Monday: Hili dialogue

March 22, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Monday, March 22, 2021: One week until I fly to Austin and begin the Great Barbecue Quest. Posting will be light this week as I prepare my innards and outards. It’s World Water Day, as well as National Bavarian Crêpes Day, and National Goof-off Day.

In honor of Goof-of day, here’s Maynard G. Krebs, the biggest goof-off in the history of television. “WORK???!!!!”

News of the Day:

The two biggest items of news, at least on television, are 1) Overcrowding in Florida and 2) Overcrowding at the border. In Florida, the kids on spring break are going wild, running drunk and rampant in the streets, and fighting with the cops. As a result, the Mayor set an 8 pm curfew that will hold until April 13. Even so, crowds refused to disperse and the cops had to fire “pepper balls” at them.

Speaking of which, Europe is not faring well with the coronavirus: outbreaks have forced both France and Poland to institute new lockdowns.

In Poland, non-essential shops, hotels, cultural and sporting facilities are now closed for three weeks.

Malgorzata reports this about Poland:

There are not enough ambulances to take people to the hospitals and then there are queues of ambulances in front of the hospitals who cannot process the patients quick enough. Some already died in ambulances, waiting. Sometimes fire brigades are used to transport sick people instead of ambulances, because all ambulances are already in use.

And in France, the lockdown will last at least a month, with restaurants and cafes closed.

The new restrictions are not be as strict as the previous lockdown, with people allowed to exercise outdoors.

Non-essential businesses are shut, but schools remain open, along with hairdressers if they follow a “particular sanitary protocol”.

There go my plans to visit Paris and Dobrzyn! And restive citizens are now holding public protests against lockdowns in the UK, France, and Germany.

Immigrants and would-be immigrants continue to accumulate at the U.S.’s border with Mexico, many from Central America. Although DHS chief Alejandro Mayorkas has declared firmly that “the border is closed”, that is not the case, at least according to the NBC Evening News, which reported that only about 5-10% of families crossing the border have been sent back.  And Press Secretary Jen Psaki slipped up and told the truth, using a euphemism:

For weeks, Biden administration officials have scrupulously avoided using the word “crisis” to describe the migrant surge on the southern border.

But White House press secretary Jen Psaki did exactly that during a press briefing Thursday.

“There have been expectations set outside of, unrelated to, any vaccine doses or requests for them, that they would be partners in dealing with the crisis on the border,” Psaki said.

Later, when another reporter asked her about her use of the term “crisis,” she immediately reverted to “challenges” — the word the White House has been using when repeatedly pressed on the most accurate way to refer to the growing problem.

According to CNN and other venues, and in light of the accusations by Meghan Markle that a member of the Royal Family made a racist remark, the Windsors are thinking of appointing a “diversity czar.” Will there be mandatory instruction on unconscious bias as well?

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. 541,937, an increase of just 444 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands at 2,728,634, an increase of about about 5,600 deaths over yesterday’s total. 

Stuff that happened on March 22 includes:

  • 1508 – Ferdinand II of Aragon commissions Amerigo Vespucci chief navigator of the Spanish Empire.
  • 1622 – Jamestown massacre: Algonquians kill 347 English settlers around Jamestown, Virginia, a third of the colony’s population, during the Second Anglo-Powhatan War..
  • 1765 – The British Parliament passes the Stamp Act that introduces a tax to be levied directly on its American colonies.

This was a tax, to be paid on British currency, on all paper used in the colonies, which had to be imported from Britain. It’s the levy that inspired the anti-British slogan “No taxation without representation.” And had the Brits not levied it, we’d all be eating chips instead of French fries.

The Buddha, about 66 cm (26 inches) tall, is made of jasper, not emerald, but is cloaked in gold. Buddha’s decorations change with the seasons, too (see caption below):

(From Wikipedia): The Emerald Buddha in the three seasonal decorations, from left to right: Summer season, Rainy season, Winter season.
  • 1794 – The Slave Trade Act of 1794 bans the export of slaves from the United States, and prohibits American citizens from outfitting a ship for the purpose of importing slaves.
  • 1895 – Before the Société pour L’Encouragement à l’Industrie, brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière demonstrate movie film technology publicly for the first time.

As Wikipedia notes of this day, “Their screening of a single film on 22 March 1895 for around 200 members of the “Society for the Development of the National Industry” in Paris was probably the first presentation of projected film.”  Here are the brothers, Auguste on the left and Louis on the right:

  • 1933 – Cullen–Harrison Act: President Franklin Roosevelt signs an amendment to the Volstead Act, legalizing the manufacture and sale of “3.2 beer” (3.2% alcohol by weight, approximately 4% alcohol by volume) and light wines.

This Act was signed before Prohibition was formally repealed (December, 1933), and caused great rejoicing. (Previously, beer had an upper limit of 0.5% alcohol.) Here’s some of that rejoicing:

Here’s part of that patent application; both men won a Nobel Prize for their work:


Lipinski was also  the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in skating, and the first woman to complete a triple loop (twice in a row) in competition. Here’s that first triple loop:

  • 2017 – A terrorist attack in London near the Houses of Parliament leaves four people dead and at least 20 injured.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s a van Dyck with a big cat: “St. Jerome” (ca. 1620):

  • 1785 – Adam Sedgwick, English scientist (d. 1873)
  • 1887 – Chico Marx, American actor (d. 1961)

Perhaps you know that Chico was an very good piano player, and showed off his talents in several Marx Brothers films. Here’s a montage, but first a note from Wikipedia:

Groucho Marx once said that Chico never practiced the pieces he played. Instead, before performances he soaked his fingers in hot water. He was known for ‘shooting’ the keys of the piano. He played passages with his thumb up and index finger straight, like a gun, as part of the act. Other examples of his keyboard flamboyance are found in A Night at the Opera (1935), where he plays the piano for a group of delighted children, and A Night in Casablanca (1946), where he performs a rendition of “The Beer Barrel Polka”.

  • 1912 – Karl Malden, American actor (d. 2009)
  • 1923 – Marcel Marceau, French mime and actor (d. 2007)
  • 1930 – Stephen Sondheim, American composer and songwriter
  • 1955 – Lena Olin, Swedish actress
  • 1976 – Reese Witherspoon, American actress and producer

Those who took the Dirt Nap on March 22 include:

Edwards was a hellfire preacher, determined to bring people to Jesus by scaring the hell out of them. Here’s part of his famous 1741 sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God“:

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you were suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep.


  • 1832 – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist, poet, playwright, and diplomat (b. 1749)
  • 1978 – Karl Wallenda, German-American acrobat and tightrope walker, founded The Flying Wallendas (b. 1905)
  • 1994 – Walter Lantz, American animator, director, and producer (b. 1899)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is moving slowly:

Hili: Everything is waking up to life.
A: It’s very nice.
Hili: Yes, but I’m sleepy.
In Polish:
Hili: Wszystko budzi się do życia.
Ja: To bardzo sympatyczne.
Hili: Tak, ale mnie się spać chce.

And here’s little Kulka, alert and bouncy as ever:

From Stash Krod:

From Nicole:

From Mark, a photo from some English class or department:

I’m not a huge fan ot d*gs, but I certainly don’t want them to suffer, get hurt, or die. Thus I’m heartened by this tweet from reader Ken, showing a human chain saving a canid. How great is this?

Tweets from Matthew. This vole may be okay in the winter, but it’s toast when Spring comes. This makes me sad, but Matthew reminded me that the raptors gotta eat, too. That didn’t make me feel better. . .

I didn’t know that this species even existed. But, sure enough, it does. Isn’t it lovely? But habitat loss has given it a “vulnerable” status.

Well, sort of. . . .

Oy! is the appropriate phrase here:

This is the walrus seen off Ireland the other day. It’s going in the wrong direction!

What is up with this cat?

This is an interesting eight-tweet thread that gives two explanations for why amphorae are pointed.


33 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. “[W]on an uncontested divorce on the grounds of cruelty” – the dude’s poetry must have been really bad! 😆

    1. The dead swans lay in the stagnant pool.
      They lay. They rotted. They turned
      Around occasionally.
      Bits of flesh dropped off them from
      Time to time.
      And sank into the pool’s mire.
      They also smelt a great deal.

      Allegedly by Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings. Vogon poetry is considered mild by comparison.

  2. Austin is home to the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 Grand Prix purpose built race track. As a different experience you might try their carting activity. Seeing the big track and experiencing 50mph speeds just a few inches off the ground on the carting circuit might be fun for you. The website did not show a map of the carting circuit, but i would assume that it is a road course design with several interesting and challenging turns. A good break from pandemic doldrums.

  3. I think the Covid situation in the US will soon be under control. Then it will be time for the new normal. We are never going back to pre-Covid days. The reason for my optimism is vaccination. So this all depends on people getting vaccinated.

    Here is the situation in my home state of Illinois. I got my first jab last Thursday (Moderna). As of Friday, Illinois had vaccinated 3.1 million people. I count those who have gotten one shot as half a person vaccinated. I am also assuming that all the vaccines require two doses. The population of Illinois is 12.8MM. Assume that 80% is 18 or above. US average is 23%. So we have 10.24MM to vaccinate. That means we have 7.14MM to go. Illinois will start receiving a million doses a week this week – up from 800,000. That is 500,000 people vaccinated a week. That means 143,000 doses a day. We had been averaging 103,000 but got up to 135,000 so 143,000 is doable.

    At that rate, every adult in Illinois can be vaccinated by June 27 (ignoring the time between jabs). If 80% of adults want to get vaccinated, they will be done by the end of May. The reality is that public health officials will have to start a huge outreach effort by May 1 encouraging people to get vaccinated.

    As far as the under 18 cohort, there are about 350,000 16 and 17 year olds. They can get Pfizer. We need to start working on them as well. Both Moderna and Pfizer are working to get approval for children as young as 12. Hope that comes soon. Another 700,000.

    The biggest problem is vaccine hesitancy. I think African American numbers are going OK. Not as well as whites. I have yet to meet a 65 year old plus white person who does not want to get vaccinated. Whether they have gotten a jab or have an appointment is the major topic of conversation amongst old farts. Vaccination rates among Hispanics is lagging.

    So we will soon be moving from hand wringing about the availability of vaccines to a public health campaign to get people vaccinated. And we need to start implementing the new normal – whatever that is. I plan on wearing a mask – probably for the rest of my life.

    The next issue is vaccinating the world. We have been selfish so far. Time for that to end. Having the US vaccinated while Covid is stewing around the world producing new variants ready to come to what we thought was a safe haven. We need to cooperate with Russia and China. China does not expect to have its population vaccinated until the end of 2022.

    And then we need to figure out how effective and long lasting the vaccines. Which ones are the best? When do we need another jab.

    1. Yes, the US is doing well especially on vaccines. Deaths are down by over 70% since their January highs (3400 to 1000). Old people are the ones who die from coronavirus (80% of the deaths are from over 65) and old people are getting vaccines. Soon everyone will be eligible.

      This fall in deaths was obvious to me (In the comments, I predicted deaths would drop to 900 by the end of March) but somehow it was not to the medical authorities. Soon the coronavirus will a flu-like disease and we will return to normal.

      Trump’s Operation Warp Speed and Boris Johnson’s vaccination plans have been great successes. The EU has been absolutely incompetent on vaccines and Europeans are paying the price. Countries that have stopped the Astrazeneca vaccines are making a bad situation worse.

      1. So under Trump’s watch, half-a-million Americans die (and a massive undercount at that), he downplayed the virus after knowing it was deadly (see the Woodward tapes from 2/20), called it a hoax after knowing it was deadly, didn’t use the federal government’s power to subsidize and centralize massive testing (he completely botched the testing and downplayed that as well), didn’t use the Defense Production Act to accelerate testing, PPE manufacturing and distribution, touted Hydroxychloroquine as a miracle drug, said maybe bleach injections would work (or internalized UV light?), rarely wore a mask, and never wore one in the beginning (he liked showing bravado tearing off his mask), never mandated masks or any CDC protocol, never set any kind of good example of how to control the virus and actually held dozens of super-spreader events, ridiculed actual infectious disease experts like Fauci and hired the radiologist-sycophant Scott Atlas to replace him. He basically told the states to do their best with what they had, and if they were blue states, to hell with them and their governors. I can imagine that a President Biden (or Clinton) would have created some form of “operation warp speed” in January or February, not May. Also, Clinton or Biden would not have abolished the pandemic programs Obama started in the first place. I could go on. Giving Trump any credit for this is a disgrace.

        Incidentally, last week I received my second Pfizer vaccination, and guess what, Pfizer wasn’t a part of “warp speed”. I thank Biden and his administration, to hell with Trump.

        1. Did you know it is possible for a person to do somethings well and others badly?

          The US under Trump and the UK under Johnson did much better jobs on vaccines than the EU. That’s indisputable. US deaths have dropped 70% since January. Deaths in the EU are down 20% since January but have barely dropped in the last month. The US and the UK also have more per capita deaths than the EU overall.

          This does not mean that either Trump or Johnson have ever made a good decision on anything else ever in their lives. It does not mean they did a good job on coronavirus. It means that the UK and US did a good job on vaccines under these leaders.

          It does mean that we should look at what allowed the US and UK to a good job. Perhaps it’s totally unrelated to Trump and Johnson. More likely they deserve some of the credit.

      2. Just today NY lowered the eligible age from 60 to 50 which suits me as I turn 50 on Thursday. Well timed, eh? I couldn’t imagine a better birthday present.
        Other than, perhaps, the “vaccine hesitant” (aka dangerous idiots) get with the program before covid mutates into something much, much nastier, and we do more to get the rest of the (non rich) world jabbed so it doesn’t mutate and kill there.


  4. Stamp Act, the Intolerable Acts and others. Wait a minute, I thought it was slavery? On the plantations of Lexington and Concord.

      1. Taxation without representation, to be exact. The British did not have much of a high horse to sneer from, considering how many slaves they imported to America.

        1. Yes. It was three decades before the slave trade was banned in the British Empire and nearly six before slavery itself was banned. That should be enough to show that the War of Independence was not about slavery.

          1. Though us Brits were rather keen to abide by the deals that forbade westward expansion that we had signed with the native Americans, which was a more likely trigger for the War of Independence? Of course, that was back in the distant days when we regarded keeping our treaties as important – now we feel free to tear them up before the ink has dried…

    1. It would seem advantageous to make tall, thin amphoras to pack more produce for transport on carts and boats. Tall containers would optimize the use of space. Clay pots probably can’t be stacked (breakage due to waves and potholes), and it would be costly to build shelves for short pots. Amphoras couldn’t be so large (wide and tall) that breaking one or two would cause bankruptcy. As pointed out in the tweet, the peg on the bottom would help keep them from shifting on rough seas and poor roads.

  5. It seems I recall hearing that Bob Denver (Maynard G. Krebs; Willie Gilligan; Dud Wash #2) was nothing like his on-screen characters, actually rather quiet and bookish. Is there any worse reunion/sequel than “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island”?

  6. “There go my plans to visit Paris and Dobrzyn! And restive citizens are now holding public protests against lockdowns in the UK, France, and Germany.”

    And in plenty of other countries as well. Some European countries have higher covid mortatlity than the US and vaccinations proceed much slower than in the US or UK. In Switzerland we had several anti-mask, anti-vax, anti-everything public protests and illegal restaurants can be found everywhere (restaurants and bars are not yet allowed to open). You would think people are in a hurry to get vaccinated so that we can go back to normal as soon as possible. But no, a poll published yesterday estimates that only 43% of people in the German speaking areas and 23% (!!) in the French speaking areas of Switzerland are willing to get the vaccine (Italian speaking areas were not asked, as usual).

    1. Vaccine acceptance in Brazil is near 90%, 95% in the over-70 age group. The problem here is government incompetence/malfeasance resulting in the lack of sufficient vaccines.

    2. Eastern Europe is looking really bad right now. Czechia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Slovakia all current have death rates higher than the US ever had. They are all in the top 15 worst deaths per capita with deaths rising rapidly except possibly in Slovakia

      In the beginning of the pandemic, these countries were barely being affected and people were speculating as to why i.e. the BCG vaccine. It turns out that it was just luck which ran out this winter.

  7. The cat in the puddle reminds me of one of my cats. He likes to stalk ripples in his water bowl. He’ll sit by the bowl and meow until someone stirs the water, and then pounces on the ripples.

  8. You missed a birthday. (Or perhaps not – I can’t remember if you have strong feelings about Star Trek or not.) William Shatner, inventor of, the Shatner, comma, among other, this is 90 today. I was always a Trekker, though I sometimes think I loved the idea of Star Trek more than the actual shows. Pro-science, socialist, secular utopia? Beam me up.

  9. Re: amphorae

    Several years ago NOVA had an episode where an ancient sunken Roman ship was explored. Its cargo consisted of amphorae (filled, IIRC, with fish sauce). The reason they gave for the shape of the amphorae is that they pack tightly and resist shifting due to waves.

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