Wednesday: Hili dialogue

January 6, 2021 • 6:30 am

Heartening news to start: At least one of the two Georgia Senate races has already been called for a Democrat, and a Dem is also leading the other, which is too close to call. The Reverend Raphael Warnock has already been declared the victor, by a narrow margin, over incumbent Kelly Loeffler.

In the other race, Democrat Jon Ossoff leads his opponent David Perdue by 12,806 votes, with 98% of the votes in.. Here’s the tally as of 4 a.m. today (I couldn’t sleep). Fingers crossed!



Now, back to business: It’s the first Hump Day of 2021: Wednesday, January 6, and National Shortbread Day. It’s also Bean Day, Apple Tree Day, Cuddle Up Day, and Epiphany (in the religious sense).

News of the Day:

The Trumpster has only two weeks of tantrums to go. Yesterday he told VP Mike Pence that he, Pence, had the power to block the certification of the election results in joint Congressional meeting today. But Pence doesn’t, and told the Orange Man so.

According to the Guardian, the Royal Mint’s new £2 coin, issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the death of author H. G. Wells, has erred in its depiction of a scene from his The War of the World. For one thing, the “Fighting Machine” of the aliens, also known as the “Tripod”, is shown with four legs instead of three. To wit:

Here’s and illustration of the Martian fighting machine by Henrique Alvim Corréa for the 1906 edition of the novel:

Many animals are known to use tools—even insects—but heretofore cats haven’t been in that august company. Now, though, scientists have discovered the first case of tool-using in felids:

More about cats from The New Yorker (click on screenshot below). First of all, the Bidens don’t yet have a First Cat, and may not get one. It was just a wish. Second, the piece is not funny. As the magazine got woker, it got less funny, with the trend first showing up in the increasingly meh cartoons. Funny woke people is an oxymoron. And now we have piece below, which I first looked forward to but found strained. Note to author: cats do not have “chew toys“!

The same judge who refused to allow Julian Assange to be extradited to the U.S. to face charges of espionage yesterday insisted that Assange remain in jail, where he’s sitting in violation of his bail conditions. I believe the judge deemed him a flight risk.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 357,378, a big increase of about 3,600 deaths from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,878,244, a huge increase of about 15,500 over yesterday’s total, a death rate of about 10.8 people per minute. These statistics are horrifying, far above what people guesstimated in the Spring.

Stuff that happened on January 6 includes:

Anne lasted six months as queen; Henry ditched her because he didn’t like her looks. Ergo, no heir would be forthcoming.

  • 1838 – Alfred Vail and colleagues demonstrate a telegraph system using dots and dashes (this is the forerunner of Morse code).
  • 1847 – Samuel Colt obtains his first contract for the sale of revolver pistols to the United States government.

Here’s the .36-caliber five-shot revolver, the “Texas Colt,” that was Colt’s first commercial model. For several years it was used exclusively in Texas. This one was made in 1839.

Photo: The Bryan Museum

Wegener’s theory was poo-pooed for a long time, but was finally accepted by 1960, 30 years after Wegener’s death. Now, using satellites, we can measure how fast the contents move. We know, for example, that Europe and North America are moving apart at about the same rate your fingernails grow: about an inch a year.

Here’s the prescient Wegener:

Prof. Dr. Alfred Wegener, ca. 1924-1930

She served there for 68 years. Do read Hitchens’s hatchet job on her: The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.

In October of 2012, before the “Moving Naturalism Forward” conference, I visited the Normal Rockwell Museum and studio in Stockbridge, Massachusetts with Dennett and Dawkins. Rockwell’s paintings of the Four Freedoms, published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1943, are iconic. Here’s a photo of me before the original “Freedom of worship” painting, and one of Richard before the “Freedom of speech” painting.

  • 1989 – Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh are sentenced to death for conspiracy in the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi; the two men are executed the same day.
  • 1994 – American figure skater Nancy Kerrigan is attacked and injured by an assailant hired by her rival Tonya Harding’s ex-husband during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships that they were both taking part in.
  • 1832 – Gustave Doré, French painter and sculptor (d. 1883)

Doré is one of my favorite illustrators. His engravings for The Divine Comedy are great and scary (I have a book of them); here’s one of Virgil and Dante in Hell:

  • 1878 – Carl Sandburg, American poet and historian (d. 1967)
  • 1880 – Tom Mix, American cowboy and actor (d. 1940)
  • 1883 – Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese-American poet, painter, and philosopher (d. 1931)
  • 1913 – Loretta Young, American actress (d. 2000)
  • 1920 – John Maynard Smith, English biologist and geneticist (d. 2004)

JMS! A student of Haldane and a wickedly smart geneticist. He also liked his pint; once he stayed at my house and, on the advice of friends, I secured a case of his favorite American beer, Anchor’s Liberty Ale. It was gone within two days.

  • 1920 – Sun Myung Moon, Korean religious leader; founder of the Unification Church (d. 2012)
  • 1924 – Earl Scruggs, American banjo player (d. 2012)

Here’s the incomparable duo of Flatt and Scruggs playing “Polka on the Banjo”.

  • 1925 – John DeLorean, American engineer and businessman, founded the DeLorean Motor Company (d. 2005)
  • 1960 – Nigella Lawson, English chef and author

An ad for one of Nigella’s t.v. shows, “The Taste”. Recognize the others?

Notables who relinquished life on January 6 include:

  • 1852 – Louis Braille, French educator, invented Braille (b. 1809)
  • 1884 – Gregor Mendel, Czech geneticist and botanist (b. 1822)
  • 1918 – Georg Cantor, German mathematician and philosopher (b. 1845)
  • 1919 – Theodore Roosevelt, American colonel and politician, 26th President of the United States (b. 1858)

Here’s Diz explaining and then playing one of his early “hits”, “Salt Peanuts”. Man, he had cheeks like a chipmunk!

  • 1993 – Dizzy Gillespie, American singer-songwriter and trumpet player (b. 1917)
  • 1993 – Rudolf Nureyev, Russian-French dancer and choreographer (b. 1938)
  • 2006 – Lou Rawls, American singer-songwriter (b. 1933)


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has gone Zen:

A: What are you looking at?
Hili: I’m living in the present.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu się tak przyglądasz?
Hili: Oglądam czas teraźniejszy.
And, nearby, little Kulka sees her first snow!

Caption:  Kulka in the first snow. (Photo: Paulina R.)

In Polish: Kulka na pierwszym śniegu. (Zdjęcie Pauliny R.)

From Divy:

A meme from Bruce:

From Su:

From Su:

The 32nd installment of Titania’s “things that are racist” list. I didn’t know fat people were a “race,” and I’m dying to find out how Auckland University’s coffee is racist. Ah, I did; it features a stereotyped caricature of a black man, so that’s fair game.

Tweets from Matthew. First, a very weird beetle photographed by Gil Wizen:

This poor sap! And a giant cat takes over his personal cinema. .  .

Deepak has found yet another way to monetize his spirituality!

These guys are really good, but their post-fall celebration implies that they were at least a bit worried:

44 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. The same judge who refused to allow Julian Assange to be extradited to the U.S. to face charges of espionage yesterday insisted that Assange remain in jail, where he’s sitting in violation of his bail conditions. I believe the judge deemed him a flight risk.

    That reads a bit strangely. He’s not sitting in jail in violation of his bail conditions. His bail conditions do not include a term that says “you must not go to jail”.

    He’s actually sitting in jail because he is at risk of violating his bail conditions. He’s got previous – you might say.

    He was in jail for violating his previous bail conditions, but he has served that sentence.

    1. Yup, last time he was given bail he holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for years trying to avoid going to trial so denying him bail this time around is hardly unexpected!

      1. However now he has 2 children so I would say his likelihood of scarpering is low. I fail to see why he should be extradited to US when he is not a U S citizen & his ‘crimes’ were not committed there.

        1. Citizenship is irrelevant. Also, I think, is the fact that he “did the deed” abroad. An extreme example of this might be a terror attack planned by someone abroad, but executed by others following the plan. (Note, I’m not taking a position here on whether THIS extradition is wise/justified/etc., just that these objections don’t hold up, IMO.)

    2. I’d love to be the poor attorney trying to argue Assange WASN’T a flight risk: a guy who spent 6 years after dodging a warrant in an embassy, has two foreign passports*, access to almost unlimited funds and all sorts of allies and cronies. “No, judge, he won’t run, I pinky promise….”
      D.A., J.D.,
      *Australian and Ecuadorean

  2. The tree-dropping: Yes, they are good. A friend and I dropped an elm between my house and a shop building; but they were about 20-feet apart. Still felt a little hairy.

    What you don’t see in the video is that it’s almost certain that they have a taut line to the upper parts of the tree, pulling hard on exactly the right vector. Still no guarantee, of course.

    1. If possible, it is far better to take down a tree in this situation bit by bit, from the top down. But I can see how this situation would pose multiple risky events rather than one big one.

      1. I watched some professionals drop a large tree bowing directly over a house. They used a cherry picker and ropes to cut off and gently lower the upper parts first continuing all the way down. No real risk involved. Without a cherry picker or other mode of ascent, you’re pretty much stuck with dropping the whole enchilada from the base.

    2. I would not recommend this attempt. If you can get a rope well up into the tree and put force in the direction you want then maybe. Often, when a tree is very straight and balanced It is hard to determine the exact fall. Another thing that can happen is after the tree is cut through it might twist and really mess up your direction. I would not guarantee the exact fall.

    3. I’ve had to down several trees that way, sometimes too close to the house, others–the so-called hydro line–we mean electricity by that in Canada. After the first hydro post off the road, I’m responsible for all further damage. The cedars near the line seem to grow twice as fast as all the others.

      I think as long as your line doesn’t snap, your stuff is safe. Maybe you yourself aren’t sometimes!

      One of my farmer friends nearby came pretty close to joining the choir invisible that way–not an Old Order Mennonite, though they have quite a lot of accidents. Maybe the most conservative with even horses pulling the plough think a tractor falling over one their neighbours is god avenging theological heresy of even using a tractor.

      I shouldn’t put that in print, should I? Several are my friends, but theology is a no-no in conversing.

        1. Likely correct. No TV or radio for sure, no phone in the house, but surprisingly some have cell phones, often business, like metal working, in the barn. That”s where the phone stays. Supposedly no internet, but I’m dubious there, even re porn.

  3. PCC(E), you appear to have added an unnecessary Those who relinquished life on January 6 include: right before Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has gone Zen:

  4. Regarding that Colt, there is a Youtube channel called C&Rrsenal (a play on the term C&R, which in the gun world stands for Curio and Relic), which recently did a video on the first Colt revolver. The first oddity when you look at it is that it appears to have no trigger. The trigger is linked to the hammer, so that it descends from the frame when the pistol is cocked. The second thing about the gun is less obvious. In order to load it, you must detach the front half of the gun before the cylinder (that little notch of metal is a wedge which must be knocked loose), and then the five chambers can be filled with loose powder and a round ball (that has to be driven into place with some force). The cylinder then has to be removed in order to place the firing cap on the the little nubs behind each chamber. Then the gun has to be reassembled. A tedious and drawn out process, but apparently worth it to have five shots ready to go, rather than the single shoot of other contemporary pistols.

  5. At least one of the two Georgia Senate races has already been called for a Democrat, and a Dem is also leading the other, which is too close to call.

    To think that the state where Leo Frank was lynched and where Lester Maddox was governor when I was in high school would elect to the United States senate in the same night its first Jew (very likely) and its first African American (only the second African-American senator elected from a former state of the Confederacy since Reconstruction) shows once again that the long moral arc of history bends toward justice. And then to realize that these two will combine to wrest control of the senate from Mitch McConnell!

    If you’ll forgive a gospel music reference this early in the morning, all I can think is “Oh, Happy Day!”

    1. Have the Republicans already begun to cry fraud? The Trump base will never accept the results.

      Yesterday on CNN, I saw an interview of a guy in Georgia who was asked that even though he would never accept Biden as president would he agree that after the electoral college vote is certified by Congress that Biden would be inaugurated. His answer: No, there may be civil war. This fellow may be in a distinct minority, but there are enough of his type to create chaos. The white identitarians will fight to the end to resist the realities of a changing America.

      1. Cry fraud? Of course he has.
        As soon as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said election officials would take a break overnight but resume counting the votes for the Ossoff/Perdue race on Wednesday morning, Trump’s little Twitterbug thumbs hammered out ‘Looks like they are setting up a big ‘voter dump’ against the Republican candidates. Waiting to see how many votes they need?’
        That’s the same Raffensperger who Trump was telling two days ago to ‘find’ 11,800 votes to overturn Trump’s loss in Georgia.
        That’s Trump in a nutshell: if you’re not corrupt for him you must be corrupt against him. The idea that anyone isn’t corrupt does not compute in his tiny brain.

      2. This afternoon every congressional Republican will have to go on record to cast a vote establishing their historical legacy — is their allegiance to Donald Trump personally or to American democracy?

        A lawmaker’s decision doesn’t get any starker than this.

        In the meantime, the Trumpist deadenders are gathered on The Ellipse just south of the White House for the ritual weeping and wailing, the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth.

      3. Trump has effectively destroyed the GOP as we know it. We may be seeing the birth of a
        fascist party in America with Trump at its head. And if Trump goes to prison he can write his
        version of Mein Kampf for the faithful.

        1. Trump’s version of Mein Kampf would be a difficult read. Mostly because it would be written in crayon. The macaroni-art illustrations would be cool though.

      1. I was on a different computer at the office, and it autofilled a different email address.

        I stayed up half the night watching the Georgia election returns, so I’ve been a bit foggy this morning. 🙂

  6. Re King Henry and Queen Anne; it always amuses me that Henry thought Anne was unattractive. At that point in time Henry was hugely obese, old, and had a years old suppurating leg injury which stank and had to be dressed daily. She must have breathed a huge sigh of relief (not to mention that she kept her head).

    1. Yes, the flattering portrait Henry was taken in by before the wedding is like an early version of a misleading photo on a dating app.

  7. Apropos the H.G. Wells coin, the Royal Mint is usually very careful when it comes to coin designs, and they produce some great commemorative coins every year, so it’s unfortunate that they goofed so badly.

    The last comparable design error on British money was on the very last Bank of England one-pound note, which was in circulation between 1978 and 1988. It celebrated Sir Isaac Newton, who was depicted holding a copy of his Principia, and seated beside a table with his reflecting telescope and a prism. In the background is a diagram depicting an elliptical planetary orbit, but the Sun is at the centre of the ellipse, not at the focus, which is where Kepler’s First Law says it should be. This caused consternation among astronomers. Fortunately, the Bank of England’s shame was short lived, because the banknote was replaced by a pound coin from 1983.

  8. Stores may not sell cat chew toys, but cats find ways to enjoy a good chew. I had a cat who chewed at the banisters(he preferred the higher ones) and the legs of the coffee table. Another cat chewed venetian blind cords, Christmas trees and shoelaces.

  9. The other day when we had the “one, two, or none” poll I posited “both or none”. I can’t be sure if I prognosticated it right yet, but I’m feeling pretty good about it!

  10. It should be noted that Ossoff’s lead over Perdue is larger than Biden’s GA win over Trump. Unless there are huge numbers of military and overseas votes (tallied on Friday I believe), Ossoff’s win is very likely. While the military votes usually favor the GOP, there are supposedly many more from overseas voters who trend Democrat. All these things will be challenged, of course, but we have good reason to be hopeful. #MinorityMitch!

  11. F. B. Morse is credited with inventing the telegraph and “Morse Code”, however, as mentioned above, Alfred Vail initiated the idea a dots and dashes, and I believe Morse got the idea of a telegraph mainly by borrowing what was already being done by others. His main claim to fame ought to be, according to some, his ruthless lawyering around obtaining and holding patents. I may be wrong.

  12. “…Dem is also leading the other, which is too close to call.”

    It kind of bugs me that the dummies of news channels, writing stuff at the bottom of the screen, say that–but are unaware or unwilling to write also that his margin is almost double the margin by which Biden won Georgia two months ago. Easy to remember that last number after the Mass Murderer’s lovely seditious 55 minute phone call to Georgia the other day.

    However, I notice that CNN refers to the ‘mass mutual masturbation horseshit’ going on in DC right now as “Trump’s attempted COUP”—about bloody time they wrote accurately. Recently they and others have finally realized that the other four-letter word, I refer to “LIES” of course, has both brevity virtues and accuracy ones over the mealy-mouthed “misinformation”.

    1. It’s because there are a fairly large number of uncounted votes, a number that is much larger than Ossoff’s current lead. It is expected that these uncounted votes will be more Dem than GOP but they don’t know that until they are counted.

      I agree that CNN has taken a policy of telling it like it really is. I assume that the other MSM outlets, except Fox, have followed suit.

  13. Color me jealous: a visit to the Rockwell Museum with Dawky and Dennet is about the best use of a day I can imagine. Excellent.

    I saw Richard give a talk selling his latest book in Brooklyn last year and he was in fine form – not just the rehearsed part of the talk but he handled the on the spot questions very well.
    Fun fact: He and I have the same birthday exactly 30 years apart! That makes me cool in my book. And 50 this March. 🙂


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