Sunday: Hili dialogue

August 29, 2021 • 6:30 am

We’ve reached the tail of the weekend: it’s Sunday, August 29, 2021:  National Chop Suey Day, a day of not only cultural appropriation, but also degradation (the was devised in America). My mother used to serve it with those crunchy canned noodles and cooked celery, which was dire.

It’s also Lemon Juice Day, More Herbs, Less Salt Day (devised by the food-is-medicine crowd), National Swiss Winegrowers Day, Individual Rights Day (this does not include the right to abjure masks), and International Day against Nuclear Tests.

Wine of the Day: I couldn’t have paid much for this Spanish red, as it appears to sell for $20 now, but given the (high) review from Robert Parker, I worry that it’s going downhill. My palate is not good at translating flavors and smells into words, so here’s Robert Parker’s take, written in 2014.  Drink until 2020? Well, let us have it with good cheese, a crispy baguette, and a huge heirloom tomato drenched in first-class Italian olive oil. . .

Parker’s take:

From one of Priorat’s coolest micro-climates, this 2012 Black Slate is composed of 60% old vine Grenache (60+ years) and 40% old Carignan (80 years), and aged 12 months in concrete tanks, old wood foudres, and two-year-old barrels. It reveals lots of licorice, crushed wet rock, sweet blueberry and black raspberry fruit characteristics along with a full-bodied, moderately tannic mouthfeel. The tannins are sweet and well-integrated, and the wine is drinking beautifully already. For a relatively expensive Spanish appellation, this is an outright steal! Consume it over the next 3-6 years. (RP) Inner quote mark

I’m pleased to report that it’s still drinking superbly in 2021. Although I couldn’t detect the crushed wet rock or licorice, it did taste like alcoholic raspberry juice, and went down like velvet. An excellent wine; check the reviews for a given vintage, and buy it if it’s not expensive.

News of the Day:

I keep harping on the fact that Biden should get the White House Cat he promised us several hundred days ago. Now we learn that the First D*g, Major, bit Secret Service agents eight days in a row, while Press Secretary Jen Psaki described this duplicitously as “one biting”. She lied! Here’s her evasive answer about why she wasn’t transparent.

More important, Joe, ditch that dangerous d*g and get the First Cat, for crying out loud!

We are 3 days from the evacuation deadline from Kabul Airport, and Uncle Joe says that another serious attack from either ISIS or the Taliban is “highly likely” in the next day or so, as there’s a “specific, credible threat”. France and Britain have already made their final exit, but at least 350 Americans remain in the country; and they’re not all at the airport. Biden also says that although a drone strike killed two ISIS leaders, more revenge is to come. The Washington Post has an analysis of the ISIS suicide attack (followed by gunfire), with many pictures and videos.

Here are the 13 U.S. troops killed in the suicide bombing and ensuing gunfire: 11 men and 2 women. Click on the screenshot to see their stories at the NYT:

Hurricane Ida will have begun striking the Gulf Coast of the U.S. as you read this, with some predicting that it will be the strongest hurricane since the beginning of the 20th century. It may well become a category 4 storm with winds as high as 130 mph (209 kph) and a storm surge of 15 feet in New Orleans—a city averaging seven feet above sea level! Tomorrow will be exactly 16 years since the devastating Hurricane Katrina struck the same area, killing more than 1,800 people and causing $125 billion in damage.

The trial of startup prodigy Elizabeth Holmes for wire fraud begins August 31, and it now seems possible that Holmes’ lawyers will mount a mental-instability defense. New court documents reveal that Holmes might claim that she was in an abusive relationship with her romantic and business partner Balwani. If you’ve read John Carreyrou’s book on the debacle, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (a wonderful read), you won’t see evidence of such abuse. An excerpt from the new WSJ story (Carreyrou worked for the paper):

Ms. Holmes claims the abuse by her former business and romantic partner was psychological, emotional and sexual, according to the documents.

Ms. Holmes accused Mr. Balwani of controlling what she ate, when she slept and how she dressed, throwing sharp objects at her and monitoring her text messages and emails, among other things, according to one of the filings.

Mr. Balwani “unequivocally denies that he engaged in any abuse at any time,” according to one of the newly unsealed filings. His lawyer, Jeffrey Coopersmith, argued this week that the filings should remain under seal so that Mr. Balwani’s trial, currently scheduled for early next year, can be fair.

Kate Bowler, a professor of divinity at Duke, is dying of colon cancer. In an op-ed, “One thing I don’t plan to do before I die is make a bucket list,” she says that such lists are worthless:

“Make a list,” prods another Caitlin, so I try again and again and again. Lists of places to go. Dreams to interpret. Careers I might have enjoyed. Enormous statues I want to see. Languages I have learned and promptly forgotten. My line items are alternatively boring, plausible, unlikely and all of them seem to include an unmet Canadian need to drive a Zamboni.

What strange math. There is nothing like the tally of a life. All of our accomplishments, ridiculous. All of our striving, unnecessary. Our lives are unfinished and unfinishable. We do too much, never enough and are done before we’ve even started. We can only pause for a minute, clutching our to-do lists, at the precipice of another bounded day. The ache for more — the desire for life itself — is the hardest truth of all.

But I disagree. In my view, you should make a bucket list well before you know you’re dying, and do the things that you think would enrich your life. As they say, “Nobody wishes on their deathbed that they had worked harder.” That’s true, and I can’t imagine dying without seeing Antarctica again, or visiting Australia (all my bucket list involves travel). I can well imagine, on my deathbed, saying “I should have taken that chance to go back to Antarctica.” Of course, all of this is determined by the laws of physics, but you can be influenced in what others tell you.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 637,066, an increase of 1,281 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,508,379, an increase of about 8,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on August 29 includes:

  • 708 – Copper coins are minted in Japan for the first time (Traditional Japanese date: August 10, 708).
  • 1831 – Michael Faraday discovers electromagnetic induction.
  • 1869 – The Mount Washington Cog Railway opens, making it the world’s first mountain-climbing rack railway.

This 3-mile track is the second steepest Cog Railway in the world, with an average grade of 25% and the steepest grade of 37%. Here’s a photo of the tracks in 1893. There used to be a resident cat at the weather station atop the mountain, but he died.

Here’s a replica of that first motorcycle, which looks rather cumbersome:

  • 1898 – The Goodyear tire company is founded.
  • 1911 – Ishi, considered the last Native American to make contact with European Americans, emerges from the wilderness of northeastern California.

I read about Ishi in anthropology class in college; he was the last supposedly “uncontacted” Native American in the country, a member of the Yahi tribe (his tribal affiliation is now questioned). In “captivity” he spent the last five years of his life as a janitor at the University of California at Berkeley, living in a University building in San Francisco. He was often sick because he lacked immunity to the diseases of white people. Here he is in 1914 with a “fire drill”:

  • 1930 – The last 36 remaining inhabitants of St Kilda are voluntarily evacuated to other parts of Scotland.

This island was 64 km from the mainland, and its inhabitants lived in unique stone structures (it’s now a World Heritage Site). Here’s a 1908 video about the isolated island and its inhabitants. I don’t like the bit about gathering puffins.

A short video of the Soviet bomb and its explosion.

  • 1966 – The Beatles perform their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
  • 1997 – Netflix is launched as an internet DVD rental service.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1632 – John Locke, English physician and philosopher (d. 1704)
  • 1780 – Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, French painter and illustrator (d. 1867)
  • 1915 – Ingrid Bergman, Swedish actress (d. 1982)

The laws of physics compel me to show this clip of the ending of Casablanca, with Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. “We’ll always have Paris.”

And here’s a rare clip of Bird and Diz in 1951; they’re playing “Hot House”:

  • 1923 – Richard Attenborough, English actor, director, and producer (d. 2014)
  • 1924 – Dinah Washington, American singer and pianist (d. 1963)
  • 1947 – Temple Grandin, American ethologist, academic, and author
  • 1958 – Michael Jackson, American singer-songwriter, producer, dancer, and actor (d. 2009)

Here’s a great 12-minute video showing the evolution of Michael Jackson’s style of dancing, extending from 1968 until two days before he died in 2009. Ignore the “NFL content” sign and click on “Watch on YouTube”:

  • 1967 – Neil Gorsuch, American lawyer and jurist, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Those who took had The Big Sleep on August 29 include:

Here’s the venerable bearded religious icon, second president of the Mormon Church and founder of Salt Lake City:

  • 1982 – Ingrid Bergman, Swedish actress (b. 1915)

Note that she died on her birthday.

  • 2016 – Gene Wilder, American stage and screen comic actor, screenwriter, film director, and author (b. 1933)
  • 2018 – James Mirrlees, Scottish economist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1936)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Kulka change places:

Szaron: I’m going in.
Hili: I’m going out.
In Polish:
Szaron: Wracam do domu.
Hili: Wychodzę.
Kulka and Szaron are pals (and sleep together every night), and Szaron and Hili are friends, too, but Hili hates Kulka. Cat friendships are not transitive:

Two items from Facebook:

Note that Mr. and Mrs. Potato head have been relegated to a lower status because of gender.

Here’s a beautiful cat painting from A Room with a Mieux. The artist is Léa Roche from Spain:

From Masih and a retweeter on the burqa:

Today from the Auschwitz Memorial. You can tell from these photos that even if an inmate survived the “selection”, he or she didn’t live long in the camp:

From reader Barry, who likes this photo of a red squirrel:

From Ken, who says, “Will the real Mike Pompeo please stand up?”

Tweets from Tina Purcell, Matthew’s wife. Apparently the editing is going well.  Decent bubbly, too!

From Ginger K. Why do cats do this? And I wonder why its tongue is out. . .

Tweets from Matthew. Sound up on this first one from Sacramento.

Coyotes sit on the Capitol grounds,
Making some ungodly sounds.

What they’re doing here is above my pay grade, but I’m still impressed.

25 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Mom’s chop suey may have been dire, but after normalizing to that, think about how pleasantly surprised you were with your first meals at real Chinese restaurants in New York and Boston. Trying to keep the cup half full.

    1. Pro tip (which you might know already): When you go into these real Chinese restaurants, ask for the Chinese menu, not the English one they usually give to us laowai. This way you can order the real, authentic dishes. The Chinese waiters should be happy to translate for you, if you need it. They’re proud of their cuisine and, rightly dismissive of “cultural appropriation,” are happy to share their creations with foreigners.

    1. Bogey says the line a few times in the film — the others in flashbacks to Paris before the Nazi occupation:

    2. Casablanca was a great film when I saw it several decades ago, but while watching that clip my strongest reaction was, “He’s man-splaining!” Have I been corrupted or enlightened?

  2. Please, God–whoever–,let the launch with the Webb telescope be successful. It’s a marvelous, albeit obscenely costly, creation and one of the few things we can be hopeful about in the coming months.

    1. Indeed! Hubble has been amazing – I can’t begin to even imagine what the JWST is going to reveal to us.

        1. I would have thought that experience with the Hubble would have resulted in a design requirement that the JWST be repairable. Even if it never breaks down, the technology changes so fast that it is likely borderline obsolete at launch time. I would be interested in knowing the inside scoop on this. I know that its positioning will make it hard to reach but does its inability to be repaired go beyond this? My guess, if it does break down, they’ll figure out a way to repair it.

          1. Agreed – it seems crazy to spend that amount of cash without building in the ability to repair or upgrade components at a later stage if necessary.

            I saw NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan talking at the Royal Institution in London just before the UK went into its first Covid-19 lockdown in March last year – she had just published her book Handprints on Hubble and had some fascinating details about the Hubble’s design, launch, repair, and upgrades.

      1. According to Wikipedia:

        The observatory attaches to the Ariane 5 launch vehicle via a launch vehicle adapter ring which could be used by a future spacecraft to grapple the observatory to attempt to fix gross deployment problems. However, the telescope itself is not serviceable, and astronauts would not be able to perform tasks such as swapping instruments, as with the Hubble Telescope. Its nominal mission time is five years, with a goal of ten years. JWST needs to use propellant to maintain its halo orbit around L2, which provides an upper limit to its designed lifetime, and it is being designed to carry enough for ten years.

  3. So disappointing to see Psaki dissembling like that about the White House d*g. Watching it certainly spoilt the clip of Pompeo’s blatant lying, for me at least.

  4. I’m shocked, shocked that you would show that clip!

    And I’m wincing at the memory that cats have tongues like sandpaper: very ouch.

  5. There are recently contacted and possibly still uncontacted indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Amazon and in countries along its borders. “Native American”, I believe, is a term that applies to the native peoples of both North and South America and their islands.

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