Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

May 22, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Cat Sabbath: May 22, 2021: National Vanilla Pudding Day. (That reminds me of Bill Cosby, who used to advertise Jell-O puddings but is now in jail.) It’s also Italian Beef Day (a sandwich best consumed in Chicago), United States National Maritime Day, Harvey Milk Day in California (see below), International Day for Biological DiversityWorld Goth Day, and Canadian Immigrants Day.  

News of the Day:

Jerrold Nadler, a senior Jewish congressman and chair of the House Judiciary Committee, maintains in a NYT editorial that “Democrats have not changed their position on Israel.”  An excerpt

But the vast majority of Democrats are thoughtful and considerate, and recognize nuance in a conflict shaded by centuries of complexity, suffering and pain, and this has always been the case. We know that the only solution is one where both Jewish and Palestinian people have the right to self-determination and security. We support the humanity of both parties in the conflict as well as small-d democratic values. And we stand resolutely against attacks on Israel’s right to exist. Really, this moment reflects a coming out of the silent majority of American Jews whose values are both liberal and supportive of Israel, as a recent Pew study indicates.

As the most senior Jewish member in the House of Representatives, a longtime Congressional Progressive Caucus leader and the House member who represents the largest and most diverse Jewish population, I’m more familiar with this issue than most. The Democratic Party, of course, welcomes robust debate. However, the conversations I have had with a wide range of members of my party, including many of the 25 Jewish Democrats in the House as well as a number of progressives, reflect a reality that the headlines do not: On Israel, there exists a broad, mainstream consensus around a number of core principles.

Would that he were right, but I don’t quite buy it. Israel’s right to exist?  Did he also talk to members of the Squad? Bernie Sanders? One of my biggest sources of stress these past few weeks is watch the Democratic Left, almost predictably, move the needly slowly away from Israel’s right to exist toward Hamas, which denies that right. I still don’t quite understand it.

Speaking of which, have a look at Peter Savodnik’s new analysis (on Bari Weiss’s Substack site) of why America has suddenly become so much more anti-Semitic (click on screenshot):

An excerpt:

Over the past two decades, this obsession with identity has intensified and spread. Progressives are now incapable of talking about anything important without mentioning human beings’ immutable traits.

Any politics of identity was bad for the Jew. On the right, the identiarians said that the Jew lacked whiteness — it was a new version of the old Nazi claim about our impurity. On the left, the Jew was said to have too much.

In 2021, we are well-aware of the white-nationalist inanities. We have memorized the horrific footage from Charlottesville. We remember every Jew murdered in Pittsburgh and in Poway.

But their chants of “Jews Will Not Replace Us” are now being joined by the identitarians of the left, who wield vastly more capital and power, in government, in the media, in the universities, in Hollywood, and in Silicon Valley. (It’s curious that Rep. Rashida Tlaib has accused Israel of “forced population replacement.”) Together, they form a bleating chorus of grievances. Somehow their roster of The Hurt never includes the Jew.

How can you not want to read the answer to Michelle Goldberg’s title question in her new NYT op-ed (click on screenshot)?

And, surprisingly, her answer is “yes”, based not only on Hitchens’s work but mainly on a “compelling new podcast,” “The Turning: The Sisters Who Left,” about those who left Mother Teresa’s order.  An excerpt:

What makes “The Turning” unique is its focus on the internal life of the Missionaries of Charity. The former sisters describe an obsession with chastity so intense that any physical human contact or friendship was prohibited; according to Johnson, Mother Teresa even told them not to touch the babies they cared for more than necessary. They were expected to flog themselves regularly — a practice called “the discipline” — and were allowed to leave to visit their families only once every 10 years.

Joe Biden handed out the first Medal of Honor of his administration to a 94-year old Korean war vet who got out of his wheelchair and discarded his walker to stand up and receive America’s highest military award. I’m not a big fan of war, but somehow the story of Col. Ralph Puckett, Jr. tugged a bit at my heart. Here’s a photo (click on it to go to the story):

The Wall Street Journal has a mouthwatering article on some of Italy’s best white wines, which are not too expensive (the examples given range from $19-$30). The tasting notes make me want to explore this genre, about which I know almost nothing.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 588,846, an increase of about 700 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,458,946, an increase of about 12,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 22 include:

Fourteenth. As Wikipedia notes, the first certain appearance of the comet was in 240 BC from a Chinese record.

  • 1455 – Start of the Wars of the Roses: At the First Battle of St Albans, Richard, Duke of York, defeats and captures King Henry VI of England.
  • 1804 – The Lewis and Clark Expedition officially begins as the Corps of Discovery departs from St. Charles, Missouri.
  • 1807 – A grand jury indicts former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr on a charge of treason.
  • 1826 – HMS Beagle departs on its first voyage.

This is not the voyage that carried Charles Darwin, which was the second (and last) voyage of the ship. Here’s a view of the ship, which was much smaller than you think:


And here’s that patent:

  • 1960 – The Great Chilean earthquake, measuring 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale, hits southern Chile, becoming the most powerful earthquake ever recorded.
  • 1964 – Lyndon B. Johnson launches the Great Society.
  • 1987 – First ever Rugby World Cup kicks off with New Zealand playing Italy at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • 1998 – A U.S. federal judge rules that U.S. Secret Service agents can be compelled to testify before a grand jury concerning the Lewinsky scandal involving President Bill Clinton.
  • 2002 – Civil rights movement: A jury in Birmingham, Alabama, convicts former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry of the 1963 murder of four girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

Here’s the white supremacist and Klansman (Klansperson?) Cherry, who died in a prison hospital in 2004:

  • 2010 – Inter Milan beat Bayern Munich 2–0 in the Uefa Champions League final in Madrid, Spain to become the first, and so far only, Italian team to win the historic treble (Serie A, Coppa Italia, Champions League).
  • 2017 – Twenty-two people are killed at an Ariana Grande concert in the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.

Notables born on this day include:

I couldn’t have told you what Wagner looked like, so I looked him up. Here’s a photo:

Here’s a fine Cassatt: “Sara holding a cat” (ca. 1908):

Matthiessen remains the only person to have won a National Book Award for both fiction and nonfiction. Here’s a brief remembrance:

  • 1930 – Harvey Milk, American lieutenant and politician (d. 1978)
  • 1942 – Ted Kaczynski, American academic and mathematician turned anarchist and serial murderer (Unabomber)

Those who croaked on May 22 include:

  • 1802 – Martha Washington, First, First Lady of the United States (b. 1731)
  • 1885 – Victor Hugo, French novelist, poet, and playwright (b. 1802)
  • 1967 – Langston Hughes, American poet, social activist, novelist, and playwright (b. 1902)

Hughes was one of the black writers I read when I decided to read early 20th-century black literature and nonfiction as the pandemic started. Here’s his portrait by Gordon Parks:

  • 1997 – Alfred Hershey, American biochemist and geneticist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1908)
  • 2010 – Martin Gardner, American mathematician, cryptographer, and author (b. 1914)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Paulina is stalking all cats with her camera:

Hili: I thought that Paulina was hunting for Kulka.
Szaron: For her every cat is tempting.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Myślałam, że Paulina poluje na Kulkę.
Szaron: Każdy kot ją kusi.

And Leon and Mitek have an exchange:

Leon: Oatmeal for breakfast? Are we converting to vegetarianism?

In Polish: Owies na śniadanie? Przechodzimy na wegetarianizm?

From Woody; a most excellent meme:

From Jean:

From SMBC via Ginger K:

From Titania. I’m not sure exactly what this Lego kit is, or what it’s supposed to demonstrate:

From Simon, who I hope doesn’t carry cats in his maw! Poor kitty!

Tweets from Matthew. If I posted this before, well, here it is again.

And a second and related tweet:

Sadly, this was yesterday, and we won’t be alive to see its recurrence:

The discovery of drinkable cow excrement (the first one is clocks):

Darwin was often depressed and lugubrious, as he was 153 years ago yesterday.


39 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. Lego have just released a Pride Month themed set “Everyone is Awesome” – it looks very boring judging by the photo.

      1. For a second there as I started reading your comment, Jez, I was going to bow to you as an amazing polyglot.😉 (I don’t know, maybe you really are!)

        1. You’re welcome – I’m impressed by how accurate the Google Translate version turned out to be!

      1. Wow! A mighty accurate effort from Google Translate! I once used GT to send a short comment in German to a friend in Germany. It gave her a bad pain and she begged me to write ONLY in English!

        1. Oh you should try translating East Asian languages in GT — the experience is almost psychedelic it is so bonkers.

          BETTER than it used to be, I’ll grant, but still craaazy.
          (Japanese speaker)

  2. “One of my biggest sources of stress these past few weeks is watch the Democratic Left, almost predictably, move the needle slowly away from Israel’s right to exist toward Hamas, which denies that right. I still don’t quite understand it.”

    Perhaps the Israelis have been too successful at defending themselves to be regarded by others as victims? Hamas has played the Palestinian victim card with vigour, and ‘the left’ do favour victims over other concerns.

    Nothing to deal with facts, of course, just ‘feelings’.

    1. “if you don’t need a mask because God protects you. why do you need a gun?” That can hardly be improved upon, I’d say.

  3. 1813 – Richard Wagner, German composer (d. 1883)

    I couldn’t have told you what Wagner looked like, so I looked him up.

    Is that guy somewhere in Stephen Fry’s ancestry?
    No, seriously!

    This is not the voyage that carried Charles Darwin, which was the second (and last) voyage of the ship.

    But it was quite formative. Fitzroy’s experience after joining that voyage helped convince him to take a couple of civilian scientists on the second voyage who were of comparable social status to him as he realised he needed someone to socialise with – which as captain of the vessel, he couldn’t do with crew members. Hence, Darwin (and the expedition naturalist who dropped out after a few months).
    The Beagle did a 3rd survey voyage into the 1840s, covering the East coast of Australia, then probably went to a slow end docked on the Essex coast and hosting several coast guard officers to deter smuggling. There was a radio program about it a few years ago, and according to Wiki, a TV program as well (which I shall keep the eyes peeled for – news to me).
    23 years as a working at-sea life for a wooden vessel. That would seem quite short these days, but my experience is with metal-hulled vessels. I know that the Royal Navy (and presumably other navies) fought a continuous war with various “ship worm” organisms that chewed up wooden hulls, particularly in tropical service, but I don’t know if 23 years is a long life or a short one for the conditions. There’s no mention of her having been, for example, copper-bottomed.

    1. A Stephen Fry relative? Don’t think so but I do think he did an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, probably on the yootoobs somewhere. I thought it was Richard Owen at first.

  4. The SMBC caption cartoon left out one very important one:

    ‘The co-authors thank the aforementioned for their contributions to the paper,
    and blame each other for any remaining errors or deficiencies.’

  5. Thanks for putting up the Korea event and the metal of honor. Having spent some time in South Korea and also being born in 1950, the year this occurred it is good to remember. Some think the Korean conflict is the first war we lost but that is not true. We won in Korea because eventually we accomplished what we went there to do.

    1. Reestablish the border in the vicinity of the 38th parallel? Yeah, I suppose so, though Douglas MacArthur certainly had visions of greater grandeur when he made his foolhardy push all the way north to the Yalu River in the winter of ’50 (and with his desire to nuke Red China). And, as a technical matter, I’m not sure the Korean conflict ever officially ended; it’s in a more-or-less perpetual state of armistice, lacking a final peace treaty.

      Whole thing makes me think of the sad lines by the old folks in John Prine’s 1971 tune “Hello In There”: “We lost Davey in the Korean War. And I still don’t know what for. It don’t matter anymore.”

      1. Even from a strictly humanitarian perspective, I think we were right to defend S Korea when it was invaded and almost completely occupied by N Koreans early in the war. But I can’t imagine how the US was so stupid and arrogant to think that, after expelling the N Koreans from S Korea, we should ourselves do exactly the same thing to N Korea, occupying (briefly) most of N Korea. And then threatening China. What idiots. And our later carpet bombing of N Korea reduced it to rubble, a much worse and longer-lasting humanitarian crisis than the occupation that caused the war in the first place.

      2. If you doubt our win in Korea I would suggest you go over there and see for yourself. Look around and also compare the North to the South today. If that doesn’t get it for you, ask some of the people of South Korea. It should have been done much faster and less painful than it was but that did not happen thanks to MacArthur. He made it a war with China and he really cost us a lot. It is amazing that MacArthur is still loved by many. He was a dangerous and stupid leader – kind of like one we just recently got rid of.

        1. I don’t disagree in the least with you and Lou that it was entirely just and proper for the US to defend South Korea from the attack from the North. All I’m saying is that there was a lot of life needlessly wasted on the Korean peninsula and that the peace achieved in 1953 remains tenuous to this day.

          1. Some of the good history on the war in Korea puts much of the direct blame on MacArthur. He moved the forces north after the Inchon landing and continued to do so against all advice. Truman should have fired him sooner, that is certain but he got little help from the boys at the Pentagon. China said they would come in if they continued north to the Yalu but MacArthur thought he knew better. When the Chinese attacked in force MacArthur had no answer. He immediately wanted to go nuclear. Truman said no and the rest is history. We are lucky the guy that replaced MacArthur was much better or it could have been worse.

            1. Truman should have fired him sooner, or given him a more restricted mandate at the beginning. But the US likes to win big in the short run (due to jingoism, fueled by over-enthusiastic media propaganda, just as we have seen at the beginnings of nearly all our recent wars), and it was politically difficult to put the brakes on MacArthur. Most people think his firing of MacArthur cost him his re-election.

        2. Slightly but not entirely in a lighter mood, especially since war is such a serious matter, the South Koreans have progressed materially amazingly well from their dictatorship days (before about 1970 IIRC). For example, they are soon to release in North America what sounds to me like it could be the best car, $ for $, anyone has ever manufactured till now. (But maybe I’m being taken in by adverts.)

          I refer to the Ionique 5, a pure electric. We have a pair of very good PHEVs which had been doing about 75% electric, but now 100% with Covid keeping us pinned down. That entirely new Ionique version using the Ionique name—the earlier are very good I understand—seems to have way more than Tesla can offer for the price, but we’ll see. I’m almost tempted to sell one of the PHEVs for that one, which claims fast charging which will add 100 km range in 5 minutes, so one could have an easy trip across Canada with no range worries—heretofore not a trivial matter. There are some surveys now rating Hyundai ahead of Toyota in quality. Of course it’s possible the pricing will be way higher than I’m guessing based on which others they take to be their main competition.

          Sorry for what sounds very uncharacteristic of me, almost an advert. But there is not a single thing really new about that touted Ford pick up electric which is supposed to suddenly turn USians into electric vehicle fans. There are many for the car above. Of course there is a minority of truck buyers who really do need a truck, not a CUV.

          I have no connection with Hyundai, never owned one but came close once around 2006.

          1. The love affair with the pickup truck in this country is beyond explanation. They sell more of these F150 trucks than anything else on wheels. I suppose if they made one that ran on spaghetti it would sell thousands.

  6. I was disappointed to find that World Goth Day is for celebrating ‘the sub cultural aspects of the Goth subculture’. I was looking forward to spending the morning pillaging a few European countries, and then building a cathedral in the afternoon.

  7. The jump in technology in so short a time from the Wrights’ patent to the planes of WWI, then to the DC-3, and on to the jet-age in the 50s is staggering.
    Wagner occupies a prominent place in the “Say what you will about him…” category of artists. It’s hard to imagine Western music without the four Ring operas.

    1. Yeah, though Wagner was one of the biggest Arschlöcher in history, his music supplies many glorious, even transcendent moments. His “Tristan Chord” took Western music in a new direction that we’re still following to this day.

    2. I remember my Contracts class in law school, in 1979 – the professor was talking about government contracting, and showed us two examples: first, the contract and specifications by which the Department of War purchased planes from the Wright brothers in around the time of WWI, just a couple of pages; second, specifications for oatmeal raisin cookies for the Department of Defense today (well, 1979) – pages of specifications for every ingredient.

  8. “We know that the only solution is one where both Jewish and Palestinian people have the right to self-determination and security.”

    This is *exactly* the argument put forward by Palestinian Arabs in 1919, which resulted in 3/4 of Mandatory Palestine being awarded to them as the nation of Trans-Jordan. They argued that Jewish Palestine would certainly be created for Jews only, and thereby won approval for the creation of Trans-Jordan as a Judenrein state(!). Their leader made an oral promise to stop all further Arab sovereignty claims in Jewish Palestine.

    So…. why is Nadler and the whole world discussing this issue again as if it has not already been addressed?

  9. Thank you for mentioning Arthur Conan Doyle. His Sherlock Holmes books were my introduction to critical thinking from my youth. A good example of which is in the short story of Silver Blaze where the following exchange took place.

    Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?
    Holmes: To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.
    Gregory: The dog did nothing in the night-time.
    Holmes: That was the curious incident.

    This exchange highlights the flaw in the old adage “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Absence of evidence can indeed be evidence of absence if the evidence Should be there, but is not.

  10. Jerrold Nadler, a senior Jewish congressman and chair of the House Judiciary Committee …

    Or “somebody’s bubbeh from Brooklyn” as I think of him every time I see him on tv. 🙂

  11. I must have read every one of Martin Gardner’s debunking books and articles in the Skeptical Inquirer when I was in flight from the New Age decades ago. As a working librarian, I would from time to time recommend his book, “The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener,” as the “best book you never read.” Gardner was a big influence on me, but I couldn’t get why, despite his brilliance, he never went all the way to become an atheist. I suppose something from his ultra-religious childhood remained with him and held him back from abandoning god entirely, and he ultimately took refuge in the fideism of Unamuno. Despite that, he was a great writer. I’d kill for his prose style!

  12. “… who used to advertise Jell-O puddings but is now in jail.“

    More like Jail-O


    is now in Jell-O

  13. “So you don’t trust what’s in vaccines….. but you trust the $50 worth of coke we’re snorting and that joint over there that one eyed “Corner Jimmy” just sold us at midnight?”

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