Thursday: Hili dialogue

February 4, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s Thursday already: February  4, 2021, and a trifecta of food holidays: National Homemade Soup Day, National Stuffed Mushroom Day, and Pork Rind Appreciation Day. Eat your pork rinds: they’re good for you!

It’s also Rosa Parks Day, celebrating her birthday on February 4, 1913, National Hemp Day, Liberace Day, remembering the day he died of AIDS in 1987, National Thank a Mailman Day, and World Cancer Day.

Finally, it’s Matthew Cobb‘s 64th birthday! See below for details and a photo.

News of the Day:

The Justice Department continues its relentless prosecution of those who stormed the Capitol. Yesterday three of the white supremacist Proud Boys group were arrested and charged with conspiracy to invade the Capitol and to stop the workings of Congress.

The House is preparing to strip elected Republican Congressloon Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments. While top House Republican Kevin McCarthy condemns her insanity, he speaks for all GOP Congressmen in saying he won’t vote to take away her assignments. She’ll lose those posts, but Republicans are still afraid of Trump punishing them if they punish her!:

While most Republican lawmakers have privately been horrified by her rhetoric, some have argued that members of Congress should not face punishment for remarks they made before they were elected, and that allowing one party (in this case, Democrats) to take unilateral action against a lawmaker in another party would set a dangerous precedent. Others are wary of taking a such a vote after Mr. Trump has rallied to Ms. Greene’s side.

Republicans are also stymied by Trump’s condemnation of Republican Liz Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump and is still his foe.  It still amazes me that Trump still wields any influence among Republicans.

This is an old profile of Mitch “666” McConnell—from last April’s New Yorker—but it shows what a truly self-aggrandizing and reprehensible man he is. I’ve just read it, and recommend it to you. (h/t Betsy).

The good news, which is fricking amazing. A New Jersey man, Joe DiMeo, was terribly burned and disfigured in a car crash in 2018. He needed both a face and a double hand transplant, an operation that had never before been successful. In addition, there was only a 6% chance of finding an appropriate donor. But they found one! DiMeo underwent a 23-hour operation, and it was successful. His face is largely restored, and he has started using his new hands. It’s stunning what doctors (and science) can do! See the video at the link.

What do football players eat on the day of the Superbowl? The Washington Post tells us, but it’s really boring. No foie gras, steak, or even spaghetti:

On game day, the menu changes. Before kickoff, players need to eat foods that are lower in fat and fiber, because these nutrients take longer to digest and consuming them may lead to an upset stomach during a game.

Players switch to leaner protein sources, such as chicken breast. Whole-grain, high-fiber carbs are replaced by white pasta, rice or potatoes. These low-fiber carbs allow for easy digestion and maximize glycogen stores for energy. When the body needs a quick jolt of energy, glycogen breaks down and releases glucose into the bloodstream, where it is used as fuel for the body. That’s perfect for an explosive jump off the line of scrimmage.

But not everyone is eating chicken. “We’ve got a lot more players these days who want to be plant-based, and we do have vegan players on the roster,” Bonci said. They rely on beans, nuts, seeds, plant-based beverages or protein powder, and they opt for plant-based meat alternatives in the shape of burgers, crumbles and nuggets.

And it’s not much different after the game, either.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 450,689, an increase of about 4,000 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The number of new cases is now falling (see below), but we’re still likely to exceed the total of half a million deaths within a month. The reported world death toll stands 2,280,370, an increase of about 15,700 deaths over yesterday’s total and about 10.9 deaths per minute.

Time course of new cases in the U.S., showing the recent drop:

From the NYT

Stuff that happened on February 4 includes:

  • 1703 – In Edo (now Tokyo), all but one of the Forty-seven Ronin commit seppuku (ritual suicide) as recompense for avenging their master’s death.
  • 1789 – George Washington is unanimously elected as the first President of the United States by the U.S. Electoral College.
  • 1801 – John Marshall is sworn in as Chief Justice of the United States.
  • 1859 – The Codex Sinaiticus is discovered in Egypt.

This Codex (Greek version of Bible), dated between 330 and 360 AD, contains much of the Old Testament and the entirety of the New. Here’s a random page I selected from the Codex’s website, which has the entire scanned remnants. It was sold by the Soviets to the British Museum in 1933:

  • 1948 – Ceylon (later renamed Sri Lanka) becomes independent within the British Commonwealth.
  • 1974 – The Symbionese Liberation Army kidnaps Patty Hearst in Berkeley, California.

Here’s the house where she was kidnapped, taken by me in 2015:


  • 1999 – Unarmed West African immigrant Amadou Diallo is shot 41 times by four plainclothes New York City police officers on an unrelated stake-out, inflaming race relations in the city.
  • 2000 – The World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium, Charter of Paris is signed by the President of France, Jacques Chirac and the Director General of UNESCOKoichiro Matsuura, initiating World 

Notables born on this day include:

Markievicz was also sentenced to death after the Easter Rising, in which she participated, but was given life imprisonment because of her sex, and then released after a year. Here’s the firebrand. She died at 59 in a pauper’s ward in Ireland, which was her wish (she gave away all her money).

Here is Leger’s “Woman and a Cat” (1921):

  • 1902 – Charles Lindbergh, American pilot and explorer (d. 1974)
  • 1906 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian (d. 1945)
  • 1913 – Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist (d. 2005)
  • 1921 – Betty Friedan, American author and feminist (d. 2006)
  • 1947 – Dan Quayle, American sergeant, lawyer, and politician, 44th Vice President of the United States
  • 1948 – Alice Cooper, American singer-songwriter
  • 1957 – Matthew Cobb, British zoologist and author

Here’s a birthday photo of Dr. Cobb, taken at my request, with his caption, “On the bed in my jimjams marking. I need a haircut.”

Because Matthew is 64 today, he issued this tweet, and you’d better know what it means!

Here’s a good bit with Ó Briain talking about “alternative science”.  Get in the fooking sack!

Those who “passed” on February 4 include:

  • 1968 – Neal Cassady, American novelist and poet (b. 1926)

Cassady was one of my role models, though not a great one. Here’s Cassady wielding the hammer described in Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test :

And of course Karen Carpenter is one of my guilty-pleasure singer and possessor of one of the two great female voices of our time (Barbra Streisand is the other). Here’s the entirety of the Carpenters’ live concert at the BBC in 1971 (the BBC had great concerts then):

  • 1987 – Liberace, American singer-songwriter and pianist, (b. 1919)
  • 1987 – Carl Rogers, American psychologist and academic (b. 1902)
  • 2006 – Betty Friedan, American author and activist (b. 1921)
  • 2012 – Florence Green, English soldier (b. 1901)

Green was the last military survivor of World War I (from any country): she died 15 days shy of her her 111th birthday!  Wikipedia describes her service: she “worked in the officers’ mess at RAF Marham and was also based at Narborough airfield.”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,

Hili: Who discovered America?
A: Christofer Columbus.
Hili: It can’t be helped, I will have to discover something else.
In Polish:
Hili: Kto odkrył Amerykę?
Ja: Krzysztof Kolumb.
Hili: Trudno, będę musiała odkryć coś innego.

And Kulka and Szaron are resting upstairs:

From Facebook. Does anybody fall for this scam?

From Nicole:

A Mike Lukovich cartoon from reader Charles. Biden is about to be disabused of the notion of unity with Republicans (he’s already caved to the “progressive” faction of the Democrats):

Titania continues her list of things that have been found racist. And I see she’s already found “acronyms”.

A couple of tweets I found:

Evergreen State, now circling the drain, pays $53,000 per year to the head of its office of “Spirituality and Meaning Making”:. And yes, there are daily tarot readings!

More on Statler the Senior Fruit bat (second video)

A tweet from Luana. The video below, decrying meritocracy, comes from Alison Collins, who happens to be the Vice President of the San Francisco Board of Education. Oy!

Pick a side: meritocracy is racist (view of Collins, who is black) vs. elimination of meritocracy is racist (view of Kmele, who is also black) .

Tweets from Matthew. The first two: God vs. Human

Adorable and interesting: a radially symmetrical adult develops from a bilaterally symmetrical larva:


57 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

    1. Yes, happy birthday.

      Listen to the song w Vira, Chuck, and Dave, and then listen to their birthday song from their eponymous double LP…

      1. Good morning! Good Morning! Good Morning!

        You say it’s your birthday!

        Back in the [ UK ]!


        but along the original theme, Honey Pie captures those sounds from the 30’s – worth a listen – even though there’s no direct lyric to match the moment, I guess…

  1. Trump still wields influence only because of his base. For example, one news story quoted a Trump supporter: ‘He lost my vote’: Trump supporter on GOP lawmaker’s impeachment vote. For a Representative, the base might make up a large portion of their district and that is just too many votes not to sell your soul for.

    1. To be more precise, Republicans in Congress fear the Republican primary voters, who tend to be more right-wing than the average voter, many of whom don’t vote in the primary. Because most congressional districts are gerrrymandered, the primary is more important than the general election. Hence, for both parties, the electoral system results in more extreme representatives in the House than is the ideological leanings of most Americans.

      The primary system began in the early part of the twentieth century to further democracy by allowing the “people” rather than the party bosses in smoke-filled rooms to nominate candidates. I doubt that the creators of this system had any idea that the primary system in conjunction with gerrymandering would result in the sorry state of American democracy. There doesn’t seem to be any easy solution to rectify a system that encourages the nomination and election of extreme candidates for the House of Representatives and to a lesser extent the Senate (gerrymandering doesn’t apply to the Senate, but the dominance of activists voting in the primaries does).

      1. Yes, that’s right. It will be interesting to see how this works in 2022. Trump and his minions force the winner of each GOP primary to be the Trumpiest, QAnon-iest candidate possible and then they go up against a (hopefully) sane and sober Democrat in the general election. Could be delicious.

    2. Yep. What I came here to say. They’re not frightened of Trump: Trump’s finished. They are frightened that Trump voters will not vote for other Republicans. If you subtract Trump supporters from Republican voters, the GOP probably only wins a handful of constituencies in the USA.

  2. Republicans are also stymied by Trump’s condemnation of Republican Liz Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump and is still his foe.

    The most interesting aspect of yesterday’s vote by the House Republican caucus refusing to strip Liz Cheney of her leadership position was that it was conducted anonymously. The result was a 145-61-1 vote to buck Donald Trump and back Liz Cheney.

    This strongly suggests that, had the House’s Jan. 13th vote to impeach Donald Trump similarly been held anonymously, many more Republican congresspersons would have joined Cheney’s vote of conscience to impeach Trump over his incitement to insurrection. That nearly a third of the GOP caucus nevertheless voted anonymously to remove a rock-ribbed conservative from her leadership position merely because she had taken a principled stand against the Dear Leader of their cult of personality also demonstrates just how deeply the termites of crazy have eaten into the Republican Party wood.

    The most ridiculous aspect of the vote is that, despite the vote’s having been anonymous, one member of the GOP caucus nevertheless could still not bring himself to take a stand, but instead abstained by voting “present.” If I were a betting man (and I am!), I’d bet that person was the House minority leader himself, Kevin McCarthy, the most maladroit political operator in modern US political history to aspire to the speakership of the US house of representatives.

    1. The actions of the Republicans in the House and Trump are a symptom, not the cause, of the nation’s political crisis. Over the last forty years the Republican base has moved more and more to the right; a substantial number can now be rightly classified as true radicals since they have abandoned democracy. They no longer believe the country works for them, although the reasons they give for this can vary. At its root, they cannot abide not being “top dog.” Hence, the Republican base now consists of racists and white Christian nationalists. They are making their last stand and are willing to employ any means to delay the inevitable. The actions of the extreme left only make them more extreme, which in turn pushes the left further in that direction. As a result, the country becomes more divided and the chasm seems to be unbridgeable.

      1. The root of the problem is the decades long, purposeful, misinformation campaign waged by the RP and its moneyed supporters/masters. Sure, bigotry, meanness, credulity and other flaws already existed in the people/marks. They always have. And there has always been power seeking people willing and able to use Big Lie tactics to take advantage of them.

        What modern societies need desperately to do is to figure out how to counter such misinformation campaigns in a way that does not sacrifice the liberties we believe a decent society requires. This is a difficult nut to crack. People often talk about a Great Filter in the context of the Fermi Paradox. I don’t generally put much stock in any of the more popular ideas about what the Great Filter could be. But this problem seems to be a quite plausible candidate to me.

    2. I tend to look a bit more long term than most here. At some point down the road the republicans will realize they no longer have a party. They will have all the loonies and some who still think the old republican ways are possible. It is not. So it will come apart and become something else, maybe two parties against each other. The bad part of this for democrats is – once the common enemy is gone will they begin fighting among themselves and begin the self destruct of the other party. Without a common purpose and mission for the people they serve no political party is worth saving. That is why the republican party is dead, so let’s just watch them bury it.

      1. I’d be tempted to go further. I think the Democratic Party only held itself together because of Trump. I think it will split into moderate and progressive factions before the next general election, possibly as soon as just after the mid terms, if they go badly.

        1. I dunno; the Democrats have weathered worse.

          Take 1948, for example, when Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats bolted the Party from the Right, after a young Minneapolis mayor name o’ Hubert Humphrey gave a stemwinding speech in favor of a strong civil-rights plank in the Party platform at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia — and when Henry Wallace and his fellow travelers bolted the Party from the Left — and yet (pace The Chicago Tribune‘s famous headline) Dewey did not defeat Truman.

          Hell, the Democrats have been keeping their bumptious elements in the same big tent going back at least to the 1930s when humorist Will Rogers quipped, “I am not a member of any organized political party; I am a Democrat.”

          I’m betting the Donkeys will hold it together through their current foofaraw, too.

        2. I doubt it. First, I suspect that the Dems will do well in 2022, assuming the pandemic is under control by then and the economy has bounced back like everyone thinks it will. Second, Trumpism will pick the looniest GOP candidate in each primary and they won’t do well in the general.

          Biden’s run will be largely centrist as he wants and needs to win over some Republicans and Dems that run in purple districts. If any Critical Race Theory gets adopted, it will be blasted by most Dems who really don’t believe in that stuff. Very few Dem politicians will go too far with CRT as they’re totally down with the meritocracy.

      2. I disagree, it will not come apart.

        I think what we may be seeing here is the formation of a new interest group (i.e. verbally violent right-wing extremists or always-Trumpers or whatever you want to call them).

        But GOP National already knows how to send contradictory messages to different interest groups (plus fence-sitters) and not politically pay much for that hypocrisy. They’ll just create some targeted ads and campaigns for always-Trumpers, run those in areas where that message will win, and run more moderate messages opposing violent extremism in areas where that message will win. This is just a repeat of in Utah we hate SSM, in Florida, look squirrel. Or the Dem version: In Iowa, we love corn ethanol. In California, of course we are getting away from petroleum and supporting wind and solar, how could you think otherwise?

        Though I don’t mean to imply any moral parity. Treating “violent white supremacists” as just another political interest group is extraordinarily unethical, it puts citizens’ safety at risk in order to buy votes. Much like anti-vaxxers, people opposed to Covid safety measures, and climate change deniers, these are not “interest groups” any ethical political party should be catering to.

      3. Yes, but the crazies could organize and rise up to do enormous damage. Perhaps they will no longer call themselves Republicans but so what? It’s just a name. There will be “Patriots” running down the street with flamethrowers.

      1. Yes. Cheney reminded us of that with her statements right after the vote. It ended with something like, “Now let’s go smash the Democrats and stop their destruction of the country via socialism!” I’m exaggerating a little but not much.

  3. I have to admit that I never include Barbra Streisand in my best female singer debates. It’s probably because her style of music isn’t my thing…..she’s just not singing to me.

    My internal debate is between Karen Carpenter, (that low alto register is unmatched), and Linda Ronstadt. I’ve never resolved the debate for myself. I have LR in spotify playlists, but I will stop traffic to force strangers to listen to to low note KC sings in “Top of the World” right before the chorus. Did I mention her low alto range is unmatched?

    I guess I’ll go with Steve Martin, who said “Arguing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

    1. If gospel counts as popular music, than Mahalia Jackson gets my vote as best female singer. Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin are runners-up.

  4. 1947 – Dan Quayle, American sergeant, lawyer, and politician, 44th Vice President of the United States

    James Danforth Quayle served as a sergeant in the Indiana National Guard from 1969 to 1975.

    Pace more modern practice, in which members of the National Guard have been called up for multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the Vietnam War era when Quayle joined the Guard, it was a way to avoid the draft, and, thus, the risk of serving in combat, particularly for the well-heeled and well-connected like Quayle.

    1. Yes, the national guard of the 60s became the escape route for every kind of draft dodger there was. And certainly it made a joke our of the guard after years of being a good organization doing good work. This outcome nearly ruined the National Guard. Just another side affect of Vietnam. My father was in the guard before and after this period and experienced the whole thing. He enlisted during the 50s became an officer and a company commander in the 60s. He also flew for the guard and use to keep an L-19 aircraft at the airport. The national guard of today has been just the reverse. They are called up for every crummy war that comes along and spend much of their time dying in these things overseas. I would never recommend my kids join this institution.

  5. I used to enjoy taking a bag of pork rinds to the departmental Friday 5:00 happy hour. And when my son was small he called them porkypines.

    And for the Proud Boys, MAGA = My Ass Got Arrested

  6. Here’s Cassady wielding the hammer described in Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

    I recently watched the Netflix documentary about Grateful Dead guitarist/singer Bob Weir, The Other One.

    There’s some interesting footage in it of Weir, as a teenager, getting “on the bus,” with Cassady at the steering wheel.

  7. Karen Carpenter is … one of the two great female voices of our time (Barbra Streisand is the other).

    I’m assuming that’s limited to pop singers (as opposed to opera or jazz). Still, it’s a bold statement, given that “our time” includes Janis Joplin, Cass Elliot, and Amy Winehouse (just to limit it to other chanteuses who also died much too young and come readily to mind).

    1. There are just so many great vocalists, it seems impossible to narrow it down to even a few, let alone one. There are too many qualities, too many moods, apples and oranges.

      Do you go old school? Etta James, At Last, is on the short list, but so are many or her contemporaries.

      More recently, whenever I hear Lauryn Hill’s (The Fugees) cover of Killing Me Softly I have to stop what I’m doing, turn up the volume and listen. Always sends chills up my spine.

      Or how about this that most people reading here probably have never heard,
      AURORA covers Massive Attack ‘Teardrop’. Even if the style of music doesn’t suit, I think it’s hard to deny that the singing is remarkable.

      Just too many to choose from.

  8. Starfish are so weird. So the adult body is assembled in the larva as follows: The larvae have bilateral symmetry, and in them tissues (called imaginal discs, oddly) come together to form the adult. Only the one imaginal disc is on the right side, and the other on the left, and one forms the upper side of the starfish, while the other forms the bottom side.
    So the upper and lower sides of a starfish are really the left and right sides of the larva. Starfish are weird.

  9. One R vote to watch on the Impeachment is Pat Toomey (R, PA) who has already announced that he will not run for re-election in 2022 and IIRC called for Tr*mp to resign after the insurrection.

  10. What a coincidence. Quite literally, last night I put down The Idea of the Brain after reading it these past two months. A superbly written, readable book (the length of time it took me read it is no reflection – I was busy). I found it fascinating, enlightening and educational. I love books that delve into the basis of knowledge most of us only think we have. I particularly liked the historical review of how the brain and mind were conceived and how that conception changed.

    Happy Birthday, Dr. Cobb. Thank you for the most excellent read.

Leave a Reply