Monday: Hili dialogue

November 30, 2020 • 6:30 am

We’re slowly squeezing our way out of the Annus Horribilis of 2020: it’s November 30, 2020: National Mousse Day.  (Hili misread it as “National Mouse Day”, became all excited, and I had to give her the bad news.) It’s also Methamphetamine Awareness Day and Cyber Monday, the latter encouraging online shopping.  Estimates are that today will the biggest online shopping day in history, with over $13 billion to be spent.

News of the Day:

Wisconsin finished its state-wide recount of Presidential votes, funded by $3 million from the Trump campaign’s coffers. The upshot: Biden still wins, and even garnered 87 more votes than he had before. Some voter fraud! And the good news is that Trump spent nearly $34,500 for each Democratic vote added to the total.

More good news: the rumor continues that the Bidens will get a cat when they move into the White House, the first since W.’s black cat India. (I mistakenly thought that the Clintons’s Socks was the last First Cat.) They already have to d*gs, which is enough, for crying out loud, but I’m not believing a White House cat until they really have one.  After all, this is what the New York Times reports:

In an interview with Fox 5 in Washington, D.C., Dr. Biden hinted that if her husband won the presidency, she would not mind getting a cat.

“I’d love to get a cat,” she said. “I love having animals around the house.”

The cat’s breed and name were not immediately available. Representatives for Mr. Biden did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Yeah, and I’d love to have a private chef, too, but I’m not getting one.

The downside of d*gs was instantiated yesterday when Biden sustained a hairline fracture in his foot from playing with his German Shepherd. He’ll have to wear a boot for a while.  See: a d*g could kill the President! You don’t play with cats like that (though Biden might trip over one.)

People are already blaming the accident on the Bidens’ cat, even though they don’t have one yet!

Thomas Friedman tells us why we should worry less about Iran’s getting nukes (it would be suicidal for them to use first against Israel, so he says, but perhaps they don’t care, getting all those virgin in Paradise and all) and worry more about precision-guided missiles, which it used in 2019 to destroy one of Saudi Arabia’s most important oilfields. This is the issue Biden will face, compounded by the new alliances between Israel and countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

 Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 266,758, an increase of about 800 from yesterday’s figure.  The world death toll is 1,466,289, an increase of about 6,500 over yesterday’s report. 

Stuff that happened on November 30 includes:

  • 1782 – American Revolutionary War: Treaty of Paris: In Paris, representatives from the United States and Great Britain sign preliminary peace articles (later formalized as the 1783 Treaty of Paris).
  • 1803 – The Balmis Expedition starts in Spain with the aim of vaccinating millions against smallpox in Spanish America and Philippines.

The upside (from Wikipedia): “Jenner himself wrote, ” ‘I don’t imagine the annals of history furnish an example of philanthropy so noble, so extensive as this.'”
The downside (ditto): “The expedition sailed on Maria Pita and carried 22 orphan boys (aged 8 to 10) as successive carriers of the virus. . .”

  • 1803 – In New Orleans, Spanish representatives officially transfer the Louisiana Territory to an official from the French First Republic. Just 20 days later, France transfers the same land to the United States as the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1872 – The first-ever international football match takes place at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow, between Scotland and England.
  • 1936 – In London, the Crystal Palace is destroyed by fire.

Here’s a photo of the Palace a few days after it was destroyed:

  • 1954 – In Sylacauga, Alabama, United States, the Hodges meteorite crashes through a roof and hits a woman taking an afternoon nap; this is the only documented case in the Western Hemisphere of a human being hit by a rock from space.

Here’s where the meteorite crashed through the roof and ceiling:

Mrs. Hodges, mayor, police chief examine hole caused by a meteorite that struck Mrs. Hodges in Sylacauga. University of Alabama Museum of Natural History.

Here’s the unfortunate victim. Look at that bruise—good thing it missed her head!

Hodges was napping on her living-room couch at mid-day when the meteorite came through the ceiling, hit a console radio, and smashed into her hip. Awakened by the pain and noise, she thought the gas space heater had exploded. When she noticed a grapefruit-sized rock lying on the floor and a ragged hole in the roof, she assumed children were the culprits. Her mother, Ida Franklin, rushed outside and saw only a black cloud in the sky. Alabamians in and around the area saw the event from a different perspective, with many reporting that they had seen a fireball in the sky and heard a tremendous explosion that produced a white or brownish cloud. Most assumed it involved an airplane accident.

(From National Geographic): Moody Jacobs shows a giant bruise on the side and hip of his patient, Ann Hodges, in 1954, after she was struck by a meteorite. PHOTOGRAPH BY JAY LEVITON, TIME & LIFE PICTURES/GETTY IMAGES
Here’s Mrs. Hodges recuperating, smiling while Mr. Hodges examines the errant meterorite:

It is a great album, and here’s my favorite song from it in 1987. This is a live performance, but clearly lip-synched:

According to Wikipedia, the song was written by Steve Porcaro of Toto:

The first version of “Human Nature” was written and composed by Steve Porcaro of Toto. He wrote the song when his first-grade daughter came home crying after a boy pushed her off the slide. He blurted out three reasons for the incident to comfort her: the boy liked her, people can be strange, and it’s “human nature”. He recorded a rough demo of the song in their studio while the Toto song “Africa” was being mixed

  • 1995 – Official end of Operation Desert Storm.
  • 2005 – John Sentamu becomes the first black archbishop in the Church of England with his enthronement as the 97th Archbishop of York.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s the Teatro Olimpico:

(From Wikipedia): Teatro Olimpico. Theater located in Vicenza, designed in 1580 by the architect of the Renaissance Andrea Palladio. It is generally considered the first permanent covered theater of modern times. View of the stage wall (Scaenae frons), the stage, and the orchestra pit.
  • 1554 – Philip Sidney, English soldier, courtier, and poet (d. 1586)
  • 1667 – Jonathan Swift, Irish satirist and essayist (d. 1745)
  • 1835 – Mark Twain, American novelist, humorist, and critic (d. 1910)
  • 1874 – Winston Churchill, English colonel, journalist, and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
  • 1912 – Gordon Parks, American photographer and director (d. 2006)

Here’s one of many photos taken by Parks of black life in Washington, D.C. (did you know he also directed the movie Shaft?):

  • 1924 – Allan Sherman, American actor, comedian, singer, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1973)
  • 1929 – Dick Clark, American television host and producer, founded Dick Clark Productions (d. 2012)
  • 1936 – Abbie Hoffman, American activist and author, co-founded the Youth International Party (d. 1989)
  • 1937 – Ridley Scott, English director, producer, and production designer
  • 1943 – Terrence Malick, American director, producer, and screenwriter

Malick’s film “Days of Heaven” (1978) is one of the finest American movies (far outstripping “Tree of Life”, a pretentious epic), and perhaps the most beautifully filmed ever. Here’s the trailer:

  • 1947 – David Mamet, American playwright, screenwriter, and director

Those who expired on November 30 include:

  • 1900 – Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright, novelist, and poet (b. 1854)
  • 1954 – Wilhelm Furtwängler, German conductor and composer (b. 1886)
  • 1979 – Zeppo Marx, American actor and comedian (b. 1901)

Zeppo was the “straight” Marx brother, and, with Gummo, the least famous of the five. In the five Marx Brothers films he was in, Zeppo played the straight man. Here he is:


Zeppo’s real name was Herbert Manfred Marks,

  • 1996 – Tiny Tim, American singer and ukulele player (b. 1932)
  • 1999 – Charlie Byrd, American guitarist (b. 1925)
  • 2007 – Evel Knievel, American motorcycle rider and stuntman (b. 1938)
  • 2018 – George H. W. Bush, American politician, 41st President of the United States (b. 1924)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is weary of the world:

Hili: Every day is a challenge.
A: That’s true, but what do you have in mind?
Hili: What to do, where to go?
In Polish:
Hili: Każdy dzień jest wyzwaniem.
Ja: To prawda, ale co masz na myśli?
Hili: Co robić, dokąd iść?

From Facebook:

An illusion from rock. The two blocks aren’t just gray: they’re the same gray:

From David. I think they used whatever sticker they had for “seedless”!

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is a groaner:

More about the putative White House cat:

The aliens took their monolith back!!!

. . . instead of a palooka, which is what I am.

This really doesn’t need translation. And one day I will see the Aurora. Sound up.

This is really a weird collection of dreams!

Matthew says that this is “a book of genuine but rude UK names” (names of people):

Matthew discovers what we’ve known for a long time:

42 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. The boneless watermelon sticker reminds me of the local Walmart grocery section. They label packages of chicken feet as, “chicken paws”. Yes, you can buy chicken feet in the poultry section. It’s a southern thing…

      1. Sure, and at least in times of yore, Bastard was a perfectly respectable British surname, too. Don’t care, I would not want to be named Bastard.

        My mother was a first grade teacher, she once had a girl in her class named Lesbia. Actually, it’s a beautiful name, but… well at least her surname wasn’t Crotch.

        Gotta get that book.

  2. The Utah monolith story reminds me of the crop circles.

    If you’ve never read Round in Circles, by Jim Schnabel, I highly recommend it. It was cited in a Carl Sagan book, which is how I found it.

    Schnabel writes in a very serious investigative tone, which makes it hilarious. At one point, Schnabel himself does one, with a combine. The following morning, while looking at his handiwork, he is joined by a crop circle “expert” who comments on the “great significance” of his production. “Thanks”, he thinks to himself.


  3. I’m guessing the Biden’s already have a private chef. Now instead of a cat he will probably want a walker.

    1. I believe it is a well known fact that cats can go back in time in order to trip people. Either that or it was action at a distance.

  4. Re the Balmis Expedition: since they were vaccinating and not variolating, the orphans must have been used to keep a source of cowpox going. Cowpox is a minor nuisance and not a fatal disease at all, so it’s not as terrible as it might seem.

  5. Yeah, and I’d love to have a private chef, too, but I’m not getting one.

    Yeah, but she is. So I’d guess she can have a cat, too.

  6. Professor Ceiling Cat [Emeritus] appeared in my dream shortly before I awoke this morning! Remarkable as I almost never have dreams that feature anyone I know or have met. I was sure I had a book for him that he would be interested in, I kept giving him books that he then said he had read 😂

  7. I am not greatly concerned that Trump will overturn the election by claiming fraud. But, there is something very insidious brewing here. He is creating a myth that the election was stolen. Millions of his supporters will always believe this. This will result for many in the de-legitimization of the electoral system and democracy itself. In an NYT op-ed, Jochen Bittner makes an apt analogy between the current situation and Germany after its defeat in World War I. The Nazis and other far right groups attributed the defeat to a stab-in-the-back. According to them, Germany did not lose militarily, rather the nation was betrayed by politicians and Jews. In reality, of course, it suffered a resounding military defeat. Due to incessant propaganda and the weaknesses of the Weimar Republic, the stab-in-the-back myth gained traction and helped Hitler attain power.

    Can the fraud myth help a future authoritarian gain power in the United States? I would not rule it out. Freedom of speech guarantees that a well-financed far right can incessantly perpetuate it. In the political arena at least, over the last fifty years, the right has been much effective than the left in using propaganda to gain and retain power. This has been particularly true on the state level, allowing minorities to control state legislatures and draw congressional boundaries (gerrymandering). So, I fear that the damage Trump has done to America will long last his being gone. Just as the damage done by smoking may persist and get worse even after the person stops smoking, the long-term effects of Trumpism may linger for decades, ultimately killing democracy. To prevent this from happening believers in democracy cannot remain passive. They must be as relentless as the right in exposing the myth and other right-wing lies.

    1. Unfortunately, the Trumpers are well aided by the media. The bias is almost baked in at this point. Instead of verifying factual information and evaluating untruths for what they are, our communications system is going for “balance”, which means equal time for each “side”, with very little to no debunking.

      The right wing is screaming about “free speech”, which means, to them, that they should be able to spread whatever outrageous lies and conspiracy theories they want, without “censorship”, and if anyone confronts them, they just scream louder.

      I once asked an editor, if one side is saying that there are three purple unicorns in the parking lot, and the other side is saying unicorns don’t exists, where’s the middle ground? Will the media “analysis” contain anything about the actual existence of unicorns, or will they just do their usual stenographic thing and say that so-and-so said that there are three purple unicorns in the parking lot?



      1. Trump and Hitler did have the main factor down pretty well. Propaganda that is relentless and professionally choreographed. It works. The advantage Hitler had was a really bad economy and an enemy to hate. Trump was much the same except for the economy but he had full control of a television network to spread the word. I do not think you can really counter argue against this as the brainwashing is complete and the cult believes nothing else. If you do not control and restrict the media that pushes the propaganda you lose. The only reason Trump did not win again was he beat himself. He failed badly with the virus. Hitler was only beaten by war.

      2. You seem to think that the ability to say what one wants to without fear of reprisals from the government is a bad thing unless what is said meets approval. Will there be a guide to decide what is approved and what is not? Who gets to publish it? I agree that people say outlandish things all the time and get away with it. But that’s just my opinion.

        You didn’t say what your editor’s response was. Except for rags like National Enquirer, I can guess what your editor might have said and it doesn’t comport with your caricature.

        1. I wasn’t talking at all about the government, I was talking about the media.

          I think that when interviewees spout easily debunked lies, that interviewers should question them, instead of letting the lie sit there unanswered.

          What’s wrong with that?

          The editor I wrote to responded that an obvious lie should be confronted. She was with Think Progress, a website which is no longer functional.


          1. Ah. I see. You specifically mentioned “free speech”, so I misread what you meant; you were referring to people who mistake a constraint on government as a constraint on the press (or any private group) as well. You feel that the press should censor claims you think are lies. I would like them too but it’s a hard thing to demand; unicorns are easy but many issues faced by editors are not so clear cut. I also agree that many in the media are irresponsible and allare biased.

            1. I agree completely with Linda. The press has long since failed their mandate. They too often simply relate what various “sides” of an issue have said while saying nothing of what the verifiable facts of the issue may be.

              And then there is the sensationalist views / clicks driven aspect of the majority of major news outlets. It’s like professional wrestling. Many people have used this aspect of the current era of journalism to their advantage. Like Trump.

              1. ” The press has long since failed their mandate. ”

                This, I think, is where a great deal of the anger and angst about the media comes from. It puts too much on them. The fact is the press has no mandate. We like to call the media the “4th estate” and, in a sense, it is. But unlike the other “estates’, the press has no formal constraints or authority. Though a free press is essential for a functional democracy, the “4th Estate is a metaphor, nothing more. We should not expect metaphors will adhere to any mandate. Though there are exceptions, most are a business first, an agent for social or political change, second. We would all love them to behave, but we can’t expect it and, most importantly of all, we must not force it.

              2. Outright censoring is one thing, regulations like the former FCC fairness doctrine are another. I don’t see anything wrong with the latter, in general. To clarify, we (or at least I) are talking about just one specific category of journalism, news.

                Another part is, for lack of better terms, the difference between soft power and hard power. By whatever combination of social pressures, from the general public and internally within the profession of journalism, the profession collectively held itself to certain standards. (That’s what I mean by soft power, while by hard power I mean government imposed censorship.) Many of those standards helped inhibit the problems I’m complaining about, but over the past 2 or 3 decades they have changed or even disappeared. The likes of Murrow and Cronkite would, I think, be aghast at today’s news.

                We probably aren’t talking about exactly the same thing, but I do think that we can and should expect better of the profession of news journalism. By that I do not mean a government agency deciding who can and can’t be on the news.

      3. Look, I’m being really serious when I say this: I have a very cold and dry writing style (which is weird because I’m very much the opposite in person) that can make me disagreeing seem aggressive or rude. I promise that I don’t mean to be in any way belittling or nasty. I just want to put this preface in because I’ve been trying really hard lately to figure out how to make my writing “warmer” when disagreeing with someone and, right now, this “trigger warning” is the best I can do. Having said that…

        Have you watched any channel but Fox News? Every single mainstream media channel on TV not only doesn’t give equal air time to opinions, but literally prefaces every mention of Trump attacking the election with some combination of words like, “Trump again today continued to make baseless accusations of fraud regarding the election without any evidence.” This “story” is almost always followed by a couple of “analysts” telling the viewer how wrong he and his cronies are. The only place to find opinions that actually claim Trump is correct are Fox News (maybe. I wouldn’t know because I don’t watch them) and “alternative” media websites/podcasts, like Alex Jones.

        I think the media’s real problem is the same on it’s had since Trump began running for President: it can’t stop focusing on him and every little thing he says. The media that opposes Trump has been Trump’s best friend and amplifier. But it most certainly does not give equal airtime to his opinions and those of people who support him, unless you consider saying that those people are wrong is giving them “equal airtime.”

        If anything, it’s Trump and people in social media bubbles who are the biggest problems, but the media certainly isn’t helping. Unfortunately, the media can’t stop reporting on what he says now, but it certainly doesn’t give equal time to opinions about the election being fraudulent.

        P.S. Genuinely, if you have any suggestion for how to make my writing seem less adversarial I am very much open to hearing them! Or maybe I’m wrong about it and it’s not that bad? Either way, if you choose to address it: Thank you 🙂

    2. I share your concern. Trump has inflicted grievous and probably enduring harm to American democracy. The Republican Party has shown itself to be utterly unprincipled in going along with Trump’s lies too.

      1. I do as well. But the response MUST NOT be an attempt to shut down the voices we don’t like to hear. If we do, this calamity will get exponentially worse.,

        1. I don’t think just giving the “sides” of an issue equal air time has any merit. What I’m saying is that reporters don’t ask questions when someone hands them a load of bull.

          One example, from PBS News Hour last summer: Judy Woodruff was interviewing someone from the GW Bush administration about Ukraine being pressured to manufacture an “investigation” against Joe Biden. He said that what the Trump people were doing was “common”. She then asked him if that’s what HE did. He said to her, in an angry voice, “Don’t put words in my mouth.” The glimmer of a spine that she showed disappeared instantly, and she dropped it.

          In my opinion, what she should have said in response is, “I’m not putting words in your mouth; I’m asking you a question. Is that what YOU did?”

          Another example: Rudy Giuliani keeps saying that they have “massive” evidence showing that the election was rigged. Why hasn’t anybody asked him why they don’t produce their evidence in court? The answer to that, of course is, that while you can allege that in an interview, if you perjure yourself in court and you’re an officer of the court, you go to jail. But, since nobody will ask him directly, we’ll never get an answer, will we?

          Some issues never get any air time. What various media choose to feature, and what they choose to ignore can also be influenced. One example of that, from South Dakota in 2016: An ethics proposal for the legislature was put on the ballot by referendum. It was voted into law by a huge majority of the electorate, and became law, for one brief, shining moment.

          Following the election, the legislature convened, declared a “state of emergency”, and voided the vote.

          I found out about that from the web, but I never heard a squeak from the MSM. I would have loved to have had some reporter ask a SD legislator what, exactly, was the “emergency”?


    3. It will be interesting to see the results of the GA run-off. Republicans are trying to keep the Trumpists engaged by acquiescing to Trump’s attacks on the “fairest election in American history” (keeping their hopes up that Trump still has a chance) because they don’t want to turn off GA voters. But Trump’s constant attacks on election fraud may well have a deleterious effect on republican turn-out in the run-off. In the same vein, Trump’s continued attacks on democracy and voting in general could very well create a massive backlash on republican voters; many may simply stop voting, “knowing” that elections are rigged and their votes don’t matter. So if the dems win GA, I’d say it was because many in Trump’s base didn’t bother to vote because they believe everything’s already baked in the cake. If that carries over into the future, the GOP may find that millions of their voters have simply given up on voting (especially those who were first-time voters for Trump, and there seems to be a lot of them). I know I shouldn’t feel any schadenfreude about that outcome, but I do.

      A final thought: the election will be certified for Biden before the GA run-offs, and that will only add to the disillusionment of Trump’s base. (Thank you edit button…I’m going to LOVE that new feature.)

  8. Actually, the fine line is between being a genius who makes paradigm-changing discoveries about the nature of matter/energy and space/time, and a genius who creates a monster by sewing together various assorted bits and bobs…

  9. The not naughty Brit names reminded me of an old Chicago joke. As a setup for this, you should know that Chicagoans pronounce some street names unusually. For example, Devon is pronounced with the emphasis on the last syllable: de-VON.

    So here’s the joke: Name three Chicago streets that rhyme with vagina? Answer: Paulina, Regina, and Lunt. [Melvina would also qualify.]

    1. What tool are you using? I use a combination of ScriptSafe, Privacy Badger, and Ublock Origin. Unfortunately, since the changes, I’ve had to allow more scripts.

        1. Ah, I use Firefox on my PC and Brave on my phone. Privacy Badger counts 15 “potential trackers” on this site. I forgot to mention that I also use a VPN.

          Unfortunately, our privacy is basically gone in the Wild West of the internet. The data miners and the companies that buy their data know far more about us than we know about ourselves. We can try our best to hang on to some shreds of it, like not signing up for Facebook, but now so many sites require a Facebook or Gmail account to do anything that even keeping away from those is very difficult, though I’ve managed to so far. Many sites also require you to disconnect your VPN, if you’re using one.

  10. Is that a yarmulka on Mr. Hodges head?! I had never heard anything about them being Jewish. Anyone have any further info on that?

  11. Paul Bronks “i coulda’ been a contender. i could’ve been somebody”

    I don’t know why, but I get a real kick out of cats going bipedal. Also: Do they recognize themselves in a mirror? Weird.

  12. This got me interested in looking up the real names of all 5 of the Marx Brothers
    Chico Leonard Joseph
    Harpo Adolph (after 1911: Arthur)
    Groucho Julius Henry
    Gummo Milton
    Zeppo Herbert Manfred

    I am afraid I am equally fond of both Terence Malick’s “Days of Heaven” and “Tree of Life”, but I also think one of his finest films is “The Thin Red Line”. “The New World” is quite good as well.

    1. Trivia: There was actually a sixth Marx Brother: the firstborn, Manfred, died in infancy. Zeppo was named Herbert Manfred in his honor.

  13. Paws for thought. We had an aggressive rooster called Sam who dismembered another chicken in gouts of gore and blood. My kid saw it happen and asked “Who is Sam peckin’, pa?”

Leave a Reply