Wednesday: 2020 Hili dialogue

January 1, 2020 • 6:30 am

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome to 2020: it’s January 1— the onset of a new decade. Google commemorates it with today’s Doodle; click on the screenshot to see where it goes:

And to mark the departure of 2019, here’s an old Lang sign from Imgur:


Colder weather has returned to Chicago, with even a bit of snow yesterday (it’s now a few degrees below freezing), but today’s high will be 41° F or 5° C, with temperatures close to that for a week. There’s no more snow in the forecast, and no ducks have landed in Botany Pond.

It is, as you might expect, National Bloody Mary Day. Personally, I’ve never found alcohol useful in mitigatating the aftereffects of inebriation. In Europe it’s Apple Gifting Day, a tradition in which people give each other that fruit (I’ve never heard of it), and in the U.S. it’s Commitment Day—that day when people vow to get in better shape, and then give it up in about a week.

It’s also Dishonor List Day, when people decide which words or phrases should be omitted from the English language. I’ve been doing that all year, but here are some listed on the hol5iday page;

  • “partly sunny” — Apparently “partly sunny” does not always mean “the sun is partially covered by clouds”… It can also mean that there is a solar eclipse. Therefore, this phrase is dishonorable to the English language. (?)
  • “shower activity” — Rain is not the same thing as a shower. You shouldn’t encourage people to bathe in rain. *cough* Right.
  • “turned-up missing” — Something that has “turned-up” can’t be missing…. I guess….
  • “colorization” (coloring the classic black-and-white movies) — Why must there be a term like colorization? Why can’t we simply call it “coloring films”? (I, personally, think colorization is a really fun word and is preferable over “coloring films” any day. =D)

It’s also National First Foot Day, described as follows:

National First-Foot Day marks the new year custom of first-foot, which is part of the folklore of Scotland and Northern England, with variations of it existing elsewhere. In this tradition, the first person who steps into the home of a household following the start of a new year is viewed as a bringer of good fortune for the coming year. This person cannot be someone who was in the house when midnight struck; they need to be someone who was outside of it and has stepped back in. It is permissible for them to be an occupant of the house.

Finally, it’s the eighth day of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Maids a-Milking).

Year end graphs: In today’s New York Times, Steven Rattner summarizes a lot of political and economic data with graphs; here’s one of them:

As you might expect, lots happened on January 1, including this stuff:

Julian Calendar:

  • 1502 – The present-day location of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is first explored by the Portuguese.
  • 1600 – Scotland recognises January 1 as the start of the year, instead of March 25.

Gregorian Calendar:

Here’s Bouvet Island, as described by Wikipedia (it’s

Bouvet Island (Norwegian: Bouvetøya or Bouvet-øyaUrban East Norwegian: [bʊˈveːœʏɑ])  is an uninhabited subantarctic high island and dependency of Norway located in the South Atlantic Ocean at 54°25′S 3°22′ECoordinates: 54°25′S 3°22′E, thus locating it north of and outside the Antarctic Treaty System. It lies at the southern end of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and is the most remote island in the world, approximately 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi) north of the Princess Astrid Coast of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica, 1,160 kilometres (720 mi) east of the South Sandwich Islands and 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) south-southwest of the coast of South Africa.

It has an area of 49 km², of which 93% is covered by a glacier, and is a nature reserve. It has three species of penguins, seals, and breeding seabirds.

  • 1773 – The hymn that became known as “Amazing Grace”, then titled “1 Chronicles 17:16–17” is first used to accompany a sermon led by John Newton in the town of Olney, Buckinghamshire, England.
  • 1776 – General George Washington hoists the first United States flag; the Grand Union Flag at Prospect Hill.
  • 1808 – The United States bans the importation of slaves.
  • 1892 – Ellis Island begins processing immigrants into the United States.
  • 1898 – New York, New York annexes land from surrounding counties, creating the City of Greater New York. The four initial boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx, are joined on January 25 by Staten Island to create the modern city of five boroughs.
  • 1901 – The British colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia federate as the Commonwealth of Australia; Edmund Barton is appointed the first Prime Minister.
  • 1934 – A “Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring” comes into effect in Nazi Germany.
  • 1947 – The Canadian Citizenship Act 1946 comes into effect, converting British subjects into Canadian citizens. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King becomes the first Canadian citizen.
  • 1959 – Cuban Revolution: Fulgencio Batista, dictator of Cuba, is overthrown by Fidel Castro’s forces.
  • 1971 – Cigarette advertisements are banned on American television.
  • 1979 – Normal diplomatic relations are established between the People’s Republic of China and the United States.
  • 1993 – Dissolution of Czechoslovakia: Czechoslovakia is divided into the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic.
  • 1999 – Euro currency is introduced in 11 member nations of the European Union (with the exception of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Greece and Sweden; Greece later adopts the euro).

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1735 – Paul Revere, American silversmith and engraver (d. 1818)
  • 1752 – Betsy Ross, American seamstress, credited with designing the Flag of the United States (d. 1836)
  • 1864 – Alfred Stieglitz, American photographer and curator (d. 1946)
  • 1879 – E. M. Forster, English author and playwright (d. 1970)
  • 1895 – J. Edgar Hoover, American law enforcement official; 1st Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (d. 1972)
  • 1919 – J. D. Salinger, American soldier and author (d. 2010)
  • 1942 – Country Joe McDonald, American singer-songwriter and guitarist

Here’s a portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe by Steiglitz (they were lovers) taken in 1918. He was 54, she was 31.

Those who gave up the ghost on January 1 include:

  • 1944 – Edwin Lutyens, English architect, designed the Castle Drogo and Thiepval Memorial (b. 1869)
  • 1953 – Hank Williams, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1923)
  • 1972 – Maurice Chevalier, French actor and singer (b. 1888)
  • 2013 – Patti Page, American singer and actress (b. 1927)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s preparing to be a superhero cat:

A: Hili, what are you doing?
Hili: I’m sleeping off New Year’s Party and gathering strength to fight for justice.
In Polish:
Ja: Hili, co ty robisz?
Hili: Odsypiam Sylwestra i nabieram sił do walki o sprawiedliwość.

A cartoon from Anne:

From Facebook:

From Jesus of the Day:

Titania shoots and scores!

Two tweets from Heather Hastie via Ann German. First, an assertive squirrel. . . .

. . . which is then added to a famous picture:

Matthew’s morning pickup: the year’s first egress from Marsh Farm Barn: two flying ducks and Bumblebee the sheep.

Matthew says, “This appears to be on the north bank of the Thames, just opposite the MI5 Headquarters.”  Nice window washer!

Lovely mandarin ducks with a not-quite haiku:


A thousand-year-old tree, but by no means the record holder:


Matthew proffers the second tweet below with a comment: “More of the jenga dog, showing it is incredibly observant and well trained. You can see even more on Instagram here.  Make sure you have the sound up. What puzzles me is how the d*g follows the owner’s footsteps without looking at her feet!


72 thoughts on “Wednesday: 2020 Hili dialogue

    1. Yeah, 1-10 or 0-9, this was a raging controversy in 2000 as well. Personally, the first one seems more practical.

  1. Lutyens designed the Viceroy’s House (now Rashtrapati Bhavan) in New Delhi from 1913 to 1931. This bust was made in his Delhi office and includes an architectural model for a ‘chattri’, or roof feature, on the house. It stood for many years above a doorway in Lutyens’s London office. His private homes are his best work – the bigger stuff not so much:

    1. “…the bigger stuff not so much…”

      I can see what one of his weaknesses was. Designing the Viceroy, he was prompted to incorporate Indian style.

      “His disrespect for the local building tradition he dismissed as primitive is evident in his numerous sketches with appended scrawls such as ‘Moghul tosh’ and his short remark that ‘they want me to do Hindu – Hindon’t I say!’ “.

      1. Yes, he should have stuck to rich, English clients with prejudices that matched his own – he was racist through & through. His objection to the local Indian style of detailing & building wasn’t racist though [or not completely] & more to do with quality of workmanship, but also Lutyens didn’t understand the country at all & wanted to impose an inappropriate European aesthetic. He had no idea on the basics of culture & climate.

        His private houses are fantastic inside & out although horrible to live in – I recall he designed one house without bathrooms [or was it WCs?] – I assume that omission was corrected before it left the drawing board!

  2. Happy New Year to all and thank you Jerry for a wonderful year of WEIT.
    This website has brought me so much and I am grateful for it. Happy 2020!

  3. Matthew says, “This appears to be on the north bank of the Thames, just opposite the MI5 Headquarters.” Nice window washer!

    Yes, it’s the view from the Riverwalk Apartments, 161 Millbank, but that’s the SIS [MI6] HQ across the river in the corner of the frame – MI5 is on the same side of the river as Riverwalk 2km to the left [east] at Thames House.

      1. 1961 was well after the epidemiology of smoking-caused diseases was known and reported in the scientific literature. “innocent” is not the word.
        Anyone for a “soap opera”?
        (From the still, I thought it was Fred and Barney sharing a spliff.)

    1. There is not one line, not one word, in that commercial that is anything other than obvious, tedious and painfully unfunny.

      Did people really ever watch that dreck?


  4. “colorization” (coloring the classic black-and-white movies) — Why must there be a term like colorization? Why can’t we simply call it “coloring films”? (I, personally, think colorization is a really fun word and is preferable over “coloring films” any day. =D)

    I generally hold many “ize” words in mild disdain, but have no problem with “colorize,” since it’s come to have a distinct, well-understood meaning with regard to movies.

    As for the process itself, I’ve come around quite a bit on that, too, compared to when colorized films first started showing up on Turner Classic Movies. I see nothing wrong with colorizing old B-movies that would’ve probably been shot in color originally except for budget constraints.

    But colorizing the classics of B&W cinematography? I object to the colorization of Casablanca. And over my dead body will they colorize Citizen Kane or Raging Bull or the parts of Wizard of Oz set in Kansas.

    1. Colourised Casablanca is dreadful – I just watched a clip & it loses everything. I agree with your choices of films to leave alone & I’ll add The Third Man, The Night Of The Hunter & Point Blank with Lee & Angie [even though it has aged badly, PC-wise].

    2. As far as I am concerned, hands off all — and I do mean all — black and white films.

      And not only because many black-and-white films originally prsumed to be expendable potboilers have proven to be classics.

      Leave the potboilers alone, too — ~Plan 9 From Outer Space~ and the like.

      People who must have their color fix rather than the note of abstraction that black-and-white offers even in the most routine movies are in no danger of losing their drug(which does not mean that color cinematography is always just a prettifyiing narcotic).

      So once again, dump this childish, greed-motivated colorization — which, happily seems to have largely vanished from the cinema scene.

      1. I find the colorization of films abhorrent, too; all I’m saying is that I’ve come to grips with it as a fait accompli for all but the films for which B&W cinematography is an integral part of the artistic vision.

        As to them, it would be a sin for which no absolution can ever be given, no expiation ever earned.

      2. I fully agree. Although, to the purists like you and me, there are always original copies in B&W. It’s a matter of making sure they remain available.

    3. The Wizard of Oz Kansas scenes and Raging Bull are in black and white due to deliberate artistic choices. It would be as much an act of vandalism to colourise them as to redo Van Gogh’s paintings in more natural colours.

      1. It would be as much an act of vandalism to colourise them as to redo Van Gogh’s paintings in more natural colours.

        Waiting for the “Pastel van Gough Project” in 3 … 2 … 1 …
        [Realises I’m Ducking, not Googling]
        Actually, there is a range of “oil pastels trademarked “van Gough”, which rather complicates the search.

      1. I’m iffy on “ify” words.

        They have their place, but I’d as soon avoid them where there’s more agreeable phrasing to be had.

  5. Here’s a portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe by Steiglitz (they were lovers) …

    They were also married, making their romantic liaison copacetic in the eyes of the law and the Good Lord Almighty. 🙂

    1. At the time the picture was taken, they were lovers and Alfred was still married to Emmy. Alfred and Georgia married six years later, after Alfred’s divorce went through. In the meantime, the Good Lord and the prigs may have been frowning

  6. The author of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a despicable human being, and his ‘hymn’ is one of the most hypocritical ever written. I am nauseated whenever forced to hear it. Newton was an Atlantic slave trader. His captain’s logs speak unemotionally about his human cargo, particularly deprecating the loss of slaves who got sick on the voyage, or died, or in one case jumped overboard (to swim back to Africa, reversing the Middle Passage?)and of course drowned before Newton’s crew could ‘save a wretch like’ him.

    Yes, Newton was a wretch. No, the sweet sound didn’t save him, no more than he saved his slaves from slavery. He could take ‘holy orders’ but he can’t hide, either from his god (if such exist) or from a world that knows him.

    Theological question for the Christians who say he ‘newtoned’ for his sins, especially by writing ‘Amazing Grace:’ since that African who jumped ship and drowned was denied evangelical conversion, was he saved or damned?

    1. His story is fascinating and his character more complicated than your post would indicate. As a youth he was abducted and forced to serve on a ship. When he tried to escape, he was flogged. He was abandoned in Sierra Leone where be himself became a slave. After a career of captaining ships across the middle passage, he became an abolitionist.

      1. Newton remained in the BUSINESS of slave trading for quite some time after he left off being a sea-captain. His travails as a boy in no sense either caused him to traffic in human beings as chattels, nor do they mitigate his moral responsibility for participating in this heinous ‘profession.’

          1. Had I been born (and arreared–pun in my lebenhose intended [wiselike]) in the 18th century, I probably would have stolen Newton’s shoes just to have some to wear, his lederhosen too. I’d have done some damning things in order to survive, no doubt. That poor and prospectless would I have been. But blatant hypocrisy among the self-proclaimed ‘saved’ is something anyone, anytime, anywhere may and should detest. I like to think I would have said so in 1775–said, because I wouldn’t have known how to write.

            I take it you think me self-righteous. Well, if what I’ve written about Newton is that, then so be it.

            1. It’s rather easy to self-righteously judge people living two or three hundred years ago. I hope it makes you feel good, though.

              1. Self-righteously or otherwise, we can only ever judge people for what they have done in the past. Are you saying that we should make no moral judgements about the actions of others? I daresay extenuating circumstances can be found to explain the actions of many of history’s greatest monsters but if we just say ‘who are we to judge? – I don’t know that I would have done differently in the same circumstances’ we can surely never learn from the past or make any kind of progress?

                Newton of course did turn around and later in life campaigned for abolition of the slave trade and deserves credit for that. Presumably, by his own judgement his earlier role in transporting slaves was wrong and not justifiable in any way.

              2. It depends on what one means by “moral judgements” and what one means by “the past”.

                To the extent that one’s passions are enflamed by behavior of countless humans over thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?), it becomes more and more pointless as you look backwards. When expressing moral outrage over recent events, where the expression has _some_ hope of altering behavior of living people, there’s some expect, or even demand, it.

                The further into the past you go, the more difficult it is to imagine what life was like for those living at the time, and the cheaper one’s moral outrage becomes.

                When someone gets on his high moral horse and expresses outrage over the treatment of the victims of Atilla the Hun and his forces… well that person needs to get a grip.

              3. Well, I broadly agree with you although of course, Newton is rather closer to us in time than Atilla the Hun! If he is being held up as a person to admire – as the author of a popular hymn – then it seems reasonable enough to me to point out the dark side to his life (though I admit that Mr Bray’s claimed state of arousal whenever he hears the hymn seems a little dramatic).
                As a person who’s early life involved some traumatic experience that may have played a part in him developing into the the person he became and who in later life campaigned against the awful trade he had been involved in, I would suggest that Newton is actually quite an interesting person to consider from an ethical point of view even at a distance of two hundred and fifty years. He probably exemplifies the fact that most people are complex and neither wholly good nor wholly bad.

  7. It should not be forgotten (or perhaps it should be) that today marks the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, which used to be a very important day in the Catholic Church because the foreskin of Jesus was considered undeniable proof that he was human, and was the first shedding of his blood.

    Here is Bach’s Christmas Oratorio BWV 248 Part IV, which is meant to mark the Feast of the Circumcision

    Gorgeous music for a day like this, no matter the reason

    1. Jesus seems to be reacting rather calmly. 😎 I understand there were a plethora of foreskins, all for sale, throughout Europe over many centuries. Like sports hero’s autographs.

          1. But if the guy can resurrect his whole body, what’s a little foreskin?

            A target for the biochemists who are making some progress on regenerating skin for burns victims and scarred people, but who acknowledge that they are a long way from re-growing limbs amputated in adulthood à la salamander?

  8. Why can’t we simply call it “coloring films”?

    I would think “coloring films” would be movies that featured kids with their crayons.

  9. For all of the people who think it is hilarious when you say “see you next year” because next year is a couple days away, well, today is next year so who is laughing now?

  10. Many thanks for another bumper year, Jerry. Looking forward to WEIT 2020!

    You mentioned that 1 Jan is Commitment Day. Today’s (London) Times has a nice quote from Mark Twain: “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving the road to hell with them as usual”.

  11. Newton was a bit more complicated than that. After a spiritual conversion he became an ardent abolitionist and wrote a pamphlet describing conditions on the slave boats he witnessed. This pamphlet Thoughts on the Slave Trade was instrumental in the abolitionist movement that led to the end of the African slave trade as effected by the Slave Trade Act of 1807. He was joined in this effort by an MP, one William Wilberforce, father of “Soapy Sam” Wilberforce. William Wilberforce and his ally John Newton were leaders of the movement to abolish slavery in Britain. You could profit by watching the movie Amazing Grace (2006) about Wilberforce and Newton. BTW, there are cities in Africa named after Newton.

    Also, imho Amazing Grace is a fine hymn that is thrilling when played on the pipe organ or bagpipes.

    1. Also, imho Amazing Grace is a fine hymn that is thrilling when played on the pipe organ or bagpipes.

      Or when sung by Aretha Franklin. How could I forget her 1972 stunning performance?

  12. The Jenga dog shown in the clips is a border collie. The breed (and crosses from it) are used by NZ shepherds as ‘eye’ dogs in the marshalling of groups of sheep. They have the instinctive ability to anticipate movement of sheep to keep flocks under control when, say, moving them from one paddock or yard to another. In the Jenga game the dog is ‘reading the mind’ of the opposing player.

  13. Why so mean to me who criticizes a historical figure who was so mean to other humans as to buy, sell and murder them?

  14. It is rather odd that Wikipedia lists Paul Revere as ‘an American silversmith and engraver’. Though factually true it is surely not that which earned him his place in history.

  15. A thousand-year-old tree, but by no means the record holder:

    Imagine living for 1000 years. This Balavaux larch has done it.

    Somewhere on the far side of 9000 years (assuming there are no nonomillenarians amongst us), as I recall from dendrochronology class.
    Of course, since trees don’t lose their rings when they die, or when they’re incorporated into buildings, ships or ash-fall deposits, the calibrates sequences of tree rings for particular regions and particular tree species can go back much further. IIRC, there’s a Mediterranian-Anatolian reference sequence for pines, for example, that goes back to well beyond 12kyr, and I strongly doubt that I’m within a decade of up to date on such questions (I had a burst of studying it when I did my first Mediterranean job.
    There are much longer-live organisms, such as fungus colonies and plants which reproduce either clonally or by mechanisms such as spreading rhizomes. But that complicates the question.

      1. I’d have to look up the relevant papers – and it’s a subject far from my comfort zone, where I couldn’t even guess at the names of relevant journals.
        I would guess that you can measure the mean progression speed of a clonal mass through (a particular) soil (likely different numbers for different soil types, and for whether the colony is expanding into soil occupied by a competing fungus, or not. Which would give you a defensible range, with error bars.

      2. Oh, in much of the northern hemisphere (and less of the southern hemisphere) you can put a terminus post quem at when the local glaciers went away and soil development started. Which is another “not quite as simple as it seems” question.

  16. Another 1 Jan event I was reminded of this morning…

    Jan 1, 1962. A little-known Liverpool group, The Beatles, auditioned in London for Decca Records. They were turned down with comments, “guitar groups on on the way out,” and that they “have no future in show business.”

Leave a Reply