Tuesday: Hili dialogue

December 7, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the cruelest day, compounded by the freezing temperatures in Chicago: Tuesday, December 7, 2021: 80 years to the day from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s National Cotton Candy Day, which of course is a confection that’s pure sugar.

Here’s a short video on how they make cotton candy:

It’s also Letter Writing DayFlag Base Day (in Scientology), International Civil Aviation Day and National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Here’s a 2½ minute video documentary of the attack (a diagrammatic video of the attack is here):


News of the Day:

*A first for the U.S.: New York City has announced that all private companies must have their workers vaccinated by December 27. It’s a first because all mandates have previously applied only to state, city, or federal employees. But I have yet to see a mandate strictly enforced, though, including the one for police in Chicago.

*Speaking of Chicago, actor Jussie Smollett, who seems to have staged a fake “hate attack” on himself to boost his career, testified yesterday in his trial for falsifyiing police reports (6 felonies). He claimed that the check he gave to the two guys (both black) who supposedly committed the racist attack wasn’t a payoff for the hoax, but for their “diet and exercise” regiments. Dave Chappelle will have a field day with this one!

*As World War III percolates on the border between Russia and Ukraine, reports are coming in that the Russians are preparing as if they’re poised to invade, but they’re playing cat and mouse by alternatingly deploying and withdrawing troops. Meanwhile, Biden is playing hardball with Putin:

The US has said it would send reinforcements to Nato’s eastern flank in response to a Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as imposing severe new economic measures, in a warning to Moscow on the eve of talks between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.

Biden will also make clear to Putin that the US will not rule out future Ukrainian membership of Nato, as the Russian leader has demanded, a senior US official said.

And if Russia does invade Ukraine, what exactly will the U.S. troops at “NATO’s eastern flank do?” Fight the Russians?

*When the tributes came in for Bob Dole yesterday, a notable omission from former Presidents was—you guess it—Donald Trump. But he did issue a statement; the news just ignored it. If you want to see what he said in memoriam, along with statements by many other notables, see this collection by The Associated Press. One of my favorites is from Jack Reed (read the one from Tammy Duckworth, too):

“Over the last several years, I was fortunate to get to spend several Saturdays a year with Senator Dole. He made it his mission to greet fellow World War II veterans in Washington, D.C., when they came to visit the World War II Memorial, a memorial that Senator Dole helped make a reality. When Rhode Island veterans would come to Washington on Honor Flights, one of their true highlights was seeing Senator Dole. He was there to confer respect and honor upon others, and it was truly a privilege to be there at his side and see veterans and caregivers alike light up and connect with him. Senator Dole was both a great listener and storyteller and he always made sure our veterans knew: This is their memorial. It belongs to them.” — Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

*Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer is mustering his people for a vote on the $2 trillion “Build Back Better” act before Christmas. That’s earlier than I expected, but if all the Dems stay in line, it can pass with the tie-breaking vote of Kamala Harris. I still don’t know how it can pass and avoid a filibuster, as “the reconciliation process” remains a mystery to me. But that’s what’s going to happen:

From here, the Senate still must rejigger critical parts of the bill to ensure it is compatible with the process known as reconciliation. The legislative maneuver allows Democrats to approve the legislation with 51 votes, rather than the usual 60, sidestepping a guaranteed Republican filibuster in the narrowly divided chamber.

But reconciliation carries its own set of potential headaches, as Democrats must ensure every element of their sprawling tax-and-spending proposal directly implicates the federal budget — or else it is at risk of being stripped out of the measure entirely. Anticipating those issues, lawmakers have been meeting behind the scenes with the chamber’s parliamentarian, a customary process that Schumer said is expected to continue “this week and next.”

For this to happen, of course, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema cannot break ranks, and their decisions are still a mystery.

*In an article at the Guardian called, “Joni Mitchell: ‘I’m hobbling along but I’m doing alright‘”, we hear Joni’s remarks as she accepted her Kennedy Center Honor (along with Justino Díaz, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels and singer Bette Midler). It’s sad. She had polio as a child, and now apparently has “post polio syndrome“, which often strikes decades after the childhood bout. It makes me so sad to hear this:

Joni Mitchell addressed her health difficulties in a rare public speech as she accepted her Kennedy Center Honor, one of the most prestigious awards in American cultural life.

At a ceremony attended by Joe Biden – in a show of support for the arts after the awards were snubbed by Donald Trump – Mitchell discussed the issues she’s faced in the wake of an aneurysm in 2015 that left her temporarily unable to walk or talk.

“I always think that polio was a rehearsal for the rest of my life,” she said, referring to the disease she suffered aged nine. “I’ve had to come back several times from things. And this last one was a real whopper. But, you know, I’m hobbling along but I’m doing all right!”

She described the award as “a fantastic honour … enjoy yourselves, I’m gonna go back and sit down!”

Here are the highlights on video. Smokey Robinson serenades Berry Gordy, and you can see Joni at the end:

*The New York Times has a beautiful but sad photographic and written elegy for the island of Svalbard, known to Americans as Spitzbergen. I had hoped to get there some day with Hurtigruten, but I’ll need to move fast, for the island is melting away from global warming.

Svalbard, though seemingly timeless, is perhaps the closest thing we have to a ticking clock.

. . . Unfortunately, climate change all but guarantees an eventual (and probably fairly imminent) collapse of what is, in fact, an exceptionally fragile ecosystem. The 29 national parks and other protected areas that cover two-thirds of the Svalbard archipelago can protect its wild inhabitants from hunting and pollution, but not from increasing water and air temperatures. Every year brings us further news of ever-shrinking glaciers and reduced ice cover — ice upon which the 3,000 polar bears who live in the Svalbard archipelago and Barents Sea depend for their survival.

“The map has been completely redrawn during my time here,” said Fredrik Granath, an author, photographer and expedition leader who has 20 years of experience working on Svalbard. “Routes we used to travel on foot or by snowmobile only 10 years ago are now accessible only by boat. It gets worse every year.”

The polar bears will all die, for they need ice to hunt the seals they feed on:

Photo (and words) by Marcus Westberg

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 788,315, an increase of 1,266 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,281,088, 5,273,301, an increase of about 7,700 over yesterday’s total. The NYT graph of time-averaged cases seems to be showing a rise again, which the news confirms:

Stuff that happened on December 7 includes:

  • 1703 – The Great Storm of 1703, the greatest windstorm ever recorded in the southern part of Great Britain, makes landfall. Winds gust up to 120 mph, and 9,000 people die.
  • 1732 – The Royal Opera House opens at Covent Garden, London, England.
  • 1787 – Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the United States Constitution.
  • 1922 – The Parliament of Northern Ireland votes to remain a part of the United Kingdom and not unify with Southern Ireland.
  • 1930 – W1XAV in Boston, Massachusetts telecasts video from the CBS radio orchestra program, The Fox Trappers. The telecast also includes the first television advertisement in the United States, for I.J. Fox Furriers, which also sponsored the radio show.

Theres a debate about the televised commercial, however, which you can read about here. I don’t have the I.J. Fox ad, but here’s the Bulova ad that most people agree was the first:

It’s a short one!

Einstein (shown here with his stepdaughter Margot) didn’t become an American citizen until 1940. And here’s the moment we got to claim Albert as one of ours:

Einstein and Margot at the swearing in. Photo courtesy of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem
  • 1963 – Instant replay makes its debut during the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.
  • 1972 – Apollo 17, the last Apollo moon mission, is launched. The crew takes the photograph known as The Blue Marble as they leave the Earth.

Here’s that photo:

Here’s a mugshot of Brooks with a diagram of the execution:

Notables born on this day include:

Schwann, below, was the first person to suggest that cells, previously seen in plants, were characteristic of all organisms, including animals.

  • 1873 – Willa Cather, American novelist, short story writer, and poet (d. 1947)
  • 1928 – Noam Chomsky, American linguist and philosopher

Chomsky turns 93 today.

Here’s Burstyn, who played Sam the Lion’s long-lost love in the movie “The Last Picture Show” (the best American movie), talking about her role and the movie’s legacy:

  • 1942 – Harry Chapin, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1981)

Here’s Chapin’s best song by far, “Taxi” (1972). The falsetto is by the bass player, John Wallace

  • 1956 – Larry Bird, American basketball player and coach

Those who found eternal peace on December 7 include:

  • 1683 – Algernon Sidney, English philosopher and politician, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports (b. 1623)
  • 1817 – William Bligh, English admiral and politician, 4th Governor of New South Wales (b. 1745)
  • 1894 – Ferdinand de Lesseps, French businessman and diplomat, co-developed the Suez Canal (b. 1805)
  • 1902 – Thomas Nast, German-American cartoonist (b. 1840)

Nast is famous for his campaign against the corruption of Boss Tweed; here’s one of his anti-Tweed cartoons:

She was a great Wagnerian soprano, and here’s her visage painted on a Norwegian Shuttle airliner:

Rube Goldberg, like his British equivalent ,specialized in impossibly complicated devices to do simple things. This one shows a contraption to harvest a radish:

  • 1975 – Thornton Wilder, American novelist and playwright (b. 1897)
  • 1985 – Robert Graves, English poet, novelist, critic (b. 1895)
  • 1989 – Haystacks Calhoun, American wrestler and actor (b. 1934)

I remember watching this behemoth wrestling; he’d win simply by lying atop his opponents. He died young from being overweight (diabetes):

Yeager died at 97; here’s a news report on his death giving a brief biography (with video):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cats are housebound and restless, for it has snowed:

Hili: Who invented snow?
A: Nobody.
Hili: So where did it come from again?
In Polish:
Hili: Kto wynalazł śnieg.
Ja: Nikt.
Hili: To skąd się tu znowu wziął?
Andrzej’s photo of Kulka and Szaron eating together:

From Merilee:

From Simon, who says that these drinks conform my theory (which is mine) that all beverages save hard alcohol eventually transform themselves into confections. For your delectation: a Dirty Chai Latte Martini and the worst one: Red Wine Hot Chocolate.

From Bruce, but if Tiktaalik was our distant ancestor, he wouldn’t be around to drive it back into the water, or if the “fishapod” remained alive as a “living fossil”, it would be too late!

From Richard Dawkins. Note that there’s a new chief executive of the Royal Society of New Zealand: Paul Atkins, whose email is paul.atkins@royalsociety.org.nz. Don’t let the Society expel two members because they signed a letter objecting to the equation of indigenous mythology with real science.

From fellow nerd and ailurophile Simon; two good ones. Apparently the church is the Lutheran edifice Hallgrímskirkja in Iceland.

From Ginger K., an amazing photo:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. You should be able to figure this one out:

And a very salticid holiday to you! (Sound on.)

The apogee of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony!

35 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. And if Russia does invade Ukraine, what exactly will the U.S. troops at “NATO’s eastern flank do?” Fight the Russians?I guess they’ll be watching from the eastern border of Poland or the northern border of Romania.

    If Russia wants to take over the Ukraine, they will. And I don’t think it’s going to start a war with the EU or NATO or the US because Ukraine isn’t part of NATO or the EU and none of these western groups or countries will militarily do anything about it. We’ll boycott and put economic sanctions on them, and that’ll be it.

    1. Already happened when the Crimean peninsula was annexed. Yes, I know that it is muddy historically, but these days, whatever the history, military annexation shouldn’t be an option.

    2. At least we know we will not be doing what Trump would do. Giving Puttin a big kiss and asking if he needs any help. I am sure we will give Ukraine as much military help as possible. I think Puttin knows that life will be not so good if he tries for Ukraine. Most of the rest of the world will not like it either. Puttin is kind of a chicken shit anyway, he can only steal so much money from the people.

          1. “thoughts and prayers” have a better cost-benefit relationship. Plus, of course, they only point one way.

      1. I’m not so sure about your assessment of Putin. I can’t stand him either; but he’s been able to hold power and advance his agenda in Russia and elsewhere very effectively for a couple of decades. I’d call him ruthless and very savvy.

  2. “German-born Swiss physicist Albert Einstein“

    It’s complicated. Einstein was born in Ulm, which is in modern-day Germany in the state of Baden-Württemberg (near the border to Bavaria). When he was born, the was no country called Germany. Ulm was in the kingdom of Württemberg. In 1901 Einstein became a Swiss citizen, but had given up Württemberg citizenship in 1896, and was thus stateless for several years. He remained a Swiss citizen his entire life. When he accepted a professorship in Prague, some claim that that meant that, as a civil servant, he automatically must have gained German citizenship somehow. (Today in Germany, most civil servants have to be German (or at least EU) citizens, but professors are an exception. School teachers are mostly civil servants.) He had moved to Berlin (after returning to Switzerland after Prague) when he was awarded the Nobel Prize. There was a debate as to who should accept the prize on his behalf, as he was in Japan at the time; should it be the Swiss ambassador? Some functionary stated that Einstein was a German (perhaps because of his professorship in Berlin and/or the previous one in Prague) and indeed the German ambassador accepted the prize on Einstein’s behalf. He was so sure that he would eventually get it that his divorce settlement had specified that the money would go to his first wife and children. When he took U.S. citizenship he kept his Swiss citizenship. He gave up German citizenship in 1933 in Belgium on the way to the States.

    1. Thanks you for this detailed information on Einstein’s history. What I remember from my years learning German in (US) high school was that he was very poor when young and that he and his wife gave up their first child to adoption due to their impoverishment. (I had a great German teacher. We read widely in German culture and literature.)

      Think of all the political/social/economic/warfare upheaval he lived through up to 1933!

      I highly recommend Walter Isaacson’s biography: Einstein: His Life and Universe

      1. he was very poor when young and that he and his wife gave up their first child to adoption due to their impoverishment.

        Well, he wasn’t rich. But I thought the adoption was in part due to significant other complications, like the child being conceived out of wedlock, plus some dislike between Einstein’s family and the mother’s family – maybe related to the affair, maybe some other reason.
        Einstein very much had feet of clay, despite the hagiographies written about him.

        1. The main reason, practically the only reason, was that the child was born before they were married. Einstein wasn’t rich, but certainly not poor enough that that was the reason for the adoption.

          Einstein’s son Hans Albert adopted a daughter (2 of his 3 biological sons died very young); some think that she might be another daughter of the elder Albert Einstein, and she claimed that herself.

        2. Isaacson doesn’t make a saint of him at all.

          The article I read in German class was probably slanted (and very old). The out of wedlock thing probably was swept under the rug.

    2. I must point out that Einstein is not the only person of note born in Ulm. Why is it that no one remembers the great composer Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitzweimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönendanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm?

  3. After the democrats get this last big bill past they can get busy eliminating that filibuster and get some really important stuff done for voting rights and save this country from the cult. The democrats should take pride in what they have done the past year, more than almost any administration in history. And of course with no help from the cult. With unemployment down to 4.2% and a growing economy with a pandemic still going on thanks to the cult, I say they have done pretty well. Only one other guy did as much and he did it with polio getting us through the depression and WWII. Oh yeah, another guy the republicans hated.

  4. Okay, I’m not sure if you’re pulling my chain here with the “Blue Marble” picture, but I don’t see Chicago in that photo. It appears to me to be a picture of Africa.

    Also, I take issue with your assessment of “Taxi” as Harry Chapin’s best work. While “Taxi” is indeed a great song, I would put several of his other songs, including “Better Place To Be”, “What Made America Famous?” and the classic “30,000 Pounds of Bananas” ahead of it.

    1. No, it’s Africa; I meant Antarctica but wrote “Chicago” for some reason. I fixed it.

      As for your taking issue with my assessment of “Taxi”, I frankly don’t give a rat’s patootie.

    2. I’d need to look up Harry Chapin (I recognise the name, that’s it), “Taxi” and “Better placed Two-B”, but I’m more likely to look up what a rat’s patootie is, and find out why His Ceilingcatness keeps them in stock.

      1. He says he doesn’t give patooties out readily, so maybe he’s low on stock. Supply chains, you know. Check back in the spring.

  5. If each of Smollett’s “attackers” had one to two thousand soldiers working on their diet and exercise, they must REALLY have been trying to get healthy…and that must have been a pretty huge payment! ^_^

  6. Thank you for putting up the information about Chuck Yeager. I read his autobiography in high school. His accomplishments are amazing. He worked his way up from private to general. The book is well worth reading.

  7. Jumping off the cliff on the comet, you’d be falling for 45 minutes and you’d land at about 2 feet per second or 1.4 mph. Not a bad landing, although best done landing on your feet not your head.

    1. I was considering running the numbers to see if doing the comet jump with a running jump might actually put you into orbit. I think it remains on the list of possibilities.
      I’d need to look up some numbers on the (running, or standing) long jump first.

  8. Svalbard, known to Americans as Spitzbergen. I had hoped to get there some day with Hurtigruten, but I’ll need to move fast, for the island is melting away from global warming.

    With rocky peaks up to about a thousand metres above sea level, the island chain isn’t going to disappear soon. Order of millions of years – I’d have to check the geological details to say “tens” or “singles”.
    What is disappearing is the “fringing ice”, anchored semi-permanently to the rocky shorelines where the polar bears go seal-hunting, particularly the nursing sows (?). One hopes that the bears will adapt their hunting techniques to shore-launching seals rather than blow-hole using seals, but that’s uncertain, particularly if the seals themselves have to adapt nursing strategies to shore-living instead of blow-hole loitering.
    Maybe the arctic foxes will grow fat on the cubs that polar bears don’t manage to get.

  9. OK, here’s a nice good-news story for 7 December:

    “An Ontario lab is helping to make medals from a sunken Pearl Harbor battleship”

    American readers will of course know that it refers to the USS Arizona, the only ship that remained sunk after the salvage and reconstruction efforts finished. The medals are being made for the USS Arizona Memorial Foundation’s fundraising efforts. There were six Canadian sailors in Arizona, five of whom were among the 1177 who died in the attack.

  10. And another, if there is good news to be taken, or “closure” at least…


    “How DNA Solved One of the Final Mysteries of Pearl Harbor
    Nearly half the crew of the USS Oklahoma was buried in unknown graves — until the military found a pioneering way to decipher a forensic puzzle.”

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