Welcome to Monday, January 10, 2022: National Bittersweet Chocolate Day. It’s also National Oysters Rockefeller Day, National Gluten-Free Day, Houseplant Appreciation Day, Save the Eagles Day, and, in the Falkland Islands, Margaret Thatcher Day. She’s a big deal there since she was PM during the war with Argentina, and here’s a photo of her statue (on Thatcher Drive) that I took in Stanley while visiting in November, 2019:
News of the Day:
*At last a journalist agrees with me: we ailurophiles are getting fed up with the Bidens’ lame promises of a First Cat—promises that have been constant since before he took office. A moggy was identified was vetted before the First D*g, and they even got rid of that problematic d*g. Then they adopted a German Shepherd puppy. Where’s the damn cat? It’s been over a year now. Crickets. . . .
Click to read from New York Magazine:
President Biden has a problem with expectation-setting. He has yet to fulfill lofty promises on the pandemic, voting rights, and Build Back Better. Most egregiously, his administration has toyed with America by promising a White House cat that has yet to materialize.
Monday appeared to finally bring an end to this Long National Nightmare, but as always with this White House and cats, nothing was straightforward.
. . . So, where does this leave those of us who got a little too excited about the second coming of Socks the Cat? Well, kind of in the same place we’ve been for more than a year. I’d like to trust the Bidens when they say this cat’s arrival is imminent, just as I want to believe that the administration is going to ship out free COVID-19 tests in a timely fashion and find a way to salvage the president’s agenda. But I’ve been burned before, so I won’t believe it until I see claw marks on the Oval Office curtains.
Yes, we ailurophiles are hissing mad. Here are two others:
it feels honestly like the lack of a white house cat is just another in a stack of disappointments. Does it MATTER? Oh fuck no. But do I still feel kinda shit that I’d imagined a happy little cat wandering the WH and that hasn’t happened? YEAH.
— Mx. D.E. Anderson (@diannaeanderson) December 20, 2021
Pretty sure I was promised two important things: student debt relief and a cat in the White House.
Neither of these things have occurred. We need to talk, Joe.
— forever winter dan levy (knysna's version) (@loverofcatsesq) December 20, 2021
And here’s the latest empty promise from CNN’s White House correspondent:
I am told the cat — a female — will join the Biden family at the White House in January. @MichaelLaRosa46 confirms the cat arrival.
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) December 20, 2021
WHEN DONKEYS FLY!
*I swear, how horrible does a regime have to be before we stop getting in bed with it because of oil? Saudi Arabia is a notorious human rights violator, and three years ago put a princess in jail (along with her daughter) for criticizing the regime. But that’s not the only way to get in stir in Saudi. Get a load of this story:
A Saudi princess, a critic of her country’s government who was jailed nearly three years ago after publicly questioning government policy, has been released, a legal adviser to her family said on Sunday.
The princess, Basmah bint Saud, returned home on Thursday with her daughter Suhoud al-Sharif, who was imprisoned with her, according to the legal adviser, Henri Estramant.
But it remained unclear whether the women would be allowed to travel abroad, a pressing issue because Princess Basmah needs medical care not available in Saudi Arabia for a heart condition, Mr. Estramant said.
Princess Basmah was among a number of prominent Saudi activists, dissidents and members of the royal family either jailed or put under house arrest during the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has consolidated his grip on the kingdom since his father, King Salman, ascended to the throne in 2015.
Prince Mohammed is one of the most divisive rulers in Saudi history. He has earned plaudits at home and abroad for loosening social restrictions and seeking to diversify the economy away from oil. But also punctuating his rise have been a disastrous military intervention in Yemen and a disregard for human rights, including the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
The Princess, shown below from the NYT, never stood trial for anything:
*A horrible fire yesterday in a Bronx apartment building killed at least 19, including 9 children, and injured at least 63. The building was 19 floors high, and there were victims on every floor. Firefighters showed up within three minutes but it was already too late: people died from smoke inhalation. The fire was apparently caused by a malfunctioning space heater. It’s one of the deadliest fires in New York history.
*This is unbelievable. In an article about a car/van crash in the West Bank that killed 8 Palestinians and injured two, the Associated Press manages to work the “Occupation” into it somehow, even though it’s totally irrelevant. I’m going to give you the whole short article:
JERUSALEM (AP) — A truck and a van collided on a narrow two-lane highway in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, killing eight Palestinians and injuring another two, according to Israeli medics.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared Friday a day of mourning for the victims, who he described as “martyrs of trying to make a living.” Thousands of Palestinian laborers work in Jewish settlements along Highway 90, which runs through the Jordan Valley.
Videos circulating online appeared to show the truck slamming into the van head-on as the van sought to make a left turn off the highway.
Israel’s Magen David Adom rescue service confirmed the seven deaths and said three people were evacuated by military helicopter for medical treatment. Israeli and Palestinian media later reported that one of the injured had died.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war, and Palestinian want it to form the main part of their future state.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians work in Israel and Israeli settlements, where wages are much higher than in the parts of the West Bank administered by Abbas’ Palestinian Authority. The economic disparity largely stems from Israel’s 54-year occupation of the territory and the restrictions it imposes on the more than 2.5 million Palestinians living there. [JAC: and from the Palestinians’ refusal to accept half a dozen peace proposals. They want the erasure of Israel far more than they want prosperity.]
The Palestinians and most of the international community view the settlements, home to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers, as illegal and an obstacle to resolving the decades-old conflict.
This is all gratuitous Israel-bashing; imagine the level of Israel-hatred necessary to report a vehicular crash this way, even despite the Israelis trying to rescue the victims! And imagine the AP thinking that this way of reporting is okay.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 836,236 an increase of 1,559 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,507,83,, an increase of about 4,100 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on January 10 includes:
- 49 BC – Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon, signalling the start of civil war.
Ceasar wasn’t supposed to leave his province, Cisalpine Gaul, to enter into Italy proper, which was ruled by Rome. This meant civil war. And what he said has itself become famous, “The die is cast.”:
- 1776 – American Revolution: Thomas Paine publishes his pamphlet Common Sense.
A first edition of this puppy, bound with Paine’s other pamphlets, will run you a mere $60,000:
- 1870 – John D. Rockefeller incorporates Standard Oil.
Here’s the old magnate in 1922—with 15 more years to live:
- 1901 – The first great Texas oil gusher is discovered at Spindletop in Beaumont, Texas.
Here’s the “Lucas Gusher” at Spindletop, photographed exactly 120 years ago (from Wikipedia):
On 10 January, they needed to replace the dull fishtail drill bit. While lowering the pipe down the hole, they only got to about 35 joints of pipe, or about 700 feet (210 m), before a low rumble sent mud, and then drill stem out of the hole. This was followed by silence, an explosion of more mud and gas, more silence, a flow of oil, and then a loud roar. On January 10, 1901, at a depth of 1,139 ft (347 m), what is known as the Lucas Gusher or the Lucas Geyser blew oil over 150 feet (50 m) in the air at a rate of 100,000 barrels per day (16,000 m3/d) (4,200,000 gallons). Nine days passed before the well was brought under control using a Christmas Tree devised by the Hamills.
Spindletop was the largest gusher the world had seen and catapulted Beaumont into an oil-fueled boomtown. Beaumont’s population of 10,000 tripled in 3 months and eventually rose to 50,000. Speculation led land prices to increase rapidly. By the end of 1902, more than 500 companies had been formed and 285 wells were in operation.
- 1920 – The Treaty of Versailles takes effect, officially ending World War I.
- 1927 – Fritz Lang‘s futuristic film Metropolis is released in Germany.
Here’s the whole movie (silent):
- 1984 – Holy See–United States relations: The United States and Holy See (Vatican City) re-establish full diplomatic relations after almost 117 years, overturning the United States Congress’s 1867 ban on public funding for such a diplomatic envoy.
- 1985 – Sandinista Daniel Ortega becomes president of Nicaragua and vows to continue the transformation to socialism and alliance with the Soviet Union and Cuba; American policy continues to support the Contras in their revolt against the Nicaraguan government.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1919 – Milton Parker, American businessman, co-founded the Carnegie Deli (d. 2009)
Although the place was pricey, I’d dine out there when I could afford it as a graduate student in NYC. Their corned beef and pastrami were incredible, and copious(see below). And you got a huge bowl of pickles with your sammy (I preferred the half sours.)
The deli’s corned beef and pastrami, celebrated by smoked meat connoisseurs nationwide, were cured in the store’s cellar using Steiner’s own recipe in a two-week-long curing process. The Carnegie Deli used a half-ton of brisket to prepare a week’s supply of corned beef by the time of his death. Steiner admitted, “You could eat it after seven days, but if you wait until the 13th you’re in heaven.” The Carnegie Deli was the favorite hangout of comedian Henny Youngman, and Adam Sandler included a reference to the deli in “The Chanukah Song” in 1996. Steiner was eulogized by comedian Henny Youngman as “the deli lama.”
Here’s one of their pastrami sandwiches, would would provide three meals for a hungry and impecunious student. Any comment saying “That’s disgusting” or “Too much food” will be expunged, for it shows your ignorance of delis:
- 1939 – Sal Mineo, American actor (d. 1976)
A screen test for “Rebel Without a Cause” with Mineo, James Dean, and Natalie Wood:
- 1940 – Godfrey Hewitt, English geneticist and academic (d. 2013)
Godfrey: Nice guy and mentor to many of my British friends in evolutionary biology:
- 1945 – Rod Stewart, British singer-songwriter
- 1948 – Donald Fagen, American singer-songwriter and musician
There aren’t many videos of Fagan and Steely Dan performing live, especially in their prime years. They were always a studio band. But here’s a good one, a whole 45-minute concert. Sample it at your leisure. There’s patter as well as some of my favorites from this incomparable group (“Bad Sneakers” is my favorite, though the great guitar solo is missing, with “Kid Charlemagne” coming second.) Click on the links to go the song on YouTube:
00:00:00 – FM (No Static at All) 00:01:16 – Introduction 00:01:44 – Questions 1 00:04:06 – Peg 00:08:28 – Questions 2 00:09:48 – Kid Charlemagne 00:14:43 – Intro to Bad Sneakers 00:15:14 – Bad Sneakers 00:19:02 – Questions 3 00:21:20 – Piano interlude 00:21:50 – Josie 00:26:25 – Do It Again 00:28:09 – Questions 4 00:30:50 – Cousin Dupree 00:35:56 – Questions 5 00:39:22 – What a Shame About Me
- 1949 – Linda Lovelace, American porn actress and activist (d. 2002)
Here’s Lovelace, her husband, Larry Marchiano, and their son in 1986. Free at last (until she died after a bad car crash.)
- 1953 – Pat Benatar, American singer-songwriter
- 1981 – Jared Kushner, American real estate investor and political figure
Those who began singing with the Choir Invisible on January 10 include:
- 1778 – Carl Linnaeus, Swedish botanist and physician (b. 1707)
- 1862 – Samuel Colt, American engineer and businessman, founded Colt’s Manufacturing Company (b. 1814)
- 1917 – Buffalo Bill, American soldier and hunter (b. 1846)
- 1951 – Sinclair Lewis, American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1885)
Lewis, below, was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. I’m not a big fan, though this novels are fun reads.
- 2016 – David Bowie, English singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (b. 1947)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cynical Hili is chuckling:
A: We have more and more reasons for optimism.Hili: An excellent joke.
Ja: Mamy coraz więcej powodów do optymizmu.Hili: Świetny dowcip.
And there is a strange picture of Kulka. She put her head behind the blind and Andrzej took the picture.
From Only Duck Memes:
A cartoon from Bruce. The good news is that although such people exist, you won’t have to listen to them for eternity:
A tweet from Barry. Cats aren’t usually this awkward!
“Just act cool. Nobody even saw it” 😂 pic.twitter.com/KL2laQu5so
— FunnySupply (@FunnySupply) January 9, 2022
From Simon, who added:
Would a cat ever even consider that it had “sinned”? I’m pretty sure catholic guild is not a gift that keeps on giving in felids.
I responded that perhaps the priest was confessing to the cat (priests, after all, use confessors, too):
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? pic.twitter.com/fWvmAvutA3
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) January 5, 2022
From Ginger K.:
Uh oh, I'm out of here..🐈🦅📺😂😂 pic.twitter.com/E7x6Jb0AkB
— 𝕐o̴g̴ (@Yoda4ever) December 11, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
10 January 1935 | Dutch Jewish girl Elisabeth Ikkersheim was born in The Hague.
She was deported to #Auschwitz in October 1942 and murdered in a gas chamber after selection. pic.twitter.com/9E3ktD0xNl
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 10, 2022
Tweets from Professor Cobb. Look at the triumphant belly slide at the end!
And then the slide..
🎥 IG: derik_munson pic.twitter.com/NKjMNNtSR7
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) January 7, 2022
From a vaccination medical researcher. The predictions aren’t happy, but in the fifth of these six tweets he suggests a solution to the pandemic.
2/6 SCENARIO #1. Annual winter peaks. This was put forward by @mlipsitch and his @HarvardChanSPH team early in the pandemic, but I think it still holds up well. Arguably what's happening now is an example. Here's his 2020 paper from SCIENCE https://t.co/No1dkWIh1l
— Prof Peter Hotez MD PhD (@PeterHotez) January 6, 2022
Real leaves—8,000 years old—not fossils! Preserved in anaerobic conditions.
Seriously: these oak leaves are 8000 years old. They were found in the soil sample in Garry’s box from the Solent sea bed and were once part of the Mesolithic ground surface.
Mind boggling!! https://t.co/FmCaCcV1q5 pic.twitter.com/74KUK1hGug
— Dr Cat Jarman FSA💀 (@CatJarman) January 5, 2022
"OK, I've run the numbers, we can't afford a dog" pic.twitter.com/BhN9efYHwK
— Paul Bronks for Lovina Animal Welfare (@slender_sherbet) January 4, 2022
29 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue”
Another bit ‘o sadness: Bob Saget died unexpectedly over the weekend, at 65 years. From what I read he had done a stand-up show either the previous day or the same evening, but the news story also said there was no indication of drugs or foul play. So reading the tea leaves, maybe something like a heart attack or brain anyeurism…but we’ll have to wait for more info before we actually know. RIP.
Is that John Cleese crossing the Rubicon?
Yes it is.
I note that the accompanying text is slightly incorrect: they were very happy for
CleeseCaesar to return to Rome. What was forbidden was bringing his army with him.
Let’s not bicker and argue about who invaded who….
Some great laughs in today’s Hili – thanks!
In other news, The New York Times is less liberal than it likes to portray itself: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/09/new-york-times-company-liberals-unions
If they do travel abroad, they probably want to be wary of visiting any Saudi embassies and to avoid thuggish Saudi agents answering to crown prince Mohammad bin Salman wielding bone saws.
Novak Djokovic has won his appeal of his visa cancellation (so he hasn’t in fact been knocked out of the Australian Open after missing only two shots, at least not yet). My understanding is that he won on a technicality or a procedural issue: the judge decided that the visa cancellation had not been done properly. It is still not clear to me whether his medical exemption per se (based on his having had covid in the last six months) is valid for entering Australia. Apparently the appropriate federal minister has the power to override the court decision and uphold the visa cancellation. I think an announcement on this is expected later today. I don’t know whether a ministerial upholding of the visa cancellation would be the end of it (Djokovic would be deported) or whether Djokovic could make another legal challenge.
I see that Djokovic has just tweeted saying he’d won the appeal and that he was ready to play. But I’m not sure that it’s over (see above).
He’s on the practice court now, so he’s been released (at least for the time being).
He’s either in one court or the other. 🙂
It’s not entirely his fault as Tennis Australia should’ve coordinated better with the government to make the tournament + country requirements clear. But this whole thing has left a bad taste in my mouth. Let’s go Medvedev to keep it the slam totals a 3-way tie.
Medvedev and Germany’s Alexander Zverev are very strong—and hungry. Even if Djokovic plays, I’d say his chances of winning the title are less than 50%, particularly if the draw gods conspire to have him play both these players.
They are ranked 2 and 3, so they would play each other in the semis (if everything goes as seeded, and if I understand the draw correctly).
I’m not sure how the AO arranges the quarter finals but if it’s 1v8 + 4v6 on his side and 2v7 + 3v5 on the other, then Djoko would see Ruud (8) in the quarters and then the winner of Tsitsipas (4) vs Nadal (6) in the semis. On the Medvedev/Zverev side of the quarters, we have Rublev seeded 5th and Berrettini seeded 7th.
Oops sorry forgot to include this in my last post. In case I’m wrong about how they arrange the seeds and you want to figure it out for yourself: you can find the mens and womens tournament seeds here.
This isn’t the way it works. Although there are constraints to prevent high seeds from playing each other too early, #1 can definitely draw #3 in the semi-finals. There is a large random component to who plays whom, even among the seeds.
Ah okay. In most US sports events the brackets leading all the way up to the final are worked out in advance.
I suspect the random element for the seed match-ups is there because the seeding used to be quite subjective (now it basically follows the players’ ranking). With subjective seeding and fixed match-ups, there might be the suspicion that the seeding was done to give a local player a favourable match-up. Also, rankings can be quite static at the very top. If it was always #1 vs #4 and #2 vs #3 in the semi-finals, there’s the danger of always seeing the same match-ups.
As mentioned above, the seeding now almost always follows the ranking. Wimbledon is played on grass, a surface many players find tricky, so the Wimbledon organizers use a formula for their seeding that gives more weight to a player’s previous results on grass. I believe the organizers of the French Open have given themselves the leeway to override seeding based on ranking, but in practice they rarely or never use it.
As a youngster I watched Nicholas Ray’s Rebel any number of times on the late show, but the movie from the late-show rotation in those days that defined Sal Mineo was his turn in the title role of The Gene Krupa Story:
There’s a great live performance by The Dan in front of an audience at Sony studios in New York from around the time of the release of the Two Against Nature album. The boys, the band, and the back-up singers never sounded better:
Yep, after they emerged from the studio hermitage. But this was well past their creative peak.
I recommend Kat Jarman’s book on the Vikings, River Kings, am reading at present!
I was going to comment on the origin of the term “Steely Dan”, but then noticed that the next item was about Linda Lovelace. 😐
Djokovic might’ve been knocked out of the Aussie after missing just two shots, but they were unforced errors.
On the duck sign: Because the top line id white on black instead of vice versa, I read it as “Feed or molest the ducks”.
I’ll make sure to take some PCC(E) approved duck food if I ever visit because the alternative strikes me as cruelty to animals.
“But also punctuating his rise have been a disastrous military intervention in Yemen and a disregard for human rights, including the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018.”
It boggles the mind seeing that this is how Saudi Arabia is reported on, and then seeing how a car crash in Palestine is reported. Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen has killed nearly 300,000 people. Its coalition has included up to fifteen other nations at one time or another since 2015. At least two MILLION Yemenis have been displaced. The country is in ruins.
Is there an ongoing UN investigation, completely open-ended, unprecedented in both funding and complete lack of a timetable? Nope. Is there outrage among the Western intelligentsia, the academics, Left-wing activists, and journalists? Nope. Israel kills fewer than 300 people in a reaction to being attacked, and 2/3 of the people who are killed are terrorists, and the world and academics and activists lose their minds. Saudi Arabia and its allies kill 300,000 and displace millions more, and we hear crickets. I wonder what the difference is between Israel and all of these countries around the world killing so many more people (China, Russia, Congo, US, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.), and not even doing so in self-defense. I can only think of one difference, and it starts with the letter J.
That’s why Israel’s security must always rest on its own sword, not on other people’s pens.
According to the story I heard, an apparition of superhuman size grabbed a trumpet from one of Caesar’s soldiers and blew a deafening blast. Caesar, not being slow in the head, figured out that this must be a sign from the gods, urged his men to cross the Rubicon, and mumbled something about a die being cast. Good thing he wasn’t an atheist.
Well, the West Bank settlements are in fact one of the biggest impediments to a two state solution. Decades in the making, and one of the worst products of Israel’s conservative governments.
But on a really incendiary topic, the Steely Dan you’re highlighting was great band then, yes (all their various late-stage live configurations were fantastic), but I’m afraid they had the feel of a nostalgia tour (I saw them twice). The Steely Dans of their earlier creative peak were the various ad-mixtures of world class musicians Fagan and Becker tapped to make their golden-era records (which for me ends with Aja, my GOAT). Never the same band album to album, and on some albums, from track to track. Unfortunately, they hated touring during that stretch, and the fungible nature of the Dan meant they couldn’t tour anyway. See the fantastic YT on Aja in the Classic Albums series.
Also, there are live recordings of them in the very early 70’s right after release of Can’t Buy a Thrill. That Dan was a serious rock band, maybe the best live band for a stretch (the one with Jeff Porcaro on drums) – easy to look up and listen.
Amazon has a documentary about the making of Steely Dan’s album, “Aja”. It features interviews with Fagen and Becker where they recall their thinking on each of the songs. It’s pretty interesting.
Re Israeli first-responders helping to rescue the crash victims. I remembered another car crash story where an injured Palestinian infant refused to take a bottle — his mother had been critically injured — and was squalling with hunger. So an Israeli nurse stepped in:
The story was widely reported. The Times of Israel version is just the first one in chronological order that comes up now for my fact check.
Of course any mother and any nurse would have done the same, right?