Saturday: Hili dialogue and New Year’s wishes from Leon and Kulka

January 1, 2022 • 7:00 am


It’s 2022!!! A new year has begun on This Saturay, January 1, 2022. (Don’t forget to stop writing 2021 on your checks-— if anybody’s still writing checks.) And a HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL; let us hope it will be better than 2*21, the unspeakable year of misery.

Of course it’s National Bloody Mary Day.

It’s also Apple Gifting Day, Commitment Day, Ellis Island Day, Euro Day (see below), Fruitcake Toss Day, National Hangover Day, Polar Bear Plunge Day (is anybody gonna do this?), Global Family Day, the last day of Kwanzaa (n.b. not “Coynezaa”, Emancipation Day, and the following New Year celebrations:

Here’s Ded Moroz (Santa) and Snegurochka in Belarus, where things are tough right now.

Google’s New Year’s Day gif (click on screenshot);

News of the Day:

*Well, 2021 went out the way it came in: miserably. New covid cases set a record: nearly 600,000 new cases in one day! Worse, Bloomberg reports that, by mid-January, there could be a million new covid cases per day! Are we all going to get the virus before this is over?

*And if you’re flying anywhere in the next few days, expect the worst: the NBC Evening News reported last night that 1,500 flights have been canceled, and now we’re facing terrible weather in the Midwest and Northeast U.S. (It will snow at least four inches in Chicago today.) Many pilots are out sick, and United Airlines has offered triple pay for pilots willing to fly extra legs. I’m very glad I didn’t go anywhere for the holidays.

*Along with this goes the cancellation of many New Year’s festivities throughout the world, though the Big Ball is going to drop in Times Square in New York. But in Las Vegas (of course), 300,000 people are predicted to crowd the Strip and there are no restrictions, including masks or proof of vaccinated (both required in New York City).

*I posted yesterday about Betty White’s unexpected death at 99. People that are centenarians or close to it are often asked about their “secret to longevity”, and it’s always something like “do what I did.” In Betty White’s case, Food & Wine Magazine posted her answer on December 29—just two days before she died (oy!):

Of course, Betty White – who turns 100 on January 17 – doesn’t need any help making headlines. And clearly, the lifelong actress knows a thing or two about entertaining answers for interviews. So what was White’s response when People recently asked about her dietary regimen at 99 years old? “I try to avoid anything green,” she joked. “I think it’s working.”

This was a woman after my own heart. Plus she loved animals!

*Speaking of animals, what about that cleaner in Florida who climbed a fence at night, snuck over to the tiger cage at a zoo, stuck his arm through the cage, and was grabbed by a rare Malayan tiger named Eko.  The schlemiel called the cops, who came and had to shoot that magnificent animal dead. The zoo is mourning Eko, who was much loved, while the guy is in the hospital in serious condition. The zoo closed on Friday so that the employees could mourn, and there was even a grief counselor available. It’s not yet clear whether authorities will bring criminal charges against the man.

*Need cheering up by now?Click on the screenshot to read a story about animals that has a great headline and a happy ending:

*Marshall Mathers, better known as the rapper Eminem, has just opened a faux-Italian restaurant in Detroit called “Mom’s Spaghetti”. (It’s a reference to his hit song “Lose Yourself”.)  The New York Times reviewed it (verdict: meh), and there’s a video below. The joint features an $11 “spaghetti sandwich”: a glop of pasta between two pieces of white bread. Gag me with a spoon!

*And the royal worshipers in the UK are all agog about Kate Middleton playing the piano at a Christmas gala at Westminster Abbey; she accompanied a Scottish singer. Some of the headlines are over the top. This video, for example, is titled “Kate Middleton DAZZLES during impressive piano performance.”  From what I can see, it’s not very dazzling. Note how the guy who sang with her osculates the bum of the Firm:


From the Daily Fail:

I’ll never understand the view of the UK public (I know, some of you don’t share this) that the royals are akin to demigods. And yet many smart and thoughtful people argue strenuously that we should keep the royals.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 823,903 an increase of 1,242 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,454,900, an increase of about 6,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 1 includes:

  • 153 BC – For the first time, Roman consuls begin their year in office on January 1.
  • 45 BC – The Julian calendar takes effect as the civil calendar of the Roman Empire, establishing January 1 as the new date of the new year.
  • 42 BC – The Roman Senate posthumously deifies Julius Caesar
  • 1500 – Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvarez Cabral discovers the coast of Brazil.
  • 1700 – Russia begins using the Anno Domini era instead of the Anno Mundi era of the Byzantine Empire.
  • 1739 – Bouvet Island, the world’s remotest island, is discovered by French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier.

Here’s where it is, and a few words from Wikipedia:

Bouvet Island (Norwegian: Bouvetøya [bʉˈvèːœʏɑ] or Bouvetøyen) is a Norwegian uninhabited protected nature reserve. As a subantarctic volcanic island, it is situated in the South Atlantic Ocean (54°25′S 3°22′ECoordinates: 54°25′S 3°22′E), at the southern end of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge making it the world’s most remote island. It is not part of the southern region covered by the Antarctic Treaty System.

The island lies 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi) north of the Princess Astrid Coast of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica, 1,900 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of the South Sandwich Islands, 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) south of Gough Island, and 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) south-southwest of the coast of South Africa. It has an area of 49 square kilometres (19 sq mi), 93 percent of which is covered by a glacier. The centre of the island is the ice-filled crater of an inactive volcano. Some skerries and one smaller island, Larsøya, lie along its coast. Nyrøysa, created by a rock slide in the late 1950s, is the only easy place to land and is the location of a weather station.

Here’s that godforsaken island:

  • 1773 – The hymn that became known as “Amazing Grace“, then titled “1 Chronicles 17:16–17”, is first used to accompany a sermon led by John Newton in the town of Olney, Buckinghamshire, England.

Newton wrote the song: in 1772; he was an English poet and Anglican clergyman (1725–1807). I believe Olney is where they have the annual pancake race on Shrove Tuesday (I’ve been there).

The flag, which still retains traces of colonialism:

That lasted until 1922, when the Irish Free State (now just “Ireland” was formed), while Northern Ireland is still allied with the UK.

  • 1808 – The United States bans the importation of slaves.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: The Emancipation Proclamation takes effect in Confederate territory.
  • 1892 – Ellis Island begins processing immigrants into the United States.

Here are some immigrants who passed inspection, and are waiting for a ferry to Manhattan:

(From the NYT) PASSAGES Immigrants at Ellis Island awaiting a ferry to the city. Credit…Bettmann/CORBIS
  • 1898 – New York, New York annexes land from surrounding counties, creating the City of Greater New York. The four initial boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx, are joined on January 25 by Staten Island to create the modern city of five boroughs.
  • 1934 – Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay becomes a United States federal prison.

Even though the island isn’t far from San Francisco, the currents are rough and security was tight. Nobody is known to have successfully escaped. Here’s the island with the prison on it, and a view of the cells (#181, with the open door, was where Al Capone lived):

First the Nazis sterilized these people (not all of the defects were “genetic”), and later began to euthanize them—they were the first victims of the Nazi genocide. (The killing was later stopped after a public outcry. Here’s a poster urging euthanasia; the caption is from Wikipedia:

Propaganda for Nazi Germany’s T-4 Euthanasia Program: “This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60,000 Reichsmark during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money, too.” from the Office of Racial Policy’s Neues Volk.

And. . . here’s the first Canadian citizen, you hosers! How come everyone didn’t become Canadian instantly?

  • 1958 – The European Economic Community is established.
  • 1959 – Cuban Revolution: Fulgencio Batista, dictator of Cuba, is overthrown by Fidel Castro’s forces.
  • 1971 – Cigarette advertisements are banned on American television.
  • 1990 – David Dinkins is sworn in as New York City’s first black mayor.

Here’s Dinkens, who died about a year ago:

  • 1993 – Dissolution of Czechoslovakia: Czechoslovakia is divided into the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic
  • 1995 – The Draupner wave in the North Sea in Norway is detected, confirming the existence of freak waves.

These are often called “freak waves”: here’s one hitting an oil rig in the North Sea:

  • 1999 – Euro currency is introduced in 11 member nations of the European Union (with the exception of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Greece and Sweden; Greece adopts the euro two years later).

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s a genuine Paul Revere dessert spoon from the 1780s; it’s only $18,000 on eBay:

  • 1752 – Betsy Ross, American seamstress, credited with designing the Flag of the United States (d. 1836)
  • 1864 – Alfred Stieglitz, American photographer and curator (d. 1946)

Considered the father of modern art photography, Stiegliz took many great photos, but this may be his best, “The Steerage”, the subject of a whole Wikipedia page.

Some info:

The Steerage is a black and white photograph taken by Alfred Stieglitz in 1907. It has been hailed as one of the greatest photographs of all time because it captures in a single image both a formative document of its time and one of the first works of artistic modernism.

“There were men and women and children on the lower deck of the steerage. There was a narrow stairway leading to the upper deck of the steerage, a small deck right on the bow with the steamer.
To the left was an inclining funnel and from the upper steerage deck there was fastened a gangway bridge that was glistening in its freshly painted state. It was rather long, white, and during the trip remained untouched by anyone.
On the upper deck, looking over the railing, there was a young man with a straw hat. The shape of the hat was round. He was watching the men and women and children on the lower steerage deck…A round straw hat, the funnel leaning left, the stairway leaning right, the white drawbridge with its railing made of circular chains – white suspenders crossing on the back of a man in the steerage below, round shapes of iron machinery, a mast cutting into the sky, making a triangular shape…I saw shapes related to each other. I was inspired by a picture of shapes and underlying that the feeling I had about life.”

Although Stieglitz described “an inclining funnel” in the scene, photographs and models of the ship (see below) show that this object was actually a large mast to which booms were fastened for loading and unloading cargo. One of the booms is shown at the very top of the picture.

  • 1879 – E. M. Forster, English author and playwright (d. 1970)
  • 1895 – J. Edgar Hoover, American law enforcement official; 1st Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (d. 1972)
  • 1919 – J. D. Salinger, American soldier and author (d. 2010)
  • 1942 – Country Joe McDonald, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1943 – Don Novello, American comedian, screenwriter and producer

Remember Novello as “Father Guido Sarducci” on Saturday Night Live?

  • 1955 – Mary Beard, English classicist, academic and presenter

Those experienced their demise on January 1 include:

  • 1953 – Hank Williams, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1923)

Here’s Williams playing “Hey Good Lookin‘” , written by Williams in 1951. He died at only 29.

  • 1972 – Maurice Chevalier, French actor and singer (b. 1888)
  • 2015 – Mario Cuomo, American lawyer and politician, 52nd Governor of New York (b. 1932)
  • 2017 – Derek Parfit, British philosopher (b. 1942)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is washing herself in Andrzej’s chair, but the dialogue is arcane. Malgorzata explains: “Andrzej is saying (truthfully) that Hili might be more comfortable on the sofa. But his objective is not Hili’s comfort. He wants ro regain his own chair and Hili knows it. A situation in which you suggest something which is to your advantage (even if it’s also to the advantage of the other person involved) Hili calls populism and demagoguery.”

Hili: Taking care of one’s cleanliness is time consuming.
A: You will be more comfortable on the sofa.
Hili: This is populism and demagoguery.
In Polish:
Hili: Troska o czystość jest czasochłonna.
Ja: Na sofie będzie ci wygodniej.
Hili: To jest populizm i demagogia.

And here are Szaron and Kulka doing their business:

Leon has some New Year’s wishes, and he’s all dressed up to convey them:

Leon: Have a good time, do not scare your smaller brethren [this is a literal translation, it means: animals] and may you prosper in the New Year in friendship and love.
In Polish: Bawcie sie dobrze, nie straszcie braci mniejszych i niech Wam się darzy w Nowym Roku, w przyjaźni i miłości.
Kulka also has some wishes, and sits next to Andrzej’s new book, which is illustrated by photos of Kulka taken by Paulina:

On New Year Eve Kulka wishes everybody a nice reading (Picture by Paulina R.)

And the editorial team of “Listy z naszego sadu” wishes our readers everything they wish for themselves and perseverance to carry out these wishes against all obstacles.

In Polish:

Kulka, z okazji Sylwestra, życzy wszystkim miłej lektury (Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)
Zaś redakcja “Listów z naszego sadu” życzy wszystkim czytelnikom tego, czego oni sami sobie życzą i wytrwałości, żeby te życzenia wprowadzić w życie wbrew wszelkim przeciwnościom.

A cartoon from Jean:



From Bruce:

Reader Pliny The in Between’s last Far Corner Cafe cartoon of 2021:


A tweet from reader Barry about Betty White and this miserable year:

Two tweets via Ken. Why would the BBC interview Alan Dershowitz about the Ghislaine Maxwell trial when Dershowitz was not only one of Jeffrey Epstein’s former lawyers, but had been accused himself of sexual abuse by one of Epstein’s accusers? Oy!

They realized the error of their ways. . .

From Ginger K:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a marvelous array of bioluminescent corals. Why do they glow? To attract microorganisms? To scare away predators? Who knows?

It’s time to show this once again, a marvelous jazz rendition I call “Nom Nom”:

The sexual displays of male ducks of different species are not only remarkable, but unpredictably varied. Look at this one: what is the male showing to the female about his desirability as a mate?

With her tail!

On the Importance of Wild Felids:

57 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue and New Year’s wishes from Leon and Kulka

  1. “2-21” made me laugh out loud. I think that about sums it up.

    Betty White’s unexpected death at 99

    Personally, I don’t think the death of any 99 year old is unexpected.

    1. Personally, I don’t think the death of any 99 year old is unexpected.

      I agree. I had not heard of her until yesterday, but it turns out that some people expected her to live forever 🙂 For them, her death would have been ‘unexpected’ by definition.

      1. It was also “unexpected” because her 100th birthday is soon and was being played up in the press. People were looking forward to her reaching that milestone.

  2. “How come everyone didn’t become Canadian instantly?”

    If I were to guess, it is a relativisticeffect. He signed the law, and, being closest, was citizenshipped first. Virtually all others became citizens after a time proportional to their distance from the PM at the time of the signing, within a fraction of a second.

    Or maybe not.

    1. Ha. I like that explanation except for that the PM doesn’t sign bills into law. A bill that passes both Houses receives the formality of Royal Assent from the King’s (in 1947) representative in Canada, the Governor-General. Until the 1960s, the GG was a British diplomat on temporary assignment who would not have become a Canadian citizen by the Act, either. So it is a mystery as to why King (the PM, not the guy on the throne), would have become the first citizen. Homework.

  3. The guff in British newspapers about Kate’s piano playing is execrable. She has passed the piano Grade 3 exam, which is pretty basic (although I think she has also passed the Grade 5 Theory paper which, as the name suggests, involves no playing).

  4. Why can’t the press learn that the lady referred to as Kate Middleton is in fact Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, or Kate Windsor, if you must? She’s been married for nearly ten years, ffs!

    1. True. I hadn’t considered that – but I don’t generally follow celebrities. One trend that is popular for Anglophone celebrities today is that women seem to be less likely to change their last name when getting married. I don’t think I ever heard anyone refer to Jennifer Aniston as ‘Jennifer Pitt’ or ‘Jennifer Theroux’, either. And given how many other cultures have different naming conventions for married women, it’s tough to keep up. I guess my personal rule would be to refer to an Anglophone female celebrity by her maiden name unless/until she told me otherwise. But then again, I have no reason to refer to celebrities in general. Well, I might make an exception for Betty Ludden…errr…Betty White.

  5. “And yet many smart and thoughtful people argue strenuously that we should keep the royals.”

    I may not be one of those people, but if we have to have a head of state – Elizabeth II or Donald Trump? Hmm? QED.

    1. Fookin’ freeloaders, the lot of ’em, you ask me. The only justification anyone seems able to offer for them is a sort of tu quoque regarding we Yanks’ loutish ex-president.

    2. Lots of forms of government might well be better than the systems any country has currently. Getting rid of one and installing another, though, is exceedingly difficult without appalling violence from factions who see at long last a chance to get the upper hand. (632 Indigenous reserves, “First Nations”, each get a seat in the House of Commons. Keep shooting until they give it to you.). Worse than foreign wars because you can’t just declare victory and come home, you’re stuck in a destructive civil war that you can’t escape and where no one can let bygones be bygones.

      Turning the U.K. and the Westminster Dominions into republics would be so fraught that it’s hard to imagine doing it unless Charles forced the issue by abdicating and no one in the line of succession was willing to get crowned. Maybe one of the small children with a Regent? Oliver Cromwell steps in and all the power of the British state gets vested in his private dictatorial hands, if he has the Army with him, without the centuries of constitutional tradition, mostly unwritten, to incentivize him to play nice with Parliament. The British inflicted Brexit on themselves but only because no one thought Leave would win the referendum. It seems the height of folly they’d go for a two-fer,

      The Crown in Canada has certain important symbolic head-of-state functions that remind the people that the power of the state derives from a social construct and not from the whims of a personal and often loathed leader of the political party currently forming the government of the day. It doesn’t cost us very much — the governor-general’s salary, a house, a staff, and some bearskin guards for the tourists to take selfies with. No familial hangers-on and misbehavers. She never interferes with our laws or actual day-to-day executive functions of the state. Her only role is to be the Queen’s representative for head-of-state functions and to open and dissolve Parliament. (The military swears allegiance to “the Queen”, not to Elizabeth Windsor and not to the G-G. Without a Queen (or King) who controls the loyalty of the armed forces?) The PM gives orders to the Chief of the Defense Staff but only because the soldiers trust him to be serving the Queen, too.

      It’s like negotiating a pre-nuptial agreement with someone you’ve been cohabiting with for a few decades. By the time you’ve hammered it all out, you just want to get divorced instead.

  6. I’ll never understand the view of the UK public (I know, some of you don’t share this) that the royals are akin to demigods.

    It’s just a soap opera. If Kim Kardashian did something similar in the US the media would report on it.

    1. Wasn’t Jayne Mansfield a decently accomplished amateur violinist?

      I agree that the little melody Middleton taps out is too simple to say much of anything about the execution. I do applaud her for taking up classical piano again during the pandemic. I did after I retired and am so glad I did. People say, “Oh, what’s the point? It takes 10 years to be any good.” But those 10 years are going to go by anyway, and you’ll having something to show for it.
      Like planting a tree.

  7. Happy New Year 2022!

    The anchor day of the week for 2022 is Monday.

    I’m looking for interesting numerical properties of 2022 – if anyone has one to share let us know.

  8. Re: “mama bear and cubs in tree in VA neighborhood”…I live just across a river, twenty miles or so from this Chesapeake, VA neighborhood. It has become not unusual for bears to wander out of their natural home in the huge Dismal Swamp area that spans the Virginia/North Carolina border and search for food and a restful snooze in the continually encroaching suburban (yes suburban, no longer even ex-urban) neighborhoods of the Hampton Roads area. Every few years a bear will even swim across the five miles of the James River, a salt water estuary, and take up temporary residence in the woods of the Mariners Museum in urban/suburban Newport News. They are monitored by rangers and Eventually i think that they just return to the swamp.

    1. Thanks for that – the only bear refuge I could think of was the Shenandoah Valley, and that seemed like an enormously long trek.

      1. Yep. Bears also wander into the city of VA Beach, which is contiguous with Chesapeake, either from the Great Dismal Swamp or from the closer Back Bay Wildlife Refuge. A few years ago, a bear was found ambling through Naval Air Station Oceana Master Jet Base in VA Beach. It happens. But, Actually wild deer are a bigger concern.

  9. Several people I’ve met in Belize are named Cabral. Someone told me that their ancestor was a Portuguese pirate, and I mentioned this to my fishing guide (a few days ago), who has Cabral relatives. He was skeptical. That evening I googled it, and the next day told him I was mistaken and that his illustrious ancestor, Pedro Alvarez Cabral, was actually the discoverer of Brazil, and he seemed more pleased by that.

    1. If your friend learned about Cabral’s massacres in India (the destination of the 1500 expedition), she would be less pleased by the connection…

        1. Yeah, look closely enough into anyone’s family tree, you’re likely to find hookers and hoss-thieves and bounders — probably even some bad people, too.

  10. “I’ll never understand the view of the UK public (I know, some of you don’t share this) that the royals are akin to demigods.”

    I suspect support for the monarchy will drop hard when the Queen pop her clogs. Throughout her reign, she had adhered to the motto “it’s better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Her son has no such compunction; Charlie boy is ready to share his idiotic opinions about politics, homeopathy, genetic engineer and everything else. I can’t see Australia or the other Commonwealth countries accepting this eejit as their king – they will go republican. Christopher Hitchens wrote and scathing article on the heir (“Charles prince of piffle”), which I think is available online.

  11. Regarding the Betsy Ross Flag, the one with a blue field and a circle of 13 stars in upper inner corner, Wikipedia informs that the BR flag first appeared in1792, there is little evidence that Betsy Ross invented it, and, to warm the cockles of Dr. Coyne’s heart, the stars on the earliest versions were six pointed. Happy New Year!

  12. I’m one of those relics who still writes checks, enters everything in the checkbook register, and reconciles my book with my monthly bank statements 🙂 Many folks these days don’t even do cash any more – I had to get a PayPal account to receive money from the younger crowd. And how do I take my money out of Pay Pal? By requesting a check, of course!!!

    1. If your paypal account was connected to your bank account the money would be available without awaiting a check. This can be very useful.

      1. Yes, I know, but the next thing you know, PayPal will be stealing from my bank account!!! snark

    2. I have to write checks for a couple monthly bills that don’t use the internet for their payroll. Also, a couple auction houses I purchase from charge 3% more if you use a credit card, so I always send them checks. Where I haven’t used or seen people use checks for a long time is at the supermarket.

  13. Another important event on this date: January 1, 1962: The Beatles, with Pete Best on drums, audition for Decca Records. They are turned down. The audition includes three Lennon-McCartney songs the Beatles never officially recorded: “Hello, Little Girl,” “Like Dreamers Do,” and “Love of the Loved.”

    The audition was released on a bootleg LP in the late ’70s; some of the songs were included on “Anthology 1.” The rest can be found online.

    It was 60 years ago today . . .

  14. I kinda loved the “Mom’s Spaghetti” story in the NYT. It seems to be a big inside joke.

    Reading the new Stanley Tucci food memoir called “Taste”. It has a recipe for something I’d never heard of called timpano, which might be the legit inspiration for the ‘sghetti sandwich at “Mom’s”. It’s an enormous egg dough, rolled out into a casserole, and filled with ziti, ragu, salami, and provolone, then baked. A sort of gigantic, open-faced pasta sandwich.

  15. “And here are Szaron and Kulka doing their business”

    Well this has a different meaning than in the UK (well, our house least).

    Happy new year to all.

  16. The Dutch less playing the piano made the concert more available than with the singer on his own or with another pianist.
    Any respectable, responsible mother of pending royalty is required to encourage by example the importance of learning all sorts of skills.

  17. Why to corals glow? My experience is that bioluminescent sea creatures sparkle and glow brightest when something is disturbing or eating them. That’s the case when fish at night in a sea teaming with bioluminescent dinoflagellates. The light show might tip off predators of the coral predators, which tend to be most active at night. Coral enemies might also be silhouetted against the glow and thus be more easily detected by their own predators, to the coral’s benefit. Those are my guesses, anyway.

  18. Zoos should have large plaques advising people that if they enter a prohibited area and are attacked by a zoo animal, they will be rescued only if it can be done without endangering the animal.

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