Friday: Hili dialogue

January 7, 2022 • 7:00 am

Welcome to the first official “TGIF” day in 2022: Friday, January 7: National Tempura Day—a cultural appropriation, but, like most of them, a good one.

It’s also Harlem Globetrotter’s Day, International Programmer’s Day, National Old Rock Day, National Pass Gas Day (I suppose it’s because yesterday was National Bean Day), and National Bobblehead Day. Here’s a photo of an extremely rare Hitchens Bobblehead doll given me by a kind reader. Note the ciggie and glass of Mr. Walker’s amber restorative:

And the Christmas celebrations continue:

News of the Day:

*Well, yesterday passed without any assault on the Capitol: there had been predictions of some first-anniversary violence. But Biden, whose own political stock is sinking, took the opportunity to rightfully and forcefully call out Trump, without using his name, for his role in the events a year ago, including questioning the election results:

 President Biden forcefully denounced former President Donald J. Trump for promoting lies and tearing down democracy because he could not stand the fact that he lost a free and fair election, accusing his predecessor and his allies of holding “a dagger at the throat of America.”

In his most sustained and scathing attack on the former president since taking office, Mr. Biden used the anniversary of the Jan. 6 mob assault on the Capitol to condemn Mr. Trump for waging an “undemocratic” and “un-American” campaign against the legitimacy of the election system that he likened to the actions of autocrats and dictators in faraway countries.

“The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” Mr. Biden said, standing in the same National Statuary Hall invaded by throngs of Trump supporters a year ago. “He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country’s interests and America’s interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost.”

*The Washington Post reports that judges are going pretty easy on Capitol rioters who plead guilty:

Federal judges in D.C. have gone below the government recommendation in 49 out of 74 sentencings held for Capitol riot defendants one year after the attack, about two-thirds of the cases. In eight cases where prosecutors asked for jail time, the judges instead opted for probation. Of the 74 people sentenced so far, 35 have been given jail or prison time, 14 home detention and 25 probation alone.

Probation is a deterrent? SInce when? LOCK ‘EM UP!

*One of the jurors in the Elizabeth Holmes trial has begun singing like a canary, and the Wall Street Journal reports the juror revealed the “smoking guns” that evoked the four “guilty verdicts.” One, contrary to what i thought, was the use of the phony “Pfizer” logo put on a fundraising report to imply that Pfizer endorsed Theranos’s machines:

Jurors zeroed in on two pieces of evidence they believed showed Ms. Holmes intentionally lied to investors, said Susanna Stefanek, known throughout the trial as Juror No. 8.

For some, the damning evidence was a report Theranos gave investors that Ms. Holmes altered to make it look like it was an endorsement from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., Ms. Stefanek said. What was worse for her, the juror said, was a document of financial projections given to prospective investors, including prosecution witness Lisa Peterson, who works for the DeVos family office, which had invested $100 million in Theranos.

“There were just so many falsehoods on that sheet of paper,” said Ms. Stefanek, an editorial manager at Apple Inc. The 2014 document projected $40 million in annual revenue from drug companies, though jurors had heard from government witnesses that Theranos had no such contracts at the time.

*Director Peter Bogdanovich, whose first movie happens to be what I consider the best of all American movies, has died at 82. The movie? The Last Picture Showa 1971 black and white masterpiece about growing up in a small oil town in North Texas in the Fifties.(It’s based on a novel by Larry McMurtry, who he grew up in the town where the movie was filmed.)  If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor, for the odds are you’ll like it a lot. Here’s my favorite scene: Sam the Lion’s soliloquy. The money quote, “Being a crazy about a woman like her is always the right thing to do.”

Never again did Bogdanovich come close to the artistry evinced in that movie. He was a one-hit wonder, but one was enough. (h/t Bill)

*I wonder whether somehow this story from the AP, like that of the two errant walruses that found their way to southern Europe, reflects global warming, though I don’t see how. This one involves a seal who’s taken to freshwater:

A juvenile harbor seal has forgone life in the ocean, instead choosing a home nearly 100 miles up the Hudson River — behavior that wildlife officials called “unprecedented.”

The animal was likely abandoned as a pup by his mother in Maine, officials say. A Connecticut rescue center cared for him, then released him in Rhode Island in early 2019 with an electronic tracking tag.

By that August, he’d settled down on the Hudson near Saugerties Lighthouse, under the watchful eye of the lighthouse keeper, staying for 620 days.

“It is a story like none we have ever heard of … a marine mammal showing such extended affinity and fidelity to freshwater,” said Tom Lake of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Almanac, The Daily Freeman reported Tuesday.

But the seal’s life on the river had one interruption.

Harbor Seal No. 246 — as he’s known officially — disappeared last April, leaving wildlife officials stumped for months.

Turns out he needed rescuing again, catching an infection and a skin condition called “seal pox” after swimming down to Long Island’s Atlantic Beach.

Poor seal! Maybe he belongs in a spacious aquarium. He’ll never find a mate in fresh water!

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 832,392, an increase of 1,404 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,491,637, an increase of about 7,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 7 includes:

  • 1608 – Fire destroys Jamestown, Virginia.
  • 1610 – Galileo Galilei makes his first observation of the four Galilean moons: Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa, although he is not able to distinguish the last two until the following day.
  • 1835 – HMS Beagle, with Charles Darwin on board, drops anchor off the Chonos Archipelago.

The islands, surrounded by the blue line, are off the coast of Chile and are largely uninhabited, even to this day:

Here’s the film. The sneezer is one Fred Ott, filmed when taking a pinch of snuff:

  • 1927 – The first transatlantic commercial telephone service is established from New York City to London.
  • 1931 – Guy Menzies flies the first solo non-stop trans-Tasman flight (from Australia to New Zealand) in 11 hours and 45 minutes, crash-landing on New Zealand’s west coast. Here’s Menzies, who survived the crash, with his wrecked plane:

Here’s an audio of that groundbreaking performance. Anderson also got attention by being refused to sing for the Daughters of the American Revolution at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. in 1939. Thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt, she performed instead in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The singing starts at 2:20:

  • 1959 – The United States recognizes the new Cuban government of Fidel Castro.
  • 1999 – The Senate trial in the impeachment of U.S. President Bill Clinton begins.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1800 – Millard Fillmore, American politician, 13th President of the United States (d. 1874)

Here’s the last Whig President to serve in the White House. Have you ever heard of anyone else named “Millard”?

Bernadette’s song ended when she was only 35, dying in the convent from tuberculosis. Here she is when younger (remember, she had recurrent visions of Jesus):

A racist to his bones, Faubus refused to obey the Brown v. Board of Education decision of the Supreme Court, and ordered the National Guard to prevent black students from attending Little Rock’s Central High school in 1957. President Eisenhower federalized the National Guard and stymied Faubus.  Here’s Faubus speaking to a crowd urging segregation of the Little Rock schools. It was a futile effort:


  • 1946 – Jann Wenner, American publisher, co-founded Rolling Stone
  • 1964 – Nicolas Cage, American actor

Those who relinquished their existence on January 7 include:

She was Henry VIII’s first wife, and, mirabile dictu, survived.  Here’s a portrait from 1520, when she was still alive:

  • 1943 – Nikola Tesla, Serbian-American physicist and engineer (b. 1856)

Here’s a drawing from Tesla’s successful patent application for a motor creating alternating current:

  • 1989 – Hirohito, Japanese emperor (b. 1901).  Here he is in his “enthronement ceremony” in 1928. Because the Allies couldn’t decide if he played a substantial role in WWII and Japanese war crimes, he was never tried and lived to a ripe old age:

  • 2006 – Heinrich Harrer, Austrian mountaineer, geographer, and author (b. 1912)

A great climber, writer, and also a Nazi (a card-carrying member of the SS), Harrer was apprehended by the British in India, escaped, and made his way to Tibet, giving rise to his later bestselling book Seven Years in Tibet. In 1938, he became part of the first team to climb the North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland, a climb considered impossible (see below); his book on that climb, The White Spider, named after the treacherous ice field that’s part of the climb, is also well worth reading. The North Face:

  • 2021 – Brian Sicknick, Police officer who was present during the Storming of the U.S. Capitol (b. 1978)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron needs to read a bird guide:

Hili: What do you see there?
Szaron: A bird of paradise.
Hili: Either you are lying or you are confused.
In Polish:
Hili: Co tam widzisz?
Szaron: Rajskiego ptaka.
Hili: Albo kłamiesz, albo coś ci się pomyliło.

From Tom: One of the great Far Side cartoons:

A meme from Athayde:

And one from Bruce:

A tweet from God:

From Ginger K., who sent this with great enthusiasm: “The late great Freddie Mercury – THE GREATEST LEAD SINGER OF ALL TIME – and his kittehs. He loved his  kittehs.”

From Simon: good news from the UK. Are we really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel?

From Ken, who says “Yertle the Turtle at his dissembling best.”

Tweets from Matthew. First, a cat punching above its weight:

A poem AND a palindrome. Two, two, two treats in one!

Oy! “Please read BioLogos”????

WHAT A DUCK!!!! Watch it!

35 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. In 1894, Thomas Edison made the first snuff film? I should have known…

    (I now hide under a rock, but feel no shame)

  2. Never again did Bogdanovich come close to the artistry evinced in that movie. He was a one-hit wonder …

    Bogdanovich certainly never again reached the soaring heights of The Last Picture Show. But I think Paper Moon, starring The O’Neals, père et fille (and for which daughter Tatum won an Oscar), and Mask, with Cher, Sam Elliot, and Eric Stoltz, were worthy efforts.

    I also got a kick out of his recurring-role performances in The Sopranos, as the shrink’s shrink — Dr. Melfi’s psychiatrist, Elliot Kupferberg. (I think Bodganovich may have also directed one of the episodes.)

    According to an interview I saw with Bogdanovich, he also claimed to be the only guy whom any girl (in this case, Cybil Shephard) ever left Elvis to get back together with. 🙂

  3. yesterday passed without any assault on the Capitol

    Last night I watched a BBC documentary called Four Hours at the Capitol. It consisted of interviews with a number of people who had been there and footage culled from various people who had cameras (mostly rioters) and security cameras and the media who were present. There was no editorialising. Everybody from either side was allowed to say their piece.

    If you live in the UK, you need to see it. If you don’t live in the UK, I suggest you find a way to watch it. I think it’s too important to be bothered about things like broadcasting rights.

    From Simon: good news from the UK. Are we really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel?

    No we aren’t. The actual figures from yesterday:

    People tested positive: 179,756 – a modest drop but the week on week seven day rolling average is still up around 30%.

    Deaths within 28 days of a positive test: 231, which is again a slight drop, but the week on week seven day rolling average is up 56%

    People admitted to hospital (this is the important one): 2,078. The week on week seven day rolling average is up 65%.

    Some hospitals have already declared major incidents because of the increased number of admissions combined with record numbers of staff away due to COVID19 isolation. The healthcare system is on a knife edge but the prime minister won’t do anything for fear that he will be fired by his political party. We should be locked down but Johnson’s job is more important to him than the lives of the citizens of his country.

    Source for the numbers:

  4. It appears the airplane in New Zealand ground looped. Either that or maybe landed downwind and just flipped it. Seen that happen with airplanes having brakes but I doubt that one had any brakes.

    So finally, Biden speaks. A little late to the party.

    1. They say a good landing is one you walk away from. A great landing is one where you can still fly the airplane afterward. I’m going to bet this aircraft was repairable, making it a great landing. The propeller sheared off but that shouldn’t destroy the engine. If the wheels stopped hard but simultaneously against irregularity in the boggy, hummocky field, it could just flip the same way a bicyclist does an “endo”. There are many photos of early aircraft landing this way, including the Vickers Vimy bomber that made the first powered non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1919 (which also landed in a bog.) It looks in worse shape than Menzies’s machine but was able to be rebuilt for static display and survives to this day. Neither pilot was injured. These early aircraft were one big crumple zone.

      On a bicycle tour of South Island a few years ago we rode past the commemorative marker and small museum (which was closed). I can’t recall if there was any further info about the fate of the airplane. Menzies and his crew were lost in action during WW2.

      The big question would be if the torque of a ground loop in the horizontal plane bent or broke any crucial structural elements of the fuselage before the forces were spent flipping the airplane. The Avro Lancaster in our air museum — one of only two flying specimens in the world — is a Canadian-built aircraft that did not go overseas and was retained by the RCAF for anti-submarine and air-sea rescue after the war. It suffered structural damage after a ground loop — way too heavy to flip — and was taken out of service. Decades later, the museum got word of a Bomber Command combat veteran that had been flown home, salvaged for parts for farm machinery, and the airframe abandoned to the elements in a farmer’s field in Alberta. The restorers were able to graft its crucial midsection including the infamous “main spar” into the damaged bomber and after many years of labour got her airborne again.

  5. President Eisenhower federalized the National Guard and stymied Faubus.

    Ike could always be counted on to do the right thing on civil rights — after he’d exhausted his other options.

  6. 1946 – Jann Wenner, American publisher, co-founded Rolling Stone

    Big mistake, you ask me, when Wenner decamped the Stone from San Francisco to New York in ’76 and put staples in its spine.

  7. Tempura is an interesting test of the notion of “cultural appropriation”, and probably a good counter-example, since the practice or notion was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese (according to what I have read), as was bread and the word for bread, which in Japanese is still “pan”. Of course, the Japanese put their own spin on the art of battering and deep-frying, and no doubt improved it tremendously.

    Another question is whether, when Japanese is written using Kanji, which are imported Chinese characters, does THAT count as cultural appropriation?

    (Please let me clear…I don’t consider cultural appropriation to be even a legitimate concept. This is just mind-playing for me.)

    1. Robert, I agree with your assessment of the concept of cultural appropriation. In an attempt to answer your mind-play question about Kanji, I grant the connotation that the Woke give to the term, namely, the oppressive culture stealing from the oppressed culture. I don’t see that with the Japanese writing system. I see Kanji as a holdover from the time when the Chinese brought literacy to the islands. Just as the ancient Greeks are to Europe, so the ancient Chinese are to East Asia: the model of a civilization advanced in technology and learning. In those ancient times, the Japanese (and the Koreans, for that matter) were little more than barbarians, so when they encountered the advanced civilization of China, they naturally imitated and absorbed its superior technology and social structures, including writing. It’s kinda like, “how can you keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen the bright lights of the big city?” 🙇‍♂️

    2. 🙂

      Cultural appropriation is how circles of inclusion get bigger. Demonizing it is an excellent tactic to maintain tribalism. Shorter, it’s stupid.

        1. Out of curiosity I looked it up. Turns out ‘mucho’ has been so thoroughly appropriated that it is in many English dictionaries (Oxford, Merriam-Webster, Collins).

          That probably won’t save you though.

      1. Demonizing cultural appropriation is a form of rent-seeking. If a film-maker wants to depict a Blackfoot headdress, even one not being worn by a character, instead of just going to a costume shop he will have to pay off the local Blackfoot organization —“consulting fees” —so they won’t cancel his movie.

  8. Regarding the Lourdes person:

    … she had recurrent visions of Jesus…

    Was it visions of Jesus she had? Or of Mary? Both? I thought she had visions of the immaculately conceived one, and that’s mummy.

  9. After Herbie’s adventures were broadcast, “Skateboarding duck” entered the popular vocabulary in the UK to describe the light hearted piece that ended TV news bulletins.

  10. FWIW, NPR will run something about EO Wilson in their science coverage today on the Pittsburgh station WESA sometime between 2 & 4. Maybe it has already run elsewhere on other NPR stations, or it’s running on yours at the same time, but Alexa should be able to haul WESA in for you in any event.

    Otherwise, here’s the tribute from the American Chestnut Fdn which he enthusiastically supported and on whose board he was an honorary director.

  11. National Tempura Day

    One of my favorite dishes though it is hard to find the good stuff. Most Japanese restaurants make it but there’s a huge difference between what they serve and what is possible. I used to be a regular at Komatsu, a small tempura restaurant in Torrance, CA. Each piece was cooked separately and served to me at the counter as in a sushi bar. (They also had tables.) The crust on each piece was amazingly thin and crunchy. The sauce for dipping was so good that I drank what was left in the bowl at the end. Truly transcendent.

    Unfortunately, they went out of business. I suspect that the Japanese population has dropped dramatically in the area since Toyota and its suppliers left. It also may be because Mr. Komatsu, while a master of making tempura, was a complete jerk in every other aspect. He often yelled at his employees. I once was greeted at the door by a waitress who told me, “Tonight is not a good night. Mr. Komatsu has gone home.” I knew from the way she said it that he’d had a meltdown.

    1. It’s a tragedy when a great restaurant goes out of business. Decades ago while I was living in Orlando there was a small unassuming restaurant named Mamie’s Cajun Seafood that was just fabulous. We tried it for the first time shortly after they opened and it immediately became a favorite. In particular their frog legs were freaking phenomenal. Best I’ve ever had, still.

      Unfortunately they didn’t last long. I don’t know why they closed but I speculate that they simply gave too much, in quality and quantity, for what they charged and weren’t making any money. I darn near cried the night I walked up to their door and found that they were gone.

      1. Yes, I agree. Live long enough and you’ll see many such gems disappear. Many have died during the COVID pandemic.

        Sometimes the good ones get swallowed up by corporate giants that degrade the product in order to milk its goodwill for profit. The original Bob’s Big Boy restaurants being driven into the dirt by Marriot comes to mind.

        Of course, new gems are opening all the time but it is hard to identify them. I’ve had a lot of “one and done” meals. Reviews don’t help much.

      2. I get fed up with people gushing about some NEW restaurant. How about paying tribute to ones that have continued to exist by virtue of being good?

        In that light, I was afraid that my favorite Thai restaurant, Thai Terrace wouldn’t succeed because of their utter lack of signage compounded by no lighting out front despite the presence of a plain 8′ fluorescent fixture. When I’d mention the lighting aspect to the people there, they’d reply, “We told the landlord about it.” They did put up one of those $10 LED signs that says OPEN. (Great, what’s open?) And if I mentioned the place to people, they were uniformly unaware of its existence despite being on a fairly well-travelled thoroughfare in a tiny (3-business) strip mall.

        So, on the basis the maxim that a business with no sign is a sign of no business, I had a neon sign made (scroll down), that proclaims THAI in bright red 8″ letters in a font suggestive of an Asian influence, and gave it to them. That was pre-COVID, and they’re still there. Whether or not that helped, at least they’re easier to notice.

  12. The fraudulent use of the Pfizer logo would have been my “smoking gun” too. Overhype of their product and being extremely positive about its future prospects is business-as-usual for a startup. But give me one clear premeditated fraudulent act that can’t be described as an innocent mistake, then I know they were willing to trick their investors.

  13. I enjoyed and appreciated the palindromic Pets poem, as I once wrote a palindromic haiku. It worked (both a palindrome and scanned 5-7-5), but it was nonsensical.

  14. “Have you ever heard of anyone . . . named “Millard”?”
    Yes! My grandfather’s name was Thomas Millard, but everyone called him Millard. He died in 1919 of the Spanish Flu.

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