Thursday: Hili dialogue

January 20, 2022 • 7:00 am

Greetings on a cold (10° F, -12° C) Thursday, January 20, 2022: “National Cheese Lover’s Day“. Are they honoring only one lover of cheese, as the apostrophe suggests? Have they forgotten Wallace and Gromit? It’s also National Buttercrunch Day, International Day of Acceptance, honoring disability rights and Annie Hopkins, one of its greatest advocates, Women’s Healthy Weight Day (have they forgotten the mantra, “Healthy at any size?”), Take a Walk Outdoors Day (yes I will yes), and Penguin Awareness Day.  Here are some king pengies (and a photobomb by a species you should identify) that I photographed in the Falklands two years ago:


News of the Day:

*The article below was in the December 20 Washington Post. Anybody want to bet me some $$ that a cat will be in the White House by January 31? I’m betting “no”, will give even odds. Click on screenshot to read about another of Biden’s false promises—and this one he can turn into reality! WHERE’S THE DAMN CAT, JOE?

*I hope that Biden’s political prognostications are as well founded as his feline forecasts because, according to the New York Times, he’s now announced that he believes Russia will invade Ukraine.

“Do I think he’ll test the West, test the United States and NATO, as significantly as he can? Yes, I think he will,” Mr. Biden told reporters during a near two-hour news conference in the East Room of the White House, adding: “But I think he will pay a serious, and dear price for it that he doesn’t think now will cost him what it’s going to cost him. And I think he will regret having done it.”

That is Presidential saber-rattling, because the U.S. can do precious little to punish Russian for invading Ukraine. My own prediction is that it will because it can, but of course nobody but Putin and his top military advisers know for sure.

I watched some of the press conference, which was a lackluster performance with the press going after Biden with unusual vehemence. He admitted that Covid testing on his watch wasn’t up to snuff, but in other areas just asserted that he’s calling a reset. He blamed the lack of bipartisanship on Republicans (even though he promised more bipartisanship, and Republican recalcitrance was absolutely predictable).

*Legal news from reader Ken:

The Court has roundly rejected Donald Trump’s bid to prevent his presidential records pertaining to the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol from being disclosed by the National Archives to the House select committee investigating that attack.

The vote was 8-1 against Trump, with only Clarence Thomas marching, as is his wont, to the beat of some polyrhythmic drummer inaudible to the others, dissenting without opinion.

*Even the NYT’s coverage of the press conference and Congressional news was grim. Because of Manchin and Sinema, the filibuster won’t be ended, the Build Back Better bill won’t pass, nor will the voting rights bill. It’s a grim prospect, and will likely be grimmer this November. But I don’t agree with the Chicken Littles who say things like this:

“Nothing less than the very future of our democracy is at stake, and we must act or risk losing what so many Americans have fought for — and died for — for nearly 250 years,” said Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan.

I beg to differ, as I think the resilience of our republic is stronger than people think. Even many Republicans, as well as centrists, were appalled at the January 6 insurrection. Yes, Republicans have made it harder for minorities to vote, but vote they will. What we need to worry about is how they will vote.

*Breaking news: last night the voting rights bill went down to defeat in the Senate after Republicans invoked the filibuster.

*The Washington Post’s editorial-board piece, “How Biden can fix his presidency,” is long on mourning what he did wrong, or didn’t do, and short on prescriptions. The three recommendations include (quotes are indented):

1.) In his second year, Mr. Biden must tack toward the practical. Mr. Manchin had offered to support a $1.8 trillion Build Back Better proposal last month, which would have included hefty climate change provisions, before his talks with the White House collapsed. The president should have taken up Mr. Manchin then. Mr. Biden should say yes to Mr. Manchin now, salvaging as much of that proposal as he can.

2.) Meanwhile, the gravest threat to U.S. democracy is not vote denial but that administrators or elected officials will attempt to tamper with legitimate vote counts based on lies about fraud. Mr. Trump’s continuing effort to discredit the 2020 vote, which experts say was the most secure presidential election ever, has spurred a wave of GOP candidates to campaign on his bogus conspiracy theories. A bipartisan group of senators is discussing a bill that would harden vote-counting procedures against partisan subversion. Mr. Biden should foster these discussions.

Agreed, this opposition to legitimate votes constitutes one of our most serious problem. But “Mr. Biden should foster these discussions”? How is he going to do that—calling the Senators and saying, “You go, Senators!”

3.) The president should also encourage lawmakers to keep working on reforming the Senate. Though Mr. Manchin refused to upend the filibuster to pass a voting rights bill, he has signaled openness to altering the rules in more modest ways. These could include making it more difficult for the minority party to sustain filibusters, which have become routine only recently. Doing so might require more talks with Republicans; the president should get those started.

That’s a passel of lame advice for Biden! Granted, with a deadlock in the Senate it’s hard to do much, but then let’s face the facts: we Democrats are screwed, and to some extent its our fault for ignoring the average Joes and Jills in America.

*The little good news we have is the administration’s promise that starting soon, 400 million N95 masks will be given away for free to the American public beginning soon:

The nonsurgical N95 masks will start to be available at pharmacies and community health centers late next week and the program will be fully up and running by early February, the White House official said. The masks will be sourced from the Strategic National Stockpile, the nation’s safety net of medical-equipment supplies.

“This is the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history,” the official said. “Experts agree that masking is an important tool to control the spread of Covid-19.”

Three masks will be available per person, the official said, to ensure broad access. Most of the pharmacies that are part of the federal pharmacy vaccine program will distribute the masks, the official said.

Warning; if you have to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy during the early days of mask distribution, either go early or wait till the initial rush abates. Everybody is going to want those masks.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 857,644 an increase of 1,971 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,585,483, an increase of about 10,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 20 includes:

  • 1265 – The first English parliament to include not only Lords but also representatives of the major towns holds its first meeting in the Palace of Westminster, now commonly known as the “Houses of Parliament”.
  • 1783 – The Kingdom of Great Britain signs preliminary articles of peace with the Kingdom of France, setting the stage for the official end of hostilities in the American Revolutionary War later that year.
  • 1788 – The third and main part of First Fleet arrives at Botany Bay, beginning the British colonization of Australia. Arthur Phillip decides that Port Jackson is a more suitable location for a colony.
  • 1887 – The United States Senate allows the Navy to lease Pearl Harbor as a naval base.

Pearl Harbor, photographed in 1986:

  • 1929 – The first full-length talking motion picture filmed outdoors, In Old Arizona, is released.

Here’s the whole movie. Some great acting (NOT!):

Here’s a letter following up on that conference. The Wikipedia caption:

In a February 261942 letter to Martin LutherReinhard Heydrich follows up on the Wannsee Conference by asking Luther for administrative assistance in the implementation of the “Endlösung der Judenfrage” (Final Solution of the Jewish Question).

I’ve highlighted the relevant words:

Here’s the inauguration and JFK’s address. But where’s Jackie?

Here’s Obama’s inauguration, with Michelle and the kids right there (speech, too):

  • 2021 – Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States of America. At 78, he becomes the oldest person ever inaugurated. Kamala Harris becomes the first female Vice President of the United States.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1775 – André-Marie Ampère, French physicist and mathematician (d. 1836)
  • 1879 – Ruth St. Denis, American dancer and educator (d. 1968)
  • 1888 – Lead Belly, American folk/blues musician and songwriter (d. 1949)

Lead Belly singing his most famous song, “Goodnight, Irene” (he didn’t write it) in 1934:

and Eric Clapton doing the same song 48 years later:

  • 1896 – George Burns, American actor, comedian, and producer (d. 1996)

His real name was Nathan Birnbaum, and here he is telling a story:

  • 1910 – Joy Adamson, Austria-Kenyan painter and conservationist (d. 1980)

Born free: Here’s Joy and Elsa the lion: the first lion to be successfully released from captivity:

  • 1920 – Federico Fellini, Italian director and screenwriter (d. 1993)
  • 1930 – Buzz Aldrin, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut
  • 1939 – Chandra Wickramasinghe, Sri Lankan-English mathematician, astronomer, and biologist
  • 1946 – David Lynch, American director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1953 – Jeffrey Epstein, American financier and convicted sex offender (d. 2019)
  • 1956 – Bill Maher, American comedian, political commentator, media critic, television host, and producer
  • 1972 – Nikki Haley, American accountant and politician, 116th Governor of South Carolina

Those whose existence ended on January 20 include:

  • 1779 – David Garrick, English actor, producer, playwright, and manager (b. 1717)

Garrick and his wife Eva, painted by, of all people, William Hogarth:

In my view, Millet is underrated, though he much impressed other artists, notably Vincent van Gogh. Here’s Millet’s “Man with a Hoe”, painted in 1862:

A black man, Gibson was barred from major-league baseball by segregaton, but he would have shone there. His lifetime batting average was .374, and his best single season average was an astounding .466.  He was the second player from the Negro Leagues (yes, that’s what it was called) to be inducted in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. Here’s  a quote from Wikipedia and a picture of Gibson wearing the (Pittsburgh Homestead Grays outfit:

Even though Jackie Robinson became the first black player in modern major league history in April 1947, Larry Doby, who broke the American League color barrier that July, felt that Gibson was the best black player in 1945 and 1946. Doby said in an interview later, “One of the things that was disappointing and disheartening to a lot of the black players at the time was that Jack was not the best player. The best was Josh Gibson. I think that’s one of the reasons why Josh died so early — he was heartbroken.” [JAC: He died at 35 from a brain tumor]

  • 1984 – Johnny Weissmuller, American swimmer and actor (b. 1904)
  • 1996 – Gerry Mulligan, American saxophonist and composer (b. 1927)

Here’s the Gerry Mulligan Quartet playing “open country”:

Yes, she was one of the Rothschilds, and decided to take up a career in entomology. She was eccentric and delightful; I met her twice at Harvard, where she’d come to work on the insect collections. A video (1 of 3), recounting her “Seven wonders of the world”. Do watch the 8-minute clip, which shows an enthusiasm for insects that I remember well in her.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is crawling between Andrzej’s and Malgorzata’s computer screens, which face each other on adjacent desks:

A: What are you doing there?
Hili: I’m checking the cables.
In Polish:
Ja: Co ty tam robisz?
Hili: Sprawdzam kable.

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

From Only Duck Memes:

From Jean:

From Masih Alinejad’s site. So much for Taliban reassurances about women’s rights.

From Barry, who notes that calling someone an ape is now hate speech:

From Simon, who says this:

This is pretty brutal as a takedown. The “cops” are part of the cast of Line of Duty which is a very popular British TV series (available here on Hulu). The TV show itself is well worth watching, the stories between seasons are separate but characters (including the three in this video) carry through. Lots o twists and turns – but not enough on its own to see me on Hulu – but perhaps enough to watch it on a free one month trial if the offer comes up!

I am wondering whether and for how long Boris will survive.

I found this one, but by following a tweet that Matthew sent (see below). Listen to that howl!

And the tweet from Matthew that led me to the howler:

More from Matthew. I have a juvenile sense of humor, and found this pretty funny:

A graphic demonstration of global warming:

But the Chosen Pig isn’t kosher!

35 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

    1. I remember when Hatari came out when I was 10 years old. I so much wanted to see that my father took me, a fairly rare occurrence. It was great stuff though I suspect I wouldn’t think much of it now.

  1. How that man hasn’t been removed from office beggars belief. So does the fact that it seems to have occurred to nobody at 10 Downing Street that “work meetings” with alcohol are really not a good look. These people must actually be completely stupid, and they are running my country.

  2. I didn’t listen to all of the press conference, only about thirty-five minutes, but I heard Biden say two notable things. First that no matter what tricks the Republicans play, minority voters will manage to vote. That is hardly a ringing call for the passage of electoral reform. Second that if Russia only takes a bit of Ukraine, then that’s OK. Not sure if this is a Danzig-size piece or a Sudetenland-size piece. The White House was quick to try to walk that back.

    The Johnson clip is good. Yesterday David Davis, MP and former Cabinet member, called on Johnson to resign saying, “In the name of God, go.” This, of course, echoes Cromwell’s famous speech dissolving Parliament in 1653. Interestingly, yesterday Johnson announced an end to major Covid mandates on masking and social-distancing. A cynic might think that he was trying to show that what he did was only anticipating this change, and everything’s alright now.

    1. A point where I think Biden was right is that it is high-time for the Republicans to come out and say what they are for. I don’t doubt that there are some in the Republican Party that can say what their view of conservatism and government is, but right now all we seem to see is reaction to the day’s events (or tweets). Both parties seem to be more focused on being not-the-other-guy, but Republican’s have been losing the vision-thing since Bush, Sr. It’s also potentially a way to box out Trump, if the party takes a strong stand on principles that he, it would seem, would have a hard time falling into line with.

      1. They do say what they are for. They are for gaining power in the House, Senate, and Presidency.

        Mitch McConnell has been pretty clear on his goals: prevent Democrats from passing any legislation, even legislation they agree with and think is good, because if Dems improve the country that might lead to people voting for Dems in the next election. They are for causing failure of the Country and the other party, because that gets them elected.

        1. It’s really pretty simple. Republicans are for the rich, and since the rich are doing great, they don’t really give a shit about anything else.

  3. Is there anyone who might be on the internet who is NOT aware of penguins?

    Regarding the big Cheese: There are many cheese lovers in the world, but there is (according to legend) only one capital-C, capital-L Cheese Lover, and this is Cheese Lover’s Day.

  4. Lead Belly singing his most famous song, “Goodnight, Irene” …

    A lyric from which provides the title for Mr. Kesey’s second (and even more technically ambitious) novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, about an Oregon logging family, the Stampers. After that, Kesey didn’t publish another novel for 28 years, until 1992’s Sailor Song.

      1. I love that novel, too. It doesn’t have Cuckoo Nest‘s keen sense of poignancy (but it hardly lacks for poignancy itself either).

    1. Another lyric from the song inspired my seventh-grade teacher, Sister Mary Honorata, to declare that singing “Goodnight, Irene” was a mortal sin. The offending lyric:

      Last Saturday night I got married
      Me and my wife settled down
      But me and my wife have parted
      I’m gonna take another stroll downtown

      Sister Mary Honorata was especially facile at manufacturing mortal sins, as if there weren’t enough to go around. In this instance, my friend Jerry O’Connell and I obliged by singing “Goodnight, Irene” whenever we passed the good sisters’ convent. We’re definitely going to hell.

      1. Maybe the song’s narrator and his wife got an annulment. That shoulda kept Sister Mary Honorata happy (or at least as happy as anyone named Sister Mary Honorata was likely to get).

        My seventh-grade teacher was Sister Dolores Emmanuel. She had a nasty habit of grabbing students by the cheek and squeezing.

  5. Josh Gibson: By some accounts, JG came out of the Edgar Thomson Community team. (Edgar Thomson was President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Andrew Carnegie named his first mill after him, presumably to curry favor in selling railroad rail.) The mill sponsored the team, which was apparently one of the premier early Negro Leagues teams. They played on the field that was adjacent to Schwixon, where an elementary school now sits currently DBA school district HQ. This pic shows some of the players ca. 1938. Note that the unidentified player in the center has a Grays jersey. Background: the long-gone Garage/Butler’s Residence left center in with Schwixon to the right with potting shed and greenhouses that I’m currently rebuilding in front of that.

    In any event, the evidence seems pretty clear that Josh Gibson once played right next door to where I’m sitting.

  6. In the Mulligan Quartet clip that’s Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone. A fine player on the West Coast scene.

  7. Miriam Rothschild was a remarkable and unconventional woman who made important contributions to entomology. She was an authority on the taxonomy of fleas, a subject that she inherited from her father, and was also interested in mimicry and aposematism especially in lepidoptera. Her father was an early pioneer of nature conservation and responsible for designating the earliest nature reserves established in Britain. One of the leading present day conservation NGOs in the UK is a direct descendant of the body he established. Miriam inherited his commitment to conservation and was a pioneer in the re-establishment of ‘wild-flower meadows’ after post-war agricultural improvements (drainage, rye-grass based seed mixes and the increased use of herbicides and chemical fertilisers) had resulted in a massive decline in floral diversity in much of the country’s pasture-land.

  8. In other sad news, it is evidently now legal in Kansas for police to murder you for resisting arrest. According to the DA, if they have you in handcuffs, on the ground, and you are still physically resisting, then the police officer cutting off your oxygen is simply Standing Their Ground. No crime here. Proportionate force is for loser states.

  9. Remember the dust-up at the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), where a doctor had to rescind his letter and apologize for saying that showing a very young girl (she looks about age 8 or 9) in an hijab was not appropriate?

    My sister is a free lance editor with the Journal and she told me that now all of the employees there (including her) have to take “anti Muslim sensitivity training”.

    I asked her if they were also going to have “subjugation of women” sensitivity training. She laughed and thought I was joking, so I sent her these 2 videos of “my true self” and told her to show them to her “sensitivity” team.

  10. A propos of the grammar joke about buying her dinner: a woman driving in the southwest stops to give a native American woman a ride. The passenger is silent for a while and then says to the woman: what is in that paper bag on the seat? The woman replies, oh, it’s a bottle of wine. I got it for my husband. Silence for a minute or two, and then the native woman replies: Good trade.

  11. Regarding the free masks: I don’t think I will be picking up at my local pharmacy. Last time I was there the staff and most of the customers were not wearing masks. Here in red state Indiana I have a feeling the masks will not be flying off the shelf. Seems like most (or many) folks have declared the pandemic over.

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