Friday: Hili dialogue (and Kulka dialogue)

June 11, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Friday, June 11, 2021: National German Chocolate Cake Day (cultural appropriation?). It’s also Corn on the Cob Day, National Marriage DayKamehameha Day in Hawaii, and Cousteau Day (Jacques was born on this day in 1910).

Wine of the Day: Bummer! I don’t know when I bought the chardonnay below, nor what I paid for it (it goes for about $40 now, but stay away); I found it in the oldest section of my wine collection, which I must organize. I knew I was in for trouble when the cork crumbled as I was opening it, despite it having been stored horizontally.  That’s a sign of age, and a California chardonnay stored at 65 degrees (I have no colder storage) for 14 years or so is dubious at best.

And so it was. It was darkish gold, another sign of oxidation and overage. While it was (barely) drinkable, with the sherry-like flavors of wine dotage, I had only one glass before I poured the bottle down the drain. What a pity, as in its prime the ratings were very good. So it goes.

News of the Day:

The Biden administration continues doing good stuff, now pledging to send 500 million (half a billion!) doses of Pfizer cornavirus vaccine to the 100 poorest countries in the world. I hope my tax dollars helped finance this donation.

Meanwhile in the US, a poll described on last night’s NBC Evening News says that about 20% of healthcare workers refuse to be vaccinated. Reasons vary, but most are born of ignorance. And in Houston, 178 workers at Houston Methodist Hospital were suspended for refusing to be vaccinated. This is not for religious or medical reasons, as the WaPo reports that “285 employees received a medical or religious exemption from the vaccine, and 332 employees were granted deferrals for pregnancy or other reasons.” The other objectors show sheer bloody-mindedness—except as with other ignorant decisions, like rejecting evolution, this one puts others at risk.

Did the COVID-19 virus enter humans from animals in a wet market, or through a lab leak in Wuhan? We don’t know for sure, but a new article in Nature looks at the evidence.  Their conclusion: a natural origin is still the most plausible hypothesis, but we can’t completely rule out the lab-leak theory.  (h/t: Greg)

A group of over 200 journalists has signed a petition vowing to be more anti-Israel in the coverage of the news. The petition says that it’s time to be realistic and apply the terms like “apartheid state”, “war crimes” and “ethnic superiority” more readily to Israel. The kicker is that the petition doesn’t say that these terms, which more accurately characterize the Palestinian territories but aren’t used for them, should be applied to Palestine as well. Once again we have anti-Israel double standards in the media. (See here for a more ascerbic take than mine.)

Speaking of anti-Zionists, a group that includes representative Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota Congresswoman put her foot in it once again, as she’s simply unable to hide her hatred of Israel. She issued this tweet with a video of an exchange with the Secretary of State::

She was roundly criticized by many for equating the U.S. and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban, including the Democratic leadership:

The six-person Democratic leadership team, which includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, issued a rare joint statement following Omar’s statement, writing they “welcome [Omar’s] clarification.”

“Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate. And indeed, such criticism is essential to the strength and health of our democracies,” their statement read. “But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all.”

The NYT adds this:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California cannot afford an internal rift, even with a small number of progressives. Democratic leaders had to beg Ms. Omar and other members of the progressive clique known as the squad to vote present rather than “no” last month on a $1.9 billion bill to finance Capitol security improvements, to prevent the measure’s defeat after they objected to more funding for the police. Ms. Omar seemed to allude to those pleas in her combative tweet.

Omar “clarified” what she said in a tepid press release, saying

“To be clear: the conversation was about accountability for specific incidents regarding those ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel.

“I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”

Of course she was. The woman is a misguided ideologue (or rather, a “hater”). HuffPo, as usual, bought Omar’s palaver, asserting that the Democratic criticism of Omar just gave fuel to the GOP (click on screenshot):

No, it’s Omar’s own bigotry and anti-Semitism that gives the GOP talking points against the Democratic Party.

Onward: I won’t vouch for the accuracy of the plot below, which is on reddit (h/t: smipowell), but if true it’s pretty amazing. Who would have thought that the election results could be tied so closely to ancient geology through a series of causal links?

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 598,770, an increase of 387 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now  3,789,644, an increase of about 11,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 11 includes a lot o’ news:

  • 1184 BC – Trojan War: Troy is sacked and burned, according to calculations by Eratosthenes.
  • 1509 – Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon.
  • 1748 – Denmark adopts the characteristic Nordic Cross flag later taken up by all other Scandinavian countries.

I didn’t realize until now that yes, all Scandinavian countries have variants of this cross. Here they be:

(From Wikipedia): Nordic flags, from left to right: Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
  • 1770 – British explorer Captain James Cook runs aground on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • 1776 – The Continental Congress appoints Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston to the Committee of Five to draft a declaration of independence.
  • 1895 – Paris–Bordeaux–Paris, sometimes called the first automobile race in history or the “first motor race”, takes place.

One of the racers:

  • 1919 – Sir Barton wins the Belmont Stakes, becoming the first horse to win the U.S. Triple Crown.
  • 1920 – During the U.S. Republican National Convention in Chicago, U.S. Republican Party leaders gathered in a room at the Blackstone Hotel to come to a consensus on their candidate for the U.S. presidential election, leading the Associated Press to coin the political phrase “smoke-filled room”.
  • 1937 – Great Purge: The Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin executes eight army leaders.
  • 1955 – Eighty-three spectators are killed and at least 100 are injured after an Austin-Healey and a Mercedes-Benz collide at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the deadliest ever accident in motorsports.

Here’s a video of the accident from British Pathé, but warning: it’s pretty horrifying:

It was scenes like this that helped galvanize the public, leading to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Look at this guy!

  • 1963 – Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức burns himself with gasoline in a busy Saigon intersection to protest the lack of religious freedom in South Vietnam.

I remember it well; here’s a photo that Wikipedia labels, “Journalist Malcolm Browne‘s photograph of Quảng Đức during his self-immolation; a similar photograph won the 1963 World Press Photo of the Year.”

  • 1970 – After being appointed on May 15, Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington officially receive their ranks as U.S. Army Generals, becoming the first women to do so.
  • 1987 – Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Bernie Grant are elected as the first black MPs in Great Britain.
  • 2001 – Timothy McVeigh is executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • 2010 – The first African FIFA World Cup kicks off in South Africa.

Here’s the lively official song of the world cup by Shakira; I believe she adapted it from a Cameroon military marching song:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1572 – Ben Jonson, English poet, playwright, and critic (d. 1637)
  • 1776 – John Constable, English painter and academic (d. 1837)
  • 1864 – Richard Strauss, German composer and conductor (d. 1949)

The great composer:

  • 1910 – Jacques Cousteau, French biologist, author, and inventor, co-developed the aqua-lung (d. 1997)
  • 1925 – William Styron, American novelist and essayist (d. 2006)
  • 1933 – Gene Wilder, American actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 2016)
  • 1956 – Joe Montana, American football player and sportscaster
  • 1959 – Hugh Laurie, English actor and screenwriter

Those who bought the farm on June 11 include:

  • 1979 – John Wayne, American actor, director, and producer (b. 1907)
  • 2001 – Timothy McVeigh, American terrorist (b. 1968)
  • 2003 – David Brinkley, American journalist and author (b. 1920)
  • 2013 – Robert Fogel, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1926)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili and Szaron hatch plans:

Hili: Are we going over there or are we staying here?
Szaron: This requires thinking through.
In Polish:
Hili: Idziemy tam, czy zostajemy tu?
Szaron: To wymaga przemyślenia.
And we have our first Kulka dialogue:
Kulka: Let me in tp Paulina immediately.
Andrzej: What for?
Kulka: So she could let me out
In Polish: Kulka: Wpuść mnie natychmiast do Pauliny! Andrzej: Po co? Kulka: Żeby mogła mnie wypuścić na dwór.

From Meanwhile in Canada:

From Su; the Creation of Ducks:

From Nicole:

A tweet from reader Ken, who notes: “Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert — still the nation’s reigning stupidest congressperson despite stiff competition from QAnon conspiracists Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert — has come up with the Republican plan for addressing climate change (nota bene: the BLM he mentions is the Bureau of Land Management not Black Lives Matter). . . .”On the bright side, he seems to have accepted, at least provisionally, the heliocentric theory of the solar system!” (tweet also sent by Barry):

Tweets from Matthew. Sound up on this thriller, and watch to the very end:

There are a number of reasons why biological mimicry might be imperfect, among them a lack of genetic variation for “better matching”. This paper in Proc. Roy. Soc. tests some of them and settles on the “predators have incomplete information” hypothesis (i.e., predators don’t visualize all the aspects that could be mimicked):

Duck of the Day. I need to get Honey on that page!

A lovely trip through a larval gut made from successive visualizations:

This is very clever, but deadly for birds and their young:

Here’s how one person who lectures on space to the average person handles flat-earthers. There are 17 tweets in all, but read them. Her technique is empathic, clever, and well-honed, and, according to her, has a high “conversion” rate.

Matthew wonders how this tactic would work with creationists. I would guess not as well because religion plays more of a role in creationism than in flat-earthism.

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

June 9, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Wednesday, June 9, 2021: National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. I decry, deplore, and denounce this pie, made as it is with a sour and stringy VEGETABLE. I know many readers are fond of this sorry excuse for a pie, but give me a straight strawberry pie any day.

It’s a very thin day for holidays, for the only other one of note is Donald Duck Day, celebrating the anniversary of the pantsless mallard’s first appearance in the cartoon “The Wise Little Hen” on this date in 1934. Well, here’s Donald. who appears at 2:06 dancing a hornpipe. 

Today’s Google Doodle is a gif (click on screenshot) celebrating the life of Shirley Temple (1928-2014). As C|Net reports, this is neither the day on which she was born or died, but rather “the anniversary of the 2015 date that the historical museum in her hometown of Santa Monica, California, opened Love, Shirley Temple, a special exhibit featuring a collection of her rare memorabilia.”

News of the Day:

The Moral Arc Bends Upward: Reader Ken sent this link, adding, “A Gallup poll released today shows that support for same-sex marriage among Americans has gone from 27% in 1996 to 70% today. That’s the most amazing 25-year public-attitude turn around of my lifetime, I think. For the first time, even a majority of Republicans (55%) support SSM. Only among evangelicals does support remain low.” Who says that morality doesn’t improve?

Why do Uber rides (and other amenities) cost so much more than they used to? For me, an Uber to Midway Airport used to cost about $20, cheaper than a cab. Now the Uber ride could be $55 and the cab fare is about what it was: $24 sans tip.  The NYT explains the rise in prices of stuff once considered a bargain.

The BBC reports on a new paper in Current Biology showing that a parthenogenic bdelloid rotifer (a species that reproduces asexually) has been carbon-dated at 24,000 years old after being defrosted from the Siberian permafrost. As far as I know, only worms, bacteria, and plant seeds can survive biological “stasis” for this long. Matthew is quoted in a Guardian article on this Lazarus rotifer.  (h/t: Jez)

Reader Ginger contributed a link to a BBC article describing a reconstruction of Noah’s Ark in England. Unfortunately, the faux-ark has been detained in Ipswich as “unseaworthy”. And that is in normal conditions, not those obtaining in the Biblical description!

Reader Laurie sent a link to this BBC video (made by Isabelle Rodd with a drone) showing a remarkably huge pod of humpback whales migrating and feeding en masse. Pods are usually only a handful of individuals, but this one has 20-90 whales. It’s also the only video of “bubble-net feeding” from Australia (It’s a mystery whether this efficient behavior is innate or must be learned from other whales.)  Click on the screenshot to go to the video and short article:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 597,906, an increase of 438 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,763,628, an increase of about 10,700 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 9 includes:

  • AD 53 – The Roman emperor Nero marries Claudia Octavia.
  • AD 68 – Nero commits suicide, after quoting Vergil’s Aeneid, thus ending the Julio-Claudian dynasty and starting the civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors.
  • 1856 – Five hundred Mormons leave Iowa City, Iowa for the Mormon Trail.

Here’s a map of the entire Mormon Trail from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah:

Lingle is shown below. His murderer, caught after a $55,000 reward was offered (the equivalent of almost $900,000 today), got only 14 years in jail and served but eight. It’s Capone, Jake!

Broad Peak, 8,047 meters high (26,414 ft) lies on the border between Pakistan and China. Here’s the mountain, the 12th highest in the world:

  • 1968 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson declares a national day of mourning following the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
  • 1973 – In horse racing, Secretariat wins the U.S. Triple Crown.

Here’s Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes victory, giving this horse the Triple Crown. Look at that victory—by 25 lengths!

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s the tomb of Peter the Great, which I photographed in St. Petersburg in July, 2011, nearly a decade ago:

Avril, a can-can dancer, was made famous by the paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec; here’s a photo of her and a poster by the painter:

  • 1915 – Les Paul, American guitarist and songwriter (d. 2009)
  • 1960 – Steve Paikin, Canadian journalist and author
  • 1963 – Johnny Depp, American actor
  • 1981 – Natalie Portman, Israeli-American actress

Portman turns 40 today.

Those who croaked on June 9 include:

  • AD 68 – Nero, Roman emperor (b. 37)
  • 1870 – Charles Dickens, English novelist and critic (b. 1812)

Here’s a Daguerreotype portrait of Charles Dickens taken by Antoine Claude in 1852:

  • 2017 – Adam West, American actor and investor (b. 1928)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is having a spring kvetch:

Hili: There will be grass mowing again.
A: So what?
Hili: I don’t like the noise.
In Polish:
Hili: Znów będzie koszenie trawy.
Ja: No to co?
Hili: Nie lubię hałasu.

From Paulina: Kulka and Szaron sniff a tasty “cat sausage”:

From Bruce:

Reader Divy isn’t much on making cookies, but when she saw this unique cookie cutter she changed her mind. You can get one for only $5 on Etsy.

From Fat Cat Art via On the Prowl cat cartoons:

It’s time to remind ourselves of the plight of women in Iran. Be sure to watch the video with Masih:

Two tweets from Ginger K. Turn the sound up on this first one to hear the blissed-out cheetah:

This isn’t the famous “pale blue dot” photo, but it’s even better. And yep, that’s Earth at the tip of the arrow:

Tweets by Matthew. His assertion is right, but he still doesn’t comprehend America:

Here I am touting Dr. Cobb’s writing (the book is excellent, by the way):

I love the captions on these old paintings. That moggie is BAKED!


This tweet even explains leucism:

Monday: Hili dialogue

June 7, 2021 • 6:30 am

Another damn week is here, but summer is approaching: it’s June 7, 2021: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. It’s also Daniel Boone Day, celebrating the day when he supposedly first saw the land that would become part of Kentucky, and National “Thank God It’s Monday” Day, a holiday with no rationale at all.  That’s it for holidays:a very poor day for celebrating.

Wine of the Day: First, notice the match between the wine label and my countertop. Second, this is a superb wine. I’ve lately been on a winning streak drinking the fancier wines I bought, and I think I need treats.  This wonderful syrah is redolent of black pepper, black olive (like a good Rhone), and, of all things, beef jerky.

I have no record of when I bought it (the cork was crumbly and required careful extraction) or what i paid for it, but it appears to go now for about $45.  I needed a treat, a good red to drink with good Tilamook Aged Sharp Cheddar, homegrown tomatoes drenched in great Italian olive oil, and all accompanied by a crispy baguette. As Hemingway would have written: “I took a bite of the cheese and then the bread, and washed it down with the red wine. It was good.” The wine showed no sign of being over the hill despite being 13 years old.

News of the Day:

As of Sunday evening at 6 p.m. Chicago time, our town has had 47 shootings since Friday evening and 5 deaths. None of those killings were in self-defense. How many more people have to die before the gun madness stops? (Death toll update Monday morning should the violence continue.) UPDATE: 55 shot as of 5 a.m. Monday, with no more deaths.

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of two Democratic supporters of the 60-vote filibuster law, has announced that he’s not budging, despite strong Democratic arm-twisting to do so. Without his and Sen. Sinema’s vote, the Democrats will get precious little done in the next year and a half.

An AP story details promising new methods of gene therapy for rare diseases based on mutations in single genes. By injecting the fixed, engineered gene into an affected organ, or into the body as a whole, a panoply of diseases can be cured or ameliorated. One issue is how to use viral vectors to carry the “good” gene into cells; curiously one such vector is the HIV virus, which has been used to give 48 babies born without a working immune system one that functions.

United Airlines has purchased 15 supersonic jets from Boom Technology that promise to revive the days of the Concorde. And like the Concorde, they can fly from New York to London in about 3½ hours. But don’t think for a minute that tickets will be cheap; the planes are small and fuel consumption is high: a transatlantic trip could cost $5000 or so. To see a Wall Street Journal video summarizing this new (or rather revived) means of travel, click on the screenshot below.

The debate about ditching the “common” names of birds that are “eponyms,” honoring a real person, continues. Some birders think that all such names should be ditched, others only “problematic” names like Audubon’s Warbler or Wallace’s Owlet (named after Alfred Russel Wallace, who “frequently used the n word.” The Washington Post describes the debate. A quote:

But overcoming those barriers will be daunting. As with the wider field of conservation, racism and colonialism are in ornithology’s DNA, indelibly linked to its origin story. The challenge of how to move forward is roiling White ornithologists as they debate whether to change as many as 150 eponyms, names of birds that honor people with connections to slavery and supremacy.

The Bachman’s sparrow, Wallace’s fruit dove and other winged creatures bear the names of men who fought for the Southern cause, stole skulls from Indian graves for pseudoscientific studies that were later debunked, and bought and sold Black people. Some of these men stoked violence and participated in it without consequence.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 597,219, an increase of 436 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,744,513, an increase of about 7,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 7 includes:

A painting, which could have been called “Hallelujah! Jesus helped us kill thousands of Muslims and Jews!”

(From Wikipedia): “Taking of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, 15th July 1099” / Giraudon / The Bridgeman Art Library

This ruling stood until it was overturned in 1954 by Brown v. Board of Education. There are no known photos of Homer Plessy.

The woman who axed a thousand barrels of booze.  Wikipedia says this about her: “She described herself as “a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn’t like”, and claimed a divine ordination to promote temperance by destroying bars.” But if Jesus doesn’t like booze, why did he turn water into wine?

  • 1917 – World War I: Battle of Messines: Allied soldiers detonate a series of mines underneath German trenches at Messines Ridge, killing 10,000 German troops.
  • 1942 – World War II: The Battle of Midway ends in American victory.
  • 1946 – The United Kingdom’s BBC returns to broadcasting its television service, which has been off air for seven years because of the Second World War.
  • 1965 – The Supreme Court of the United States hands down its decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, prohibiting the states from criminalizing the use of contraception by married couples.

The decision was 7-2, with William O. Douglas writing the majority opinion.

Some facts from Wikipedia behind the Cohen case: “On April 26, 1968, 19-year-old Paul Robert Cohen was arrested for wearing a jacket bearing the words “Fuck the Draft” in a corridor of the Los Angeles Courthouse. Cohen was reportedly at court to testify as a defense witness in an unrelated hearing, and had removed his jacket on entering the courtroom. An officer who had noticed his jacket in the corridor requested that the judge hold Cohen in contempt of court, but the judge did not take any action. The officer then waited until Cohen exited the courtroom and arrested him for disturbing the peace.

  • 1977 – Five hundred million people watch the high day of the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II begin on television.
  • 1982 – Priscilla Presley opens Graceland to the public; the bathroom where Elvis Presley died five years earlier is kept off-limits.

I’ve never been to Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee, but it’s on my bucket list. Here’s the outside:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1778 – Beau Brummell, English cricketer and fashion designer (d. 1840)
  • 1848 – Paul Gauguin, French painter and sculptor (d. 1903)

Here’s “Flow and Cats” by Gaugin:

  • 1917 – Dean Martin, American singer, actor, and producer (d. 1995)

One of my favorite songs by Deano: “Inamorata”, performed here with Dorothy Malone and Shirley MacLaine from the movie “Artists and Models” (1955).

  • 1952 – Liam Neeson, Irish-American actor
  • 1959 – Mike Pence, 48th Vice President of the United States, 50th Governor of Indiana
  • 1981 – Anna Kournikova, Russian tennis player
  • 1990 – Iggy Azalea, Australian rapper, singer, songwriter, and model.

Those who left the land of the living on June 7 include:

  • 1329 – Robert the Bruce, Scottish king (b. 1274)
  • 1937 – Jean Harlow, American actress and singer (b. 1911)
  • 1967 – Anatoly Maltsev, Russian mathematician and academic (b. 1909)
  • 1967 – Dorothy Parker, American poet, short story writer, critic, and satirist (b. 1893)

Parker, famed for her wit, was a member of the Algonquin Hotel Round Table group; here’s a photo of some of them:

(from Wikipedia): Parker, with Algonquin Round Table members and guests (l–r) Art Samuels (editor of Harper’s and, briefly, The New Yorker), Charles MacArthur, Harpo Marx, and Alexander Woollcott, circa 1919
  • 1980 – Henry Miller, American novelist and essayist (b. 1891)

Miller in 1940:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s impressed by Kulka! The story from Malgorzata: “Kulka (not visible in the picture) was in the process of climbing down from the veranda’s roof and was poised to jump on the window sill just next to Hili.”

Hili: I’m astonished by Kulka’s bravery.
A: Why?
Hili: She may have stopped respecting me.
In Polish:
Hili: Zdumiewa mnie odwaga Kulki.
Ja: Czemu?
Hili: Chyba przestała mnie szanować.
And little Kulka herself (photos by Paulina):


A cartoon from Divy:

From Bruce, a difference between natural selection (well, selection in urban areas) versus artificial selection:

From Stash Krod (this looks like a Bansky mural):


From Barry. I didn’t know starlings could mimic this well:

A tweet from Ken. Milo is even loonier than we thought. He’s no longer gay, but says that his abnegation of homosexuality made dogs stop barking at him. Still, he’s barking mad.

Tweets from Matthew. Apparently Mr. Lumpy doesn’t like olives. But I do!

A peaceful lakeside tweet with geese and DUCKS!

This is the culmination of years of studying the Talmud:

Look at the male of the world’s most beautiful wild duck, and notice that the female is lovely as well:

It looks as if Trump does have his pants on backwards. No fly! If this is a fake video I’ll be mad.

. . . and, I’m wrong again! Snopes reports that other photos show that at the same event show the pants with the zipper in front. Duped by the Internet again!

Sunday: Hili dialogue

June 6, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s Sunday, June 6, 2021: National GingerBread Day (I love the cake, but why does it have two capital letters?). It’s also National Applesauce Cake Day, National Frozen Yogurt Day, National Hunger Awareness Day, National Cancer Survivors Day, National Huntington’s Disease Awareness Day, Drive-In Movie Day (do any of these places still exist? They would have been popular during the pandemic), and Atheist Pride Day

And, of course, it’s  D-Day Invasion Anniversary (see below).  In honor of the soldier who died during what I think is a just war, here’s the opening scene of “Saving Private Ryan”, showing the slaughter visited on American soldiers storming Omaha Beach. (From what I hear, this is pretty realistic.).  WARNING: Gore and death. 

News of the day:

The bad news first: a federal judge in California has overturned the states’s 30-year-old ban on assault weapons. From the WaPo’s article:

In a 94-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of the Southern District of California said that sections of the state ban in place since 1989 regarding military-style rifles violate the Second Amendment. Benitez characterized the assault weapons Californians are barred from using as not “bazookas, howitzers or machine guns” but rather “fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”

The judge then compared an AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife.

“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Benitez said in the ruling.

In California, “assault rifles” are defined by their “code”. The AR-15, mentioned by the judge, is a semi-automatic weapon that has often been used in mass shootings. It baffles me that this gun would be seen as good for inself-defense (unless you’re attacked by an army), much less as something that the founders would regard as useful for “a well regulated militia”.

Swiss Army knife? What does that mean? The loons are out in force, including those who think that the Supreme Court or some other venue could actually enable Trump to re-assume the Presidency this August! Those who believe this nonsense apparently include Trump himself. Listen to Jim Acosta’s measured but scathing assessment at CNN (click on screenshot to go to the 6-minute video). One quote from Acosta: “You are not well, sir. You need to get over this.” I like his paraphrase of “Wasted away again in Margaritaville.”

My high school in Arlington, Virginia, Washington-Lee High (spawner of alumni like Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty) recently decided to change its name because Robert E. Lee was head of the Confederate Army. I didn’t weigh in, for I thought the name change was inevitable, but the loss of my alma mater “W and L,” as we called it, is a bit discomfiting. Now, however, Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia has decided not to change its name despite a lot of urging to do so. That surprises me, but the school is making changes to “separate itself from the Confederacy.”

The world’s oldest and longest-working disk jockey (DJ), Ray Cordeiro, has just retired at 96 after a 70-year career spinning records in Hong Kong (he’s of Portuguese descent). Among his honors are an MBE from Queen Elizabeth. Remember, 70 years ago was 1951, a few years before rock and roll got started, but during the years of Peggy Lee, Perry Como, and Dean Martin.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 596,967, an increase of 418 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,736,900, an increase of about 8,500 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened June 6 includes:

After a gun accident, St. Martin healed, but there was a connection between a hole in the skin and the stomach, leading Beaumont to study the digestion. Here’s a diagram of St. Martin’s fistula. The round thing is his nipple:

  • 1844 – The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) is founded in London.
  • 1889 – The Great Seattle Fire destroys all of downtown Seattle.

Here’s a Wikipedia photo of the fire labeled, “Looking south on 1st Ave. from Spring St. about one-half hour after the fire started.” It burned 25 city blocks, destroying all of downtown Seattle as well as the railroad station and much of the wharf district. 

Here’s the first drive-in in the year it opened. Pity they didn’t last, as they would have been useful during the pandemic:

  • 1942 – The United States Navy’s victory over the Imperial Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway is a major turning point in the Pacific Theater of World War II. All four Japanese fleet carriers taking part—AkagiKagaSōryū and Hiryū—are sunk, as is the heavy cruiser Mikuma. The American carrier Yorktown and the destroyer Hammann are also sunk.
  • 1944 – Commencement of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, with the execution of Operation Neptune—commonly referred to as D-Day—the largest seaborne invasion in history. Nearly 160,000 Allied troops cross the English Channel with about 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating. By the end of the day, the Allies have landed on four invasion beaches and are pushing inland.

A Wikipedia photo of the aftermath of the landing, with Allied troops having a foothold on the continent:

From Wikipedia; English: Landing ships putting cargo ashore on Omaha Beach, at low tide during the first days of the operation, mid-1944-06
  • 1985 – The grave of “Wolfgang Gerhard” is opened in Embu, Brazil; the exhumed remains are later proven to be those of Josef MengeleAuschwitz‘s “Angel of Death”; Mengele is thought to have drowned while swimming in February 1979.

The fact that Mengele escaped and died in Brazil (drowned while swimming) is proof that either there is no god, or the existing god is unjust.

Notables born on this day include:

Here is a Velásquez with a cat!: “The Spinners”, c. 1657.

  • 1875 – Thomas Mann, German author and critic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1955)
  • 1902 – Jimmie Lunceford, American saxophonist and bandleader (d. 1947)
  • 1918 – Edwin G. Krebs, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2009)
  • 1936 – Levi Stubbs, American soul singer; lead vocalist of the Four Tops (d. 2008)

Stubbs was of course the lead singer of The Four Tops, and here he is in Paris in 1967 singing my favorite of the group’s songs, “Ask the Lonely.” This is surely one of the best live soul performances of all time.

  • 1956 – Björn Borg, Swedish tennis player; winner of eleven Grand Slam singles titles including five consecutive Wimbledons

Those who “passed” (I hate that euphemism) on June 6 include:

  • 1799 – Patrick Henry, American lawyer and politician, 1st Governor of Virginia (b. 1736)
  • 1941 – Louis Chevrolet, Swiss-American race car driver and businessman, founded Chevrolet and Frontenac Motor Corporation (b. 1878)
  • 1961 – Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist (b. 1875)

Here he is, presented against my will:

  • 1968 – Robert F. Kennedy, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 64th United States Attorney General (b. 1925)
  • 1991 – Stan Getz, American saxophonist and jazz innovator (b. 1927)

Here’s a great 33 minutes of Getz, one of my favorite saxophonists:

  • 2005 – Anne Bancroft, American film actress; winner of the 1963 Academy Award for Best Actress for The Miracle Worker (b. 1931)
  • 2006 – Billy Preston, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actor (b. 1946)
  • 2013 – Esther Williams, American swimmer and actress (b. 1921)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is taking it slowly:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m deliberating over my next step.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Rozważam następny krok.

A photo of little Kulka by Paulina:

A “meme” (not so mimetic) from Bruce:

From Jesus of the Day, an accidentally salacious Pooh:

From Nicole. I don’t even need to be sleepy to act like this; extreme logorrhea in someone talking to me will do it:

Two tweets from Ginger K., the first on hijabis:

And the second on kitty behavior. I’d like to see David Attenborough narrating this one:

Tweets from Matthew. Look at this cool stegosaur graph (Matthew’s favorite extinct animal):

Oh dear; Richard has put his foot in it again:

Cathode the Adventure Cat! Be sure to watch this entire heartwarming video.

This is one of the most reprehensible people I’ve ever heard of.  The thread contains more horrors.

Q: What are you studying? A: How much and how often do sheep pee?

Thursday: Hili dialogue

June 3, 2021 • 6:30 am

We’re past the apogee of the week, so it’s now Thursday, June 3, 2021, National Egg Day. Eggs are good for you! If you want something not so good for you, it’s also National Moonshine Day (in the U.S., “moonshine” is illegally distilled and usually vile whiskey. Further, it’s Chimborazo Day, celebrating the mountain in Ecuador that is actually the closest spot on Earth to the Moon, as well as World Clubfoot Day, Love Conquers All Day, National Itch Day, and World Bicycle Day. 

Here’s the lovely mountain Chimborazo (I’ve seen it), which, because it’s located on the “equatorial bulge”, is Earth’s closest spot to the Moon:

News of the Day:

NYT op-ed: “How Joe Manchin could make the Senate great again.” You know the answer: his vote could ditch the filibuster (of course, this is the NYT’s construal of “great”). But has author Ira Shapiro forgotten about Kyrsten Sinema, also vowing to defend the filibuster rule?

An agreement reached yesterday between Israeli political parties almost surely will lead to the ouster of Netanyahu. This involves a delicate coalition of eight parties, including an Arab one.

And this is amazing: Biden is offering FREE BEER to anyone who gets a coronavirus vaccination. This ticks me off because I got bupkes when I got my shot. Not even a drop of brewski! From HuffPost:

One of the more eye-catching perks dangled by the White House is free beer from brewing company Anheuser-Busch, which is asking of-age people to upload a photo of themselves at their “favorite place to grab a beer” to this website in order to snag a free drink when the U.S. hits that 70% threshold.

“That’s right. Get a shot and have a beer. Free beer for everyone 21 years or over to celebrate the independence from the virus,” Biden said. It’s not yet clear how Anheuser-Busch plans to distribute the drinks.

Well, those of you who haven’t yet been vaccinated, you get your reward for dallying, while those of us who got a shot as early as possible go thirsty. Is that fair?

According to the Washington Post, there’s been an unusual use of Florida’s “stand your ground” law—one involving animal cruelty.

By the time an animal-control officer found the green iguana in September, blood was flowing out of its mouth and nostrils. Its head appeared to be injured. It was breathing, but unconscious, according to an arrest report accusing a man of torturing the creature.

The iguana died while the officer was driving it back to the animal-control office in Florida’s Palm Beach County, the arrest report says. PJ Nilaja Patterson, 43, was charged with animal cruelty for allegedly kicking, throwing and stepping on the animal until it was near death.

He later employed an unusual argument in his defense: The iguana started it.

Patterson, who stands 6-foot-3, argued that the three-foot iguana had “viciously attacked” him and that he was immune from prosecution under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which allows a person to use force against someone who poses an imminent threat. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen on Friday rejected Patterson’s argument, the South Florida Sun Sentinel first reported.

While it’s legal to “humanely” kill iguanas in Florida because they’re invasive (I don’t like that law), you can’t beat them to a pulp like this guy did. Patterson faces five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Animal cruelty is never punished as severely as it should be.

Big tomato purée in the UK! The Guardian reports that a crash between two trucks in England, one of which was carrying olive oil and tomatoes, left 23 miles of British highway “looking like a scene from a ‘horror film’ after a lorry crash spilled tomato puree across the tarmac on Tuesday. (h/t Jez). Here’s a tweet:

According to the site Elder of Ziyon, because the Palestinian Authority criminalizes gay behavior—Israel, which is friendly to gays, is said by critics to do so merely as a form of performative “pinkwashing”—the PA will not permit LGBTQ groups to meet in the West Bank. Ergo, Haneed Sader, the head of AlQaws, the main organization promoting gay rights in the West Bank, has decided to live in Haifa while criticizing Israel for “pinkwashing.” It’s ironic that she can’t do any gay activism in Palestine. Why does the Progressive Left overlook this stuff? You already know.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 595,321, an increase of 397 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,707,585, an increase of about 13,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 3 includes:

His romance with Heloise is one of the saddest love stories of all time. Here’s a depiction:

(From Wikipedia): Jean-Baptiste Goyet, Héloïse et Abailard, oil on copper, c. 1829.
  • 1539 – Hernando de Soto claims Florida for Spain.
  • 1839 – In Humen, China, Lin Tse-hsü destroys 1.2 million kilograms of opium confiscated from British merchants, providing Britain with a casus belli to open hostilities, resulting in the First Opium War.
  • 1885 – In the last military engagement fought on Canadian soil, the Cree leader, Big Bear, escapes the North-West Mounted Police.

Big Bear, released from prison, died in 1888. Here’s a photo from 1885:

  • 1889 – The first long-distance electric power transmission line in the United States is completed, running 14 miles (23 km) between a generator at Willamette Falls and downtown Portland, Oregon.
  • 1937 – The Duke of Windsor marries Wallis Simpson.

Simpson was a divorcée, and royal rules said that the Duke couldn’t marry her. He gave up the throne to do so. Here they are about a year before King Edward VIII (already King in this photo) abdicated in favor of George VI. I don’t regard this as a great love story because I think Edward was a doofus:

It was a heroic climb as recounted in the mountaineering book Annapurna, but frostbite cost Lachenal all his toes and Herzog lost every one of his fingers and toes.  Here’s Herzog on the summit and on his way back to France sans digits:


  • 1965 – The launch of Gemini 4, the first multi-day space mission by a NASA crew. Ed White, a crew member, performs the first American spacewalk.
  • 1989 – The government of China sends troops to force protesters out of Tiananmen Square after seven weeks of occupation.
  • 2013 – The trial of United States Army private Chelsea Manning for leaking classified material to WikiLeaks begins in Fort Meade, Maryland.

Manning, now a trans woman, has had a tough life since she was released from prison:

  • 2017 – London Bridge attack: Eight people are murdered and dozens of civilians are wounded by Islamist terrorists. Three of the attackers are shot dead by the police.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1726 – James Hutton, Scottish geologist and physician (d. 1797)
  • 1808 – Jefferson Davis, American colonel and politician, President of the Confederate States of America (d. 1889)
  • 1877 – Raoul Dufy, French painter and illustrator (d. 1953)

Here’s a nice Dufy Woodcut, “Cat on a Table with Flowers”, made for poem Le chat, from Le Bestiaire ou Cortege d’Orphee by Apollinaire:

Cat on a table with a vase of flowers, woodcuts by Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) for the poem Le chat, from Le Bestiaire ou Cortege d’Orphee by Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918).
  • 1879 – Alla Nazimova, Ukrainian-American actress, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1945)
  • 1879 – Raymond Pearl, American biologist and botanist (d. 1940)
  • 1906 – Josephine Baker, French actress, singer, and dancer; French Resistance operative (d. 1975)

As I’ve said before, Baker had a pet cheetah named Chiquita. Here’s a photo from Lisa’s History Room with the caption “American entertainer Josephine Baker (1906-1936) often performed onstage in Paris nightclubs with pet cheetah Chiquita. Chiquita wore a diamond collar. Sometimes, during a performance, Chiquita would decide to jump off the stage and into the orchestra pit, causing quite a ruckus. ca. 1931. Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum.”

  • 1924 – Torsten Wiesel, Swedish neurophysiologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1926 – Allen Ginsberg, American poet (d. 1997)
  • 1936 – Larry McMurtry, American novelist and screenwriter (d. 2021)

Writer of the book that became the screenplay (which he also co-wrote) for what I consider the best American movie of the last century, “The Last Picture Show”. Once again, a scene from the movie: Sam the Lion’s soliloquy for his lost love:

McMurtry also wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for the movie “Brokeback Mountain.”

Those who ran down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ Choir Invisible on June 3 include:

  • 1657 – William Harvey, English physician and academic (b. 1578)
  • 1924 – Franz Kafka, Czech-Austrian lawyer and author (b. 1883)

Here’s Kafka at 23. He died of tuberculosis at age 40:

  • 2001 – Anthony Quinn, Mexican-American actor and producer (b. 1915)
  • 2011 – Jack Kevorkian, American pathologist, author, and activist (b. 1928)
  • 2016 – Muhammad Ali, American boxer (b. 1942)

Here’s some scenes from Ali’s life:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is kvetching about the lack of yard work:

Hili: Poison these dandelions.
A: Why?
Hili: They make it difficult to catch mice.
In Polish:
Hili: Wytruj te mlecze.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Utrudniają mi łapanie myszy.

And here’s a tongue-y photo of Kulka taken by Paulina:

A meme from Nicole:

From Bruce:

From Jesus of the Day (looks like fun to me!):

From Titania. This could be called “pitching to your local audience”, or, as I see it, “hypocrisy”. The catering of the “progressive” Left to homophobic Arab states (or rather, their ignoring that homophobia) is disgusting:

From Barry, the scariest bird EVER! Sound way up!

Tweets from Matthew. He says “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! (apparently the guy knows the animal, but still . . .

Forget getting boxes or bags for your cat; just dig them a hole:

Frogs had teeth, but lost them repeatedly over evolutionary time. I guess their diet doesn’t require choppers, whose development requires unneeded metabolic energy.

Simultaneous polyamory in the Hymenoptera. I had no idea that this occurred in any animal:


Jays can be fooled by sleight of hand, but not exactly in the same way as humans. From the paper’s abstract:

While we know that humans are often deceived by magic effects, little is known concerning how nonhuman animals perceive these intricate techniques of deception. Here, we tested the susceptibility to be misled by three different magic effects on a sample of six Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius). We demonstrate that, similar to humans, Eurasian jays are susceptible to magic effects that utilize fast movements. However, unlike humans, Eurasian jays do not appear to be misled by magic effects that rely on the observer’s intrinsic expectations in human object manipulation. Magic effects can provide an insightful methodology to investigate perception and attentional shortcomings in human and nonhuman animals and offer unique opportunities to highlight cognitive constraints in diverse animal minds.

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

June 2, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s not really a hump day, as Monday was a holiday, but it’s a semi-hump day: Wednesday, June 2, 2021: National Rocky Road Day, celebrating the chocolate ice cream flavor made with  marshmallows and nuts. It’s also National Rotisserie Chicken Day, Global Running Day, American Indian Citizenship Day (see below), and International Sex Workers Day.

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot for animations) celebrates the life of American gay rights activist Frank Kameny (1925-2011), involved in much early activism and who was also the first openly gay person to run for Congress. Nothing particular in his life happened on June 2, but this is part of the celebration of Gay Pride Month.

Kameny at a Gay Pride parade in 2010; note the flower lei as in the photo above:

News of the Day:

At long last, the Vatican, acting under the aegis of Pope Frances, decided to “to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests who abuse their authority and to say that laypeople who hold church office also can be sanctioned for similar sex crimes.” This adds adults to the list of people who can be victim’s of Catholic power-mongering.  My question is why it took the Vatican 14 years of study to realize that power relationships, like the kind Catholicism is built on, can breed sexual abuse.

More good news from Uncle Joe: President Biden has suspended the leases to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that were issued in the waning days of the Trump administration. These were an affront to all conservationists. The NYT report holds out some slight possibility that the leases might still go forward, but I doubt it:

The decision could ultimately end any plans to drill in one of the largest tracts of untouched wilderness in the United States, delicate tundra in Alaska that is home to migrating waterfowl, caribou and polar bears. Democrats and Republicans have fought over whether to allow oil and gas drilling there for more than four decades, and issuing the leases was a signature achievement of the Trump White House.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Tuesday published a secretarial order formally suspending the leases until the agency has completed an environmental analysis of their impact and a legal review of the Trump administration’s decision to grant them.

Here’s an article by David Harris from the Times of Israel showing how the name of Hamas has been gradually dropped from the Western press’s coverage of the current fighting as a way to obscure the terrorism on the Palestinian side. One bit that struck me:

By the way, just to be clear, months before the Dolphinarium attack, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, joined by US President Bill Clinton, had made a strenuous effort to persuade Arafat to accept a far-reaching, two-state deal.

Arafat did not agree to the proposal on the table, nor did he make a counter offer. In fact, he instead chose to unleash a second intifada, which eventually killed over 1,000 Israelis (in U.S. population terms, about 30,000 people, or ten times the number of victims on 9/11) in pizzerias, buses, Passover Seders, cafés — and, yes, discotheques.

Clinton wrote about Arafat’s rejection in his autobiography, My Life. Here’s an excerpt: “Arafat: ‘You are a great man.’ Clinton: ‘I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you have made me one.’”

This is just one of several “two state solutions” proposed by governments, leaders, and the United Nations themselves. The Palestinians have rejected all of them, some quite generous. Israel has rejected none. People deliberately leave that out of the history of the region.

Reader “smipowell” sent me a clipping from the Dallas Morning News; click on the screenshot to see how ducknappings are destroying our civilization:

People are removing ducks from the canals of a Dallas suburb, ducks that the locals love, feed, and even give names to. The residents are up in arms, as well they should be, offering rewards for the apprehension of the ducknapping miscreants. One miscreant wrote in saying that they’d taken the ducks to a farm because they were “domestically bred and the creek was no place for them.” But if they’re living well on a Dallas canal with good food and care (and no cold winters), there’s no reason to remove them. (And what would  happen to them on a farm?) One of the paper’s three lessons from this incident: “don’t take things that don’t belong to you.” This jibes with one of the mottos of the Bangor, Maine Police Department’s Famous “Duck of Justice”: “Keep your hands to yourself” and “Leave other people’s things alone.”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 594,722, an increase of 356 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,576,847, an increase of about 11,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 2 includes:

Barnum with one of his diminutive attractions, Commodore Nutt:

  • 1896 – Guglielmo Marconi applies for a patent for his wireless telegraph.
  • 1910 – Charles Rolls, a co-founder of Rolls-Royce Limited, becomes the first man to make a non-stop double crossing of the English Channel by plane.

Here’s one of the first Rolls-Royce cars, even then extolled as the finest car available. This is labeled as “A 1905 model Rolls Royce, as featured in the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. This car, registration AX148, was built in the original Manchester factory, and is the oldest such vehicle on public display.”

Here’s the elaborate coronation ceremony, with the fabled crown appearing at 2:20:

Here’s a short video of that fracas:

  • 1967 – Luis Monge is executed in Colorado’s gas chamber, in the last pre-Furman execution in the United States.
  • 1997 – In Denver, Timothy McVeigh is convicted on 15 counts of murder and conspiracy for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, in which 168 people died. He was executed four years later.
  • 2012 – Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the killing of demonstrators during the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

Mubarak died in a military hospital in 2020:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1740 – Marquis de Sade, French philosopher and politician (d. 1814)
  • 1840 – Thomas Hardy, English novelist and poet (d. 1928)
  • 1937 – Sally Kellerman, American actress
  • 1944 – Marvin Hamlisch, American composer and conductor (d. 2012)
  • 1953 – Cornel West, American philosopher, author, and academic

Those who resigned from life on June 2 include:

  • 1941 – Lou Gehrig, American baseball player (b. 1903)

Here’s Gehrig with other major league players in 1928. Surely you recognize both him and the guy on the right, but do you recognize the others? Gehrig, of course, die of ALS; he was only 37.

  • 1942 – Bunny Berigan, American singer and trumpet player (b. 1908)

Here’s Berigan’s most famous song, “I Can’t Get Started” (1937; written by Ira Gershwin and Vernon Duke).  I love the references to contemporary people and events, and his trumpet solos were superb. He died at only 33 from too much booze.

  • 1961 – George S. Kaufman, American director, producer, and playwright (b. 1889)
  • 1962 – Vita Sackville-West, English author and poet (b. 1892)

Vita Sackville-West at 32. I’ve always thought she looked quite striking, and very British:

  • 1961 – George S. Kaufman, American director, producer, and playwright (b. 1889)
  • 2008 – Bo Diddley, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1928)

Meanwhle in Dobrzyn, Kulka is dogging (catting?) Hili:

Hili: Somebody is following me.
Kulka: Don’t pay attention to me
In Polish:
Hili: Ktoś za mną idzie.
Kulka: Nie zwracaj na mnie uwagi.
And Paulina took four photos of Kulka and Szaron romping about together:

From Bruce, a truly diabolical idea:

From Nicole:

From Karl:

From Simon, who asserts that the video is funny even without the academic comment:

From Barry: a woman saves her dogs from a bear by pushing it off a fence:

From Ginger K.:

Tweets from Matthew. Wally the Lost Walrus has now made his way down to Cornwall!

Shapeshifting bunneh!

A very soothing and meditative video (sound up, like it says):

But what is Quibi?

Sadly, I’ve never seen one of these Honorary Cats® in the wild:

Thursday: Hili dialogue

May 27, 2021 • 6:30 am

Memorial Day weekend is nigh: it’s Thursday, May 27, 2021: National Grape Popsicle Day. It’s also Red Nose Day, a holiday that seems to have disappeared, and Cellophane Tape Day.

News of the Day:

I was surprised to learn that Covid is a serious problem in Japan, a country where, you’d think, they’d take serious action against serious problems. Yet only 2% of Japanese have been vaccinated against the virus I1/20th the proportion of the U.S.), and some big-city health systems are seriously strained. With the already-postponed Olympics about to begin, most Japanese people are against holding the games this summer, the U.S. State Department has warned Americans not to travel to Japan, a major Japanese newspaper (itself a sponsor of the Games) has called for their further postponement, and Japanese medical authorities say they’re not equipped to handle an Olympic-fueled outbreak. Nevertheless, Japan will invest over $15 billion in the Games, and to them the dosh outweighs the risk.

According to the evening news, this is the 61st mass shooting in the U.S. this year. This time an apparently disaffected worker in a rail yard, using multiple guns, killed 8 people before he took his own life (he also burned down his house before the shooting. As the shootings mount and states continue to relax gun laws, I can only imagine what the rest of the world—the civilized part—thinks about America’s gun mania.

Yes, Bret Stephens is a conservative, but that doesn’t mean you should write off everything he says. In light of the American “progressive” Left’s increasing anti-Semitism, which I predict will hurt the Democrats, Stephens’s new column, “Anti-Zionism isn’t Anti-Semitism? Someone didn’t get the memo,” is worth a read.  An excerpt:

But if there’s been a massive online campaign of progressive allyship with Jews, I’ve missed it. If corporate executives have sent out workplace memos expressing concern for the safety of Jewish employees, I’ve missed it. If academic associations have issued public letters denouncing the use of anti-Semitic tropes by pro-Palestinian activists, I’ve missed them.

It’s a curious silence. In the land of inclusiveness, Jews are denied inclusion.

Palestine is far more of an apartheid state than is Israel, and those who characterize the Israeli government as “right wing” blithely ignore the fact that the Palestinian government is far more right wing. In Palestine there are no LGBTQ rights, women are deeply oppressed, Jews are not allowed to live or buy property, Palestinian gays seek refuge in Israel, abortion is illegal, and religious fanaticism is rife. Why is that not “right wing”, and why don’t we ever hear of Hamas described as “right wing”? Because, I guess, the U.S. press didn’t get the memo.

Two new studies reported in the NYT contain good news: it looks as if cells with a “memory” of coronavirus persist in the bone marrow for a long time: possibly a lifetime. The bottom line is this:

Together, the studies suggest that most people who have recovered from Covid-19 and who were later immunized will not need boosters. Vaccinated people who were never infected most likely will need the shots, however, as will a minority who were infected but did not produce a robust immune response.

The article is detailed, and you’ll want to read it if you’re interested in the science behind this conclusion.

All during the pandemic, authorities I trusted argued that there was no way that the coronavirus could have been released from a Chinese lab. Now, it seems, that theory has become a bit more credible. In fact, it’s become credible to the extent that Joe Biden, who was leaving the investigation of that possibility to the WHO, has now ordered a government investigation of the possibility. (The alternative, of course, was transmission via an animal vector.) I don’t know the evidence, and have no dog in this fight, but the reversal of the administration is curious.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 591,593, an increase of about 522 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,513,651, an increase of about 12,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 27 includes:

  • 1703 – Tsar Peter the Great founds the city of Saint Petersburg.
  • 1919 – The NC-4 aircraft arrives in Lisbon after completing the first transatlantic flight.

This flight was not nonstop (Alcock and Brown did that two weeks later), but was made in a flying boat; here’s its photo:  (Lindbergh, of course, was famous because his 1927 crossing was solo.)

The Model T is to the left, the Model A to the right:

Here’s the cartoon; the song is starts at 1:56:

  • 1937 – In California, the Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic, creating a vital link between San Francisco and Marin County, California.
  • 1942 – World War II: In Operation AnthropoidReinhard Heydrich is fatally wounded in Prague; he dies of his injuries eight days later.

The results of Heyrich’s assassination are notorious; as Wikipedia says: “Nazi intelligence falsely linked the Czech and Slovak soldiers and resistance partisans to the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. Both villages were razed; all men and boys over the age of 16 were shot, and all but a handful of the women and children were deported and killed in Nazi concentration camps.” Heydrich, pictures below, was a main architect of the Holocaust:

  • 1967 – Australians vote in favor of a constitutional referendum granting the Australian government the power to make laws to benefit Indigenous Australians and to count them in the national census.
  • 2016 – Barack Obama is the first president of United States to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and meet Hibakusha.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1819 – Julia Ward Howe, American poet and songwriter (d. 1910)
  • 1837 – Wild Bill Hickok, American police officer (d. 1876)

Here’s Hickock in 1869. Many of his exploits were fictitious:

I could find no Roualt paintings that included cats, but here’s a nice 1911 painting of his: “Clown Tragique”:

  • 1911 – Hubert Humphrey, American journalist and politician, 38th Vice President of the United States (d. 1978)
  • 1912 – Sam Snead, American golfer and sportscaster (d. 2002)
  • 1923 – Henry Kissinger, German-American political scientist and politician, 56th United States Secretary of State, Nobel Prize laureate

Those who hied themselves below ground on May 27 include:

  • 1564 – John Calvin, French pastor and theologian (b. 1509)
  • 1840 – Niccolò Paganini, Italian violinist and composer (b. 1782)
  • 1910 – Robert Koch, German physician and microbiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1843)
  • 2017 – Gregg Allman, American musician, singer and songwriter (b. 1947)

What a loss to music! Although my favorite Gregg Allman performance is “One Way Out,” this acoustic version of “Melissa” is also excellent, and the song was written by Gregg. There’s also a great solo by Dickie Betts.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the interfeline animosity in Dobrzyn has settled down, but Hili still likes to cut loose once in a while:

Szaron: Don’t even think about it.
Hili: I will just scare Kulka a bit.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Szaron: Nawet o tym nie myśl!
Hili: Tylko trochę Kulkę wystraszę.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

From Bruce. If you don’t get this, you’re too young!

From Nicole:

From Jesus of the Day. I’m hoping that this photograph is real; I think it is:

Titania shows us wokeness infecting the pages of Nature. An ad like this would probably be illegal in the U.S.:

Tweets from Matthew. How the deuce did this fox get into a washing machine? Was it dirty?

The world’s most helpful ferret:

A man in a hurry:

This is, in fact, true to some extent, but doesn’t hold in rural or semirural areas:

Speaking of foxes (which are Honorary Cats®), what a delight to find this in your garden!

Matthew and I both think this mouse probably has toxoplasmosis, a parasite that makes the mouse behave in a way to facilitate its getting eaten, whereupon it undergoes the next stage of its life cycle inside the cat:

What a cool video!:

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

May 26, 2021 • 6:30 am

It is a humpish sort of day, suitable for camels or Quasimodo: it’s May 26 2021: National Blueberry Cheesecake Day (make mine either plain or cherry, though). But it’s also National Cherry Dessert Day, Paper Airplane Day, Sally Ride Day (honoring her birthday on this day in 1951), World Redhead Day, and, in Australia, National Sorry Day, a day of apology for the mistreatment of indigenous people.

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) is an animated swing-dancing game celebrating the famed Savoy Ballroom, in which you can test your rhythm, individually or in a two-person game, for four swing songs. I haven’t played the game, so no guarantees.

This video explains the video, the Savoy Ballroom, and the game:

News of the Day:

According to the Washington Post, Manhattan’s district attorney has convened a grand jury to evaluate the  possibility of criminal charges against Donald Trump and his business associates.

The panel was convened recently and will sit three days a week for six months. It is likely to hear several matters — not just the Trump case ­— during the duration of its term, which is longer than a traditional New York state grand-jury assignment, these people said. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. Generally, special grand juries such as this one are convened to participate in long-term matters rather than to hear evidence of crimes charged routinely.

The move indicates that District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s investigation of the former president and his business has reached an advanced stage after more than two years. It suggests, too, that Vance believes he has found evidence of a crime — if not by Trump then by someone potentially close to him or by his company.

Is anybody betting that the Orange Man will be wearing an orange onesie in jail? Remember, there is no Presidential pardon for state charges, even if Biden had the unlikely inclination to intervene.

More about grand juries from the AP: Madison Smith, a Kansas woman who accused a man of raping her convened her own grand jury when local prosecutors declined to bring rape charges. It turns out that, at least in Kansas, citizens can impanel a grand jury if they present a petition signed by hundreds of citizens. Smith was persistent and succeeded:

The process of seeking a grand jury wasn’t easy. Smith had to stand in a parking lot telling her story over and over again to strangers to collect hundreds of signatures, and then do it again when the first petition was rejected on a technicality.

The accused had already pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and was given two years’ probation. I believe that, at least in Kansas (a few other states have such procedures), this is the first time the citizen-impaneling procedure has been used in a case of sexual assault.

Down in Texas, the state legislature just approved a bill that allows anyone over 21 to buy and carry a handgun in pubic places without a permit and without training. The governor says he’ll sign the bill.

From the BBC, an article titled, “Miss, what’s a duck?” reveals the deep and sad ignorance of British children who get little exposure to nature. Here’s part of the sad report:

When school teacher Kim Leathley took her class on a trip to the local aquarium, she was asked an unusual question.

“Miss? What’s that?” said a nine-year-old boy, pointing towards the waves, as they walked along Blackpool promenade.

It turned out he’d never seen the sea before.

A surprise, given the school is in the middle of Blackpool and only a few streets from the seafront.

Other teachers have had similar experiences over the years on school trips outside the city, she explains. A 10-year-old once asked what a duck was, while a pupil – spotting cows in the field – said: “Look at those horses.”

Speaking of ducks (and we should), a California man was arrested for firing his gun to protect his pet duck. According to the BBC, the man fired into the air as a dog leapt his fence went after his duck. The duck survived, but with a broken leg. In my view, that man should get a medal, not a charge of reckless endangerment!  (h/t: Matthew)

Over at the Atlantic, Matti Friedman has an article about how Americans’ attempts to see commonalities between themselves and Israel has distorted our view of what’s happening. Read “Israel’s Problems are not like America’s.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 590,628, an increase of about 700 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,500,840, an increase of about 12,650 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 26 includes:

  • 1293 – An earthquake strikes Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan, killing about 23,000.
  • 1857 – Dred Scott is emancipated by the Blow family, his original owners.

Scott had lost a Supreme Court case, 7-2, which said that African-Americans had no right to citizenship in the U.S. Sadly, after he was freed, he died about 15 months later of tuberculosis. A photo:

Here are the final resting places in St. Petersburg of the Tsar and his family, shot by the Bolsheviks. I took this in 2011. Nicholas’s resting place is to the left in the center.

A first edition, first printing of this puppy will run you around $40,000 U.S.:

  • 1923 – The first 24 Hours of Le Mans was held and has since been run annually in June.
  • 1927 – The last Ford Model T rolls off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.

Here are some model Ts on Ford’s famous assembly line:

It was successful. Here are some British troops lined up on the Dunkirk beaches, awaiting evacuation:

Here’s Abbey Road Two Studio, where most of the tracks of Sgt. Pepper (54 years old today) were recorded:

  • 1998 – The Supreme Court of the United States rules in New Jersey v. New York that Ellis Island, the historic gateway for millions of immigrants, is mainly in the state of New Jersey, not New York.
  • 1998 – The first “National Sorry Day” was held in Australia, and reconciliation events were held nationally, and attended by over a million people.

Notables born on this day include:

Lange was most famous for her images of the Great Depression in the U.S. Here are two of them. First, a family moves with its belongings:

A family in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, are forced to leave their home during the Great Depression, June 1938. Photograph: Dorothea Lange/Getty Images

“Migrant mother” (1936), perhaps her most famous image:

  • 1907 – John Wayne, American actor, director, and producer (d. 1979)
  • 1920 – Peggy Lee, American singer-songwriter and actress (d. 2002)

Here’s Lee singing “Why Don’t You Do Right” with the Benny Goodman Orchestra in 1943. I love this video! Her singing is lovely and understated, and Goodman plays some sweet licorice stick.

  • 1926 – Miles Davis, American trumpet player, composer, and bandleader (d. 1991)
  • 1928 – Jack Kevorkian, American pathologist, author, and assisted suicide activist (d. 2011)
  • 1940 – Levon Helm, American singer-songwriter, drummer, producer, and actor (d. 2012)
  • 1948 – Stevie Nicks, American singer-songwriter

Here’s the best Stevie Nicks video ever, recorded spontaneously as she was being made up for a Rolling Stone shoot. Voilà: “Wild Heart.” This may be the best spontaneous rock song ever, and is infinitely better than the recorded version. You won’t regret listening to this.

  • 1949 – Jeremy Corbyn, British journalist and politician
  • 1951 – Sally Ride, American physicist and astronaut, founded Sally Ride Science (d. 2012)

Those who went belly up on May 26 include:

Here’s one of Riis’s photosWikipedia caption: “Bandit’s Roost (1888) by Jacob Riis, from How the Other Half Lives. This image is Bandit’s Roost at 59½ Mulberry Street, considered the most crime-ridden, dangerous part of New York City.” Would you walk down this street? Talk about “Gangs of New York”!

  • 1943 – Edsel Ford, American businessman (b. 1893)
  • 1976 – Martin Heidegger, German philosopher and academic (b. 1889)
  • 2008 – Sydney Pollack, American actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1934)
  • 2010 – Art Linkletter, Canadian-American radio and television host (b. 1912)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili doesn’t understand the prevalence of annoying insects (has she considered evolution?):

Hili: I can find no justification.
Paulina: What for?
Hili: Neither for mosquitos nor for any flies.
(Picture: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Nie znajduję żadnego usprawiedliwienia.
Paulina: Dla kogo?
Hili: Ani dla komarów, ani dla innych muszek.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

Little Kulka is intense, as usual:

A meme from Bruce:

From Nicole, a plaint that I’ve sometimes had:

A bad joke from Jesus of the Day:

From Titania. Shoot me NOW!

Tweets from Matthew. The first is a science experiment: “How ducklings’ feet sound on different floors.” Awesome!

If they start opening beers we’re all doomed:

I don’t think these ducks are particularly spoiled, do you?

A nice optical illusion, and no, it does not expand! Click on it to enlarge the picture.

ARRESTED!???? This guy deserves a medal!

This really is excellent even if it is the New Woke Times. Excellent graphics:

There are more pictures in this thread of quail walking alongside a gopher snake. Matthew’s take: “I reckon they are ensuring it leaves. Safety in numbers and intimidating to snake.”



Friday: Hili dialogue

May 21, 2021 • 6:30 am

Bottom o’ the week to you: it’s Friday, May 21, 2021: National Strawberries and Cream Days. But it’s only one day, not “days”! It’s also International Tea Day, Endangered Species Day (the photo shows a dinosaur skeleton!), National Bike to Work Day, National Waiters and Waitresses Day, National Pizza Party DaySaint Helena Day (celebrating the discovery of Saint Helena in 1502), and World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

Posting will be light today as I have a dentist’s appointment AND we have a horrible situation in the duck pond with drake attacks and a shunned duckling. Please bear with me—and have pity on me.

News of the day:

There’s finally been a cease-fire in the fight between Gaza and Israel. It began at 7 pm yesterday Eastern US time (2 a.m. Israeli time). The peace was apparently brokered by Egypt, Qatar, and the U.N., with pressure from the U.S. But the old grievances remain, and now there’s internecine hatred between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. One errant Hamas rocket, and the fighting starts all over gain (also true for Israeli airstrikes, but I have more trust in Israeli restraint. But let’s just hope that, for the nonce, the fighting stops. One thing is for sure: it will resume again. I worry that all the aid to Palestine that will start flowing from the West will be used, as it has been before, to buy rockets.

Here’s HuffPost’s invidious headline, blaming the lack of a cease fire on Israel, when in fact both sides had to agree, and the cease-fire was brokered. This HuffPost rag is beneath contempt.

Over at the Washington Post, columnist Joe Waldman says that Biden isn’t really more radical than he has been: perhaps just a few ticks to the left:

Even now, Biden would argue that he’s basically sticking to this approach. The key difference is that as president he has the ability to push further on those same ideals. You can even make the case that he is not pushing much further than before but his movements are more visible because he can set the agenda.

After all, the truth is that the current agenda he’s setting isn’t all that radical. It’s a few steps to the left of where Obama was, and more ambitious than what Biden advocated for as a senator, but nothing in it expresses any different values from the ones Democrats have long held. He doesn’t want to seize the means of production and throw every billionaire into a reeducation camp; he just wants to beef up union protections and bump up the top tax rate by a few points.

The GOP claim that Biden is a secret leftist tells us only that Republicans, too, have the same basic ideals they’ve long had. They’ll surely be passionately opposed to the administration’s new plan to invigorate IRS enforcement, for instance, which could bring in hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue.

The BBC reports on “the unluckiest swan” that has now become lucky. It’s a swan in Cambridgeshire that was watched by Rob Adamson, a lovely guy who saw that its nest was about to be flooded. (The pair’s nesting attempts had failed for ten years.) He built a predator-proof floating platform, put the nest and its eggs on it and, mirabile dictu, all eight eggs hatched! A few photos are below (h/t Jez; photos by Rob Adamson and Jones boatyard).

The floating nest platform,

Adamson had previously hand-reared an abandoned cygnet named Sid:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 588,153, an increase of about 650 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,446,039, an increase of about 13,100 over yesterday’s total.:

Stuff that happened on May 21 includes:

  • 1703 – Daniel Defoe is imprisoned on charges of seditious libel.
  • 1856 – Lawrence, Kansas is captured and burned by pro-slavery forces.

Darwin kvetched on this day (h/t Matthew)

The scandal of the decade, and at the U of C! Here are Leopold and Loeb’s mug shots (Leopold is at the top). Loeb was murdered in prison in 1936, while Leopold was released in 1958 and died in Puerto Rico in 1971.

You can still see Lindbergh’s plane, “The Spirit of St. Louis”, at the National Air and Space Museum in northern Virginia. I highly recommend a visit:

  • 1936 – Sada Abe is arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her handbag. Her story soon becomes one of Japan’s most notorious scandals.

You can see this portrayed in the movie “In the Realm of the Senses.” Here’s a portrait of Abe:

Here’s a re-creation of that incident; the Wikipedia caption is this: “A re-creation of the Slotin incident. The inside hemisphere with the thumb-hole next to the demonstrator’s hand is beryllium (replacing the uranium tamper of the same size in a Fat Man bomb). There is an external larger metal sphere of aluminium under it (replacing the pusher sphere in this bomb’s design). The plutonium “demon core” was inside the spheres at the time of the accident and is not visible, but its dimensions are comparable with the two small half-spheres shown resting nearby.”

Here’s the damage below. Toth was in a psychiatric hospital for two years and then was deported to Australia, where he died in 2012:

Here’s Johnny Carson’s final farewell in his very last show (sans guests):

  • 2011 – Radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted that the world would end on this date.
  • 2017 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performed their final show at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1799 – Mary Anning, English paleontologist (d. 1847)

Here’s Anning and her dog Tray, painted five years before her death:

A wonderful painting, “Cat“, by Rousseau:

  • 1904 – Fats Waller, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1943)
  • 1936 – Günter Blobel, Polish-American biologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2018)
  • 1951 – Al Franken, American actor, screenwriter, and politician

Those who were no more on May 21 include:

Once again I urge you to read the best cat poem ever, “For I will consider my cat Jeoffry“, by Smart, written while he was incarcerated for lunacy. It’s part of a longer poem, “Jubilate Agno.”

Addams in 1914; you can still visit her social-work “settlement house”, Hull House, in Chicago:

  • 1935 – Hugo de Vries, Dutch botanist and geneticist (b. 1848)
  • 1991 – Rajiv Gandhi, Indian politician, 6th Prime Minister of India (b. 1944)
  • 2000 – John Gielgud, English actor (b. 1904)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili knows that Paulina often buys cat treats for Hili.

Paulina: What are you thinking about?
Hili: About your yesterday’s shopping.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Paulina: O czym myślisz?
Hili: O twoich wczorajszych zakupach.

Here’s little Kulka up in a tree:

From Bruce:

A meme from Jesus of the Day:

And another from the same source:

From Simon: I haven’t read this paper yet, but here you go!

Seriously? Flying a Nazi flag at the border of Israel? Don’t forget the mayhem caused by putting a cartoon of Muhammad on the cover of Charlie Hebdo!

One more gem from London:

From Ziya Tong; no translation needed!

Tweets from Matthew: a NYT obituary of the accomplished and much-beloved biologist Dave Wake of Berkeley.  See Greg’s obituary of Wake here.

I concur completely!

I’ve been to Wales only once, to see Dylan Thomas’s roost in Laugharne. I need to get there more often, especially to see stuff like this:

Has anybody read the “Duck Tales” bandit?

Yesterday was World Bee Day—a UN holiday! If you’re not a fan of bees, you should bee:

Sunday: Hili dialogue

May 16, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Sunday, May 16, 2021: National Barbecue Day, one of America’s finest food holidays. It’s also World Baking Day, National Coquilles St. Jacques Day, National Mimosa Day, National Sea Monkey Day (brine shrimp; did you order them from comic books like I did?), Love a Tree Day, and Stepmother’s Day (only one stepmother is apparently being honored given the position of the apostrophe).

Wine of the Day: A seven-year-old Napa Valley Cabernet, which I see set me back about $30, a price I never thought I’d pay for a wine when I was younger. It was dark, rich, and dense, with the classic California cab notes of eucalyptus and herbs. I had it with pasta with “gravy”, as Tony Soprano would say, and it improved greatly over the hour I had it open. I expect that it will be better tomorrow, and has several years to go before its apogee. It was very good but not fantastic. Is it worth the money? Ask me tomorrow. By the way, there’s a good article in the NYT about the relationship between price and quality in wine. Best values: $15-$20.

News of the Day:

The CDC has removed its mask mandate for those who are fully vaccinated, though there’s nowhere I know of that would ask for proof, and both stores and states/cities are still wavering  Two-thirds of Americans still haven’t been fully vaccinated, but 56% of adults have received at least one shot, which is pretty good. Things are still confusing, though: Starbucks kept its mandate and then reversed course 24 hours later.

The “progressive” left joined in criticizing Israel in the House of Representatives yesterday, as the American left in general is withdrawing support from Israel and transferring it to Palestine (see below).  Israel also, after giving ample warning, leveled a building containing the offices of Al Jazeera and the AP (no journalists were injured), but allegedly did contain offices used by Hamas (see here).

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 585,281, an increase of 604 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,384,698, an increase of about 12,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 16 includes:

She remained in custody until executed in 1587.

  • 1770 – The 14-year-old Marie Antoinette marries 15-year-old Louis-Auguste, who later becomes king of France.
  • 1842 – The first major wagon train heading for the Pacific Northwest sets out on the Oregon Trail from Elm Grove, Missouri, with 100 pioneers.
  • 1866 – The United States Congress establishes the nickel

Here’s the first nickel. They were considered ugly, and banks would not accept more than 20 at a time:

  • 1868 – The United States Senate fails to convict President Andrew Johnson by one vote.
  • 1888 – Nikola Tesla delivers a lecture describing the equipment which will allow efficient generation and use of alternating currents to transmit electric power over long distances.

Here’s Tesla, who died several years after injuries sustained after being struck by a taxicab:


  • 1918 – The Sedition Act of 1918 is passed by the U.S. Congress, making criticism of the government during wartime an imprisonable offense. It will be repealed less than two years later.
  • 1929 – In Hollywood, the first Academy Awards ceremony takes place.
  • 1943 – The Holocaust: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ends.

Here’s an iconic photo of the Jews in Warsaw surrendering to the Germans. Certainly most of these were sent to camps and killed:

And from Wikipedia: “A man leaps to his death from the top story window of an apartment block to avoid capture. 23-25 Niska Street.”:

  • 1951 – The first regularly scheduled transatlantic flights begin between Idlewild Airport (now John F Kennedy International Airport) in New York City and Heathrow Airport in London, operated by El Al Israel Airlines.
  • 1991 – Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom addresses a joint session of the United States Congress. She is the first British monarch to address the U.S. Congress.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s Fonda’s famous “I’ll be there” soliloquy as Tom Joad in the movie The Grapes of Wrath (1940):

  • 1919 – Liberace, American pianist and entertainer (d. 1987)
  • 1929 – Adrienne Rich, American poet, essayist, and feminist (d. 2012)
  • 1966 – Janet Jackson, American singer-songwriter, producer, dancer, and actress

Those who “fell asleep” on May 16 include:

  • 1830 – Joseph Fourier, French mathematician and physicist (b. 1768)
  • 1953 – Django Reinhardt, Belgian guitarist and composer (b. 1910)

The great Reinhardt, who played jazz guitar with only two fingers on the fretboard (he injured his hand in a fire), accompanied by the equally great Stéphane Grappelli:

  • 1957 – Eliot Ness, American federal agent (b. 1903)
  • 1984 – Andy Kaufman, American actor, comedian, and screenwriter (b. 1949)
  • 2019 – I. M. Pei, Chinese-American architect (b. 1917) 

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili smells an alien creature:

Hili: Somebody was here.
A: But who was it?
Hili: An intruder.
In Polish:
Hili: Ktoś tu był.
Ja: Ale kto?
Hili: Jakiś intruz.

Here’s little Kulka up in the trees (photo by Paulina):


Matthew found this article on Twitter and adds that he doesn’t know the “date, source, or veracity”. Still, given the nature of Mt. Athos, it’s possible. Also, there’s some verification at Storypick, which says that the story appeared in an Athens newspaper on the 29th of October, 1938. Further story at Boldsky. Still, it’s hard to imagine.


A meme from Bruce:

From Nicole, and relevant to yesterday’s post on Caturday felids:

Apparently AOC has finally become an expert on geopolitics (top vs. bottom).

Reader Gethyn, no slouch himself at Welsh poetry, sent a wonderful rendition of a famous poem by Dylan Thomas. I don’t know who the speaker is, so please enlighten me.

From Barry, the world’s most pampered iguana becomes an “influencer” (lord how I despise that word!):

Tweets from Matthew.

The answer is “an onion”!

Try this one (answer below it):

As Matthew said about the sweet video below, “This will warm the cockles of your heart, although why the hell he has to work at 89 I dunno…”  Maybe he likes the job!

This is me, since I just heard that Paris restaurants are opening at the end of May:

I didn’t get this at first, but Matthew told me it’s sort of a British usage, with “may” meaning “you are allowed to” or “you are permitted to”: