Tuesday: Hili dialogue

August 8, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the Cruelest Day: August, 8 2023, and National Frozen Custard Day. America’s best custard is supposedly sold at Ted Drewes in St. Louis, where the “concrete”, a milkshake made from their custard, is so thick that it’s served with the cup inverted:

It’s also (note the sign at the top) INTERNATIONAL CAT DAY. The first reader who sends me a photo of their cat will have it added to this post, National Zucchini Day, National Dollar Day, Scottish Wildcat Day (I still don’t think they exist as a subspecies but are simply feral moggies), and Happiness Happens Day

And here’s the first cat sent in, by reader Jason Kushner:

This is Perseus. He’s a blue-point modern Siamese and he’s actually from rural Illinois. Now he lives in New York City.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the August 8 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Saudi Arabia is trying to broker an end to the war in Ukraine, but isn’t involving Russia in the talks, which makes Putin steam. How can the Saudis do that?  More from the Associated Press.

Saudi Arabia will host a Ukrainian-organized peace summit in early August seeking to find a way to start negotiations over Russia’s war on the country, officials said Sunday.

The summit will be held in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, said one official, who spoke early Sunday on condition of anonymity as no authorization had been given to publicly discuss the summit. Russia was not invited, the official added.

Hours later, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, confirmed the talks would be held in Saudi Arabia, without naming Jeddah as the location.

“The Ukrainian Peace Formula contains 10 fundamental points, the implementation of which will not only ensure peace for Ukraine, but also create mechanisms to counter future conflicts in the world,” Yermak said in a statement. “We are deeply convinced that the Ukrainian peace plan should be taken as a basis, because the war is taking place on our land.”

. . . Previously, Ukraine has described the 10-point peace formula as including the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops, the release of all prisoners, a tribunal for those responsible for the aggression and security guarantees for Ukraine.

. . . Two Russian missile strikes hit the city center of the Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk in the eastern Donetsk region on Monday, killing five people and wounding at least 31 more, Ukrainian officials said.

. . .The deadly attack came just a day after officials from around 40 countries gathered in Saudi Arabia to find a peaceful settlement for the war in Ukraine. Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday denounced the two-day talks in Jeddah as not having “the slightest added value” because Moscow — unlike Kyiv — wasn’t invited.

A statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry repeated previous assurances that Moscow is open to a diplomatic solution on its terms that would end the 17-month-old war, and that it is ready to respond to serious proposals. The Kremlin’s demands include Kyiv recognizing its annexation of four Ukrainian regions, which Russian forces at this point only partially control, and Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014.

An earlier article said that Russia “blasted” Saudi Arabia for this slight, but that article seems to have disappeared to be replace by this one, which barely mentions Russia. At any rate, the Russian and Ukrainian plans seem to be irreconcilable at this point, and should Ukraine lose even more territory in a peace deal, it would hearten Russia (and perhaps China) to try another land grab.

*Ukraine has stopped a plot to assassinate President Zelensky (I’m surprised he’s still alive), but this is one of only several attempts to kill the guy.

An alleged informant for Russia has been detained in connection to a plot to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said Monday.

The detained woman has not been named publicly but is from the southern Ukrainian region of Mykolaiv, according to a statement from the SBU.

The SBU said she had been “gathering intelligence” about Zelensky’s planned visit to Mykolaiv at the end of July, in order to plan a Russian airstrike to kill the president.

However, SBU agents had obtained information about the “subversive activities of the suspect” and adopted additional security measures, foiling the plot.

The SBU said that it caught the woman “red-handed” as she “was trying to pass intelligence to the invaders.”

. . .Zelensky has faced several known attempts on his life since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of his country in February 2022. Russian special forces were tasked with eliminating the Ukrainian president at the start of the war.

In a profile published in April 2022, TIME magazine described how Russian troops had parachuted into Kyiv to kill or capture Zelensky and his family on February 24, the day after the war began.

As Ukrainian forces fought Russians on the streets of Kyiv, the presidential guard tried to seal the compound using police barricades and piles of plywood, TIME reported.

Oleksiy Arestovych, a military intelligence veteran, said rifles and bulletproof vests were handed out to Zelensky and about a dozen aides as Russian troops made two attempts to storm the presidential compound.

“It was an absolute madhouse,” Arestovych told TIME. “Automatics for everyone.”

Zelensky ignored his bodyguards’ advice to flee the compound, and also refused the offers of British and American forces to evacuate him. He responded with the famous line: “I need ammo, not a ride.”

Now there’s a brave man!

*This title should inspire a click, a WaPo piece called “The average doctor in the U.S. makes $350,000 per year. Why?” The answer seems to be “because they love their dosh.”

The figures are nigh-on unimpeachable. They come from a working paper, newly updated, that analyzes more than 10 million tax records from 965,000 physicians over 13 years. The talented economist-authors also went to extreme lengths to protect filers’ privacy, as is standard for this type of research.

By accounting for all streams of income, they revealed that doctors make more than anyone thought — and more than any other occupation we’ve measured. In the prime earning years of 40 to 55, the average physician made $405,000in 2017 — almost all of it (94 percent) from wages. Doctors in the top 10 percent averaged $1.3 million. And those in the top 1 percent averaged an astounding $4 million, though most of that (85 percent) came from business income or capital gains.

Look at these salaries!

Doctors apparently don’t like this publicity, noting that they’re going into medicine to help people, and they put in years of brutal training that isn’t that well-paid. But it doesn’t answer the title question.

One unfair, inflammatory and accurate answer would be that they like money.

On average, doctors — much like anyone else — behave in ways that just happen to drive up their income. For example, the economists found that graduates from the top medical schools, who can presumably write their own ticket to any field they want, tend to choose those that pay the most.

“Our analysis shows that certainly physicians respond to earnings when choosing specialties,” Polyakova told us. “And there’s nothing wrong with that, in my opinion.”

They also found that each 10 percent increase in the Medicare payment rate for a procedure causes a 4.4 percent increase in billing for the procedure — mostly because the doctor will work to find additional patients who could benefit from the now-more-profitable intervention.

. . .American physicians seem to be quite talented at caring about economics.

“In general, U.S. physicians are making about 50 percent more than German physicians and about more than twice as much as U.K. physicians,” internal medicine physician Atul Grover told us. Grover leads the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Research and Action Institute, teaches medicine at George Washington University and speaks with the easy authority and charisma of someone who probably deserves to be earning several times what we do.

There’s also a shortage of doctors, which could be remedied by letting more well qualified people into medical school and increasing the number of residency slots, which, capped by the government, have dropped substantially since 1970. But why would the government want a physician shortage. Only Ceiling Cat knows. There’s a lot more in the article that will astound you at the largesse conferred upon our physicians.

*Over at the NYT, a guest op-ed by Richard Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review, asks us to ponder “Imagine what another indictment could do for Donald Trump.” The answer is not heartening.

The indictment by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, over the Stormy Daniels hush money changed the trajectory of the Republican race. Mr. Trump had already stabilized from the hit he took after the disappointing midterms for Republicans, but the indictment helped boost him nearly 10 points in the national polls, and he’s stayed on that elevated plane ever since.

Before this, the presumption in contemporary politics has been that a serious presidential candidate would have to withdraw if indicted. If the time and resources necessary to fight criminal charges didn’t dissuade him or her, the voters would leave the candidate no other choice.

Why hasn’t this happened to Mr. Trump? His ability to weather, and benefit from, his legal straits is a testament not just to his hold on the party but also to a deep distrust of the criminal justice system among Republicans.

There’s a natural suspicion when one side is indicting a leading politician of the other. . . .

Then there’s the politics of attention. As Mr. Trump showed in 2016, when it comes to media coverage, quantity has a quality all its own. The indictments make everything about him, more so than is the case ordinarily. His motorcades haven’t been covered as extensively since he was president, and his latest Truth Social posts denouncing his mistreatment are being covered as breaking news.

This, of course, causes a lot of trouble for other Republicans with their hats in the ring. If they damn the indictments of Trump, they’re supporter their main adversary in the primaries, but if they say the indictments should proceed, they’re throwing their hat in with the hated Democrats. In the end, indictments are good for Trump:

. . . It may be that nearly six months from now, in the cold light of day before the Iowa caucuses, Republicans conclude the burden of his potential trials next year in terms of time, expense and political fallout makes him too risky a nominee. In the meantime, almost every Republican who wants to beat him is thinking, “Please, no more indictments.”

*Did you know that New Jersey is the last state in the U.S. that prohibits drivers from pumping their own gas? (Oregon also prohibited it, but that was repealed last week.) You’d think full-service gas would cost more, but it doesn’t.  The WSJ describes the pride that Jerseyites feel in having someone else fill their tank. (Apparently gas stations can allow customers who insist to pump their own gas.)

New Jersey resident Nyoami Winterburn knows this: If her state ever abolishes full-service gasoline stations, then baby, she was born to run.

“I will move out of New Jersey. I’m not kidding. It is one of the big perks of living here,” Winterburn said Saturday outside a gas station along Route 4 near Englewood, N.J. “I don’t like to pump my own gas, especially when it’s cold.”

. . . On Saturday, a day after Oregon revoked its 72-year-old ban on self-service gas stations, many New Jersey drivers along the busy commuter corridor that feeds into the George Washington Bridge said they are proud to be the last U.S. state to prohibit the self pump.

There is even a popular bumper sticker that says “Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas,” an homage to the Garden State’s 1949 law banning self-service stations for fire-safety and other concerns.

. . Sean Hodel, from Virginia, said he didn’t know full-service gas stations existed.

“I have never heard of such a thing,” he said. “Where I’m from, you pump your own gas.”

Hernandez said some customers do wave him off, even though they aren’t supposed to touch the pumps.

“If they say, ‘I got it,’ I don’t mess with them,” he said.

Boy am I old! I remember that when you filled up, it was from an attendant, who also washed your windshield and checked your oil. Gas was 19¢ per gallon.

Gas-station owners can be fined as much as $250 for a first offense if authorities catch customers handling the pumps, according to New Jersey law.

. . . New Jersey gas-station owners would consider a 10-to-15-cent price difference a gallon if self-service pumps ever became a reality in the state, Kashouty said. On average, it costs owners 12 cents a gallon to have an attendant at the pump, he said.

And it’s cheaper than in surrounding pump-yourself states:

Even as a full-service state, New Jersey often has lower gas prices than its neighbors, according to average prices compiled by AAA. Jersey prices for regular unleaded gasoline averaged $3.73 a gallon this weekend compared with $3.90 in New York and $3.91 in Pennsylvania, according to the automobile association. The national average was $3.83 a gallon as of Sunday.

I bet they don’t wash your windshield or check your oil, though!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is tired of being photographed on the windowsill (you can see Andrzej’s reflection):

Hili: You have no mercy.
A: Two more pictures and I will leave you alone.
In Polish:
Hili: Nie masz litości.
Ja: Jeszcze ze dwa zdjęcia i dam ci spokój.


From Divy:

Fr0m Ducks in Public: “Draw me like you draw your French girls”:

From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0.  Who would check the first box?

From Masih.  There’s nothing wrong with consensual sex between men, but something’s wrong when it’s done by authorities who deem it sinful and illegal, and in fact kill Iranians who engage in it:

Ricky Gervais annotates a picture of his beloved cat Pickle:

From Simon. That’s quite a dewlap that Trump has! (Is it Photoshopped?)

From Barry: Ducks shopping for LPs (sound up). I sure hope they found a pond or lake.

From the Auschwitz Memorial; today’s the memorial day of a survivor who died just a year ago.

Tweets from Matthew: beautiful odd-eyed cats:

A great physics anecdote. Pauli was always a sarcastic wag.

Horseshoe crabs are called “living fossils,” but the living ones aren’t by any means morphologically similar to ancient fossil ones. Read the paper to see the changes.


32 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I wouldn’t deny the .19 cents a gal. gas but I’m the same age and i did not see it. Average price in the early 60s before we could drive was about .31 cent. Maybe there was a big gas war going on where you were. Here in Wichita there was a full service station until a couple of years ago. The place still works on cars but they stopped pumping gas maybe two years ago. I must say that the only reason NJ still has full service is the law. Having actual gas stations with two stalls where they work on cars is mostly in the museums today. You can make a living working on cars but just pumping gas….no.

    1. I do remember when 25 cents bought either a gallon of gas, a pack of cigarettes, a loaf of bead or a bottle of milk (I don’t remember what size milk bottle).

      1. I do not doubt that either. 25 cents was the going rate for most brand name cigs. in the early 60s. I paid that for them all the time when I was stupid enough to be smoking. But what they cost today is not a product of simple inflation, it is taxes. Both state and federal they tax the hell out of cigarettes and booze. In the late 60s early 70s I was in the service overseas. I bought a carton of cigs in the Commissary for $1.70 per carton. No tax. In the Commissary, by the way, everything is cost plus 5%.

        1. Though I no longer smoke, many of my coworkers at my engineering job (marine industry) do. Even the US flag ships are only about $US12 to $15 a carton in the ships store, sometimes less. Some of the foreign flag vessels are a lot lower. Why? No tax. Is it legal for my repair/work crews to buy them? Yes, under many conditions (pursers or first officers problem to know the legalities, not mine)

          The tax-inflated prices have made a HUGE dent in smoking and there is apparently a good trend to lower incidences of several related health issues. I don’t know if overall tobacco tax revenue has gone down as well over the last 20 or so years and the taxes have gone up, but it may have by now.

    2. It seems that gas in the US was in the 18-20c/gallon range from 1930-1941, since then the price has risen slowly. It was up to 27c on average in 1950 and 31c by 1960. 25c/gallon would have been around 1947-48. It has essentially risen steadily in price – however I don’t know the relationship between gas and other retail prices. My best guess is that over time I has become relatively somewhat cheaper although with major fluctuations, and, of course cars of equivalent size, are more fuel efficient now.


      1. Gas was simply dirt cheap in the states until the Saudi Arabia thing in the 70s. It’s been down hill ever since. I realize that is nothing compared to Europe.

  2. Today is the birthday of Paul Dirac.

    In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in the case of poetry, it’s the exact opposite. -Paul Dirac, theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate (8 Aug 1902-1984)

  3. Ukraine has stopped a plot to assassinate President Zelensky (I’m surprised he’s still alive) …

    President Z has big, clanging brass ones, that’s for sure. But then his background is as a stand-up comic, and it takes big, clanging brass ones to stand on a stage, before an audience, armed with nothing but a microphone, you ask me.

    The world would be a better place if leaders everywhere spent some time at comedy club open-mic nights.

  4. With respect to physician incomes, I was surprised to read this article today:
    The Canada Health Act prohibits private medicine unless for services not covered by our various medicare systems. But how these systems are arranged is controlled by each province, and it seems that, once again Québec can get away with things that other provinces are not allowed to do. $249 for a family practice consult—that’s ten times what I used to earn for a consult in NS when I last practiced in 2015. Pure greed is at play here.
    Now I’m not against a mixed system, having seen private practice work smoothly alongside the NHS in the UK. There, people who choose to buy insurance can get routine surgeries and consults quickly, without slowing down the NHS waiting lists and without opting out of contributing to the NHS in their taxes. They gain speedy consults and procedures, and people on the NHS waitlists get to the top sooner. Consultants who opt to do private work have to spend an equal amount of extra time doing NHS work—it’s in their contracts.
    But back in Canada, costs are controlled by rarely granting new billing numbers for fee-for-service work (at least in NS). Physicians are given salaried contracts, though they remain independent contractors, not employees, and thus get no benefits like pension plans. For a fixed income they have to see a certain number of patients each week, but this number is about a third of what I would get through. Instantly practices go from routinely offering same day or next day appointments to a six week wait, so ERs are full. But physicians can now choose not to include ER work in their contract, so the ERs are often closed for lack of coverage. Governments contain costs, physicians work civilised hours, and patients wait and wait.
    When medicare here started out it was funded by a new 10% sales tax, and the money was ring-fenced: it could not be spent on anything else and the system was well-funded. Provinces looked at that cash and decided they wanted it for other purposes, so they started employing lots of administrators to control expenditure (administration now costs nearly as much as patient care these days), and you can see the results.

  5. There’s nothing wrong with consensual sex between men, but something’s wrong when it’s done by authorities who deem it sinful and illegal …

    Used to be, here in the US, as soon as some right-wing evangelical leader or politician started railing against homosexuality, you could start the countdown until he got busted on a morals rap for propositioning an undercover cop in a men’s room at a rest stop off the interstate.

  6. Wow. Clearly when I was in practice, I was doing many things wrong. While I made a decent living, it didn’t even approach their listed average or median, and I NEVER worked as few as 54 hours a week, even after residency, unless you count a brief stint of locum tenens work that rapidly expanded to full time. I’m an idiot, that much is obvious.

    1. I didn’t see a median in there. For extreme right-skewed income distributions like doctors, it is of course misleading to speak only in terms of averages…

  7. I can’t comment on the remuneration of American physicians, except to say that doctors in the rest of the world covet their success with great admiration. However, as to why the U.S. government would want to restrict the supply of physicians which, absent a way to reduce patient demand through price signals, must produce a shortage I offer two possible reasons.

    1). In America, the government directly pays about half the cost of all medical care. It also subsidizes through the tax system the cost of private insurance by allowing employers to pay the premiums on behalf of employees and thus deduct the amounts as a business expense. (You and I pay our other insurance premiums with after-tax dollars.). As the WaPo story illustrates, as Medicare reimbursement rises, volume of service rises because doctors are incented to find more patients who can be given the now more lucrative service, and they reduce the provision of less lucrative services, increasing their hourly income. The only way for the U.S. government to control these costs is to restrict the number of graduates from Medicare-funded residency programs. The actual salaries paid to the residents are trivial in comparison to the lifetime billings to Medicare, Medicaid, and taxpayer-subsidized private insurance that those doctors will cost the system.

    The economic value of medicine is unfortunately close to zero: patients value medical care for themselves only to the extent it’s nearly free, and probably value it at less than zero for strangers. Above a certain humanitarian level, most of us would rather have a dollar in our pocket than give it to a third-party payer to buy someone else’s blood pressure pills. Marx called us repairmen. So buying more doctors doesn’t make us richer economically, just more dependent on repairmen..

    2). Medicine like all the professions with high barriers to entry is a guild. Since government regulates entry to medicine particularly in many ways, the profession lobbies government to restrict supply to reduce competition, rent-seeking in economic terms. With government on the hook for such vast sums in America, this lobbying receives a sympathetic hearing.

    Both doctors and government prefer for there to be a shortage of doctors. Hence there will always be shortages. And to be fair, no government can provide free everything to everybody, and still set the remuneration to providers—the government provides nothing—high enough to draw them into the career.

  8. Oh, btw, when I was last in New Jersey, the attendants (even at the turnpike gas stations) DID wash your windshield, and if you asked, they would even check your oil. It was pretty nice. That was a while ago, of course, but not THAT long ago.

  9. Horseshoe crabs are called “living fossils,” but the living ones aren’t by any means morphologically similar to ancient fossil ones.

    Coelacanths too. Just because we have two populations (closely related, if not “breeds” of the same species) in the world today with a fairly conservative morphology harking back 200-odd Myr, doesn’t mean that the other members of the coelacanth family tree didn’t vary considerably over the 200+ Myr between their acme in the late Carboniferous and their disappearance below the “commonly fossilised” threshold in the mid-late Cretaceous.
    The concept of “living fossil” may be good for popular science and beating up Creationists, but it’s not really a very helpful idea otherwise.
    While we’re at it, we could add Lingula to the list. They’re a genus of brachiopods which have been morphologically conservative since the late Cambrian. If you’ve got a morphology that suits an environment well, and that environment moves around, but doesn’t disappear, why would a population select a new morphology?

  10. On this day:
    1576 – The cornerstone for Tycho Brahe’s Uraniborg observatory is laid on the island of Hven.

    1588 – Anglo-Spanish War: Battle of Gravelines: The naval engagement ends, ending the Spanish Armada’s attempt to invade England.

    1709 – Bartolomeu de Gusmão demonstrates the lifting power of hot air in an audience before the king of Portugal in Lisbon, Portugal.

    1786 – Mont Blanc on the French-Italian border is climbed for the first time by Jacques Balmat and Dr. Michel-Gabriel Paccard.

    1876 – Thomas Edison receives a patent for his mimeograph.

    1908 – Wilbur Wright makes his first flight at a racecourse at Le Mans, France. It is the Wright Brothers’ first public flight.

    1929 – The German airship Graf Zeppelin begins a round-the-world flight.

    1942 – Quit India Movement is launched in India against the British rule in response to Mohandas Gandhi’s call for swaraj or complete independence.

    1945 – The London Charter is signed by France, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States, establishing the laws and procedures for the Nuremberg trials.

    1963 – Great Train Robbery: In England, a gang of 15 train robbers steal £2.6 million in bank notes.

    1969 – At a zebra crossing in London, photographer Iain Macmillan takes the iconic photo that becomes the cover image of the Beatles’ album Abbey Road.

    1974 – President Richard Nixon, in a nationwide television address, announces his resignation from the office of the President of the United States effective noon the next day.

    1988 – The 8888 Uprising begins in Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar). Led by students, hundreds of thousands join in nationwide protests against the one-party regime. On September 18, the demonstrations end in a military crackdown, killing thousands.

    1990 – Iraq occupies Kuwait and the state is annexed to Iraq. This would lead to the Gulf War shortly afterward.

    1991 – The Warsaw radio mast, then the tallest construction ever built, collapses.

    2000 – Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor and 30 years after its discovery by undersea explorer E. Lee Spence.

    2008 – The 29th modern summer Olympic Games took place in Beijing, China until August 24.

    2022 – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executes a search warrant at former president Donald Trump’s residence in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida.

    1754 – Hipólito Ruiz López, Spanish botanist (d. 1816).

    1807 – Emilie Flygare-Carlén, Swedish author (d. 1892). [Translated into Danish, Norwegian, German, Russian, French, English, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Hungarian and Czech, she was the most widely read Swedish novelist of her time.]

    1814 – Esther Hobart Morris, American suffragette and judge (d. 1902).

    1879 – Bob Smith, American physician and surgeon, co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous (d. 1950).

    1879 – Emiliano Zapata, Mexican general and politician (d. 1919).

    1896 – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, American author and academic (d. 1953).

    1898 – Marguerite Bise, French chef (d. 1965).

    1901 – Ernest Lawrence, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1958).

    1902 – Paul Dirac, English-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1984).

    1907 – Benny Carter, American saxophonist, trumpet player, and composer (d. 2003).

    1919 – Dino De Laurentiis, Italian actor and producer (d. 2010).

    1920 – Jimmy Witherspoon, American jump blues singer (d. 1997).

    1921 – Webb Pierce, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1991).

    1921 – Esther Williams, American swimmer and actress (d. 2013).

    1930 – Terry Nation, Welsh-American author and screenwriter (d. 1997).

    1931 – Roger Penrose, English physicist, mathematician, and philosopher, Nobel Prize laureate.

    1937 – Dustin Hoffman, American actor and director.

    1942 – John Gustafson, English singer-songwriter and bass player (d. 2014).

    1948 – Svetlana Savitskaya, Russian engineer and astronaut.

    1951 – Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian engineer, academic, and politician, 5th President of Egypt (d. 2019).

    1953 – Nigel Mansell, English racing driver. [Dad made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in a car advert with Mansell, Eric Idle, and Murray Walker.]

    1961 – The Edge, British-Irish musician, singer and songwriter.

    The idea is to die young as late as possible:
    117 – Trajan, Roman emperor (b. 53).

    1533 – Lucas van Leyden, Dutch artist (b. 1494).

    1555 – Oronce Finé, French mathematician and cartographer (b. 1494).

    1747 – Madeleine de Verchères, Canadian raid leader (b. 1678. [Credited with repelling a raid on Fort Verchères when she was 14 years old.

    1828 – Carl Peter Thunberg, Swedish botanist and psychologist (b. 1743).

    1940 – Johnny Dodds, American clarinet player and saxophonist (b. 1892).

    1965 – Shirley Jackson, American novelist and short story writer (b. 1916).

    1974 – Elisabeth Abegg, German anti-Nazi resistance fighter (b. 1882).

    1991 – James Irwin, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1930. [The 8th person to walk on the Moon and the first, and youngest, of those astronauts to die.]

    2004 – Fay Wray, Canadian-American actress (b. 1907).

    2010 – Patricia Neal, American actress (b. 1926).

    2013 – Karen Black, American actress (b. 1939).

    2014 – Charles Keating, English-American actor (b. 1941).

    2017 – Glen Campbell, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1936).

    2022 – Olivia Newton-John, English-Australian singer-songwriter and actress (b. 1948).

  11. I recently read an article that discussed Russia’s attempts to assassinate or kidnap Zelensky. It was asked whether this would change anything in the course of the war, whether Russia could gain an advantage.

    The answer was “no”.

    Ukrainian democracy would be strong enough to withstand such a blow due to constitutional follow-up measures and despite all deficits and corruption. Putin himself has ensured this since 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing small-scale war in the Donbass until 2022. He projects his tailor-made authoritarian-dictatorial style of leadership onto the conditions in Ukraine and thinks that if he chops off the head of the “snake,” i.e. Zelensky, then he is virtually on the brink of victory.

  12. Wow! You guys still pump have someone to pump your petrol (gas)? I remember someone filling us up back in the 70s but here in the UK it’s all pump your own now. Don’t know anywhere where anyone does it for you here. And wiping windscreens (windshields) and checking oil never made it to this side of the pond – shame really.

    Fascinating about the horseshoe crabs, but stasis in nature is not unknown. I remember reading a couple of books about the Burgess Shale fossils (from the Cambrian, about 530 million years ago) and the marine worms then look very much like the marine worms we find today. I seem to remember reading that what was different was that the priapulid worms were common then, but rare today; while annelid worms were rare then but common today. The fact that they haven’t changed says nothing about the reality of evolution. if their environment hasn’t changed much and they are well adapted to that habitat why would they change?

  13. Perseus (purrseus?) the cat is very beautiful.

    I wasn’t surprised at all by physicians’ wages. Growing up, everyone knew doctors made a lot of dosh. We all had friends whose parents were doctors and gee, what ginormous homes they had! And they drove Porsches, Benzs and BMWs. As a senior in HS, my English teacher had us all write an essay about what we were going to do after graduating. She praised one student, saying: out of all my students who said they were going to pursue becoming a doctor, only Steve (yes, actual name) said he was doing it to help people, not to make money. That’s always stuck with me (what hasn’t stuck with me is what my essay was about). Either way, the American kids I grew up with wanted to become doctors because of the almighty dollar.

  14. To the ducks shopping for LPs, I would recommend Handel’s “Water Music”, Pink Floyd’s “Duck Side Of The Moon”, or anything by Anatina Turner.

  15. On the Physician pay issue- That number must be skewed terribly by ultra high earners.
    How it works here- Almost all of the clinics and hospitals are owned by a giant evil corporation. Doctors are given base metric to meet, mostly number of patients seen, with allowances for the fact that more complicated cases require more time. So they set the metric as 100%, and one’s pay is based on how far over or under the metric one produces.
    People frequently ask Fr. Dr. Blancke what something costs, and she has no real idea, and would have to call some bureaucrat to find out, just as the patient might. The people who set the prices and bill the patients are people we have never met, and are themselves working for venture capital firms like Bain.

    Also, Fr. Dr. Blancke has never made anywhere near that kind of money.

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