Monday: Hili dialogue

February 21, 2022 • 7:30 am

Welcome to the beginning of the work week: Monday, February 21, 2022: National Sticky Buns Day, celebrating the day that you’re to sit on a piece of chewing gum.  I’ll be here all week, folks, but then I’ll be gone. As for real sticky buns, the video below may be the world’s largest commercial sticky bun, but below that is the Guinness-Certified World’s largest cinnamon roll.

The Big One: 9 feet (2.7 m) on a side, weighing 1,149.7 lb (521.5 kg): over half a ton! It was baked in Germany.

It’s also National Grain-Free Day, which conflicts with the above, Card-Reading Day (see the NY Times), and Presidents’ Day, started in honor or George Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1732

Wine of the Day: Not much information is available about this Riseling “trocken” (meaning “dry”), but it’s rated well, and was the only white I had in the fridge to accompany some spicy Indian food. This 2020

“From younger vines in the Niederberg, Schönleber’s 2020 Riesling trocken Mineral is bright and pure yet also intense and mineral on the characterful and flinty/stony nose. Pure and enormously fresh, this is a lean but tensioned and quite racy dry Riesling with grip and tension on the finish. This is no Riesling for hedonists but for Riesling aficionados. The wine is precise like a razor and fresh like an oyster should be. Good finish with intense fruit aromas and lemon freshness.

I’m not sure what they mean by “No Riesling for hedonists” (it sounds like a Cormac McCarthy novel), but it is indeed rather austere, not as floral as most German Riselings and with a distinct steeliness. It went okay with the Indian food though a touch more sweetness would have helped. At $26, it was no bargain.

News of the Day:

BIG NEWS:  The first picture of Paulina’s new kitten, which she rescued, sick, dirty, and with a truncated tail. It was thought to be gray but in fact, a bath showed it to be white with orang patches and a colored (and broken) tail. It doesn’t yet have a name, but Paulina is going to keep it, which guarantees it a nice life. It also can’t walk properly yet (there may be a leg or hip problem) but it runs all around and eats ravenously. Stay tuned for more details and a name—when it gets one. It’s going to the vet at 4 pm Polish time today for a complete examination..

* I am informed by 23andMe that they have indeed gotten DNA from my second samply (they couldn’t amplify the first one), are sequencing it, and I should have “results” by March 1.  Will there be any Irish in there?

*CNN just reported (I’m writing this Sunday evening) that intelligence data in U.S. possession says that Russia has already prepared its attack on Ukraine:

The US has intelligence indicating orders have been sent to Russian commanders to proceed with an attack on Ukraine, according to two US officials and another source familiar with the US intelligence.

But the news of the intelligence comes after President Biden said on Friday that he believes Putin has “made the decision” to invade — a comment echoed by Vice President Kamala Harris and by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday. Blinken said the Russian playbook is “moving forward.”

“We believe President Putin has made the decision,” Blinken said Sunday in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The NYT reports that Putin has summoned his security council for a special, unscheduled meeting today—not a good sign. Also, he’ll give a speech there, but it’s not clear what the speech was about. The “meeting” was of course publicized when it could have been kept secret, another sign that Putin is deliberately raising tensions.

*YET, according to the Wall Street Journal, after French President Macron talked to Putin yesterday, the paper raises hopes for a diplomatic solution. (Note: the NYT link above says that Putin spoke again to Macron, but the issue of a summit was not broached.

Mr. Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron said after speaking Sunday that they agreed to continue seeking a diplomatic solution. Russia has amassed as many as 190,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, including some 30,000 for exercises in its ally Belarus that were slated to end Sunday. Moscow demands that Kyiv abandon its aspirations to join NATO—the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—and give Russian proxies a major say in Ukraine’s future.

Sunday’s developments on the diplomatic front indicated that Mr. Putin could be willing to step back from the brink of war, at least in the immediate future, as he sought a face-saving end to the crisis. “Putin just started a new chapter,” said Oleksandr Danylyuk, a former Ukraine national-security adviser. “It’s a break that allows Putin to refocus, rethink and regroup before taking his next steps. The full war is unpredictable for him—you never know. It’s easy to start a war but you never know how it will end.”

It’s all very confusing, isn’t it. What is it like to be a Putin?

*This angers me: the Associated Press is taking $8 million dollars from climate-change activists to write about their issues. I first read this in the New York Post, and couldn’t believe it. But, sure enough, the AP admits it themselves, giving it the name “philanthropy-funded news,” a euphemism for “journalistic prostitution.”  From the AP:

Five organizations are contributing to the effort: the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Quadrivium, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

It’s the most recent of a series of grants the AP has received since the mid-2010s to boost coverage in health and science, religion, water issues and philanthropy itself. Some 50 AP journalists have jobs funded through grants.

. . .AP often needs to educate funders upon first approach, explaining the company’s worldwide reach and mission to report independently. AP accepts money to cover certain areas but without strings attached; the funders have no influence on the stories that are done, Carovillano [the AP Vice President] said.

Both sides had things to learn.

For Carovillano, it was getting used to the idea that funders weren’t just being generous; they had their own goals to achieve. “This is a mutually beneficial arrangement,” he said.

Umm. . . if there are no strings attached, and no “understanding”, and journalists keep their freedom, how do the philanthropists achieve “benefit”?  Cui bono? It stinks, and if this practice spread it’s the death of journalism.

Indeed, the NY Post says this practice is increasing as newspapers get more strapped for cash:

The venerable New York Times has tapped nonprofits to fund special reporting projects, including a story about the city after Superstorm Sandy. A Ford Foundation grant enabled the Old Gray Lady to hire a disability fellow to produce stories about disabilities. In both cases, the funders wanted government action — and knew Times stories would help them get it.

Those causes may seem benign, but the principle remains the same: Renting out your institutional judgment on what news to cover (and, inevitably, how to cover it) betrays your promises to your readers.

Let the “donors” buy ads if they want to push their cause.

*From Ken, who notes, “In a debate Friday night, all three Republican men running for the office of attorney general of Michigan said they opposed the 1965 SCOTUS opinion Griswold v. Connecticut guaranteeing married couples access to birth control.”

The tweeter here happens to be the Democratic Attorney General of Michigan:

No access to birth control for married people?

*According to CNN, the picture below by Man Ray,Le violon d’Ingres“, is probably going to be the most expensive photograph ever sold:

The black and white image, taken in 1924 by the American surrealist artist, transforms a woman’s naked body into a violin by overlaying the picture of her back with f-holes.

The original print of the masterpiece, widely considered to be Man Ray’s most famous work, is expected to fetch between $5-7 million when it goes under the hammer at Christie’s in May — the highest estimate for a single photograph in auction history, according to the auction house.

The subject, Alice Prin, also known as “Kiki de Montparnasse” was a celebrated model, singer, actress, and happened to be May Ray’s lover at the time. He photographed her nude torso, had someone paint violin holes over it, and then rephotographed the whole thing. That’s what you see below, and while it’s clever, it’s not a photograph I would want to have forever if I had to spend $5 million. My choice might be either #5 or #6 in this set, which were on sale in NYT for $1200 each (signed by Cartier-Bresson) when I was a penurious graduate student  Cartier-Bresson is, in my view, the greatest street photographer of all. Man Ray, meh

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 933,8195, an increase of 2,124 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,908,163, an increase of about 5,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on February 21 include:

  • 1613 – Mikhail I is unanimously elected Tsar by a national assembly, beginning the Romanov dynasty of Imperial Russia.
  • 1804 – The first self-propelling steam locomotive makes its outing at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Wales.

Here’s what it looked like:

  • 1808 – Without a previous declaration of war, Russian troops cross the border to Sweden at Abborfors in eastern Finland, thus beginning the Finnish War, in which Sweden will lose the eastern half of the country (e.g. Finland) to Russia.
  • 1848 – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto.

I presume you can’t buy the first edition, except in Esperanto (below); the 1908 edition costs over $29,000:

Here she is; she later encouraged her husband to become a dentist and they opened a thriving joint practice in Lawrence, Kansas:

Here it is: a single piece of paper with 50 names.  Do directories even exist any more?

Almost done in 1884. The cap is aluminum:

Here’s a mounted specimen. There once were hundreds of thousands of them, and then two in the Zoo, and then one, “Incas”, and that was it:

You can buy that issue on eBay for about $4500:

  • 1947 – In New York City, Edwin Land demonstrates the first “instant camera”, the Polaroid Land Camera, to a meeting of the Optical Society of America.
  • 1958 – The CND symbol, aka peace symbol, commissioned by the Direct Action Committee in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, is designed and completed by Gerald Holtom.
  • 1965 – Malcolm X is assassinated while giving a talk at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.

Here’s the assassination scene from Spike Lee’s eponymous movie, with Denzel Washington as Malcolm:

Their mug shots!

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1621 – Rebecca Nurse, Massachusetts colonist, executed as a witch (d. 1692)
  • 1892 – Harry Stack Sullivan, American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst (d. 1949)
  • 1903 – Anaïs Nin, French-American essayist and memoirist (d. 1977)

Here’s Nin giving an address at Hampshire College in 1972. Her real name (she was French/Cuban/American was Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell :

  • 1907 – W. H. Auden, English-American poet, playwright, and composer (d. 1973)

Auden reading selections from his poetry the year he died:

  • 1921 – John Rawls, American philosopher and academic (d. 2002)
  • 1925 – Sam Peckinpah, American director and screenwriter (d. 1984)
  • 1962 – David Foster Wallace, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (d. 2008)

Wallace in 2006.  A depressive, he hanged himself two years later. A great pity

  • 1986 – Charlotte Church, Welsh singer-songwriter and actress

Those who had their ricket punched on February 21 include:

Here’s the record of Spinoza being banned from his synagogue in 1656:

(From Wikipedia): Ban in Portuguese of Baruch Spinoza by his Portuguese Jewish synagogue community of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 6 Av 5416 (27 July 1656).
  • 1941 – Frederick Banting, Canadian physician and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1891)

He shared the Nobel Prize with Charles Best in 1923 for the development of insulin as a therapeutic drug:

  • 1945 – Eric Liddell, Scottish rugby player and runner (b. 1902)
  • 1965 – Malcolm X, American minister and activist (b. 1925; assassinated)
  • 1968 – Howard Florey, Australian pathologist and pharmacologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1898)

Florey shared the 1945 Nobel Prize with Chain and Fleming for the development of penicillin.  He became a Baron and was addressed as “The Lord Florey”.

Here’s a statue of Horton outside his first donut shop in Hamilton:

  • 1984 – Mikhail Sholokhov, Russian novelist and short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
  • 2018 – Billy Graham, American evangelist (b. 1918)
  • 2019 – Peter Tork, American musician and actor (b. 1942)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, all the cats are togethere, nomming on the kitchen windowsill:

Kulka: I will be running along now.
Hili: You always have to complain.
In Polish:
Kulka: Nic tu po mnie.
Hili: Zawsze musisz narzekać.

And here is Szaron yawning:

From Merilee. I didn’t catch it for a moment:

From Bruce. This is true, for one just forgets about veggies in the “crisper”:

More snow creations from Peter:

Lagniappe: Yesterday’s Trudeau strip (h/t Bruce: click to enlarge):

The Tweet of God:

From Barry. I’ve never heard a cat sing the blues better (sound up)

Dumbest tweet of the month (the second one). You may remember that AOC originally wanted to vote “no” on US funding of Israel’s (purely defensive) Iron Dome, and then changed her vote to “present” after she was criticized from both Left and Right. After the vote passed the House overwhelmingly (420-9), AOC was observed weeping. She later apologized for changing her vote:

“Yes, I wept,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez told her constituents on Friday. “I wept at the complete lack of care for the human beings that are impacted by these decisions, I wept at an institution choosing a path of maximum volatility and minimum consideration for its own political convenience.”

But the point is the second tweet and the idiocy of “MARISON”, who apparently doesn’t understand that a defensive system is not an attack system. Or maybe she’s just angry that Israel gets to defend itself against Palestinian missiles.

From Simon. I’d totally buy this! Stakes and a hammer for driving through the vampire’s heart.

From Ginger K. I almost never eat donuts, but if you put a dozen assorted ones in front of me, and leave me alone, they will be gone by the end of the day:

Tweets from Matthew. Look at this genealogy and listen to the song below:

Spot the caterpillar!  (First try, then see the answer here.)

40 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. I guess we all have our own lists of “Words and Phrases I Abhor“. “Presidents Day” and “Presidents Day” are on mine. The US Federal government has repeatedly declared Monday’s federal holiday to be “Washington’s Birthday”. Don’t get me started on the people who keep saying it is something else; some local revisionist politicians have gone so far as to designate it a state holiday, too, in order to rename it locally.

    Government OPM Website

    I wouldn’t mind a separate holiday honoring all presidents, including those who preceded George Washington under the Articles of Confederation. Everyone always seems to forget them.

    Now David Foster Wallace… I absolutely enjoyed his books. The only one I have left to read is his uncompleted The Pale King.

  2. I continue to be uncertain about Ukraine, but am certain that to a significant extent Putin is trolling Biden. I watched a min-series (three one-hour episodes) over the weekend called 37 Days, about the attempts to avoid and precipitate war after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. It was very good, but it demonstrated how confused and opaque diplomacy can be. I doubt anyone, least of all CNN, really knows what’s happening or going to happen. Perhaps not even Putin.

    The fact that people who are anti-abortion for the most part are also anti-contraception demonstrates, I think, the religious basis of these sentiments. I think, therefore, that laws against abortion and contraceptive drugs should be challenged, like evolution, on that basis. From a public policy standpoint one would think that logically, if you think abortion is bad policy, contraception is the obvious solution. That is unless you think that every sperm is sacred.

    1. Money talks. I wonder if the drug companies that manufacture birth-control pills are just going to roll over and let this happen.

      1. There is this procedure called vasectomy that has been around for 100 years or more. It can be had today for $0 dollars to $1000 dollars. I had it 40 years ago for zero dollars. No need for pills or drugs of any kind. No need for abortions or birth control. A real religious experience you might say, without the religion.

        1. Birth control pills and vasectomies have different use-cases. One is for people who never want to have children again. The other is for people who might want to get pregnant in the future but not just now and who might not actually trust that just because the guy says he had a vasectomy…

          1. It’s easier for a woman to verify that a guy is V-safe (as they say) than it is for a guy to verify that a woman really is taking the Pill. The motives for deception might be different, but still real.

    2. Griswold found a right to marital privacy in the “penumbra”:of the Constitution. Although (along with Roe) widely criticized for its legal reasoning, or lack thereof,, it decided, on constitutional grounds, that restrictions on birth control as between married couples didn’t pass constitututional muster. But of course, no state is currently seeking to outlaw birth control between married couples, or birth control generally (Connecticut’s law was from the nineteenth century.) and no state has such laws. So the constitutional prohibition…the backstop… is now unnecessary..
      Now no doubt the Usual Suspects (who must subscribe to a service) will alert us that some (Republican!!) state legislator from East Jesus is prepared to offer a bill in some state somewhere that will ban some form or another of birth control, which bill will go exactly nowhere as usual, but which will alarm us as to vast presence of the insidious overwhelming Right Wing which is turning us into a Handmaiden theocracy. But again: all Griswold did was to find a constitutional prohibition against such bans. If such bans exist exactly nowhere, the Griswold case (and its reasoning) is not needed.
      What concerns me more in a democratic society is the power of five or more members of the Supreme Court, passing the bong around, to come up with risible rationales arising from “emanations” from the “penumbra” of the Constitution for achieving the policy results that those five (or more) members want. This is highly anti-democratic, even if you and I were to agree with the result from a policy standpoint. Better to have the issues hashed out in the legislative process. I have faith (!) that common sense consensus will prevail.

  3. They may forget about those presidents under the Articles because they are not worth remembering.

    Regarding the Articles of Confederation – it was a contract of convenience during the war that quickly turned to chaos at the end.

  4. “No access to birth control for married people?“

    Well the whole purpose of marriage is procreation. 🙂

    If I understand it correctly, the debate is about overturning a ruling prohibiting the enforcement of banning contraceptive use by (married) couples on grounds of privacy.

    But the deeper question is why that law is still on the books in the first place. There are many such laws in various states (nor oral sex, no leading a billy goat past a church on Sunday in a ridiculous fashion, minimum weights of chocolate boxes, etc.). Why are they there? Some say “no-one would ever want to enforce them anyway”, but that is obviously not the case.

    1. The whole purpose of marriage is procreation. That nonsense has to come from religion. Which one is it? Catholic, Mormon? I have been married 46 years and have 2 cats but thankfully no children.

  5. Rebecca Nurse’s execution for witchcraft took place in New England at a time when Harvard College existed in the region and the royal chartering of the College of William and Mary in Virginia was about complete. The Royal Society existed and Philosophical Transactions were being published. I continue to be amazed by the extraordinary and conflicting range of institutional behaviors that coincided in our not so distant history.

  6. Didn’t Justin Trudeau get into trouble for not going to Horton’s joint for doughnuts? Or was it for going there? I can’t remember which, but I do remember being amused. Either he got into a spot of bother for buying cheap doughnuts when he should have bought expensive ones for his minions; or he was criticized for throwing money on expensive doughnuts when he should have obtained the cheap stuff for his underlings. Either way, it was funny.

    Or both?

    God seems inordinately confident for someone whose existence test came back negative.

  7. I presume you can’t buy the first edition [of The Communist Manifesto], except in Esperanto (below); the 1908 edition costs over $29,000 …

    There is a spectre haunting Europe Esperanto — the spectre of communism.

    Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains $29 grand!

      1. The crazy thing is that she scored the first own goal after just five minutes and the second one a minute later – why she wasn’t immediately substituted is beyond me.

    1. Nah, I hope he leaves it. I had no idea what a ricket was, but I gathered that having it punched was probably not good for one’s health.
      Supposedly “pwned” started as a typo, and look at it.

      1. “I had no idea what a ricket was, but I gathered that having it punched was probably not good for one’s health” – puts me in mind of Tony Hancock and his frequent threats to give someone “a punch up the bracket”.

  8. Wallace in 2006. A depressive, he hanged himself two years later.

    DFW went off his meds. The immediate reason was a bad reaction with some food he’d eaten, but he had had concerns for a while that they were dulling his creativity (and, thus, his ability to complete his huge unfinished novel, The Pale King). A great pity, indeed.

    Wallace never spoke or wrote much about his own depression (aside from the breakdown he’d suffered while a student at Amherst), but one of his most biting short fictions was “The Depressed Person.”

  9. Without a previous declaration of war, Russian troops cross the border to Sweden at Abborfors in eastern Finland, thus beginning the Finnish War, in which Sweden will lose the eastern half of the country (e.g. Finland) to Russia.

    Yes, lost to Russia because the tragically idiotic Gustef IV Adolph kept straining for some word from God for what he should do / praying for divine intercession. As a result of losing Finland, GIVA was deposed and exiled to Switzerland.

  10. Just above the “vegetable hospice”, I spot the bottom of a jar of Rao’s Marinara Sauce. An excellent choice! I’m always amazed at our ability to identify commercial items when shown only a bit of label.

  11. Almost done in 1884. The cap is aluminum:

    Hmm, that was before the Hall Process brought affordable alumiinum and well before it became widely available, but indeed, there is an aluminum cap with some copper, gold and platinum involved, for lightning protection.

  12. The ‘Violon d’Ingres’ is of dubious value at $5 million but it is still a very goody joke. The expression violon d’Ingres is a French colloquialism for a hobby. Kiki de Montparnasses body not only suggested the form of a violin but the implication of the title is that playing on it was the artist’s hobby!

  13. My crisper has become a hospice a number of times, especially for fresh dill.
    Why are there no phone NUMBERS in that telephone directory, or did you just have to talk to the operator and then say “Is this the party to whom I’m speaking?”🤓

    1. As a child in my grandparents’ home in Hinton, WV, calling someone else in town involved picking up the phone and asking the operator to connect you to someone by name. This was in the late 50s. By the 60s, everyone got a number, but you still didn’t dial it. You asked the operator to connect you to the three-digit number.

      1. The summer of 1970, I worked at a hotel in Avalon, Catalina Island, just off the So. California coast. I always remember that calling within the island involved telling the operator a three-digit number.

        1. In the early-to-mid-60’s, what with rotary phones, while at my paternal grandparents’ house, I would occasionally call my maternal grandparents. The former’s number was 436-4744; the latter’s was 453-3327. What is that three-digit number called – a “prefix”? In any event, when calling a 453 number from another 453 number, I only had to dial the 3 of the prefix and then the last four digits. E.g., 3-3327. If I were calling from the 436 number, I had to dial the full 453-3327.

          One day when calling from the 436 number, I, no older than age 10, erroneously dialed 453-3-3327. A woman answered who sounded just like “Granny” on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” I apologized. In a few minutes I tried again, making the same dialing error. She took a bit of heavily-accented Appalachian Southern dialect umbrage at having been inconvenienced a second time. (“Release the Kraken!”) I was a bit spooked. (I had had a not insignificant problem at a tender age answering the phone, not knowing who was calling and how to react. If I was the one dialing I felt I was more in control of the situation. I got over it soon enough.) I asked my dad’s sister to dial my mother’s mother’s number, and of course the call went through without a hitch.

          I’ve always wondered what specific rotary connectivity/re-routing havoc I caused the system dialing that extra “3.”

  14. Though I am not quiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiite at the age to remember when “phone directories” did not list numbers at all, I do recall when they used letters for the first two digits of the number. If memory serves, Salem, Oregon had exchanges for CApital and MArion. We moved away from there in 1964 and I never saw those designations in a phone book again.

    1. To this day I remember my grandparents’ phone number in Fredericton, New Brunswick, was GRanite2-xxxx. (I won’t type it out, so as to spare whoever has it now!) At our own home in a smaller town, we were just 798-xxxx. They had direct local dialing with their own private line but yes, the exchange was alphabetized that way. Now, does anyone know why they did that? You didn’t get any more unique phone numbers, because GHI mapped to the same digit, as we know of course today with the popularity of phone numbers that spell out words. Did naming the exchanges make it easier for the phone company to figure out where, geographically, a fault or an obscene phone caller was physically located?

      Detective (to victim but is she really?): “Keep the caller on the line we while trace this call!” Jump to phone-company man running up and down the aisles between the banks of relays at the telephone exchange tracing the hot connection (while dozens of other calls are being made and ended.) Then a half-second too soon, all the relay armatures clatter to ground as the caller hangs up. Damn! (OK, what film noir was that from?)

    2. When I was a kid, the telephone exchange in my neighborhood was WHitney 3.

      Probably the most famous phone exchange in the nation was that for the Upper East Side on Manhattan: BUtterfield 8 — which lent its name to the title of John O’Hara’s novel (and the Liz Taylor movie adapted from it).

      1. Mine in Burbank, CA was THornwall, though I forget all the digits. The requirement of a following digit to uniquely identify an exchange was an early sign of the limitations of the system.

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