Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

December 29, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s Tuesday, the Cruelest day: December 29, 2020: the fifth day of Coynezaa, the fifth day of Christmas, and the fourth day of Kwanzaa (United States). It’s not a food holiday but the end of one: National “Get on the Scales Day”. (Hili is going to the vet soon as she’s gotten too fat.) It’s also National Pepper Pot Day, celebrating a soup that in its authentic version has tripe in it. I’ve tried tripe at least twice, and couldn’t abide it either time. I will not try it again.

Wine of the Day: This lovely Argentinian Torrontés, drunk with chicken, was a bit old for this grape, and I could tell that oxidation was beginning to set in. But it was still a decent tipple, smelling for all the world like candied grapefruit peel. Torrontés can be a great white wine when you find a good specimen, and it’s not at all expensive. Just drink it fairly young.

News of the Day:

Yesterday the House of Representatives voted 322-87 to override Trump’s veto of the defense spending bill (note: this is not the pandemic relief bill!). If the Senate also votes to override, which is not certain, it would be the first time Congress had repudiated a veto.  One of his big objections to the bill was its call to change the name of military bases named after Confederate generals.

By now most Americans know that Trump gave in and signed the pandemic relief bill on Sunday. Yesterday the House passed a bill increasing the checks given to many Americans from the $600 specified in the original bill to $2000.  But this won’t happen until the Senate also approves the measure, and it’s not clear when this will happen.

This is a dog-bites-man story from Saudi Arabia, which seems to get much less flak than Israel despite its much more oppressive behavior. Right now the murderous ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who probably gave the go-ahead for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, is busy cracking down on protests and anti-theocratic activism. Yesterday a Saudi court sentenced Loujain al-Hathloul, 31 years old and a well known women’s rights activist, to six years in prison.  (al-Hathoul was an influential figure in campaigning for, and winning, Saudi women’s right to drive.) The charge was “terrorism-related” according to her family, but prosecutors presented no evidence for terrorism or anything like it. She was prosecuted solely for activism. Given that she’s already been in prison for several years, and that some of the sentence was suspended—prosecutors wanted twenty years!—she could be out in six months.  Her sister alleges that she was tortured after being arrested and jailed in 2018.

Here’s a short video report:


Aunt Becky is out of jail, having served two months for the CollegeGate scandal.

Reader Christopher informs us that not only the Guardian has horoscopes, but also Canada’s Globe and Mail. Click if you want your prognostication for 2001:

But it’s just harmless fun, right?—even though people spend billions of dollars a year consulting these fraudulent people and their pages, and it buttresses faith and superstition.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 335,141, an increase of about 1,900 above yesterday’s figure, and about 1.3 deaths per minute. The world death toll is 1,783,597, an increase of about 10,100 over yesterday’s total and representing about 7 deaths per minute from Covid-19—one every 9 seconds.

Stuff that happened on December 29 includes:

Here’s the site of Becket’s killing, carried out by four knights after Becket pissed off King Henry. The caption is from Wikipedia:

Sculpture and altar marking the spot of Thomas Becket’s martyrdom, Canterbury Cathedral. The sculpture by Giles Blomfeld represents the knights’ four swords (two metal swords with reddened tips and their two shadows).
  • 1845 – In accordance with International Boundary delimitation, the United States annexes the Republic of Texas, following the manifest destiny doctrine. The Republic of Texas, which had been independent since the Texas Revolution of 1836, is thereupon admitted as the 28th U.S. state.
  • 1890 – Wounded Knee Massacre on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, 300 Lakota are killed by the United States 7th Cavalry Regiment.

A picture of the dead Native Americans being put in a common grave:

A signed British first edition of this book will run you about $138,700. Here’s one:

  • 1937 – The Irish Free State is replaced by a new state called Ireland with the adoption of a new constitution.
  • 1940 – World War II: In the Second Great Fire of London, the Luftwaffe fire-bombs London, England, killing almost 200 civilians.
  • 1989 – Czech writer, philosopher and dissident Václav Havel is elected the first post-communist President of Czechoslovakia.
  • 2003 – The last known speaker of Akkala Sami dies, rendering the language extinct.

The language, one of the Sámi languages, was spoken in only three villages of the Kola Peninsula in Russia.  Here’s an introduction to the 10 Sámi languages. There’s another that has only two native speakers.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1800 – Charles Goodyear, American chemist and engineer (d. 1860)
  • 1808 – Andrew Johnson, American general and politician, 17th President of the United States (d. 1875)
  • 1809 – William Ewart Gladstone, English lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1898)
  • 1876 – Pablo Casals, Catalan cellist and conductor (d. 1973)
  • 1936 – Mary Tyler Moore, American actress and producer (d. 2017)

Here’s Rob and Laura Petrie (Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore) doing a number of the Dick Van Dyke Show. She was criticized for wearing Capri pants on the show (back then, women in sitcoms wore dresses), but she started a fashion.

  • 1943 – Rick Danko, Canadian singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer (d. 1999)
  • 1947 – Ted Danson, American actor and producer

Those who took the Big Nap on December 29 include:

  • 1170 – Thomas Becket, English archbishop and saint (b. 1118)
  • 1894 – Christina Rossetti, English poet and hymn-writer (b. 1830)

Rossetti in her late twenties:

by (George) Herbert Watkins, albumen print, late 1850s
  • 1926 – Rainer Maria Rilke, Austrian poet and author (b. 1875)
  • 1986 – Harold Macmillan, English captain and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1894)
  • 2004 – Julius Axelrod, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1912)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is again wheedling for noms (like hobbits, many Poles do eat “second breakfasts”):

Hili: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
A: And then?
Hili: And then the second breakfast.
In Polish:
Hili: Śniadanie to najważniejszy posiłek dnia.
Ja: A potem?
Hili: A potem drugie śniadanie.

Little Kulka, hated by Hili, licks her paw:

And in nearby Wloclawek, housemates Leon and Mietek differ about the holidays. Mietek loves them, but Leon clearly doesn’t:

Leon: Such a hassle this holidays is!
In Polish: Zawracanie głowy z tymi świętami.


From Divy. Can you name the television game show that inspired this cartoon?

From Irena:

From Jesus of the Day: it’s all in the jingle bell, I guess.

From Matthew Cobb as well as Barry.  Richard issued the tweet below and got tons of pushback. There were jocular comments but a lot of stuff that, were I to receive it, would seem hurtful. I didn’t understand it; my view is that of Barry, who said this:

I don’t understand why this has been getting so much traction on Twitter or why people are so bothered by it. As this person tweeted: “Are people so churlish not to see that Richard Dawkins was creating a funny image to make a point about how he thinks spiders are under-appreciated?”

That’s true, and if you want to see all the people who made fun of this tweet, go over and have a look. I can attribute it only to the nastiness that Twitter evokes, and to the fact that people have a mysterious animus against Dawkins.

Tweets from Matthew. First, the world’s most beautiful duck:

I used to have an aquarium full of hissers as a grad student, and would horrify visitor by making them hiss:

This is a good person. (Sound up.)

A brilliant new Canadian sport:

Do read this article. It describes a genetic condition in which the fingerprints aren’t formed (they don’t mention toeprints). There are no bad medical side effects, but there are severe social side effects: these poor people can’t use smartphones and can’t get passports or driver’s licenses.

A map of the rabbits of North America. I’m guessing that a lot of the cottontail “species,” which live in geographic isolation from others, don’t really deserve the status of distinct species.

I broke my own rule and criticized this anti-athiest post on Twitter, but the best response is, “This isn’t atheism’s job. It’s just non-belief in gods, for crying out loud!”

38 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

    1. A much shorter and to the point reply than I was mentally composing. 🙂

      I guess if you believe in a particular god, then all other religions fail too, and all other religions are absurd.

  1. In my college days, I cleaned house for an entomologist who had a large aquarium in her bathroom populated by hissing cockroaches. It was quite eerie, and always cleaned as fast as I could in there.

  2. One of the replies to the Dawkins’ tweet:
    “What a pointless tweet, couldn’t you, as a privileged person, do something even slightly more worthwhile with your time?” – Clearly a case of Richard casting pearls before swine.

    1. For someone who could buy and sell Trump in about 5 minutes…yes, he really saved his ass. Trump has established one record as president besides being the most worthless. More golf days in the last four years than most professional golfers. Maybe he can be buried on the golf course.

      1. I’m definitely not defending Trump but I suspect that any other president would have simply scolded MBS and perhaps placed economic sanctions on his country. His “ass” would not likely be in much jeopardy.

        1. Had the condemnations been strong enough, and had the US led a unified effort to impose strong international sanctions, it may well have forced the hand of MbS’s old man, King Salman, to put baby in a corner. Instead, the world was treated to the untoward spectacle of underlings taking the fall for him in bogus show trials.

          As it was, Trump refused ever even to acknowledge publicly what the US intel community had concluded with a high degree of confidence: that MbS had ordered the hit on Kashoggi, an American green card holder and journalist.

          MbS and Trump — in the same sense that game recognizes game, scum recognizes scum.

          1. Yes, I suppose that could have happened. If so, then the old man would be seen to care only about the international fallout rather than the act itself but perhaps that’s how he thinks.

            Trump seems to always be eager to hint to the world that these leaders are doing what any good, strong leader should do in such circumstances. I think Trump would kill his domestic enemies if he thought he could get away with it. Perhaps some random person on 5th Avenue but not a fellow politician.

            1. No, fellow politicians he just viciously mocks and derides.
              And they collectively put up with his bullying abuse.

      2. (buried on the golf course…) sooner rather than later. Recall his critiques of Obama’s occasional golf game, within driving distance of DC while Trump costs us millions to go to Mar a Fucko, FL seemingly every weekend.
        Worst. President. Ever.

  3. … people spend billions of dollars a year consulting these fraudulent [horoscope] people and their pages, and it buttresses faith and superstition.

    A Capricorn would say that, wouldn’t he? 🙂

  4. The crack Trump team said, when the first vaccine began to roll out, they would have 20 million vaccinated by the end of the year. Well, the end of the year is almost here. The numbers I saw last night indicate that around 11 million doses have been shipped and vaccines given are just over 2 million. Also they are just now starting in on Nursing homes. 2021 is also going to be a long and deadly year. Good thing they got the politicians done before wasting time at nursing homes.

  5. 1936 – Mary Tyler Moore, American actress and producer (d. 2017)

    Gotta hand it to Robert Redford for seeing MTM’s theretofore untapped ability to go to the dark side, convincing her to take on the role of the cold, unloving mother in his Academy Award-winning directorial debut, Ordinary People (which, while a worthy effort, had no business winning that year’s best picture Oscar over Martin Scorsese’s vastly superior masterpiece Raging Bull. Scorsese, though, doesn’t seem to be one to carry a grudge, taking an acting role in what was, for my money, Redford’s best directorial effort, Quiz Show).

  6. Laura Petrie had many a young man’s heart beating faster in the 60’s! Even now when I see clips from DVD I think she’s still my ideal woman/wife!

  7. Re Hili’s request for a second breakfast: in North Dakota that used to be a common practice on farms. The farmers had an early breakfast (around 6:30), worked for about three hours, then came in for a second breakfast. After several hours more work, there was lunch, more work, afternoon snack, more work, then supper around 7. This was one of the highlights of visiting relatives in ND in the 1950s and 1960s, in part because my aunt always made “bars” or other desert treats as part of those in-between meals.

    1. A lot of that was likely customs from the old country. The Germans, the Swedish and others. Working 10 to 12 hours a day burned a lot of calories. Mostly the women never stopped working.

  8. Warning: the “rabbit” map does not show the distributions of jackrabbits and hares (such as the snowshoe) that belong to the genus Lepus.

    1. I noticed that and thought maybe they were calling jackrabbits “desert cottontails”. But jackrabbits don’t have cottontails, so thanks for the explanation.

      1. People who claim to know jackrabbits will tell you they are primarily motivated by Fear, Stupidity, and Craziness. But I have spent enough time in jackrabbit country to know that most of them lead pretty dull lives; they are bored with their daily routines: eat, fuck, sleep, hop around a bush now and then….No wonder some of them drift over the line into cheap thrills once in a while; there has to be a powerful adrenalin rush in crouching by the side of a road, waiting for the next set of headlights to come along, then streaking out of the bushes with split-second timing and making it across to the other side just inches in front of the speeding front wheels.

        — Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

        I figured if anyone would appreciate that jackrabbit quote, you might. 🙂

  9. these poor people can’t use smartphones and can’t get passports or driver’s licenses.

    Well, obviously there are alternatives to the fingerprint sensor in every smartphone I’ve used which also had a fingerprint sensor. But more interestingly – does this imply that the Land Of the Free (TM) takes the fingerprints of those suspicious characters who want to leave and potentially re-enter the country? Or to drive around in it?
    Seems very odd from this side of the Atlantic. Taking fingerprints here is almost universally preceded by arrest and charging for an arrestable offence. Or being employed by the police or a fingerprint forensics company.
    Come to think of it – what is to prevent you filling out your driving license application and putting your maiden aunt’s fingerprints on it?

  10. Fingerprints are also used for background checks of people getting jobs in the government or in education and other jobs where adults work with children. But you’re right, not used for driving or passports…I doubt India would require them for those purposes either.

    Edit: meant as a reply to Aidan above.

    1. California requires a right thumb print for a driver’s license – other states may too. It requires a full fingerprint set for license to practice as an attorney, so that the prints can be checked against state and national databases for incipient criminality or something like that.
      And yes, the US collects fingerprints on entry to the US; as do several other countries, Japan comes immediately to mind.

      1. Many years ago I was a resident of Tokyo for several years and the fingerprinting of “gaijin” for our permanent or temporary residence cards was controversial as in Japan usually only criminals get fingerprinted. There were a lot of court cases about it.

    2. NO! Actually they have a new, fingerprint based ID system in India. It is all integrated now, including any gvt benefits, passports, etc. It is one of the many harsh policies of (religious fundie) Modi’s mis-administration of horror. He’s a big friend of Trump. Go figure. [ironic eyebrow arch from me here]

      In some countries – especially where literacy is not universal (like Afghanistan and India) fingerprints are de-facto signatures.

  11. The rabbits are presumably a 19th c or older division, but I suppose There is inertia In these things, I mean getting change. Jerry must be right.

    Oops – mistyped email – tired & on iphone 😖

  12. In the Willamette Valley of Oregon, the cottontail rabbits are “despeciating.” Two species are becoming one due to rampant hybridization. These species are Sylvilagus bachmanii, our native brush rabbit, and S. floridana, the eastern cottontail.

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