Friday: Hili dialogue

March 5, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Friday,March 5, 2021: National Cheese Doodle Day (cheese-flavored styrofoam). Much better, it’s National Poutine Day (not easily available in the U.S.), National Absinthe Day, St Piran’s Day in Cornwall, and World Day of Prayer, which we can ignore.

News of the Day:

It looks like Biden’s stimulus bill will pass the Senate, and thus the House, but sans the raise in minimum wage, which the Senate parliamentarian nixed on procedural grounds. This is Biden’s first big legislative accomplishment in office, and kudos to him and his team! The GOP, however, is trying to stall the bill by asking Senate clerks to read the bill word by word. It is 628 pages long! That will take about 16 hours, and for what purpose? Thank Ceiling Cat this will be over today, and the Senate can proceed to a vote. I see nothing that Republicans accomplish by this stalling maneuver, though I’m sure that many in the GOP think this is hilarious.

Cat news from the Guardian: A moggy curled up on top of the engine of a fast Londton-to-Manchester train and refused to get down. Efforts to coax it down initially failed, and there was a danger the cat could touch the electrical wires and die. Finally, the passengers were transferred to another train, a bin was pulled up to the car to allow the cat to get down, and the feline made its exeunt stage left. A photo is below:  (h/t: Matthew)

The words “committed suicide” should now be taken out of circulation, at least according to a woman writing at HuffPost whose son, err. . . committed suicide. She argues that that phrase should be replaced by “died by suicide.” I am really sorry for her loss, but it’s hard to imagine you can get closure by forcing others to use different phrases. The rationale:

We don’t say that our elders commit old age or commit death in their sleep. They die, of old age or heart failure. They die, by whatever cause. We don’t blame the one who suffers the disease.

When Austin took his life, he planned ahead. He left letters. He said goodbye, in his own way. And he ended his intense pain in his own way. How can such a desperate decision be considered a crime or a sin? I think saying he committed suicide blames Austin and stigmatizes his death. Haven’t we suffered enough by his loss without a side of ignominy and taboo?

. . . Bring them back to the light, your conversation, your family history, your mantel or photo album, with loving compassion, by proclaiming that they died by suicide,

Suicide is not of course a crime (well, it is in some places, but I’ve never seen any survivor prosecuted) or a sin! “Committed” simply means “took action”. You can’t “commit” a heart attack in the same way.

According to Newsweek (which seems to have become a right-wing site), eBay has now refused to sell the six banned Dr. Seuss books on the grounds that they’re offensive. As the writer notes:

This writer actually has access to a worn copy of one of the out-of-print books, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, and listed it on eBay late Tuesday afternoon. On Thursday morning, though, this writer received an email from eBay saying that the listing was removed for violating an “Offensive material policy.”

“Listings that promote or glorify hatred, violence, or discrimination aren’t allowed,” the automated email says. “Dr. Seuss Enterprises has stopped publication of this book due to its negative portrayal of some ethnicities. As a courtesy, we have ended your item and refunded your selling fees, and as long as you do not relist the item, there will be no negative impact to your account.”

Well, how many offensive things can you find on eBay? How about “Gentlemen’s magazines,” like Hustler and Penthouse? Sure! Dildos? You bet! But surely they wouldn’t sell Hitler’s Mein Kampf? WRONG; there are plenty of copies of Hitler’s book! Procols of the Elders of Zion? Certainly! What about the issues of Charlie Hebdo, depicting Muhammad, that offended Muslims so deeply?. Yep, they have ’em!  It seems that eBay considers it wrong to offend Asians and blacks, but not Jews or Muslims

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 520,028, an increase of about 2,000 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands at 2,583,173, an increase of about 9,700 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on March 5 includes:

Here’s Copernicus’s heliocentric model in the book’s manuscript. Note the Sun in the center with seven planets around it.  The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was finally abolished as church law in 1965.


  • 1770 – Boston Massacre: Five Americans, including Crispus Attucks, are fatally shot by British troops in an event that would contribute to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War (also known as the American War of Independence) five years later.

Crispus Attucks is singled out because he was the first American killed in the Revolutionary War, and also because he wasn’t white, though his exact ethnicity is in doubt. I learned that he was black, but it now seems he was part Native American.

  • 1933 – Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party receives 43.9% at the Reichstag elections, which allows the Nazis to later pass the Enabling Act and establish a dictatorship.
  • 1946 – Cold War: Winston Churchill coins the phrase “Iron Curtain” in his speech at Westminster College, Missouri.

A video of part of that speech. The mention of the “Iron Curtain” is right at the beginning:

He used to be on display next to Lenin in a mausoleum, but now, after his fall in reputation, Stalin is buried in the Kremlin wall, the place marked by just a bust (I don’t see any name on it). Here’s his body laid out after death, followed by a photo of his bust at the Kremlin wall:

How many people did he kill? Between 9 and 20 million if you include famines that he engineered.

  • 1963 – American country music stars Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas and their pilot Randy Hughes are killed in a plane crash in Camden, Tennessee.
  • 1974 – Yom Kippur War: Israeli forces withdraw from the west bank of the Suez Canal.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1887 – Heitor Villa-Lobos, Brazilian guitarist and composer (d. 1959)
  • 1898 – Zhou Enlai, Chinese politician, 1st Premier of the People’s Republic of China (d. 1976)
  • 1938 – Lynn Margulis, American biologist and academic (d. 2011)
  • 1958 – Andy Gibb, English-Australian singer-songwriter and actor (d. 1988)

Gibb died of myocarditis at only 30; he had used cocaine for years. Only one of the four Gibb brothers is left now. Here’s a live performance of “Words”:


  • 1974 – Eva Mendes, American model and actress

Those who crossed The Great Divide on March 5 include:

Wikipedia needs to change this to “enslaved person”.

  • 1827 – Alessandro Volta, Italian physicist and academic (b. 1745)
  • 1950 – Edgar Lee Masters, American poet, author, and playwright (b. 1868)
  • 1950 – Roman Shukhevych, Ukrainian general and politician (b. 1907)
  • 1953 – Herman J. Mankiewicz, American screenwriter and producer (b. 1897)

If you haven’t seen the 2020 movie “Mank,” about Mankiewicz’s collaboration with Orson Welles on the script of Citizen Kane, do so.  Here’s the trailer:

  • 1953 – Sergei Prokofiev, Russian pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1891)
  • 1953 – Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator and politician of Georgian descent, 2nd leader of the Soviet Union (b. 1878) See above.
  • 1963 – Patsy Cline, American singer-songwriter (b. 1932)
  • 1980 – Jay Silverheels, Canadian-American actor (b. 1912)

Silverheels played “Tonto”, the “faithful Indian companion” of the Lone Ranger. And indeed, Silverheels was a genuine Indigenous American, born in Ontario. Here’s the intro and closing of the show; I used to know all these words by heart:

  • 2013 – Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan colonel and politician, President of Venezuela (b. 1954)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the editor is looking for one of her staff:

Małgorzata: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m hunting Andrzej.
In Polish:
Małgorzata: Co ty robisz?
Hili: Poluję na Andrzeja.

Little Kulka went on an adventure down to the Vistula, trotting behind Paulina all the way down the hill to the river.

Caption: An expedition to the river. (Photo: Mariusz R.)

In Polish: Wyprawa nad rzekę. (Zdjęcie Mariusz R. )
From a Russian site, Котопедия (Catopedia), a cat with tabby bangs. I’ve never seen a kot like this:

From Facebook. The most interesting thing is that the photographer deliberately sacrificed a good ten cups of cooked rice so they could have this picture:

From Bruce: truefact!

From Titania:

Found via a link from Matthew: a giant murmuration of starlings that looks like a bird:

A tweet from Ginger K. Hard to believe this is real!

Tweets from Matthew. First, a melanic fox! (Click to go to the BBC article to read more.)

I like this one a lot:

A beat-up slice:

There’s an ocelot baby boom!!!!

And a dorsoventrally compressed beetle with a good caption:

54 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

    1. Depends if you are being poked with a clean one or a used one perhaps?!

      I agree with not saying commit suicide, & I think BBC dropped that some years ago. It was a crime in the UK until relatively recently. Commit it most commonly used with a crime. Why not say killed him/herself? I eschew latinate terms if there are good English words available. 😎

        1. As the devil (played by Peter Cook) says in “Bedazzled”, “You realize that suicide’s a criminal offense. In less enlightened times they’d have hung you for it.”

        2. I think you are joking, but “committed” does hark back to when suicide was a crime—one commits crimes. It seems a little unsympathetic to charge someone for failing to succeed in their ‘crime’! But when murder was a crime because it deprived the king of a peasant who could have laboured or been taxed, then it makes a kind of sense that ‘self-murder’ might be treated the same way, at least from the king’s point of view.

      1. As I teach adolescents in one part of my life, and suicide is a much-too-frequent concern, this language issue has come up a few times in my career. In my experience, killed himself is perceived to be as bad as, or worse than, commit suicide. The offense isn’t the word commit, per se (sorry for the latin), but the implication that the decedent performed a willful act by intent leading to death. The preferred wording, as noted in the letter, takes blame from the deceased and reframes the death as happenstance, with a blameless victim.

        1. [Much of what follows here is venting, and is not directed at enl, or at Dom, or any other preceding commenters. It’s a sore spot. I have great sympathy for the HuffPo writer, and I cannot honestly expect her to be anywhere neat her best when dealing with this subject…but I have even more sympathy for the one who died.]

          What is the thinking on “attempted suicide,” since an “attempt” is clearly an action taken by a person, and so would – in a simplistic or simple-minded reading, at least – seem to imply responsibility in the attempter? Does it really carry any more connotation of “responsibility” or “blame” than to say that someone walked in his or her sleep (“to walk” being an active verb)?

          If the HuffPo writer above is going to write an article, it seems it would be more useful to try to raise awareness of mood disorders, and the terrible lifelong risk of suicide they carry (15% lifelong risk for depression sufferers, if I remember correctly, among other morbidities and mortality risks) as well as the quite poor level of care and intervention available to people who suffer from them in our society, rather than argue the semantics of terms whose meaning pretty much every knows, whichever form is used.

          After all, the expressions “is depressed” and “suffers from depression” are passively constructed, and don’t seem to imply personal responsibility, but that doesn’t change the way people with depression are often looked down on and tacitly held to be responsible for their ailment…as if anyone would choose to be depressed if they could choose otherwise.

          1. “the way people with depression are often looked down on and tacitly held to be responsible for their ailment”

            This may be true, I don’t know; but it seems to me, anyway, that that is a thing of the past. The depressed people I know are treated sympathetically.

            I think the emergence of anti-depressant drugs (which makes clear the physiology of many types of depression) has helped in this regard. There is, however, some sort of stigma or shame around taking them for some people. I don’t understand this.

            Same for ADD medications. There may be some good medical or personal reasons for not taking ADD meds (sleep loss, dry mucus membranes, tension, etc.) but, goodness, they work. My wife and son both have ADD. Without the medication, my wife is a completely different person (depressed, unable to accomplish much).

            I’ll never forget the first day my son had his medication. He had been doing quite poorly in school (and we knew he was very bright) and I was getting called by the school every 2-4 days about his behavior. He was suspended for one day. The first day on the medicine, when I picked him up from school, he ran across the gymnasium, jumped into my arms and said, “Dad, the medicine works!!” He’s been a high-flier at school since and has never had another discipline incident. (That sh!t works!)

            We routinely use “died from suicide” these days. At first I was resistant (all new things are bad! Er, wait, let me think about it …). But after trying it on for a while, it makes more sense.

            1. I hear you, and I agree that things are better regarding such issues, though I think it varies from subculture to subculture a bit, as well. I’m very pleased to learn about your wife’s and son’s successful response, in any case. It’s good to hear success stories, since we so often are selectively exposed to those of opposite character.

      2. To commit does not necessarily imply a crime, it can also be an act someone is committed to. I do not see fault in the term ‘to commit suicide’. It is well established, and hardly has a negative connotation, no one blames the ‘committor’. On the contrary, in general we feel sympathy, or even pity, for those that chose (could they have done otherwise?) that way out, because often it is preceded by and associated with so much suffering. Sometimes also with admiration for the courage, because it does take some courage to kill oneself.

        1. Even though we want to focus on helping someone who’s mental state is such that they are considering suicide, I don’t think we want to pretend it isn’t something one does to oneself. IMHO, “commit suicide” should stay.

  1. So many great things in today’s Hili – the baby ocelot is my favourite. And that factoid about Mars is brilliant!

    1. There is also a dead beagle…

      Jez is feeling happy as the children/monsters are back at school next week!

      1. Well, more of a beagle-sized crater really, after it carried out that final lithobraking manoeuvre.

      2. The monsters/alpacas are going to school to be tested and can only go back if their results are negative – first time they will have taken a test at school with us not hoping for a positive outcome! [Insert joke about our past disappointments here…]

  2. I’m sure that many in the GOP think this [requiring the senate clerks to read the 628-page COVID-relief bill aloud to an empty senate floor] is hilarious.

    That’s because the GOP is no longer so much a political party — it even eschewed a party platform at the White House super-spreader soiree that served as its last national convention — as it is a bad attitude (“own the Libs”) and a cult of personality pledging undying fealty to its Dear-Leader-in-Exile, who was robbed of his make-great landslide election victory by massive voter fraud in the dusky precincts of swing-state metropolitan areas. The stunt of requiring the bill’s reading on the senate floor by Wisconsin’s RonAnon Johnson — hands-down the dumbest US senator (though Alabama freshman Tommy Tuberville shows signs of wanting to challenge him for the title) — is merely the apotheosis of this bad attitude.

    When Democrats lose an election, the first thing they do is fret about how they can win over economically anxious white working-class voters. And soi-disant liberal organs like the New York Times and Washington Post send reporters forth from Manhattan and the Beltway (on so-called “Cletus safaris”) to the nation’s interior to take depth-soundings of Red America’s many grievances. When Republicans lose elections, the first thing they do is wonder “how can we keep so many black people from voting in the next election?”

    1. And hopefully, one day, the MSM will realize this, and stop acting like the GOP is actually a legitimate political party with legitimate ideas and concerns, instead of the oligarchic organ that it is, working solely for large corporations (which they consider to be human), the wealthy, and Trump (who they also consider to be human).

  3. So regarding Copernicus, the church saw the light in 1965.

    Many may not know that John Adams was a lawyer for the defense in the Boston Massacre trial.

    Patsy Cline was yet another victim of not knowing enough about pilot selection when flying. The pilot in this crash was a private pilot with no instrument rating and was flying in IFR, instrument conditions.

  4. If ebay had to take all the offensive stuff off, they’d lose a lot of listings, what with all the Nazi memorabilia, sambo merchandise, WWII propaganda, and historic recordings and sheet music.

    1. And I bought an old copy of Francis Galton’s book Hereditary Genius, which would curl the nose hair of the wokesters. In fact I buy a lot of old science books on eBay, and we all know science is racist! We should probably just cancel eBay.

  5. An interesting Hili today.

    About “committing” suicide. I don’t agree with language policing, but the woman has a point. From a determinist, no free will point of view, is there a difference between a heart attack and suicide? In both cases, pre-existing conditions in the person’s body, in one case the heart and the other the brain, led to the person’s demise. Using the word “commit” has a free will choice connotation to it. So if we don’t say a person committed a heart attack, there is no reason to say a person committed suicide. She is right—he died by, or because of, suicide.

  6. Forgive me if this was already discussed here but I seem to have heard that Tonto means something like dumbass in Spanish and Kemosabe comes from “ quien no sabe” he who does not know, or “quien lo sabe” – who knows?

    1. Tonto was a NYT crossword answer a few weeks ago to:

      Arizona’s ___ National Forest (whose name is Spanish for “stupid”)

    2. I hate to just make wisecracks but will anyway. If the guy rode around for years following a guy in a mask…what do you think?

        1. Oh, that was funny. Merilee better take a look at this one. Tonto could maybe be a stand up comic.

    3. Q. What did The Lone Ranger say when he wanted to go to Canada?

      A. “Take me to Toronto, pronto, Tonto.”

  7. Did the photographer really sacrifice the bowl of rice unnecessarily? After all, one can’t assume this is the one and only time the cat has done this. Just saying.

  8. Jay Silverheels was also a harness racing driver (I don’t believe they are referred to as “jockeys”). Back in the ’70s he used to travel from track to track and race against the local drivers.

  9. Lyle Lovett wrote a song called If I Had A Boat that has verses re The Lone Ranger and Tonto. My favorite verse reads; The mystery masked man was smart, He got himself a Tonto, ‘Cause Tonto did the dirty work for free, But Tonto he was smarter, And one day said kemo sabe, Well kiss my ass, I bought a boat, I’m going out to sea. Always makes me smile.

  10. I recently watched HBO’s documentary on the BeeGees How Can You Mend a Broken Heart. I found it mesmerizing. And Barry Gibb had some interesting musings and remembrances, and also said “I am the last one”. It made me tear up. I also had no idea of the huge backlash disco received in the late 70’s and how it was linked to bigotry and homophobia. I was reminded of it yesterday (or the day before?) when it was the anniversary of “burning Beatle records” after Lennon’s Jesus quip.

    And while on the subject of music documentaries, I’d also recommend Beastie Boys Story. It’s a very interesting format where the last two remaining members put on a live show documenting their 40 years of friendship with photos, videos, anecdotes, etc. I’m sure a lot of people here can’t stand the BB (I happen to be a fan of their later music), but regardless their music, the documentary was well done: entertaining, heartfelt and interesting. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 94%.

      1. I really enjoyed that doc, too. Christiane Amanpour had a good interview with Barry Gibb recently.

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