Monday: Hili dialogue

October 18, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the advent of the work week, Monday, October 18, 2021: National Chocolate Cupcake Day.

News of the Day:

*A criminal gang in Haiti has apparently kidnapped 17 missionaries from an American religious organization—kidnapped when they were returning from building an orphanage. The same gang kidnapped five priests, two nuns and three relatives of one of the priests in April, but released them.

The 400 Mawozo gang kidnapped the group — which also included some elderly people — in Ganthier, a commune that lies east of the capital of Port-au-Prince, Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne told The Associated Press.

The gang, whose name roughly translates to 400 “inexperienced men,” controls the Croix-des-Bouquets area that includes Ganthier, where they carry out kidnappings and carjackings and extort business owners, according to authorities.

A news update from NBC says that the group included five men, seven women, and five children. One person was a Canadian, the rest American.

*A few days ago, the killing spree of Norwegians by Espen Andersen Brathen, who used a bow and arrows among other weapons, was ascribed to Islamic terrorism. (Brathen had converted to Islam). Now the authorities have backed off, saying that he may have simply been mentally ill.

But evidence uncovered since seems to undermine that conclusion. Mr. Tlili says that his first impression of Mr. Brathen, at the time a recent convert to Islam, suggested less a man motivated by religious fervor than one with deep personal troubles.

“While it still remains to be seen if this is about terror or psychiatry,” said Arne Christian Haugstoyl, the head of Norway’s counterterrorism unit at the Police Security Service, “all along the way we have seen his psychological problems, and that has been our main worry, not his ideology.”

Of course the Venn diagram of those two reasons have some overlap.

*The threatened no-show by up to half of Chicago’s police officers today didn’t materialize, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who favors the vaccine mandate prompting the cops’ dissent, said that it will take time to go through the process of seeing which police comply:

“The information we’re requiring employees to provide is very basic. Not intrusive,” Lightfoot said Thursday. “It’s a simple yes or no. Yes you’re vaccinated. No you’re not vaccinated. If yes, then you provide you’re vaccination information. If no, then you’re able to go to a different portal and sign up to say that you will take the weekly testing option. Pretty straight forward.”

*Columnist Neil Steinberg at the Chicago Sun-Times addresses a question I’ve often pondered, “Why are cops afraid of vaccines?” After all, their job involves putting themselves in danger on a regular basis, and vaccines aren’t dangerous. His answer is short and seems too glib to me:

OK, I know the answer: Chicago cops don’t want to be told to take the vaccine because they’re Red State white bread Trumpies huddled in their walled enclaves in Blue State multicultural Chicago. Not taking the vaccine is the middle finger to science and authority that, being cops, they just can’t deny themselves.

That’s what he said. Seriously. But I find it hard to believe.

*You might want to read the Wall Street Journal‘s discussion of the issue, “Some vaccines last a lifetime. Here’s why Covid-19 shots don’t.” One reason is that long-lasting vaccines use replicating viruses to confer years and years of protection by constantly inducing antibodies. Covid-19, like flu vaccine, doesn’t, and we don’t know how to jack up the level of antibodies by using adjuvants used in other vaccines. I’m not a doctor (I just play one on television), but I suspect that we’ll have to have a yearly Covid-19 booster forever, just as we need our yearly flu shots.

*The Washington Post has a 12-question quiz, probably intended for foreigners traveling in America but useful for everyone, on “Do you know how to tip?” I got them all right! But it made me realize how rapacious people are, and that may be because these workers don’t get paid enough. I much prefer countries where tipping is included in the price, like the restaurants in France (you leave a couple of Euros if you want). It will also tell you how much you should tip, which you may not know.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 724,499, an increase of 1,528 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,914,586, an increase of about 4,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on October 18 includes:

Yet when you read the Wikipedia article on Agrippina, it says that it’s unclear whether the starvation was self-inflicted, and that it could have been a punishment made to look like a suicide. Just another example of “What’s the matter with Wikipedia?” the post that Greg has been promising to write for nigh on ten years. . .

  • 1540 – Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto’s forces destroy the fortified town of Mabila in present-day Alabama, killing Tuskaloosa.
  • 1851 – Herman Melville‘s Moby-Dick is first published as The Whale by Richard Bentley of London.

Only 500 copies of this first publication were printed (see one below), and I can’t find one for sale. It would go for well over $200,000, I suspect.

  • 1867 – United States takes possession of Alaska after purchasing it from Russia for $7.2 million. Celebrated annually in the state as Alaska Day.
  • 1898 – The United States takes possession of Puerto Rico from Spain.
  • 1922 – The British Broadcasting Company (later Corporation) is founded by a consortium, to establish a nationwide network of radio transmitters to provide a national broadcasting service.
  • 1929 – The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council overrules the Supreme Court of Canada in Edwards v. Canada when it declares that women are considered “Persons” under Canadian law.
  • 1944 – World War II: The state funeral of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel takes place in Ulm, Germany.

As I noted the other day, he got a state funeral because he agreed to commit suicide rather than be tried publicly for conspiring to depose/kill Hitler.  The alternative was a trial, his certain execution, and likely that of his family as well. Here’s part of a Nazi newsreel on the funeral (November, 1944). I wonder whether any of the participants knew that this was a sham arranged by Hitler.

I can’t find any wedding pictures from that day, as they were married discreetly in a civil wedding. They had a church wedding a few months later. Here’s a photo represented as a wedding photo, but it was actually taken in 1951, with Evita wearing her spectacular Dior gown:

Here’s the first transistor radio put out by TI: the Regency TR-1. If you’re my age, you had a transistor radio as a kid and smuggled it into bed to listen to music.

  • 1963 – Félicette, a black and white female Parisian stray cat, becomes the first cat launched into space.

This beautiful and historic cat was euthanized two months after a successful return to Earth so her brain could be examined. Bastards! Here’s a photo of her and a pawprint, inscribed “Thank you for your participation in my success of 18 October 1963.”

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1859 – Henri Bergson, French philosopher and theologian, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1941)
  • 1870 – D. T. Suzuki, Japanese author and scholar (d. 1966)
  • 1898 – Lotte Lenya, Austrian singer and actress (d. 1981)

Lotte Lenya, a singer married to Kurt Weill, is of course mentioned in the lyrics to the song “Mack the Knife,” written by Weill and Brecht, but did you know that she played “the murderous and sadistic Rosa Klebb in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love (1963)”. Remember this?:

Liebling, a reporter who lived in Paris when young, wrote one of my favorite books about food (and about his life as well): Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris. He also wrote copiously and well about boxing and WWII, which he observed as a journalist. In the end, he ate himself to death.

I can’t find a live version of O’Day singing “Skylark“—to my mind the best cover of many, but it’s one of the best vocal/trumpet recordings in jazz. (The song was written by by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael.) Here’s the original recording (November 25, 1941 (the same year the song was published) with the Gene Krupa Orchestra and a great intro by Roy “Little Jazz” Eldridge on the horn. Do listen!

Oh hell, nobody’s heard of Roy Eldridge these days, so I’ll show off his talents one more time. Here he is in “Rockin’ Chair” (another Hoagy Carmichael song), accompanied by the Krupa Orchestra. This is a fantastic piece of jazz trumpet:

  • 1926 – Chuck Berry, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2017)
  • 1926 – Klaus Kinski, German-American actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 1991)
  • 1927 – George C. Scott, American actor and director (d. 1999)
  • 1939 – Mike Ditka, American football player, coach, and sportscaster
  • 1939 – Lee Harvey Oswald, American assassin of John F. Kennedy (d. 1963)
  • 1947 – Laura Nyro, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1997)

I love Laura Nyro, who at a young age wrote songs that are now standards and often covered, including “Blowing Away“, “Wedding Bell Blues“, “Stoned Soul Picnic“, “Sweet Blindness“, “Save the Country” (below),  “And When I Die“,  “Eli’s Comin”, and”Stoney End“. Sadly, she died young of cancer. Here she is singing two songs; I’m particularly fond of “Save the Country”

  • 1956 – Martina Navratilova, Czech-American tennis player and coach
  • 1984 – Freida Pinto, Indian actress and model

Those who Crossed the Rainbow Bridge on October 18 include:

Here’s Babbage, around 1850, and below that “Part of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine (#1), assembled after his death by his son, Henry Prevost Babbage (1824–1918), using parts found in Charles’ laboratory. Whipple Museum of the History of Science, Cambridge, England.”  That one was never finished, and would have been huge. His second “difference engine”, which has been reconstructed here, was never used, either. 

  • 1931 – Thomas Edison, American engineer and businessman, invented the light bulb and phonograph (b. 1847)
  • 1973 – Walt Kelly, American illustrator and animator (b. 1913)
  • 1973 – Leo Strauss, German-American political scientist, philosopher, and academic (b. 1899)
  • 2012 – Sylvia Kristel, Dutch model and actress (b. 1952)

Famous for her roles in the softcore “Emmanuelle” films, Kristel had ambitions to do more serious acting, and, sadly, her odyssey was pretty fruitless or she turned down good roles. As Wikipedia notes:

She was originally cast to play the part of Stella in Roman Polanski’s filmThe Tenant (1976) but, after one day of shooting, she was replaced by Isabelle Adjani. In 1977, she was invited to star as Hattie in Louis Malle’s controversial erotic drama Pretty Baby (1978) but the role eventually went to Susan Sarandon instead. She was friends with Sergio Leone who wanted her to play the role of Carol in the movie Once Upon a Time in America (1984); the producers did not agree to her participation and the role went to Tuesday Weld. In 1982, she was turned down by Tony Scott for the role of Miriam in The Hunger (1983); Catherine Deneuve ended up playing the part. She was considered for the role of Lois Lane in Superman (1978), which went to Margot Kidder. Sylvia unsuccessfully applied for the role of a Bond Girl in the movies: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Octopussy (1983).

She rejected the main female roles in The Story of Adele H. (1975), King Kong (1976), Logan’s Run (1976), Caligula(1979), Body Heat (1981), Blade Runner (1982), Scarface (1983), Dune (1984), Body Double (1984) and Blue Velvet (1986).

She would have done well had she accepted a few parts in the second paragraph.  A heavy smoker since age 11, Kristel died at age 60 from esophageal and lung cancer.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s impressed by the phenomenon of bird migration:

Hili: Cranes are flying away.
A: They will return in the spring.
Hili: All this is strange.
In Polish:
Hili: Żurawie odlatują.
Ja: Wrócą wiosną.
Hili: Dziwne to wszystko.

From Stash Krod:

From Rivka:

And another from Stash Krod:

From Masih. The Iranian morality police heave a woman into their van (note that their own female officer grabs the woman by her hair). I suspect it’s for improper hijab, but don’t know for sure.

Three tweets from Barry. He says that second one below, played by the cat, is a “mournful tune” and would like to hear more. Cats would of course write mournful songs, like “I Have Not Been Fed”, while d*gs, like the one below, would write lively songs. That d*g is a Spike Jones clone.

This primate is very helpful and, as Barry says, “The help is appreciated, but why the anger?  Watch the whole thing, with sound up. The monkey looks pissed off. 

Tweets from Matthew. If you have a glass table and a cat, you should try this (and send me the results):

I’ve now learned that, at least in the UK, the plural of the bird “knot” is still “knot”.  (The knot, or red knot, is Canidris canutus.)

Who remember’s Fat Freddy’s cat?

This is the video we all need today. And if you’ve seen it before (i.e., if I put it up previously), well, enjoy it again.

27 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. Time again for my annual recommendation of Anthony Hyman’s book, “Charles Babbage, Pioneer of the Computer”, Princeton University Press (1982). It is a fairly short but very informative and interesting biography of Babbage and his wide ranging engineering accomplishments including experimental investigations of rail car ride quality as a function of track gauge.

  2. Re Laura Nero; I loved her, (still do), and had several of her albums back in the late ‘60’s. I was fortunate to see her in concert in Berkeley, CA, late sixties as well.

  3. Wow, just saw that Colin Powell died of Covid.

    Maybe those police in Chicago did not get the memo written on many police cars – To Protect And Serve.

  4. “This beautiful and historic cat was euthanized two months after a successful return to Earth so her brain could be examined. Bastards!” – Absolutely.

  5. “1931 – Thomas Edison, American engineer and businessman, invented the light bulb […] – Edison really did have a light bulb moment.

  6. I am not sure I agree with Lightfoot; a question that could get you fired seems intrusive to me.

    I showed that video with the monkey to my wife, and her only comment was, “The monkey’s not doing it right.” Tough room.

  7. I was waiting for the bad pun at the end of the Lotte Lenya clip: “She had her kicks!”. I recommend comparing clips of her singing, say, Pirate Jenny, as a young soprano, and decades later (and octaves lower) as a gruff alto: I know which I prefer.

    My then-girlfriend introduced me to the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers ca. 1981 at uni. I remember being shocked, shocked by the casual depiction of drugs use. But I loved Fat Freddy’s Cat, much cooler than Garfield.

    1. Fat Freddy’s Cat was excellent and the strip our host chose is one of my favourites. The longer strip “The Sacred Sands of Pootweet” was good, too – especially the scene where the mullahs of the fictional Islamic state invite Freddy to stay with them and get stoned; Freddy declines and the leader says sadly to his followers, “Oh well – you can put the stones away now, guys”.

  8. Lotte Lenya, a singer married to Kurt Weill, is of course mentioned in the lyrics to the song “Mack the Knife,” written by Weill and Brecht …

    I recall hearing an old recording years ago (I think on NPR) in which Lotte Lenya was in the studio with Louis Armstrong (I think to record a tribute album to Kurt Weill) in which Louie was trying to teach Lotte (seemingly unsuccessfully) to sing “Mack the Knife” behind the beat, in the swinging style in which Pops and Bobby Darin had both had hit records with the tune (and in which Ella Fitzgerald had performed the song as a tribute to Pops and Bobby — even if she forgot the lyrics to one of the verses and had to scat her way through it).

    The old German style of singing “Mack the Knife” (original title “Moritat“) was recorded by Lyle Lovett and used by Robert Redford over the closing credits of (what i think is his best directorial effort) Quiz Show.

    (I dunno why stuff like this sticks with me; would that I had been as successful in remembering my own wedding anniversary.) 🙂

  9. I would rather that the restaurants pay their employees, and especially their servers, full wages. When I eat, I mentally add 20% to the tab, and I consider the pricing as stated to be a bit dishonest. It would be more honest if that were the actual price. It would cost more in sales tax, I’m sure, but what is happening is that by bypassing the sales totals, the servers are the only ones taxed by tipping. Not the restaurant (except for social security) and not those tipped out.

    Yes, tipping can be seen to improve service, but working in an environment in which servers are respected also improves service.

    I also think that there is an imbalance in the way that bartenders are paid compared to servers. If you eat at the bar, the tip is expected to be the same as if you sit at the table. Bartenders are paid full wage, and not the reduced wage. Servers are also expected to tip out to their support, which not only includes bussers and runners, but also bartenders; all of which are paid full wage. I think that the server wage should be got rid of, and like in France, a tip should be a rare thing.

  10. On Fat Freddy’s Cat (aka F. Frederick Skitty):

    I’m Fat Freddy’s Cat and I’m rough and I’m tough
    And I take no guff when I strut my stuff.

    …a bunch of lines I don’t remember…

    A lot of cats wouldn’t and a lot of cats couldn’t
    Hand a lickin’ to a chicken or a razzin’ to a rat
    When they finish messin’ ’round with Fat Freddy’s Cat!

    I think I liked the FFC comics better the the Freak Brothers themselves. I still have my copy of Feds ’n’ Heads, the official Freak Brothers game.

  11. “While it still remains to be seen if this is about terror or psychiatry,”

    I can see how it might be difficult to disentangle the two. If a mentally disturbed or vulnerable person visits a website that incites (in the vernacular sense – I’m not making a legal argument) one to commit murder in the name of God, and the person then goes out and commits murder, it could be difficult to distinguish between “sincerely convinced of the belief, then followed belief” from “incited due to mental vulnerability.”

    News is now saying that while the initial attacks used a bow, the actual killings were stabbings that took place after he sought shelter from the police.

    The one relatively good thing about the situation is that, unlike many cases in the US, the Norwegians were able to take him into custody without shooting him. So they can follow up with various psychiatric assessments to try and get the full story of what he was thinking.

  12. I think cops are a reservoir of Trumpists but I believe there are additional reasons why so many want to refuse the COVID vaccine. Many join the cops because they prefer telling others what to do over being told what to do. They are self-determination junkies! Being told they must do something, they resist. This is also exacerbated greatly by police unions which pretty much define their existence as opposition to what society desires of their members.

    1. I know this is anecdotal, but I have the acquaintance of three cops: all three are Trumpists and anti-vaxxers. I’m kinda with Steinberg’s assessment on this one.

      I appreciate unions and see them as useful institutions, but from what I’ve learned of police unions throughout the country, they are very corrupt, and in countless situations, don’t act in the public’s good. I think a lot of harm is done when you don’t hold cops accountable and treat them as above the law.

  13. Steinberg may seem glib, but he does have a hook on which to hang his argument. I’ve seen TV interviews with Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara in which he has ostentatiously displayed the Trump 2020 sticker on his laptop.

  14. Thank you again for introducing me to A. J. Liebling’s “Between Meals.” A terrific book.

    But my sister, not you, deserves the credit for introducing me to Laura Nyro… In reading the memoirs (“chronicles”) of one of my musical heroes, Rickie Lee Jones, I was pleased to read how much she loves Laura Nyro as well, for both her passion as well as her love of Broadway show tunes.

  15. I have a letter written by Lotte Lenya in 1956 hanging on my wall. I rescued the letter and newspaper clippings from a trash bin and had it all framed. She was appearing in the Three Penny Opera at the time. Included is a photo of her.

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