Monday: Hili dialogue (and Szaron monologue)

June 28, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to a dreary Monday; it’s June 28, 2021: National Tapioca Day, a comestible that has made a big comeback with the advent of Asian-style tapioca-ball drinks. It’s also Paul Bunyan Day, International Body Piercing Day, INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY, and Tau Day, described by Wikipedia as “a day similar to Pi Day celebrating the number Tau, which is equivalent to 2*Pi”. [JAC: in American notation it’s 6/28, which is roughly twice π.

Wine of the Day. As I said, I’m breaking into my pricier wines to treat myself in dispiriting times. The bottle below,  nigh on $35 when I bought it (but still a damn sight cheaper than a good wine in a good restaurant; see “news” below), is a French version of a chenin blanc, and, according to Robert Parker, who rated it a high “95”, could age for a long time to come. So perhaps I’m committing infanticide drinking it two years after the vintage. The food: fettucine Alfredo containing a pound of fresh garden peas from the farmer’s market. (I use Trader Joe’s excellent fettucine sauce, and bucatini noodles sent to me by a very kind reader.)

This was the most complex and finest example of chenin blanc that I’ve had. It was dry, but full of fruit in the nose (I detected honeydew melon and pear). Amazingly, it tasted a tad off-dry with the fettucine, which was great; it was a good pairing. I will have the other half  ofthe bottle to drink tomorrow, but, sadly, I have only one bottle, so I won’t be able to test Parker’s assertion: ” A terrific and buoyant Vouvray that any Chenin lover should try—or, better yet, cellar!” Even if this is outside your budget, you should be investigating chenin blancs as go-to summer whites, for there are some terrific values out there.

News of the Day:

We’re now 158 days into the Biden administration, and there’s still no sign of a White House cat. Uncle Joe doesn’t even bipartisanship to get one; has he lied to us?

The death toll at the collapsed Surfside, Florida condominium has climbed from four to nine as more bodies have been recovered. But more than 150 people are still missing, and investigators are taking DNA from relatives of those not yet found. It’s already been reported that scattered body parts have turned up in the wreckage.

You may find Nicholas Kristof a bit unctuous, but his latest NYT column (click on screenshot below) is worth a read, for it describes a black musician, Daryl Davis, who hangs out with neo-Nazis and genuine Klan members, trying to convert them. And it often works, at least according to Kristof. Here’s a summary of Davis’s methods:

One of Davis’s methods — and there’s research from social psychology to confirm the effectiveness of this approach — is not to confront antagonists and denounce their bigotry but rather to start in listening mode. Once people feel they are being listened to, he says, it is easier to plant a seed of doubt.

In one case, Davis said, he listened as a K.K.K. district leader brought up crime by African Americans and told him that Black people are genetically wired to be violent. Davis responded by acknowledging that many crimes are committed by Black people but then noted that almost all well-known serial killers have been white and mused that white people must have a gene to be serial killers.

When the K.K.K. leader sputtered that this was ridiculous, Davis agreed: It’s silly to say that white people are predisposed to be serial killers, just as it’s ridiculous to say that Black people have crime genes.

The man went silent, Davis said, and about five months later quit the K.K.K.

Davis claims to have converted over 200 bigots this way. While Kristof adds, “society can hardly ask Black people to reach out to racists, gay people to sit down with homophobes, immigrants to win over xenophobes, women to try to reform misogynists, and so on. Victims of discrimination have endured enough without being called upon to redeem their tormentors”, that’s what his hero is doing, so maybe he’s just saying, ashe does at the end, that you should talk to family members whose views contradict yours. That’s an anodyne lesson, typical of Kristof.  I would like to meet Davis, though!

A woman holding a cardboard sign stepped into the road in front of Tour de France riders near the beginning of the race on Saturday, causing a massive crash (see video below). As the Washington Post reports:

A woman holding a large sign bearing the words “ALLEZ OPI-OMI!” (German terms of endearment for grandparents) clipped Germany’s Tony Martin, who lost his balance and set off a chain reaction that sent cyclists sprawling across the pavement as she stepped in front of the peloton to display the sign for TV cameras. Several spectators and cyclists were injured in the first crash.

“We are suing this woman who behaved so badly,” Pierre-Yves Thouault, the tour’s deputy director, told Agence France-Presse. “We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this don’t spoil the show for everyone.”

The problem is that the woman fled the scene and they can’t find her.

Here’s a tweet that shows the onlooker with the sign:

I visited Venice only once:  for just a few hours on a day trip from a conference in Padua. Even though it was off season, the main part of the city was intolerably crowded. In season, it’s much worse. The city, already declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is now up for status of World Heritage in Danger sites. The AP reports:

The recommendation by UNESCO’s World Heritage Center took into account mass tourism, in particular the passage of cruise ships through the historic center, a steady decline in permanent residents as well as governance and management problems.

“This is not something we propose lightly,” Mechtild Roessler, director of the World Heritage Center, told AP. “It is to alert the international community to do more to address these matters together.”

Veneto regional officials have submitted a plan for relaunching the tourism-dependent city to Rome that calls for controlling arrivals of day-trippers, boosting permanent residents, encouraging startups, limiting the stock of private apartment rentals and gaining control over commercial zoning to protect Venetian artisans.

Lettie Teague, the Wall Street Journal’s wine columnist, is running a three-part series to acquaint would-be oenophiles to the basics of tasting wine, buying it, and pairing it with food. Have a look, especially if you’re just getting into wine: here are the first two articles:

Wine Tasting 101: An accessible guide to key grapes, terms, and techniques. 


How to order wine in a restaurant: pairing tips and sommelier strategies. 

She left out two of Coyne’s Lessons, though:

1). Always bring your own wine to a restaurant if you can, and pay corkage (the fee they charge to open and serve your own bottle) so long as that fee reasonable. Even at $15 a bottle, corkage is still considerably cheaper than buying the restaurant’s wine, which is nearly always unconscionably overpriced

2). Do NOT let the sommelier pour the wine for the table. The host should do all the pouring. (In this I agree totally with Christopher Hitchens.)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 603,597, an increase of 308 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll is now 3,940,422, an increase of about 6,700 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 28 includes:

Here, from Wikipedia, is “Sir George Hayter‘s view of the 1838 coronation.”

  • 1859 – The first conformation dog show is held in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
  • 1865 – The Army of the Potomac is disbanded.
  • 1870 – The US Congress establishes the first federal holidays (New Year Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas).
  • 1880 – Australian bushranger Ned Kelly is captured at Glenrowan.

A “bushranger” refers to an armed robber in old-time Australia.  Here’s a photo of Kelly on November 10, 1880, the day before he was hanged for murder:

Here’s the Archduke’s bloodstained uniform, shown on Wikipedia. Because of this assassination, 20 million people died, and for nothing.

Here’s the cover of the English version of the treaty:

  • 1922 – The Irish Civil War begins with the shelling of the Four Courts in Dublin by Free State forces.
  • 1969 – Stonewall riots begin in New York City, marking the start of the Gay Rights Movement.

The police raid on the Stonewall Inn was indeed an iconic moment. Here’s a photo from Wikipedia showing the protestors confronting the police, who had been regularly paid off by the bar for protection (the Stonewall was owned by the Genovese crime family). This form of extortion was called “gayola.”

(From Wikipedia): This photograph appeared in the front page of The New York Daily News on Sunday, June 29, 1969, showing the “street kids” who were the first to fight with the police.
  • In 1971, the recombinant DNA debate began on this day. Here’s a relevant tweet from Matthew, who’s writing a book on the topic:

  • 1978 – The United States Supreme Court, in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke bars quota systems in college admissions.

Note that the ruling was made on the basis that diversity itself was a desirable outcome, not as a form of reparations for centuries of repression of minorities.

  • 1987 – For the first time in military history, a civilian population is targeted for chemical attack when Iraqi warplanes bombed the Iranian town of Sardasht.
  • 1997 – Holyfield–Tyson IIMike Tyson is disqualified in the third round for biting a piece off Evander Holyfield‘s ear.

Here’s a video of the ear-biting (trigger warning: some blood):

  • 2001 – Slobodan Milošević is extradited to the ICTY in The Hague to stand trial.

Notables born on this day include:

Here are some big cats by Rubens in “Daniel in the Lions’ Den” (1614-1616).

  • 1703 – John Wesley, English cleric and theologian (d. 1791)
  • 1824 – Paul Broca, French physician, anatomist, and anthropologist (d. 1880)
  • 1873 – Alexis Carrel, French surgeon and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1944)

Carrel, whose photo is below, appears due for reexamination and/or cancellation. As Wikipedia describes him:

Alexis Carrel (French: [alɛksi kaʁɛl]; 28 June 1873 – 5 November 1944) was a French surgeon and biologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1912 for pioneering vascular suturing techniques. He invented the first perfusion pump with Charles A. Lindbergh opening the way to organ transplantation. His positive description of a miraculous healing he witnessed during a pilgrimage earned him scorn of some of his colleagues. This prompted him to relocate to the United States, where he lived most of his life. He had a leading role in implementing eugenic policies in Vichy France.

  • 1902 – Richard Rodgers, American playwright and composer (d. 1979)
  • 1926 – Mel Brooks, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter

Still alive at ninety-five!

In 1974, Johanson and his team discovered the Australopithecus afarensis skeleton called “Lucy”. It was a remarkably complete hominin skeleton, though we don’t know if it’s one of our direct ancestors. As I noted in WEIT, it’s an apelike cranium sitting atop a remarkably “human” postcranial skeleton.

  • 1946 – Gilda Radner, American actress and comedian (d. 1989)

What a comedic talent! I always thought that she and John Belushi were the two most talented cast members of Saturday Night Live (Dan Akroyd comes close behind).  Here’s Radner as a child presenting the “I Hate Jennifer Show”.  I don’t know any adult who can do a child better.

  • 1971 – Elon Musk, South African-born American entrepreneur

Those who began pushing up daisies on June 28 include:

  • 1914 – Franz Ferdinand, archduke of Austria (b. 1863)
  • 1975 – Rod Serling, American screenwriter and producer (b. 1924)
  • 2001 – Mortimer J. Adler, American philosopher and author (b. 1902)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is philosophical again. Malgorzata explains:

“To kid oneself, to lie to oneself, to convince oneself about something which is convenient, is a feature common to all humans. It’s easier to fool yourself than to fool other people. Here Andrzej suggests putting a stop to such behavior, and wise Hili, who knows her humans, is surprised what reasons could Andrzej have for proposing something so radical and so against human nature.”

A: Let’s not kid ourselves.
Hili: Is there any reason for introducing such radical politics?
In Polish:
Ja: Nie oszukujmy się.
Hili: Czy jest jakiś powód do wprowadzania tak drastycznej polityki?

Meanwhile, Szaron is on Malgorzata’s pillow in bed and tells her to go elsewhere:

Szaron:  Go sleep on the sofa.

In Polish: Idź spać na sofę.

A Mark Parisi cartoon sent by Diana MacPherson. If you don’t get it, a reader will no doubt explain it:

From Nicole:

From Jesus of the Day:

A tweet from Ginger K., with a lovely self-portrait avec chat (Lotte Lasterstein is described here).

A tweet from Ana, whose dad is reader Jez:

Tweets from Matthew: First, an amazing display of male prowess (he’s clearly trying to impress a female with his leaps). Wikipedia notes this:

During the breeding season, males leap suddenly from the grass with a peculiar croaking or knocking call, flutter their wings and fall back with slightly open wings. At the apogee of the leap the neck is arched backwards and the legs folded as if in a sitting posture. These jumps are repeated after intervals of about three or more minutes. The displays are made mainly in the early mornings and late evenings, but during other parts of the day in cloudy weather.

Now here’s a boy fated to go places!

Larry the Cat, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, checks out the live reporting setup:

A pet hairless cow becomes enamored with an orphaned piglet. Such a sweet story! Sound up.

There are lots of cats today, but this one cannot be withheld! Bobcat mom and kittens!

Look at the antennae on this moth. WHY SO BIG?

49 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue (and Szaron monologue)

  1. I paired a couple of bottles of Free State Stormchaser IPA with some crappy frozen vegetarian bbq sliders and breaded zucchini, all of which was terrible. The bottles had aged for about two hours in my fridge. I finished with a nightcap of Sailor Jerry Rum 2021 vintage, straight and at room temperature because over the last year I’ve stopped giving a damn and I’ve found that rum goes well with despair and old Columbo reruns.

    And for what it’s worth, I think both Daryl and the kkk guy were correct, and in keeping with caps lock day BLACK AND WHITE PEOPLE ARE BOTH GENETICALLY PROGRAMMED TO COMMIT CRIMES BECAUSE WE ARE NOTHING BUT DAMN DIRTY APES WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS. But seriously, I’ve seen him interviewed several times and all I can say is that Daryl Davis is wonderful human being and a true hero we should all try to emulate.

      1. Charleton Heston–the power of autocorrect. I had to add “Charleton” to my device’s dictionary.

        1. Yes, a twofer! A few days ago I was thinking of rewatching Spaceballs. You’ve convinced me to do so. May the schwartz be with you!

    1. Could pair well with The Rum Diary.

      Begun in 1959 by a twenty-two-year-old Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary is a brilliantly tangled love story of jealousy, treachery, and violent alcoholic lust in the Caribbean boomtown that was San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the late 1950s.

      1. “The Rum Diary is a brilliantly tangled love story of jealousy, treachery, and violent alcoholic lust” – appropriately, it was making the film version that Johnny Depp and Amber Heard got together…

    2. It took me all day to realize I should not have disparaged Free State beer, it was actually good, but the oatmeal stout I’m having now is better although neither are as good as a Belgian ale. Sorry, i just needed to get that cleared up. 🍻

      1. I just made some delicious carnitas in my InstantPot with some Belgian white/wheat beer. Talk about cultural appropriation.

  2. “French version of a chenin blanc”

    Vouvray is a strong runner for the Ur-chenin blanc (with other candidates: Saumur and Savennières). The grape was first cultivated on the Loire, in Anjou and Touraine.

    IMO, (well-made) Vouvray is the best example of chenin blanc.

    Glad you enjoyed the wine! I love a good Vouvray. Kermit Lynch agrees on aging Vouvray: It can go a long time in good cellar conditions.

  3. A politician would lie? I’m shocked.

    Hindsight makes us all look so much smarter. World War one was a huge waste of people, that is true and even much more because WWI just just a prelude to the second where many millions more died. It is kind of like building tall cheap buildings where you should not. Like the building in Florida or the twin towers in NYC. Imagine after years of commercial airline highjacking they still had not closed off the cockpit from invading passengers. That is all it took, not billions of dollars and more wasted wars for nothing.

    1. >Imagine after years of commercial airline hijacking they still had not closed off the cockpit from invading passengers.

      Sometimes the simplest solutions go unnoticed. Don’t know why. It’s a pretty basic self-defense precaution.

  4. I’m probably one of the few people who get’s the crow joke… Mind you I also know a group of ducklings is known as a ‘plump’ …

    1. Somebody slipped some testosterone and alcohol into the water at a parliament of owls (honorary cats!), and it became a congress.

    2. On this website we have discussed how different groups of animals are called, so I guess most of WEIT readers would get it.

    3. There was a movie a couple decades ago titled A Murder of Crows starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., as a New Orleans lawyer. Part of it was filmed in Key West, where the Cuba Gooding character goes after quitting the law to be a fishing guide (thereby plying some of the same waters as Tom McGuane’s Ninety-two in the Shade).

      I figure the lawyer sitting in the tree is celebrating getting his clients off with the lesser-included offense of manslaughter.

  5. “I don’t know any adult who can do a child better.”

    I don’t see this as a contest, but I would also recommend Lily Tomlin’s Edith Ann in that category.


    1. Well, I don’t want to contest the brilliance of Belushi, Radner or Tomlin–but I do think honorable mention should go to both Phil Hartman and Dana Carvey.

  6. During the breeding season, males leap suddenly from the grass with a peculiar croaking or knocking call, flutter their wings and fall back with slightly open wings. At the apogee of the leap the neck is arched backwards and the legs folded as if in a sitting posture. These jumps are repeated after intervals of about three or more minutes. The displays are made mainly in the early mornings and late evenings, but during other parts of the day in cloudy weather.

    To be honest, this is an almost spot-on description of the adolescent human in the presence of skateboards and “street furniture”.

  7. Several spectators and cyclists were injured in the first crash.

    I saw a tweet that one of the cyclists had broken two wrists and a shoulder (or two shoulders and a wrist) trying to protect his face from the tarmac. Not nice. I’ve flown over the handlebars too often not to wince watching that.

    “We are suing this woman who behaved so badly,” Pierre-Yves

    Yeah … they might get some charges like “public endangerment” or “being an idiot” to stick, but since she had her back to the peloton (see “idiot”, above) it’s going to be hard to get charges about deliberately causing harm to stick.
    There may be some nasty snap-backs in the Napoleonic Code(s), but I doubt they’ll make a lot of liability stick to her. It’s hard to legislate against foolishness, since fools are so inventive.

      1. I’m not sure who the IP was in what I saw – bicyclist built like a racing whippet – they all look like racing whippets. But the combination of wrist and shoulder injuries is a classical one for when you go over the handlebars, regardless of the presence of a helmet. See also “gravel rash on the heels of the palms”. You get fairly similar injuries in the screaming plummet before the rope comes tight on the cliff (or after the protection rips and free-fall resumes with intermittent contact with the rock). It gets messy.
        Even today, I know people who prefer to cycle and rock climb without helmets. It’s a question of personal choice. I don’t know if it’s regulation in TdF etc. The number of cases of third-parties (pedestrians, etc) injured by un-padded cyclist crania remains negligible.

        1. I can attest to the joys of shoulder injuries. 8 years ago I collided with a guy who was coming out of an underpass as I was entering, the darkness into bright summer daylight for him, the reverse for me. Her just went sideways off his bike into the grass, had a nasty forearm contusion, I went ass over teakettle into the retaining wall and asphalt of the trail. I have enough reaction time to attempt a tuck and roll which saved my helmeted head but not my shoulder. I did not have health insurance. I still have a collarbone that sorta floats over the shoulder, reconnected mostly but it’s moveable, and hurts to sleep on it for too long.

          I’m ashamed to say I haven’t ridden much since that accident. When I lived in Illinois I rode the Fox River Trail and other connections at least 20 miles every day, longer on weekends but I’ve never been back to that south Kansas City trail and haven’t even taken the bike out once in the last three years.

          1. Ouch. I broke my scapula after hitting a sideways bump on a bike and doing a sideways 180. That HURT! I’ve also had connective tissue injury to my left shoulder from skidding on wet leaves. Interestingly, the bone is fine now, but the left shoulder continues to give trouble, many years later.

          2. Yeah, rotator cuff injury thanks to a pothole about 5 years ago. Un-fun.
            Several more un-fun crashes in today’s stage.

          1. Makes sense for people who are – regardless of the hype and balderdash – doing their job of work under a contract of employment and an ” ‘Elf ‘n’ Safety” procedure.
            I am a lot less cautious in private life than I am at work.
            Actually, seeing a cycle-touring team’s risk assessment in regard of “peloton pile-up” might be … an interesting read.

  8. It is well known that the assassination of the Archduke was the precipitating incident for the start of World War I. It was a flame put on a keg of powder waiting to explode. Historians have argued for a century about the various underlying causes that include: great power rivalry, ethnic conflicts (particularly in the Balkans), a vast and expensive arms race, the quest for colonies, and entangling alliances.

    What makes World War I different from World War II is that in contrast to the latter the former did not have unambiguously evil figures such as Hitler. Yes, the Kaiser was not a particularly admirable person; he was very aggressive in pursuing Germany’s imperial glory. But, he was not a Hitler. The Great Powers had boxed themselves in a corner, diplomacy that had prevented war before 1914 broke down, and events spun out of control. As is the case in many if not most wars, as time went by atrocities on and off the battlefield became more vicious as each side had to retaliate and the thought of defeat after so much suffering became unbearable.

    Pinker and others have argued that in today’s world the penchant for violence has decreased. I hope they are right because World War I has demonstrated that a relatively minor event, the assassination of an Archduke, can precipitate a catastrophe based on decades of continuing tension, even when the monarchs of Britain, Germany, and Russia were cousins.

    1. Very well said.

      I would identify another big difference between WWI and WWII: Equipment. Tanks and airplanes in particular that busted up the static trench warfare of WWI and sent land warfare mobile.

    2. I think you might be able to argue a case that WW1 started because the monarchs of Britain, Germany and Russia were cousins, or at least because they were monarchs. More specifically, you can argue that the Kaiser and the Tsar (even at this stage, the British monarch had little influence over government) did not have the requisite skills for European statecraft at the time and were only in charge at all because they inherited their positions.

    3. In addition to what you and Jeremy have said, it seems to me that The Great War was the ultimate (and perhaps inevitable) breakdown of the balance-of-power system put in place by von Metternich and other European diplomats in mid-19th century.

    4. …as time went by atrocities on and off the battlefield became more vicious as each side had to retaliate and the thought of defeat after so much suffering became unbearable.

      The sunk cost fallacy strikes again.

  9. Last time I was in Stockholm, a few months before COVID, I read some wine reviews. One said, “Varför drycker vi inte chenin blanc oftare?” (Why don’t we drink chenin blanc more often?). So I bought a few bottles as presents, variously, and they were good!

    And Asilomar: Whenever I hear that I always remember that in the only lecture I ever heard him give (on DNA sequencing), one of my Rutgers profs, then-newly-arrived in 1976, made a point of saying that if we had seen the piece in Rolling Stone that he was standing just outside the frame of one of the pix. No idea which pic.

    1. The old adverts in the Rolling Stone are hilarious. You can tell the stereo-buying public was also reading RS. I remember those days of comparing speakers, (speaker cables!), turntable cartridges, needles, tape machines (RTR only, Hank forbid heretical cassettes!).

  10. There’s a book about Carrel and Lindbergh called The Immortalists: Charles Lindbergh, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and Their Daring Quest to Live Forever that came out in 2008. I must have read a good review, because otherwise this lives a little outside my interests. It was very interesting. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in either of them.

  11. “1987 . . . first time in military history, a civilian population is targeted for chemical attack when Iraqi warplanes bombed the Iranian town of Sardasht.” The German military between 1904 and 1908 is said to have poisoned desert wells in Namibia with the intent of exterminating native peoples. Between 1921 and 1926 during the Rif War, the Spanish forces, with help from the French and using toxic chemicals produced in Germany, dropped poisonous gases on civilian targets in Spanish Morocco.

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