Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

December 24, 2022 • 6:45 am

It’s positively tropical in Chicago today: Here’s the temperature in Fahrenheit, which is -17° C. With the wind, the temperature equivalent is -24° F, or -31° C.  The flight out of Chicago have largely been canceled or delayed, but what do I care? I ain’t going nowhere.

Welcome to a special Christmas Eve CatSaturday, December 24, 2022: National Eggnog Day. I cannot fathom why anybody drinks this stuff, for I’ve never had one I could stomach. But to each their own. . .

Here’s a guy who drank a GALLON of eggnog. It made him very ill.

It’s also Last-Minute Shopper’s Day (who is the one person implied by the apostrophe?), as well as Christmas Eve and its related observances: Aðfangadagskvöld, the day when the 13th and the last Yule Lad arrives to towns. (Iceland) Feast of the Seven Fishes (Italian Americans), Juleaften (Denmark)/Julaften (Norway)/Julafton (Sweden) Nittel Nacht (certain Orthodox Jewish denominations), Nochebuena (Spain and Spanish-speaking countries), the Declaration of Christmas Peace (Old Great Square of Turku, Finland’s official Christmas City), and Wigilia (Poland).

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 24 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The NYT has a quiz on whether which of 26 “problematic” terms you’d use (terms like “master bedroom” or “chestfeeding”). Take the quiz and then scroll down the article to see how you compare with other Americans. It turns out that Americans are far less fascistic about language than I supposed, once again giving us heart that wokeness is not as widespread as we think.

*The House’s January 6 panel just issued its final report, which I can’t be arsed to read, but it pins the lion’s share of the blame on the Orange Man. Just in time, too: another couple of weeks and there would be no committee:

Declaring that the central cause of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was “one man,” the House committee investigating the assault delivered its final report on Thursday, describing in extensive detail how former President Donald J. Trump had carried out what it called “a multipart plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election” and offering recommendations for steps to assure nothing like it could happen again.

It revealed new evidence about Mr. Trump’s conduct, and recommended that Congress consider whether to bar Mr. Trump and his allies from holding office in the future under the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists.

“The central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed,” the report said. “None of the events of Jan. 6 would have happened without him.”

The release of the full report was the culmination of the panel’s 18-month inquiry and came three days after the committee voted to formally accuse Mr. Trump of inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an act of Congress and one other federal crime as it referred him to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. While the referrals do not compel federal prosecutors to take any action, they sent a powerful signal that a select committee of Congress believes the former president committed crimes.

The link above will take you to the full report, which is 814 pages long.  I wasn’t aware that Congress could in fact bar Trump from another run for the Presidency, but the vote for that won’t go given that the next Congress will have a Republican-majority House, and unless there are Republicans willing to disenfranchise Trump as an insurrectionist, fuggedaboudit.

*The Washington Post has a list of 7 key findings of the report plus one list of issues unresolved.  Here are two:

One of the most striking new revelations is a text message from a Trump aide, Robert Gabriel. At 2:49 p.m., as the Capitol was under siege, Gabriel texted, “Potus im sure is loving this.”

The text builds upon previously known evidence.

Shortly after Jan. 6, 2021, and amid Trump’s impeachment, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) relayed that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had said Trump told McCarthy during the riot, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

White House aide Sarah Matthews has said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told her that Trump resisted calling on the rioters to be “peaceful” in a tweet. (In texts from the time and in later testimony to the committee, Trump aide Hope Hicks also said that, before Jan. 6, both she and White House lawyer Eric Herschmann called for Trump to preemptively urge peacefulness, but that Trump “refused.”)

White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson has also testified that, amid a frantic effort to get Trump to act, she overheard chief of staff Mark Meadows telling White House counsel Pat Cipollone, “He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat.”


We’ve known that Trump and his allies pressured lawmakers and officials far and wide to help overturn the election results in key states. But the report lays out the vast scale of this effort.

It says, “President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation, targeting either State legislators or State or local election administrators, to overturn State election results.”

What qualifies as “targeting” an official is, of course, subjective. But several officials indicate they felt the pressure.

*But there’s good news today, too! Reader Brian sent me a link to a BBC article that reports a swell advance in genetics that will prevent the deaths of millions of baby roosters: animals usually ground up alive when young because what the industry wants is chickens. 

Israeli researchers say they have developed gene-edited hens that lay eggs from which only female chicks hatch.

The breakthrough could prevent the slaughter of billions of male chickens each year, which are culled because they don’t lay eggs.

The female chicks, and the eggs they lay when they mature, have no trace of the original genetic alteration

Animal welfare group, Compassion in World Farming, has backed the research.

Dr Yuval Cinnamon from the Volcani institute near Tel Aviv, who is the project’s chief scientist, told BBC News that the development of what he calls the ”Golda hen” will have a huge impact on animal welfare in the poultry industry.

“I am very happy that we have developed a system that I think can truly revolutionise the industry, first of all for the benefit of the chickens but also for all of us, because this is an issue that affects every person on the planet,” he said.

The scientists have gene edited DNA into the Golda hens that can stop the development of any male embryos in eggs that they lay. The DNA is activated when the eggs are exposed to blue light for several hours.

Female chick embryos are unaffected by the blue light and develop normally. The chicks have no additional genetic material inside them nor do the eggs they lay, according to Dr Cinnamon.

The way they do this is clever:  since female chickens are ZW and males ZZ (in birds ,the heterogametic sex is female), they gene-edited the Z chromosome in a way that if blue light is shown on the embryo, it aborts. You then cross a ZZ male that has no modified Zs with a WZ* female with the modified Z.  The offspring will be either Z*Z males or WZ females. Blue light shined on the eggs kill the males, leaving only the WZ females, which are female and don’t have the genetically modified Z, since they get their Z from the fathers. Ergo, the chickens are not genetically modified so that the pusillanious people afraid of GMO foods can eat the chicken with impunity. And they don’t have to grind up newborn roosters, as they just don’t get born.

*The NYT is still touting religious fiction in its op-ed column, this time a piece called “Why Jesus loved friendship,” by Peter Wehner, a conservative whom Wikipedia describes as “He is a vice president and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), a conservative think tank, and a fellow at the Trinity Forum, a nonprofit Christian organization.” Here’s what he tells us, all of course based on what the New Testament says:

The humanity of Jesus manifests itself in his moments of grief, agony, anger, frustration, joy and compassion. But one particular aspect of that humanity that has long intrigued me is his professed friendship with the rest of us.

In the New Testament, this point is made emphatically in the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John. The context is Jesus’ discourse with his disciples, in which he tells them that as God the father has loved him, so he loves them. His command to his disciples is that they love one another. Jesus then says this: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my father I have made known to you.”

. . .The concept of a vulnerable God, meek and lowly in heart, was almost unfathomable to many at the time, and for many people it still is. But a vulnerable God is an essential part of the Christian story. We see it in Jesus’ life, from his birth in a manger to his weeping over the death of his friend Lazarus to the anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he was betrayed on the night before his crucifixion. Jesus was accompanied by three of his closest friends — Peter, John and James — whom he asked to stay awake and pray with him. (They failed, with Jesus finding them sleeping, “exhausted from sorrow.”)

Renée Notkin, a co-pastor of Union Church in Seattle, in explaining the friendship verses in John, told me that Jesus’ words “Love one another as I have loved you” are essential to understanding what Jesus meant. Among other things, a proper understanding of friendship radically changes our perspective on how we are to live in community.

Of course this is all exegesis of a single book that we know to be wrong, and Wehner has no more evidence for God or a divine Jesus than we do for Bigfoot. But there will never be an end to this kind of Biblical exegesis, and once again we see a guy, purportedly possessed of neurons, spouting complete nonsense because it makes him feel good.

John Swinton, an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland and a professor at the University of Aberdeen, calls this shift from servant to friend a “profound act of renaming.”

*And there’s a new survey of 2,000 Americans (by Motel 6, for crying out loud) whose results are summarized here. It turns out that the idea of a wonderful family holiday reunion isn’t as great as we thought:

survey of 2,000 Americans who are traveling to visit family for the holidays found respondents can spend an average of three hours and 54 minutes with their family before needing a moment to themselves.

According to the survey, 75 percent of respondents will hit a point where they need time away from the crowd. They can be creative in their ways of escaping — 1 in 4 has hidden in a relative’s house to take a moment alone, while 37 percent have gone so far as to make an excuse and leave the house altogether.

The survey was commissioned by Motel 6 and conducted by OnePoll. It examined the delicate balance between wanting to spend time with family and also needing a bit of space.

The average respondent is staying with family for 3 1/2 days this holiday season –- but the sleeping arrangements might be one reason they’re not staying longer. When hosting family, nearly 40 percent say finding sleeping arrangements is one of the most stressful parts of preparing for guests.

Respondents report an average of two people will end up sleeping on something other than a bed this holiday season.

When staying with family, the top concerns were found to be a lack of privacy (22 percent), family getting on your nerves (20 percent), and drama between family members (20 percent). That’s in addition to feeling like they’re imposing (19 percent) and having the house be too loud or busy (18 percent).

I guess I should be grateful to Ceiling Cat that I’m spending Coynezaa alone (not by choice), but it’s still a bummer.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cats are squabbling over food again:

Szaron: She is going to eat from my bowl again.
A: Usually you are eating from her bowl.
Szaron: And so it should be.
In Polish:
Szaron: Znowu będzie jadła z mojej miski.
Ja: Zazwyczaj to ty wyjadasz jej jedzenie.
Szaron: I tak powinno być.

Here’s a photo of Hili as a baby (she’s now a dowager of ten):

And Christmas wishes from Mietek:

Mietek: Let’s be merry and rejoice!

In Polish: Weselmy się i radujmy się!


From The Catspotting Society:

From FB:

A Mark Parisi cartoon:

Lagniappe from FB:

A tweet of God on Mastodon:

Masih hasn’t added a new tweet in English, but here’s a substitute:

From Barry, who adds, “Just so you know, Pastor Alex’ isn’t a religious guy. That’s just a nom de plume, and he’s always finding stuff ‘that atheists want.'”

From Malcolm: Zelensky at Bahmut:

Dan Dennett doesn’t tweet much, but here he notes his appearance on the show “Closer to Truth” on “What is Philosophy of Science?” with other philosophers.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man shot after a month in the camp:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. The first is the weather done by a sports reporter:

Crikey, didn’t medieval artists ever LOOK at the animals they drew? This bat has 12 hands, when in fact each wing is one hand with five fingers. Oy!

I wish I had a dollar for every turtle hatching here!

Monday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

December 19, 2022 • 6:45 am

Top o’ the week to you: it’s Monday, December 19: six days until the beginning of Coynezaa and seven until I leave for a visit to Poland.  It’s National Hard Candy Day!

It’s also National Oatmeal Muffin Day (ugh), Holly DaySaint Nicholas Day, and the first day of Hanukkah.

According to Wikipedia, here’s how the legend of St. Nicholas as Santa got started:

Nicholas of Myra, according to Christian tradition, was born in Patar in Asia Minor. He is said to have made a pilgrimage to the Egypt to study theology under the Desert Fathers after which he was consecrated the Bishop of Myra. During the Diocletianic Persecution of Christians, Nicholas of Myra was imprisoned. He was released after Constantine the Great promulgated the Edict of Milan in 313, which allowed for the public practice of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Nicholas of Myra was known for his generosity through a Christian legend, in which he gave a poor father money in order to prevent his daughters from being taken into slavery, as the father did not have the funds for his daughters’ dowries. It is said that Nicholas of Myra threw the money through the family’s window, which landed in their shoes, which were drying near their fireplace.

From Wikipedia as well: “A depiction of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, giving dowry money to three poor girls”:

There’s also a Google Doodle; if you click on the screenshot, you’ll see that it celebrates the life and work of Judith Leyster (1609-1660), a neglected Dutch painter. Wikipedia says this:

Judith Jans Leyster (also Leijster; baptised July 28, 1609 – February 10, 1660) was a Dutch Golden Age painter. She painted genre works, portraits and still lifes. Although her work was highly regarded by her contemporaries, Leyster and her work became almost forgotten after her death. Her entire oeuvre was attributed to Frans Hals or to her husband, Jan Miense Molenaer, until 1893. It was not until the late 19th century that she was recognized for her artistic abilities

Da Nooz:

The news is very thin today; I guess everybody’s hunkering down for the holidays. In fact, there’s nothing significant on the front page of the NYT, with several articles (and the headline) being about the World Cup. Let us see if there’s anything interesting.

*Well, there’s one semi-interesting article in the WaPo about a movie about the ship Titanic made in Nazi Germany. It was apparently a stinkeroo, but the ship that stood in for the real Titanic in Nazi Germany had a sad and tragic fate.

After shooting wrapped, the boat that stood in for the Titanic, the Cap Arcona, was briefly used to move troops around the Baltic before being reclassified as a prison ship and docked in the Bay of Lübeck.

On May 3, 1945, three days after Adolf Hitler’s suicide, it was holding a reported 6,000 prisoners from the Neuengamme concentration camp, driven there by Nazis anxious to conceal their atrocities from the advancing Allies. (Some estimates put the number of prisoners as high as 7,000.)

Western intelligence had discovered that SS leaders were amassing in the German harbor city of Flensburg, plotting a potential sea escape to Norway. Believing the Cap Arcona to be filled with fleeing Nazi military elite, the British Royal Air Force bombed the ship, which capsized and sank. Pilots then shot at survivors in the water.

The death toll from the ship that had once masqueraded as the Titanic is estimated to be between 4,500 and 7,000 lives. The real Titanic claimed 1,517.

In a final twist worthy of James Cameron’s romanticized 1997 film, star-crossed lovers were united at the height of the tragedy. One of the 350 survivors of the Cap Arcona tragedy was German communist prisoner Willi Neurath. His wife, who was stationed nearby as a navy assistant at Neustadt submarine school, found her husband on the beach by sheer luck, exhausted but alive. Unable to swim, he’d survived by remaining on the burning ship, and was rescued by a British reconnaissance regiment once the Royal Air Force had learned the fatal error of its attack.

*You may recall that transsexual women athletes cleaned up in Connecticut high school competitions, even if they had had no medical intervention or surgery. That’s legal: if a biological male declares that he/she is a woman, that has to be respected. It’s a mess, and also deeply unfair for those competing against medically untreated biological men. But a federal appeals court just upheld the law.

A federal appeals court on Friday dismissed a challenge to Connecticut’s policy of allowing transgender girls to compete in girls high school sports, rejecting arguments by four cisgender runners who said they were unfairly forced to race against transgender athletes.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City upheld a lower court judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the policy. The panel said the four cisgender athletes lacked standing to sue — in part because their claims that they were deprived of wins, state titles and athletic scholarship opportunities were speculative.

“All four Plaintiffs regularly competed at state track championships as high school athletes, where Plaintiffs had the opportunity to compete for state titles in different events,” the decision said. “And, on numerous occasions, Plaintiffs were indeed “champions,” finishing first in various events, even sometimes when competing against (transgender athletes).”

The judges added, “Plaintiffs simply have not been deprived of a ‘chance to be champions.’”

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Council argued its policy is designed to comply with a state law that requires all high school students be treated according to their gender identity. It also said the policy is in accordance with Title IX, the federal law that allows girls equal educational opportunities, including in athletics.

It’s no surprise that the ACLU helped defen the two transsexual runners at the center of the controversy.  I hope the losers appeal, because surely the issue of medically untreated transgender female athletes is a no-brainer: they should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports purely on the basis of their claim that they’re woman.

*Migrants at the U.S.’s southern border are reaching crisis numbers, as prospective entrants anticipate that Title 42 expulsions put in place under Trump will end on December 21. Things are disastrous as the number of migrants is way to high to handle them effectively, and that includes housing and food:

The mayor of a Texas border city declared a state of emergency Saturday over concerns about the community’s ability to handle an anticipated influx of migrants across the Southern border.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser issued the state of emergency declaration to allow the city on the U.S. border with Mexico to tap into additional resources that are expected to become necessary after Title 42 expulsions end on Dec. 21, the El Paso Times reported.

Leeser had previously resisted issuing an emergency declaration, but said he was moved to action by the sight of people on downtown streets with temperatures dipping below freezing, the Times reported.

“That’s not the way we want to treat people,” Leeser said during a news conference Saturday evening.

ruling Friday by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals means restrictions that have prevented hundreds of thousands of migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. in recent years are still set to be lifted Wednesday, unless further appeals are filed.

Leeser added that the increase would be “incredible” after Wednesday, when daily apprehensions and street releases could reach up to 6,000 per day, the Times reported.

Last I heard Congress was trying to cobble together some kind of immigration bill, but I haven’t heard anything since. I suspect that this may go up to the Supreme Court.

*As I wrote yesterday, the World Cup was a real squeaker, with Argentina leading 2-0 at the half, and France tying it at 90 minutes. The score was again even, this time 3-3, after the two overtime periods, but it went down to penalty kicks, Argentina’s speciality.

Lionel Messi had to wait, and wait, and wait. He had to wait until he was 35. He had to wait until he had already lost a World Cup final. He had to wait after he had seemed to have won it for Argentina in normal time, and he had to wait after he believed he had beaten France again in extra time.

He had to wait until the end of the most extraordinary final in the tournament’s history, in which Messi offered a career-defining performance and was still, somehow, outdone by Kylian Mbappé, scorer of the first hat-trick in the biggest game there is for more than half a century.

Only then, at the last, was his wait, his agony, over. Only then did he deliver the World Cup, that precious third star, to Argentina, cementing his claim to be the greatest player to have ever played the game.

After extra time started:

. . .For a while, it seemed as though Argentina’s hopes could extend no further than making it to extra time, and then hanging on for penalties. Messi, though, intervened once more, unwilling to accept an ending he had not written. When Hugo Lloris blocked a shot from Lautaro Martínez, there was Messi to drive the ball home.

He celebrated, then, as though he knew just how close he was, his team was; he had not reckoned with Mbappé’s own determination to be the master of his own destiny. His shot was handled by Gonzalo Montiel; with 117 minutes played, he stepped up to take the penalty, to complete his hat-trick in a World Cup final, to ensure the game went the distance, to the sweetest, cruellest conclusion imaginable.

Mbappé scored. Messi scored. But Kingsley Coman and Aurelién Tchouámeni did not, and that left Montiel, the right back, to take the shot that would echo through the ages. The roar that Argentina’s fans emitted when the ball struck the back of the net seemed to pierce the sky. Messi sunk to his knees, clasping his teammates close, his wait over, at last.

Here are the highlights:

Oh, and if you’re wondering whether the winning team gets money, money for both its federation and for individual players, the answer is “yes.”

The New York Times has two op-eds on the World Cup, both of them absoutely awful. Please give “Argentina just won the World Cup, and Lionel Messi is the perfect man for this moment,” and “This was the perfect World Cup for our strange era” a miss. The second one in particular isn’t worth the electrons it’s printed on.

*According to the Guardian, two elderly ladies from Alabama were convicted for trapping, feeding, and neutering stray cats, all to keep the cat population down.  (h/t Jez).

Beverly Roberts, 85, and Mary Alston, 61, of Wetumpka, Alabama, were sentenced to two years of unsupervised parole and a $100 fine each on Tuesday, reported the Montgomery Advertiser. The women were also given suspended 10-day jail sentences.

“A warning, an arrest, and a conviction – all because maybe we were about to feed stray cats, and because we were solving a feral cat problem that the city couldn’t solve,” Roberts told the Washington Post.

The women were convicted of multiple misdemeanors after a five-and-a-half hour trial. Officials accused the pair of feeding feral cats near the courthouse, claiming it had resulted in thousands of dollars in property damage.

The women were arrested on 25 June after the mayor, Jerry Willis, called officers to a property owned by Wetumpka county. Officer Brendan Foster said that when he arrived he found Alston holding a can of Fancy Feast cat food.

Alston informed him that she was trapping feral cats, and the officer responded that she had to stop or he would arrest her for trespassing.

“Y’all have three cop cars because I’m feeding cats?” said Alston in a video of the initial encounter. “It’s unbelievable.”

Roberts was arrested first, as officers had previously given her a trespassing order for feeding cats, and Alston was arrested when she spoke against Roberts’ arrest, reported Alabama Live.

The sentencing of the two women has caught the attention of national animal rights organizations, who say trapping feral cats to have them neutered is a successful way to stop the stray cat problem.

“Compassion is not a crime,” said Alice Burton, director of programs for Alley Cat Allies, a feral cat advocacy group that supports trap-and-neuter initiatives.

I say the women should be given medals for reducing the future cat population, and the cops should be locked up.

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

Hili: Can you put an end to winter?
A: It’s not in my power.

Hili: I had a higher opinion of you.

In Polish:
Hili: Czy możesz skończyć zimę?
Ja: To nie jest w mojej mocy.
Hili. Ceniłam cię wyżej.
And Paulina’s photo of Baby Kulka enjoying the snow:

And Mietek in Wlockawek has one word:  “MONDAY?”


Cats at Christmas (click to enlarge; from FB). The artist is the famous Louis Wain, who was later institutionalized for mental illness:

A great cat (and d*g) tree from Merilee:

From Diana:

From Masih. The brutality of the regime is unspeakable:

Two from Malcolm: Lord of the Flames:

And my ideal work environment, too:

A tweet by Dawkins on a now-unpaywalled article by Krauss on the incursion of ideology into science. A quote:

Are we at a point where the heart of the nation’s scientific research enterprise is to be held hostage to ideology? Will the U.S. government refuse to fund major national-laboratory initiatives to explore forefront fundamental and applied science because scientists show insufficient zeal for fashionable causes?

Besides skewing scientific priorities, this represents an inappropriate skewing of national priorities. There are serious societal inequities, but they run much deeper and include lack of support for K-12 education, safe housing and child care in inner cities, among other things. Attempting to jerry-rig participation at the highest echelons of science is a waste of time and money.

From the Auschwitz Memorial: another child killed upon arrival:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. The first holds some mysteries. Enlarge the video for the best view:

Teaselcat hunts a hand:

A lovely butterfly:

What a task!

Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

September 27, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the Cruelest Day of the Week: Tuesday, September 27, 2022. It’s National Chocolate Milk Day, the only kind of milk I’d have at lunch in junior high (it cost 2¢ per half-pint carton).

It’s also National Corned Beef Hash Day, Ancestor Appreciation Day, National Day of ForgivenessNational Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and World Tourism Day.

Although there’s nothing on Google about today being its birthday, Matthew has a tip about a google search. Do it!:


Stuff that happened on September 27 include:

Here’s an embroidery of William and his siblings from the famous Bayeux Tapestry. The caption: “Image from the Bayeux Tapestry showing William with his half-brothers. William is in the centre, Odo is on the left with empty hands, and Robert is on the right with a sword in his hand.”

  • 1590 – The death of Pope Urban VII, 13 days after being chosen as the Pope, ends the shortest papal reign in history.

The Pope died of malaria.

The model T (one shown below) was made at the plant for 15 months until its popularity forced production to a larger plant. Here’s one of the originals in great condition. The Wikipedia caption is this:

Ford Model T Touring serial number 220, built in December 1908 as part of the 1909 model year, on display in the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit, Michigan, where it was originally built. This is the second-oldest Model T known to still exist (Serial number 90 is owned by a private collector in Surrey British Columbia Canada. Which is the earliest known Restored two pedal two lever.). It is one of a very small number of surviving Model Ts to have the original two-pedal, two-lever transmission, along with the early water-pump-equipped engine. Ford switched to the Model T’s standard three-pedal, one-lever transmission after the first 800 cars or so. This car also lacks the Touring model’s optional windshield.

It cost $825, which is the equivalent of $24,881 in 2021.

  • 1940 – World War II: The Tripartite Pact is signed in Berlin by Germany, Japan and Italy.

The Japanese version of this military alliance is shown below, signed by Joachim von RibbentropGaleazzo Ciano and Saburō Kurusu.

  • 1949 – Zeng Liansong‘s design is chosen as the flag of the People’s Republic of China.
  • 1962 – Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring is published, inspiring an environmental movement and the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A signed first edition of this classic will run you $4,687.50. You can knock off $2,200 to get an unsigned one.

The protests were because the execution (of two Basque separatists, shot by a firing squad) took place under the autocratic rule of Franco, who had overthrown a democratic government. Franco died two months after the executions, and, according to the latest reports, is still dead.

  • 1998 – The Google internet search engine retroactively claims this date as its birthday.

Da Nooz:

*Edward Snowden, a fugitive from America after being charged with violations of the Espionage Act, has been granted Russian citizenship (along with others) in a new decree from Putin. Snowden, 39, leaked dozens of National Security Agency documents to the press revealing a variety of surveillance programs throughout the world, some by foreign governments.

After giving hundreds of highly classified N.S.A. documents to The Guardian and The Washington Post in 2013, Mr. Snowden had planned to seek asylum in Ecuador, and set out from Hong Kong to reach South America. But as the U.S. authorities sought to reach him, he became stranded on a layover in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.

After 40 days, he was allowed to leave the transit zone, and he has remained in Russia for the nine years since.

. . . Mr. Snowden has said he has not cooperated with Russian intelligence services while in Moscow, and that he hopes to someday return to the United States.

. . .In 2020, after he received permanent residency in Russia, Mr. Snowden wrote on Twitter that he and his wife would “remain Americans, raising our son with all the values of the America we love — including the freedom to speak his mind.”

He added, “And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited.”

That will happen only when pigs fly!  Finally, there’s this:

According to RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency, Mr. Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said that his client would not be eligible for the “partial mobilization” that Mr. Putin declared last week to bolster his country’s forces in the war in Ukraine. Mr. Kucherena said that Mr. Snowden was ineligible for the draft because he had no experience in the Russian Army.

But Snowden is within the age limits for the draft and although he’s not a reservist and thus ineligible for the recent mobilization, he would be in a general mobilization. If he fights for Russia against the Ukraine, whatever chance he’d have for returning to the U.S. would be gone completely.

*Both the NYT and the Washington Post had as their headlines yesterday afternoon the Congressional Budget Office conclusion that Biden’s promise to forgive student loan debt will cost a cool $400 billion. the CBO is a nonpartisan agency. From the WaPo:

The [CBO] also found that the White House’s plan to temporarily extend an existing pause on student loan payments would cost roughly $20 billion.

The new estimate will add new fuel to the debate over President Biden’s student debt decision, which was cheered by advocates but immediately assailed by Republican lawmakers as a wasteful and inefficient use of government money. Biden announced in August that his administration would cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for lower- and middle-class borrowers.

Supporters of student debt cancellation have argued that similar estimates in the past have overstated the policy’s cost to the federal government, because despite formally owing the federal government money many borrowers never pay back the loans.

I’m not sure how this leads to overestimates, because the government is still out the money for a loan that isn’t repaid. But this estimate is an underestimate:

The Congressional Budget Office’s estimate excludes the White House’s simultaneous move to lower the monthly amount borrowers can be forced to repay as a percentage of their income from 10 percent to 5 percent. That policy is set to cost an additional $120 billion, according to estimates from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a D.C.-based think tank that has opposed Biden’s policy.

Total dosh: $520 billion, roughly $3,500 per American taxpayer.

“The president announced possibly the most expensive executive action in history without a score, and we’re now seeing just how expensive this policy is going to be,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president for policy with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, in an interview before the score’s release.

Well, there are conflicts about how to count the cost, but there’s no doubt that it will be HUGE. Advocates dispute the CBO figures:

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who led the charge on the debt forgiveness policy, released a joint statement taking issue with the assumptions underlying the CBO analysis.

I’m on the fence about this one; I sympathize with the plight of the impecunious who have trouble paying the money back, but on the other hand it seems unfair to those who did pay what they owed, and when you take out a loan, you’re supposed to repay it. I reserve judgement until I read further

*More trouble in Russia: a Russian military recruiting officer in the Siberian city of  in the Siberian city of Ust-Ilimsk was shot, but apparently not killed, by a protestor, as other recruiting offices in Russia have been torched and 2,000 protestors arrested:

In the attack in the Siberian city of Ust-Ilimsk, 25-year-old resident Ruslan Zinin walked into the enlistment office saying “no one will go to fight” and “we will all go home now,” according to local media.

Zinin was arrested and officials vowed tough punishment. Authorities said the military commandant was in intensive care. A witness quoted by a local news site said Zinin was in a roomful of people called up to fight and troops from his region were heading to military bases on Tuesday.

Protests also flared up in Dagestan, one of Russia’s poorer regions in the North Caucasus. Local media reported that “several hundred” demonstrators took to the streets Tuesday in its capital, Makhachkala. Videos circulated online showing dozens of protesters tussling with the police sent to disperse them.

. . . Demonstrations also continued in another of Russia’s North Caucasus republics, Kabardino-Balkaria, where videos on social media showed a local official attempting to address a crowd of women.

Meanwhile, the phony referendums Russia is holding in parts of Ukraine that they control will be over today, and people fear that once these faux elections are over (the vote will be for takeover of course), Russia will begin resorting to tactical nuclear weapons.

The voting, in which residents are asked whether they want their regions to become part of Russia, began last week and ends Tuesday, under conditions that are anything but free or fair. Tens of thousands of residents had already fled the regions amid months of fighting, and images shared by those who remained showed armed Russian troops going door-to-door to pressure Ukrainians into voting.

“Every night and day there is inevitable shelling in the Donbas, under the roar of which people are forced to vote for Russian ‘peace,’” Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said Monday.

Russia is widely expected to declare the results in its favor, a step that could see Moscow annex the four regions and then defend them as its own territory.

*Okay, this has me puzzled. The Wall Street Journal reports that the World Chess Champion has accused a young American grandmaster of cheating. At chess!:

World champion Magnus Carlsen on Monday broke his silence on the scandal that has shaken the chess world, explicitly accusing 19-year-old American grandmaster Hans Moke Niemann of cheating for the first time since their controversial meeting at the Sinquefield Cup this month.

In a statement posted to his social media accounts, Carlsen cited Niemann’s unusual progress through the chess ranks and his surprisingly relaxed behavior when they played in St. Louis.

“I believe that Niemann has cheated more—and more recently—than he has publicly admitted,” Carlsen wrote. “His over the board progress has been unusual, and throughout our game in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that he wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions, while outplaying as black in a way I think only a handful of players can do.”

But how can you cheat at in-person chess? Granted, Niemann admitted cheating in online chess, and I guess in that case you can rely on a chess program.

Niemann didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Carlsen’s statement. He had earlier denied any allegations of impropriety in over-the-board chess, though he confessed to cheating on two occasions in online games. Niemann chalked those up as youthful errors, but saw fit to ban him from the platform.

This may be one way:

The controversy first exploded at the Sinquefield Cup, a tournament where Niemann beat Carlsen—to which the Norwegian responded by abruptly withdrawing from the event entirely. It was an unprecedented decision by Carlsen, and it quickly ignited breathless speculation that gripped the highest level of the game. Theories on how a player might attempt to cheat—and get away with it—soon raised talk of hidden transmitters and far-flung accomplices operating widely-accessible chess software.

But still. . . . Anyway, for chess mavens, there’s more scandal described in the article.

*Finally, Andres Valencia, a ten-year-old boy in San Diego, is becoming a highly collectable artist, with paintings going for up to $125,000.

In the last year, he has gone from a relative unknown to a bona fide art phenomenon. His surrealist-style paintings were acquired by deep-pocketed collectors like Tommy Mottola and Jessica Goldman Srebnick during Art Basel Miami Beach. In June, he had a solo exhibition at the Chase Contemporary gallery in SoHo, where all 35 works were sold, the gallery said, fetching $50,000 to $125,000.

One of his paintings went for $159,000 (with fees) at a Phillips de Pury auction in Hong Kong, and another hit $230,000 at a charity gala in Capri, Italy.

. . .They briefly enlisted the services of Nadine Johnson, a veteran publicist in New York, and now work with Sam Morris, a theater and arts publicist. Articles oohing and aahing over the baby-faced artist have appeared in The Miami HeraldThe New York PostForbes and The Times of London. ABC’s “World News Tonight” did a segment on him.

Their son’s high earnings are an opportunity to teach him “how to give back,” his mother said. A portion of proceeds from their son’s sales, which the Valencias said “so far is over $300,000,” have been donated to the AIDS charity group amfAR and the children’s charity Box of Hope.

The kid is already a millionaire at 10! Well, more power to him. The thing is, the NYT article shows only a portion of one of his works, so I can’t get a good idea about his work. And of course, I’m a complete washout at judging whether contempoarary art is considered “good”: much of it I see as almost fraudulent, but maybe the critics know better.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Kulka’s outside the kitchen window and sees Hili eating:

Kulka: What are you eating?
Hili: Just what you see.
In Polish:
Kulka: Co jesz?
Hili: To na co patrzysz.

And a statement from Mietek in Wroclawek:

Mietek: Fall is right around the corner.

In Polish: Jesień nadciąga.


From Stephen (I hate the stuff anyway):

From Jesus of the Day:

Also from Jesus of the Day. According to Atlas Obscura, this is true.

God is rather salacious today:

From Masih, another women removed her hijab and confronts the police—with the expected consequences:

From Malcolm. Do you think the bear was really rescuing the crow? I hope the bir was okay!


From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a lovely short video of an area I know well:


This is a superb thread. Matthew says the first one is what he looks like when he takes a selfie:

I’ve seen these chicks on East Falkland, but they didn’t follow me:

I just hope these sheep found their proper owner:

Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

August 28, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good day to you on Sunday, August 28, 2022. It’s National Cherry Turnover Day (the best turnover except for strawberry):

It’s also National Bow Tie Day (I have none), International Read Comics in Public Day (I have none) and, best of all, Red Wine Day. (I have half of a lovely bottle waiting for me.)

Stuff that happened on August 27 includes:

  • 632 – Fatimah, daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, dies, with her cause of death being a controversial topic among the Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims.

It’s controversial because she married Ali, who became the first Shia, and their sons the first two Shia Imams.  This caused the schism between Sunnis and Shias.

This moon was revealed not that long ago to spew jets of water vapor from “volcanoes” near its South Pole, which, as ice particles, forms one of Saturn’s rings (the E-ring). Here’s a short documentary on the Enceladus.

From Wikipedia:  “Bradham named his drink after a combination of the terms “pepsin” and “cola,” as he believed that his drink aided digestion much like the pepsin enzyme does, even though it was not used as an ingredient.”

His mother Mamie insisted on an open casket so the world could see what racists had done to her son. Here’s a photo of her overlooking the battered body:

Till’s mother looks over his mutilated corpse. With her is her fiance Gene Mobley. Mamie Till had insisted on an open-casket funeral. Images of Till’s body, printed in The Chicago Defender and Jet magazine, made international news and directed attention to the lack of rights of blacks in the U.S. South.

Here’s the 6-minute speech with its cadence of a preacher. It’s one of the finest pieces of rhetoric ever:

Here’s a video of that horrific accident.

This is too weird for me to describe. Click here to read about it.

Da Nooz:

*Some of the documents retrieved at Mar-A-Lago included sensitive “human intelligence,” which means name of spies from other countries or information they divulged that could break their cover. Revealing that information could lead to the death of sources, much less compromising intelligence operations. And some of that information was apparently in the documents seized at Trump’s Florida home, documents that he claimed to have “de-classified” by some numinous gesture.

Clandestine human sources are the lifeblood of any espionage service. This helps explain the grave concern within American agencies that information from undercover sources was included in some of the classified documents recently removed from Mar-a-Lago, the Florida home of former President Donald J. Trump — raising the prospect that the sources could be identified if the documents got into the wrong hands.

Mr. Trump has a long history of treating classified information with a sloppiness few other presidents have exhibited. And the former president’s cavalier treatment of the nation’s secrets was on display in the affidavit underlying the warrant for the Mar-a-Lago search. The affidavit, released in redacted form on Friday, described classified documents being found in multiple locations around the Florida residence, a private club where both members and their guests mingle with the former president and his coterie of aides.

Nothing in the documents released on Friday described the precise content of the classified documents or what risk their disclosure might carry for national security, but the court papers did outline the kinds of intelligence found in the secret material, including foreign surveillance collected under court orders, electronic eavesdropping on communications and information from human sources — spies.

They apparently contained the names of CIA informants in other countries, and to declassify them requires permission of the CIA. Of course Trump didn’t ask for that permission. Needless to say, documents like that shouldn’t be left lying around a beach mansion in Florida. This would constitute violations of the Espionage Act, and if it happened, Trump is in deep doo-doo.

*By the way, the NYT has an annotated version of the redacted affidavit.  It’s most informative, and you can go from one explanation to another by pressing the “next” button on each annotation. Here’s one example: the redacted document and then the meaning of the yellow section:

*This is the headline from yesterday afternoon’s Washington Post website (click to read):

This website, founded by Trump after he was banned from Twitter, is what he uses to broadcast his views. But I wonder why on earth its financial decline, which parallels Trump’s own decline, is of interest to anyone. Well, here are a few words of what the WaPo sees as super important:

Former president Donald Trump’s Truth Social website is facing financial challenges as its traffic remains puny and the company that is scheduled to acquire it expresses fear that his legal troubles could lead to a decline in his popularity.

Six months after its high-profile launch, the site — a clone of Twitter, which banned Trump after Jan. 6, 2021 — still has no guaranteed source of revenue and a questionable path to growth, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings from Digital World Acquisition, the company planning to take Trump’s start-up, the Trump Media & Technology Group, public.

The company warned this week that its business could be damaged if Trump “becomes less popular or there are further controversies that damage his credibility.” The company has seen its stock price plunge nearly 75 percent since its March peak and reported in a filing last week that it had lost $6.5 million in the first half of the year.

The FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida estate, fueled a burst of Truth Social user activity, and Trump himself has increasingly used the site as one of his main online megaphones. “WE GAVE THEM MUCH,” he said, or “truthed,” on Friday in reaction to an FBI affidavit about classified documents kept at his Palm Beach home.

I give this one a big yawn. But perhaps there are implications that I don’t understand.

*I didn’t know that 48 of the 50 U.S. states have “pay for stay” programs for people in jail, so that in principle ex-inmates can be charged “residence fees” as a way of reimbursing the taxpayer for their forcible stay. And while this isn’t always enforced, it can be pricey. The AP reports that a Florida woman, sent to prison  or 2 1/2 years for drug crimes, was billed a whopping $83,762 for her stay: $249 per day (I don’t think I’ve paid anywhere close to that for a hotel room). She may lose her house to pay off that debt.

All but two states have so-called “pay-to-stay” laws that make prisoners pay for their time behind bars, though not every state actually pursues people for the money. Supporters say the collections are a legitimate way for states to recoup millions of taxpayer dollars spent on prisons and jails.

Critics say it’s an unfair second penalty that hinders rehabilitation by putting former inmates in debt for life. Efforts have been underway in some places to scale back or eliminate such policies.

Two states — Illinois and New Hampshire — have repealed their laws since 2019.

Connecticut also overhauled its statute this year, keeping it in place only for the most serious crimes, such as murder, and exempting prisoners from having to pay the first $50,000 of their incarceration costs.

Under the revised law, about 98% of Connecticut inmates no longer have to pay any of the costs of their incarceration after they get out, said state Rep. Steve Stafstrom, a Bridgeport Democrat and a sponsor of the repeal legislation.

It is an unfair penalty (and the rates are high), and hinders the ability of ex-prisoners to get back on their feet again. (I presume it won’t promote more crime to get money to pay the debts, because the IRS would probably be auditing their tax returns.) The cost of incarceration should be borne by the society that incarcerates, and they do too often and for too long in the U.S. The penalty should be loss of freedom, not a bill on top of that.

* I no longer regard an upcoming flight with equanimity, much less pleasure; it seems to me that about half of my flights are delayed, often substantially, and they never tell you why. The Wall Street Journal gets at the question with one answer: “Why is air travel so miserable? Blame Florida.” Space launches, military exercises, staffing issues, restrictions on number of flights, and of course storms—all of these, and more, ramify through all American airline traffic, because a delay in one state leads to delays in others:

Every major airline serves Florida, and some say more than a third of their flights cross its airspace. And even though airlines flew fewer U.S. domestic flights overall during the first half of the year, compared with 2019, they boosted the number there.

“It’s been a cluster and a half,” said Andrew Levy, chief executive of Avelo Airlines, a startup that has been expanding in Florida. Delays have become a regular headache, he said, with planes waiting for a chance to take off during hourslong ground stops. The airline is frequently off schedule due to factors Mr. Levy said are beyond its control: “It’s created enormous problems for us.”

Spirit Airlines Inc. said it would like to fly more to Florida but hasn’t been able to because of air-traffic-control constraints there. Flights from Florida to the continental U.S. account for about 40% of Spirit’s network, and would likely be closer to 50% absent that issue, said Matt Klein, the airline’s chief commercial officer, during an earnings call.

*Over at the WaPo, reporter Rachel Lerman tells us how much it cost to drive across the country—from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.—a seven-day journey of 3,511 miles. Now this was when gas prices were at their peak, but it was still pricer than I thought. Lerman also interviewed fellow travelers, all of whom are cutting back on other things because of the price of gas.

What was the cost?

My gas charges tallied up to $655 for the trip — less than it would have been in June, but surely more than if I had embarked on the trip last year. Share your experience with gas prices and inflation here.

So I just checked the price of a one-way fare on Southwest Airlines from San Francisco to Washington (Dulles) on October 4, a date chosen arbitrarily. The fare ranged from $244 to $301—less than half of what Lerman spent. Granted, she was moving, but is it any wonder that airline traffic has boomed after the pandemic let up. Now it’s going to get even more crowded.

I wonder if Southwest still gives out free snacks (soft drinks are free).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Editor-in-Chief Hili is curmudgeonly (after all, at ten she’s now a Senior Cat):

A: Come here, you are needed.
Hili: Never a quiet moment.
In Polish:
Ja: Chodź, jesteś potrzebna.
Hili: Ani chwili spokoju.

. . . and a formal portrait of Szaron taken by Paulina: 

Finally, here’s Mietek with a monologue. Look how he’s grown!

Mietek: I’m resting–so what?

In Polish: Odpoczywam, a co?


From Mark:

From Tom: a Herman cartoon by Jim Unger.  Tom calls this “legal quackery.”

From Jesus of the Day. I hope the newspaper changes every few days so the cat doesn’t get bored. . .  (I may have posted it before, but if so you can get another grin.)

The Tweet of God, who’s ticked off because his name is used in vain:

Someone who has no sense of reality, or even an ability to Google: there’s a “Titania McGrath” entry on Wikipedia.

From Barry; The carpet may be beautiful, but you don’t want to touch it, much less step on it. . .

From Simon, who can’t decide whether he likes the academic comment or the safe better.  It takes 13 sequential acts to open that safe. I wonder where it’s from, and how old it is; do any readers know?

From Luana. I love the stopping-traffic-for-waterfowl videos:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew: This is the most beautiful cloud I’ve ever seen, and I didn’t know they existed. This photo was taken in China, and you can read more about it, and about these clouds, here.

Oh well, the tweet has disappeared, but here’s the cloud shown in the picture, taken from the “here” link above:

Read this heartwarming story at the Dodo. If only life could be like that site!

I would have freaked out too!

Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

June 4, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the Cat Sabbath, Saturday, June 4, 2022, when all cats are expected to avoid work and study the Talmud. (Every day is Cat Shabbos.)  It’s graduation day at the University of Chicago, when the class of 2023 moves up to become four-year students. As always, we award honorary degrees only to scholars and do not solicit the likes of Taylor Swift to give commencement advice to our students. Foodwise, it’s National Cheese Day, a food that is kosher so long as it’s not mixed with meat. It’s also a favorite of many cats.

Finally, it’s the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. 

The Google Doodle today (click on screenshot below; there’s an animation at the click) celebrates the life of Kiyoshi Kuromiya, described as a “Japanese American author and civil rights, anti-war, gay liberation, and HIV/AIDS activist.”

A photo of Kuromiya from the Philadelphia Gay News:

Stuff that happened on June 4 include:

A poster announcing the opening of the Transcontinental Railroad 7 years before the record run:

  • 1896 – Henry Ford completes the Ford Quadricycle, his first gasoline-powered automobile, and gives it a successful test run.

Here’s Ford in his Quadricycle that same year. These were custom-built cars with 4 horsepower and a top speed of 20 mph, and they were very expensive. The average Joe wasn’t able to afford a car until Ford produced the Model T (and Ford got very rich).

Here are the current hourly minimum wages in the U.S. (from Wikipedia; click to enlarge).  California and Washington D.C. lead the nation, with hourly minimums of $15.00 or more:

  • 1913 – Emily Davison, a suffragist, runs out in front of King George V‘s horse at The Derby. She is trampled, never regains consciousness, and dies four days later.

Here’s the famous video of Davison, who didn’t intend to commit suicide, running in front of the King’s horse. It occurs at 2:11.


  • 1917 – The first Pulitzer Prizes are awarded: Laura E. Richards, Maude H. Elliott, and Florence Hall receive the first Pulitzer for biography (for Julia Ward Howe). Jean Jules Jusserand receives the first Pulitzer for history for his work With Americans of Past and Present Days. Herbert B. Swope receives the first Pulitzer for journalism for his work for the New York World.
  • 1919 – Women’s rights: The U.S. Congress approves the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees suffrage to women, and sends it to the U.S. states for ratification.

Here it is:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This is a bit misleading: yes, we turned away the Jews (how could we have done that?), as did Canada, but all of them eventually found refuge in England, Belgium, and the Netherlands. It was the refugees to the latter two countries who were rounded up by the Nazis and later killed. Still. . . .

Some of the happy passengers arriving in Belgium:

The famous bit of that speech:

  • 1986 – Jonathan Pollard pleads guilty to espionage for selling top secret United States military intelligence to Israel.


*The Washington Post dissects the question of why the overwhelming majority of mass shooters are young men. They talk about developmental differences between the sexes, the prefrontal cortex, and so on, but not once do they mention the word “evolution”! We’re not the only species in which males are more aggressive, violent, and more willing to take risks than females (and we can imagine good evolutionary reasons connected with reproduction), but they should also have noted that most crime in general, including non-mass shootings, are also perpetrated by males.

But they always find somebody to implicate acculturation, which may be a factor but probably not the main one:

Eric Madfis, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Washington at Tacoma, talks about “White male grievance,” although he acknowledges that not all the shooters have been White. He suggests the perpetrators are trying to regain control through a “masculine” solution after a long period of frustration.

“We teach boys and men that the only socially acceptable emotion to have is not to be vulnerable and sensitive, but to be tough and macho and aggressive,” Madfis said in an interview.

*According to the Church Times, a British religious site, the Anglican Church is doomed to extinction in the UK, perhaps within four decades. The statistics come from calculating the rate at which believers “infect” each other with faith, qualified by the rate at which believers meet their maker. This is expressed as the statistic “R” (h/t Barry):

The study was compiled by Dr John Hayward, a mathematician at the University of South Wales and the founder of the church-growth modelling site. He analysed data from 13 denominations to calculate their R-rate — a technique more usually associated with calculating the spread of disease.

For a virus such as Covid-19, an R number of more than one indicates that the disease is spreading rapidly, while an R-rate of less than one points to its dying out. Dr Hayward has now applied the same model to church attendance.

He says that he saw the potential of applying R-number modelling to church growth in 1999. “The analogy works when existing church members add new members through personal contact, whether directly or indirectly,” he writes in his report.

He analysed attendance data from between 2000 and 2020, and found that Church of England and Roman Catholic churches across the UK have R numbers of just over 0.9. Their congregations could vanish by 2062, he concludes.

It’s appropriate to use an infection rate since, as Hitchens said, “Religion poisons everything.”

*In the NYT, sports writer Kurt Streeter asks a good question: why, among all sports, is the popularity of women’s tennis about equal to that of men’s tennis, when the sex-based athletic differential applies across many sports? Streeter says the answer is complicated, but in fact offers only one solution: women in other sports are too much “in your face”!

We still live in a world where strong, powerful women who break the mold struggle for acceptance. Consider the W.N.B.A., stocked with outspoken women, a majority of them Black, who have shown a communal willingness to take aggressive stands for L.G.B.T.Q. rights, reproductive freedom and politics. How do you think that goes down in many corners of America and the world?

Yes, tennis often has a few outspoken players willing to publicly buck against power. In the game’s modern era, Venus and Serena Williams did it just by showing up and dominating. Naomi Osaka bent the rules with her face masks protesting for Black rights. But the vast majority of women in tennis wear their significant power quietly, behind the scenes, and in a way that does not overly upset the male-dominated status quo. To think that this is not a factor in the pro tour’s popularity would be foolish.

Well, call me foolish, but I’m not buying this explanation. And I have no alternative, either. But I love watching women’s tennis, although basketball or baseball don’t attract me. I prefer watching women’s gymnastics, but the Big Show for that sport comes only once every four years.

*From the Insider, clever California judges took advantage of the literal law itself to protect bumble bees.  See explanation below the tweet, and a longer bit about the ruling, including the ruling itself, here.  (h/t Matthew, Ginger K.)

From the site:

A trio of judges in California said on Tuesday that bees could be legally classified as a type of fish as part of a ruling that gave added conservation protections to the endangered species.

“The issue presented here is whether the bumble bee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish,” the judges wrote in their ruling. And, they concluded, it does.

Formerly, the problem for bee lovers — and lovers of all Californian terrestrial invertebrates — was down to the way protected animals had been classified in the state’s laws.

While four bee species were classified as endangered in 2018, land invertebrates are not explicitly protected under the California Endangered Species Act, which protects endangered “native species or subspecies of a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant.”

But the law’s fish and game code, which establishes the basis on which plants and animals are protected, defines “fish” as “a wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian, or part, spawn, or ovum of any of those animals.”

*The Wall Street Journal asks and answers the perennial question, “Why do ducks get in a row? To swim better.” The answer is that ducklings do it under the right conditions as a way of using wave motion to move forward with less energy—to draft.

The thing is, though, I covered and explained this issue in depth last OctoberWho’s a good boy? Who scooped the Wall Street Journal? Show me justice!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, two new friends are going for walkies:

A: Are you coming in?
Hili: No, I’m waiting for Szaron.
In Polish:
Ja: Wchodzisz?
Hili: Nie, czekam na Szarona.

A picture of baby Kulka:

And a rare Mietek monologue, as the ginger cat greets the weekend:

Mitek: Is it Saturday yet?

In Polish: Już sobota?

And a picture of Karolina in  back in Kyev, holding the Great Children’s Encyclopedia (note the cat ears)

Caption:  From yesterday’s mail. According to Natasza, Karolina is quickly making up for lost time.

In Polish: Z wczorajszej poczty. Jak informuje Natasza, Karolina pospiesznie nadrabia zaległości.

From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe:  Some people who believe in evolution are still arguing how we could all have descended from a literal mated pair of Homo sapiens. It’s not true.

Paula found a picture of a Queen’s Jubilee Cake in a Facebook foodie group. Here it is! (Not a great likeness. . .  )

From Jesus of the Day:

Wisdom from G-d:

Ricky Gervais has a new Netflix special, “Supernature,” but I haven’t watch it. Here, however, is a relevant tweet:

Here’s an interesting analysis by a YouTuber and avowed feminist, explaining why Amber Heard came out second in the Depp/Heard fracas. It involves many tweets, but I found it useful. The short take: Heard’s evidence (and her own testimony) apparently didn’t prove credible to the jury.

From Barry, apparently a serious attempt to discredit evoution:

From Ginger K.:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb, who’s enjoying the holiday for the Queen. He’s not a fan of the royalty, though. About this tweet, showing Boris Johnson getting booed, Matthew says,

“Good news from the events at St Pauls. Worth listening to. If the union-jack bedecked loons are booing him, it means something.”



And one of Matthew’s beloved optical illusions:


Wednesday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

January 26, 2022 • 7:30 am

Yes, it is Hump Day: Wednesday, January 26, 2022, but not everyone likes the name (h/t Grant):

It’s also National Peanut Brittle Day, National Green Juice Day, Spouse’s Day, and International Customs Day.

There a new Google Doodle today honoring the life and work of Katarzyna Kobro, born on this day (26 January 1898 – 22 February 1951).Wikipedia identifies her as

a Polish avant-garde sculptor and a prominent representative of the Constructivist movement in Poland. A pioneer of innovative multi-dimensional abstract sculpture, she rejected Aestheticism and advocated for the integration of spatial rhythm and scientific advancements into visual art.

The Doodle:

One of her works (they’re like three-dimensional Mondrians):

News of the Day:

*I had forgotten about this but reader Ken caught it:

Yesterday, Joe Biden got caught on a hot mic (or “mike,” per your preference) calling Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy “a stupid son of a bitch.”
And here’s the video:
Within the hour, Biden called Doocy to apologize — as one does, if one hasn’t been raised by wolves.
But how can you apologize for saying something like that? Biden surely meant it, so he has to give the “notapology” of “I’m sorry if I upset you.” I’m sure he does think the guy is an s.o.b.

*Two from the NYT. First, in an op-ed called “What does it mean to be ‘done with Covid’?“, columnist Michelle Goldberg criticizes her former colleague Bari Weiss for expressing that sentiment as pushback against the government’s health policies. (We discussed this the other day.) I disagreed with Weiss, and so does Goldberg:

The desperate desire to get back to normal is understandable. What’s odd is seeing the absence of normality as a political betrayal instead of an epidemiological curveball. The reason things aren’t normal isn’t that power-mad public health officials went back on their promises. It’s because a new coronavirus variant emerged that overwhelmed hospitals and threw schools and many industries into chaos, and because not everyone has the luxury of being insouciant about infection.

. . . Critics of how liberals have responded to the pandemic sometimes argue that we’ve overestimated our ability to control this virus. But those who think we can escape this excruciating period simply by changing our mind-set are also overestimating how much control we have. America won’t seem remotely normal until it’s a lot less sick.

*In his new NYT column, “Stay Woke. The right can be illiberal, too,” John McWhorter addresses the frequent comment (also made here) about censorship form the Right probably being a greater danger than is censorship from the Left.

I’m genuinely open to the idea that censorship from the right is more of a problem than I have acknowledged. The truth may be, as it so often is, in the middle, and a legal case from the past week has made me think about it.

The case? That of a Florida judge overturning the University of Florida’s prohibition of 6 of its professors testifying against the imposition of new voter-registration laws in the state, a case of the Right muzzling academic freedom. McWhorter then gives equal time to a kerfuffle at the University of North Texas about whether or not a Jewish figure in music theory might have been racist, with the critics being on the Left this time. (These fights get so tiresome.) At any rate, McWhorter just concludes that both sides are more or less equally culpable, which may be true, but who cares? It’s harder for a Leftist to effectively push back against Right-wing than against Left-wing censorship, though in both cases they can be called out. McWhorter:

On the right, even if you’re wary of critical race theory’s effect on the way many kids are taught, it is both backward and unnecessary to institutionalize the sense that discussing race at all is merely unwelcome pot stirring (and if that’s not what you mean, then you need to make it clear). On the left, illiberalism does not become insight just because some think they are speaking truth to power. Resistance to this kind of perspective is vital, no matter where it comes from on the political spectrum.

And don’t get on me for not criticizing the Right; I went after the University of Florida case the minute I heard about it!

*The SATs (American standardized test used for college admission) are circling the drain. By 2024 the test will be completely digital, the readings will be more “diverse” (they didn’t explain what they meant), and the tests will last two hours instead of three. Already 80% of American colleges don’t require the SAT or the ACT for admission, and that figure will grow.

The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, vice president of College Readiness Assessments at College Board. “We’re not simply putting the current SAT on a digital platform — we’re taking full advantage of what delivering an assessment digitally makes possible. With input from educators and students, we are adapting to ensure we continue to meet their evolving needs.”

The decision comes as the College Board has felt increasing pressure to change its stress-inducing test in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and questions around the test’s fairness and relevance.

The test has long been criticized for bias against those from poor households as well as Black and Hispanic students. The high-stakes nature of the test means that those with more resources can afford to take expensive test prep courses — or even, as the 2019 college admissions scam revealed, to cheat on the test.

Well, the above is from CNN, and the last paragraph is full of distortions. Repeated tests of whether questions are “biased” have shown that they aren’t, and any question with even a “hint” of being biased is tossed. As for SAT prep, it’s often free for poorer students, and what CNN doesn’t note is that test prep adds only very slightly (at best) to one’s score. The real reason the SATs are being dismantled is one we all know but can’t vocalize. Suffice it to say that the downgrading of these tests is part of ending the meritocracy in education. And it must follow, as the night the day, that as these students age, the meritocracy will be dismantled everywhere except (as in plane pilots or brain surgery) it cannot be dispensed with.

*Elizabeth Rata, one of the “Satanic Seven” professors at the University of Auckland who objected to giving indigenous ways of knowing equal time with modern science in the secondary-school and college classroom, has written an article in Newsroom (a NZ news site) reiterating her position. A quote:

. . . science is not euro-centric or western. It is universal. This is recognised in the International Science Council’s definition of science as “rationally explicable, tested against reality, logic, and the scrutiny of peers this is a special form of knowledge”. It includes the arts, humanities and social sciences as human endeavours which may, along with the physical and natural sciences, use such a formalised approach. The very children who need this knowledge the most, now receive less.

The science-ideology discussion matters for many reasons – the university’s future, the country’s reputation for science and education, and the quality of education in primary and secondary schools. But at its heart it is about democracy. Science can only thrive when democracy thrives.

Rata is the Director of the Knowledge in Education Research Unit in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. She’s got guts.

*Over at the NYT, columnist Paul Krugmen has a new column: “Attack of the right-wing thought police“. Krugman agrees with McWhorter about the censoriousness of the Right, but says nary a word about the censoriousness of the Left. Like McWhorter, he mentions the Florida professors whom the Right tried to prevent from testifying in favor of equitable voting laws, as well as  the ludicrous state laws against the teaching of CRT. His words fall sweetly on the ear attuned to sounds from the Left:

What’s really striking, however, is the idea that schools should be prohibited from teaching anything that causes “discomfort” among students and their parents. If you imagine that the effects of applying this principle would be limited to teaching about race relations, you’re being utterly naïve.

For one thing, racism is far from being the only disturbing topic in American history. I’m sure that some students will find that the story of how we came to invade Iraq — or for that matter how we got involved in Vietnam — makes them uncomfortable. Ban those topics from the curriculum!

Then there’s the teaching of science. Most high schools do teach the theory of evolution, but leading Republican politicians are either evasive or actively deny the scientific consensus, presumably reflecting the G.O.P. base’s discomfort with the concept. Once the Florida standard takes hold, how long will teaching of evolution survive?

But every word in that first paragraph applies to both the Left and Right. Why does he write only about Right-wing censoriousness? I think it was Dr. Johnson who said that if a person’s bread and butter depends on their believing something, then believe they will.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 870,837, an increase of 2,362 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,636,137, an increase of about 11,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 26 include:

Do you know the distinction? And don’t say that one church is led by the Vatican and the other isn’t. There are doctrinal differences that you should read about at the link to the “Council of Trent.”

  • 1788 – The British First Fleet, led by Arthur Phillip, sails into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to establish Sydney, the first permanent European settlement on Australia. Commemorated as Australia Day.
  • 1841 – James Bremer takes formal possession of Hong Kong Island at what is now Possession Point, establishing British Hong Kong.v
  • 1885 – Troops loyal to The Mahdi conquer Khartoum, killing the Governor-General Charles George Gordon.

Gordon became famous for his military leadership in China, but then went to the Sudan, where he angered the local authorities. He was hacked to death in Khartoum. Below is an imagined depiction of his death:

Here’s the rough diamon—about 3,100 carats.

It was cut into nine smaller stones, the largest of which (Cullinan 1) weighd 530 carats. It was set into the British royal crown (see below). Pity that it’s not all that visible:

Here’s Baird’s first moving t.v. image, with the caption from Wikipedia:

The first known photograph of a moving image produced by Baird’s “televisor”, as reported in The Times, 28 January 1926 (The subject is Baird’s business partner Oliver Hutchinson.)
  • 1942 – World War II: The first United States forces arrive in Europe, landing in Northern Ireland.
  • 1945 – World War II: Audie Murphy displays valor and bravery in action for which he will later be awarded the Medal of Honor.

The son of a sharecropper, Murphy won every single military medal for valor that the Army had. He later became a well known actor, but was killed in a plane crash at 46. Here he is with all his decorations; the Medal of Honor is around his neck:

  • 1949 – The Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory sees first light under the direction of Edwin Hubble, becoming the largest aperture optical telescope (until BTA-6 is built in 1976).
  • 1998 – Lewinsky scandal: On American television, U.S. President Bill Clinton denies having had “sexual relations” with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Here’s a news report in which Clinton lied. In what world is fellatio not “sexual relations”?

It was via in vitro fertilization, of course. Oy–look at this high chair! (She was known as “Octomom”.)

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1880 – Douglas MacArthur, American general, Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1964)
  • 1908 – Stéphane Grappelli, French violinist (d. 1997)

Here’s the great jazz violinist playing “I Got Rhythm” at 76:

This is how I remember her. She’s now a professor at UC Santa Cruz:

Here’s du Pré playing part of the first movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto. I believe that it’s Barenboim conducting (they were married). It’s a tragedy that she died of MS at only 43.

Her grave (you can see a late interview with her here. conducted when she was already ill). This is in Golders Green Cemetary, and I suppose she converted to Judaism given the writing (Barenboim was Jewish).

  • 1946 – Gene Siskel, American journalist and film critic (d. 1999)
  • 1955 – Eddie Van Halen, Dutch-American guitarist, songwriter, and producer (d. 2020)
  • 1958 – Ellen DeGeneres, American comedian, actress, and talk show host
  • 1961 – Wayne Gretzky, Canadian ice hockey player and coach

Those who perished on January 26 include:

He saved a gazillion lives by devising the small pox vaccine. Here’s “Jenner’s 1802 testimonial to the efficacy of vaccination, signed by 112 members of the Physical Society, London”

  • 1885 – Charles George Gordon, English general and politician (b. 1833)
  • 1893 – Abner Doubleday, American general (b. 1819)
  • 1943 – Nikolai Vavilov, Russian botanist and geneticist (b. 1887)
  • 1962 – Lucky Luciano, Italian-American mob boss (b. 1897)

He was lucky that he wasn’t murdered by fellow mobsters. Here’s an NYCPD mug shot from 1931:

  • 1973 – Edward G. Robinson, Romanian-American actor (b. 1893)
  • 2003 – Hugh Trevor-Roper, English historian and academic (b. 1917)
  • 2020 – Kobe Bryant, American basketball player (b. 1978)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,  Hili is replacing the late Henri the Existentialist cat, and is filled with ennui:

A: What are you thinking about?
Hili: I’m wondering whether the charms of this world outweigh its futility.
In Polish:
Ja: Nad czym myślisz?
Hili: Zastanawiam się, czy uroki tego świata przeważają jego marność.

A head shot of Kulka:

And a Mietek monologue:

Mietek:  From the series: read for me mom

(Malgorzata notes that there was/is a series of children’s books called “Read for me mom”.)
In Polish: Z serii: poczytaj mi, mamo

From Bruce:

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

From Ducks in Public: “The fellowship of the wing”:

From Masih, who points out that the newly-chosen Rina Amiri, U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights, has put on a hijab when meeting the Taliban delegation. In Norway, where hijab are not required! Nor can you say that Amiri wears a hijab normally, for as you can see in the photo to the left or in all the photos here, she doesn’t. Below I’ve put a photo of her in the American delegation with an arrow showing her wearing the hijab.

Her hijab is reprehensible, a slap in the face of the very women she’s supposed to support, for when she has a choice in her normal life she doesn’t wear hijab. She is wearing one to cater to the religious misogyny of the Taliban. (Note that there are no women in the Taliban delegation.)

From Simon: This staff person is very privileged!

From Barry. Sound up! And I’m not at all sure that this video is supposed to be funny (read the little words on the lower right).

From Ginger K.

Tweets from Matthew. First, sexual dimorphism in blue-winged teal. Every duck species with such dimorphism does it in a different way, with different colors, patterns and behavior. A mystery for sexual selection to solve!

Translation: “Blue-winged teal the drake (male) has a white spot in the shape of a crescent between the eye and beak. The forewing is blue to. Underside is ocher yellow with closely spaced round black spots. The duckling (female) has a light blue front wing and a white belly.”

The kakapo are having a banner year in New Zealand! Keep your fingers crossed; all of these flightless parrots are confined to a single island to keep predators away. They need to reproduce!

Do you know what this bird is? I don’t, but I bet at least one reader does.

Very clever; I wonder what kind of book it’s from.

Saturday: Hili dialogue

December 25, 2021 • 7:00 am

Merry Christmas and Happy Coynezaa! (the latter six-day féte begins today). My holiday card to readers (photo by Terrence James for the Chicago Tribune).

It’s Saturday, December 25, 2021, and National Pumpkin Pie Day. (You can buy a huge (3.5 lb.) and excellent one very cheaply at Costco.)

The James Webb Space Telescope will launch today (probably before this post goes up), but I’ll have already posted the links to the live feed.

It’s also Jesus’s Birthday, and No “L” Day (Noel get it?), when you’re supposed to remove all the “l”s from writing or speech.

Matthew sent me a virtual Christmas card, consisting of the cover of a children’s book and a greeting from Matthew and Ollie, the cat who slashed my nose open when I visited Manchester:

News of the Day:

*As you know, the James Webb telescope was launched successfully from French Guyana this morning, and at the time this is posted all has gone fantastically, with the scope heading out into orbit a million miles from Earth. I hope you watched. Note that this was due to international cooperation, with collaborators from many nations.  Here’s a tweet from NASA showing our last view of the scope as it heads out a million miles from Earth. (h/t Matthew).  The only thing that marred the luanch was the head of NASA’s religious blather at the end of his speech, mentioning the star over Bethlehem, Jesus the King, and the glory of God the creator. Oy!

*Otherwise news is a downer today, with the omicron variant raging, resulting in the cancellation of over 3800 flights around the world yesterday because of infected pilots/crew or bad weather. I hope everybody reading here got to where they were going. If you are one of the canceled, here’s how to get your refund.

*If you do get to your destination, be careful if you want to rent a car. Average daily prices have risen 31% in most places, but can top $100 per day in sought-after locations like Maui or Bozeman, Montana (a ski place).  I found this out when I paid nearly $600 for an 8-day rental in Austin, Texas. The cause? Companies sold out their fleets during the pandemic, and haven’t replenished them. Don’t expect prices to drop hugely after the pandemic wanes.

*The good news—and let’s have good news today to replace the lacuna when we realize, in about three posts, that baby Jesus really wasn’t really born on this day—is that omicron is more transmissible than existing variants, it’s not as lethal. South Africa, the first place heavily infected with omicron, has lifted some restrictions:

South Africa’s government, buoyed by encouraging data showing that infections from the Omicron variant aren’t as severe, has dropped quarantine restrictions for all but symptomatic people.

That includes allowing people who have tested positive but show no symptoms to gather with others, so long as they wear a mask and social distance. A top health official explained that since the variant spreads so quickly, there are likely many infected people socializing with others and it no longer made sense to quarantine only those who have tested themselves.

The move was yet another step toward a slow acceptance that many countries around the world will likely need to find a way to live with Covid, rather than avoid it.

*Senator Joe “Roadbump” Manchin has shown some signs that he’ll favor “taxes on billionaires”, raising hopes that the Democrats can still pass the Build Back Better Bill, albeit in a scaled down form. But Kyrsten Sinema is making grumpy noises:

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), long the biggest hurdle to Democrats’ tax aspirations, has again in recent days raised concerns about some of the revenue measures the party is pursuing.

In particular, Sinema has questioned whether owners of “pass-through” entities — companies structured so the owner “passes through” income onto their personal income tax returns — should be exempted from a new “surtax” intended to fall on the very rich, two people familiar with the matter said. These people spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect private conversations

The White House was forced to dramatically revamp its tax proposals after Sinema previously ruled out increasing the corporate tax rate, which Biden initially sought to raise from 21 percent to 28 percent.

*Now this is much better. Two brothers in New Hampshire have given new meaning to the word “regifting”:

Two New Hampshire brothers have gotten their holiday regifting skills down to an art — they’ve been passing the same hard candy back and forth for over 30 years.

It started in 1987, when Ryan Wasson gave a 10-roll Frankford “Santa’s Candy Book” with assorted fruit flavors to his brother, Eric Wasson, as a joke for Christmas, knowing that Eric wouldn’t like it.

“I didn’t eat them,” Eric Wasson told WMUR-TV. “And so the next year I thought, ‘Hey, I think I’m going to give it back to him. He’ll never remember.’”

But Ryan immediately recognized it. They’ve been taking turns ever since, keeping a log of their exchanges. They’ve gotten creative about it.

Ryan Wasson told the station the candy has been frozen in a block of ice and put in Jell-O, adding, “He one time sewed it into a teddy bear.”

The tradition has also involved family members, co-workers and even a sheriff’s department. Last year, it was presented to Ryan Wasson on a silver platter at a restaurant.

Here’s the well-worn gift and the record of the regifting (all photos from Ryan Wasson family via the AP)

Note the first entry on the right-hand page:

The Lie of the Year Award goes to this guy. Click on the screenshot to read about it:

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 814,792, an increase of 1,345 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,411,321, an increase of about 8,100 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on December 25 includes:

  • 336 – First documentary sign of Christmas celebration in Rome

We’ll have a post today by Peter Nothnagle about the “history” of the Nativity.

Here’s an “arm reliquary of Charlemagne at Aachen Cathedral Treasury”:

  • 1013 – Sweyn Forkbeard takes control of the Danelaw and is proclaimed king of England.
  • 1066 – William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy is crowned king of England, at Westminster Abbey, London.
  • 1758 – Halley’s Comet is sighted by Johann Georg Palitzsch, confirming Edmund Halley’s prediction of its passage. This was the first passage of a comet predicted ahead of time.
  • 1776 – George Washington and the Continental Army cross the Delaware River at night to attack Hessian forces serving Great Britain at Trenton, New Jersey, the next day.

Here’s the famous painting: “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze, MMA-NYC, 1851:

With no anesthesia! It must have been benign, for the woman lived 32 years after the operation.

  • 1831 – The Great Jamaican Slave Revolt begins; up to 20% of Jamaica’s slaves mobilize in an ultimately unsuccessful fight for freedom.
  • 1868 – Pardons for ex-Confederates: United States President Andrew Johnson grants an unconditional pardon to all Confederate veterans.
  • 1914 – A series of unofficial truces occur across the Western Front to celebrate Christmas.
  • 1950 – The Stone of Scone, traditional coronation stone of British monarchs, is taken from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students. It later turns up in Scotland on April 11, 1951.
  • 1968 – Apollo program: Apollo 8 performs the first successful Trans-Earth injection (TEI) maneuver, sending the crew and spacecraft on a trajectory back to Earth from Lunar orbit.
  • 1989 – Romanian Revolution: Deposed President of Romania Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife, Elena, are condemned to death and executed after a summary trial.

You can see a documentary and some video of the execution here. The firing started too quickly for the cameraman (yes, they filmed it) to capture the whole thing.

  • 1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as President of the Soviet Union (the union itself is dissolved the next day). Ukraine’s referendum is finalized and Ukraine officially leaves the Soviet Union.
  • 2004 – The Cassini orbiter releases Huygens probe which successfully landed on Saturn’s moon Titan on January 14, 2005.

Notables born on this day include:

A portrait of Jesus, apparently painted from life. (He doesn’t look very Jewish.)

  • 1642 (OS) – Isaac Newton, English physicist and mathematician (d. 1726/1727)
  • 1821 – Clara Barton, American nurse and humanitarian, founder of the American Red Cross (d. 1912)

Barton worked tirelessly to help the wounded soldiers of the Union in the Civil War. Here’s a photo of her in 1866, shortly after war’s end:

  • 1876 – Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Indian-Pakistani lawyer and politician, 1st Governor-General of Pakistan (d. 1948)
  • 1886 – Kid Ory, American trombonist and bandleader (d. 1973)
  • 1899 – Humphrey Bogart, American actor (d. 1957)

A scene from “The Big Sleep”:

Cab was a great bandleader and, shall we say, an “energetic” one. Here is is conducting his most famous hit, “Minnie the Moocher“:

  • 1924 – Rod Serling, American screenwriter and producer, created The Twilight Zone (d. 1975)
  • 1946 – Jimmy Buffett, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor.

Here’s the music video for my favorite Buffett song, and he begins by explaining what and who’s in the video:

  • 1971 – Justin Trudeau, Canadian educator and politician, 23rd Prime Minister of Canada

Those who passed away on December 25 include:

  • 1946 – W. C. Fields, American actor, comedian, juggler, and screenwriter (b. 1880)
  • 1983 – Joan Miró, Spanish painter and sculptor (b. 1893)

Miró painted a fair number of cats; this one is “The Farmer’s Wife, Kitchen, Cat, Rabbit”, with a detail of the moggy:

  • 2005 – Birgit Nilsson, Swedish operatic soprano (b. 1918)
  • 2008 – Eartha Kitt, American singer and actress (b. 1927)
  • 2016 – George Michael, British singer and songwriter (b. 1963)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej and Hili are speaking of determinism:

A: I know what you are thinking about!
Hili: But I don’t know yet.
In Polish:
Ja: Wiem nad czym się zastanawiasz!
Hili: Ale ja jeszcze nie wiem.

And from nearby Wloclawek, Mietek has a wish:

Mietek: Have a wonderful Christmas!

In Polish: Wspaniałych Świąt!

From The Far Side:

A Hitchens cartoon from reader Barry:

From Divy:

Below, a Christmas Meme from Andrzej. You don’t really need a translation, but here’s one from Malgorzata, “”IKA.  Christmas Tree – a set to assemble at home.”

And the meme came with a Christmas message from Andrzej and Malgorzata:

Andrzej: “We wish all our readers fascinating conversations with their four- legged friends, a nice atmosphere together with their two-legged loved ones, and frequent return to ‘Listy‘”.

In Polish: “Wszystkim naszym czytelnikom życzymy fascynujących rozmów z ich czworonogami, miłej atmosfery z dwunożnymi bliskimi i częstych powrotów do ‘Listów‘”.

A tweet from Masih and friend:

From Gethyn: Can you spot the kitty? I couldn’t! Readers, help!

From Simon. Yes, sound on, and remember that an elephant never forgets. This is a heartwarmer.

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. The first from Jennifer Ouellette, and I put the relevant video below it. It’s great: a human choreography of a starling murmuration:

Crabs on the move!

I was worried about the frog, but it’s apparently okay:

Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Leon and Mietek monologues)

October 31, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s the terminus of October: Sunday, October 31, 2021: National Caramel Apple Day (caution: beware of dental work!).  And it’s HALLOWEEN (see below).

It’s also National Carve a Pumpkin Day, Books for Treats Day (very bad idea!), Girl Scouts Founders Day, Knock Knock Jokes Day, National Increase Your Psychic Powers Day (oy!), and Trick or Treat for UNICEF Day

Here’s a knock-knock joke:

Knock! Knock!
Who’s there?
Owls say
Owls say who?
Yes, they do.

There’s a Google Doodle gif for Halloween (click on screenshot):

And here’s a list of Halloween and its related celebrations:

And here’s an excellent Halloween costume:

News of the Day:

*The Associated Press discusses how and why programs for the “gifted and talented” are being dismantled in secondary schools throughout America, all in the name of equity. The issue is that blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in such programs compared to “regular” programs, and this inequity is considered prima facie evidence for present-day racism if you adhere to a Kendian agenda. Her are two of the critics of gifted and talented programs:

The changes don’t go far enough for critics like Rita Green, the education chair of the Seattle Chapter of the NAACP. She has called for more work to build environments that nurture the intellectual development of all the district’s 50,000 schoolchildren.

“We want the program just abolished. Period. The Highly Capable Cohort program is fundamentally flawed, and it’s inherently racist,” Green said.

. . .One such constituent, Zakiyah Ansari, the New York City director for the Alliance for Quality Education, wants Adams to follow through with de Blasio’s pledge.

“We believe every child is a gifted child, every child is a talented child,” Ansari said. “We have to have people as angry about taking away one program that impacts a few people and be more upset about the Black and brown kids who haven’t had access to excellent education.”

*The New York Times reports that three professors from the University of Florida have been barred from testifying for the prosecution in a lawsuit trying to overturn the state’s new restrictive voting rights bill. This is clearly a violation of both academic freedom and the First Amendment, but the University makes a specious claim:

University officials told the three that because the school was a state institution, participating in a lawsuit against the state “is adverse to U.F.’s interests” and could not be permitted. In their filing, the lawyers sought to question Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, on whether he was involved in the decision.

Mr. DeSantis has resisted questioning, arguing that all of his communications about the law are protected from disclosure because discussions about legislation are privileged.

The school has always let professors testify in court cases, even those involving criticism of the party in power in Florida, which is also “adverse to U.F.’s interests. I’m betting that DeSantis has pressured the University, saying that he’d withhold funds from the school if the professors testify. In the end, I think they will, for this is an open and shut issue. (h/t Bill)

*Also in the NYT, an op-ed by Tressie McMillam Cottom called “Why we should talk about what Kyrsten Sinema is wearing.” (That’s a clickbait title if ever there was one.) It turns out that the answer, for Cottom, is more a sociological one—though an interesting one—but has little to do with how we assess her politics, or of little use those who wish to change Sinema’s stand, which is obstructing Biden’s two funding bills.

*The dorm below would (and will be) be a dreadful place to live during college, especially because UCSB is one of the nicest campuses in the U.S. The Santa Barbara Independent reports this (h/t Matthew)

A consulting architect on [The University of Californa at Santa Barbara’s] Design Review Committee has quit his post in protest over the university’s proposed Munger Hall project, calling the massive, mostly-windowless dormitory plan “unsupportable from my perspective as an architect, a parent, and a human being.”

In his October 25 resignation letter to UCSB Campus Architect Julie Hendricks, Dennis McFadden ― a well-respected Southern California architect with 15 years on the committee ― goes scorched earth on the radical new building concept, which calls for an 11-story, 1.68-million-square-foot structure that would house up to 4,500 students, 94 percent of whom would not have windows in their small, single-occupancy bedrooms.

The idea was conceived by 97-year-old billionaire-investor turned amateur-architect Charles Munger, who donated $200 million toward the project with the condition that his blueprints be followed exactly. Munger maintains the small living quarters would coax residents out of their rooms and into larger common areas, where they could interact and collaborate.

Here’s the horrible dorm, and its floor plan below that. Crikey, would you want to live there for four years?

The dormitory’s nine identical residential floors would be organized into eight “houses” with eight “suites” (shown here) with eight bedrooms. | Credit: Courtesy

The architect who resigned said the dorm “would qualify as the eighth densest neighborhood on the planet, falling just short of Dhaka, Bangladesh. It would be able to house Princeton University’s entire undergraduate population, or all five Claremont Colleges. . . The project is essentially the student life portion of a mid-sized university campus in a box.”

The University is going to build it anyway!  Usually money is given to universities without such strict conditions. Jebus!

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 745,374, an increase of 1,344 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,012,328, an increase of about 5,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on October 31 includes:

It’s a Lutheran Church now, and Martin is buried inside. Here’s his tomb.

The famous doors seem to be gone, but in truth the claim that Luther posted his manifesto on them is questionable. But they built these ones below, described in Wikipedia as “‘Theses Doors’, commemorating Luther’s Ninety-five Theses were installed on Luther’s 375th birthday in 1858.”

  • 1907 – The Parliament of Finland approved the Prohibition Act, but the law was not implemented because it was not ratified by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
  • 1917 – World War I: Battle of Beersheba: The “last successful cavalry charge in history”.

Here’s a photo of the attack, which took place in what is now southern Israel. Reinforced by later troops, it ultimately led to the British capture of Jerusalem. Note that the first wave of attackers brandished only bayonets as they charged; the rifles are on their backs.

(From Wikipedia): The charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba, 1917, painted by George Lambert in 1920, shows troopers with bayonets in their hands and .303 rifles slung across their backs.

Here’s where Marble Bar is (there are stromatolites nearby!), and then a view of that godforsaken town. (Read the NYT article on what it’s like to live there).

But it’s not the hottest town in Australia! That honor goes to Wyndham, Western Australia, located on the map below with a picture of that town, where “In 1946, Wyndham recorded 333 consecutive days of temperatures over 32 °C (90 °F).” The population is 780 sweating Aussies.

  • 1940 – World War II: The Battle of Britain ends: The United Kingdom prevents a possible German invasion.
  • 1941 – After 14 years of work, Mount Rushmore is completed.

Can you name all four figures sculpted on the mountain? This wouldn’t be done today, because at least three of them have had statues taken down or have been cancelled.

Here’s the designer, Gutzon Borglum, addressing a crowd before the sculpture in statu nascendi:

  • 1961 – In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin’s body is removed from the Lenin’s Mausoleum, also known as the Lenin Tomb.
  • 1984 – Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two Sikh security guards. Riots break out in New Delhi and other cities and around 3,000 Sikhs are killed.

A photo from Wikipedia labeled: “Today, the spot where Indira Gandhi was assassinated is marked by a glass opening in the crystal pathway at the Indira Gandhi Memorial”:

  • 1999 – Yachtsman Jesse Martin returns to Melbourne after 11 months of circumnavigating the world, solo, non-stop and unassisted.

He was the youngest person to accomplish this feat though not the first.  Here’s a short video of Martin:

  • 2011 – The global population of humans reaches seven billion. This day is now recognized by the United Nations as the Day of Seven Billion.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1638 – Meindert Hobbema, Dutch painter (d. 1709)
  • 1795 – John Keats, English poet (d. 1821)

Keats died at only 25 of tuberculosis. What great poetry we’d have had he lived longer.  Here’s a life mask from 1816 followed by a photo of Keats’s grave in Rome (note that his name isn’t on the tombstone).

  • 1835 – Adolf von Baeyer, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1917)
  • 1887 – Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese general and politician, 1st President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) (d. 1975)
  • 1912 – Dale Evans, American singer-songwriter and actress (d. 2001)
  • 1920 – Helmut Newton, German-Australian photographer (d. 2004)

Many of Newton’s photos are too erotic to be shown on this family-oriented site; here’s one of the tamer ones:

  • 1922 – Illinois Jacquet, American saxophonist and composer (d. 2004)
  • 1926 – Jimmy Savile, English radio and television host (d. 2011)
  • 1931 – Dan Rather, American journalist

Rather turns 90 today.

  • 1943 – Brian Piccolo, American football player (d. 1970)
  • 1967 – Vanilla Ice, American rapper, television personality, and real estate investor

Those who died on October 31 include:

Thomas Aquinas by Bartolomeo:

Utamaro: A Woman and a Cat (1793-1794)

I never really encountered the work of Schiele until I visited the Leopold Museum in Vienna, where I was mesmerized by his paintings. I now consider him one of the very greatest modern artists. Below is a photo I took of one of his paintings when I visited in October, 2012. This is “Self Portrait With Lowered Head” (1912).

Schiele died at only 28, another great loss to art. He succumbed of the Spanish flu in the fall of 1918, only three days after his wife died. And that’s about the time my paternal grandmother died in the same epidemic.

  • 1926 – Harry Houdini, American magician and stuntman (b. 1874)
  • 1984 – Indira Gandhi, Indian politician, Prime Minister of India (b. 1917)
  • 1988 – John Houseman, Romanian-born American actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1902)
  • 1993 – River Phoenix, American actor and singer (b. 1970)
  • 2006 – P. W. Botha, South African soldier and politician, State President of South Africa (b. 1916)
  • 2008 – Studs Terkel, American historian and author (b. 1912)
  • 2020 – Sean Connery, Scottish actor (b. 1930)

Connery in Scottish regalia, complete with family tartan and a sporran.

(From Wikipedia): Connery at a Tartan Day celebration in Washington, D.C. When knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000 he wore a green-and-black hunting tartan kilt of his mother’s MacLean clan.[121]
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has her encounter with Kulka, but Kulka doesn’t back down.

Hili: Get away from here!
Kulka: And what are you going to do to me if I don’t?
In Polish:
Hili: Uciekaj stąd!
Kulka: A jak nie ucieknę to co mi zrobisz?

And, in nearby Wloclawek, both Leon and Mietek have monologues. Leon demands approbation, while Mietek orders his staff around.

Leon: And now start to admire my wisdom.

In Polish: Teraz zajmij się podziwianiem mojej mądrości!

Mietek, sitting on papers that Elzbieta is supposed to grade, prods her to get to work.

Mietek: Keep reading!

In Polish: Czytaj dalej!


Clever pumpkin carving all over Facebook:

A meme from Bruce:

Titania’s new piece speculates about how Gandhi would have dealt with trans people:

Masih continues her battle:

From the British Museum: Proof of love in the olden days. Nowadays this would be locked to the the Pont des Arts bridge over the Seine.

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. This first one feature innovative drumming by Ringo. Who knew? Do listen if you’re a Beatles fan.

Matthew says that this is a great figure. It is.

A needy dog begs for affection:

Can CRISPR do this?

Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Mitek monologue)

October 19, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the cruelest day of the week: Tuesday, October 19, 2021: National Seafood Bisque Day. It’s also International Gin and Tonic Day, Rainforest Day, Dress Like a Dork Day, Evaluate Your Life Day (I wouldn’t recommend it), World Pediatric Bone and Joint Day, and, in England, Oxfordshire Day.

Here’s a list of the 15 best places to visit in Oxfordshire, which includes Blenheim Palace (below), built between 1705 and 1722, ancestral home of the Churchills and the birthplace of Winston. It is a World Heritage Site:

News of the Day:

As death approached, Colin L. Powell was still in fighting form.

“I’ve got multiple myeloma cancer, and I’ve got Parkinson’s disease. But otherwise I’m fine,” he said in a July interview.

And he rejected expressions of sorrow at his condition.

“Don’t feel sorry for me, for God’s sakes! I’m [84] years old,” said Powell who died Monday. “I haven’t lost a day of life fighting these two diseases. I’m in good shape.”

From  Bob Woodward’s interview/article on Colin Powell in the WaPo. (The whole piece is fascinating)

Powell also apparently has prostate cancer, so he surely had conditions contributing to his death from Covid, despite being vaccinated.

*Just a reminder: it’s been 272 days since the Bidens moved into the White House, promising to get a First Cat. No First Cat has appeared.

*The big news in Chicago is the vaccine mandate for city employees, which includes the police department. Police had until midnight Friday to report their vaccine status, and as of Monday night only 64% had done so. This could mean that very shortly we’ll lose more than a third of our police, who will either be fired or put on unpaid leave. In other places, possible unemployment has proved a remarkable prod to rolling up your sleeve.  Let’s hope that’s true in Chicago, or we’ll have not a crime wave, but a crime tsunami.  The Mayor and the police unions have all filed lawsuits.

*The Biden administration has asked the Supreme Court to stay Texas’s enforced-again and draconian anti-abortion law until its constitutionality is resolved by the courts. The Supreme Court could put the case on its docket immediately, but is unlikely to do so until it’s wended its way through lower courts.  They’ve given Texas until Thursday to respond. I think the Dept. of Justice has a very good argument:

“The question now is whether Texas’ nullification of this Court’s precedents should be allowed to continue while the courts consider the United States’ suit. As the district court recognized, it should not,” the Justice Department wrote.

Hell, no!

*If you’re due for a Covid booster, be aware that the FDA may soon approve a “mix and match” approach for vaccines, i.e., you can get any of the Johnson & Johnson, Prizer, or Moderna vaccines as a booster, no matter what jab or jabs you had initially. Approval could come this week, but note that the data are scanty and incomplete, but still better than nothing:

Experts emphasized last week that the new data was based on small groups of volunteers and short-term findings. Only antibody levels — one measure of the immune response — were calculated as part of the preliminary data, not the levels of immune cells primed to attack the coronavirus, which scientists say are also an important measure of a vaccine’s success.

*The NYT reports that the 7-foot plaster statue of Thomas Jefferson that has stood in the Council Chamber inside New York’s City Hall for over 100 years (it’s a replica of a bronze statue standing in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C)., is likely to be removed this week. The reason is, of course, that Jefferson had slaves: reason enough, these days, to not honor him.

The Public Design Commission is expected on Monday to vote on and likely approve a long-term loan of the statue to the New-York Historical Society, after the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus requested that the statue be removed.

The vote is part of a broad, nationwide reckoning over racial inequality highlighted by the murder of George Floyd, the racial disparities further revealed by the coronavirus pandemic, and the sometimes violent debate over whether Confederate monuments should be toppled and discarded.

Though Jefferson, one of the nation’s founding fathers, wrote about equality in the Declaration of Independence, he enslaved more than 600 people and fathered six children with one of them, Sally Hemings.

“How the hell can people see as a hero someone who had hundreds of enslaved Africans, someone who was a racist and who said we were inferior and someone who was a slaveholding pedophile?” said Assemblyman Charles Barron, the former councilman who tried to get the statue removed in 2001. “For him to be canonized in a statue is incredible — incredibly racist.”

Here’s the statue. I’m wondering how long it will be until the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. is torn down.

Photo: Dave Sanders for the New York Times

I would like to hear readers’ opinions on this, so here’s a poll:

Should the statue of Thomas Jefferson in New York's City Hall be removed?

View Results

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*The Washington Post published some longevity tips in a new article called, “Want to add healthy years to your life? Here’s what new longevity research says.” I have to confess that I didn’t read the tips as I’d just get anxious because I’ll find that I’m doing everything wrong. But if you want to see what to eat, how to exercise, and other non-obvious tips for living longer, go have a look.

*Here’s a NYT story about the discovery of a stone sculpture by William Edmonson (1874-1951), largely ignored in his lifetime but now one of the most famous “outsider” artists of the century, and the first black person to get a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art.  Art enthusiast John Foster was driving through St. Louis and spotted a ten-inch sculpture sitting on someone’s front porch. He later returned and told the owners that they should get it investigated. Sure enough, it was an Edmonson that had gone missing for 80 years. It’s been acquired by the American Museum of Folk Art in New York, and is worth about a million dollars.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 726,389, an increase of 1,631 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,922,705, an increase of about 8,100 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on October 19 includes:

Here’s an adaptation of Charles Minard’s famous multi-information map of Napoleon’s retreat from Russa with dates, temperatures, and the size of the army as it went to Moscow (blue figure) and on the way back (brownish figure), along with the temperature.  Click to enlarge. And look at that attrition! It was a total disaster for the French.

(From Brittanica) Statistical map of Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812 The size of Napoleon’s army during the Russian campaign of 1812 is shown by the dwindling width of the lines of advance (green) and retreat (gold). The retreat information is correlated with a temperature scale shown along the lower portion of the statistical map. Published by Charles Minard in 1869. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

I believe this is the translation of Planck’s first paper on the subject, which of course led to quantum mechanics:

  • 1943 – Streptomycin, the first antibiotic remedy for tuberculosis, is isolated by researchers at Rutgers University.

Selman Waksman got a Nobel Prize for this discovery, which was actually made by a graduate student in his lab, Albert Schatz during his Ph.D work. Shatz got overlooked, sued Waksman, and there was a “settlement”. But of course  no settlement can substitute for a Nobel. Wikipedia notes this:

In his accounts on streptomycin discovery, Waksman never mentioned Schatz. When the first clinical trial was performed by Feldman, he did not know that the new drug was discovered by Schatz, and it was much later in Chile (the 1960’s) where he met Schatz that the story was brought up in their conversation. The Lancet commented: “The Nobel committee made a considerable mistake by failing to recognise Schatz’s contribution.”

This is an example of the Matthew Effect.

The invasion of Leyte in the Philippines in 1944 marks the fulfillment of a promise by General Douglas MacArthur, who, when he was driven out by the Japanese in 1942, made the famous vow, “I shall return.” And he did: here he is wading ashore during the first landings on Leyte (he’s the guy in front with the sunglasses):

  • 1950 – Korean War: The Battle of Pyongyang ends in a United Nations victory. Hours later, the Chinese Army begins crossing the border into Korea.
  • 1960 – The United States imposes a near-total trade embargo against Cuba.
  • 1973 – President Nixon rejects an Appeals Court decision that he turn over the Watergate tapes.
  • 1987 – Black Monday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls by 22%, 508 points.
  • 2003 – Mother Teresa is beatified by Pope John Paul II.

Oy! She’s now Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Here’s a short segment of a 60 Minutes video from the soldiers who found Hussein’s hidey-hole:

The capture:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1850 – Annie Smith Peck, American mountaineer and academic (d. 1935)
  • 1929 – Lewis Wolpert, South African-English biologist, author, and academic (d. 2021)

What a nice guy and what a good writer Wolpert was. He gets approbation from Richard Dawkins in Dawkins’s latest volume, Books Do Furnish a Life, which I’ll review within a day or so. (Short take: read it!) I set next to him at the 30th anniversary dinner celebrating The Selfish Gene, and he told me all about his severe depression, which he chronicled in the book Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression.

Hard to believe that little Amy is now 53. I could find only one thing she illustrated: her father’s book The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejerbased on a story he told Amy as a child:

At the 2009 meeting of Atheist Alliance International, where I was a speaker, I got to sit at the Big People’s Table with Dawkins, Bill Maher, and Santa Maria, who was dating Maher at the time. I of course noticed her famous Archaeopteryx tattoo:

Those who found eternal peace on October 19 include:

  • 1745 – Jonathan Swift, Irish satirist and essayist (b. 1667)
  • 1937 – Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand-English physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1871)

One of New Zealand’s overproduction of artists and intellects, Rutherford won the Prize for work on radioactive elements, including the discover of half-lives. That work was done at McGill University, where the picture below was taken in 1905. He died of a small hernia that became strangulated, which is one reason I decided to get mine operated on.

Critic Edmund Wilson proposed to her several times (Wikipedia says she took his virginity), but she turned him down

  • 1987 – Jacqueline du Pré, English cellist and educator (b. 1945)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is sleeping in:

A: Are you getting up?
Hili: No, it’s still night time.
In Polish:
Ja: Wstajesz?
Hili: Nie, jeszcze jest noc.

And nearby in Wloclawek, Mietek says “hi” (I’m told that the “you” is the plural form in Polish):

Mietek: Well, and how are you?

In Polish: No i co tam u Was?

From Su:

From Stash Krod:

From Jesus of the Day:

Two tweets from Barry. First, Canadian road rage:

. . . and a beautiful butterfly:

From Simon: I know ducks have trouble distinguishing decoys from afar, but this hawk can’t even do it right next to the faux mallard.

A tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial. Many don’t realize that the Nazis engaged in mass murder of Soviet prisoners of war, often in concentration camps.

Tweets from Matthew. I just listened to Sophie Scott’s defense of the beleaguered professor Kathleen Stock, unfairly labeled a transphobe. Professor Scott is passionate, eloquent and, most important, correct.

Maxim also invented the first automatic machine gun, arguably NOT for the good of mankind, but I suppose the list below deliberately ignores that.

I joined this Facebook group, which has the admirable purpose of letting people (and restaurants) in the UK know that diners deserve a decent portion of chips (they are cheap to make). I’m not in the UK, but I like their ceaseless scrutiny of chip portions.

Granny Smiths are by far my favorite apple, as they’re crisp, tart, and actually have FLAVOR. They’re the only apples I buy unless they’re not around. But I never knew there was an actual Granny Smith!

Monday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

September 27, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning at the start of a new week: Monday, September 27, 2021: National Chocolate Milk Day (my drink of choice at elementary school and junior high school lunch).

It’s also National Corned Beef Hash Day, Family Day, Ancestor Appreciation DayNational Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and World Tourism Day.

Today’s animated Google Doodle celebrates its “retroactive claim” that it’s 23 years old today (see below). Click on gif to go to the link.

News of the Day:

*All you covid-watchers should read a NYT op-ed that will surely be widely criticized (not by me, as I haven’t read the research and have nothing to lose by masking): “We did the research: Masks work, and you should choose a surgical mask if possible.” The three authors include a professor of economics at the Yale University School of Management, an assistant professor in environmental health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, and a professor of medicine in the infectious diseases division at Stanford University. A summary of the trial:

. . . we ran one of the largest and most sophisticated studies of mask wearing, using the “gold standard” of research design, a randomized controlled trial, to evaluate whether communities where more people wear masks have fewer cases of Covid-19.

Many people live in countries where vaccines are not yet widely available. Even in the United States, vaccines are available but used unevenly, and the weekly death rate from Covid-19 remains high. In both of these environments, masks are a critical and inexpensive tool in the fight against the coronavirus.

Our research, which is currently undergoing peer review, was conducted with 340,000 adults in 600 villages in Bangladesh and tested many different strategies to get people to wear masks.

The results of this test of voluntary mask-wearing?

Let us put this in concrete terms. Our best estimate is that every 600 people who wear surgical masks in public areas prevent an average of one death per year given recent death rates in the United States. Think of a church with 600 members. If a congregation learned that it could save the life of a member, would everyone agree to wear surgical masks in indoor, public areas for the next year?

Well, do you think they would? Probably, since it’s a church and everybody is part of the “family”, but perhaps not if you ask a random stranger in a city. Read for yourself.

*More on the pandemic: big trouble in New York City and New York State. On Friday, a federal appeals-court judge overruled a vaccine mandate for teachers, staff, and employees of NYC schools, where 82% of the subjects have been vaccinated.  The order was to go into effect today, with employees required to show at least one vaccination. I don’t know why the judge suspended the mandate, except that this could lead to a severe shortage of teachers. On the other hand, a three-judge court could rule on the issue by the end of the week.

*As for New York State, the same mandate goes into effect today for hospital and nursing home employees. Between 77% and 84% of workers in these categories have had at least one vaccination. Here again we could have a massive worker shortage, which could lead to a declaration of a state of emergency in New York, including the use of medically trained National Guard workers.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 688,157, an increase of 2,031 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,763,052, an increase of about 4,068 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 27 includes:

  • 1066 – William the Conqueror and his army set sail from the mouth of the Somme river, beginning the Norman conquest of England.
  • 1540 – The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) receives its charter from Pope Paul III.
  • 1590 – The death of Pope Urban VII, 13 days after being chosen as the Pope, ends the shortest papal reign in history.
  • 1822 – Jean-François Champollion announces that he has deciphered the Rosetta Stone.

The Rosetta Stone, now behind glass at the British Museum. What Champollion deciphered was the hieroglyphics on this stone, which has the same message in demotic (ancient but non-hieroglyphic Egyptian) and Greek.

The plant (below) is now a Museum, described by Wikipedia as “The oldest, purpose-built car factory building in the world open to the public.”  It could make over 100 Model Ts per day.

  • 1956 – USAF Captain Milburn G. Apt becomes the first person to exceed Mach 3. Shortly thereafter, the Bell X-2 goes out of control and Captain Apt is killed.

Here’s Apt about to embark on his first (and last) flight in the plane. He ejected the nose capsule when the plane was out of control, but the large parachute failed to open and he was killed. He had gone 3.196 times the speed of sound.  This terminated the X-2 program.

The X-2 in flight showing “shock diamonds” in the exhaust, proving that it had gone supersonic:

  • 1962 – Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring is published, inspiring an environmental movement and the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • 1998 – The Google internet search engine retroactively claims this date as its birthday.

Note that at least six days have been claimed as Google’s birthday, though it was founded on September 4, 1998. Here’s where Google stands in Kantar’s list of most valuable brands:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1924 – Bud Powell, American pianist and composer (d. 1966)

Bud Powell was one of the best jazz pianists ever. I usually put up “Night in Tunisia” to commemorate him, but here’s 4.5 minutes of his live playing. He died at only 41 of three classic maladies of jazz musicians: tuberculosis, malnutrition, and alcoholism.

  • 1927 – Red Rodney, American trumpet player (d. 1994)
  • 1934 – Wilford Brimley, American actor (d. 2020)
  • 1947 – Meat Loaf, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor
  • 1957 – Peter Sellars, American actor, director, and screenwriter
  • 1972 – Gwyneth Paltrow, American actress, blogger, and businesswoman

She’s still selling her jade egg, a bargain at $66. You know what you’re supposed to do with it.

  • 1984 – Avril Lavigne, Canadian singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer

Those who shot their bolt on September 27 include:

  • 1590 – Pope Urban VII (b. 1521)
  • 1917 – Edgar Degas, French painter and sculptor (b. 1834)

Degas didn’t draw cats, so here’s Manet’s “Woman With a Cat” (1880):

Woman with a Cat c.1880 Edouard Manet 1832-1883 Purchased 1918

Wagner-Jauregg won his Prize for one of those advances that was a bit dubious: giving those afflicted with neurosyphilis malaria, with the fever designed to eliminate the bacterium. Surprisingly, it worked a bit, but also killed 15% of the patients. It’s no longer used, as we have antibiotics now. (These won’t reverse damage already done.)

The main work pursued by Wagner-Jauregg throughout his life was related to the treatment of mental disease by inducing a fever, an approach known as pyrotherapy. In 1887 he investigated the effects of febrile diseases on psychoses, making use of erisipela and tuberculin (discovered in 1890 by Robert Koch). Since these methods of treatment did not work very well, he tried in 1917 the inoculation of malaria parasites, which proved to be very successful in the case of dementia paralytica (also called general paresis of the insane), caused by neurosyphilis, at that time a terminal disease.

Sister Aimee. If you don’t know about her, find out:

Here she is in full swing, surrounded by choirs (1929):

  • 1956 – Babe Didrikson Zaharias, American basketball player and golfer (b. 1911)
  • 1960 – Sylvia Pankhurst, English activist (b. 1882)

Pankurst was an activist for many causes, the most famous being women’s suffrage. Here she is in 1932, giving a speech in Trafalgar Square about British policies in India.

  • 1965 – Clara Bow, American actress (b. 1905)

The “It Girl”:

  • 1993 – Jimmy Doolittle, American general, Medal of Honor recipient (b. 1896)
  • 2003 – Donald O’Connor, American actor, singer, and dancer (b. 1925)
  • 2017 – Hugh Hefner, American publisher, founder of Playboy Enterprises (b. 1926)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s irritated by Andrzej’s foolish question:

Hili: I’m going to check out what’s under this walnut tree.
A: What can be under it?
Hili: But I’m saying that I’m going to check it out.
In Polish:
Hili: Idę sprawdzić co tam jest pod tym orzechem.
Ja: A co tam może być?
Hili: No przecież mówię, że idę to sprawdzić.

And in nearby Wloclawek, Mietek is lazy:

Mietek: To get up or not to get up, that is the question.

In Polish: Wstać czy nie wstać, oto jest pytanie.

From In Otter News. It’s true, too: Mary Somerville is on one side, and two otters on the other.

I’ve always thought that candy corn, a noxious mixture of paraffin and sugar, was the worst candy ever invented, but this version, from Facebook, is even more dire:

From Jesus of the Day: Either this is anatomically correct or someone’s tumescent:

From Titania, who’s always ahead of the wave:

Ricky Gervais’s cat (I think his name is Pickle):

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. The goalie didn’t look behind himself, a rookie move, and this was the outcome:

Two little cuties!

These look like bat wings:

Check out the expression on that cat’s face!

Call me superstitious (as well as the U.S. gub’mint), but I retweeted this because I have at least ten days’ worth of sleep deficit.