Wednesday: Hili dialogue

February 2, 2022 • 7:30 am

It’s snowing hard a deep! Here’s a photo of the Quad on my way to work. (I also see that the ducks are still here, lightly frosted. I love it when it’s so early that there are no footprints.

It’s the month’s first Hump Day (“Húfudagur”, as they say in Iceland):  February 2, 2022.  It’s National Tater Tot Day, and if you want to know what these are, go here , where you’ll learn that other countries have equivalents (grated potatoes mooshed up together and deep fried).

In Australia and New Zealand, they are known as “potato gems”, “potato royals” or “potato pom-poms”. The New Zealand Pizza Hut franchise offers “Hash Bites” as a side dish, available alone or with an aioli dipping sauce.

They are even made into a casserole or “hotdish,” and I do want to try this at least once:

It’s also California Kiwifruit Day,  Crepe Day, World Wetlands Day, Heavenly Hash Day, National Girls and Women in Sports Day, World Ukelele Day, Hedgehog Day, Marmot Day, Sled Dog Day, and, of course, GROUNDHOG DAY! (If you’re in Russia, it’s also Victory of the Battle of Stalingrad.) Here’s a groundhog cartoon sent by Elsie:

Apparently the ceremony in Pennsylvania is over, and Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow:

News of the Day:

There are now few mountains that haven’t been climbed, and those that haven’t, like Mount Kailash in Tibet, are off limits to climbers because they’re sacred. Now mountaineers seek new ways to climb already-ascended peaks: doing it solo, without oxygen, and climbing in winter, the hard season. The NYT, in a gloriously illustrated article called “The loneliest mountaineer on Everest,” documents the ongoing effort of German climber Jost Kobusch to climb Everest by himself, without oxygen, and in winter (Have a look at the video that opens the piece. How was it made?)

These days, it has become fashionable to affix some kind of first to the mountain — the oldest N.F.L. player to reach the top, the world’s highest dinner party — leaving truly notable feats on Everest rare.

Including Wielicki and Cichy, only 15 people have stood atop Everest in meteorological winter (which begins Dec. 1), when winds can reach 200 miles per hour. All climbed with partners, and only one, Ang Rita Sherpa, in 1987, climbed without supplemental oxygen.

Not only is he climbing in winter and alone without supplemental oxygen, he is trying to reach the top of Everest via the West Ridge, a far more formidable path than the two most common routes, which nearly 98 percent of summit seekers use. Kobusch must contend with sheer walls, bullet-hard blue ice pitched as steep as a church spire and a final gully of ice, rock and snow — called the Hornbein Couloir — in which only a few people have ever set foot.

Best of luck to him. We’ll know if he made it in a few days, and I hope to Ceiling Cat that even if he doesn’t, he’ll come back alive. A photo from the NYT: Here he is two years ago on the West Ridge:

The terrain on the West Ridge of Everest varies from bare rock to deep snow and steep ice. Here, Kobusch climbed the latter at an altitude of approximately 6,500 meters in January 2020.Credit…Daniel Hug

*Yesterday one of our jab-hating readers proudly touted a new study supposedly showing that ivermectin. I pushed back. Here’s our exchange:

In fact, as the Washington Post reports, the Reuters report was completely botched; there wasn’t even an ongoing clinical trial.

No, a Japanese company did not find that ivermectin was “effective” against the omicron variant in a clinical trial, as Reuters originally reported on Monday. The wire service was forced to correct the article.

The actual news, as the current version of the article reads, is that ivermectin carries an “‘antiviral effect’ against Omicron and other coronavirus variants in joint nonclinical research.”

The difference between the two versions couldn’t be more dramatic: The mistaken version claimed that ivermectin was effective against omicron in humans; the corrected version claimed that ivermectin showed “antiviral” capabilities against omicron in test tubes. Reuters attributed the news to Kowa Co. Ltd., a Japanese pharmaceutical company.

The antiviral capabilities of ivermectin against SARS-CoV-2 in a test-tube environment are not a matter of breaking news: Research dating to 2020 showed that “a single dose of ivermectin was able to reduce the replication of an Australian isolate of SARS-CoV-2 in Vero/hSLAM cells by 5000-fold.” There were many reasons, however, for skepticism about how that finding would carry over into real-life treatment.

These Roganites like the one above, so desperte to find an ivermectin-promoting headline, don’t bother to investigate. The data aren’t yet in from a large and ongoing controlled study, but I’ll be anybody $1000 that ivermectin won’t have even half the effect of the Pfizer or Moderna jabs in protecting against disease—if it has any effect. I still don’t understand these “wormies” and why they hate jabs so much. I’m sure they’ve had their polio and (back in the day) their smallpox jabs.

*Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, has hung up his cleats. A young 44, and having played in the NFL for 22 years, he could easily have continued as a first-string quarterback. But he’s got other fish to fry.

In recent years, Brady has been preparing for the next phase of his life, founding the health and wellness company TB12 Sports with his longtime trainer Alex Guerrero and the media company Religion of Sports and the Brady Brand clothing line. In the sort of thing one does when sensing the end approaching, he also chronicled his legacy in two television series, “Tom vs. Time” and “Man in the Arena.”

But he kept delaying retirement for so long because he loved football and he loved winning and he was excellent for more than two decades — the best, in fact — at doing both. That he finished his career with a playoff defeat seems incompatible with all the glory that preceded it.

Having been at the helm for 7 Superbown victores—an all time record—his team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 2022 Superbowl berth last week in a squeaker against the Los Angeles Rams. Maybe that was enough for him, but not to his many fans. Here’s a retrospective of his great moments. (Click on “Watch on YouTube”.)

What an arm Brady has!

*After arguing on “The View” that the Holocaust was not a racist campaign, but a matter of mere inhumanity involving white against white  Whoopi Goldberg has apologized:

In a statement posted on Twitter, Goldberg said: “On today’s show I said the Holocaust ‘is not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man’. I should have said it is about both.

“As Jonathan Greenblatt from of the Anti-Defamation League shared, ‘The Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people, who they deemed to be an inferior race’. I stand corrected.

“The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never (waver). I am sorry for the hurt I have caused.

“Written with my sincerest apologies. Whoopi Goldberg.”

I’d let it go, but after a verbal apology she walked back her “sorry” a bit:

Yet during her appearance on The Late Show, which was taped before she issued her apology, but aired after, Goldberg reiterated her apology and made it clear any offense was unintentional, yet also backed up her original statements by continuing to suggest race is only about skin color.

“It upset a lot of people, which was never ever, ever my intention,” she said. “I feel, being Black, when we talk about race, it’s a very different thing to me. So I said I thought the Holocaust wasn’t about race. And people got very angry and still are angry. I’m getting a lot of mail from folks and a lot of real anger. But I thought it was a salient discussion because as a Black person, I think of race as being something that I can see. So I see you and know what race you are. I thought it [the Holocaust] was more about man’s inhumanity to man. … People said, ‘No, no, we are a race.’ I felt differently. I respect everything everyone is saying to me.”

Are Jews a race? I’m not getting into that, for though it’s a religion, race is seen by the Woke as a social construct—and yet Jews have almost diagnostic genetic differences from other groups. (My Y chromosome alone typed me as Eastern European Jew about 14 years ago, and I’m waiting on 23 And Me. I’ll beef a little, but it’s time to move on.

*UPDATE: ABC News has suspended Goldberg from the show for two weeks. After her first apology, I’d say, “Forgive her and let’s move on.” But then she repeated her claim that Jews aren’t a race after she’d already made one apology. Still, I’m not going to call for her suspension there, either. I think she’s at least understood the other side, and we need to forgive more often than do the Woke.

*Big mistake in Royals merch: (h/t Jez):

A spelling mistake on thousands of pieces of Platinum Jubilee merchandising, calling it the “Platinum Jubbly”, is proving a challenge for souvenir sellers.

The cups and plates were meant to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign.

Clearance website boss Karl Baxter said – “in classic Del Boy-style” – he will pitch them as collectors’ items.

“What could be more unique than our limited-edition misprinted crockery?” he said.

More than 10,000 pieces of the jubilee memorabilia were produced in China and sent to be sold in the UK – except for the slight problem of a misprint, which says “the Platinum Jubbly of Queen Elizabeth II”.

This is hilarious; don’t they have a spelling checker? Perhaps these will be worth a pile some day, but there a probably too many of them for that to happen. Voilá:

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 889,522, an increase of 2,636 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,708,033, an increase of about 14,500 over yesterday’s total.

New reported cases are falling steeply. A plot from the NYT link:

Stuff that happened on February. 2 include:

  • 1536 – Spaniard Pedro de Mendoza founds Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • 1653 – New Amsterdam (later renamed The City of New York) is incorporated.
  • 1709 – Alexander Selkirk is rescued after being shipwrecked on a desert island, inspiring Daniel Defoe‘s adventure book Robinson Crusoe.

I couldn’t find a first edition of this book on sale (printed 1719), so it must be very rare.

  • 1876 – The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs of Major League Baseball is formed.
  • 1900 – Six cities, Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Chicago and St. Louis, agree to form baseball’s American League.
  • 1901 – Funeral of Queen Victoria.
  • 1922 – Ulysses by James Joyce is published.

The first edition, printed in 750 numbered copies, will cost you $75,000 or upwards. Mrkgnao!!!

A great act of humanity and courage:

The 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the Great Race of Mercy and The Serum Run, was a transport of diphtheria antitoxin by dog sled relay across the U.S. territory of Alaska by 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs across 674 miles (1,085 km) in 5 ½ days, saving the small town of Nome and the surrounding communities from a developing epidemic.

Balto, a Siberian Husky and the lead sled dog of the first sled to enter Nome, has become a hero. Here he is:

A statue of Balto in Central Park in NYC. I love that his ears and especially the tongue have been rubbed; the tongue, as in the photo above, is more obvious:

Soviet troops holding the line. Note their winter uniforms. The Germans didn’t have many as they didn’t anticipate the weather conditions:

  • 1959 – Nine experienced ski hikers in the northern Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union die under mysterious circumstances.
  • 1990 – Apartheid: F. W. de Klerk announces the unbanning of the African National Congress and promises to release Nelson Mandela.
  • 2004 – Swiss tennis player Roger Federer becomes the No. 1 ranked men’s singles player, a position he will hold for a record 237 weeks.

Notables born on this day include:

Hamnet’s birth and death records:

  • 1882 – James Joyce, Irish novelist, short story writer, and poet (d. 1941)

Joyce n 1922:

Here he is reading from Finnegans Wake, a book I couldn’t get through:

  • 1901 – Jascha Heifetz, Lithuanian-born American violinist and educator (d. 1987)
  • 1905 – Ayn Rand, Russian-born American novelist and philosopher (d. 1982)

The overrated Rand. Here’s  1959 interview with Mike Wallace:

Getz is, to my mind, the greatest white saxophonist, but is behind others like Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Ben Webster. Here’s a selection of Getz’s playing:

  • 1937 – Tom Smothers, American comedian, actor, and activist
  • 1942 – Graham Nash, English-American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1947 – Farrah Fawcett, American actress and producer (d. 2009)

Here’s a sad video account of her last days.

Oktar is now in prison for over a thousand years. I don’t think he will emerge alive.

Oktar and his “kittens”, as he called them:

  • 1977 – Shakira, Colombian singer-songwriter, producer, and actress

I always show this on a Shakira anniversary (today she’s 45). It’s a fantastic performance of “Hips don’t lie” with Wyclef Jean:

Ulysses was published on Joyce’s 40th birthday.

Those who relinquished their lives on February 2 include:

He was a great bare-knuckle fighter, but drank and ate too much. It shows in this photo:

  • 1969 – Boris Karloff, English actor (b. 1887)
  • 1970 – Bertrand Russell, English mathematician and philosopher, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1872)

From Existential Comics via Stash Krod. Bertrand Russel asks out a girl:

  • 1979 – Sid Vicious, English singer and bass player (b. 1957)
  • 1992 – Bert Parks, American actor, singer, television personality; Miss America telecast presenter (b. 1914)
  • 1996 – Gene Kelly, American actor, singer, dancer, and director (b. 1912)[133]
  • 2014 – Philip Seymour Hoffman, American actor, director, and producer (b. 1967)
  • 2021 – Captain Sir Tom Moore, British Army officer and charity campaigner (b. 1920)

What a guy! Holding his walker, he strode for the NHS, earning roughly £33 million!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is especially captious today:

A: What are you looking for?
Hili: Someone to criticize.
In Polish:
Ja: Czego szukasz?
Hili: Kogo skrytykować.

From Facebook, a cool duck boat:


A New Yorker cartoon sent by Jean. I think it’s hilarious, especially the underground copy of Maus. 

From Matthew. Which of these croissants is not like the others?

Another Jimmy Craig cartoon from Barry:

I found this one, and that is one big baby!

Speaking of Maus, reader Ken sent a tweet and added, “Ryan Higgins, a comic-book shop owner in California, has offered to send a free copy of Maus to the first 100 families who request one from McMinn County, TN, where the book has been banned”:

From Ginger K.. $800,000??? That person is overprivileged!

From Nancie:

And a HD video from Audubon, with an article:

What makes birds the true steadicams of nature is how they orient their head. Take a look at the clip of the Common Kingfisher above, which aired on the BBC’s Winterwatch program in January and has since made its way around the internet (on the social media platform Reddit, the clip has been upvoted more than 120,000 times).

Thanks in part to a large number of vertebrae and muscles in their neck, birds can hold their head in place even when their body’s in motion. According to David Lentink, an assistant professor at Stanford University who studies biological flight, this adaptation helps birds stream high-resolution visuals when moving quickly through complex terrain. “They keep their head absolutely horizontal at all cost because that way they have the most reliable information, which they have to stream at high rates,” he says. “When you’re maneuvering like crazy . . . you need a perfect vision platform.”

Gaze stabilization in birds is complex and still poorly understood, Lentink says. But what we do know is that it’s controlled in part by visual input and the vestibular system, a sensory system in the inner ear in charge of balance and spatial orientation. Like a three-dimensional level, the vestibular system (which other vertebrates have, as well) governs spatial orientation, and it’s critical for keeping the head steady. “The vestibular system is making sure that the head has the information to stay absolutely at the same point so the eyes can stay focused, which is really important in the kingfisher ” Lentink says.

That last paragraph is a fancy way of saying, “Well, this is our best guess, but we don’t know.”

From Alex Wild. A “velvet” ant is really a wingless wasp:

Tweets from Matthew. I wouldn’t mind a few cat hairs in my marmalade. After all, they’d be sterile when the preparation was done.

I guess even by 1808 artists had not mastered the technique of drawing cats:

This is the reduviid bug that can produce Chagas disease by injecting you with a trypanosome. It’s a nasty ailment, and historians of sciences used to think that Darwin caught Chagas in South America and suffered from it for the rest of his life, explaining his vomiting and spells of ill health. Now there are other theories.


96 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

    1. Might be about time for a re-watch. Make a family movie night out of it.

      My daughter is an official priestess. A status she earned at about 14 years old.

  1. The data aren’t yet in from a large and ongoing controlled study, but I’ll be anybody $1000 that ivermectin won’t have even half the effect of the Pfizer or Moderna jabs in protecting against disease

    And I’ll bet the vaccine skeptics won’t care.

    IMO this is clearly becoming a new form of pseudoscience, Like the folks who follow cold fusion and free energy engines, every new ‘promising’ result and article will be highlighted, while the overwhelming past history of failure is dropped down the memory hole and ignored.

    It’s just not as far along as that yet. For Covid, we’re still doing legit science as to whether these drugs may have an impact. We passed that point a long time ago with cold fusion. But my prediction is we’ll reach the same end stage: as the real scientists and studies become more definitive, the number of legit studies and true believing promoters will go down and the number of con artist promoters will go up. Jim Bakker will be selling gold-infused Covid cures, meteoric iron bracelets that prevent Covid, and buckets of Covid-fighting food slop in no time.

  2. I’ll be like Hili today. Just have to question Whoopi on why she made such a statement. What was the purpose and what was the intent. Anyone who does not know what the Holocaust is about should look it up. Assuming Whoopi does know, what the hell was she attempting to do with that statement. Yes, take a few weeks off and think about it.

    1. Her position seems pretty clear, if a bit wrong-headed. She was initially thinking of racism in terms of skin color and not a broader sense. Nazi anti-semitism was not about skin color, so not this type of racism.

      Like Jerry, I’d let it go after the apology. She’s generally one of the more sane voices on The View. We all make boneheaded statements on occasion – probably more often than we like to admit – so this was hers for the week.

      1. I just have a hard time with that idea. Now if she wanted to start off with — I just want to talk about different kinds of bigotry and ignorant hate. I just thought maybe she was smarter than what she did. Live TV is not a good place to try out your thoughts.

      2. When the enemy shows his true colours in an unguarded moment, on live TV no less, he has given us the great gift of revealing who he really is. He is forever just that little bit less effective as a propagandist for his cause among the persuadable. That is a prize more precious than the crafted, contrived, or compelled apology.

        All Goldberg’s apology does is indicate she has some fear of the consequences, which is something, but says nothing redeeming about her.

      3. She is wrong in seeing race as being only about skin color and visual appearance (it is actually about shared ancestry), but it is hard to blame her for expressing such thoughts since that is a very common opinion among the woke.

        We should welcome her saying such things out loud, as an opportunity to then disagree with that position. We should disagree with her, but not go after her beyond that. And her suspension just reinforces the idea that no-one is even allowed to talk about race (except for uttering a very limited set of acceptable slogans), which is not helpful.

      4. I agree that an apology would be enough. What bugs me is the double standard,
        Gina Carano posted the following-
        “Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views”
        Ms. Carano was not suspended, she was fired outright, dropped by ABC and Lucasfilm from any future roles, and expelled from United Talent Agency.

        Goldberg made her strident claims that the Holocaust was not about race, and repeated that claim several times. To me, the worst part is at the very end, which most versions of the clip edit out, where she concluded “white people killing white people…y’all go fight amongst yourselves.”

        If I looked at the two women’s statements without knowing who made them, and had to pick which statement resulted in the person being completely shunned by their coworkers, employers and agent, I would pick “It was not about about race!…go fight amongst yourselves” Especially if I was aware that one was an on-air statement, and the other was a personal social media post.

        Anyhow, it would be better if people were more consistent about these sorts of things, and if the threshold for punishing people over their speech was a high one.

    2. I was thinking that she is confused about what racism is. I’ve recently heard it claimed that there is no such thing as race. We also saw Ben Affleck being appalled at Sam Harris for his “racism” for criticizing Islam, which isn’t a race. It’s definitely confusing.

      Her claim that “it’s about man’s inhumanity to man” seems so general as to be meaningless. And, “it’s about white people killing white people” is really annoying. It’s the dismissive old white guys trope. She certainly didn’t add any value to the discussion.

  3. On the subject of Groundhog Day, according to The Guardian:

    Every year in the Canadian town of Wiarton, devout followers of Wiarton Willie the albino groundhog learn from the rodent if the grip of winter is loosening. […] But the world of rodent-based meteorology has been shaken by revelations that Willie, a celebrity so beloved that he has statues built in his honor, died last year – and his demise was covered up by town officials.

    It turns out that there have been quite a few more deaths and cover-ups.

    1. I found out only today that the German version of Groundhog Day is Badger Day (Dachstag). German immigrants brought it to Pennsylvania, but there weren’t any badgers there, so the Feb 2 ceremony was transferred to groundhogs instead.

      Probably everyone else here has known that for ages, but I didn’t. Truly, you live and learn!

        1. I believe that the standard-sized dachshund was bred to scent, chase, and flush out badgers and other burrowing animals.

          One of my daughters and her family have recently acquired a smaller-breed dachshund. She is enchanting, but she doesn’t half make a racket.

  4. Are Jews a race?

    It doesn’t matter whether they are a race or not (although the Nazis definitely thought they are). The Nazis systematically sought to erase the Jews from Europe, murdering six million in the process. Whether you label it racism or not does not diminish the horrific nature of the crime.

  5. I already have a copy of Maus but decided to send one from Amazon as a gift. It isn’t available until mid March. I guess the Streisand effect.

    1. Yeah it became Amazon’s biggest seller after the Tennessee article it the internet. As you say, Streisand effect. 🙂

      1. Some bookstores do. Not sure about libraries.

        Though Banned Book Week is in September, so you’ll have to be patient before either type of place puts out the table…

  6. Platinum Jubbly sounds like a dessert. “Mum! Can we have Platinum Jubbly for afters!?” (Whatever happened to proof readers?)

    1. Sounded like the star of some reality TV show about overweight people to me. “Next time on 400 and counting, Platinum and Mama Jubbly try out tennis…”

    2. Not far from the truth! When I was growing up in 1960’s Liverpool, England, a jubbly *was* a treat, a big tetrahedral lump of frozen orange juice in a paper packet, that could be had for either one penny or three pence – my memory is hazy on that. But I do remember it took ages to eat, and by the end all the orange flavour had gone, leaving just water ice.

  7. Speaking of racism, today the Washington Redskins have changed their name. The new name is Washington Commanders. I thought this was kind of lame. I suggest Washington Concussion. Since the recent history of this organization has been lots of sexual harassment maybe call them the Washington Harassers.

  8. If anyone is going to have platinum jubblies, it would be the queen. Of course, it is slightly heavier than gold, so she would be subject to back injuries.

    1. Yes, but it is a vicious smear on the good queen to say “The Platinum Jubbly.” That implies she only has one. Clearly, the error that needs correcting here is to have the plates say “The Platinum Jubblys.”

  9. One would think that the fans of Ivermectin should have learned something from TCM, anthroposophy or homeopathy. Their supporters have been claiming for decades that these remedies are effective. But every proof, every study has turned out to be a total failure.

      1. “Maybe a multimillion dollar industry” – doubtless for the homeopaths that’s a drop in the ocean… 😉

      2. According to figures from the German Medicines Manufacturers Association (BAH) sales of homeopathic medicines accounted for around €630 million in 2020.

  10. Getz is, to my mind, the greatest white saxophonist, but is behind others like Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Ben Webster.

    Funny you should say that. I was talkin’ jazz the other day on the phone with my bestie, and he compared Getz to Rocky Marciano — the great, white undefeated heavyweight champ who’s been somewhat overshadowed by Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali — since Getz came to prominence just as the mantle of premiere jazz saxophonist was shifting from Charlie Parker to John Coltrane.

  11. Talking of shredded fried potato, you might consider a variation on Eggs Benedict, using a crispy circle of rosti, smoked salmon, poached egg, hollandaise sause and wilted spinach on the side.

  12. Tom Brady’s doctor/business partner is a supporter of alternative medicine (as is Brady from what I’ve read). No doubt the company will peddle sham medicine too. What an inglorious retirement.

      1. None of which, IMO, takes away from his record or claim to GOATness. Deflategate and other cheating scandals, on the other hand, might. I think given the breadth and depth of his accomplishments, they will amount to nothing but minor pimples on his legacy. But still, tarnished in my opinion.

  13. ”Getz is, to my mind, the greatest white saxophonist”

    Suppose that someone said “Jessye Norman is the greatest Black soprano”. Would that be considered racist? Inappropriate? It does imply that the greatest is not Black, otherwise the qualification would not be necessary. Even if true, is it relevant?

    1. Oh, for chrissake. I wanted to indicate that Getz was good but not the greatest. Jazz originated as a black form of music, and its greatest stars, and its greatest sax players were black. Getz was a great saxophonist but not as good as the others. I could say he was “the fifth greatest saxophonist”, or whatever but I said what I thought.

      If you want to call me a racist because of that, please be open about and say it here.

      1. The way Stevie Ray Vaughan was frequently referred to as “the great white jazzman” of his era.

        Reminds me of a story about the great jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. One year Baker was named DownBeat magazine’s jazz trumpeter of the year (a title usually given to Miles Davis or Dizzy Gillespie). The next time Chet ran into Miles, he told him that he had planned to write him a letter apologizing for winning the title.

        “That’s okay,” said Miles, “I can think of about a dozen other guys you need to write to before you get to me.”

        1. I meant to write the “great white bluesman” re Stevie Ray.

          It’s an almost mythical title in the world of blues guitarists.

      2. Sorry for the confusion. I think that it should be clear to all readers here that neither Jerry nor I is a racist, and thus thought that my comment couldn‘t be misunderstood, but I seem to have been wrong. I meant it as an example of a casual, harmless remark which, in some contexts, could be taken to be racist even if not intended as such (especially if it were said about someone being the best Black something-or-other). I understand the context in which it was made and probably wouldn‘t have commented at all had I not had the discussion about Goldberg in mind, where the consensus seems to be that she didn‘t mean to trivialize the Holocaust but that her statement, especially in other contexts and if uttered by someone else, could be interpreted as doing so (or even meant that way). Of course, neither live broadcasts or blog comments should be compared to checked and edited official statements; my comment is a good example of something which didn‘t come across as intended.

        Again, sorry for the confusion.

      3. My take, too. Saxophone is a special case for the precise reason Jerry alludes to. It’s possible that non-Americans may not get this.

  14. The white color of that baby stingray seems maladaptive to me. It would stick out like a sore thumb in the wild, wouldn’t it? Or do they give birth in sandy areas?

    1. Speaking of protective coloration, I was looking at my 18-lb. tuxedo kitty, Booker T, last night and wondering how in the world he’d blend in anywhere with his glow-in-the-dark white paws and chest??
      He’s scared of his own shadow and would most likely be hiding under the nearest couch in the wild.

  15. Although grated potato pressed into little dumpling shapes is very common around the world, I have yet to find any that compare to the original Tater Tots from Ore-Ida. They must have some sort of magic ingredient, the identity of which I suspect I am better off not knowing. Tots are also very popular these days at restaurants but I find they are inferior to getting the real thing and baking them at home. My guess is that the restaurants don’t buy the real thing in order to save money and increase profits. They throw stuff on top of the tots and hope we won’t notice. Hah!

    1. There’s a new brand out that (imo) rivals Ore-Ida’s Tots: Alexia. Though they call them “potato puffs”. But you’re right about Ore-Ida’s having a unique and original taste. It reminds me when I was a kid, asking my parents: “why can’t you make hamburgers like McDonald’s?” Not that I like their burgers anymore, but it’s common to fall in love with a corporate food item that can’t be replicated. Wendy’s chili with their “hot sauce” (the stuff that used to come in a golden packet) also comes to mind- again, another childhood experience.

      1. Don’t get me started on McDonalds burgers. They once were grilled and tasted much better than they do now. I’m not even sure how they cook them now.

        You’re right about those special recipes. KFC’s breading, Bob’s Big Boy burgers and their bleu cheese dressing come to mind.

        I’m going to look for Alexia. Thanks for the tip. It’s a strange name that reminds me of Stevia, the sugar substitute.

  16. 2004 – Swiss tennis player Roger Federer becomes the No. 1 ranked men’s singles player, a position he will hold for a record 237 weeks.

    It was about halfway through that run that novelist David Foster Wallace (himself a ranked junior player during his days as an Illinois schoolboy) wrote his celebrated essay for The New York Times Magazine, “Roger Federer as Religious Experience.”

    1. Thanks Ken. Huge Federer fan. Also a huge Djokovic fan (despite his foibles WRT health and COVID).

      I haven’t read that article but I intend to.

      I will admit to disappointment that Djoker didn’t play in Melbourne this month. (No comment on the Aussie authorities’ or Djokovic’s actions.) I also was disappointed that Nadal reached 21 first. I can’t help but appreciate and admire Nadal’s game; but I can’t seem to like him. My hope was Djoker would win in Melbourne, hitting 21 first (I think he will hit 21 this year). I fully expect Nadal to win at Rolland Garros this year; though who knows, based on last years’ performance.

      I was sorry to see Sasha Zverev lose in the 4th round in Melbourne. I like his style and hope he rises to the top of the new group. (How hard is it to follow Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic?)

      I was surprised that Nadal beat Medvedev. But Nadal has an amazing will when he wants a win. He really wanted that 21 and the double career slam.

      1. Yeah Nadal getting #22 at the French is a pretty easy bet. Particularly since the French are *requiring* vaccination, so Djokovich probably won’t be there.

        I’d love to see Federer hit 21 at Wimbledon, but frankly I think that’s unlikely. He can’t stay healthy and strong enough to pose a serious challenge to the top 4-5 men in the game now. Worth remembering that as impressive Nadal’s performance at 35 is, Roger is 40.

        I was surprised that Nadal beat Medvedev.

        He’s always been great at outlasting his opponents. Massive stamina. The dude finishes a 5-hr 5-setter and then goes to the gym to run on the treadmill for two hours. I think his strategy is: if you don’t want to even be slowing down at the 5 hour mark, you’d better be able to go for 7. In contrast, Medvedev was clearly hurting at the end. Still, he had some chances to finish it early.

        He and Zverev will get their titles. The big three can’t keep going forever…uhhhh…can they?

      1. Well, if you made the lutefisk fraction small enough (so it was imperceptible) I might agree! 🙂

        Lutefisk is, in the words of one of our neighbors, “The piece of cod that passeth all understanding.” (Which is hilarious if you know the Lutheran liturgy from the 1970s.)

        I have always detested it. Plastics bags is a reasonable description of the texture.

        When I visited my cousins in Norway and Sweden and asked about lutefisk, they said, “What, you Americans eat that?! That was survival food. We have good food now!”

        (Now, fresh cod, cooked just about any way — heaven.)

  17. Soviet troops holding the line. Note their winter uniforms. The Germans didn’t have many as they didn’t anticipate the weather conditions.

    A small historical nitpick. It would be slightly more accurate to say that German commanders didn’t anticipate much fighting in winter; they thought offensive operations would be largely over and soldiers mostly under shelter, both at the end of the invasion in 1941 and likewise in the drive into the Caucasus in 1942 so, as a solution to the weakness of German logistics, priority was given to fuel and munitions rather than soldier winter comfort and camouflage.

    Generals, who in many cases had served on the Eastern Front in WW1 and studied Napoleon’s 1812 misadventure, knew what winter would bring, but German military hubris and miscalculation, Russian resilience and Hitler’s interference in 1942 undid the Wehrmacht.


    More than 10,000 pieces of the jubilee memorabilia were produced in China and sent to be sold in the UK – except for the slight problem of a misprint, which says “the Platinum Jubbly of Queen Elizabeth II”.
    This is hilarious; don’t they have a spelling checker? Perhaps these will be worth a pile some day, but there a[re] probably too many of them for that to happen

    OTOH, if Her Majesticity does not survive up to the scheduled date then the plates might become quite valuable, especially if someone promotes a rumour that her demise was linked to a Chinese curse triggered by the misprint. You’re welcome.

  19. With regard to Balto’s statue having been rubbed to a shine on its ears and nose, this seems to be quite a common phenomenon with bronze statues in public places. This is a statue of Molly Malone with shiny breasts (the article suggests that the ‘tradition’ of rubbing them for luck has been invented for tourists). There is a statue of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo that has a shiny crotch as some people apparently experience an erotic thrill from touching it there.

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