Saturday: Hili dialogue

January 9, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the second Caturday of 2021:  Saturday, January 9, and National Apricot Day. It’s also Play God Day, National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and National Word Nerd Day, which you’re supposed to celebrate by learning new words, and, in India, Non-Resident Indian Day (does any other country have a holiday celebrating non-residents?).

Here’s our new word, which I keep relearning and keep forgetting because I never use it. I got it from Hitchens, of course: ratiocination: “the process of exact thinking, OR a reasoned train of thought.”

News of the Day:

The BBC and NYT report on the hunt to arrest rioters in Capitol; there’s a huge effort by law enforcement, involving “hundreds of prosecutors and FBI agents”, to track down the miscreants and bring them to justice.  More power to them! The NYT says “dozens have been arrested, of which 13 face federal charges.” It didn’t take them long to track down Richard Barnett of Arkansas, 60, who was photographed with his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk:

According to the NYT, “Mr. Barnett faces three criminal counts that included knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and theft of public money, property or records. He was expected to make an initial appearance in Little Rock, Ark., and then be sent to Washington to face prosecution.”

And don’t forget Fur Hat Man, “Another man pictured wearing a fur hat and horns, whose photo was shared widely online, was identified as Jake Angeli – a vocal supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory.”

But there are more serious charges, and they’re still looking for the people involved in murdering policeman Brian Sicknick (he was bashed on the head with a fire extinguisher), and carrying pipe bombs.

Here’s another loon:

One of the most serious federal cases involved Lonnie L. Coffman of Falkville, Ala. In the bed of his truck, officers found what they described as an M4 assault rifle and magazines loaded with ammunition. They also found rags, lighters and 11 glass Mason jars filled with a liquid later identified as gasoline.

Bomb technicians determined that they were meant to be turned into Molotov cocktails — small, hand-thrown fire bombs. Mr. Coffman was arrested when he tried to return to his truck around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The police found two handguns in his pants pockets, a 9-millimeter handgun in his right front pocket and a .22-caliber pistol in his left front pocket.

There are others, but this one is especially stupid:

Also among those arrested was Derrick Evans, a newly elected lawmaker from West Virginia, Mr. Kohl said. Mr. Evans posted video to his Facebook page of him filming as he stood among the crowd outside a Capitol door, shouting, “There we go! Open the door!” and chanting, “Our house! Our house!” before rushing inside. “We’re going in!” he added.

Though he deleted the video, the F.B.I. found a copy on Reddit.

Matthew gives us more news about Zip-Tie guys, whose motives must have been very dark:

A horrible thought crossed my mind: many of the crimes these people were accused of are federal crimes. That means that Trump could pardon those people (he can’t pardon people for D.C. crimes). Would he do that?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has threatened to call for a vote on impeaching Trump if he doesn’t resign “immediately.” It’s clear that Pence is not going to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor could he get a majority of cabinet members to support that action. I suspect this will all come to nothing given that a 2/3 majority of the Senate, now mostly Republican, would be required for a successful impeachment. However—and I didn’t know this until recently—the procedure can go ahead, and even if Trump is out of office, if he’s convicted in the Senate he couldn’t hold any federal political office for the rest of his life.

In a final display of petulance, the Orange Man has also declared that he won’t go to Biden’s inauguration (Biden says that this is the first time he actually agrees with Trump.) I thought that Trump been permanently banned from Twitter but this doesn’t look like it (UPDATE: Twitter announced yesterday that Trump has now been permanently banned). You can see this by trying to go to Trump’s site, but I have a screenshot of one of his last tweets:

If you go to his former site, you now see this:

He won’t be the first President to skip an inauguration, but will be the first in 150 years:

Only three presidents have skipped their successor’s swearing-in: John Adams in 1801, his son John Quincy Adams in 1829 and Andrew Johnson, a Democrat who sat out the 1869 inauguration after he was replaced in favor of Republican Ulysses S. Grant. (An earlier version of this item incorrectly stated Mr. Johnson’s political affiliation.)

No word on whether Pence will attend.

The NYT piece below tells us the obvious: we didn’t evolve to deliberately exercise, because we got enough exercise in the ancestral lifestyle. Ergo, we don’t want to do what our genes didn’t evolve to make us do. Hatred of exercise is like loving sweets—a maladaptive byproduct of our ancestry.

What can one do though, since we’re no longer stalking tubers and mastodons but still need exercise? There’s a new book by Daniel Lieberman that helps, and the article recommends what kind of exercise we need. I suppose one could call it the “Paleo Workout.”

Yesterday a Pakistani Court sentenced three people to death for blasphemy  (h/t Dom):

An Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court sentenced three people to death for blasphemy on Friday.

Their alleged offences were committed on social media

A professor has also been sentenced to 10 years in jail and a Rs100,000 fine on the same charge. He was accused of making anti-religious remarks during a lecture.

The other three were accused of operating a social media page that was deemed insulting to religion. They allegedly committed blasphemy by posting things on social media.

And Iran is really looking for trouble. Yesterday, according to the Foreign Desk, the Iranian parliament voted officially to destroy Israel (h/t Malgorzata):

Iran’s parliament voted on a mandate to destroy the state of Israel Sunday, the anniversary of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination.

The mandate aims “to destroy the usurping Zionist regime” and “[break] the siege of Gaza by sending basic goods from official naval bases to Gaza in exchange for money or free of charge.”

Upon passage of the mandate into law, the Iranian regime will be obligated to pursue the “Right of return of Palestinian refugees” and the “Liberation of the Golan Heights” by providing “welfare-economic-security and infrastructures.”

I’ve recently criticized pro-astrology pieces in the Guardian (see here and here), and reader David Harper reports on his own attempts to deep-six this woo:

I’m a regular reader of WEIT and an astronomer by training, so I shared your dismay at the astrology piece which was published in the Guardian on December 21.  I wrote to the editor-in-chief Katharine Viner to express my disappointment, as a Guardian reader of almost 40 years, that such a piece should appear, especially at a time when the Guardian has published so many good pieces by doctors and scientists setting out the facts about Covid-19 to counter misinformation during the pandemic.  I also told her that if any pro-astrology pieces appear in the future, I will cancel my subscription.

She replied yesterday as follows:

“I agree with you, and was disappointed to see the piece, which came from our US office. I’m told it was supposed to be about the growing influence of astrology among young people and was intended to be light-hearted, but it clearly didn’t come off. It shouldn’t happen again.”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 369,390, a big increase of 3,900 deaths from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,924,037, a huge increase of about 15,400 death over yesterday’s total: a death rate of about 10.7 people per minute.

Stuff that happened on January 9 includes:

  • 1349 – The Jewish population of Basel, believed by the residents to be the cause of the ongoing Black Death, is rounded up and incinerated.
  • 1431 – The trial of Joan of Arc begins in Rouen.

A sidelight (from Wikipedia):

The trial record contains statements from Joan that the eyewitnesses later said astonished the court, since she was an illiterate peasant and yet was able to evade the theological pitfalls the tribunal had set up to entrap her. The transcript’s most famous exchange is an exercise in subtlety: “Asked if she knew she was in God’s grace, she answered, ‘If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace.’ The question is a scholarly trap. Church doctrine held that no one could be certain of being in God’s grace. If she had answered yes, then she would have been charged with heresy. If she had answered no, then she would have confessed her own guilt. The court notary Boisguillaume later testified that at the moment the court heard her reply, “Those who were interrogating her were stupefied.”

There are no contemporary drawings of Joan of Arc by anybody who actually saw her, so we have no idea what she looked like. She was only 19 when she was burned at the stake on May 30 of that year. Here’s the only contemporary depiction by Clément de Fauquembergue, described by Wikipedia as ” a doodle on the margin of the protocol of the parliament of Paris, dated 10 May 1429.” de Fauquembergue never saw Joan, though:

  • 1806 – Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson receives a state funeral and is interred in St Paul’s Cathedral.
  • 1816 – Humphry Davy tests his safety lamp for miners at Hebburn Colliery.
  • 1839 – The French Academy of Sciences announces the Daguerreotype photography process.
  • 1909 – Ernest Shackleton, leading the Nimrod Expedition to the South Pole, plants the British flag 97 nautical miles (180 km; 112 mi) from the South Pole, the farthest anyone had ever reached at that time.

Here’s the flag planting (photo from Wikipedia). It was Amundsen’s team in 1911, followed by Scott’s a few months later, that finally made it to the Pole:

Jameson Adams, Frank Wild and Eric Marshall (from left to right) plant the Union Jack at their southernmost position, 88° 23′, on 9 January 1909. The photograph was taken by expedition leader Ernest Shackleton.
  • 1916 – World War I: The Battle of Gallipoli concludes with an Ottoman Empire victory when the last Allied forces are evacuated from the peninsula.
  • 1957 – British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden resigns from office following his failure to retake the Suez Canal from Egyptian sovereignty.
  • 2007 – Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduces the original iPhone at a Macworld keynote in San Francisco.  

Here’s that first iPhone model under glass. My own iPhone is the 5S, which I prize for its small size (it fits in my pocket). It was discontinued in 2016, but I got one from stock at Apple, and also have an unused spare.

B. gladioli is a bacterium, and the poisoning originated because the brewers used rotten cornflour to make the beverage, flour deemed unsuitable for food but okay for beer.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1875 – Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, American sculptor and art collector, founded the Whitney Museum of American Art (d. 1942)
  • 1913 – Richard Nixon, American commander, lawyer, and politician, 37th President of the United States (d. 1994)
  • 1935 – Bob Denver, American actor (d. 2005)
  • 1941 – Joan Baez, American singer-songwriter, guitarist and activist

Baez is 80 today. Here she is with her erstwhile boyfriend:

Those who rested in peace, bereft of life, on January 9 were few, and include:

  • 1848 – Caroline Herschel, German-English astronomer (b. 1750)
  • 1923 – Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1888)

I spent part of the pandemic reading Mansfield’s collected short stories. She was a terrific writer, cut down at only 34 by tuberculosis:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron have a standoff!

Szaron: May I eat a bit from your bowl?
Hili: Just you try!
In Polish:
Szaron: Czy mogę zjeść trochę z twojej miseczki?
Hili: Spróbuj tylko!

And Little Kulka and Szaron have encounteered their first big snowfall. The frisking kitten is adorable.

Caption: Snow, two cats, and Paulina with her camera.

In Polish: Śnieg, dwa koty i Paulina z jej aparatem fotograficznym.

From Facebook:

From Doc Bill. Do you want to look like Jake Angeli? Here’s how!

From Jeff:

Found on Ann Althouse’s site:

Tweets from Matthew. A Russian doll-type song. I guess each tweet was added to the preceding one, and the product is lovely. Sound up, of course.

Cats will be cats—regardless of auditions:

Yes, this is a prize-winner!

This guy was prescient (tweet from Dec. 21). Read the whole thread, as he was even more prescient than it looks:

A beautiful murmuration of. . . what species?

Read the thread about this loon:

And a bit of politics:

62 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

      1. I sincerely hope that Trump is under armed guard or in a padded cell by that time. He’s incredibly dangerous and now, according to some sources, totally unhinged. The malignant narcissist has been banned from the one source that gave him validation and comfort and he’s striking out. Many of his followers are rejecting him because he caved and admitted defeat after telling them to never give up. He’s unpredictable at this point and we still don’t know how far the rot has penetrated within local governments and the police. This is complete crazytown stuff. I will admit that I’m frightened.

      2. Seems rude that Trump wouldn’t be welcome there, given his magnanimous concession speech and all the help he’s been to the Biden transition team to ensure the seamless transition of power.

    1. So synonyms would be obsequious and solicitous. I don’t agree at all with any of the ones they put up.

    2. Yes. On Christopher Lydon’s “Open Source,” Hitchens reflected on the “unctuous tone” (also “cloying”?) of the verbiage of the other program guest, Princeton academic Eddie Glaude. (Oh my goodness!” replied Glaude.)

      It was via Hitchens I first heard the words “invigilate” and “invigilating.” As in an “invigilating, superintending deity.” The deity invigilates. The mortal being is invigilated. I suppose the mortal being invigilates in the sense that he is constantly monitoring his behavior, knowing that he is being invigilated by the invigilating deity.

    3. Be careful how you use that word! It also has a positive meaning when associated with food, as in the HuffPo article linked from the dictionary entry: “The steak picado is unctuous.”

      1. Goodness Paul, why does everybody here treat the HuffPo like it is anything even close to the level journalism in say, a Penny Saver or a 3rd graders’ writing assignment. It is NOT a serious thing!


      2. Be careful how you use that word! It also has a meaning when associated with minerals!

        Be careful how you use that word! It also has a negative meaning!

        Links are not endorsements!

        short of a subscription to the OED, perhaps the most insight if found with Google: define:unctuous
        Latin: unguere : anoint
        Latin: unctus : anointing
        Medieval Latin : untuosus
        Late Middle English : unctuous : greasy

        (of a person) excessively or ingratiatingly flattering; oily.
        “he seemed anxious to please but not in an unctuous way”
        Similar: sycophantic +>30 more, including these colorful ones:

        (chiefly of minerals) having a greasy or soapy feel.

        … I also learned that dictionaries can list words in order of most common use, but to know for sure requires the front matter / instructions.

    4. I think there’s a word for people in a cult who moan “join us” like zombies with their arms out for you – but I confuse it with unctuous.

  1. The man to the right of fur hat and horns man in the second photo has his employer’s identity badge hanging round his neck. Actually, I tell a lie, it’s his former employer’s identity badge. Somebody made them aware that they were employing a seditionist so they fired him.

    Also the “weird cartoon penis” man is the Cern Abbas Giant. The real one is cut into a chalk hillside in England. His penis is about seven metres long according to Google Earth’s measuring …. errr … tool.

  2. More information on the bill (apparently) signed into law in Iran

    “About” IranWire states that they’re a group of Iranian journalists in the diaspora. They are not for the current regime. A wealth of information about goings on in Iran on that site.

  3. ” …if he’s convicted in the Senate he couldn’t hold any federal political office for the rest of his life.”

    I think disqualification from holding federal political office is a separate vote that may or may not follow conviction in the Senate.

    If the impeached official is convicted, the Senate then must decide what sanction to impose upon that official. Under the Constitution, “judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.” So the Senate effectively must decide whether merely removing the official from office is an appropriate sanction, or whether permanent disqualification is warranted.”

    Unlike the two thirds supermajority required for conviction in the Senate, the additional sanction of disqualification may only require a simple majority.

    By the way, the two thirds vote necessary for conviction doesn’t have to be from a full Senate. As long as the Senate has a quorum of 51 Senators, the vote only has to be two thirds of the Senators present so if most Republicans were absent the Senate could still convict.

    1. I don’t know if it works this way, but perhaps running the impeachment thru the ‘new’ Senate when they come aboard. They could then try to decide on barring Trump for office.

    2. Seen on Twitter stream for guy with Bengal cat:
      “For those wondering if it’s worth impeaching him this time, it means he:
      1) loses his 200k+ pension for the rest of his life
      2) loses his 1 million dollar/year travel allowance
      3) loses lifetime full secret service detail
      4) loses his ability to run in 2024”
      If this is true, please-please-please impeach.

        1. This would require just 10 R votes. At this point it is possible that this could happen, IMO. Lisa Murkowski is the first, even threatening to leave the Republican Party. (I still don’t trust my prognostication skills, however.)

          1. My guess is that Dems know they don’t have the votes to impeach right now but need to get the ball rolling. Senators’ positions might change quickly as law enforcement follows up leads and discovers who’s really behind the attempted coup. A tie has already been made to some organized group of states’ Attorney Generals. Then there’s the investigation into why law enforcement was so weak around the Capitol. I suspect that has some dirty hands behind it. When this news breaks, GOP senators opinions on impeachment might change quickly as the (relatively) innocent attempt to distance themselves from the guilty.

        2. No, it doesn’t. Many Republicans still seem to support Trump, though perhaps “support” is not really the right word. Many are saying some version of, “This is not the time for impeachment as it would further divide the country. This is a time for healing.” Yeah, right.

  4. I had become curious about the word ‘nimrod’, since lately it has come to mean someone who is stupid / naive. But actually the word has a long history, starting with the name of a biblical king, and the names of many historical persons and ships.

      1. The Bible describes Nimrod as a “mighty hunter.” There’s a Bugs Bunny cartoon where Elmer Fudd is hunting wabbits and Bugs sarcastically addresses him as “Nimrod.” The way Bugs says it, it sounds like an insult. I think this led people to think that “Nimrod” means a dope.

    1. Relatedly, I would have thought that nincompoop originated in the ’30s (I thought it was used by the Three Stooges but couldn’t find a ref. Maybe Laurel & Hardy?). In any event, when I looked it up a couple yrs ago I was surprised to find that it goes way farther back – from the Latin: Non Compos Mentis.

    1. Much more likely to be Knot (Red or Grey; same species, Calidris canutus) which do go in for close packed murmurations; Sanderlings fly in much more diffuse flocks.

  5. Besides Evans, also-present was almost-Congressman Rick Saccone, who narrowly lost to Conor Lamb for the seat in the 17th District of PA and who inflamed the Banana Republicans by calling them liars on the House floor during the challenge to the PA electors. The 17th District is more or less Northern Pittsburgh. I hadn’t paid much attention to that race since I’m just E of Pittsburgh, but at the time often heard that Saccone was “a real piece of work”.

    But speaking of work –> exercise, I think the problem with exercise, and maybe that’s the point of the book, is that nothing is accomplished as a result of plain exercise. My solution is bricklaying. A couple yrs ago in reply to my PCP’s question re. what I do, I went on about this big masonry project that I was involved in. In retrospect, with the little time allotted for our encounter, he was flipping thru my chart and paying more attention to that. But at the end he said, “Whatever it is you’re doing, keep doing it.” So, it comes doubly recommended, and if we include Winston Churchill, whose outlook it seems to have improved, it comes triply recommended.

  6. I, too, have had the awful thought about tRump pardoning these insurgents. I don’t think he will do it, though, since he no longer has his Twitter account.

    Here’s a bit of poetic justice, though… These insurgents are likely to face particularly harsh sentences because of a tRumpian executive order made in the wake of BLM protests.

    1. Maybe not pardon them, but unless I dreamt it, are they not to become the initial recruits to the military wing of the Republican party?

      My dream, or nightmare, or info, or whatever, is that the only thing holding this back is a little dispute about whether they should be the Blackshirts or the Brownshirts. They’ll need some advice from Hollywood maybe about what looks better on TV.

  7. I suspect this will all come to nothing given that a 2/3 majority of the Senate, now mostly Republican, would be required for a successful impeachment. However—and I didn’t know this until recently—the procedure can go ahead, and even if Trump is out of office, if he’s convicted in the Senate he couldn’t hold any federal political office for the rest of his life.

    Two points: First, an impeachment conviction in the senate requires the votes of 2/3 of the majority of the US senators present in the senate chamber at the time of the vote. If there are some Republican senators copacetic with the idea of impeaching Trump, but who do not want to cast such a vote themselves, they could choose to sit out the vote (so long as the senate still had present the 51-member quorum required to conduct business). Still a longshot, but with a better chance of success than getting a full complement of 67 votes required if all senators are present and voting.

    Second, for conviction on impeachment to serve as a lifetime bar to holding federal office, that sanction must be included in the Articles of Impeachment passed by the House and voted on by the Senate. It is NOT a sanction that follows automatically from an impeachment conviction. (For example, Alcee Hastings was convicted at a senate impeachment trial and removed from his seat as federal district judge in 1988 — following his earlier acquittal on bribery charges in a federal criminal trial — but currently sits as a member of the House of Representatives for Florida’s 20th congressional district).

  8. “1909 – Ernest Shackleton, leading the Nimrod Expedition to the South Pole, plants the British flag 97 nautical miles (180 km; 112 mi) from the South Pole, the farthest anyone had ever reached at that time.
    Here’s the flag planting (photo from Wikipedia). It was Amundsen’s team in 1911, followed by Scott’s a few months later, that finally made it to the Pole”

    At risk of sounding like a broken record:

    Shackleton was a hero, who led those men up the serious mountains off the Ross Iceshelf, who knew enough and had guts enough to turn around when absolutely essential, and who more famously led and saved a large group down there about 7 years later.

    Amundsen’s expedition wasn’t perfect, but damn close. And the return on the Shelf was more like a Sunday ski festival. They created a brand new route up those mountains and a not absolutely identical one back down again. He had also been the first to captain a ship through the northwest passage.

    Scott was earlier known more in the Royal Navy for his incompetent bungling captaining a ship. Becoming a favourite of an important geographer, he got the support to lead 4 men and himself to their deaths, following Shackleton’s created route up the mountains. A terrible leader, it is the case that his huge group produced some valuable scientific observations.

  9. Since Dr. Cobb (Matthew) brought up the Sea Shanty, I’d like to recommend the movie, Blow The Man Down:

    The music is great and it’s a hoot!

    I love that Times of India headline about the attempted insurrection.

    Kulka is bundle of joy. She looks like a very happy kitty-cat.

    On to politics – it’s very sad that the Rethugs don’t see that it’s their responsibility to rein in the mad junkyard dog they’ve unleashed. The onus is really on them to deliver consequences for the shitstorm he created. But still they try to game the system and are thinking only of holding close to their bosoms the votes of his cultish following.

  10. I’m not sure I’d trust “TheForeignDesk” run by “Lisa”. In context it looks very One America News Networky to me.

    The vote probably happened, they do have regular anti-Israel votes in the Majlis in Tehran but never do anything about it – it is a pro-forma ritual. Like “Death to America Day” (coming soon, Feb I think) where they bus in deplorables from the sticks (“Free trip to the big smoke!” and force government employees in Tehran to go and shout and burn a few (US) flags. I think their recent nuke enrichment (to a useless 20%) is a bargaining ploy.

    Most Iranians don’t give a damn about Palestine and resent their badly needed money being used to foment trouble and subsidize trouble makers in Iran’s near abroad.

    Keep in mind, I’m no fan of the Islamic Republic (I did my thesis on it at Georgetown hundreds of years ago) but our view of it in the US is pretty perverted.


    1. This information can be found as well at:;;; and other places though not in the mainstream media. It’s not so strange. Mainstream media doesn’t like anything which can constitute a “coup against dicourse”, as one journalist said, outraged about call for peace by one of his fellow Lebanese. Neither can Alexei Nawalny’s tweets about Trump and the Twitter be easily found. They are a “coup against discourse” as well.
      BTW, what most Iranians think is of no interest to their dictatorial rulers. If they dare to express their opinion they are imprisoned, tortrured, shot at or hanged.

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