Sunday: Hili dialogue (s)

July 11, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Sunday: July 11, 2021: National Blueberry Muffin Day. Be aware that these pastries are packed with calories: a regular-sized one has 537 calories, about a quarter of your daily recommended intake! And remember that many muffins these days are the size of a baby’s head—even more fat inducing.

It’s also National Rainier Cherries Day, National Mojito Day, Barn Day (celebrating barns!), Bowdler’s Day (celebrating the infamous censor Thomas Bowdler, born on this day in 1754; see below) and World Population Day. 

Wine of the Day: Americans seem to be afraid of German Rieslings, probably because the labels, like the one below, seem daunting. But they’re easy to learn: top line is the producer, next lines give the region and vineyard, the last line gives the vintage and degree of grape ripeness at harvest, generally positively correlated with the wine’s sweetness (in order: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, and You Can’t Afford it [i.e., Trockenbeerenauselese]). And, even though prices have risen a bit since I started drinking these around 1980, you can still get terrific German Rieslings at bargain prices.

I was worried that this Spätlese may have been over the hill, as I cracked it last night at the age of 12. But often Rieslings age surprisingly well, and this one did as well. Medium golden in color, and quite sweet, it exuded an aroma of honey with a touch of orange. It was splendid, and went well with a simple dinner of black beans and rice with sauteed onions. I think it was about at its peak, and would oxidize within another several years. I can’t remember when I bought it or what I paid for it, nor can I find any decent review of this vintage (2011 prices were around $11). But it was spectacular, and I had the second glass for dessert. It would go well with spicy Asian food. I get the second half bottle tonight.

News of the Day:

For some reason everybody talks about the weather, but now there’s a good reason to: heat waves in many places are harbingers of global warming. Right now the western U.S. has a horrible series of blasts. Furnace Creek in Death Valley, where I spent several months (in Spring!) working on fruit flies, hit 130°F (54.4°C) Friday, tying a mark from August of last year. It’s not yet a record as there’s a disputed recording of 134°F from that site in 1913. But if the earlier record proves untrustworthy, then we have a new record for the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth. (The standard measurement is taken 1.5 meters above the ground, with the recording device shielded from direct sunlight. Temperatures might even reach 132°F today.

But of course the entire West Coast is broiling, with 200 people having already died from heat in Oregon and Washington State, and California experiencing rolling power blackouts and water restricctions. We’re doomed.

Better news: yesterday Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrated 75 years of marriage (their anniversary was on July 7) with a ceremony and party in Plains, Georgia. The AP reports the Carters’ remarks:

“I want to express particular gratitude for being the right woman that I chose for my wife,” Carter said at a 75th wedding anniversary celebration in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. About 300 friends and family members attended the event at Plains High School, a portion of which was livestreamed.

Rosalynn Carter, sitting by his side, recounted how she didn’t care for young men while growing up and never thought she’d get married.

“I didn’t know how to talk to them, I didn’t want to go out with them,” she said. She added that she used to urge her mother to tell suiters calling for her on the phone that she wasn’t around.

“And then, along came Jimmy Carter and my life has been an adventure ever since,” she said.

Now which word did the AP misspell in that report? It’s a sad day when the Associated Press puts out reports with misspellings.

But according to Snopes, the Carters are indeed “the longest-married couple in presidential history, with 75 years under their belt.”

“. . . . Their record beat even that of George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, who were married for 73 years. At 96 years old, Jimmy Carter is also the longest-living president in American history.” You go, Jimmy and Rosalynn!

Esther Bejarano, the last surviving member of the “Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz“, has died at age 96.  (h/t: Jez) Wikipedia gives more information about the orchestra:

The Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz (Mädchenorchester von Auschwitz; lit. “Girls’ Orchestra of Auschwitz”) was formed by order of the SS in 1943, during the Holocaust, in the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp in German-occupied Poland. Active for 19 months—from April 1943 until October 1944—the orchestra consisted of mostly young female Jewish and Slavic prisoners, of varying nationalities, who would rehearse for up to ten hours a day to play music regarded as helpful in the daily running of the camp. They also held a concert every Sunday for the SS.

Of course part of the “daily running of the camp” meant playing music during the “selection” for the gas chamber, as well as when work details entered and left the camp. What a gruesome job! The orchestra had about 40 members. A snippet from the BBC piece:

[Bejarano] recalled the Auschwitz Women’s Orchestra having to play to new arrivals.

“You knew they were going to be gassed, and all you could do was stand there and play,” she told Deutsche Welle in 2014.

She was eventually transferred to the Ravensbrück concentration camp for women, where she managed to escape.

“Esther Bejarano survived Auschwitz because she played accordion in the camp’s orchestra. She dedicated her life to music and to the fight against racism and anti-Semitism,” Meron Mendel, head of the Anne Frank Education Centre said on Twitter.

After the end of the World War Two, she lived in Israel and became a singer before returning to Germany in 1960.

She dedicated the rest of her life to educating people about the Holocaust and fighting xenophobia.

Here’s Bejarano, whose photo is also in the Wikipedia article. She was Jewish, and played the accordion.

From Getty Images and the BBC

After CNN sued for access to the video, the Justice Department finally released a disturbing clip of a Washington, D.C. police officer being attacked, kicked, and punched by a crowed at the Capitol on January 6—all while trying to save a pro-Trump rioter who had overdosed on drugs (the rioter died). Click on the screenshot below to read the CNN article and see the video—but be aware that it contains violence. The cop survived, but got a concussion. (h/t Stephen)

Click below to get Kara Swisher’s NYT essay on why watching movies in theaters, as opposed to stream them at home, is doomed. Well, I for one much prefer the big screen, and I will be going back. I don’t have a huge home theater, and watching a good movie on the big screen is infinitely preferable to seeing it on a computer. But your mileage may differ; maybe Swisher will be proved right. Everyone got used to streaming and small screens during the pandemic.


Below: the heartwarming tale of Alfie, a mute swan in New Jersey deemed too aggressive to live (I suspect it’s because he was repeatedly provoked by cruel jet skiers). The story reveals that he was set to be euthanized on Friday, but a twist of fate saved him, and he now has a forever home. Click on the screenshot below to read.

What’s it all about, Alfie?

(From NYT): Alfie the swan, foreground, with his mate and offspring. Complaints from some people about what they said was his aggressive behavior led federal wildlife officials to make plans to euthanize him. Credit…Irene Almeida

Iona Italia has now made her complete podcast interview of Richard Dawkins free of charge, you can access it here. Previously only the first bit (24 min) was available, and stopped right before Richard revealed his favorite books.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 606,289 an increase of 225 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,043,981, an increase of about 7,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 11 includes:

  • 1405 – Ming admiral Zheng He sets sail to explore the world for the first time.
  • 1576 – While exploring the North Atlantic Ocean in an attempt to find the Northwest Passage, Martin Frobisher sights Greenland, mistaking it for the hypothesized (but non-existent) island of “Frisland”.
  • 1804 – A duel occurs in which the Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr mortally wounds former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
  • 1893 – The first cultured pearl is obtained by Kōkichi Mikimoto.

Here’s Mikimoto in traditional Japanese dress:

Brown (photo below) told Gillette she was pregnant, whereupon he went rowing with her, hit her on the head with an oar, and she drowned. Gillette was tried and executed. The plot of Dreiser’s book is similar.

  • 1914 – Babe Ruth makes his debut in Major League Baseball.
  • 1921 – Former president of the United States William Howard Taft is sworn in as 10th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the only person ever to hold both offices.
  • 1924 – Eric Liddell won the gold medal in 400m at the 1924 Paris Olympics, after refusing to run in the heats for 100m, his favoured distance, on the Sunday.

You might remember this episode from the movie Chariots of Fire. Liddell became a missionary in China and died in Japanese custody in 1945.  Here he is winning the 400 m race in the 1924 Olympics. Click “Watch on YouTube”.

  • 1940 – World War II: Vichy France regime is formally established. Philippe Pétain becomes Chief of the French State.
  • 1947 – The Exodus 1947 heads to Palestine from France.

The British wouldn’t let the passengers, many of whom were Jewish Holocaust survivors, disembark in Haifa. They were all sent to—get this—camps in Germany! Granted, the camps weren’t exactly Auschwitz, but the irony is thick here.

A first edition and first printing of this book (the first printing was 5,000 copies) will run you around $17,000, though the book has been dissed as Unwoke.

  • 1972 – The first game of the World Chess Championship 1972 between challenger Bobby Fischer and defending champion Boris Spassky starts.
  • 2015 – Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán escapes from the maximum security prison in Altiplano, in Mexico. It’s his second escape.

Here’s his mugshot; he now resides in America’s most secure (and cruelest) prison, ADX Florence in Colorado. He’ll not escape again.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1274 – Robert the Bruce, Scottish king (d. 1329)
  • 1754 – Thomas Bowdler, English physician and philanthropist (d. 1825)
  • 1767 – John Quincy Adams, American lawyer and politician, 6th President of the United States (d. 1848)
  • 1897 – Bull Connor, American police officer (d. 1973)

I well remember Connor, one of the biggest racists in America. As Commissioner of Public Safety for Birmingham, Alabama, he did everything he could to enforce segregation, including promoting both state and individual violence against blacks. Here he is, and all Americans know what “states’ rights” means (it means states have the right to enforce segregation):

  • 1899 – E. B. White, American essayist and journalist (d. 1985)
  • 1903 – Sidney Franklin, American bullfighter (d. 1976)

Franklin was not only the first American matador to gain great renown in Spain (he was much admired by Hemingway) but also a Jewish matador and a gay Jewish matador. His nickname was “El Torero de la Torah”.  Here he is:

  • 1920 – Yul Brynner, Russian actor and dancer (d. 1985)
  • 1967 – Jhumpa Lahiri, Indian American novelist and short story writer.

I’m much taken with Lahiri and her writing; her very first collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  For several years she lived in Italy where she learned fluent Italian and wrote in that language. She’s now a professor of creative writing at Princeton. Here’s a 6½-minute introduction to Lahiri

Those who cashed in their chips on July 11 were few, and include:

  • 1937 – George Gershwin, American pianist, songwriter, and composer (b. 1898)
  • 1974 – Pär Lagerkvist, Swedish novelist, playwright, and poet Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1891)
  • 2007 – Lady Bird Johnson, American beautification activist; 43rd First Lady of the United States (b. 1912)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, there have been terrific gale, storms, tornadoes and flash floods, so that Malgorzata and Andrzej lost their power and their landline, but have cobbled together some sporadic internet. Ergo, we get the Hili dialogue for yesterday and a new one for today:


Hili: Should I sleep or be awake?
Andrzej: Difficult question.

In Polish:

Hili: Spać, czy być rozbudzoną?
Ja: Trudne pytanie.

Today’s dialogue:

Andrzej: What are you thinking about?
Hili: Identity politics.

In Polish:

Ja: O czym myślisz?
Hili: O polityce tożsamości.

A meme from Stephen Barnard. That cat has been asleep a long time!

A Gary Larson cartoon from Facebook:

From Nicole:

From Barry: a successful rescue of a Great White shark!

Tweets from Matthew. This is a fantastic catch, especially given her tossing the ball back in bounds and catching it again. It deserves to go down in history.

What a wuss!

But they do love their mango juice (?):

Now here’s a photo I bet you haven’t seen before:

Note that the tongue is out:

A lovely bit from an old movie.

26 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue (s)

    1. “And that is bare handed” – indeed:

      Fielders cannot use gloves to field the ball. If they wilfully use any part of their clothing to field the ball they may be penalised 5 penalty runs to the opposition. If the fielders are fielding close to the batsman, they are allowed to use helmets and leg guards worn under their clothing.

      As the wicket-keeper is positioned directly behind the batsman, and therefore has the ball bowled directly at him, he is the only fielder allowed to wear gloves and (external) leg guards.

    2. A fantastic catch. This technique, of throwing a ball into the air when you have not enough balance to keep within the boundary and jumping back in to catch it, is not unheard of.

  1. Malgorzata and andrzej: i hope that you, the house, orchard, and wonderful grounds down to the river suffered no serious harm from the storm. Glad to see that it looks like the kitties did fine.

  2. “[A] successful rescue of a Great White shark!” – I’m impressed that they made the effort, it isn’t the reaction I would have predicted.

  3. A muffin the size of a baby’s head, hahaha! — a description that could have come from the pen of one of today’s notable birthday figures, E.B. White.

  4. Here in Long Beach, CA it isn’t that hot. High of 79 F is expected today. It gets a lot hotter, of course, but only when the wind comes off the desert. Life is good when you aren’t burning up.

  5. I don’t often drink Riesling but, when I do, I go for a Dr. Heidemanns. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed, and they are very reasonably priced at Total Wine.

    I’ve tried a Trockenbeerenauselese once, at Figlmueller’s in Vienna. After a schnitzel the size of a Wimbledon winner’s platter, I had a port-sized portion after dinner. Incredible.

  6. 1906 – Murder of Grace Brown by Chester Gillette in the United States, inspiration for Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.

    Dreiser’s novel was adapted for the screen as A Place in the Sun, with Montgomery Clift in the role inspired by Gillette and Shelly Winters as his betrothed murder victim.

    And speaking of the screen, I couldn’t agree with you more that seeing a movie in the theater is vastly preferable to watching it home, even with a topnotch home theater (which is why I regularly attend the Monday night classics series at the local arthouse, even when it’s to see a film I could watch for no additional fee on a streaming service, or for free on TCM). Whenever possible I sit in the third-row center, where god, Pauline Kael, and Vilmos Zsigmond all meant movies to be seen. In the theater with the showcase screen at the arthouse, several seats in the middle of the first two rows have been removed to accommodate wheelchair-bound moviegoers. Thus, from the third-row center there is usually nothing between one and the action up front, like Hemingway watching the bullfights in the plaza del toros of Pamplona from the seats sobrepuertas.

  7. I wonder why the MSM (CNN in this case) keeps referring to the Jan. 6th insurrection as a “riot” and the insurrectionists as “rioters”. A riot is something spontaneous, unplanned. These people were trying to overturn an election at Trump’s behest and kill members of Congress and even Mike Pence. For many of the “rioters” this was a planned assault and was in the making weeks before it actually happened. I wouldn’t be surprised if some members of Congress (all rebublicans, of course) had a hand in the planning, many certainly showed up at the “Stop the Steal” rally; this is why they don’t want investigations. The FBI calls it “Domestic Terrorism”, so why not call these people terrorists, or at least insurrectionists? Start calling acts and persons for what they are, this “riot” euphemism needs to go.

    At least they’re not calling them “tourists” and turning Ashli Babbitt into a martyr like the GOP is trying to do. And Tucker’s out there saying the FBI orchestrated the insurrection. Goddamn, are Fox viewers brainwashed or what?

    1. I don’t think anyone knows, outside perhaps the FBI and the perpetrators, how much the insurrection was organized. Surely many of those at Trump’s rally went to the Capitol as part of a crowd. Many of those at the Capitol probably made a spur-of-the-moment decision to enter the building. I have no problem calling them rioters or insurrectionists. I would hold off on calling them terrorists as that seems to imply a concerted effort that really remains to be revealed. I’m not saying they weren’t organized, just that the MSM shouldn’t assume they were.

      1. I don’t think anyone knows, outside perhaps the FBI and the perpetrators, how much the insurrection was organized.

        And some people — including almost all congressional Republicans — would as soon never know, would as soon flush the whole thing down the memory hole, which is why they deep-sixed the appointment of a nonpartisan commission to study the matter and why they’ve dragged their feet on establishing a House select committee to make that inquiry.

        1. Regardless of who the GOP put on Pelosi’s committee (perhaps no one), they will turn it into a circus. They will fold it into the Big Lie and just say that it was partisan. Even if the committee issues subpoenas, it seems unlikely those with knowledge will respond to them. I predict it will be yet another unaccountability event.

          Some of the pundits are wondering why none of the rioters has been charged with insurrection. Are we simply being too impatient?

          1. Luckily, the GOP didn’t take the first offer, which would have allowed the GOP to pick whomever they wanted (Taylor-Green/Gaetz) and turned it into a circus. Now Pelosi has the power to veto anyone McCarthy chooses, including everyone he chooses if she wants, and I hope she does if he only picks Trump sycophants.

      1. OK, I’ll stand corrected, though I think your example is a bit arcane. The people on Jan. 6th were trying to overturn an election, as well as kill congress people like Pelosi and the VP; I put that in an entirely different category than what the Chicago Seven were trying to do.

        1. Arcane and distinguishable it may well be, but the federal statute at issue remains valid and enforceable to this day.

          1. You always win on these. Thanks for the learning though. Law seems to be squishy to me these past years, starting with ignoring subpoenas. Just think if the Chicago Seven did that! I don’t think they were subpoenaed, but not looking, just know that the subpoena is now just a favor, not a difficult choice to ignore. Justice is sucking more and more, whatever Justice is now or any past days. Never equal.

  8. Franklin was not only the first American matador to gain great renown in Spain (he was much admired by Hemingway) but also a Jewish matador and a gay Jewish matador.

    Mebbe so, but Romero, the young matador Lady Brett Ashley starts so much tsuris by shtupping in The Sun Also Rises, is anything but gay (or Jewish, for that matter). 🙂

  9. Yes, the misspelled word. Mispronunciation often as well. I always use to say used instead of use. How about you?
    Northern LA county is very not, but fortunately the power has not been a problem. Good luck I guess. GROG

  10. And, where did this come from? “Lady Bird Johnson, American beautification activist; 43rd First Lady of the United States ,” I’m not sure how they count First Ladies, but this does seem inaccurate. GROG

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