Thursday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Thursday, September 17, 2020, National Apple Dumpling Day. (I like mine with cream or vanilla ice cream: is that a meme that’s parasitized my mind?) If you’re near a Moe’s restaurant, it’s Free Queso Day: they’re giving out six ounces of queso to thank their customers.  It’s also National Monte Cristo Day—not the count but a ham and swiss cheese sandwich, battered and fried. Check with your cardiologist first. Finally, in the U.S. it’s Constitution Day, celebrating the day in 1787 when that Founding Document was signed in Philadelphia.

Don’t forget to vote for Clarence the Cat; you can vote once daily (free) through Facebook. If Clarence wins, his vet bills will be paid off with the $5000 prize. There are 17 hours left to vote, and he’s in the lead! I’m asking for only a very small favor.


News of the Day: First, the really bad news. According to the AP (click on screenshot below), Just Born Quality Confections, the producer of one of my favorite candies, Marshmallow Peeps, won’t be making them for Halloween, nor for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day. This is because of the pandemic. No word yet on the classic—Easter Peeps—but if they don’t make them in 2021, life won’t be worth living.

Now some pretty good news, a rarity from this administration. Tom Friedman discusses how the Israel/UAE/Bahrain “normalization” deal was the right thing done for the wrong reasons (the wrong reasons were that the discovery of the amity between the three countries came to Jared Kushner when he “set out to arrange a divorce between a couple, ‘Mrs. Israel’ and ‘Mr. Palestine’.”)


My rule: In the Middle East, you get big change when the big players do the right things for the wrong reasons.

And this is the right thing. Egypt and Jordan each made peace with Israel to end their state of war, but trade, tourism and mutual investments have been limited. Israel and the Emirates and Israel and Bahrain are normalizing their relations because they want trade, tourism and investment, and also intelligence-sharing against Iran. And Saudi Arabia has clearly blessed it all by allowing Israel’s El Al airlines to fly through Saudi airspace back and forth to Bahrain and the U.A.E.

You don’t see that every day. In my view, anything that makes the Middle East more like the European Union and less like the Syrian civil war is a good thing. A friend from Dubai tells me some people are already jokingly greeting each other with “Shalom alaikum” — a combination of the Hebrew and Arabic phrases for “hello.”

Have no illusions: I pray each night that Trump is defeated in November, but if he and Kushner helped to nurture this deal on their way out the door, good for them. Th

Trump and the federal health agencies are fighting it out again over the coronavirus. The head of the CDC, Robert Redfield, predicted that we won’t have a coronavirus vaccine until the spring or summer of next year, which most experts think is about right, but Trump says Redfield “made a mistake”—the vaccine will be ready soon. What a chucklehead! On the evening news last night, one report:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 196,676, an increase of about 1,000 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 940,190, an increase of about 5,800 deaths from yesterday. And we’re approaching a million deaths worldwide., which might happen in about two weeks.

Stuff that happened on September 17 includes:

  • 1630 – The city of Boston, Massachusetts is founded.
  • 1683 – Antonie van Leeuwenhoek writes a letter to the Royal Society describing “animalcules”.
  • 1787 – The United States Constitution is signed in Philadelphia.
  • 1849 – American abolitionist Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery.

Tubman, who led many escaped slaves to freedom (she was one herself) was a tremendously brave and resourceful woman; read about her at the link. Here she is in 1895 (she died in 1913):

  • 1859 – Joshua A. Norton declares himself “Norton I, Emperor of the United States.”

Norton was a figure of fun, but much beloved in San Francisco, whose residents treated him deferentially. Here’s a photo from Wikipedia with the caption “Emperor Norton in full dress uniform and military regalia, his hand on the hilt of a ceremonial sabre, c. 1875.”

  • 1862 – American Civil War: George B. McClellan halts the northward drive of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army in the single-day Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American military history.

“How bloody?”, you ask. 22,717 men were killed, wounded, or missing, with 3,675 killed.

  • 1916 – World War I: Manfred von Richthofen (“The Red Baron”), a flying ace of the German Luftstreitkräfte, wins his first aerial combat near Cambrai, France.

Here’s the Baron in his famous red Fokker. He was killed at only 25. Caption: “Richthofen in the cockpit of his famous Rotes Flugzeug (‘Red Aircraft’) with other members of Jasta 11, including his brother Lothar (sitting, front), 23 April 1917.”

  • 1939 – World War II: The Soviet invasion of Poland begins.
  • 1976 – The Space Shuttle Enterprise is unveiled by NASA.
  • 1978 – The Camp David Accords are signed by Israel and Egypt.
  • 1983 – Vanessa Williams becomes the first black Miss America.
  • 2011 – Occupy Wall Street movement begins in Zuccotti Park, New York City.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1826 – Bernhard Riemann, German-Italian mathematician and academic (d. 1866)
  • 1859 – Billy the Kid, American gunman (d. 1881)
  • 1907 – Warren E. Burger, American lawyer and judge, 15th Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1995)
  • 1923 – Hank Williams, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1953)

Here’s Williams singing my favorite song of his, recorded the year I was born:

  • 1931 – Anne Bancroft, American actress (d. 2005)
  • 1935 – Ken Kesey, American novelist, essayist, and poet (d. 2001)
  • 1939 – David Souter, American lawyer and jurist
  • 1944 – Reinhold Messner, Italian mountaineer and explorer

Messner is a contender for the best mountain climber of all time. He performed the unbelievable feat of soloing Mount Everest (carrying all his stuff), and without oxygen (1980). Amazingly, he’s still alive. This is the summit photo:

  • 1968 – Cheryl Strayed, American author

Those whose candle went out on September 17 include:

  • 1858 – Dred Scott, American slave (b. 1795)
  • 1993 – Willie Mosconi, American pool player and actor (b. 1913)

Here’s Mosconi doing some trick shots. His pocketing of 526 balls in a row is a record that still stands.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili encounters a large and noxious vegetable (some cats are scared by zucchinis and cucumbers, while my own reaction is to stay as far away from zucchini as possible). This zucchini was hidden in the garden, and fortunately, it was discovered past the point of being edible.

A: Have you ever seen such a huge zucchini?
Hili: No, and I’m not sure I want to see it now.
In Polish:
Ja: Widziałaś taką wielką cukinię?
Hili: Nie i nie jestem pewna, że chcę ją oglądać.

Here’s a photo of the lovely Szaron in the grass:

From Jesus of the Day: the best meme EVER!

Also Jesus of the Day:

From Beth, a wickedly clever tactic:

From Titania. We’ll have more on Rowlings new and supposedly “anti trans” book later today. There was a video of Rowlings’ books being burned, but it seems to have disappeared.  There are, however, real videos of this.

From Barry. Crikey: two, two, two defenses in one! Read more about spitting cobras here, and be sure to watch the 10-minute video here.

From Simon. Trump does it again: opens mouth, inserts metatarsals. Biden could have implemented a national mask mandate! Waiters! Masks can be bad!

From Luana.  Bari Weiss singles out what seems to be a pretty invidious case of anti-Semitism at ritzy Mount Holyoke College. It’s sad that wokeness so often goes hand in hand with Jew hatred. The attachment has been taken down, but I’ve reproduced it below.

Here’s what was originally attached to Weiss’s tweet, a poster supposedly from BIPOC at Mount Holyoke (their Instagram account is private).

Tweets from Matthew. I’ve surely posted this prescient segment before, but it’s worth seeing again. Made by the U.S. government, and nearly sixty years old!

A cat with his own taco truck!

Tweet of the day! What better swimming pool for ducklings than a watermelon?! I think that’s water in there, because if it’s watermelon juice, the ducks will get sticky and need to be rinsed off. But many ducks love watermelon.

A lovely beetle with anomalous antennae:


  1. jezgrove
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    The photo of the Red Baron is, of course, famous to many via its reuse on the cover of Led Zeppelin II:

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      Oh – there you go.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    It’s becoming more apparent everyday that Trump is losing it, if he ever had it. Should be interesting if he makes it to debate.

    After the victory at Antietam McClellan blew it by not pursuing the Confederates out of Maryland. McClellan was the training general but he was nearly worthless in battle.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    That’s where the Led Zeppelin II album cover (remember those ?) cane from – the Red Baron.

  4. jezgrove
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    “This zucchini was hidden in the garden, and fortunately, it was discovered past the point of being edible.” Zucchinis (courgettes in British English) that large are called marrows and are eaten (though not by me!)

    • Posted September 17, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      I like courgettes – fried in oil. Apparently, you can also eat them boiled, but if you do boil them, you must take the precaution of throwing them away afterwards.

      • Mark R.
        Posted September 17, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        I’ve made a nice Moroccan salad where you boil zukes and then mash and mix with Olive oil, lemon juice/zest, cumin, harissa and other spices. It’s really good warm or cold.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      My wife has brought in several quite large zucchini from her garden that were suprisingly edible this year. They seem to be growing very fast.

      • merilee
        Posted September 17, 2020 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        You blink and they’ve grown a foot!

  5. Posted September 17, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I have not heard of Peeps being a Halloween thing. Now if they cancel Reeses’ for Halloween, I’ma gonna riot.

    • Posted September 17, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      I admit I haven’t read the article, but is there a specific reason why Peeps were cancelled? I don’t quite get how it relates to the virus as a particular risk.

      • Posted September 17, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

        I think they shut down the factory so that workers wouldn’t get infected.

        • Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

          Oooooh! Okay, well, that certainly makes sense. Thank you.

        • rickflick
          Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

          Agree. The Peeps workers would have to work dangerously closely together. One holding the chick still, while the other did the marshmallow sculpting.

    • Posted September 17, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Peeps used to come out solely at Easter, but recognizing a good thing, they started putting out holiday-themed Peeps at other times of year. I think you can even get brown bat peeps at Halloween.

      • BJ
        Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        My father is going to be crushed by this news. As Jews, everyone in the family used to buy him a box of Peeps when Easter was coming because that’s when they’d show up. They’re his favorite. I have to tell him the bad news, but I don’t want to 😦

        • merilee
          Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

          As Jews you bought Peeps?? Is that like Chinese food at Xmas?🤓

          • BJ
            Posted September 17, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

            Ha! I don’t think it’s quite a Jewish tradition like Chinese food on Christmas, though we do follow that one 🙂

  6. Posted September 17, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I remember when it was Christian fundies who would burn Rowlings books. Plus c’est change.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Burning books alway seems a curious exercise in the modern world. It may have made sense in the Middle Ages when the things were hand made and rare and boring them would stop the evil word from spreading. Now the books are cheap and in essentially unlimited supply. They have to buy them before they can burn them. I wonder how Rowling feels about this, it certainly won’t hurt her cash flow.

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted September 17, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        “…and burning them…” (still can’t see my typos!)

      • Posted September 17, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        The correct reply to book burners is, “I’ve still got my copy.” You could also mention Heinrich Heine.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    1996 – Spiro Agnew, American soldier and politician, 39th Vice President of the United States (b. 1918)

    I’m reminded of what Hunter Thompson wrote about Spiro Agnew in his corrosively funny piece on the occasion of Richard Nixon’s blatantly illegal 1994 funeral in San Clemente, CA:

    [Nixon] was not only a crook but a fool. Two years after he quit, he told a TV journalist that “if the president does it, it can’t be illegal.”

    Shit. Not even Spiro Agnew was that dumb. He was a flat-out, knee-crawling thug with the morals of a weasel on speed. But he was Nixon’s vice president for five years, and he only resigned when he was caught red-handed taking cash bribes across his desk in the White House.

    Unlike Nixon, Agnew didn’t argue. He quit his job and fled in the night to Baltimore, where he appeared the next morning in U.S. District Court, which allowed him to stay out of prison for bribery and extortion in exchange for a guilty (no contest) plea on income-tax evasion. After that he became a major celebrity and played golf and tried to get a Coors distributorship. He never spoke to Nixon again and was an unwelcome guest at the funeral. They called him Rude, but he went anyway. It was one of those Biological Imperatives, like salmon swimming up waterfalls to spawn before they die. He knew he was scum, but it didn’t bother him.

    Agnew was the Joey Buttafuoco of the Nixon administration, and [J. Edgar] Hoover was its Caligula. They were brutal, brain-damaged degenerates worse than any hit man out of The Godfather, yet they were the men Richard Nixon trusted most. Together they defined his Presidency.

    • merilee
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Fantastic HST piece, Ken! Don’t think I was yet an Atlantic subscriber back then. Thanks for posting.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        It originally appeared in Rolling Stone, where HST manned the “National Affairs Desk.” I’m not sure how The Atlantic acquired the current publishing rights.

        • merilee
          Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

          Interesting. Think I subbed to RS for a year or two in the early 70s, mainly for HST. Read most if his books. Especially liked the compendium The Great Shark Hunt.

  8. Posted September 17, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    The aeroplane in which von Richthofen is seated is either an Albatros DIII or DV. Judging by the slightly flattened fuselage sides, it’s probably a DIII. I one read he preferred the Albatros to the Fokker Triplane with which he is usually associated.

    On a different note, I have just found out that sideburns are named after General Ambrose Burnside who played a prominent role in the Battle of Antietam.

  9. Posted September 17, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Poll from Germany: Trump’s popularity here at 10%.

    • kraeuterbutter
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      The 10% of fans Trump has in Germany take part in Anti-Corona demonstrations and ask to be freed from Chancellor Merkel’s dictatorship. Oh, they would also like to have a peace treaty with the USA.

  10. Hempenstein
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I just had zucchini for breakfast, in grits along with tomatoes, okra, poblano peppers, cocktail Polish sausages and chipotle powder. T’was excellent!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      So you walked into the greasy spoon this morning and told the counterman, “Give me the usual”? 🙂

      • Hempenstein
        Posted September 17, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Nope, all the nearby dining establishments are closed for eat-in, anyway. Made it myself.

        Oh, and there were poblanos in there, too. It’s important that any sort of green peppers go in at the end, along with the 5min grits, so they don’t get mushy/bitter.

  11. merilee
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Not so sure about the “cocktail Polish sausages”…I usually grate the zukes, and sauté/pan-fry with red onions and Parmesan. They are great in muffins and breads, too.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      Think cocktail hot dogs – the things they make “pigs in a blanket” with. Except these are the coarse-grind smoked sausage version.

      • merilee
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        Hmmm, maybe..

  12. Gingerbaker
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    “Jared Kushner when he “set out to arrange a divorce between a couple, ‘Mrs. Israel’ and ‘Mr. Palestine’.””

    When the husband is an unrepentant batterer, divorce is usually the best option.

  13. kraeuterbutter
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    The Nazis burned books in 1933.

    So, do the Rowling-haters know what they are doing, or are they just ignorant? For I think they would outrageously reject any comparison with the Nazis.

  14. rickflick
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    David Souter, retired Supreme, is famous for his lunch – an apple and yogurt. He also doesn’t have a computer or cell phone. Seem like a nice guy.

    • revelator60
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Probably a very happy one too.

  15. Posted September 17, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    If that giant zucchini is not rotten, it’d still be good in a hearty broth or even paella!

    • Posted September 17, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      I once had zucchini curry at a xmas party and it was excellent!

      • merilee
        Posted September 17, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        Zucchini’s even goodin chocolate cake!

        • Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

          Yum. I could use a slice now.

          • merilee
            Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

            Me, too😋
            Just made peach ginger muffins with the last of the peaches.

            • Posted September 19, 2020 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

              Oooh, that sounds so good! I’m not much of a baker, as I already have too much cooking to do (3 meals a day to prep for my ‘patient’ if there are no leftovers!). I admire people who bake well.

  16. jezgrove
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Reinhold Messner is incredible. The first person to climb all 14 mountains over 8,000m. On one early climb his brother was killed and Reinhold ended up losing seven toes due to frostbite, which resulted in him switching from rock to ice climbing.

    • merilee
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      So ice-climbing’s a puece of cake with 3 toes?

      • jezgrove
        Posted September 17, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Not as hard on the toes as rock climbing, apparently. These climbers are a hardy bunch: Alison Hargreaves’ “accomplishments included scaling Mount Everest alone, without supplementary oxygen or support from a Sherpa team, in 1995. She soloed all the great north faces of the Alps in a single season—a first for any climber”. She was six months pregnant with her first child, Tom, when she climbed the north face of the Eiger!

        Sadly, she was killed in the 1995 K2 disaster. Tom went on to be the first person to solo all six of the great north face Alps in a single winter season, but died climbing Nanga Parbat last year.

  17. jezgrove
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    And when it comes to Nirmal Purja…! The guy broke the existing record of eight years for climbing all 14 8-thousanders by climbing them all in six months and six days! “The last five summits were climbed in only 12 days. He broke his previous Guinness World Record by climbing Mount Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu within 2 days and 30 minutes.”

  18. jezgrove
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Oops, that was meant to be another comment at #16.

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