Friday: Hili dialogue

January 1, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s 2021 at last! Friday, January 1, to be exact, and if anybody still wrote checks, you’d have to make an effort to remember that it’s no longer 2020. But I expect it’ll be easier to remember the right year now. Here’s a farewell-to-the-year clip:

Five years ago today Matthew Cobb posted this photo of New Year’s Eve in Manchester with this commentary:

New Year’s Eve in UK cities can be a pretty horrendous experience. The Manchester Evening News has just published a delightful selection of photos by Joel Goodman, showing what happened last night. They are generally pretty grim, but this photo, taken on Withy Grove, stands out. As various people on Tw*tter have commented, it looks like a Renaissance painting.

Mancunians apparently take a perverse pride in this photo:

The same scene last night (thanks to Matthew again):

And Google has a New Year’s Doodle (click on screenshot):

It’s National Bloody Mary Day, as well as Apple Gifting Day and Euro Day. But the whole month of January celebrates these foodstuffs and methods of preparation (you can ignore the last entry):

National Hot Tea Month
National Oatmeal Month
National Slow Cooking Month
National Soup Month
National Baking Month
National Fat Free Living Month
Fat Free Living Month.

Finally, it’s the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, celebrating the Snipping of the Saviour, and Polar Bear Swim Day in Canada and United States. But they do it in the Netherlands, too.  Here’s a picture of The Nieuwjaarsduik in Scheveningen from 2010. If you can pronounce all that, you’re prepared to speak Dutch.

For descriptions of how New Year’s Day is celebrated around the world, go here.

News of the Day:

Good news for Democrats, not for Senator David Perdue, who’s a Republican in one of the two crucial Georgia runoffs that will determine which party gets control of the U.S. Senate. Perdue’s wife tested positive for Covid-19, and Perdue is quarantining for two weeks. (The runoff is next Tuesday, and Perdue had to cancel several rallies.) One hopes he’s okay, but one also hopes that he loses to Democrat Jon Ossoff.

FiveThirtyEight shows that both elections are squeakers, with the Dems leading by a hair.  Dems must win both to take control of the Senate:

The regular election runoff:

The special election runoff:


Now the next item is just plain weird, and I’ll just give the NYT summary:

A pharmacist at a Wisconsin hospital has been arrested and accused of intentionally removing more than 500 doses of coronavirus vaccine from refrigeration last week, knowing that the vaccines would be rendered useless and that the people receiving them would think they were protected against the virus when they were not, the police department in Grafton, Wisconsin, said Thursday.

. . . A pharmacist at a Wisconsin hospital has been arrested and accused of intentionally removing more than 500 doses of coronavirus vaccine from refrigeration last week, knowing that the vaccines would be rendered useless and that the people receiving them would think they were protected against the virus when they were not, the police department in Grafton, Wisconsin, said Thursday.

One wonders what the goals of this act were, but the consequences were predictable: people would think they were protected but weren’t. However, there’s also a second shot, and since both shots are the same (or so I hear), you’d eventually still have substantial protection against the virus.

Here’s an update on the new, more spreadable coronavirus, and the news isn’t that bad. We just have to adhere rigorously to our social-distancing, mask-wearing, and sanitizing standards. And yes, the jab still works. There will be more mutants, but we can also expect the virus to evolve lower lethality (viruses that kill their carriers don’t get spread as easily).

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 346,037, a big increase of about 3,500 deaths from yesterday’s figure, and about 2.4 deaths per minute. The world death toll is 1,827,859, another big increase of about 13,100 over yesterday’s total and representing about 9.1 deaths per minute from Covid-19—more than one every 7 seconds.

Stuff that happened on January 1 includes:

  • 45 BC – The Julian calendar takes effect as the civil calendar of the Roman Empire, establishing January 1 as the new date of the new year.

In the Gregorian calendar:

Here’s where it is:

Bouvet Island from NASA Earth:

  • 1773 – The hymn that became known as “Amazing Grace”, then titled “1 Chronicles 17:16–17” is first used to accompany a sermon led by John Newton in the town of Olney, Buckinghamshire, England.
  • 1776 – General George Washington hoists the first United States flag; the Grand Union Flag at Prospect Hill.

Here’s that flag, though it still has Brit stuff in it:

  • 1804 – French rule ends in Haiti. Haiti becomes the first black-majority republic and second independent country in North America after the United States.
  • 1808 – The United States bans the importation of slaves.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: The Emancipation Proclamation takes effect in Confederate territory.
  • 1892 – Ellis Island begins processing immigrants into the United States.

Both of my maternal grandparents came to the U.S. through Ellis island in the late 19th century. Here are some immigrants arriving in 1921:

Newly-arrived immigrants at Ellis Island in 1921 (

And here’s a typical cell in Alcatraz, like the one Al Capone inhabited for 4.5 years. Not many amenities, eh?

The last cigarette ad in America was aired just before midnight on December 31, 1970.  Here’s an earlier one: the Flintstones advertising Winstons! (Think of the children!). It also is sexist.

  • 1979 – Normal diplomatic relations are established between the People’s Republic of China and the United States.
  • 1999 – Euro currency is introduced in 11 member nations of the European Union (with the exception of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Greece and Sweden; Greece adopts the euro two years later).

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1735 – Paul Revere, American silversmith and engraver (d. 1818)
  • 1752 – Betsy Ross, American seamstress, credited with designing the Flag of the United States (d. 1836)
  • 1879 – E. M. Forster, English author and playwright (d. 1970)
  • 1895 – J. Edgar Hoover, American law enforcement official; 1st Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (d. 1972)
  • 1919 – J. D. Salinger, American soldier and author (d. 2010)
  • 1919 – Carole Landis, American actress (d. 1948)

Below is a video of two “it girls”: Betty Grable and Carole Landis (the second waitress). Landis was only 22 here, and seven years later, distraught that Rex Harrison wouldn’t marry her, she committed suicide.  Wikipedia notes:

 [Landis’s] breakout role was as the female lead in the 1940 film One Million B.C. from United Artists. Landis was known as “The Ping Girl” and “The Chest” because of her curvy figure.

  • 1955 – Mary Beard, English classicist, academic and presenter

Those who began pushing up daisies on January 1 include:

  • 1953 – Hank Williams, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1923)

Here’s one of Williams’s great songs (his best was, of course, “I’m so lonesome I could cry,” but I couldn’t find a live version. Williams was only 29 when he died:

  • 1972 – Maurice Chevalier, French actor and singer (b. 1888)
  • 1995 – Eugene Wigner, Hungarian-American physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sends us some self-aggrandizing greetings.

Hili: May we send good wishes to all cat lovers?
A: And what do you want to wish them?
Hili: I want to wish them much joy while serving their cats.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy możemy złożyć życzenia wszystkim miłośnikom kotów?
Ja: A czego chcesz im życzyć?
Hili: Dużo radości ze służenia kotom.

And here are three pictures of Kitten Kulka brisking about the life for the New Year. How she’s grown! She also has beautiful golden eyes. (Photos by Paulina)

In the air!

From Divy, who works with turtles and tortoises. She adds that, beyond the resemblance, “McConnell lives up to the reputation of a cold-blooded reptile.” Jango, at bottom, is one of her family cats.

From Lorenzo the Cat, captioned “The little cheater”:

And from reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe, we have a cartoon called “Road Warrior“:

From reader Barry, who adds, “Best New Year’s decoration ever. This will not be topped.” Well, the yellow lights could be animated to appear from top to bottom. . .

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is about the worst soccer move I’ve ever seen:


Training a sheepdog:

You tell me: do you think he likes it or hates it?

Penguins leading us into 2021:

Here’s a murmuration whose formation may include a predator, but they do form in the absence of predators (see second tweet):

Felix (or is the name “Felix sausage”) looks like he’s getting fed a little too often!

There’s even a poem about it!

The Ppspsskov-Moscow Train

The engine’s coming down the track,
Some hear it go choo-choo,
But this one’s bringing me my snack,
It’s what it’s trained to do.
So as it slows, I hear the hiss,
And I know that’s my chance,
The human has for me “pssspss!”,
The sausage in advance.
I wait each day, same time and place,
The sausage such a treat!
And when the human sees my face,
They know I’m there to eat.
The train don’t even need to stop,
The magic still occurring,
And when I get my sausage drop,
Our motors both are purring.

And to all from Jango down in Florida:

38 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Lets hope the next year is better than the last. Only a couple of good things happened in the last. Got rid of Trump and I can’t remember the other.

      1. Correct, I probably forgot since it will likely be months before we get it. In other news I have about 5 inches of snow to shovel out today. A really wet heavy snow.

  2. I’ve commented about John Newton and ‘Amazing Grace’ before (and gotten in trouble with Mr. James), but I’m impelled to do so again: Newton remained in the slave trade for more than seven years after his ‘conversion’ to Christianity. During that time, as his journals show, a number of his African enslaved people perished during the Middle Passage. The hymn Newton later wrote, and which has become well-nigh universal in both Christian and popular contexts, begins this way: ‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, / That saved a wretch like me. . . .’ Well, did Newton’s god then bypass the evangelical requirement to be ‘born again’ for the Africans who died in transit, died innocent of the gospel, and allow these ‘heathens’ to pass Go?

  3. … it’s the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, celebrating the Snipping of the Saviour …

    No time for the mohel to develop a case of the shakes.

  4. Happy New Year to all!
    I was a Flinestone loyal fan but don’t remember the sponsorship.
    I spent some of yesterday with Twilight Zone marathon.
    All good memories….

  5. The Donald returned to the White House from Mar-a-Lago ahead of schedule yesterday. His staff — or at least some member of it who’s not hors de combat from COVID — announced that he has a full day of meetings and phone calls planned for today, although his publicly released schedule discloses nada.

    This can’t be an encouraging sign for anyone who cares about the reputation of American democracy.

      1. That’s been true for four years.

        The question is what’s he up to in these secret meetings his staff says he’s having. Whatever it is, it almost certainly won’t be successful. It will, however, almost as certainly be another national embarrassment.

  6. And in those two Manchester New Year’s Eve photos, the SAME blue car is still there, parked in the same place!

    Just kidding…
    but did I make you look?

    And re. FiveThirtyEight and the GA run off polls:
    I hope these are better polls than the 2020 election polls…when it comes to polls of the American electorate, I’ve become jaded.

    1. At first look I also thought: the same, but it is a different blue car, that looks a bit the same.

      538 is pretty good, but despite all their efforts to counter the phenomenon, the actual elections generally give the Republicans a better result than predicted. Note that the leads are both within the MoE. Fingers crossed.

  7. What’s interesting is what would have happened if the GOP controlled both the House and Senate? It seems possible we would have switched to a parliamentary system, where the president is chosen by the legislature. Maybe that will happen next time, or the time after that.

  8. Re. the British SARS-CoV-2 variant, I haven’t heard any 17 mutations as stated at the end of the NYT piece. There could well be, esp given the error rate of the polymerase being something like 1/10K and a 30K genome, but with attention focused on the N501Y exchange because of its location (as I understand) at the tip of the Spike where it docks with our membrane-bound angiotensin-converting enzyme aka ACE-2, what I think is important to keep in mind is that our immune response is not directed to just a single epitope. If that were the case we would be monoclonal antibody factories. Instead, I gather that our immune response is typically directed to 20 or so different epitopes, so there is an innate backup.

    1. It is appropriate that the 1st of January is Bloody Mary day (Blerry Merry here), it is said the cocktail is effective against hangovers.

  9. My maternal grandparents too came here from Europe (Warsaw), I’m pretty sure through Ellis Island, sometime around 1900 and settled in Baltimore, where I was born as well.

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