Wednesday: Hili dialogue

August 30, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to a Hump Day (कूबड़ के दिन बा  in Bhojpuri): August 30, 2023, and National Toasted Marshmallow Day.  To me, this is the proper way to toast them: burnt to a crisp on the outside and gooey inside.


It’s also Frankenstein Day, celebrating the birth of author Mary Shelley in 1797, National Holistic Pet Day (?), National Beach Day, National Slinky Day, International Day of the Disappeared, and International Whale Shark Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the August 30 Wikipedia page.

Posting may be light today as I’ve now gone two entire nights without a wink of sleep—the insomnia has come roaring back. I think I need someone to hit me on the head with a croquet mallet at bedtime each night. . . .

Da Nooz:

*In one of its better moves, the Biden Administration has announced the ten first drugs whose prices will be negotiated with pharmaceutical companies to keep Medicare costs low. Insulin, of course, is included.

The Biden administration on Tuesday unveiled a long-awaited list of the first 10 medicines that will be subject to price negotiations with Medicare, kicking off a landmark program that is expected to reduce the government’s drug spending but is being fought by the pharmaceutical industry in court.

The medications — which treat diabetes, cancer and other disorders — are taken by millions of older Americans and cost Medicare billions of dollars annually. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services selected the drugs through a process that prioritized ones that account for the highest Medicare spending, have been on the market for years and do not yet face competition from rivals. Additional medications will be selected for price negotiations in the coming years.

The final list had some overlap with what experts had anticipated. Its release was an important moment for Democrats, who have campaigned on a promise to lower the cost of prescription drugs. President Biden will mark the occasion with remarks at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, in another sign that he intends to make lowering health care costs a theme of his 2024 re-election campaign.

And here’s the first ten drugs, with more to come:

Drugs Selected for Price Negotiations

1. Eliquis, for preventing strokes and blood clots, from Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer

2. Jardiance, for diabetes and heart failure, from Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly

3. Xarelto,for preventing strokes and blood clots, from Johnson & Johnson

4. Januvia, for diabetes, from Merck

5. Farxiga, for diabetes, heart failure and chronic kidney disease, from AstraZeneca

6. Entresto, for heart failure, from Novartis

7. Enbrel, for arthritis and other autoimmune conditions, from Amgen

8. Imbruvica, for blood cancers, from AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson

9. Stelara, for Crohn’s disease, from Johnson & Johnson

10. Fiasp and NovoLog insulin products, for diabetes, from Novo Nordisk

Many of these are the drugs you see advertised on the evening news, showing that only geezers like me watch network news any more. At any rate, the ability of the government to negotiate these prices was part of the Inflation Reduction Act of last year, and of course Big Pharma is beefing like crazy, calling these negotiations a “political stunt”.

*I don’t know what’s going on in North Korea, but they’re definitely ratcheting up the anti-U.S. rhetoric and missile launches. Check out the AP article about it with a video showing a very plump Kim Jong Un (is he due for an infarction), with his daughter, who’s showed up at a series of political events (is she in line for succession instead of Kim’s younger sister Kim Yo-Jong?). Only the top brass in the DPRK get enough food to be fat.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for the military to be constantly ready for combat to thwart its rivals’ plots to invade, state media said Tuesday, as the U.S., South Korea and Japan held a trilateral naval exercise to deal with North Korea’s evolving nuclear threats.

The U.S. and South Korean militaries have been separately holding summer bilateral exercises since last week. North Korea views such U.S.-involved training as an invasion rehearsal, though Washington and its partners maintain their drills are defensive.

Kim said in a speech marking the country’s Navy Day on Monday that the waters off the Korean Peninsula have been made unstable “with the danger of a nuclear war” because of U.S.-led hostilities, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

He accused the U.S. of conducting “more frantic” naval drills with its allies and deploying strategic assets in waters around the Korean Peninsula. Kim also cited a recent U.S.-South Korean-Japanese summit where an agreement to boost defense cooperation was reached to counter North Korea’s nuclear program. Kim called U.S. President Joe Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida “the gang bosses” of the three countries.

. . .“The prevailing situation requires our navy to put all its efforts into rounding off the war readiness to maintain the constant combat alertness and get prepared to break the enemy’s will for war in contingency,” Kim said.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry expressed deep regret over Kim’s use of “very rude language” to slander the South Korean, U.S. and Japanese leaders. Spokesperson Lim Soosuk told reporters that North Korea must immediately stop acts that raise tensions with “reckless threats and provocation.”

Nuclear war with North Korea? Don’t make me laugh. Yes, they will get missiles eventually, and they may be able to reach the U.S. (and remember, Seoul is only 60 miles from the DMZ). But any such war would be total suicide for North Korea, and unless they all want to die, the leaders are just blustering.

Here he is with his daughter. Both are overfed, in contrast to everyone else in the video (click above to see it).

*In the NYT, columnist Jamelle Bouie tries to dispel the “myth” of Martin Luther King Jr. in his column “The forgotten radicalism of the march on Washington,”  To my mind, this kind of exercise has two aims. First, to show that King really wasn’t as “colorblind” as he seemed; now they want to make him into an earlier version of Ibram Kendi, who believes that all white people are racists. Second, to argue that blacks really haven’t made that much progress even after the Sixties: that they’re almost as bad off now as in the Jim Crow South:

As remembered and commemorated by most Americans, the 1963 March on Washington — its 60th anniversary fell on Monday — represents the essence of the civil rights movement, defined in our national mythology as a colorblind demand for neutrality and fairness in the face of discrimination, embodied in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Less well remembered, in our collective memory at least, is the fact that both the march and King’s speech were organized around much more than opposition to anti-Black discrimination. It was officially known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, with a far more expansive vision for society than formal equality under the law. The march wasn’t a demand for a more inclusive arrangement under the umbrella of postwar American liberalism, as it might seem today. It was a demand for something more — for a social democracy of equals, grounded in the long Black American struggle to realize the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the potential of Reconstruction.

Note that the emphasis is on black struggle and racial equality, but in reality what Bouie emphasizes is what King was after in the long run: a leveling of the playing field for all Americans, black and white, rich and poor.

Consider the 10-point list of demands issued by the organizers of the march. They wanted “Comprehensive and effective civil rights legislation” to guarantee all Americans “access to all public accommodations, decent housing, adequate and integrated education” and “the right to vote.” They wanted “a massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers — Negro and white — on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.” They wanted “a national minimum wage act that will give all Americans a decent standard of living.” They wanted federal legislation to protect workers from exploitation and a federal government that brought its full power to bear on discrimination and disenfranchisement.

Bouie quotes others who spoke at that march, like Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph. But King’s speech was the centerpiece, and is what’s remembered from the march. And although he mentions Southern racism, he’s not at all Kendian with his lines like these:

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.

And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

And of course this:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

Yes, we still have racism, and we’re way far away from equal opportunity for those of all races. But it’s simply ludicrous to claim that blacks have made no progress since the Jim Crow South, or that King was simply an early instantiation of the philosophy of Kendi. Those are lies meant to perpetuate the idea that we’ll need DEI initiatives forever.

Now for the tabloid news:

*The Washington Post has highlighted the world’s oldest chicken, a pullet who’s certified by Guinness to be all of 21 years old—old enough to drink!  (h/t Barry)

Marsi Parker Darwin and husband Bill live on a Michigan no-kill farm with dogs, cats and various birds, including chickens, peacocks and ducks.

Darwin vividly recalls the day 21 years ago when one of the chicken eggs that was supposed to hatch looked rotten, and had been abandoned by its mother hen. She picked it up and was about to toss it into a pond for turtles to eat, when she heard a small chirp.

“I heard a second chirp, and I realized that the chick was alive and didn’t seem to have an egg tooth to get out of its shell,” she said, referring to the part of the beak a chick uses to crack open the egg from the inside.

Darwin looked closely and saw a tiny, barely visible crack, so she decided to give the chick a little help.

“I gently peeled her out of the egg, and there was this wet little mess, sitting in my hand,” she recalled.

She tried to put the baby chick back with the mother hen, but she wouldn’t accept her. So Darwin took the chick inside, put her under a heat lamp and taught her to eat and drink. She named the brown speckled girl Peanut because she grew to about a pound, roughly one-third the size of some of her others chickens.

More than two decades after Peanut was peeled from her shell in 2002, she is still hanging out in Darwin’s living room, often in her lap. And the bantam hen is now earning recognition: Guinness World Records has named her the world’s oldest living chicken.

Here’s Peanut with her certificate:

*The Independent has named “the world’s most expensive cheese”, which comes in at about $400 US per ounce! (h/t David)

The world record for the most expensive cheese has been broken.

The cabrales blue cheese of northern Spain earned the title of the world’s most expensive cheese after a 2.2kg wheel was sold at auction for €30,000.

It also won best cabrales of the year at the principality’s 51st annual competition.

“We knew we had a good cheese but also that it is very difficult to win,” Guillermo Pendás, who made it for his family’s Los Puertos factory, told EFE, Spain’s state news agency.

The usual price of cabrales is €35 to €40 a kilo. The cheese is made using raw cow’s milk or a mixture of cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk and matures in caves in the Cabrales area in the Picos de Europa national park.

Mature cheeses are taken down the mountain from the caves on foot.

The previous Guinness World Record price was set at €20,500 in 2019 for a cheese also bought by Mr Suárez.

Here’s a piece of the cheese:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili vets her prey wisely:

Hili: I’ve seen a hedgehog in the garden.
A: And?
Hili: I’ve shown a sensible lack of interest.
In Polish:
Hili: Widziałam jeża w ogrodzie.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Okazałam rozsądny brak zainteresowania.

. . . and a lovely picture of Baby Kulka:


From Facebook, a duck therapy cartoon (I don’t know who drew this):

From Thomas, a Dave Blazek cartoon:

From David, a chemistry groaner:

From Masih, another brave Iranian defying their theocracy.  The consequences of releasing that video (shown in the tweet below) were absolutely predictable. It shows women without hijabs—and even a bit of stomach! Note that many of the women were photographed in public.

From Luana, Brazil (her natal country) is now punishing people for free speech because it offends some people.  They need a version of the First Amendment.

Parrot skills from Malcolm. Look at that somersault!

From Gravelinspector, a bon mot:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, another who didn’t survive:

Tweets from Doctor Cobb. The usual gang of evolution renegades put out a book. I’ve read enough of these authors to know that I can skip this one.

A fast duck. Look at that puppy run!

A “cheater” gets tossed out of his house. But it seems that he just had a dream that he cheating with his partner’s sister. Are you morally culpable for what you dream?

26 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    70 – Titus ends the siege of Jerusalem after destroying Herod’s Temple.

    1835 – Australia: Melbourne, Victoria is founded.

    1836 – The city of Houston is founded by Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen.

    1916 – Ernest Shackleton completes the rescue of all of his men stranded on Elephant Island in Antarctica.

    1918 – Fanni Kaplan shoots and seriously injures Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, which along with the assassination of Bolshevik senior official Moisei Uritsky days earlier, prompts the decree for Red Terror.

    1936 – The RMS Queen Mary wins the Blue Riband by setting the fastest transatlantic crossing.

    1945 – The Allied Control Council, governing Germany after World War II, comes into being.

    1963 – The Moscow–Washington hotline between the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union goes into operation.

    1967 – Thurgood Marshall is confirmed as the first African American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

    1984 – STS-41-D: The Space Shuttle Discovery takes off on its maiden voyage.

    2021 – The last remaining American troops leave Afghanistan, ending U.S. involvement in the war.

    1716 – Capability Brown, English landscape architect (d. 1783).

    1720 – Samuel Whitbread, English brewer and politician, founded Whitbread (d. 1796).

    1748 – Jacques-Louis David, French painter and illustrator (d. 1825).

    1797 – Mary Shelley, English novelist and playwright (d. 1851).

    1871 – Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand-English physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1937).

    1884 – Theodor Svedberg, Swedish chemist and physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1971).

    1893 – Huey Long, American lawyer and politician, 40th Governor of Louisiana (d. 1935).

    1896 – Raymond Massey, Canadian-American actor and playwright (d. 1983).

    1906 – Olga Taussky-Todd, Austrian mathematician (d. 1995).

    1907 – Bertha Parker Pallan, American archaeologist (d. 1978).

    1912 – Nancy Wake, New Zealand-English captain (d. 2011).

    1919 – Kitty Wells, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2012).

    1930 – Warren Buffett, American businessman and philanthropist.

    1931 – Jack Swigert, American pilot and astronaut (d. 1982).

    1939 – John Peel, English radio host and producer (d. 2004).

    1941 – Sue MacGregor, English journalist and radio host.

    1943 – Robert Crumb, American illustrator.

    1944 – Molly Ivins, American journalist and author (d. 2007).

    1950 – Antony Gormley, English sculptor and academic.

    1972 – Cameron Diaz, American model, actress, and producer.

    Nothing is lasting but change; nothing perpetual but death:
    1938 – Max Factor, Sr., Polish-born American make-up artist and businessman, founded the Max Factor Company (b. 1877).

    1940 – J. J. Thomson, English physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1856).

    1948 – Alice Salomon, German-American social reformer (b. 1872).

    1963 – Guy Burgess, English-Soviet spy (b. 1911).

    1970 – Abraham Zapruder, American clothing manufacturer, witness to the assassination of John F. Kennedy (b. 1905).

    1979 – Jean Seberg, American actress (b. 1938).

    1991 – Jean Tinguely, Swiss painter and sculptor (b. 1925).

    1994 – Lindsay Anderson, English director and screenwriter (b. 1923).

    1995 – Sterling Morrison, American guitarist and singer (b. 1942).

    2003 – Charles Bronson, American actor and soldier (b. 1921).

    2006 – Naguib Mahfouz, Egyptian journalist and author, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1911).

    2013 – Seamus Heaney, Irish poet and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1939).

    2015 – Wes Craven, American director, producer, screenwriter, and actor (b. 1939).

    2015 – Oliver Sacks, English-American neurologist, author, and academic (b. 1933).

    2022 – Mikhail Gorbachev, the 8th and final leader of the Soviet Union. (b. 1931).

  2. I take 3 of those 10 first 10 drugs and it costs me a lot. I am into and then past the “donut hole” and into the extended period by August.

    1. Unfortunately, it will be a long time, if ever, before Medicare recipients see a drop in the cost of these drugs. It will be in 2026 at the earliest that this could happen. As Reuters and Politico report, the drug companies have already filed many suits contesting the constitutionality of these negotiations. I have no idea if there is any substance to these claims, but these suits have the potential to hold up price reductions for many years should a judge put a stay on the negotiations. Of course, should a Republican take office in 2025, that person could end the process by executive fiat.

        1. The republicans have been against all things regarding healthcare or having the govt. pay for any of it. This is all part of the republican plan. Prevent all abortion and let them die later. It is a great plan. While Obama was president and after they voted 50 or 60 times to kill it. They would eliminate Medicare and Social Security in a heartbeat.

        2. An essential tenet of right wing thought is that big business should be allowed to do whatever it wants to the public. No rip-off is too big.

  3. Those who say that racism is just as bad as it ever was are insulting the accomplishments of King (and Rosa Parks, and other heroes of the civil rights movement). They are saying that King and the others accomplished nothing. So why give him a national holiday?

      1. That’s entirely possible. Of course, Ross actually did cheat on Rachel even thought they were technically “on a break” and he was also insanely jealous and he dated one of his students and he accidentally said “Rachel” instead of “Emily” when he was getting married to Emily.

        Ross is basically an arsehole. Phoebe had every reason to be mad at him.

  4. I can provide numbers for two of the drugs on the list for negotiation. I would be interesting if someone from another country could provide for comparison.

    NAME. Insurance pays My Cost. Medicare. TOTAL

    Januvia. $462.28 $70 $1241.05. $1773.33
    Jardiance. $507.09. $70. $1354.60. $1922.69

    These numbers are for one prescription or 90 days worth. (90 pills). For an annual amount just multiply times 4. All the numbers come from my insurance Aetna and shows what everyone pays on these items. I assume whatever comes from the negotiations would lower the Medicare portion but probably not mine.

  5. I’m from Brazil and I was reading some articles about this new law. They said that because there is a law on racism that says it is against the law to discriminate against color, there has to be one for LGBT+. So for now, it will work the same way as the law on racism. One article said that one gay activist lawyer said ” If a priest said “being gay is a sin” that wouldn’t be a crime, but if someone said ” Get out of here, you fag”, then it would be”. None of the articles mentioned calling a transwomen a men and if that would be included in the law. Maybe they would say that it depends on the intention, if it was an honest mistake or it had intention to offend…but how to prove it?.. This kind of laws are too open.

  6. Not the eternal torture of fire and brimstone but just bad puns? Things have really eased up down There.

    1. I suspect that Mitch is trying to hold on until he sees whether Cameron can unseat Beshear in this fall’s KY gubernatorial race. I don’t know what Feinstein’s excuse is.

  7. On teleonomy, where are Pigliucci and Laland? I sometimes teach a course on evolutionary theory, maybe this book would be a useful foil for teaching students what’s wrong with this way of thinking. For me the biggest flaw in the “genes aren’t the only locus of evolution” argument is that it ignores recombination. Organisms and their traits are just a bunch of recombining genes flying in loose formation. Dawkins got it right.

  8. From what I’ve read, if a pharma company declines the government’s offer, they face a tax of up to 95% on the drug’s U.S. sales. Its not a “negotiation” when one party has a gun pointed at its head.

  9. It’s not at all obvious to me that Kim’s daughter is over-fed. Maybe I need new glasses. Incredibly obvious to me about Kim himself. Maybe she needs to turn to the left 60 degrees or so to clarify.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from Why Evolution Is True

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading