Friday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on a cooler Friday, August 28, 2020: National Chop Suey Day, a dreadful Chinese-American concoction, unknown in China, that, in the version I was served as a child has canned crispy noodles and CELERY. Oh, and a gooey sauce made with lots of cornstarch. No thank you!  This is pretty much what I remember eating as a kid (but with canned crispy noodles on top):

I do, however, approve of National Cherry Turnovers Day and especially Red Wine Day, but no so much of National Bow Tie Day. I think the last time I wore a bow tie was when I was about four years old.

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) is a series of drawings celebrating the life of Alexandre Dumas “père”.  As 9to5Google notes,

Today’s Google Doodle takes you through the main story points of The Count of Monte Cristo, a classic tale of betrayal and revenge, while celebrating its author, Alexandre Dumas. The animated slideshow uses a graphic novel style to harken back to the heydey of newspaper comics, just as The Count of Monte Cristo was originally published in a newspaper.

News of the Day: Hurricane Laura did serious damage to southern Louisiana the last two days, but fortunately, though the winds were high and damaging, the storm surge (influx of water inland) was not as severe as expected. The death toll as of last evening was four.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who served longer than any other person in his position (9 years over 4 terms), has resigned because of chronic colitis, which can be a nasty ailment.

As expected, the Trump campaign, as evidenced in his acceptance speech last night from the White House, is casting itself as the party of law and order, and the Democrats as the party of anarchy. (Several readers have pointed out that rioting and looting would play into Trump’s hands, no matter who’s doing it.) Here’s a quote from his speech:

“Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens,” . . . “and this election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life, or whether we allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it. That won’t happen.”

In a good response, Biden claimed that what we’re experiencing now is “Trump’s America”, not a country under Biden’s administration.  Still, I’m worried that Trump will get a bump from the widespread rioting these days. Were the protests peaceful, Trump wouldn’t be able to make the statement above.

Confusingly, the CDC has walked back its new recommendation not to test people asymptomatic for covid-19—a change apparently mandated the other day by the Trump administration. Now, although those new guidelines remain on the CDC website, the director, Robert Redfield, tried to “clarify” the change by saying, “testing may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable Covid-19 patients.” Considered? What about “recommended”? His further explanation didn’t make things clearer:

“Testing is meant to drive actions and achieve specific public health objectives,” Dr. Redfield wrote. “Everyone who needs a Covid-19 test, can get a test. Everyone who wants a test does not necessarily need a test; the key is to engage the needed public health community in the decision with the appropriate follow-up action.”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 180,728, an increase of about 1100 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 830,859, an increase of about 6,000 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on August 28 include:

This is still the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S.

  • 1867 – The United States takes possession of the (at this point unoccupied) Midway Atoll.
  • 1879 – Cetshwayo, last king of the Zulus, is captured by the British.

The Zulus were ruthless in warfare; here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia about Cetswayo’s methods:

As he conquered a tribe, he enrolled its remnants in his army, so that they might in their turn help to conquer others. He armed his regiments with the short stabbing assegai, instead of the throwing assegai which they had been accustomed to use, and kept them subject to an iron discipline. If a man was observed to show the slightest hesitation about coming to close quarters with the enemy, he was executed as soon as the fight was over. If a regiment had the misfortune to be defeated, whether by its own fault or not, it would on its return to headquarters find that a goodly proportion of the wives and children belonging to it had been beaten to death by Chaka’s orders, and that he was waiting their arrival to complete his vengeance by dashing out their brains. The result was, that though Chaka’s armies were occasionally annihilated, they were rarely defeated, and they never ran away.

Here he is in 1882 with the caption, “”Photographed by Alex. Bassano, 25, Old Bond Street”.  Cetswayo visited England that year:

  • 1943 – Denmark in World War II: German authorities demand that Danish authorities crack down on acts of resistance. The next day, martial law is imposed on Denmark.
  • 1955 – Black teenager Emmett Till is brutally murdered in Mississippi, galvanizing the nascent civil rights movement.

Till’s mother insisted that he be given an open-casket memorial to show how he’d been brutalized by the murderers. You can see that photograph at this link, but it’s really too gruesome and depressing for me to put up.

It’s good for us to hear this speech at least once a year, though the modern civil rights movement seems to have repudiated part of his perordation.

  • 1988 – Ramstein air show disaster: Three aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori demonstration team collide and the wreckage falls into the crowd. Seventy-five are killed and 346 seriously injured.
  • 1990 – Iraq declares Kuwait to be its newest province.
  • 2003 – In “one of the most complicated and bizarre crimes in the annals of the FBI“, Brian Wells dies after becoming involved in a complex plot involving a bank robbery, a scavenger hunt, and a homemade explosive device.

This is a truly bizarre crime, and I was fascinated (and horrified) to read about it.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1749 – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist, poet, playwright, and diplomat (d. 1832)
  • 1774 – Elizabeth Ann Seton, American nun and saint, co-founded the Sisters of Charity Federation in the Vincentian-Setonian Tradition (d. 1821)
  • 1833 – Edward Burne-Jones, English artist of the Pre-Raphaelite movement (d. 1898)
  • 1903 – Bruno Bettelheim, Austrian-American psychologist and author (d. 1990)
  • 1908 – Roger Tory Peterson, American ornithologist and author (d. 1996)
  • 1925 – Donald O’Connor, American actor, singer, and dancer (d. 2003)

O’Connor was a movie polymath. Here’s his famous “Make ‘Em Laugh” sequence from the 1952 movie “Singing in the Rain”:

  • 1954 – George M. Church, American geneticist, chemist, and engineer
  • 1965 – Shania Twain, Canadian singer-songwriter
  • 1969 – Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook and Founder of
  • 1969 – Jack Black, American actor and comedian
  • 1982 – LeAnn Rimes, American singer-songwriter and actress

Those whose existence ended on August 28 include:

Just remember, when a theologian tells you that Augustine thought the Bible could be seen as a series of metaphors, that he also thought it was literally true, so you can’t get out of literalism by citing Augustine The Hippo (see pp. 57-58 of Faith Versus Fact.)

  • 1784 – Junípero Serra, Spanish priest and missionary (b. 1713)
  • 1903 – Frederick Law Olmsted, American journalist and architect, co-designed Central Park (b. 1822)
  • 1987 – John Huston, Irish actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1906)
  • 2012 – Shulamith Firestone, Canadian-American activist and author (b. 1945)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s lurking in “my” bedroom on the first floor. She’s irritated because she doesn’t like Szaron and Kulka hanging about, and takes it out on Andrzej:

A: I thought you were in the kitchen.
Hili: Sometimes I have a feeling that you think too much.
In Polish:
Ja: Myślałem, że jesteś w kuchni.
Hili: Czasem mam wrażenie, że za dużo myślisz.

Malgorzata took some pictures of Kitten Kulka when she jumped onto Andrzej as he was working:

From Bad Cat Clothing:

A groaner from Barry:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Luana: bad reporting, deliberately downplaying violence) from CNN. It’s this kind of stuff, as I noted above, that plays right into Trump’s hands.

Also from Luana. Apparently the fire was set deliberately, though it hasn’t been deemed a “hate crime.”


Tweets from Matthew. In the first one, at least the cockatoo didn’t injure the intruding pigeon.

A clever thing to do with cloud photos:

Don’t forget that sponges are animals:

A liquid cat. Matthew says that for this one, “sound OFF!”

This is a swallow, and the tweet is very poetic and moving:

54 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. The photo of chop suey from a can sure brought back memories; as an adolescent I loved that dish, but then discovered how bad it was when arriving in Harvard Yard as a freshman September 1967. Since the dining hall wasn’t open, two other classmates hailing from Nebraska went to the Chinese restaurant on Church Street. What a heavenly experience even if it was still American version Chinese cuisine.

    1. I don’t eat La Choy anymore (since I was a kid at home*); but I still unapologetically enjoy “Cantonese American” food.

      And more authentic Szechuan, Hunan, and other Chinese foods, of course.

      (* As an adult with kids I now understand my Mom’s desire to put together a fast, easy meal that “the kids will eat”!)

  2. Did not watch any of the RNC however, looked at the review this morning. If you buy Trump’s BS you are living in great times and everyone is doing great. No mention of being in the middle of a pandemic or 22 million people are out of work. The stock market is doing great and that is all that matters. Whatever you think is bad was caused by Biden. Some worry that demonstrations will cause millions to go for Trump. Then your pessimism is very large. The guy in Kenosha was kill by the police. He had no weapon. The guy who killed two people in Kenosha was carrying a gun in broad daylight and the police never touched him. How much do you need to study these events?

      1. Mussolini even stuck his chin out there like Trump. I think Mussolini had bigger crowds. The only tradition in the Trump cult is never rat on the mob boss.

      2. That chin-jutting plus the constant coy shoulder movements make me want to toss my cookies before I even hear any of the bs he spouts.

    1. A NY Times columnist pointed out that the RNC’s strategy is to try to pull back anyone left on the fence about tRump. To give them an excuse to vote for him even if they don’t like him. The BIG LIE – “Even though you know I’m a scoundrel, you can still vote for me since I’m actually great in every way”. A lot of Hispanic men, for example, like his law and order image.

  3. In a good response, Biden claimed that what we’re experiencing now is “Trump’s America”, not a country under Biden’s administration.

    What with all times Republicans have called him as a “socialist” this week, I hope ol’ Uncle Joe remembered to change out of his Che Guevara t-shirt first. 🙂

  4. “I’m worried that Trump will get a bump from the widespread rioting these days. Were the protests peaceful, Trump wouldn’t be able to make the statement above.”

    I agree completely.

    It’s still not clear to me whether the violence is being perpetrated by protesters demonstrating against racism, etc. or whether it is provocateurs ginning things up.

    I can easily see right-wingers jumping in, looting and burning, and leaving, allowing non-violent participants holding the bag and being blamed.

    I really wish someone would explore this more thoroughly.


    1. In the mid-1950s there was a book and subsequent movie entitled “Fear Strikes Out.” They were based on the life of baseball player Jimmy Piersall, who overcame mental illness. It was quite inspirational at the time. Unfortunately, most of the time fear hits a home run. If people are afraid for their physical safety, they readily abandon any principles that stand in the way to alleviate the fear. Trump’s strategy is as old as politics. The famous Willie Horton ad of 1988 helped George Bush Sr. defeat Michael Dukakis (by the way, who even remembers him?).

      While some of the violence over the summer may have been committed by those with a political agenda, it is incorrect to think of most of them as far left or of any political persuasion. They are not anarchists or socialists. They are not promoting any political ideology. Despite the comments of some right wingers to this site (who are adept at fear mongering), and their mantra of uttering the word Antifa as many times as they can, there is little evidence that the violence against private property is caused by that group.The attackers of private property are simply a bunch of young people that find a police shooting as the excuse to create mayhem and perhaps get some free stuff.

      The problem is the reluctance, if not outright refusal, of the Democratic establishment to condemn the violence out of concern that it would alienate minority groups, whose votes are essential, in its estimation, for victory. In other words, Democrats are making a political calculation. They believe that condemning the violence in strong terms would lose more votes than it would gain. I’m sure that the Democratic strategists realize that the riots play right into Trump’s hands. Just as Trump is doing everything in his power to divert attention from his handling of the coronavirus, Democrats will try to divert attention from the riots. All of this contributes to great uncertainty about the election. Election Day and perhaps for weeks after, the nation’s anxiety level will be at great heights. Much more than most elections, the result of this one will shape the future of the country, probably forever.

      1. If one is only tuned into Fox news or only listening to Trump then yes, you might think bad results for the democrats. However most people, other than the cult, watches other channels and actual read. Biden has said clearly in the past couple of days he is very much against violence, looting and all the rest that takes place in some of the demonstrations. He does not throw out lies about who is doing what he is just against any of it. I think most sane and reasonable people believe the same. Also any sane person might just think all this demonstration will go away when Trump goes away. What the cult thinks?? Who cares.

  5. It’s good for us to hear this [MLK’s “I Have a Dream”] speech at least once a year, though the modern civil rights movement seems to have repudiated part of his perordation [sic].

    And rightwingers can ever only recall a single line of that speech, wrenched from its context.

    1. I think of this frequently, as I am constantly confronted with the Wokeness:

      I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

      How did we get from: My dream is for skin color (or race) to not count to: Race is the most important parameter about a person. It determines whether their ideas are permitted be considered at all. It makes me nuts.

      1. For the famous peroration Jerry speaks of, we have the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson to thank.

        It was not included in the text of his original speech; it was a set-piece he’d include from time to time when preaching from the pulpit. He included it on the spur of the moment when Mahalia, standing off to his side in front of the Lincoln Memorial, urged him, “Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream!”

          1. How about Sister Mahalia doing “A Closer Walk with Thee” as a tribute to Pops at the Newport Jazz Festival:

        1. More Mahalia at her best:

          Perhaps it’s strange that as an atheist I love classic gospel music, but the intensity and warmth of those gigantic voices is irresistible. If opera was more like that I’d be onboard. Part of what made 60s and 70s soul music so magnificent was that it inherited the gospel singing style.

          1. @Hemp, interesting about the Ettore Boiardi. Why are Americans so lazy about “ethnic” names?. In any case, ol’ Ettore sure couldn’t cook.

  6. 1987 – John Huston, Irish actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1906)

    Huston took Irish citizenship as an adult, and was an itinerant much of his life, but he was a Yank, born and bred. And both scion and progenitor of one of the great American movie clans.

  7. The fluorescein with the sponges is fantastic!

    And with Chop Suey, it took me awhile before I tried Singapore Chop Suey from my local Chinese place. It’s great! Rice noodles with curry etc. Not at all like Chung King, which IIRC anyway was called Chow Mein.

    1. +1: I remember “Chow Mein” not Chop Suey.

      And the canned chicken La Choy version was my least favorite. But I still ate it with gusto. That tells you something about the blandness of the food we had when I grew up. I still like those fake crunchy chow mein “noodles”. Yeesh!

      And it wasn’t my Mom’s fault: We kids demanded the dull stuff.

            1. 🙂

              A couple of years ago while grocery shopping with the wife I picked up a can for nostalgia’s sake. I was waxing poetic the whole way home about how I loved them when I was a kid and how they were actually pretty good. Nope. What a let down.

              Next time you’re thinking about testing those childhood memories? Don’t do it! Just cherish the memories and tell tall tales about them.

              1. I have wondered the same. I’ve tried starting with Boyardi, but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go from there but Bayardi, which doesn’t sound Italian.

                But now, thanks to your prompt and Google (Boyardee etymology), probably 50yrs after the question first crossed my head, here is the answer! There really was such a chef, and his first name was Ettore!

  8. I LOVED Chop Suey as a kid! Came out of a can and it was glorious! Being poor, living in the South we ate red beans and rice a lot, and “greens.” You might get Chop Suey on your birthday. That and a Hostess cup cake.

    When we moved to Phoenix in the mid 60’s there was a “food court” sort of place that I can’t remember the name, International Village or something like that. The Chinese stall had All-U-Can-Eat Chop Suey. My parents would just drop me off and pick me up an hour later. I think I became somewhat of an attraction as the Living Bottomless Pit.

    Those were the days!

    However, the love affair was not to last. In the Mexican stall I discovered tacos and that was that.

      1. I never had a doner kebab until I was a grad student in London. No tacos there in the 70’s! I became an instant fan. Also discovered Indian and Thai food. I learned to make my own kebab meat, sauce and pita as well as curries and Tom Yum soup. Great times being introduced to new foods.

  9. In “your” room at Hili’s house, what are the large wooden structures? I love seeing pictures of their house, often with unusual structures or with items I know from having spent a fair amount of time in Germany.

  10. Biden makes a good point. This is tRump’s America, not the Democrats’, unlike 1968. If the civil unrest is anyone’s responsibility, it is tRump’s.

  11. I totally understand Hili’s irritation and frustration. She has lived her whole life having to share her domain only with an old d*g, and now she is competing with a new cat plus a kitten!

  12. I saw the doodle this morning and immediately thought, “Dumas!”.

    It you haven’t read, The Count of Monte Cristo, it needs to be on your bucket list. (I highly recommend the Penguin Classics translation. I think the PC translations are almost always the best.)

    One of the best (if not the best) adventure stories of all time. And the ur-super hero.

    Just read it. 🙂

    1. The Penguin Classics translation of The Count of Monte Cristo (by Robin Buss) is indeed excellent. It’s a streamlined modern translation, not a verbose Victorian one. That’s vital when you’re dealing with a book more than 1,100 pages long!

      There have not been many first-rate movies made from the book, but I did like the 1922 silent starring John Gilbert (the only actor convincing as a young and older Edmond Dantes), and the 1929 French silent film directed by Henri Fescourt, simply titled “Monte Cristo.” It’s three hours long and doesn’t rush the story. Hard to find, alas.

      I’m afraid the 1934 film starring Robert Donat left me cold, but I heartily recommend the 1964 BBC TV miniseries starring Alan Badel (now on DVD), which is told in 12 parts.

      Of Dumas’s Musketeer novels I only recommend the first two—“The Three Musketeers” and “Twenty Years After.” The others (“Vicomte de Bragelonne,” “Louise de la Valliere,” and “The Man in the Iron Mask”) are tedious and skippable. I would just watch the Douglas Fairbanks film “The Iron Mask” (1929) instead.

      Dumas was a quarter black, so I doubt he was as brown as the Google doodle suggests. But I also doubt Google would celebrate a dead mostly-white French writer if it couldn’t portray him as a minority (I guess the “one drop” law is still operational in America). So be it.

  13. The US Army now features bow ties as part of the uniform. Sorry, but froufrou just doesn’t cut it for me as part of a military uniform, unless for a dinner party. And where have khaki uniforms gone? That midnight blue and the design makes them look like overdressed butlers. Then the weird Stetson hat — doesn’t even look like the kind of hats I think of when I think Stetson.

    There’s confusion in the Wikipedia entry on Cetshwayo. For some reason the name of Shaka or Chaka Zulu crept into the text. They are two different people. Not PCC(E)’s fault.

    Anybody interested in the Dumas family must read “The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo,” by Tom Reiss, a marvelous book full of accounts of the most astounding life and deeds of General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, father of Alexandre Dumas.

  14. The 1967 film Zulu is one of the best historical films ever made, telling the story of the Zulu’s attempt to drive the British from their land in 1879. It starts with what can only be described as a nearly ten-minute celebration of the Zulu and their culture. While the rest of it is shown from the British soldiers’ point of view, the movie has great respect for the Zulu, showing at various times their joyfulness (the first scene), cunning in battle, and respect for other “warriors.” As a historical document, few films have done a better job. Nearly everything in the film is accurate and untainted by bias. It’s just a real-life story about the Zulu’s fight with the British colonial machine, depicted with as much accuracy as possible.

    One of my favorite movies about history, second only to Sergey Bondarchuk’s Waterloo, which I love even more for it’s remarkable and accurate battle scenes involving tens of thousands of soldiers from the Soviet army.

    1. “Does everyone else feel like this afterwards?” “How do you feel?” “Sick…There’s something else. I feel ashamed. Was that how it was for you? The first time?”

      “I just came here to build a bridge.”

      “Those bastards. They’re taunting us!” “You couldn’t be more wrong. They’re saluting you. They’re saluting fellow braves.”

      These quotes always stuck with me. A movie like this doesn’t get made today. There’s no judgment for either side at any point. No chiding us about the evils of British imperialism. It’s just a simple documenting of a historical battle. The men who fought it didn’t fight it because the were morally conprmised. The vast majority of men in all wars across history were fighting either because they were conscripted/enslaved or to feed themselves and their families, or to protect their own lands.

      Hell, I can’t remember the last TV show I watched about history and battles that didn’t involve political messaging. Probably Rome . That show trusted its viewers to understand that they were watching a story about a different time. We didn’t need to be told that our imperfect protagonists were imperfect. The showrunners didn’t feel the need to have a character always present to tell us that rape, slavery, torture, etc. are bad. It just told the story.

      1. “Zulu” is a favourite of mine too. I think Michael Caine’s role was his first as a featured actor.
        You might want to track down a copy of “The Washing of the Spears: The rise and fall of the Zulu Nation” by Donald R. Morris. A review, probably written by the publisher, explains the book fairly well

        Filled with colorful characters, dramatic battles like Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift, and an inexorable narrative momentum, this unsurpassed history details the sixty-year existence of the world’s mightiest African empire—from its brutal formation and zenith under the military genius Shaka (1787–1828), through its inevitable collision with white expansionism, to its dissolution under Cetshwayo in the Zulu War of 1879.

        1. Thank you for the recommendation! I will look into it. Probably look for a copy on Ebay.

          (“pro” tip: if something is out of print, do not buy it on Amazon. The prices are enormously inflated and you can usually get it on Ebay for 1/3 to even 1/10 the price).

      2. Just noticed this in the above review –

        the world’s mightiest African empire

        The reviewer was certainly reaching too far for superlatives.

        1. Haha, “reaching too far” is an understatement. Maybe they could have said, “the world’s mightiest African pre-gundpowder warrior tribe at that specific time.”

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