Thursday: Hili dialogue

March 25, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Thursday, March 25, 2021. I leave for Texas next week—my first trip in a whole year!

It’s International Waffle Day. It’s been a long time since I had one of these corrugated pancakes (I have no waffle iron, and restaurants have been closed). I suppose I should try chicken and waffles some time, as it’s a big dish in Chicago. Here’s a local version.

It’s also National Lobster Newburg Day (another dish I haven’t had), Pecan Day, Tolkien Reading Day (March 25 was the downfall of Sauron in Lord of the Rings), International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

It’s Medal of Honor Day. marking the day in 1862 when the Great Locomotive Chase took place, with Union Soldiers commandeering a Confederate train and taking it north, damaging the railroad line as they went. Some of the surviving Union soldiers (the Confederates caught and shot some of them) were given the very first Medals of Honor, the highest award the military gives for bravery in combat.

Wine of the Day: I looked in vain for a vintage year on this bottle, which I bought Ceiling Cat knows when, but found via Google that it’s a “nonvintage” wine: a rarity in this price range. In fact, it’s a blend of wines from five vintages (2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017) and ten plots in the Southern Rhone, a great area for red wines. It’s mostly Grenache (85%), with 5% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre.

I wouldn’t have known this is a Rhone wine, as it tasted like a good, gutsy California grenache, with a nose of blackberries and cherries. It really was the perfect accompaniment to my weekly rare T-bone (while others bought toilet paper during the initial lockdown, I loaded up my freezer with steaks). Powerful and tasty, but not overly tannic, I would have liked to taste this puppy in five more years. Sadly, I had only one bottle.

News of the Day:

Talk about a squeaker: a Republican candidate for a House set in Iowa, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, won her election by just six votes out of a total of nearly 400,000. Her opponent, Democrat Rita Hart, says that 22 ballots were discarded by officials that would have given her the victory. Hart has appealed to the House to overturn the results. Sound familiar? The House, as per the law, is looking into the matter, with Republicans objecting strenuously.

Trouble in Israel: In yesterday’s election, Netanyahu’s right wing bloc fell short of the votes needed for him to form a government. He could still prevail with help from the Arab-Islamist Ra’am Party (get that, arguers that Israel is an “apartheid state”), but they want concessions for the Arab Israelis in return.

Five White House staffers were fired for past marijuana use, which seems unfair to me. After all, Kamala Harris has admitted to and endorsed recreational marijuana use. Here’s Jen Psaki’s rationale for the firing, which seems pretty thin. Of course, we don’t know all the details, but why did she play the “federal crime” card?

A 1300-foot-long container ship, blinded by dust storms, ran aground in the Suez canal, wedging itself sideways and blocking the damn passage, creating a lineup of over 100 ships. So far efforts to free it have failed.  12% of world trade passes through the canal, and oil prices have already risen over the incident. And, as of this morning, it’s still stuck! Here’s an Instagram photo of one of the world’s longest ships wedged in tight:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 545,070, an increase of 1,591 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands at 2,758,100, an increase of about 9,400 deaths over yesterday’s total. 

Stuff that happened on March 25 includes:

  • 1306 – Robert the Bruce becomes King of Scots (Scotland).
  • 1584 – Sir Walter Raleigh is granted a patent to colonize Virginia.
  • 1655 – Saturn‘s largest moon, Titan, is discovered by Christiaan Huygens.

Here’s a gif of Titan visualized with infrared light. It’s the only moon known to have a stable atmosphere (nitrogen) and standing liquid (hydrocarbon lakes), and it’s about 40% as wide as the Earth:

  • 1807 – The Swansea and Mumbles Railway, then known as the Oystermouth Railway, becomes the first passenger-carrying railway in the world.
  • 1811 – Percy Bysshe Shelley is expelled from the University of Oxford for publishing the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism.

Here’s the pamphlet, on which no author appears. I’m not sure how Shelley was identified as the author.

This tragedy, due to a fire and to the exit doors being blocked, resulted in the deaths of 123 women and 23 men, mainly Italian and Jewish immigrants. Many of them leaped from the upper floors of the building to their deaths, as shown below:

This was an accusation of rape made up by a white woman against nine black adolescents, who were prosecuted and convicted. After a retrial, seven were convicted and five served prison sentences. There was no evidence of a rape, physical or otherwise. The last defendant died in 1989, and the Alabama legislature gave them all posthumous pardons in 2013. 

(From Wikipedia): The Scottsboro Boys, with attorney Samuel Leibowitz, under guard by the state militia, 1932

A first edition, first printing of the poem will run you around $3,500:

Here’s part of King’s speech at the end of this final march:

If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. He gave him Jim Crow. And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man. And he ate Jim Crow. And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings.

  • 1995 – WikiWikiWeb, the world’s first wiki, and part of the Portland Pattern Repository, is made public by Ward Cunningham.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1908 – David Lean, English director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1991)

Lean directed three of the most famous (and best) epic movies of our era, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and Doctor Zhivago (1965). Here are the first ten minutes of “Lawrence”:


  • 1918 – Howard Cosell, American soldier, journalist, and author (d. 1995)
  • 1920 – Paul Scott, English author, poet, and playwright (d. 1978)

I implore you to read Scott’s four novels The Raj Quartet, and its Booker Prize-winning sequel, Staying On. If I can’t persuade you, perhaps Christopher Hitchens can. It’s one of the best modern novels, as you can consider all five volumes part of a single story.

  • 1925 – Flannery O’Connor, American short story writer and novelist (d. 1964)
  • 1934 – Gloria Steinem, American feminist activist, co-founded the Women’s Media Center
  • 1942 – Aretha Franklin, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 2018)

Here’s Aretha’s famous turn in “The Blues Brothers”:

  • 1965 – Sarah Jessica Parker, American actress, producer, and designer
  • 1967 – Debi Thomas, American figure skater and physician
  • 1982 – Danica Patrick, American race car driver

Those who became permanently quiescent on March 25 include:

A Chicago resident for much of her life, Wells was perhaps the most famous black woman in America, and a well known activist, as well as one of the founders of the NAACP. Here’s a famous pamphlet she wrote:

  • 1973 – Edward Steichen, Luxembourgian-American photographer, painter, and curator (b. 1879)

Here’s Steichen’s famous photo of Greta Garbo, taken in 1928:

  • 2006 – Buck Owens, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1929)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,

Hili: One has to look the truth in the eye.
A: And what?
Hili: Consume it.
In Polish:
Hili: Trzeba spojrzeć prawdzie w oczy.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Skonsumować.

And here is Szaron having a stretch:

From Facebook:

From Bruce:

From Nicole:

From a conservative source via Luana, but I swear it’s pretty accurate.  It’s from The Critical Theory Handbook of Journalism. Be sure to look at the whole chart:

Tweets from Matthew. I’d heard this first story before, but it still amazes me. The guy must have assumed that he’d die when he hit the ground.

A nice display of mutual sexual selection, especially the “cross the neck” manuever:

Jaguar on the border! Will DHS let it in?

This is ineffably sweet; sound up!

All of us!:

A sad map of where the US government stuck the Native Americans.

48 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. “The only thing you have to fear is being shot wherever you go” meme literally hit close to home for me Sunday last. While sitting on the deck in back of my fieldstone farmhouse in rural northern Michigan visiting with a friend and her two young daughters on a warm, sunny afternoon, a stray bullet from somewhere pinged off the stone facade of my home, bounced off the roof of my back porch and landed, spent, in our midst. Police have the bullet and are investigating.

  2. Waffles and chicken – no, I do not even understand that.

    Surprised that they let those giant new container ships go thru the canal. They might want to reconsider that.

    1. Chicken and waffles, if done right (unlike in that photo), is a wonderful dish.

      Paillard the chicken, as in that photo. Cut it into 1″ cubes and place atop the waffle. Instead of syrup, as in that photo (yech), cover with cream gravy made with the chicken drippings.

      The crispness of the waffle makes a great base for chicken paillard and gravy.


      1. I admit that sounds a bit better. However, gravy on a waffle is not going to cure this combination for me. Why not skip the waffle and put potatoes on the plate? Chicken, potatoes and gravy was kind of a thing for many years.

        1. I bet if you tried it, you’d like it.

          Sure, you could put it over potatoes. If you wanted something crisp underneath, you could use hashbrowns or papitas.

          But the waffle really does add something.


    2. Surprised that they let those giant new container ships go thru the canal. They might want to reconsider that.

      $700,000 passage fee versus 9-10 days at sea, so you can infer that these vessels cost upwards of $70 thousand per day to keep under way at sea.
      Maybe people shouldn’t be allowed to use large size lorries on toll roads which they’ll fit on, and for which they were designed?
      I know that a lot of vessels are made to “Panamax” size – the largest vessels that will fit through the locks of the Panama canal (plus or minus about a half-metre tolerance for steering in and out). I don’t think there is a corresponding “Suezmax” … oh, sorry, there is, but it’s a much more moveable feast than Panamax. The canal has no locks and dredging has increased the draft to 20.1m in the last few years. But at the same time, they built a bridge over the canal imposing an artificial constraint “air draft” of 68m (by comparison, the most recent Bosporous bridge has an air draft of 64m, which meant a month in dock in each direction for stripping the top 15m off the derrick of the drilling rig I worked on in the Black Sea ; one man was badly injured in the construction work). They have two limits of beam – 50m and 77.5m, which are probably for 2-way versus 1-way traffic. There are several lakes separating sections of the canal, so they can group ships into convoys going in one direction to accommodate 1-way travel. (The Bosporous is also a 1-way seaway, and they switch directions with the tide ; being late to harbour with a load so that your vessel misses it’s time slot is a very good way of becoming very unpopular.)

      They might want to reconsider that.

      “That” gets considered when you are choosing which shipyard to get your vessel built in. And considerably earlier, when you’re looking at the economics of building the boat.

  3. Re Titan: “It’s the only planet known to have a stable atmosphere (nitrogen) and standing liquid (hydrocarbon lakes), and it’s about 40% as wide as the Earth:”

    I noticed a minor error. Should be ‘only moon’.
    I do wonder how hydrocarbon lakes would look if I were sitting on a beach there.

  4. Re: Media Narrative Chart – The media need to DROP the F-ING NARRATIVE, and go back to reporting the FACTS.

    I had a mild interest in journalism in middle and high school, where I was taught to separate news from opinion. Nothing wrong with having an opinion and expressing it, just keep it on the editorial page where it belongs.

    We’d all be a lot better off going back to that policy than we are now, having to figure out what is information and what is not.


    1. Re: subject chart:


      “. . . in perhaps [PERHAPS?!?] the most serious case, two male visitors are accused of drugging and raping a woman who later died . . . [then numerous paragraphs later] In the case of the woman who died, the police have arrested two North Carolina men on charges of drugging and raping her and stealing her credit cards. The woman, a 24-year-old from Pennsylvania, was later found dead in her Miami Beach hotel room.”

      The Times cannot be bothered to name the victim or her assailants. Why not? Maybe the Times named names several days ago? (I don’t know – anyone know?) If so, I guess the Times figured it had done its duty by her. Surely there are assaults/rapes/murders where the Times could never too much remind readers of names.

      But, per the below link, one of at least several easily found, local media outlets are not hesitant to enlighten readers:

  5. Edward Steichen is also notable for his war photography. During WWII the US Navy brought him on as Director of the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit.

    For a number of years in the 80s I spent a lot of time on WWII history. One of the most memorable photographic sources I came across was the book Steichen at War. It’s still sitting on one of my bookshelves.

    Steichen and his unit also made a film documentary named The Fighting Lady, which won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Documentary.

  6. In other news, the US Library of Congress has announced its annual list of the 25 recordings it will be adding to its Recording Registry this year. It includes a podcast for the first time, as well as recordings ranging from Winston Churchill, Louis Armstrong, the Muppets, and Jackson Browne (though his album Late for the Sky probably wouldn’t have been my pick). You can see the full list at the bottom of the report:

      1. I’m sure that the cultural loss arising from your rendition of the words of “God Save the Queen” to the tune of “La Marseillaise” not being preserved for posterity is incalculable, Dom!

  7. I think I am correct in saying that the Medal of Honor was the only United States medal for bravery until the First World War. As such the criteria for bravery included acts such as saving the lives of people who were drowning.

  8. “Lawrence” and “Cabaret” are continually duking it out for my all-time favorite movie. For whatever reason, I didn’t see LoA until a decade after its release, but I was fortunate to see it (and later, Cabaret) in a stand-alone theater on an appropriately big screen and not in a multiplex cinema, accurately described once by Jay Leno as the concrete bunker at the far end of the mall. Is there a more spectacular transitional moment in a film than the extinguished-match-to-desert scene? FU, CGI–I don’t want to be part of your Big Push!

    1. Rock a loaded container ship that is a quarter mile long back and forth? Yeah, that should work. They will likely need to dredge under the ship to remove lots of soil/mud. I doubt they even have a practical way to unload this ship where it sits.

        1. Wow…reminds me of the Deep Water Horizon disaster…no one knew how the hell to stop the oil…took 3 months! At least this ship isn’t spewing oil. But is the cargo moveable? I mean, those containers (fully loaded train cars) are fricking heavy and there are no cranes around the banks of the canal. I’ve seen the cranes used to unload cargo ships. They are not something you can simply move from A to B. This is going to get very interesting (in a bad way).

          1. I’m sure they could, and l wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what they end up doing. I bet right now they’re scrambling to see who is going to foot the bill. Can you imagine the cost of unloading a 1/4 mile long cargo ship with Chinooks? 🤑

            1. I don’t think that’s going to work. Looking at Lockheed Martin’s marketing bumf the maximum lift capacity for a CH-53K is 36000 pounds. Maximum container weight varies from place to place. But the range I’ve found from a quick look is from about 52000 pounds (South Australia, final delivery by road) to about 68000 pounds (Canada, rail).

              Looks like we’re going to need to train some African swallows.

    2. I think Archimedes’ comment about “given a fulcrum and a long enough lever …” fits here.
      Most of the canal has soil/ sand banks. They probably reinforce some of it with driven sheet piles, but that’s expensive. The images I’ve seen indicate that the banks at the appropriate point are soft soil/ sand. Have fun putting in a fulcrum on that.
      Once you’ve got a fulcrum … you’re going to need to apply big, alternating forces to the sides of the ship without caving them in and making the problem worse.
      Maybe, applying forces to the established load points (where mooring ropes, tow ropes and anchor lines go through the bow and stern) is the way to go. Which is, uh, pretty much what they’re doing.
      I wonder how they’re anchoring ground lines for any shore-based winches they’re trying to deploy. I’d start with “deadman” type anchoring, buried in the soil/ sand. But that’s very dependant on a local steel stock holder having a lot of large “H”-beams laying around. Or some being on a queued boat, which they can get a crane to, and lorries to, and whose owners are willing to accept the salvor’s offered price for renting them.
      Of course, 100-ton winches are a commodity item. Any large country should have one. Somewhere. Not actually being used. Hmm. Another thing to put onto the list of things to get.

      1. Thank you. That’s a more informative discussion than 99% of what I’ve seen on TV. Al Jazeera did a decent story but our US broadcast and cable news is pitched at children and the mentally feeble: “Boooy look at da biiig boat! Stuck!”

        1. 30 years working at sea.
          If I remember correctly, SMIT have a crane barge which might be able to pick the ship up, put it onto it’s deck, and take it somewhere where it can be put down safely.
          Trouble is … you might need to dig another Suez Canal – considerably wider and deeper – to get it into location.

  9. The bit about Nicholas Alkemade surviving a fall from 18,000 feet reminded me of the flight attendant, Vesna Vulović, who survived falling from 33,000 feet, though she was inside a part of a plane after it was destroyed by a briefcase bomb:

    The feasibility and mechanics of surviving such a fall were tested on the Mythbusters show in one of my favorite segments.

  10. Yeah, the WH firings kinda stink, but the federal government has been pretty consistent on this, so taking a job there should be caveat emptor by now: they still consider marijuana use illegal. If you want to hold a job there, don’t do it. If you’re thinking of applying for a job there, look back on your record of the last 7 years and ask if it will hold up to scrutiny, before you go to all the effort of applying.

    Re: Aretha in the Blues Brothers. A great cut from a great soundtrack. As well as many quotable lines, and the visual of Princess Leia wielding a flamethrower.

    1. I think the easiest and most sensible answer is to lift the federal ban. It’s done its job of locking up minorities long enough.

    2. For smoking a plant – effecting only one’s own body. Insane. Plus it automatically excludes a large % of qualified applicants. Even the CIA tends (or did) to look the other way at that kind of “sin” provided it wasn’t very recent in new applicants.

      The war on drugs is our largest, stupidest and most counterproductive mistake over the last 100 years. Surely what we put in our bloodstream on our own time should be private, no?

      (fmr defense attorney and writer about drugs and drug policy)

  11. Suez: What’s the point at which the cost of waiting exceeds the cost of fuel and time to transit around the Horn?

    1. A good question, to which I don’t know the answer. According to Wikipedia,

      An oil tanker going from Saudi Arabia to the United States has 2,700 mi (4,345 km) longer to go when taking the route south of Africa rather than the canal.

      The time saving of using the canal must be pretty considerable, but there will be other factors too, of course.

    2. A useful datum to consider is that the transit fees for a ship of this size are reported as $700,000, while going from Suez to Gibraltar via Cape Aghulas is about 14 days at economic cruising speed.
      A lot of midnight oil is being burned in shipping companies because the time difference between Dondra Head (southernmost point of the Indian subcontinent) and Gibralter via Suez versus via Cape Agulhas is only about 9 days. So every ocean-crossing vessel between (approximately) Singapore and Dondra Head is going to be making it’s gambles very carefully. And of course, looking at the penalty clauses in it’s contracts to see how much those will cost, and if they can demand recompense from Evergreen.
      Someone is going to get very embarrassed as their vessel is heading south past Dar es Salaam and the Ever Given starts to move. Turn round, or carry on? At Durban, the uncertainty time is going to be pretty short, but further up the coast, it’s a much thornier problem.

      The pirates of Somalia are going to cocking their Kalashnikovs in anticipation of the bounty to come.

  12. Talk about a squeaker: a Republican candidate for a House set in Iowa, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, won her election by just six votes out of a total of nearly 400,000.

    There have been a number of occasions in the UK where, after several recounts, a dead heat has been declared. Tradition is that the Returning Officer (who has the legal responsibility for the conduct of the election and count) will, with the agreement of the drawn candidates, literally toss a coin.
    What they’d do with a 3-legged race is … not a question they’ve had to face. Yet.

  13. The Great Locomotive chase began at Kennesaw (then Big Shanty), Georgia, when Union saboteurs, mostly Union soldiers dressed as civilians, commandeered The General. During the chase up towards Tennessee, the raiders were able to do little damage because they lacked proper tools to tear up rails and heavy rains had soaked the wooden bridges so they wouldn’t catch fire. Most of the band was captured near Chattanooga. Eight were sentenced to death by military courts as spies and for “unlawful belligerency.” The condemned men were hanged (not shot) in Atlanta. Another six were freed the following year in a prisoner exchange. Eight escaped and successfully returned to the Union lines.
    In 1926 Buster Keaton stared in the hero’s role in a silent film “The General” (United Artists) in which he portrayed a Southern railroad engineer who pursued and foiled the Union raid, and ended up not only winning his girl friend (Miss Annabelle Lee) but also awarded a commission in the Confederate Army. At the time “The General”, at a cost of $3/4 million, was one of the most expensive film ever made. I saw the film on HBO about a month ago. The locomotive still exists and is on exhibit at a museum in Kennesaw, Ga.

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