Monday: Hili dialogue

January 17, 2022 • 7:00 am

Greetings on Monday, January 17, 2022: National Gourmet Coffee Day. Now by “gourmet coffee,” they don’t mean Pumpkin Spice Lattes or Peppermint Stick Mocha Christmas Lattes, which might as well be made with Instant Maxwell House. No, they mean good coffee!

It’s also Hot Buttered Rum Day, National Hot Heads Chili Day, National Bootlegger’s Day (Prohibition went into effect on this day in 1920), Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (a federal holiday in the U.S.), Ben Franklin Day (he was born on this day in 1706), the Jewish Holiday of Tu Bishvat, and, so they say, Judgment Day, explained this way:

Judgment Day is a tongue-in-cheek holiday that seems to imply you are your own god, and say you don’t have to wait until death for judgment. According to Ruth and Thomas Roy, the creators of the day, you can just look in the mirror and be your own judge. They say of the day, “Now you don’t have to die to see how you measure up to your deity’s standards. Just look in the mirror, wait for the answer, and go out and give it another shot.” According to the description of the day in Chase’s Calendar of Events, “All you need to do to see how you measure up to the standards of your God is simple: look in the mirror. There’s your judgment.”

And here’s King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, delivered during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. I still get a tingle when I heard the words and his preacher-y cadence. In fact, I have to admit that I teared up a bit when I heard this—and I’ve heard it a gazillion times.

In honor of Dr. King, Google has a special Doodle today (click on screenshot):

News of the Day:

*Ezra Klein has a new NYT column called “This Presidency isn’t turning out as planned.” It’s a mixed piece: Klein gives Biden substantial kudos for his economic performance, despite inflation:

“We want to get something economists call full employment,” Biden said in May. “Instead of workers competing with each other for jobs that are scarce, we want employers to compete with each other to attract work.”

That they have largely succeeded feels like the best-kept secret in Washington. A year ago, forecasters expected unemployment to be nearly 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. Instead, it fell to 3.9 percent in December, driven by the largest one-year drop in unemployment in American history. Wages are high, new businesses are forming at record rates, and poverty has fallen below its prepandemic levels. Since March 2020, Americans saved at least $2 trillion more than expected. And that’s not just a function of the rich getting richer: a JPMorgan Chase analysis found the median household’s checking account balance was 50 percent higher in July 2021 than in the months before the pandemic.

But Biden gets a potch in tuchas for his handling of the pandemic:

But the Biden administration hasn’t fully embraced its role as an economic planner. When Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, was asked about testing shortages in December, she shot back, “Should we just send one to every American?”

Psaki’s snark soon became Biden’s policy. The administration is launching a website where any family can request four free tests. That’s a start, but no more than that. For rapid testing to work, people need to be able to do it constantly. But because the administration didn’t create the supply of tests it needed months ago, there aren’t enough tests for it or anyone else to buy now. Part of this reflects the ongoing failure of the Food and Drug Administration to approve many of the tests already being sold in Europe.

The same is true, I’d argue, about masks. There’s simply no reason every American can’t pick up an unlimited supply of N95s and KN95s at every post office, library and D.M.V.

*Goodbye, Djoko! Tennis star Novak Djokovic lost his appeal after his visa to enter Australia to play in the Open was cancelled. According to various sources, he was either “deported” or “left on his own”, which are pretty much the same thing in this case. CBS Sports reports that the judicial decision was unanimous:

He left the country, headed for Dubai after a unanimous ruling by a three judge panel. The Australian government may still hand him a three-year ban from entering the country.

Three judges upheld a decision made on Friday by the immigration minister to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds, saying his presence might be a risk to the health and “good order” of the Australian public and “may be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others in Australia.”

*From reader Ken, another freestanding report:

Here’s Tucker Carlson not understanding (or pretending not to understand) at all the First Amendment’s religion and speech clauses.

In Good News Club v. Milford Central SchoolSCOTUS held that evangelical Christian clubs must be granted access to the limited public forum created by afterschool programs at public schools.

Count on The Satanic Temple to be doing the Lord’s work when it comes to the First Amendment.

*Reader Thomas also gives us a news item:

The link below is again from Dr. John Campbell who has been spot-on regarding the roiling cloud of pandemic for the past 18 months.  If I may summarize this vid, Campbell states (rather astonishingly), “it’s almost as if Omicron is protecting us against the ravages of Delta.”(6:20 mark), as well as providing immunity from Delta.  We are “quickly” moving towards endemicity and a “new Covid-era,”  and that “life in 2022 will be almost back to before the pandemic.”  Yikes.  Dare I hope for better times?

I wouldn’t be so fast to pronounce on the End Times, but here’s the video:


*The Regents of the University of Michigan have fired President Mark Schlissel  after an investigation revealed that he conducted an “inappropriate relationship” with an employee using University email and resources:

Over a period of years, the regents said in a letter made public, Dr. Schlissel used his university email account “to communicate with that subordinate in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the University.” Dr. Schlissel was removed for cause, according to the letter.

The regents began their investigation in December, after receiving an anonymous tip that Dr. Schlissel may have had an “inappropriate relationship” with an employee.

The board also posted online dozens of emails and text message exchanges Dr. Schlissel had with the employee, whose name was redacted. The board said the letters indicated he was using official University of Michigan business “as a means to pursue and carry out a personal relationship with the subordinate.”

The messages include discussions about coordinating travel, his hope to see the employee at and after official university events, and a stated wish that flight delays would leave them in Paris together. The regents also posted messages with sexual innuendos and even receipts for takeout orders from local pizza and Indian restaurants.

There are 118 pages of their emails at the link. I couldn’t help but peek a bit.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 849,976, an increase of 1,964 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,558,980, an increase of about 4,100 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 17 includes:

  • 1773 – Captain James Cook leads the first expedition to sail south of the Antarctic Circle.
  • 1904 – Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard receives its premiere performance at the Moscow Art Theatre.
  • 1912 – British polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott reaches the South Pole, one month after Roald Amundsen.

Here’s Scott writing in his journal in 1911 before the fatal journey to the South Pole:

Here’s the NYT exactly one year before prohibition began, when the Act was ratified:

Literally, the SS-Death’s Head Units; they were in charge of the concentration camps. Here’s a good photo that Wikipedia labels, “A freed Buchenwald concentration camp prisoner identifies a member of the SS camp guard.”

  • 1945 – Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg is taken into Soviet custody while in Hungary; he is never publicly seen again.

Wallenberg saved thousands of Jews in WWII, but then SMERSH got him and put him in the Lubyanka, where he probably died:

  • 1950 – The Great Brink’s Robbery: Eleven thieves steal more than $2 million from an armored car company’s offices in Boston.

Most of the gang was caught and imprisoned, but the vast majority of the money was never recovered.

  • 1961 – Former Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba is murdered in circumstances suggesting the support and complicity of the governments of Belgium and the United States.
  • 1977 – Capital punishment in the United States resumes after a ten-year hiatus, as convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad in Utah.

Gilmore’s mug shot:

  • 1991 – Gulf War: Operation Desert Storm begins early in the morning as aircraft strike positions across Iraq, it is also the first major combat sortie for the F-117. LCDR Scott Speicher’s F/A-18C Hornet from VFA-81 is shot down by a Mig-25 and is the first American casualty of the War. Iraq fires eight Scud missiles into Israel in an unsuccessful bid to provoke Israeli retaliation.
  • 1998 – Clinton–Lewinsky scandalMatt Drudge breaks the story of the Bill ClintonMonica Lewinsky affair on his Drudge Report website.

Here’s the announcement:

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s  painting of Franklin when he was still alive

  • 1820 – Anne Brontë, English author and poet (d. 1849).

All three Brontë daughters died young, Anne probably of tuberculosis.

  • 1834 – August Weismann, German biologist, zoologist, and geneticist (d. 1914)

Weismann (below) was famous for making the distinction between germ plasm (eggs and sperm), which could be the vehicles of heredity, and somatic cells (the rest of the body), which couldn’t.

  • 1899 – Al Capone, American mob boss (d. 1947)

Talk about luxury. Here’s the mobster’s cell “at the now decommissioned Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, where he spent about nine months starting in May 1929.”

Hutchins (below) became President of the University of Chicago at only 30. And he started many of the traditions we still adhere to. From Wikipedia:

Hutchins was notable as a defender of academic freedom. When the University was accused of fostering communism in 1935 (by Charles Rudolph Walgreen, [JAC: the drugstore magnate] who claimed his niece had been indoctrinated with communist ideas whilst studying there) and again in 1949, Hutchins defended the right of the University’s faculty to teach as they wished, arguing that the best way to defeat communism was through open debate and scrutiny, rather than suppression. “Hutchins stood behind his faculty and their right to teach and believe as they wished, insisting that communism could not withstand the scrutiny of public analysis and debate.”

  • 1911 – John S. McCain Jr., American admiral (d. 1981)
  • 1922 – Betty White, American actress, game show panelist, television personality, and animal rights activist (d. 2021)

White would have been 100 today.

  • 1933 – Shari Lewis, American actress, puppeteer/ventriloquist, and television host (d. 1998)
  • 1949 – Andy Kaufman, American actor and comedian (d. 1984)
  • 1962 – Jim Carrey, Canadian-American actor and producer

Those who bought the farm on January 17 include:

  • 1893 – Rutherford B. Hayes, American general, lawyer, and politician, 19th President of the United States (b. 1822)
  • 1911 – Francis Galton, English polymath, anthropologist, and geographer (b. 1822)

They don’t label him “eugenicist” here, but it was added to his longer Wikipedia entry in May, 2020.

Best stained glass artist ever! Here’s one of his wisteria windows:

Haston (below) was in the first party to to climb the south face of Annapurna and one of the first pair to climb Mount Everest by the south-west face.

Haston in the mountains. What a photo!

The SW face of Everest:

The route up:

  • 2008 – Bobby Fischer, American chess player and author (b. 1943)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Paulina have a chinwag (yes, Hili’s about to get some food):

Hili: This is very interesting.
Paulina: How do you know?
Hili: Intuition tells me.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
Hili: To bardzo interesujące.
Paulina: Skąd wiesz?
Hili: Intuicja mi mówi.
Foto: Paulina R.

From Divy:

From Barry:

From Beth:

From Simon, who found this amusing, as did I:

Tweets from Matthew: Here’s why we all dream of flying. Eagle with a GoPro!

In the mood to be grossed out? Read this thread. Answers mostly from MDs, and there are many more:

I may have posted this cheeky bird before, but here it is again. All it wants is a little soft fur to line its nest!

The Old Fruit Bats Home.  Remember Statler?

Cats will be cats. . .

Ancient hybrids:

30 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. Vaccination efforts in Italy are being undermined by corrupt health workers paid up to €400 (£330 / $445) to fake giving anti-vaxxers shots:

    Italian police have arrested a nurse in Palermo for allegedly pretending to give Covid vaccines to anti-vaxxer activists so they could benefit from official health certificates to travel and access bars, restaurants and public transport in the country.

    Investigators used a hidden camera to film the nurse, a 58-year-old woman working at an inoculation centre in the Sicilian capital. The clip, released on Saturday on Twitter, shows the health worker apparently loading up a dose of Covid-19 vaccine and then emptying the syringe into a tissue before pretending to inject it into the arms of anti-vaxxers.

    Police said the woman’s own booster dose was fake and arrested her on charges of forgery and embezzlement.

    It is not the first time a nurse has been arrested in Italy for pretending to inject Covid vaccines. Dozens of health workers, including at least three doctors, have been charged or investigated on suspicion of administering fake jabs to people in recent months, with some paying up to €400 (£330) each for the service.

    1. Heck, that is where the tennis player should have gone for his shot. If he was a U.S. citizen he could always go to the supreme court.

  2. “1933 – Shari Lewis, American actress, puppeteer/ventriloquist, and television host (d. 1998)” – as a kid, I used to love watching her and Lamb Chop on TV.

  3. Some 40-odd years ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Willard Memorial Chapel in Auburn, NY. It’s the only existing chapel completely designed by Tiffany’s firm and features some marvelous stained glass windows. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

    1. There is also a wonderful Tiffany stained glass exhibit (permanent collection) at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia. I believe that entry to the museum is still free.

    2. The Tiffany glass dome ceiling at the Chicago Cultural Center—one of two spectacular glass domes in the building—is another example that’s well worth a visit.

  4. 1977 – Capital punishment in the United States resumes after a ten-year hiatus, as convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad in Utah.

    The subject of Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Executioner’s Song — probably Mailer’s least Mailer-like book, both in its toned-down style and (unlike Mailer’s journalism, or his earlier Pulitzer Prize-winning “history as novel,” Armies of the Night) because he keeps himself out of the action. Although I’d rank it a bit lower in literary merit than Truman Capote’s similarly themed “nonfiction novel.” In Cold Blood, I think of them as companion pieces of sorts, together constituting an American version of Crime and Punishment.

    1. Capote was always hopeful of becoming as famous as his childhood friend, Harper Lee. I guess in some ways he did.

      1. Harper Lee was pretty much a one-hit wonder. Capote never wrote much after In Cold Blood (published when he was only about 40), but by then he already had two well-regarded novels to his credit — Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Other Voices, Other Rooms.

        I tried reading his posthumously published roman à clef, Answered Prayers, but couldn’t muster much taste for celebrity gossip.

        1. If like Harper Lee you only had one big hit, that is often all there is in a person. The movie will still be playing long after they are tired of In Cold Blood. Also Lee did have another book, Go Get A Watchmen, but a more realistic look at the people in her classic was not so popular with the public. Alabama looks better from far away.

  5. I predicted that Djokovic would be allowed to stay and play. Obviously I was wrong—good thing I’m not a lawyer! Frankly I’m happy to be wrong, as I don’t think he should be allowed to play unvaccinated simply because he’s had covid.

    It sounds as if the government had all the cards in this appeal. The onus was on Djokovic’s lawyers to disprove that he might be a threat to public health, etc. Pretty hard to do.

  6. On the need for several rapid covid testing kits: the currently available antigen rapid test kits are not quite Michael Mina’s “$1 lick a stick” but they are very good though a bit expensive. My wife picked up six tests a few weeks ago at our local pharmacy at about $12 each. A few days later I came down with what turned out to be a sinus infection, but first thing we were able to do was rule out covid through a negative result from one of these home tests before calling the doctor. Two weeks later as i was finishing up a 10-day course of antibiotics, I woke up with a 101.9 fever, took a second home covid test which turned positive almost immediately, leading to a call to my primary care provider and my retired nurse wife immediately isolating me into a covid protocol, testing herself with a home test (negative), and treating me with otc tylenol and robitussin. We are both doubly vaxxed and boosted and the fever/symptoms broke after two days, and five days later did another home test before being released from isolation to enter the rest of the house masked; it was still positive but turned positive more slowly (i believe cdc guidelines said i could leave isolation at that point without a negative test, but I was still coughing a bit and was more comfortable waiting until I was negative)…being retired with no need to get out. Finally, four more days passed and I took one more test which then was negative, allowing me comfortably to return a normal life at home. So while you do not need to test everyday, there is a need to have a supply of more than one or two of these rapid tests at hand when you do need them. We used five over the two weeks and now have a supply of a dozen for future use if needed. Btw, make sure that you read the directions for use before you need them, when you are well; understanding the order of taking the sample, mixing the swab in the reactant, and general handling of contents might be a bit confusing when you have become symptomatic and are feeling lousy. My wife said it is pretty much as easy as a home pregnancy test, but it is still chemistry and must be properly done.

    1. Lateral flow test kits are free in the UK; rumours that the government is planning to change that in the near future have been denied. There have been sporadic shortages in supply, especially in the run-up to Christmas and New Year when everyone was being told to test before socialising.

      1. Thanks Jez. My guess is that transmission happened Christmas weekend with all three generations (13 people aged 16 to 75) dining, playing, and sleeping at our closed up house. Everyone was twice vaxxed and boosted, BUT we did not test on Saturday before getting together…stupid, stupid, stupid. When I tested positive, the rest of the family immediately tested also yeilding three additional positives but no symptoms other than me..73 yrs old with a couple of comorbidities. My wife and grandson work in healthcare and were required to get pcr tests in addition to the antigen test; both pcr’s were negative.

    1. From the linked article:

      ‘Apostles of the McCarthyite crackdown on critical race theory have exploited him [King] as a mouthpiece for their cause, reducing him to a solitary, decontextualized line from the “I Have a Dream” speech about a future in which his four children were to be judged not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”’

      I am all ears to hear from Crenshaw just exactly what is the proper “context” by which to consider King’s skin color/character content statement. It seems a quite succinct and clear stand-alone statement not requiring a blessed context.

      1. I’m far from any kind of MLK expert but Crenshaw’s claim seems doubtful. She’s twisting his statements that racism isn’t ONLY about an individual’s thoughts and actions into a full-blown defense of CRT. At the same time, she’s saying that anyone who invokes MLK on racial colorblindness as a goal are taking a single quote out of context. Too bad the great man isn’t around to clarify. I’d be interested in what MLK experts have to say about her thesis.

        1. I’m not an MLK expert, but I’ve read many of his writings and some of the history. Whether or not he was a “CRT” is going to hinge on the exact definition, and it won’t be hard to find some extreme version of CRT and then knock down the strawman. But I’d say she is unquestionably correct, that between CRT meaning general focus on structures and systems of racism, versus the conservatism and individualism people seem to attribute to him from one out of context line in one line in one speech, MLK was very much in the CRT camp rather than the conservativism/individualism camp. That’s blazingly obvious if anyone actually reads what he said overall (but sadly rather rare).

          He clarified at the time. People don’t want to hear it. The fictional MLK is so whitewashed (pun intended) from the real MLK that it’s a lesson in itself.

          Search for the section on “preferential” here:

          Even more specific:
          “King: I confess that I do not believe this day is around the corner. The concept of supremacy is so embedded in the white society that it will take many years for color to cease to be a judgmental factor. But it is certainly my hope and dream.”

          Now ponder why you’ve heard the conservative twisted take on his views so many times, rather than his full-throated advocacy for targeted social programs.

          1. Sure but that’s not the issue and I suspect you know it. No rational person believes racism is ONLY caused by the conscious decisions of individuals. Anyone who says that is just trying to dodge. By the same token, CRT isn’t all bad. No rational person can deny that racism is present in parts of society’s structure. But to say that MLK believes in CRT is to pretend that he would agree with ALL of CRT. Otherwise, why would Crenshaw use that term? She’s clearly trying to borrow on MLK’s good name to support her CRT thesis. If not, she could easily just say that MLK understood that racism is both individual and structural and leave it at that. It might make for a boring column but a more honest one.

          2. I don’t think it’s true at all that “But to say that MLK believes in CRT is to pretend that he would agree with ALL of CRT.”. This statement may not even been possible, in the sense that “ALL of CRT” covers too much, i.e. it implies CRT is a monolith that cannot have extreme and moderate versions. Would you say someone can’t be a Catholic unless they believe in ALL of Catholicism? (and what would that “ALL” even mean?).

            As I see it, the core issue here is did MLK believe in race-based current programs to remedy past racial discrimination? The answer there is: Yes, unambiguously.
            That’s the key divide, between the fictional MLK and the real one. That’s what is meant by “CRT” in this context. Not a bloodless statement that racism isn’t just individual. Rather, should there be specific race-based redress? MLK thought that was absolutely necessary, and a moral imperative. People who hate that idea do not want to deal with the reality of his views.

  7. John Campbell: “it’s almost as if Omicron is protecting us against the ravages of Delta.” Not quite. Since the omicron variant appeared in November, the daily number of US cases of Covid-19 has jumped tenfold, and the covid-related death rate has almost doubled. Moreover, a vast number of virus particles continue to float around, posing an eminent danger of new even more dangerous mutations taking root.

  8. I would be cautious about John Campbell’s statements. He has been spoken out pro Ivermectin and has spoken favorably toward a study on the dangers of myocarditis with reference to mRNA vaccines.

    On the other hand, well-known German virologists (including Christian Drosten) have also expressed optimism that Omikron could represent the transition from pandemic to endemic.

  9. I have a friend in Sweden named Raoul. I finally asked him – his father knew Raoul Wallenberg. Also, my daughter’s dog is named Raoul in his honor.

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