Sunday: Hili dialogue

September 26, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Sunday, September 26, 2021: National Key Lime Pie Day. (If you try it, be sure that Key limes were used rather than the big, regular Persian limes. They try to fool you with the name a lot of the time.)

It’s also National Dumpling Day, National Better Breakfast Day, Daughter’s Day, Lumberjack Day, World Deaf Day, World Rivers Day, and National Good Neighbor Day. 

News of the Day:

It’s now been 248 days since Biden took office, and still there is no cat in the White House, as he and Jill promised. Could this be playing into his slipping approval ratings?

*The controversy over booster shots continues as the CDC has recommended boosters for those over 65 and the immunocompromised. The shots are now “going into arms”, as they say. The NYT editorial Board objects to the inequity of the distribution, both to countries and Americans who hold certain jobs, while, in a separate editorial, two physicians also object to the notion of giving boosters now to some Americans:

But the C.D.C. also said two additional groups “may” get boosters “based on their individual benefits and risks”: people 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions and people 18 to 64 who are at a high risk of coronavirus exposure at work.

The second set of recommendations is premature and too vague.

*And the Associated Press underlines how much money there is to be made by Pfizer and Moderna for producing boosters:

No one knows yet how many people will get the extra shots. But Morningstar analyst Karen Andersen expects boosters alone to bring in about $26 billion in global sales next year for Pfizer and BioNTech and around $14 billion for Moderna if they are endorsed for nearly all Americans.

The profit margin on boosters is estimated at around 20% because there are no R&D costs, so if both boosters are approved, the companies rake in $7-8 billion in profit alone. That’s on top of the regular vaccine profits, of course.

*Finally, if you want to know why some vaccines last a lifetime, like measles, while others wear off fairly quickly, the Wall Street Journal has an informative article. I like the part about vaccines that use replicating viruses.

*The Guardian gives a review of Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein’s new book, A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern LifeIt’s an extremely critical take, critical to the point of nasty about nearly everything in the book.  A quote:

Not that the authors do much better when they engage with studies. They make alarming pronouncements based on flimsy data, such as when they say that water fluoridation is “neurotoxic” to children based on one reference to a “pilot study”. They lazily repeat false information from other pop-science books, such as the “fact” that all known species sleep (some, including certain amphibians, don’t!). The final chapter, in which they embrace the bonkers “degrowth” movement, contains what might be the single stupidest paragraph on economics ever written (claiming, bizarrely, that the invention of more efficient versions of products such as fridges would bring the economy to its knees).

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 687,876, an increase of 2,034 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,758,478, an increase of about 5,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 26 includes:

Here’s Drake’s route, which took nearly three years.

What a disaster! Here’s a visualization of the original about 400 B.C., with painted figures and how it looks now. (I used to play among its ruins when I was a lad in Greece; that’s not permitted now.)

  • 1789 – George Washington appoints Thomas Jefferson the first United States Secretary of State.
  • 1905 – Albert Einstein publishes the third of his Annus Mirabilis papers, introducing the special theory of relativity.

Here’s that third one, though they singled out his paper on the photoelectric effect when he got the Nobel Prize.

  • 1918 – World War I: The Meuse-Argonne Offensive began which would last until the total surrender of German forces.
  • 1933 – As gangster Machine Gun Kelly surrenders to the FBI, he shouts out, “Don’t shoot, G-Men!”, which becomes a nickname for FBI agents.

Here’s Kelly and his wife receiving life sentences for kidnapping in October of 1933. He died in prison of a heart attack on his 59th birthday:

  • 1953 – Rationing of sugar in the United Kingdom ends.

This was eight years after the end of the war! It was hard times in the UK.

  • 1960 – In Chicago, the first televised debate takes place between presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy.
  • 1969 – Abbey Road, the last recorded album by the Beatles, is released.
  • 1981 – Nolan Ryan sets a Major League record by throwing his fifth no-hitter.

Here’s the last out of Ryan’s record-setting fifth no-hitter.  Ryan got up to seven before he retired. Sandy Koufax is second with four.

  • 1984 – The United Kingdom and China agree to a transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, to take place in 1997.
  • 2008 – Swiss pilot and inventor Yves Rossy becomes first person to fly a jet engine-powered wing across the English Channel.

Here’s a news video of Rossy’s remarkable flight, which took just ten minutes.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1774 – Johnny Appleseed, American gardener and environmentalist (d. 1845)
  • 1849 – Ivan Pavlov, Russian physiologist and physician, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1936)

Pavlov (not salivating):

  • 1874 – Lewis Hine, American photographer and activist (d. 1940)

Among his other work, Hine documented child labor in the U.S., which led to changes in the laws. Here’s one of his photos, “Child laborers in glasswork. Indiana, 1908″ (the picture’s labeled “Midnight at the glassworks”). 

  • 1888 – T. S. Eliot, English poet, playwright, critic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
  • 1898 – George Gershwin, American pianist and composer (d. 1937)
  • 1914 – Jack LaLanne, American fitness expert (d. 2011)

For some reason I used to watch this show, though I didn’t do the exercises. I still know the words and tune to his “Goodbye Song” at the show’s end (below), sung when he was both young and old:

  • 1925 – Marty Robbins, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and race car driver (d. 1982)

Here’s Robbins singing his most famous song (1965).  Robbins wrote the song in 1959.

  • 1946 – Andrea Dworkin, American activist and author (d. 2005)
  • 1948 – Olivia Newton-John, English-Australian singer-songwriter and actress
  • 1981 – Serena Williams, American tennis player

Those who died on September 26 include:

  • 1797 – James Hutton, Scottish geologist and physician (b. 1726)
  • 1827 – Ludwig van Beethoven, German pianist and composer (b. 1770)
  • 1892 – Walt Whitman, American poet, essayist, and journalist (b. 1819)
  • 1923 – Sarah Bernhardt, French actress and screenwriter (b. 1844)
  • 1969 – John Kennedy Toole, American novelist (b. 1937)

Toole (photo below) wrote one book, but it’s a doozie: A Confederacy of Dunces, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1981. (It’s good!) He committed suicide at age 31, and his book won the Prize eleven years after his death, published with the help of his mother and Walker Percy.

  • 1973 – Noël Coward, English playwright, actor, and composer (b. 1899)
  • 1996 – Edmund Muskie, American lieutenant, lawyer, and politician, 58th United States Secretary of State (b. 1914)
  • 2011 – Geraldine Ferraro, American lawyer and politician (b. 1935)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili needs nourishment to save the world.

Hili: We have to repair the world.
A: What should we start with?
Hili: First we need to eat something.
In Polish:
Hili: Musimy naprawić świat.
Ja: Od czego zaczniemy?
Hili: Najpierw trzeba coś zjeść.

Szaron and Kulka on the windowsill, inside and out

From Divy. How Ceiling Cat makes rain:

From Jesus of the Day. You can thank me later. (Yes, it’s a real word.)


From Not Another Science Cat Page:

From Titania. Dear Ceiling Cat, this really was the cover of The Lancet, Britain’s premier medical journal)—not Scientific American. The problem with Titania’s aside, of course, is that not all transwomen have vaginas, and some transmen do.

Speaking of which, here’s a photo (second tweet) in which women are given the short shrift (h/t Luana):

A cute tweet from Barry who says ‘it’s cheaper than pest control.”

From Simon. The Lincoln Project (comprising never-Trumper Republicans) goes after the Republican governor of Texas:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a lovely heartwarmer (Ignore the jerks who abused Rhys):

More of Rhys:

Does God have an inordinate fondness for beetle larvae?

Saturday: Hili dialogue

September 25, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Cat Sabbath: Saturday, September 25, 2021. I’m back in Chicago and posting should be back to normal in a day or so. In the meantime, it’s National Quesadilla Day.

It’s also National Research Administrator Day, National Lobster Day, Fish Amnesty Day, International Rabbit Day, Museum Day, National Cooking Day, World Pharmacist Day, and National Wildlife Ecology Day.

Today’s Google Doodle honors the life and work of Christopher “Superman” Reeve (1952-2004).  He broke his neck in a horse-riding accident in 1995 and lived nine years paralyzed from the neck down and breathing with a ventilator, but also became a disability activist and embryonic stem-cell research while continuing his creative work. Click on the screenshot to go to link about his life:

News of the Day:

*The oldest evidence of Homo sapiens in America has been found in New Mexico: human footprints that date between 23,000 and 21,000 years ago. Up to now, the date that we teachers have felt confident in giving our students is arrival across the Bering Strait about 15,000 years ago, so this considerably extends the time humans have trod the Americas.

The dating was precise because there was sedimentary rock both directly above and below the footprints (only sedimentary rock can be dated). They used radiocarbon dating, which is quite accurate but can’t be used in rocks over 50,000 years old. “Based on their sizes, scientists think the tracks were made mainly by teenagers and younger children travelling back and forth – along with the occasional adult.” Scientists speculate further:

The scientists don’t know for sure what the teenagers were doing, but it is possible they were helping the adults with a type of hunting custom seen in later Native American cultures. This was known as the buffalo jump and involved driving animals over a shallow cliff edge.

The animals “all had to be processed in a short period of time,” explained Dr Sally Reynolds, co-author from Bournemouth University. “You’d have to start fires, you’d have to start rendering the fat.” The teenagers could have been helping out by collecting firewood, water or other essentials.

A photo of the prints, which are remarkably well preserved. We clearly didn’t evolve a change in toe number over 23 millennia!

Photo courtesy of Bournemouth University

*I got this email from reader Ken this morning:

The clownish pro-Trump “Cyber Ninjas” — the group that’s been conducting the election audit (aka the “fraudit”) of the Arizona presidential election results since last April — is scheduled to release their results at 4 pm Eastern today.
According to a leaked report, their results show that, of the over 2 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, AZ, in 2020,  Donald Trump actually received 261 votes fewer, and Joe Biden 99 votes more, than was initially reported.

The NYT has copies of the three-volume (!) draft report, and the tally above appears to be correct. Biden won with a slightly wider margin than reported. Maricopa County’s heavy vote for Biden is a major reason why he won the state. (Just remember that on election night I was the first to call Arizona, Georgia, and the overall winner, beating the news!) The official report was supposed to be released to the Arizona Senate yesterday at 4 pm Eastern time, but I can’t find a note of that release.

Maricopa county responded to the draft with a scathing series of tweets:

*I’m almost finished with Andrew Sullivan’s new book Out on a Limb: Selected Writing: 1989-2021, and will give a brief review soon (preview: well worth reading). One of the essays I didn’t like was a long screed on the importance of faith, coupled with the assertion that everyone, including atheists and scientists, has a form of “faith.” I’ve answered that claim before, but it recurs sporadically, as in the new Wall Street Journal. Read, if you wish, “Why atheists need faith” (subtitle “Science is becoming more mystical as we learn more about the universe”) by Michael Guillen, identified as “author of ‘Believing is Seeing: A Physicist Explains How Science Shattered His Atheism and Revealed the Necessity of Faith’”.

One brief quote from the above that testifies why science is spooky so scientists need faith: “Witness supernatural-like concepts such as virtual particles, imaginary time and quantum entanglement.” I will not deal further with this essay, as it’s not even wrong.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 687,247, an increase of 2,062 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,752,605, an increase of about 9,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 25 includes:

  • 1237 – England and Scotland sign the Treaty of York, establishing the location of their common border.
  • 1513 – Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa reaches what would become known as the Pacific Ocean.

Read “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” by Keats. He may have mistaken Cortez for Balboa, but it’s a great poem anyway.

Here’s that one-time newspaper, published in Boston.

Here’s the Senate revisions to the amendments that were passed by the House (p. 1 of 3):

  • 1926 – The international Convention to Suppress the Slave Trade and Slavery is first signed.
  • 1957 – Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, is integrated by the use of United States Army troops.

Here are the “Little Rock Nine” being escorted to class on September 25, along with photo of Elizabeth Eckford as she tried (and failed) to enter class on September 4 (the National Guard blocked the door, but Eisenhower then federalized the state National Guard, who are the escorts in the top photo):

  • 1974 – Dr. Frank Jobe performs first ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery (better known as Tommy John surgery) on baseball player Tommy John.
  • 2018 – Bill Cosby is sentenced to three to ten years in prison for aggravated sexual assault.

As you know, he was set free for violations of his due process, although of course he was guilty. At least he’ll never sell pudding again.

Notables born on this day include:

Morgan, my academic great-grandfather, founded the discipline of Drosophila genetics and won the Nobel Prize for it. Here he is in the “Fly Room” at Columbia University. Professors always worked in coat and tie back then!


  • 1897 – William Faulkner, American novelist and short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1962)
  • 1903 – Mark Rothko, Latvian-American painter and educator (d. 1970)
  • 1930 – Shel Silverstein, American author, poet, illustrator, and songwriter (d. 1999)

Here’s Silverstein’s poem “Zombie Cat”:

  • 1932 – Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist and composer (d. 1982)
  • 1951 – Mark Hamill, American actor, singer, and producer
  • 1952 – bell hooks, American author and activist
  • 1952 – Christopher Reeve, American actor, producer, and activist (d. 2004)
  • 1965 – Scottie Pippen, American basketball player and sportscaster

Pippen of course played for the Chicago Bulls during our great years. Here are ten of his best plays:

Those whose lives were terminated on September 25 include:

  • 1849 – Johann Strauss I, Austrian composer (b. 1804)
  • 1933 – Ring Lardner, American journalist and author (b. 1885)

Lardner’s photo is below. As Wikipedia notes, “His contemporaries Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, and F. Scott Fitzgerald all professed strong admiration for his writing, and author John O’Hara directly attributed his understanding of dialogue to him.”

  • 1960 – Emily Post, American author and educator (b. 1873)

And here’s Post, who looks pretty much like what a writer on etiquette should look like:

  • 1971 – Hugo Black, American captain, jurist, and politician (b. 1886)
  • 2003 – George Plimpton, American writer and literary editor (b. 1927)
  • 2016 – Arnold Palmer, American golfer (b. 1929)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has become a penitente:

A; Why are you lying down on the concrete?
Hili: I’m mortifying myself for my ancestors’ sins.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu leżysz na betonie?
Hili: Umartwiam się za grzechy przodków.

A lovely photo of Baby Kulka, showing her tongue, from Paulina:

From Divy:

From the Emporium of Unique and Wondrous Things:

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

From Titania on RBG:

A tweet from Barry. Do you think the cat is really trying to save the baby?

From Ginger K. If you own exactly two moggies, you can participate in some citizen science sponsored by UC Davis and the University of British Columbia. And you get to watch ten cat videos! Click on the link in the tweet.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, one who survived:

Tweets from Matthew. He stole my duck joke so I retweeted his with my own duck joke:

And somebody responded to Matthew’s tweet:

Chicago’s streets in the loop run straight east-west, so the light shines down them on the equinox:

From BugGuide: “[Cryptocephalus] larvae are casebearers, living in and protected by a case constructed of their fecal matter and sometimes plant debris. The case is shorter than the larva that remains folded inside it.

Imagine scenarios for how this could have evolved (it’s an “extended phenotype” reflecting larval behavior).

Monday: Hili dialogue

September 20, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s the start of a new week in beautiful Cambridge: September 20, and the sun is already shining brightly at 7 a.m. local time. It’s 2021:National Rum Punch Day, coming hard on the heels of yesterday’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Aye, matey, it’s a good tipple!

It’s also National Pepperoni Pizza Day, National Fried Rice Day, and National String Cheese Day.

News of the Day:

*An FDA advisory panel has recommended that all people inoculated for Covid who are either over 65 or at risk for severe illness get a booster shot 6 months after their first round of shots.

The vote is not binding, and Peter Marks, the FDA official overseeing coronavirus vaccines, indicated that the final decision could be slightly different, encompassing people who are at higher risk of infection because of their professions, such as health-care workers and front-line employees, including teachers. The advisory committee members were polled on whether they would agree with making boosters available to people who were at risk of infection because of workplace exposure, and they all said yes.

A decision by the FDA on boosters is expected this coming week. One thing they will not recommend now is booster shots for all Americans who have gotten their vaccinations.

*Farah Stockman, a member of the NYT editorial board, has issued a warning about generic drugs, which I suspect most of us have taken some time or another: “How much can you trust that generic drug you’re taking?” Her main concerns are shortages of drugs as the price falls too low to make them profitable, and especially the quality of generics which, she claims, can vary widely:

Quality control issues like the ones found at Mylan are a leading cause of drug shortages, both at American plants and overseas. Sometimes the F.D.A. shuts down a plant after discovering violations, dramatically reducing a medicine’s supply. Other times, companies with quality control issues simply opt to stop making a drug rather than invest in expensive upgrades to their aging facilities. The current system simply doesn’t reward investments in quality. If a pill is just a pill, it doesn’t matter if it’s made in a state-of-the-art plant or a rusty one. . .

. . . The truth is, a pill is not just a pill. A pill that was made in a top-notch factory with a spotless track record is better than one that was made in a plant that barely passed inspection. A pill that was stored in a cool dark place is better than one left baking on an airport tarmac for weeks.

*If you’re a fan of the Beatles, do read Ian Leslie’s Substack piece, “64 reasons to celebrate Paul McCartney“, which is fascinating—and recommended by a reader. Here’s just one:

13. Let’s start with the singing. It is among the most exciting moments in twentieth century music: Lennon tears through the opening verse of A Hard Day’s Night, then McCartney steps forward in the middle (“When I’m hooome…”). One of the crazy things about the Lennon-McCartney partnership was that they both had all-time great rock voices. If Lennon’s specialism was raw emotion, McCartney’s was a range of expression which verges on superhuman. Few can match him as a rock n’ roll screamer – listen to Long Tall Sally or Oh Darling. But few can match him as a balladeer either – see MichelleHere, There and Everywhere, or Let It Be. On the White Album, he performs a controlled nervous breakdown for Helter Skelter – an absolute tour de force – and on I Will pours warm honey into our ears. On Lady Madonna he does Presley crossed with Fats Waller. In his singing, as in his lyrics, he inhabits characters. Across Abbey Roadhe employs a panoply of different vocal personalities; in You Never Give Me Your Money or Uncle Albert he does the same in one song. It’s hard to exaggerate how rare such versatility of expression is or how hard to pull off. It helps that he has exceptional technical command. Whatever he’s singing, he nearly always hits the middle of a note, with tremendous force in the upper range. He excels at thrilling leaps up at the end of a melody line, as on Got To Get You Into My Life (“I didn’t know what I would find there”) or Live and Let Die (“give the other fella hell”), and has a rare ability to glide through what classical singers call the passaggio – the transition between chest and head, which for most humans is a vocal speed-bump. Listen to Maybe I’m Amazed and marvel at that post-chorus glissando down from the heights.

* Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 673,929, an increase of 2,011 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,706,873, an increase of about 5,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 20 includes:

Here’s the giant bronze Buddha in Japan, which is 13.35 metres (43.8 ft) tall (including the base) and weighs approximately 103 tons.

And reader Stash Krod sent a photo of himself (in arms) and his dad in front of the Buddha, taken around 1954.

  • 1519 – Ferdinand Magellan sets sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda with about 270 men on his expedition to circumnavigate the globe.
  • 1857 – The Indian Rebellion of 1857 ends with the recapture of Delhi by troops loyal to the East India Company.

This is the subject of the fiction book I’m reading now, The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell. It won the Booker Prize in 1973, and again I’m on one of my kicks to read ALL Booker Prize winners. There are many, but I find them more reliably good than the Pulitzer winners for fiction. 

  • 1893 – Charles Duryea and his brother road-test the first American-made gasoline-powered automobile.

Here are the Duryea brothers in their car in 1894. Notice that the steering wheel is a stick.

The Holocaust was particularly horrible in Ukraine, where locals teamed up with the Nazis to kill off the Jews. Here’s a photo from Wikipedia labeled “Jews digging their own graves. Storow, 4 July 1941.”

Notice that women and children are digging, too.

  • 1962 – James Meredith, an African American, is temporarily barred from entering the University of Mississippi.
  • 1973 – Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match at the Houston Astrodome.
  • 1973 – Singer Jim Croce, songwriter and musician Maury Muehleisen and four others die when their light aircraft crashes on takeoff at Natchitoches Regional Airport in Louisiana.

Here’s Croche, accompanied by Muehleisen on guitar, singing one of my favorite songs, “Operator” (Croce’s composition) on the Midnight Special show. This was on June 15, 1973, only about three months before he died.

  • 2001 – In an address to a joint session of Congress and the American people, U.S. President George W. Bush declares a “War on Terror“.

What he meant was a war on “terrorISM”.

Greta sometimes seems a bit overly intense, but that’s because she’s passionate about her cause, and we need young people to sound the alarm:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1878 – Upton Sinclair, American novelist, critic, and essayist (d. 1968)

Sinclair, photographed as a young man below, wrote the famous book The Jungle (1908), which, though fictional, was an accurate exposé of the horrible conditions of the meatpacking industry in Chicago. It’s said that sales of meat fell by half after his book came out. It’s well worth reading.

  • 1929 – Anne Meara, American actress and playwright (d. 2015)
  • 1934 – Sophia Loren, Italian actress
  • 1962 – Jim Al-Khalili, Iraqi-English physicist, author, and academic

Those who “passed” on September 20 include:

Tichborne wrote the ineffably sad poem “My prime of youth is but a frost of cares” (also called “Elegy”), enclosed in a letter to his wife the night before his gruesome execution for treason. He was 24, and here’s the moving last verse:

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

  • 1863 – Jacob Grimm, German philologist and mythologist (b. 1785)

Here are both of the Brothers Grimm:

Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, 1847; daguerreotype by Hermann Blow
  • 1957 – Jean Sibelius, Finnish violinist and composer (b. 1865)
  • 1973 – Jim Croce, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1943)

See above.

  • 1996 – Paul Erdős, Hungarian-Polish mathematician and academic (b. 1913)

Erdős, a great mathematician shown below, was also a peripatetic eccentric; read the Wikipedia section on his personality.

  • 2005 – Simon Wiesenthal, Austrian human rights activist, Holocaust survivor (b. 1908)
  • 2006 – Sven Nykvist, Swedish director, producer, and cinematographer (b. 1922)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, HIli has one of her two big concerns (the other, of course, is noms):

Hili: I’m fully conscious.
A: What of?
Hili: That it’s time for a nap.
In Polish:
Hili: Jestem w pełni świadoma.
Ja: Czego?
Hili: Że pora się przespać.

Little Kulka naps on the windowsill: a photo by Paulina:

From Meanwhile in Canada:

From a FB site I joined, Quackers about Ducks. They speak the TRUTH! But I don’t even have to call; I just show up.

From Jesus of the Day:

An apposite tweet from Simon. Sound up:

The UN could issue condemnations of the Taliban’s behavior; after all, they do it to Israel all the time.

A paired tweet from Barrie. Sound up, and listen for the neigh. The Western Capercallie, in the grouse family, lives in Europe and northern Asia, and males are twice the size of the females. The sexes barely resemble each other, and the fight in the first video below shows that sexual selection is intense.

From the Auschwitz Memorial. This man lived a bit more than a month after arrival:

From Ginger K., who thinks we should visit this bookstore. But unless it has a resident cat, it’s empty:

Two tweets from Matthew. Why are there cats in this ad?

This is a rare photo of a mantid in flight. The translation by Google is this: “Blog update (2021-09-18) Next-Shonan Musi Diary Flying mantis. Next time …↑”

Sunday: Hili dialogue

September 19, 2021 • 7:00 am

It’s Sunday in Cambridge, MA this September 19, 2021: National Butterscotch Pudding Day. It’s also International Talk Like a Pirate Day, National Wife Appreciation Day, and National Women’s Friendship Day.

The weather here has been lovely (tee shirt temperatures) with sun, some clouds, but only a little rain yesterday. Today’s predicted high in Cambridge is 74°F (23°C).

News of the Day:

Once again I’ve been oblivious to the news, and don’t even know how the Rally for Trump (surely made up of some “very fine people”) went yesterday. please fill me in below.

* Today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 673,367, an increase of 2,012 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,701,438, 4,694,219, an increase of about 7,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 19 includes:

That budget was $639,000.

You can read the farewell address here. He never spoke it; it was in the form of a letter. At the end of his first term as President, Washington had James Madison prepare an earlier version, but then George decided to run for (and won) a second term. The later letter was a revision of the first with the help of Alexander Hamilton.

  • 1881 – U.S. President James A. Garfield dies of wounds suffered in a July 2 shooting. Vice President Chester A. Arthur becomes President upon Garfield’s death.

Here’s a depiction of the assassination, with Garfield shot twice in a railroad station depot by Charles Guiteau, who was convinced that Garfield would destroy the Republican Party. As you see, Garfield lived a considerable time after the shooting—79 days—and died of “sepsis” (infection). He could have been saved with antibiotics.

  • 1893 – In New Zealand, the Electoral Act of 1893 is consented to by the governor, giving all women in New Zealand the right to vote.

This made New Zealand the first self-governing nation in the world to allow women to vote. Here are some suffragettes in New Zealand, whose symbol was the white camellia:

Only a very brave man would voluntarily get himself arrested and sent to Auschwitz (his intake photo is below). Pilecki, a Polish military officer, escaped in April, 1943, after surviving 2.5 years, and he had gathered lots of information about the camp, but he buried his report and it wasn’t revealed till after Pilecki’s death. Ironically, he was executed by the Communists in 1947.

  • 1952 – The United States bars Charlie Chaplin from re-entering the country after a trip to England.

Chaplin was born in London, made his name in Hollywood films, and when he was touring Europe, long since world famous, the U.S. barred his re-entry because he was a political dissident, an accused Communist (he wasn’t), and not a U.S. citizen. He returned to the U.S. only once thereafter, to receive an honorary Academy Award in 1972. Here’s a photo of the aged Chaplin getting that award from Jack Lemmon:

  • 1982 – Scott Fahlman posts the first documented emoticons 🙂 and 🙁 on the Carnegie Mellon University bulletin board system.
  • 1985 – Tipper Gore and other political wives form the Parents Music Resource Center as Frank Zappa and other musicians testify at U.S. Congressional hearings on obscenity in rock music.
  • 1991 – Ötzi the Iceman is discovered in the Alps on the border between Italy and Austria.

Ötzi, who died between 3400 and 3100 BC, is Europe’s oldest “natural mummy”. Extracted from the ice in 1991, it’s thought he was killed because he had an arrowhead embedded in his shoulder (he may have been a ritual sacrifice). He had ibex meat and grain in his stomach, suffered from whipworm, and was emblazoned with 61 tattoos! To see him you have to visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy.

Here’s a photo of Ötzi as found in the ice:

And his head and chest:

A reconstruction of him with his equipment (also found):

  • 1995 – The Washington Post and The New York Times publish the Unabomber manifesto.
  • 2011 – Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees surpasses Trevor Hoffman to become Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader with 602.

Here’s Rivera setting the all time save record:

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s Rackham’s “Puss in Boots”. It’s hard to make out Puss.

  • 1911 – William Golding, British novelist, playwright, and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1993)
  • 1913 – Frances Farmer, American actress (d. 1970)
  • 1932 – Mike Royko, American journalist and author (d. 1997)
  • 1934 – Brian Epstein, English talent manager (d. 1967)
  • 1941 – Cass Elliot, American singer (d. 1974)
  • 1949 – Twiggy, English model, actress, and singer

Here name now is Dame Lesley Lawson (birth name Lesley Hornby), and she’s just about my age. In her glory days:

Those who became dead on September 19 include:

  • 1881 – James A. Garfield, American general, lawyer, and politician, and the 20th President of the United States (b. 1831)
  • 1942 – Condé Montrose Nast, American publisher, founded Condé Nast Publications (b. 1873)
  • 1965 – Lionel Terray, French mountaineer (b. 1921)

A great climber and a member of Herzog’s team that climbed Annapurna (Terray didn’t attain the summit), Terray died during a rock climb at age 44.

  • 1995 – Orville Redenbacher, American businessman, founded his own eponymous brand (b. 1907)
  • 2004 – Eddie Adams, American photographer and journalist (b. 1933)
  • 2004 – Skeeter Davis, American singer-songwriter (b. 1931)

Davis had one great and classic song, which she performs below live:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, it’s hunting season for Hili. She must be trying to lay on the fat for winter.

Hili: It’s a great ecosystem but something is lacking.
A: What?
Hili: Something fat.
In Polish:
Hili: Wspaniały ecosystem, ale czegoś tu brakuje.
Ja: Czego?
Hili: Czegoś tłustego.

And a picture of Kulka by Paulina:

From Facebook. For the backstory see here:

A FB post from Helen Pluckrose, one of the “Grievance Study” perpetrators:

From Jesus of the Day:

A tweet from Masih. Apparently girls in Afghanistan still aren’t allowed in school:

From Barry. This cat is either dumb or extraordinarily charitable, but it’s surely not hungry!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a comfy bodega cat:

Not a bodega cat:

These are apparently the real Beatles:

This is a clever cat, and I’ve put a video of his machinations belowl

See for yourself! I’ve tried to embed a “Tik Tok”:


This happens at least once a day 😂 #foryou #foryoupage #lol #comedy #viral #cats #catsoftiktok

♬ Mission Impossible (Main Theme) – Favorite Movie Songs

A nether eructation from a crab:

Saturday: Hili dialogue

September 18, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s Caturday in beautiful Cambridge, Massachusetts: September 18, 2021: National Cheeseburger Day. No fries, cheeps! No Coke, Pepsi!

It’s also Eat An Apple Day, Rice Krispies Treats Day (I have to admit that I love ’em), International Red Panda Day, International Bamboo Day, International eBook Day (never read one, never will), National Dance Day, National Gymnastics Day, Locate An Old Friend Day (easier now with Google), National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, and International First Love Day (Devon Powell, sixth grade, we were safety guards together and sometimes raised the American flag. This should make for some good stories of first loves in the comments. Remember yours? (Mine never went anywhere; you don’t date when you’re 11.)

News of the Day: Once again I haven’t kept up with the news, so here are a few tidbits. Feel free to put news of interest in the comments, which I do read.

*Today’s the big right-wing rally at the Capitol in Washington in support of the earlier thugs who invaded the building on January 6.  There are no credible threats (yet), but the police/military presence will be strong:

In what the Capitol Police chief called the “new normal” of security amid rising threats from domestic extremists, the administration will deploy 100 unarmed National Guard troops to downtown Washington on Saturday. The additional military presence comes after intelligence officers tracked online threats made against members of Congress and reported that some rally attendees supportive of former President Donald J. Trump “may seek to engage in violence.”

*A genetic analysis of 3000-year-old Central European skeletons of warriors from a battle shows that they didn’t have the genetic variant for lactase persistence, and so couldn’t digest milk. Since that variant was very common by 1000 A.D., it seems as if the gene spread rapidly (other estimates have given it a selective advantage of about 10% over the alternative, non-digesting gene). Remember, 2000 years was only about 100 human generations at that time. As Science notes (linking to the original paper in Current Biology),

“That means that within about 100 generations, the mutation had penetrated populations across Europe. “That’s the strongest selection found in the human genome,” [co-author Joachim] Burger says.

*John McWhorter’s new column in the NYT reports an example of cancellation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at least as egregious as the removal of the Rock of Shame. Read it for yourself. It seems that one of his two weekly columns will be about linguistics and the other about race.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 672,811 an increase of 1,992 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,694,219, an increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s total.

Today was a thin day in history. Stuff that happened on September 18 includes:

Here’s a painting of the event. What would George think about what’s going to happen there today?

And here’s part of the front page from 1851:

  • 1948 – Margaret Chase Smith of Maine becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate without completing another senator’s term.

She served from 1949, the year I was born, until 1973, and was also the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress. A moderate Republican, she was also one of the first to oppose Joe McCarthy’s red-baiting tactics. A photo:

  • 1997 – The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention is adopted.
  • 2001 – First mailing of anthrax letters from Trenton, New Jersey in the 2001 anthrax attacks.
  • 2014 – Scotland votes against independence from the United Kingdom, by 55% to 45%.

I think the next vote will have a different outcome, och aye?

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1709 – Samuel Johnson, English lexicographer and poet (d. 1784)
  • 1905 – Greta Garbo, Swedish-American actress (d. 1990)

Here’s Garbo’s most famous line, and she did wind up alone.  From Wikipedia:

She is closely associated with a line from Grand Hotel, one which the American Film Institute in 2005 voted the 30th-most memorable movie quote of all time, “I want to be alone; I just want to be alone.” The theme was a running gag that began during the period of her silent movies.

  • 1933 – Jimmie Rodgers, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1940 – Frankie Avalon, American singer and actor
  • 1954 – Steven Pinker, Canadian-American psychologist, linguist, and author

It’s Pinkah’s birthday, and he’s 67: the most unfairly despised intellectual in America! Here he is from February of last year wearing his custom cowboy boots made by Lee Miller of Austin—the same guy who made mine:

  • 1967 – Tara Fitzgerald, English actress
  • 1971 – Lance Armstrong, American cyclist
  • 1976 – Ronaldo, Brazilian footballer

One of the many greats who played from Brazil, Ronaldo shows his skills in this “best of” video:

Those who gave Charon his coin on September 18 include:

  • 1783 – Leonhard Euler, Swiss mathematician and physicist (b. 1707)

Remember, his last name is pronounced “OY-ler”, as in “Oy vey!”

  • 1961 – Dag Hammarskjöld, Swedish economist and diplomat, 2nd Secretary-General of the United Nations, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
  • 1970 – Jimi Hendrix, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1942)

I must of course show a video of Hendrix, and here’s one of him performing perhaps his most famous song:

  • 1980 – Katherine Anne Porter, American short story writer, novelist, and essayist (b. 1890)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s kvetching about food again:

Hili: Life is cruel.
A: Why do you think so?
Hili: I do not see anything I could eat.
In Polish:
Hili: Życie jest okrutne?
Ja: Dlaczego tak sądzisz?
Hili: Nie widzę nikogo kogo mogłabym zjeść.

And a picture of Kulka by Paulina:

From Jean:

From Gregory: a Darth Vader tabby found on Facebook. He says, “May the Force be with mew.”

I can’t help but reproduce this excellent Gary Larson cartoon. I don’t have a phobia, because ducks are often watching me.

A tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial:

From Barry: Geese enjoying a man playing the harmonica (or maybe they think he’s making goose noises):

From Luana. It seems that Anya Taylor-Joy just won a Golden Globe Award and a SAG Award for best actress for her performance in The Queen’s GambitHere’s her ancestry from Wikipedia:

Her father is an Argentine of English and Scottish descent, son of a British father, Alfred Royal Taylor, and an Argentine-British mother, Violet Mary Forrest. Her mother was born in Zambia, to an English diplomat father, David Joy, and a Spanish mother, Montserrat Morancho Saumench, from Barcelona.  She is the youngest of six siblings, four from her father’s previous marriage.

Wilfred Reilly a person of color, is amused by Taylor-Joy being lumped in with other PoCs.  Be sure to look at her photo. One thing you know for sure, the PoC category has nothing to do with pigmentation. I always thought it had to do with oppression, but I doubt Taylor-Joy is oppressed.

Tweets from Matthew. Are the koi following the swan to get food? Is the bird dipping the food in the water to moisten it? (I doubt it’s feeding the fish!):

Another coronavirus in a wild bat similar to the one that started the pandemic in Wuhan. People on the thread are still pushing the lab-leak theory, which, though possible, seems improbable to me given the epidemiology of the spread

Look at this beautiful photo!

And a beautiful cup. Is that a leopard?

Finally, a beautiful spider:

Thursday: Hili dialogue

September 16, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Thursday, September 16. By the time you read this I’ll either be at the airport or in the air on my way to Boston. It’s National Peach Pie Day, and I hope you can have some. Posting will likely be lighter than usual for a week.

It’s also Mexican Independence Day(see below), which goes along with the fact that it’s Free Queso Day (but only at Moe’s Southwest Grill), and National Guacamole Day. Further, it’s National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day, Mayflower Day (the day the ship left Plymouth in 1620), World Play-Doh Day (it was introduced on this day in 1955), Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer (see below).

News of the Day:

It’s been 239 days since the Bidens moved into the White House and still, as far as I know, there is no First Cat. WHERE IS THE PROMISED CAT, JOE?

*The SpaceX launch, for which I gave a live feed last night, was a big success, with the booster successfully returning to Earth and all four astronauts happily in orbit for three days. It was, as they say, “nominal”.

*North Korea’s on a really aggressive path: on Wednesday it launched two ballistic missiles, after having launched two cruise missiles last week. According to the NYT, this violates “multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea from conducting such tests.” Also, on the very same day, South Korea did its first ballistic missile launch from a submarine, joining the U.S., Russia, Britain, India, China, and France as countries capable of submarine launches. The U.S., of course, has nuclear-missile-launching subs around the Korean peninsula, but no nukes on the peninsula itself.

*Here’s a U.S. tentative response to China, who, the U.S. fears, might become yet more autocratic or even emboldened to take over Taiwan. In collaboration with the UK, the U.S. is helping Australia acquire nuclear submarines.

“The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom have long been faithful and capable partners and we’re even closer today,” the President said. “Today, we’re taking another historic step to deepen and formalize cooperation among all three of our nations, because we all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term.”

I guess Aussie nuclear subs are some kind of deterrent, but how much more deterrence will we need? If China attacks and takes over Taiwan, will they fire those nukes?

*Another sign of global warming. Mount Shasta in California (height 14,179 feet or 4322 m) invariably has snow on the summit in the summer. Not this year. The glaciers on the north side have lost 50% of their usual mass just since 2000, and here’s a series of photos showing the amount of snow on the mountain (green splotch) in July or August:

Here’s a tweet of the sadly denuded mountain:

*In his newest column in the NYT, John McWhorter neglects race and returns to language. His topic today is about the best way to learn another language, and he has a definite answer, involving a program. (I don’t know how many languages he speaks, but it must be a lot.)

. . . I have spent my life compulsively teaching myself to get around in languages — I have the polyglot disease — and I know of a way to get farther than people usually get. There is no reason that Glossika shouldn’t be as well known as Duolingo and Babbel. It teaches you real language, and it gets you used to just hearing the language, rather than relying as much on text as sound. After all, there are no subtitles in real life.

The method is pretty simple. You get recordings of 5,000 sentences in the language of your choice. Glossika comes in more than 60 languages at this point: If you feel your life isn’t complete without immersing yourself in some Slovenian or Uzbek, Glossika is for you. But the important part here is that the sentences are real ones. The first time I used it, the first sentence was about being good at tennis. Think: In a foreign language you know, were you ever taught how to say “good at”? To speak a language is to know how to say things like that.

. . . After that, the next move is immersion with real people. After I did one set, a speaker told me, “You know a lot of words!” That hedged but sincere compliment was dead on; I spoke roughly like a bright 4-year-old, and Glossika did that.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 666,816 an increase of 1,943 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,675,036, an increase of about 10,700 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 16 includes:

This was a small merchant ship, with 102 Pilgrims crammed together during the 66-day trip (two died). And, during the first winter, half of the rest died. Here’s a drawing showing how everyone was crammed together:

“Grito de Dolores” means “Cry of Dolores”, and Dolores is a city in Central Mexico. On this day in 1810, “Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang his church bell and gave the call to arms that triggered the Mexican War of Independence.” Here’s the church from whose portico the call to arms was issued, Our Lady of Sorrows:

  • 1880 – The Cornell Daily Sun prints its first issue in Ithaca, New York. The Sun is the United States’ oldest, continuously-independent college daily.
  • 1908 – The General Motors Corporation is founded.
  • 1955 – The military coup to unseat President Juan Perón of Argentina is launched at midnight.

This was the end of his second term as President. He went into exile but returned and was re-elected in 1973. Here he is with his famous wife Eva (“Evita”):

  • 1959 – The first successful photocopier, the Xerox 914, is introduced in a demonstration on live television from New York City.

Here’s what I think is that commercial:

  • 1966 – The Metropolitan Opera House opens at Lincoln Center in New York City with the world premiere of Samuel Barber’s opera Antony and Cleopatra.
  • 1976 – Armenian champion swimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan saves 20 people from a trolleybus that had fallen into a Yerevan reservoir.

The word “hero” is flung around carelessly these days, but if anybody is a true hero, it’s Shavarsh Karapetyan. Here’s a 7-minute summary of his life and heroic act:

  • 1987 – The Montreal Protocol is signed to protect the ozone layer from depletion.
  • 1992 – The trial of the deposed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega ends in the United States with a 40-year sentence for drug trafficking and money laundering.

Noriega, still incarcerated, died of a brain hemorrhage in 2017. His mug shot:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1886 – Jean Arp, Alsatian sculptor and painter (d. 1966)
  • 1893 – Albert Szent-Györgyi, Hungarian-American physiologist and biochemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1986)

Szent-Györgyi isolated vitamin C and worked out the citric acid cycle (“Krebs cycle”), both of which contributed to his Nobel Prize in 1937. Here he is around 1948:

Remember this scene from “The Big Sleep”:

  • 1925 – Charlie Byrd, American singer and guitarist (d. 1999)
  • 1925 – B.B. King, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2015)

Here’s what is perhaps his most famous song, “The Thrill is Gone“, performed in 1993:

  • 1950 – Henry Louis Gates Jr., American historian, scholar, and journalist
  • 1971 – Amy Poehler, American actress, comedian, and producer

Those whose lives were quenched on September 16 include:

  • 1936 – Jean-Baptiste Charcot, French physician and explorer (b. 1867)
  • 1977 – Maria Callas, Greek operatic soprano (b. 1923)

Here’s La Callas singing my favorite operatic aria in Paris:

  • 1980 – Jean Piaget, Swiss psychologist and philosopher (b. 1896)
  • 2009 – Mary Travers, American singer-songwriter (b. 1936)

Here’s a rare melange of great singers: Cass Elliot, Joni Mitchell, and Mary Travers, singing the Dylan song, “I shall be released.” The performance was in 1969 on Mama Cass’s television show.

  • 2016 – Edward Albee, American director and playwright (b. 1928)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is having her customary thoughts:

A: What are you musing about?
I wonder when the next meal will be.
In Polish:
Ja: Nad czym dumasz?
Hili: Zastanawiam się kiedy będzie następny posiłek.

And a photo of Kulka and Szaron on the windowsill, taken by Paulina:

From smipowell. This is my Teddy, Toasty!

From Facebook:

Also from Facebook:

From Simon, which shows you who is pro- and anti-vaccination:

From Barry. I think more religions should chart their beliefs like this, as it would show their craziness:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

From Luana. Polygenic scores are of course underestimates because, based on even medium-sized samples, they don’t account for low-frequency variants affecting a trait, so most correlations are probably underestimates as well.

From Dom: a nefarious parasite that makes ants bite grass before they die so the next host, sheep, eat the ants and get infected too. Then sheep poop out eggs that infect snails, who release eggs that are eaten by an ant, and the cycle starts again. One parasite and three hosts: an old but classic “zombie ant parasite” story.


Tweets from Matthew. He and I both love the Dodo videos with kittens. As Matthew noted, “Yes if the world were like the Dodo everything would be fine.”

These are wonderful sculptures; be sure to look at each photo:

Colorful mushrooms in New Zealand, including a blue one!

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

September 15, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Wednesday, September 15, my last day in Chicago for a week. It’s National Linguine Day (I prefer bucatini, but it doesn’t have its own Day.)

It’s also National Cheese Toast Day, National Double Cheeseburger Day, Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie Day, National Crème de Menthe Day, National Caregivers Day, National Felt Hat Day, World Afro Day, World Lymphoma Awareness Day, International Day of Democracy, and, in the U.S., the beginning of German American Heritage Month, celebrated until October 15, and the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated until October 15. You can celebrate the last two at once by having a michelada made with Löwenbräu.

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates the life and work of Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, described by Wikipedia this way:

Ildaura Murillo-Rohde (September 6, 1920 – September 5, 2010) was a Panamanian-American nurse, academic and organizational administrator. .  . Murillo-Rohde founded the National Association of Hispanic Nurses in 1975. She was a World Health Organization consultant to the government of Guatemala and was named a Permanent UN Representative to UNICEF for the International Federation of Business and Professional Women. She was named a Living Legend of the American Academy of Nursing in 1994.

News of the Day:

*It looks as if Gavin Newsom handily won the recall election and remains Governor of California. But he’d better remember the issues that brought about the election in the first place. In an interview Monday evening with NBC News, he simply waved them away.

*Speaking of California, in an op-ed in the NYT, Jay Kang takes issue with schools abandoning standardized tests like the SAT, which the University of California did recently (and against the advice of a group of experts the U of C commissioned to study the problem). Kang argues that test elimination has little effect on increasing diversity but reduces transparency of admissions, and recommends as a substitute the community-college transfer route:

State schools that are committed to social justice should make the community college transfer program the first and final word when it comes to diversity, rather than celebrate tiny shifts in minority enrollment while driving down admission rates. Instead of adjusting scores and engaging in the careful engineering that ends with one student being declared more “holistic” than another, they should make the community-college-to-four-year-university-pathway as easy and as normalized as possible. Students would be able to take on less debt, orient themselves in their chosen fields of study and stay in their hometowns.

*Here’s an intriguing headline for an op-ed in the Washington Post: “How Amy Coney Barrett might know she’s a political hack,” written by columnist Jennifer Rubin. This is based on what Coney Barrett said in a talk in Louisville, where she happened to share the stage with Mitch “666” McConnell:

“My goal today is to convince you that this court is not composed of a bunch of partisan hacks,” Barrett said with a straight face. She continued, “Sometimes, I don’t like the results of my decisions. But it’s not my job to decide cases based on the outcome I want.”

If you’ll believe that, you’ll believe anything. Her voting to uphold Texas’s odious anti-abortion law surely was an outcome she wanted, for she’s a pious Catholic. And, after all, the Texas law violates the stare decisis of Roe v. Wade. Here’s why Rubin thinks that Coney Barrett secretly knows that she’s a lying hack:

So are Barrett and Breyer [who also claims that Justices are largely “neutral”] simply lying to us? I would suggest it is something more insidious: They have convinced themselves that their judicial “philosophy” is neutral, rather than a means to turn the court into an instrument of partisan power.

Let’s get real. Conservative justices have been tutored in Federalist Society buzzwords such as “judicial restraint” (except, for example, when rewriting the Voting Rights Act). They have latched onto a brand of jurisprudence in which the only “legitimate” method of interpretation is time-traveling to the 18th century, often neatly bypassing the post-Civil War amendments that federalized rights. That’s how the conservative justices manage to regard themselves as paragons of judicial virtue.

They cannot acknowledge that their reasoning constantly twists and turns, elevating certain rights (e.g., religious freedom, gun ownership) but diminishing others (e.g., those guaranteed by the 14th Amendment). They refuse to concede that their view of executive power expands like an accordion for Republican presidents and contracts for Democratic presidents.

It is precisely because justices lack the discipline and self-awareness to divorce their own judicial “philosophies” from the partisan ends their “side” wants that term limits become a necessity. Judges who no longer feel constrained by precedent and nearly always fulfill the policy edicts of the president who nominated them should not have lifetime tenure. When the highest court is now a forum for raw exercise of political power, a president’s picks should not be empowered to serve for decades.

But would Rubin write the same thing if those statements had been made by the liberal Justices, or if the Court weren’t so damn conservative?

*CNN tells us that Squaw Valley Alpine Meadow Ski Resort, overdue for a renaming, has finally been renamed: it’s now called Palisades Tahoe, which might confuse people with the ski resorts in Lake Tahoe, California. At any rate, I had no idea that “squaw” wasn’t a Native American word:

The word “squaw” was introduced by Lewis and Clark in 1805 and used by early fur traders and trappers, according to the University of Idaho. In today’s social context, Native Americans understand the term to be a slur.

In light of that, it certainly needed a new name. (h/t Simon)

*The trial of Elizabeth Holmes for wire fraud involving her billion-dollar startup company Theranos continues in California. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the case open, has a live feed of the trial, and yesterday two witnesses testified, separately, that the blood-testing device didn’t work, and Theranos knew it, and also that Holmes lied to investors with falsely optimistic estimates of the company’s profits.

*Science Alert reports unusual tool use in a parrot.  A kea (Nestor notabilis, a parrot I encountered in New Zealand) has been found using tools in an unusual way. Named Bruce, the kea was found badly injured in 2013 missing the top half of his beak. He’s been taken care of at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch. Now, like all birds, keas must groom themselves, but that’s nearly impossible if you’re missing your top mandible. Resourceful Bruce, however, found that he could pick up properly-shaped pebbles, hold them in his half-bill, and use them to preen his feathers. He does this by holding the pebble underneath his tongue and then running his feathers between his lower mandible and the stone. How clever! (h/t Ginger K)

You’ll want to see a video of this, of course, and I found one:

*Woke fashion at the Met Gala, one of the glitziest affairs in NYC.  Here’s AOC with her dress, which is really gonna change some minds at the Met, where a ticket to the Gala costs $30,000.

(From CNN): Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends the 2021 Met Gala accompanied by Brother Vellies founder Aurora James, who designed her dress. Credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

And Teen Vogue editor Versha Sharma with her pro-choice clutch (her article is here):

I agree with both of their messages, but there’s a time and place. . .

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 664,231 an increase of 1,888 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,664,368, an increase of about 10,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 15 includes:

de Rais, a French knight, specialized in sexual abuse and subsequent murder of children; his victims possibly numbered in the hundreds. He was hanged in 1440. Here’s an early rendition of his execution:

Sadly, the Beagle was eventually broken up, but some of its timber possibly remains as part of a dock and a farmhouse. Here’s what she looked like during her first three voyages:

Here’s one of those early tanks with the caption, “This Mark I ‘Male’ Tank broke down crossing a British trench on its way to attack Thiepval on 25 September 1916.” They didn’t do a very good job; several were destroyed by artillery fire while others broke down:

Below is the law depriving Jews of citizenship, followed by an earlier 1933 photo of members of the SA (the Nazi’s paramilitary wing) picketing in front of a Jewish store.

The signs read, “Germans! Defend yourselves! Do not buy from Jews!”

Nationalsozialistische Boykott-Posten vor dem Warenhaus Israel in Berlin.

Here are the four girls killed by a conspiracy of four Klansmen. One of the murderers was convicted in 1977, one died before trial, and the last two were finally convicted in 2001 and 2002. All were given life sentences.

(From Wikipedia): The four girls killed in the bombing (clockwise from top left): Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair
  • 1981 – The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approves Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • 1981 – The John Bull becomes the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when the Smithsonian Institution operates it under its own power outside Washington, D.C.

The John Bull was first run on September 15, 1831 and was restored sufficiently to be operated on its 150th birthday (see video below). I want to know where the tracks were, and how they made the train fit modern track.

  • 2008 – Lehman Brothers files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s an actual photo of Cooper, taken by Matthew Brady the year before Cooper died:

  • 1857 – William Howard Taft, American lawyer, jurist, and politician, 27th President of the United States (d. 1930)
  • 1890 – Agatha Christie, English crime novelist, short story writer, and playwright (d. 1976)
  • 1894 – Jean Renoir, French actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1979)

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never seen a film by Renoir, but I promise to fill that gap.

  • 1903 – Roy Acuff, American singer-songwriter and fiddler (d. 1992)

Here’s Acuff singing the classic, “The Wabash Cannonball” (you can hear an earlier live version by Acuff here).

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

The Bride of Kong! (1933):

  • 1928 – Cannonball Adderley, American saxophonist and bandleader (d. 1975)
  • 1929 – Murray Gell-Mann, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2019)
  • 1945 – Jessye Norman, American soprano (d. 2019)
  • 1946 – Oliver Stone, American director, screenwriter, and producer
  • 1984 – Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

Those who went belly up on September 15 include:

  • 1750 – Charles Theodore Pachelbel, German organist and composer (b. 1690)
  • 1938 – Thomas Wolfe, American novelist (b. 1900)

Wolfe, one of my favorite writers (a penchant my literary friends despise) died at ony 37 of tuberculosis that had spread to his brain. Here he is with his huge stacks of manuscripts:

  • 1945 – Anton Webern, Austrian composer and conductor (b. 1883)
  • 1980 – Bill Evans, American pianist and composer (b. 1929)
  • 1985 – Cootie Williams, American trumpet player (b. 1910)

Williams played for many years with Duke Ellington’s band. In fact, Ellington wrote the song below, “Concerto for Cootie” in his honor. It’s performed here by the “Blanton-Webster” version of the Ellington band (the best), with Williams on trumpet:

  • 2003 – Garner Ted Armstrong, American evangelist and author (b. 1930)
  • 2017 – Harry Dean Stanton, American actor (b. 1926)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is up in the trees again:

A: What do you see?
Hili: Distance.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tam widzisz?
Hili: Dal.

And here’s a lovely photo of Kulka and Szaron sleeping together (as they do) taken by Paulina. Notice that Kulka is licking Szaron:

From Doc Bill:

From Not Another Science Cat page. A cat tank!

And from the same site. Look at that cat’s face!

Titania on AOC’s Met Gala dress (this was sent by Simon and Luana):

More from Simon:

From Barry, who says, “Such a lovely sound. And I do wonder what all the ‘stomping’ is all about. It’s almost surely a “dance” to attract potential mates.”  I suppose, though, that it could be for territorial defense.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man who lived but five weeks in the camp:

Tweets from Matthew. Sound up on this one, too.

The decisive moment, and a graceful one:


I hope I’m around to see this:

Sunday: Hili dialogue

September 12, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on  Sunday, September 12, 2021: National Chocolate Milkshake Day! (It’s their exclamation mark, not mine.)

It’s also National Hug Your Hound Day, National Police Woman Day, Racial Justice Sunday, Video Games Day, National Grandparents DayNational Day of Encouragement, and United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation. 

News of the Day:

Ceremonies throughout America yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorists attacks in 2001, including at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and the field in Pennsylvania where United flight 93 went down as passengers attacked the terrorists in the cockpit. (That, and the phone call messages that were played, are the most poignant bits of the day that stays with me.)  Any words I can say would lie meaningless before the nearly three thousand innocent people who died.

The Wall Street Journal reports on a striking and increasing imbalance of the sexes in American 2- and 4-year colleges. There’s a huge glut of women and a dearth of men and it’s quite a serious inequity:

Men are abandoning higher education in such numbers that they now trail female college students by record levels.

At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5%, according to enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group. U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71% of the decline.

This education gap, which holds at both two- and four-year colleges, has been slowly widening for 40 years. The divergence increases at graduation: After six years of college, 65% of women in the U.S. who started a four-year university in 2012 received diplomas by 2018 compared with 59% of men during the same period, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

In the next few years, two women will earn a college degree for every man, if the trend continues, said Douglas Shapiro, executive director of the research center at the National Student Clearinghouse.

No reversal is in sight.

There are huge ramifications, of course, but the first thing I could think of was “well, I guess it will be easier for male students to get a date.” I am a horrible person.

What counts as a religious exemption for vaccination against the coronavirus? The New York Times describes a number of ways people are using religion to get their exemptions. The overwhelming impression one gets from the article is that conservatives are trawling the Bible looking desperately for reasons to get religious exemptions, but they’re not finding much fodder. However, authorities are all too eager to cater to the faithful. There’s a strong odor of mendacity about this. As I’ve written before, I don’t think there should be any religious exemptions from Covid vaccination. United Airlines is taking a good approach:

Some private employers are taking a hard line. On Wednesday, United Airlines told workers that those who receive religious exemptions will be placed on unpaid leave at least until new Covid safety and testing procedures are in place.

Below: “MMA” is mixed martial arts, and reader Bill tells me it’s a real sport, not a fake sport like “professional wrestling.” Now that you know that, go read this article from the New York Post (click on screenshot).

The article describes a fight in the women’s division:

Alana McLaughlin, the second openly transgender woman to compete in MMA in the United States, won her debut Friday night via submission at the Combate Global prelims in Miami, Fla.

The 38-year-old used a rear-naked choke against Celine Provost to end the match 3 minutes, 32 seconds into the second round.

McLaughlin, who began her gender transition after leaving the U.S. Army Special Forces in 2010, said she hopes to be a pioneer for transgender athletes in combat sports.

McLaughlin meets the hormone levels required to fight women, but look at those muscles (transitioning well after puberty doesn’t get eliminate of male bone density and muscle mass). Some cisgender woman is going to get killed this way.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 659,556, an increase of 1,666 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,639,025, an increase of about 6,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 12 includes:

  • 490 BC – Battle of Marathon: The conventionally accepted date for the Battle of Marathon. The Athenians and their Plataean allies defeat the first Persian invasion force of Greece.

Here’s an eight-minute video of that famous battle, which, as you’ll see, was the source of the Marathon now run in the Olympics and elsewhere.

  • 1609 – Henry Hudson begins his exploration of the Hudson River while aboard the Halve Maen.
  • 1846 – Elizabeth Barrett elopes with Robert Browning.

It was a great romance. Here’s Barrett with her son (ca. 1860), and Robert Browning in about 1888:

Here’s the victorious Arbroath team:

  • 1910 – Premiere performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in Munich (with a chorus of 852 singers and an orchestra of 171 players. Mahler’s rehearsal assistant conductor was Bruno Walter).
  • 1933 – Leó Szilárd, waiting for a red light on Southampton Row in Bloomsbury, conceives the idea of the nuclear chain reaction.

The first controlled reaction, of course, was carried out at the University of Chicago, just a block from where I’m sitting now.

  • 1938 – Adolf Hitler demands autonomy and self-determination for the Germans of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.

Here’s a four-minute video of the Germans invading Czechoslovakia, which began on March 15, 1939. Note the ebullient citizens, most of them surely of German descent. Hitler and Tito are both in here:

The caves are closed to visitors now, as their body heat and breath were eroding the paintings, but you can see a replica cave. Here’s what it looked like before it was closed:

A two-minute video of the wedding. What a handsome pair they were!

  • 1959 – Bonanza premieres, the first regularly scheduled TV program presented in color.

“Hoss: Pass the potatoes, Adam.”

Here’s that famous snipped from JFK:

  • 1977 – South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko dies in police custody.
  • 1984 – Dwight Gooden sets the baseball record for strikeouts in a season by a rookie with 276, previously set by Herb Score with 246 in 1954. Gooden’s 276 strikeouts that season, pitched in 218 innings, set the current record.

Here’s Gooden setting the record, though Wikipedia gives the wrong figure for Herb Score’s previous record. It was 245, not 246, and the strikeout below is Gooden’s 246th of the season.

In an article yesterday, HuffPo criticized the Museum for “having a problematic legacy.” Can you guess what the problems are?

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1852 – H. H. Asquith, English lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1928)
  • 1880 – H. L. Mencken, American journalist and critic (d. 1956)

There are very few records of Mencken’s voice, but here’s an interview he made in 1948 for the Library of Congress. Mencken is one of my favorite writers, with a unique (and acerbic) style. To get a good flavor of his prose, I’d recommend A Mencken Chrestomathy: His Own Selection of His Choicest Writing

  • 1888 – Maurice Chevalier, French actor, singer, and dancer (d. 1972)
  • 1897 – Irène Joliot-Curie, French chemist and physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1956)
  • 1913 – Jesse Owens, American sprinter and long jumper (d. 1980)
  • 1931 – George Jones, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2013)

In Ken Burns’s “Country Music” series, most of the famous singers, asked to name the archetypal country song, named “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones.  Here he is performing it live:

  • 1944 – Barry White, American singer-songwriter (d. 2003)

I wasn’t a huge fan of either Barry White or Ally McBeal, but this clip from the show, in which a lawyer is given a live appearance by White as a birthday present, is pretty cool:

  • 1967 – Louis C.K., American comedian, actor, producer, and screenwriter

Those who croaked on September 12 include:

  • 1977 – Steve Biko, South African activist (b. 1946)
  • 1977 – Robert Lowell, American poet (b. 1917)
  • 1993 – Raymond Burr, Canadian-American actor and director (b. 1917)
  • 2003 – Johnny Cash, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1932)

This is classic: Cash and June Carter singing “Jackson” on his t.v. show:

  • 2014 – Ian Paisley, Northern Irish evangelical pastor (Free Presbyterian Church) and politician, 2nd First Minister of Northern Ireland (b. 1926)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Kulka has learned not to try to steal Hili’s food when she’s eating:

Kulka: It’s better to escape.
Hili: That’s the right choice.
In Polish:
Kulka: Lepiej uciekać.
Hili: Właściwy wybór.

Big news! From Effing Chicago, a Facebook group, a newspaper header with the caption, “St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri, October 18, 1896.” (h/t Su)

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

From FB, a comic strip from Bizarro:

Titania has a new poem. Oy.

From Masih. She isn’t alienated from her mother (though her sister denounced her on Iranian television), but Masih can’t ever go back to Iran so long as the theocracy, which wants to kill her, is in power.

A tweet sent by Luana. Priorities!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

From Barry, who says, “I love the cat on the right. Too bad there’s no sound. That would’ve added some fun to the proceedings.”

Tweets from Matthew. Look at the belly on this bobcat! What did it eat?

Pycnogonids, or sea spiders, are marine arthropods that are weird in many ways (just look at that thing!). But I didn’t know the males carried the embryos. Somebody needs to study this case of weird sexual selection. In pipefish and seahorses, in which males carry the embryos while females are the elaborately decorated sex, we know the cause. Females can produce eggs faster than they can incubate them, and males have brood pouches to carry the developing eggs (and give birth), but there’s a deficit of male pouches. Therefore, to get their new eggs incubated, females have to compete for males. And that’s why, when only one sex is ornamented in seahorses and pipefish, it’s the females–unlike birds or most other groups.) Anyway, we don’t know what’s going on with sea spiders, but only males incubate eggs and care for young.

Matthew loves Martian landscapes, and this one is undoubtedly a montage of photos taken by the Mars Rover:

Saturday: Hili dialogue

September 11, 2021 • 6:30 am

There is a tiny Google Doodle this morning honoring the dead of 9/11. It’s very understated; click the screenshot to see it in context .

Good morning on the Cat Sabbath, Saturday, September 11, 2021. Because it’s the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Foodimentary has named the day “National Hot Cross Buns Day/A ‘Day’ for Remembrance”. (They once again inserted erroneous scare quotes, not to mention combining the attack with hot cross buns.) Related to those attacks, it’s also National Day of Service and Remembrance, National Emergency Responders Day, and Patriot Day.

Other days today are National Iguana Awareness Day, Aunt’s Day, German Language Day, Women’s Baseball Day, World First Aid Day, and Make Your Bed Day (I scrupulously make my bed each morning, convinced that it’s the best way to start the day).

News of the Day:

Another two flights left Kabul carrying 21 American citizens and 22 American green-card holders. There still appear to be about 100 Americans (some say more) in Afghanistan. The fate of Afghan refugees still stalled at Hamid Karzai airport is unclear, but the U.S. put a hold on all flights of Afghan refugees headed to America after discovering several cases of measles aboard those who arrived.

You already know about the Republican pushback against Biden’s new vaccination mandate, with 19 Republican governors vowing to oppose the mandate (it requires all federal workers as well as employees of businesses with more than 100 workers to be either vaccinated or face weekly Covid testing). Mask mandates are being fought as well, with the Kentucky legislature overruling the governor’s order for such a mandate in public schools.

Robby Soave, a libertarian journalist and author who’s the senior editor of the equally libertarian magazine Reason, has a scathing op-ed in the NYT: “Biden’s vaccine mandate is a big mistake.” His beef? That Biden and his spokesperson Jen Psaki assured the country that there would be no vaccine mandate, and then two days ago he imposed a pretty strict one. I agree with the mandate, because people are dying and we need some pressure on the vaccine-resisting chowderheads, but Soave worries (as does Andrew Sullivan in his column this week) that the mandate is too authoritarian and autocratic and will have dire consequence. Soave:

But forcing vaccines on a minority contingent of unwilling people is a huge error that risks shredding the social fabric of a country already being pulled apart by political tribalism.

The president should not — and most likely does not — have the power to unilaterally compel millions of private-sector workers to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs: Mr. Biden is presiding over a vast expansion of federal authority, one that Democrats will certainly come to regret the next time a Republican takes power. Moreover, the mechanism of enforcement — a presidential decree smuggled into law by the Department of Labor and its Occupational Safety and Health Administration — is fundamentally undemocratic. Congress is supposed to make new laws, not an unaccountable bureaucratic agency.

I am concerned about the expansion of the executive branch’s reach that started with Trump and continues with extra-Congressional “executive orders,” but on the other hand I don’t want people to die, and Congress probably wouldn’t pass a mandate anyway. Biden is operating under an old OSHA regulation designed to protect workers in emergency situations, but the regulation has never been applied to vaccinations before. Do you think Biden has the authority to do what he did?

Steve Novella at Science-Based Medicine is clearly stung by his site’s Woke-ish removal of Harriet Hall’s article (a book review of Abigail Shrier’s book Irreversible Damage). Now he’s denying that sex is binary and making other wonky statements on Twitter. In 31 Tweets (Twitter is clearly not a good place for this kind of stuff, but it’s good enough if you lack a website), a person with the handle Le Canard Noir takes Novella’s claims apart. Click below to start following the thread. (h/t Matthew)

There have been a few hitches in the Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos trial that has delayed its progress, so there was no courtroom action yesterday.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 658,865, an increase of 1642 deaths over yesterday’s figure. (Remember when 200,000 deaths was thought to be an unimaginable toll?) The reported world death toll is now 4,632,282, an increase of about 9,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 11 includes:

  • 9 – Battle of the Teutoburg Forest ends, where the Roman Empire suffers the greatest defeat of its history and the Rhine being established as the border between the Empire and the so-called barbarians for the next four hundred years
  • 1226 – The first recorded instance of the Catholic practice of perpetual Eucharistic adoration formally begins in Avignon, France.

When the adoration of the Eucharist (often a fancy displayed wafer) occurs 24 hours a day, it’s called “perpetual Eucharistic adoration.” It’s a very strange practice, but hey, it’s religion. Here’s one object of this adoration, labeled by Wikipedia: “A consecrated host placed in a monstrance for adoration”:

  • 1297 – Battle of Stirling Bridge: Scots jointly led by William Wallace and Andrew Moray defeat the English.


  • 1609 – Henry Hudson discovers Manhattan Island and the indigenous people living there.
  • 1789 – Alexander Hamilton is appointed the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.
  • 1792 – The Hope Diamond is stolen along with other French crown jewels when six men break into the house where they are stored.

This was during the time of the French Revolution, when the jewels were owned by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (it was called the “French blue” at the time, and was probably worn by the Queen). When they were imprisoned, the jewel was stolen from the Royal storehouse and recut from its original 68 to its present 45.5 carats. After a tortuous history, the fabulous blue diamond is on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Here it is in its setting:

  • 1857 – The Mountain Meadows massacre: Mormon settlers and Paiutes massacre 120 pioneers at Mountain Meadows, Utah.
  • 1941 – Construction begins on The Pentagon.
  • 1941 – Charles Lindbergh’s Des Moines Speech accusing the British, Jews and FDR’s administration of pressing for war with Germany.

Lindbergh was a real anti-Semite, but that’s not grounds for cancellation these days.

Here’s part of his antiwar speech.

  • 1944 – World War II: The Western Allied invasion of Germany begins near the city of Aachen.
  • 1973 – A coup in Chile, headed by General Augusto Pinochet, topples the democratically elected president Salvador Allende. Pinochet exercises dictatorial power until ousted in a referendum in 1988, staying in power until 1990.
  • 2001 – The September 11 attacks, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks killing 2,977 people using four aircraft hijacked by 19 members of al-Qaeda. Two aircraft crash into the World Trade Center in New York City, a third crashes into The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and a fourth into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Here’s a news report with video of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, followed by the collapse of the towers. I well remember this, as we watched much of this on live television at the time, for we had a small t.v. in the lab. We had a post on “where were you then?” yesterday, and there was a substantial response, with many answers quite interesting.

Here’s a video purporting to show the explosion of the bomb (CNN can’t verify it). It is not a nuclear bomb, but a conventional one, with the power of 44 tons of TNT—the force of a small tactical nuclear weapon. It explodes in mid-air like a nuclear bomb, though.

  • 2012 – The U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya is attacked, resulting in four deaths.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1816 – Carl Zeiss, German lens maker, created the Optical instrument (d. 1888)
  • 1862 – O. Henry, American short story writer (d. 1910)

His real name was William Sydney Porter, and he served three years for bank embezzlement, wrote great short stories, and died at 47 from alcoholism. Here he is:

  • 1885 – D. H. Lawrence, English novelist, poet, playwright, and critic (d. 1930)

This great writer also died young: of tuberculosis at 44.  Here’s a picture of Lawrence taken by Lady Ottoline Morrell in 1915

by Lady Ottoline Morrell, vintage snapshot print, 29 November 1915
  • 1917 – Jessica Mitford, English-American journalist and author (d. 1996)
  • 1945 – Leo Kottke, American singer-songwriter and guitarist

I’m a big fan ot Leo Kottke, the spiritual heir of my favorite acoustic guitarist, John Fahey. Here’s Kottke reworking the old Byrds song, “Eight Miles High” (1977). Unlike Fahey, Kottke can sing.

  • 1965 – Moby, American singer-songwriter, musician, and DJ

Whatever happened to Moby? He was a big deal some years back, but we don’t hear about him any more.

Those who passed through death’s door on September 11 include:

It was Jinnah (below) who was the force behind the partition of India into a Muslim state (Pakistan) and a Hindu state, and was the first leader of Pakistan, but died of TB a year after he took office. Here’s Jinnah with Gandhi in 1944:

  • 1950 – Jan Smuts, South African field marshal and politician, 2nd Prime Minister of South Africa (b. 1870)
  • 1971 – Nikita Khrushchev, Russian general and politician (b. 1894)
  • 1973 – Salvador Allende, Chilean physician and politician, 29th President of Chile (b. 1908)

Allende, a Marxist, was deemed a disaster by the U.S. because he was the first democratically elected Marxist head of state in Latin America. And, of course, in one of the many black moments in the life of Henry Kissinger and the CIA, the U.S. helped overthrow him. He committed suicide by shooting himself with an AK-47 as the troops closed in on the Presidential Palace.  Here’s Allende in 1972:

  • 1987 – Lorne Greene, Canadian actor (b. 1915)
  • 1987 – Peter Tosh, Jamaican singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1944)
  • 2002 – Johnny Unitas, American football player and sportscaster (b. 1933)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is thinking about whether to chase little Kulka away from the food bowl. Malgorzata tells me they’re getting along much better now.

Hili: To chase away or to accept?
Kulka: If she is thinking it means she is not sure.
In Polish:
Hili: Przegonić, czy zaakceptować?
Kulka: Jeśli myśli, to nie jest pewna.

From Not Another Science Cat Page, we have a cat burglar:

A shaman cat from Jesus of the Day:

From Facebook:


From Titania, who’s upset at the competition here:

From the Auschwitz Memorial. 596 out of 598 arriving prisoners were gassed on the spot.


From Simon, who asks me, “Was this your moment of truth pre-WEIT?”

From Barry, who’s sent me several very weird tweets from Maajid Nawaz this week about Covid. He sent this one noting: “It seems unlikely to me that a large number of military people would go AWOL. Anyway, Nawaz presumably thinks this idiot is delivering an important message. What a shame.”

UPDATE: Apparently Nawaz has deleted this tweet from his site, so you’ll miss the military guy ranting about the vaccine mandate. I don’t know why it was deleted.

Tweets from Matthew, with several for Caturday:


And from Larry the Cat, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office of the UK. This isn’t Larry, but it’s a chill kitty!

Nice ice crystals!

Matthew tweeted a video of vampire bats in action:

Friday: Hili dialogue

September 10, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a TGIF Day: Friday, September 10, 2021. Autumn is icumin in; lhude sing cuccu!  It’s National Hot Dog Day, and of course Chicago is the world’s epicenter for this toothsome comestible. You want your dog “dragged through the garden,” including these components:

Vienna Beer dog made with all beef cuts and a natural casing
A Rosen’s poppy-seed bun
Onions (I prefer grilled ones)
Celery salt
“Sport peppers”
Dill pickle
Mustard (NEVER ask for ketchup)
Tomatoes (sometimes)

Here’s one:

A video how it’s made (click on “Watch on YouTube”; note the quality of the meat. If a visitor wants a Chicago dog, I used take them straight to the Vienna Beef Factory shown in the video.  The factory is still closed, but the store and dog-vending emporium is still there, and serves the best dog in town.

It’s also TV Dinner Day (are you old enough to remember those?), International Make-Up Day, and World Suicide Prevention Day

Wine of the Day: This was drunk with my abstemious, healthy, but tasty dinner of black beans and rice with sauteed onions and a bit of yogurt for creaminess. I was looking forward to it, as it’s one of the three great underrated Hispanic white wines: Torrontes (mostly from Argentina), Rueda, and Albariño. You should be looking for good specimens of these wines. They’re largely unknown in the U.S. or anywhere outside of Spain or Argentina, so they can be great values.

I paid $10 for this bottle, and bought it just ten days ago. It’s young (this wine doesn’t age that well) but absolutely delicious, redolent with aromas of tangerine and melon. It’s full-bodied, off dry but not at all sweet, and can stand up to spicy foods like Chinese or Indian (I still prefer beer with those). The next time you want a Pinot Grigio or even a Sauvignon Blanc, without the acidity, find a good one of the three wines listed above instead. And if you can find this one for around ten bucks, BUY IT. You won’t be sorry.

News of the Day:

It’s now 233 days and counting since the Bidens moved into the White House, and still there is no first cat, though one was promised us (and a female cat even chosen).  This arrant lie on the part of our President has taken him down in my approval rating. It’s one thing to have a d*g in the Executive Mansion, but another thing entirely to promise the nation that you’ll get a cat as well, and then lie about it. Can someone please ask Jen Psaki about this?

A planeload scheduled to carry 30 Americans and 170 dual American/Afghan nationals out of Kabul has finally left the airport. Well, they were booked on the plane, but it’s not clear how many actually made it to the airport. Regardless, it’s a good sign. However, several planes full of “at risk Afghans” are still sitting on the tarmac at the airport in Mazar-e Sharif, and it’s unclear whether, not having U.S. citizenship (many must have been people who helped the U.S. military) they will be allowed to leave.

The U.S. Supreme Court has given a stay of execution to a condemned Texas inmate, convicted murderer John Henry Ramirez, who requested that a pastor be allowed to be in the execution chamber, lay hands on him, and pray for him as he got his lethal injection.. That, according to decisions by lower Texas courts, violates “security and decorum” during the execution. The Supremes gave no reason for its stay, but will take up the matter in full at the end of the year. Clearly, the Court delayed the execution because the inmate’s complaint was religious in nature. It’s not clear whether Ramirez could avoid execution indefinitely if Texas holds firm in its rule that no religious people can be in the execution chamber. But if Ramirez isn’t executed, you can imagine that all the other condemned prisoners will follow suit.  (h/t Ken)

The Wall Street Journal, which first broke the story about the fraud of Elizabeth Holmes and her startup company Theranos, is carrying a live update page of the trial, which could last a few months. There was no update from yesterday, but the first witness for the prosecution was called on Wednesday.

In January I recounted (or rather referred you to a post by John McWhorter), about how a University of Illinois Law professor named Jason Kilborn was suspended for asking a hypothetical question about employment discrimination using the “n word” and “b word”: both redacted. Here’s part of the question:

It didn’t matter to UIC that the words were relevant to the question and had been redacted. Kilborn was suspended indefinitely (without a reason being given!) and an investigation started. Fortunately, the great organization FIRE (the Foundation for Equal Rights in Education) intervened with legal action. As FIRE reports, the situation was resolved with Kilborn being reinstated with the stipulation that he record all his classes (which he was going to do in the future to protect himself anyway, and he agreed to alert the dean before responding to student complaints (there were strong ones) about racial issues. His question, what with UIC being a public school, did not violate the First Amendment.

In the NYT op-ed section, Karen Swallow Prior (identified as “a research professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a columnist at the Religion News Service) mounts a defense of Texas’s new anti-abortion law. Her piece, “Texas’ abortion law should force America to change its ways,” contains this bit:

. . . . allows private citizens to sue providers and others through civil litigation. Successful suits may result in fines hefty enough to put many abortion practices out of business, an innovative workaround.

Yes, but work around what? Clearly Roe v. Wade! There can be no rapprochement between pro-choice people and those who equate a non-sentient fetus to a child. There can be a law, which there is, but now that is in serious danger.

Yesterday’s poll about how many readers belonged to each of the NYT’s fictitious political parties gave this result, with 86% of readers falling in the economically and socially liberal lower left-hand quadrat:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 656,447, an increase of 1579 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,622,503, an increase of about 11,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 10 includes:

  • 1776 – American Revolutionary War: Nathan Hale volunteers to spy for the Continental Army.
  • 1846 – Elias Howe is granted a patent for the sewing machine.

Here’s a photo of how from about 1850 and part of his 1846 patent:

  • 1960 – At the Summer Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila becomes the first sub-Saharan African to win a gold medal, winning the marathon in bare feet.

Here’s Bikila winning. He must have had tough feet! (Apparently the shoes he had hurt his feet.) He also won the marathon in 1964 but that time wore shoes.

  • 1967 – The people of Gibraltar vote to remain a British dependency rather than becoming part of Spain.
  • 1977 – Hamida Djandoubi, convicted of torture and murder, is the last person to be executed by guillotine in France.

He was also the last person to be executed in Europe, and the last person to be executed by beheading anywhere in the West.  Here’s a photo of the last moment before his death:

  • 2001 – During his appearance on the British TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, contestant Charles Ingram reaches the £1 million top prize, but it was later revealed that he had cheated to the top prize by listening to coughs from his wife and another contestant

Here’s an annotated 46-minute video of his winning episode, with the coughs audible. He and the other two cheaters were convicted of procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception, given suspended sentences, and ordered to pay £25,000 pounds each. Whitlock, of course, was denied his million pounds as well.

  • 2008 – The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.

Remember when people thought the LHC might create a black hole that would swallow Earth and its surroundings?

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1659 – Henry Purcell, English organist and composer (d. 1695)
  • 1864 – Carl Correns, German botanist and geneticist (d. 1933)
  • 1892 – Arthur Compton, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1962)
  • 1929 – Arnold Palmer, American golfer and businessman (d. 2016)
  • 1934 – Roger Maris, American baseball player and coach (d. 1985)

Maris is most famous for breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record for a single season by hitting 61 home runs in 1961 (Maris and Mickey Mantle were in a home run derby that year, and Mantle stopped at 54, as he had hip issues.) Some people question Maris’s record as his season was 162 games long as opposed to Ruth’s 154, and Maris hit his homer in the season’s last game. The new record, which is even more dubious, is the 73 homers hit by Barry Bonds in 2001, but it’s likely that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs and he’s not been elected to the Hall of Fame.

Here’s Maris’s record homer:

  • 1937 – Jared Diamond, American biologist, geographer, and author
  • 1941 – Stephen Jay Gould, American paleontologist, biologist, and author (d. 2002)

Here’s a 16-minute interview of Gould by Charlie Rose in 1996, discussing statistics, baseball, evolution, and the cancer (mesothelioma) that he’d survived. You can see he’s quite eloquent in interviews, but I never really liked the guy.  Had he lived, he’d have turned eighty today.

If Gould were alive, it would be his eightieth birthday.

Here’s a segment (starting at 2:41) in which Copeland dances “Swan Lake.” We had a duck with a long graceful neck that we named “Misty” after the dancer.

Those who drew their last breath on September 10 include:

Wollstonecraft died 11 days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein). Wollstonecraft is perhaps best known for her 1792 feminist tract A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (below):

  • 1935 – Huey Long, American lawyer and politician, 40th Governor of Louisiana (b. 1893)
  • 2007 – Jane Wyman, American actress (b. 1917)
  • 2020 – Diana Rigg, British actress (b. 1938)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili is trying to choose between two things, but we have no idea what they are.

Hili: A or B? Or maybe both?
A: Why not?
In Polish:
Hili: A czy B? A może jedno i drugie?
Ja: Czemu nie?

And little Kulka:

A lovely photo from The Emporium of Unique and Wondrous Things (a FB page); unfortunately, the photographer isn’t named:

From Linkiest,, a twist on a familiar meme:

A meme from Nicole:

From Titania, who is right as usual:

Talk about courage: these Afghan women are fighting for their freedom right in front of the raised muzzles of Taliban guns!

From Luana, an exchange:

From Barry: creationists are never satisfied:

A tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial; this man lived about a month after arrival:

Tweets from Matthew. First, how to pick a STEM field (enlarge it; it’s good advice):

Here’s a case of extreme sexual dimorphism. Spot the male. The location is Queensland.

Did you get the right answer to the question below? I did! I don’t know how this is done, but the BBC says that the same answer will be chosen most of the time (I’ve redacted the name):

“What’s five plus two?!”
“What’s seven take away three?!”
“Name a vegetable?!”

Nine times out of 10 people answer the last question with “name redacted”.

Now I don’t think the magic is in the maths questions. Probably they just warm your respondent up to answering questions rapidly. What is happening is that, for most people, most of the time, in all sorts of circumstances, name redacted is simply the first vegetable that comes to mind.

This seemingly banal fact reveals something about how our minds organise information. There are dozens of vegetables, and depending on your love of fresh food you might recognise a good proportion. If you had to list them you’d probably forget a few you know, easily reaching a dozen and then slowing down. And when you’re pressured to name just one as quickly as possible, you forget even more and just reach for the most obvious vegetable you can think of – and often that’s name redacted.