Tuesday: Hili dialogue

February 2, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Tuesday, February 2, 2021: National Tater Tot Day. If you’re not a Yank, you may not know that Tater Tots are, as described in Wikipedia, “grated potatoes formed into small cylinders and deep-fried, often served as a side dish.” You can even make them into nachos, though this isn’t a particularly healthy dish (then again, food isn’t medicine):

It’s also California Kiwifruit Day (i.e., “gorilla balls”), Crêpe Day (cultural appropriation), Heavenly Hash Day (I believe they’re referring not to the mooshed-up meat-and-X dish, but to the ice cream flavor), Marmot Day, Hedgehog Day, Sled Dog Day, World Ukelele Day, and, of course Groundhog Day. Stay tuned to see if Punxatawney Phil sees his shadow!

And, if you are a goddy, it’s Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple or Candlemas.

Wine of the Day: When made properly, viognier is not only a terrific wine, but usually quite pricey. It’s complex, flowery, and very aromatic—like liquid perfume. The apotheosis of the wine is achieved in in the Condrieu region of France, and I’ve had the privilege of tasting one bottle of its best: Chateau Grillet. That’s a wine that, in a good year, should be drunk on your knees.

The American bottle below, at about ten bucks (less than half the normal retail price), doesn’t come close, but it’s drinkable. It was a good complement for fettucine Alfredo, but lacked the complex nose of the pricier versions. When drunk right out of the fridge, it was even mediocre, with the acidity dominating the taste, but when it warmed up to a cool room temperature it became pretty good. If you want a good viognier, look around. Don’t pay $25 or so for this one, though ten bucks is tolerable.

News of the Day:

First, the administration has declared that graduation at the University of Chicago will again be virtual this June. That makes two years in a row. I feel sorry for the students who have to watch the ceremony online. But apparently there will be some way that diplomas will be handed out live, and that, of course, is the important part.

The Russians continue mass protests against the detention of Alexei Navalny, and the new Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, spoke out strongly against that detention and the ludicrous Russian claim that the U.S. was behind the protests. It was refreshing to hear an eloquent and right-thinking Secretary of State, and one who vows not to politicize foreign affairs.

Well, this is sad. Tony Bennett, 94, has apparently had Alzheimer’s for four years, but it didn’t affect his singing, so his wife said there was no reason to make it public. He even recently recorded an album with Lady Gaga. Here’s his new announcement followed by a news report showing a bit of his recent singing:

You can hear my two favorite Tony Bennett songs here. And this is my favorite duet.

If you’re tempted, as I was, to post a photo of your official CDC Covid vaccination card—DON’T. As the Better Business Bureau advises, the card contains information, like your full name, birthday, site of vaccination, and so on—information that can be used to either steal your identity or enable people to forge bogus vaccination cards. If you must post something, post your “I got vaccinated” sticker. (Given the situation, though, that might be a bit of hubris, and I did it.)

What should the GOP do about uber-loon Marjorie Taylor Greene? At the Washington Post, Colbert King says that they should treat this whack-job the way that George H. W. Bush treated David Duke when Duke ran for the governorship of Louisiana in 1991. Bush dissed Duke hard, and Duke lost.

UPDATE: CNN reports that Mitch “666” McConnell went after her, describing Greene’s views though he didn’t mention her name:

“Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country,” McConnell said in a statement. “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality. This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”

Why, all of a sudden, is McConnell seeming reasonable and even criticizing loons? Is he fearful of his own job?

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 443,275, an increase of about 2,000 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The death rate is now falling, but we’re still likely to exceed half a million deaths within a month. The reported world death toll stands 2,249, an increase of about 10,600 deaths over yesterday’s total and an increase in the number of daily cases.

Stuff that happened on February 2 includes:

  • 1536 – Spaniard Pedro de Mendoza founds Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • 1709 – Alexander Selkirk is rescued after being shipwrecked on a desert island, inspiring Daniel Defoe‘s adventure book Robinson Crusoe.

Selkirk had been marooned for five years, and, surprisingly, he went back to sea a few years after returning to England. He died at sea in 1721.

Here’s Victoria with her Scottish manservant John Brown. The 1997 movie, based on the supposition that they had a romantic relationship, is worth seeing. It stars Billy Connelly as John Brown and Judi Dench as the Queen.

A first edition of this classic, below, will run you about $75,000:

Matthew sent this memorial from this day in 1938:

  • 1943 – World War II: The Battle of Stalingrad comes to an end when Soviet troops accept the surrender of the last organized German troops in the city.
  • 1959 – Nine experienced ski hikers in the northern Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union die under mysterious circumstances.
  • 1990 – Apartheid: F. W. de Klerk announces the unbanning of the African National Congress and promises to release Nelson Mandela.
  • 2004 – Swiss tennis player Roger Federer becomes the No. 1 ranked men’s singles player, a position he will hold for a record 237 weeks.

17 years later, Federer is still playing well, and is ranked #5 in the world.

  • 2005 – The Government of Canada introduces the Civil Marriage Act. This legislation would become law on July 20, 2005, legalizing same-sex marriage.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1585 – Hamnet Shakespeare, William Shakespeare’s only son (baptised; d. 1596)

Alas Poor Hamnet: he lived only 11 years. Here is the baptismal record of Hamnet and his fraternal twin sister, Judith, who lived to be 77:

  • 1882 – James Joyce, Irish novelist, short story writer, and poet (d. 1941)

Ulysses was published on Joyce’s birthday!

  • 1901 – Jascha Heifetz, Lithuanian-born American violinist and educator (d. 1987)
  • 1905 – Ayn Rand, Russian-born American novelist and philosopher (d. 1982)
  • 1923 – James Dickey, American poet and novelist (d. 1997)
  • 1927 – Stan Getz, American saxophonist (d. 1991)

Getz is one of my favorite jazz saxophonists. Here are 33 wonderful minutes of his work:

  • 1942 – Graham Nash, English-American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1947 – Farrah Fawcett, American actress and producer (d. 2009)
  • 1954 – Christie Brinkley, American actress, model, and businesswoman
  • 1956 – Adnan Oktar, Turkish theorist and author

Alas, the crazy creationist Oktar, known to many as Harun Yahya, was recently jailed and will never see his “kittens” again: he’s in prison for 1075 years. Here’s a VICE “exposé of Oktar and his kittens”:

  • 1977 – Shakira, Colombian singer-songwriter, producer, and actress

Here’s a great performance of “Hips Don’t Lie” with Shakira and Wyclef Jean:

Those who packed it in on February 2 include:

  • 1969 – Boris Karloff, English actor (b. 1887)
  • 1970 – Bertrand Russell, English mathematician and philosopher, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1872)
  • 1974 – Imre Lakatos, Hungarian-English mathematician and philosopher (b. 1922)
  • 1979 – Sid Vicious, English singer and bass player (b. 1957)

Vicious (real name Simon John Ritchie) was charged with killing his girlfriend Nancy Spungen on October 12, 1978 (mugshot below), but was somehow set free on bail and, after more incarceration for assault, was set free again and then committed suicide:

  • 1992 – Bert Parks, American actor, singer, television personality; Miss America telecast presenter (b. 1914)
  • 1996 – Gene Kelly, American actor, singer, dancer, and director (b. 1912)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is doing physics:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m calculating the force I need to exert to jump on the shelf.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Obliczam z jaką siłą muszę się odbić, żeby wskoczyć na półkę.

Szaron and Kulka are out in the snow (photo by Paulina R.). Kulka continues to be fascinated by snowflakes.

From Facebook:

From Facebook (of course):

From Bruce:

A groaner from Dom:

Tweets from Matthew. The first shows the world’s very first cat video. As Matthew said with dismay, “Lumiere chucks the cat back into the frame.”

Here’s some old Nocona boot ads from the Eighties. I never liked this approbation of killing, and I don’t like it now. Fortunately, I don’t have any pairs of Nocona boots, which were once made much better than they are now.

Sound up, and be sure to enlarge this one:

I’ve lived here since 1986, and I didn’t know this. Sadly, you can’t see it anyway:

This is really lovely footage of the early Beatles playing in Manchester, where Matthew et famille live:

This just happened, and there’s some criticism below it. Be sure to watch the video of the ship breaking up. Apparently three sailors died in the sinking.


47 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Just the other day I happened upon this interview with Maggie O’Farrell, a British writer, author of the novel “Hamnet,” published last March. in the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/22/maggie-ofarrell-novel-hamnet-interview-the-agony-of-burying-your-child. It’s a plague novel, too, as Hamnet was thought to have died of the plague. Couldn’t have been published at a more opportune time. Contra received judgment, she considers Hamnet a significant influence on Shakespeare’s writing. I’d never heard of her before but she sounds like an excellent and interesting author.

    1. Since it’s also Joyce’s birthday, and the 99th anniversary of the publication of ‘Ulysses’ it’s worth recalling that Stephen Dedalus’s theory about Hamlet, as expounded in the ‘Scylla and Charybdis’ episode, is that Hamlet’s name was taken from the dead Hamnet, and that parts of the plot of Hamlet were based on Shakespeare’s own life. (And when Stephen is asked if he believes his own theory, he promptly replies ‘No’).

    1. Tony Bennett’s duet with Amy Winehouse is also fabulous. And makes me cry a little each time I watch it, ’cause I love her.

  2. Jerry, you also lived on the edge of a 35 million year old impact crater when you were at william and mary in williamsburg va. The pulverized land from that impact is being compacted deep below the surface today and contributing to the excessive relative sea level rise in the hampton roads area in the form of ground subsidence. There is a short but informative article quoting william and mary emeritus geology professor gerald johnson at https://www.space.com/22909-ancient-asteroid-impacts-earth-effects.html.
    A group of william and mary geologists bored a very deep exploratory hole outside my building at NASA some years ago, providing a year of fascinating entertainment and education for many of my thirty engineers.

    1. Fascinating stuff. I have a copy of Roadside Geology of Missouri that led me to one of five ancient impact craters in my state, The 340 million year old Osceola-Weaubleau structure, where my family is from. I’ve got a hunk of breccia from a road cut and several “eggs”, small to quite large concretions that formed after the event. Hundreds of people drive through it on HWY 13 every day without knowing it. Just fascinating.

      As for Tony Bennett, it’s not surprising that his horrible disease hasn’t harmed his singing. Oliver Sacks wrote about the beneficial effects of music and music therapy in his book Musicophilia

      1. I love the “roadside geology” paperback series. I have consulted my copy of roadside geology in virginia often as we have traveled throughout the state. I think that a young geology prof. Gerry johnson, who later as an emeritus investigated the chesapeake bay meteor impact, was an author of the virginia edition.

        1. On a related note, I’ve been enjoying the online Geology 101 lectures by Central Washington University prof. Nick Zentner for the past couple of weeks. His focus is Washington state geology, which I know nothing about. He goes live on the yoo toobs a bit before 10:00 AM, Washington time, every Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Friday. He’s got tons of great stuff online.

          1. My Geology of the Pacific Northwest class in college was one of my favorites, and the text was fabulous. I kept it in the car so that we could whip it out any time we passed something interesting while on the road. WA is a fantastic place to take in astounding geology, would recommend.

  3. “that Mitch “666” McConnell went after her, describing Greene’s views though he didn’t mention her name”

    Mitch is a weathervane, but a politically savvy one. He has no real views of his own, and him primary drive is survival, which to him seems roughly to be holding power and position, and requires speaking to his electorate until one of the rare occasions there is a more threatening storm from elsewhere. He is savvy enough not to turn to every gust, nor minor squall, but he will not deny a strong front, though he may hunker down to let it blow by before measuring the wind again.

    He will speak against the squall, when it is in his interest, but it has as much value and meaning as when I damn the blizzard that will surely collapse my roof under 400mm of snow and 60kt gusts.

    Now I go back out into the storm to clear the fire hydrant again, and the wheelchair ramp of my neighbor of another 150 to 200mm of heavy snow since last night.

    1. I don’t see Moscow Mitch as that complicated. His political life was tied directly to Trump. Now Trump is gone so he looks around as if the Republican party has survived. It has not. He thinks somehow to save his party by making comments about some of it’s loons. Once out of the majority he has no purpose at all. He is just another idiot from Kentucky like all of those who vote for him.

      1. McConnell has been around far longer than Trump (politically). I think he’s quite good at surfing on the chaos and trying to turn it to his advantage. He was not raised by Trump and I don’t expect him to fall with Trump…more’s the pity.

  4. “And, if you are a goddy, it’s Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple or Candlemas.”

    In the pre-Christian Irish tradition, today is also Imbolc, one of the four great seasonal festivals which were marked with feasting and bonfires. The others are Beltane (1 May), Lughnasadh (1 August) and Samhain (1 November).

  5. I thought you were a strong advocate of free speech. Shouldn’t Marjorie Taylor Greene be able to express her opinions without being called names like “uber-loon”?

    1. Where did you come from? And do you understand that I did NOT say she couldn’t say what she wanted? But freedom of speech doesn’t mean that you’re free from counter-speech, including but not limited to sarcasm and invective.

      You don’t understand free speech at all, which to you apparently means “freedom from disapprobation and mockery”. I am not going to counter her stupid assertions by giving careful evidence that the Rothchilds are not running Jewish space lasers to create a rail system. As for the election, her claim that it was rigged has already been debunked.

      Go educate yourself on free speech and the First Amendment. Until you do, you don’t belong in a rational discussion on this site.

  6. Why, all of a sudden, is McConnell seeming reasonable and even criticizing loons?

    For the same reason Moscow Mitch does everything else in his public life — political calculation. The time to take on Marjorie Taylor Greene was back when she announced she would be running for congress. It was clear through her public pronouncements that she was crazy as a shithouse rat right from the jump. But Mitch wouldn’t do it then because he feared it could have caused dissension in Georgian Republican ranks and possibly cost him one or both of Georgia US senate seats up for election, thereby putting at risk the thing Mitch prizes above all else (and which he has now lost) — his leadership of the majority caucus of the US senate.

    What McConnell doesn’t seem to have fully appreciated at the time is that Marjorie Taylor Greene — and that other QAnon conspiracist, Colorado’s Lauren Boebert, and Alabama’s Mo Brooks, and Paul Gosar (the Gosarian from Arizona), and the rest of the extremist wingnuts — ARE today’s GOP.

    You know who today’s GOP is willing to censure? Dick Cheney’s rock-ribbed daughter, LIz, and the other traditionally hidebound Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for a second time. Today’s GOP is more Marjorie Taylor Greene than it is Mitt Romney, the Party’s presidential standard-bearer from just a dozen years ago.

    Sad to see one of this nation’s two major political parties take the pipe this way.

    1. I agree that the GOP is now the party of MTG, Hawley and Cruz. If this situation continues, we may see the Republican Party split with the emergence of a center-right third party and perhaps the ultimate demise of the Republicans. It will be a boon for Democrats if the split takes place. The next few years should tell.

      Nit-pick: Romney was the candidate eight years ago (2012), not twelve.

    2. Today’s GOP is more Marjorie Taylor Greene than it is Mitt Romney

      I expect today’s GOP will vacillate between the two depending on geopolitical area and what they think will get votes.

      We could be seeing division, but I think it’s more likely that the violent-speaking supremacist right -wingers will be treated like the tea party was, or how the GOP treats racist dogwhistle commercials: trot these things out when useful, try and hide them when not useful. Yep, there’ll be some within-party fights, generally when the right-wingers don’t agree to go back in their box, but those fights will not seriously damage the party.

      1. I think there’s been a sea change — one Trump is both a symptom of and catalyst for. The old-school small-government/balanced-budget/personal-rectitude conservatives have abandoned the GOP for Independent status. What’s left is a cult-of-personality base and an establishment wing, interested solely in keeping political power, that’s scared shitless of it.

        How long the two can perdure as one we shall see. There seemed to be a window of opportunity for the latter to purge the former, and to rid itself of Trump’s noxious influence, after the Capitol Hill riot and the impeachment vote, but they’ve kept too low a profile in courage to see it through.

        1. What I wonder if whether this new MTG wing of support has the purse strings to keep the movement afloat. Will the big GOP donors be willing to keep funding this nuttery? If not, I can’t imagine a movement based on racist rage can continue to be viable.

          1. What’s even more difficult to keep viable- a movement based on racist rage fueled by conspiracy theories. Major GOP donors have already jumped ship and I won’t be surprised if they continue to do so. The new GOP, the party of Trump, doubles down when they’re caught in a lie or conspiracy. It just keeps getting weirder, and the weird is trying to outdo the weird by becoming more weird. It’s all very weird.

            I welcome the undoing of the Republican party, as I don’t even regard it as a political party anymore. It’s a crime syndicate, peddling in conspiracy theories and hate, not interested in governance, solely pursuing money and power and personal gain.

  7. 2004 – Swiss tennis player Roger Federer becomes the No. 1 ranked men’s singles player, a position he will hold for a record 237 weeks.

    Seems an apt occasion to read (or re-read) the paean by David Foster Wallace, himself a top-ranked junior player in Illinois in his youth, written about midway through that run: “Roger Federer as Religious Experience.”

  8. Sid Vicious was an English bass player and singer who could neither play the bass guitar nor sing. His solo album, Sid Sings, was both ill-named and terrible. He also couldn’t play the drums but before joining The Sex Pistols as bass guitarist he was the drummer for Siouxsie and the Banshees.

      1. Speaking of “Rags to Riches,” I would like to put in a good word for Elvis’s version of the song, my all-time favorite. His vocals have a desperate, almost violent edge to them:

  9. I don’t really care for tater tots, but I once had some great ones at this place, Sakaya Kitchen, which is one of the items they are famous for. I learned of the place from the show Diners Drive Ins & Dives. I also once had a pork belly bánh mì there that was good enough that I almost ordered a 2nd one, regardless of the fact that I wouldn’t have been able to eat it.

    Hash is wonderful stuff. Or at least, it can be. Best I ever had, I made it from the leftovers of Frogmore stew (aka, low country boil), at a family reunion a few years ago. Chopped up the shrimp, potatoes and sausage into appropriate sized chunks and cut the kernels off the cobs, mixed it all up with a little extra crab boil seasoning and cooked it like a hash in a 14″ cast iron skillet.

    Base on Jerry’s wine recommendation from a while back and Jblilie’s comments on it, I picked up this bottle, 2013 Verquiere Gigondas. Anybody familiar with this? Is this a good one James? Perhaps I’ll drink it this weekend.

    1. Gigondas is a well known wine region in the Provence and they make excellent wines. Very beautiful region by the way.

    2. My two cents, if you can find the place that knows how to make them, hash browns are the way to go with your breakfast menu.

  10. Greene’s response to Mitch McConnell was “The real cancer for the Republican party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully”, so it looks like this spat is going to continue…

  11. There’s a fairly long article in the New Woker about Ms. Greene and her congressional district which puts her into some context. She’s not wildly out of step with her political environment. That county in Nth Georgia is not on my list of places to travel to.

    The crazy is strong in this one.

    D.A., NYC

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