Wednesday: Hili dialogue

September 28, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a hump day (Púpos nap, as they say in Hungary): September 28, 2022. It’s National Strawberry Cream Pie Day, though I think strawberries are out of season. Here’s one, but I prefer straight strawberry pie, loaded with both cooked and uncooked berries. Hold the cream!

From an Aussie reader inspired by my paeans to the Chicago dog:

Here is my attempt at Chicago style hot dogs. I have never had them and I thought they looked great.  The only ingredient I could not source here where I live (Newcastle NSW) was a poppy seed bun.

I don’t see the sport peppers, and can’t be sure if there’s celery salt on them, but it’s a game try.  What the reader didn’t mention is whether the dogs were good. 

It’s also International Drink Beer Day, International Right to Know Day, World School Milk DayFreedom from Hunger DayInternational Day for Universal Access to Information, and  World Rabies Day

Stuff that happened on September 28 includes:

Originally the meter was defined as a segment of a geographical transect, and then codified by making standard metal bars:

A new unit of length, the metre was introduced – defined as one ten-millionth of the shortest distance from the North Pole to the equator passing through Paris, assuming an Earth flattening of 1/334.

For practical purposes however, the standard metre was made available in the form of a platinum bar held in Paris. This in turn was replaced in 1889 at the initiative of the International Geodetic Association by thirty platinum-iridium bars kept across the globe. The comparison of the new prototypes of the metre with each other and with the Committee metre (French: Mètre des Archives) involved the development of specialized measuring equipment and the definition of a reproducible temperature scale.

Here’s one of those 31 meter bars (#27) given to the US and “certified to have a length of 1 m-1.6 µm + 8.657 µm*T + 0.001 µm*T2 ± 0.2 µm, with T in degrees centigrade.”

Things are better now:

 Progress in science finally allowed the definition of the metre to be dematerialized; thus in 1960 a new definition based on a specific number of wavelengths of light from a specific transition in krypton-86 allowed the standard to be universally available by measurement. In 1983 this was updated to a length defined in terms of the speed of light; this definition was reworded in 2019.

The new speed-of-light-based meter:

The metre, symbol m, is the SI unit of length. It is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the speed of light in vacuum c to be 299792458 when expressed in the unit m⋅s−1, where the second is defined in terms of the caesium frequency ΔνCs.
The metre is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1299,792,458 of a second.

Here’s Fleming getting the Nobel Prize from the King of Sweden in 1945:

Here’s the demarcation line, shown during the recent Ken Burns documentary, “The U.S. and the Holocaust”. Of course the pact didn’t last long: the Nazis invaded the Russian bit of Poland and Russia itself on June 22, 1941.  Creating an Eastern Front was, of course, one of Hitler’s big mistakes.

  • 1941 – Ted Williams achieves a .406 batting average for the season, and becomes the last major league baseball player to bat .400 or better.

Williams was gutsy. As the NYT relates:

His batting average stood at .39955 with a season-finale doubleheader to be played the next day at Shibe Park, home of Connie Mack’s Athletics. Since batting averages are rounded to the next decimal, Williams could have sat out the final two games and still officially crested baseball’s imposing .400 barrier.

At the time, Williams said, “If I’m going to be a .400 hitter, I want more than my toenails on the line.”

And in that double-header Williams went six for eight, earning his .406 average, a spectacular accomplishment. His lifetime batting average was a remarkable .344.  Nobody has approached  Williams’s record in the last 81 years except Tony Gwynn, who hit .394 in 1994.

Here’s a short video showing Williams’s hits with some famous commenters (Ken Burns expresses his admiration at 1:50):

  • 1951 – CBS makes the first color televisions available for sale to the general public, but the product is discontinued less than a month later.

Da Nooz:

*As expected, all the referendums stage-managed by Russia in Russian-controlled areas of the Ukraine have voted for those areas to become part of Russia.

Pro-Moscow officials said all four occupied regions of Ukraine voted to join Russia. According to Russia-installed election officials, 93% of the ballots cast in the Zaporizhzhia region supported annexation, as did 87% in the Kherson region, 98% in the Luhansk region and 99% in Donetsk. Possibly explaining the lower favorable vote in Kherson is that Russian authorities there have faced a strong Ukrainian underground resistance movement whose members have killed Moscow-appointed officials and threatened those who considered voting.

In a remark that appeared to rule out negotiations, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy told the U.N. Security Council by video from Kyiv that Russia’s attempts to annex Ukrainian territory will mean “there is nothing to talk about with this president of Russia.”

Those numbers look deeply suspicious, and of course are bogus, reminiscent of vote tallies in North Korea or the old Soviet Union. I’m in fact surprised there are any votes less than 98%! Now the trouble begins:

The preordained outcome sets the stage for a dangerous new phase in Russia’s seven-month war, with the Kremlin threatening to throw more troops into the battle and potentially use nuclear weapons.

. . . Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to address Russia’s parliament about the referendums on Friday, and Valentina Matviyenko, who chairs the body’s upper house, said lawmakers could consider annexation legislation on Oct. 4.

Meanwhile, Russia ramped up warnings that it could deploy nuclear weapons to defend its territory, including newly acquired land, and continued mobilizing more than a quarter-million additional troops to deploy to a front line of more than 1,000 kms (more than 620 miles).

After the balloting, “the situation will radically change from the legal viewpoint, from the point of view of international law, with all the corresponding consequences for protection of those areas and ensuring their security,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.

Keep yapping, Peskov. You’re claiming that rigged elections, enforced by armed men collecting votes from door to door, now make Ukraine part of Russia.  I don’t think that any Western nation will buy your argument and your claims.

*As I’ve averred, I hoped that the Dobbs decision would poof wind into the sails of the Democrats as we approach the midterm elections. Most Americans supported the Roe v. Wade decision, and can’t be happy about what the conservative Supreme Court, and a lot of Republican-led states, are doing about abortion.

But conservative columnist Mark Thiessen at the Washington Post has other ideas in his op-ed, “Think abortion will salvage the midterms for you, Dems? Not a chance.” His example is Georgia governor Brian Kemp, a Republican who signed a bill banning abortion after just six weeks of pregnancy. He’s running for reelection against a liberal pro-choice Democrat, the well known Stacey Abrams.

Yet, according to the New York Times, “Georgia Democrats have grown increasingly pessimistic about [Democratic gubernatorial nominee] Stacey Abrams’s chances of ousting … Kemp from office.” Kemp is leading Abrams in every major poll including a new Marist College poll that shows him with a commanding 6-point lead. By contrast, Georgia’s Republican Senate nominee, Herschel Walker, is trailing Democratic Sen. Raphael G. Warnock by 5 points in the same Marist poll, and by 2.1 points in the FiveThirtyEight average. There’s a reason Walker is trailing while Kemp is winning — and it’s not abortion.

In other states like Ohio and New Hampshire, Republican governors who signed anti-abortion bills are favored, while several Republican Senate candidates in those same (and other) states are trailing. Thiessen’s diagnosis:

 In each case, the GOP is trailing because they nominated weak candidates who are struggling for reasons that have nothing to do with abortion.

Right now, Republicans enjoy the most promising political environment in decades. Biden is one of the most unpopular presidents at this point in his tenure since Harry S. Truman. On his watch, we have experienced the worst inflation in 40 years, the fastest drop in real wages in four decades, the highest gas prices ever recorded, the biggest rise in food prices since 1979, the worst crime wave in many cities since the 1990s, and the worst border crisis in U.S. history. If Republicans can’t capitalize on that series of fiascos, then they need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

Indeed, the Dobbs decision could not have come at a better moment for the GOP. If the court had ruled when the economy was strong, inflation was low, crime was under control and the border was secure, things might be different. But today, the only Americans who have the luxury of voting on abortion are affluent liberal elites who are insulated from the economic disasters besetting the rest of the country.

Thiessen argues the abortion boost is temporary and waning, and ends his piece this way:

The president’s party has lost, on average, 28 House seats and four Senate seats in midterm elections since 1934. This should not be an average midterm election. With all the serial catastrophes Biden and the Democrats have unleashed, there is no excuse for anything but a historic red wave this November.

If that red wave does not materialize, don’t blame the Supreme Court.

I suppose he would blame weak Republican candidates. But if the Senate goes Republican, I’ll move to Canada (only kidding!). But I will be upset

The latest from FiveThirtyEight:


*From the Torygraph: a British doctor was sanctioned for offering to pray with his patients. Dr. Richard Scott, a GP in Kent, and a pious Christian, has to now attend a course on “boundaries” after years of trying to push spiritual help (aka Jesus) on his patients.

A tribunal that could have taken away his right to practice was called off after a last-minute settlement with the NHS, but Dr Scott will have to attend a £500 one-day training course on “professional boundaries”.

The tribunal was due to consider complaints relating to a telephone interview Dr Scott took part in on BBC Radio 4 in 2019 discussing his use of prayer in his practice.

On the radio programme he also said: “As a Christian doctor you have to ask yourself, who’s your ultimate boss? And it’s not the GMC. It’s Jesus Christ.”

He said he offered spiritual care to around one in 40 patients, and around 80 per cent of people offered prayer or religious support accepted the offer.

The tribunal was set to begin in Ashford on Monday to determine whether he could still be allowed to work as an NHS doctor.

. . . Secularism UK said: “NHS Patients quite rightly expect to receive healthcare without having someone else’s religious beliefs imposed on them. Evangelism that targets people who are ill or vulnerable is exploitative and patients should be protected from it.”

Frankly, I’m surprised that this happened in the UK: the fact that a doctor’s license could be lifted if he continued to try to give spiritual help to his patients. Does this punishment, light at it is, surprise British readers? The NHS is a government organization, and in the U.S. government organizations aren’t allowed to proselytize. But the UK has no First Amendment.

*Like many people, I was shocked and saddened by the suicide of Anthony Bourdain. How could such a nice guy, who seemed to have such a wonderful job and a full life, do himself in? But of course we never know what demons haunt others if they “present well,” as the shrinks say. And Bourdain presented very well.

Now, as the NYT reports, an unauthorized biography of Bourdain, written by journalist Charles Leerhsen, is about to be published, purporting to reveal those demons.

On Oct. 11, Simon & Schuster will publish what it calls the first unauthorized biography of the writer and travel documentarian. “Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain” is filled with fresh, intimate details, including raw, anguished texts from the days before Mr. Bourdain’s death, such as his final exchanges with Ms. Argento and Ottavia Busia-Bourdain, his wife of 11 years who, by the time they separated in 2016, had become his confidante.

“I hate my fans, too. I hate being famous. I hate my job,” Mr. Bourdain wrote to Ms. Busia-Bourdain in one of their near-daily text exchanges. “I am lonely and living in constant uncertainty.”

. . . Mr. Leerhsen said in an interview that he wanted to write a book without the dutiful sheen of what he called “an official Bourdain product.” Indeed, he portrays a man who at the end of his life was isolated, injecting steroids, drinking to the point of blackout and visiting prostitutes, and had all but vanished from his 11-year-old daughter’s life.

“We never had that big story, that long piece that said what happened, how the guy with the best job in the world took his own life,” said Mr. Leerhsen, a former executive editor at Sports Illustrated and People who has written books on Ty Cobb, Butch Cassidy and a racehorse named Dan Patch.

Bourdain’s family is threatening to sue for defamation, but the publishers stand by the story. Interestingly, Bourdain’s wife, from whom he was separated but with whom he communicated constantly right up to the end, has no objections, despite the anguished emails, reproduced in the book, that Bourdain sent her.

Finally, there’s this:

Mr. Leerhsen is not the first person to try to explain the unknowable: why Mr. Bourdain killed himself. His book offers a theory.

I’ll let you read that bit for yourself, except to say that it involves, as you might have guessed, Bourdain’s paramour, actor Asia Argento—and the demons she aroused. This may be a gossip-y news item, but I was a big fan of Bourdain and his work, and could never figure out what went wrong.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is worried about the approach of winter, when she almost always stays inside—and doesn’t like it:

Hili: The geese are leaving for warmer lands.
A: We are staying at home.
Hili: I don’t know whether that’s sensible.
In Polish:
Hili: Gęsi odlatują do ciepłych krajów.
Ja: My zostajemy w domu.
Hili: Nie wiem czy to rozsądne.


Church humor from David:

From Facebook: a Dave Whamond cartoon:

From Bizarre and Wonderful World via Charitha Fernando:

Quokkas – they always look so happy..
A “quokka” mother and baby. Quokkas are unique to Rottnest Island off the coast of Western Australia.
Photo by @CruzySuzy

Women burn their hijabs in Iran; God approves:

Masih cuts off a bit of her hair: about the amount that got Mahsa Amini beaten to death when it peeked out from under her hijab. Amini’s death is somewhat like George Floyd’s: it unleashed a lot of repressed anger and may lead to substantial social change. And both were killed by the police

From Barry, a gorgeous hemipteran (the “true bugs”):

From the Auschwitz Memorial: 3 days at Auschwitz before he was murdered.

Tweets from Matthew. From the Onion. . . .

This is a wonderful thread of 19 tweets. Go have a look! Here are the first two; the carvings date from 1237-1249:

Can you spot the frogmouth? The answer, from Matthew, is below the fold:

Click “read more” to see the frogmouth:

Here’s the frogmouth, found by Dr. Cobb!

30 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. As I said when I forwarded it, I was surprised people didn’t just say “No, thank you, doctor” to their GP’s offer of prayer. Making a formal complaint and possibly making him lose his license and livelihood is a bit excessive. Though thinking about it, I expect it was not an atheist who complained – much more likely it was someone who had a different set of weird beliefs.
    Two related thoughts: firstly when the shoe is on the other foot, many patients told me they would pray for me when I developed leukemia and had to shut down for chemo the first time around. Perhaps they did so with a wry smile as I had made no secret of my atheism. But it would be churlish to argue with people trying to be kind and showing their care, which I admit was touching. I learned to say “Thank you. I’ll take all the help I can get.” I think this satisfied my main rule of life, which is that good manners solve most problems.
    The second thing is a story of unwanted proselytisation of a more sinister kind. I had a lovely Scottish patient in hospital for palliative care for lung cancer. An LPN kept leaving tracts at her bedside and telling her she had very little time to ‘be saved.’ The patient complained to me, saying it was distressing her. I’m afraid I had to report the LPN to our site manager and she was told to quit it. She apologised to me, which was uncomfortable as she was also my patient. I hope she apologised to the patient too. She was a Baptist, so I suppose it was a case of The Great Commission commissioning some more misery in the world.

    1. “Thank you. I’ll take all the help I can get”….good manners solve most problems. -yes indeed. Thank you Christopher!

    2. The problem here is the power imbalance and nature of religion. A patient is dependent on their doctor. They need their physician to be “on their side” and hoping for the best outcome. When this doctor asks if they want to pray, patients are thrust into a religious narrative. They know the authority almost certainly believes that people who pray do better than those that don’t. And people who pray are on his side, believing in God and the power of prayer. So how should they answer?

      They should say “yes” because it’s not worth the risk of saying “no.” Sure, this might be one of the Good Religious Guys who doesn’t hold negative views of people who refuse. But why take the chance? Why worry about a subconscious (or even conscious) desire to turn your outcome into the bad example in a touching story about the patients who did humble themselves before God?

      The coercion is implicit in the request, regardless of how personally tolerant and blameless the individual physician may be.

      1. Kind of like a high school football coach who invites players to pray with him in the middle of the field. Or for that matter, one who offers a kid a backrub in the locker room after the others have left.

    3. This is a topic I have struggled with for many years. We have several evangelical-type specialty physicians in our area who regularly offer to pray and even to “lay hands” on our mutual patients. Declining this offer is complicated by the fear of angering the physician who potentially holds your life in his hands.
      Until now, I have recommended they grin and bear it, and consider doing an athiest-Act of Contrition later. (Maybe a random act of kindness, or a whiskey and dog walk.)
      Maybe its time to confront my colleagues.

      1. Yes. Yes, Dr Mechling. It IS time to confront colleagues.

        Something Dr Coyne teaches and soooo helped me with thus:
        it IS for Us Gods’LESS to be F R E E TO … … MOCK religionists
        in re to … … their DELUSIONS.

        Certainly I am not advocating mocking a medical provider
        IN FRONT of her or his patients.


        When there are just that medical person and I ?
        I most certainly AM ABLE to respond that … … I, OF SCIENCE,
        shall NOT ” be expected ” to respect or to honor A N Y such magic and incantation.

        Dr Coyne:
        ” In religion, faith is a virtue.
        In science, faith is a vice. ”

        In NO way did any one of my patients … … all of ’em animals … …
        EVER want from me faith – i – ness. More than one of them THANKED me
        for MY practicing upon them all … … S C I E N C E. Only.


  2. Does this punishment, light at it is, surprise British readers? The NHS is a government organization, and in the U.S. government organizations aren’t allowed to proselytize. But the UK has no First Amendment.

    I guess the issue is fitness to practise, because prayer is not an effective remedy for the patients’ ailments, rather than the religious proselytizing per se. I’m surprised that he got off so lightly, but I suppose any recurrence will be treated more harshly.

  3. Masih cuts off a bit of her hair: about the amount that got Mahsa Amini beaten to death when it peeked out from under her hijab Some women here and in other countries are sending locks of their hair to Iranian embassies in protest against the regime’s treatment of Mahsa and her compatriots.

  4. Frankly, I’m surprised that this happened in the UK: the fact that a doctor’s license could be lifted if he continued to try to give spiritual help to his patients. Does this punishment, light at it is, surprise British readers?

    Not this British reader. In spite of our constitution, Britain is a very non-religious country. I put this down to the fact that there was a lot of bloodshed in the 16th and 17th century because of it, and we don’t want that happening again.

    1. We need to stay alert, however. About a year ago the Government announced a ‘Faith New Deal Pilot Fund’ with the aim of permitting and indeed encouraging faith groups to help deliver public services. (Full story here: They are also trying to water down the current agreement that faith groups mustn’t proselytise when doing this. In the House of Commons there is an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society which is stuffed with evangelical MPs and is continually trying to insert faith where it doesn’t belong. It is getting a lot of pushback from the National Secular Society and other organisations, but it needs watching.

    1. What he did introduce was hops. Before the English ale had to be very strong, but hops have a disinfectant effect which allowed beer to be weaker. Essentially before the Normans arrived, you were either drunk all the time or dying of dysentery.

  5. Re the the Tripitaka koreana and the “no known errors in its 52 330 152 characters,” this must be some orthodox ideological statement, as there is no way that any human scribes and/or engravers will have produced 50+ million characters with no errors. In fact, in the Wikipedia article on the Tripitaka, which includes the same statement, one also finds the following: ” … the National Preceptor Sugi, the Buddhist monk in charge of the project, who carefully checked the Korean version for errors, … published 30 volumes of Additional Records which recorded errors, redundancies, and omissions he found during his comparisons of the different versions of the Tripiṭaka.”

    1. I’m not sure that’s what they meant by “no known errors.”

      “The Tripitaka Koreana – carved on 81258 woodblocks in the 13th century – is the most successful large data transfer over time yet achieved by humankind. 52 million characters of information, transmitted over nearly 8 centuries with zero data loss – an unequalled achievement.”

      The context established in that tweet seems pretty clearly to be the performance of information storage media. By no errors what they mean is that the entire recording, every bit, is still readable. They don’t mean that the recording is error free in the sense that the humans that made it made no mistakes with respect to a source material. All the mistakes made by those humans that made the recording are all still perfectly readable to this day.

  6. From the polling it looks like most people don’t want abortion banned and most don’t want abortion until birth. I am not sure it’s an issue that will motivate a decisive number of voters, especially in a mid-term. Even more so given the severe negatives on crime and the economy that the Dems have to deal with.

  7. I respectfully disagree with Christopher Moss. It’s highly unlikely that the General Medical Council would have threatened to revoke the GP’s licence on the basis of a single complaint. The fact that he faced a GMC conduct hearing strongly suggests that he repeatedly pushed his religion on patients despite their objections.

  8. 1941 – Ted Williams achieves a .406 batting average for the season, and becomes the last major league baseball player to bat .400 or better.

    ’41 was the same season as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Joe D hit for a .357 average that year, more than enough to winning the AL batting crown in most seasons, but finished almost .050 points behind Teddy Ballgame.

    That was the last Major League Baseball season before the US’s entry into WWII.

  9. I’m sure the economy will be of more pressing interest than abortion to a large number of voters. I am also sure that at least half the voters will be certain to blame Biden and the liberal government, ignoring the reality of economic troubles worldwide, affecting liberal and conservative governments and ignoring how a conservative government in the UK is making a hard time even more difficult with their Reaganesque “trickle-down” economics.

  10. Keep yapping, Peskov.

    Dimitry Peskov is the Kremlin’s version of Baghdad Bob (aka “Comical Ali”), the infamous former Information Minister of Iraq. I’ve never been able to stand Peskov, or to stand Russia’s arrogant prick of a Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — though Lavrov didn’t look his usual arrogant self in his recent appearance before the UN, where he ducked in and out of the general assembly, so as not to be exposed to the opprobrium of the other members.

    1. But Iraq didn’t have nuclear weapons.
      Suppose Russia annexes the separatist republics. Or invokes Right of Conquest. The two concepts are different, the latter historically more legitimate but I’m not sure that either has been allowed since 1945. (The United States and Canada exist perfectly legitimately under Right of Conquest exercised by Britain.) But if Russia claims these territories as its sovereign territory, it also claims the right now to defend it with nuclear weapons should Ukraine continue to attack those regions in the cause of driving the Russians out. In the short term it doesn’t matter if the international order accepts the claim or treats it with derision. It matters only that Russia makes it.

      I don’t know if battlefield nuclear weapons have any utility against Ukraine ‘s spread-out and mobile military. The NATO scenario for using them was against highly concentrated Soviet armour and motorized infantry pouring through the traffic jam in the Fulda Gap. If modern-day Russia seeks to destroy Ukraine’s ability to fight it will have to attack population centres in the part of Ukraine that it does not intend to occupy and populate promptly..
      No one has tried this since 1945. But it worked then.

  11. Not at all surprised the Doctor might be banned. As a GP he is acting as a professional. His religion is personal and has no place in his GP practice. Wouldn’t matter what religion he professes the same would apply.

  12. Speaking of Russia: Putin is not currently recruiting 300,000 reservists for his criminal war, but rather a Volkssturm 2.0.

    There are also indications that the conscripted men receive practically no training at all but are taken away to the front after one or two days. The Ukrainian army claims to have already captured the some of Putin’s sacrificial lambs.

    1. Did they not do much the same during WWII? I recall reading about troops sent to the front without weapons, told to pick them up from dead comrades, and I believe POWs were considered deserters and executed, not sure the injured were treated much better. As far as I can tell, Russia has always treated their citizens as a disposable resource.

  13. “Any way the wind blows doesn’t really matter to ME, to me”
    When “talk” of releasing tactical nukes in Putin’s illegal war with Ukraine these lyrics pop into my head.

  14. I love the metric system. Did you know the US and Imperial inches are very slightly different? By about 3.7 millionths. Of course, these days there is the metric inch (more or less in the middle) to sort out the problem.

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