Saturday: Hili dialogue

January 23, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s the Sabbath for cats and Jewish people: Saturday, January 23, 2021, and National Pie Day. It’s also National Rhubarb Pie Day, the worst pastry ever invented. I have no truck with this pie (the odious rhubarb is often mixed with strawberries, to the great detriment of the latter), though I know some people favor this gritty, sour vegetable in pies. It’s also National Handwriting Day. I notice that mine has degenerated over the years, perhaps due to either age or my complete failure to write anything by hand in the age of computers.

Wine of the Day: Here we have an inexpensive ($10-15) and delicious Italian wine, the Sartarelli Verdicchio Castelli Di Jesi Classico from 2019, made from the Verdicchio grape and the first example I’ve ever had (quaffed with an omelette made with tomatoes and Tilamook aged sharp cheddar) The wine was surprisingly viscous and extremely fruity, with notes of orange blossom, honey, and peach; and it was slightly off-dry. I’d think that this would be the ideal accompaniment to spicy Indian or Chinese food, though I usually take those with beer. If you see this one, do snap it up. It’s a great bargain.

News of the Day:

The BBC reports that in Nigeria, a 13 year old boy, sentenced to a decade in jail for “making uncomplimentary remarks about God during an argument with a friend in northern Kano state,” has had his sentence overturned by a secular appeals court. (Kano is one of the states that has a parallel system of Sharia law.) The court also overturned a death sentence against a man “for using lyrics deemed blasphemous against the Prophet Muhammad.” The singer will be retried, but the 13-year old better get his tuches out of Nigeria. Others are still serving long sentences for blasphemy—a travesty in this day and age.

Over at the Washington Post, George Conway III, a co-founder of the Republican Lincoln Project (and spouse of Kellyanne Conway), has a long essay about what criminal charges Trump may face as a private citizen. Conway, who thinks the President’s behavior was indeed criminal, goes through all the possibilities, none of which seem to include a Presidential pardon.  A quote:

“. . . Trump is the extreme case. He has proved that over and over again. Bringing him to whatever justice he may deserve is, now more than ever, essential to vindicating the rule of law, which, now more than ever, must be a critical governing policy of the new administration. Vindication of the rule of law is precisely why many Americans, including myself, voted for Biden.”

After lots of waffling and  intimations about when Trump’s impeachment trial will begin (it was first said to be immediate, then within two weeks), Chuck Schumer has announced that, by bipartisan agreement, Trump’s trial will start on February 9. I still think the trial is a good idea, although I’d bet a fair amount that Trump won’t be convicted. As is becoming more clear,  Republicans simply won’t vote for it. But a trial will still be a reminder that there must be an accounting if a President engages in the kind of actions that Trump did.  I do wonder if the Senate can bar Trump for life from holding federal office.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 414,170, large increase of about 3,900 deaths over yesterday’s figure. We may past half a million deaths in less than a month. The world death toll stands at 2,118,135, a big increase of about 15,800 deaths over yesterday’s total, or abut 11 deaths per minute.

Stuff that happened on January 23 includes:

  • 393 – Roman Emperor Theodosius I proclaims his eight-year-old son Honorius co-emperor.
  • 1556 – The deadliest earthquake in history, the Shaanxi earthquake, hits Shaanxi province, China. The death toll may have been as high as 830,000.

Why so many dead? As Wikipedia notes, “Most of the population in the area at the time lived in yaodongs, artificial caves in loess cliffs; these collapsed in great numbers, causing many casualties.”

  • 1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell is awarded her M.D. by the Geneva Medical College of Geneva, New York, becoming the United States’ first female doctor.

Blackwell, a great feminist, spent her early career organizing clinics and hospitals, and later engaged in many varieties of social reform. Here’s a photo:

  • 1937 – The trial of the anti-Soviet Trotskyist center sees seventeen mid-level Communists accused of sympathizing with Leon Trotsky and plotting to overthrow Joseph Stalin‘s regime.

Every one of the defendants was found guilty and given nine grams of lead in the head in the cellars of the Lubyanka. Trotsky, who had escaped, later got an ice pick in the head.

If anyone should be canceled, it should be Lindbergh, who was a Nazi sympathizer. But of course we don’t hear a peep. Here’s a very short video Lindberg urging the U.S. to stay out of World War II.

  • 1950 – The Knesset resolves that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
  • 1957 – American inventor Walter Frederick Morrison sells the rights to his flying disc to the Wham-O toy company, which later renames it the “Frisbee”.

Here’s Morrison, in a mock space suit, promoting his discs, then called the “Pluto Platters”, in the 1950s. Now, of course, they’re called Frisbees.

  • 1986 – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts its first members: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.
  • 2002 – U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan and subsequently murdered.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1737 – John Hancock, American general and politician, 1st Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1793)
  • 1783 – Stendhal, French novelist (d. 1842)
  • 1832 – Édouard Manet, French painter (d. 1883)

Here’s Manet’s “Woman with a Cat” (ca. 1880):

Woman with a Cat c.1880 Edouard Manet 1832-1883 Purchased 1918

Hilbert was a mathematical polymath(ematician), and here he is looking quite natty:

  • 1897 – Subhas Chandra Bose, Indian freedom fighter and politician (d. 1945)
  • 1964 – Mariska Hargitay, American actress and producer

Hargitay played the character Olivia Benson on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and Taylor Swift named one of her cats, a Scottish Fold, after Benson. Here Olivia Benson meets Olivia Benson.


Those who snuffed it on January 23 include:

  • 1516 – Ferdinand II of Aragon (b. 1452)
  • 1803 – Arthur Guinness, Irish brewer, founded Guinness (b. 1725)
  • 1883 – Gustave Doré, French engraver and illustrator (b. 1832)

Doré is one of my favorite illustrators. Here’s his version of Puss in Boots (notice the mouse hanging from his belt):

  • 1944 – Edvard Munch, Norwegian painter and illustrator (b. 1863)
  • 1947 – Pierre Bonnard, French painter (b. 1867)

Here’s Bonnard’s “The White Cat”, a bit etiolated!

Here’s Robeson, a hero of mine, singing to Scottish miners. The Youtube notes:

Extract from Mining Review 2nd Year No. 11 (1949) The highlight of this 1949 issue is the visit of American actor and singer Paul Robeson to Woolmet Colliery near Edinburgh. Robeson was also a renowned (and often persecuted) left-wing political activist and he made several visits to British mining communities. On this occasion he sings “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” for miners in the canteen, a song about an American trade unionist who was allegedly framed on a murder charge and executed in 1915. Robeson had long been something of a hero to the British mining community, ever since he starred in the film Proud Valley (d. Pen Tennyson, 1940) as an American sailor stranded in Cardiff who finds work in a Welsh colliery (the newsreel opens with a short clip from the film).

If the clip below doesn’t play, go here.

  • 1985 – James Beard, American chef and cookbook author for whom the James Beard Foundation Awards are named (b.1905)
  • 1989 – Salvador Dalí, Spanish painter and sculptor (b. 1904)
  • 2004 – Helmut Newton, German-Australian photographer (b. 1920)

Newton was a great fashion photographer. Here’s one of his photos (I can’t identify the model).

  • 2011 – Jack LaLanne, American fitness instructor, author, and television host (b. 1914)
  • 2015 – Ernie Banks, American baseball player and coach (b. 1931)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is weary from the day’s editing, but Andrzej soldiers on.

Hili: Maybe we could switch off the computer and go to sleep?
A: Just let me read this article.
In Polish:
Hili: Może zgasimy już ten komputer i pójdziemy spać?
Ja: Pozwól mi tylko przeczytać ten artykuł.

Kulka’s out in the snow again. She can’t be stopped:

Two inauguration memes. Good for Garth Brooks: after all, he’s a country singer!

And, from Jean, the best take yet on Bernie In Mittens:

A fake Time Magazine cover sent by Bruce:

Here’s a guy who trained his dogs to pray before eating!  I guess he doesn’t know that Catholic philosopher Edward Feser asserts that dogs can’t go to Heaven.

A tweet from Simon, who said, “I know it’s dogs, but he looks so much better!”

From Barry: “A male cardinal and a bronze cat”:

From Ginger K.: Another Biden reversal of Trump policy. I can’t verify that the button was real: some sources imply it was, while others have doubts.

Tweets from Matthew. As somebody said, you don’t stand on the shoulders of giants to accomplish good science—you stand on the shoulders of a whole crowd.

Well, everyone makes mistakes. This one could be seen as a double entendre:

I can’t vouch for this, but if it’s wrong I’ll let Matthew take the heat:

Bemused ducks! My ducks, too, get puzzled when they fly into the frozen pond and skid upon landing.

45 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

    1. There is an actual building, designed by I.M. Pei, in Cleveland, Ohio. The lower levels are a museum and at the top is a room with the names of those who have been inducted. Although it is in Cleveland, I don’t think they have ever had the induction ceremony in that city.

      1. The induction ceremony has been held in Cleveland five times, man — 1997, 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2018. It’s scheduled to be held there again this year, but has been moved to the Fall due to COVID.

        I’ve still got family & friends back there; they wouldn’t want me to let this slight go un-remedied. 🙂

        1. I don’t pay much attention to Rock and Roll HOF inductions. Only time I ever heard about it, it was in New York. Glad Cleveland gets some hoopla.

          I should mention that I grew up in Cleveland Heights, but after the 60s, I have had no interest in Rock and Roll. I have visited the HOF and found it mildly interesting.


      2. The induction ceremony has been held there sporadically and the plan is apparently to host it there every third year.

  1. Where does the information come from, that David Hilbert was a Russian-German mathematician?

    Hilbert was born in Königsberg, East Prussia, in 1862, which was part of the German Empire at that time and died in 1943. Only after the 2nd World War Königsberg became Russian and was renamed Kaliningrad.

        1. I think the confusion arises because Hilbert’s place of birth (Konigsberg or Wehlau) was in Prussia when he was born but is in Russia now.

          Hilbert is a hero of mine, not only because of his greatness as a mathematician (when I first learned about Hilbert space in college it blew my mind), but also because he brought Emmy Noether to Gottingen against the opposition of his colleagues. To those opposing Noether on account of her sex, Hilbert famously said “Gentlemen, we are a university, not a bath house.”

          1. A good example of something which was liberal at the time, but seems antiquated today, as there are few things more conservative than segregated batch houses. (In the German- and Dutch-speaking countries, public saunas have compulsory nudity and are mixed-sex.)

            Felix Klein also declined a professorship in Göttingen saying that it wouldn’t make sense for him to be a professor but Noether not to be.

  2. I feel compelled to leap to the defence of the noble rhubarb, which should never be gritty or sour. I suspect that PCC(E) may have been served poorly-prepared rhubarb in the past! The best way to serve it is to first simmer it lightly with just enough sugar to give it an exquisite tartness, then make a fruit crumble out of it by decanting into an oven-proof dish and topping it with a traditional crumble mix of flour, sugar and butter. Bake in a medium oven for half an hour and serve with custard. The BBC has a good recipe, but my advice is to skip the port and walnuts and keep it simple:

    1. Well said. My mom made pies with the best flakey crust ever, and also a sauce much like the apple variety. It grew like a weed (we had a lot of asparagus and zucchini, too).

      1. Agreed. My Mom did amazing things with rhubarb, including pies and crumble. Unfortunately, her secrets died with her. I could never replicate what she did. Some of the store boughts with strawberries are OK with a lot of vanilla ice cream.

      2. Seconded: my late mother did the same. I don’t often eat rhubarb crumble these days, but when I do it’s a real Proustian moment.

        She also cooked a mean ‘pineapple pud’, which included custard and a soft meringue topping, and which I have never had anywhere else; but that is getting a bit off-topic.

    2. The trick to avoiding grittiness is to peel it before chopping it into chunks. The fibrous outside comes off in satisfyingly long strings (at least as good as wasting bubblewrap if you need some soothing activity!)
      And I agree that a crumble is preferable to a rhubarb tart, and custard is a must.

      1. I make a delicious rhubarb crumble cake, with lots of ginger, brown sugar, and butter. The stuff grows like a weed in my back yard from about May through September (sounds like that Frank Sinatra song.)

  3. I agree 100% with George Conway. T***p must not be allowed to escape the consequences of his crimes. If you let him get away with it, the next person like him that wins the presidency will dismantle your democracy because there would be nothing to stop him.

    1. Agree. Right now there’s nothing to stop Ted Cruz from doing a a redo. Trump 2.
      BTW, looks like Cruz and Hawley are about to get investigated for sedition. That would be nice.

      1. Cruz & Hawley are probably what Chuck Schumer had in mind when he made his “erection” slip. They are a pair of miserable hard-ons.

  4. The Orange One is talking about forming his own political party. If this becomes a more than just talk, then right now I see only good coming from it as it will either encourage the Republicans to ban him from politics, or it will split the party.

    1. I think tRump is threatening a new party as a way to ensure that the Senate Republicans will acquit him. The Republican party is deathly afraid that tRump will walk and take his deplorables with him. Either way it should be good for the Democrats as long as they don’t screw up.

      1. A lot of the deplorables, the QAnoners and Proud Boys and so on, are now disillusioned with Trump. They really convinced themselves that he was going to call out the military to stop the inauguration and arrest Biden, Harris and Pelosi, and that he would pardon the rioters. (“Trust the Plan!”) When he just left on the morning of the inauguration they felt abandoned and denounced him as a fake. They had risked their lives and livelihoods, and alienated their families, for him and he dumped them. (Also, it’s gotta hurt to hear so many conservatives, like Sarah Palin, insist that the rioters were really Antifa. The My Pillow guy insists that there was no riot. Fake news!)

        If these supporters really are disillusioned, they may not follow him to the Patriot Party. Of course, they may decide that Don was a false prophet, but that the message is still true, and follow whoever comes next.

        At least one never-Trumper, Jonah Goldberg, is urging any Republican who thinks that it would be a good idea to defect to the Patriot Party to do so without delay.

  5. That is an actual upcoming Time cover, not a fake. It’s on the website. They’ve come out with some real attention-grabbers over the last few years.

  6. I have returned to the living but only briefly as I am far from over this virus. On the subject of Charles Lindberg possibly you are looking for action from those in the modern world, but to say Lindberg got away with his stupidity without a beep defies history. Lindberg was a fool personally and his reputation paid for it as it should. I’m not quite sure why one would think Trump will not be convicted but since the addition of the great reporting done by the NYT’s last night I would not write it off so quickly. I also think many here at this site might want to consider vindication of Bandy Lee, Psychiatrists from Yale who wrote the book on Trump’s mental health about 3 years ago. Just about everything she has said has also come true. Of course she did not let that Goldwater rule nonsense get in the way.

    1. Hadn’t read anything from you since your last post declaring you had the virus. Glad to hear from you again and to know you’re on the mend…slowly but surely.

    2. The Goldwater Rule is there not to “protect” patients/people/politicians but to avoid the APA/APA being enjoined in defamation suits.
      Ugh. Lindberg was SUCH a major league ass***e: a true pro the likes of whom we’d have to wait decades to encounter again, in 2016. I have a feeling we won’t have to wait 80 more years for the next one. Ted Cruz, anyone?

      Philip Roth wrote an (excellent) book – an alternative history – about had Lindburg run and won the presidency which nearly froze my blood to read.
      Good luck with your corona recovery.

      D.A., J.D.

  7. Mariska Hargitay is more currently known for founding the Joyful Heart Foundation. Their End The Backolog program encourages government agencies to actually test the rape kits that states have just been storing for years and years.

  8. For pictures of speech – fairness, Mr Helmut Newton
    needed to have attended, then taken to brain and
    to his photographing of models, Mr John Stoltenberg’s
    ” Pose Workshops ” at where ( heterosexual ) men learn
    how to, then .do themselves., pose within the silly and
    pornographic gyration – stances in which
    all too many women and girls are .determinedly. posed.

    And photographed and photographed and photographed.
    Ad nauseum. Everywhere. Ya’ know, in fairness and
    within persons’ efforts of expressing.

    As Mr Stoltenberg stated then, and states today,
    ” Pornography tells lies about women.
    But. Pornography tells .the t r u t h. about men. ”


  9. Rhubarb: Agree 100%. I used to say that the two things I couldn’t stand were rhubarb and rutabaga, but then in Helsinki I once had a rutabaga thing that was pretty good: Rutabaga and carrots shredded onto a pie crust and baked with cheese on top. Simple and good.

    Geo Conway: How on earth can he be married to Kellyanne? OK, there’s James Carvill & Mary Matlin, but AFAIK MM never had any official position,

    Oleaginous Orange Oaf: If R’s want to let him off, they should use cite Insanity. That might serve to keep him from running again, and also help institute some sort of mental test in advance of anybody’s candidacy,

    1. Rutabaga peeled, sliced thinly (one-eighth inch or so), spread in a single layer on a sheet pan with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted at 450 until fork-tender (8 minutes or so) makes a great base for a salad of baby greens – we tried it at Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia a couple of years back.

    2. Carville-Matlin at least had a kind of Gable-Lombard or Tracy-Hepburn screwball comedy schtick they’d play off. Not so, KaC & George.

  10. Doré’s engraving of Puss-in-Boots has two mice hanging from his belt, and the neckless appears to be alternating mouse and bird skulls.

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