Friday: Hili dialogue

September 30, 2022 • 6:30 am

It’s the last day of the month: September 30, 2022, and October will come again. In Virginia, the chinkapins are falling. It’s National Mulled Cider Day, which of course is a harbinger of Fall.

It’s also German Butterbrot Day, Extra Virgin Olive Oil Day (get it at Costco, which has the pure stuff at a reasonable price), Chewing Gum Day, Hug a Vegetarian Day, National Bakery Day, International Blasphemy Rights Day, International Translation Day , National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, and Save the Koala Day.

Stuff that happened on September 30 include:

Suleiman is usually shown with a big white turban. Here is is as painted by Titian (attribution not certain) in 1530, when Suleiman was still alive:

  • 1791 – The first performance of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute takes place two months before his death.
  • 1888 – Jack the Ripper kills his third and fourth victims, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes.

What a monster! Here’s what he did to Edowes’s body after he slashed her throat:

Eddowes’s body was found in a corner of Mitre Square in the City of London, three-quarters of an hour after the discovery of the body of Elizabeth Stride. Her throat was severed from ear to ear and her abdomen ripped open by a long, deep and jagged wound before her intestines had been placed over her right shoulder, with a section of intestine being completely detached and placed between her body and left arm.

The left kidney and the major part of Eddowes’s uterus had been removed, and her face had been disfigured, with her nose severed, her cheek slashed, and cuts measuring a quarter of an inch and a half an inch respectively vertically incised through each of her eyelids. A triangular incision—the apex of which pointed towards Eddowes’s eye—had also been carved upon each of her cheeks, and a section of the auricle and lobe of her right ear was later recovered from her clothing. The police surgeon who conducted the post mortem upon Eddowes’s body stated his opinion these mutilations would have taken “at least five minutes” to complete.

  • 1935 – The Hoover Dam, astride the border between the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada, is dedicated.

Here is a short video of the highlights of Hoover Dam:

Nearly 34,000 Jews were shot over two days in a ravine (photo below). If done over 48 straight hours, that would be 708 people per hour or about 12 per minute.

  • 1962 – James Meredith enters the University of Mississippi, defying racial segregation rules.

Here’s a natty Meredith in 1962:

  • 1968 – The Boeing 747 is rolled out and shown to the public for the first time. It could hold 366 passengers.

Here’s the rollout.

Surprise! Wikipedia shows the drawings at the link, but I dare not reproduce them here or Pakistan will have the post taken down.

These aren’t particularly good van Goghs, but given his name they were worth a lot. Here they are:

Da Nooz:

*All Americans know the details of hurricane Ian, which has wreaked havoc across Florida, knocking out power throughout the state. Now,  out at sea, it’s predicted to turn landward again and inflict itself on South Carolina. The NBC Evening News devoted its entire program last night to the hurricane, but it’s a pretty bad one.

But here’s some good news from the bad: KITTEN RESCUE. Reader Darrell wrote this (names and words posted with permission):

Thought you might like this story, given the nature of most news these days. Last night as [Hurricane] Ian was brushing past us my daughter, Brianna, found a very young kitten huddled on the side of the road. He was in pretty bad shape. Cold, wet, emaciated and with wounds on his face and belly.
We’ve taken care of him and he has improved a good deal in the past 12 hours so I think he will make it. We will be taking him to our vet tomorrow morning to have him thoroughly checked out. Hoping for the best!

Meet the “storm kitten”. I think he should be named “Ian”:

Tomorrow’s Vet Day but he’s doing pretty well, all things considered:

*Man, Putin didn’t know what he was in for when he drafted a bunch of Russian reservists to fight in the Ukraine. As the Washington Post reports, not only are Russian men fleeing the country in droves, but protests are breaking out everywhere.

Through angry protests, acts of violence and an exodus of more than 200,000 citizens, Russians are rebelling against the prospect of further escalation of the war and the steep price they will probably pay.

Kremlin officials have downplayed the turmoil but the scenes coming out of Russia tell a different story, one of widespread opposition against a government known for quashing it. Dissent has been documented across the country even in areas that were previously quiet.

Here’s a map: yellow dots are protests, green ones are attacks against military recruiting centers. There are a lot of dots!

Rather than engaging in attacks or protests, many more young men seeking to avoid the war have opted to flee the country. Social media posts and satellite imagery showed miles of cars lined up at Russian border crossings as neighboring nations reported influxes of Russian migration.

Lines of cars stretched back at least nine miles from the Upper Lars checkpoint on the border with Georgia, far longer than the usual backup, according to Stephen Wood, senior director at Maxar Technologies. The traffic jams are visible both in satellite images and videos posted online.

You can leave, as these people did, so long as you haven’t gotten your summons to serve. Once that comes, you’re toast.

*Speaking of protests, nearly 80 people, nearly all of them civilians, have died in clashes with Iranian authorities as protests against the theorcratic regime and its headscarf mandate continue.  The situation has gotten so bad that the Iranian government was condemned even by the do-nothing United Nations:

The violence drew strong condemnation from the UN on Tuesday.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Geneva that the office was “very concerned by the continued violent response by security forces”. She urged the authorities to restore internet access and release those who had been detained.

Iran is stepping up arrests of protesters and journalists in a clampdown on the unrest, activists have said. Iranian riot police and security forces clashed with demonstrators in dozens of cities on Tuesday, state media and social media reported.

Iranian authorities’ official death toll remained at 41, which included several members of the security forces.

Officials said on Monday they had arrested more than 1,200 people.

Ms Shamdasani said there was no reason for security forces to use live ammunition to disperse protesters.

Radio Free Europe reports that, along with the clashes, Iranian women are simply taking off their headscarves as a protest.

Such acts of civil disobedience have increased in Iran, where the country’s “hijab and chastity” law requires women and girls over the age of 9 to wear a headscarf in public, since the death of a young woman in the custody of the morality police on September 16.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini has triggered over two weeks of angry protests in dozens of Iranian cities. During the ongoing rallies, some women protesters have removed and burned their headscarves, in a direct challenge to the clerical regime.

. . .A woman in Tehran who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution told RFE/RL that “things won’t go back to the way they were.”

“I used to remove my headscarf in some restaurants where I knew the owners,” she said. “I’m now determined to do it more often in public, it’s the least I can do after the death of Amini and the [state] violence,” she said.

Here’s a protestor, hair flying free. She knows she’s risking jail and even death doing this, but she does it anyway. My admiration for these women, who aren’t going to take it any more is unbounded:

*A radiation of jawed fish, the first vertebrates with jaws, appeared in the fossil record about 419 million years ago. The NYT reports on four new publications that push back the origin of jaws by about 14 million years, and suggest that they could have originated 485 million years ago. Where did they come from? We’ve long known that jaws evolved from the first pharyngeal arch, which in other species develops into a gill arch, a strut of bone supporting the gills. One pair moved forward and, voilà, jaws! (We don’t have the intermediate fossils, but we can see this happening during development.)

Jaws originated in “jawless fishes,” and the earliest ones are seen in the chondrichthyans, cartilaginous fish that include modern sharks and rays. But clearly jaws originated before that group split from the bony fish. Here’s one reconstruction of one of the earliest jawed fish:

(from the NYT) . . scientists found a collection of spines, scales and head-plates from an animal named Fanjingshania renovata. Credit: Heming Zhang

*We now know what killed Queen Elizabeth and when she died:

Queen Elizabeth II died of “old age,” according to her death certificate, which was released on Thursday by the registrar general of Scotland. The certificate, which lists her occupation as Her Majesty the Queen, also notes that the queen died at 3:10 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Balmoral Castle.

The first fact is indisputable, given that the queen was 96. But the report offers no further details about the cause of her death, which came two days after she was photographed standing and smiling as she greeted Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss.

The time of death, just after 3 p.m., is more revealing, coming more than three hours before Buckingham Palace announced it at 6:30 p.m. That indicates none of her family saw the queen just before her death, aside from King Charles III and his sister, Princess Anne, who were both already in Scotland on official duties.

Her two other sons, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, and her grandson Prince William arrived at Balmoral, in the Scottish highlands, shortly after 5 p.m., while Prince Harry, who traveled separately, did not get there until just before 8 p.m.

I’m not a doctor (I just play one at college), but can you really die “of old age”? Isn’t there something that just shuts down and does you in, or, if that happens, is it undetectable. Physicians, help me out here!

* Sent in by a reader: the form required for a their kid to get a flu vaccine. Note that there are three sexes, “male,” “female,” and “nonbinary”. The last one is not a human sex. And how does giving your gender identity promote the quality of your vaccination experience?

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is worried about the “value added tax” that applies to all EU countries:

Hili: Do we pay VAT tax on caught mice?
A: No if they are for private consumption.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy od złapanych myszy płaci się VAT?
Ja: Nie, jeśli są do własnej konsumpcji.


Several readers sent me this SMBC cartoon by Zach Weinersmith. It’s very clever, for it uses memes to arrive at the concept of replicators in biology—the reverse of how Dawkins presented it.

Re the first panel: not all evolution occurs by natural selection, so evolution rather than “evolution by natural selection” is more “fundamental.”

From Paul:

From Divy:

A Tweet of God, making fun of an American politician (can’t remember who), was removed this morning, so I’m substituting these two, retweeted by God, as He is now supporting the women of Iran in a big way.

And since Joan Baez was shown in that tweet, I went to her site and found this:

From Simon.  What is that fish biting as bait???

More heartening scenes from Iran:

From Masih:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. I share his kvetching about the lack of book reviews, especially because I used to write them for both Science and Nature. Philip Ball is an editor of Nature and also writes for it.

It’s amazing how animals can live with injuries or deformities. Look at this fossil!

They don’t make cartoons like they used to. Be sure not to miss the duck instrument!

31 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. …October will come again. In Virginia, the chinkapins are falling.

    A sure sign that Jerry’s fixin’ to go all Thomas Wolfe on us again. 🙂

  2. “Surprise! Wikipedia shows the drawings at the link, but I dare not reproduce them here or Pakistan will have the post taken down.”

    Hold my beer :


    It’s the more realistic likeness that nobody knows, because it is rarely, if ever, seen. Because, well, you know – the peace and love.

    And now I must flee.

      1. Sure, but that isn’t Evolution with a capital T, right? Artificial selection illustrates but is subsumed by evolution in the wild – is what I thought was suggested –

        That natural selection is the main mechanism, artificial is just the applied science of natural selection.

  3. IRT the cartoon on evolution, I’m reminded of something my anthropology teacher used to say (back in the Before Times when anthropology was taught as a science): “It’s not survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the fit.”

  4. Darrell, please let us know how the vet visit goes.

    I second Jerry’s suggestion for a name; I think Ian would be very appropriate.


    1. Just got done at the vet’s. He’s very malnourished, ear mites, intestinal parasites, eye infection and upper respiratory infection. We will need to quarantine him from other animals for 3 weeks. No shots or blood samples yet because he is too weak. Once we can get him up to about 2 lbs the vet will consider vaccinations and samples.

      He has no problems with eating so as long as the infections and parasites don’t drag him down before we get them under control I think he will gain weight / strength quickly. Since we found him, about 36 hours ago, we’ve been feeding him modest amounts every 3 to 4 hours and he has eaten it all, with gusto. The vet gave us a nutritional supplement and told us to let him have all the food he wants, which sort of surprised me. The wounds show no sign of infection or other issues and the vet decided that nothing needed to be done about them at the moment.

      The main thing is to fatten him up, which means getting the parasites and infection under control and feeding him.

      He’s a real sweetie, by the way.

      1. Thank you for the update.

        My experience with ear mites, intestinal parasites, and bacterial respiratory infections is that recovery from all responds quickly to intervention.

        Also, it makes sense to me that your vet recommended free-choice food. After a day and a half of rationed intake, if there were no adverse reactions, there is probably no reason why he can’t have as much as he needs.

        I don’t know if you feed wet food, but I have had good luck with Fancy Feast Kitten, pate style, which was recommended to me by a vet at Animal Humane of NM. That is what they feed all their orphan and rescue kittens, in addition to dry food. I found it to be very digestible for them.

        I’m not a vet, just someone with a lot of experience. I have been very lucky to have been mentored by several great vets.


        1. Thanks Linda, I appreciate the recommendations. We do like to feed our cats wet food and we started out feeding this little guy with what we had, Tiki Cat wet food that is mostly chopped sardines and a Blue Wilderness dry food. I’ll be picking up some kitten food today and I’ll be happy to try the Fancy Feast Kitten pate.

          1. It sounds like Ian will pull through. Good on Brianna and everyone else involved for saving that cute bugger. Did the vet say how old he is?

            1. Thanks Mark,

              The vet said he was too malnourished for the typical metric they use to determine the age of a kitten, which is weight, to be accurate. His best guess is about 6 weeks.

              He seems to be bouncing back pretty good already. He’s started playing even. Eat, play, meds, shit, sleep, repeat every 4 hours, that’s his job now.

  5. The protests in Russia and Iran go toward establishing the enduring verity of this tune by The Rascals, one of the best blue-eyed R&B bands ever:

  6. Speaking of elderly death… my parents died at 88 and 95. The cause of death for both was listed as “Failure to thrive” which I think is a bit of an understatement.

  7. My wife’s mother died in January at 93. During her last few years she seemed to have everything wrong with her except for cancer, yet she persisted. Her mind was good, but she was getting smaller and smaller and more and more frail. Her heart and breathing failed immediately before her death, but only after supplemental oxygen was removed. She seemed to die simply of “old age.”

    When I think about someone dying of old age I think about it as a “failure to maintain homeostasis.” At some point, so many systems are operating poorly that the body’s natural feedback mechanisms (or drugs) cannot adjust the chemistry of the body sufficiently so as to maintain it in a steady state. The whole system collapses. The proximal cause is heart and respiratory failure, but the underlying cause is failure of homeostasis. I’m not a medical doctor, but that’s how I think of it.

    1. I think that is a rational formulation, Norman.
      Middle-aged people who die abruptly without clear signs of a precipitating disease usually have autopsies, particularly because foul play needs to be ruled out. Only if they survive long enough to have an ECG or blood tests can a diagnosis of heart attack be made before death. Autopsy may show a coronary thrombosis or at least severe atherosclerosis to support a diagnosis of sudden cardiac death.

      People over 80 rarely get autopsies if death seems timely and due to natural causes, even if somewhat unexpected. A person in failing health may not want to have blood tests and heart monitors in their final hour. In those circumstances, “old age” or “senescence” may be an appropriate cause of death to put on the death certificate.

      Registrars of vital statistics will send death certificates back to the doctor who attended at death for a re-think if there seems to have been an insufficiently diligent assignment of the cause of death. So if the UK’s Registrar is satisfied, “old age” it is.

      Edit: sorry for the typos. The comment window is too small to see what I am typing.

      Edit2: The coroner has to be notified of deaths under certain statutory conditions. In those circumstances, the attending physician does not complete the death certificate. The coroner does so after her review and the results of any autopsy or forensic tests she orders are available.

      1. According to another article I read about the queen’s death certificate, it is legit for physicians to state that old age is the cause of death if: the person was 80 or older, if the physician had personally observed the patient to grow frailer over an extended period of time, and if there was no other obvious cause of death (such as an accident). It is acknowledged that old age, in and of itself, is not a cause of death. But since there is usually no driving need to ascertain the immediate cause of death in very elderly people who die peacefully in their beds, allowing doctors to cite ‘old age’ seems like a wise decision.

  8. can you really die “of old age”?

    I am not a doctor. My impression is that, like HIV and various other issues, old age does not kill. They set up a series of conditions that make it more likely that your already inevitable death will occur sooner. Many HIV and COVID patients technically died of pneumonia.

    Overall, I think we need a more consistent logical framework for examining and defining what kills people. We’re all doomed to die from the moment we’re born. The only question is how. I’d prefer that all deaths be voluntary.

    the form required for a their kid to get a flu vaccine. Note that there are three sexes, “male,” “female,” and “nonbinary”. The last one is not a human sex

    Even for the one-in-ten-thousand or so hermaphrodites?

    I find it fascinating that the form included both gender AND sex. I would love to see what the drop-down options for ‘gender’ are (Could the reader who posted the form please share?). Unfortunately, I don’t trust people to answer ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ as two separate questions. Maybe people should start replacing the ‘sex’ question with ‘Chromosomes’: “XX”, “XY”, “Other”.

    1. Common misconception.
      Death certificates use a hierarchy of death causation.
      Cause of death:
      due to
      due to

      Then there is an adjacent panel where the doctor writes in “”Other significant conditions contributing to death but not in the causal chain.”

      The cause of death registered in vital statistics will be the last in the numbered chain.. So both stroke and pneumonia as #1 due to (in the doctor’s opinion) Covid infection would be classified as death due to Covid infection, regardless of the particular manifestation of infection. If diabetes was listed as a contributing condition, it would not be called a death due to diabetes.

      I think this system long in use by the World Health Organization goes a good way to answering your concerns about a logical framework for assigning cause of death.

      During the Covid pandemic there was much politically motivated confusion sown about whether people died with Covid or of Covid. A properly completed death certificate would make it clear which was which.

      1. Thanks for the clarification! I just did an image search for “death certificate”. I was surprised to see just how consistent that is across various jurisdictions.

  9. the form required for a their kid to get a flu vaccine. Note that there are three sexes, “male,” “female,” and “nonbinary”. The last one is not a human sex. And how does giving your gender identity promote the quality of your vaccination experience?

    Maybe this has no medical but a social background to avoid so-called micro agressions? So that the vaccination team knows how to address the child, namely as “he”, “she or “they”.

      1. Another possibility: It is simply an official requirement that must be met. It would not be the first time that the authorities demand something that makes no sense at all. 🙂

    1. Probably still not a good idea. The sexes have very different immune responses (for example females are much more prone to autoimmune diseases than men) so if the sex isn’t known accurately then if there was a problem the patient might got the rapid treatment required.

  10. Perhaps the courage Iranian women are showing in rejecting the forced hijab will stop the west’s incessant lionizing of women “brave” enough to wear it.

    Yeah, wishful thinking, I know.

  11. From the The WSJ: “Can You Die of Old Age? More Doctors Are Saying Yes” —

    It seems that in Japan “old age” as a cause of death is more widely accepted.

    For interested readers for whom The WSJ’s paywall might be an obstacle, here are some excerpts:

    — Still, concern remains about overuse of the term, especially if it suggests that doctors and medical staff didn’t try to figure out what was wrong with an aging patient or gave up on treatment that could have helped.

    — Dr. Iguchi, who is 78, said that when he was a young doctor, his colleagues considered it shameful to write down old age on a death certificate because it meant they failed to identify the underlying cause, which they had been taught must exist behind every death under Western medical practice generally adopted in Japan. Dr. Nagao said some doctors, particularly at university hospitals, continue to avoid the term because it has yet to be medically defined.

    — Dr. Nagao said rōsui [old age] wasn’t a disease but a natural ending. “It’s part of Japanese culture that could be part of global culture too,” he said.

  12. Some fish follow urine, and small species can lodge them selves in the penis. I imagine that fish is going after the urine-making thingy. Just a theory, which is mine. Either way, OUCH! And think of the psychological horrors! 😱 I’d never enter the water again.

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