Thursday: Hili dialogue

December 26, 2019 • 7:00 am

It’s Thursday, December 26, the day after Christmas, and so back to work for many Americans, though it’s still a holiday (Boxing Day) to Brits and many in the former Empire. It’s National Candy Cane Day, and if you’re in a waggish mood you can buy candy canes from Archie McPhee’s in these flavors: ham, kale, pizza, mac and cheese, pickle, bacon, clam, and flavorless (the “Bah Humbug!” cane). It’s the fourth full day of Hanukkah, the second day of Christmas (turtle dove day) and the second day of Coynezaa. It’s also National Whiner’s Day (for Jews, National Kvetcher’s Day)

The weather is extraordinarily warm in Chicago today: at 6 am it’s already 53° F (12° C), with a predicted high of 58° F (14.5° C)—exceeding the city record for this date by a full 3 degrees Fahrenheit. In effect, it’s tee-shirt weather. (I just heard on the news that parts of Chicago already exceeded the record late last night with a temperature exceeding 55° F, and it might rise to as high as 65° F [18° C] today—twice the normal temperature for this date.) Fortunately, the ducks haven’t returned to the pond despite the temperature. I am hoping they’re eating gumbo and beignets down on the bayou.

It’s also National Thank You Note Day, so let me tender my thanks to the readers who sent me Coynezaa gifts (I’ve already written people individually), including candy, sauerkraut, fancy wine, The Life of Jesus as a Cat tea towels, homemade baked goods, Darwin Christmas ornaments, and other items to tighten my belt. .

Below I’ve put Sainsbury’s 2014 “Christmas is for Sharing” video ad, made 100 years after the British/German Christmas truce of 1914. Their notes:

Although the events we show in our ad are fictional, we’ve tried to make the details as accurate as possible. Everything from the insignia on the men’s uniform to the depth of the trenches is based on historical fact.

In this short documentary [JAC: a separate video] we talk to the experts who advised us, interview the grandson of a soldier who was there, and hear first-hand accounts from both sides.

We will be selling the vintage chocolate bar featured in the ad, with all profits (50p per bar) going to The Royal British Legion. You can buy the bar in your local Sainsbury’s until Christmas, while stocks last. Subject to availability.


Here are holidays in other places:

Wren Day is St. Stephen’s Day, and although they used to hunt real wrens on this day, now they use fake ones. God doesn’t want people killing his creatures on the holiday of the first Christian martyr.

Stuff that happened on Boxing Day include:

  • 1799 – Henry Lee III’s eulogy to George Washington in congress declares him as “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen”. (This is not to be confused with Washington’s funeral on December 18.)
  • 1860 – The first ever inter-club English association football match takes place between Hallam and Sheffield football clubs in Sheffield.
  • 1862 – The largest mass-hanging in U.S. history took place in Mankato, Minnesota, where 38 Native Americans died.
  • 1898 – Marie and Pierre Curie announce the isolation of radium.
  • 1941 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States.
  • 1944 – World War II: George S. Patton‘s Third Army breaks the encirclement of surrounded U.S. forces at Bastogne, Belgium.

I’ve been fascinated by Patton since I saw the eponymous movie in 1970, which won 7 Ocars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and, for the star, George C. Scott, Best Actor (he refused the Oscar). Here’s a rare audio recording of Patton; his voice is higher than I expected, as it was the first time I’ve heard him. See the famous opening scene below with Scott, who has a much lower voice:

Here’s Scott as Patton in the famous opening speech, which is pretty much what the real Patton said. This is the best clip I can find on YouTube.

You can also see a very good 26-minute video biography of Patton, narrated by Walter Cronkite, here.

  • 1963 – The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” are released in the United States, marking the beginning of Beatlemania on an international level.
  • 1966 – The first Kwanzaa is celebrated by Maulana Karenga, the chair of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach.
  • 1991 – The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union meets and formally dissolves the Soviet Union, ending the Cold War.

Those born on December 26 include:

  • 1791 – Charles Babbage, English mathematician and engineer, invented the Difference engine (d. 1871)
  • 1872 – Norman Angell, English journalist, academic, and politician, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1967)
  • 1891 – Henry Miller, American author and painter (d. 1980)
  • 1893 – Mao Zedong, Chinese politician, Chairman of the Communist Party of China (d. 1976)
  • 1935 – Abdul “Duke” Fakir, American singer
  • 1939 – Phil Spector, American singer-songwriter and producer

Those who went the way of all flesh on this day include:

  • 1909 – Frederic Remington, American painter and illustrator (b. 1861)
  • 1968 – Weegee, Ukrainian-American photographer and journalist (b. 1898)
  • 1972 – Harry S. Truman, American colonel and politician, 33rd President of the United States (b. 1884)
  • 1996 – JonBenét Ramsey, American child beauty queen and prominent unsolved murder victim (b. 1990)
  • 2006 – Gerald Ford, American commander, lawyer, and politician, 38th President of the United States (b. 1913)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili doesn’t understand that which she creates:

Hili: Entropy.
A: I don’t understand.
Hili: Neither do I.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Entropia.
Ja; Nie rozumiem.
Hili: Ja też nie całkiem rozumiem.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

From Jesus of the Day: His Noodlieness crowns the tree:

Greg found a picture of the Three Wisecats, and added some information:

The  Feast of the Epiphany (ca. Jan. 6) celebrates the visit of the 3 wisemen to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem; they brought gifts of gold , frankincense, and myrrh. It’s more important in the Orthodox Church, but all Christians know it as a Christmas story, so posting now would be appropriate.

And so I post it:

From reader Barry: bad d*g tries to nom cat!

We have one tweet from Heather Hastie today:

. . . and seven from Matthew, including the Boxing Day egress from Marsh Farm Barn; Cuthbert again gets a name check:

A few Christmas tweets. The first gets the award for Christmas tweet of 2019:

Two fictional characters battle it out:

This is, I think, one of Darwin’s most entertaining and readable books. I wonder if Adam got a first edition.

Look at these leaf insects! The precision of the mimicry includes chewed edges and rotten spots.

What a save! Note how the cat opposes the motion of the front and back of its body to twist properly for a four-footed landing:

26 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. Two people you mention this morning were both born in the 1880s. George Patton and Harry Truman. Truman was president when I was born and was soon to get into the Korea Conflict. Patton died in a strange car accident at the end of WWII. Both were of the greatest generation that is nearly forgotten.

  2. I need to clarify my comments accompanying the Three Wisecats. It turns out that the Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on Dec. 25 on the Julian calendar, which is January 7 on the Gregorian calendar (i.e., the calendar most of us currently use). So, not being Orthodox myself, I had confused the approximate coincidence of the Latin Feast of the Epiphany and Orthodox Christmas. Orthodox Epiphany (January 19 in the Gregorian calendar) is still an Orthodox holy day, but the reason January 7 is more important in the Orthodox Church is because it’s their Christmas.


  3. 2006 – Gerald Ford, American commander, lawyer, and politician, 38th President of the United States (b. 1913)

    Ford was also an all-American center/linebacker on the University of Michigan’s twice-undefeated national champion football team in the 1930s — although there appears to be no truth to the rumor (spread by LBJ, who found Ford slow-witted) that Ford took to the gridiron sans helmet. 🙂

    1. I think Ford was a decent chap, not considered the sharpest tool in the shed when compared to Kennedy, Nixon, Carer, Clinton,etc. But, since 2016, he can no longer be considered the dullest.

      1. Ford’s old Grand Rapids congressional district is today represented by Justin Amash, the pro-impeachment apostate who would seem to to the only congressional (now-former) Republican who could have qualified for inclusion in JFK’s (or, perhaps, Ted Sorensen’s) Pulitzer-prize winning book, Profiles in Courage.

        1. I didn’t know Amash was from the same district. I grew up not far from Grand Rapids, and I would see Ford on the local news from time to time, cutting ribbons and such. Once, he “debated” one of my professors at Grand Valley State University. My professor read an angry screed and Fords response was, as I remember, a totally passion free listing of mundane thought as American as apple pie. He never ceased to disappoint.

  4. You know what drives me nuts about the movie Patton? Whenever he looks through binoculars, you see from a perspective you couldn’t possible see and you hear the sounds as though the binoculars are magnifying the sound. It takes me out of the movie.

    1. By the way, quoting from a comment on the video,

      I’ve always loved the intro blunder. It’s actually John who makes the mistake. The intro chords go from C to D. All Lennon did was bumble that second chord. Sounds like he only transitioned the bar chord up 1 fret to a C# instead of 2 frets to the D. Not hard to believe on that little 3/4 scale Rickenbacker. What’s great about this is how quickly Paul reacts and looks for the culprit of this dastardly sound. And how George shoots a quick glance over to John then puts his head near his amp to see if he’s the culprit. It’s a great piece of footage! A testament to how human these aliens really were! lol

      Not sure how much of that was a fantasy narrative in the commenters head, but it was a sour note for sure.

    1. I made a trip to Big Sur in the early Eighties, not long after Miller died, and bought a sketch of his at a gallery near Miller’s old home presided over by his buddy Emil White.

  5. Just sort of coasting today. Recovering from yesterday. Did a traditional dinner for just 7 people, fewer than usual, but it was just as much work as for 15.

    I brined 2 fresh turkeys. 1 brined with salt, honey, herbs, peppercorns then rubbed with my top secret smoking blend and smoked over hickory. The other brined with salt, honey, herbs, peppercorns, navel oranges and lemons and then spatchcocked and roasted in the oven on top of the stuffing.

    The stuffing was sour dough bread, onions, celery, apples, fresh thyme & sage, butter and a sausage I made the day before similar to Swedish Korv, pork & beef seasoned with allspice and cinnamon.

    The potatoes were simple, gold potatoes mashed with copious amounts of Kerry Gold butter and heavy cream seasoned with salt and freshly ground nutmeg. Over the years these potatoes have impressed people more than just about anything else I’m known for making, which is funny because they are so simple.

    I made a stock the day before from the turkey necks, gizzards, hearts and livers and used that for the gravy, with a cup of fine chardonnay and a butter + flour roux.

    The cranberries were cooked down in a simple syrup with a split & scraped vanilla bean, fresh squeezed navel orange juice + the zest from the orange, salt and pepper and the secret ingredient that no one ever guesses, a couple of tablespoons of Dijon mustard mixed in after it comes off the heat. It was served warm rather than chilled which my wife prefers (I agree with her).

    I left the vegetables to my mother in law. Her broccoli casserole is excellent and has been a standard at all special meals for as long as we’ve been family.

    The tricky part was timing the turkeys. I screwed that up a bit but it was minor enough that I was able to deal with it. Both turkeys were about as perfect as a turkey can get. I tried a new “hack” that I just heard about. While tempering the birds put bags of ice on the breasts so that they stay cold while the legs warm up. Seems so obvious but I never thought of this. This worked great as both birds hit 160ish in the breasts and 180ish in the legs at the same time.

    1. Yum! What time shall I show up at your house next Xmas? My son-in-law had intended to smoke our turkey in his smoker but at the last minute could not find enough wood chips at any local stores. Turns out we had some chips (which I still haven’t used in our regular bbq) but we didn’t know he needed any, and he didn’t know we had any…Do you have a smoker, Darrell?

      1. Stop by any time!

        Yes, I’ve got a smoker. A cheap chest type smoker that looks sort of like a small refrigerator. Cheap means thin walls, which means constant tending because it doesn’t hold heat. But it’s a “dual fuel” smoker, meaning you can burn wood / charcoal and it also has a gas burner. I usually start off with charcoal and wood and use gas as needed later in the process so that I don’t have to constantly tend the fire.

  6. I don’t think there was anything to commemorate the civil rights movement until 1971, and thus, I think that was the impetus for Kwanzaa :

    “Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971; the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986”

    Source :

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