Friday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

December 27, 2019 • 6:30 am

It’s Friday, December 27, 2019: the third day of Christmas (French Hens Day), the fifth full day of Hanukkah, and the third day of Coynezaa. It’s also National Fruitcake Day: the day when everybody circulates the world’s one existing fruitcake to somebody they’ve neglected (and want to punish). It’s also Visit the Zoo Day, though I’m not a big fan of zoos and won’t be going.  In North Korea it’s Constitution Day. Although I had no idea they had a constitution, you can find more information about it here, though I don’t see anything about The Right to Starve or about The Right to Put Three Generations of Relatives in a Labor Camps if One of Them Offends the State.

The weather is now predicted to be above freezing for at least a week: it’s an extraordinarily warm Coynezaa season in Chicago. The high today is predicted to be 44° F (7° C), and yesterday’s high—61° F or 16° C—set an all-time temperature record for December 26 in Chicago, beating the previous record by 6 full degrees Fahrenheit.

Stuff that happened on December 27 includes:

Read about the event: a group of non-Quaker citizens of Flushing (now in New York) petitioned governor Peter Stuyvesant to lift the ban on Quaker worship. It was a plea for religious tolerance, and it failed. Stuyvesant dissolved the local government and arrested the leaders. The Flushing Remonstrance articulated freedom of religion but did not create it.

The first is a big happening:

  • 1831 – Charles Darwin embarks on his journey aboard HMS Beagle, during which he will begin to formulate his theory of evolution.
  • 1845 – Ether anesthetic is used for childbirth for the first time by Dr. Crawford Long in Jefferson, Georgia.
  • 1911 – “Jana Gana Mana”, the national anthem of India, is first sung in the Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress.

The song, both lyrics and music, were written by the polymathic artist Rabindranath Tagore. Here are a number of famous Indian vocalists singing it. I have to say that it’s a good song—certainly far better than the U.S. National Anthem:

  • 1927 – Kern and Hammerstein’s musical play Show Boat, considered to be the first true American musical play, opens at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Broadway.

The movie version of Show Boat was filmed nine years after the play, and features this song, here sung by the great Paul Robeson. It’s a remarkably anti-racist song for its era, though the Broadway version of the song had the “n-word” instead of “darkies”. Robeson’s voice is ineffably thrilling:

  • 1929 – Soviet General Secretary Joseph Stalin orders the “liquidation of the kulaks as a class”.
  • 1935 – Regina Jonas is ordained as the first female rabbi in the history of Judaism.

Jonas was ordained as a rabbi in Germany. Being a woman, she couldn’t find a pulpit, but did religious work until she was sent to the internment camp Theresienstadt by the Nazis in 1942. There she worked in a a rabbinical capacity until 1944, when she was moved to Auschwitz and killed immediately at age 42. Here’s her photo:

How big? Wikipedia explains:

The Cave of Swallows, also called the Cave of the Swallows (Spanish: Sótano de las Golondrinas), is an open air pit cave in the Municipality of Aquismón, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. The elliptical mouth, on a slope of karst, is 49 by 62 m wide and is undercut around all of its perimeter, widening to a room approximately 303 by 135 meters (994 by 442 ft) wide.The floor of the cave is a 333-meter (1092 ft) freefall drop from the lowest side of the opening, with a 370-meter (1,214 ft) drop from the highest side, making it the largest known cave shaft in the world, the second deepest pit in Mexico and perhaps the 11th deepest in the world.

Here’s an Attenborough video segment about the cave that kicked off an episode of BBC’s “Planet Earth” i 2006.

  • 1968 – Apollo program: Apollo 8 splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, ending the first orbital manned mission to the Moon.
  • 1978 – Spain becomes a democracy after 40 years of fascist dictatorship.
  • 2007 – Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto is assassinated in a shooting incident.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1822 – Louis Pasteur, French chemist and microbiologist (d. 1895)
  • 1901 – Marlene Dietrich, German-American actress and singer (d. 1992)
  • 1915 – William Masters, American gynecologist, author, and academic (d. 2001)
  • 1943 – Cokie Roberts, American journalist and author (d. 2019)
  • 1948 – Gérard Depardieu, French-Russian actor
  • 1963 – Gaspar Noé, Argentinian-French director and screenwriter
  • 1971 – Savannah Guthrie, American television journalist

Those who found eternal quietus on December 27 include:

  • 1834 – Charles Lamb, English essayist and poet (b. 1775)
  • 1938 – Calvin Bridges, American geneticist and academic (b. 1889)
  • 1950 – Max Beckmann, German-American painter and sculptor (b. 1884)
  • 2003 – Alan Bates, English actor (b. 1934)
  • 2012 – Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., American general and engineer (b. 1934)
  • 2015 – Meadowlark Lemon, American basketball player and minister (b. 1932)
  • 2016 – Carrie Fisher, American actress, screenwriter, author, producer, and speaker (b. 1956)

Here’s Beckmann’s “Still Life with Cats” (1917). Beckmann did a fair few renditions of cats that you can see here.

The day after Carrie Fisher died, most likely from drug abuse, her mother, the actress Debbie Reynolds, also died. Wikipedia says this:

The day after Fisher’s death, her mother Debbie Reynolds suffered a stroke at the home of son Todd, where the family was planning Fisher’s burial arrangements. She was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she died later that afternoon.  According to Todd Fisher, Reynolds had said, “I want to be with Carrie” immediately prior to suffering the stroke. On January 5, 2017, a joint private memorial was held for Fisher and Reynolds. Fisher was cremated while her mother was entombed. A portion of her ashes were laid to rest beside Reynolds in a crypt at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills. The remainder of those ashes are held in a giant, novelty Prozac pill.

If you don’t believe that last bit, it’s true. Here’s a photo from The Hollywood Reporter of Carrie’s brother Todd carrying her ashes in the giant capsule:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is doing her job, such as it is, as editor of Listy:

Hili: What are you writing about?
A: About productivity.
Hili: Continue; I will just sit here.
In Polish:
Hili: O czym piszesz?
Ja: O wydajności.
Hili: Pisz dalej, ja sobie tu posiedzę.

And in nearby Wloclawek, Leon is catting:

Leon: Hmm, I would like to eat something.
In Polish: Hm, zjadłbym coś.

My college pal Stash Krod posted this Kliban cartoon on his Facebook page, and it is indeed a real Kliban cartoon. It reminds me of Hitchens’s famous “My own opinion is enough for me” remark:

From Jesus of the Day: a problem I always faced as a kid:

From Cole and Marmalade (I may have posted it before, but it’s a winner):

All our tweets today come from Matthew Cobb, mainly because no other regular has sent me any. Fortunately, Matthew has been generous with his “gifting” of tweets.

First, the Friday egress of the fowl from Marsh Farm Barn. Rush hour was slightly delayed because Smudge the Cat wouldn’t get off the door, and also played with the Christmas ornaments:

Friday Rush Hour finally began, with Bumblebee the Sheep coming out first, followed by Lucy the Goat. And, once again, Cuthbert the Goose gets a name check while most of the ducks are ignored.


The appointing of federal judges, which have a lifetime sinecure, is a particularly important job of the U.S. President. Unfortunately, we have a madman and a bull-goose loon conservative as President, and so we have the following. (You probably recall, if you’re an Arican, that Brown v. Board of Education prohibited segregation in the public schools.)

Well, come January 1, recreational marijuana will be legal in Illinois. . .

The picture on the duvet cover below is, of course, from the movie American Beauty. This would make a great Christmas present!

I don’t know what Ms. Vosshall is on about: this is the natural order of things:

I love muscovy ducks (they’re not artificially selected mallards, but members of another species). They’re sweet and friendly, and wag their tails constantly.

I can’t remember if I posted this before, but it’s worth seeing again. Only in Paris could a general strike produce something like this (note that it’s Matthew’s own tweet):

Matthew’s comment:

A lovely pensive cat. According to translate, it is sitting watching its staff in the bath. My cats generally look more alarmed when I am in the bath, but that doesn’t happen very often.

I hasten to add that Matthew doesn’t mean that he doesn’t bathe often; what he means is that he usually showers rather than sitting in the tub. (I take about one bath a year; I don’t see the point of what my father called “sitting in your own schmutz.) And here’s the Google translation:

I’m sorry! Now bathing! That is this sight! I have been taking a bath with me since I was born, so this face on my side during my bathing. I sleep immediately after taking a bath m(_ _)m

27 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. Even if Trump is defeated in 2020, his legacy of far right wing judges will live on long after him. True social progress will be stymied for decades. Despite all the talk by Democratic candidates of some sort of universal health care, it may never come to pass because of the judges, who will find a reason to declare it unconstitutional. The country may be heading towards secularization, but the agenda of the theocrats will hold sway. All this means that stark political polarization and social unrest will end no time soon.

    1. I should add that if Trump wins a second term, things will get much worse more quickly. Using the examples of Poland and Hungry, political scientist Yascha Mounk notes that “current events in India and Poland should shock Americans out of this complacency. Trump’s first term is at best an imperfect guide to the horrors that would await us if he manages to win a second one. When they are reelected, populists nearly always become more radical and more dangerous.” Unconcerned about re-election (assuming he will actually voluntarily leave the White House), there is no telling what he will do, abetted by the Republican Party.

      1. Some very real concerns for all of us. We should not even need to look at how dark it is getting in India, Poland and other countries, we should just look at what is happening here. A vision of how bad it could get into the future here should not be needed either. Just look at what we have right now. There are many things being done that cannot be reversed, although I hear people saying, oh we can fix everything. No you can’t. And yet, what do democrats do? They mostly find fault with each other and pass over all the stuff being done by the current administration. The only positive statement I can offer is, judges interpret laws and yes, it is bad but legislatures can make law so work on that.

        1. And once the Dems get in (eventually), much of what they will have to do is to try to walk back the erosion caused by Trump. Not so much forward progress into the future but instead a hard-fought return toward the conditions of 2016. All the while being opposed and undercut by the Republicans.

          1. Yes, just for starters, many of the major departments have been nearly destroyed. EPA, USDA, Housing & Urban development, and Energy. It will take years to repair these.

    2. I’m sure the orange monkey’s judges will have an impact on society, but I don’t think it will be as important as you suggest. There are lot’s of judges. More than tRump will have time to get around to. Also, there are a lot of conservative judges that are old and ready for retirement. It’s largely up to the voters whether they want a conservative or progressive society on the long run.

        1. Small consolation, indeed. Also, it’s small consolation that, as you note in a comment below that “If really unqualified and making a mess, they can be impeached, if I’m not mistaken.” You’re not mistaken, though it’s about as likely as hens’ teeth (which are rare but not non-existent — they’re mutant and ‘mutatis mutandis’ for the federal judiciary.

          Though the majority of Trump’s judicial appointments are rated “well-qualified” by the ABA he has a penchant for nominating judges rated “not qualified” by the ABA. According to “As of November 4, 2019, the American Bar Association (ABA) had rated 204 of President Trump’s nominees. Of these nominees, 139 were rated “well-qualified,” 56 were rated “qualified,” and nine were rated “not qualified.”[3] Seven of the nine individuals rated as “not qualified” have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.[4] The last sentence is telling.

          Earlier this month Lawrence VanDyke was confirmed, despite the fact that not only is he a whack job but “the ABA found that VanDyke has a reputation as “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules.” Just the kind of
          judge Trump needs. Sarah Pitlyk’s another doozy.

    3. I would add it is not just the Judges, it is the confidence US allies have in the US as an ally. Trump may pass, but who says somewhere in the future an even worse POTUS may not be elected?
      The damage to the environment, how long is that going to take to recover from, if ever?
      The lagging in transforming the energy economy to a largely solar one, how much of global warming can still be averted?
      And these are but 3 examples.

      1. Well, one thing’s for sure, if Trump gets reelected, then indeed we elected an even worse POTUS. I simply state that the first term orange Trump will be very different from the second term burnt-orange Trump. This dude will turn 9 years old; he’s sort of holding steady at 12…I don’t think the Constitution can handle another 3 year dip in his personality. It’s no trivial thing that he thinks himself a king…of sorts.

    1. More than three ducks are involved here but this is a silly and charming duck dance song “la danse des canards” but they are French.

  2. 1845 – Ether anesthetic is used for childbirth for the first time by Dr. Crawford Long in Jefferson, Georgia.

    Progressive barbarians! That’ll be another thing that Trump will be correcting come the next term.

    Only in Paris could a general strike produce something like this

    I’m having a mental image of Arfur Scargill and the Massed Bands of the Collieries doing a Billy Elliott number. And now I’m blindly stabbing to try to find the “Unsee” and “Unthink” buttons “£%$£^&$£^£^ NO CARRIER

  3. Trump has appointed 200 life time tenured judges many unqualified […]
    This is deliberate and cannot be reversed.

    You know, I can’t think of a single gun rights and bear-arming advocate who wouldn’t see the obvious solution to this problem. If, as the saying goes, your solution is a hammer, then all problems look like a nail.

    1. If really unqualified and making a mess, they can be impeached, if I’m not mistaken.
      I think those that have been impeached most are Judges.

      1. “High crimes and misdemeanors” meaning the major crime of getting caught with one’s fingers in the till.

  4. “Not one Black or Hispanic”

    This is a great learning opportunity about bias. Primarily because so many view Trump in a way that such statements confirm their views, and few if any would check such self-evident true statements.

    Except that it is completely untrue.

    Black and Hispanic Judges-

    Judge John Milton Younge
    Judge Richard Ernest Myers II
    Judge Rodney Smith
    Judge Terry Fitzgerald Moorer
    Judge Jason Kenneth Pulliam
    Judge Rossie David Alston, Jr.
    Judge Ada Elene Brown
    Judge Janice Rogers Brown
    Judge Fernando Rodriguez
    Judge David Morales
    Judge Roy Altman
    Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis
    Judge Raúl Arias-Marxuach
    Judge nominee Silvia Carreño-Coll

    Asian Americans-

    Judge Jill Aiko Otake
    Judge Neomi Rao
    Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan
    Judge Barbara Lagoa
    Judge James Ho
    Judge Amul Thapar
    Judge John B Nalbandian
    Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden
    Judge Anuraag Singhal

    Bonus Judge- (Openly gay Filipino-American)
    Judge nominee Patrick Bumatay

    I also counted 54 Female Trump judicial nominees.

    I did not go through the whole list, so there are no doubt others. I am willing to bet that the openly gay nominee is pro-LGBT, So I call BS on the whole thing. There is no way that the person posting the claims did even the minimum research before posting. And few will check, so that becomes another part of the canon of Trump.

  5. As for bathing in a bath-tub, in Japan one washes first outside the tub before immersion to soak in hot water. Hence the water remains clean, and everyone uses the same hot water. (Perhaps that would make tRump happy with regard to water saving?)

  6. Thanks for delving into Hitchens; you do that more lately and I really appreciate your particular choices and commentary.

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