Sunday: Hili dialogue

December 12, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the Sabbath that is made for man but not for cats: Sunday, December 12, 2021. It’s National Cocoa Day, and I recommend the Mexican hot chocolate (as thick as syrup) served at Rick Bayless’s Mexican street food restaurant Xoco in downtown Chicago. Here it is, served with hot, freshly fried churros to dip in the chocolate:

It’s also Gingerbread House Day, National Ambrosia Day (god help me, I like the stuff!), and National Poinsettia Day. And it’s 13 shopping days until the beginning of Coynezaa.

News of the Day:

*Anne Rice died yesterday at 80. Here’s an announcement (with cat) from Facebook, and a tweet below that from her son:

*The biggest news in the USA is the violent tornado that struck six states yesterday, destroying a candle factory in Kentucky (killing about 70 people out of 110) and an Amazon warehouse in southern Illinois.  I’d guess that at least 200 people will have been killed when they reach a final count.  The NBC Evening News said last night that this may have been  a single giant tornado that traveled 250 miles, which would make it the long-distance champion. in recorded American history.  Anchor Kate Snow interviewed the mayor of Mayfield, Kentucky, the site of the candle factory, and asked her what the city needed. The mayor’s answer was short but depressing, “Prayers.” I can think of a lot of other things that might actually help.

*Crime in Los Angeles has gotten so bad that the the head of the Los Angeles Police Department’s union the head of the Los Angeles Police Department’s union advised tourists to stay away from the city because the cops can’t guarantee visitors’ safety. The chief of the LAPD, however,  tried to calm thing down by saying “It’s not out of control. It’s not a spiral that we’ve lost control over. It is important that we not have a sense of acquiescing or just lackadaisical approach to this. We’re calling out the severity of it.”   (h/t Orli):

“We can’t guarantee your safety. It is really, really out of control. I said it to people before, it’s like that movie ‘Purge,’ you know, instead of 24 hours to commit your crime, these people have 365 days days to commit whatever they want,” McBride said.

His warning seems to resonate with some residents.

“It’s pretty scary walking at night,” said Sarah Veenstra, who moved to LA from Wisconsin about six months ago. She said she didn’t realize crime and safety would be such an issue.

“I genuinely thought it would be a safe area. It turned out not be as safe as I thought. I’m definitely, like, carrying something on me every time I leave the house when it’s dark out,” she said.

There’s been a wave of smash-and-grab robberies, which I suppose AOC would say were misreported.

*We all know that the Wright Brothers invented the first workable airplane, right? Not so fast! As the Washington Post reports, even the Smithsonian Institution onced begged to differ, labeling one of their planes (not a Wright Brothers construction) thusly:

“The first man-carrying aeroplane in the history of the world capable of sustained free flight. Invented, built and tested over the Potomac River by Samuel Pierpont Langley in 1903.”

Well, that is duplicitous. Langley’s plane, below, was launched from a houseboat on the Potomac on October 7 and December 8, 1903, and crashed shortly after both takeoffs. The Wright Brothers’ plane flew and landed successfully for 12 seconds on December 17, attaining a height of 60 feet. The Wright Bothers win, but the Smithsonian put that label on Langley’s plane because they concluded it was capable of flight. That pissed off Orville, who battled the Smithsonian for 20 years about who made the first flight (Wilbur had died):

Orville Wright did not take this one lying down. In a 1925 public letter about the Smithsonian’s Langley exhibit, Wright asserted that “the machine now hanging in the institution is, much of it, new material and some of it of different construction from the original,” and “the card attached to the machine is not true of the original machine or of the restored one.”

Wright set off a national firestorm by revealing in his letter that he planned to send the Wright Flyer to the Science Museum at South Kensington in London. “No one could possibly regret more than I do that our machine must go into a foreign museum,” he wrote.

The Smithsonian refused to budge. Congress held hearings. Republican Rep. Roy Fitzpatrick of Ohio called the institution’s stance “an outrage against the Wright brothers and an attempt to cheat them out of the victory of their discoveries.”

In 1928, new Smithsonian director Charles Abbot issued a statement offering to revise the offending label, but only “if Mr. Wright will openly state in a friendly way” that “he believes that the Langley machine was capable of flight under its own power.” Wright considered the offer an insult and shipped off the Wright Flyer.

Finally, in 1942, the Smithsonian caved under pressure. It reported that Abbot had “tendered sincere apologies to Dr. Orville Wright for misleading statements by former Smithsonian officials,” and it said if the Wright plane were sent to the Smithsonian, it would be given “the highest place of honor which is its due.”

The Wrights were right, and now the Wright Flyer is back in Washington, D.C. Here’s Langley’s plane, and then the first plane that really flew:


(from WaPo): Samuel Pierpont Langley’s Aerodrome A leaves the catapult of a houseboat for its first flight on Oct. 7, 1903. Moments later, it plunged into the Potomac River. (National Air and Space Museum Archives)

And the Wright stuff:

(from WaPo): The 1903 Wright Flyer currently on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. (Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum)

*An article in the New York Times addresses a new faux conspiracy theory: that “birds aren’t real”.  Yes, the theory is that birds are drone replicas of birds (but how did they know what to make the drones look like?) created to spy on Americans. It’s more nuts than the Q-Anon/pizza molestation theories, but it’s just a Generation-Z jokev(h/t Paul):

Last month, Birds Aren’t Real adherents even protested outside Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco to demand that the company change its bird logo.

The events were all connected by a Gen Z-fueled conspiracy theory, which posits that birds don’t exist and are really drone replicas installed by the U.S. government to spy on Americans. Hundreds of thousands of young people have joined the movement, wearing Birds Aren’t Real T-shirts, swarming rallies and spreading the slogan.

It might smack of QAnon, the conspiracy theory that the world is controlled by an elite cabal of child-trafficking Democrats. Except that the creator of Birds Aren’t Real and the movement’s followers are in on a joke: They know that birds are, in fact, real and that their theory is made up.

What Birds Aren’t Real truly is, they say, is a parody social movement with a purpose. In a post-truth world dominated by online conspiracy theories, young people have coalesced around the effort to thumb their nose at, fight and poke fun at misinformation. It’s Gen Z’s attempt to upend the rabbit hole with absurdism.

I think it’s great, but you can bet your bippy that some people are going to take this seriously. None are reported in the article. Their truck is below (note the claim “birds charge on power lines”), and their site, with official merchandise, is here.

*The BBC reports that Rosie Kay, head of the eponymous and celebrated British dance company, has quit her own organization after a dinner at her home with her company that resulted in a discussion about transsexuals. Inevitably, that led to accusations of transphobia against Kay, her apology, but also continuing argument that ultimately led Kay to quit. There’s no telling from the article who did or said what.   (h/t Abe)

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 795,727, an increase of 1,288 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,319,830, an increase of about 5,100 over yesterday’s total. Within four days the U.S. toll will surpass 800,000—remember when projections of 200,000 were regarded as unthinkable?

Stuff that happened on December 12 includes:

  • 1787 – Pennsylvania becomes the 2nd state to ratify the US Constitution.
  • 1866 – Oaks explosion: The worst mining disaster in England kills 361 miners and rescuers.

That is the worst mining disaster in England, but not in the UK. The worst was in Wales: the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster on October 14, 1913, which killed  439 miners and a rescuer. Below a photo from Wikipedia of that disaster, labeled: “Crowds await news at the Universal CollierySenghenydd.

As we learned yesterday, this may be dubious.

Here’s Father Flanagan, born in Ireland, with some of his boys (they later let girls in, too):

This was a project to produce more Aryan children to populate the Reich. Here’s a 42-minute video about it:

Here’s what Goebbels wrote in his diary that evening:

Bezüglich der Judenfrage ist der Führer entschlossen, reinen Tisch zu machen. Er hat den Juden prophezeit, daß, wenn sie noch einmal einen Weltkrieg herbeiführen würden, sie dabei ihre Vernichtung erleben würden. Das ist keine Phrase gewesen. Der Weltkrieg ist da, die Vernichtung des Judentums muß die notwendige Folge sein.


Regarding the Jewish Question, the Führer has decided to make a clean sweep. He prophesied to the Jews that, if they yet again brought about a world war, they would experience their own annihilation. That was not just a phrase. The world war is here, and the annihilation of the Jews must be the necessary consequence.

Oy, did that hurt! Here’s Gore’s concession speech:


Notables born on this day were few, and include:

  • 1821 – Gustave Flaubert, French novelist (d. 1880)
  • 1893 – Edward G. Robinson, American actor (d. 1973)

Here’s Robinson as a gangster in the movie “Little Caesar” (1931).

  • 1915 – Frank Sinatra, American singer, actor, and producer (d. 1998)

Here’s the Chairman of the Board singing “You Make Me Feel So Young” (1962 performance, song written in 1948).

  • 1975 – Mayim Bialik, American actress, neuroscientist*, and author

*She has a Ph.D. in neuroscience but, despite her asseverations on television commercials, hasn’t done neuroscience since her degree. In the commercial below, she not only distorts her profession, but pushes a useless nostrum for “improving your brain”:

Notables who died on December 12 were also few; they include:

Bankhead acted in more than 300 films, plays, and stints on television and radio. She had a huge libido and smoked six packs of cigarettes a day. Wikipedia reports:

Bankhead died at St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan on December 12, 1968, at age 66. The cause of death  was pleural double pneumonia, complicated by emphysema due to cigarette smoking, malnutrition, and possibly a strain of the flu which was endemic at that time. Her last coherent words reportedly were a garbled request for “codeine … bourbon”.

Here’s an episode of “I Love Lucy” in which Tallulah appears. It’s great:

  • 1999 – Joseph Heller, American novelist, short story writer, and playwright(b. 1923)
  • 2020 – Ann Reinking, American actress, dancer, and choreographer (b. 1949)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej are getting into it again:

Hili: With all due respect, I think you are mistaken.
A: On what grounds do you think so?
Hili: Everybody is mistaken from time to time.
In Polish:
Hili: Z całym respektem, ale sądzę, że jesteś w błędzie.
Ja: Na jakiej podstawie tak sądzisz?
Hili: Wszyscy są czasem w błędzie.

Here’s a photo Andrzej took of Paulina outside photographing Hili (inside):

From Jesus of the Day:

From Nicole:

An old but great Gary Larson cartoon sent in by Stash Krod:

Titania’s back tweeting again, though I’ve been told that Andrew Doyle (her creator) said in an interview that Her Wokeness is running out of things to say.

Reader Barry sent this screenshot of a tweet by Chelsea Handler:

From Luana: the miracle of modern dentistry. I never had braces, and so am amazed:

From Ginger K.: I wonder if I could pass for a goy her and buy a tree.

Tweets from Matthew. Can your find the curved line? Good luck!

Matthew says: “This could have been your mum if your dad had played his cards right?” I wonder how many readers will understand the allusion.

An excellent tale about a partly domesticated crow; click on the link to read:

What gorgeous starlings!

***There are NO curved lines in Matthew’s first tweet.

43 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Matthew says: “This could have been your mum if your dad had played his cards right?” I wonder how many readers will understand the allusion.”
    Well, I suppose all or most readers who visited your site on December 6th.

    1. I don’t know why I find parody religions to be hilarious, but parody conspiracy theories to be dangerous. The have so much in common. I think it might just be life experience; I’m older now than when I discovered parody religions. In my understanding, the Flat Earth movement was a parody conspiracy 20 years ago… and now it’s real.

  2. The Wright Brothers were snubbed by their home country more than once as noted by this museum dodge. The American government and military showed no interest in their invention for several years. This is why they packed up and went to Europe to sell their air machine.

      1. As was my NACA, later NASA research lab in Hampton, VA. NACA Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory (1920-1948); NACA Langley Aeronautical Laboratory (1948- 1958); then NASA Langley Research Center (1958-present). This name was always a bit of an embarrassment to many of the aeronautical engineers working there, particularly those of us who worked with colleagues at the Air Force Flight Dynamics Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH.

    1. At the entrance to the Pau airport in France there is a stone marker commemorating a flying school started there by Orville Wright before the First World War. A prophet in his own country…

    2. There have been many claims of powered flight well before the Wright brothers. Most of these were crashes from a ramp, so they can be discounted ( eg. duTemple in 1874, Mozhayski in 1884)
      The most serious claim is from Clément Ader in France, who flew 50m at the altitude of about 20cm with his Éole in 1890. The Éole was powered by a steam engine, so it would not qualify as practical. Still, it should be considered as the first powered flight taking off from level ground.
      And then there is Richard Pearse from NZ, who flew a controlled flight in March 1903, several months before the Wright brothers, although he himself never claimed precedence. His planes had several ‘modern’ features, such as wheels, monoplane, variabble pitch rotor blades and wing flaps, among other things.
      Apparently he became depressed and paranoid later in life, and died in an asylum.

  3. “you can bet your bippy that some people are going to take this seriously”

    We’ve seen this before– scams/jokes that get taken seriously, and later followers lose sight of the origin: Mormonism, Scientology, Reformed Druid Church of North America.


    1. Birds as extraterrestrials was tackled by the debunking community a year ago:

      I have no idea if the original videos came as a result of the hoax or not, the woman who made the video that was being debunked was definitely down the conspiracy rabbit hole as well as being ‘spiritual’. Her original video was hilarious, up to the point when you realised that she was absolutely serious.

    2. I think that referring to Mormonism as a scam, one gets into a definitional problem. It seems to me that to classify a pronouncement or action as a scam requires knowledge on the part of the scammer that he/she is consciously perpetuating a fraud (intentionality). If this were not the case, every utterance of a false belief with the intention of persuading others could be defined as a scam, including promoters of every religion. So, in the case of Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, we would need to know whether he consciously thought that people are so stupid and gullible that he could conjure up in his mind bizarre stories and through his persuasive talents get people to believe them or was he so totally nuts that he actually believed what he preached? I am not an expert on Mormonism, but I would love to hear from people that are as to what they think motivated Joseph Smith.

      In either case, Mormonism and today’s QAnon are but two examples of probably thousands, where humans can be persuaded to believe absurd things without any proof. Such movements convince me that a rational world never existed and will never be. As is always the case with religious, social and political movements based on irrational principles, they need not be constituted of a majority of people to create immense damage. Such is human nature.

      1. I’m far from an expert, but IIRC he was a convicted scammer. So the idea, if true, it was just a scam is kinda obvious to suspect.

  4. Regarding the optical illusion: note the fine white interrupted lines in the background? The green lines tend to follow them when in peripheral vision, so I’m guessing this is one of those indications that evolution cheaped out and made us only ‘good enough’ firmware/wetware.

  5. The producers of “Jeopardy!” must have a sweet spot for quacks as they have employed both Mayim Bialik and Dr. Mehmet Oz as hosts. Bialik is on now, hosting their Professors Tournament for two weeks. Dr. Oz is seeking new work as Pennsylvania’s Senator and says Dr. Fauci should be “held accountable” for misleading Congress. I hope he loses. I don’t want to see him on TV any more than I have to.

    1. Yep, apparently Oz is plowing all his own money into the campaign. Hope he has the same result as Michael Bloomberg, altho if MB had ousted Boss Tweet a President Blooomberg would’ve been a relief.

      The Oz campaign, OTOH, may well turn out to be a referendum on antivaxxers. With well over PA vaccinated, I’m optimistic about not winding up with a Sen. Oz. If it winds up being a John Fetterman v. Oz race, it may help that JF will be able to say that his wife’s uncle died of COVID in Brazil, and cite various stats from there and elsewhere. Fetterman also wins on being a longtime (lifetime, I think) PA resident, with ties to both ends of the state, and he should get at least some traction in the middle of the state for being unorthodox..

    2. Those Mayim Bialik commercials – “I’m a neuroscientist” – really bug me. I wish she would be asked in interviews about this claim, “have you actually worked as a neuroscientist?” She and Oz should be held accountable for their dishonesty. It puts me off of Jeopardy.

      1. I don’t think there is any need to denigrate Bialik. Regardless if she has ever worked in the field as a neuroscientist she did earn a legitimate PhD from one of the top rated universities in the country. To say she can’t call herself a neuroscientist strikes me as the type of goalpost shifting that academia often uses when they want to practice an argument from authority.

        1. Thank you for the claim that I was practicing an argument from authority. In fact, I wasn’t: i was saying that Bialik misrepresents her expertise in these commercials.

          Thank you for tut-tutting, though.

        2. She’s implying that she’s a working (experienced) neuroscientist giving good advice, not someone with just a degree who’s fibbing a little and, as you would suspect if you knew, is pitching a bogus drug.

        3. If anything, Bialik’s claim is an argument from authority. By claiming she’s a neuroscientist while hawking her products, she is implying (falsely) that her audience should buy her products, allowing them to believe that she’s was involved in scientific testing with positive results. We assume she actually has the degree. The lie is the use of it to sell products.

  6. I hope Titania McGrath can keep going at least a little longer. She can always count on the news to supply her new material on which to comment, as she did in the tweet displayed here. Humor (ridicule, really) is one of our best weapons against the depredations of the Woke.

  7. Re Stuzzicadenti, regular readers of this site will know that our host’s father met her while he was in the Army in Europe. In fact, Jerry recently posted a photo of his dad with the goddess. Hence Matthew’s allusion.
    FYI, I met Sophia (yes, we’re on a first-name basis 😉) when I worked for Rizzoli Editore in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Rizzoli had published her autobiography as well as her cookbook, In cucina con amore, from which I think the photo in today’s Dialogue is taken. Anyway, I met her when she was touring to promote her autobiography. When we were introduced, I looked her in the eyes (trying not to get lost in them), shook her outstretched hand, and mumbled “piacere!” I will never forget the brilliant orange dress that showed off her glorious figure. 😌

    1. Here’s La Loren at age 60 in Robert Altman’s 1994 fashion-world satire, Prêt-à-Porter, wherein she and the late Marcello Mastroianni play somewhat fictionalized versions of themselves:

  8. Not just smash and grabs. There are plenty of personal crimes, too. The LA County DA has introduced a bill that would remove the extra penalty for the use of a gun during a crime.

    “It’s gotten to a point where residents feel insecure even going from their door to their car,” said resident Shirley Reitman. “A lot of residents are applying for a concealed carry weapon permit, even though that’s a great challenge in LA County.”

    According to LA County Sheriff Alejandro Villanueva, the department has received 8,105 concealed carry weapon applications and approved 2,102 of them since he took office in December 2018, compared to his predecessor having issued 194 permits in four years.

    1. It seems that “Defund the Police” and “ACOB” have birthed the paradisiacal USA that the NRA has been dreaming about and lobbying for all these years, namely, gunslinger mentality and vigilantism. O tempora, o mores!

      1. Polarization is a strange thing, and it’s not as geographically determined as people think. Check out the Wikipedia article on Purple America. I would love to see a map-overlay of New Right and New Left, but I can’t imagine what methodology would yield usable data. Both sides seem to be ubiquitous, and the existence of each bolsters participation in the other. Now it looks like some (not most) participants on both sides are promoting violence. Even more seem to be tolerating it. It’s a feedback loop, so I am expecting more escalation.

        1. I suspect that gerrymandering has been one of the biggest causes of polarization. It has allowed some districts to elect politicians that are the most radical rather than those that appeal to the middle. This is obvious now, producing Congressional freaks like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, but has been going on for decades.

          1. Yes, gerrymandering is a factor in polarization. When the winner of the general election is preordained, it is the primary that becomes the important election. Since it is the most committed (extreme) voters that are likely to vote, the candidates must become more extreme themselves to win the nomination. The primary system started in the early 1900s to ostensibly make the electoral system more democratic. Instead of party bosses in smoke filled rooms picking the candidates, the “people” would. The system has morphed into a monster. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any feasible system to replace it.

            By the way, in your list of “Congressional freaks,” let us not forget Paul Gosar. With a little thought, we can add dozens to the list.

            1. Ha! I actually had trouble deciding which freaks to name and was somewhat concerned that naming only women would result in some blowback. It was just those two that came to mind. Freaks come in all genders.

  9. With even more irony, Christians in the southern hemisphere reverentially engage in their pagan Winter Solstice celebrations during the Summer Solstice.

  10. Our host always posts about scrumptious culinary delights. Sadly, as a diabetic, I have to limit my consumption of certain foodstuffs. Nonetheless the Mexican hot choc and churros sounds/tastes eye-wateringly good 🙂

  11. It needs mentioning that Vicente Fernandez, perhaps the greatest Mexican singer of the
    last 50 years, passed away last night at age 81.

  12. I suspect the gold on the golden breasted starling is pigment, and not layered reflections, and hence not iridescent.
    Painters have always been frustrated at trying to render iridescence with pigments, a close to impossible task.

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