Thursday: Hili dialogue

January 6, 2022 • 7:00 am

Welcome to Thursday, January 6, 2022, and National Bean Day. Here’s a relevant cartoon:

It’s also, of course, the first anniversary of the Great Capitol Insurrection, but let’s forget about that for a while. Further holidays:  Apple Tree Day, National Shortbread Day, Cuddle Up Day, National Take Down the Christmas Tree Day (one year my folks left it up till May!), and National Smith Day, which has this origin:

Created by Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith in 1994 and first celebrated the following year, National Smith Day honors people with the surname “Smith,” as well as those who have a surname with Smith in it, such as Koopersmith, Goldsmith, Silversmith, and Nesmith. Not counting the variations of the name, almost three million people in the United States have the surname Smith, and it is the most common English-speaking name in the world. “Smith” means “worker.”

Koopersmith chose January 6 as the date of celebration because Captain John Smith was born on the date in 1580.

If you’re named Smith, raise your hand. One is noted below in a video:

And it’s Christmas in other places:

  • Christmas:
    • Christmas (Armenian Apostolic Church)
    • Christmas Eve (Russia)
    • Christmas Eve (Ukraine)
    • Christmas Eve (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
    • Christmas Eve (North Macedonia)
  • Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day (Western Christianity) or Theophany (Eastern Christianity), and its related observances:

Wine of the Day: This is a Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva from 2006—an excellen year for Riojas. This wine gets great reviews, and for the life of me I don’t know when I got it or how much I paid for it. It seems to go  now for between $60 and $80, but I can guarantee you that I didn’t pay that much for it.

I stopped on the way home to get a fresh baguette as I wanted to have this wine with cheese (both soft goat cheese and aged Gouda), with fresh tomatoes, black Niçoise olives, and olive oil on the side. Like Barbra Streisand, this wine had a gorgeous and stupendous nose: like wine perfume. Lots of cherry fruit with hints of oak and vanilla—all made for a wonderful tipple. I could hardly bear to swallow it as I wanted to keep it in my mouth and keep the taste going. It’s no longer dark, as once described, but a lovely garnet color and not yet orangish (an orange tint in the edge of the wine if you tilt the glass indicates too much age). This is a wine to drink now, and had I known how good it was, I would have bought a case. Without a doubt, it’s the best Rioja I’ve ever had, and half the price of some that I’ve had.

News of the Day:

*As the Covid epidemic spreads via the omicron variant, with Chicago no exception, all over the U.S., schools and colleges are grappling with the problem of having virtual versus “live” classes. Nowhere are things as trying as here in Chicago, where the Chicago Teachers Union voted yesterday to have only virtual classes in secondary schools. This was contrary to the mandate by Mayor Lori Lightfoot that classes resume in person. Because the teachers wouldn’t go along, Lightfoot simply canceled all schooling until the teachers work things out with the city:

CPS (Chicago Public Schools) could not immediately be reached to confirm whether staff members have been locked out or how many, though Mayor Lori Lightfoot did warn late Tuesday that teachers who did not show up will be docked pay. By Wednesday evening, it remained unclear if classes — in person or otherwise — would take place Thursday.

The stalemate made national news, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki saying the nation is “more than equipped to ensure schools are open … including in Chicago.” Former President Donald Trump said that “what is happening in Chicago with all the school closures is devastating.”

The losers here are of course the kids, who get no education, whether real or virtual, until things are setted. It’s curious that Jean Psaki went further than her boss.

Negotiations are continuing.

*There are two semi-contradictory articles about prosecuting the Jan. 6 Capitol Stormers in yesterday’s New York Times, and they were on the front webpage right together (click on the screenshot to read)

Here’s the Big Question in the first piece:

As of this week, more than 225 people have been accused of attacking or interfering with the police that day. About 275 have been charged with what the government describes as the chief political crime on Jan. 6: obstructing Congress’s duty to certify the 2020 presidential vote count. A little over 300 people have been charged with petty crimes alone, mostly trespassing and disorderly conduct.

But a big question hangs over the prosecutions: Will the Justice Department move beyond charging the rioters themselves?

So far, the department has provided no public indication of the degree to which it might be pursuing a case against former President Donald J. Trump and the circle of his allies who helped inspire the chaos with their baseless claims of election fraud. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland is scheduled to give a speech on Wednesday, one day before the anniversary of the attack on the Capitol, but is not expected to provide any signals about the direction of the department’s investigation. A spokeswoman said he would not address any specific cases or individuals.

But it’s answered in the adjacent article! The answer is: “As far as the rot goes.” Shouldn’t they have amalgamated these articles?

Under pressure from Democrats and a few Republicans to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for his role in inspiring the attack on the Capitol, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland vowed on Wednesday that the Justice Department would pursue its inquiry into the riot “at any level,” saying he would defend democratic institutions from attack and threats of violence.

“The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy,” Mr. Garland said. “We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”

Lock ’em all up! Make the QAnon shaman eat a hamburger!

*The Washington Post reports that National Public Radio is, all of a sudden, losing several of its valued minority commentators, including Audie Cornish, to whom I’ve listened for years. I just found out she was black! At any rate, the article notes others who are leaving, including Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, Noel King, and Michele Norris. While some say they are being snatched up by outfits with more money, other say minority broadcasters at NPR haven’t been treated well. I have no knowledge one way or the other, but am just reporting the fracas.

*Matthew noted an article in the Guardian with an unusual benefit of Google Streetview: catching criminals. In this case, it was a Mafia boss trying to hide, and it’s the Google picture below that led to his downfall:

Gioacchino Gammino, a convicted murderer listed among Italy’s most wanted gangsters, was arrested in Galapagar, a town near Madrid, where over the years he had married, changed his name to Manuel, worked as a chef and owned a fruit and vegetable shop.

Sicilian police carried out several investigations in their search for Gammino, 61, and a European arrest warrant was issued in 2014. The fugitive was traced to Spain, but it was Google Street View that helped to pinpoint his precise location.

The navigation tool, accessible through Google Maps, had captured an image of two men chatting outside a fruit and vegetable shop called El Huerto de Manu, or Manu’s Garden, in Galapagar. Police believed one of the men closely resembled Gammino, but his identity was only confirmed when they came across a listing for a nearby restaurant called La Cocina de Manu or Manu’s Kitchen.

Following up on the restaurant lead, the police apprehended the convicted murderer.

*Once again reader Ken provides a news item, which I give you in toto:

David Bateman, founder of the tech firm Entrata and a big-dollar Republican donor, has stepped down as the company’s chairman after sending out an email screed claiming that the COVID-19 vaccines are a sterilization plot by “the Jews” to exterminate US goyim.
 I kid you not. The story is also covered here.
An excerpt:

Entrata founder Dave Bateman stepped down as chairman of the software company on Tuesday after sending an antisemitic email to many Utah political leaders calling the COVID-19 vaccine a plot to “euthanize the American people,” blaming the effort on “the Jews.”

Bateman’s email, sent early Monday from his account, cited an unhinged conspiracy theory that says the vaccines are an effort, pushed by global “elites” including Bill Gates and George Soros, to depopulate the planet.

In a statement late Tuesday afternoon, Entrata CEO Adam Edmunds said Bateman had stepped down from the company’s board of directors and resigned his position as chairman.

“Dave is no longer a member of the board, effective immediately,” Edmunds said.

In the first sentence of his email, Bateman wrote that many of the email’s recipients “will think I’m crazy after reading it.”

Yep, pretty much!

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 830,549, an increase of 1,329 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,484,286, an increase of about 8,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 6 includes:

Harold from the Bayeux Tapestry,, which is supposed to be on display in England this year—the first time it’s left France in 950 years!

  • 1492 – The Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella enter Granada at the conclusion of the Granada War.
  • 1540 – King Henry VIII of England marries Anne of Cleves.

She didn’t produce a baby, but Henry generously didn’t behead her, leaving her instead a nice settlement. Anne outlived all of Henry’s wives save the last, Mary.

  • 1839 – The Night of the Big Wind, the most damaging storm in 300 years, sweeps across Ireland, damaging or destroying more than 20% of the houses in Dublin.

I thought this was the night I heard Reza Aslan speak.

  • 1847 – Samuel Colt obtains his first contract for the sale of revolver pistols to the United States government.

Here’s the drawing for Colt’s 1939 patent of the revolver:

It wasn’t until the 1950s until his view was generally accepted. He died at 50 on his fourth expedition to Greenland (he’s at the left in the photo below);

  • 1929 – Mother Teresa arrives by sea in Calcutta, India, to begin her work among India’s poorest and sick people.
  • 1941 – United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his Four Freedoms speech in the State of the Union address.

Here’s that famous speech:

Here’s the immediate aftermath of the attack, which was filmed, with Kerrigan crying “Why? Why? WHY?”.  Harding’s husband, Jeff Gillooly, was sentenced to two years for the attack, and Harding was fined and put on probation for conspiracy to hinder prosecution, a felony. She was banned for life from skating.  Her fate: According to Wikipedia:

Since leaving skating and boxing, Harding has worked as a welder, a painter at a metal fabrication company, and a hardware sales clerk at Sears. As of 2017, she stated that she worked as a painter and deck builder. She resides in Vancouver, Washington.

The wanted poster. Their murder took place in 1964. Killen died in prison in January, 2018:

The shaman, now serving 41 months in prison:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1412 – Joan of Arc, French martyr and saint (d. 1431)
  • 1822 – Heinrich Schliemann, German archaeologist and businessman (d. 1890)
  • 1832 – Gustave Doré, French painter and sculptor (d. 1883)

I love Doré; here’s one of his engravings for Dante’s “The Inferno”:

  • 1878 – Carl Sandburg, American poet and historian (d. 1967)
  • 1880 – Tom Mix, American cowboy and actor (d. 1940)

Here’s a fine pair of his cowboy boots in tooled leather. The heels are especially high.

  • 1912 – Danny Thomas, American actor, comedian, producer, and humanitarian (d. 1991)
  • 1920 – John Maynard Smith, English biologist and geneticist (d. 2004)

“JMS”, as he was known to everyone, was one of the Last Great Ones, a superb evolutionary geneticist. Here he is giving his take on the “Seven wonders of the world”—mostly biological. He died in 2004:

Here’s a short video of Scruggs demonstrating how he played the banjo:

  • 1925 – John DeLorean, American engineer and businessman, founded the DeLorean Motor Company (d. 2005)
  • 1920 – Sun Myung Moon, Korean religious leader; founder of the Unification Church (d. 2012)
  • 1931 – E. L. Doctorow, American novelist, playwright, and short story writer (d. 2015)
  • 1947 – Sandy Denny, English folk-rock singer-songwriter (d 1978)
  • 1960 – Nigella Lawson, English chef and author

Nigella is to British men as Sarah Silverman is to Jewish men:

Those who evinced their finitude on January 6 include:

Cancel him!


Here’s Mendel’s grave in Brno, the Czech Republic:

  • 1918 – Georg Cantor, German mathematician and philosopher (b. 1845)
  • 1993 – Dizzy Gillespie, American singer-songwriter and trumpet player (b. 1917)
  • 1993 – Rudolf Nureyev, Russian-French dancer and choreographer (b. 1938)

Here’s Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in “Swan Lake”:

  • 2006 – Lou Rawls, American singer-songwriter (b. 1933)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili once again affirms that cats and vacuum cleaners are immisible:

A: Why are you so frightened?
Hili: Because this vacuum cleaner is growling at me.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu jesteś taka wystraszona?
Hili: Bo ten odkurzacz na mnie warczy.

From Facebook:

Not funny, but a sign of the times. Click on screenshots to go to site if you want to register or see more. (And of course the answer to the question is “yes”.)

From somewhere on Facebook:

From Titania: There is an honest-to-Ceiling-Cat controversy about whether the goblin bankers in one Harry Potter movie were meant to be caricatures of the Jews:

Following up, here’s a tweet showing Jon Stewart’s take on the goblins as anti-Semitic. Stewart’s take seems serious, though he now says that it was a “lighthearted conversation among colleagues.” But he didn’t take back that the goblins were meant to be caricatures of Jews (but not by Rowling).

The second tweet shows the scene, and it does give me pause. But I will not accept that Rowling is anti-Semitic (nor transphobic) without more evidence. What do you think about those goblins?

From Simon: an astute observation:

From Ginger K.:

Tweets from Matthew. Just when you think the world has reached peak bizarreness:

People are LIVING here?

I used to think that Indian Runner Ducks were bizarre, but now I love them:

This is too adorable for words. “Let me in, ma!”

53 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

    1. “Why lookest thou so? With my crossbow I shot the albatross.” — my first introduction to The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere, courtesy of a Donald Duck comic book, believe it or not.

      1. Here’s how I learned about the rime :

        … I love the voice and ship creaks… the poetry is almost asking to be a metal song.

        But back to the original rime – I think it was written to be read aloud to the room of guests/family as evening entertainment – the equivalent of a TV show or movie.

  1. It is National Shortbread Day.

    OMG, I finally hit one.

    The schedule we have for baking is largely dependent on who made special orders, and what they ordered. It’s also whether we are running out of something.

    But today is different. Shortbread dough is simple; it only has four ingredients. It’s what happens after the dough is mixed that is such a pain. It has to be rolled, perforated, scored, and decorated if the decorations are of a type that can go on before baking. It is then baked low-and-slow, for about 45 minutes before being separated and cooled on racks.

    We got some new toys (I LOVE kitchen toys) that make the steps easier. A 24″ baker’s ruler, a roller with spikes to do the perforations quickly (instead of with a fork), and a fluted pastry wheel to do the cuts should speed things up considerably.

    So, on the wheel of fortune, I’m making shortbread on National Shortbread Day. Wow.


      1. I did them half with rainbow sprinkles, and the other half with dark chocolate sprinkles.

        The new tools worked great. Cranked them out in record time.


        1. I may have to make a batch, or better yet, convince my wife to make a batch. She’s the real baker in the family.

          The right tools can make things so much easier.

  2. Here’s a short video of Scruggs demonstrating how he played the banjo

    Here’s a joke I heard:

    What’s the definition of perfect pitch? Throwing an accordion into a skip and hitting a banjo.

    There is an honest-to-Ceiling-Cat controversy about whether the goblin bankers in one Harry Potter movie were meant to be caricatures of the Jews

    Don’t forget that the look of the goblins in the films was probably created by whomever the production designer was – not JKR. I’d be pretty confident that she was not intentionally creating a caricature of the Jews when she wrote the book, although it’s quite possible she was unconsciously picking up on some received antisemitic caricature even if it’s one she disagrees with.

  3. *2021 – Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump attack the United States Capitol to disrupt certification of the 2020 presidential election, resulting in five deaths and evacuation of the US Congress.

    The only death that resulted was an unarmed white woman shot by an incompetent black.

    1. I’m not sure skin colour is of relevance. She was a rioter intent on overthrowing the democratic process. He was an LEO charged with protecting the democratically elected representatives of the US people.

      1. Skin color is relevant in the sense that if it had been the reverse then we would be hearing about it for months on end. The fact that a LEO could be so utterly incompetent as to leave a loaded firearm in a public restroom and still keep his job is mildly terrifying.

        1. The firearm used belonged to the LEO in question. It was not in a rest room but in his hands and he was defending the chamber of the House of Representatives.

          Whether he was guilty of incompetence on other occasions is not at issue: the authorities have cleared him of any wrong doing on this occasion.

  4. In an article in the NYT, Katherine Stewart, long-time observer of the Christian right, summarizes how Christian nationalism has become a key element in subverting democracy by instilling fear in its constituents that somehow they are being persecuted. Here are a few key quotes:

    “Christian nationalism today begins with the conviction that conservative Christians are the most oppressed group in American society. Among leaders of the movement, it is a matter of routine to hear talk that they are engaged in a ‘battle against tyranny,’ and that the Bible may soon be outlawed.”

    “A final precondition for the coup attempt was the belief, among the target population, that the legitimacy of the United States government derives from its commitment to a particular religious and cultural heritage, and not from its democratic form.”

    “In the panic arising out of the claim that America’s schools are indoctrinating young children in critical race theory, or C.R.T., it isn’t hard to detect the ritualized workings of the same information bubble, persecution complex and sense of entitlement that powered the coup attempt. Whatever you make of the new efforts in state legislatures to impose new ‘anti-C.R.T.’ restrictions on speech and teaching in public schools, the more important consequence is to extend the religious right’s longstanding program to undermine confidence in public education, an effort that religious right leaders see as essential both for the movement’s long-term funding prospects and for its antidemocratic agenda.”

    “This longstanding anti-public school agenda is the driving force behind the movement’s effort to orchestrate the anti-C.R.T. campaign.”

    The upshot of this article is that white Christian nationalism is an integral, indeed crucial, component of the Trump cult. It is one of the nation’s largest and most well organized identity and grievance groups that retains its power through cultivating in its membership a paranoid sense of persecution. Its goal is to establish a theocracy. To accomplish this end, it is working assiduously to destroy public education. It believes that attacking CRT, whatever it may actually be, helps to elect Christian nationalists to public school boards. For the right-wing, CRT is the new Communism. Their methods are simple: just as Communism was associated in the 1950s with something really bad, such is the case with CRT today. So far, their strategy seems to be paying off. Before it is too late, much more attention needs to be paid to the goals of Christian nationalism: destroy democracy and have it replaced with a theocracy.

        1. Or:

          The Gulag system
          Kim Il Sung
          The Cultural Revolution
          The Khmer Rouge
          The DDR
          Polish People’s Republic

          Places, people, and systems peopled risked death to flee.

          (I agree that it was also used a simple political tool by the GOP.)

          1. I will state what I thought mistakenly was obvious. I was not defending Communism, but pointing out that in the 1950s McCarthyism was a means by which the right-wing accused anyone with any leftist sympathies (or maybe not even having any leftist sympathies) with being fellow travelers of Stalin and Mao. In other words, the term Communism was devolved by the right wing to be a meaningless expression to attack anyone that it didn’t like. The point is that in the 1950s, as today, the right wing through its paranoid delusions used its propaganda machine to scare the hell out of the American public for political gain.

            The great American historian Richard Hofstadter referred to this as the paranoid style of American politics.

        2. Since CRT is basically communism repackaged with race in place of class makes the association seem very valid.

          I think the only thing close to McCarthyism is the NYT reporter’s insinuation that associating something with Christian nationalism means it is bad or wrong.

        1. “Christian nationalism begins today with the conviction that conservative Christians are the most oppressed group in American society.”

          My mother was a Christian, but not a fundamentalist. Her sister was a fundie. When my mother once criticized people who pretend to be Christians but aren’t, her sister insisted that nobody would pretend to be a Christian because Christians are so persecuted.

          This was in the 1970s.

          I also remember when Pat Buchanan was a contender for the GOP nomination for President. When he didn’t get it, his wife was on TV sniveling that “A Christian can’t get elected in this country.” Yes, she was accusing the Republicans of hating Christians.

  5. There is an excellent and exhaustive two part video on the history of the first Colt revolver, the Colt Paterson Revolver No.5. It’s by a channel called C&Rsenal. (Curio and Relic, or C&R, is an ATF category for firearms of historic interest, generally older than fifty years.) They also have a video on the more successful, second Colt revolver, the Colt Walker.

  6. I am not a lawyer, and I would imagine that FindLaw is not the most authoritative source, but here is their simplified explanation [] of what the crime of sedition entails:

    Seditious Conspiracy and Federal Law: The Basics

    The federal law against seditious conspiracy can be found in Title 18 of the U.S. Code (which includes treason, rebellion, and similar offenses), specifically 18 U.S.C. § 2384. According to the statutory definition of sedition, it is a crime for two or more people within the jurisdiction of the United States:

    To conspire to overthrow or destroy by force the government of the United States or to level war against them;
    To oppose by force the authority of the United States government; to prevent, hinder, or delay by force the execution of any law of the United States; or
    To take, seize, or possess by force any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof.

    I’ll be damned if that does not look to be exactly what Trump et al did one year ago today. Why is this not what we are talking about?

    1. You’d have to ask your question of the DOJ which has thrown unlimited resources into this prosecution and has not yet brought a single charge of sedition or insurrection.
      But in fact if that definition of sedition is what you want to use, then I have personally been guilty of same more than a few times. In particular, on May 1-3, 1971, 30,000-40,000 insurrectionists, including me, descended on Washington DC for mass “direct action” protests with the stated goal of “bringing the federal government to a halt”. Months in the planning (and planned overtly by individuals known to the feds) there were detailed instructions on choke points, federal buildings to invade, and sabotage of public transportation and infrastructure to undertake. These efforts were met by the deployment by the federal government of overwhelming police and military forces, including Marine corps battalions, and the insurrectionists didn’t accomplish much. Many thousands were arrested and held in RFK Stadium, most mass arrests in US history. (Later those arrested were exonerated and in fact paid a stipend by the government for harshing their mellow).
      So that is what I would term an insurrection, with nary a horned shaman in sight.

      1. The people who broke windows and assaulted cops need to face the full force of the law. Of course, most of those charged were parading without a license, obstructing an official proceeding, Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building, or other assorted misdemeanors.
        The hysteria I am hearing today, putting the event right along with Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and the Civil War, seems kind of over the top.
        There are plans to fund a permanent memorial to the event. I have not heard any talk of making it a solemn national day of mourning, but it is not unlikely.

        I am led to believe that most of it is just political tactics. They want to use it to pass their laws federalizing control of elections, and particularly to implicate any republican incumbents in case they are reelected this year.
        I would be somewhat more likely to take their histrionics seriously if they were not associated with those who ( Carter, Clinton) pardoned or commuted the sentences of the unrepentant people who set off a bomb in the capital in 1983, and the 1954 attack in the house chamber, where 5 congresspeople were shot.

        Also, there was 2011 in Madison- “Soon they had descended on the building, banging on the doors and windows, chanting, ‘Let us in! Let us in!’ ­The small contingent of capitol police was quickly overwhelmed. Protesters ripped the hinges of an antique oak door at the State Street entrance and streamed inside. …Once inside, they began unlocking doors and bathroom windows until a sea of thousands had flooded the capitol. The police retreated in the face of the horde, giving up the first floor, then the second. ..The protesters ran amok, chanting ‘­This is our house!’ and ‘This is what democracy looks like!’ ” … And they then began searching for the Republican senators who had dared to defy the will of the unions…As the crowd scoured the building looking for the offending legislators, police sneaked them out through an underground tunnel to a government building across the street. But a Democratic representative posted on social media that the Republican senators were escaping through the tunnels, so when the senators came up into the lobby, the mob was there waiting for them.”

        The above events were described by Nancy Pelosi as an “impressive show of democracy in action”, by people she “proudly stands with”.

        None of this should be condoned. It is the selective outrage that bugs me. And of course proportionality. Sweeping up glass and cleaning carpets and drapes does not compare to digging through the rubble of buildings or cutting through the hulls of overturned, half sunken warships searching for the remains of thousands of people.

  7. In other news: “France’s Bogdanoff TV twins die of Covid six days apart”

    Grichka and Igor Bogdanoff became France’s most famous twins, hosting a TV science and science-fiction show in the 1980s on a spaceship set.

    They died of coronavirus within days of each other in hospital, Grichka on 28 December and his brother on Monday.

    Aged 72, the brothers had not been vaccinated against Covid-19.

    Their friends said they were convinced their healthy lifestyle would protect them and they were admitted to hospital in mid-December.

    Although their families did not specify the cause of their deaths, their lawyer Edouard de Lamaze confirmed they had both contracted the virus.

    I’m not sure what they did to alter their appearance – they look pretty normal in older photos. They became known outside France as a result of the publication of their bizarre papers in peer-reviewed journals.

    1. > hosting a TV science and science-fiction show in the 1980s on a spaceship set.

      Wow. Could you imagine if Bill Nye or Mister Wizard hadn’t been vaccinated? (Well, okay, Mister Wizard died in 2007…) Would that be similar?

      The Bogdanov publication history is considerably more esoteric (‘Dieu et la science: vers le métaréalisme´), so I’m wondering what their show was really like.

  8. The goblins in Harry Potter draw on English examples like the goblin drawings of Arthur Rackham.
    Anyway, it seems to me sheer paranoia to see Jews in the goblins of Gringotts Bank.

    1. I’ve watched the Harry Potter movies with many members of my Jewish (former) extended family, and myself…no one has ever so much as hinted at thinking the Goblins of Gringotts represented Jews. This kerfuffle is a Rorschach test for those who are complaining.

      1. I’m thinking of claiming that the Ferengi are an antisemitic caricature. If you look hard enough you can take offence pretty much at anything.

        Edited to add: I should have checked Wikipedia. I’m not the first person to think of the Ferengi angle.

    2. Presenting film clips as proof of a novel author’s intentions demonstrates pure ignorance of how films are made. I can’t think of a single case where such an author was given rights to approve art design or costuming. The person tweeting this as an example of JK Rowling’s views is either foolish or intentionally deceptive.

    3. Rackham’s look almost nothing like the ones from the Harry Potter movie.

      However my initial response is to be cautious about attributing anti-Semitism to her, for two reasons.

      1. She wrote the books but wasn’t in charge of movie set design or makeup. So we should go by what’s in the books, and recognize that what’s on the screen could rather be a result of unimaginative, trope-borrowing film makers. Now if she describes in the books how the bank is decorated with six-pointed stars and all the bankers have hooked noses, then yeah, go after her. That would make it on her.

      2. Exaggerated physical characteristics standing in for some moral failure seems to be an extremely common “myth” type thing, at least in western cultures. Thus you have the witch’s hooked nose and warts, the Thin Man, political figures being caricatured as bloated, etc. It’s the very old (and misleading) trope: pretty = good, ugly = bad. Thus goblins are short and spindly, with exaggerated noses and ears because that’s a way of telling the reader/viewer “these critters be evil.” The fact that this description was also used by Nazis to describe Jews is not coincidence (the Nazis also wanted to show through pictures “these people are evil”), but it doesn’t mean that every spindly warty fantasy critter is a reference to Jews. It means the fantasy author, like the Nazi, is using the ugly = bad association to communicate story ideas without having to say them. This is somewhat lazy and stereotype-reinforcing so it’s not great, but let’s face it, it’s not exactly uncommon in literature and especially children’s literature for the author to give the bad guy a black cape or some deformity in order to communicate “LOOK, BAD GUY!!!” either.

      Still, it’s nice when authors flip the script, and Rowling is a good enough author that she could’ve easily done that. Dobbie not being craven may be an example from Harry Potter (though I haven’t read the books, so maybe not). Or Thor: Ragnarok having “Eitri the dwarf” be like 30 feet tall is another. One of my personal faves is the summer camp scenes in the Addams’ Family Values movie. The director’s reversal is simple and transparent, but still amusing and effective.

      1. I have not personally confirmed this, but the bank’s six pointed stars seem to be a feature of the bank where they filmed it; they’re not part of set design. So maybe the bank itself is antisemitic, who knows?

    4. Lots of twitter comments also accuse Rowling of racial stereotyping of Chinese (“Cho Chang”) and Irish (“Seamus Finnegan”) people.

      The replies are funny: many commenters point out that they know real Irish people named Seamus Finnegan; Cho and Chang are common Korean (not Chinese) names; and in the movies “Cho Chang” is, ahem, Scottish.

      1. So, if you have a character in a book who is a banker or has covetous tendencies, the one who immediately shouts “that person is portraying a Jew!” seems to be the one engaging in stereotyping.
        Of course, JKR has the Eye of Sauron on her, so to speak. Lots of people who spend very little time on introspection or self criticism are poring over her books trying to find something to object to.
        My reading of the books has characters like Cho Chang as a reasonable attempt at inclusivity, portraying the population of GB as it is. I am unaware of the character illustrating any negative Asian stereotypes. I bet if those characters were omitted, there would be criticism about lack of representation.
        Again, these people don’t actually care about the books or films. They just want to be noticed denouncing something, and praised for their revolutionary fervor. I do think JKR is aware that there is no satisfying such people. She could renounce her books, edit out any content that anyone objects to, and devote herself and her fortune to serving them, and they would reward her only with more contempt, and further demands. Once she had given everything, they would move on to the next target. If you resist them, they will eventually move on to easier targets, since they don’t really care about your books or whatever.

        I recently read where someone remarked that a key failing of the woke is that they are too lazy to build the gulags they want to put everyone else in.

  9. ”Gregor Mendel, Czech geneticist and botanist”.

    Part of the Czech Republic today, but at the time it was part of Austria-Hungary. Mendel’s native language, like his name, were German. Borders go back and forth, but people often identify based in language and so on and not official borders, which can be down to the whims of politics and/or war.

    Nikola Tesla is often described as Austro-Hungarian, because his birthplace was also in that empire at the time, but he was a Serb born in what today is Croatia.

  10. John Stewart later clarified his comment:
    “I cannot stress this enough,” he said. “I’m not accusing J.K. Rowling of being antisemitic. She need not answer to any of it, I don’t want the Harry Potter movies censored in any way. It was a lighthearted conversation.”

  11. My take on Gringotts Goblins and Jews: There’s an analogy, but it’s not anti-Semitic. Goblins are despised outsiders in the wizard world, but the wizards need their skills in banking and metalwork. The Goblins aren’t as sympathetic as the House Elves, but still portrayed as undeserving victims of wizard prejudice. Griphook isn’t a likable character, but he’s hardly a Fagin type caricature. Bill Weasley, a good guy, has some prejudice toward Goblins, but he understands their POV and tries to be fair. The books thus subtly oppose anti-Semitism (subtlety being a good thing in literature).

  12. Re: Smith Day. Guilty as charged.

    Re: Rioja review. Without a doubt, the first time I’ve seen the words “Barbra Streisand” appear in a wine review! (Unless you’ve used this line before.) Thanks v much btw for the wine assessments, always entertaining and sometimes helpful!

  13. National Take Down The Christmas Tree Day – my family had a rigid schedule for putting up and taking down Christmas decorations. My father’s birthday was 10 December, and we had the extended family over to celebrate that event on the Saturday nearest to the 10th. The indoor decorations went up on the Sunday following the party. The reason? So that no tipsy relatives would knock anything breakable down. My birthday is on 20 January, and the family gathering, again, was on the nearest Saturday. On that day, before the family gathering, the indoor decorations got packed up and put away. The reason? Tipsy relatives again.

    My aunts, however, tended to leave their tree up until February. They never used an artificuial tree, so when the decorations came off, the tree was taken out to the yard and my father and I stripped off the branches. The trunk was cut into pieces and stored to become the next year’s yule logs. I always liked that part of using the tree.

  14. “1839 – The Night of the Big Wind […] I thought this was the night I heard Reza Aslan speak” – LOL!

  15. Re: Gregor Mendel, one of my professors at the Univ. of Wisconsin – Madison, the late and brilliant Hugh Iltis – one of the principal discoverers of the ancestor of maize – was Jewish and claimed that his lineage intermingled with that of Gregor Mendel. He didn’t explain how.

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