Friday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

January 28, 2022 • 7:15 am

Another week at an end: it’s a cold Chicago Friday, January 28, 2022, National Blueberry Pancake Day. Those are some good pancakes, but don’t forget the pure maple syrup (darkest grade possible):

It’s also National Kazoo Day, Daisy Day, Pop Art Day, International Lego Day (see “1958” below), and Data Privacy Day.

News of the Day:

*From UN Watch, we have an amazingly stupid act of the United Nations, the dumbest among many dumb actions of that body. The screenshot tells the tale, but you can click on it if you want to read more.

An excerpt:

The 65-nation Conference on Disarmament, based in Geneva, is considered the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament efforts. The UN-backed body calls itself “the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.”

“Having the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un preside over global nuclear weapons disarmament will be like putting a serial rapist in charge of a women’s shelter,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that monitors the United Nations.

“This is a country that threatens to attack other UN member states with missiles, and that commits atrocities against its own people. Torture and starvation are routine in North Korean political prison camps where an estimated 100,000 people are held in what is one of the world’s most dire human-rights situations,” said Neuer.

According to the article, the good news is that the post is “largely formal”, but seriously, what about the optic? The UN is already becoming a joke, and this won’t help:

“At a time when China, Russia, Libya, Kazakhstan and Venezuela are sitting on the UN’s human rights council, this won’t help.”

*Stephen Breyer handed Biden his own letter of resignation from the Supreme Court today, and the President gave him the due plaudits. However, even appointing a black woman Justice, as Biden promises, will do absolutely nothing to change the court’s move to the Right. (She had better be young!). The villain in all this, as usual, is Senator Mitch “666” McConnell, who, according to the NYT,

 issued a warning to Mr. Biden against making an overly ideological choice to succeed Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who formally announced his retirement on Thursday.

“The American people elected a Senate that is evenly split at 50-50,” Mr. McConnell said in his first statement since word of the retirement leaked. “To the degree that President Biden received a mandate, it was to govern from the middle, steward our institutions and unite America. The president must not outsource this important decision to the radical left. The American people deserve a nominee with demonstrated reverence for the written text of our laws and our Constitution.”

As if his hero Trump didn’t make ideological choices for Justices. Jebus, Amy Coney Barrett is about as far right as you can get. That sad part is that the next oldest justice after Breyer is Clarence Thomas, a decade younger. And you just know that Thomas will be sitting on the bench until they carry him out in a box. It will be amusing seeing the Republican Senators try to do down every one of Biden’s nominees.

*From FIRE we learn that Jason Kilborn, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Law School who used two redacted slurs on a law school exam question about a hypothetical discrimination case (see guest post here) has not only been punished by UIC, but the university also reneged on its agreement with him. For doing exactly nothing wrong, Kilborn now must to undergo months of “training” and write “reflection papers”. This is about the most Stalinesque bit of performative wokeness I’ve seen in a public university. An excerpt from FIRE’s article:

UIC suspended and launched an investigation into Kilborn after he posed a hypothetical question — which he has asked in previous years — using redacted references to two slurs, in a December 2020 law school exam. The question about employment discrimination referenced a plaintiff being called “a ‘n____’ and ‘b____’ (profane expressions for African Americans and women)” as evidence of discrimination. But even redacting the terms didn’t save Kilborn from discipline by university administrators.

Kilborn reached a resolution with UIC in July, in which he agreed to alert the dean before responding to student complaints about racial issues and to audio-record his classes. Kilborn welcomed both of these stipulations in order to protect himself against spurious complaints, and had already decided to take those actions independently. As part of that resolution, Kilborn and UIC ultimately reached an understanding that Kilborn would not have to attend sensitivity training.

However, in November, under pressure from UIC’s Black Law Students Association and Jesse Jackson, UIC reneged on its agreement with Kilborn and is now requiring him to participate in months-long “training on classroom conversations that address racism” and compelling him to write reflection papers before he can return to the classroom. In a stunning display of unintended irony, the individualized training materials include the same redacted slur that Kilborn used in his test question.

With legal help from FIRE, Kilborn is suing UIC, a public college, for infringement of speech. I hope that UIC loses the case and has to pay tons of money in damages and attorneys’ fees.  Their punishment is stupid; their reneging on the agreement is reprehensible. 

In an op-ed at the Washington Post, author Dora Horn, who wrote the best-selling book with the provocative title, People Love Dead Jews, muses on why anti-Semitism in America still seems focused on the Holocaust. And the answer is the same as her book’s thesis: people love dead Jews like Anne Frank (who was much in the news last week), but don’t care so much about the ones who don’t die (like the hostages in Texas):

Unfortunately, as critical as teaching about the Holocaust is, it’s not the same as teaching about antisemitism. Instead, people mostly seem to think that antisemitism consists exclusively of the murders of 6 million Jews. Anything short of that is all in our heads. The feel-good stories people tell themselves about dead Jews make it easy to dismiss the here-and-now targeting of live ones.

The FBI eventually walked back its clumsy statement that the Texas attack was “not specifically related to the Jewish community.” But a reporter who spoke to two dozen residents of the synagogue’s neighborhood found they unanimously agreed. In fact, they were convinced their church down the street was equally at risk. “If it happens over there, it could happen over here, too,” one churchgoer said.

Clueless comments such as these reveal the warped funhouse American Jews now live in. After synagogue shootings in Pennsylvania and California, a kosher market attack in New Jersey, a Hanukkah attack in Upstate New York, a rabbi’s stabbing in Boston, street attacks in New York City and Los Angeles, and countless other vicious assaults on American Jews, this kind of plausible deniability has become a public ritual.

But everyone knows about the Holocaust. Holocaust education is now its own ritual, where middle-schoolers and public figures piously announce that Nazis are bad. The problem is that this a rather low bar to clear. We can all pat ourselves on the back for not murdering 6 million Jews. This absurd standard allows people to ignore a pervasive and very current hatred while feeling well-informed. Why should those nice neighbors, or the FBI for that matter, believe antisemitism is a problem if there aren’t millions of bodies?

Because Jews see things well-meaning neighbors don’t. . .

This is an unusually concise, powerful, and well written op-ed.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 877,815, an increase of 2,530 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,658,539, an increase of about 9,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 28 include:

  • 814 – The death of Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor, brings about the accession of his son Louis the Pious as ruler of the Frankish Empire.[2]
  • 1521 – The Diet of Worms begins, lasting until May 25.

That is a LONG time to eat worms!

  • 1547 – Edward VI, the nine-year-old son of Henry VIII, becomes King of England on his father’s death.
  • 1724 – The Russian Academy of Sciences is founded in St. Petersburg, Russia, by Peter the Great, and implemented by Senate decree. It is called the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences until 1917.
  • 1754 – Sir Horace Walpole coins the word serendipity in a letter to a friend.

But  Wikipedia, doesn’t mention the word itself.

[On 28 January 1754], inn a letter he wrote to his friend Horace Mann, Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made about a lost painting of Bianca Cappello by Giorgio Vasari by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.” The name comes from Serendip, an old name for Sri Lanka (Ceylon), hence Sarandib by Arab traders.[4] It is derived from the Sanskrit Siṃhaladvīpaḥ (Siṃhalaḥ, Sri Lanka + dvīpaḥ, island).

However, as always, the Oxford English Dictionary gives the first usage, and it was indeed by Walpole:

1754   H. Walpole Let. to H. Mann 28 Jan.   This discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity.

Here’s a video showing the first edition of this classic, which will cost you around $30,000 these days.


  • 1855 – A locomotive on the Panama Canal Railway runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean for the first time.
  • 1896 – Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent, becomes the first person to be convicted of speeding. He was fined one shilling, plus costs, for speeding at 8 mph (13 km/h), thereby exceeding the contemporary speed limit of 2 mph (3.2 km/h).

The usual walking speed is about 3 mph, so cars had to go slower than pedestrians!

Gitmo is on a yearly lease, but Cuba has refused to accept the payments. Here’s a diagram of the base. The outdoor movie theater is at lower right (circled) and I’ve put an arrow by McDonald’s (yep, there is one!):

And McD’s, surrounded by razor wire!

  • 1933 – The name Pakistan is coined by Choudhry Rahmat Ali Khan and is accepted by Indian Muslims who then thereby adopted it further for the Pakistan Movement seeking independence.
  • 1935 – Iceland becomes the first Western country to legalize therapeutic abortion.
  • 1956 – Elvis Presley makes his first national television appearance.

. . . here’s a very rare color film (without sound) of Elvis singing  April 25, 1955 at a Texas outdoor venue, a year before he was on television. It’s the first time Elvis was ever filmed anywhere.

  • 1958 – The Lego company patents the design of its Lego bricks, still compatible with bricks produced today.
  • 1965 – The current design of the Flag of Canada is chosen by an act of Parliament.
  • 1985 – Supergroup USA for Africa (United Support of Artists for Africa) records the hit single We Are the World, to help raise funds for Ethiopian famine relief.

Here’s the official video of “We Are the World”.  It was good to see all these people together in a common cause; I failed to recognize only two of the soloists. And where else will you see Willie Nelson singing with Dionne Warwick? Try listening to it first with your eyes closed to see how many voices you can recognize.  Dylan! Diana Ross! Stevei Wonder! The Boss! Kim Carnes! Ray Charles! Tina Turner! Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper! Paul Simon! Willie Nelson! It goes on and on and on. . . My favorite part is when Michael Jackson sings harmony with Diana Ross (1:35), who gives him the “okay” sign.

And note this: “[The song] was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian.”

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1873 – Colette, French novelist and journalist (d. 1954)
  • 1912 – Jackson Pollock, American painter (d. 1956)
  • 1936 – Alan Alda, American actor, director, and writer
  • 1968 – Sarah McLachlan, Canadian singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer.

Although this isn’t her own song, it’s my favorite performance by McLachlan.  I believe it’s Luke Doucet on guitar.  I can’t decide whether I like this version better than McCartney’s.

Those who said their last farewells on January 28 include:

  • 814 – Charlemagne, Holy Roman emperor
  • 1547 – Henry VIII, king of England (b. 1491)
  • 1939 – W. B. Yeats, Irish poet and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1865)

Here’s Yeats in 1903. Below him, his “muse” Maud Gonne, an Irish nationalist. Yeats proposed to her four times, and was rejected every time.  He was completely infatuated.

Maude Gonne in 1900.  They “did it” only once—in Paris in 1908—and then, despite Yeat’s ardor, the relationship became platonic again:

  • 1960 – Zora Neale Hurston, American novelist, short story writer, and folklorist (b. 1891)
  • 1986 – Space Shuttle Challenger crew
    • Gregory Jarvis, American captain, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1944)
    • Christa McAuliffe, American educator and astronaut (b. 1948)
    • Ronald McNair, American physicist and astronaut (b. 1950)
    • Ellison Onizuka, American engineer and astronaut (b. 1946)
    • Judith Resnik, American colonel, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1949)
    • Dick Scobee, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1939)
    • Michael J. Smith, American captain, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1945)
  • 1988 – Klaus Fuchs, German physicist and politician (b. 1911)
  • 2021 – Cicely Tyson, American actress (b. 1924)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is making the Cat Decision, which usually goes only one way:

Hili: I’m thinking.
A: What about?
Hili: Whether to push it off or leave it alone.
Hili: Myślę.
Ja: Nad czym?
Hili: Czy to zrzucić, czy zostawić?

And here’s Leon in nearby Wloclawek. I don’t understand why cats are so eager for Friday. Is it because the staff can attend to them more over the next two days?

Leon: Waiting for Friday.

In Polish: “W oczekiwaniu na piątek”

A meme from Bruce:

From Not Another Science Cat Page: This is only a misdemeanor!

And a special feature from reader Pliny the in Between: Korean Wedding Ducks:

When my brother was in the service he brought home a pair of Korean wedding ducks from Seoul as a wedding gift for me and my partner.  By tradition, as long as the ducks are beak-to-beak it symbolizes harmony in the relationship.  In a couple of weeks, ours will have been holding that position for 30 years.

I hope they don’t have a cat! You know what would happen, and then the relationship would be kaput. . . (in fact, I’ve since learned that a cat did chew the bll off one duck, but the relationship survived).

From Ginger K.  This must be for an OnlyFans cat group:

A tweet by one friend directing you to an article by another friend (and co-author on my one philosophy paper). The title is certainly provocative; I haven’t yet read Maarten’s article but will; in the meantime go see what he means:

Tweets from Matthew. He says this first one is an “old one”, but it’s also wonky. Who on earth would make cheesecake and cookes sister groups? Cheesecake is closer to a pie or even a “true cake” than to a cookie, for crying out loud!

I might have shown this before, but I can’t see it too often: it’s one of Nature’ most remarkable cases of mimicry:

Facial diversity in foxes, which are Honorary Cats®:

Adam Rutherford thinks this is the best letter ever written!

Holy cow! A Picasso?

Runner ducks crossing! This person will have to wait a while . . .

Google translation from the Dutch: “Hi boss I’m a little late…. uhm I have to wait for some ducks crossing.”

35 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. … National Blueberry Pancake Day. Those are some good pancakes, but don’t forget the pure maple syrup …

    A big plate of blueberry pancakes with maple syrup is what Butch’s girlfriend Fabienne wanted for breakfast in Pulp Fiction:

  2. “The American people elected a Senate that is evenly split at 50-50,” Mr. McConnell said in his first statement since word of the retirement leaked. “To the degree that President Biden received a mandate, it was to govern from the middle …”

    Joe Biden received 306 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 232. He also got 51% of the popular vote, more than any Republican candidate for president since Poppy Bush in 1988. He received over 81 million votes for president, far and away the most of any candidate ever, and over seven million more votes than his opponent. And in the US senate, the 50 Democrats represent over 41.5 million more constituents than do their 50 Republican colleagues.

    So cry me a river, Mitch, if you don’t like Biden’s SCOTUS nominee. She’s gettin’ confirmed, pal; stand aside and deal with it.

      1. I don’t understand how Mitch can say this with a straight face after his behaviour during Obama’s presidency, and with the Amy Catholic Barrett debacle. It boggles the mind. How does the guy sleep at night? I hope ‘ole Joe puts in the most left-wing female POC he can find. And that she is much younger than the Handmaid.

  3. I don’t get that UIC story. Do Jesse Jackson and the black law students not want discrimination taught? At any rate, I hope that Kilborn takes UIC to the cleaner’s.

    With regard to the best letter ever written, this gets my vote. From the eccentric A.D. Wintle to the Times:

    From Lt. Col. A.D. Wintle.
    The Royal Dragoons
    Cavalry Club
    127 Piccadilly W.1.

    To the Editor of The Times.

    I have just written you a long letter.
    On reading it over, I have thrown it into the waste paper basket.
    Hoping this will meet with your approval,

    I am
    Your obedient Servant
    (Signed, ‘ADWintle’)

    6 Feb ’46

  4. even appointing a black woman Justice, as Biden promises, will do absolutely nothing to change the court’s move to the Right.

    Absent court-packing, replacing retiring judges with moderate or liberal judges is the one and only way we CAN change the court’s move to the right.

    [McConnell] issued a warning to Mr. Biden against making an overly ideological choice…

    ‘Old Mitch would complain that a rock was an overly ideological choice. We’ve seen this movie before: his goal is to prevent any appointment by a Dem president at all.

    a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Law School who used two redacted slurs on a law school exam question about a hypothetical discrimination case

    To channel Peter Sellers, “Gentlemen, you can’t teach cases in here. This is a Law school!”

  5. Here’s a video showing the first edition of this classic [Pride and Prejudice], which will cost you around $30,000 these days.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a first edition of Ms. Austen’s magnum opus.

    1. Wonder of wonders; Biden finally got a cat for the White House called Willow. Now we can accept the possibility that Russia might invade Ukraine, although unless Ukraine and NATO do something warlike — break the Minsk accords, have Ukraine join NATO, engage or plot sabotage/terrorism against Russia or Crimea, etc. — war is highly unlikely.

  6. Don’t Look Up isn’t a great picture, but it’s got an excellent cast, and it gave me a few belly laughs. I imagine the “elevator pitch” Adam McKay gave Paramount for it was something along the lines of “Strangelove meets Contact meets Wag the Dog.”

    1. Yeah I agree. Great concept, great cast, terrible execution. As one reviewer put it (I’m paraphrasing), ‘the US needs a good satirical lampooning of right-wing vaccination rejection. This movie wants to be that satire, but it’s not a good one.’

  7. It appears that over the course of his career Picasso took his own advice (attributed): “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

  8. I don’t think it really matters what McConnell says at this point in the SCOTUS nomination process. And, unlike in the past, what he said this time was actually reasonable.

  9. I didn’t read the Quillette article blaming the environmentalists but a summary of it. Two biggies mentioned are the suppression of nuclear energy and GMO crops. If nuclear energy had been embraced worldwide, we would be in a much better position to combat climate change. Makes sense to me.

  10. Building anything big and expensive in the face of opposition from single-interest pressure groups is so difficult for the English-speaking countries today. We can’t do stuff like building nuclear power plants anymore. The nuclear renaissance will be stillborn. I bet we’ll just go back to coal-powered electricity. It’s the easiest way to keep the lights on, as Germany is finding.

  11. Steven Pinker’s posting of a Keeper of the Nuclear Faith promotion of nuclear power is another example of his stubbornness and refusal to even consider the history, failures, accidents and costs of nuclear reactors. I have sent him references but apparently he prefers to align himself with the true believers. Quillette of course is the most comprehensive and persistent anti-environmental publication extant, and it isn’t surprising that they would publish yet another puff piece on a technology (“a future energy source whose time is past”, says Amory Lovins) whose failure causes catastrophic long lasting lethal consequences. The only encouraging aspect of the recent expansion of pro nuclear views is that it perhaps indicates desperation and hopelessness rather than delight and hope. Michael Shellenberger of Environmental Progress (sic) is today’s Lazarus, arisen from the dead but still reeking of decay and hoping people will cover their noses and overlook the worms.

    1. failure causes catastrophic long lasting lethal consequences

      TMI – failure, not catastrophic, not long-lasting, not lethal.

      Chernobyl – failure, catastrophic, long-lasting, lethal. Also not a design the west uses, or would ever support using, or would ever be considered in a next generation reactor. Soviet design principle – if you want it that badly, you get it that badly.

      Fukushima – failure due to 15-m flood none of the area buildings were engineered to withstand. Catastrophic, not lethal. Long-lasting is up for debate,since the radiation leaked didn’t last long, but the Japanese government decided to evacuate and isolate the entire area anyway. “Long-lasting by policy rather than science” might be a good description.

      I count three incidents in 80 years of nuclear power history. Worldwide. I count one where the nuclear nature of the incident caused human fatalities. Am I missing any?

      Can you say the same for any other industry – i.e. one lethal incident due to the nature of the technology in the last 80 years of global operations?

    2. “stubbornness” “refusal” “failures” “accidents” “align himself with the true believers” “catastrophic long lasting lethal consequences” “desperation and hopelessness” “today’s Lazarus, arisen from the dead but still reeking of decay”

      Rather than this, mostly a string of unevidenced ad hominems, it would be really nice to see some actual evidence, in the form of course of particular examples and something at least mildly quantitative and scientifically reputable.

      And I’m not purely a “nattering nabob of negativity”: if you do so, I promise to refer you to very specific scientifically reputable evidence to see that total years of life lost due to the air pollution caused by carbon burning generators is at least an order of magnitude (or two, IIRC, i.e. 100 times) worse than the same due to nuclear reactor accidents, taken over a good portion of a century.

      1. I forgot to begin quoting with the additional ad hominem “Keeper of the Nuclear Faith promotion”. But I wait patiently for someone to put their money where their mouth is, with some specifics, maybe even the evidence you claim to have sent Pinker. North American Professors of Sociology, English, Philosophy etc. have a sizeable contingent these days of people unwilling to even agree there is such a thing as ‘truth’, but perhaps that is not related to this emotional nonsense.

  12. Regarding that letter, “Kunt” is a genuine surname in Turkey. For example, there was a respected historian of the Ottoman Empire called Metin Kunt. And “Mustafa” is a very common first name in Turkey, so I have no doubt about the existence of “Mustafa Kunt.” I could also say that his first name would not be pronounced “must have a,” but that would spoil the pun.

    1. If memory serves me (and I think it does), in the late fall of 1978, I read in the Knoxville Journal (a.m. paper) and the Knoxville News-Sentinel (p.m. paper) news of three Russians expelled from the Soviet Union. The last name of one or them was rendered in the Latin alphabet, “Shytm.” One paper fully spelled out the name. The other spelled it “Sh–m” or some such censoring. I’ve wished not a few times that I had retained those clippings.

  13. The buff-tip moth Phalera bucephala is one of the most striking examples of camouflage in moth. It’s crypsis presumably helping it to avoid detection by visual predators such as birds. Interestingly its larvae follow the opposite strategy – aposematism. They are boldly coloured, gregarious and conspicuous. They are also noxious to birds which learn to avoid them. Miriam Rothschild, who featured on this web-page recently, did research on chemical defence and aposematism in moths and found that the buff-tip apparently carries its noxiousness over into the adult stage of the life cycle and noted that birds also learn to avoid eating this stage as well as the larvae. The adult therefore seems to have two lines of defence — avoid detection of possible but if you are detected be sufficiently distinctive that birds will learn that moths of your kind are not good to eat.

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