Sunday: Hili dialogue

January 17, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good Sabbath to you (if you’re Christian): it’s Sunday, January 17, 2021: National Hot Buttered Rum Day (you can find a recipe here; you’ll need rum, butter, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and water).  It’s also Ben Franklin Day (he was born on this day in 1706), National Hot Heads Chili Day, and World Religion Day, which we’re not celebrating.

News of the Day:

In the early morning of yesterday, the Trump administration executed its 13th and last federal prisoner (three in the last week), only four days from Inauguration Day. Dustin Higgs, convicted of killing three people, was given a lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, maintaining, as he has all along, that he was innocent. Trump could have stayed the execution until Biden took over, but he’s been on a rush to kill people right up to the last minute. A note from CNN:

One-third of the justices on the Supreme Court — which has repeatedly overturned decisions by lower courts to halt executions — were appointed by Trump. The decision to allow Higgs’s execution to proceed came down to a 6-3 split, with the liberal justices opposing the move.

You can see the dissents by Breyer and Sotomayor here (h/t Ken). From Sotomayor’s dissent:

Betty White turns 99 today (see below). How will she spend her birthday? Look at this great headline from Mic (click on screenshot):

When legendary actor and comedian Betty White turns 99 on January 17, she’ll be celebrating her quarantine birthday with a pair of unconventional party guests. “What am I doing for my birthday? Feeding the two ducks who come to visit me every day,” she told Entertainment Tonight in an interview published on Thursday.

There’s no need to be alarmed: the Golden Girls star and nonagenarian hasn’t lost her marbles. “Betty has [a] beautiful backyard with a number of wild animals visiting,” a press representative told TODAYvia email back in May. “Two ducks always come by to say hello. They waddle up to her glass door and look in” — which is so wholesome and utterly delightful. Maybe she’ll feed them some fowl-friendly cake on the big day.

Now how awesome is that?

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 395,882, an increase of about 3,300 deaths from yesterday’s figure. In two days we’ll pass 400,000 deaths: double what the most pessimistic pundits thought we’d have. The world death toll is 2,032,342, an increase of about 12,500 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 17 includes:

  • 1377 – Pope Gregory XI reaches Rome, after deciding to move the Papacy back to Rome from Avignon.
  • 1773 – Captain James Cook leads the first expedition to sail south of the Antarctic Circle.
  • 1904 – Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard receives its premiere performance at the Moscow Art Theatre.
  • 1912 – British polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott reaches the South Pole, one month after Roald Amundsen.

Here’s a picture of Scott’s disconsolate team at the South Pole, having discovered that Amundsen’s team had beaten them.  All of these men died attempting to return to their base:

Scott’s party at the South Pole. Left to right: Oates, Bowers, Scott, Wilson and Evans.

“Totenkopfverbände” means “death’s head units,” and members of this branch of the SS, identified by wearing the insignia below on their collars, were responsible for the concentration camps:

Here’s a dramatic photo from Wikipedia captioned: “A freed Buchenwald concentration camp prisoner identifies a member of the SS camp guard.”

  • 1945 – Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg is taken into Soviet custody while in Hungary; he is never publicly seen again.

Wallenberg, below, saved thousands of Jews from extermination by the Germans during WWII. He is thought to have died in the Lubyanks in Moscow, but why he was arrested or how he died remain mysteries:

  • 1950 – The Great Brink’s Robbery: Eleven thieves steal more than $2 million from an armored car company’s offices in Boston.
  • 1961 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers a televised farewell address to the nation three days before leaving office, in which he warns against the accumulation of power by the “military–industrial complex” as well as the dangers of massive spending, especially deficit spending.
  • 1977 – Capital punishment in the United States resumes after a ten-year hiatus, as convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad in Utah.
  • 1991 – Gulf War: Operation Desert Storm begins early in the morning as aircraft strike positions across Iraq, it is also the first major combat sortie for the F-117. LCDR Scott Speicher’s F/A-18C Hornet from VFA-81 is shot down by a Mig-25 and is the first American casualty of the War. Iraq fires eight Scud missiles into Israel in an unsuccessful bid to provoke Israeli retaliation.
  • 1998 – Lewinsky scandalMatt Drudge breaks the story of the Bill ClintonMonica Lewinsky affair on his Drudge Report website.

Here’s the headline that started it all and ended with Bill Clinton’s impeachment (he was not convicted):

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1834 – August Weismann, German biologist, zoologist, and geneticist (d. 1914)
  • 1899 – Al Capone, American mob boss (d. 1947)
  • 1899 – Robert Maynard Hutchins, American philosopher and academic (d. 1977)

Hutchens became President of the University of Chicago at only 30, and established many of the principles on which the school rests (shakily, I’ll add). He got rid of football, fraternities, and religious organizations, and established free speech and academic freedom as some of those principles. Here’s a quote from Wikipedia:

Hutchins was notable as a defender of academic freedom. When the University was accused of fostering communism in 1935 (by Charles Rudolph Walgreen, who claimed his niece had been indoctrinated with communist ideas whilst studying there) and again in 1949, Hutchins defended the right of the University’s faculty to teach as they wished, arguing that the best way to defeat communism was through open debate and scrutiny, rather than suppression. “Hutchins stood behind his faculty and their right to teach and believe as they wished, insisting that communism could not withstand the scrutiny of public analysis and debate.”

  • 1911 – George Stigler, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1991)
  • 1922 – Betty White, American actress, game show panelist, television personality, and animal rights activist

Here are some of Betty White’s quips from her later television career:

Happy birthday, Betty! Everyone loves her.

  • 1931 – James Earl Jones, American actor
  • 1933 – Shari Lewis, American actress, puppeteer/ventriloquist, and television host (d. 1998)
  • 1949 – Andy Kaufman, American actor and comedian (d. 1984)
  • 1964 – Michelle Obama, American lawyer and activist, 46th First Lady of the United States

Those who “passed” on January 17 include:

Gilmore was the first person executed after a ten-year moratorium on executions. He chose the firing squad over hanging, the only two choices at the time.

Despite being born to a Jewish mother, Fisher wound up as a rabid anti-Semite and white supremacist. I didn’t know that until this morning, when I read the relevant section of his Wikipedia page.  He won his World Championship before he was thirty. This photo was about ten years before that:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a sociological question:

Hili: Is there any research about the level of poverty?
A: Of course, plenty.
Hili: But I’m asking about the level of poverty of cats.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy są badania nad poziomem ubóstwa?
Ja: Oczywiście, mnóstwo.
Hili: Ale ja pytam o badania nad poziomem ubóstwa kotów.

Szaron is resting, hoping that Hili won’t chase him:

From Woody: What we saw in the House last week:

From Donna:

From John:

A tweet from Barry: Cat pwns dog:

Tweets from Matthew. If you read the article, you’ll find out that forcing scientific lies on children is not limited to evangelical Christianity:

The pandemic drives people to strange extremes:

A wily kitten:

And a very noisy kitten:

Translation: “New popular person appeared.” Toy duck pwns toy otter:

I must go here some day:

Finally, this doesn’t look like a turkey but I have no idea what it is?

24 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Capercaillie
    – oops missed Kelvin’s comment. It was reintroduced into Scotland…

    Can I point out that the Antarctic circle is not, as I had supposed, a fixed thing?! See wikipedia, but /
    “The position of the Antarctic Circle is not fixed and currently runs 66°33′48.4″ south of the Equator.[1] This figure may be slightly inaccurate because it does not allow for the effects of astronomical nutation, which can be up to 10″. Its latitude depends on the Earth’s axial tilt, which fluctuates within a margin of more than 2° over a 41,000-year period, due to tidal forces resulting from the orbit of the Moon.[2] Consequently, the Antarctic Circle is currently drifting southwards at a speed of about 15 m (49 ft) per year.”

    1. Maybe if I wait 41,000 years or so, skiing to the South Pole will be easier, especially if I can convince that grouse to pull me. Looked like he or she was volunteering in that video.

    2. When we were in Rovaniemi, Finland, we visited the Santa’s Workshop tourist trap (why not?). They have a brass marker line across the plaza marking the Arctic Circle, and there were lots of tourists taking pictures of themselves jumping back and forth across it. A professor of geodesy at one of the Finnish universities has a website with the current location of the AC, so we knew that the AC was about 2 miles to the north that day. We actually drove out with my GPS to find it. Hint: it’s not very spectacular.

      1. There is a concrete marker pillar in my wife’s old county town (a day’s travel ; two flights away) of Salekhard. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but she described it as being quite impressive. There’s something rather similar between Catka and Chelyabinsk, marking the “border” between Europe and Asia. Seeing the Wiki-photo of the Salekhard, I think the wife got a selfie there.

    3. On the other hand, the Equator says put. Disappointingly, it doesn’t. This is what Wikipedia says: “The precise location of the equator is not truly fixed; the true equatorial plane is perpendicular to the Earth’s rotation axis, which drifts about 9 metres (30 ft) during a year.”

  2. My daughter’s relatively diminutive Pit Bull / Black Lab mix is named Raoul, in Wallenberg’s honor. I also have a friend in Sweden, whose father was a diplomat of some sort and knew Raoul Wallenberg, and who is also named Raoul in his memory.

  3. Regarding Eisenhower’s farewell address, everyone mentions the warning about the military industrial complex, but this section is never mentioned:

    “Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.”

  4. 1961 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers a televised farewell address to the nation three days before leaving office, in which he warns against the accumulation of power by the “military–industrial complex” as well as the dangers of massive spending, especially deficit spending.

    I recall watching Eisenhower’s farewell address live on television — indeed, it is my only living memory of Dwight Eisenhower while he was still in office. I’d like to say that Ike’s warnings about the “military-industrial complex” had a profound impact on me at the time, but I was only seven years old, watching it at my grandparents’ home, sitting on the couch next to my grandpa, waiting for whoever’s grandpa was on the tube to finish talking so my grandpa and I could watch Gunsmoke.

  5. This just in–record producer Phil Spector has died of Covid; the man behind such hits as “Be My Baby” (the Ronettes); “Corrine Corrina” (Ray Peterson); “Unchained Melody” (the Righteous Brothers); “The Long and Winding Road” (the Beatles) and many others.

    Oh, and a murderer.

  6. Further info regarding the Bnois Jerusalem Girls Schooll teaching creationism

    Inspectors also found that the school library only had books in Yiddish, with none in English, and that pupils lacked confidence communicating in English.

    “Pupils’ speaking skills are weak,” the report says. “Often, pupils only give one-word answers in class and speak quietly so as not to be heard. This reflects pupils’ lack of confidence with English language.”


    Private schools are permitted to teach creationism “as part of a belief system” but government guidance makes clear “it should not be presented as having a similar or superior evidence base to scientific theories”.

    The watchdog also found that the school did not let students take GCSEs because it lacked the power to “censor the examination papers”.

    The report states: “Pupils do not take any qualifications at the end of key stage 4. This is because leaders would have to contravene the examination regulations in order to censor the examination papers.

    “As a result, pupils do not gain the qualifications they need to prepare them for further study and employment. Their options for post-16 study are limited to institutions that will admit pupils without these qualifications.


  7. ‘”What am I doing for my birthday? Feeding the two ducks who come to visit me every day,” she told Entertainment Tonight in an interview published on Thursday.’

    “There’s no need to be alarmed: the Golden Girls star and nonagenarian hasn’t lost her marbles.”

    Well, thanks be to media types, the ultimate arbiters of cognitive efficacy. As if feeding ducks is somehow evidence of cognitive decline in someone celebrating their birthday?!? What should they instead be doing – constantly scrolling on their digital device for responses to their texts, validating their sense of self-worth (and self-absorbed narcissism)?

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