Monday: Hili dialogue

January 18, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to another damn week; it’s Monday, January 18, 2021: National Gourmet Coffee Day, which should be every day (life’s too short to drink bad coffee). But it’s also an important federal holiday: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (he was actually born on January 15), so everyone’s off work (save me) and there’s no mail. Were King alive, he’d be 92 today, and we all wonder what he’d have to say about civil rights. Would he still emphasize the content of one’s character over the color of one’s skin? The New York Times has enlisted one of his sons to suggest that King would be with modern civil-right protestors.

There’s a special Google Doodle for Martin Luther King Day; click on the screenshot:

In honor of King, a hero on the order of Gandhi (yes, both men were flawed, but who isn’t?), I’m putting up the best (non-folk) song ever written about civil rights. Indeed, it’s one of the best soul songs of all time. Behold Sam Cooke with his own composition from 1964: the year of the Civil Rights Act:

It’s also National Peking Duck Day and Winnie the Pooh Day, which marks the birthday (in ) of author A. A. Milne in 1882.

The characters in Milne’s books were actually named after his son Christopher’s stuffed toys, and they still remain (except for Roo): here’s a photo of the originals, which you can see at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City. The caption: “Original Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed toys. Clockwise from bottom left: TiggerKanga, Edward Bear (“Winnie-the-Pooh”), Eeyore, and PigletRoo was lost long ago.” Eeyore is my spirit animal. 

News of the Day:

Oy! CNN reports that Trump is going to issue around 100 pardons tomorrow, his last day in office. An excerpt:

President Donald Trump is preparing to issue around 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, according to three people familiar with the matter, a major batch of clemency actions that includes white collar criminals, high-profile rappers and others but — as of now — is not expected to include Trump himself.

. . . The final batch of clemency actions is expected to include a mix of criminal justice reform-minded pardons and more controversial ones secured or doled out to political allies.

Imagine the basket of deplorables who will either go free or become free from indictment! Trump will be able to issue pardons until noon on Inauguration Day.

Russian dissident Alexander Navalny, after being poisoned by Putin’s acolytes and having miraculously survived, has returned to Russia, where he was immediately detained and taken away. That is a brave man! Will we ever see him again?

Phil Spector died of complications of Covid-19 yesterday; he was 81 and In prison for shooting nightclub hostess Lana Clarkson. At one time he was the King of Music Producers, famed for his big-noise “wall of sound” behind singers (he also produced the Beatles’ last album, Let It Be). The NYT reports:

Mr. Spector single-handedly created the image of the record producer as auteur, a creative force equal to or even greater than his artists, with an instantly identifiable aural brand.

“There were songwriter-producers before him, but no one did the whole thing like Phil,” the songwriter and producer Jerry Leiber told Rolling Stone in 2005. Mr. Leiber, who died in 2011, and Mr. Spector served a brief but crucial apprenticeship together at Atlantic Records.

. . . “He was everything,” Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys told an interviewer for the British documentary “Endless Harmony: The Beach Boys Story.” He called Mr. Spector “the biggest inspiration in my entire life.” To John Lennon, he was “the greatest record producer ever.” (Greater than George Martin?)

Here’s an example of Spector’s wall of sound:

Exciting philatelic and mail news!!!! The U.S. is issuing a pre-stamped mallard postcard this year! Be sure to buy a big supply (it has “forever” postage). Here it is (h/t: Roger); I have to say that they never show the hens as the colorful drakes are more attractive. I would have preferred Honey, though. It’s always the drakes who are pictured; the females get the shaft but I love them more.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 397,612, an increase of about 1,800 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 stands at 2,041,016, an increase of about 7,700 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 18 includes:

  • 1778 – James Cook is the first known European to discover the Hawaiian Islands, which he names the “Sandwich Islands”.
  • 1788 – The first elements of the First Fleet carrying 736 convicts from Great Britain to Australia arrive at Botany Bay.
  • 1886 – Modern field hockey is born with the formation of The Hockey Association in England.
  • 1896 – An X-ray generating machine is exhibited for the first time by H. L. Smith.

Wikipedia tells us what the different colors mean when your baggage is screened:

The colour of the image displayed depends upon the material and material density : organic material such as paper, clothes and most explosives are displayed in orange. Mixed materials such as aluminum are displayed in green. Inorganic materials such as copper are displayed in blue and non-penetrable items are displayed in black (some machines display this as a yellowish green or red). The darkness of the color depends upon the density or thickness of the material.

  • 1919 – World War I: The Paris Peace Conference opens in Versailles, France.
  • 1943 – Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: The first uprising of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.
  • 1967 – Albert DeSalvo, the “Boston Strangler”, is convicted of numerous crimes and is sentenced to life imprisonment.

DeSalvo was stabbed to death in prison in 1973.

Here’s the bacterium, Legionella pneumophila:

  • 1983 – The International Olympic Committee restores Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals to his family.
  • 1990 – Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry is arrested for drug possession in an FBI sting.
  • 1993 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is officially observed for the first time in all 50 US states.
  • 2008 – The Euphronios Krater is unveiled in Rome after being returned to Italy by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here’s a picture of that beautiful Greek vase, created by Euphronios about 515 B.C.  Some information from Wikipedia:

The Euphronios Krater (or Sarpedon Krater) is an ancient Greek terra cotta calyx-krater, a bowl used for mixing wine with water. Created around the year 515 BC, it is the only complete example of the surviving 27 vases painted by the renowned Euphronios and is considered one of the finest Greek vase artifacts in existence. Part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1972 to 2008, the vase was repatriated to Italy under an agreement negotiated in February 2006, and it is now in the collection of the Archaeological Museum of Cerveteri as part of a strategy of returning stolen works of art to their place of origin

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1689 – Montesquieu, French lawyer and philosopher (d. 1755)
  • 1782 – Daniel Webster, American lawyer and politician, 14th United States Secretary of State (d. 1852)
  • 1880 – Paul Ehrenfest, Austrian-Dutch physicist and academic (d. 1933)
  • 1882 – A. A. Milne, English author, poet, and playwright (d. 1956) [See above].

Here’s Milne with his son Christopher Robin and some plushies. I don’t think the penguin made it into the Pooh books, but you can see the original Pooh bear!

A. A. Milne and Christopher Robin A. A. Milne and Christopher Robin Milne – playing with a toy teddy bear. CRM, son of A. A. Milne, basis of the character Christopher Robin in A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:: 21 August 1920 – 20 April 1996. AAM, English author: 18 January 1882 – 31 January 1956. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)
  • 1892 – Oliver Hardy, American actor and comedian (d. 1957)
  • 1904 – Cary Grant, English-American actor (d. 1986)
  • 1941 – David Ruffin, American singer (d. 1991)

Ruffin was the lead singer of The Temptations, producing some of the finest soul music of our time (e.g., “My Girl” and the fantastic song below):

Those who decamped from life on January 18 include:

  • 1862 – John Tyler, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 10th President of the United States (b. 1790)
  • 1936 – Rudyard Kipling, English author and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1865)
  • 1952 – Curly Howard, American actor (b. 1903)

Howard’s real name was Jerome Lester Horowitz. Like his brothers Moe and Shemp, he was Jewish, but so was Larry (Larry Fine).  Curly died at only 48 after multiple strokes.

  • 1989 – Bruce Chatwin, English-French author (b. 1940)
  • 2016 – Glenn Frey, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1948)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, now a matron, goes down into the basement to ponder her youth:

Hili: I often sat in this armchair in my youth.
A: But it’s cold in the basement.
Hili: Never mind, it’s nice to reminisce on old furniture about old times.
In Polish:
Hili: Na tym fotelu często siedziałam w młodości.
Ja: Ale w piwnicy jest zimno.
Hili: Nie szkodzi, na starych meblach miło się wspomina dawne czasy.

And little Kulka was outside for the past few days, but now it’s too cold:

Caption: It’s crackling cold outside, -18°C. (Picture, of course, by Paulina)

In Polish: A na dworze trzaskający mróz, minus 18C. (Zdjęcie, oczywiście Pauliny.)

A headline from Stash Krod. It is indeed a real article, even if it’s fake news. Read it!

. . . and another from Stash Krod, with an allusion to the Capitol siege:

From Joe:

Tweets from Matthew. The first is a stunning find, and I hope the mutants can run fast enough from predators. Note that the “dwarves” have relatively short legs, as with dwarf mutations in other species.  Below the tweet I’ve put a picture from the article showing adult males of normal size and a putative mutant.

This looks like easy prey for big cats, who tend to go after juveniles. Further, can those males mate with normal-sized females? Or vice versa?

Male dwarf giraffe, Nigel (right), and a normal-sized adult male giraffe (left) in Namibia. March 2018. (Credit: Emma Wells, Giraffe Conservation Foundation)

And what a great tribute:

Go to this link to see the wildlife video; the place was TEEMING with hummingbirds yesterday.

This guy already lost his pledge twice, so he’s now a castrato. Or should be, but I doubt he kept his promise.

Here’s the American version of The Giant’s Causeway:

Here’s a centenarian being greeted by the Queen, who’s approaching a century herself. Matthew told me this, but I already knew it: ‘Context: when you are 100 (like this lady) you get a card (used to be a telegram) from the Queen.”

Sound up.

This is a wonderful thread; I can show but three of the photos, but be sure to look at the others:

48 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

    1. A version of “Let It Be” came out in 2003 called “Let It Be Naked” in which Phil Spector’s contributions were mostly removed among other changes. A good way to compare familiar songs with and without his influence.

    1. Apparently it was looted from an Etruscan tomb – though I’m not sure how it ended up there in the first place. The Greeks had a colony in Syracuse in Sicily which rivalled Athens for size around the time that the krater was produced so I suppose that could be a connection?

      1. “though I’m not sure how it ended up there in the first place.”

        Possibly by trade. There used to be a lot of trade up and down the Mediterranean between the Etruscs and the Greeks.

    2. I wrote a reply that disappeared. I rewrite it, hoping it will not be a repetition.

      The krater came from an ancient Greek area of Italy. A large part of Southern Italy (known as Magna Graecia) was colonised by Greeks well before the Romans arrived. There are plenty of well preserved, ancient Greek archaeological sites there. For example in Syracuse or Agrigento, both in Sicily, but also in peninsular Italy (e.g. Paestum, south of Naples). And plenty more; in Sicily there are ancient Greek theatres almost everywhere.

        1. The Greek theatre in Taormina is still used for concerts and plays and, there and elsewhere, there’s probably a modern version of the touristtrap always running. 😜

    3. Sad backstory to the Euphronios Krater. The met used to have what was probably the finest collection of Roman Gold coins ever assembled. Met Director Thomas Hoving decided he just had to have that Krater, and rather than raise money to buy it, he decided to auction off the collection. Attempts were made to keep the collection intact in NYC at the American Numismatic Society, but Hoving insisted on the auction. Word was that some big Met donors [including the Hunt Brothers of silver manipulation fame] coveted some of the coins, thus the insistence on the auction. The auction was in Switzerland, the catalog pictures were mediocre at best, so you really had to go see the coins in person to make a good assessment of their value. Such travel was no problem for a billionaire, but sort of froze out most collectors, so Hunts made out like bandits. Turns out the krater was looted, so Met ends up with no coins, no krater [but hey, some very satisfied big donors] and a great research source destroyed.

  1. The thread about animals interrupting wildlife photographers reminded me of this old documentary about the albatrosses of Midway (from 7 minutes in – sorry there are no subtitles):


  2. Apropos the Devil’s Postpile, columnar basalt is not uncommon in the United States. Devil’s Tower in Wyoming is volcanic plug that cooled slowly enough for the basalt to crystallise into the familiar hexagonal columns. You can also see good outcrops of columnar basalt in Spokane, Washington, especially at the entrance to the city’s airport.

  3. MLK day is a govt holiday. Most of us in the private sector are still compelled to toil for a crust! Although I see that it is a UofC holiday. The value of days off is still limited right now, and I have deadlines looming!

  4. ‘To John Lennon, he was “the greatest record producer ever.” (Greater than George Martin?)’ – I had the same thought myself when I saw that quote.

    The Beatles first met the Ronettes at a party in London in January 1965 and John tried to hit on Ronnie Bennett, later Spector. (It seems George had more success with her sister Estelle). Phil turned up in London at the end of the month and was already very controlling.

    1. In his autobiography, which is a great read, Clapton (who famously married the wife of George) pointed out that while he is usually thought of as the spiritual Beatle, George was no slouch when it came to the desires of the flesh.

  5. 1. I’d love to know if DNA of Euphronios might be obtained from the inner material of the vase – presumably, his (?) hands were working the … clay (?)

    2. Remember how Sonja Sotomayor was saying she was reading Winnie The Pooh? She got ridiculed by idiots. I highly recommend Milne – lovely prose, poetry, humor, and wit! Read it out loud fir best effect – find the audiobook/dramatization with Stephen Fry and Judi Dench, Geoffrey Palmer, et. al. – delightful!

      1. “It would have been fired recall – far too hot for DNA!”

        oh right – but I wonder what the highest temperature and conditions DNA – of any form or state – can resist is.

  6. I thought Matthew’s spirit animal was Eyore?! I used to have the Latin translation…
    Salve, si mane bonum est, quod in dubium voco.

  7. Alan Stern, principal investigator for the new horizons mission to pluto and beyond has written an excellent book, “Chasing New Horizons”, published in 2018. Stern relates the more-than-25 year saga of envisioning, funding, de-funding, refunding, and continuous political challenges, along with the incredible technological and engineering challenges, of this extraordinarily successful mission. The book includes wonderful pictures from the mission and a few in which we can see stern and the mission team age from sprouts to geezers, but always pressing forward. It demonstrates that successful space missions often require considerably more skills than extraordinary scientific and engineering talent. I highly recommend it.

  8. The 100th birthday card from the queen isn’t automatic. It has to be requested in advance and you need to supply a scan of the birth certificate. (You can get Liz to send a greetings card for a diamond (60th) wedding anniversary, too.)

    1. I think it used to be automatic.

      I remember reading about a bloke who was surprised when his wife got one. He was 98 or something and thought she was 96 or whatever,but it turned out that she had lied about her age when they got married almost 80 years before. His response: I’ve been her toy boy for decades and didn’t even know it!

  9. I regard these songs as the soundtrack to the civil rights movement –
    A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke, 1964
    People Get Ready – Curtis Mayfield, 1965
    What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye, 1971

    Cooke grew up on the south side of Chicago in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Also in that neighborhood (went to Doolitle Grammar School) were the Staples family, Lou Rawls, Jerry “Iceman” Butler, Mahalia Jackson and more. Supposedly, when Blowin’ in the Wind came out, either Pops or Mavis Staples said something like “I cannot believe a white boy wrote that song.”. Supposedly, it inspired Cooke to write A Change is Gonna Come.

    Note: Mayfield is also from Chicago but the west side. Yes, that makes a difference especially in high school basketball. Bob Dylan asked Mavis Staples to marry him but she turned him down. Mavis is a national treasure.

    Do yourself a favor and check out Cooke performing Blowin’ in the Wind:

  10. Upon npr’s morning edition this day, submissions of poems, beginning
    with the words, ” I dream a World, ” were requested. Bada bing, bada boom, I tapped out this multiple haiku within, literally, seconds’ time:

    I dream a World, whole,
    at where NO longer is H O P E
    a Woman – Killer.

    ” IF I wear THIS dress
    I h o p e he will not, again,
    scream at me more times.”

    ” I scrub his toilet
    so I h o p e he will not yank
    my hair out again. ”

    ” IF he preaches from
    that pulpit of his once more,
    I h o p e he knows wrong. ”

    ” IF he preaches from
    that pulpit of his, that h o p e ?
    IS hypocrisy. ”

    As of within the same and sane manner of Mr Jensen’s

    O, yeah: my poem was submitted. All right.

    O, it will not be used.
    Or, it will be ” edited ” beyond recognition. Yeah.


  11. I suspect that the original Pooh is a Steiff. In the 1950s, the F.A.O. Schwarz store in Shaker Heights, Ohio sold a series of stuffed animals that looked just like the original Ernest Shepard illustrations in the books. I had a Pooh and a Piglet as a child. The had an Eeyore, and a Tigger too, but I did not get those. My mother gave my animals to my cousins as I got older, much to my chagrin. Pooh is lost, but Piglet was returned to me a number of years ago, although he is missing a leg.

  12. Many thanks for posting the webcam site in Ecuador. It is marvelous, especially given that there are photos of the birds so one can identify them. I could watch this much of the day (but I won’t)–a huge relief from everything else going on.

  13. Anyone wishing to understand why Spector was so highly regarded (before he destroyed someone else’s life along with his own) should listen to the box set “Back to Mono,” which collects the songs Spector was most proud of producing during the 1950s and 60s.

  14. Who is photographing the wildlife photographers? Do they regularly take along a B team? Quis photographet ipsos photographeros?

  15. Spector was a deeply weird dude, however talented. I also thought about J.L’s praise of him wondering: “And George Martin was chopped liver or something?”
    Tsk, tsk, Mr. Lennon.
    And the Beatles seemed uniformly down on Let It Be – I think it is a great album. And the movie is fantastic. Phil S. was a monster in every imaginable way but had a spectacular home in Hombly Hills, LA.


  16. Don’t know the Holmby Hills one but he had a large place in Alhambra, CA, not that far from where Calvin Bridges worked.

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