Sunday: Hili dialogue

December 5, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Sunday, December 5, 2021: National Comfort Food Day. What’s yours? (Name it below, as I’m really curious.) Mine is a lovely grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup. For some reason this is the instantiation of comfort:

It’s also National Sachertorte Day (yes!), Krampusnacht, National Blue Jeans Day (I’m wearing mine, but that’s about the only pants I wear), Day of the Ninja (celebrating the parody site Ninja Burger), Repeal Day (the day in 1933 when the 21st amendment superceded the 18th, which had established Prohibition), International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, and World Soil Day.

Here’s one version of the scary Krampus: the hornéd creature who visits children on December 5, punishing the bad ones and rewarding the good ones (caption: “Greetings from Krampus!”)


News of the Day:

*It’s looking more and more like Russia isn’t bluffing about invading Ukraine, as it now has 175,000 troops massed along the border. As one Defense Department official said yesterday, “Putin isn’t just rattling the saber. He’s unsheathed it and is waving it about.”  Biden will have a video call with Putin on Tuesday, and Putin is insisting that Ukraine not join NATO. Biden isn’t having that, so things are, well, “delicate.”

Let’s have a poll about this!

Will Russia invade Ukraine before Christmas?

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*Steve Bullock, former Democratic governor of Montana and failed Senate candidate, has an NYT op ed called, “I was the Governor of Montana. My fellow Democrats, you need to get out of the city more.” I suspect you can guess what he says, but remember he’s an inter-coastal Democrat. A bit of his piece:

The core problem is a familiar one — Democrats are out of touch with the needs of the ordinary voter. In 2021, voters watched Congress debate for months the cost of an infrastructure bill while holding a social spending bill hostage. Both measures contain policies that address the challenges Americans across the country face. Yet to anyone outside the Beltway, the infighting and procedural brinkmanship haven’t done a lick to meet their needs at a moment of health challenges, inflation and economic struggles. You had Democrats fighting Democrats, letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and desperately needed progress was delayed. It’s no wonder rural voters think Democrats are not focused on helping them.

. . . To overcome these obstacles, Democrats need to show up, listen, and respect voters in rural America by finding common ground instead of talking down to them. Eliminating student loans isn’t a top-of-mind matter for the two-thirds of Americans lacking a college degree. Being told that climate change is the most critical issue our nation faces rings hollow if you’re struggling to make it to the end of the month. And the most insulting thing is being told what your self-interest should be.

*Elizabeth Holmes is still on trial for wire fraud that deceived investors, but one of the interesting things that came out of the trial is a one-page handwritten schedule (“Exhibit 7731”) she made for herself on one day, showing what she did every minute from getting up at 4:00 am (and thanking God most things are not logical), through breakfast. She also wrote what she planned to have for lunch and dinner. Here are the meals. The woman is a control freak.

Yuck! And don’t they teach students how to spell “banana” at Stanford? The Post reporter tried to replicate the morning part of Holmes’s schedule, but gave up out of exhaustion. Go look at the whole thing complete with her self-help mantras.

*Here in Chicago, Jussie Smollett is still on trial for six felony counts, and the prosecution wrapped up its nearly airtight case against him on Thursday. The defense begins tomorrow, and the big question is whether Smollett will take the stand.

Mr. Smollett, who is openly gay, told police that he had been attacked by two men who used racist and antigay slurs, hit and kicked him and placed a noose around his neck at around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2019, as he walked home from picking up food at a Subway sandwich shop. He is charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing false police reports, with each count carrying up to three years in prison. He has entered a plea of not guilty.

. . .In the Smollett trial, the prosecution spent days building a case that Mr. Smollett had enlisted the two brothers to stage the purported attack after he received a piece of hate mail that he didn’t think the producers of “Empire,” the hit show on which he starred, were taking seriously enough. Prosecutors tracked the movements of the Osundairo brothers using street cameras, ride-share receipts and other sources on the night of the alleged attack and documented numerous texts and phone calls between them and Mr. Smollett.

In one text presented at the trial, Mr. Smollett reached out to Abimbola Osundairo days before the alleged attack, saying: “Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up and talk face to face?”

Given the evidence against him, including a check Smollett used to pay the alleged “MAGA muggers,” the defense, some say, must make him tell his side of the story:

“Most defense lawyers don’t like calling defendants as witnesses,” said Darryl Goldberg, another Chicago defense lawyer who isn’t involved in the case. “But I think this is a case where, based on what they’ve propounded in the cross examination, he’s the only one that’s going to be able to support that.”

*Science of the Day: The NYT has a heartening story about how several hives of honeybees in the Canary Islands survived the eruption of the Cumbre Viejo volcano.  With their hives covered with ash for several weeks, the bees got to work—and survived!

Not only had the bees managed to survive the heat and noxious gases of the volcano, but they also had avoided starvation by feeding off stores of honey inside the hive, said Antonio Quesada, a beekeeper in the Canary Islands and a spokesman for the Gran Canaria Beekeepers Association.

Their survival provided a glimmer of good news for La Palma — a resort island in the Canary archipelago of Spain — which was devastated by the eruption, which continues to spew lava. The island of about 80,000 people employs more than 100 beekeepers who manage hives that hold millions of honeybees, and who are vital workers in the local ecosystem and key economic players for those who sell honey throughout the region. . .

“It’s incredible how such a tiny animal that has been around for hundreds of thousands of years can maintain that resilience, that ability to survive,” Mr. Quesada said in an interview on Wednesday.

The bees, known in the region as the Canary black bee, used propolis, a resin-like mixture sometimes known as bee glue, to seal themselves inside the hive, he said.

“They protected themselves from the gases” of the volcano, Mr. Quesada said. The bees also made sure to leave open a tiny pathway to the outside that they could later use to get out, he said.

And they ate the honey stored in the hive.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 786,803, an increase of 1,179 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,266,510, an increase of about 5,500 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on December 5 includes:

A papal bull:

Self-aggrandizement: I am a member of that branch, “Alpha of Virginia”.  I gave my gold key to my mom to put on her charm bracelet.

Yesterday I noted that on December 4, 1791, “The first edition of The Observer, the world’s first Sunday newspaper, is published.” Today’s Observer celebrates with none other than a pictured of my beloved Philomena (Diane Morgan, but she will forever be Philomena). h/t: Dom:

Here’s a photo of “sluicing” during the Gold Rush: separating gold from dirt using a water chute:

Here’s the old one, but it’s been rebuilt (see link for the new one):

This eliminated the Prohibition mandated by the 18th Amendment in 1919.  14 years without alcohol, although of course people drank plenty of illegal hooch.

Zhukov was a great general and was highly decorated. Eventually, of course, he was disgraced and forced to retire. So it goes in Soviet Russia. Look at all those decorations!:

  • 1952 – Beginning of the Great Smog in London. A cold fog combines with air pollution and brings the city to a standstill for four days. Later, a Ministry of Health report estimates 4,000 fatalities as a result of it.

Here’s a short video about the smog and its causes:

  • 1955 – E. D. Nixon and Rosa Parks lead the Montgomery bus boycott.
  • 1958 – The Preston By-pass, the UK’s first stretch of motorway, opens to traffic for the first time. (It is now part of the M6 and M55 motorways.)

Here’s a map of the Bypass, which is a bit over 13 km long:

  • 2017 – The International Olympic Committee bans Russia from competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics for doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Notables born on this day include:

A photo of Van Buren by Matthew Brady:

  • 1830 – Christina Rossetti, English poet and author (d. 1894)
  • 1839 – George Armstrong Custer, American general (d. 1876)

Here’s Custer in 1865, 11 years before he was killed in the battle of Little Bighorn:

Heisenberg and his cat:

Walt Disney and Werner Heisenberg were born on the same day!

  • 1902 – Strom Thurmond, American educator, general, and politician, 103rd Governor of South Carolina (d. 2003)
  • 1912 – Sonny Boy Williamson II, American singer-songwriter and harmonica player (d. 1965)

Here’s Sonny Boy in Sweden:

  • 1932 – Sheldon Lee Glashow, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1934 – Joan Didion, American novelist and screenwriter
  • 1938 – J. J. Cale, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2013)

Here are Cale and Clapton playing two of Cale’s songs.

Those who went bye-bye on December 5  include:

  • 1791 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer and musician (b. 1756)
  • 1931 – Vachel Lindsay, American poet (b. 1879)
  • 1951 – Shoeless Joe Jackson, American baseball player and manager (b. 1887)

Jackson had his career halted (he has the third highest lifetime batting average in baseball history—.408) when he was accused of throwing the World Series in the famous “Black Sox” scandal. “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” was the apocryphal words of a disenchanted child.  Here’s Jackson, and below is the source of his nickname from Wikipedia:

In an interview published in the October 1949 edition of Sport magazine, Jackson recalls he got his nickname during a mill game played in Greenville, South Carolina. Jackson had blisters on his foot from a new pair of cleats, which hurt so much that he took his shoes off before he was at bat. As play continued, a heckling fan noticed Jackson running to third base in his socks, and shouted “You shoeless son of a gun, you!” and the resulting nickname “Shoeless Joe” stuck with him throughout the remainder of his life.

  • 2012 – Dave Brubeck, American pianist and composer (b. 1920)
  • 2013 – Nelson Mandela, South African lawyer and politician, 1st President of South Africa, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1918)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cats are still fixated on food although there isn’t any!

Hili: I ate up everything from my bowl and yours was already empty.
Szaron: I will check them out anyhow.
In Polish:
Hili: Z mojej miski wszystko zjadłam, a twoja była dawno temu pusta.
Szaron: Ja to jeszcze sprawdzę.

And a picture of Kulka by Andrzej:

From Malcolm. My best guess is that this is in the city of Bury, England:


From Steve, who says that this new British Christmas stamp meme is “doing the rounds over here”.  But I can’t seem to find this stamp online.

I suppose you have to be Jewish and a Beatles fan (I fill the bill) to appreciate this meme from Bruce.  Almost all the titles are gems. but I really like “The shul on the hill.”


From God (this doesn’t count as a retweet):

From Simon. Fie on gratuitous co-authors or Principal Investigators who slap their names on every paper that comes out of their labs!

From Barry: This is a news tweet rather than an entertainment tweet:

A tweet sent by Ginger K.:

From Luana. This is most definitely an article worth reading:

Tweets from Matthew. Look at the expression on that innocent cat’s face!

Stop to admire the beauty of a male mallard. We see them so often we get jaded about them, but look at that puplish green head, the neat neck ring, and the unsullied butter-yellow bill:

Life flourishing around a log:

57 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. The Elizabeth Holmes schedule story is hilarious. This is the best line:

    Usually what I do during this stage of the morning is make a lot of inarticulate grunts and visit the bathroom immediately — something I now am realizing with horror is not listed anywhere on the Holmes schedule.

    The Christmas stamp is not from this year.

    In fact, it is from 2015

  2. Comfort food: also soup and sandwich. The high school where I taught in the early 1970’s had soup and sandwich on offer for lunch every Thursday…a bowl of vegetable beef soup, grilled cheese sandwich, AND a big, fresh, yeasty cinnamon bun. It seemed that administrators from the school district’s central office building always visited our high school on Thursdays at around lunchtime.

    1. Yup, my daughter says it’s been coming around every Christmas for the past few years. “The Jesus and Mary Chain” – LOL!

  3. Yeah, those democrats need to get out there and go where those common folks live. Do like Trump and get on line and con them out of what little money they have. They really enjoy that. He is just like them down there in his big house in Florida. What the hell is the matter with those democrats?

    1. You might have noticed that Steve Bullock didn’t win the Senatorial election. If he knows so much about what rural people need, why didn’t he?

      And, you might also have noticed that the Democrats DID pass the infrastructure bill, after four years of Trump lying that he was going to, but didn’t. That money will benefit all of us, rural residents included, but perhaps not immediately, as it takes some time for implementation. Republicans who didn’t vote for it are already taking credit for its passage.

      Many rural voters are more interested in hate, fear, and racism. And yes, they DO vote against their own interests.


      1. Steve Bullock is correct that the Democratic failure to connect with rural and white working class voters is an important element in why it has lost the overall white vote for many decades. What he is saying is that Democrats, by and large, are bad politicians. They are very bad at messaging, while Republicans are masters at it. If non-college graduate white folk think that Democrats are captives of the elites, whoever they may be, and minorities, they will be receptive to the Republican cultural message despite the fact that the GOP economic program (if one can actually find it) does nothing to help them, indeed screws them. In other words, the white voters that have rejected the Democratic Party made the choice that when it comes to voting for a political party that is perceived as insulting their dignity (despite its economic program) or one that pretends to respect them culturally (including religiously), regardless that is has not and will not do anything to assist them economically, they will go with the latter.

        Because the Democratic Party is made up of much more diverse groups than the Republican Party, it has had greatly difficulty in catering to the demands of its constituent elements. Since the days of Thomas Jefferson and emphasized by Andrew Jackson, the Democratic Party has portrayed itself as the representative of the common man. Of course, this meant the white common man until starting with the New Deal and accelerating under LBJ in the 1960s, the definition was expanded to include minorities. Now many of the white common men (and women) have determined that the Democratic Party no longer represents their interests. Certainly, racism and fear of change are part of the reason, but they are not the exclusive ones and maybe not the primary one (this can be debated). Bullock’s analysis provides other reasons. Until the Democratic Party can figure out a way to reconcile the interests of the varying components of common men and people, winning elections will always be difficult as it faces the roadblocks of gerrymandering and voter suppression. The problem is clear; the solution is not.

        1. Don’t forget the difficulties baked into the American government. Not just wide spread racism but a system that greatly benefits the minority (representation in the Senate) and more than half the country in the lower populated rural America where republicans live. A system that gives great preference to the state. Yes the democrats have always been lousy at politics but that is because many of them are more concerned with democracy. The republicans could care less.

      2. And I could just say they are stupid but I am not running for anything, not selling a web site and stay away from gaslighting. Don’t work anywhere so not worried about getting fired or what the boss thinks.

  4. ‘Bury Santa Experience’: the Bury in question is actually Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk (hence BSE).

    Comfort food: a ‘Monday risotto’ made from leftover Sunday roast chicken and a stock from the carcass. The comfort is as much in the slow dreamy stirring of the pot as in the eating.

    1. Mac’n’cheese, for me — the good old-fashioned homemade baked kind, with breadcrumbs on top. Beans’n’franks make a great accompaniment. Hold the ketchup.

      I used to fix it for my sons on the weekends, whenever their mother was away.

      1. Tuna sandwich on wheat bread, chicken soup, bread and butter pickles, potato chips, coke, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

    2. Mac and cheese (not KD) with bacon. No beans please. Roasted broccoli on the side. Like Ken this was my go-to meal for my kids for a decade, until Thing2 decided she wasn’t into cheese any longer. Now one end of the pan has to be, well, naked.

  5. I am very much enjoying the mental image of classes at Stanford for teaching the students how to spell banana!

    The great smog of 1952 was a key stimulus to the establishment of the 1956 Clean Air Act which along with subsequent updates to the legislation has saved countless lives so those 400 people who died as a result of it did not die entirely in vain (although that would not have been of much comfort to their families). Although air quality has improved as a result in London and other cities, air pollution remains a significant problem that still leads to premature deaths. Legislation – although often regarded as ‘red tape’ and a hindrance to business activity – remains a crucial tool in making our air safe to breathe.

  6. Regarding the smog event in London, more recent analyses show that deaths were much higher than the government admitted. In fact, deaths are estimated to have been three times as high (12,000). The government arbitrarily cut off the count whereas an analysis of deaths shows rates remained above normal well into March of the following year.

    This remains the largest civilian death event in England outside of a war, as far as I know.

  7. Non-sequitur yet topical thought :

    Vaccine hesitancy/refusal origins :

    Cleanliness/hygiene obsession?

    That is, the desire to skip vaccines is driven by the notion that catching the disease only happens to groups with poor cleanliness … I bet it is clear where that is coming from …

      1. Well, didn’t Schrödinger devise his cat gedankenexperiment to demonstrate what he saw as the problem with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics developed by Heisenberg and Bohr?

        So sorta in the ballpark?

    1. I don’t see a problem with good old Werner having a cat. Lot’s of people have cats. A close friend of mine adores the nasty little creatures, so it is perfectly plausible that Werner liked the nasty creatures too. But that picture is not of a cat — instead, it is a Disney cat, a cartoon cat. So this must be disinformation, something that I did not expect from WEIT. Sad!

      1. There are a bunch of sausage makers that attempt them but they universally suck. Are you vouching for Jolly Posh? I am not sure if I’ve tried them but the name sounds familiar.

    1. They just recently, and I don’t know why, showed up on my Facebook page. I have not ordered anything from them yet, but plan to. They also sell what appears to be decent rashers and black and white pudding. Makings for a proper fry-up.

      1. After a little research, it turns out that I bought some Jolly Posh bangers from iGourmet, an online gourmet food vendor, a few years ago. I can’t remember any specifics of how they tasted but I’m sure they weren’t very good. I have had good bangers at a few restaurants but they wouldn’t tell me who made them and I wasn’t into rummaging through their trash. 😉 I’ve tried 4 or 5 different US brands available at places like iGourmet and Amazon but none of them tasted authentic or even just good. I’m still looking for the perfect bangers that are available without going to the UK.

  8. Zhukov was a great general and was highly decorated. Eventually, of course, he was disgraced and forced to retire.

    I thought the Brit actor Jason Isaacs played a pretty good Zhukov in The Death of Stalin:

    1. LOVED that movie, with Steve Buscemi as “Nicky” Khrushchev🤣🤣 I thought that Isaacs was American?? Nah, you’re right , Ken😬

  9. 1934 – Joan Didion, American novelist and screenwriter

    And essayist. Her reputation was forged primarily on the basis of two collections of her essays, released about a decade apart — Slouching Toward Bethlehem and The White Album.

  10. I do not think Jussie Smollett will testify. He can’t honestly answer the prosecutor’s questions. As a Chicagoan, I have watched plenty of news coverage. This appears to be public relations strategy. He has had others speak on his behalf (e.g, Jesse Jackson) saying he is not guilty. His lawyers have made multiple requests for a mistrial, accused the judge of inappropriate behavior, etc. He will be found guilty, but will continue to proclaim his innocence, cry mistreatment from the judicial system and the media. He will then go quiet for a period of time, hoping the public’s memory and interest will wane. He will then attempt a comeback. At least that is my guess!

    1. I do not think Jussie Smollett will testify. He can’t honestly answer the prosecutor’s questions.

      Heck, forget about cross-examination; I have a hard time thinking of any questions his own defense lawyer could ask him on direct that he could answer honestly without incriminating himself.

      Whether to testify on one’s own behalf is one of the three issues (along with whether to represent oneself or to retain counsel, and whether to go to trial or plead guilty) within the sole discretion of a criminal defendant, but I’m reasonably certain that Smollett’s defense team has counseled him strongly against it.

      1. Wasn’t he still wearing the noose around his neck when the cops arrived in response to his report of the assault – WTF?

  11. For comfort foods, I’ll offer two:
    For bodily comfort when I’m sick and not feeling up to cooking – not-chicken chicken nuggets with a side of vegenaise mixed with ketchup. Come at me.
    For emotion comfort when I’m feeling up for cooking – mac’n cheese – my style. I usually start with a sautee of all the veg I can find (zucchini, mushrooms, onions, garlic, pasilla peppers, red bell peppers, etc) along with a protein (I like Hill Meats pork sausages, or turkey keilbasa) – then when caramelized, I pull them out and make a nice roux. I then add my dairy (half & half, cream, whatever I’ve got) and then all the cheeses I can find (I like cheddar, parm, fresh mozz, gruyere, etc.) once the sauce is nice and creamy in goes my cooked noodles (I like the little shells), back in goes the sautee mix, topped with more shredded cheese and crumbs and into the oven to finish.

  12. Wot? 20 tons of gold in that church? That seems excessive to me – although I see it’s in the Wikipedia article on the church – and I wonder if there has been a mistake in translation or metrics somewhere.

    Having some time on my hands I find that the price of gold during the 1930’s was averaging at around $27.50 per ounce, which would give the total value of gold as $17.6 million. That doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility, but accounting for inflation since the 1930’s indicates the current purchasing price would be almost $290.5 million in today’s money.

    That’s an awful lot (I’m tempted to say wasted) in raw gold before you even start constructing the building.

  13. The Cathedral of Christ the Savior was inaugurated in 1883 as a monument to the Tsars. It wasn’t anything historical worth saving. Stalin was right to tear it down for the gold. The Soviet Union needed the cash to continue industrialization, to help pull through the depression, and to prepare for what Germany was cooking up.

  14. Have two comfort foods, depending on whether I feel the need for something sweet or savoury. It would be either a Pain aux Rasin or a good fresh crusty bread roll with a slice of mature Cheddar and onion.

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