Monday: Hili dialogue

July 31, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the last day of July: Monday, July 31, 2023, and National Cotton Candy Day, a day to eat unadulterated spun sucrose.  You can buy the stuff from vending machines in Japan. This one seems to cost about 100 yen, which is 71¢ in U.S. currency:

It’s also National Avocado Day, National Raspberry Cake Day, Shredded Wheat Day, National Jump for Jelly Beans Day, and National Mutt Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 31 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Ukraine seems to be making slow but steady progress in reclaiming territory and attacking Russian targets.

Ukraine brought the war far from the front line into the heart of Russia again Sunday in drone penetrations that Russian authorities said damaged two office buildings a few miles (kilometers) from the Kremlin and a pig breeding complex on the countries’ border.

The attacks, which Ukraine didn’t acknowledge in keeping with its security policy, reflected a pattern of more frequent and deeper cross-border strikes the Kyiv government has launched since starting a counteroffensive against Russian forces in June. A precursor and the most dramatic of the strikes happenned in May on the Kremlin itself, the seat of power in the capital, Moscow.

Sunday’s was the fourth such strike on the capital region this month and the third this week, showing Moscow’s vulnerability as Russia’s war in Ukraine drags into its 18th month.

The Russian Defense Ministry said three drones targeted the city in an “attempted terrorist attack by the Kyiv regime.” Air defenses shot down one drone in Odintsovo in the surrounding Moscow region, while two others were jammed and crashed into the Moscow City business district.

. . .Ukrainian officials didn’t acknowledge the attacks but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address: “Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia — to its symbolic centers and military bases, and this is an inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process.”

A Ukrainian air force spokesman also didn’t claim responsibility but said the Russian people were seeing the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“All of the people who think the war ‘doesn’t concern them’ — it’s already touching them,” spokesperson Yurii Ihnat told journalists Sunday.

Pig breeding farms? And are they going after civilian targets? That again is a war crime, and if Ukraine is actually doing this, they’ll lose international support.

You can see a dramatic video of a drone attack on a Moscow building on CNN.

*Both the NYT and the Washington Post have pieces about a neglected aspect of the movie “Oppenheimer,” and about the Trinity test in particular: the spate of diseases that afflicted people near the test explostion in 1945. From the Post:

What happened here in the aftermath, surviving “downwinders” and their relatives say, is a legacy of serious health consequences that have gone unacknowledged for 78 years. Their struggles continue to be pushed aside; the new blockbuster film “Oppenheimer,” which spotlights the scientist most credited for the bomb, ignores completely the people who lived in the shadow of his test site.

Yet for all their ambivalence about the movie’s fanfare — the northern New Mexico city of Los Alamos, where J. Robert Oppenheimer located the Manhattan Project, just threw a 10-day festival to celebrate its place in history — locals also have hope that the Hollywood glow may elevate their long quest to be added to a federal program that compensates people sickened by presumed exposure to radiation from aboveground nuclear tests.

. . . The Trinity site, about 60 miles northwest of tiny Tularosa, was chosen in part for its supposed isolation. Nearly half a million people lived within a 150-mile radius, though. Manhattan Project leaders knew a nuclear test would put them at risk, but with the nation at war, secrecy was the priority. Evacuation plans were never acted upon. The military concocted a cover story: The boom was an explosion of an ammunitions magazine.

. . . TheJuly 16, 1945,blast was more massive than Oppenheimer and his fellow scientists expected, equivalent to nearly 25,000 tons of TNT, according to recent estimates. Witnesses said the plutonium ash fell for days, on areas where people grew their own food, drank rainwater collected in cisterns and cooled off in irrigation canals that made the arid region fertile.

According to a new study, the fallout floated to 46 states, Mexico and Canada within 10 days. In 28 of 33 New Mexico counties, it estimates the accumulation of radioactive material was higher than required under the federal compensation program.

And the injuries?

. . . Proving that radiation caused the cancers that have afflicted New Mexico’s downwinders is extremely difficult. A major study published in 2020 by the National Cancer Institute concluded that Trinity fallout may contribute to as many as 1,000 cancers by 2034, most in people who lived very near the test. There is “no evidence to suggest” cases among subsequent generations were related, the study noted.

But RECA does not require claimants to establish causation, only to show that they or a relative had a qualifying disease after working or living in certain locations during specific time frames.

They could have tested elsewhere, like an island, and they couldn’t have warned local inhabitants in New Mexico, as that would be revealing a big secret. The only fair thing to do is compensate those who were injured according to the rule limned above

*Talk about Rip van Winkle! Scientists report the resurrection of nematode worms frozen in the permafrost for 46,000 years.  (h/t: Ron)

At a time when the mighty woolly mammoth roamed the Earth, some 46,000 years ago, a minuscule pair of roundworms became encased in the Siberian permafrost.

Millennia later, the worms, thawed out of the ice, would wriggle again, and demonstrate to scientists that life could be paused — almost indefinitely.

The discovery, published this week in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Genetics, offers new insight into how the worms, also known as nematodes, can survive in extreme conditions for extraordinarily long periods of time, in this case tens of thousands of years.

In 2018, Anastasia Shatilovich, a scientist from the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science RAS in Russia, thawed two female worms from a fossilized burrow dug by gophers in the Arctic.

The worms, which were buried approximately 130 feet in the permafrost, were revived simply by putting them in water, according to a news release from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany.

Called Panagrolaimus kolymaensis, after the Kolyma River in Russia, where they were found, the worms were sent to Germany for further study. The creatures, which have a life span measured in days, died after reproducing several generations in the lab, researchers said.

Using radiocarbon dating, researchers determined the specimens were frozen between 45,839 and 47,769 years ago, during the late Pleistocene.

The roughly millimeter-long worms were able to resist extreme low temperatures by entering a dormant state called cryptobiosis, a process researchers at the institute have been trying to understand.

The females were triploid and parthenogenic, and so produced offspring asexually. This means that one can’t test them or their descendants against living species to see if they’re still cross-fertile, implying that 46,000 years of time (temporal isolation) would be sufficient to produce reproductive barriers. But in theory, were this species cross-fertile with others, one could do this kind of test. But they at least know, from DNA analysis of the descendants, that these worms are more closely related to some nematodes than to others.

This also raises a philosophical problem: were those worms dead or alive while they were frozen? Clearly no metabolic processes could have been going on during cryptobiosis: the systems shut down and then restarted. Dead or alive?

*Time to pay attention to the Women’s World Cup, where, in a stunning upset, Colombia beat Germany 2-1.  Here are the results from today (the tournament is in New Zealand), which include the host team being eliminated (click to read at the NYT):

The most remarkable game of the World Cup was won and then it wasn’t, until it was won again in the last minute. It was a game so good that what may have been the goal of the tournament was not even the most important goal of the night. It was a result so stunning that one needs to go back almost three decades to find another one like it.

The simple summary is this: Colombia defeated Germany, 2-1, in Sydney to take a surprising but fully deserved lead in Group H. The fuller, richer version contains so much more flavor than that.

There’s the opening goal, a stunning bit of control and footwork by the Colombian teenager Linda Caicedo that is already being called the goal of the tournament.

See that goal at 1:19 in the video below.

How stunning was it all? The defeat was the first time Germany had lost a game in the group stage of a World Cup since 1995. To put that loss, a 3-2 defeat to host Sweden in Helsingborg, in perspective, consider that Pia Sundhage, the 63-year-old coach of Brazil in this World Cup, scored in the match.

Sundhage may not remember that day. But the Germans probably do, and they will definitely remember Sunday, a night, and a win, the Colombians will never forget.

Yesterday’s results:

Here are the highlights from the Germany-Colombia match. Germany got one point on a penalty kick, but the two Colombia goals were great, especially the first at 1:21 (the second was  a header).

And the luckless kiwis:

New Zealand never scores much, and it never scored again at the World Cup, eliminated quietly on Sunday in Dunedin after a 0-0 tie with Switzerland that was the home team’s ninth goalless outing in 12 games this year.

The U.S, takes on Portugal tomorrow.

*Heterodox news of the week: An American woman is suing her company for discriminating against white men.  (h/t Luana)

A former employee of a large food service corporation is suing the company in federal court after it fired her for refusing to participate in a program that discriminates against white male employees.

. . . Courtney Rogers worked for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Compass Group USA Inc. from her home office in San Diego, California.

. . .Ms. Rogers was hired in August 2021 and given the job title of “Recruiter, Internal Mobility Team.”

Her responsibilities included the processing of internal promotions, which encompassed posting job listings, reviewing applications, conducting interviews, writing and sending offer letters, carrying out background checks, ordering drug tests, initiating and reviewing onboarding, and ensuring that personnel updates were reflected in the system.

Compass created a program it called “Operation Equity” in March 2022, a purported diversity program that offered qualified employees special training and mentorship and the promise of a promotion upon graduation, according to the legal complaint that was filed in Rogers v. Compass Group USA Inc.

The lawsuit was filed on July 24 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California under the auspices of the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm headquartered in Chicago that organized the legal action.

But participation in the program was restricted to “women and people of color.” White men were not allowed to participate and receive the associated benefits of training, mentorship, and guaranteed promotion.

By calling it “Operation Equity,” the company “used a euphemistic and false title to hide the program’s true nature.” The program would more accurately be called the “White-Men-Need-Not-Apply” program because it is an example of “‘outright racial balancing,’ which is patently unlawful,” and is the kind of program “promoted by people … who harbor racial animus against white men,” according to the legal complaint.

Ms. Rogers claims she informed management that high-level employees said of the program, “This is the direction the world is going, jump on the train or get run over,” and “We are not here to appease the old white man.”

Ms. Rogers claims she also informed management that the program was illegal and requested that she be allowed an accommodation because the program “violated her ethical beliefs.” Management assured her she would be exempted from participating in it and that she would not be retaliated against for sharing her concerns with management.

Then they fired her. “Operation Equity” was clearly illegal, violating nondiscrimination acts, and I hope Rogers gets a big pot of money from the company. I predict a hushed-up settlement

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili makes a rare admission of error:

Hili: I was wrong.
A: A human thing.
Hili: Feline as well.
In Polish:
Hili: Myliłam się.
Ja: Ludzka sprawa.
Hili: Kocia też.

. . . and a picture of Baby Kulka:


From Lorenzo the Cat, “Barbie, the sequel”:

From somewhere on Facebook:

. . .and from Merilee:

From Masih, another small but telling act of rebellion against the Iranian government by activists.

Ricky Gervais is well stocked:

From Malcolm: a cat fracas in an open car:

From Barry, who calls this “The greatest thread in the history of Twitter” (I think he means “in the history of X”).

From the Auschwitz Memorial: it’s the birthday of a survivor:

I suspect the fly’s offspring is parasitic on the bee’s offspring, but I haven’t been

Matthew says, “Watch the vid – look at all the birds chilling while one of their (vast) number is eaten… ”

A chimp sees marvels in a camera viewer (and knows how to scroll). It’s very intent!

15 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    30 BC – Battle of Alexandria: Mark Antony achieves a minor victory over Octavian’s forces, but most of his army subsequently deserts, leading to his suicide.

    1492 – All remaining Jews are expelled from Spain when the Alhambra Decree takes effect.

    1703 – Daniel Defoe is placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, but is pelted with flowers.

    1790 – The first U.S. patent is issued, to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.

    1856 – Christchurch, New Zealand is chartered as a city.

    1874 – Patrick Francis Healy became the first African-American inaugurated as president of a predominantly white university, Georgetown University.

    1932 – The NSDAP (Nazi Party) wins more than 38% of the vote in German elections.

    1941 – The Holocaust: Under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring orders SS General Reinhard Heydrich to “submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired Final Solution of the Jewish question.”

    1964 – Ranger program: Ranger 7 sends back the first close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from earth-bound telescopes.

    1970 – Black Tot Day: The last day of the officially sanctioned rum ration in the Royal Navy.

    1971 – Apollo program: the Apollo 15 astronauts become the first to ride in a lunar rover.

    1991 – The United States and Soviet Union both sign the START I Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the first to reduce (with verification) both countries’ stockpiles.

    2006 – Fidel Castro hands over power to his brother, Raúl.

    2012 – Michael Phelps breaks the record set in 1964 by Larisa Latynina for the most medals won at the Olympics. [His record for the most golds won at the World Championships has just been broken by Sarah Sjostrom. During Saturday’s racing in Fukuoka, fellow American Katie Ledecky had passed Phelps’ records for individual world golds and golds.]

    1847 – Ignacio Cervantes, Cuban pianist and composer (d. 1905).

    1858 – Richard Dixon Oldham, English seismologist and geologist (d. 1936).

    1858 – Marion Talbot, influential American educator (d. 1948). [During her long career at the University of Chicago, Talbot fought tenaciously and often successfully to improve support for women students and faculty, and against efforts to restrict equal access to educational opportunities.]

    1860 – Mary Vaux Walcott, American painter and illustrator (d. 1940).

    1886 – Fred Quimby, American animation producer (d. 1965).

    1912 – Milton Friedman, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2006).

    1918 – Paul D. Boyer, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2018).

    1919 – Primo Levi, Italian chemist and author (d. 1987).

    1923 – Ahmet Ertegun, Turkish-American songwriter and producer, founded Atlantic Records (d. 2006).

    1923 – Stephanie Kwolek, American chemist and engineer, invented Kevlar (d. 2014).

    1926 – Hilary Putnam, American mathematician, computer scientist, and philosopher (d. 2016).

    1929 – Lynne Reid Banks, English author.

    1944 – Jonathan Dimbleby, English journalist and author.

    1947 – Richard Griffiths, English actor (d. 2013).

    1959 – Andrew Marr, Scottish journalist and author.

    1961 – Frank Gardner, English captain and journalist. [While reporting in Saudi Arabia he was seriously injured in an attack by al-Qaida gunmen, which left him partially paralysed in the legs. He returned to reporting for the BBC in mid-2005, using a wheelchair or a frame. He is currently the BBC’s security correspondent.]

    1962 – Wesley Snipes, American actor and producer.

    1963 – Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim), English DJ and musician.

    1964 – Jim Corr, Irish singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1965 – J. K. Rowling, English author and film producer. [Today is also the birthday of her most famous character, Harry Potter.]

    1974 – Emilia Fox, English actress.

    The work is the message:
    1556 – Ignatius of Loyola, Spanish priest and theologian, founded the Society of Jesus (b. 1491). [AKA the Jesuits.]

    1638 – Sibylla Schwarz, German poet (b. 1621).

    1726 – Nicolaus II Bernoulli, Swiss mathematician and theorist (b. 1695).

    1784 – Denis Diderot, French philosopher and critic (b. 1713).

    1864 – Louis Christophe François Hachette, French publisher (b. 1800).

    1886 – Franz Liszt, Hungarian pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1811).

    1966 – Bud Powell, American pianist (b. 1924).

    2000 – William Keepers Maxwell Jr., American editor, novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1908).

    2012 – Gore Vidal, American novelist, screenwriter, and critic (b. 1925).

    2017 – Jeanne Moreau, French actress (b. 1928).

    2019 – Harold Prince, Broadway producer and director, who received more Tony awards than anyone else in history (b. 1928).

    2020 – Alan Parker, English filmmaker (b. 1944).

  2. Well New Zealand’s cohosts are through to the knock out stage at the expense of Canada and Japan thrashed Spain 4-0 to win the group.

    I’m a little bit embarrassed that I don’t know if these results are shocks or not because I don’t really follow the women’s game much.

  3. My uncle, a metallurgical chemist, was part of the Manhattan Project. I have absolutely no idea what his role was, but the only surviving anecdote suggests that it was not a minor one.

    I’ve wondered whether the leukemia that he developed in the early ’50s may have had a connection to radiation. His was a form that I gather constitutes only about 4% of leukemias but is treatable by splenectomy, and he was one of the very first to undergo that treatment. He survived that, only to die of a heart attack in 1957.

  4. Kodak was the first to detect the first (yes, two “firsts”) atomic bomb – Veritasium :

    … I suppose that should have been in Oppenheimer too, and maybe Bikini atoll and the Marshall Islands as well, if I follow the NYT – as if an injustice was done by excluding all the damage to human life done by all nuclear activities from the film Oppenheimer.

    1. Well, there was a war on. The incidental deaths from military nuclear activities from Trinity up to the present amount to a tiny fraction of a rounding error in the total deaths in the Second World War. It seems selfish and narcissistic for someone to argue that the leukaemia or thyroid cancer she got later in life, that might have been due to Trinity, deserves compensation when the kid next door to her who got drafted and came home from Okinawa covered in third-degree burns makes do with a modest veteran’s pension. Never mind the civilians killed in bombing raids and slave-labour camps who got lost everything and got nothing at all.

      The Trinity team did actually consider the most seaward of the California Channel Islands but at 160 km from downtown Los Angeles and at least one closer island being populated, they went for a remote site the Army already controlled that had road access from Los Alamos for the complex logistics needed for the test.

  5. I think Primo Levi’s best book is “The Drowned and the Saved,” 1986. From the book jacket bio– he died in Turin, Italy, in April 1987, an apparent suicide.

      1. Okay, I don’t know about his death. But I do know he is one of the most important writers I have read, and I respect his work tremendously.

  6. I come from a Nuclear family. My wife’s dad witnessed a bunch of the desert tests in the late 40s . On my side, one uncle spent his career at Oak Ridge, while my sister just retired as a physicist at Los Alamos. A great uncle worked there after the war, and gave me this souvenir, which was given to the scientists at the Castle Bravo test.

    Which I hope I posted correctly.

    1. That’s a cool lighter…thanks for sharing. Figures it was a gift at a time when pretty much everyone smoked. Does it still work?

      1. Sure it works. All the key parts are replaceable. I had this one sitting near my desk, and use it to light the fireplace.
        There is a whole box of different ones, including a couple from different bomb tests.

        I had not really given it much thought, but in 1954, pretty much everyone was constantly smoking, and a lighter was a critical piece of kit. Like phones have become. I don’t know how people not addicted to nicotine were able to stand it.

        1. Everything made in America from the 50’s still works! No “planned obsolescence” with engineering in those days. I’m being facetious, but just barely.

          Smoking! My dad’s side, sans-smoking, my mom’s side, chimneys. And my maternal grandparents didn’t go outside to smoke, so the house smelled horrible. Egad! I still remember the awful stench of the smoker’s home. Growing up, I had a couple friends whose houses were also infused with their parents’ smoking.

          Another sign of progress, smoking has greatly diminished, and those that do smoke, go outside nowadays (either by law or general politeness).

  7. Pig breeding farms? And are they going after civilian targets? That again is a war crime, and if Ukraine is actually doing this, they’ll lose international support.

    First, if Russia says that pig breeding farms were hit, I seriously doubt that they were pig farms. Maybe once upon a time, but not now.

    Second, you may have missed that in the last nine days, Russians have destroyed 180,000 metric tons of grain in Ukraine (today, Reuters).

  8. Regards Trinity: my understanding is that the radiation given off by the testing was minimal. By 150 miles it was negligible. The radiation drop off was the same as light from a light bulb. Or similar.

    If there were a causal link the people affected would be compensated. There’s no doubt about that in the litigious US.

    You show me evidence, not anecdotal evidence, that people “near” the bombsite suffered adverse consequences and I’ll grant you your compensation. But someone getting a rare form of leukaemia near the bomb site means nothing until a statistically significant number of people get that same leukaemia. Given we’re around 80 years from the first test implies there were no or few lasting health legacies.

    In a semi related point, some media outlets (the BBC) are reporting Japanese outrage at some of the Barbie/Oppenheimer references. Let us not forget that Japan were the transgressors. I’ve just finished Guns, Germs, and Steel. Seems Japan have a long history of aggression.

    Returning to the trinity testing, how many Americans would have suffered adverse health outcomes if the war with Japan had continued? Far more, I would wager, than those erroneously seeking compensation now about testing going on in their back door.

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