Thursday: Hili dialogue

February 11, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Thursday, February 11, 2021: National Peppermint Patty Day (no, not the Peanuts character but the confection). It’s also Fat Thursday, White Shirt Day (commemorating an auto strike settled in 1937; see below), Inventor’s Day, and International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates the life of Maria Grever, described as “The first female Mexican composer to achieve international fame.” Her best known song in the U.S., “What a difference a day makes” (in Spanish: “Cuando vuelva a tu lado”) was a big hit for Dinah Washington.

News of the Day:

The entire 8-hour video of yesterday’s impeachment proceedings has been posted on Youtube. I wrote a few superficial thoughts on the impeachment trial last evening, and you can see them here. Having not watched much of it, I wanted readers to discussion their take so far. I believe this is the video put into evidence by the impeachment managers; click on “watch on YouTube” to see the 13-minute production. The NYT has a good summary and takeaway of Day 1+ by Eileen Sullivan.

I remind readers to be polite in their discussion of the impeachment trial, and not diss other readers or the host. Emotions are high these days, and you don’t even see the comments that I have to trash because they’re either vicious or obscene.

The Saudis have released women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul after nearly three years in jail. Famous for agitating for Saudi women’s right to drive, she was sentenced to six years in prison in 2018. But after Biden pressured the country to improve its human rights record, they released al-Hathloul on three years’ probation and a five-year travel ban.  Here’s a brave woman:


The Guardian reported yesterday that Bruce Springsteen was arrested for drunk driving in November.

A spokesperson for the national parks service confirmed that Springsteen was arrested on 14 November in a part of the Gateway National Recreation Area on the New Jersey coastline.

The park is on a narrow, beach-ringed peninsula, with views across a bay to New York City. It is about 15 miles north of Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Springsteen received citations for driving while under the influence, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area. The spokesperson said Springsteen was cooperative throughout the process.

As Jez, who sent me this link, noted, “Oh dear, I guess Bruce was on another “highway jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 471,343, an increase of about 3,200 deaths over yesterday’s figure (the rise over the last few days may represent Superbowl party congregating). The number of new cases is now falling, but we still may exceed half a million deaths within the month. The reported world death toll stands 2,366,880, a big increase of about 14,000 deaths over yesterday’s total, or about 9.7 deaths per minute.

Stuff that happened on February 11 includes:

  • 660 BC – Traditional date for the foundation of Japan by Emperor Jimmu

This isn’t just traditional, but “legendary,” i.e., complete fiction.

  • AD 55 – The death under mysterious circumstances of Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus, heir to the Roman empire, on the eve of his coming of age clears the way for Nero to become Emperor.
  • 1794 – First session of United States Senate opens to the public.
  • 1812 – Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry is accused of “gerrymandering” for the first time.

Thats not quite correct, for Wikipedia also reports that the term “gerry-mander” was first used in a cartoon from March of that same year. Here it is, showing the odd way of drawing state senate districts that got Gerry into trouble.

(From Wikipedia): Printed in March 1812, this political cartoon was made in reaction to the newly drawn state senate election district of South Essex created by the Massachusetts legislature to favor the Democratic-Republican Party. The caricature satirizes the bizarre shape of the district as a dragon-like “monster”, and Federalist newspaper editors and others at the time likened it to a salamander.

Soubirous,  had 18 visions of the a young woman, though they were never identified by her as the Virgin Mary (the apparition said she was the “Immaculate Conception”. Nevertheless, they were all officially confirmed by the Catholic Church (?)died at 33 from tuberculosis. Here’s a photo of her in her nun’s garb:

Here are the strikers; their action gave rise to the powerful United Auto Workers Union:

(From Wikipedia): Sit-down strikers guarding window entrance to Fisher body plant number three. Photo by Sheldon Dick, 1937.
  • 1938 – BBC Television produces the world’s first ever science fiction television programme, an adaptation of a section of the Karel Čapek play R.U.R., that coined the term “robot”.
  • 1953 – Cold War: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower denies all appeals for clemency for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

They were both electrocuted on June 19.

  • 1971 – Cold War: the Seabed Arms Control Treaty opened for signature outlawing nuclear weapons on the ocean floor in international waters.
  • 1979 – The Iranian Revolution establishes an Islamic theocracy under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
  • 1990 – Nelson Mandela is released from Victor Verster Prison outside Cape Town, South Africa after 27 years as a political prisoner.

Here’s Mandela and his then wife, Winnie, on the day of his release:

  • 2001 – A Dutch programmer launched the Anna Kournikova virus infecting millions of emails via a trick photo of the tennis star.

As Wikipedia notes, “The worm was created by 20-year-old Dutch student Jan de Wit, who used the pseudonym “OnTheFly”, on 11 February 2001. It was designed to trick email users into clicking to open an email attachment ostensibly appearing to be an image of the professional tennis player Anna Kournikova, but instead hiding a malicious program. The worm arrived in an email with the subject line “Here you have, ;0)” and an attached file entitled AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs. When opened in Microsoft Outlook, the file did not display a picture of Kournikova, but launched a viral VBScript program that forwarded itself to all contacts in the victim’s address book.[2]

  • 2011 – Arab Spring: The first wave of the Egyptian revolution culminates in the resignation of Hosni Mubarak and the transfer of power to the Supreme Military Council after 17 days of protests.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1839 – Josiah Willard Gibbs, American physicist (d. 1903)
  • 1847 – Thomas Edison, American engineer and businessman, developed the light bulb and phonograph (d. 1931)
  • 1898 – Leo Szilard, Hungarian-American physicist and academic (d. 1964)
  • 1915 – Patrick Leigh Fermor, English soldier, author, and scholar (d. 2011)

You could do worse than read Leigh Fermor’s great travel books; my favorite is Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese , as I myself traveled in the Mani (a wonderful place).  What a life the man had!

Leigh Fermor
  • 1926 – Paul Bocuse, French chef (d. 2018)
  • 1936 – Burt Reynolds, American actor and director (d. 2018)
  • 1962 – Sheryl Crow, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1964 – Sarah Palin, American journalist, politician and Governor of Alaska
  • 1969 – Jennifer Aniston, American actress and producer

Those who hied themselves underground on February 11 include:

  • 1650 – René Descartes, French mathematician and philosopher (b. 1596)
  • 1868 – Léon Foucault, French physicist and academic (b. 1819)
  • 1948 – Sergei Eisenstein, Russian director and screenwriter (b. 1898)
  • 1963 – Sylvia Plath, American poet, novelist, and short story writer (b. 1932)

Plath, of course, committed suicide at age 30; it was a great loss:

Powell was a great dancer and could almost hold her own with Fred Astaire (nobody could, really). Here they are doing a tap routine to “Begin the Beguine” from the movie Broadway Melody 1940. What a number: to my mind, the greatest routine Astaire and a partner ever had.

  • 1994 – Paul Feyerabend, Austrian-Swiss philosopher and academic (b. 1924)


  • 2012 – Whitney Houston, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress (b. 1963)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili doesn’t want to share a lap with Szaron:

Małgorzata: There is a place for both of you here.
Hili: This is not the right solution.
In Polish:
Małgorzata: Zmieścicie się oboje.
Hili: To nie jest właściwe rozwiązanie.

Elzbieta sends a photo of Mietek, enacting what how the cat sees what kids really do during online instruction:

Caption: Distance learning.

In Polish: Zdalne nauczanie

And here’s Szaron out in the snow:

From Stash Krod:

From Diana. I’ve checked on most of these, and the deplatforming were correct, though groups like “cobras” aren’t monophyletic but folk groupings:

From Bruce. It recalls the Shakespeare line, “With what I most enjoy contented least.”

Titania calls out the world’s insanity. Have a look at the Twitter exchange she shows here:

A tweet from Luana by a disaffected African-American woman:

Reader Pyers says this: “This is, without doubt, the best twitter thread that I have seen for a very long time.  Whether it is suitable for your not-a-blog I don’t know but is is brilliant – with even GCHQ pitching in!”

I have sent it to my British friend Andrew, who taught me to eat and to love Weetabix (though also to never eat them in odd numbers). I expected an explosive reaction. But what he said was this:

Combined: the two very best features of the British breakfast.  What could go wrong?

Of course that’s a negative reaction, but a subtle one. Do read the followup tweets.

From Matthew, we have a video that I’ve gotten from at least two dozen readers. If anything is viral, this one is.

First, a very bad Zoom mishap during a legal case. The Washington Post explains more.

Expect to see a gazillion cat/lawyer memes in the next few days. Here’s one from reader David:

It’s sort of sad that Pete Best is still touting his brief membership in the Beatles:

A lovely multicolored mountain:

I can’t believe this guy doesn’t close the door. Of course, the cat would only scratch and pound on it.

Skunk chases off mountain lion!

36 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. The case the House managers have put on against Donald Trump is devastating. Trump broke one of this Republic’s most sacred trusts — its 224-year streak of peaceful transitions of power from a president to his successor.

    For months Trump revved up the most dangerous elements of his hardcore base to a fever pitch with utterly baseless claims that the presidential election had been stolen from them. He then summonsed them to Washington, DC, for a wild time on January 6, 2021 — the date of the final, ceremonial step for certification of the election results — and turned them loose on the nation’s Capitol, there to pillage the halls, beating, maiming, and killing Capitol police officers, and looking to lynch his own vice-president and to murder the Speaker of the House, all the while gleefully watching the rioting on television and ignoring the entreaties of those around him to call off his supporters, to send in the national guard, and to end the siege.

    Proving that it actually can happen here.

    1. Good precis, Ken. Now that it did happen here, what steps can we take to make sure it doesn’t happen again? I ask this question sincerely of you and our fellow readers, since in a culture that has a strong tradition of fetishizing guns and idolizing the military, I can’t imagine what those steps might be.

      1. Two things come to my mind:

        1. Argue the case in the Senate to show how the corruption occurred. This will leave a stain on the GOP that could last for generations. This is already happening.

        2. Add more specific boundaries for presidential behavior to the constitution (or in legislation) with clear mechanisms for enforcement. I think this might well happen if the GOP can be put out of it’s misery in the next two election cycles.

        1. Good points, rickflick. I really hope against hope that the GOP can be put out of its misery in the next two election cycles and that legislative and constitutional safeguards can be put in place. I’m worried in the meantime about the sizable minority of Americans who stand by ready and eager to commit violence to advance their ends. I refer to this latest poll. Be sure to read near the end for the results that show a “majority (55 percent) of Republicans support the use of force as a way to arrest the decline of the traditional American way of life.”
          Also pertinent, Judd Legum’s latest:

          1. The survey showing acceptance of violent solutions to political issues is disturbing. It’s as if many Americans, when young, did not absorb the teacher’s warnings about that. But, then the larger population has two tails to it’s Bell curve. Some people are barely literate, even after 12 years of school. As for the more reflective among us, acceptance of violence may not register as a very bad idea. They probably have not thought it all the way through to the example of the Civil War. So it goes.
            I think the take away is, we all thought it can’t happen here. But, it did and it can again. I hope December 6 has inoculated many parts of our institutions against a recurrence. Just as the virus vaccine is supposed to prevent illness.

            1. It is troubling if accepted at face value but I wonder if those polled answered the question as if it were, “Are you willing to fight for our way of life?” Most people like to imagine they would if they had to. If America was invaded by a foreign power, certainly people would say that they would fight. I am very skeptical of such polls because those polled are free to invent whatever context they desire.

          2. As for the Legum column, sounds like Bundy is full of hellfire and a marginally sane character. But, after all the drama, I think these kind of groups have been around for a very long time with a precursor in the KKK. The movements are lead by charismatic dudes but they never seem to get to the point of commanding a company with tanks and bazookas. They are like flies buzzing around democracy’s head that need to be swatted now and again. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from these clown, but they won’t start a civil war.

      2. I think an even bigger problem than America’s gun/military fanatics are America’s religious fanatics; incidentally, both these groups have a very large overlap. Bill Maher’s “New Rules” segment last week discussed how many of the rioters were religious, holding 6’ crosses, praising Trump as sent by God. Just think what that implies.

        I agree with rickflick’s recommendations, but the deep religious zealotry that is a part of American culture will take generations to alleviate. It happened in Europe, and hopefully that could happen here, but it can also go the way of many Middle Eastern countries; it is not unimaginable that an American theocracy takes hold. Trump would have loved a theocracy, with him being the godhead. Now American authoritarians have a guide book, or at least the knowledge that millions of Americans don’t care about democracy. That’s why I think democrats need to do something about the judicial nightmare Trump and McConnell have installed. McConnell stacked the courts with conservative, partisan hacks, dems need to stack the courts to balance them out. Democrats need to be bold, bold like in the FDR days; time to take the gloves off and make the BIG changes the majority of Americans want and need. Yes, this means doing away with the anachronistic filibuster.

        1. I agree, Mark. Your boxing (or hockey) analogy reminds of the analogy I like to use, that of wrestling. That’s what attracted me to working on Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004. What attracted me to working on his campaign was his famous pugnacity. I understood that he took up the sport of wrestling in school, and the wrestler’s mindset was what I felt we needed to succeed against W in 2004. The Dems need the pugnacious wrestler’s mindset again today. They have to go toe to toe with the Repubs, take them down to the mat, pin them, and make them cry “uncle.”

          1. Pugilism and pugnacity are two perfect words for these imperfect times (as if any times are perfect). But yes, I’d like to see the Repubs taken down to the mat and pinned, hopefully via full nelson. They deserve face plants! 🙂

        2. Religiosity tends to go down in concert with improvements to the social safety net. And education of course.
          Going by current trend lines religious observance should go downhill for the foreseeable future – faster (I think) if we provide better social insurance/universal health care like in other countries.

          In the Middle East the changes have been more dramatic – even without a social safety net. I think education/ the internet and the bad example of Taliban/ISIS helped in that trend. In many countries there it is estimated they have the social norms we had in the 1960s in the west. So good news ahead if you’re an atheist like me. 🙂

          I grew up in (pretty non religious) 1980s Australia and I always thought that by the time I’m 50 (now) religion will be the preserve only of old Greek grandmothers and Lebanese terrorists. I was wrong, but maybe I was just too early in my prediction? Kids in 100 years will look back and say “They actually BELIEVED in that?”


    2. Brandenburg v. Ohio was raised in the impeachment trial regarding the former president’s right to free speech. This was a case involving terribly racist and anti-semitic speech by a klansman in ohio called Brandenburg in the 60’s and establishing the criterion of immediacy of harm. Interestingly, Eleanor Holmes-Norton was one of the aclu lawyers defending brandenburg. Wapo has a good summary of the case in today’s metro section and at (hopefully not behind paywall).

      1. The Brandenburg case would be applicable if Trump were to be indicted criminally for inciting a riot. But the First Amendment Free Speech clause is inapplicable to an impeachment proceeding. Impeachment is a political issue. Accordingly, it no more violates a president’s First Amendment rights to use his constitutionally protected speech against him in an impeachment proceeding than it would violate a his First Amendment rights for a citizen to decide to vote against him — or for a US senator to withdraw a campaign endorsement — based on a president’s constitutionally protected speech.

        Let me give you a couple hypotheticals: suppose a president were to start a speech with a Nazi salute, saying “Sieg Heil! Six million Jews were not enough!” Or suppose he were to advocate for sending all black US citizens to Africa.

        Both those things constitute constitutionally protected expression under the the First Amendment’s Free Speech clause. But do you have any doubt they would constitute impeachable conduct?

        1. Free speech is legally inapplicable but it’s pretty much the only argument the defense has left. They’re going to say that Trump was “just talking” and had no intent or expectation that it would incite the riot. Of course, that’s pure BS but they only need to pretend to believe it to provide cover for the Republicans dismissing Trump.

          I wonder whether the impeachment managers should remind the senators that if they vote to dismiss Trump, they will be stuck with him for the foreseeable future and it isn’t a pretty one. Most of them will be vulnerable to being primaried by a Trumpier-than-thou Marjorie Taylor Greene candidate in their next election. Surely they want to get out from under that.

          1. The Republicans are scared shitless of the Frankenstein monster they’ve created with Trump’s base. Their conundrum is that they desperately need that base, both for its votes and for the energy it provides during campaigns.

            That’s the plight of a the numerically minority party with an ever-shrinking demographic pool of voters to draw from. Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections. And, although representation in the US senate is now split 50-50, the 50 Democratic senators represent 41.5 million more constituents than the 50 Republican senators.

            The Republicans maintain a rough political parity only through ruthless gerrymandering, voter suppression, and exploitation of the inherently undemocratic nature of certain US governmental institutions — senate representation, parliamentary congressional procedures, and the electoral college among them.

            They can’t keep that up forever.

            1. Yes to all that. However, if the Big Lie is gradually exposed, as it will over time, things may change, especially when the Big Liar has been mostly silenced. Of course, Trump won’t be silenced forever and Fox/OAN/etc. are continuing to push the Big Lie. We even have some pushing the Big Lie into the rearview mirror, claiming something like, “When the history books have been written, they will likely regard the 2020 election as having been stolen from Trump.” It’s all so disgusting.

            2. Indeed. It must be terrifying to feel trapped in this web of lies the Repugnants merrily spun at the start. Now they are woefully entangled. In a different sense, this is ‘spooky action at a distance’ with maybe a touch of Stockholm syndrome.

              My heart goes out to the families of the three officers who died as a result of that day of infamy.

        1. I was struck by the same impression of Mr. Neguse. I’ve also been impressed by the gentleman from Rhode Island, David Cicilline, and the non-voting delegate from the Virgin Islands, Stacey Plaskett.

          It’s been a damn good showing all around.

  2. [ T. McGrath ]: “..[…], but it gets there in the end…”

    I think it means “at the tip”? Or “Richard”? It is ….


    [ outdated meme activated ]
    [ sunglasses on ]
    [ Y E A H H HHHH! ]

    1. Yeah, I saw that too. I call bullshit. Perhaps a legal mind on here can explain why he was arrested for DUI when he was not legally drunk?

  3. Wikipedia says cytochrome b sequencing shows King Cobra is closer to mambas than cobras :

    [19] Figueroa, A.; McKelvy, A. D.; Grismer, L. L.; Bell, C. D.; Lailvaux, S. P. (2016). “A species-level phylogeny of extant snakes with description of a new colubrid subfamily and genus”. PLOS ONE. 11 (9): e0161070. Bibcode:2016PLoSO..1161070F. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161070. PMC 5014348. PMID 27603205.

    1. They know the guy and are doing some kind of negotiation. They wouldn’t want to be caught laughing at him. I would think they’d be more embarrassed for him. They might also be checking their own filter settings just in case.

  4. Wow! I had no idea what Leigh Fermor looked like in his prime. Handsome devil. He wrote with an astounding English vocabulary & reportedly smoked five packs of ciggies a day. My favorite book of his is ‘The Traveller’s Tree,’ so full of the felt life of the Caribbean and honest about the islands’ predicament as the Afro-Caribbean people were beginning to emerge from colonialism after WWII.

  5. And speaking of cats, the one wound up in yarn happened in this house this week.. It was funny and annoying. Fortunately only wool rather than cashmere.

    Poor Hili. She feels so abandoned. Its hard being all or nothing.

  6. Today’s impeachment proceedings are crucial. The prosecutors (impeachment managers) are going to try to link Trump’s actions to the riot. Although yesterday’s presentations were necessary, I think most know what happened. The question as to whether Trump caused it is primary. Would the riot have happened if Trump hadn’t lied about the election and sent his supporters to the Capitol? No, it wouldn’t.

  7. FYI. The black cat time lapse video is from YouTube’s owl kitty and they are referencing the “paranormal activity” movie.

  8. “the rise [of coronavirus deaths] over the last few days may represent Superbowl party congregating”.
    This is a repeat of yesterday’s nonsense. If people caught coronavirus during the Superbowl, they probably would not be showing symptoms yet and certainly would not be dying. This will be obvious because reported deaths will fall in the next day or two.

    The deaths reported vary tremendously from day-to-day having nothing to do with the virus. On Monday January 18th, there were 1443. Deaths TRIPLED during the next two day to 2698 and 4380 deaths. On Monday January 25th, there were 1946 deaths with a rise of the next two days. I will bet anyone that there will fewer deaths on Monday 15th and 22nd than either of the last two day. (Since the 15th is a holiday, there is a chance there will be something strange.)

    If you click on 7 day rolling average, you will see deaths have been falling for the past two weeks. Since cases have been falling for a months, deaths will continue to drop for the next two weeks. My prediction is that they will drop over 90% by the end of the summer.

    1. I believe I’ve seen this post before.

      But any way, one of the main reasons why the number of deaths varies so much from day to day is that those numbers are derived from daily reports from medical centers, hospitals, nursing homes, etc and many do not send in daily reports, particularly on the weekends. IOW, much of the variation in daily deaths is due to reporting. It’s the reason few regard daily numbers as meaningful and instead focus on running averages which, as you say, are declining.

      1. I made basically the same comment yesterday in regards to the same nonsense that was posted yesterday. This blog tends to very good about science and that is why I find this lapse so frustrating.

        I am aware of everything you said about reporting and it’s probably worse than you think. In Oregon, they report deaths that happened up to 30 days earlier.

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