Friday: Hili dialogue

June 18, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Friday, June 18, 2021: International Picnic Day.  It’s also International Sushi Day, National Flip Flop Day (I’m with the plan), Ugliest Dog Day, and, in the UK, Waterloo Day. 

The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest was cancelled in 2020, but here’s the 2019 winner, Scamp the Tramp. He doesn’t look so bad to me!

I forgot to note that it was two years ago yesterday when I learned that Grania died, though she had died the day before—on June 16. It’s better late than never, though, to pay tribute to someone who was not only a good friend and counselor, but a valuable contributor to this website. She was also one of the founders of Atheist Ireland and its first secretary. I never met her, but we spoke via Skype nearly every day. And I still often think about what she’d have to say about today’s events.

Here are photos of Grania young and old (though she was never old, since she wasn’t even 49 when she died); both sent by her sister Gisela.

News of the Day:

It may seem weird that a conservative Supreme Court could issue a ruling supporting Obamacare, and by a vote of 7-2 (Alito and Gorsuch dissented), but the decision (here) was based solely on “standing”.  The state of Texas, the court ruled, hadn’t shown that it suffered a direct injury by the contentious bit of Obamacare: the requirement that all Americans be insured. The court avoided ruling on that issue, which is a big one. Courts often rule on standing when they’re not comfortable about making a big, meaningful decision. But in effect they said that Obama care is probably here to stay.

From the WaPo’s piece on this decision:

The case posed three questions: Have the challengers — 18 states and a couple of individuals — suffered injuries that give them legal standing to bring the challenge? Did changes Congress made in 2017 render unconstitutional the ACA’s requirement for individuals to buy insurance? And if so, can the rest of the law be separated out, or must it fall in its entirety?

Breyer [who wrote the opinion] said that answering the first question negated the necessity of deciding the others.

I’ve mentioned before that several big publishers assert that they won’t consider publishing Trump’s memoirs, though he says that he’s had two offers from prestigious publishers and turned both down. According to a new short piece in Vanity Fair, though,

According to Politico, none of the editors and publishers contacted at the Big Five publishing houses—Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, and Simon & Schuster—said they were aware of any such offer. One source was openly “skeptical” of his claims. “He’s screwed over so many publishers that before he ran for president, none of the big 5 would work with [him] anymore,” the source told Politico.

The reason, beyond a fear of a mass staff walkout, is in the tweet below from CNN’s chief media correspondent:

Speaking of enforced patriotism, the Washington Examiner reports that Republican senators are pursuing a Constitutional amendment that would ban burning the American flag. Doing so now is perfectly legal, regarded as a form of free expression protected by the First Amendment. This new proposal, surely doomed to failure, would presumably carve out an exception for Old Glory. The paper adds, “In 2019, former President Donald Trump called the amendment a “no-brainer,” saying he was “all-in” for the proposal.”  The amendment is doomed as it requires passage by 2/3 of both houses of Congress and then passage by three-quarters of state legislatures. (h/t Ken).

Amazing biology news: A study of the coelacanth, a “living fossil” fish whose appearance hasn’t changed much in 400 million years, revealed that the females don’t reach sexual maturity until they’re 50 years old, and males between 40 and 69. They can live to be 100 and, oddly enough, the embryos appear to have a gestation period of five years. Now this appears based on an somewhat questionable way to age fish using scale “rings” (only dead fish can be analyzed since they’re rarely caught) and on a very small sample. The paper is here in Current Biology, and I haven’t read it yet.

Here are unborn embryos up to five years old taken from caught fish. The bottom fish was already free-living:

Author Janet Malcolm died, one of my favorite writers for The New Yorker. She was 86.

Here are the top searches that got readers to my website yesterday. Number four is a hoot. I’ve never written about that in my life!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 600,524, an increase of 312 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll is now 3,858,704, an increase of about 9,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 18 includes:

  • 1178 – Five Canterbury monks see what is possibly the Giordano Bruno crater being formed. It is believed that the current oscillations of the Moon‘s distance from the Earth (on the order of meters) are a result of this collision.

Geologist Jack B. Hartung believes that the monks’ account explains the crater’s formation, probably by impact with a comet or an asteroid. From Wikipedia:

Five monks from Canterbury reported to the abbey’s chronicler, Gervase, that shortly after sunset on 18 June 1178, (25 June on the proleptic Gregorian calendar) they saw “the upper horn [of the moon] split in two”. Furthermore, Gervase writes:

From the midpoint of the division a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out, over a considerable distance, fire, hot coals and sparks. Meanwhile the body of the Moon which was below writhed, as it were in anxiety, and to put it in the words of those who reported it to me and saw it with their own eyes, the Moon throbbed like a wounded snake. Afterwards it resumed its proper state. This phenomenon was repeated a dozen times or more, the flame assuming various twisting shapes at random and then returning to normal. Then, after these transformations, the Moon from horn to horn, that is along its whole length, took on a blackish appearance.

Here’s an “LRO mosaic” photo of the crater:

  • 1429 – French forces under the leadership of Joan of Arc defeat the main English army under Sir John Fastolf at the Battle of Patay. This turns the tide of the Hundred Years’ War.
  • 1812 – The United States declaration of war upon the United Kingdom is signed by President James Madison, beginning the War of 1812.
  • 1858 – Charles Darwin receives a paper from Alfred Russel Wallace that includes nearly identical conclusions about evolution as Darwin’s own, prompting Darwin to publish his theory.

Although Darwin kept nearly all his correspondence, this most famous letter is missing. It’s thought that Darwin handed it to his colleagues for their joint publication in the Journal of the Linnean Society in 1858, and it was lost or destroyed at the printer’s.

Here’s Anthony, who dressed in black for 50 years; the color was because of her Quaker religion and also as a symbol of her suffragism:

  • 1928 – Aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean (she is a passenger; Wilmer Stultz is the pilot and Lou Gordon the mechanic).
  • 1940 – The “Finest Hour” speech is delivered by Winston Churchill.

Here are 5.5 minutes of that speech. The famous phrase occurs at 4:47.  What a speechwriter he was!

Here’s Joyce (he had been shot in the leg while being arrested). He was the last person to be executed for treason in the UK, and died an unrepentant Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semite:

  • 1948 – Columbia Records introduces the long-playing record album in a public demonstration at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
  • 1983 – Space Shuttle programSTS-7Astronaut Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.

Here’s Ride on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983. She died at only 61.

Notables born on this day include:

We still don’t know if Mallory and Irvine made it to the summit of Everest. His body was found in 1999, but with few clues about whether he’d made the top.  Here’s a photo of the 1924 expedition on which Mallory and Irvine died; Mallory is highlighted:

George Mallory (midden, met cirkel rond het hoofd) en andere leden van de Engelse expeditie die in 1924 als eerste de top van de Mount Everest wilde bereiken. Mallory verloor zijn leven bij de expeditie.
  • 1918 – Franco Modigliani, Italian-American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2003)
  • 1942 – Roger Ebert, American journalist, critic, and screenwriter (d. 2013)
  • 1942 – Paul McCartney, English singer-songwriter and guitarist

Here’s McCartney doing one of my favorite of his songs (2004 at Glastonbury):

  • 1952 – Isabella Rossellini, Italian actress, director, producer, and screenwriter

Those who paid their fee to Charon on June 18 include:

  • 1464 – Rogier van der Weyden, Flemish painter (b. 1400)
  • 1902 – Samuel Butler, English novelist, satirist, and critic (b. 1835)
  • 1936 – Maxim Gorky, Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright (b. 1868)

Here’s Gorky in 1906, when he was about 38:

  • 1982 – Djuna Barnes, American novelist, journalist, and playwright (b. 1892)
  • 1989 – I. F. Stone, American journalist and author (b. 1907)
  • 2020 – Vera Lynn, English singer who was the “Forces’ Sweetheart” in World War II (b. 1917)

Lynn, known as “The Forces’ Sweetheart” for boosting morale of UK troops in World War II, was perhaps most famous for the song below:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili once pretends to be a “green cat”. But I suspect her”care” involves removal of rodents:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: Be quiet, I’m caring for the environment.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Cicho, dbam o środowisko.

A photo of Szaron:

From Divy:

From Nicole:

From Bruce:

Reader Rupinder found a good cat Twitter site, “place where cat shouldn’t be“. There are a gazillion moggies in unseemly places, like this pair:

The famous “dress illusion” tweeted by Steve Stewart-Williams. Is this for real? You be the judge.

Tweets from Matthew. This one, made by the good Dr. Cobb himself, came with a note, “I made a meme to open with (this is a very fashionable meme right now, and shows what happens when you tell your family you have published an article). Indeed, I had exactly this conversation with my mom when I published my first paper!

There was an old picture in Life magazine similar to this. The dairyman has good aim (and a good heart)!

Watch the whole video; it’s heartwarming.

Another tweet by Matthew himself. His note: “My tweet of wisdom today. It was after I spent some time explaining something to Ollie, to no avail.” Matthew doesn’t realize that catsplaining doesn’t work.

Click on the “visit the cave” link for a fabulous virtual tour of Lascaux. It’s closed for good, so this is the only way you can really see it. The paintings are estimated at about 17,000 years old.

This goalie should be fired, if not shot:

Thursday: Hili dialogue

June 10, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Thursday, June 10, 2021: National Iced Tea Day. It’s also National Black Cow Day (a tassty American fountain drink made with root beer and ice cream, also known as a “root beer float”), National Herb and Spice Day, and World Art Nouveau Day.  Here’s a nice piece of Art Nouveau furniture that I would love to own.

News of the Day:

The Keystone Pipeline, designed to convey oil from northern Alberta to the lower 48, is dead, defunct, singing with the Choir Invisible. It is an Ex Pipeline. The Biden administration, continuing its truly progressive environmental policy, revoked the pipeline’s permit yesterday. In light of that, the pipeline developer abandoned the project.

The Washington Post reports that some of the Capitol rioters in jail for their actions are being kept in jail by the continual pronouncements of Trump and his minions that the election was stolen. From the paper:

In keeping a Trump supporter and felon in jail in Michigan pending trial, Jackson highlighted a message in which the man said he was in D.C. on Jan. 6 because “Trump’s the only big shot I trust right now.”

The man has been charged with obstructing a congressional proceeding and related crimes, and his “promise to take action in the future cannot be dismissed as an unlikely occurrence given that his singular source of information . . . continues to propagate the lie that inspired the attack on a near daily basis,” Jackson wrote. [Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied the man bail.]

This isn’t the only person in this situation, for such folks are deemed dangers to public safety so long as the “stolen election” scenario is promulgated. I had no idea that Trump is still banging this drum, as I’ve been happily ignoring and/or unaware of his actions since he became President-Eject.

Have you wondered what’s up with Elizabeth Holmes, accused (with her Theranos colleague Sunny Balwani) of wire fraud and conspiracy, and now of destroying evidence about the efficacy of her blood-testing machines? Preparations for a July trial are in fact underway, and we’re at the jury selection stage. Prosecutors have accused her legal team of trying to stack the jury, since the team submitted 41 pages of questions (112 questions), many of which, say the prosecution, are irrelevant.  Holmes faces 20 years in jail. If you read John Carreyrou’s fascinating book about Holmes and Theranos (highly recommended by yours truly), you’ll want to see her in a prison suit.

Queen Elizabeth has been canceled! According to the BBC, Oxford students at Magdalen college have voted to remove the Queen’s photo portrait from one of their common rooms. The reason? Colonialism!:

“. . . for some students, depictions of the monarch and the British monarchy represent recent colonial history”.

As far as I know, the Queen hasn’t engaged in acts of colonialism. But it doesn’t matter, for her ancestors did!  (h/t Jez)

You probably didn’t know this (nor did I), but judges can increase the sentences of someone who was acquitted of a crime and later convicted of a lesser crime. That is, if you’re acquitted of a murder, and later convicted of a robbery whose normal penalty is four years in jail, your prior acquittal could lead the judge to more than double your sentence. This procedure, called “acquitted conduct sentencing”, seems manifestly unjust, but is widespread. Reader Paul informs me that, according to this article in Persuasion, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin considering a bill that bans this kind of sentencing.

Also from the BBC, a remarkable body-surfing duck (named “Duck”) in Ausralia. He spends up to two hours a day riding the waves. Click on the screenshot to go to the video:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 598,355, an increase of 417 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,777.879, an increase of about 14,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 10 includes:

Here’s a memorial to Bishop I photographed when I visited Salem two years ago. I wonder who left the flowers.

  • 1793 – The Jardin des Plantes museum opens in Paris. A year later, it becomes the first public zoo.
  • 1829 – The first Boat Race between the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge takes place on the Thames in London.
  • 1886 – Mount Tarawera in New Zealand erupts, killing 153 people and burying the famous Pink and White Terraces. Eruptions continue for three months creating a large, 17 km long fissure across the mountain peak.

Sadly, these silica deposits, once the tourist sight in New Zealand, are no more. They may exist underwater, but it’s unlikely anybody will ever see them again. No color photos exist, but here’s a painting of the White Terraces:

Here’s the Sharif. In the movie Lawrence of Arabia, Alec Guinness played his son Faisal.

  • 1942 – World War II: The Lidice massacre is perpetrated as a reprisal for the assassination of Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich.
  • 1944 – In baseball, 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall of the Cincinnati Reds becomes the youngest player ever in a major-league game.
  • 1947 – Saab produces its first automobile.

Here’s a prototype for the first Saab, the “Ursaab”:

  • 1963 – The Equal Pay Act of 1963, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex, was signed into law by John F. Kennedy as part of his New Frontier Program.
  • 1964 – United States Senate breaks a 75-day filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, leading to the bill’s passage.
  • 1991 – Eleven-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard is kidnapped in South Lake Tahoe, California; she would remain a captive until 2009.
  • 2002 – The first direct electronic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans is carried out by Kevin Warwick in the United Kingdom.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s part of a larger Courbet painting, “The Painter’s Studio: A Real Allegory Summing Up Seven Years of My Life as an Artist, 1854-5“, and there’s a cat:

McDaniel was of course the first African-American to win an Oscar: for Best Supporting Actress (in Gone with the Win) in 1940. Her role now makes people cringe, but it was a breakthrough. Here’s her award; note that she says she hope she will “always be a credit to her race.”

  • 1915 – Saul Bellow, Canadian-American novelist, essayist and short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2005)
  • 1921 – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (d. 2021)
  • 1922 – Judy Garland, American singer, actress, and vaudevillian (d. 1969)
  • 1928 – Maurice Sendak, American author and illustrator (d. 2012)
  • 1929 – E. O. Wilson, American biologist, author, and academic.

Happy birthday to Ed, who is 92 today, the same age as my own Ph.D. advisor (and Wilson’s erstwhile nemesis), Dick Lewontin.  Here’s a photo I took of Ed talking to Patty Gowaty at a lunch for bigwigs (I was a littlewig there) at Harvard in 2007:

  • 1965 – Elizabeth Hurley, English model, actress, and producer
  • 1982 – Tara Lipinski, American figure skater

Those who packed it in on June 10 include:

  • 323 BC – Alexander the Great, Macedonian king (b. 356 BC)
  • 1926 – Antoni Gaudí, Spanish architect, designed the Park Güell (b. 1852)
  • 1967 – Spencer Tracy, American actor (b. 1900)

Tracy had a famous, l26-year relationship with Katherine Hepburn though, as a Catholic, he remained married to another. Here are the pair in “Adam’s Rib” (1949):


  • 2004 – Ray Charles, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actor (b. 1930)
  • 2016 – Gordie Howe, Canadian ice hockey player (b. 1928)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili is watching the birds carefully.

Hili: Young starlings are bigger and bigger.
Paulina: Focus on what’s obtainable.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Młode szpaki są coraz większe.
Paulina: Koncentruj się na tym co osiągalne.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

A photo of Szaron by Andrzej;

From Nicole:

From Bruce:

A groaner from Jesus of the Day:

From Titania. A reader sent me this paper from The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, but at first I thought it was surely a hoax (just glance at the paper for a minute!). But it seems to be real! The world is going to hell. If any reader wants to navigate the paper and report back in the comments (free link in the previous sentence), you’re welcome to do so.


From a reader. I suppose this kind of word salad is why Kendi refuses to debate anyone who disagrees with him:

From Luana: a new paper that says neo-Darwinism still rules okay:

Also from Luana. I’m not a big fan of Greenwald, but here he highlights on area in which liberalism is getting devoured by termites. I wrote about the ACLU article here.

Tweets from Matthew. Keep watching this video, and tell me how many shelduck ducklings you see. I wonder if any were kidnapped?

Odonate peekaboo:

Just when you think people can’t get any loonier about the COVID vaccine:

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

June 9, 2021 • 6:30 am

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

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

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

News of the Day:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stuff that happened on June 9 includes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notables born on this day include:

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

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

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

Portman turns 40 today.

Those who croaked on June 9 include:

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

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

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

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is having a spring kvetch:

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

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

From Bruce:

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

From Fat Cat Art via On the Prowl cat cartoons:

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

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

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

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

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

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


This tweet even explains leucism:

Saturday: Hili dialogue

June 5, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s the Sabbath for cats: Saturday, June 5, 2021:  National Ketchup (or Catsup) Day. Remember when the Reagan administration counted ketchup as a vegetable in school lunches? It’s also National Pineapple Day, Sausage Roll Day, National Bubbly Day, honoring champagne and its relatives, National Gingerbread Day, National Veggie Burger Day, and National Black Bear Day,

Finally, it’s World Day Against Speciesism and World Environment Day.

As for wine, I finished the bottle of Austin Hope 2015 Paso Robles Cabernet I described yesterday, and it was even better than before. It remains the best California cab I’ve ever had, though a friend I told about it says that the price is at least $70 a bottle in California, and then only at auction. I have no more and it’s off the shelves, so I consider myself lucky.

News of the Day:

Facebook has cut down the indefinite ban it gave Donald Trump after the January Capitol siege. Now he can post again, but not for two years, which puts his reappearance after the midterm elections. He’s fulminating, of course, but does anyone share my feeling that even though the GOP is centered on him, he’s becoming increasingly marginal?

Did you know that seven states still legally ban atheists from holding public office? A piece in The Conversation gives details. Such bans are clearly unconstitutional and never, as far as I know, enforced, but someone should institute a court case. The problem is that unless you’ve been banned from holding office because you don’t believe in God, you have no standing to bring a lawsuit. But, like blasphemy laws and statues of Jefferson Davis, they are invidious anachronisms that need to be expunged.

The government-produced report on UFOs is now out, and the results are more or less as expected. As NBC News reports:

A highly anticipated government report sheds little light on the mystery, finding no evidence of extraterrestrial activity but not ruling it out either, according to two U.S. officials.

The report also does not rule out the possibility that the flying objects seen by U.S. military planes are highly advanced aircraft developed by other nations, the officials said. Further deepening the mystery, the report says the objects also do not appear to be evidence of secret U.S. technology but it doesn’t definitively rule that out either.

In other words, we don’t know much more than we did before

Sadly, the Secretary of the Atheists Society in Kenya has resigned, and for an odd reason. Here’s the announcement as sent to me by Barry (click to enlarge):

Poor AOC! Her abuela’s (grandmother’s) home in Puerto Rico was damaged by the recent hurricane, and she blames Trump for not giving enough aid to the U.S. territory. Apparently AOC, who can’t be that poor, can’t afford to help her granny, so Matt Walsh set up a GoFundMe campaign that has raised over $55,000! Even Ben Shapiro kicked in, donating the amount that AOC spends monthly on her Tesla lease. See below.

It will be amusing (and somewhat nice, if ironic) if AOC’s grandma’s home was saved by the conservatives she despises. Will AOC have a comment? (h/t: Luana).

California has passed a new mask mandate that make keep workers masked in the workplace into 2022. It all depends on the vaccination status of your coworkers:

The new rules require employees, even those who have been vaccinated, to continue wearing masks indoors if they are around other workers who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine. If everyone is vaccinated, the masks can come off. The mandate drew ire from employers worried about having to police their workers’ vaccination status and from employees sick of wearing masks — even as other workers applauded the rules or said they don’t go far enough to protect their safety.

It seems to me that they should be able to create laws making vaccination mandatory if you’re going to a workplace with people, barring any conditions you have that militate against vaccination. Those who are voluntarily unvaccinated should not force everyone to wear masks, especially since the risk of being an asymptomatic carrier, if you’re vaccinated, is miniscule.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 596,483, an increase of 414 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,728,471, an increase of about 10,700 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 5 includes:

A first edition of this fabled abolitionist book will run you about $15,000:

Here’s a lovely poster advertising the train that rain from Paris to Istanbul:

  • 1893 – The trial of Lizzie Borden for the murder of her father and step-mother begins in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Lizzie was acquitted by this jury:

  • 1916 – Louis Brandeis is sworn in as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court; he is the first American Jew to hold such a position.
  • 1916 – World War I: The Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire breaks out.
  • 1944 – World War II: More than 1,000 British bombers drop 5,000 tons of bombs on German gun batteries on the Normandy coast in preparation for D-Day.

D-Day, as you may recall, is tomorrow. I don’t think the bombing made the Germans realize that the invasion was imminent.

  • 1956 – Elvis Presley introduces his new single, “Hound Dog“, on The Milton Berle Show, scandalizing the audience with his suggestive hip movements.

Here’s that performance. I doubt that the hip movements would be considered salacious today.

  • 1967 – The Six-Day War begins: Israel launches surprise strikes against Egyptian air-fields in response to the mobilisation of Egyptian forces on the Israeli border.
  • 1968 – Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan.

  • 1975 – The United Kingdom holds its first country-wide referendum on membership of the European Economic Community (EEC).
  • 1984 – Operation Blue Star: Under orders from India’s prime minister, Indira Gandhi, the Indian Army begins an invasion of the Golden Temple, the holiest site of the Sikh religion.

This of course eventually led to Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards.

We still don’t know who he was:

  • 1995 – The Bose–Einstein condensate is first created.

Notables born on this day include:

Garrett was famous for killing the outlaw Billy the Kid in 1881. Here’s Garrett:

  • 1883 – John Maynard Keynes, English economist, philosopher, and academic (d. 1946)
  • 1932 – Christy Brown, Irish painter and author (d. 1981)

Brown, who had cerebral palsy, wrote his autobiography, My Left Foot, made into a well known movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Here’s a photo of Brown and one of his paintings (made with his left foot):

  • 1934 – Bill Moyers, American journalist, 13th White House Press Secretary

Those who snuffed it on June 5 include:

  • 1900 – Stephen Crane, American poet, novelist, and short story writer (b. 1871)

Here’s Crane, who died at only 28 of tuberculosis:

  • 1910 – O. Henry, American short story writer (b. 1862)

His real name was William Sydney Porter, and he died at 47 from too much booze and diabetes (what works we would have had all the boozing authors laid off the sauce!). Here he is as a young man in Texas:

  • 2002 – Dee Dee Ramone, American singer-songwriter and bass player (b. 1951)
  • 2012 – Ray Bradbury, American science fiction writer and screenwriter (b. 1920)
  • 2018 – Kate Spade, American fashion designer (b. 1962)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Paulina wants a word with Hili. Malgozata explains Hili’s “relative” response: “If Paulina is asking because she wants to give Hili a treat, Hili has plenty of time. If Paulina is asking because she has a chore for Hili to do, Hili doesn’t have a moment to spare.”

Paulina: Do you have a moment?
Hili: It depends on what for, everything is relative.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Paulina: Masz chwilkę czasu?
Hili: Zależy na co, wszystko jest względne.

And here’s Szaron (photo by Paulina):

From Bruce, a meme for New Age children:

From Nicole:

From Jesus of the Day:

Speaking of AOC, here’s some performative lip service from her, though she wants the state of Israel to be abolished:

From Ginger K.: the scientific method:

Also from Ginger K., a persistent kitten. How can you not love her?

Tweets from Matthew. He keeps sending me tranquility videos, so either he’s anxious or, more likely, knows that I am:

A phascogale! What is it? See here; they’re also called “wambengers” or “mousesacks”!

Okay, why did this guy do it in the first place?

Matthew has plenty of experience with three plumpish cats:

A someone old and snarky tweet:



Wednesday: Hili dialogue

June 2, 2021 • 6:30 am

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

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

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

News of the Day:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stuff that happened on June 2 includes:

Barnum with one of his diminutive attractions, Commodore Nutt:

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

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

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

Here’s a short video of that fracas:

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

Mubarak died in a military hospital in 2020:

Notables born on this day include:

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

Those who resigned from life on June 2 include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Bruce, a truly diabolical idea:

From Nicole:

From Karl:

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

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

From Ginger K.:

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

Shapeshifting bunneh!

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

But what is Quibi?

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

Thursday: Hili dialogue

May 27, 2021 • 6:30 am

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

News of the Day:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stuff that happened on May 27 includes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notables born on this day include:

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

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

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

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

Those who hied themselves below ground on May 27 include:

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

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

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

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

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

From Nicole:

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

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

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

The world’s most helpful ferret:

A man in a hurry:

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

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

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

What a cool video!:

Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 25, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the cruelest of all weekdays: Tuesday, and May 25, 2021, to boot. It’s also National Wine Day and Geek Pride Day. as well as International Missing Children’s Day and  National Missing Children’s Day (United States), as well as National Tap Dance Day and, in honor of Douglas Adams, Towel Day.  

And it’s another Three Bun Day, as I saw three Eastern Cottontails on my walk to work. They don’t live very long, but nor are they aware of their mortality.

Wine of the Day: This bottle from Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy may be the first Sancerre I’ve had (it’s a French appellation with most whites made from sauvignon blanc). It’s not a wine I look for, and can’t remember buying this one, though I have $30 written on the bottle, so that’s what I paid. Was it worth it? I don’t think so. It’s a decent specimen of sauvignon blanc, redolent of citrus and apple, but one can do better: equally good sauvignon blancs are available for $20 or less. You win some, you lose some. . .

Drunk with fettucine alfredo; a slight touch of sweetness would have improved the pairing.

News of the Day:

In an op-ed at the NYT, mercifully free of politics, Salman Rusdie’s thesis is “The stories we love make us who we are.” An exponent of magical realism, at least in his best book, Midnight’s Children, Rushdie says this:

This is the beauty of the wonder tale and its descendant, fiction: that one can simultaneously know that the story is a work of imagination, which is to say untrue, and believe it to contain profound truth. The boundary between the magical and the real, at such moments, ceases to exist.

In his paean to “wonder tales,” one of Rushdie’s favorite novels is also in my pantheon of the greats:

When, as a college student, I first read Günter Grass’s great novel “The Tin Drum,” I was unable to finish it. It languished on a shelf for fully 10 years before I gave it a second chance, whereupon it became one of my favorite novels of all time: one of the books I would say that I love. It is an interesting question to ask oneself: Which are the books that you truly love? Try it. The answer will tell you a lot about who you presently are.

Well, you can take issue with his thesis, but not with the claim that The Tin Drum is one of the best novels of our time.

A fossil fruit, 52 million years old, has been discovered , a tomatillo found in South America.  (h/t Nicole) It shows this:

Delicate fossil remains of tomatillos found in Patagonia, Argentina, show that this branch of the economically important family that also includes potatoes, peppers, tobacco, petunias and tomatoes existed 52 million years ago, long before the dates previously ascribed to these species, according to an international team of scientists.

(From The new fossil groundcherry Physalis infinemundi from Laguna del Hunco in Patagonia, Argentina, 52 million years old. This specimen displays the characteristic papery, lobed husk and details of the venation. Credit: Ignacio Escapa, Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio

According to the Guardian, the body of a missing Catalonian man was found inside the leg of a large dinosaur statue. What a way to go, too: a police spokesperson explained the tragedy this way:  “It looks as though he was trying to retrieve a mobile phone, which he’d dropped. It looks like he entered the statue head first and couldn’t get out.” (h/t: Matthew Cobb)

And another strange story, this time from the BBC: Criminal trapped by a photo of Stilton cheese!  Carl Stewart, 39, posted this photo on an encrypted messaging service, which was decryptic by the police:

His finger and palm prints from the photos were sufficient to get him indicted for conspiracy to supply heroin, cocaine, ketamine and MDMA, as well as for transferring criminal property.  He’s now in jail for over 13 years because he broadcast his love of Stilton cheese! (h/t: Jez)

From the Times of Israel, Blake Ezra has a good piece about the distortions of the media (and by others, including celebrities) about the recent battles in the Middle East: “I’m fed up.” Ricky Gervais’s comment about Hollywood celebrities in the piece is appropriate.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 589,926, an increase of 410 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,488,194, an increase of about 9,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 25 includes:

Can you imagine the relief of those people who no longer had to eat annelids?

Wilde moved to France the day he was released from prison and never came back to Britain. Here’s his tomb in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, photographed by me three years ago. A plexiglas barrier surrounds Jacob Epstein’s superb tomb, as people would cover the sculpture with lipstick by kissing it (you can see some kiss marks in the photo):

Here I am honoring Scopes at his gravesite in Paducah, Kentucky. The Discovery Institute excoriated me for publishing this picture, saying that I was honoring a man who taught eugenics and racism. But he didn’t: he taught human evolution for one day as a substitute teacher (the other stuff was in the textbook he used for that day, but didn’t teach):

  • 1935 – Jesse Owens of Ohio State University breaks three world records and ties a fourth at the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • 1955 – First ascent of Mount Kangchenjunga: On the British Kangchenjunga expedition led by Charles Evans, Joe Brown and George Band reach the summit of the third-highest mountain in the world (8,586 meters); Norman Hardie and Tony Streather join them the following day.

I went to Darjeeling in India largely to see Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill, the prime viewing spot. For four days the mountain was invisible, socked in by clouds, and then, the day before we left, I climbed Tiger Hill with my camera and tripod an got a morning view of Kanchenjunga that looked like this:

Here’s Kennedy’s pronouncement exactly sixty years ago today:

  • 1977 – Star Wars (retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) is released in theaters.
  • 1978 – The first of a series of bombings orchestrated by the Unabomber detonates at Northwestern University resulting in minor injuries.
  • 1986 – The Hands Across America event takes place.

Remember this? Well, a continuous chain of linked human hands wasn’t achieved, though 6.5 million people participated, but it was sort of successful. From Wikipedia:

In order to allow the maximum number of people to participate, the path linked major cities and meandered back and forth within the cities. Just as there were sections where the “line” was six to ten people deep, there were also undoubtedly many breaks in the chain. However, enough people participated that if an average of all the participants had been taken and spread evenly along the route standing four feet (1.2 m) apart, an unbroken chain across the 48 contiguous states would have been able to be formed.

Here’s Weihenmayer on the summit:

  • 2011 – Oprah Winfrey airs her last show, ending her 25-year run of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  • 2012 – The SpaceX Dragon becomes the first commercial spacecraft to successfully rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station
  • 2018 – Ireland votes to repeal the Eighth Amendment of their constitution that prohibits abortion in all but a few cases, choosing to replace it with the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland.
  • 2020 – George Floyd, a black man, is murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest when he is restrained in a prone position face-down on the ground for more than nine minutes, provoking protests across the United States and around the world

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1803 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and philosopher (d. 1882)
  • 1878 – Bill Robinson, American actor and dancer (d. 1949)

Robinson, a superb tap dancer, was invariably relegated to the “subservient black man” roles. Here he is doing a dance on a staircase:

  • 1889 – Igor Sikorsky, Russian-American aircraft designer, founded Sikorsky Aircraft (d. 1972)
  • 1929 – Beverly Sills, American soprano and actress (d. 2007)
  • 1944 – Frank Oz, English-born American puppeteer, filmmaker, and actor
  • 1969 – Anne Heche, American actress

Those who exited this life on May 25 were few, and include:

  • 1954 – Robert Capa, Hungarian photographer and journalist (b. 1913)

Capa was the only photographer to land with U.S. troops on Omaha Beach on D-Day. Here’s one of the eleven photos he took of the landing:

  • 2003 – Sloan Wilson, American author and poet (b. 1920)

Author of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Wilson was the father of biologist David Sloan Wilson.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, there is some joy this day, at least from Paulina:

Paulina: At last some good news from the world.
Hili: You must be joking again.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Paulina: Nareszcie jakieś dobre wiadomości ze świata.
Hili: Chyba znowu żartujesz.

And Szaron’s hiding in the space where firewood is stored:

A meme from Nicole:

I posted this several years ago on Facebook:

From Bruce, a grilled chicken:

One of many odious tweets by a working BBC journalist. People are demanding she be fired, but I won’t join that mob.

From Barry; nice try, but no cigar. . .

Tweets from Matthew. Learn this trick, for some day it may save your life:

One excerpt:

While the familiar munching and slurping of the dinner table are innocuous enough to most, those with misophonia – literally a hatred of sound – can find them profoundly irritating, to the point that they become disgusted, anxious, angry and even violent.

Does anyone here have misphonia?

I didn’t know there was a Duck of the Day site. Fortunately, Matthew is following it:

Below: the average distance traveled by swifts was 570 km per day, but they often went much farther: the record was 830 km per day (roughly 500 miles) over nine days!

Now THIS is a gorgeous beetle:

A failed prediction from Mechanix Illustrated:

Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 18, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Tuesday, May 18, 2021: National Cheese Souffle Day.  It’s also I Love Reese’s Day (their peanut butter cups are one of America’s finest commercial candies), International Museum DayWorld AIDS Vaccine Day, National Stress Awareness Day, and Dinosaur Day.

In honor of Dinosaur Day, here’s a greeting to Matthew featuring his favorite flavor of dinosaur, a stegosaur:

Posting may be light today as I have errands outside the University.

News of the Day:

According to the NYT, Joe Biden has finally called for a cease-fire in the battle between Israel and the Palestinian Territories. He did this in a phone call to Netanyahu.  I wonder if he also called representatives of Hamas? But never mind; whether a cease-fire works, and it’s badly needed, will depend on each side ceasing to attack the other. In the meantime, Israel continues to target Hamas’s network of underground tunnels.

Have a look at Bret Stephens’s column on the dispute, “If the left got its wish for Israel,” assuming that the agenda of “progressive” Democrats were fulfilled. It’s stuff like this that puts the kibosh on my hopes for a two-state solution:

. . . a Hamas administration in the West Bank wouldn’t take long to duplicate the formula that paid such dividends for it in Gaza: the complete militarization of the territory, putting every Israeli at immediate risk of rocket attack.

In this it would be greatly assisted by Iran, especially if rising oil prices and the potential lifting of economic sanctions as part of a new nuclear deal replenish Tehran’s coffers and its appetite for regional adventures. Jordan, too, would be at risk if a radical Palestinian state turns its sights on a fractious Hashemite regime.

And what about peace? A Hamas government would likely renege on any agreement with a Jewish state that does not honor the “right of return” of the descendants of Palestinian refugees. Anti-Zionist groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace would make the Palestinian case in the United States while the Tucker Carlson wing of the Republican Party would call for sharp restrictions on immigration.

As for Israelis, they would eventually emerge from the morass, at a terrible cost in blood, because they have no other choice. When they did, they could be sure the progressive wing of the Democratic Party would be quick to denounce them for having the temerity to survive.

I vaguely recalled that Peter Yarrow, of the famed folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary, had been convicted of child molestation, but didn’t know that President Jimmy Carter, of all people, surreptitiously pardoned Yarrow, who served only a few months in jail, for molesting a 14 year old girl. According to the Washington Post, thia was “perhaps the only [pardon] in U.S. history wiping away a conviction for a sexual offense against a child. (Yarrow, now 83, is still alive.) Now another putative victim appeared just a few months ago.

A tiger that had  been missing in Houston for a week was finally found and given a good home at a sanctuary. From the video below it appears to be a young cat, and was illegally owned (or taken care of) from a city resident who has been arrested.

According to the BBC, a croquet match has decided how a river’s name should be pronounced. The River Nene flows through both Northamptonshire, where it’s called the “Nen”,  Cambridgeshire, where it’s pronounced “Neen”. Northampton won a croquet match, and so both areas have to call the river the “Nen.” (h/t: Jez)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 585,897, an increase of 613 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,405,658, an increase of about 11,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 18 include:

  • 1096 – First Crusade: Around 800 Jews are massacred in Worms, Germany
  • 1756 – The Seven Years’ War begins when Great Britain declares war on France.
  • 1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte is proclaimed Emperor of the French by the French Senate.
  • 1860 – Abraham Lincoln wins the Republican Party presidential nomination over William H. Seward, who later becomes the United States Secretary of State.

Here’s a photo taken of Lincoln in 1860 which, coincidentally, happens to have been snapped by Matthew Brady, born on this day in 1822 (see below):

Sadly, no photos exist of Homer Plessy, an “octaroon” (one eighth-black) who, as the Rosa Parks of his day, boarded a whites-only train car and was expelled. The case went up to the Supreme Court, where Plessy lost.

There are arguments about whether this was really the first full-length Indian film (the cameraman was British and the film processed in London), but you can judge. There are no videos I could find, but here’s a poster for the movie at the time it came out (May 25, 1912 in the Times of India):

Ah, Sister Aimee. If you don’t know about her and her phony disappearance, as well as her many followers, read at least the Wikipedia bio. Here she is in full splendor at her L.A. temple:

Here’s Cochran in her F86, talking to her pal Chuck Yeager, who also broke the sound barrier, but bearing a penis:

Jackie Cochran in the cockpit of the Canadair F-86 with Chuck Yeager. (Photo courtesy Air Force Flight Test Center History Office)

Here’s a photo of the eruption taken at 8:32 a.m. on that day:

  • 1994 – Israeli troops finish withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, ceding the area to the Palestinian National Authority to govern.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1048 – Omar Khayyám, Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet (d. 1131)
  • 1822 – Mathew Brady, American photographer and journalist (d. 1896)

Here’s another Brady photo, and you surely recognize the subject:

Here’s Russell at Trinity College in 1893:

  • 1912 – Perry Como, American singer and television host (d. 2001)
  • 1944 – W. G. Sebald, German novelist, essayist, and poet (d. 2001)

Those who crossed the Great Divide on May 18 include:

  • 1909 – George Meredith, English novelist and poet (b. 1828)
  • 1911 – Gustav Mahler, Austrian composer and conductor (b. 1860)

Here’s Mahler’s grave in the Ginzing Cemetery in Vienna:

  • 1995 – Elizabeth Montgomery, American actress (b. 1933)
  • 2015 – Raymond Gosling, English physicist and academic (b. 1926)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are having an unpleasant chinwag (they are getting along much better now, though):

Szaron: Did you hear that the starlings have chicks already?
Hili: Yes, but all the nests are inaccessible.
(Photo Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Szaron: Słyszałaś, że szpaki mają już pisklęta?
Hili: Tak, ale wszystkie gniazda są niedostępne.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

From Facebook:

From reader John, some great advice:

From Jesus of the Day: I think this Scout has a case for defamation:

Stephen Fry is going to be on “The Simpsons”:

From reader Barry, who says, “This cat is too weird for me. I don’t think I would enjoy its company. It’s too high-strung.”  I disagree; I love this cat!

Tweets from Matthew. This one will warm your heart.

A 20-shilling ticket to see Dylan (and boo him if you were so inclined):

What a fantastic creature!

Just a worn-out chair:

If squirrels were religious, their god would be an enormous acorn, existing outside of space and time.

What’s the problem with this cat?

Saturday: Hili dialogue

May 15, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Cat Sabbath: Saturday, May 15, 2021: National Chocolate Chip Day. It’s also World Whisky Day, International Day of Families, Peace Officers Memorial Day, Astronomy Day, Bring Flowers to Someone Day, Straw Hat Day, Plant a Lemon Tree Day, and, best of all, International Conscientious Objectors Day. Remember, the Sabbath was made for cats, not cats for the Sabbath.

News of the Day:

The trouble in Israel continues, and has been strongly exacerbated by the internecine violence between Israeli Jews and Arabs, as well as threats from Jordan and Lebanon:

By Friday evening, Israel faced furious demonstrations in at least 60 places across the West Bank and new protests just across the borders with Jordan and Lebanon, all atop the vigilante violence between Arabs and Jews within Israel, and the continuing battle with Gaza militants.

From Salon via reader Charles. The indictment they’re preparing from would come from Manhattan. but how many of you think Trump will really be indicted? (One can hope.)

BUT, there’s this:

But the report also noted an “obscure clause” in Florida law regarding interstate extradition that gives Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close Republican ally of the former president who is reportedly considering his own 2024 presidential bid, to intervene or investigate “the situation and circumstances of the person” in question “and whether the person ought to be surrendered” to law enforcement in a different state.

No thank you article of the day. (This is connected with religion, of course.) The best way to deal with death, for me at least, is to know you’re gonna die but then don’t dwell on it. Don’t do what  Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble tells you to do—ponder it constantly, keeping skull mementos around!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 584,725, an increase of 610 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,372,845, an increase of about 13,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 15 include:

  • 1536 – Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, stands trial in London on charges of treason, adultery and incest; she is condemned to death by a specially-selected jury.

Boleyn was executed by beheading four days later.

Do you know Kepler’s Third Law? Neither did I—you can read about it here.

  • 1817 – Opening of the first private mental health hospital in the United States, the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends HospitalPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania).

Here’s the hospital, still in use as a hospital and clinic.

  • 1911 – In Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, the United States Supreme Court declares Standard Oil to be an “unreasonable” monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act and orders the company to be broken up.
  • 1940 – World War II: After fierce fighting, the poorly trained and equipped Dutch troops surrender to Germany, marking the beginning of five years of occupation.
  • 1940 – Richard and Maurice McDonald open the first McDonald’s restaurant.

Here’s that first McDonald’s no longer operating. But I still remember when a burger, fries, and a shake were each 15¢. Buy ’em by the bag!

This streak is still unbroken and probably will remain so. In second place is Wee Willie Keeler, who hit safely in 45 consecutive games in 1896-1897. Pete Rose, with 44, is in third place.

It’s still going on!

Cresson, still the only female PM France has ever had:

  • 2004 – Arsenal F.C. go an entire league campaign unbeaten in the English Premier League, joining Preston North End F.C with the right to claim the title “The Invincibles“.

Notables born on this day include:

Among the 14 kids of this polymath was his most famous offspring, Rabindranath Tagore.

Author of the Oz books:

  • 1859 – Pierre Curie, French physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1906)
  • 1891 – Mikhail Bulgakov, Russian novelist and playwright (d. 1940)

Do read his The Master and Margarita, one of the great novels of our time. A satire of Soviet society, it was published by his wife—26 years after his death. And the greatness of this novel is one thing that Adam Gopnik and I do agree on! Bulgakov:

  • 1902 – Richard J. Daley, American lawyer and politician, 48th Mayor of Chicago (d. 1976)
  • 1915 – Paul Samuelson, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2009)
  • 1923 – Richard Avedon, American sailor and photographer (d. 2004).

He was a great fashion photographer but I like his portraits like this one:

  • 1930 – Jasper Johns, American painter and sculptor
  • 1981 – Jamie-Lynn Sigler, American actress and singer
  • 1987 – Andy Murray, Scottish tennis player

Those who passed away on May 15 include

The only authenticated portrait of Dickinson, taken in 1846 or 1847, when she was but 16 or 17.  But there’s another one likely to be her as well.


“Cat Studies” by Edward Hopper:

  • 2007 – Jerry Falwell, American pastor, founded Liberty University (b. 1933)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron enjoy the sun and engage in some persiflage:

Hili: I’m worried about the information from the stock exchange.
Szaron: Which one?
Hili: In Shanghai.
In Polish:
Hili: Niepokoją mnie informacje z giełdy.
Szaron: Z której?
Hili: W Szanghaju.

Kulka and Szaron, photos by Paulina:

From Divy:

From Nicole (NSFW?):

Two tweets from Barry. Look at this frog!

Barry says, “I just love the nod. Sound up.”  I don’t understand where Bucky is going to be brought if he doesn’t snore.  I can’t make out the words. The “beefs”?

Tweets from Matthew. For sure this woman hasn’t bathed a cat!

Is that a serious question? If it fits, he sits!

A gorgeous Flower Hat Jellyfish:

First swim for the ducklings. Given their peeping, I think they’re a bit distressed. (Sound up.)

I don’t think I like the image of the Emeritus Professor:

Friday: Hili dialogue

May 14, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Friday the Fourteenth (of May), 2021, and it’s National Buttermilk Biscuit Day, the quintessence of American baked goods. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a Southern breakfast of country ham, fried eggs, grits, homemade preserves, red-eye gravy, and tons of freshly-baked biscuits. Here, in Nashville, Tennessee, is where to get the best breakfast in America.

It’s also International Dylan Thomas Day (celebrating the reading of his voice play Under Milk Wood on May 14, 1953, in New York City), and Dance Like a Chicken Day. Not much of a day for celebrations, is it?

News of the Day:

The fighting in the Middle East, both the Israel/Gaza conflict and the nascent civil war within Israel between Israeli and Arab Jews, continues with no sign of abating. Hamas rockets number over 2,000 now, while Israel ground forces are shelling Gaza. For a while yesterday there were reports that Israeli troops had entered Gaza, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. 12,000 Israeli reservists have been called up to deal with the intra-Israel fighting, which is brutal and reprehensible on all sides.

On Thurday the CDC advised that Americans who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus may go maskless in most places. The caveats:

The new advice comes with caveats. Even vaccinated individuals must cover their faces and physically distance when going to doctors, hospitals or long-term care facilities like nursing homes; when traveling by bus, plane, train or other modes of public transportation, or while in transportation hubs like airports and bus stations; and when in prisons, jails or homeless shelters.

However, due to vaccine hesitancy the pace of vaccination has waned—it’s down 38% from what it was in mid-April, and that’s only a month ago.

Here’s an amazing story as reported by the Guardian. A man paralyzed from the neck down had two small computer chips implanted in the left side of his brain, which controls the right hand. He’s then asked to imagine that he’s writing sentences with his right hand. The electrodes and AI decode the impulses, producing his ability to write 18 words a minute on a computer, and with 94% accuracy. Here’s the paper in Nature reporting this. (h/t Jez)

David Brooks’s new NYT column, called “This is how wokeness ends“, which is curiously unconvincing. While applauding the equality aims of “wokeness,” as do many of us, he decries its increasing reliance on a specialized discourse aimed at academics.  This, he says, will defang the movement, though it’s not sure how. Read his column, but here’s are two excepts (he refers to an article by Rod Dreher on fulminating wokeness):

I’m less alarmed by all of this because I have more confidence than Dreher and many other conservatives in the American establishment’s ability to co-opt and water down every radical progressive ideology. In the 1960s, left-wing radicals wanted to overthrow capitalism. We ended up with Whole Foods. The co-optation of wokeness seems to be happening right now.

. . .Corporations and other establishment organizations co-opt almost unconsciously. They send ambitious young people powerful signals about what level of dissent will be tolerated while embracing dissident values as a form of marketing. By taking what was dangerous and aestheticizing it, they turn it into a product or a brand. Pretty soon key concepts like “privilege” are reduced to empty catchphrases floating everywhere.

The economist and cultural observer Tyler Cowen expects wokeness in this sense won’t disappear. Writing for Bloomberg last week, he predicted it would become something more like the Unitarian Church — “broadly admired but commanding only a modicum of passion and commitment.”

This would be fine with me. As I say, there are (at least) two elements to wokeness. One focuses on concrete benefits for the disadvantaged — reparations, more diverse hiring, more equitable housing and economic policies. The other instigates savage word wars among the highly advantaged. If we can have more of the former and less of the latter, we’ll all be better off.


Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 583,990 an increase of 622 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,359,869, an increase of about 13,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 14 includes:

From Wikipedia:

On 14 May 1796, Jenner tested his hypothesis by inoculating James Phipps, an eight-year-old boy who was the son of Jenner’s gardener. He scraped pus from cowpox blisters on the hands of Sarah Nelmes, a milkmaid who had caught cowpox from a cow called Blossom, whose hide now hangs on the wall of the St. George’s Medical School library (now in Tooting). Phipps was the 17th case described in Jenner’s first paper on vaccination.

You can read about Blossom the cow here.

  • 1800 – The 6th United States Congress recesses, and the process of moving the U.S. Government from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., begins the following day.
  • 1804 – William Clark and 42 men depart from Camp Dubois to join Meriwether Lewis at St. Charles, Missouri, marking the beginning of the Lewis and Clark Expedition‘s historic journey up the Missouri River.

A banner day for evolution, as indicated in this tweet from Matthew:

  • 1870 – The first game of rugby in New Zealand is played in Nelson between Nelson College and the Nelson Rugby Football Club.

I couldn’t find a photo of the Nelson Rugby club, but here’s one showing “Scotland’s first rugby team. . . for the 1st international, v. England in Edinburgh, 1871″

The judge dismissed the case. Here’s Spofford:

  • 1939 – Lina Medina becomes the youngest confirmed mother in medical history at the age of five.

FIVE YEARS OLD! Well, it seems to be pretty credible: a case of precocious puberty. Medina gave birth through Caesarian as her pelvis was too small, and the baby survived. Here’s a photo of mother and child (see more here):

  • 1948 – Israel is declared to be an independent state and a provisional government is established. Immediately after the declaration, Israel is attacked by the neighboring Arab states, triggering the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

For those like Anita Sarkeesian who claims that Israel is not an independent state: take note of the above.

  • 1961 – Civil rights movement: A white mob twice attacks a Freedom Riders bus near Anniston, Alabama, before fire-bombing the bus and attacking the civil rights protesters who flee the burning vehicle.

Notables born on this day include:

Here is “Six Studies of a Cat” by Gainsborough, painted 1763-1769, chalk on paper:

  • 1897 – Sidney Bechet, American saxophonist, clarinet player, and composer (d. 1959)
  • 1897 – Ed Ricketts, American biologist and ecologist (d. 1948)
  • 1936 – Bobby Darin, American singer-songwriter and actor (d. 1973)

Here’s Darin singing my favorite of his songs, originally a French number.

  • 1952 – David Byrne, Scottish singer-songwriter, producer, and actor

Those who departed this life (or any life) on May 14 include:

  • 1847 – Fanny Mendelssohn, German pianist and composer (b. 1805)
  • 1912 – August Strindberg, Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist (b. 1849)
  • 1940 – Emma Goldman, Lithuanian author and activist (b. 1869)
  • 1959 – Sidney Bechet, American saxophonist, clarinet player, and composer (b. 1897)
  • 1987 – Rita Hayworth, American actress and dancer (b. 1918)

The other day I showed a great video of Hayworth dancing the “Shorty George” with Fred Astaire. Here’s a slower number, “Sway with Me” with the same partner:


  • 1995 – Christian B. Anfinsen, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1916)
  • 1998 – Frank Sinatra, American singer and actor (b. 1915)
  • 2015 – B.B. King, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1925)
  • 2018 – Tom Wolfe, American author (b. 1931)

Wolfe wrote some great stuff, but came a cropper when he tried to take down Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky simultaneously (my review of that debacle is here).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are having a micoraggression:

Hili: What are you doing?
Szaron: I’m doing exercises in microaggression in the fresh air.
In Polish:
Hili: Co ty robisz?
Szaron: Ćwiczę mikroagresję na wolnym powietrzu.

The cherry trees are blooming in the orchard, and Kulka enjoys the flowers;

The picture below is from Facebook. This isn’t a genuine old painting but a modern one; one source says this:

There’s an image that’s been shared on social media dozens of times over the past few years. The image depicts a shoeless samurai walking a cat wearing armor. The samurai has a helmet with cat ears, and the image appears to be very old, perhaps dating back to Medieval Japan.

In reality, the painting is the creation of Japanese artist Tetsuya Noguchi, who often depicts samurai in unusual, comic situations. He has also mastered traditional techniques to create highly-detailed armor that would not be out of place in a museum.

From Meanwhile in Canada. I’ll have what they’re having.

From Bruce:

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

A tweet from Teen Vogue. This is the stuff that the magazine, now one of the Wokest of the Woke, is feeding its readers:

From Barry, who thinks this deep-sea squid looks like a teaser for a Pixar movie:

On this day in science. It’s amazing that no Nobel Prize was ever given for the discovery of messenger RNA. Note Matthew’s paper about the issue.

Now THIS is what the Internet is best at!

A paper on how the morphology of snake fangs is adapted to the nature of their prey.

A great footballer. For more video on the Barca midfielder, see the video below this tweet.

Spot the nightjar: