Sunday: Hili dialogue

November 22, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s Sunday, November 22, 2020: the beginning of Thanksgiving week. Appropriately, it’s National Cranberry Relish Day, but also National Cashew Day—after macadamias, the Prince of Nuts.  It’s also National Humane Society Anniversary Day and Day of the Albanian Alphabet, marking the end of the meeting in 1908 when that alphabet was standardized. Here’s some Albanian:

News of the Day:

Travel writer Jan Morris died Friday at age 94, and truth be told, I didn’t know she was still alive. I enjoyed reading several of her books when I was younger, but haven’t read her since. From the NYT obituary:

Morris lived for many years with her gravestone standing in the corner of her library, the ne plus ultra of memento moris. She was an inveterate traveler but also prized her house in the Welsh village of Llanystumdwy; she wrote often about its snuggly, hyggelig qualities. Death for her may be something akin to merely being in, to borrow the words of the novelist Joshua Cohen, a bed with a lid.

“I am attracted to decline, to the melancholy spectacle of things that get old and die,” Morris told Leo Lerman in a Paris Review interview.

This resembles the monks of yore who used to sleep in their coffins.

When I was a tyke, my father liked to say to me at bedtime, “Jerry, imagine a face you’ve never seen before.” And then I’d lie awake and try to do that, but—as my dad well knew—my imagination always conjured up a face that I knew. Now, however, you can do this with a computer. The New York Times has a bunch of realistic, computer-generated AI photos of people who never existed. Here’s one example, but the article has a lot more:

There’s a vicious resurgence of coronavirus in Sweden, to the extent that they’re now requiring lockdown protocols, which nevertheless seem mild (early closing of bars, etc.) But clearly, the Swedish strategy of promoting herd immunity seems to have failed.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 255,753, an increase of about 1,400 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,387,902, a big increase of about 8,500 over yesterday’s report.

Stuff that happened on November 22 includes:

  • 1718 – Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard attacks and boards the vessels of the British pirate Edward Teach (best known as “Blackbeard“) off the coast of North Carolina. The casualties on both sides include Maynard’s first officer Mister Hyde and Teach himself.

Blackbeard is reported to have worn his beard in braids, sometimes adorned with colored ribbons. Here’s a drawing, caption from Wikipedia:

Blackbeard the Pirate: this was published in Defoe, Daniel; Johnson, Charles (1736 – although Angus Konstam says the image is circa 1726) “Capt. Teach alias Black-Beard” in A General History of the Lives and Adventures of the Most Famous Highwaymen, Murderers, Street-Robbers, &c. to which is added, a genuine account of the voyages and plunders of the most notorious pyrates. Interspersed with several diverting tales, and pleasant songs. And adorned with the Heads of the most remarkable Villains, curiously engraven on Copper, London: Oliver Payne,

The Cutty Sark, a famous “tea clipper” who gave her name to the Scotch, is still with us, moored in Greenwich. Isn’t she a beaut?

  • 1908 – The Congress of Manastir establishes the Albanian alphabet.
  • 1935 – The China Clipper inaugurates the first commercial transpacific air service, connecting Alameda, California with Manila.

Here’s the plane that was used: China Clipper (NC14716), Martin model 130, passenger-carrying flying boat.  The plane had to make several stops, of course, and a ticket was expensive. From Wikipedia:

The clippers were, for all practical purposes, luxury flying hotels, with sleeping accommodation, dining rooms and leisure facilities in addition to the usual aircraft seating. On early flights, the crew outnumbered the passengers. As a result, the price of a return air ticket say San Francisco to Honolulu was $1700 (equivalent to $30,000 in 2019). In comparison, a brand-new Plymouth automobile cost about $600 in the late 1930s.

A famous picture of Jackie reaching to grab a Secret Service agent to haul him aboard, and then one of Johnson being sworn in aboard Air Force One:


  • 1975 – Juan Carlos is declared King of Spain following the death of Francisco Franco.
  • 1977 – British Airways inaugurates a regular London to New York City supersonic Concorde service.
  • 1990 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher withdraws from the Conservative Party leadership election, confirming the end of her Prime-Ministership.
  • 1995 – Toy Story is released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery.
  • 2005 – Angela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1744 – Abigail Adams, American wife of John Adams, 2nd First Lady of the United States (d. 1818)
  • 1869 – André Gide, French novelist, essayist, and dramatist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1951)
  • 1890 – Charles de Gaulle, French general and politician, 18th President of France (d. 1970)
  • 1898 – Wiley Post, American pilot (d. 1935)
  • 1913 – Benjamin Britten, English pianist, composer, and conductor (d. 1976)
  • 1917 – Andrew Huxley, English physiologist and biophysicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2012)
  • 1921 – Rodney Dangerfield, American comedian, actor, rapper, and screenwriter (d. 2004)

Here’s Dangerfield, who got no respect to the end, on Johnny Carson’s show in 1978. Although his humor can be repetitive, his stand-up bit here is pretty good:

  • 1940 – Terry Gilliam, American-English actor, director, animator, and screenwriter
  • 1943 – Billie Jean King, American tennis player and sportscaster
  • 1958 – Jamie Lee Curtis, American actress
  • 1967 – Boris Becker, German-Swiss tennis player and coach
  • 1984 – Scarlett Johansson, American actress
  • 1986 – Oscar Pistorius, South African sprinter

Those who began resting in peace on November 22 include:

  • 1718 – Blackbeard, English pirate (b. 1680; see above)
  • 1902 – Walter Reed, American physician and entomologist (b. 1851)
  • 1916 – Jack London, American novelist and journalist (b. 1876)
  • 1955 – Shemp Howard, American actor and comedian (b. 1895)

Shemp, whose real name was Samuel Horwitz, got his name because, as Wikipedia notes, “He was called ‘Shemp’ because “Sam” came out that way in his mother’s thick Litvak accent.”

These three men died on the same day:


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s musings are explained by Malgorzata: “Hili is sitting on a tree in Dobrzyn, intently looking at something. Of course, what she can see is other trees, possibly the river—anyhow a symbol of a quiet idyll. But there are demonstrations all over Poland, there are calls for a revolution and, in this, everything is organized and done by women. So Hili responds that she can see the imminent (or already happening) revolution.

A: What do you see there?
Hili: Women’s revolution.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tam widzisz?
Hili: Bunt kobiet.
I tell you, it was a rough week for the Dobrzyn cats. Szaron became listless and wouldn’t eat for several days. A trip to the vet showed that he had the protozoan parasite Giardia, and had to be fed intravenously (the bandage on his paw is from the now-removed catheter, which made his paw swell up). Fortunately, he’s much better now after his meds, and he’s eating, but Hili and Kulka have to be given medication too as the infection might spread. (It took four people to give Hili her pill.) And the whole house has to be disinfected. But things are looking up, and the prognosis is for a complete cure.
Poor Szaron!
A most excellent life hack from Jesus of the Day:

A meme from reader Bruce:

From Facebook:

A tweet from cesar. A weepy Republican shows the cultlike nature of Trumpism:

From Enrico: a humorous headline from the conservative Drudge Report:

Tweets from Matthew. The first is an in-joke, since Matthew persuaded me to do something I never do: watch all the episodes of a television show—The Sopranos. I quite like it, though we’ll never find out about the head-shot Russian in the Pine Barrens:


A d*g is not sibling to a cat! But this is adorable: I love it when the kitten bounces around. Sound up if you want musical accompaniment.

Like the Wise Men adoring the Baby Jesus:

A close-up of Giuliani from above.

No comment needed:

Barrett must have voted to let the next federal execution proceed (I didn’t check):


27 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. I hope all the cats over in Poland are doing well today.

    I heard a full report on Covid this morning on the radio – you know, that box with a couple of dials on it. It was the condition in Kansas at this time, maybe not that much different from many other places. The two major hospitals in Wichita are now full up with many waiting to get in. The number of new cases are going up and up. They are bringing in nurses from other states and doctors too. The hospitals are pleading with the politicians to take much more extreme measures and are saying it is nearly too late. If you get covid now, good luck because there are no beds and no more medical staff left.

  2. A couple tips on pilling a cat. Don’t know if they will translate to another country.

    A product called “Greenies”, which is a pill pocket, comes in two sizes, smaller for cats and larger for dogs. It is a cat treat with a hole in the middle. Stick the pill into the hole and mush the treat around it so it’s hidden. If your cat likes these, it’s way easier than trying to pill him/her.

    Have you ever seen a balling gun? It’s an instrument for pilling horses and cattle. The pill is stuck into a cup on the tip, and you stick the instrument into the animal’s mouth and push the plunger, which sends the pill down the animal’s throat. Several years ago, I got a little-bitty cat-sized balling gun from my vet. Instead of the cup on the end, it has four soft tabs which surround the pill. Wrap the cat in a towel so you don’t get clawed, stick the instrument down the cat’s throat, and push the plunger quickly. Works great, and if they don’t like the Greenies treats this is the next-best solution.


    1. Hili is an expert in eating the goodis around the pill and spitting out the pill. We dissolved the pil in tiny amount of milk and I got it into a syringe. Two people had to hold Hili’s wriggling body, the third her head and I forced the syringe between her teeth and squirted the fluid into her. She is not talking to me now, annoyed at the indignity.

      1. Regarding ‘It took four people to give Hili her pill.’ Now I don’t feel so incapable. Two days ago I was supposed to give my small (eight pound) cat a pill before her dinner for two days in a row. I tried doing it by hand the first night and it was a complete FAIL. After her epic successful battle she would not come near me for several hours. …but wailed about being hungry at the same time. Eventually I tried putting the pill into a wee ball of Babybel cheese, put the cheese ball into a dinner – and she fell for it. Two nights in a row. I outsmarted the cat so good for me! Now I’m just hoping it does not constipate her causing a different kind of problem. Sigh. Oh the joys of kitty companionship. 😊😺

  3. Very interesting series of four or five video clips, about ten minutes each, starting with the one you presented, explaining the incredible vision, engineering, investment, and persistance required to create the first trans pacific air transport route. Tnx for the connection.

    1. I did not know about some of that detail on the pacific route that Pan Am developed and why they went to the pacific first. I remember flying Pan Am to the pacific before they went out of business in the early 1990s I think. Very sad as they were the preferred carrier to the pacific. I have flown from Hawaii to Guam probably around 1985. The only service from Hawaii was Continental and I think the airplane was a DC-8. It was around 7 hours and not many passengers. The seats in the back half of the plane were folded down and packed full of mail. I think after my week or so in Guam I flew on to the Philippines via MAC, military airlift Command in a C-130. That is a long way from first class.

    2. I’m pretty sure it was Captain Musick (with a c) not Musik as in the video.

      This because Musick Point in Auckland is the site of a radio (communications) station named in his honour.


  4. Of course, before coffee, I read that “Jan Morris was an invertebrate traveller.”

    Speaking of bipedal invertebrates, the police in Berkeley, CA act as if they’re competing for a Missing-in-Action medal. Yesterday, I observed a bouncy house in a neighbor’s backyard containing, what else but a bunch of children bouncing — for more than 5 hours. Adults were present, including a pregnant woman abnd none wearing masks. I called the police non-emergency response number between two and three p.m., and again after a couple of hours went by; they never showed up. It wouldn’t have taken them 5 minutes to shut it down. I’m writing the city council and the health dept. tomorrow.

    I had another recent occasion to request their services for a neighbor who was disturbing numerous households in the area by playing his drum set and blasting amplified speech throughout the neighborhood. His drum set was maybe 20 feet from the senior apartment building I live in, and there was no way for sick and dying tenants who lived on that side of the building to escape that ruckus. Because of where my apartment is situated, it didn’t bother me, but on behalf of those who were being driven out of their minds but were too afraid to complain, I called the police community policing division and had several conversations with them requesting that they defuse the situatuion, not go Gestapo. They told me that they would come out only if I was willing to make a citizen’s arrest. I declined. The guy is volatile, he’s threatened neighbors, thrown dirt on their cars, said the most vile things. I said I wasn’t putting myself in harm’s way for that and they said then they wouldn’t come out. I was flabbergasted, until the officer who told me this (at the behest of his supervisor, no less) copped to being afraid of this fucking bully because he’s black. It was impossible for me to try to find politically correct expletives in the heat of the moment. I should have asked him if recruits were required to be gelded before taking the oath, but didn’t think fast enough.

  5. My Polish refugee PhD advisor told the story of being at a party while she was a grad student @ University College London, and asking “Who ees dat old man who keeps loooking at me?” The answer was, “Oh, that’s Sir Hans Krebs.”

    And I like this part from his Wikipedia page. I was only aware of the first part:

    In July 2015, Krebs’s Nobel Prize medal was auctioned off for £225,000 (around $351,225).[37][38] The proceeds were used to found the Sir Hans Krebs Trust, which provides funding for doctoral students in the biomedical field and support chemists who had to flee their home countries.

  6. The guy Paulie and Christopher shot in the head in Pine Barrens was an interior decorator? Jeez, his apartment wasn’t even that nice. 🙂

  7. Amy Coney Barrett sits as the “circuit justice” for the Seventh Circuit, which encompasses Indiana. Accordingly, any petition for a stay of execution at the federal death row at USP Terre Haute goes to her in the first instance. (The usual practice is for the circuit justice either to grant or deny the stay, then immediately to refer the petition for consideration by the Court sitting as a whole.)

  8. Wasn’t Jackie O attempting to retrieve part of JFK’s skull on the trunk of the limo? Is this new story the “nice” version? Or was the old story the “nasty” version? Signed, Deeply Confused.

    1. PT – that’s my recollection. We were just talking yesterday how each year, fewer and fewer folks recognize the historical significance of November 22. I was a senior in high school, and can still see the study hall teacher wheeling in a TV on a cart so that we could watch during school.

  9. I’d seen that NYT’s piece on computer generated faces. I found it a real
    mind-f**K. Disorientating to look at a photo of a person while trying to process “that person doesn’t actually exist.”

  10. I’m surprised that St Cecilia didn’t get a mention on 22 November! Patron saint of music – and you don’t have to be religious to love good music…

  11. Apropos of the (rogue) elephant in the room –
    Our (NZ) PM Jacinda Ardern just had a 20-minute phone call with President Biden. That’s right, not ‘president-elect’, not ‘the guy who will be president if the orange shitgibbon doesn’t manage to utterly sabotage democracy’, but ‘President’.
    Biden has realised something Trump is congenitally incapable of – if you act Presidential (something we haven’t seen for four years) then everybody will be only too ready to recognise you.

    Meanwhile, over in the low comedy department, Trump and Giuliani and his troop of performing clowns are offering the best slapstick I’ve seen in years. Remember how people used to laugh at Kim Jong Un and his appalling hair? Poor guy isn’t even in the hunt any more.


    1. Jacinda Ardern got a nice mention on BBC Radio 4 the other day (and by an Aussie, too) pointing out that in her first term she brilliantly dealt with: having a baby; a volcano eruption; a terrorist attack; and a pandemic. And won a second term outright in an electoral system where that isn’t meant to happen. Way to go!

  12. A change in Polish government would be nice – Polen and Hungary is holding up the EU budget because they want ‘immunity’ from their promise of upholding EU’s democratic values such as no meddling with the courts.

    There’s a vicious resurgence of coronavirus in Sweden, to the extent that they’re now requiring lockdown protocols, which nevertheless seem mild (early closing of bars, etc.) But clearly, the Swedish strategy of promoting herd immunity seems to have failed.

    Wgat?! Now you are pulling my leg by using foreign and speculative sources – this is a science blog – Sweden never had a strategy of “promoting” or else having herd immunity.

    Look at what the Swedish authorities themselves said instead:

    However, the current state epidemiologist has nothing left to do to possibly experiment with the spread of infection in society as a whole, in order to achieve flock immunity more quickly, for example:

    – Experimenting with the spread of infection is a dubious method, says Anders Tegnell.

    Anders Tegnell sees no major risks with the state’s current method of limiting and slowing the spread of infection as much as possible.

    [ ]

    Clearly, we never had a strategy of herd immunity. Equally clearly Sweden *did* suppress the initial epidemic voluntarily, equally as well as lockdown protocols – we have the numbers and even peer published science that finds that – and has moved on to local restrictions as most effective. The resurgence is much milder than the first rise.

    We can’t yet – if ever – compare national responses. But on the outward appearances, it would be US that may try the herd immunity path, it certainly hasn’t nationally stopped the initial spread as Sweden did. And some European nations that practice national lockdowns have had it worse (say, Netherlands).

    1. “Wgat” = what.

      Which reminds me – likely too late – an edit function for posted comments would have been a nice site functionality.

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