Tuesday: Hili dialogue

January 26, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning and top o’ the week to you: it’s Tuesday, January 26, 2021: National Peanut Brittle Day. It’s also National Green Juice Day, International Customs Day and, in Australia, Australia Day (see below).

News of the Day:

Ceiling Cat help me; I’ve taken several people’s advice and subscribed to the Wall Street Journal in a desperate attempt to get more objective news coverage. They had a $4/month offer for digital access for a year, but I think the offer has now expired now. But I am NOT a Republican!! I now subscribe to the NYT, the Washington Post, the WSJ, and Andrew Sullivan, and contemplating subscribing to Bari Weiss’s site. I also subscribe to the paper and digital editions of the New Woker, but I’m thinking of canceling that. I can no longer abide their sanctimonious wokeness.

At least I don’t have to rant about the President’s missteps now that Trump is gone. But I just watched (I’m writing this on Monday evening) the House formally deliver the article of Trump’s impeachment to the Senate. It was all very dignified and formal; the trial begins February 9. The Guardian has a liveblog with background information. It’s rankling to hear chuckleheads like Marco Rubio kvetch about the process being divisive—after Trump spent his entire Presidency being divisive, finally calling for the people to rise up against legitimate election results.

It’s the 125th anniversary of the New York Times Book Review, and they’re celebrating by highlighting notables who reviewed other people’s books in that section. Here’s a list; click on the link to go to the review:

And we’ve been fortunate to feature the writing of so many illustrious figures in our pages — novelists, musicians, presidents, Nobel winners, CEOs, poets, playwrights — all offering their insights with wit and flair. Here are 25 of them.

H.G. Wells | Vladimir Nabokov | Tennessee Williams | Patricia Highsmith | Shirley Jackson | Eudora Welty | Langston Hughes | Dorothy Parker | John F. Kennedy | Nora Ephron | Toni Morrison | John Kenneth Galbraith | Nikki Giovanni | James Baldwin | Kurt Vonnegut Jr. | Joan Didion | Derek Walcott | Margaret Atwood | Ursula K. Le Guin | Stephen King | Jhumpa Lahiri | Mario Vargas Llosa | Colson Whitehead | Patti Smith | Bill Gates

Worried about the coronavirus mutants, their transmission, and, especially, the ability of the vaccines to stop them? There’s some cause for worry, as the Washington Post reports.  But you must still get your jab. Booster shots may be in the offing, too, and we may need yearly shots, as we get now with the flu.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 420,999, an increase of about 1,700 deaths over yesterday’s figure. We may pass half a million deaths in less than a month. The reported world death toll stands at 2,151,139, an increase of about 10,700 deaths over yesterday’s total, or about 7.4 deaths per minute.

Stuff that happened on January 26 includes:

  • 1500 – Vicente Yáñez Pinzón becomes the first European to set foot on Brazil.
  • 1564 – The Council of Trent establishes an official distinction between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
  • 1788 – The British First Fleet, led by Arthur Phillip, sails into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to establish Sydney, the first permanent European settlement on Australia. Commemorated as Australia Day.

Stalia! Stralia! Stralia! Here’s Monty Python with their “philosophers sketch” (I can’t find the original online):

During Prohibition in the 1920s, you could still get a doctor’s prescription for “medicinal alcohol”. Here’s a blank form for one (note that you could fill in “kind of liquor”:

  • 1885 – Troops loyal to The Mahdi conquer Khartoum, killing the Governor-General Charles George Gordon.
  • 1905 – The world’s largest diamond ever, the Cullinan weighing 3,106.75 carats (0.621350 kg), is found at the Premier Mine near Pretoria in South Africa.

The diamond, shown below, weighed about 1.4 pounds, and was split into nine stones (picture below that). The biggest of these is the Star of Africa, now sitting in the British Sovereign’s Sceptre.

  • 1911 – Glenn Curtiss flies the first successful American seaplane.
  • 1926 – The first demonstration of the television by John Logie Baird.
  • 1945 – World War II: Audie Murphy displays valor and bravery in action for which he will later be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Murphy, below, won every single combat medal produced by the U.S. Army. He was only 19 when he did the deed that won him the Medal of Honor. He was killed in a plane crash at the age of 45.

Look at all those medals! (The one around his neck is the Medal of Honor.)

  • 1950 – The Constitution of India comes into force, forming a republic. Rajendra Prasad is sworn in as the first President of India. Observed as Republic Day in India.
  • 1965 – Hindi becomes the official language of India.
  • 1998 – Lewinsky scandal: On American television, U.S. President Bill Clinton denies having had “sexual relations” with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1880 – Douglas MacArthur, American general, Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1964)
  • 1905 – Maria von Trapp, Austrian-American singer (d. 1987)

Here’s Maria von Trapp teaching Julie Andrews, who played Maria in “The Sound of Music” to yodel:

  • 1908 – Stéphane Grappelli, French violinist (d. 1997)
  • 1925 – Paul Newman, American actor, activist, director, race car driver, and businessman, co-founded Newman’s Own (d. 2008)
  • 1944 – Angela Davis, American activist, academic, and author

Here’s Angela Davis as I remember her in the Sixties and early Seventies; she’s now a Professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz:

  • 1946 – Gene Siskel, American journalist and film critic (d. 1999)
  • 1958 – Anita Baker, American singer-songwriter
  • 1958 – Ellen DeGeneres, American comedian, actress, and talk show host

Those who flatlined on January 26 include:

  • 1823 – Edward Jenner, English physician and immunologist (b. 1749)
  • 1893 – Abner Doubleday, American general (b. 1819)
  • 1943 – Nikolai Vavilov, Russian botanist and geneticist (b. 1887)
  • 1962 – Lucky Luciano, Italian-American mob boss (b. 1897)
  • 1973 – Edward G. Robinson, Romanian-American actor (b. 1893)

Here’s Robinson as the crime boss Rico in the movie “Little Caesar” (1931)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej tells Hili that the mice, snug in their burrows, are subsisting on stored food.

Hili: What are mice doing now?
A: Taking out reserves from their refrigerators.
In Polish:
Hili: Co teraz robią myszy?
Ja: Wyjmują zapasy z lodówki.

All Bernie memes today! Is there no end to these? From Ant: “Sanders Style.” Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!

Oy! Yet another, from Jean. Recognize the show?

And a third; an album cover sent by reader Barry, who marvels that nobody thought of this before:

The Queen echoes a real sentiment about the transphobia of Miley Cyrus. The original comment is from Out magazine.

No end to Bernie. This is from Simon:

And another from Simon: parrot taunts kitty. That cat looks damn frustrated!

From Phil. I don’t know who Rod Hull is, but this is pretty funny:

Tweets from Matthew. Bernie is everywhere!

A hamster wheel for a tardigrade!

I’m sure I’ve posted this before, but it’s worth seeing again. Sound up: they are so happy!

Even thought they’re vicious killers, stoats are still adorable.

26 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Worried about the coronavirus mutants….ability of vaccines…?” I have been hoping the jerry or greg or one of the genetics-wise weit contributers might do a piece on the relationship, if any, between the mass vaccinations, the ability to quickly modify the synthetic mRNA platform based on genome sequencing and knowledge of new reactive binding domain chemistry, and what i think is called evolutionary or genetic pressure on the virus. What is the endgame of this fox and hound chase? It would be great to read a conversation from you experts before the talking heads begin making stuff up.

    1. One area of concern is that while some of us are willing to let the virus grow to huge #s, that will invite an increase in its genetic variation. A good side benefit of keeping its #s down low is that it has less chance to find variations that are more resistant to vaccines, or to find variations that are more contagious and/or more lethal.

    2. The questions people are asking are; “are immunized people carriers?” and “are new variants more virulent?”. Both of these questions, for which there is at present insufficient data to answer, impact the evolutionary fate of any variant. The first question is important because although immunized people might not get sick, if they are carriers then viral replication will happen and that means variants will arise (there are currently dozens known). But it does the variant no good if it is not efficiently transmitted. If herd immunity is achieved then variants which escape immune surveillance and which are transmittable will increase in the viral population just as you would expect.

      In any event, should a variant arise that becomes clinically relevant (escapes vaccine immunity and causes illness) then modifications to the vaccines can be rationally done by sequencing the variant. This will not be a quick process (not the least of which is we will need a lot more clinical trials to see if these approaches work) but I can envision a situation where we will need yearly SARs-CoV2 vaccines much like we need yearly flu vaccine for novel flu variants (though the vaccine is different, the idea is the same – the new variant’s genetic sequence drives the immunity).

      1. Note added in proof (I seem to have lost my ability to edit – sad as I really like -and desperately need- that feature)

        One serious complication reflects a characteristic in the way diseases live COVID-19 are spread; a single “super spreader” event can greatly increase the frequency of any variant, at least locally. This can greatly skew the frequency of any variant, though it may not amount to anything if the variant is not more easily spread. Nevertheless, such a variant can, of course, have a big impact on public health issues if the variant is clinically relevant (as is the worry with the so called UK variant).

  2. It’s rankling to hear chuckleheads like Marco Rubio kvetch about the [impeachment] process being divisive …

    Divisive? You mean the way sitting on Merrick Garland’s nomination, without so much as granting the man a meeting behind closed doors, for damn near a year was divisive? The way ramming Amy Coney Barrett onto the supreme court on the eve of the presidential election, before RBG’s corpse was even cold, was divisive?

    Screw “divisive.” And screw Marco Rubio and the rest of his hypocritical ilk, too.

    1. I agree. The GOP is now: Power at any cost and anything we can get away with.

      The Dems need to take the gloves off on this shit. Mitch, grab your ankles, buddy.

      1. Do Republicans think we’ve forgotten the 13 fugazi Benghazi hearings they held, including after Hillary Clinton was long-gone from the State Department — hearings that current House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s dumb ass admitted were held for the purpose of damaging Hillary as a potential presidential candidate (a gaffe that cost McCarthy the House speakership in 2016)?

        No, Kev, my man, we sure as shit haven’t.

  3. Rod Hull was an English entertainer and Emu his aggressive puppet. Popular in the 70’s and 80’s. Not to my liking.

    1. No? I thought Emu’s Broadcasting Company was absolutely hysterical. But then, it was broadcast when I was nine.

      It helps not to think about the fact that Emu was really a glove puppet and all those hilarious assault on famous people were done by Rod Hull himself.

      1. Here is a 1975 appearance by Rod Hull on the popular German entertainment show “Am laufenden Band,” hosted by Dutch entertainer Rudi Carrell.

        And another appearance with Johnny Carson


      2. Rod Hull lived in Restoration House in Rochester for a while in the 1980, (it’s the Elizabethan mansion that Dickens based Miss Havisham’s house on in Great Expectations) and I went there to have my portrait painted by Rod’s wife. To my great surprise, when I knocked on the front door, Rod opened it himself – although it took me a moment to realise it was him without Emu on his arm! He was a really nice guy, made me a cup of tea, and then led me through the house to his wife’s studio.

        A few years later he died falling off a roof trying to adjust the TV aerial in order to watch a football match – but by then he was no longer living in the house that I had met him in.

  4. Although Doubleday achieved minor fame as a competent combat general with experience in many important Civil War battles, he is more widely known as the supposed inventor of the game of baseball, in Elihu Phinney’s cow pasture in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839.

    (Copied from Wikipedia)

  5. in re ” 1925 – Paul Newman, American actor, activist, director,
    race car driver, and businessman, co-founded Newman’s Own, ”
    = the sixth darlingest man … … e v e r.


      1. Yeah, I concur, Ms Merilee.

        IF … … I n e v e r ‘ad had thus:
        … THE three darlingest birthed boy babes,
        now gorgeous and, daily, kindest, honest men, e v e r and
        … THE one darlingest Daddy, both kindest, honest and
        most gorgeous e v e r and
        … THE one darlingest, now dead far too soon,
        kindest and most gorgeous and most unfailingly polite and
        honest Person e v e r, William.

        Fortunately for me, I did have those
        five male human beings within my personal life.
        That is, not fore v e r within it but
        for some of my life anyhow. I am graced.


  6. Unbelievably (or inevitably?) Rod Hull died after climbing onto his roof to adjust his tv aerial then falling off and smashing through his greenhouse.

  7. Thanks for the gorgeous birds in blue. I realize that blue jays are raucous and aggressive, yet I can’t help but like them.
    For some reason (maybe a side effect of the vaccine?) I’ve lately taken a liking to yodeling. My current favorite is Wylie and the Wild West, who professes to just “whip out a yodel” when things aren’t going right. If you had told me back in my teens, listening to The Doors, Santana, The Band, et al., that one day I would actually like yodeling…well, you can just imagine.

  8. I read the Wall Street Journal’s book review section online every week. Solid reviews, though I skip anything by Barton Swaim, a right-wing hack whose reviews I can predict whenever the book is even mildly liberal.

  9. I like the old liquor prescription. Still today in some Islamic countries (Bangladesh for eg) if one isn’t Muslim one can get a “Drinking License” to buy and consume alcohol – just good luck finding it. I think Qatar and some of the Emirates have the same system. Where a country falls on the spectrum of alcohol freedom/prohibition is a good bellwether of its fundamentalism.

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