

*After the Russians refused to admit that the strike against their air base in Crimea was done by Ukrainians, a Ukrainian government official said that it was indeed: Ukrainian special forces were responsible, and at least nine Russian aircraft were destroyed.

This from Forbes:

The Kremlin claimed the explosions were the result of an accident. But the near-simultaneous blasts across the airfield indicated otherwise. It clearly was a Ukrainian attack. But exactly how the Ukrainians hit this major Russian facility 120 miles from the front line remains unclear.

But they had options. In the five months since Russia widened its war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian armed forces have deployed more and better means of conducting deep strikes. Even a hundred miles from the front, the Russians are vulnerable.

The Saki base immediately prior to the attack housed around a dozen each Su-24 bombers and Su-30 fighters plus Mi-8 helicopters and the Il-76, according to commercial satellite imagery. At least one of the Su-24s was destroyed in the Tuesday attack along with several support vehicles and possibly one of the base’s munitions dumps, if videos and photos of the damaged base are any indications.

And from the WaPo (link above; paper’s emphasis):

A Ukrainian attack in Crimea would mark a dramatic escalation in the war. It would demonstrate a remarkable ability by Ukrainian forces, or their allies, to strike at Russia far from the front lines. Russia said the blast at the air base was caused by an ammunition explosion. A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Post that Ukrainian forces apparently had carried out the strike but did not use a weapon provided by the United States.

* At the NYT, well known science writer David Quammen tells us, depressingly, that “Science is still in a race against the coronavirus.”

The coronavirus, like many other viruses of its ilk (RNA viruses with highly changeable genomes), evolves fast. It has adapted quickly to us. Now arises the crucial question of whether humans and human ingenuity can adapt faster.

Unless the answer is yes, we face a long, doleful future of continued suffering. Some experts reckon the toll of endemic Covid might be somewhere from 100,000 to 250,000 deaths every year, just in the United States. Millions of lives depend on whether human science, human governance and human wisdom can outpace the ingenuity of SARS-CoV-2, a relatively simple but enterprising agent consisting of four structural proteins plus an RNA genome.

For comparison, there are between 20,000 and 50,000 deaths per year from the influenza virus in America.

The problem is that Covid mutates like crazy, and that’s been discovered by labs (mostly in the UK) that spent their time sequencing samples of covid from patients. And sequences are needed not just from the U.S. or the U.K. but around the world, a task that seems insuperable:

The sad but not surprising fact is that high-income countries sequenced 16 times as many coronavirus genomes as a proportion of cases as low- and middle-income countries. Money is a limiting factor, but not just money. “I think the fundamental problem is really lack of scientific leadership to coordinate this kind of data gathering,” Dr. Cobey said. Few countries have had their Sharon Peacock or political leadership to heed and support the scientific leaders.

When you read what we need to do to tackle the covid pandemic seriously, it seems undoable, sort of like Biden’s original “Build Back Better” bill.

We need ambitious seroprevalence studies (screening of blood samples for evidence of past infection) that will help scientists learn how many undetectedinfections have occurred. What’s the realcase total in each country and around the world? We need farsighted and well-funded research on vaccine platforms that can be quickly adapted for use against whole classes of newly emerged pathogens, not just hurried efforts to create a booster for the latest variant. We need a universal coronavirus vaccine and a universal influenza vaccine, although neither — given the formidable capacity of those viruses to evolve — may be achievable.

More simply, we need temperature-stable and needle-free vaccines that can reduce the problems of vaccine refusal in high-income countries and vaccine unavailability in low-income countries that are hot. We need better antiviral drugs, even for rare but dangerous viruses (such as Nipah virus), entailing development efforts that may never be profitable for pharmaceutical companies.

Even more simply, as Dr. Cobey noted, we need investments toward much better ventilation and air filtration in our public buildings, reducing the spread of the coronavirus and other airborne pathogens. That’s not scientifically exciting, she conceded; it’s just important and cost-effective.

But who will bear the cost? Covid may be with us forever, like flu, but it’s worse because it’s more deadly. Quammen doesn’t offer much hope that we can lick this case of evolution in the virus.

*I’m getting more hopeful about Democrats’ chances in this fall’s elections as well as those in 2024. While Biden’s new bill helps the Democrats, as does the unexpectedly strong jobs report, and I think the Supreme Court’s decision seems to favor Democratic pro-choice sentiments,  one thing that’s critically important to keep Democrats in power is the economy, stupid. Rampant inflation combined with high interest rates are a guaranteed boost to the Republicans, and that’s what things were looking like. Now, although it’s early days, inflation seems to be easing, and the markets are happy about it. What happened is simply that the increase in inflation slowed down, and the markets took that as a harbinger, rising sharply. But we still face 8.5% inflation:

Inflation cooled notably in July as gas prices and airfares fell, a welcome reprieve for consumers and a positive development for economic policymakers in Washington — though not yet a conclusive sign that price increases have turned a corner.

The Consumer Price Index climbed 8.5 percent in the year through July, a slower pace than economists had expected and considerably less than the 9.1 percent increase in the year through June. After stripping out food and fuel costs to better understand underlying cost pressures, prices climbed 5.9 percent, matching the previous reading.

The marked deceleration in overall inflation — on a monthly basis, prices barely moved — is another sign of economic improvement that could boost President Biden at a time when rapid price increases have been burdening consumers and eroding voter confidence. The new data came on the heels of an unexpectedly strong jobs report last week that underscored the economy’s momentum.

I’m not a natural optimist, but the possibility of a Republican-controlled government has got me grasping at straws. Let’s just hope that Biden & Co. keeps thin on an even keel for a couple of years.

*Below is a very sad story, one I learned about from this tweet sent by Matthew (Translation: “Despite an unprecedented rescue operation of #beluga , we are sad to announce the death of the cetacean. Mrs. Ollivet Courtois, veterinarian of @sdis91 explains to you.”

If you don’t speak French, the Associated Press will explain it to you. What happened is that a beluga whale, a marine mammal found in Arctic waters, somehow made its way up the Seine River in France, which is of course fresh water. Malnourished, it got held up by a lack and the French tried to rescue it. They planned to capture it, put it in a boat, and take it back to its normal northward migration path. Sadly, things didn’t go according to plan:

Fearing the malnourished creature would not survive in the Seine much longer, a wildlife conservation group and veterinarians planned to move the lost whale to a saltwater port in Normandy, from where they hoped to return it to the open sea.

A team of 80 people assembled to try to save the animal’s life, and it was successfully moved Tuesday night from a river lock in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, west of Paris, into a refrigerated truck for the 160-kilometer (99-mile) journey to the port in Ouistreham.

But during the drive, the 4-meter-long (13-foot-long) whale started to breath with difficulty, according to Florence Ollivet Courtois, a French veterinarian who worked on the rescue operation.

“During the journey, the veterinarians confirmed a worsening of its state, notably in its respiratory activities, and at the same time noticed the animal was in pain, not breathing enough,” Courtois said.

“The suffering was obvious for the animal, so it was important to release its tension, and so we had to proceed to euthanize it,” she added.

What’s sadder is that they had given it antibiotics and vitamins, and it appeared to be getting better. But such is life; sometimes a healthy baby duck flies into a building. Here’s a video, and kudos to the nice people in France who went to such extreme efforts.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s getting warm, and it’s still summer!

Hili: Sometimes it’s nice to sit by the fireplace even in summer.
A: I totally agree.
In Polish:
Hili: Czasem nawet latem miło jest posiedzieć przy kominku.
Ja: Całkowicie się zgadzam.

. . . and a photo of Baby Kulka, meowing to get in:


Duck therapy from Facebook:

Found on Facebook. One of the Kliban cartoons that didn’t show up in the press:

And a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon contributed by reader Divy:

The Tweet of God. The “thumb up,” of course, means that God isn’t going to listen to any prayers for the Orange Man:

Titania retweeted this. Of course Doyle’s book is going to get slammed by the Woke, though I still have to read it:

From Barry, who says, “Now that’s what I call a knockout punch!”

From Simon—a pretty good joke:

This is one smart duckling:

From the Auschwitz Memorial. This Dutch girl died at 14, a year younger than Anne Frank:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. The bears are gorging themselves on salmon to prepare for hibernation.

Here’s the livecam from Brooks Falls. I had to force myself to stop watching it. It’s dark in Alaska now, and the bears are sleeping it off; but check back.

Okay readers, tell me how long a seal can sleep underwater:

How to make chocolate from scratch. Note the fermentation step!  However, it’s much easier to buy a good chocolate bar.

16 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. Unfortunately, I think the Orange One will have a pretty good, or at least a functional, defense in the NY case, as AG Letitia James has a long history, both while campaigning and after being elected, of gunning for Trump, often with rather inappropriate and highly politicized rhetoric. It will make it easy for Trump to peddle the Witch Hunt defense, and in this case it will be believable to some degree. James will have to have extremely strong documentary evidence to overcome the impression she has created.

  2. There are two reasons that the economy won’t save the Dems in November. The first is that the President’s declaring that there was zero inflation in July is to typical of this Administration, either of its blundering or its lying. They have either been unwilling to accept that there is a problem or lying about its existence. The impression of that disregard for any interests but their own will stick. The second is that the new economic numbers don’t appear in reality to be that good. The price of gas is down, but well above where it was when Biden took office. Other basic commodities remain high, as any trip to the grocer will show. Additionally, the new jobs report shows a substantial jump in part-time jobs, and a decline in full-time jobs, suggesting that employers are scaling back commitments to full-time employees and that a substantial part of those new jobs are people taking a second job.

  3. From Barry, who says, “Now that’s what I call a knockout punch!”

    Reminds me of the short, chopping right hand Muhammad Ali came out of his rope-a-dope to throw to send George Foreman crashing to the canvas at two minutes fifty seconds into the eighth round of their celebrated “Rumble in the Jungle” championship bout in Zaire.

    I was in the fall quarter of my senior year of college at the time, and a buddy and I got the rusty, old Pontiac I kept stashed off campus and drove a 150 miles roundtrip to watch that fight on closed-circuit tv at the nearest arena that was showing it.

  4. Donald Trump’s taking five at his deposition before the New York AG’s office is the first sign of educability I’ve seen on his behalf.

    Let’s face it, Trump went into the office of the presidency pig-ignorant regarding the functioning of the US government and matters of public policy, and he came out of that office four years later pig-ignorant of those things, too.

    1. It’s clear he has no interest in government. He wanted to be president so he could swagger about and puff his chest. That’s it.

      1. He may not have much interest in “governing”, but he would surely do much more than huff and puff. He would be even more intent on dismantling what he and his ilk see as the deep state and to further hollow out the democratic institutions that constitute the government. Of course, he sees this mission of his as returning the government to the people.

  5. Asserting the Fifth Amendment in a civil case creates problems later. The other side will move to exclude testimony inconsistent with the assertion on grounds that it would be sandbagging – the facts come out in discovery, n0ot trial — so Trump is likely not going to be permitted to testify on the topics as to which he claimed answers might be incriminating. Assuming the case is not sealed, Trump faces related obstacles testifying on the topics covered.

  6. ¡ I am grateful to ‘ve actually BEEN there to Brooks Lodge TO SEE the Grizzlies UP CLOSE and
    P E R S O N A L ! … … July y1997. One needs to fly in …. … upon a float plane. As in to it … …
    from King Salmon, Alaska.

    Stat off of the plane ? = Bear School. Is mandatory for visitors.

    Kinda like Japan School was mandatory ( before my June y2017’s visit ) for us Ames’ delegates
    ( and in re, say, of Nagasaki 09 August y1945, … … when one is there ).


    1. Going to Brooks Falls has been on my bucket list, but it may not happen. It is rather pricey, but I imagine worth the cost. There are other places you can watch bears and salmon that are easier to get to. In Hyder, Alaska, which can be driven to through British Columbia, the Forest Service has built a long walkway above the river where you can watch bears feed. Not as many bears, however.

  7. Re: Babe Ruth’s third place ranking. Henry Aaron and Barry Bonds are ahead of him. Because of Bonds’ probable use of performance enhancing drugs, I put a very large asterisk on his total and consider Hank the true record holder.

    1. The Babe hit those homeruns on beer and whiskey, cigars, and steaks, while Bonds needed pharmaceuticals. I know who I consider the better baseball player of the two.

  8. Of the three, Aaron was clearly the greatest, imo. I have been to League Park, where the Babe hit #500. And seeing its dimensions made me wish we had a bat and ball with us. My baseball career didn’t extend beyond American Legion ball, but the distance to the right field fence was substantially shorter than the right field barrier in old Yankee Stadium. Left field, on the other hand, looks like over 400′ down the line. The park was obviously built to fit within an existing block.The city of Cleveland has restored League Park in recent years, but sadly installed artificial turf. Think it is used for youth games.

  9. The question about seals sleeping under water sent me down an interesting literature thread. It varies by species. Phocids (true seals/earless seals) can float near the surface (aka bottling or logging), and don’t need to wake to break the surface for breath. This is common in harbor seals and grey seals but depends on the environment. Seals often sleep at some depth beyond the typical visual radius of common predators (killer whales, great white sharks, etc) that hunt from below, so if sleeping at deeper depths, they need to wake to initiate movement to the surface.

    NOAA reports Harbor Seals spend as long as 30 minutes sleeping under water. Northern Elephant Seals are reported to have some of the most irregular breathing patterns – even on land having prolonged breath holds (apneas) of 2-8 minutes. They perform drift dives up to 200 m below the surface for 10-20 minutes at a time.

  10. “the toll of endemic Covid might be somewhere from 100,000 to 250,000 deaths every year, just in the United States.”
    Sort of, I suppose. The problem is that Covid deaths are counted differently than influenza or smallpox. Most people imagine the process as- “You contract Covid, test positive, become very ill, linger for a while, then follow Carol Anne into the light.
    Sometimes it happens that way. Often, you enter the hospital for an unrelated condition. Let’s say liver failure. In the hospital, you get tested like anyone else. It is positive, but with no apparent symptoms. Sadly, your liver finally gives out. You have become a Covid statistic. Under such a system, those counts are meaningless for the establishment of policy.

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