Tuesday: Hili dialogue

December 8, 2020 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the lamest day of the week: Tuesday, and today is December 8, 2020: National Brownie Day (the food, not the girls’ organization). It’s also National Lard Day, which has been observed for only two years, probably promoted by Big Fat.

I saw a Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) on my way to work today; it scuttled across my path at about 4:45 a.m. (Is that good luck?) Here’s a fuzzy photo taken with my iPhone, but it’s enough to prove my claim of possum—the first one I’ve seen in Chicago. We’re at the northern limit of the species’ range:

Not a cat!

News of the Day:

Chuck Yeager, breaker of the sound barrier and Mr. Right Stuff, died yesterday at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 97. Yeager was the first person to break the sound barrier in 1947, in the plane below (picture taken in 1949). The name of the plane, Glamorous Glennis, came from Yeager’s wife.

(Original Caption) 1949-Captain Charles Yaeger besides Bell X-1 after first powered take off of supersonic plane.

According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), we’ve just seen another laudable example of bipartisanship in Congress. From the FFRF announcement:

The U.S. House has overwhelmingly passed a groundbreaking resolution calling for blasphemy and related laws to be revoked worldwide, much to the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s delight.

The resolution, HR512, (see bill here) was introduced last year by Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and passed yesterday by a vote of 385-3. The three representatives who voted “nay” were Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Chip Roy (R-TX).  39 members did not vote; almost all were Republicans.

Rudy Giuliani, who appeared in many Trump-related activities this year, has contracted the coronavirus and is now in the hospital. Much as I dislike the man, I can’t join the chorus of those who are rejoicing—some even hoping he’ll die.

Biden announced he’ll appoint a retired (since 2016) Army general, Lloyd Austin, as Secretary of Defense, But Austin, a superb military commander, has virtually no political chops, and even the New York Times, in an op-ed yesterday, says that “a recently retired general should not be Secretary of Defense.” A quote:

President-elect Biden should not put Lloyd Austin, nor any other recently retired general or admiral, in the same position. General Austin is a fine public servant, and he may well continue his service to the nation out of uniform. But the Pentagon would be the wrong place for him to do it.

A landmark: the first Brits got their Covid-shots yesterday:

The first Briton to get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine — 90-year-old Margaret Keenan — received the first of two doses at 6:31 a.m. local time on Tuesday at University Hospital in Coventry, less than a week after the UK became the first country to approve it.Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said she felt “privileged” to be the first to get the shot.
Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said she felt “privileged” to be the first to get the shot.

Matthew sent a tweet showing the second person to get jabbed: William Shakespere (note that the last name is misspelled in the tweet):

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 283,835, a big increase of about 1,500 from yesterday’s figure—more than one death per minute. The world death toll is 1,552,199, another big increase of about 9,200 over yesterday’s report—about 6.4 people dying per minute, or more than one every ten seconds. 

Stuff that happened on December 8 includes:

  • 1660 – A woman (either Margaret Hughes or Anne Marshall) appears on an English public stage for the first time, in the role of Desdemona in a production of Shakespeare’s play Othello.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: President Abraham Lincoln issues the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, formally establishing the process of Reconstruction.
  • 1941 – World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares December 7 to be “a date which will live in infamy”, after which the U.S. declares war on Japan.
  • 1943 – World War II: The German 117th Jäger Division destroys the monastery of Mega Spilaio in Greece and executes 22 monks and visitors as part of reprisals that culminated a few days later with the Massacre of Kalavryta.

I visited that monastery some years ago, before it modernized and became this. At least the monks have nice cells, though the place looks like a Motel 6.

Here’s the flag:

  • 1980 – Former Beatle John Lennon is murdered by Mark David Chapman in front of The Dakota in New York City.
  • 1991 – The leaders of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine sign an agreement dissolving the Soviet Union and establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States.
  • 2010 – With the second launch of the Falcon 9 and the first launch of the Dragon, SpaceX becomes the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.
  • 2013 – Metallica performs a show in Antarctica, making them the first band to perform on all 7 continents.

The concert was actually on the South Shetland Islands, not on the Antarctic continent. Here’s a photo of the concert:

  • 2019 – First confirmed case of COVID-19 in China 

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1542 – Mary, Queen of Scots, daughter of James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise, at Linlithgow Palace (d. 1587)[7]
  • 1765 – Eli Whitney, American engineer, invented the cotton gin (d. 1825)
  • 1865 – Jean Sibelius, Finnish violinist and composer (d. 1957)
  • 1886 – Diego Rivera, Mexican painter and educator (d. 1957)

Pictures I took of a famous Diego Rivera mural near the Zocalo in Mexico City (and two details), photographed at the Mexican Atheists’ meeting in November, 2012:

Who dat? You must know, right?

  • 1894 – James Thurber, American humorist and cartoonist (d. 1961)
  • 1922 – Lucian Freud, German-English painter and illustrator (d. 2011)

I like Freud: one of the few great figurative artists of the 20th century. Here’s a self-portrait:

  • 1925 – Sammy Davis, Jr., American actor, singer, and dancer (d. 1990)
  • 1943 – Jim Morrison, American singer-songwriter and poet (d. 1971)
  • 1947 – Gregg Allman, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2017)

Here’s Allman doing the vocals on one of my favorite Allman Brothers recordings “One Way Out”. This is in 1982 at the University of Florida. Betts, as usual, is fantastic:

  • 1951 – Bill Bryson, American essayist, travel and science writer
  • 1966 – Sinéad O’Connor, Irish singer-songwriter

Those who went to the Great Beyond on December 8 include:

  • 1859 – Thomas De Quincey, English journalist and author (b. 1785)
  • 1903 – Herbert Spencer, English biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and philosopher (b. 1820)
  • 1958 – Tris Speaker, American baseball player and manager (b. 1888)
  • 1980 – John Lennon, English singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1940)
  • 2016 – John Glenn, American astronaut and senator, first American to go into orbit (b. 1921)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is sitting on the windowsill behind closed curtains:

A: What are you doing there?
Hili: I’m meditating.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tam robisz?
Hili: Medytuję

And here is little Kulka; her golden eyes distinguish her from Hili, who has green eyes (photo by Paulina R.):

A Christmas tweet from Nicole:

On Seth Andrews’s Facebook page, but I added the green line, which represents my plot:

From Jesus of the Day:

Seriously, Ivanka?

From Luana. Have a look at the article.

Tweets from Matthew. Be sure to see the video in the second tweet.

Wait for the bobkitten reveal:

This tweet seems to have disappeared; it was a cockatoo moving up and down with a bunch of humans:

From a camera trap in Borneo. Click the marbled cat picture to enlarge it:

And of course we must have more cats:

42 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Opossums are fairly common where I live in southern Wisconsin, about 80 miles north of where Jerry lives. They are rarely seen alive, because they are nocturnal/crepuscular– I know they are pretty common because of the frequency of road kills. I did see a live one just a few days ago, waddling across the road in the evening, the first live one I’ve seen in several years. I might speculate that because of the slower traffic on the city streets of Hyde Park, opossums have a better chance of crossing the street successfully there than they do in suburban areas such as where I live. Opossums are slow. (The distribution map in Wikipedia, BTW, is wrong– you can’t trust Wikipedia!)

    Opossums have been expanding their range northward during historical times, and now reach to at least northern Wisconsin. Cold is a factor in their distribution, and things are getting warmer. At the northern edge of their range, opossums can lose their hairless ears to frostbite. Opossums usually do quite well around human habitation, and a city like Chicago is a heat island, so I should think opossums are doing alright there. Jerry needs to set up a night-time camera trap around the garbage cans in his neighborhood!


    1. I was also surprised that this was the first opossum Jerry had seen in Chicago. We see them commonly here (northern Chicago suburbs) but it is a less traffic dense area than Hyde Park. What I have not seen at home – although I know they are around – is raccoons. Which surprised me, as they ave been so common in both urban and rural environments in other places we have lived. I’m still amazed by how many coyotes we see here, and how brazen they are wandering around in daylight within a few feet of houses.

    2. I will trust Wikipedia until you put up your article showing why it’s wrong. I saw one recent article in which, for one article, they compared Wikipedia with Brittanica, and Wikipedia had fewer errors.

    3. Here in So. California, we have lots of them. My garden cameras catch them practically every night. I don’t know if they are Virginia Opossums though. Anyone know what kind of possums I am likely to see here?

        1. Thanks. They seem to be doing pretty well here. They are the most numerous of all the mammals I can see in my cameras. I also see cats, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and a few smaller rodents that are too small and fast to identify.

    4. Not so far from Toronto in Canada, but possibly further south than the part of Wisconsin mentioned, we’ve seen opossums (opossi? I forget the Latin plural of ..ums) about 7 times in the 35 years we’ve been here. One time while we were in Europe, my son showed up there, saw an opossum, was sure it was stone dead on the front lawn. And the classic story occurred. When he went outside again 15 minutes later, the critter had got up and disappeared into the trees.

  2. From the mural link:

    Davis and Urbanowski said they would like to see a new mural commissioned that allows a Black muralist to tell the stories of Black people, including a more accurate reflection of historical events.

    They object to the mural showing a white woman helping blacks move via the underground railroad as inaccurate…in Vermont. Vermont. This isn’t Maryland and Harriett Tubman. Chances are extremely good that the people in Vermont who helped the black former-slaves move north (to Canada) did, in fact, include mostly white people.


    Much as I dislike [Giuliani], I can’t join the chorus of those who are rejoicing—some even hoping he’ll die.

    Neither do I, but keep in mind he flew all aronud the country meeting with people. The AZ house of representatives is basically shut down because he went there, met with Republicans to try and convince them to overturn the election results, and now they’re all in quarantine. His behavior lately has been extraordinarily unethical – and I’m not referring to his representing Trump, I’m referring to his reckless exposure of tens if not hundreds of people to Covid because of his refusal to self-isolate. He has been reckless, to the point of possibly costing lives. Yes he deserves to live, but he also deserves to be shunned by decent society, and if he can’t work another day in his life, I won’t shed any tears.

  3. Yeager was among many of the super pilots in the early history of aviation. He certainly lived longer than many others considering the danger of the occupation. My grandfather use to give me that old saying, there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but not many old bold pilots.

    1. Have you read his autobiography, Yeager? Great read, fascinating first person account of momentous events by one of the best of the best.

      1. I’m pretty sure I did but it was awhile ago. Another super pilot of about his age was Bob Hoover. I saw him perform at air shows several years ago. Currently reading a fairly current book, The Aviators, about three early flyers – Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle and Charles Lindbergh.

    2. According to Wikipedia: “On October 14, 2012, on the 65th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier, Yeager did it again at the age of 89, flying as co-pilot in a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle piloted by Captain David Vincent out of Nellis Air Force Base.”

    3. I recall an incident about Chuck Yeager from a biography I read ages ago.

      He had just ejected from from a test-plane at a high altitude, and the red-hot residue of the explosive charge that propelled him from the cockpit mimicked his own trajectory, and actually settled on his shoulder as his parachute deployed. The heat melted through his oxygen helmet, and the leaking oxygen caused the residue to burst into flame, which began to burn his shoulder and face, and his parachute shrouds. Well, he made it to the ground ‘safely’. A farmer had seen him land and came to lend a hand, but fainted at the gruesome sight that greeted him when Yeager removed his helmet.

      Later at the hospital, the medical staff could not cut through the metal ring which his helmet had been attached to. Yeager pulled a flexible saw from a pocket on the sleeve of his flight suit and said ‘Here, use this.’ It worked..

      All those decades ago medical science said that to prevent massive scarring to his face, the scabs had to be scraped from his burns every day until they healed,

      He made it all sound like a walk in the park.

  4. I need one of those wildlife cams. We had some wildlife excitement at our place yesterday evening. Early evening, still daylight, a rare cool day so I had one of the sliding glass doors on the back of the house open as I was working on editing a book on the family computer. Suddenly a group of coyotes sounds off, couldn’t have been more than 50-100 meters away in the field behind our house. Both cats came running from different parts of the house, in that belly-to-the-ground fast slither they do, noses to the screen of the open sliding glass door.

    The coyotes kept up quite the ruckus for over an hour, periodically, till well past dark. Several minutes of sounding off then many minutes of silence, and so on. The cats were very excited, running from window to window trying to get a glimpse at what was making all the noise.

      1. Definitely. The older one used to go outside a bit but we stopped that a couple of years ago. Too many bobcats and coyotes, and she was bad. Early on she just stayed in our yard, but then she started roaming around to start trouble with other cats.

    1. I have a couple of Arlo cameras. They have rechargeable batteries so they can be placed outside. They only need to be in wifi range. They are about $100 each. They capture the local wildlife pretty well though they aren’t like true wildlife cams.

  5. I’m thinking that Biden has chosen a military man for Sec Def, against the wishes of many who want a civilian, because it will be easier to get Senate confirmation. The GOP do like their military.

    1. Did the NYT think the same when James Mattis was named Secretary of Defense in 2017? Less than four years after his retirement as commander of CENTCOM? Lloyd Austin will be out of service for almost 5 years when he takes office.

      1. I’m guessing the feeling is that a civilian would be less likely to get us into new wars, that a civilian might provide a counter-balancing point of view, that a civilian wouldn’t be biased toward a particular part of the service. On the other hand, someone familiar with war generally wants to avoid it. Regardless, it doesn’t matter as much as the particular appointee’s character, philosophy, and compatibility with the commander-in-chief.

        1. The thinking is simpler than that, IMO. It is simply that in the US, we hold that the military is under civilian control. When you put a military person in charge, you violate that principle. So you devise a rule defining what it means to be civilian, after a specified number of years out of the military or never have been in the military.

              1. Why the overblown reaction? All you really needed to say was that there’s another reason: prevention of coups. Now that Trump is (almost) gone, do we really have to worry about that? Aren’t the other reasons more compelling?

              2. “Established military”

                That’s the tip of a huge iceberg in terms of policy discussions. IMHO, the biggest problem is political parties (esp. GOP) wrapping themselves in the flag and making the default decision in Congress to expand the military. We have reduced it from time to time but it takes a lot of work and we still have dead-end military programs that are kept alive for political reasons.

  6. Re: Ivankas Twitter

    Oh, the President-eject may be carved into Mount Rushmore. But only on the other side. And only his butt. As an eternal warning. 😉

  7. Regarding the second person to be vaccinated for COVID19. The BBC tweet has the spelling correct, I think and CNN have got it wrong. My Google search shows that the BBC, the Independent, WaPo, Reuters and a lot of others come down on the side of the traditional spelling. CNN might still be right and everybody else wrong, but I think not.

  8. “..William Shakespere (note that the last name is misspelled in the tweet)..”

    I never shook my Dad, but maybe he did.

    Pronounced as ‘..spare’ or as ‘..spear’?

  9. As to Rudy Giuliani’s illness: is it morally allowable to hope that he survives COVID and lives a long life significantly compromised physically and in some bearable but nonetheless major discomfort, both physical and emotional? Would that be OK, please?

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