Thursday: Hili dialogue

January 7, 2021 • 6:30 am

Congress went back into session last night and did this (click on screenshot):

And this as well: “President Trump issued a statement saying there would be an “orderly transition” on Jan. 20.”

From the NYT as well:

Republicans and Democrats locked arms to denounce the violence and express their determination to carry out what they called a constitutionally sacrosanct function.

“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win,” Mr. Pence said in a sharp break from Mr. Trump, who had praised the mob. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said the “failed insurrection” had only clarified Congress’s purpose.

Glory be!

It’s the first Thursday of 2021: January 7, 2021: National Tempura Day. It’s also Christmas Day in the Eastern Orthodox Church (it uses the Julian Calendar) and (oy) National Pass Gas Day, celebrating flatulence. More Passing of Gas will occur on January 20.

News of the Day:

What can I say? Everyone in the world seems to know what happened in the U.S. today, but it’s till unbelievable: a President of the United States incited a crowd to swarm the Capitol and “stop the certification”.

And the crowd, many armed and waving Trump banners, did just that. The Capitol Police were neither prepared nor equipped to deal with such a crowd, and some hooligans made their way to the Senate Floor, sitting in the dais and waving banners. One woman was killed by a police officer, while three others died from medical emergencies. As I write this, on Wednesday evening, the circumstances of the killing are obscure.

This is one case where the First Amendment wouldn’t apply, though it doesn’t apply on Twitter anyway. Because the President incited foreseeable and imminent violence, Twitter has locked his account for 12 hours, removed three tweets, including one with a video, and warned Trump that if he continues “tweeting baseless conspiracies about the election and inciting violence”, his account will be permanently suspended.

Ilhan Omar says she is drawing up articles of impeachment. It’s too late for that, and it would distract the Congress from the business of the transition. I am also hoping that, as a silver lining of what happened yesterday, the Republicans will realize that they have to be more “bipartisan.” I have greater hopes (but still not much hope) that some cabinet officials will invoke the 25th amendment and Pence will, at the behest of cabinet members, remove Trump from office on the grounds of mental incapacitation. While Trump seems to be promising to be a good boy, we cannot trust him, though he’s been somewhat defanged since his Twitter account was locked. Getting removed for incompetence and craziness would be a fitting end to Trump as President.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 361,382, a big increase of about 4,000 deaths from yesterday’s figure, or about 2.8 deaths per minute. The world death toll is 1,893,402, a huge increase of about 15,200 over yesterday’s total, a death rate of about 10.6 people per minute.

Stuff that happened on January 7 includes:

  • 1610 – Galileo Galilei makes his first observation of the four Galilean moons: Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa, although he is not able to distinguish the last two until the following day.
  • 1782 – The first American commercial bank, the Bank of North America, opens.
  • 1835 – HMS Beagle, with Charles Darwin on board, drops anchor off the Chonos Archipelago.

Here’s the Chonos Archipelago, a series of islands off of Chile:

Here’s that film: the first known motion picture with a copyright. It’s called “Fred Ott’s Sneeze“, and has its own Wikipedia page.  Watch closely, as the sneeze lasts only 5 seconds. Some backstory:

In the five-second film, which was shot in January 1894, one of Thomas Edison’s assistants, Fred Ott, takes a pinch of snuff and sneezes. According to the Library of Congress, the film was “made for publicity purposes, as a series of still photographs to accompany an article in Harper’s Weekly.”

  • 1927 – The first transatlantic telephone service is established from New York City to London.
  • 1931 – Guy Menzies flies the first solo non-stop trans-Tasman flight (from Australia to New Zealand) in 11 hours and 45 minutes, crash-landing on New Zealand’s west coast.

Here’s Menzies’s upside-down crash landing. He survived, but was killed in WWII when his plane was shot down in combat:

In a famous incident, Anderson was barred from singing to the Daughters of the American Revolution in Constitution Hall because she was black. This led to Eleanor Roosevelt’s resignation from the DAR, to Secretary of the Interior Ickes inviting her to sing at the Lincoln Memorial, and there, on April 9, 1939, she sang a lovely concert accompanied only by a piano. Here’s a short report on that.

Impeachment is just the bringing of charges, so Clinton was indeed impeached. But he was also acquitted.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1800 – Millard Fillmore, American politician, 13th President of the United States (d. 1874)
  • 1830 – Albert Bierstadt, American painter (d. 1902)

Everyone, including me, enjoys Bierstadt’s huge paintings of the American West. Here’s one of them, Among the Sierra Nevada, California (1868; click to enlarge):

Saint Bernadette, who of course claimed to have visions of Mary (why Mary and never Jesus?) died at only 35, as a nun, from tuberculosis. Her body was supposedly “incorruptible”, and below is a photo of what is said to be her exhumed remains in 1925: 46 years after he death.


But here’s what Wikipedia says:

The church exhumed the corpse a second time on 3 April 1919. A doctor who examined the body noted, “The body is practically mummified, covered with patches of mildew and quite a notable layer of salts, which appear to be calcium salts. … The skin has disappeared in some places, but it is still present on most parts of the body.”

In 1925, the church exhumed the body for a third time. They took relics, which were sent to Rome. A precise imprint of the face was molded so that the firm of Pierre Imans in Paris could make a wax mask based on the imprints and on some genuine photos to be placed on her body. This was common practice for relics in France as it was feared that the blackish tinge to the face and the sunken eyes and nose would be viewed as corruption by the public. Imprints of the hands were also taken for the presentation of the body and the making of wax casts. The remains were then placed in a gold and crystal reliquary in the Chapel of Saint Bernadette at the motherhouse in Nevers.

  • 1925 – Gerald Durrell, Indian-English zookeeper, conservationist and author, founded Durrell Wildlife Park (d. 1995)
  • 1946 – Jann Wenner, American publisher, co-founded Rolling Stone
  • 1957 – Katie Couric, American television journalist, anchor, and author

Those who departed this existence on January 7 include:

  • 1943 – Nikola Tesla, Serbian-American physicist and engineer (b. 1856)
  • 1972 – John Berryman, American poet and scholar (b. 1914)
  • 1989 – Hirohito, Japanese emperor (b. 1901)
  • 2006 – Heinrich Harrer, Austrian mountaineer, geographer, and author (b. 1912)

Harrer, a great mountaineer, was the first (along with three others) to climb the North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland. Here’s that formidable wall:

He later escaped from India to Tibet to avoid internment from the British, winding up as a tutor to the Dalai Lama, all recounted in his absorbing book Seven Years in Tibet.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili had a moment of panic:

Who is this salad for?
A: For us.
Hili: Good, I was afraid it was for me.
In Polish:
Hili: Dla kogo ta sałata?
Ja: Dla nas.
Hili: To dobrze, bo już się bałam, że dla mnie.

From Paul, sent to him by his friend Jo, who lives in Georgia:

From Su:

A good joke from Nicole:

From Luana: Parents have filed a lawsuit against (surprisingly) a Catholic school, alleging abuse and harassment of their daughter for not unhesitatingly accepting the Critical Race Theory taught in that school. Wright’s thread has 15 additional tweets as well as a link to the lawsuit. (Wright is an evolutionary biologist and managing editor of Quillette.)


From Simon, another metaphor, and one especially appropriate today. The cat is Trump and the plate his minions.

From Barry. Corvids are wicked smart:

Matthew called my attention to this thread, which I reproduce in screenshot below. I retweeted the first tweet, adding that a lot of these people who deny Helen Keller’s existence probably believe in Jesus, for whom (even as a non-divine rabbi) there is far less evidence. Click on screenshot to go to the thread:

More tweets from Matthew. If you’re an evolutionary biologist, you’ll want to see J. B. S. Haldane’s diaries from when he was 9. His sister Naomi Haldane (later Mitchison) also had a diary, and went on to become a well known novelist and poet.

After Matthew sent me a number of horrific tweets about what was happening in Washington yesterday afternoon, I asked for some less distressing stuff to calm me down. He sent me the following photo of my favorite cows, Belted Galloways, adding that this shows that geneticist Adam Rutherford and I were “in synch”

And a lovely, soothing insect:

And a final palliative: a murmuration. Even the word is soothing. Click on the link to see the video:

72 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. Because the President incited foreseeable and imminent violence, Twitter has locked his account for 12 hours …

    Trump has been locked out of Facebook and Instagram temporarily, too.

    Know what he still has access to?

    Our nation’s nuclear launch codes.

        1. “Everyone, including me, enjoy’s Bierstadt’s huge paintings of the American West. Here’s one of them, Among the Sierra Nevada, California (1868; click to enlarge):”

          Yes, “enjoy’s”. But that is bizarre for a green-grocer apostrophe; probably just a typo.

  2. “I have greater hopes (but still not much hope) that some cabinet officials will invoke the 25th amendment and Pence will, at the behest of cabinet members, remove Trump from office on the grounds of mental incapacitation.” – Olivia Troy, a former Senior Advisor on Homeland Security to Pence, told the BBC that Pence had been too afraid to stand up to Trump in the past, but that he should now invoke the 25th Amendment. She expressed concern that he could start a war with Iran and leave President Biden “holding the bag”. You can hear the interview here at about 1:16:00

    (I think these programmes stay available for about a month.)

  3. It just so happens I was just reading about flatulence on Wikipedia – as it was linked to inulin, prebiotic, probiotic, etc. I thought how hilarious it would be to share this with PCC(E) – but ultimately embarassing.

    One useful fact : Latin “flatus” means “a blowing, a breaking wind”

    BTW the email showed up yesterday by mistake, as there was a 404 error, but not again today.

  4. This [Marian Anderson’s being barred from Constitution Hall] led to Eleanor Roosevelt’s resignation from the DAR …

    During the War, Mrs. Roosevelt also visited the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama, the training base for the first black military pilots — at a time when the US armed forces were still segregated and many in the military brass had doubts about African-Americans’ capacity to function as combat pilots — and went for a test ride alone with one of the black pilots.

    After the War, she was also a founding member (along with Reinhold Niebuhr, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Walter Reuther and others) of the Americans for Democratic Action — the home for anti-communist liberals.

    These are a few of the reasons why Eleanor Roosevelt was a liberal icon for several generations of Americans and the prototype for modern US FLOTUSes’ taking an active role in social causes.

    1. Did other VIPs resign from the DAR for the same reason as Mrs. Roosevelt? Were there other VIPs who did not?

  5. Long term, this is probably a good development. If Trump had gone gracefully, he would be set up for running again in 2024. Now the brand is permanently tarnished. . . but he got to have his national temper tantrum.

    1. If tRump had gone gracefully, I would have been amazed, and also (perversely) somewhat disappointed. I have to say that tRump’s shenanigans (and those of Giuliani and Sydney Powell and the rest of the Trump clown car) have more than satisfied my schadenfreudical impulses. In fact they’ve been too much of a good (bad?) thing – can no-one stop this clown?
      One thing is sure, what tRump hates most is losing, and he and his minions have now left no stone unturned to ensure that he will be remembered as the biggest, sorest loser of all time.

  6. “1999 – The Senate trial in the impeachment of U.S. President Bill Clinton begins.
    He wasn’t impeached, of course.” Actually, like Trump, Clinton was impeached by the House but then acquitted (narrowly) by the Senate.

      1. Oops, sincere apologies – I thought I’d refreshed the page to check before I posted. Nope, I didn’t deliberately change my handle – not sure what happened there.

  7. I am also hoping that, as a silver lining of what happened yesterday, the Republicans will realize that they have to be more “bipartisan.”

    Well, a majority of Republican House members voted *not* to confirm the count, so it doesn’t seem likely to me that they learned anything from this event.

    FYI on Clinton impeachment: he WAS impeached (by the House). He was not removed from office by the Senate. Basically, like Trump.

  8. Yesterday, a commentator on TV asked an important question: was the attack on the Capitol the last gasp of Trumpist violence or just the beginning? In other words, was the violence a one shot event or just the beginning of perhaps years of right wing terror, whether or not incited by Trump? If it is latter then the threat to democracy will remain constant and its ability to hold should not be taken for granted.

    1. The Washington Post has identified the woman shot in the Capitol as 35 year old Ashli Babbit, an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was an extreme Trump zealot. She is a sad example of what can happen to a person when becoming a delusional cult member. There are tens of millions more like her. There may be an evolutionary explanation why people can so easily become like this, but, for whatever the reason, I think we are entering an era of extreme domestic instability that will test the nation to a degree not seen the Civil War.

      1. I don’t know if she deserved to be shot or not, though you imply she was. Until I know all the details, I wouldn’t fob off her death as the result of her being “an extreme Trump zealot.”

        1. I don’t see Historian implying she deserved to be shot, or fobbing off her death. Historian simply described her as a zealot, which, even without the personal details that confirm it, is a fair assumption to make about anyone who breaks into a government building while armed.

          1. Let me restate what I was trying to say: the implication that she was a zealot and delusional, without any questioning about whether her shooting was warranted, implied to me that he saw no problem with it. He certainly MENTIONED no potential problem with it.

            And no, I don’t think that someone who breaks into a government building while armed, like many of the protestors were, deserves to be killed. It depends on whether she poses an immediate threat to someone’s life, but we don’t know if that was the case.

            1. Not deserve to be killed but surely expect to be killed. Or, more scientifically, she should have expected that her actions might trigger her being injured or killed.

              1. One of the things that surprises me about the whole disaster is that she appears to be the only person who was shot. I was expecting dozens of deaths. I’m pretty sure a mob storming our Houses of Parliament was have sustained a lot more deaths than one. It’s one of the few non military places in the UK where I would not expect to survive such a forced entry.

              2. Yes, I agree. I suspect this is due in large part to the fact that it wasn’t really an armed coup in the sense that their goal was to kill politicians and take over the government. I imagine that the cops thought most of them were harmless and actually may have sympathized with them. But they weren’t going to let them get at the politicians and that brought the one death. I do want to hear the results of the investigation.

            2. Here’s what the Washington Post is saying about the shooting:

              A witness described the shooting incident to WUSA-9, saying: “We had stormed into the chambers inside. And there was a young lady who rushed through the windows. A number of police and Secret Service were saying get back, get down, get out of the way. She didn’t heed the call and as we kind of raced up to grab people and pull them back, they shot her in the neck.”

        2. I wasn’t at all implying that she should have been shot or deserved to be so. I was saying that the Washington Post article describes how easily it is for a person to become a zealot. She is representative of many millions of people that have become part of a delusional cult that can potentially destabilize the country and threaten democracy.

    2. Right-wingers stormed (with much lesser impact) Olympia, Washington, too. So what happened in D.C. wasn’t a singular event. I would also expect some trouble in Georgia; it seems almost inevitable that there will be some right-wing protest there claiming stolen victory or election fraud.

      Having said that, I’d be skeptical of the “just the beginning of years of terror” idea also, as that seems to go too far in the other direction. Most likely we’ll see several incidents, but that’s all.

      1. Yes, similar mobs were in various state capitals and state government buildings were evacuated in Georgia and elsewhere. In Kansas they apparently were allowed in as they had some sort of permit.

  9. I think the only question is, Will the folks who assaulted police and damaged the Capitol be punished as they should, or only as the mobs in Portland, Kenosha, and elsewhere were?

    1. Well, from secondary sources I’ve heard that there were something like 400 arrests earlier in DC associated with the BLM protests, while so far there have been something like 13 arrests associated with the attack on the Capitol building.

      Another bit of info I got more directly from news coverage – the protestors didn’t finally clear the grounds until the curfew came down (6-6:30ish; about an hour after the National Guard arrived on scene). IOW, the national guard and Capitol police didn’t even really disperse the crowds after the attack.

      So, yeah.

    2. Lemme ask ya: If president Barack Obama had held a rally/bitch-fest on the Ellipse, using language similar to Donald Trump’s — telling the crowd to go up to the Capitol to stop his opponents and “show them your strength” — and then a few thousand Black Lives Matter protestors had gone there and busted in, how many of their corpses do you think the capitol cops and national guard would’ve ended up dragging off Capitol Hill?

      What do you think would’ve been the reaction of white America?

    3. Apologies for my cynicism but that sounds rather like whataboutism. An attempt to talk about something, anything, besides what actually happened. Also, why are the rioters from yesterday described as ‘folks’ in one part of the sentence, but the rioters in Portland are ‘mobs’?

  10. While the events of yesterday were terrible, I have to admit that in the end I feel pretty good about how US institutions were able to weather the constant assaults by Trump (though it was a close call). I had bet against Jerry that the election would be determined by the Supreme Court, and I expected that if it went to this Supreme Court filled with Trump appointees, Trump would win. I am glad to say that I was wrong, and that even many of Trump’s appointees to the Supreme Court and to lower courts ruled against him and/or refused to hear the cases.

    In the end, even Mike Pence did the right thing at the last minute.

    And some of the worst Republicans, like Lindsay Graham and Mitch McConnell, gave strong and emotional speeches that may cost them dearly, basically admitting that they had been supporting a liar and that they could not do so any more. That’s a hugely embarassing and unflattering admission from them, yet they did it.

    In the end, right prevailed. The defeated Vice-President did preside over his own political funeral, and the most important Trump-enabling senators reversed themselves.

    There is still hope for American institutions (though I do not know if there is hope for the huge segment of the American public who are still incapable of distinguishing truth from lies).

    1. I should add that I was surprised no one on either side of the aisle yesterday mentioned the clearest, most important evidence against the claims of fraud. As someone who lives in a country with unstable institutions (we once had three self-proclaimed presidents at the same time!), my test for fraud is the size of the difference between pre-election or exit polls and the actual results. In this election, Biden was going to win according to all polls, even those by Fox News. So his winning by a narrow margin is not suspicious at all. If anything the results suggest fraud or voter supression on the Republican side.

      1. Donald Trump pretty much tipped his hand that his claims of fraud were utter BS when he started making them way back in 2016 before he surprised himself by winning the election by minus 3 million votes against Hillary Clinton.

  11. Newsweek:

    The survey released by YouGov on Thursday morning found that 45 percent of Republican voters backed the attack on the Capitol building, while 43 percent said they “strongly or somewhat” opposed the protesters’ behavior.

    Six percent of Republicans were unsure while a further 6 percent said they were unaware of the events.

    By comparison, an overwhelming majority of Democratic voters (96 percent) said they were strongly or somewhat opposed to the actions of pro-Trump protesters—actions that led to four deaths and at least 52 arrests.

  12. The House and Senate have adjourned until the 21st and 19th respectively. Congressional misleadership was confronted with an urgent crisis and every strata of society cried out in unison “impeach him again!” and their response is to do nothing and go on vacation.

    Democrats have spent two full election cycles tricking their constituents into thinking that if they just Vote Blue No Matter Who there will surely be some oversight. And now even at the true nadir of Trumpism Dems cannot find a spine. They refuse to stand up even for policy that is good and popular. They are pathetic beyond measure.

  13. This video was, for some reason, just as upsetting as the videos from the Capitol Building:

    I have a certain amount of respect for Romney. It took genuine guts to vote for impeachment and seeing him by himself, assailed by mouthbreathing thugs and bullies, retaining his calm demeanour as he’s insulted and hated on…it’s infuriating.

    There was at least one moment of levity during the live streaming that I watched yesterday; a particularly corpulent MAGA guy was climbing down a ladder and his trousers rode down, exposing his enormous, flabby pink Trumpface for all the world to see. It lasted only a second or two but I’m hoping someone screengrabbed it for eternity.

      1. I was quite impressed, and even moved, by Romney’s speech in the Senate last night. Also Cory Booker’s and Colorado’s Michael Bennet’s, though I would have expected nothing less from them.

    1. Mitt’s been pretty good on Trump, though I can’t help but feel there’s an element of self-promotion in everything he does (which I suppose goes with the turf of being a politician). I don’t think Mitt’s ever quite abandoned his ambition to fulfill his father’s dream of becoming US president, and get the impression he always has an eye on keeping that option open (perhaps by positioning himself now as the anti-Trump).

      I recall during the 2016 primary season when he gave a great, scathing anti-Trump speech (and remember thinking at the time “where the hell has this Mitt been his whole career?”). Then he had to go and spoil it, by returning like a dog to its vomit, when the Donald bade him to come dine on frog legs at his DC hotel by dangled the Secretary State position before him during the transition period (only to snatch the offer away, in a typical act of Trump revenge).

  14. It will be a long time and lots of print to weed through the mess that happened yesterday but really, wasn’t much of it baked in. If you keep giving a psychopath enough rope he will hang everyone. Unfortunately I did not spend much time on this crap because I was dealing with the covid19. Do not ask how I got it, I have no idea. However if you wanted to know someone personally who got it, that would be me. I was tested yesterday afternoon and received the confirmation this morning about 9:30 am. Was I surprised, no. Had I not tested positive I would have thought some really wrong with this test. In my experience with this over the past two weeks, there was really no question. It is a flu unlike any I have had before. So anyway, now you know and I will continue dealing with this from home if at all possible.

    1. First- condolences about the COVID, hoping your recovery is swift.

      It will be a long time and lots of print to weed through the mess that happened yesterday

      Second, I first read the above as ‘it will take a long time and lots of weed’ to get through the mess that happened, and I was amused.

      1. Thanks to all. If I had to point to one thing more than any other it would be tired. Never have I been so tired.

        1. My mother who is 73 also got Covid a few months back. Her largest complaint was how tired she was and how long the tiredness lasted. She’s fine now. Get well soon Randall!

        2. A friend in her early 40s got it with husband via 7 yo son. She had it worst & 5weeks later or so is still getting headaches.

          Other friends had it in March last year.

          Get wellies soon!

      1. I’m in the UK. Not saying they don’t do it like that, but the BBC has to maintain impartiality so I’m surprised they aren’t calling him by his proper title, well, by the proper title of a president who hasn’t committed treason.

  15. “Ilhan Omar says she is drawing up articles of impeachment. It’s too late for that, and it would distract the Congress from the business of the transition.”

    I don’t think it’s too late. It can be done very quickly as well. At this point, I’m sure enough Republicans would be on board. Also, if Trump is successfully impeached, he can’t run for re-election in 2024. That alone would be worth the effort imo.

  16. You know the rejoinder is that a really smart corvid would have closed that tap afterwards.

    On graver issues, last I read Pence has claimed he will not invoke the 25th amendment. But since the lame-duck president madman stepped back from his scorching earth tactic, hopefully it isn’t as urgent. Though we can’t trust that – it’s a madman after all – so I’m still vary.

    I note that the attempted state coup in US has pushed that lame-duck president from being a populist nationalist to a fascist over a 2 month period.

    “Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism[1][2] characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy …”.

    [ ]

    Earlier we saw authoritarian tendencies such as proclaiming rights that isn’t supported and ultranationalism as closing borders and having nationalist devices. We also saw strong regimentation of society such as suppressing free press and of the economy such as negating trade agreements.

    But we can now add claiming right to presidency despite losing a democratic election and suppressing opposition such as provoking attacking the US Capitol during senate sessions.

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