Saturday: Hili dialogue

January 2, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the first Caturday of the year: Saturday, January 2, 2021. It’s National Buffet Day. I really love a good buffet, especially the ritzy ones, but I don’t see them happening for at least six months. It’s also Swiss Cheese Day, National Cream Puff Day, World Introvert Day, and Happy Mew Year for Cats Day, in which you’re supposed to give your cats a treat. January 2 is also a holiday in in Kazakhstan, North Macedonia, Mauritius, Montenegro, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Ukraine, and a bank holiday in Scotland.

News of the day:

Is this irresponsible? The New York Times has a long article about kambo, a toxin derived from poisonous frogs, used by the benighted as a body “cleanse”, inducing  repeated projectile vomiting, diarrhea, and all manner of distressing symptoms. It’s all the rage among the Goopy set, but a). it involves stressing and probably killing frogs, and b). there’s no good evidence that it works. Near the end of this long article, containing lots of anecdotal testimony about kambo’s putative physical and psychological benefits, you read this:

Health experts advised extreme caution, and said more rigorous studies were needed.

“Many medicines have come from natural products, particularly from places like the Amazon,” said Adam Perlman, the director of integrative medicine and health at Mayo Clinic Florida. “But at the moment, I don’t think the research into the pharmacology, not to mention the safety as well as the potential efficacy, is anywhere near where it needs to be before one would advocate using kambo in people.”

I wonder why they published the article at all. It’s just going to get a lot of people to try an untested treatment, as well as torturing a lot of hapless frogs.

The New York woman who attacked a black teenager, falsely accusing him of stealing her cellphone (she left it in an Uber) is shown here tackling the kid. She’s apparently hiding out, but  the cops know who she is. Soon, she’ll have to face the music, and I hope they throw the book at her. This is a case where I’m pretty sure racial profiling is involved. Have a look:

Emily Dickinson spent a three-week vacation trip in Washington D.C. in 1855? Sure enough, it’s all true, and the subject of a bizarre new television series. You can have the damn series; I was just amazed to find that the Belle of Amherst actually left Amherst.

And here’s what television is doing to Emily, played by Hailee Steinfeld:

Young Emily as wide-eyed tourist run amok in the nation’s capital has the whiff of a Hollywood pipe dream, as outlandish as an episode from the Apple TV Plus series “Dickinson,” which depicts a twerking, cross-dressing, opium-taking badass in 19th-century period costume who says “dude,” stitches “F My Life” in her needlework samplers and flaunts her rebellion with an Instagram-ready exhibitionism. The show, like other recent treatments such as the 2018 film “Wild Nights With Emily,” subverts the facts in a 21st-century fan-fiction projection of the poet. They have garnered her a devoted new following well beyond the English-major obsessives of yore.

F my life, indeed!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. 347,956, an increase of about 1,900 deaths from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,836,451, an increase of about 8,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 2 includes:

  • 366 – The Alemanni cross the frozen Rhine in large numbers, invading the Roman Empire.
  • 1900 – American statesman and diplomat John Hay announces the Open Door Policy to promote trade with China.
  • 1942 – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) obtains the conviction of 33 members of a German spy ring headed by Fritz Joubert Duquesne in the largest espionage case in United States history—the Duquesne Spy Ring.

Here are the mug shots. Curiously, though I thought spying, especially during wartime, could be a capital crime, nobody was executed and the average prison sentence of all 33 was about nine years. H

  • 1967 – Ronald Reagan, past movie actor and future President of the United States, is sworn in as Governor of California.
  • 1974 – United States President Richard Nixon signs a bill lowering the maximum U.S. speed limit to 55 MPH in order to conserve gasoline during an OPEC embargo.
  • 1981 – One of the largest investigations by a British police force ends when serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper”, is arrested in SheffieldSouth Yorkshire.

Sutcliffe, who killed 13 women and tried to kill seven others, died in prison last November 13 of Covid-19 complications. Here is in in custody of police:

  • From his NYT obituary: Peter Sutcliffe leaving court in 1983. Credit: Bettman, via Getty Images

Notables born on this day are thin on the ground, and include:

  • 1909 – Barry Goldwater, American politician, businessman, and author (d. 1998)
  • 1936 – Roger Miller, American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor (d. 1992)
  • 1938 – David Bailey, English photographer and painter
  • 1940 – Jim Bakker, American televangelist
  • 1969 – Christy Turlington, American model

Those who made their Final Exit on January 2 are also few, and include:

McCarty was one of the three authors of a very important 1944 paper that’s been forgotten by many. The work described in it established pretty firmly that the genetic material, at least in bacteria, was DNA, not protein or another molecule. (At that time nobody knew.)  I wonder why they didn’t win the Nobel Prize for the work.  Click on the screenshot below to go to the paper (free pdf on the site):

Here’s McCarty with Watson and Crick:

Dragon was of course the Captain in “The Captain and Tennille”. Together they put out one of the worst songs in the history of rock and roll.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a strange definition of “Providence”:

Hili: I trust Providence.
A: That it will do what?
Hili: That it will provide for me with your help.
In Polish
Hili: Ufam opatrzności.
Ja: Że co?
Hili: Że mnie zaopatrzy z twoją pomocą.

Here’s a lovely formal portrait of Szaron and Kulka by Paulina:

From Jesus of the Day. If Amazon had been around two millennia ago.

From Nicole:

A Pearls Before Swine comic sent by Smith Powell, showing how balled up people can get about free will. Pig’s gonna do what he’s gonna do.

Two tweets from Barry. Ricky Gervais tweets about his cat, and gets a response:

And a fearsome lightning strike!

Tweets from Matthew. First, a proficiency with UK accents:

Your Fun Animal Fact of the Day:

Brezhnev, probably while he was still in charge (and custodian of The Bomb):

It is a palindrome, and in fact seems to be true:

And Woody Guthrie’s “New Years Rulin’s”:

24 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. kambo’s putative physical and psychological benefits

    I think if I’d been subject to “repeated projectile vomiting, diarrhoea, and all manner of distressing symptoms”, once it had subsided, I’d probably be feeling much better physically and psychologically.

    1. Reminds me of the tale of the fool, who, when asked why he kept beating his head with a brick, replied that it felt good when he stopped.

  2. One of the worst songs? Good grief, what’s the competition? I thought Muskrat Love had the title sewn up.

    1. It was up there on the list, but in Dave Barry’s survey, MacArthur Park won, hands down.


      PS: If you’ve never read Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs, I highly recommend it.

      1. “It [“Muskrat Love”] was up there on the list, but in Dave Barry’s survey, MacArthur Park won, hands down.”

        Re: “MacArthur Park” – no doubt composer Jimmy Webb, like Liberace, cried all the way to the bank. Perhaps he overestimated Amuricun listeners’ familiarity with and appreciation for metaphor, simile, allusion, analogy, etc.

        Barry might perhaps do another survey, what with the recent advent of CardiB’s sublime and thoughtful “WAP.” Last night on PBS News, Judy Woodruff talked with a NY Times music writer who mentioned “WAP” as a notable song of 2020. I was crestfallen that he did not regale and enlighten Ms. Woodruff with an in-depth, detailed analysis of the song.

  3. World Introvert Day- From my engineer boss at NASA years ago: Q. What’s the difference between an introvert engineer and an extrovert engineer? Ans. An introvert engineer looks at his feet when he talks to you. An extrovert engineer looks at YOUR feet when he talks to you. As jerry often says, I’ll be here all week folks.

  4. For the uninitiated, the word “popty ping” that the “weather presenter” uses in the Wales forecast is widely believed to be “microwave” in the Welsh language. Sadly, it isn’t true – but it really should be!

  5. Curiously, though I thought spying, especially during wartime, could be a capital crime, nobody was executed and the average prison sentence of all 33 was about nine years.

    Bet the Rosenberg orphans — one a retired professor now, the other a retired lawyer — are wondering the same thing.

    And that was merely a cold war.

  6. 1909 – Barry Goldwater, American politician, businessman, and author (d. 1998)

    And military pilot, first with the US Army Air Force, flying supply planes over the Himalayas during the War, then for another 20 years with the Arizona Air National Guard, retiring as a major general. Also, an accomplished photographer.

    Ol’ Barry was a principled ultra-conservative — a species now extinct in today’s GOP, though the occasional relict member can still be encountered roaming the wilderness.

    1. Yep, and he foresaw the chaos that would ensue if the Bible thumpers ever got control of the party.

      Also, let’s not forget that he (with fellow AZ R John Rhodes) delivered the news to Nixon that the gig was up.

  7. Today we teach Avery, MacLeod and McCarty as part of an ongoing history of molecular biology but, actually, there’s little evidence that many in the Delbrück crowd really recognized what they had shown.

  8. The Dickinson show advertises that it “subverts facts” as if it is a good thing (or even a real thing). I doubt the viewers who go on to further investigation of Dickinson will appreciate the divergence from 19th century reality. There are reasons that people in the 19th century didn’t do F My Life needlework or twerk (in hoops?), and it doesn’t do anyone good to pretend life was the same. As Hartley wrote, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

    1. This is the first I’ve heard of the Dickinson show, but as long as it’s made clear it’s fantasy, I don’t see why it’s anything more than harmless fun.

      Sure, the past is another country — but sometimes it’s just a simple day trip to Ontario through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. 🙂

  9. “Health experts advised extreme caution, and said more rigorous studies were needed.”

    I suspect that a message like this is not received as intended by the Goopy set (nice word). They think of scientists and their handlers as conservative gatekeepers who will only approve a treatment if they’ve done years of study and found out how to monetize it properly, preventing them from benefitting from the latest discoveries.

    It might work a lot better if they were told that, in this case, the frog’s toxin was designed by evolution to harm its predators and is not something one would apply to one’s body on purpose.

  10. According to the Wikipedia article, the members of the Duquesne spy ring went on trial on Sept. 13th, 1941, so their crimes were committed before the US was at war.

  11. I saw the frog article and was hopping mad (sorry).
    I REALLY hate it when these idiot journalists tout rubbish “cures” and bunch this bs in with actual, laboratory, scientifically proven therapies like psychedelics/LSD/ psilocybin.

    Anything involving “wellness”, “toxins”, “immunity boosting” …..avoid.

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