Friday: Hili dialogue

September 9, 2022 • 6:30 am

Bottom of the week to you! It’s Friday, September 9, 2022, and National “I Love Food” Day. Why the scare quote, though? Are we supposed to pretend we love food?

It’s also National Wiener Schnitzel Day (cultural appropriation), National Steak au Poivre Day (more appropriation), National Teddy Bear Day, International Buy a Priest a Beer Day, described like this:

It is a day when Catholics build relationships with their priests by taking them out for a beer. In a larger sense, it is a day when Catholics show appreciation for their priests and share with them how their ministry has been important to them. Beer isn’t even required. The priest could be bought a root beer, or they could be invited over for dinner. If there isn’t much time, they could simply be let known that they are being prayed for, and a prayer could be said for them. One also doesn’t need to have a priest or be Catholic to celebrate. [In other words, just have a beer!]

It’s also Armored Forces Day in the UkraineCalifornia Admission Day, Chrysanthemum Day in Japan, and Remembrance for Herman the Cheruscan (The Troth). You can read about Herman here; he’s a heathen.

Here’s my teddy. Do you remember his name?

Stuff that happened on September 9 includes:

I can’t find out if an infant was actually crowned, but here’s one artist’s depiction (artist unknown):

Shouldn’t the name be changed now?

Herschel’s first glass-plate photograph, dated 9 September 1839, showing the mount of his father’s 40-foot telescope

I don’t know where they got this date; Wikipedia (at the link) says this:

On 16 August 1845, The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Horticultural Gazette reported “a blight of unusual character” on the Isle of Wight. A week later, on 23 August, it reported that “A fearful malady has broken out among the potato crop … In Belgium the fields are said to be completely desolated. There is hardly a sound sample in Covent Garden market … As for cure for this distemper, there is none.” These reports were extensively covered in Irish newspapers.  On 11 September, the Freeman’s Journal reported on “the appearance of what is called ‘cholera’ in potatoes in Ireland, especially in the north”. On 13 September, The Gardeners’ Chronicle announced: “We stop the Press with very great regret to announce that the potato Murrain has unequivocally declared itself in Ireland.”

Nothing about Sept. 9. Nevertheless, the famine killed about a million people and made a million more flee Ireland.

Here’s the logbook entry not only reporting the bug, but also presenting it:

The First Computer Bug Moth found trapped between points at Relay # 70, Panel F, of the Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator while it was being tested at Harvard University, 9 September 1945. The operators affixed the moth to the computer log, with the entry: First actual case of bug being found. They put out the word that they had debugged the machine, thus introducing the term debugging a computer program. In 1988, the log, with the moth still taped by the entry, was in the Naval Surface Warfare Center Computer Museum at Dahlgren, Virginia. Courtesy of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, VA., 1988. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

He is still the official President of the Republic though he died in 1994. He is the ETERNAL President of the Republic. I’ve put an arrow next to the miscreant.

And here’s The King singing “Don’t Be Cruel” on that show:

And her reign ended yesterday. Do know that she worked as an auto mechanic during World War II?

[She joined the] Women’s Auxiliary Territory Service (similar to the American Women’s Army Corps or WACs), registered as inductee No. 230873, under the name Elizabeth Windsor. The ATS provided key support during the war, with its members serving as anti-aircraft gunners, radio operators, mechanics and drivers.

She underwent a six-week auto mechanic training course at Aldershot in Surrey, and by July had risen from the rank of Second Subaltern to Junior Commander. She learned how to deconstruct, repair and rebuild engines and change tires, and learned how to drive every type of machine she worked on, including jeeps, trucks and ambulances. As a 1947 Collier’s magazine article noted of the overalls-clad teen, “One of her major joys was to get dirt under her nails and grease stains in her hands, and display these signs of labor to her friends.”

For the first time, Elizabeth worked alongside her fellow Brits, relishing the freedom she had previously been denied. But there were concessions to her rank. She ate many of her meals in an officer’s mess hall, not with other enlistees. And each night she was driven home to the safety of Windsor Castle.

Well, if she really wanted to rub elbows with the plebs, she should have dined with them. But at least she didn’t stay cossetted in the Palace or flee the country.

Photo from Shutterstock

Da Nooz:

*The Big Nooz of course is the death of Queen Elizabeth II (and the instant ascendancy to the throne of King Charles III). It’s everywhere, and you can’t avoid it unless you stay in bed and read a book. We all know the story but here’s the lede from the NYT:

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, whose broadly popular seven-decade reign survived tectonic shifts in her country’s post-imperial society and weathered successive challenges posed by the romantic choices, missteps and imbroglios of her descendants, died on Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, her summer retreat. She was 96.

The royal family announced her death online, saying she had “died peacefully.” The announcement did not specify a cause.

Her death elevated her eldest son, Charles, to the throne, as King Charles III. In a statement, he said:

“The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty the Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.

“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”

Earlier Thursday, Buckingham Palace said that the queen had been placed under medical supervision and that her doctors were “concerned” about her health. She had remained at Balmoral for much of the summer. On Wednesday evening, she abruptly canceled a virtual meeting with members of her Privy Council after her doctors advised her to rest.

On Tuesday, she met with the incoming Conservative prime minister, Liz Truss — the 15th prime minister the queen dealt with during her reign — though in doing so, because of infirmity, she broke with longstanding tradition by receiving her at Balmoral rather than at Buckingham Palace.

It seems that she died quickly and relatively painlessly, and for that I am grateful. I’m opposed to royalty, and the British royalty in particular, but the Queen was not odious. She’s a very distant person in a type of governance (or non-governance) that’s very strange to me.

Matthew, on the other hand, is appalled at what he sees as the performative mourning of firms and institutions that are also distant from the monarchy. He sent a few tweets that amused (and outraged) him. His comments are indented:

(Second tweet) Ann Summers is a low market sex shop. This account is covering some of the corporate crap.

From Legoland:

The NY Stock Exchange got into the act. Matthew:

Note they only hold “ a moment”  of silence . Got to keep on making the money!  It is absolutely fucking bizarre that the NYSE holds a “moment’s” silence, but also supremely funny because it is entirely performative, like the rest of the institutions lining up to pour their hearts out on social media.

Sound up, though there’s hardly any sound.

Maybe she liked ducks, too:

*Back to the regular news, where we see another NYT headline, “Shock waves hit the global economy, posing grave risks to Europe“.  The tilt of the story is that the war in Ukraine, and its subsequent effect on energy flow and prices, has the potential to economically devastate not just Europe, but the entire world:

The fallout from the war is menacing the continent with what some fear could become its most challenging economic and financial crisis in decades.

While growth is slowing worldwide, “in Europe it’s altogether more serious because it’s driven by a more fundamental deterioration,” said Neil Shearing, group chief economist at Capital Economics. Real incomes and living standards are falling, he added. “Europe and Britain are just worse off.”

Just how steep a challenge was sharply underlined on Thursday. The European Central Bank, which oversees economic policy for the 19 nations that use the euro, took an aggressive step to combat inflation, matching its biggest ever rate increase of three-quarters of a percentage point. At the same time, it acknowledged the severe impact of the energy crisis and issued a dour forecast for growth. “It’s a really dark downside scenario,” Christine Lagarde, the president of the E.C.B., said at a news conference.

On Friday, ministers of the European Union are set to meet to debate a plan to intervene in the energy markets in a bid to tame prices. They will discuss strategies that could include price caps and mandatory cuts in energy usage.

It’s going to be a cold winter across the Pond. And I predict a recession in the U.S.

*Steve Bannon was finally arrested. He had been pardoned by Trump, but such a pardon allows a person to be charged for the same crime twice.

Stephen K. Bannon, the self-professed populist adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, was accused by Manhattan prosecutors on Thursday of defrauding Americans who wanted to contribute to construction of a southern border wall, resurrecting a threat that Mr. Bannon seemed to have escaped with a 2021 presidential pardon.

The prosecutors said that Mr. Bannon, after a run as Mr. Trump’s campaign chief and a White House official, played an integral role in an organization known as We Build the Wall Inc. The group, whose president and most visible representative was a wounded veteran of the Iraq war, reaped millions through internet appeals, pledging to make the symbol of Mr. Trump’s successful 2016 campaign a reality.

Instead, prosecutors said, Mr. Bannon funneled more than $100,000 in donations to the organization’s president, Brian Kolfage, who had repeatedly promised not to take a salary. And New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, said that while Mr. Bannon had represented himself as a patriotic volunteer fighting for ordinary citizens, he too had personally profited.

Mr. Bannon was charged by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, with two felony counts of money laundering, two felony counts of conspiracy and one felony count of a scheme to defraud, and could face a maximum sentence of five to 15 years on the most serious charge.

THE PERP WALK! He won’t be sharing a cell with Trump, though; even if both are convicted, Bannon’s crime is a state crime and Trump’s (if he’s charged) a federal one.

*Reader Jez sent me this bit of news:

This story reports the first evidence of an amputation 31,000 years ago – it seems that the child whose foot was amputated survived for several years afterwards.

There’s also a report in Nature, which says this:

The skeleton of a person who lived 31,000 years ago bears hallmarks of the deliberate removal of their lower left leg — the earliest known evidence of surgical amputation

Discovered on the island of Borneo, the remains pre-date the previous oldest known case of limb amputation by more than 20,000 years and indicate that the individual survived for several years after the surgery. The finding, published on 7 September in Nature, suggests that some ancient people were proficient nurses and performed sophisticated medical procedures much earlier than scientists have thought.

Archaeologists once described southeast Asia “as a cultural backwater”, says study co-author India Dilkes-Hall, an archaeologist at the University of Western Australia in Perth. “There’s always been this trope that not a lot happened there.”

But the discovery challenges this idea, revealing that people living in Borneo thousands of years ago were highly skilled at medicine. “It’s pushing forth the right idea that this is an incredibly complex area,” adds Dilkes-Hall.

The researchers found the remains in a limestone cave on the eastern side of the Indonesian part of Borneo. They uncovered an ancient grave containing a human skeleton that was surprisingly complete — except for the left foot.

. . .Their age at death was estimated to be about 19 or 20 years old. The team could not determine the individual’s sex, but their height was similar to that of male individuals who are known to have lived in that time and place.

The lower third of the person’s leg was missing, and the tibia and fibula — the bones between the knee and ankle — ended in a clean cut. This level of precision indicates that the limb was not lost in an accident or an animal attack. The bones lacked the type of mark typically left by an infection, suggesting that the wound had been cleaned and protected from contamination. Furthermore, the small size of the left tibia and fibula compared with the right ones and the healing of the bones show that the amputation occurred during childhood and at least six to nine years before death.

A photo from the BBC story with its caption:

As well as the left foot being absent, the leg bones show signs of healing.

*Over on Bari Weiss’s Substack site, Peter Savodnik takes a position I haven’t seen yet:   In “The cynical exploitation of Britney Greiner“, Savodnik sees both unfairness and wokeness in singling out Britney Greiner as an American to be traded for a seriously heinous spy:

There are an estimated 60 to 80 Americans whom the State Department has designated as “wrongfully detained” by foreign governments (or by non-state actors, in some cases)—from Russia to Iran to Saudi Arabia to Venezuela to China to Syria, much of which is controlled by the Islamic State. (The precise figure is classified.) Without this designation, a detainee’s case remains tucked away at Consular Services at the U.S. embassy. Once the detainee has been deemed “wrongfully detained,” the United States government commits itself, in principle, to doing whatever possible to bring that detainee home.

Even then, most Americans know almost nothing about their fellow Americans rotting away in underground cells, or being tortured or starved, or suffering from any number of ailments, often without medical care. There’s Brittney Griner, but there’s also Paul Whelan, a former Marine also being held in Russia; Austin Tice, a journalist and former Marine who disappeared more than a decade ago in Syria; and the Citgo 6 oil executives who have been detained in Venezuela for nearly five years.

Clearly, the government has an interest in seeing them all released.

But when it comes to Brittney Griner, the question is: Is exchanging her for Viktor Bout too high a price? Will buying her freedom with that of an international arms trafficker inadvertently imperil the lives of Americans in dangerous places, or undermine American interests, or even possibly lead to a Bout-supplied terrorist attack in the United States?

According to attorneys who have handled cases of other Americans wrongfully detained by hostile governments, the answer to those questions is: Without a doubt. They’re backed up by Republicans on Capitol Hill who insist, on background, that the Biden Administration has embraced “a woke foreign policy,” fighting extra hard to ensure the release of Griner—a black, gay woman—at the expense of national security.

“Somebody within the administration thought it was good politics,” said one attorney representing wrongfully detained Americans. (He feared speaking openly, because, he said, it could endanger talks with State Department officials who might expedite his clients’ release.) “She’s black. She has a sexual orientation that’s different. Now let’s go out and virtue signal on this.”

Well, the Russian treatment of Greiner is clearly ridiculously harsh—nine years at hard labor in a penal colony for bringing in some hash oil, but one has to ask why she’s moved to the head of the prisoner-exchange line.

*And this may be the best news of all given that malaria is one of the world’s worst infectious diseases in terms of lives lost. WHO notes this: “According to the World Malaria Report 2020, there were 241 million cases of malaria globally in 2020 (uncertainty range 218–269 million) and 627 000 malaria deaths (uncertainty range 583–765 thousand).” Half a million yearly!

But now the BBC reports that there’s a new malaria vaccine that could severely reduce both infections and deaths (their emphasis):

A malaria vaccine with “world-changing” potential has been developed by scientists at the University of Oxford.

The team expect it to be rolled out next year after trials showed up to 80% protection against the deadly disease.

Crucially, say the scientists, their vaccine is cheap and they already have a deal to manufacture more than 100 million doses a year.

The charity Malaria No More said recent progress meant children dying from malaria could end “in our lifetimes”.

It has taken more than a century to develop effective vaccines as the malaria parasite, which is spread by mosquitoes, is spectacularly complex and elusive. It is a constantly moving target, shifting forms inside the body, which make it hard to immunise against.

Last year, the World Health Organization gave the historic go-ahead for the first vaccine – developed by pharmaceutical giant GSK – to be used in Africa.

However, the Oxford team claim their approach is more effective and can be manufactured on a far greater scale.

Trial results from 409 children in Nanoro, Burkina Faso, have been published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases. It shows three initial doses followed by a booster a year later gives up to 80% protection.

Matthew, who wrote in his latest book about “gene drives” as a way to knock out mosquito populations (see here), takes note of this new vaccine:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is both suspicious and wary:

Hili: I’m very suspicious.
A: Why?
Hili: This might be a wasp nest.
In Polish:
Hili: Jestem bardzo podejrzliwa.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: To może być gniazdo os.

And a photo of Baby Kulka:


From Stash Krod. a Doug Savage Cartoon:

From a file I have of “cartoons for intellectuals”:

From Nicole:

The Tweet of God:

From Andrew Doyle who, as you know IS Titania. I guess he has a new book:

Barry says, “This is why so many people voted for Trump”:

From Nancie: Cat rice cakes too cute to eat!

From a reader. This behavior looks maladaptive!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew: Have a gander at these data!

This is a trick even I could do! (Sound up.)

And some good news to conclude: Be sure to go to the Dodo to see the video.


49 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

    1. Yup, the woke went after JK Rowling on Twitter to offer her condolences and they piled on to say “you’ll be next”. Delightful.

  1. I found this quotation by John Herschel, reproduced on his Wikipedia entry:

    Words are to the Anthropologist what rolled pebbles are to the Geologist – battered relics of past ages often containing within them indelible records capable of intelligent interpretation – and when we see what amount of change 2000 years has been able to produce in the languages of Greece & Italy or 1000 in those of Germany France & Spain we naturally begin to ask how long a period must have lapsed since the Chinese, the Hebrew, the Delaware & the Malesass [Malagasy] had a point in common with the German & Italian & each other – Time! Time! Time! – we must not impugn the Scripture Chronology, but we must interpret it in accordance with whatever shall appear on fair enquiry to be the truth for there cannot be two truths. And really there is scope enough: for the lives of the Patriarchs may as reasonably be extended to 5000 or 50000 years apiece as the days of Creation to as many thousand millions of years

    He was quoted by Darwin, but Wikipedia notes that Herschel did not endorse the theory of evolution.

    1. Further on Herschel’s photo (“plate”? or even “snap”?), I’m pretty sure that’s a pic from the construction of the “Leviathan of Parsonstown” 72in telescope,
      It’s most famous outside (?) astronomy for the drawing of the “Whirlpool Nebula” (now “galaxy) that graces many science books.

      This telescope, the world’s largest for some 60 years, was constructed and operated by a rich Irish landowner during and through the Famine, funded by sale of food crops abroad throughout the Famine. Birr himself may have been a “good” landlord (see “Desolation Road” and “The Road to Nowhere” etc ; substitute “building Leviathan”), but he was of a class that covered themselves in shit, not glory.

  2. Some strange changes that keep catching me out now that the queen is dead – for instance, all of the barristers who have taken silk (senior lawyers) now have KC (Kings Counsel) after their names instead of the QC that we’re all used to.

  3. I can’t find out if an infant was actually crowned, but here’s one artist’s depiction …

    Uneasy lies the head that wears that crown.

  4. “He [Bannon] won’t be sharing a cell with Trump, though; even if both are convicted, Bannon’s crime is federal and Trump’s is a state crime.”

    Actually, Bannon is being prosecuted under New York State law for defrauding donors. The latest Trump potential crime (illegally possessing classified documents and other documents rightfully owned by the United States) is federal and being investigated by the Department of Justice.

  5. In other (big) news, it seems Oberlin College has started to pay Gibson’s Bakery their defamation award.
    Long clumsy link but it’s Bari Weiss’s Common Sense TGIF post today.

    Maybe your tweet shamed them. Thanks for giving space to this story.

    1. It does seem to be a big story since even the NYT has covered in what I would consider a fairly evenhanded way the agreement of Oberlin to pay the judgment . I found one paragraph in the story somewhat amusing:
      The college acknowledged that the size of the judgment, which includes damages and interest, was “significant.” But it said that “with careful financial planning,” including insurance, it could be paid “without impacting our academic and student experience.” Oberlin has a robust endowment of nearly $1 billion.

      Yeah, with a $1 billion endowment and insurance, I don’t think “careful financial planning” is all that important.

    2. You can probably cut off the bit of the link after the question mark. And you can check the shortened link before posting, but we’ve all forgotten to do that before.
      The “?” is a flag to the Web server that the rest of the link is to be presented as arguments to the back-end program rather than the web-page address itself.

  6. “I’m opposed to royalty, and the British royalty in particular, but the Queen was not odious.”

    Liz seemed a decent sort, and I bore her no personal ill will. Plus, since I am involved in mankind, the death of any human being diminishes me — a clod washed away by the sea, and Europe the less for it. In this respect, I offer my condolences to the people of the UK, its commonwealths, and its territories.

    But the notion of hereditary privilege strikes me as inimical to Enlightenment values. As some folks on this side of the pond said in the first sentence of the second paragraph of their missive to Liz’s great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather (one of the foundational documents of the Enlightenment canon): “All men [viz. persons] are created equal,” the purportedly royal blood coursing through the veins of some notwithstanding. This, they held (as do I), to be a truth self-evident.

    (And, yes, for anyone wondering, I would take 70 years of Elizabeth over four years of Trump, though I do not believe there is an operative exchange rate.)

    1. The phrase I’ve seen that most makes me scratch my head is when she is referred to as “the longest-serving monarch”. I also see (what seems to me) the correct word used, like “reigning” or “ruling”. But “serving”? Odd.

      Now, like many of us on this side of the pond, I am not baked in a system with royalty, so maybe I’m missing something, but that phrasing seems to have got her role reversed. No?

      1. “Longest-serving” is new to me, too, but it always bugs me whenever people refer to individuals working for governments (civilian or otherwise) as ‘public servants’ or ‘serving our communities’. I prefer the term ‘public employee’. These aren’t unpaid volunteers; they’re selling hours of their lives and engaging in calculated risks in exchange for money – just like any other employee is. Someone may just as well be serving Coca-Cola’s corporate interests, but we don’t get caught up in the humblebrag of calling them servants.

        1. “Not odious”? De mortuis nil nisi bonum!
          Tears have been shed in this household, and no doubt more will follow. I don’t expect Americans to get it, but it would be seemly to be respectful of our grief.
          I know our monarchy is an illogical and indefensible spandrel, and yet it has worked awfully well since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1688. Remember all the British subjects in north America prior to 1776 had all the rights and freedoms they claimed to have invented already, simply because of Magna Carta and the 1689 Bill of Rights. We did not invent the guillotine, nor turn to red revolution or fascism: indeed we found it in ourselves to sacrifice nearly everything to resist fascism. Our monarchy is a magic trick, in which we pretend the monarch has all the power, when in fact he or she has none (read Bagehot if you want to understand that). As long as we do not draw back the curtain, it works wonderfully well and has a long and proven track record of doing a better job than many competing organisations of democracy. One might argue that having a head of state with actual power vested in one person is risky, and having an elected figurehead with no power is pointless, but each country must work that out for themselves. Our ridiculous arrangement works for us.

          1. Very well expressed, agreeing from the perspective of the “Dominion of Canada.” (Your Foreign Office in 1867 thought it a silly and pretentious name for a clutch of four backward agrarian colonies but Victoria liked it, and that’s what we became. We still celebrate her birthday, you know.) You could add that wrapped up in the magic is 9 centuries (if you count from Magna Carta) of limits placed on the state purely by unwritten convention that cannot be swept away, at least not forever, by one elected despot. Whether real power rests in the King or in the King’s Ministers responsible to Parliament, there are things that HM Government just cannot do….and some things that it must not fail to do.

            The Queen is dead. Long live the King!

            1. You could add that wrapped up in the magic is 9 centuries (if you count from Magna Carta) …

              You could actually go back another half century, Leslie, to the Assize of Clarendon.

              I once cited it in a brief — it was a desperate case, calling for desperate measures — and some of my colleagues never let me forget it. When we’d get in a tight situation in court, they’d lean over and say, “Tell the judge about the Assize, Ken; that should do it.” 🙂

    1. Will Self makes some excellent points. Curiously, he fails to mention one of the most insidious and anti-democratic aspects of the supposedly “above politics” monarchy, namely Queen’s consent, which is the unwritten and (until recently) little-known procedure whereby the monarch’s lawyers are given veto powers over any proposed legislation that might affect the monarch or the heir to the throne. A dogged investigation by the Guardian has revealed that the Queen and then-Prince Charles actively used this veto over many years to alter dozens of bills going through Parliament:

      1. Come now, you do understand that the Queen has never refused consent, and that it is a formality? A constitutional crisis of the first order would have arisen if she refused it, and she would not have done that. She has only the right to ‘be consulted, to advise and to warn.’ She gives formal consent, but no monarch has tried to refuse for over three hundred years (and Queen Anne did so then, in 1708, on the advice of her government, which needed a quick way to reverse a policy they had previously supported. See

        1. You’re describing Royal Assent, the last stage in the passage of legislation through Parliament. As you correctly note, no monarch in three hundred years has withheld Royal Assent from any bill that has been approved by both houses of Parliament.

          But Queen’s consent is a *very* different thing. This secretive stage happens *before* a bill even begins its journey through Parliament, so that exemptions for the Queen and heir to the throne can be added before the bill is even seen by members of Parliament.

          1. As far as I know, and a quick glance at Wikipedia (I know, I know) supports, King’s (or Queen’s, and Prince’s) Consent, which is indeed an entirely different thing from Royal Assent, is merely a formality and consent is always granted or withheld on the advice of the government.

            “If King’s Consent is withheld, it is, according to the tenets of constitutional monarchy and responsible government, done on the advice of Government.[19] A spokesman for the Queen stated in 2021 that “Queen’s consent is a parliamentary process, with the role of sovereign purely formal. Consent is always granted by the monarch where requested by government. Any assertion that the sovereign has blocked legislation is simply incorrect.””

  7. I have not followed the Greiner story in detail. No doubt she is a pawn of Russia’s. It’s typically American, though, to travel to a foreign country, especially an autocracy, and ignore the local laws and the fact that they aren’t in America and what that means. I guess she never saw Midnight Express.

    1. Off-topic, but Midnight Express is one of those films in which the actor Michael Ensign makes a brief appearance on screen. He shared a house with my dad when they were both in the RSC together in the ’70s and then afterwards I’d be watching a film in the cinema and Michael would suddenly appear unexpectedly. He’s the unhappy hotel manager in both Ghostbusters and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and was also in Titanic. According to Forbes:

      Ensign is a classic example of “Hey! It’s that guy!” — a versatile character actor with a long and illustrious career, but who you probably can’t identify by name, or even where you’ve seen him”.

  8. Potato famine: There’s plenty to be found on the Wikipedia page about the impact on the population, the political scene, etc, and that it’s caused by Phytophthora infestans, but nothing about why it disappeared except that it seemingly reappeared in 1879. Does anyone know?

    I know Phytophthora as the cause of “root rot” in chestnut trees that is a big problem down south with the breeding efforts (not to be confused with the fungus that is responsible for the Chestnut Blight). In that case it’s a different Phytophthora – cinnamomi, and from what I understand, once it’s there, it doesn’t go away.

    So did resistant potato strains emerge or what?

    1. If “important” people (say, monarchs) died due to potato blight, we’d probably know a lot more about the disease than we do today.
      Did anybody even *keep* samples of (say) 1845 vs 1855 Irish Tatties?

  9. I suspect that the life expectancy business is due to the opiate epidemic. Graph also appears to stop short of COVID.

    1. I read in a related article that Covid is included in these latest results and it’s cited as one of the reasons for the decline. You can also see that the chart does indeed go past 2020 by a mm or so and I would interpret that as a couple years based on the chart’s 10-year brackets.

      1. Yes, the downward turn at the end looks like the Covid dip that was particularly steep in the US, and didn’t happen (yet) in China. Also, homicides got way worse since the George Floyd incident, but I guess they are still too infrequent to make much of a difference. The victims of homicides are young, though, so quite a few life years lost.

        1. The Covid dip was steep indeed in the US where many people still think the whole thing was a hoax…or worse, a hoax to specifically bring down their Trump demagogue. I read off-hand somewhere that in a recent rally, Trump referred to Covid as China-dust.
          Bigotry is all that’s left, it seems. Hopefully it won’t work. Depends on the youngins, who seem very riled up after Dobbs killed abortion. Killed abortion…two words that need repeating if the Dems are gonna stay on offense. Drama is the way politics is won these days.

    2. With around 100k deaths, the opiate “epidemic” is numerically incapable of being the tail that wagged that demographic d*g.

      1. Hmm, looks like you’re right. The number I came up with once (but don’t remember the source) was that they were half COVID in the first year – 2020, and so if that graph had been pre-COVID that’s how I came to that suspicion.

  10. Was that really the first computer bug? The wording “First actual case of bug being found” suggests the term “bug” was already in use. Edison had used the term much earlier according to the web.

    1. It was being cited as such in the early 70s, with the Grace Hopper/ log book/ sticky tape story. When most of those involved were still around.
      Hopper may, of course, bee playing to an existing joke (computer people and puns? Never!).
      I also think she’s manipulating my keyboard from the grave (been:>bee).

  11. Re: That Twitter video about Americans being ignorant – I always take such street interviews with a grain of salt. I’m not horrible at public speaking, but I’ve done a few interviews in front of a TV camera, and the situation always makes me just a bit flustered, and I don’t always answer the same way I would in a casual conversation. I’ve had brain freeze where I simply couldn’t think of basic facts that I obviously knew. Then couple that with the fact that videos like that are going to selectively edit to only show the people who give wrong answers and not the people giving right answers. Sure, you’d hope everybody could answer those basic questions, even under the stress of a recorded interview, but I’m not sure such videos really give an accurate representation of the overall knowledge base.

    1. My thoughts too. Assuming the whole thing was not staged and scripted—I’m naturally charitable that way—of course they selectively edit to include the ignoramuses. There was another video where someone asked new Harvard grads, on campus still with their mortarboards on, what caused the seasons. Most didn’t have a clue, some stated confidently that the reason was the earth was closer to the sun in the summer. Great fun.

      But the real fail is the inference about Trump voters. Most of the people interviewed look to me like folks the Democratic Party would be wooing, if I was going to stereotype. If the interviewer lives in a large Blue city, case made. He should have asked each subject a control question like, “In your opinion how many genders are there?” or just, “What do you think of Donald Trump?”

  12. Regarding the first computer bug…I wonder if Gilliam knew about that when he created the scene in Brazil where a fly gets caught in a printer changing the name on a warrant from Tuttle to Buttle and creates the sequence of events that leads to innocent Buttle’s demise.

    I knew Queen Elizabeth was a mechanic in WW2 from watching the 2005 movie The Queen. In which the events surrounding Princess Diana’s death is the subject. The Queen breaks her rover while crossing a stream and properly diagnoses the problem (something to do with the forward suspension iirc) and she mentions her time as a mechanic during the War.

    The bear was presciently named Toasty, since nowadays, he looks toasted. (Sorry, if that’s too much, I couldn’t help it!)

    That guy asking simple questions and getting stupid answers; I wonder how many people get the answers correctly before he runs into the comedic dufus. And I doubt the people portrayed voted for Trump, I would bet ignorant people like that are non-voters.

  13. As to Liz’s gustatory adventures … I read in the San Francisco Examiner today that the first time she ever ate in a restaurant was during her 1983 “state” visit to California, when in San Francisco she was taken to Trader Vic’s — nothing like a legendary Tiki bar. Also partook of a special Beach Blanket Babylon performance featuring a special Buckingham Palace hat designed for the occasion.

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