Saturday: Hili dialogue

January 22, 2022 • 8:45 am

Welcome to the Cat Sabbath: it’s Saturday, January 22, 2022 and National Southern Food Day. This is a good day, as much of the food of the South is excellent, most especially BBQ. But how can you leave out biscuits, meat-and-three, boiled peanuts, country ham, fried chicken, grits, and so on?  Below you see the apotheosis of the Southern breakfast, which I photographed (and consumed) in March, 2006 at the Loveless Motel and Cafe (the motel is gone) outside Nashville.  It’s the most famous breakfast joint in the American South, and deservedly so. The topper: it has the world’s best biscuits with homemade preserves, fried country ham, grits, fried eggs, and red-eye gravy. JEBUS!

It’s also National Blonde Brownie Day, National Hot Sauce Day, Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day (you know that there’s only one, involving dinnertime), and Roe vs. Wade Day, commemorating the Supreme Court Decision (which will soon be overturned) issues on January 22, 1973.

News of the Day:

*The Associated Press reports that yesterday’s autopsy showed that Malik Faisal Akram, the terrorist who took hostages in the Texas synagogue, died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Matt DeSarno, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Dallas, said at a news conference Friday that Akram’s death “was a result of the deadly force used by the FBI.”

DeSarno, who had attracted attention on Saturday night for saying that the hostage-taker was focused on an issue not specifically connected to the Jewish community, took pains on Friday to stress that the FBI regarded the episode as an act of terrorism that threatened the Jewish community and “intentionally targeted” a house of worship. The act, he said, “was committed by a terrorist espousing an anti-Semitic worldview.”

As the night stretched on, and as Akram became more combative with the hostages and less cooperative, DeSarno authorized his teams to enter the synagogue — and almost simultaneously, the hostages inside decided it was time to make a move for it as well.

Akram released a hostage shortly after 5 p.m. but those remaining later said he became more belligerent and threatening as the night wore on. The standoff ended around 9 p.m. after Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said he threw a chair at Akram and he and the two other remaining hostages fled.

One wonders—at least I do—about how this shooting went down. Did the FBI go in with guns blazing? Did they give Akram a chance to surrender, or was there no possibility of that? I’d want there to have been every possible chance to apprehend the suspect without killing him, but all we know is that the rebbe threw a chair at Akram and the remaining hostages fled through a fire door.

*Meat Loaf, the singer, died at 74, and I’ve noticed readers mentioning this. Sadly, I don’t know a single song by Mr. Loaf, but you can read his NYT obituary here. There’s also a retrospective in the Washington Post, “Meat Loaf made the most of being way too much.”

*A reader asked my opinion of Bret Stephens’s recent column in the NYT, “What an anti-Semite’s fantasy says about Jewish reality.” Well, Stephens’s point is that the media was slow to discern, and even slower to promulgate, that the terrorist incursion into the Texas synagogue had an anti-Semitic element in it. I think to someone who followed the story, the evidence for that is plain. A quote:

Antisemitism? You would think it could not be more obvious, as everyone from the prime minister of Israel to the president of the United States to the Council on American-Islamic Relations agrees. But first you’d have to climb over a strange wall of obfuscation, misdirection and doubt.

“He was singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community, but we are continuing to work to find motive,” the F.B.I. special agent in charge, Matthew DeSarno, said shortly after the standoff ended, presumably referring to the assailant’s bid to free the imprisoned terrorist. Both The Associated Press and the BBC parroted the line, with the Beeb tweeting, “Texas synagogue hostage standoff not related to Jewish community — F.B.I.”

The A.P. later deleted a tweet making a similar claim. And the F.B.I. amended its case on Sunday, calling the attack “a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted.” On Thursday, the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray, finally acknowledged that it was an antisemitic attack.

Yet the only substantial reporting I found from a major American news organization that explicitly acknowledges the antisemitic nature of the attack was one astute story in The Washington Post. Instead, there was a focus on the assailant’s supposed mental illness, along with additional reporting on the ever-increasing security-consciousness of synagogues worldwide.

Compare that with the mountain of reporting regarding the anti-Asian hate that allegedly animated the killer in last year’s attacks on Atlanta-area massage parlors. Or compare it with the coverage of the unquestionably racist 2015 shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. For that matter, compare it with the naked Jew-hatred that drove the killer in the 2018 synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, which has been extensively reported and discussed. (His immediate “motive” was opposition to immigration.)

There’s a lot more, for example a discussion of why Jews are still pariahs in the U.S. compared to other groups that have been treated poorly, but you can read that for yourself.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 864,182 an increase of 2,162 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,604,886, an increase of about 9,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 22 includes:

  • 1506 – The first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrives at the Vatican.

Here’s a prelude to that event, during which Tsarist soldiers fired on unarmed demonstrators marching to present a petition to the Tsar. Caption from Wikipedia; Father Gapon was later killed for his activities:

Crowd of petitioners, led by Father Gapon, near Narva Gate, St. Petersburg

The famous “Odessa Steps” sequence of Eisenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin”, which recounts a 1905 mutiny and the killing of unarmed civilians. This is one of cinema’s most famous scenes:

  • 1968 – Apollo 5 lifts off carrying the first Lunar module into space.
  • The module worked so well that the next year it took men to the Moon. Here’s the Apollo 5 module being mated to the Saturn rocket:
    S67-50927 (November 1967) — Lunar Module-1 being moved into position for mating with Spacecraft Lunar Module Adapter (SLA)-7 in the Kennedy Space Center’s Manned Spacecraft Operations Building.


  • 1970 – The Boeing 747, the world’s first “jumbo jet”, enters commercial service for launch customer Pan American Airways with its maiden voyage from John F. Kennedy International Airport to London Heathrow Airport.
  • 1973 – The Supreme Court of the United States delivers its decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, legalizing elective abortion in all fifty states.

Not for long!

Here’s jobs promoting the Macintosh in 1984 (I still have mine from that year), followed by the commercial, which of course hearkens to Orwell’s eponymous novel about the same year.

And Jobs’s introduction. I have never used anything but Apple computers; they’re pricey but reliable.

  • 1998 – Space Shuttle program: space shuttle Endeavour launches on STS-89 to dock with the Russian space station Mir.
  • 2009 – President Barack Obama signs an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, which is not implemented due to congressional opposition.
  • 2018 – Minnie Mouse receives her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as part of her 90th anniversary.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1552 – Walter Raleigh, English poet, soldier, courtier, and explorer (d. 1618)
  • 1561 – Francis Bacon, English philosopher and politician, Attorney General for England and Wales (d. 1626)
  • 1573 – John Donne, English poet and cleric in the Church of England, wrote the Holy Sonnets (d. 1631)
  • 1645 – William Kidd, Scottish sailor and pirate hunter (probable; d. 1701)
  • 1788 – Lord Byron, English poet and playwright (d. 1824)

Byron inscribed his name on the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, in Greece, a fantastic temple overlooking the Aegean. I made a special trip there during my penultimate trip to Greece, to see the locale but also to locate Byron’s signature. Here it is—not easy to find. (Not my photos.) If you’re in Athens, take a day trip; it’s not far and the scenery is spectacular:

  • 1849 – August Strindberg, Swedish novelist, poet, and playwright (d. 1912)
  • 1875 – D. W. Griffith, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1948)
  • 1898 – Sergei Eisenstein, Russian director and screenwriter (d. 1948)

See above.

  • 1904 – George Balanchine, Georgian-American dancer, choreographer, and director, co-founded the New York City Ballet (d. 1983)
  • 1931 – Sam Cooke, American singer-songwriter (d. 1964)
  • 1938 – Peter Beard, Australian photographer and author (d. 2020)

He’s another guy I would have traded places with. An adventurer, great photographer, especially of African subjects, and handsome as hell. Here he is with model Cheryl Tiegs, to whom he was married for a while:

NEW YORK, NY – CIRCA 1982: Cheryl Tiegs and Peter Beard circa 1982 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Platzer/IMAGES/Getty Images)

One of his photos; yes, thats Kilimanjaro:

Those who sang their swan song on January 22 include:

He built this as a mausoleum for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. See it before you die, no matter how many tourists are there.

  • 1968 – Duke Kahanamoku, American swimmer and water polo player (b. 1890)

What about his surfing? Here he is with his huge redwood surfboard:



  • 1973 – Lyndon B. Johnson, American lieutenant and politician, 36th President of the United States (b. 1908)
  • 1994 – Telly Savalas, American actor (b. 1922)
  • 2000 – Craig Claiborne, American journalist, author, and critic (b. 1920)
  • 2008 – Heath Ledger, Australian actor and director (b. 1979)
  • 2018 – Ursula K. Le Guin, American sci-fi and fantasy novelist (b. 1929)
  • 2021 – Hank Aaron, American baseball player (b. 1934)

Here’s a 10-minute remembrance of Aaron:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is pondering an evening on the tiles, even though it’s cold outside:

A: Are you going somewhere for the night, again?
Hili: I don’t know yet, maybe I’ll be back in an hour.
In Polish:
Ja: Znów się gdzieś wybierasz na noc?
Hili: Jeszcze nie wiem, może wrócę za godzinę.

From Facebook, a real license plate:

Also from Facebook. I’d hire him!

From Nicole:

God finds the Middle Way:

From Ken, a tweet by Representative Glock:

From Simon: Tissue cultured heart cells beating in the Petri dish!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. Some birds have “egg teeth”, too, that fall off after they peck their way out of the egg.

A pun for nerds:

The kakapos are busy going at it this year!

I retweeted this from Matthew, adding the translation:

35 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. Re Meat Loaf: “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” is a great song about mating criteria in males and females.

    1. That is true! In some science classes, a common exercise is to have students rate personal ads (men seeking women; women seeking men). A hypothesis to test is whether the writer fits into our mating criteria. I am told the stats always overwhelmingly support the stereotypical hypothesis about sexual selection in humans.
      Anyway, popular songs presumably do the same.

  2. I could never use a Macintosh back in the day. Like many, I just wanted a personal computer for writing, and their display wouldn’t keep up with an average typist. That can get pretty annoying.

    1. I remember that issue. They did catch up by the SE version, thankfully, though. I remember writing my 52-page honors thesis in one weekend on one of those (after having marked the initial due date in the wrong month on my calendar). I think I used both disc drives (it had 2!!!!) to save at just about every full stop.

  3. Brian De Palma’s Chicago steps scene — not quite the same, of course 🙂

    Lev Landau, the Russian physicist, was born on the 22nd of January.

    There was a time when I thought Meat Loaf was a rapper. I can’t remember exactly when or how I was disabused of that impression. It might have been after seeing him in an episode of Monk.

      1. And a moment later, having briefly reviewed Wikipedia material on the Merry Pranksters, I see that one of their sometime members was “Wavy Gravy”. Probably this accounts for my impression that Meat Loaf was there 🙂

  4. This [Eisenstein’s Odessa Steps sequence] is one of cinema’s most famous scenes …

    Also one of its most copied and parodied. Sometimes it seems every director ever to encounter a set of steps on location must pause to film an homage.

  5. Sad postscript on Meat Loaf: He died of COVID, and was an anti-vaxxer.

    At the moment the main reason the pandemic is continuing is because people who could be vaccinated are not, usually because they believe some sort of bullshit. Sad. So with that in mind it’s worth making a joke at his expense. Perhaps he discussed vaccination with someone he loved, but then said “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that”. 🙁

    There are many musicians more popular in Europe than the USA (Elton John, Cat Stevens, Fischer Z, …). Meat Loaf was also one, but he actually hailed from the States.

    1. Well that is too bad about ML. I rather liked his singing voice, although his songs were more for teens than adult, imo.
      There is a Reddit thread called the Herman Cain Award, named after the conservative anti-vaxxer who (you guessed it) promptly caught and died of Covid. So I guess M.L. is the next recipient.

      1. Cain croaked after attending Donald Trump’s super-spreader event in Tulsa on June 20, 2020 (the one originally scheduled for Juneteenth). The crowd there was only about a third of the venue’s capacity, but instead of social distancing, everyone was herded, maskless, into the lower deck behind Trump to make it appear full for the cameras.

        1. And there are millions of Americans who would still make him Supreme Leader of the United States. I guess it could still happen, the way things are going.

      2. Anto vaxxer and anti masker. He died of covid. Heard it on radio, but tv news claims they don’t know why he died. Right…

    2. People who are unvaccinated are not necessarily evil. Some of them just got bad advice. Some portion of the blame for that happening is the fact that the authorities, including medical professionals, have made some serious missteps.
      The most obvious, to me, anyway, was judging some large gatherings as dangerous, even homicidal, and other gatherings as quite safe and praiseworthy, depending on the perceived politics of the participants.
      Once a normal person is confronted by a few examples of such behavior, they are likely to begin to realize that some percentage of what they are being given as objective medical advice is political, then they are stuck in the position of trying to figure what part is sound science, and what part is BS.
      Some percentage of people are going to distrust authority no matter how consistently right they are. Others have become skeptical after noticing inconsistency or misrepresentation of facts.

      Hopefully, your personal physician acts solely on what they judge is best for you, the patient. Organizations like the CDC play large and complicated versions of the trolley problem. Even people who have never heard of that problem can sense that they are part of something like that, but wonder which track they are on.

    1. A heavy smoker apparently not inclined to take care of himself, who had a heart attack in the mid 1950’s. Plus the stress of being POTUS.

      1. And what was that with his very long hair in his last few years? I consider him one of the most enigmatic presidents ever.
        A Southerner, known to have a predilection for racist slurs, but forcing the Civil Rights through, empathic for the poor, yet a hardliner in Vietnam, killing tens of thousands, etc etc,
        Yes, I guess ‘enigmatic’ is the operative term.

  6. 2021 – Hank Aaron, American baseball player (b. 1934)

    Having grown up in an American League city in the days before interleague play (and what with the Cleveland Indians, now “Guardians,” not having made a World Series appearance during the 41 years between 1954 and 1995), I never got see most of the great National League players of that era — Mays, Clemente, Koufax, etc. — play in person. I did, however, get to see Hank Aaron during his final season, when he returned to Milwaukee to close out his career with the Brewers.

    He was way past his prime by then, but still, it was a thrill to see Hammerin’ Hank.

  7. I still have my Mac Plus from 1986. It still runs. System 7. I’ve always had a Mac or 3 or 4 in the house and PC’s, too. Today it’s a packed out MacBook Pro, and a new 24″ Mac M1 desktop.

    After I retired I got recruited by the local Apple Store (because I started hanging out at the mall like some old retired guy) and worked at the fruit stand for 7 years. I loved it when a customer came in and said, “I want to talk to the old guy.” Old guy, hep cat. YOLO, right?

  8. BBQ: There is this Bruno Mars song going around, Skate, that doesn’t do much for me except the lyric,

    I can smell your sweet perfume
    Mmm, you smell better than a barbecue,

    That cracks me up every time I hear it. Does that work as a pickup line?

  9. “One wonders—at least I do—about how this shooting went down. Did the FBI go in with guns blazing? Did they give Akram a chance to surrender, or was there no possibility of that? I’d want there to have been every possible chance to apprehend the suspect without killing him” … or (further) endangering the hostages.

  10. Re Meat Loaf, I therefore presume you have never seen the cult classic “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. You should get out more…..

    1. Given a choice between an all expenses-paid trip to Antarctica and watching “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which would you pick?

      If one does not know every blessed song the Beatles did – even though one grew up during that time – is one somehow lacking?

      Is there one sacred penultimate prioritized pecking order of activities to which everyone should conform?

      1. Well there IS a common cultural “mass” which to function in society one SHOULD be at least passingly familiar with. Rocky Horror probably (and the Beatles certainly) would be part of that.
        One can always go and live in a cave/self made wood shack but the dinner parties are dull.

  11. These cells in a petri dish having a heart beat should make a dud of this Texas abortion law, I’d think.
    Just make a few thousand of them (from human cells) and send them petri dishes to Abbott. What would he do?

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