Thursday: Hili dialogue

March 11, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Thursday, March 11, 2021: National “Eat Your Noodles” Day. (Once again, why the scare quotes? Are we supposed to only pretend that we eat noodles?). It’s also Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day (?), Popcorn Lovers Day, Johnny Appleseed Day (he may have died on March 11, 1845,  but it’s unclear), Worship of Tools Day, World Plumbing Day, and World Kidney Day.

Here’s my lovely Adenium obesum, a wild flowering plant originally from Subsaharan Africa and Arabia. It’s flowering now.  It’s sometimes called the “desert rose” or “bottle tree.” Its roots and stems produce a sap containing toxic cardiac glycosides, which can be used to make poison arrows.

Here’s what it aspires to be (in the wild on Socotra Island, described in Wikipedia as the “weirdest looking place on Earth”):

News of the Day:

The good news is that the Covid relief bill passed the House, and is on its way to Biden’s desk; signing is expected on Friday. It’s Uncle Joe’s first big victory, and was done without the help of Republicans, with the 220-211 vote including no Republicans on the “aye” side and one Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine, joining the Republican “nays”.

The other good news is that Merrick Garland was confirmed by the Senate as attorney general, though he really should be on the Supreme Court. He’ll be a good AG, though The vote was 70-30, with all 30 nays being, of course, Republicans.

The New York Times has an interesting article on what some scholars think are the earliest fragments of the Hebrew Bible: written even before Deuteronomy. They were exhibited in 1883, pronounced a fraud, and the owner committed suicide. Now a scholar has revived the idea that these are indeed the earliest Biblical bits we have. The sad part is that after the fragments were pronounced a forgery, they were sold for a “pittance” and have now disappeared. We’ll never be able to settle the issue without those fragments. A bit of carbon-dating, now impossible, would go a long way.

Lots of employers are demanding that their employees get vaccinated against Covid. That requirement is a legal one, but is a bit murky as the law refers to FDA-approved vaccines while all Covid vaccines in the US are approved by the FDA for “emergency use” only.  23 states have brought or are contemplating bills prohibiting companies and businesses from requiring vaccination, nearly all the bills sponsored by Republicans. However, the Pew Trust thinks these prohibitions are likely to fail:

Yet despite lobbying from anti-vaccine groups, often known as anti-vaxxers, the employer mandate bills are unlikely to pass, experts say. That’s because the proposals threaten employers’ legal obligation to maintain a safe workplace and could put the lives of workers, customers and patients at risk.

Federal guidance issued in December allows employers to require that their workers get COVID-19 vaccines, although they must accommodate employees’ religious objections and also make sure vaccine requirements don’t discriminate against employees with disabilities.

HuffPost is still using emoticons to tell us how we should feel, as well as adjectives to tell us how important a story is. No wonder it’s circling the drain (see one of the tweets below). I’m surprised they didn’t say “AWESOME” instead of “HUGE”.


Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 528,829, an increase of about 1,500 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands at 2,633,819, an increase of about 10,000 deaths over yesterday’s total. 

Stuff that happened on March 11 includes:

  • 1702 – The Daily Courant, England’s first national daily newspaper, is published for the first time.

And here is the front page of the first issue of The Daily Courant:

  • 1708 – Queen Anne withholds Royal Assent from the Scottish Militia Bill, the last time a British monarch vetoes legislation.
  • 1851 – The first performance of Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi takes place in Venice.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: The Constitution of the Confederate States of America is adopted.
  • 1888 – The Great Blizzard of 1888 begins along the eastern seaboard of the United States, shutting down commerce and killing more than 400.

Some snowdrifts were 50 feet high! Here’s a photo with the caption:  A snowdrift tunnel in Farmington, Connecticut, with six feet of headroom. (New York Historical Society.)

Höss was executed on April 16, 1947 after capture (he’d hidden out for a year) and a trial. And here are three unsavory characters, in order from left to right: Commander of Auschwitz I Richard Baer, Auschwitz chief medical officer Josef Mengele and Höss, 1944.

  • 1985 – Mikhail Gorbachev is elected to the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union making Gorbachev the USSR’s de facto, and last, head of state.
  • 2004 – Madrid train bombings: Simultaneous explosions on rush hour trains in Madrid, Spain, kill 191 people.
  • 2020 – The World Health Organization (WHO) declares COVID-19 virus a pandemic.

Note that they say exactly the same thing for March 10—as I said yesterday. Which day is the anniversary of that declaration?

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1898 – Dorothy Gish, American actress (d. 1968)
  • 1903 – Lawrence Welk, American accordion player and bandleader (d. 1992)

If you remember Welk, you’ll remember his German accent, though he was born in the U.S.—but in a community that spoke German: Strasburg, North Dakota. Here he is! (I think “square” is the operant word):


  • 1926 – Ralph Abernathy, American minister and activist (d. 1990)
  • 1931 – Rupert Murdoch, Australian-American businessman and media magnate
  • 1951 – Dominique Sanda, French model and actress
  • 1952 – Douglas Adams, English author and playwright (d. 2001)
  • 1963 – Alex Kingston, English actress

Those who handed in their lunch pails on March 11 include:

Fleming received the Nobel Prize with Howard Florey and Ernst Chain for his discovery and identification of penicillin.  Here are three pictures of Fleming and related matters (captions from Wikipedia):

Sir Alexander Fleming (centre) receiving the Nobel prize from King Gustaf V of Sweden (right) in 1945


Display of Fleming’s awards, including his Nobel Prize. Also shows a sample of penicillin and an example of an early apparatus for preparing it.

(I happen to be allergic to penicillin.) “Ask your doctor!”:


Good luck finding a photo of Oscar. When you Google “photo of Oscar Mayer,” you get this.

  • 1957 – Richard E. Byrd, American admiral and explorer (b. 1888)
  • 1960 – Roy Chapman Andrews, American paleontologist and explorer (b. 1884)
  • 1970 – Erle Stanley Gardner, American lawyer and author (b. 1889)
  • 2006 – Slobodan Milošević, Serbian lawyer and politician, 3rd President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (b. 1941)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej is making Hili anxious, as she’s been celebrating the departure of cold weather:

Hili: At last one can start to work in the garden.
A: We have to do something as long as the weather is nice, but the winter can return.
HilI: Don’t scare me.
In Polish:
Hili: Nareszcie można zabrać się za pracę w ogrodzie.
Ja: Trzeba korzystać z ładnej pogody, bo zima może jeszcze wrócić.
Hili: Nie strasz.
But now it started snowing heavily in Dobrzyn, and here’s a commentary on Hili’s lament, with Hili and Szaron far apart on their windowsill blankets

Caption:  Talking about winter—the snow is already here.

In Polish: O wilku mowa, a śnieg już tu.

Szaron awaits the arrival of Spring:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Nicole: a patient cat and a kindly grandmother:

From Facebook:

From Titania. I have to say that I don’t fully buy Markle’s claim about the color of her baby, as I think she’s desperate to remain in the public eye. They will neither name the perp nor even say what he/she said, but here’s Titania’s guess. Who is this white demon?

A tweet that came via Simon. Though I feel sorry for those who were laid off in this cruel way, I can’t say I’m unhappy that HuffPost is circling the drain. And with all their virtue signaling, this is an extraordinarily unempathic way to fire employees. This mass booting is probably connected with HuffPost’s recent acquisition by BuzzFeed, which should make for even more dire reporting. PuffHo lost $20 million last year, and was scheduled to lose the same amount this year. Look for some fun changes! More articles with subtitles like “here’s what you need to know”!  And more emoticons!

Barry sent a tweet of a very strange cat interaction. His comment: “What is it thinking? ‘Get off my chair’? Such a strange sound. And that cocked head!”

Tweets from Matthew. First, A. R. Wallace, ever the polite man, defends Darwin. You can read Wallace’s full review here.

A one-minute class in how the mRNA vaccines work:

Yes, they can do this (check the link):

Here’s a video of what’s also known as the “dumpling squid”. It’s adorable!

Philosophy made simple by Roz Chast:

61 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. That book review by Wallace is indeed scathing. Not quite a match for Peter Medawar’s epic take down of Pere Teilhard De Chardin’s magnum opus, but an impressive effort.

  2. I guess we are just about old enough to watch Lawrence Welk. You have to be past 70.

    My dad was also allergic to penicillin. Fortunately did not pass that on to any of the kids.

      1. I know🙀and often on Saturday night on PBS😬 Even my dad recognized ol’ Lawrence and Co. as cheesy, and his older sister had played the piano on LW’s radio show in ND.

    1. I haven’t heard Welk in decades, and I’m struck by the combination of some very corny elements with some really hip jazz and swing. Weird.

    2. “(I think “square” is the operant word):” Yes, play whatever it takes to keep louts from loitering around ones convenience store and harassing customers. (Were Welk around today, he might consider featuring CardiB and her “Wap.” ;))

      1. “One’s,” not “ones.” If memory serves me, Welk at one time had a net worth of $800,000,000. Like Liberace, no doubt he cried all the way to the bank.

  3. “I have to say that I don’t fully buy Markle’s claim about the color of her baby” – in a radio interview a couple of days ago the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, a black man, said his pregnant white wife was asked how dark skinned she thought her baby might be. The question was posed by her own mother, who was trying to decide what colour wool to use to knit something for the infant’s impending arrival. He said it was a perfectly legitimate question, given the context and intent behind it. Markle’s claim has provoked a lot of allegations that whoever asked the question must be racist, but in the absence of any evidence about context and intent we can’t jump to that conclusion. And she might have made it up, as our host suggests.

    “Who is this white demon?” –

    The reason why George is a prince but Meghan’s son isn’t is complicated constitutional nonsense, but nothing to do with racism.

      1. German/Danish?! Yes he has form but he was subject to racism in his time – he was called “Phil the Greek” which was clearly prejudiced.

        1. Well, he was a member of the Greek royal family and born in Greece, so fairly descriptive I’d say. Liz was underage when he started writing to her: “After being educated in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, he joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, aged 18. From July 1939, he began corresponding with the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth, whom he had first met in 1934.”,_Duke_of_Edinburgh

  4. … Merrick Garland was confirmed by the Senate as attorney general, though he really should be on the Supreme Court. He’ll be a good AG, though The vote was 70-30, with all 30 nays being, of course, Republicans.

    I’d like to know what pretext 3/5ths of US senate Republicans claimed for voting against Merrick Garland — a moderate of unquestioned rectitude, with over 20 years on the bench of the DC Circuit court (widely known as “the second highest court in the land,” owing to its jurisdiction over litigation involving the federal government), and extensive earlier experience as a federal prosecutor.

    Those voting against Garland’s confirmation included, of course, the über-ambitious Missourian who gave the raised-fist power salute to the January 6th insurrectionists, Josh Hawley, and (if you’ll pardon such foul language this early in the morning) Ted Cruz.

    1. “I’d like to know what pretext 3/5ths of US senate Republicans claimed for voting against Merrick Garland — a moderate of unquestioned rectitude, . . . “

      That right there is no doubt a major problem for them.

      1. Yeah, I suppose they no longer feel the need even to voice a pretext.

        Time was, not so long ago, things were different. Bill Clinton’s AG Janet Reno was confirmed unanimously, as was Bill Barr his first time around under Poppy Bush (as opposed to his second under Trump, after he’d auditioned for the role with an unbidden memorandum to the White House counsel saying the president was above being investigated for obstruction of justice).

      2. He was also a failed Obama pick, I’m sure that carries over as well. Cruz wasn’t able to vote against Garland the first time, so this was his chance. What a grand achievement, he must be very proud!

  5. Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner, that is what I’d truly love to beeeee. For if I were an Oscar Mayer weiner, everyone would be in love with meeeee.

          1. Yes, I couldn’t remember if those were the actual lyrics but thought that wouldn’t be appropriate to post 😉

      1. What’s next is: Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.

    1. The most-recent, major destructive earthquake in Japan.
      It certainly won’t be the last.

      While I think about it, “Are we there yet?”Nope, looks like a declining trend through the day in earthquake numbers. Still a lot of tremor. Weather warning too – just to add to the easy sleeping.

  6. I agree on Meghan Markle. As Bill Maher says, “I can’t prove it but I know it’s true.” (Actually, I am not 100% confident.)

    First, the race card. My guess is that someone did make a comment about the color of the baby but that’s not necessarily racism. It could be the innocent but awkward, “I wonder if the baby will have darker skin like her mother or light skin like her father.” The fact that she claims racism without giving even a hint as to what was actually said leads me to believe she knows that it wouldn’t sound all that racist to the public.

    She also plays the mental illness card, claiming she thought about suicide. Anyone can think about suicide. It is a matter of degree. She gives no real reasons why she wanted to take her own life. Since she has supposedly witnessed racism before, why would it now cause her to consider suicide? I would guess in-law troubles are not common causes of suicide.

    We are all forced to seriously consider her allegations seriously as they are about racism and mental illness and she knows this. However, we are not in a position to properly assess either claim. We should listen to her but she gives virtually nothing to go on.

    She also chose Oprah to do the interviewing, knowing that she would be totally sympathetic and ask no hard questions.

    Finally, Harry’s words and body language give me the feeling he is embarrassed by her revelations and just wants the whole thing to be over. I’m guessing he supported his wife from the start but now thinks things have spiraled out of control.

    I ask myself why I have such a strong opinion on this. I think it is because I hate when people take advantage of their situation and pull cultural strings to do so.

    1. My feelings on this are somewhat uncharitable toward Ms Markle. She had some pretty rough treatment at the hands of the British media but she surely would have known that it would happen and she should have been prepared for it (that’s not to excuse the behaviour of the media, which was disgraceful).

      Anyway, she and Harry effectively resigned from the Royal Family and their public life which is fine as far as I am concerned and I support their decision, but now she is back in the public eye and it looks to me very like she is trying to stick one on the in-laws. If media attention had driven me close to suicide, I wouldn’t be considering actions that are guaranteed to increase media attention.

      1. Yes. We might assume that the problems occurred before they decided to “divorce” the Royal Family. So why go public now and after so much time? Perhaps Markle didn’t like the lack of media attention. She wanted her royal cake and eat it too.

      1. Actually, IIRC, the annoying little brats singing the song use the proper subjunctive mood “were.” 🙂

      2. Hey, I met the original “Little Oscar” (George Molchan) about 60 years ago when he came to Park Forest, IL in the Wienermobile, as a promotion opening our new large supermarket. Good that he was a little person, because the vehicle’s insides were really cramped, kids stood on the steps to meet him. Still have the Wienerwhistle somewhere.

  7. Seeing A.R.Wallace’s long, scathing review of Brees’s book, I’m reminded of the shortest scathing review of all time (can’t remember, alas, by whom). Anyway, the review for the 1957 movie, “From Hell it Came,” was “Send it back!”

  8. I haven’t read H.P. Lovecraft in 30-odd years, but those mature Adenium obesum immediately made me think of the “truncated cones” of the Old Ones. Be careful with what you are raising, Prof. Ceiling Cat, Emeritus. You may wake up to find the place full of Shoggoths.

  9. Re the cat making the strange sound: to those of us who have had multiple cats over the years, this is a not unfamiliar sound. That combined with the ears folded back means that a cat is VERY mad at some other cat. My cats have most often yowled like that when they see an outside cat who is near the house. It is a warning territorial cry: “get out of my space NOW!!!” This behavior is often followed by a fight when it involves two outdoor cats. Notice how a third cat came on the scene to find out what all the fuss was about–that is typical.

  10. The only problem with that representation cartoon is that it would not be a couple of blue collar looking white guys complaining.

  11. More interesting news today: Mexico voted to legalize recreational marijuana; Mexico will become the world’s largest market. Now America will be surrounded by two countries with legalized marijuana. Time for America to come on board…It would be a boon for democrats (and Americans, in general) if the Biden administration successfully legalized marijuana federally. After all, it’s also a civil rights and criminal justice issue.

    1. H. R. 3884 decriminalizing cannabis passed the House of Representatives on December 3, 2020, and is pending action in the Senate Finance committee. Joe Biden has said he’ll sign it if it clears the senate.

      I keep track of this stuff because my brother took took a job with the Cresco office in Chicago after Sears, where he worked his way up the corporate ladder for decades, went belly-up. The federal law that criminalizes marijuana prevents companies like Cresco from participating in the interstate banking system.

      If H. R. 3884 becomes law, I’m sure it will unharsh my bro’s mellow all the way until retirement. 🙂

      1. Oh yeah, I forgot about 3884. I forgot about a lot of bills that went to McConnell’s legislative graveyard. I do remember Biden saying he was in favor of legalizing cannabis (though I thought he should have talked about it more on the campaign trail). Now we have a chance…I don’t know where the Senate Dems are on the issue. Manchin will probably be another thorn. Either way, it’s probably one of those issues that can’t be solved with the filibuster in place.

        Interesting about your brother. Legalizing cannabis would no doubt unharsh millions of mellows. 🙂

  12. I see Biden has signed the Covid relief bill now (I thought it was odd that he would wait until Friday).

  13. To my fellow cat lovers,

    My sweet kitty and constant companion ran away from home tonight. I am absolutely heartbroken and sick to my stomach. I opened the front door to a salesman who rang the doorbell. I am always careful to keep kitty indoors–he’s been indoors only since I brought him in 26 months ago–but he just appeared and went out the door. I tried to call him but he was scared. I followed him as he went around the house once then ended back at the front door and he meowed looking at the door he’d come out like he wanted back inside but it was closed. Before I could get to it to open it he was off. He ran off toward the back yard. I’ve been looking for him for 3 hours with a flashlight. Lots of other cats in the neighborhood but no sign of him.

    I put his litter box outside by the garage in case him comes back so he knows his scent. I put food out. I put signs around the neighborhood. I’ve been crying my eyes out missing him and worrying about him. He has claws but I trim them.

    I want him back so much. This hurts so bad.

    1. Kitty came home! We were too upset to sleep so we were still awake at 3:30 and he walked into the bedroom. A miracle! He’s getting a can of solid albacore today!

  14. So professor – you’ll cancel the New Woke Times – with its excellent science and international sections…..but you just can’t put down that HuffPost crack pipe? Hmmmm.

    They’re such garbage, won’t pay their contributors (ahem: me) and … they’re just terrible all over the place.
    (I ended up publishing elsewhere in a periodical which doesn’t treat its readers AND now we see regular employees with contempt).


Leave a Reply