Saturday: Hili dialogue

December 5, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s Sabbath for cats again: Saturday, December 5, 2020: National Comfort Food Day. What’s yours? Right now mine would be is a big juicy cheeseburger with a pile of onion rings and a chocolate shake, but I haven’t had all the constituents of that meal in several decades. Due to fear, and my increasing and repugnant view that food is medicine, my hamburger consumption alone has dropped to about 5 per year. That sucks.

It’s also National Blue Jeans Day, Earmuff Day, National Sachertorte Day, National Rhubarb Vodka Day (oy!), Krampusnacht (in Austria), and World Soil Day. 

Question of the Day: We all know who the first responders are, but who are the second responders? Are there third responders, too?

News of the Day:

Yeterday a federal court has ordered the administration to reinstate the DACA program for immigrants. Good news, but Biden would have done that anyway.

The Devil Goes Down to Georgia, aiming to rally Republicans in two races that will determine that Senate’s balance of power. And, as Politico reports, even Georgia Republicans don’t know if the President-Eject’s impending visit will help or hurt the Republican Senatorial candidates. One thing is sure, though: Trump’s rallies will be crowded and maskless, a sort of Darwinian culling of conservatives. To wit: here’s a spreader-event rally on Wednesday with the state’s attorney general:

Attorney Sidney Powell speaks to supporters during a “Stop the Steal” rally in Alpharetta, Ga., on Dec. 2, 2020. | Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

Yesterday the House of Representatives voted to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level. (Even when weed is legal under state law, it’s still a federal crime to buy or sell it; they just don’t enforce it. The bill would also expunge convictions and release offenders from prison who committed nonviolent marijuana-related offenses. The vote was 228-164, largely along party lines. Here’s the breakdown from Marijuana Business Daily; look at the cowardly Republicans who abstained! Why don’t Republicans like dope?

Don’t count on federal legalization of marijuana, though, as Mitch “666” McConnell has said that the bill is unlikely to even come to a vote in the Senate, and if it did it would still lose.

If you take your cue on pandemic behavior from what epidemiologists do, read this article (and get depressed) about how the experts are themselves behaving, and what might change were they to get vaccinated:

Nearly a third of respondents said they would be comfortable returning to more activities of daily life once they were vaccinated. Some said they would feel comfortable doing only certain things, like socializing with people who had also been vaccinated. A few said they would wait until the country had reached the herd immunity threshold and they had received a vaccine themselves.

Only a third would return to “more” activities, even if the vaccination protects you? Herd immunity will be attained when about 70% of the population is vaccinated—and that assumes something we don’t know: that vaccinated people can’t spread the virus.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 279,012, a big increase of about 2,700 from yesterday’s figure and representing about 1.8 Americans dying of Covid-19 per minuteThe world death toll is 1,526,404, a big increase of about 12,700 over yesterday’s report—and about 8.8 deaths per minute. 

Stuff that happened on December 5 include:

  • 1492 – Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).

We will not speak of this.

  • 1766 – In London, auctioneer James Christie holds his first sale.
  • 1776 – Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest academic honor society in the U.S., holds its first meeting at the College of William & Mary.

I’m a member of that branch—Alpha of Virginia. As a counterculture hippie at the time, I fastened my Phi Beta Kappa key to the zipper of my jeans, using it to unzip and zip up.

That was the amendment that repealed the 18th Amendment, which outlawed sales and manufacture of alcohol. That was a terrible idea. Here’s a brief video on the history of prohibition and its repeal:

  • 1945 – Flight 19, a group of TBF Avengers, disappears in the Bermuda Triangle.

Nobody knows what happened to those five planes. Aliens?

  • 1952 – Beginning of the Great Smog in London. A cold fog combines with air pollution and brings the city to a standstill for four days. Later, a Ministry of Health report estimates 4,000 fatalities as a result of it.

The deaths could in fact have been as many as 10,000. Here’s a short video about the Great Smog:

  • 1964 – Lloyd J. Old discovered the first linkage between the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and disease—mouse leukemia—opening the way for the recognition of the importance of the MHC in the immune response.
  • 2004 – The Civil Partnership Act comes into effect in the United Kingdom, and the first civil partnership is registered there.
  • 2017 – The International Olympic Committee bans Russia from competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics for doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1782 – Martin Van Buren, American lawyer and politician, 8th President of the United States (d. 1862)
  • 1830 – Christina Rossetti, English poet and author (d. 1894)
  • 1839 – George Armstrong Custer, American general (d. 1876)
  • 1901 – Walt Disney, American animator, director, producer, and screenwriter, co-founded The Walt Disney Company (d. 1966)
  • 1901 – Werner Heisenberg, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1976)

Here’s an interview with Heisenberg at Munich’s Max Planck Institute in the 1970s; he speaks in English:

  • 1932 – Little Richard, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actor (d. 2020)
  • 1934 – Joan Didion, American novelist and screenwriter
  • 1938 – J. J. Cale, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2013)

Those for whom December 5 was curtains include:

Here’s a nice Monet, “Cat sleeping on a bed”, from 1865:

  • 2012 – Dave Brubeck, American pianist and composer (b. 1920)
  • 2013 – Nelson Mandela, South African lawyer and politician, 1st President of South Africa, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1918)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being a drama queen, turning walkies into a momentous decision:

A: What are you looking at with such intensity?
Hili: I’m thinking about whether to exercise my freedom to go out or my freedom to stay at home.
In Polish:
Ja: Na co tak patrzysz?
Hili: Zastanawiam się, czy skorzystać z wolności wyjścia, czy z wolności zostania w domu.

I asked Matthew, since he is going to Cambridge today (where the pubs are still open) to drink a Tim Taylor Landlord for me, as it’s my favorite session pint and I can’t get it here. He sent me this picture, clearly taken in his Manchester home, with the caption, “That’s Pepper. You can just see Ollie’s tail.” (Those are two of his three cats.) What I wouldn’t give for that bottle or, better yet, a freshly drawn pint of Landlord from a well-kept keg! Best session pint in the UK, and erstwhile winner of CAMRA’s Supreme Champion Beer of Britain in 1982, 1983, 1994, 1999, and 2014.

From reader Rick we get a SMBC cartoon by Zack Weinersmith. Both mom and daughter seem confused about determinism, though. . .

A meme from reader Jim, who says he got it from reddit:

A video of a poor woman getting pranked in a word game, while everyone else gets it!

This is a chilling and ineffably sad photo but it’s real; see the story at Newsweek (h/t Jim):

From reader Barry, who found a whole Twitter thread of “Places where cats shouldn’t be”. Go look at more:

I got so excited when Matthew sent me this tweet that I added a few words and instantly retweeted it. I love Wisdom and she persists!

The Bay Cat (Catopuma badia), endemic to Borneo, has ears so small it barely looks like a cat. It even looks a bit d*g-like!

Here’s another picture of this strange felid (from Wikipedia):

These are very beautiful ducks:

Here’s a video of males and females in Ontario, feeding on zebra mussels (they’re diving ducks). The species was a Sunday Duck o’ the Week from John Avise, and you can see his pictures and notes here.

58 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. Why don’t republicans like dope? My guess is that many of them like dope just fine, but like being re-elected more. A spineless abstention is often an attempt to have it both ways and be able to tell some constituents that you did not vote to legalize dope, and out of the other side of your mouth tell other constituents that you did not vote against legalizing dope. My guideline for abstaining in a vote on a policy making board is simply having a real conflict of interest on the matter at hand…otherwise you have a responsibility to study the question, come to a conclusion, and vote yay or nay damnit.

  2. I consider police, fire and EMTs to be first responders, hospital workers of all kinds to be second responders and food chain workers to be third responders (including supermarket workers)

    1. Great!!! After WordPress’s shenanigans of a few months ago I can comment again.
      I like the new site format very much, with one exception: I dislike uppercase for reader’s usernames.

        1. I’m still hoping for the Previous/Next links to be at the top of each post so that one can move back and forth between posts without having to scroll to the end of each.

    2. Truthy story about Heisenberg; one evening, while running late for a conference, a cop pulled him over. The cop said; “Dr Heisenberg, do you know how fast you were going”? Heisenberg replied; “No, but I know where I am”.

        1. You think THAT’S an oldy moldy one? How about this?

          So a couple of hydrogen atoms were walking down the side walk. One of them says; “I’m so upset, I’ve lost my electron”. The other says; “Are you sure?” The first says; “Yeah, I’m positive”.

            1. One I just made up:

              A proton and an electron are hanging out in their dorm room. The proton asks, “so what were the results of your latest STD test?” The electron says, “no matter how many strangers I bond with, I always end up negative!”

      1. Or when the same cop pulled over Schrodinger, and searched his car. “Do you know you have a dead cat in your trunk?” the cop asks. “NOW I do,” replies an annoyed Schrodinger…

  3. Sidney Powell is an attorney,who has uttered bizarre conspiracy theories in defense of Trump, but she is not Georgia’s attorney general. His name is Chris Carr.

    1. You beat me to it. Georgia State Republican officials are defending their honor against Trump and his wingbat supporters, saying that state elections are honest and Biden beat Trump fair and square. Team Trump, for its part, seems intent on destroying Georgia’s Republican party, which is ok by me.

    2. Besides Ms. Powell, Esq., the other legal loon pushing this clusterf*ck is Georgia lawyer L. Lin Wood (who’s also involved in the representation of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager facing murder charges for clipping two people last summer during the protests in Kenosha, WI). Here’s Wood on stage with El Sid at the “Stop the Steal” rally in Georgia, urging GOP voters to sit out the Jan. 5th run-offs for the US senate seats. (Let’s hope enough of them listen for Dems to take control of the senate.):

      1. What’s amazing to me is that these supposedly smart lawyers don’t seem to realize that asking voters to boycott the GA runoff election wouldn’t sit well with the GOP. Assuming they did realize it, then they must have thought that underlining the “your vote was stolen” meme was more important in Trump’s mind than the GOP retaining control of the Senate. Risky bet!

        1. Did this (forgive me the term) moron actually ask Trumpist voters to boycott the Jan 5 election? If so, I fully support him.

  4. National Comfort Food Day. What’s yours?

    Mac’n’cheese, the really good baked kind, especially the way they make it at a local diner (though, in a pinch, I can get by even with the kind you make out of a box on top a stove).

    There’s another joint in town, high-end, that serves it all fancy-like with chunks of lobster; it’s great, too, but I don’t think of that as a simple “comfort food.”

    1. The stovetop version is good even if you just follow the instructions on the box. However, it can be improved greatly by grating some sharp cheddar mixed with bread crumbs over it and throw it under the broiler. Cut up some hot dogs into it and you are verging on gourmet territory.

      1. Yeah, when my sons were kids, I used to make it for them with cut-up hotdogs, too.. I don’t recall eating it that way since they were teenagers, though it sounds pretty good to me right now.

        And around my house, it was always made with Hebrew National franks. I might be a Slovenian-Irish half-breed, but when it comes to wiener-eating, we’ve always kept a kosher home. 🙂

    2. Our comfort food tonight will be corned beef sandwiches. We are cut off from any decent Jewish delis or bakeries, but we can get a decent rye bread from Great Harvest Bread company and an acceptable corned beef at the grocery store deli. I steam the corned beef and stack it thick. A kosher dill pickle on the side and it is a close as I can get to one of my favorite foods. Once this covid mishegas is over, we can head to Chicago or Los Angeles for the real deal.

    3. I’ve too many comfort foods.
      Croissant (the real stuff) with some parmesan cheese, green onions and a Gewürztraminer.
      Grey North Sea shrimps Crangon crangon, something unavailable in South Africa.
      Grilled chicken with thick and crispy chips with a thyme sprinkling and a Côte de Beaune Burgundy,
      Mince samoosas,
      Sushi with sake

      There are dozens more, but it might get boring.

  5. I refuse to be the first one to make the requisite Steely Dan reference. I won’t do it. You can’t make me do it!

        1. No, you got it, buddy! Next line is “Oh no, William & Mary won’t do”

          Holy shit, was that clever subterfuge to get me to do it? If so, well played. Well played.

  6. My comfort food is oatmeal, made with old-fashioned rolled oats, topped with yogurt or applesauce and some chopped fresh fruit. Creamy and delicious! Sometimes I stir in a spoonful of peanut butter.

  7. One account I read about Flight 19 was that four of the planes were following a lead plane whose pilot did not know he was going the wrong way. They all ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea never to be found.

    1. Why didn’t they radio anyone then? More likely they WERE following a lead plane and that plane flew straight into the sea – controlled flight crashes into terrain (or ocean) are tragically not uncommon. There are a number of phenomena which can cause a pilot to lose spatial orientation and, if too close to the sea (or ground), in they go. If the other planes were flying in formation they’d have followed him straight in too. Something similar is what killed four pilots in the 1982 Air Force Thunderbirds tragedy.

        1. I love those shows which analyze airplane crashes. Most of them involve human error but it’s still amazing in its variety. I especially liked the one where a plane runs out of fuel and crashes because the shy co-pilot wasn’t very insistent in telling the pilot about it. He’d evidently rather die, and kill hundreds of others, than be yelled at or embarrassed.

          1. Besides being a great features-article journalist, Langeweische is a commercial pilot. He’s written excellent pieces on several aircraft disasters (as well as on a host of other topics). You can access collections of his pieces here and here.

        2. That was a long article. Very painful to just about anyone who was ever a pilot. In fact if you told most pilots you could stall an airplane at 35,000 feet and crash they would say you were nuts. It happens and it sure happened here. I think it took a long time to finally recover the data and cockpit recorder on this crash and it wasn’t until then that they were able to figure it out.

    1. The “TWX” video nicely illustrates the effect of “priming”, i.e., underhandedly nudging a respondent into a particular way of thinking about a problem or how to respond in a survey, that sometimes being done for unsavory purposes.

      It also reassures me in a level of skepticism about the utility of “sounding out” words when learning English, though that utility may be different between learning it as primary or secondary language.

      1. I agree – it really shows the oddities of English and how much we do “whole word pronunciation” when reading – including context even where that context is given later in the sentence.

        My favourites are accents where you can hear the w in sword and/or the h in whip (& the like) which always makes me wonder if the spelling reflects the older (original?)pronunciation or if it’s just an artifact of that accent.

        1. Most Scots still pronounce the “h” after a “w”. So, for example, wet and whet are not puns, neither are whales and Wales. On the other hand, unlike Stewie, we don’t pronounce Wil Wheaton as Whil Wheaton

  8. Question of the Day: We all know who the first responders are, but who are the second responders? Are there third responders, too?
    My 2 cents: Police-Fire-EMS are firsts, Emergency Room Nurses/Doctors, Red Cross and Crime Victim support services are seconds. Agree with Bob Terrace to food chain workers in the third tier, including warehousing/distribution workers, as well.

  9. ” … … comfort food ? ” i just, now, finished mine:
    1 / 3rd of a f u l l rack o’bbqed baby back ribs.

    Brought in to me by friends. The first carry – out
    of which I ‘ve partook since last February.

    Along with, o’course within 30 minutes’ time of
    its prehension, that vitamins’ E and C – arterial scrub
    cocktail. And a l l washed down with a darling and
    so tasty Mendoza Malbec, also quite m’liquid – comforter.

    The rest of this rack ? yet to come ?
    Saved back for another two meals’ worth
    o’… … m’comforting. J – Yeah.

    In to me from this literal hole in the wall – joint,
    a fairly f i n e one. For I o w a n – bbqing, that is:

    Time right now ? For a long winter’s nap ‘neath
    my .actual. comforter: ¡ that 25# – weighted blanket !


  10. It should be noted that New York did not impose Prohibition. A courageous act by it’s mayor, Mr Smith. His defiant decision kept the crime numbers in NY at normal levels,

    1. That’s interesting, Nicolaas – I just read Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man and was puzzled when Nick Charles, spending Christmas in New York, didn’t hesitate to tell a policeman that he’d been in a speakeasy the night before.

  11. Don’t count on federal legalization of marijuana, though, as Mitch “666” McConnell has said that the bill is unlikely to even come to a vote in the Senate, and if it did it would still lose.

    Hey, man, it’s “the politics of contraband,” as Mr. Frey put it.

  12. Comfort food was octopus wieners on fluffy buttered rice with some spinach to healthify our breakfast. We’ve been watching the Japanese fictional series on Netflix called Midnight Diner which has many amusing patrons at this diner that’s open from midnight to 7am. Since we have to self-isolate being in our dotage and decrepitude, we’re keeping company with the folks at the diner, and each day I cook something similar to what’s being served up. It’s a load of fun, and the food on the show looks mouth-wateringly good. Octopus wieners of course was one of the dishes. The stories range from amusing and happy to sad and poignant.

    Oh, another series which we binged watched the first week it came out was The Queen’s Gambit. It’s excellent.

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