Friday: Hili dialogue

January 13, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the end of the work week: Friday, January 13, 2023 (yes, it’s Friday the 13th): National Peach Melba Day, which sounds good but I’ve never tried (read about the origin here):

Bowl of Peach Melba – vanilla ice cream with peaches and raspberry sauce. From here.

It’s also Korean American Day, International Skeptics DayOld New Year‘s Eve (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Serbia, Montenegro, Republic of Srpska, North Macedonia), and its related observances: Malanka (Ukraine, Russia, Belarus), and National Rubber Ducky Day. Here’s a ducky Nativity scene:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 13 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Obituary: Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis (her mother was Priscilla Presley, who’s still with us), died yesterday at the age of only 54. She had attended the Golden Globes only two days before, and the cause was a heart attack:

The announcement came just hours after Priscilla Presley had confirmed that Lisa Marie Presley was rushed to the hospital earlier Thursday.

Los Angeles County paramedics were dispatched to a Calabasas home at 10:37 a.m. following a report of a woman in full cardiac arrest, according to Craig Little, a spokesperson for the county’s fire department. Property records indicate Presley was a resident at that address.

Paramedics arrived about six minutes later, Little said. A subsequent statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said paramedics performed CPR and “determined the patient had signs of life” before taking her to a hospital in nearby West Hills immediately.

Last night it was announce only that she’d been hospitalized (no cause given). She had been married to married to musician Danny Keough, singer Michael Jackson, actor Nicolas Cage, and music producer Michael Lockwood. (I had no idea.)  Here’s a photo of her from the Golden Globe.

*Harriet Hall, whom many of us knew from Science-Based Medicine, also died suddenly two days ago. (h/t: Ginger K.) Hall was 77, a skeptic (I met her at TAM—James Randi’s “The Amazing Meeting”—years ago and found her a lovely person), and one of the first female Air Force flight surgeons. She was on this website most recently when her SBM colleagues took down a positive review that Hall had written about Abigail Schrier’s book Irreversible Damage (see here for the skinny). Here’s Hall at TAM in 2009:

*The next-to-the-top news is that In-N-Out Burger, a staple of the West Coast, is moving east, planning to open a single store in Tennessee in 2026. Why so long? And why not Illinois. I’ll be too old to eat ’em by the time they get here! Ask one who knows (or, rather, knew):

*Is Biden going to get in trouble now that they’ve found two batches of classified documents in places where he worked as Vice President? He didn’t withhold them or pretend they didn’t exist, as Trump did, and I don’t see his situation as identical to Trump’s by any means, but nevertheless Republicans are howling their fool heads off and now Attorney General Ted Garland has named a special counsel to investigate the Biden “perfidy”:

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed a special counsel on Thursday to look into President Biden’s handling of classified documents from his time in the Obama administration. The appointment of Robert K. Hur, a veteran prosecutor who worked in the Trump administration, came after the White House revealed this week that documents from Mr. Biden’s time as vice president had been found in two locations.

Here’s what to know:

  • Mr. Hur is responsible for investigating “the possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records discovered” at the office of Mr. Biden’s think tank in Washington and his residence in Wilmington, Del., according to the order signed by Mr. Garland. Mr. Hur said in a statement that he would be swift and thorough, and conduct the investigation with “fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment.”

  • The Biden administration said on Monday that “a small number” of documents had been found in an office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement on Nov. 2, and were retrieved by the National Archives the next morning. On Thursday, the White House said a second set of documents had been found in a storage area in his garage. That discovery was reported to the Justice Department on Dec. 20, Mr. Garland said.

  • Mr. Biden said earlier Thursday that he was “cooperating fully and completely” with the Justice Department, but otherwise deflected questions after remarks on inflation at the White House. A reporter asked why he would store classified papers near his Corvette, and Mr. Biden replied, “My Corvette’s in a locked garage, so it’s not like it’s sitting out on the street.”

  • There are now two special counsels looking into a former president and a sitting president — Jack Smith was appointed in November by Mr. Garland to oversee the two investigations into former President Donald J. Trump.

The Republicans are just itching to get at President Biden (aka “Uncle Joe”) and this is their opportunity. Given half a chance, they’d move for impeachment in the Senate, but they can’t win there: it takes a 2/3 vote to convict.

*Speaking of Presidents, the Washington Post revealed a bizarre revelation in the trial of the head of the jingoistic and neo-fascist Proud Boys organization. Can you imagine this happening? (My bolding below.)

Opening statements are underway in the trial of longtime Proud Boys Chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other associates of the right-wing group charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

For over an hour, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough showed jurors violent video and profane audio of the defendants, saying the evidence is overwhelming that they planned to keep President Donald Trump in power by force. Two years after the attack, the trial is one of the most high profile of the sprawling investigation into the day’s events.

“You will see the private communications, you will see the public statements, you will see their coordinated actions, you will see the celebration of the group’s activities, they will attempt to cover their tracks,” McCullough said. “You will know by the way they took direct aim at the certification of the election results, this is the direct result of their actions.” Invoking Trump’s infamous words at a 2020 presidential debate, McCullough said, “They did not stand back, they did not stand by.”

Now how the deuce did the Proud Boys plan to keep Trump in office by force. Were they going to ask Trump to order the Army to protect him and repel those who would displace him? That shows how insane the group really is. Well, they’ll soon be locked up.

*I wasn’t aware until I saw Wednesday’s evening news that domestic air traffic in the US came to a complete standstill on Wednesday morning. That’s right: not a single flight took off: there was a complete ground hold. And the delays persisted until yesterday. Why? Because there was a glitch in an outdated computer system:

The FAA ordered the ground stop after its Notice to Air Missions system, which provides safety information to pilots, sustained an outage that the agency blamed on a damaged database file. Biden administration officials and cybersecurity experts said that the cause didn’t appear to be a cyberattack.

They rebooted the system, but that took some time what with the corrupted file, and the delays of course ramified over two days. The system needs updating very badly:

Technology systems that allow the FAA to manage significant amounts of aviation information haven’t always been prioritized by elected officials in recent years, former agency officials said. For example, the 2021 infrastructure bill directed FAA funding toward air-traffic control facilities and airport infrastructure projects, according to an agency presentation.

FAA efforts over the years to upgrade air-traffic control technology have “struggled in some respects and one cause that has been pointed to has been the lack of stable, consistent funding,” said Arjun Garg, former chief counsel at the FAA.

When the Transportation Department made its annual budget request to Congress last year for the FAA, it sought $29.4 million to accelerate development of a program that would let the agency eliminate what it called “failing vintage hardware” that currently supports the Notam alert system. The system has failed at least two other times since early 2021, industry officials said, though in those cases the FAA was able to avoid widespread impacts to flights.

“It’s been in need of an upgrade for quite some time,” said Joel Wade, a former FAA official who dealt with the system before he retired from the agency in 2021. “They should have done it a long time ago.”

I have two trips overseas coming up, and I tell you: I have little confidence that any of those flights out of the U.S. will leave on time. There will be either bad weather or a computer glitch, and either can foul up traffic for days.

*The BBC (and other sites) report that the word “Brownies” (a subgroup of the organization) has been dropped by Canada’s Girl Guides. (h/t Mark, Colin). If you are a sentient being in the West, you will know why, but let the BBC explain:

The Girl Guides of Canada has renamed the “Brownies” branch – who are now called the “Embers” – after the old name was deemed too racially divisive.

“Embers are full of potential and when they work together, they can ignite a powerful flame!” the Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) tweeted on Wednesday.

The group said in November that the old name had caused “harm” to some minority members, and kept girls from joining.

CEO Jill Zelmanovits says the girls have been very open to the name change.

“After hearing from our girl, youth and adult members, it was resoundingly clear that this was the preferred choice,” Mrs Zelmanovits said in a news release.

“We can’t wait to keep bringing the magic of Girl Guides to girls ages seven and eight, now with the name Embers.”

The decision came after input from current and former members, who said that the previous name “caused harm and was a barrier to belonging for racialised girls and women”.

What are the Brownies? From the DH news:

The program for seven and eight-year-olds is one of several in the Girl Guides suite — including Sparks, Guides, Pathfinders, and Rangers. All of the programs teach outdoor skills and teamwork and encourage kids to find their voice.

Well, it sound dubious to me, and I have severe questions about how much “harm” this caused (all we ever get is the claim, never even a quotation), but, as Vonnegut said, so it goes. But will we have to change the name of the pastry as well? “Brownbagging” lunch has already been declared off limits.

*You know, I used to bash the Huffington Post for years, but I got tired of it; the site is just an illiberal leftist rag that depends on Twitter for its continued existence. But for the first time in about a year, I looked at it today, and found one article asserting that Prince Harry’s new ghostwritten memoir, Spare, is full of mistakes, some of them not trivial. Time and places and events are out of place, or didn’t happen at all. In fact, the ghostwriter himself, who reportedly got a cool million for his job, tweeted this out:

Get a load of that. “So-called objective facts”! Is he a postmodernist now?

Some of Harry’s errors:

[The “faulty memory tweet”] follows the media reporting on a series of claims in “Spare” that they say are not true.

They include the inaccurate suggestion that King Henry VI was his “great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather”; that following Princess Diana’s death he was given an Xbox (four years before its release); and where he was when he learned of the Queen Mother’s death.

And this isn’t faulty memory, but an arrant whopper:

The highlighted article says this:

Harry revealed that despite receiving an official clothing allowance from his father, he would shop for his “everyday casual clothes” in TK Maxx, adding that he was “particularly fond” of the discount store’s annual sale.

But a spokesperson has refuted this, as they told “Whilst we’re delighted Prince Harry is a big fan, we thought we should explain we don’t actually do sales. Instead, we offer great value, style, and savings all year round.”

Harry recounts vivid memories of those sales in his book.  And some of his “mis-memories” are pretty recent:


I tell you, if you can’t trust him on the little things, you can’t trust him on the big ones. I never was keen on Harry or Meghan, as I think they’re a couple of self-aggrandizers who want to turn themselves into American royalty. Well, that’s my Royalty Rant for the month.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is making biscuits!  And the picture is lovely, too.

A: Why do you knead me before you lie down on me?
Hili: I have to check whether there are any broken ribs sticking out that could harm me.
In Polish:
Ja: Dlaczego mnie udeptujesz, zanim się na mnie położysz?
Hili: Żeby sprawdzić, czy nie wystają z ciebie jakieś połamane żebra, bo mogłabym zrobić sobie krzywdę.


From Marie, a Charles Addams cartoon:

From Jesus of the Day, a poor translation:

From a Facebook site, an analogue to Serrano’s “Piss Christ”:

Over at Mastodon, God shows that he’s been reading the woke literature:

From Masih: a protestor released from prison

From Malcolm: a Guatemalan volcano erupting about five months ago:

From Simon: a comedy of errors. Be sure you watch till the end, and sound up:

From cesar. I haven’t verified whether this letter, purportedly from the president of Hamhanded University and refusing to back down on the Muhammad issue, is genuine. If it is, the Presient should be the woman who was fired!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman dead at 20.

Tweets from Professor Cobb. The first I’ve put up before, but will do so again. The New World as a duck!

And another duck tweet. I feel like the one in the middle:

61 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1815 – War of 1812: British troops capture Fort Peter in St. Marys, Georgia, the only battle of the war to take place in the state.

    1840 – The steamship Lexington burns and sinks four miles off the coast of Long Island with the loss of 139 lives.

    1842 – Dr. William Brydon, an assistant surgeon in the British East India Company Army during the First Anglo-Afghan War, becomes famous for being the sole survivor of an army of 4,500 men and 12,000 camp followers when he reaches the safety of a garrison in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

    1888 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C.

    1898 – Émile Zola’s J’accuse…! exposes the Dreyfus affair.

    1910 – The first public radio broadcast takes place; a live performance of the operas Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci is sent out over the airwaves from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

    1942 – Henry Ford patents a soybean car, which is 30% lighter than a regular car.

    1942 – World War II: First use of an aircraft ejection seat by a German test pilot in a Heinkel He 280 jet fighter.

    1968 – Johnny Cash performs live at Folsom State Prison.

    2021 – Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump is impeached for a second time on a charge of incitement of insurrection following the January 6 United States Capitol attack one week prior.

    1900 – Gertrude Mary Cox, American mathematician (d. 1978).

    1926 – Michael Bond, English author, created Paddington Bear (d. 2017).

    1961 – Wayne Coyne, American singer-songwriter and musician. [Included as per our host’s lists in the past for people sharing his surname.]

    1965 – Bill Bailey, British musician and comedian.

    1975 – Andrew Yang, American entrepreneur, founder of Venture for America, and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

    Definitely deceased:
    888 – Charles the Fat, Frankish king and emperor (b. 839). [Great name!]

    1832 – Thomas Lord, English cricketer, founded Lord’s Cricket Ground (b. 1755).

    1864 – Stephen Foster, American composer and songwriter (b. 1826) [Gone from the earth to a better land I know,
    I hear their gentle voices calling “Old Black Joe”.
    Is he cancelled yet…?]

    1882 – Wilhelm Mauser, German engineer and businessman, co-founded the Mauser Company (b. 1834). [Did the company employ cats?]

    1929 – Wyatt Earp, American police officer (b. 1848).

    1941 – James Joyce, Irish novelist, short story writer, and poet (b. 1882).

    2009 – Patrick McGoohan, Irish-American actor, director, and producer (b. 1928). [I am not a number! I am a free man!]

    2010 – Teddy Pendergrass, American singer-songwriter (b. 1950).

        1. Indeed. Many Iron Maiden songs are based on literary and/or historical themes. While not in the category of Ian Anderson or Neil Peart or even Roger Waters, the lyrics are head (or should that be ‘ead) and shoulders above most heavy-metal lyrics. And most of the music is very good. I had been put off by their goofy image for decades before finally hearing a song (by chance while surfing YouTube) and was surprised at how much good stuff I had missed.

          Fun fact: there is more variety among heavy metal, with all its subgenres, than in the rest of music combined. Seriously.

    1. There were three Frankish kings around the same time: Charles the Fat, Charles the Bald, and Charles the Simple. It’s a bit hard to keep up but:

      Charles the Bald, King of West Francia, 840-877

      Charles the Fat, King of East Francia, 882-887. King of West Francia 884-887
      same birthday as Charles the Bald (June 13)

      Charles the Simple, King of West Francia, 898-922
      son of Charles the Bald

      There will be an exam on this next week

      1. They (“Francia”) had a lot of Louis too, with appropriate aides memoires :
        Louis I, the Pious, 814-840
        Louis II, the Stammerer, 877–879
        Louis IV, Transmarinus, 936–954 (“from overseas”, since he grew to be a teenager in the court of Wessex)
        Louis V, the Sluggard, 986–987

        “East Francia” (sort-of Germany) put their communal oars in with :
        Louis II, the German, 843–876
        Louis III, the Younger, 876–882
        Louis the Child, 899–911

        With such examples, you’d think that Lil & Phil the Greek would have taken thought before setting things up for Charles III, Big Ears and Talker-to-Plants (2022 – …). But hey ho, there are probably laws against lése majesté so that’ll be alright then.

    2. IRT Stephen Foster, his cancellation has been brewing for a long while, what with academic papers having been written about his connection with blackface and minstrelsy. It’s just a matter of time before he’s rubbed out. Then, what’s going to happen to the state song of Florida, “Old Folks at Home, aka Swanee River?”

      1. Whoopi Goldberg has said that it’s racist to refer to coffee as “a cup of Joe” because it started with the song “Old Black Joe.”

        1. Your comment reminds me of one of my coworkers many years ago. Whenever I went in a coffee run for us, she would remind me that she liked her coffee the color of Eartha Kitt’s skin to give me a clue as to how much cream she wanted in her cup.

  2. Things like chronology and cause-and-effect are often just fables we tell ourselves about the past.

    Fables we tell ourselves, or fables he tells us? Harry’s a little shit.

  3. Dear Girl Scouts – you’re drunk, go home.

    Or, in DVD case synopsis format :

    Bad name smore girl make new future with hot fire rock.

  4. He didn’t withhold them or pretend they didn’t exist. . . .

    Except that he did. The first batch revealed to us was found on November 2, and the Administration said nothing publicly about them for two months. Then it turned out there were more, “stored securely” in his garage, which he apparently didn’t bother notifying NARA or the DOJ about. And then another document was found. Are there more that they aren’t telling us about? Likely. As Senator Kennedy reminded us, if it weren’t for double-standards, Washington wouldn’t have any standards at all. As to the outcome, I’ve seen more than one person suggest that the Dems will use this as the excuse to get rid of Biden. I would have thought his obvious mental decline would have been enough, but I guess that would have left them open to the obvious question of why wait until now.

    1. And, of course, whoever originally had the documents found in the closet, they didn’t tell NARA or DOJ until years had gone by.

      1. I am surprised and disappointed by what appears to be a pretty cavalier attitude toward classified documents by some members of both parties. I do not know if this behavior is by career civil servants, political appointees, or contractors, but, as I have written here before, I never saw this attitude in my more than thirty years in government service with NASA. EVERY classified document that was ever checked out to me had to be accounted for before I retired. My bosses always modeled proper procedures and respect in handling classified information, regardless of its level of classification.

        1. EVERY classified document that was ever checked out to me had to be accounted for before I retired.

          Surely “at the end of the project they were associated with”? – At least until the last few years / longer projects of your career.
          More than a few times I had to do the clean-up of the rig for confidential material as part of the procedure for handing the rig over to another oil company. Which would involve physically searching cupboards, computers, storage containers etc for documents and data. Could take days.
          Of course, that would be while in the process of writing the final reports, because you can’t do that without access to the well’s records and data. Ditto for QC-ing final logs …
          Busy time.

          1. We had a list, which was kept current. I would have a certain number of classified documents that lived in my safe. If I had a reason to take one in the field, I would make a notation, then note when it was returned. Obsolete documents would be burned, or shredded in a secure shredder if one was available. The destruction inventory was witnessed by another officer, as was the destruction itself.
            When I was relieved, I would go over the inventory with my relief, and we would both check that everything was there, and sign the turnover inventory. Some items were under seal, and I would have to receive specific orders to break the seal. The seals were checked at turnover as well.
            The documents were always kept in a safe issued for that purpose, with a big sign on it confirming that it was locked.

            Classified digital communications were accessed on a special computer. You always had to log in securely. you could not use that computer for anything else. You could not plug in a flash drive, or access the normal internet. You could not print stuff.

            Normal internet, professional, and personal stuff was done on a completely different computer.

            Everyone I worked with took all of this very seriously.

          2. Sorry gravel – i did not see this until later tonight. Any classified documents checked out to me were kept in a safe in my office. That safe was qualified by our security office to-be appropriate at the classification level or above for the documents at hand. So they would not have been scattered about, but totally contained in a properly qualified safe. My office was not a scif, but any time a classified document was outside of the safe or the safe was unlocked, i had to be in the room with the door closed. Some documents were needed for onlya few weeks and returned then to our classified library. But as i said, at the end of my employment or at the end of my security clearance whichever was sooner, everything had to be accounted for as our classified library had records of each document and who they were checked out to.

        2. Jamie Gangel, a reporter from CNN, told Anderson Cooper last night that her sources tell her that people at the National Archives think little of this imbroglio and are chalking this up as nothing more than a packing error committed by Biden’s aides. Gangel also noted that some of the material was likely “perishable” in that low-level security stuff tends to expire as the years go by. I predict that Hur will soon close this investigation with no charges. That, of course, will enrage many Republicans.

          But it is odd that the system is so lax. If a Vice President or anyone receives a classified document, why isn’t there a system in place to make sure the material is returned? So strange.

      2. The government classifies so many documents it is hard to take it seriously. This has been going on for a long time. 40 years ago I remember scratching my head over why the algebra book used by the Navy for training was classified.

        It is all nonsense.

        I remember at one point *The Nation* proposed to declassify everything, and then let our adversaries try to figure out what is important and what is not. They called it the “spy library.”

    2. One should now wonder about yet more documents. But also whether other presidents have done the same. The security around these things is far too lax. Trump is still considerably worse for his behavior surrounding them, but still, yes its very bad of Biden too.
      I thought they were to be handled in secure locations, only but I guess not! I propose that all documents considered sufficiently sensitive be tagged with one of those magnetic security strips that you have for store valuables (electronics, etc.). And the facility that holds them is guarded by one of those scanning pillar thingies that will loudly announce when someone tries to walk past them with a security tagged item. I think even items in a briefcase will get detected.

          1. I just remember the CIA being bent out of shape because he’d visit Langley all the time and wasn’t careful about handling documents. But I disagree about “Because he’s a Cheney.” It’s because he’s a Dick Cheney…I wouldn’t say that about his daughter. Anyway, it wasn’t a serious comment.

  5. I’m sorry to hear about Harriet Hall: she was one of the good ones. I hope Gorski and Novella will pause and think about the way they treated her, but I’m probably being over-hopeful, and they’ll write about how sad they are.

  6. On the subject of Prince Harry’s memories, I see you posted JR Moehringer’s tweet quoting the prince twice. Is that a mistake, or a subtle joke about memory?

    Also, the number of “greats” in “great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather” takes us back to Frederick, son of George II (following the line of succession). George II lived from 1727 to 1760. Henry VI lived from 1422 to 1471 and he was probably the most pathetic king England ever had. He also only had one child who was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury before he could have any children, which means Henry VI has no descendants living today. I don’t know the context in which the claim was made because I’m not going to read the book, but my guess is that Harry meant Henry VII who is Prince Harry’s direct ancestor, although many more than seven times great grandfather.

    On the Alien plot summary, it’s interesting that they refer to the “big elephant man” because John Hurt who played the crewman who had the alien hatch out of his chest also played The Elephant Man in the eponymous film.

    1. I think “elephant man” refers to that enigmatic scene with the “space jockey” thing – is it a creature? Turns out yes, but in the movie, it’s unclear (IMHO) – thus, is a powerful device for developing the entirely unsettling feeling.

      But damn, you know your cinema.

      How about other notable actors in Alien – Alonso Mosely from Midnight Run, and (I think) the bartender guy in The Shining and Blade Runner, … can’t recall the other ones… I’ll have to look it up…

        1. It did have some mechanism attached to its face that might have made it seem as though it was elephantoid in some way…and it was big, of course, but was clearly anthropoid in shape otherwise. Maybe that’s where the elephant thing came from.

          I DO like the coincidence with John Hurt/Elephant Man, though. I think ThyroidPlanet is thinking of Harry Dean Stanton who was Brett in Alien, the first victim of the fully-grown xenomorph, but though he’s been in many fine movies, including Pretty in Pink (a surprisingly good teen romantic comedy) he didn’t play Lloyd in the Shining, nor Tyrell in Blade Runner–that was Joe Turkell. Of course, Yaphet Kotto WAS in Alien, the second toughest member of the crew (after Ripley) and he was also in Midnight Run and oodles of other things, including Live and Let Die. And, of course, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, and of course, Veronica Cartwright (who was too good at acting scared and so got cast as some very unlucky characters in Alien and Invasion of the Body Snatchers) have all been in numerous films. What a great cast! That’s at least part of why the original Alien stands out after so long.

          1. Holy… yes – it was interesting, wondering who will get it next – Tom Skerritt didn’t strike me as doomed – I thought he’d survive. Likewise with most of the cast – the Cartwright no, because she was so frazzled. It challenged (I guess) the viewer, it _surprised_ the viewer.

            IAN HOLM! BILBO!

            [ mind b l o W NNN ]
            [ again ]

            … I previously knew Holm was the android. Still amazing!

          2. A friend who saw Alien before I did told me that “…they all die.” I was happily surprised at the ending when I finally did see it, and I later read Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of the movie, which explained a little more that the movie couldn’t.

            By the way, Dan O’Bannon’s previous movie was Dark Star, and while the props and special effects are rather cheesy (the entire film budget was, reportedly, $90,000.00), you can see the seeds of Alien in some of the scenes¹. I went to a theater screening of Dark Star, and had to listen to someone carrying on about how cheap the film was. He changed his mind after I told him that this was the direct precourser of Alien. I recommend seeing it.

            ¹ A captive critter gets loose and one of the crew hunts it down. That one element of the earlierr movie became the entire basis of the latter.

        2. You have to see Ridley Scott’s Prometheus to find out what the Space Jockey is. The part we see in Alien is actually a sort of space suit that integrates the jockey with the ship’s instrumentation.

        3. It wasn’t clear to me whether or not the alien “space jockey” was in a suit of some sort or not, but like you it was clear to me that it was a living thing. In later films we find out that it was in a suit.

          I’m pretty sure the elephant reference is about the “space jockey.” The suit it was wearing had a prominent hose running from the face down it’s body.

      1. When the crew explores the derelict spaceship, they discover a huge dead alien with an elephant like head and its chest is burst open. I don’t know about any ‘space jockey’.

        1. Well, I just found out Space Jockey is a Robert A. Heinlein novel. I also found :

          “The Alien production team, without having a proper technical term to go by, nicknamed the creature found aboard the Derelict ship “The Space Jockey”. H.R. Giger, who was designer of The Derelict and of the Space Jockey, as well as the Xenomorph, originally had named it “The Pilot”. ”


          “Aliens director James Cameron also called the creature the “Big Dental Patient”.”

          … sooo… that’s what someone wrote.
          [ shrug / hands held up ]

    2. Henry VI […] had one child who was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury before he could have any children, which means Henry VI has no descendants living today.

      No “legitimate” descendents. I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t a chambermaid or several impregnated along the way. It’s not as if marriage was expected to be an affair of the heart in those days and social circles. Business first ; pleasure as a (possibly welcome) plus.

      they refer to the “big elephant man” […] John Hurt

      Which was a bit later. Oh, but DVDs were decades after either, so that could be a genuine mistake.
      Could have been worse – they could have remembered him as Caligula.

      1. No “legitimate” descendents. I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t a chambermaid or several impregnated along the way.

        Henry VI was a bit of a weed and very pious. I’m actually surprised he even had a legitimate descendant.

        It’s because he was so utterly useless that the Wars of the Roses happened and also that England ultimately lost the Hundred Years War (or lost it in the way it did – France may eventually have won it anyway).

        1. It was rumored at the time that Henry VI wasn’t the real father of Prince Edward. Perhaps Queen Margaret did some dallying while her husband had his mental breakdown…

  7. During my entire career, which ended in 2008 and involved aircraft flight testing, NOTAM was the acronym for “notice to airmen”. They were very important as they would alert users of activities such as temporary closures of airfields for flight test operations or runway repairs or temporary modification of airspace use for airshows or arrivals and departures of air force one and the like. I was surprised to discover this week that the acronym now stands for notice to air missions rather than airmen as of the end of 2021, ostensibly to neutralize gender specificity and to recognize that it pertained to drone operations in addition to piloted flight. So it goes…

    1. notice to air missions rather than airmen as of the end of 2021, ostensibly to neutralize gender specificity and to recognize that it pertained to drone operations in addition to piloted flight.

      It would also apply to craft like hot air balloons, which are crewed, but only “piloted” in one degree of freedom.
      We had to notify helicopter operations when we were doing operations like flaring during well-testing. That produces large plumes of smoke if you’re producing crude rather than gas or condensate.
      I could envisage some construction operations – erecting large cranes, for example – as needing a NOTAM. Meteorological balloons definitely too – we put those up from the rigsite when I was courting.

      So there were justifications other than the “de-gendering”.

  8. That’s right: not a single flight took off: there was a complete ground hold. And the delays persisted until yesterday. Why?

    According to the very broken brain of Donald Trump, Jr., it’s because Transportation Secretary Mayor Pete is gay (or something like that; it’s hard following the breadcrumbs along the trail of Junior’s reasoning):

  9. Biden supporters have made a valiant effort in trying to explain that there are significant differences between the Biden and Trump document cases. In particular, they argue that Biden is cooperating with the investigation while Trump lied and stonewalled regarding how he got the documents. This may all be true. From a legal point of view, there may be enough evidence to indict Trump, but not Biden (after he leaves the presidency). But, from a political viewpoint, this incident can be devastating for Biden. The polls will tell. He cannot get around the fact that he stored in his home sensitive documents that he should not have possessed. Republican propaganda will drown out any of the nuances of his case. The right-wing is already claiming that what Trump and Biden did are the same. Biden will be dogged for the rest of his term by the media pestering him with questions. Even if it turns out that he didn’t know he had sensitive documents stored at his home, the response will be that he should have known. This incident could case enough swing voters in competitive states to vote against him in 2024, hence resulting in a Republican victory – possibly Trump. Thus, for the good of the nation and the Democratic Party, Biden should announce soon that he will not run in 2024. Sometimes the outcome of great events can turn on the littlest of things.

    1. It might help, or at least be nice, if he did a nice, public mea culpa about this. I don’t know if it would help HIM, but it might look good for the party, and in any case, it would be a nice show of character in direct contrast to the former President in question. His lawyers probably won’t let him do that yet, though.

      1. It would also help if he took salient steps to increase protections around sensitive documents so that this sort of thing can’t happen so easily. That would also be good politically. I don’t think we yet know how damaging it is, re-election-wise. Some scandals stick. Others just sink out of site.

    2. I would like to see some reporting about how common, or not, it has been in the past for classified documents to be found sitting around in the homes or workplaces of high level government officials. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it has been rather common, in most cases was due merely to some degree of negligence and that typically the documents have been returned / retrieved as soon as they were found.

  10. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting this morning that the Rules Committee of their State House is proposing a strict dress code for WOMEN, not allowing bare arms. One State Representative defended this by saying that they were not going to require women to cover their faces.


    1. Would not that violate right of the women in the Missouri state house under the Second Amendment to bare arms?


        1. Also, why should the Missouri state house object to bare arms when they apparently don’t object to bare legs, at least from the knee down? Perhaps the menfolk should wear shorts, much as an English schoolboy, and send the wimminfolk into a tizzy?

  11. Such sad news about Skepdoc Harriet Hall!
    Years ago I attended a CSICOP’s “Skeptic’s Toolbox” at the University of Oregon. Participants stayed in the dorms and met for classes on a chosen topic, after which they were divided into teams and given an assignment: a peer-reviewed paper which purported to find a positive effect for woo. Goal: find the flaws.

    That year the topic was “alternative medicine” and Harriet Hall was on my team. She used to peer -review medical studies. She absolutely nailed that assignment. Great fun.

    Harriet invented the metaphor “Toothfairy Science.” This refers to the phenomenon of researchers doing scientific studies which examine all sorts of factors involving a controversial claim without actually addressing the truth of the claim. The analogy is to someone gathering elaborate data on how much the Toothfairy leaves depending on location, type of tooth, etc. Does the Toothfairy exist? Sure, look at all the scientific evidence.

    She will be missed.

  12. The news about the “Brownies” changing their name is the most depressing thing I’ve heard today. Because the name has NOTHING to do with race: it is a central part of Scottish, and thence British, folklore about fairy-like spirits, with a vast centuries-long history and literature behind it – see e.g. . I learned about “Brownies” as a child, and I’m sure millions of other British children did the same.

    So, because of a completely spurious connection that someone made to race, the British are expected to drop a substantial element of their native folkloric and literary tradition.

    1. Once again, poor B-P and Lady B-P will be rolling in their graves. Look out for reports of earthquakes in Kenya!

    2. Even here in the US, Brownie Girl Scouts are given a special trefoil pin with a Brownie elf inside. The folklore was taught to us.

      But I did feel more grown up when I bridged to being a Junior Girl Scout though!

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