Monday: Hili dialogue

Good morning at the start of what promises to be another lousy week of this curséd year:  it’s Monday, September 21,. 2020. I am deeply dispirited with all the bad news and the promise (?) of a long, miserable, and isolated fall and winter, with nothing good in the offing. Posting may be light today.

It’s National Pecan Cookie Day. It’s also National Chai Day (an odious cultural appropriation), as well as World Gratitude Day. When I asked my doctor what might help my insomnia, he said that research shows that gratitude relaxes you: simply think of things in your life you’re grateful for. When I said, “You mean, like ‘I’m grateful that I still have all my limbs?’, he told me that no, that wasn’t what he was talking about. (It was stuff like “I’m grateful that my career went pretty well” and the like.) Finally, it’s the International Day of Peace. 

Here’s a dead cicada I found yesterday on the roof of my car:

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates the life of Jovita Idár (1885-1946), who’s described by Wikipedia as “a Mexican-American journalist, political activist and civil rights worker who championed the cause of Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants.”

Google explains today’s Doodle:

In 1914, Idár continued her groundbreaking journalism career at El Progreso (The Progress) newspaper. Never afraid to make her voice heard, she expressed her criticism of the US army’s involvement in the Mexican Revolution in an editorial, which resulted in an attempt by Texas Rangers to shut the publication down. When officers rode up to the El Progreso office, Idár stood in their way and forced them to turn back—a scene recreated in today’s Doodle artwork.

News of the Day: The mishigas around the death of RBG continues, with Trump using it to energize his base (they’ve already printed “Fill That Seat” tee shirts). Two more Republicans need to defect to stop the appointment of a regressive Justice. It’s hard for me to believe that Trump would gain support with this ridiculous rush to judgment, but it seems to be the case.

Here are the results of yesterday’s poll on “packing the courts”.  I was surprised to see that most readers favored adding other justices to counteract the mendacity of the GOP, but the margin wasn’t huge. Also, I’m puzzled why so few people vote in these polls. Polls are fun, and of course these are scientific assessments.

The disgraced head of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes, set to go on trial next March for mail fraud along with her former boyfriend/partner Sunny Balwani, is now thinking of pleading that she had a “mental disease” which might excuse her fraudulent activities. I’m betting it won’t fly.  She was a first-class grifter.

A “mosquito flag” made it into the final rounds of replacements for Mississippi’s last state flag, retired in June, which bore a Confederate stars and bars emblem. See the report from UPI and this video:

Art is no longer an object, or even an experience, but an idea, and not necessarily a good one. You may remember Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s “artwork” of a banana duct-taped to a wall, which sold for $150,000. As the NYT article below reports, the Guggenheim Museum has accepted the work as a donation. But the “work” isn’t the banana and duct tape (the fruit would spoil); as the article notes:

In fact, “Comedian,” as sold, does not include a banana or tape. What one buys is a “certificate of authenticity,” a surprisingly detailed, 14-page list of instructions, with diagrams, on how the banana should be installed and displayed.

Lena Stringari, the Guggenheim’s chief conservator, said the instructions will be quite easy to follow and are quite complete in addressing questions like how often to change bananas (7 to 10 days) and where to affix them (“175 cm above ground”).

“Of all the works I have to confront, this is probably one of the simplest,” Ms. Stringari said. “It’s duct tape and a banana,” she added.

Yes it is, but it isn’t art—not unless you’re a credulous numbskull. But there’s one born every minute, and the art world is apparently crawling with them.

See my posts on this travesty here.


Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 199,361, an increase of about 200 deaths over yesterday’s report. We’ll pass 200,000 deaths—a figure once thought impossible—this week. The world death toll now stands at 960,269, an increase of about 3,700 deaths from yesterday. And we’re approaching a million deaths worldwide., which might happen in a week. 

Stuff that happened on September 21 includes:

The factory produced both ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate, which congealed into a mass when water leaked in. The result:

Compared to ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate is strongly hygroscopic, so the mixture of ammonium sulfate and nitrate compacted under its own weight, turning it into a plaster-like substance in the 20-metre-high (66 ft) silo. The workers needed to use pickaxes to get it out, a problematic situation because they could not enter the silo and risk being buried in collapsing fertilizer. To ease their work, small charges of dynamite were used to loosen the mixture.

This seemingly suicidal procedure was in fact common practice.

The inevitable happened: Below is a photo of the damage, labeled by Wikipedia, “Aerial photograph from Popular Mechanics magazine, 1921.” 80% of the buildings in Oppau were destroyed, and roofs were blown off houses 25 km away. All the stained glass windows in the Worms Cathedral were blown out.

  • 1942 – The Holocaust in Ukraine: On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Nazis send over 1,000 Jews of Pidhaitsi to Bełżec extermination camp.
  • 1942 – The Holocaust in Ukraine: In Dunaivtsi, Ukraine, Nazis murder 2,588 Jews.
  • 1972 – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos begins authoritarian rule by declaring martial law.
  • 1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor is unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate as the first female Supreme Court justice.
  • 1996 – The Defense of Marriage Act is passed by the United States Congress.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1866 – H. G. Wells, English novelist, historian, and critic (d. 1946)
  • 1874 – Gustav Holst, English composer and educator (d. 1934)
  • 1912 – Chuck Jones, American animator, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2002)
  • 1924 – Hermann Buhl, Austrian mountaineer (d. 1957)

Buhl is another of my mountaineering heroes. When he summited Nanga Parbat (he was the first), he had to spend the night out on the mountain, standing on a narrow ledge 8000 meters up—an amazing feat of survival.  He died in an avalanche at age 32. Here he is with frostbite after one of his climbs, perhaps Nanga Parbat:

Nanga Parbat (8126 m):

  • 1947 – Stephen King, American author and screenwriter
  • 1950 – Bill Murray, American actor, comedian, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1967 – Faith Hill, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress

Those who “passed” on September 21 include:

  • 1832 – Walter Scott, Scottish novelist, playwright, and poet (b. 1771)
  • 1860 – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher and author (b. 1788)
  • 1974 – Jacqueline Susann, American author and actress (b. 1918)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is knackered:

Hili: Supper, and we go to sleep.
A: I see that you have had a busy day.
In Polish:
Hili: Jeszcze tylko kolacja i idziemy spać.
Ja: Właśnie widzę, że miałaś pracowity dzień.

Below are pictures of kitten Kulka taken by her staff Paulina (the last photo shows her playing with Szaron).

Caption in Polish: Paulina ma kota (i aparat fotograficzny).  English: “Paulina has a cat (and a camera).”

Explanation from Malgorzata: Now the first sentence every Polish child learns how to read is “Ala ma kota” (“Alma has a cat”, Ala being a name of a girl). Moreover there is a saying “to have a cat” (ma kota) which means that somebody is slightly crazy or fixated on something. So for Polish speakers the words “Paulina ma kota” have a triple meaning. I doubt it’s possible to convey this in English, but the pictures are so good that they do not need any captions.

From Jesus of the Day. Do you know what this animal is?

From Doc Bill:

From Charles.  I guess the dogs in this area will have to keep their demons:

Two tweets from Titania. First, the writer of the Medium article is a horrible person. Imagining not seeing your dad, or letting him see his grandkids, until he agrees with you that Trump is a horrible person. They’re BOTH horrible people!

And more horrible people. JEBUS! Do they think that forced uttering of a phrase will change somebody’s mind?

I retweeted a tweet sent by reader Barry:

From Simon. A masked bear decides to play it safe (sound up):

Tweets from Matthew. First, young ‘uns of one of the world’s most beautiful cats:

Now the bad news: global warming part 1:

Global warming part 2:


Sound up: Boris lays down the law. Don’t forget to wash your nose on Mondays!

And, as on the television news, I’ll end on a “good things can happen” note. Sound up.


  1. Posted September 21, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    The tiny fanged “deer” is a chevrotain.


  2. Serendipitydawg
    Posted September 21, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    With regard to what art is there are several precedents, for example, the famous pile of bricks bought by the Tate – that came as a pile of bricks and the instructions to pile them up (I don’t recall a specific pattern being supplied). Less tangible was the exhibition reported on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row many years ago. This consisted of a room full of empty plinths with labels that were intended to evoke the spirit of the specific artwork – I have to say that the inside of my car resounded to my opinion of the review and I was still dumbfounded at what art had become when I arrived home 30 minutes later.

    • jezgrove
      Posted September 21, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      If there’s no discernible difference between a work of “art” and a teenager playing a prank, then you know the art world has gone full-on Emperor’s New Clothes:

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted September 21, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        So true! Tate modern had problems with their new gallery seating some years back in that no-one would sit on it because they weren’t sure if it was an installation. This is slightly more understandable than the spectacles, given that they do have items of contemporary furniture on exhibition, but it isn’t as though the seating was of a particularly aesthetic design.

        I think somethng similar to the spectacles happened with a fire extinguisher that was leant against a wall because its bracket had been damaged, it ended up with a sign that said “this is a fire extinguisher not an exhibit”, though this may be one of those mocking stories that does the rounds 😀 .

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted September 21, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Art with a capital F.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 21, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Speaking of the mishigas around the rush to fill the SCOTUS vacancy created by RBG’s death, here’s what the Republican chairman of the senate judiciary committee — or as I like to think of him, “New Lindsey, who dis?” — has had to say on the subject over the past few years:

    I wish the Republicans would do us the service of dropping their risible pretexts and come clean by admitting that, yeah, this is a naked, hypocritical power grab.

    I’m not ordinarily prone to violent ideation, and on the rare occasions it’s happened, I’ve almost always been able to resist the urge to act on it (as I’m sure I will be this time, too). But I gotta tell ya, Lindsey Graham and his Republican senate cohorts have put me in a real vendetta state of mind. Makes me wanna go full Monkey Wrench Gang to prevent confirmation hearings from happening, to keep the bastards from clear-cutting the forests of justice.

    Lindsey Graham is in a serious race for reelection race in South Carolina. He’s got a debate against his challenger, Jaime Harrison, coming up on October 3rd. I look forward to Harrison’s using Graham’s sanctimonious, hypocritical words to kick his ass up one side of the debate stage and down the other.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 21, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      The only thing I can tell you for sure is Lindsey Graham will be forgotten a long time before Ginsburg. He may be forgotten even before he is dead.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 21, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Trump just answered a reporters question about the hypocrisy of having denyed Obama’s choice. He said, “No this is different. Now we have control of the presidency and the Senate.”
      No pretext required.

      • Posted September 21, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        This was McConnell’s explanation right after RBG died. They could also have gone with the “When a Supreme Court Justice dies on a Friday” rule but decided against it.

    • Pliny the in Between
      Posted September 21, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      I know what you mean. Portland OR just got labelled an outlaw city by the DoJ along with NYC and Seattle. Alt-right thugs are coming into town enmasse this weekend (no doubt bravely protesting with M16s). This is the first large scale alt-right incursion since one of their number died here a few weeks ago.

      If this doesn’t end in a mass casualty event it’ll be a miracle.

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 21, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    “When I asked my doctor what might help my insomnia… ”

    a sleep study might show something interesting – like if breathing becomes shallow or stops for a prolonged period of time -and they can be easy to do. The idea being that breathing during sleep … or during life in oxygenated air I guess – shouldn’t stop… breathing is important… because if facilitates oxygen exchange… and if oxygen decreases, it’s stressful… this comment wasn’t supposed to be this long… sorry…

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 21, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      My two cent worth is maybe worth three or less. I think insomnia means you need to change things around. Change the schedule or maybe the direction. It may be kind of like eating too much. Habits are hard to break but that is likely the way to go…change what you are doing.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted September 21, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        Yes, but the general pattern is :

        [something happens]
        [something happens]

        all this and more can be readily measured with a sleep study is all I’m really hoping to point out.

        “Insomnia” can be a stand-in term, I understand that because I also struggle with it, but it is important to dig a bit more – perhaps PCC(E) already did, but I’d like to close my comment here on a good note. Interruption of sound sleep precedes awakening, and it is known that stress, such as might precipitate from airway obstruction, is a source of this interruption. Yet, one is probably entirely unaware of this by virtue of being asleep.

        It all takes up a lot of time to describe, but sleep studies are essentially a small monitor to wear one night and it’ll show a lot of measurements to help navigate the problem, and then it’s settled.

      • sugould
        Posted September 21, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        1¢ worth: try lowering your room temp to 65°or so if you overheat while trying to sleep.

  5. Ken Phelps
    Posted September 21, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Extremely nice gesture by Diego Méntriga, but it didn’t appear that Teagle “went the wrong way”. He stumbled straight into a barrier. It’s unclear in the video whether he tripped, or if he might have been inadvertently jostled, possibly by Mentriga. Either way, good on Méntriga.

    • Pete Rice
      Posted September 21, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      In Trump’s mind ‘a loser, what a sucker’. In mine, a great example.

  6. Blue
    Posted September 21, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    A child of mine states thus,
    ” Ruth Bader Ginsburg worked extensively
    with the ACLU back in the 70s.
    Somehow, whenever there are great people
    doing great things, the ACLU is there
    as well. ”

    Indeed … … and TO DATE … … and SO FAR:
    ( some of ) what .massive W O R K. that
    egalitarianism .IS STILL taking. =


  7. Frank
    Posted September 21, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    PCC finding a dead cicada seems like a good reason to post UK parody group The Hee Bee Gee Bees classic Eagles piss-take Dead Cicada. Released in 1981, their opinion of the President remains spot on.

  8. Posted September 21, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I hope the dead cicada on the roof of your car is not some sort of warning from the Woke. Their version of a horse’s head. 🙃

  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 21, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I have been having bad insomnia and fatigue as well. Perhaps it’s hormonal in my case as it came on suddenly. I’m fatigued usually but now it’s worse but not hormone-therapy-for-cancer-treatment worse.

    At work there was a trend of people being asked to say what they were grateful for in meetings. I absolutely hate that. Mostly, I think it’s incredibly insensitive because people who are struggling have to listen to someone be perky and describe how perfect their life is. I usually think those people are full of shit and then I get in a bad mood. I remember back when we were at work, I leaned over to the guy next to me and said “I was feeling okay today but now I feel kinda like my life is shit compared to this person’s” which made him laugh and he said “yeah, I don’t think my life is very good now either”.

  10. Wayne Y Hoskisson
    Posted September 21, 2020 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Insomnia sucks and any suggestions I might have probably suck even more. I have had a few episodes of insomnia. A long road trip to visit far flung family and old friends helped once but that sounds like bad advice right now. But that is my plan once there is a vaccine.

    Art needs novel innovations. Museums should combine art works. That would give us a whole new dimension of art. There should be Mona Lisa and Banana, Last Supper and Watermelon. Maybe Warhol’s Banana with Banana. Starry Night with Broccoli. The Thinker and Preparation H.

  11. openidname
    Posted September 22, 2020 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    (1) I’m often grateful that I still have he use of all four limbs. Eyesight and hearing, too. Not sure what your problem with that is.

    (2) From everything I’ve read, Elizabeth Holmes does have a “mental condition” — she’s a sociopath. However, that is not generally regarded as mitigating, for good reason. Except possibly by you hard determinists.

  12. Posted September 22, 2020 at 2:57 am | Permalink

    I think with your insomnia/mood situation perhaps you could try/find a *new* hobby? Something you never thought you’d do.

    In my case (and you’ll laugh at this one) I started feeding the pigeons in the park nearby every night at the same time. They flock down to greet me! With my dog as my Secret Service protection detail.
    The birds love it and are getting fat, the dog stoically endures it and I look forward to it every single day. I bought a huge sack of bird feed and I even meet new people doing it.

    Well you already have your “ducks in a row” (HAHAHHA – I kill me!), but maybe you could try learning Japanese?
    Origami? There are many tutorials online for most hobbies now. And its better than vodka or heroin.;-)

    Keep well.

    D.A., J.D., NYC

  13. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 22, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    An offering of facts/observations :

    Melatonin should be correlated with sleep, and is synthesized in the pineal gland.

    I’m not sure if there’s a simple test for melatonin, in the case that somehow the pineal gland is tired.

    Trader Joe’s has 500 microgram tablets of melatonin. That’s the smallest dose I’ve seen, and there’s no bizarre things in it – just peppermint flavor.

    It’s something readily available to try for insomnia – but as we know, “talk to your doctor”.

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