Thursday: Hili dialogue (and all the Polish cats)

February 25, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Thursday, February 25, 2021: National Chocolate Covered Nut Day. Lots of food celebrations today: it’s also National Chili Day, National Clam Chowder Day, National Toast Day (in Britain, and they could have at least had “Beans on Toast” Day), and “Let’s all Eat Right” Day.  It’s also Digital Learning Day, but who wants to celebrate that?

And today, for the first time, we have pictures of all five famous Polish cats from Dobrzyn and Wloclawek. Can you name them all?

News of the Day:

News we already knew: A U.S. intelligence report expected to be released today points the finger at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for approving the murder of journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi. What will this do to U.S./Saudi relations? Little, I suspect.

Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, now seems likely to be rejected by Congress. The crime: bad tweets. The NBC evening news says that the White House is investigating “other options,” and the Wall Street Journal notes this:

Over the weekend, once it became obvious that Ms. Tanden’s nomination was in serious trouble, lawmakers and aides say they saw scant evidence of an intensive campaign to salvage the pick from a team that promised to bring Capitol Hill savvy back to the West Wing.

Over the weekend, once it became obvious that Ms. Tanden’s nomination was in serious trouble, lawmakers and aides say they saw scant evidence of an intensive campaign to salvage the pick from a team that promised to bring Capitol Hill savvy back to the West Wing.

Since one Democratic Senator already said he wouldn’t vote for her, one Republican has to back her to achieve the tie that Kamala Harris would break to secure Tanden’s nomination. That doesn’t seem likely.

The Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine, which is just a single shot and can be stored at refrigerator temperature, will soon be approved. Its efficacy is a tad less than Pfizer or Moderna jabs, but it’s highly effective against severe illness:

The vaccine had a 72 percent overall efficacy rate in the United States and 64 percent in South Africa, where a highly contagious variant emerged in the fall and is now driving most cases. The efficacy in South Africa was seven percentage points higher than earlier data released by the company.

The vaccine also showed 86 percent efficacy against severe forms of Covid-19 in the United States, and 82 percent against severe disease in South Africa. That means that a vaccinated person has a far lower risk of being hospitalized or dying from Covid-19.

. . .Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, who urged influencers such as Paltrow against spreading misinformation.

He said: “In the last few days I see Gwyneth Paltrow is unfortunately suffering from the effects of Covid. We wish her well, but some of the solutions she’s recommending are really not the solutions we’d recommend in the NHS.”

Now how did the punctilious Paltrow get Covid in the first place. And would she PLEASE shut her gob when it comes to health and medicine?

Speaking of the virus, Gwynnie just got chewed out by Britain’s National Health Service for her usual worthless medical advice (h/t Jez).

Gwyneth Paltrow has been urged to stop spreading misinformation by the medical director of NHS England after she suggested long Covid could be treated with “intuitive fasting”, herbal cocktails and regular visits to an “infrared sauna”.

The Hollywood star, who markets unproven new age potions on her Goop website, wrote on her latest blogpost that she caught Covid-19 early and had since suffered “long-tail fatigue and brain fog”.

But the Brits, as ever, were very polite about it:

Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, who urged influencers such as Paltrow against spreading misinformation.

He said: “In the last few days I see Gwyneth Paltrow is unfortunately suffering from the effects of Covid. We wish her well, but some of the solutions she’s recommending are really not the solutions we’d recommend in the NHS.”

Have a look at Gwynnie’s post (click on screenshot), in which she uses her own “detox regimen” and other “curative” stuff to sell useless and overpriced products to the credulous fools who frequent her site. Can she be stopped? And seriously, is she really on the “detox” thing?

Finally,  today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 505,643, a large increase of about 3,200 deaths over yesterday’s figure  The reported world death toll stands 2,510,567, a big increase of about 12,200 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Historical news from February 25 is scant, and includes this:

  • 1336 – Four thousand defenders of Pilenai commit mass suicide rather than be taken captive by the Teutonic Knights.
  • 1836 – Samuel Colt is granted a United States patent for his revolver firearm.

Here’s that first patent (there were many more):

  • 1870 – Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican from Mississippi, is sworn into the United States Senate, becoming the first African American ever to sit in Congress.

Revels served for two years, and then, his appointment over, became president of a historically black college and later a preacher. Here he is:

  • 1932 – Hitler, having been stateless for seven years, obtains German citizenship when he is appointed a Brunswick state official by Dietrich Klagges, a fellow Nazi. As a result, Hitler is able to run for Reichspräsident in the 1932 election.
  • 1956 – In his speech On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences, Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, denounces Stalin.
  • 1991 – Disbandment of the Warsaw Pact at a meeting of its members in Budapest.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1991 – Disbandment of the Warsaw Pact at a meeting of its members in Budapest.
  • 1873 – Enrico Caruso, Italian-American tenor; the most popular operatic tenor of the early 20th century and the first great recording star. (d. 1921)

Want to hear the great Caruso? Here’s a recording that’s been reconstructed. The YouTube notes say this:

This is Caruso’s performance (Nov. 7, 1909) of the aria “Il fior che avevi a me tu dato” (Bizet’s Carmen) restored by a sound engineer at the famous Lucas Film Studios using the latest digital audio computer technology.

Caruso died at only 48 from an infection. Here’s his body lying in state in the Vesuvio Hotel in Naples, August 3, 1921:

  • 1894 – Meher Baba, Indian spiritual master (d. 1969)

But don’t worry! Meher Baba is here! I have this card taped on the wall next to my desk, which I got in graduate school. Doesn’t that big grin cheer you up?

The origin of Zeppo’s name is unknown. He was the youngest of the Marx Brothers, and the last to died. He appeared in only the first five Marx Brothers movies; here’s a brief summary of his career.

  • 1917 – Anthony Burgess, English author, playwright, and critic (d. 1993)
  • 1943 – George Harrison, English singer-songwriter, guitarist and film producer; lead guitarist of The Beatles (d. 2001)

We can’t forget George; here he is with Eric Clapton and other famous musicians in 1987:

Those who ceased metabolizing on February 25 include:

  • 1723 – Christopher Wren, English architect, designed St Paul’s Cathedral (b. 1632)
  • 1957 – Bugs Moran, American mob boss (b. 1893)
  • 1975 – Elijah Muhammad, American religious leader (b. 1897)
  • 2001 – Don Bradman, Australian international cricketer; holder of world record batting average (b. 1908)

Even I know that Bradman’s seen as the greatest batsman (Americans would say “batter”) of all time. Here he is in Sydney, being carried off the field by his OPPONENTS in a chair after scoring 452, a world record at the time. (The current record is 501 runs in an innings, held by the great Brian Lara.)

I emailed my friend Andrew Berry (a cricket maven) whether “innings” was really singular, and he said “yes.” He also added this about Bradman:

But Bradman’s real claim to fame is this.  The real measure, as in baseball, of a batsman’s worth is in his batting average (per innings) at the international ‘test’ level (i.e., the highest level of the game). Here are the all time top rankings, below. [JAC: see chart below photo.] Notice that he is a quantum leap removed from all the competition. More info: He needed only 4 from his final innings to get a final average of 100, but got 0.

Andrew sent me some impenetrable cricket jargon describing Bradman’s last innings when he missed his 100 average:

And then came the Ashes Test at The Oval in 1948 that has inked his name in immortality. Overlooked for the first four Tests of the Ashes series despite England’s prolonged struggle, Hollies was included in the team for the final Test at The Oval. Ray Lindwall routed the Englishmen for 52 and Arthur Morris and Sid Barnes put on 117 in just over a couple of hours. At this juncture, Hollies got Barnes to snick one to Godfrey Evans — the moment the entire stadium was waiting for.

In walked Don Bradman, in his last Test, his approach to the wicket accompanied by deafening ovation. England captain Norman Yardley gathered his men, raised his cap and called for three cheers. Bradman took guard after shaking hands with his rival skipper. His collection of runs stood at 6,996 after 69 completed innings, at an average of 100.14.

Hollies sent down a leg-break, and Bradman went back and across to play it to Allan Watkins at silly mid-off. The next ball was the most famous googly ever bowled. It came out of the back of the hand. Bradman, drawn forward, missed it and was bowled for a duck. He famously walked back four short of 7,000 runs and an average of 100 in Test cricket.

And Sir Don briefly dilating on his triumph, which took place on January 6, 1930):

  • 2015 – Eugenie Clark, American biologist and academic; noted ichthyologist (b. 1922)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili awaits her noms:

Hili: The kitchen is one of the best inventions of humans.
A: You may be right.
In Polish:
Hili: Kuchnia to jeden z najlepszych wynalazków człowieka.
Ja: Możesz mieć rację.

And in nearby Wloclawek, Leon chastises Mietek:

Leon: “Move over a bit!”

In Polish: Posuń się trochę!

Here are two pictures of Paulina’s kitties:

Caption: Kulka and Szaron through Paulina’s lens. (In Polish: “Kulka i Szaron w Pauliny obiektywie.”)

From Bruce:

From Nicole:

From Divy, “The Giving Cat” book for kittens:

From Charles. Boebart is of course the Official Loon of Congress who wants to carry her Glock onto the House floor.

Tweets from Matthew. I find this first one sad, and doubt that the frog can actually see:

And I’m worried about this, too: how will Mom and ducklings to the water? I asked that question below her post, but someone else answered, and unsatisfactorily!

Spiders mating; I don’t know the species.

Two black cats joined these folks for a very long walk, and even brought them a mouse (poor mouse!)

The parachute of the Perseverance rover displayed a complex code, explained a bit in the tweets below (see the thread for more information).

This isn’t a real penguin, but the explanation of the jumpers (second tweet) is sweet:

40 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue (and all the Polish cats)

  1. Can you name them all?

    You’ll have to take my word for it that I haven’t looked at the post to get the answers. Also, apologies in advance for any spelling mistrakes.

    Hili, Szaron, Meitek, Kulka, Leon .

  2. Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, now seems likely to be rejected by Congress. The crime: bad tweets.

    Hard to swallow that all those Republican senators who spent four years pretending that they never read any of former president Trump’s outrageous tweets now seem to be aware of everything private citizen Neera Tanden ever tweeted that was the least bit snarky.

    And I’m disappointed to see Democrat Joe Manchin playing the prima donna by tergiversating on Tanden’s confirmation — but maybe he’s just playing some sort of “long game” by throwing an anti-Biden bone to the folks back home in deep red West Virginia so he can support another some other, more controversial aspect of Joe B’s agenda.

    Anyway, Tanden will find a home somewhere in the Biden administration, probably in a White House position that doesn’t require senate confirmation.

        1. For 2022, my hopes are that Trump chooses the most Trumpy, brain-dead candidates to run for all positions, they win GOP primaries over more reasonable candidates, and Dems win all the races walking away. Could easily happen. In fact, it is hard to see how it won’t happen. Unless Trump is in jail by that time, of course, which I doubt.

    1. It’s not about the Tweets. They don’t care about the tweets. The objective is not to confirm anybody if they can avoid it. The tweets are just the excuse.

      As a non-American, it mystifies me that the the opposition party even gets a say in the appointments of the president (excepting federal judges where I’m amazed that the political arms of government are allowed any say at all).

      1. … (excepting federal judges where I’m amazed that the political arms of government are allowed any say at all).

        Unless we’re to have an elected federal judiciary (in which case, judges would have to keep a constant an eye over their shoulder on the electorate, especially the closer they come to reelection time) I’m not sure how we could keep the political branches out of the selection of judges.

        I suppose we could have a permanent non-partisan commission to appoint judges, but that would destabilize the crucial system of checks-and-balances between the three branches of government created by the US constitution.

        1. I suppose we could have a permanent non-partisan commission to appoint judges,

          Not that I am much of a fan of unelected politicians, that is one of the less useless uses proposed for retired politicians. They don’t need to be dried out like cordwood, and they might be slightly harder to bribe when they’re already on the downhill slope to imminent death.
          On the other hand, Piers Anthony does have some interesting ideas for how to use them.

        2. the UK has a permanent non partizan commission to appoint judges and it doesn’t destabilise anything. For one thing, our judges are selected on their ability to correctly interpret the law rather than what political bias they might want to put on it. The US system is a farce.

          While I’m dissing your political system, I might as well bring up the fact that the mechanics of elections are also managed by a non partizan body in the UK. It’s crazy that (for example) in some US states, the constituency boundaries are drawn by politicians. That’s bonkers.

    2. Evidently, Joe Manchin has a bit more motivation to deny Neera Tanden her position than just an ordinary mean tweet. One of them had something to do with his daughter who is CEO of some pharma company:

      https://www.newsweek.com/neera-tanden-criticized-joe-manchin-daughter-heather-bresch-1571531

      The 50-50 situation in the Senate means prospective nominees only have to piss of one Democrat and their chances drop to near zero. Perhaps the margin will be better after the 2022 elections but that probably won’t help Ms. Tanden.

  3. Paltrow should invite everyone for a vacation at her presumably elegant, multi-million-dollar mansion.

    Serious note : is it good to get every vaccine? Wouldn’t that be that much more effective?

    1. I doubt that it would give you significantly improved resistance to infection, though there would likely be SOME increase. And, of course, there would be a possible increased risk of side-effects. I don’t know that the experiment has ever been done, though.

    2. It depends on the vaccine, I think say Moderna and Pfizer both target the spike protein, that would not make much sense, but one of those in combination with, say, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that works with attenuated adenovirus and elicits a different response would (theoretically at least) make good sense.

  4. The response from Prof Stephen Powis to Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest new-age balderdash may seem like politeness, but any connoisseur of British understatement will know that this was a definite STFU from Prof Powis.

    1. but any connoisseur of British understatement

      So, straight over Paltrow’s … ummm, what’s that ovoid thing she is famous for having. Something that people tell her to shove … somewhere, on a regular basis? What she does (what passes for) her thinking with.

  5. All the cats in one post. That is the way it should be.
    Watching the boys in action is a lesson for today’s music. Where is the guitar?

  6. Weird how the Marx family could produce brothers where one was a Jew, one an Italian, one a mute with a blond afro, and whatever it was that Zeppo was supposed to be.

    The US hasn’t produced another family quite that confused, except for maybe the Bushes — with Poppy being a warmed-over preppy Episcopalian from Connecticut, Dubya a born-again evangelical Methodist faux-shitkicker from Texas, Jeb a yuppie Catholic from Florida, and Neil worshipping at Our Lady of Silverado Savings & Loan.

    1. Years ago there was a movie that cast Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, and Mathew Broderick as grandfather, father, and son.

      1. You’re thinking of “Family Business” (1989), directed by Sidney Lumet.
        Connery liked Lumet’s direction of actors and they made four other films together: “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974), “The Anderson Tapes” (1971), “The Hill” (1965), and “The Offence” (1971). The last one features what might be Connery’s greatest performance.

          1. Zardoz is a genuinely crazy film and definitely features Connery’s craziest wardrobe, but it has more ideas (sometimes too many) and excitement than a lot of sane films. It looks great on Blu-Ray too. Definitely a cult film but also a cult classic.

        1. Lumet never won a best-director Oscar (though he was nominated four times), but he had a reputation for coaxing great performances from his casts. Actors in his movies were nominated for 17 Academy Awards and won four of them.

      2. Reminds me of some of the old Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns in which members of the cast often couldn’t even speak the same language. Leone didn’t care, since they were going to be dubbed into the native language of whatever country they played in.

  7. Sorry for commenting again, but I’ve now read the post and it seems there are some repeated paragraphs and paragraphs out of order. The whole section on Gwyneth Paltrow seems to have suffered in this respect. Also the first “born on this day” item is actually the death of the Warsaw Pact.

    Finally, there’s some omissions in the Don Bradman story. The average you refer to is his test match batting average, which is his average in the ultimate form of cricket: international matches consisting of two innings per team, nowadays played over five days.

    The 452 was not in an international match so it’s not included in Bradman’s 99 Test Match average. Brian Lara’s 501 was also not in an international match, but he also holds the test match record at 400 not out. Bradman’s highest test match score is “only” 334.

    As a general rule, the test average thing is sometimes a bit overrated. For example Adam Voges is relatively unknown but he’s up there largely on account of one huge innings against the West Indies. Brian Lara and Viv Richards aren’t in the list you posted at all but they are amongst the greatest batsmen of all time. That said, Bradman’s average is vastly better than anybody else’s. It’s an astonishing achievement.

    1. To be fair, Jerry’s story only brings in Test matches after the mention of 452 and 501, so I don’t think he’s being misleading here.

      Don Bradman is clearly the greatest sportsman in history, and anyone who says otherwise is a fool and a communist.

      Does anyone know of any other sport where the best was so colossally better than the next best?

      Every cricket fan would agree Bradman was the best batsman, but you’d have a few arguments about who was second best. Fifty years ago most people would probably have said Gary Sobers, most Indians now would say Sachin Tendulkar, of the ones I’ve seen I’d definitely say Brian Lara.

  8. I do wish Gwyneth Paltrow would stick to talking about acting – at which she IS an expert – and shut her festering gob* about health related issues of all kinds. The Brits are TOO polite for an American to get the message.

    Here’s a fun video from Sixty Symbols of Professor Philip Moriarty reacting to a video from Goop: https://youtu.be/EIyQcGyRXwg
    He tries VERY HARD to be polite and charitable.

    *(the remainder of the Abuse clinic speech could also be applied: “Your type makes me puke! You vacuous, toffee-nosed, malodorous pervert!”)

  9. Gwyneth Paltrow has become an extremely dangerous person over the years. I’m sure there are millions of people who are significantly less healthy than they could be because of her.

    On a similar note, I was disgusted when I heard that “Doctor Oz” will be guest-hosting Jeopardy soon. Someone who has spread so much medical misinformation for personal gain for so long is an insult to the show. And shame on Oprah for making billions by propping up people like him and “Doctor Phil,” and the general mindset about health that leads to people following the advice of craven opportunists like Paltrow.

  10. In reference to Bradman’s average:

    Notice that he is a quantum leap removed from all the competition.

    is a loathsome metaphor. A quanrum leap is typically the smallest change possible in the state of a system. To use it to imply something huge is ignorant posing.

    1. Pedant alert! And you’re not even correct. A quantum leap is a change from one discrete energy level to another, with no smooth transition. In absolute terms, yes, it is a small change in energy. In relative terms, it is a big jump in the energy level, given the infinite energy levels in between those two states through which it does not pass.

      The phrase “Quantum leap” has long since entered popular lexicon to indicate something that is so different, or so far beyond anything else that it is as if it has taken a step change to a new level.

      1. I think that Bradman’s performance is pretty much of a “quantum leap” in performance, so I approve of its usage. Used as just a “big difference” is one thing, but Bradman was 150% above his nearest competitors in test match scoring!

      2. I somewhat agree with you. That is why I said “typically”. I did not want to embark on a screed on spin conservation.

  11. Regarding Neera’s tweets: on the plus side maybe it will encourage careerists to stop tweeting like middle-schoolers. Better yet, stop tweeting.

  12. What makes Bradman’s achievement even more praiseworthy, is that he batted with no head protection on cricket pitches left uncovered overnight. The Don was truly the finest cricketer of all time. No debate.

    1. There are test cricketers with a 100+ average – usually they played only one innings in one test. I believe you need 20 or so tests for your average to count.

      And having looked on Wikipedia it seems more complicated if you try doing the maths
      Rank Batter Tests Innings N.O. Runs Ave Test Career dates
      1 Don Bradman 52 80 10 6,996 99.94 1928–48

  13. We should already be receiving the J&J and the Astrazeneca vaccines. The “news” about the J&J vaccine is positive but it’s not really news. We have known for weeks that the vaccine is safe and effective but it will not be available until late March. The AZ vaccine has been approved by the EU and the UK but the FDA has indicated it needs more research before being available here.

    No one in the US is receiving either while thousands of people die daily. The FDA’s sloth in the name of “safety” has caused thousands of preventable deaths. I know that are acting faster than normal. but only that means they are sloooow instead of glacial.

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