Sunday: Hili dialogue

May 16, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Sunday, May 16, 2021: National Barbecue Day, one of America’s finest food holidays. It’s also World Baking Day, National Coquilles St. Jacques Day, National Mimosa Day, National Sea Monkey Day (brine shrimp; did you order them from comic books like I did?), Love a Tree Day, and Stepmother’s Day (only one stepmother is apparently being honored given the position of the apostrophe).

Wine of the Day: A seven-year-old Napa Valley Cabernet, which I see set me back about $30, a price I never thought I’d pay for a wine when I was younger. It was dark, rich, and dense, with the classic California cab notes of eucalyptus and herbs. I had it with pasta with “gravy”, as Tony Soprano would say, and it improved greatly over the hour I had it open. I expect that it will be better tomorrow, and has several years to go before its apogee. It was very good but not fantastic. Is it worth the money? Ask me tomorrow. By the way, there’s a good article in the NYT about the relationship between price and quality in wine. Best values: $15-$20.

News of the Day:

The CDC has removed its mask mandate for those who are fully vaccinated, though there’s nowhere I know of that would ask for proof, and both stores and states/cities are still wavering  Two-thirds of Americans still haven’t been fully vaccinated, but 56% of adults have received at least one shot, which is pretty good. Things are still confusing, though: Starbucks kept its mandate and then reversed course 24 hours later.

The “progressive” left joined in criticizing Israel in the House of Representatives yesterday, as the American left in general is withdrawing support from Israel and transferring it to Palestine (see below).  Israel also, after giving ample warning, leveled a building containing the offices of Al Jazeera and the AP (no journalists were injured), but allegedly did contain offices used by Hamas (see here).

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 585,281, an increase of 604 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,384,698, an increase of about 12,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 16 includes:

She remained in custody until executed in 1587.

  • 1770 – The 14-year-old Marie Antoinette marries 15-year-old Louis-Auguste, who later becomes king of France.
  • 1842 – The first major wagon train heading for the Pacific Northwest sets out on the Oregon Trail from Elm Grove, Missouri, with 100 pioneers.
  • 1866 – The United States Congress establishes the nickel

Here’s the first nickel. They were considered ugly, and banks would not accept more than 20 at a time:

  • 1868 – The United States Senate fails to convict President Andrew Johnson by one vote.
  • 1888 – Nikola Tesla delivers a lecture describing the equipment which will allow efficient generation and use of alternating currents to transmit electric power over long distances.

Here’s Tesla, who died several years after injuries sustained after being struck by a taxicab:


  • 1918 – The Sedition Act of 1918 is passed by the U.S. Congress, making criticism of the government during wartime an imprisonable offense. It will be repealed less than two years later.
  • 1929 – In Hollywood, the first Academy Awards ceremony takes place.
  • 1943 – The Holocaust: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ends.

Here’s an iconic photo of the Jews in Warsaw surrendering to the Germans. Certainly most of these were sent to camps and killed:

And from Wikipedia: “A man leaps to his death from the top story window of an apartment block to avoid capture. 23-25 Niska Street.”:

  • 1951 – The first regularly scheduled transatlantic flights begin between Idlewild Airport (now John F Kennedy International Airport) in New York City and Heathrow Airport in London, operated by El Al Israel Airlines.
  • 1991 – Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom addresses a joint session of the United States Congress. She is the first British monarch to address the U.S. Congress.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s Fonda’s famous “I’ll be there” soliloquy as Tom Joad in the movie The Grapes of Wrath (1940):

  • 1919 – Liberace, American pianist and entertainer (d. 1987)
  • 1929 – Adrienne Rich, American poet, essayist, and feminist (d. 2012)
  • 1966 – Janet Jackson, American singer-songwriter, producer, dancer, and actress

Those who “fell asleep” on May 16 include:

  • 1830 – Joseph Fourier, French mathematician and physicist (b. 1768)
  • 1953 – Django Reinhardt, Belgian guitarist and composer (b. 1910)

The great Reinhardt, who played jazz guitar with only two fingers on the fretboard (he injured his hand in a fire), accompanied by the equally great Stéphane Grappelli:

  • 1957 – Eliot Ness, American federal agent (b. 1903)
  • 1984 – Andy Kaufman, American actor, comedian, and screenwriter (b. 1949)
  • 2019 – I. M. Pei, Chinese-American architect (b. 1917) 

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili smells an alien creature:

Hili: Somebody was here.
A: But who was it?
Hili: An intruder.
In Polish:
Hili: Ktoś tu był.
Ja: Ale kto?
Hili: Jakiś intruz.

Here’s little Kulka up in the trees (photo by Paulina):


Matthew found this article on Twitter and adds that he doesn’t know the “date, source, or veracity”. Still, given the nature of Mt. Athos, it’s possible. Also, there’s some verification at Storypick, which says that the story appeared in an Athens newspaper on the 29th of October, 1938. Further story at Boldsky. Still, it’s hard to imagine.


A meme from Bruce:

From Nicole, and relevant to yesterday’s post on Caturday felids:

Apparently AOC has finally become an expert on geopolitics (top vs. bottom).

Reader Gethyn, no slouch himself at Welsh poetry, sent a wonderful rendition of a famous poem by Dylan Thomas. I don’t know who the speaker is, so please enlighten me.

From Barry, the world’s most pampered iguana becomes an “influencer” (lord how I despise that word!):

Tweets from Matthew.

The answer is “an onion”!

Try this one (answer below it):

As Matthew said about the sweet video below, “This will warm the cockles of your heart, although why the hell he has to work at 89 I dunno…”  Maybe he likes the job!

This is me, since I just heard that Paris restaurants are opening at the end of May:

I didn’t get this at first, but Matthew told me it’s sort of a British usage, with “may” meaning “you are allowed to” or “you are permitted to”:


33 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. The monks of Mount Athos famously wouldn’t allow females of any species into the Athos peninsula – so no hens, but cockerels – and definitely no female tourists. I guess that depending on the circumstances in which he ended up there, it might have been possible that the monk had never seen a woman?

    1. Oops, my mistake – an exception was made for hens but not other female creatures.Boats with female tourists on-board have to stay at least 500metres from the shore of the peninsula.

  2. If the CDC recommendation that fully vaccinated people need not wear masks indoors or outdoors should ever be reversed due to an uptick in cases among the fully vaccinated this would be a tragedy not only for the people getting sick but for science itself. Who among the general public would ever trust science again? Saying that science self-corrects will satisfy almost nobody. Thus, it is critically important that the CDC has gotten it right.

    1. I find it interesting that, in this case, a political decision was required. The science may say it is safe for vaccinated people not to wear masks, but it was the wrong decision and politicians should have had the courage to stop it from happening.

      This is going to mean everybody stops wearing masks because how can you know who has been vaccinated to enforce the rules?

      The pandemic is not over in the USA. Jerry reports the deaths each day in the USA and has been in the 600’s for weeks now. Things aren’t getting worse, but neither are they improving.

      1. Yep jeremy. I agree. There is still a lot of virus out there…certainly around the world, but also in the U.S. i would be more comfortable waiting for another factor of ten decrease in daily covid deaths in U.S. before eschewing masks and distance. That puts deaths on the order of a flu season.

      2. There was a long discussion on our local Nextdoor web site. Many of those who were, and say they will remain, unvaccinated were saying that they would now not wear masks. It was full of people spouting unsupportable covid theories.

    2. The CDC and Biden administration’s silence on vaccine passports is palpable. I’m guessing that the Right has made it such a hot-button issue that they’ve calculated that it is not worth the battle. Instead, they are leaving it to private industry to do whatever it wants on restricting the unvaxxed. It always amazes me the general public’s fear of national databases and ID cards when, at the same time, we’re all in databases held by private industry. It’s as if they don’t mind being in a database as long as it has to do with buying crap but if it’s for something useful or administered by the government, they don’t want any part of it. It’s a nation of children.

      1. It may be the other way around. Some think the science is wrong and the politicians should step in and fix it. That is the way Trump worked. What the science folks should have done is get some feedback from the media, politicians and others before pulling the trigger. They did not do that – science does not have a PR firm.

        1. I think you are referring to the CDC’s botched rollout of unmasking. On that I would agree. I’m specifically talking about vaccine passports that would make it easy for businesses, airlines, entertainment venues, etc. to require vaccinations and easy for the public to prove their vaccination status without carrying around that flimsy paper card. Instead, its the every-man-for-himself plan. Some businesses will require it and perhaps make use of one of the many phone apps. I suspect that many will avoid them for fear of losing their anti-vax customers.

          1. Yes, the Trump right wing were attempting to not wear masks and the liberal left will refuse to take them off. A perfect match.

            1. I find that the idea that the Left are wearing their masks past when needed to be overblown. Sure, there might be a few out there doing that but, hey, it’s a free country. It is not unreasonable to keep our masks on while there are still unvaxxed or infected people running around. Also, it makes sense to honor business requests to mask up as they have responsibility to protect their customers and employees.

    1. Probably best known to Yank audiences for playing David Frost in Frost/Nixon, Tony Blair in The Queen, and human-sexuality researcher Dr. William Masters in the Showtime series Masters of Sex.

    2. I recommend Sheen in the recent “Staged” on Hulu. It features him and David Tennant as themselves doing Zoom meetings during the pandemic. It features a raft of cameo roles by the likes of Judi Dench, Whoopi Goldberg, Josh Gad, Hugh Bonneville, Cate Blanchette, and many others. Here’s the bit with Dench:

    1. “Actually, “may” does mean “be permitted to”. What the sign should have said, and why it is funny, is “might”.”

      Well, the way you presented that suggests ‘may’ only has that meaning, but no, it also means ‘might’ or in other terms; ‘it’s possible/it could happen’. For sure, ‘might’ would have removed the ambiguity and humour, but grammatically may fits. It’s an example of the intended meaning being easily inferred in context.

      1. On the other hand, ‘might’ may be used in the same two senses as can ‘may’. Although the ‘permittted’ sense of ‘might’ is rarely used these days, a request such as ‘Might I have another slice of cake?’ and a permission granted as in ‘If you finish the one you have then you might have another’ are valid uses of ‘might’.

    2. I’m in the UK and have been trying to master the language for 54 years. I’ve seem “may” used in either sense. It’s ambiguous and that’s why it’s funny.

      I guess the strictly correct sense s “permitted to”.

  3. 1918 – The Sedition Act of 1918 is passed by the U.S. Congress, making criticism of the government during wartime an imprisonable offense.

    This was the statute used to prosecute the Yiddish-speaking antiwar pamphleteers whose convictions were upheld in Schenck v. United States (the opinion in which Justice Holmes wrote his famous “shouting fire in a theater” passage). It was also used to prosecute labor leader Eugene V. Debs, whose conviction resulted in his being sentenced to a dime at the federal pen in Atlanta (a sentence later commuted by President Warren Harding).

    1. What do you get for inciting insurrection on the capital building in peace time? Apparently nothing.

  4. If the monk died in 1938 then while I can believe he never set eyes on a woman or an automobile, it is stretching the imagination to believe that he was never outside when an aircraft flew overhead, or that if he were then he never looked up to investigate the source of the noise.
    It’s not as though aircraft didn’t fly to, from or over the Greek islands by 1938.

    1. Surely his eyes fell upon his mother even if only her legs as he was squeezed out at birth?!
      Or is it like puppies that their eyes do not open for some time?! 😁

  5. FWIW, the AOC clip was edited from a much longer sequence to make her sound totally clueless. Although she doesn’t give a stellar answer overall, she willingly admits that she’s not an expert in this area.

    Also, the clip is from three years ago (July 2018).

  6. As others have noted, the poetry reciter is Michael Sheen. He’s a well known British actor who makes occasional appearance in US productions.
    Particularly well known for taking on the roles of real-life characters. e.g. David Frost in Frost/Nixon. He’s such a brilliant “mimic” that he’s often unrecognisable in theses roles as himself.
    His best role? Try and catch him in The Damned United. He plays legendary English football manager Brian Clough.

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