Saturday: Hili dialogue

October 31, 2020 • 6:30 am


It’s the weekend: Saturday, October 31, 2020, and it’s Halloween! It’ll be a distanced one this year, and I fear that kids won’t get their usual allotment of candy. One of my friends with two kids is having a “candy” hunt, in which she hides candy around her house, but that’s not nearly as much fun.

In honor of the holiday, it’s National Caramel Apple Day. Carve a Pumpkin Day, National Magic Day, and the related Halloween holidays:

Only three days remain until they filet me like a flounder. And remember: tomorrow evening you set your clocks back, and will get an extra hour of sleep on Sunday night.

News of the Day:

Here’s the latest good news from FiveThirtyEight:

Aunt Becky goes to jail!

She got off easy.

There’s a new biography of Sylvia Plath (click on screenshot below) that got a terrific review in the New York Times. (It also got starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus.) As the author notes, “I hope to free Plath from the cultural baggage of the past 50 years and reposition her as one of the most important American writers of the 20th century.” Click to go to the Amazon link:

New Zealand is a progressive and enlightened country, and just showed it by passing a binding referendum legalizing euthanasia. The vote was lopsided, with 65% in favor of the measure. Curiously, though, the Kiwis weren’t as enlightened about legalizing marijuana, with 53% of voters opposing the measure and only 46% in favor. Would a Kiwi care to explain this?

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 229,672, a big increase of about 1,000 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,194,68,, a big increase of about 7,400 over yesterday’s report. 

Stuff that happened on October 31 includes:

  • 683 – During the Siege of Mecca, the Kaaba catches fire and is burned down.
  • 1517 – Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
  • 1913 – Dedication of the Lincoln Highway, the first automobile highway across United States.

Here’s the ol’ Lincoln Highway, 5,454 km (3,389 miles) long. Can you think of a popular song that mentions this road?

I’ve noted a few times that the imperious, head-up posture of Trump resembles that of Mussolini:

I tweeted this anniversary:

All four figures on the monument have been canceled:


  • 1956 – Hungarian Revolution of 1956: A Revolutionary Headquarters is established in Hungary. Following Imre Nagy’s announcement of October 30, banned non-Communist political parties are reformed, and the MDP is replaced by the MSZMP. József Mindszenty is released from prison. The Soviet Politburo makes the decision to crush the Revolution.
  • 1961 – In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin‘s body is removed from the Lenin’s Mausoleum, also known as the Lenin Tomb.

Stalin is visible no more, but was buried by the Kremlin wall. Sadly, I never saw him, and didn’t see Lenin, but I did see the embalmed Mao (if it’s real) when I visited Beijing. Here’s what Stalin used to look like:

  • 1984 – Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two Sikh security guards. Riots break out in New Delhi and other cities and around 3,000 Sikhs are killed.
  • 1999 – Yachtsman Jesse Martin returns to Melbourne after 11 months of circumnavigating the world, solo, non-stop and unassisted.
  • 2011 – The global population of humans reaches seven billion. This day is now recognized by the United Nations as the Day of Seven Billion.

Notables born on this day include:

He was one of the greatest painters of all time, but more on that later today. Here’s a lovely Vermeer avec chat (I know someone is going to tell me it’s manipulated):

  • 1638 – Meindert Hobbema, Dutch painter (d. 1709)
  • 1795 – John Keats, English poet (d. 1821)
  • 1835 – Adolf von Baeyer, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1917)
  • 1887 – Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese general and politician, 1st President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) (d. 1975)
  • 1896 – Ethel Waters, American singer and actress (d. 1977)
  • 1920 – Helmut Newton, German-Australian photographer (d. 2004)
  • 1931 – Dan Rather, American journalist
  • 1950 – John Candy, Canadian actor, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1994)
  • 1950 – Jane Pauley, American journalist
  • 1961 – Peter Jackson, New Zealand actor, director, producer, and screenwriter

Those who croaked on October 31 include:

Schiele also has a claim to be one of the greatest painters of all time, though he died of the “Spanish flu” at 28.  I was blown away when I saw his paintings in the pigment in Vienna. Here’s a lovely self portrait

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant (1912) Leopold Museum, Vienna

Here’s Houdini’s grave in Queens. His wife’s Catholic family wouldn’t let her be buried next to Harry, as he lies in a Jewish cemetery (his birth name was Erik Weisz). Here’s his grave marker:

  • 1984 – Indira Gandhi, Indian politician, 3rd Prime Minister of India (b. 1917)
  • 1988 – John Houseman, Romanian-born American actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1902)

Here’s Houseman in the role that Boomers know best: as Professor Kingsfield in the movie “The Paper Chase”:

  • 1993 – Federico Fellini, Italian director and screenwriter (b. 1920)
  • 1993 – River Phoenix, American actor and singer (b. 1970)
  • 1995 – Rosalind Cash, American actress and singer (b. 1938)
  • 2008 – Studs Terkel, American historian and author (b. 1912)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is greedy for knowledge:

Hili: I wonder when this pandemic will end.
A: We would all like to know.
Hili: Yes, but I like to know everything first.
In Polish:
Hili: Ciekawa jestem kiedy ta pandemia się skończy?
Ja: Wszyscy chcielibyśmy to wiedzieć.
Hili: Tak, ale ja lubię wiedzieć pierwsza.

And here’s little Kulka, who no longer counts as a kitten:

From Su:

Two Halloween memes from Jesus of the Day:

and. . .

From Titania. I’ve already seen this kind of tut-tutting about the divisiveness of the French government as if to excuse religiously motivated murder:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a d*g that knows how to treat a cat right:

Humans couldn’t do this, ergo tapirs are denser than we are:

A poor Moggy of Size. The drawer should have been opened a bit more:

Why such different paths to wind up in the same place? Matthew thinks it’s the wind, and I don’t know. But the fact that this bird can go a bazillion km and wind up in the same place each time is astounding:

I’d suggest that you watch the short video about this remarkable convergent evolution:

Matthew tweeted a photo of a man born in 1749!

Another tweet from Matthew. It has not only a poem, but video of lovely flight formations. The species is the pink-footed goose, Anser brachyrhynchus.


30 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. “[T]he imperious, head-up posture of Trump resembles that of Mussolini” – I seem to recall that Mussolini adopted that pose as a way to disguise his double chin, and maybe Trump has a similar motivation?

      1. Fortunately, Trump couldn’t make the buses run on time (as we saw a few nights ago in Omaha). If Trump had administrative skills, voters would likely (and stupidly) give him another term in office. Hopefully, his incompetence will prevent that disaster on Tuesday.

  2. I think clocks are turned back an hour tonight (it may have been tomorrow night as you wrote this on friday night) before going to bed as the official change is 0200 sunday morning. The change is set to have lowest impact on work schedules for those who forget…except priests i guess. Please correct me if i am wrong.

        1. Years ago, Dennis Miller on Saturday Night Live reminded viewers to get up at 2 am to move their clocks back, adding “Of course, in an hour it will be 2 am again, so you’ll have to do it again.” I wondered how many people would take it seriously.

          1. Officially one must say at 2:00 am Daylight Savings Time set your clock to 1:00 am Standard Time. The second 2:00 am will be 2:00 am Standard Time, and may be ignored.

            Computer network people deal with this all the time when scheduling system backups and other off-hours maintenance.

  3. Why such different paths to wind up in the same place?

    Reckon this must be why the idiom for the shortest, most-direct route between two points is “as the crow flies” rather than “as the Godwit flies.”

  4. From that diagram it appears Mr Biden has a good chance of a +200, a real landslide, win.
    I hope that happens, because that would probably mean a substantial win in the Senate too.
    Ms McGrath ousting that horrible ghoul, Mr McConnell would be the cherry on top.

  5. Like Vermeer specialised in indoor scenes(many of his paintings at the same place) and marvelous views of Delft, Hobbema specialised in landscapes with trees. I wonder if there is a Hobbema without trees.

  6. “His wife’s Catholic family wouldn’t let her be buried next to Harry, as he lies in a Jewish cemetery”

    So much for ‘Judaeo-Christians’.

  7. Yes, the election is looking landslide. The Lincoln Highway looks a lot like Interstate 80. Been down that road a few times. In modern times it is all trucks.

    1. Yes, I was going to comment the same thing about Lincoln Highway looking like I-80.
      Landslide may become my favorite word!

  8. That imperious head-up posture tRump poses may be inspired by Mussolini, but I (And yes, it could be just me {IMHO} see a stronger resemblance to snapping turtles (chelydra serpentina). Of course, the snapping turtles look and behave much more nobly and intelligently.

  9. I visited Lenin’s mausoleum when I was in Moscow on HMG business in the late 90s. Lenin had a nice suit on, his hair was neatly brushed and his cheeks were rosy pink. He looked extremely well.

    1. I was there in 2009, but unfortunately, Lenin was off at the spa for his yearly make-over so I didn’t get to see him. I have visited the Mao-soleum in Bejing, though.

  10. Speaking of being canceled, Harvard has set up a committee to consider renaming anything named after anyone (via College Fix). It will be headed by Drew Gilpin Faust, the university president that tried to eliminate single-sex, student organizations. The charge to the committee does not enjoin them to consider how to come up with new names that will not be subject to cancellation in the future.

  11. Apparently there was initially historically
    no letter s to the phrasing of Daylight Saving Time.
    Only saving and not savings.

    Soooo … … how do I, Only One of the Ordinaries,
    do away with this Nation’s Daylight Saving Time – deal ? Its springtime change utterly
    mucks up a family of little ones, kiddos and
    animals. One year ? We All of the Family
    were not ” corrected ” rhythm – wise till that
    year’s Autumn Fall – Back. ¡ That specific summertime sucked !


  12. I don’t know about songs, but there is an old joke about the Lincoln Highway.

    A foreign visitor to the US was asked about his impressions of traveling around the country. He said “That Lincoln is a great road builder, but that Frenchman Detour, he needs to be fired.”

  13. Matthew is right about the godwit – weather. See the poor redwings I tweeted recently. Would not want to be a godwit with a tracker in North Korea!

  14. In the 70s and 80s as a kid I lived in Auckland NZ on and off (though I am Australian born, naturalized NYer) for quite a few years.

    I was VERY surprised about the loss of the marijuana referendum. It is very common there and they grow great stuff (climate).

    The right to die didn’t surprise me and there’s a reason y’all will appreciate:
    NZ and Australia (where they have right to die in I think one or two? states..) are both very SECULAR. Stop believing in the iron age fairy tales and you too can have a sane, compassionate civilization, humans!

    Along with Taiwan and S. Korea they also get the Covid Prize 2020.

    D.A., NYC

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