Tuesday: Hili dialogue

March 9, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Tuesday, March 9, 2021: National Crab Day. It’s also National Meatball Day, Barbie Day (celebrating the day in 1959 when the doll had her debut at New York’s Toy Fair), and Organize Your Home Office Day. I am dispirited this morning, so posting may be light. We might have a joke thread later for cheering-up purposes, so start thinking of your favorite joke.

Let’s celebrate Barbie Day with Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” song, which I used to hate but now find quite bouncy. Aqua was a Danish-Norwegian group (I thought they were Australian until I just looked them up), and the song was a huge hit in Europe, topping the UK charts for four weeks in a row.


Wine of the Day:

The name of this luscious Washington State Syrah comes from the owner’s cat, named Motor City Kitty, or “MCK”.  Syrah is, of course, the premier grape of the Rhone, the area that produces, to my mind, the world’s best red wines. A good Rhone smells to me like fruit AND black olives. This Syrah has the fruit, but the black olive flavor was replaced by a toasty aroma that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but reminded me a bit of Melba toast.

This was an excellent wine, with at least five years of further improvement. I’m on a lucky streak, as I haven’t had a bad wine for a long while. That’s because I’m drinking my higher-class wines as a reward for living through the pandemic. I had this with another treat: t-bone steak cooked rare (the only way to eat a steak), with a crusty baguette and a bowl of fresh green beans.

News of the Day:

Remember Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was stabbed and beheaded last October after showing his students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad taken from Charlie Hebdo? (Remember, too, that he allowed the students to leave the room or not look if they would be offended. That wasn’t enough to save him.) The perpetrator was killed by police, and the incident sparked a vigorous debate in France about secularization. Now, in a very sad denouement, the girl whose complaints launched the online campaign against Paty has admitted that she wasn’t even in the class. From the BBC:

The 13-year-old girl, who has not been named, originally told her father that Paty had asked Muslim students to leave the classroom while he showed the cartoon during a class on free speech and blasphemy.

“She lied because she felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her to be a spokesperson,” her lawyer, Mbeko Tabula, told the AFP news agency.

The girl’s father filed a legal complaint against the teacher and began an online hate campaign over the incident.

Prosecutors said shortly after the killing that there was a “direct causal link” between the online incitement against Paty and his murder.

Heresy watch: the NYT has an article about how California is now making better bagels than is New York City. Well, that may be true, but they’re still not real bagels. You can tell because of the description:

BERKELEY, Calif. — The bagels at Boichik Bagels have the look of Labrador puppies curled up for afternoon naps: soft and pudgy, golden roly-polys (practically made for that old puppy-or-bagel meme).

The bread has a comforting squish — thick but yielding, chewy but not densely so, with a shiny, sweet-and-salty crust and a rich, malty breath that fills up the bag before you even get home.

Let us be clear here: real bagels are not “soft and pudgy,” nor do they have a “comforting squish”. They are dense and chewy. Period.

You can even see their ersatz nature from the photo accompanying the article. Yep, golden roly polys, probably full of air:

Photo: Preston Gannaway for The New York Times

The Brits are appalled at Meghan Markle and Harry’s interview with Oprah last night, for the pair recounted some ill treatment by the Firm, including one conversation that supposedly involved speculation about the baby’s skin color. (The news last night said the party in that discussion was not the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, or Prince William.) Markle also said she had suicidal thoughts. I don’t know whose side to take in this kerfuffle, but frankly, I don’t care. I’ve always said that Britain should abolish the royalty, but few of my UK friends, including the liberal ones, take my side in this.

Here’s part of the interview:

Glory be! The CDC has declared that fully vaccinated people can gather with other vaccinated people without wearing a mask, a policy that surely makes sense. We still don’t know if vaccinated people can carry or spread the virus, but my gut tells me “no.” Still, I’m not a doctor (I just play one in the lab), so don’t take my speculations seriously!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 535,467, an increase of only 800 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands at 2,613,407, an increase of about 6,800 deaths over yesterday’s total. 

Stuff that happened on March 9 includes:

  • 1500 – The fleet of Pedro Álvares Cabral leaves Lisbon for the Indies. The fleet will discover Brazil which lies within boundaries granted to Portugal in the Treaty of Tordesillas.
  • 1776 – The Wealth of Nations by Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith is published.

A first edition of this puppy will cost you $400,000 or so—more than a first edition of Darwin’s Origin. Here’s the edition ofSmith’s book:

Although this is reputed to have been a grand love affair, Napoleon ditched Josephine when he learned she could not provide him with an heir. Here’s a quote and a painting:

In 1795, she met Napoleon Bonaparte, six years her junior, and became his mistress. In a letter to her in December, he wrote, “I awake full of you. Your image and the memory of last night’s intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses.” In January 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte proposed to her and they were married on 9 March.

(from Wikipedia): Empress Josephine in coronation costume in 1807–1808 by François Gérard
  • 1841 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in the United States v. The Amistad case that captive Africans who had seized control of the ship carrying them had been taken into slavery illegally.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: USS Monitor and CSS Virginia fight to a draw in the Battle of Hampton Roads, the first battle between two ironclad warships.
  • 1916 – Mexican RevolutionPancho Villa leads nearly 500 Mexican raiders in an attack against the border town of Columbus, New Mexico.

Here’s Pancho on horseback in a photo taken sometime between 1908 and 1919. He was assassinated in 1923 in his car, hit in the head and chest by nine dumdum bullets.

  • 1933 – Great Depression: President Franklin D. Roosevelt submits the Emergency Banking Act to Congress, the first of his New Deal policies.
  • 1946 – Bolton Wanderers stadium disaster at Burnden Park, Bolton, England, kills 33 and injures hundreds more.
  • 1954 – McCarthyism: CBS television broadcasts the See It Now episode, “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy“, produced by Fred Friendly.

Here’s that famous episode in its entirety, which spelled the beginning of the end for Joe:

Here’s that first Barbie doll:


  • 1960 – Dr. Belding Hibbard Scribner implants for the first time a shunt he invented into a patient, which allows the patient to receive hemodialysis on a regular basis.
  • 1997 – The Notorious B.I.G. is murdered in Los Angeles after attending the Soul Train Music Awards. He is gunned down leaving an after party at the Petersen Automotive Museum. His murder remains unsolved.
  • 2011 – Space Shuttle Discovery makes its final landing after 39 flights.

Notables born on this day include:

This man should be canceled as his name gave rise to the name “America”.

Here she (right) is with her paramour Virginia Woolf. For some reason I’m fascinated with the “Bloomsbury group”, though I probably would have round them a bunch of twits:

  • 1918 – George Lincoln Rockwell, American sailor and politician, founded the American Nazi Party (d. 1967)
  • 1943 – Bobby Fischer, American chess player and author (d. 2008)
  • 1954 – Bobby Sands, PIRA volunteer; Irish republican politician (d. 1981)
  • 1964 – Juliette Binoche, French actress

A great actor and a favorite of mine. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in “The English Patient”, but I also liked her performances in “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and the underrated movie “Certified Copy”, which is a very odd movie that is a must-see:

Those became extinct on March 9 include:

  • 1661 – Cardinal Mazarin, Italian-French academic and politician, Prime Minister of France (b. 1602)
  • 1847 – Mary Anning, English paleontologist (b. 1799)

Anning, played by Kate Winslet, is the subject of the newish movie “Ammonite,” which is good but not great. Here’s a a painting of her equipped for fossil collecting (with a superfluous d*g), painted in 1842, perhaps from life. She is pointing at a fossil, not at the d*g.

  • 1895 – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Austrian journalist and author (b. 1836)
  • 1983 – Ulf von Euler, Swedish physiologist and pharmacologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
  • 1997 – The Notorious B.I.G., American rapper, songwriter, and actor (b. 1972)
  • 2006 – John Profumo, English soldier and politician, Secretary of State for War (b. 1915)

I remember the “Profumo Affair” (961-1963), in which the Secretary of State for War was involved with model and showgirl Christine Keeler, who also had an affair with the Russian naval attaché. Profumo was forced to resign, and this led to the resignation of PM Harold Macmillan and the installation of a Labour government. Here’s Keeler in the very famous portrait by photographer Lewis Morley, a picture that spawned a thousand imitators. The chair in this picture is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum:

The chair in the V&A Musem with the Museum’s notes:

The Keeler Chair, copy of Arne Jacobsen’s Model 3107 chair, unknown designer, about 1962, Denmark. Museum no. W.10-2013. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata explains today’s dialogue: “Hili is behind a curtain and she has one paw high in the air, like a child who knows the answer to the teacher’s question.”

A: Who is going to the kitchen?
Hili: I am!
In Polish:
Ja: Kto idzie do kuchni?
Hili: Ja!

From Nicole:

From Facebook. I wonder if this is real (and they posted the phone number).

Also from Facebook:

A tweet sent by Barry from Richard Dawkins. He liked it but I’m not so sure, for “science” is the practice of science, while “science’s truths” are the preexisting things about the cosmos that we try to find out with the practice.

From Simon: Another photo turned into an academic meme:

From Luana, who found this in response to my query about what the weird term “black bodies” came from as a replacement for “black people”. Here are a few replies:

Tweets from Matthew. The first is my pet peeve: the evening news and programs all geared toward a very old demographic, with virtually all the ads for drugs. I guess they don’t advertise drugs on British stations.

Guy rescues and raises gosling; ineffably sweet. Sound up.

The apotheosis of camouflage:

And this is also very touching:

74 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I guess they don’t advertise drugs on British stations.

    It’s illegal to advertise prescription medicines directly to the public in the UK. Even when you can advertise medicines (over the counter stuff only) there are strict guidelines about what you can and cannot say.


    It would also be somewhat pointless to advertise prescription medicines because the patient is not the one who decides which prescription drug they take, their doctor or pharmacist is. The drugs are free, by the way although there is a flat rate charge for dispensing them.


      1. And in England, there are prescription charge exemptions for children, full-time students, pregnant women, pensioners, and the recipients of some state benefits.

        1. By a funny coincidence, just after I posted my comment the vet rang about our cat’s medication. They don’t have it in stock, but want £18 to provide us with the prescription so that we can buy it elsewhere! We need an NHS for pets…

    1. Yes it’s the same in Canada in that advertising prescription medicine is controlled much more than in the US but in Canada we get a lot of US TV so see their ads and we still find them amusing but at the same time we are used to it. It’s how we know we are watching a US station.

  2. As a brit I’m with you on the abolition of monarchy. I’m hoping that when we get independence for Scotland we can become a republic.

      1. Likewise for East Anglia when we throw off the oppressive shackles! I shall head the Committee of Public Safety!

    1. As and Englishman I’d be happy for Scottish independence if you take your royal family back with you!

        1. Not what it says in their passports, I suspect?

          The likely wording in Liz’s is probably

          One’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of One’s self all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance …

        1. Indeed! Perhaps we should get a separate vote on our head of state, with Queeny McQueenface just one of many available options?

    2. As a New Zealander I can sort of tolerate the Queen, mainly because she has been around so long, but the idea of her obnoxious, entitled, son becoming head of state is extremely depressing.

    3. I think it’s going to take a deeper abolition which you may be hinting at. There are still Lords and a House of Lords which suggests a social hierarchy that may need to be dismantled.

  3. Would seem Dawkins is getting the cart ahead of the horse.

    John Quincy Adams was part of the defense in the 1841 U.S. v Amistad case.

  4. ‘For some reason I’m fascinated with the “Bloomsbury group”, though I probably would have round them a bunch of twits’ – I can never think about the Bloomsbury group without remembering Dorothy Parker’s witticism about them “living in squares, painting in circles, and loving in triangles”.

    The BBC have a radio comedy series that parodies them, Gloomsbury, though no episodes are currently available.

    1. “Would have round them” – round? Very strange usage of round to my ears… never come across that before!

  5. “Start w Michele Foucault”

    Or you could start by spelling the dude’s first name correctly, “Michel.”

  6. Nothing ironic about Meghan Markle whining about a basic right to privacy in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, right?

    1. Yes. Celebrity culture strikes again. I am sure she experienced racism & rude thoughtlessness, which is sad. But surely no one could misconstrue the situation the inner group of royals find themselves in? I imagine she was undergoing a culture shock, never having lived in Britain. All those twits shooting peasants/pheasants for a start. I am sure many upper class idiots consider themselves superior to the rest of us, whatever class we are. We need another revolution! It is the masses against the classes, as Gladstone said.

      Undoubtedly the idea of the royals is out-dated, yet what is the alternative? An elected person half the country would still hate?

      1. A while ago I heard an historian from the USA claim that the UK had an hereditary presidency whereas the USA had an elected monarchy. I think it is quite an interesting comparison: a surprising amount of the relationship between George III and Parliament can still be seen in the US system.

  7. I am so sorry that you are dispirited this morning. I am often dispirited these days, mostly due to the impacts of wokeness and my inability to have any influence to counter it in the public square. Or the Masters in Humanities Program at Chicago that you wrote about yesterday, which i found to be most dispiriting in its emphasis on a rapid credential (zero to masters in just nine months it seems) rather than time to carefully ponder and learn. In earlier times i felt a positive energy each day as I seemed to have some influence in the area of K-12 STEM education, but as the years have worn on, political actors have changed, and my welcome has also worn, so i now sit and watch. It often is dispiriting. BUT then i read some of the work from your daily and the references such as writings by McWhorter and I feel better knowing that there is a fight on. Moreover, with the vaccination program in full swing and national efforts to develop a pandemic surveillance and readiness program, i think that the good guys, like you, will be back out on the public lecture circuit and engaged again soon. And just this morning, seeing the picture of Dr Sacks vaccinating her bubbe, a Holocaust survivor, without whose survival Dr Sacks would not exist, brought a grand feeling and warmth to my day.

  8. “Here’s Pancho on horseback in a photo ”

    The estate of Pancho Villa has issued a statement they will no longer publish this photo, as part of a larger conversation we have needed to have as a nation. Turner Classic Movies could not be reached for comment.


    The estate of Barbie has issued a statement they will no longer publish this photo, as part of a larger conversation we have needed to have as a nation. Turner Classic Movies could not be reached for comment.

    “Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith”

    … [ copy paste from above ]

    “[ any information of anyone ]”

    [ copy paste from above ]

  9. Whenever I see the term “black bodies”, I think of thermodynamics, the “ultraviolet catastrophe”, and the birth of quantum mechanics…also global warming, but more indirectly.

    1. Thank you for that.

      I’d never heard the term “black bodies” in reference to human beings.

      I always thought of it as roof shingles and tarmac making cities hotter than they needed to be.

      And then, when I read that, I thought how out of the loop I am.


  10. Diderot’s proposed method of eradicating royalty and the priesthood is a bit strong (“Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”), but I would happily see the back of both institutions!

  11. “I’ve always said that Britain should abolish the royalty, but few of my UK friends, including the liberal ones, take my side in this.”

    I’ll rise to the challenge. I’m British, and liberal, and I think that the monarchy should be abolished, and the House of Lords along with it.

    As for ads for prescription-only medication on TV, I found it jarring when I first started visiting the United States, but then I saw the ads for Xenical with the bizarre and (to the 10-year-old boy who still lives inside my head) hysterically funny list of side-effects including flatulence, faecal urgency and oily spotting. Sure, I’ll ask my doctor if Xenical is right for me 🙂

      1. What is the purpose of an elected second chamber? Seems redundant. to me. The elected Senate of the US. Federal government supposedly represents the interests of the sovereign states. Before 1963, the State Senates represented geographic parts of the states, but now they must represent in proportion to population. As far as I can tell, the State Senates now serve little function, but they often complicate governance.

            1. I’ve often wondered about a less-worse way of doing a second chamber. Detaching them from the need to continue grubbing for votes seems essential – see “populist” – but how to choose who gets in ?
              Something like having four or five consecutive elections to the same (or adjacent/ boundary changes, etc) seat and retiring in-seat would probably do it. Exactly what parameters to apply to actually keep the numbers reasonable … needs some modelling. And you don’t know how many would actually accept the chalice, brim-full with poison.

        1. The House of Lords is pretty indefensible as it stands. It is partly a repository for superannuated politicians, partly a reward for the parties’ cronies, and partly a reflection of the feudal past (26 seats guaranteed for CofE bishops!) About 10% of its members do any worthwhile work.

          But while we have a House of Commons that is incapable of scrutinising legislation effectively, and in effect acts as a rubber stamp for the majority party, we need a body that can amend and improve legislation, and correct the imbalances of our current system. We don’t need a HoL, but we do need a much smaller, more professional second chamber, which is also fully accountable to the people. For me, that means it has to be elected.

  12. I don’t know whose side to take in this kerfuffle, but frankly, I don’t care.

    If it’s just a split, the interview was one-and-done, and they go their own ways, I don’t care. If Harry and Megan decide to try and make a periodic/regular paycheck out of tell-all interviews, I’m going to move to the side of The Firm (and less likely but for parity; if the Royals decide to put out regular negative press about the couple, that would shift me to the couple’s side).

    1. They apparently didn’t get paid for the Oprah interview, but Netflix have agreed to pay them megabucks for some other nonsense.

  13. I just think it’s in bad taste to air your family’s dirty laundry in public. What whiners. (Puts me in mind of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s line in The Lion in Winter: “What family doesn’t have its problems?”) They must be interpreting as an injunction Wilde’s observation that it is better to be talked about than not talked about.

    1. At least every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way — and those freeloaders of Buckingham Palace more in their own way than most.

      1. If you want to talk freedloading, get a load (ahem) of this: when the crown cut off the couple’s paycheck for no longer being active royals, they didn’t decide just to spend less; they redistributed that money to the paychecks of the other active royals.

  14. Re: Barbie and that whole “glamour” culture – could there be a more ridiculous pairing of clothing than a swimsuit and high heels?


  15. … I also liked her [Juliette Binoche’s] performances in “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” ..

    I thought Mlle Binoche was wonderful in Unbearable Lightness, but it was Lena Olin who made the real impression.

        1. Guess I missed that. Yes, she was great in that. Didn’t much like the movie, though (ducking). The book was so much better and I thought that there was no chemistry between Scott Thomas and Fiennes. Binoche and Indian sapper were something else, though.

    1. She was magnificent in Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy, and then, of course, delectable in the delectable Chocolat…

  16. He [Pancho villa] was assassinated in 1923 in his car, hit in the head and chest by nine dumdum bullets.

    In case anyone was wondering:

  17. I also read the article on west coast bagels and was skeptical. The headline makes it sound like the bagel places covered by the article were trying hard to duplicate NY bagels and were successful. After reading the article, that appears not to be the case at all. Instead, each bagel place is trying its hardest to distinguish itself with an original take on bagels. In other words, the total opposite of what’s claimed by the title. Good food journalism is so hard to find these days!

    1. I think of them as goyishe rolls, not real bagels.Last time I had anything like a real bagel was in New York City around 2005, and even then they were barely bagels.

      1. I think we do have some good bagels in LA but perhaps not at these “gourmet” places that try to put their own spin on them. I go to a place here in Long Beach called, appropriately enough, East Coast Bagel Company. Their bagels aren’t as good as some I’ve had in Manhattan but pretty close. My guess is that bagels are a bit like pizza in that everyone thinks they know what good pizza is but there’s little agreement. The main thing is that they need to be chewy with a substantial crust. Too many are just donut-shaped bread.

  18. There was discussion over the possible skin color of the baby? What, between being born pale or really pale? I know her Royal pain in the butt has African ancestry but she’s hardly representative, no more so than I am of my Native American ancestry. I really struggle with this victim hood claim she keeps repeating. I’d understand it better if she was angry for her genetic heritage not being accepted, as I’ve experienced, because of skin color. Am I missing something?

    1. Yes. As Barack Obama quipped, “If you don’t think I’m black, watch me try to get a taxi on the south side of Chicago.”

      It is a fact that she experienced racism, so much so that she decided to forego what for many would be a dream life. Is what she had before, and what she has now, better than what most people on Earth have? Yes. Does that make racism excusable, even a bit? No.

      Two behaviours should not be tolerated. One is telling people to shut up because someone, somewhere, has bigger problems. The other is complaining as if your problems are as bad of those much less fortunate. That doesn’t mean that privileged people shouldn’t complain, as long as they put it into proper perspective which, as far as I can tell, she has done.

      There is also no conflict between benefitting from being in the limelight, and complaining about harassment. If there were, then everyone in the limelight would be fair game for any sort of harassment.

      1. I never said racism was excusable. I have experienced it myself, by many different races for what I do and don’t look like and them telling me who I can and can’t be. For years I carried a photo of my grandfather with me to shut people up for that very reason. Of course I’m not actually allowed to call it racism, right? Just like I’m not allowed to been seen as poor or struggling by the new woke unreality show we live in. But I don’t have time for whinging poor little rich folk. Hollywood royalty or real royalty don’t deserve to be harassed, (I never said they did) but they don’t get to harass others, either. She is, by many accounts, a real piece of work. So pardon me if I refuse to weep for her and her “struggles”.

        1. For the Woke unreality show, walking around shouting “I hate all white people!!” is not racist — by definition. (I love it when one can define oneself as correct or as the winner of the argument! 😉 )

  19. re CDC says vaccinated people can congregate maskless, you just know there will be unvaccinated jerks trying to take advantage of this. “You can’t prove I’m not vaccinated” or “I don’t have to prove to you I’m vaccinated.” Count on it.

  20. The missus and I didn’t see the interview. We watched ‘Masterchef’ instead.

    One programme features ambitious people cooking up the most extravagant concoctions with the aim of impressing the judges, beating the opposition and securing fame and fortune. The other is a competition for home cooks.

  21. Interesting wine. I consider Grenache to be the other classic grape of the Rhone Valley (with Mourvedre close behind). I’ve walked Dick Boushey’s vineyard where those grapes came from!

  22. A couple years ago Spotify included “Barbie Girl” as one of the songs for International Women’s Day. Really? With a line, “I’m a blond bimbo girl in a fantasy world/Dress me up, make it tight, I’m your dolly” sung in a voice women use to sound like babies that’s about female empowerment?

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