Monday: Hili dialogue

January 3, 2022 • 7:00 am

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to work we go! It’s the first work day of 2022: Monday, January 3, 2022: National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. These are good only if they don’t use those cloying Maraschino cherries.

It’s also National Weigh-In Day (oy), J. R. R. Tolkien Day, honoring his birth on this day in 1892 (see below), National Drinking Straw Day (the first artificial straw was patented on this day in 1892, the same day as Tolkien’s birth), Write to Congress Day (details about contacting Senators are here (many have websites you can fill in); you might want to weigh in on the Islamophobia bill, which I just did), and, finally, it’s the tenth of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Wine of the Day:  I wrote “Barbera” on the bottle to remind me that this wine, with the new official denomination of “Nizza”, is made from the Barbera grape.

Review are few but laudatory, and it seems that this wine is about ready to drink.

AT $30, the wine was not exactly a bargain, but was quite good, redolent of cherries and red fruits. There was some acidity in the first glass but it dissipated within half an hour, and the second half of the bottle was excellent. I know very little about Italian wines, and the high end Barolos are still above my psychological price barrier, but in the future I’ll be investigating more Barberas.

News of the Day:

*The Covid surge continues, with hospital admissions increasing and with 2,500 flights canceled or delayed yesterday. It was a mess as it’s one of the busiest flying days of the year. Meanwhile, the Israelis are rolling out fourth shots for people over 60, and some immunocompromised patients in the US are surreptitiously getting five or more shots, despite the fact that the efficacy of these multiple jabs haven’t been tested.

*The editors of the New York Times have gotten together on an official editorial, “Every Day is Jan. 6 Now.” They raise the alarum of an existential thread in the form of many Republicans (and an appreciable number of Democrats!) are willing to use violence against the government. The difference is that it is Republicans and not Democrats who fomented the January 6 insurrection, and it is Republicans and not Democrats who are trying to disenfranchise voters throughout the U.S. (there are bills in 41 states).  The editorial is long; here’s an excerpt.

But peel back a layer, and things are far from normal. Jan. 6 is not in the past; it is every day.

It is regular citizens who threaten election officials and other public servants, who ask, “When can we use the guns?” and who vow to murder politicians who dare to vote their conscience. It is Republican lawmakers scrambling to make it harder for people to vote and easier to subvert their will if they do. It is Donald Trump who continues to stoke the flames of conflict with his rampant lies and limitless resentments and whose twisted version of reality still dominates one of the nation’s two major political parties.

In short, the Republic faces an existential threat from a movement that is openly contemptuous of democracy and has shown that it is willing to use violence to achieve its ends. No self-governing society can survive such a threat by denying that it exists. Rather, survival depends on looking back and forward at the same time.

. . . This is where looking forward comes in. Over the past year, Republican lawmakers in 41 states have been trying to advance the goals of the Jan. 6 rioters — not by breaking laws but by making them. Hundreds of bills have been proposed and nearly three dozen laws have been passed that empower state legislatures to sabotage their own elections and overturn the will of their voters, according to a running tally by a nonpartisan consortium of pro-democracy organizations.

That’s pretty much true, and has worried many of us. Some of us (not including me) think that a right-wing overthrow of American Democracy is impending. So what to do? For Republicans:

Republican leaders could help by being honest with their voters and combating the extremists in their midst. Throughout American history, party leaders, from Abraham Lincoln to Margaret Chase Smith to John McCain, have stood up for the union and democracy first, to their everlasting credit.

Democrats aren’t helpless, either. They hold unified power in Washington, for the last time in what may be a long time. Yet they have so far failed to confront the urgency of this moment — unwilling or unable to take action to protect elections from subversion and sabotage. Blame Senator Joe Manchin or Senator Kyrsten Sinema, but the only thing that matters in the end is whether you get it done. For that reason, Mr. Biden and other leading Democrats should make use of what remaining power they have to end the filibuster for voting rights legislation, even if nothing else.

Yes, and the “progressives” should stop pushing Biden more towards the extreme left, which vitalizes the right. The editors don’t seem to have absorbed one of their own predictions (my bold):

For now, the committee’s work continues. It has scheduled a series of public hearings in the new year to lay out these and other details, and it plans to release a full report of its findings before the midterm elections — after which, should Republicans regain control of the House as expected, the committee will undoubtedly be dissolved.

I don’t think this will be the customary midterm rollback of the dominant party.

*The Wall Street Journal reports that the Democrats are returning to Congress with a bent to ditch the filibuster rule in the Senate, which requires 60% of the body to vote for an end to the hiatus.

Many Democrats say they need to alter Senate filibuster procedures, which require 60 votes to advance most legislation, to pass bills designed to make it easier for people nationwide to vote. The party currently controls the evenly divided Senate, but some Democrats have resisted eliminating the filibuster outright, muddying the prospects for any legislative progress despite the fresh push.

I’m not up to speed on the filibuster, and so have no dog in this fight, but there will never be a time when the Senate can consider this dispassionately, for the numerically dominant party will always want to overturn the rule.

*According to the Washington Post,a cache of letters, poems, diaries and manuscripts from the Brontë sisters—Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—was put up for auction by Sotheby’s when it had been withheld from scholars for eight decades.

Last year, Sotheby’s announced it was preparing to auction a cache of literary manuscripts and first-edition novels, collected by the bachelor brothers William and Alfred Law, a pair of self-made 19th-century mill owners who amassed the library at their home, Honresfield House, not 20 miles from the parsonage in Haworth, where the Brontës wrote their masterpieces.

What’s in these treasures?

The Brontë material includes: 25 letters by Charlotte and seven of her famous “little books,” a manuscript collection of Anne’s poems, and diary notes shared and written by Emily and Anne, on their respective birthdays.

The jewel in the crown is an ordinary ruled notebook, the kind a student would buy in a stationery shop, that contains 31 poems by Emily.

The poems are all known. But here they are each written out in Emily’s own handwriting, and the remarkable thing about the manuscript is that Emily also appears to have penned edits of her poems — and so perhaps did Charlotte.

Emily’s cross-outs appear in ink. Charlotte may have annotated the works in pencil, scholars suspect. More will be known as the cache is pored over by the experts.

At the end of the manuscript are the words: “never was better stuff penned.” Pride of authorship? Or a sister’s loving blurb?

The British public, nucleus of the Brontë cult, wouldn’t put up with these literary treasures once again passing into private hands, and so put up the dosh themselves (Sotheby’s charitably agreed to delay the auction until they could see if the auction price could be raised by the public. Thank Ceiling Cat, it was:

Why, the richest men in Britain saved it. Sir Leonard Blavatnik, the American-British-Ukrainian petrochemical-finance-entertainment mogul, put up half the money [half is $10 million] to buy it for the public a few weeks ago — with a little help from Prince Charles and thousands of small donations.

Yay! The material will be given to research libraries and public institutions throughout the UK. Here’s a bit of the treasure: a little book by Charlotte:

*Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the two bull-goose loony Republican women in Congress (guess the other one!), has just had her Twitter account suspended permanently. The reason: Twitter’s biggest no-no: disseminating false information about Covid:

Twitter suspended Ms. Greene’s account after she tweeted on Saturday, falsely, about “extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths.” She included a misleading chart that pulled information from a government database of unverified raw data called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, a decades-old system that relies on self-reported cases from patients and health care providers.

Twitter said that Ms. Greene had a fifth “strike,” which meant that her account will not be restored.

A hoax in Sweden, and one for the annals of wokeness: A  Swedish was taking a class in Critical Race Theory, and decided to scam the professor by writing a “grievance study” style of paper.

Arvid Haag signed up for “Critical Whiteness Perspectives on Nordic Culture” at Stockholm University because, he said, “local pandemic grant rules had equipped him and other students with an unexpected financial aid windfall.”

Haag thought he’d “get something fun” out of the “harmless” and “absurd” class, but he soon realized many of his peers took the “American-born ideology” seriously.

Arvid bided his time, occasionally offering some “critical” comments here and there, but saved the best for last: an essay titled “Black and White Drinks,” described as “an account of what had happened from the early 20th century in the struggle between coffee and milk.”

And, lo and behold, he got a B for writing stuff like this (he admitted that he didn’t read most of the papers he cited):

According to Fria Tider, Haag related “how the marketing of the coffee has been characterized by highlighting ‘black and exotic elements’ of the drink. When it comes to milk, it has instead been ‘the local and white’ that has been emphasized.”

The question one can ask is whether it is really a reconciliation between milk and coffee that has been implemented or whether adding milk to the coffee is a way to take away from the coffee its unique properties and instead impose the black drink white properties.

Milk in the coffee can with critical glasses be seen as a drink-based colonization. The hot and strong coffee cools and is rounded off in taste with the help of the milk, which thereby controls and domesticates the coffee.

It looks as if the Swedes, too, have fallen victim to Wokeism. The sad thing is that this is pretty close of the kind of stuff getting published in American scholarly “studies” journals.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 824,422, an increase of 1,254 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,461,879, an increase of about 3,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 3 includes:

Here’s that papal bull; I can’t find Luther’s name in it, but there appears to be another side:

  • 1777 – American General George Washington defeats British General Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Princeton.
  • 1870 – Construction work begins on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, United States.

It opened in 1883. This is one of four toll-free bridges connecting Manhattan to Long Island (can you name the other three?), and I still think it’s one of the world’s most beautiful bridges:

  • 1947 – Proceedings of the U.S. Congress are televised for the first time.
  • 1953 – Frances P. Bolton and her son, Oliver from Ohio, become the first mother and son to serve simultaneously in the U.S. Congress.

She served for 29 years, and her son for four.

Castro was excommunicated because he outlawed religion. Nevertheless, he met with Pope Benedict in 2012:

  • 1977 – Apple Computer is incorporated.  Here’s the house where Jobs and Woz founded Apple in 1976; it’s in Los Altos, California. Jobs was just 21. 

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1840 – Father Damien, Flemish priest and missionary (d. 1889)

Damien is famous for his self-service in tending those afflicted with leprosy (now Hansen’s Disease) sequestered on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai. Here he is, riddled with leprosy, shortly before his death in 1889:

  • 1883 – Clement Attlee, English soldier, lawyer, and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1967)
  • 1892 – J.R.R. Tolkien, English writer, poet, and philologist (d. 1973)

Here’s Tolkien talking about inventing new languages, particularly Elvish. And he writes some Elvish. It’s been years since I read his books, so I didn’t remember that there was indeed a whole language created sui generis:

  • 1897 – Marion Davies, American actress and comedian (d. 1961)

Davies became Hearst’s mistress when she was 19 and he 53, and she stayed by his side until his death. She was mistress of “Hearst Castle,” which  you can see in this video and should definitely visit if you’re in Central California:

  • 1905 – Anna May Wong, American actress (d. 1961)
  • 1939 – Bobby Hull, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1945 – Stephen Stills, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer

Steve Stills is one person I would have swapped my life with. He’s old and pudgy now, and has lost his voice, but I’m old and could never sing. Here he is in his young and handsome days, playing one of my favorite songs. Here he is on Dick Cavett.  Note that he blows one verse, but you wouldn’t know if it you didn’t know the song.


  • 1950 – Victoria Principal, American actress and businesswoman
  • 1956 – Mel Gibson, American-Australian actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 2003 – Greta Thunberg, Swedish environmental activist

Those who checked out on January 3 include:

Since Charles Darwin and his wife Emma were first cousins, they both had Josiah as their grandfather.  Like all the Darwins and Wedgwoods, he was an abolitionist, and produced the famous anti-slavery emblem, “Am I not a man and a brother?” that has been quoted many times since:

A Currier and ives lithograph, “A rush for the lead”, from 1867. Note that many horses have all four feet off the ground, something that wasn’t settled until Muybridge’s later photographs:

Hitler’s dad. If only a different sperm had fertilized Klara’s egg!

  • 1945 – Edgar Cayce, American psychic and author (b. 1877)
  • 1946 – William Joyce, American-British pro-Axis propaganda broadcaster (b. 1906)

William Joyce, known as “Lord Haw Haw” broadcast anti-Allied propaganda for the Nazis. He was hung after the war, and the scar on his face (caused by a razor slash when he was fighting Communists), which you can see in this video, ripped open as he was hung, leading to the photo below of his body.  This video is quite informative.

After the hanging:

  • 1967 – Jack Ruby, American businessman and murderer (b. 1911)
  • 1980 – Joy Adamson, Austrian-Kenyan painter and conservationist (b. 1910)
  • 2014 – Phil Everly, American singer and guitarist (b. 1939)

Here’s one of their last concerts together when they were both middle-aged. But their harmonies are still great, and this is my favorite among their songs. They had fallen out earlier, but it’s clear that they still had affection for each other:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s words don’t make much sense, nor is Malgorzata able to understand them.

A: What are you waiting for?
Hili: For a reason to meow.
In Polish:
Ja: Na co czekasz?
Hili: Na powód do miauczenia.

And a picture of Szaron:



Picnic Time for Anteaters, sent in by Bruce:

Another from Bruce; this is a real toy and you can buy it on Amazon for $16.68:

All of them wind up like this!:


A tweet from Barry. I suspect this is a purely learned rather than an evolved behavior, and it may have started from the birds soaking bread in the water before eating it, but now it is most clearly FISHING!

From Ginger K.: Look at that face!

From Simon. I forgot about Covid while watching it, and became mesmerized with the engineering:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, an infant gassed at two years old:


Tweets from Matthew. First, SPOT THE CATS! How many cats are in this picture, and where are they? It’s not easy! The answer is at bottom, below the fold.

The last uninfected continent succumbs to the virus. Fortunately, nobody was seriously ill, and everyone offered evacuation refused it.

Very cool. Someone or a program must be controlling them or else they’d all float to the top.

You can read more about this gorgeous insect here; it’s in the order Neuroptera with other lacewings.

Click “continue reading” below to see how many cats are in Matthew’s first tweet above and where they are.

There are two cats; I’ve circled them:

43 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. They raise the alarum of an existential thread

    It’s an inconsequential typo but the image of an “existential thread” amuses me for some reason.

    Some of us (not including me) think that a right-wing overthrow of American Democracy is impending.

    I think it’s already in progress. Qualifications for voting that affect poor people more, gerrymandering, stuffing the judiciary with right wingers. It’s all designed to skew the political process so that Democrats are “in office, but not in power”.

    1. Liz Cheney seems to be trying to recapture a mantle of adulthood for the Republican Party. She does not sound like someone merely giving lip service to the effort.

  2. “Yes, and the “progressives” should stop pushing Biden more towards the extreme left, which vitalizes the right.”

    What is called extreme left in the US would be considered center/middle of the road in Europe because the programs they push are already current policy in Europe. The center/main stream Democrats would be considered center/right and Republicans would all be considered extreme right.

      1. In many European countries, some with a conservative (for Europe) government, there is no student debt since university education is free.

        Opening borders without restriction or defunding the police is not far left, it is stupid.

        The problem with cancelling student debt in the States is that it is not fair to those who worked and paid it off, or to the parents of those who paid it. Sure, some parents are rich. But some of those paid off the costs for their children, and others just spent it on other things and let their children go into debt.

        1. Yep (USian parent of a soon-to-be university student). We have done everything right. As long as our son works up until he starts university, the savings I have been setting aside monthly since he was 1 yo will allow him to emerge from university debt-free.

          He has a job now and plans a full time job during his “gap-year” (which is to establish state residency in our state of retirement, which halves his tuition).

          He will not be eligible for any sort of financial aid aside from loans — which are very different from the student loans of my youth.

          If you do things right, you get nothing.

          But, in some ways, I agree that this is fair. We can afford to pay for him. Many lower-income people (we are not rich; but we are firmly middle class and at the higher end of it and we are in good financial shape*) simply can’t save for their kids’ schooling — they are barely making ends meet.

          (* Some acquaintances of ours have done things like buy big houses and really expensive cars and then declared bankruptcy. I was quite happy that they couldn’t get out from under their student loan debt (and have the taxpayers pay for it).)

  3. Sorry to post again but I posted the last comment before I read the whole post and I have a couple more observations:

    Someone or a program must be controlling them or else they’d all float to the top.

    A few years ago, I bought my nephew a radio controlled inflatable shark “airship” (you fill it with helium). It’s actually quite easy to achieve neutral buoyancy with these things.

    I guessed two cats. Correctly, it seems.

  4. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the two bull-goose loony Republican women in Congress (guess the other one!), has just had her Twitter account suspended permanently.

    Looks like Ol’ Marge, the gentlewoman from QAnon, has finally achieved the and-find-out phase of “fuck around and find out.”

  5. Shall we agree that any student conducting a successful hoax on a woke-studies professor automatically gets an ‘A’?

      1. Yes – I’d put it like this :

        What do the following dates have in common?


        … they all are the same day of the week, leap year or not, and the same day of the week as the last day in February, leap year or not. Notice that format curmudgeons will like this numeric-mnemonic.

        I learned this on Car Talk.

        1. For the odd-numbered months from May onwards, Wikipedia suggested remembering them using “Working 9 to 5 at the 7/11” in both day/month and month/day formats.

        2. I learned this on Car Talk.

          Come for the correct ignition timing on a 327 cubic inch Chevy engine and the corny jokes, stay for edification on any number of recondite topics, is the way I used to think of it.

  6. Everyone in the U.S. should have a dog or cat in this fight. The democrats must act now and go all the way. If Biden is not up for it then get out of the way. This is not laid out to be a violent overthrow. Just controlling the vote in 6 or 8 states is the plan. They must do away with the filibuster and eventually the electoral college. Fix voting now.

      1. I hinted at it but did not go into all the detail. In January, that is this month, they must take action to get all the voting rights issues passed, That will mean going around or thru the filibuster because if there is one thing I think we can agree on, the cult party is against free and fair voting. And that is from the supreme court on down. I do not have time to explain everything and do not think that should be required here. The assumption is that people here at this site have been staying informed and understand our form of government is under attack.

  7. Arvid bided his time, occasionally offering some “critical” comments here and there, but saved the best for last: an essay titled “Black and White Drinks” …

    Pretty sure Arvid could’ve bumped his B up to an A if he covered those two well-known cocktails, the Black Russian and White Russian (or, as The Dude was wont to call the latter, a “Caucasian”).

  8. Re: Wine of the day.

    For excellent wines from northern Italy made from the Nebbiolo grape, one doesn’t have to go up to Barolos. Both Barbarescos (I favor the Produttori (essentially the local cooperative), non-vineyard-specific) and Gattinaras are excellent and not as spendy as Barolo.

    Barbaresco isn’t cheap; but still much less than Barolo, in general.

    The relatively high cost of (northern) Italian wines severely limits my consumption of them. I love the Nebbiolo grape.

  9. This is one of four toll-free bridges connecting Manhattan to Long Island (can you name the other three?)

    The Manhattan (seen in the photo’s background), the Queensboro (aka “The 59th Street Bridge” — just ask Simon & Garfunkel when they’re feelin’ groovy), and the Williamsburg. The Triborough (a favorite of New York cabbies, no matter where you’re headed, has a toll), or you can take the Midtown Tunnel.

  10. Of course, an existential threat would countenance any action, including emergency powers. The Democrats are going to keep beating this drum until they get the Reichstag Fire reaction they want. The move against the filibuster (this time) is in aid of the new voting “rights” act, which unconstitutionally Federalizes elections with the goal of allowing Democrats to write the rules. It’s the only way they can maintain their hold on the government when it’s clear that the country will abandon them come November (if polls are free). Whatever one thinks of the Republicans, surely, with their control of the government, Democrats are the threat of the moment.

    1. Sure, and next you will be saying the democrats attacked the capital and called the attorney general in Georgia asking for more votes. At least you are proof that all the cult is not uneducated.

      1. Technically the call was to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, but yeah.

        Had Mike Pence (theretofore the most slavishly servile VP in modern history) capitulated to Donald Trump’s hectoring and proceeded with the plan drafted by John Eastman (who has asserted his self-incrimination privilege before the House select committee investigating 1/6) to set aside the legitimate electoral-college vote, the US of A would no longer be a functioning democracy. Period, end of story.

    2. And, as you know, the GOP is energetically planning their overturn of the next election, if the trend continues of recent elections and they lose the 2024 POTUS election (no guarantees of this of course; inflation, COVID and who knows what may turn the POTUS over to them anyway, despite a booming economy — which would be quite a feat by the Dems).

      Viewing the GOP: Trumpism, Trump’s apparent domination of the party, the Jan 6 events, and the current GOP efforts to take steps beyond Trump’s actions to overturn the results of the 2020 election — or maybe just do them competently — I think the GOP is, now, a serious threat to the continuance of our democratic republic.

      They are all about power at any cost and that disposable cost appears to include constitutional democracy in the USA.

  11. I’ve seen a version of the anteaters picnic in the New Yorker. It is good to know that sweet cake is useful. Lovely.

    According to Wikipedia, M. T. Cicero was born on the 3rd of January too. And John Thaw! He played Morse and Kavanaugh and, given his appearance later in life, he might even have played Cicero.

  12. [Marion] Davies became Hearst’s mistress when she was 19 and he 53, and she stayed by his side until his death.

    She got a much fairer shake when portrayed by the lovely and talented Amanda Seyfried in Mank than her fictional counterpart, Susan Alexander Kane, did in Mr. Welles’s movie.

  13. Hitler’s dad. If only a different sperm had fertilized Klara’s egg!

    If only Alois had not been legitimated! I doubt “Heil Schicklgruber!” would’ve cut it.

    1. Indeed! And if the sperm had resulted in a girl things would have probably worked out differently even with the same familial and environmental background factors.

  14. The cover page of the bull has Luther’s name

    The page shown is barely more than the preamble

    Rome, January 3, 1521 – Volume of paper, 4 folios (rubricellae) + 330, bound in pale red leather; on the upper back: LEON. X. BULLAR. AV AD IX. L. CLXX. ASV, Reg. Vat., 1160, f. 305r.

  15. “Mr. Biden and other leading Democrats should make use of what remaining power they have to end the filibuster”

    The Dems are going to need the filibuster down the road. I think they should focus on gun control and maybe stop shooting themselves in the foot.

    1. I just have to say you are wrong. To get the most important work done they must remove the filibuster. After they have done everything possible to protect voting rights and other issues they can then do some gun control. No one needs the filibuster and it needs to go. Minority rule is wrong. They do not have it in the house and they should not have it in the Senate. Surely you do not think the cult party, if they get control of the Senate will give a damn about the filibuster rule.

      1. “Surely you do not think the cult party, if they get control of the Senate will give a damn about the filibuster rule.”

        As an Independent, I take it as a given the the cult party and the dolt party will only give a damn about whatever rule is likely to keep them in power the longest.

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