Saturday: Hili dialogue

December 26, 2020 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Boxing Day: Saturday, December 26, 2020. For our feline friends, this is the best day:

More important, It’s the second day of Coynezaa, as well as the first day of Kwanzaa, the latter celebrated until January 1.

Foodwise, it’s National Candy Cane Day. When I was a kid I used to like them, but not so much any more. If you want a truly good peppermint stick, King Leo Peppermint Sticks are the very best. They’re shorter and not curved, softer than the hard candy canes, and loaded with real peppermint flavor. And they come in the original-style can sporting a regal lion. They are much better than the traditional item; and are themselves a tradition in the South.

And if you don’t like your presents, it’s National Whiner’s Day.

Wine of the Day: A kindly reader sent me this 2013 Barbaresco for Coynezaa, and I drank half of it last night with my Christmas dinner of T-bone steak, biscuits, and green peppers (as a friend said, “That’s a real guy meal!” Even at just 7 years, the wine was old enough to drink, and, after 45 minutes of decanting, became smooth, juicy, and redolent of cherries.  I’ll drink the other half tonight.

News of the Day:

If you’re into chess, and buy an expensive chess set, like that used in the World Championships, realize that almost all the money you’re spending is for the production of the knights, which must be carved by hand (all the other pieces can be tooled). From the NYT:

About 10 people specialize in carving knights for the World Chess sets. . . It takes about two weeks to produce 100 sets, with a set of knights requiring about six hours to carve. . .

And if you’re wondering when you might get your Covid-19 vaccination, how each state prioritizes the jabs, and how the distribution is going now, the Washington Post has a handy article that tells you state by state.

The NYT editorial section is becoming like HuffPo, with “here’s what you should know” stories, many of them not about news but about the kvetching of writers. One of the worst of this genre (pardon my rant) is today’s editorial “I will never bail on my friends again” by Maeve Higgins. The entire point of the op-ed is this:

I’m sick of us being lone bullfrogs on solitary lily pads. It is so much better when we are a big croaking chorus carousing around the city. I understand a little better now why it’s called “making” friends; it’s an effort and a choice and something that isn’t ever really finished. But really there is no silver lining or hidden meaning in this for me, I just really miss my friends.

Despite the frog simile, there’s nothing that can save this piece from being trite, and a complete waste of space. “I just really miss my friends.”  Don’t we all, Ms. Higgins? RIBBIT!

On a much better note, David Brooks names (and links to) what he sees as the best pieces of nonpolitical writing of the year, on which he bestows his “Sidney Awards”. One, which I’ll highlight this week, is about cancel culture and free speech, and contains this:

This has not been a great period for free expression. The range of socially acceptable opinion has shrunk, as independent-minded journalists and experts have been eased out of their jobs at places ranging from New York magazine to Boeing and Civis Analytics for saying unorthodox things. The esteemed scholar James R. Flynn wrote a book called “In Defense of Free Speech” which was in turn canceled by his publisher for being too controversial.

Fortunately, a range of people from across the political spectrum have arisen to defend free inquiry, including Noam Chomsky, Cathy Young, the University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer, Caitlin Flanagan, Thomas Chatterton Williams, Jonathan Haidt, John McWhorter, Yascha Mounk, Jonathan Rauch and magazines like Quillette and Tablet.

That won’t sit well with the pack of NYT  Staff Pecksniffs who are gutting the paper of columnists guilty of Wrongthink.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 330,366, an increase of about 1,100 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,758,984 an increase of about 7,800 over yesterday’s report.

Stuff that happened on December 26 includes:

This was, of course, after he crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Day.

  • 1799 – Henry Lee III’s eulogy to George Washington in congress declares him as “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen”. (This is not to be confused with Washington’s funeral on December 18.)
  • 1825 – Advocates of liberalism in Russia rise up against Czar Nicholas I but are suppressed in the Decembrist revolt in Saint Petersburg.
  • 1862 – The largest mass-hanging in U.S. history took place in Mankato, Minnesota, where 38 Native Americans died.

This was a travesty since the Dakota warriors were convicted—often in a 5-minute trial, and without defense counsel—of “murder committed during warfare” (they had attacked settlements). 303 were sentenced to die, but after an extensive review President Lincoln pardoned all but 38 them. The rest were hung; here’s a depiction of the mass execution:

  • 1871 – Thespis, the first Gilbert and Sullivan collaboration, debuts. It does modestly well, but the two would not collaborate again for four years and the score has been lost.
  • 1898 – Marie and Pierre Curie announce the isolation of radium.

Pierre Curie died at 46 when a horse cart ran over his head after he slipped in Paris. But he would have died of radiation poisoning, anyway. As Wikipedia reports:

Both the Curies experienced radium burns, both accidentally and voluntarily, and were exposed to extensive doses of radiation while conducting their research. They experienced radiation sickness and Marie Curie died of aplastic anemia in 1934. Even now, all their papers from the 1890s, even her cookbooks, are too dangerous to touch. Their laboratory books are kept in special lead boxes and people who want to see them have to wear protective clothing. Most of these items can be found at Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Had Pierre Curie not been killed as he was, it is likely that he would have eventually died of the effects of radiation, as did his wife, their daughter Irène, and her husband Frédéric Joliot.

Here are Pierre and Marie in their laboratory:

The “curse” was that the Red Sox didn’t win the World Series again until 2004. The Bambino was a great pitcher as well as a slugger; here he is with the Red Sox:

  • 1941 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States.
  • 1944 – World War II: George S. Patton’s Third Army breaks the encirclement of surrounded U.S. forces at Bastogne, Belgium.
  • 1963 – The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” are released in the United States, marking the beginning of Beatlemania on an international level.
  • 1966 – The first Kwanzaa is celebrated by Maulana Karenga, the chair of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach.

Coynezaa is of course modeled after Kwanzaa: a confected holiday for an exclusive group of people (in the case of Coynezaa, me), and lasting several days (Kwanzaa is a day longer than Coynezaa).  I believe that everyone should declare such a holiday for themselves once a year.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1791 – Charles Babbage, English mathematician and engineer, invented the Difference engine (d. 1871)
  • 1863 – Charles Pathé, French record producer, co-founded Pathé Records (d. 1957)
  • 1883 – Maurice Utrillo, French painter (d. 1955)

I did not know that Utrillo was actually the illegitimate son of Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938), who modeled for many famous painters (Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, etc.) and later became a painter herself. Since I couldn’t find a cat painting by Utrillo, here’s one from his mom, who did several nice cat paintings:

  • 1891 – Henry Miller, American author and painter (d. 1980)
  • 1893 – Mao Zedong, Chinese politician, Chairman of the Communist Party of China (d. 1976)
  • 1939 – Phil Spector, American singer-songwriter and producer

Convicted of second-degree murder after a second trial (the first ended in a mistrial), Spector is in prison in California, eligible for parole in 2024. Here’s his mug shot in 2009:

Those who began pining for the fjords on December 26 include:

  • 1530 – Babur, Mughal emperor (b. 1483)
  • 1890 – Heinrich Schliemann, German-Italian archaeologist and author (b. 1822)
  • 1909 – Frederic Remington, American painter and illustrator (b. 1861)
  • 1968 – Weegee, Ukrainian-American photographer and journalist (b. 1898)

The ultimate voyeur, Weegee (real name Arthur Fellig) specialized in photographing the bizarre underbelly of New York City. Here’s one of his photos, showing people looking at a dead body: “Their First Murder, 1945”):

  • 1974 – Jack Benny, American comedian, vaudevillian, actor, and violinist (b. 1894)
  • 1999 – Curtis Mayfield, American singer-songwriter and producer (b. 1942)
  • 2006 – Gerald Ford, American commander, lawyer, and politician, 38th President of the United States (b. 1913)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is snug inside (she doesn’t like going out much in the winter):

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m watching the cold outside the window.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Oglądam zimno za oknem.

And little Kukla is out of her post-neutering restraint jacket!

Kulka: The jacket is off, we return to the heights.

In Polish: Kubraczek zdjęty, wracamy na wyżyny.

From Jean, who found this on Facebook. A GIANT MALLARD HEN!

From Nicole: caught in the act!

From Jesus of the Day:  Do you find these men appealing? Would they have been appealing in 1919?

Reader Ken sent this, saying that it’s “fucked up”. It is: Kirk Cameron and Tucker Carlson approving of flouting pandemic restrictions. But you could catch the “hope virus”!

This video (sound up) absolutely freaks me out. Listen to that poor koala wail!

From Simon, who says, “Chief Mouser working on sky rats.” I’m glad the sky rat got away, but was surprised that the overweight Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office is so agile!

Tweets from Matthew. This happened near us, in Wisconsin. As one commenter said, “I thought this was a new Canadian winter sport.”

Click on the link to see all kinds of prize-winning optical illusions. The first one is a doozy (not shown below):

Rocky Baubloa is right!

. . . and I bet he has an Acme rocket strapped to his back:

Fauci turned 80 two days ago:

28 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. Both the Curies experienced radium burns, both accidentally and voluntarily, and were exposed to extensive doses of radiation while conducting their research. They experienced radiation sickness and Marie Curie died of aplastic anemia in 1934.

    There are people who think that Marie’s death from cancer was more due to her WW1 work running a mobile X-ray clinic than the work on radium. Radium is an alpha- and beta- emitter, both of which stop at the skin, if they get that far. (Pierre’s burns from his infamous wesk’t pocket vial of radium were skin burns.) X-rays, OTOH, penetrate full body thickness – wouldn’t be much use for detecting shrapnel in the gut otherwise, which was the object of the exercise.

    1. This paper, Radium Poisoning: A Review of Present Knowledge, which though published in 1933,, sums up basic information about radium, the radioactive particles emitted, and their effects on the human body. It states that gamma rays are also emitted, and he makes a distinction in classification, in that radium, ingested or injected, will poison a person (ex. the “Radium Girls”) but other instances of overexposure causing deleterious effects are classified as radiation burns.

        1. There is selection bias at work – very few mainstream physicist are considered opinionated even if they express the consensus in a forceful way.

    2. From Wikipedia I get the impression that is the current opinion among French officials:

      The damaging effects of ionising radiation were not known at the time of her work, which had been carried out without the safety measures later developed.[74] She had carried test tubes containing radioactive isotopes in her pocket,[76] and she stored them in her desk drawer, remarking on the faint light that the substances gave off in the dark.[77] Curie was also exposed to X-rays from unshielded equipment while serving as a radiologist in field hospitals during the war.[60] In fact, when Curie’s body was exhumed in 1995, the ORPI “concluded that she could not have been exposed to lethal levels of radiation while she was alive”. They pointed out that radium poses a risk only if it is ingested,[78] and speculated that her illness was more likely to have been due to her use of radiography during the First World War.

      [ ]

      Although Curie’s laboratory was highly contaminated with radium, an ORPI [“the French Office de Protection centre les Rayonnements lonisants”] official points out that radium poses risks only if it is ingested either orally or through the skin. ORPI therefore speculates that Curie’s illness was more likely to have been due to her use of radiography during the First World War, when precautions to protect against X-rays had not yet been introduced.

      [Nature, 1995; ]

  2. 1799 – Henry Lee III’s eulogy to George Washington in congress declares him as “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen”. (This is not to be confused with Washington’s funeral on December 18.)

    Also not to be confused with the original Washington Senators, a baseball team so hapless that sports-writing wag Charles Dryden dubbed them “Washington — first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.”

  3. 1963 – The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” are released in the United States, marking the beginning of Beatlemania on an international level.

    That 45 always struck me as a bit schizy. Wanting to hold hands is about as chaste an expression of romantic yearning as might be imagined — whereas the flipside finds the narrator lusting after a girl who’s just seventeen, if you know what I mean.

    1. I think 13/14 year old girls and boys were a bit schizy as well so it fit right in. I know because I was one of them.

      Did the Red Soxs really know what they had in Babe Ruth. They knew they had a really good pitcher but the great hitting they had not yet seen. The owner thought he needed money, the real weakness of the brain.

      1. The Red Slobs needed do-re-mi (reportedly because team owner Harry Frazee wanted to finance the Broadway production of No, No Nanette). The Babe was the main asset they had that could bring some fast, and the Yankees (as usual) had plenty to spare.

    2. I guess I never thought about that second line. I sort of assumed it was a throwaway line used simply to fit the rhyme and rhythm. Of course, I probably hadn’t hit puberty when I first heard it so that may explain it.

  4. Our society has a ridiculous, fawning relationship with celebrity. Honestly, why do so many people grant credibility to actors, and to people whose claim to fame is only their celebrity?

    Idiotic. The usual American mental laziness is magnified beyond belief.


  5. Do you find these men appealing? Would they have been appealing in 1919?

    I’m not a particularly adept judge of male pulchritude, but if this is what passed for it in 1919, it’s probably no coincidence that that’s the year the nation ratified the 18th Amendment and passed the Volstead Act establishing Prohibition.

    I mean, this gang probably couldn’t get lucky in a late ’70s West Village bathhouse. 🙂

  6. Speaking of coyotes and large rocks: I recently wrote When Anvils are Outlawed. A bit:

    Should government take anvils from those who abide
    By the laws of the land to leave us to die?
    When a band of aggressors tries to attack me
    Shall I be defenseless not packing an Acme?

    I’ll give you a warning, “Don’t tread on me”
    My anvil will defend my family if need
    If g-men or criminals come through the door
    I’ll have them stand on that big X on the floor

    True patriots know
    From Detroit to Danville
    When anvils are outlawed
    Only outlaws have anvils

  7. Happy Coynezaa!

    Also, since yesterday marked the birth of Newton and Washington’s crossing of the Delaware (followed by a much-needed victory), maybe Dec 25 should be a day for celebrating science and secularism? Seeing as the Revolutionary War led to the United States being, you know, a thing, a thing with a little something so often forgotten these days called the First Amendment. What could we name such a holiday? Happy Scisec! No…

  8. Along with your wine and T-bone steak, you had biscuits and peppers. Did you make the biscuits from scratch or purchase them? What kind of peppers were they and how did you prepare them?

  9. The only peppermint anything I’ve ever really liked was Sealtest Candy Cane ice cream, which I’ve only ever seen once. But I really like wintergreen. Are there any wintergreen candy canes? Or is there wintergreen tea for that matter?

    Thanksgiving: Could we please change that to the first Thurs in Nov? Or even the second? To give some space between that and Krimmis.

    And the 100 quid boulder is great.

  10. Alternative Beatles lyrics we sang in my school days.

    She was just forty-five,
    More dead than alive,
    And the way she looked was way beyond repair.
    So how could I dance with my mother,
    When I saw her standing there.

  11. That Weegee photo is mesmerizing. So many different expressions, and most of them children. How did he achieve that shot?

    I liked Dr. Fauci’s serenade. Happy 80th!

  12. I’m sorry to say that these inane Kirk “Crocoduck” Cameron events (there have been several) have been taking place in my hometown, Thousand Oaks, CA. On the plus side, negative comments about this flouting of pandemic guidelines in the name of first amendment rights have outnumbered positive comments about 3:1 on Nextdoor (a community social media sharing app).

  13. Happy Coynezaa !
    – Wonderful the serenading of Dr. Faucci.
    – Kirk Cameron (I believe an old earth creationist – hard core – I think he’s on a youtube video with that hideous New Zealander*) is one of the most odious and obnoxious Americans. I never knew how brain damaged he was when I watched him as a teenager on his crappy sitcom. Ugh.

    *No NOT Ken Hamm, he (to my embarrassment) is an Aussie.

Leave a Reply