Tuesday: Hili dialogue

April 12, 2022 • 7:00 am

Welcome to a brand new week: Monday, April 12, 2022. Remember, Tax Day in America this year is in 6 days—we got an extension from the gubmint. It’s also National Grilled Cheese Day. Is there anything more comforting than a good grilled cheese sammy* and a steaming bowl of tomato soup? And why does tomato soup go best with grilled cheese rather than, say, vegetable soup or pea soup? Wouldn’t you like this now?


It’s also National Licorice Day (my favorite are Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts from Britain), National Library Workers Day, and National Day of Human Space Flight.

Fact of the day: Licorice is made from the root of this plant, Glycyrrhiza glabra, in the bean family:

Stuff that happened on April 12 includes:

  • 1204 – The Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade breach the walls of Constantinople and enter the city, which they completely occupy the following day.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: Battle of Fort Sumter. The war begins with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.

The remnants of Fort Sumter still stand, and you can take a Park Service Tour:

  • 1917 – World War I: Canadian forces successfully complete the taking of Vimy Ridge from the Germans.
  • 1928 – The Bremen, a German Junkers W 33 type aircraft, takes off for the first successful transatlantic aeroplane flight from east to west.

This was a year after Charles Lindbergh crossed solo from west to east. And the Bremen‘s three-man crew had a really rough time, finally landing in a Canadian peat bog.

Here’s the plane with a Wikipedia caption: “The Junkers W33 aircraft nicknamed Bremen, following its successful east-west trans-Atlantic flight. The group at right includes Romeo Vachon and Baron von Huenefeld.”

And here’s the record now (my bold):

The fastest wind speed not related to tornadoes ever recorded was during the passage of Tropical Cyclone Olivia on 10 April 1996: an automatic weather station on Barrow Island, Australia, registered a maximum wind gust of 113.3 m/s (408 km/h; 253 mph; 220.2 kn; 372 ft/s)  The wind gust was evaluated by the WMO Evaluation Panel who found that the anemometer was mechanically sound and the gust was within statistical probability and ratified the measurement in 2010.

Here’s the bed in which FDR died, photographed by me in Warm Springs, Georgia, February 2013. FDR’s mistress was in the house at the time, and they had to hustle her out of town before Eleanor arrived from Washington, D.C.:

Salk is a hero of mine. This answer to Edward R. Murrow’s question is one reason why. For a good yarn about the development of the vaccine, read Jane Smith’s 1990 book, Patenting the Sun: Polio and the Salk Vaccine.

Gagarin died at only 34 when his MIG crashed during a training flight. Below is a photo of his “tombstone” at the place he’s interred in the Kremlin wall (you can make out his last name if you know a bit of Cyrllic). And here’s some gossip from Wikipedia:

Following his rise to fame, at a Black Sea resort in September 1961, he was reportedly caught by his wife during a liaison with a nurse who had aided him after a boating incident. He attempted to escape through a window and jumped off a second floor balcony. The resulting injury left a permanent scar above his left eyebrow.

  • 1983 – Harold Washington is elected as the first black mayor of Chicago.
  • 1999 – United States President Bill Clinton is cited for contempt of court for giving “intentionally false statements” in a civil lawsuit; he is later fined and disbarred.

Notables born on this day include:

Clay lived long enough to have his picture taken; here’s a photo from 1848 (restored):

Frida Kahlo photographed by Imogen Cunningham:

  • 1884 – Otto Meyerhof, German physician and biochemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1951)
  • 1903 – Jan Tinbergen, Dutch economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1994)
  • 1916 – Benjamin Libet, American neuropsychologist and academic (d. 2007)
  • 1923 – Ann Miller, American actress, singer, and dancer (d. 2004).

Miller is another favor of mine. Here’s a good number, and be sure to watch the tapping at the end:

  • 1932 – Tiny Tim, American singer and ukulele player (d. 1996)

I just looked him up; his real name was Herbert Butros Khaury, he was Jewish, and died young of diabetes and a heart attack (his doctors had warned him to stop performing). Remember this classic?

  • 1947 – Martin Brasier, English palaeontologist, biologist, and academic (d. 2014)
  • 1947 – David Letterman, American comedian and talk show host
  • 1950 – David Cassidy, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2017)
  • 1994 – Saoirse Ronan, American-born Irish actress

I love Saoirse (pronounced “SIR-SHA”, and realized only the other day that she played the child Briony in the excellent 2007 movie Atonement. (Keira Knightley, another fave of mine, was also in that movie). Here’s Ronan answering a bunch of interview questions; she’s known for her down-to-earthness, amply on view here. Her accent is also great.

Those whose life was snuffed out on April 12 include:

Barton in 1904; do not forget that she founded the American Red Cross.

Roosevelt’s Warm Spring staff apparently loved him. If you’re in the area, do visit the “little White House”. When I did (see above), I photographed this writing on the wall from his cook, mourning FDR’s loss:

  • 1975 – Josephine Baker, French actress, activist, and humanitarian (b. 1906)

Joesphine Baker had a pet cheetah named Chiquita:

  • 1989 – Abbie Hoffman, American activist, co-founded Youth International Party (b. 1936)


*The similar headlines of today’s NYT and Washington Post, respectively. Click on screenshots to read:


The NYT headlines, with intimations of Russian chemical weapon use:

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia insisted on Tuesday that “there is no doubt” that his war will be successful, showing no sign of pulling back from a military campaign that has left cities across Ukraine in ruins, forced millions to flee their homes and raised disturbing accounts of atrocities committed by Russian soldiers.

Ukrainian and Western officials fear that the war is entering a dangerous new phase as Russian forces pour more military vehicles, artillery and troops into eastern Ukraine, and launch strikes to pulverize civilian infrastructure as they seek to undermine the Ukrainian forces’ logistical support operations.

The Russian leader’s defiant remarks — including his claim that the “main goal” of the war is to “help people” — came as officials in the United States, Britain and Australia said that they were investigating an unverified claim that Russia had used a possible chemical agent in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol that may have sickened a handful of people. Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, which is defending Mariupol, released a video on Tuesday that purported to show people who had been made ill by what the group called “a poisonous substance of unknown origin,” although it said that fighting made a proper forensic investigation impossible.

The deterrent effect of nuclear weapons was supposed to make the world more peaceful. Who would have guessed that the threat of nukes would enable autocrats like Putin to invade other countries at will.

*A distressing story from the NYT about a woman who wrote her information on her two-year-old’s back lest she be left without parents

Ms. Makoviy’s desperate attempt to prepare her daughter for the possibility of being orphaned as the family attempted to escape the Ukrainian capital during the Russian invasion has become a wrenching symbol of the anguish of a nation of parents.

A photo of Vira’s back that Ms. Makoviy shared on Instagram has been seen hundreds of thousands of times, after it was amplified by Ukrainian journalists and government officials. Messages of support poured in from people all over the world — many Ukrainian parents said they had taken similar action, and others turned the image into art honoring the country’s innocent on social media.

The photo:

*A pastor in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park has declared a “fasting from whiteness” for Lent. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

But in this season of Lent, the church directly across the street from Wright’s Prairie-style gem has stolen the spotlight in Oak Park. It has nothing to do with First United Church of Oak Park’s blocky stone steeple or its thundering pipe organ.

It’s about a sign, prominently displayed among the daffodils that reads: “Fasting from Whiteness.”

The sign was the creation of the church’s pastor, John Edgerton. Some of the more restrained criticism on the internet has referred to the sign as “wokeness gone mad” or reverse racism.

. . .So what’s Edgerton up to? For the 40 days of Lent, the church — which has about 650 members — is removing all music written by white composers from services in favor of those written by African American and non-white musicians from around the globe; it’s part of the church’s broader “anti-racist” mission, Edgerton said.

He disagrees with those who might say the sign promotes division.

“The work of anti-racism in this country, the work of taking white perspectives out of the center and allowing other perspectives to have space – that work must come from the majority culture, from the white culture,” said Edgerton, who is white and whose congregation is majority white.

Reader Steve, who sent me this link, observed, “Here in our backyard, we have an admixture of two toxins, religion and Wokeism.” What do you think?  Frankly, I’m sick of having whiteness characterized as a moral flaw and tired of call-outs, like this one, which seem purely performative.  Good intentions, yes; poor execution, also yet.

*Joe Biden vowed yesterday to crack down on “ghost guns,” which are apparently untraceable guns that can be assembled from kits. (I had no idea that these existed!)

On Monday, Biden announced a new rule that would make it illegal for businesses to manufacture such kits without a serial number and for a licensed gun dealer to sell them without a background check. He insisted the measure was not “extreme”, as the gun lobby has claimed, “but basic common sense”.

He said: “Today, the United States Department of Justice is making it illegal for a business to manufacture one of these kits without a serial number. Illegal. Illegal for a licensed gun dealer to sell them without a background check.”

How can it be legal to sell gun kits with no serial number and no background check. (They can be assembled in less than half an hour, and there’s no age limit, either!) Well, it’s America, Jake. Naturally the National Rifle Association is opposed to this regulation.

*Remember the white woman who attacked a black teenager in New York City a few years ago, accusing him of stealing her cellphone? Well, the woman, Miya Ponsetto pleaded guilty to the 2020 assault, deemed a felony hate crime. But she copped a plea and won’t see jail:

Under the terms of her plea, the woman, Miya Ponsetto, 23, avoided jail time and can enter a new plea to a lesser, misdemeanor charge without a hate crime element if she completes her probation in a case of driving while intoxicated in California. She must also continue counseling and have no encounters with the criminal justice system for the next two years, officials said.

That’s a pretty tame sentence for what she did. I’d say deterrence might be better effected if she saw, say, a few weeks in jail. You’d be more likely to agree if you read this bit:

Separate footage captured by a hotel security camera shows Ms. Ponsetto tackling the teenager. The phone was later found and returned by an Uber driver.

Ms. Ponsetto, who fled from the hotel, was arrested in California about 10 days later, but not before participating in a nationally televised interview that quickly turned from an opportunity to apologize into an exercise in making excuses for her actions.

*Apparently the White House has released video of Willow, the new First Cat (h/t: Malcolm).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,

A: Where have you been?
Hili: I was searching for yesterday.
In Polish:
Ja: Gdzie byłaś?
Hili: Szukałam wczorajszego dnia.

From Anna:

A Wiley cartoon from Tom:

From Lorenzo the Cat, a magnificent mural in New Zealand:

This came to me through my Magic Twitter Feed. Who couldn’t use a little tiger love?

From Barry, who says this is “a bird that’s smarter than humans.” ‘Tis true!

From Ginger K.  I can’t even. . . .

Tweets from Matthew. About this first one Matthew says, “I don’t get this but maybe it’s funny to a Yank.”  But I don’t get it, either!

Another one of Matthew’s favorite magic tweets:

Guess what this thing is:

This is definitely a place where the kitty shouldn’t be:

And this has got to be the Tweet of the Month:

97 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

    1. I was thinking that on day 1 of his return to the White House, he would move to restore relations and undo sanctions against Russia. This because he is mentally incapable of acting except in his own interests and those for some reason include totally sucking up to Putin. But also, it would be a popular move in his base, and applauded on Faux News and other outlets, since gas and oil prices would drop.

  1. The idea of having a period of time to promote non white music in church is actually quite an interesting one and, were I a church goer, one I would look forward to. Unfortunately, framing it as “fasting from whiteness” ruins everything.

    Joe Biden vowed yesterday to crack down on “ghost guns,” which are apparently untraceable guns that can be assembled from kids. (I had no idea that these existed!)

    I knew that kids existed but not that you could assemble guns from them. Maybe that’s why there’s no lower age limit. 🙂

    More seriously, I also knew about gun kits and even that, with modern CNC machines, you can practically make them out of blocks of metal. However, I’ve always thought that manufacturing the barrel (and possibly the bolt) was a highly specialised activity that is likely to blow up in the amateur’s face – literally. These are the parts that should be controlled by the government not receivers IMO.

    Edited to add:

    Don’t necessarily believe the Daily Telegaph’s spin on the story about Jane Austen.

    Also, sturgeon is my guess at the sea monster.

      1. Beluga sturgeons (Huso huso) can reach a length of 7 m (that’s 24 feet for USians).
        It is reputed to be able to live for more than a century.
        They live in salt water (Caspian, Black and previously Adriatic seas) but go upriver to spawn.
        It is ‘critically endangered’ due to extraction of ‘Beluga caviar’, the most valued caviar. Apparently there are new techniques to extract the caviar without killing the fish, but I’m not sure about the details of how -and how systematically- that is done.

          1. Yes, they are. They have this ‘living fossil’ flavour too. They do not appear to have morphologically changed over the last 200 million years.
            I had a friend that had some sturgeons in his pond (not 7 m belugas though). They easily become friendly with humans, and let themselves even be stroked. The cat among the bony fishes.

        1. In addition to caviar extraction, the beluga sturgeon has also been affected adversely by the building of barrages across the rivers it migrates along.

    1. I agree. The “positive spin” version of this would be: using all music composed by blacks for black history month, using all music composed by women etc… And I have zero problem with such ideas. It makes for both interesting hearing and better self-realization about where our music comes from.

      This is just the backhanded version of that: same effect, but with added unnecessary insult.

      1. That’s cool, but those woke WASPs at First United gonna hafta learn to clap in time with gospel music and spirituals and to try to keep up with call-and-response.

        1. I wonder if the reverend is inclined not to take in a performance, or even listen to a recording, of George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.”

  2. Following his [Yuri Gagarin’s] rise to fame, at a Black Sea resort in September 1961, he was reportedly caught by his wife during a liaison with a nurse who had aided him after a boating incident. He attempted to escape through a window and jumped off a second floor balcony.

    Sounds like the same sort of thing that five of the original Mercury Seven astronauts might’ve pulled, too — all but super straight-arrows John Glenn and Scott Carpenter (at least according to Mr. Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff).

  3. When Hili did not appear at 0730 EDT this morning, I decided to wait a half hour before querying Jerry by email as perhaps he had some issue like yesterday, and while waiting, i started to watch yesterday’s post of the Lewontin birthday get together. Time got away from me (it is now 0840 EDT and Hili has appeared) as I watched and listened to these wonderful vignettes from his past colleagues. I urge readers to watch the video. Because each presentation is about five minutes, you can easily watch it in several segments, breaking at any point, and picking it up where you left off later.

  4. How could ghost guns be legal? Well, they are new and there wasn’t a law against them. We do live in a country where things are by default legal. And as for guns, there’s really not as much control of individual guns as you might think. The Feds don’t have a big book of gun serial numbers and their owners. (If they do, that’s actually a violation of the gun registration process, because that information is supposed to stay with the gun shop until they go out of business.) For that reason ghost guns are really a non-issue. They are just another weapon not tracked by the government, like serialized, mass-produced guns. If a ghost gun has been used in a crime, I’ve missed it, but criminals don’t need to be making ghost guns. The whole thing is a political stunt, unless Biden wants to grab everyone’s guns, and prevent them from making their own. It will actually be interesting to see if this is constitutional, since, if we have a right to private arms (and commonsense and Heller say we do), it stands to reason that we could make our own. All I say is, why bother?

    1. All I say is, why bother copy and pasting NRA talking points directly into a comment ?

      This why the US has daily mass shootings.

      1. I am just reminded (a propos of a recent post on words and phrases that should get tossed into the dustbin of history) that “talking points” is definitely one for the chop list. The phrase is deliberately insulting and know-it-all as it belittles a sincerely held (because factually based) argument as being disingenuously false when in fact it’s only an inconvenient truth spoken by a political opponent. By labeling something a talking point you excuse yourself (in the eyes of your allies) from the need to rebut it because it so obviously false..

        1. I’m not sure about your definition of “talking points”. Aren’t they just the prepared-ahead-of-time arguments made by some kind of advocacy group or political candidate? As far as I know, there’s no particular quality or truth attached to them. They can be good or bad, true or false, or whatever.

          1. My candidate doesn’t say, “I have a list of talking points here that I’d like to go over with you.”
            My opponent’s candidate presented “the same tired old list of right-wing talking points.” Calling someone else’s arguments talking points is a way to imply that they must be false (and written for him by nefarious dark interests), just because we called them talking points, and therefore need not be rebutted. The audience, who might not know if the assertions are true or false, is led from the label to assume they have been shown to be false.

            Even if you don’t think “talking points” carries the whiff of pejoration, it’s still a hackneyed phrase and needs to go.

            1. Except when talking points are, in fact, genuine talking points there’s every reason to call them by their proper name.

    2. Why bother?

      Because of the horrendous level of gun crime in the USA.

      You don’t have a centralised database of who owns what gun? Make one. People are dying because of the stupid guns=freedom nonsense in the USA.

      1. New York has recorded serial numbers of handguns, keyed to their owners, for decades. It has not been very helpful in preventing crime or apprehending criminals.

      2. “People are dying because of the stupid guns=freedom nonsense in the USA.”

        Not even close to being true. People are dying from guns primarily because of suicide, the drug trade, and gangs. That is what hard data tells us. Hard data also tells us that the percentage of the more than 84,000,000 US legal gun owners who kill inappropriately with their guns is a rounding error to zero.

        And the 2nd Amendment is in fact a constitutional freedom. Even more explicitly than a person’s constitutional right to privacy, which is a constitutional freedom.

        The problems we have with guns are complicated problems. Problems whose solutions are not helped by over-simplification and tribal finger-pointing.

        1. Gangs are killing people with guns. Drug traffickers are killing people with guns. People are committing suicide with guns. Other countries have drugs, gangs and suicides but they don’t have the same levels of homicides. Why? Because if you’ve got a gun, it’s easier to kill people, including yourself.

          1. Other countries do not have the economic profile of our country. They differ in a myriad of ways. They do not have a 2nd Amendment, which makes gun control much easier. And more than four dozen of them have homicide rates *higher* than the US.

            All of which is irrelevant to the discussion we *could* be having about what to do in America about gun violence. Instead, we have multiple people calling facts, people on the other side of issue – and another poster – “stupid” while offering nothing constructive. Is this the level of conversation the topic deserves?

            1. So as the US is a rich country, we need more guns? Perhaps I’m not getting your argument. So I’ll take your word for it there exist countries with higher homicide rates. How does that help your argument? Are you really arguing that the presence of huge number of guns in the US is not a cause of the high gun death rate? At best, it’s an anti-anti form of argument. They are popular these days.

            2. Other countries do not have the economic profile of our country.

              The USA is the richest country isn the world. What is this economic profile that makes some people in it so desperate that they think they need guns? What is this economic profile that makes the richest country’s homicide rate the 49th worst in the World (using your figure)?

              I did not call anybody stupid, by the way. I said that the idea that guns=freedom is stupid. It is stupid because it is demonstrably false.

              1. How is it “demonstrably” false, Jeremy? How would you even go about trying to “demonstrate” that guns do not equal freedom, when those who would own guns include that right in the definition of freedom?

                What I think Roger Lambert means is that the economic profile of the United States includes a large, violent, armed, underclass who, although they mostly prey on each other, still do create some reasonable level of fear that they might choose to go a-hunting in the better neighbourhoods. The very best neighbourhoods may be less fearful from distance and more diligent police and private security protection, but there are less well-off people who must live much closer to the violence. If they perceive fear and the law allows them to carry guns in self-defence, they will assert that right. Sure there are risks to oneself from gun ownership but that is not anyone else’s business.

                Disarmament and strict gun-control might be a nice idea (except it would seem to require a Constitutional Amendment to do something about the settled Second). But the first people to be disarmed completely must be the predators of the underclass. You can’t disarm the law-abiding prey first.

                I don’t call any of these arguments stupid even though I, like you, live in a society where it’s really almost true that only the outlaws have guns. Lots of ’em.

            3. Four dozen have *higher* homicide rates than the US. Yes, but all of them (I doubt it is as much as four dozen, I count just a dozen) are ‘shithole’ countries, such as Honduras, Venezuela, Jamaica, Brazil, Guatemala or El Salvador . Even notoriously murderous countries such as South Africa or Mexico (in some years) have a lower rate than the US.

              No OECD country has higher gun death rates than the US, not by a long stretch.
              Eg. US 12.21 (per 100,000), Australia 0.88, Austria 2.75, Belgium 1.40, Canada 1.94, Czechia 1.64, Denmark 0.95, etc. etc.
              for 2010:

          2. The irony is that “guns make killing easier” is it’s entire selling point. It’s why they are good for a small weak non-combat-trained person to use to defend themselves from a bigger, stronger person. It’s why the got the nickname/epithet “the great equalizer”. It’s why we give them to our soldiers. Making killing easier is the gun’s utility. In a pro vs. con argument about guns, “making killing easier” is it’s big pro. Heck, it’s practically the gun’s only pro. And when 2A fanatics claim they are necessary for defense against a corrupt or overreaching government, they base their argument on the gun’s power to kill or deter agents of that corrupt government even when in the hands of non-combat-trained civilians. Why does Johnny survivalist even want guns? Because he thinks the world will descend into a state where other humans are going to try and kill him. And in that instance, he knows that his gun makes killing them first easier.

            Yet in an Orwellian attempt to defend their gun rights, right-wingers will pretend that shooting a deer and running down a deer and strangling it with ones’ bare hands are both equally open possibilities, equally available methods of killing. Well sure, more deer die from bullets than strangulation, but that’s just coincidence! Correlation when you haven’t proven causation! It doesn’t at all mean that guns make killing easier…

        2. Ok, we have to roll out the usual answer to this stupidity. Countries without guns everywhere have a lower death rate due to firearms. Funny how simple that is. We grant that most gun owners don’t shoot people. No one sane ever claimed that anyway so your mention of it is just stupid.

        3. “And the 2nd Amendment is in fact a constitutional freedom.”

          Just because it’s a freedom in the constitution doesn’t mean it’s a healthy or intelligent freedom- maybe if we still only had muskets and flintlocks. You sound like a religious person saying “x” is good because the bible says so.

          “The problems we have with guns are complicated problems.”

          No, they’re really not. Suicide, gangs and drug trafficking are complicated problems that become more complicated because of guns. And what Jeremy and Paul said.

      3. A database of serial numbers would make much more sense if it were linked to a database of actual ‘fingerprint’ of bullets and shells fired by it.
        With our modern informatics it would not be an insurmountable task to establish such a databank. Maybe it would not reduce gun deaths, but maybe it would. I’d bet on the latter.
        Moreover, I do not see how such a database would be counter to the 2nd.

        1. Some years ago New York had a “ballistic fingerprint” databank of the sort you suggest. It was abandoned. One big reason was that it was unhelpful in preventing crimes or apprehending criminals.

    3. AFAIK it is constitutional (to ban them). IIRC publishing 3-D printer plans for guns violated federal export laws. Many states require all firearms to be licensed, not just ones bought in stores – so in those states, people who build and trade their own are acting illegally if they fail to get a license. IIRC Trump even tried to roll back the ban and got slapped down by the courts for ‘arbitrary and capricious’ rule making. So the rule didn’t just get approved by the courts, it got re-confirmed when no less than POTUS tried to change it.

      I’m not sure why you think a ban would be illegal, Dr Brydon. States ban radar detectors, and that’s never been a problem. The 2A giving citizens the right to bear arms doesn’t mean all time or manner of arms purchase must be legal; if states can set limits on the who what where when how of purchasing guns from stores, they can certainly set limits on the who what where when how of purchasing 3D gun plans and specific parts intended to get around the limits imposed on store purchasing. And please no whining about liberal opposition to the 2A; constitutional law has long recognized “time, place, manner” restrictions on speech and many other constitutional rights, so laws regulating the time, place, and manner of arms acquisition just puts the 2A in accord with how all the other rights work.

      As for your “I don’t know of any,” 538 reports that in Philadelphia last year, about 9% of the guns recovered from illegal crimes and arms trafficking were ghost guns, with the numbers growing year by year. Is that a lot or a little? I guess that’s in the eye of the beholder. But your “a non-issue” is hyperbole. That’s certainly, in my mind, at least “an issue.”

  5. Clara Barton appears as a supporting character in the recent (fictional) HBO series “The Gilded Age”. Her scenes involve the founding of the American Red Cross, unsurprisingly.

  6. 1945 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies in office; Vice President Harry S. Truman becomes President upon Roosevelt’s death.

    I recall my dad telling me that he’d been on the deck of a destroyer, with a small group of his shipmates, having a smoke and admiring a western Pacific sunset, when the ship’s public address system crackled to life, announcing the death of president Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    He said they were all in shock. Roosevelt had been the only US president any of them had ever really known, since they’d been children when FDR was first elected in 1932. They all felt they knew him personally, too, given his frequent appearances in newsreels and his weekly fireside chats on the radio. And none of them was aware how sick Roosevelt was, since that had been kept a closely guarded secret.

    He also said that no one in his group could recall immediately who Roosevelt’s vice-president was, since they’d all been away at war in July 1944, at the time of the Democratic National Convention, when a little-known Missouri senator named Harry Truman was the surprise pick to replace Henry Wallace on the ticket as FDR’s third running mate. Plus, even though all of them had been at war for a couple years by then, none of them was yet old enough to have voted in the November 1944 presidential election (the national voting age at the time being 21).

  7. Cartoon: Baseball-Head is the Mets’ mascot?? Dogs always chase the ball (see any dog-park interaction). You are not obtuse for not getting it, or finding it funny.

  8. “… a brand new week: Monday, April 12, 2022.”

    [ old movie gangster lackey voice ]:

    Hey boss, ain’t it The Cruelest Day today?

        1. Mine no long appear immediately either. I’ve always used Chrome, and they used to show up immediately. Though I can’t recall when they started appearing later.

  9. “The sign was the creation of the church’s pastor, John Edgerton.”

    Name checks out.

    “Joe Biden vowed yesterday to crack down on “ghost guns,” which are apparently untraceable guns that can be assembled from kids.

    Hmmm…Does not check out 😛

    1. I don’t know…I have deep and great respect for Mr. Kristofferson, who wrote one of the best lines in any song, or indeed any form of literature, ever (Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose), but Mr. Einstein (via GR)said the past, like the future, is permanent. Of course, Mr. Heisenberg, et al MAY have something to say about that, but even their input may not change Einstein’s conclusions about time being illusory.

      Of course, for all practical purposes, Mr. K is still right…as usual.

  10. Geez, even a man of FDR’s stature (pun not intended, but left in because hey, why not) died in a twin bed back then. Really makes you think about just how much living standards are based on time and place. I haven’t slept in a twin bed since I was twelve years old.

    I’m also a big fan of Saoirse Ronin. Hanna is such an underrated movie. Directed by the same guy who did Atonement.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of her movies, but I’ve known of her for a while, and I’ve seen her in several interviews, including the Graham Norton Show, and she seems like a delightful person. I need to get out more, I guess.

      1. Yes she was. Another underrated one.

        You’re a movie guy. What did you think of Hanna? It’s one of the most creative action flicks I’ve seen. Wright does a fantastic job with lining up the lighting, music, and imagery. A kind of unique take on the genre, with its strong and stylized directorial hand.

        But that’s all just my opinion, and I don’t think I’ve ever met another person who’s seen it!

        1. I haven’t seen Hanna, but now that you’ve brought it to my attention, I’ll make a point of it.

          1. Amazing. The only people I know who have seen it are people I nearly forced to watch it, and every one of them enjoyed it! It’s baffling how a great movie sometimes flies completely under the radar like this.

  11. On the “fasting from whiteness”, it would be better, IMHO, if the church just announced they were going to go with a theme of African music. Why not raise up music from around the world rather than slam being white? Don’t they realize that their way of presenting the move focuses on racism at the expense of everything else?

    1. >Don’t they realize that their way of presenting the move focuses on racism at the expense of everything else?

      Yes, of course they do. Your point?

    2. I would say that their way of presenting the move IS a form of racism because it’s exclusionary of a thing based solely on skin color of its creator. Your idea is MUCH better.

  12. —“And why does tomato soup go best with grilled cheese rather than, say, vegetable soup or pea soup?”–

    Jerry I must challenge this.

    I definitely agree that grilled cheese sandwiches seem to call for tomato based soups – I have that combo often (usually vegetable soup, but sometimes tomato rice soup).

    But the BEST combination of all time IMO is a grilled cheese sandwich, white bread, with chicken noodle soup! The important part: DIPPED in the chicken noodle soup for each bite!

    Try it; I dare you!

    Admittedly I go low class for this, using Campbell’s chicken noodle soup because I grew up with that combo. But it’s still magical.

  13. Re “sammy”: If I were to deliberately mispronounce “sandwich”, I’d go the Pogo route and call it a sangritch or a samwinch. I know, I’m showing my age.

    1. Never thought about it like that, but that’s pretty accurate!

      Seems like it’s a form of that classic culinary rule of pairing fatty goodness (the grilled cheese sandwich) with an acid (the tomato soup). That’s what I’m going with anyway.

        1. Yeah, I think saying that every good meal must have those elements is a bit over the top, but from what I understand it is a consensus rule of thumb among culinary experts.

          I usually use a similar culinary expert rule of thumb, salty/sweet/sour (acid)/bitter/fat, when making salads from whatever I can find in the fridge and pantry. It works pretty well, at least if you get the proportions in the right ballpark. Of course the basic salad stuff and then . . .

          Salty = salt & pepper, maybe olives and or cheese.

          Sweet = raisins, chopped apple, pear, blueberries, strawberry, etc.

          Sour (Acid) = lemon juice, vinegar, mustard (emulsifier for a quick vinaigrette.

          Bitter = olives, arugula, endive.

          Fat = olive oil, walnut oil, cheese.

          1. Perhaps the rule should be that a meal should contain a variety of contrasting flavors. I suspect that if one looks closely, any rule evaporates. Cooking remains an art.

            1. When pretty much all notable chefs agree that ‘X’ is a good rule of thumb for making tasty food then there’s probably something to it. I don’t think rules of thumb conflict with cooking being an art in any way. It isn’t necessary to follow rules of thumb in order for something to be good. That kind of strict interpretation of “rule” is what the term “rule of thumb” is explicitly intended to avoid.

          2. I think my favorite salads hail from Thailand. And they do indeed keep all those tastes in mind.

            Salty: fish sauce
            Sweet: sugar in the dressing and shrimp if using
            Sour: lime juice
            Bitter: chilies, radish, onion, certain greens and herbs
            Fat: peanuts or larb if using
            Heat: chilies

            My favorite is Thai shrimp salad. Greens are butter lettuce, cilantro and mint. Other veggies include tomatoes, cucumber and red onion. Garnish with peanuts or cashews. Top with grilled shrimp seasoned with salt and pepper. Dressing: add a chili (I usually use a serrano), 2T sugar and a garlic clove to a mortar and crush to a paste. Add 2T lime juice and 2T fish sauce and dissolve the ingredients. You can add some water if the dressing is too strong, but I like it bracing. Sometimes I’ll add some lime segments to the mortar which gives the dressing a little more body; you can adjust the sugar/lime/fish sauce depending on your taste. It’s the best in the Summer with a cold beer, hopefully a Singha. 🙂

            1. I’ve learned an easy trick to get that amazing sauce in Cambodian food, but also Thai :

              Peanut butter!

              Mix with perhaps fish sauce? Sesame? Not sure – check it out. Great with those spring rolls.

              … oh – I haven’t eaten lunch! THAT’S why I’m over-commenting!

        2. In his book Presto! Penn Jillette says a famous chef said to him salt-fat-sugar is the power trio of the Standard American Diet (SAD). Vary each, get a new comestible.

          Memorable, yes. But if I dump oil in a pan with salt, it ain’t gonna make the cauliflower any better!

          Since then, I’ve learned a few things. Back to the point here, tomato has lots if glutamate – yep – the active constituent of MSG.

          Personally, I think salt provides ionic strength to keep the flavorants in solution so they have a party with the taste buds. Not enough, and the flavorants crash out and glom together, unavailable to the taste receptors.

          1. Sounds plausible. I know one thing, the right amount of salt can completely change a dish, waking up all the flavors just as you said. A sauce you spent so much time on and it just tastes flat? Often the only thing wrong is it just needs another pinch or two of salt to transform it into what it’s supposed to be.

      1. And a spritz of fresh lemon will bring out even more flavor in that.

        They sell citric acid too – I’ve been trying it carefully.

    2. Just one more thing :

      Casein micelles


      Cheese (from, of course, milk) has casein and calcium. Those two things work together. Not sure about flavor, but its gotta have something to do. Check Wikipedia for those two things. Well, one thing.

      OK, more than one thing.

    3. Oh man, you got me started :

      I’d try to take that soup to pizza town with a fresh crush of dried oregano.

  14. Re: National Licorice Day – I went on a dive trip to Bonaire with some friends. At the dive shop, there was a bowl of various candies in the room where we were going over our orientation. I grabbed a brown piece anticipating a root beer flavor, not thinking since root beer isn’t all that popular outside the U.S. The candy had a weird flavor, but I kept sucking on it. And then, I sucked through the outer shell, and was bombarded with the foulest, nastiest taste I’d ever gotten from candy. Googling it afterwards, I learned Dutch licorice is a ‘thing’, and that the candy was filled with sal ammoniac, or ammonium chloride salt. I didn’t want to be rude and spit it out, so I finished it, as disgusting as it was, then got a fruit flavored candy to cover up the taste. But then, I got to wondering if it was really as bad as I thought, so I tried another licorice candy. Still bad, but weirdly addictive. By the end of that trip, after multiple stops at the dive shop to refill our tanks, I actually liked the stuff.

    I later found this comic describing Dutch licorice, ranking 42 varieties from ‘Safe enough’ to ‘This is what despair tastes like’. Sure enough, the dive shop stocked the #1 ranked candy in that comic.


    1. Dutch salty licorice (“drop”) is the best there is, in all it’s varieties, nothing even close, but it is an acquired taste, as you demonstrate.
      I consider the ‘red’ and ‘purple’ marked ones in your link the best. Dubbel zout or Salmiakjes.
      The ‘licorice’ our host shows in the photograph the Dutch would consider sweets: ‘Engelse drop’, not really ‘drop’.
      The British do have some special, very nice licorice though: small, very mentholated ‘Potter’s Linea’ or ‘Barkleys’
      I do not eat any of it regularly though, hardly ever, because licorice wreaks havoc on one’s blood pressure.

      1. As you said, an acquired taste, but good once you have. I only have it as an occasional treat myself, partly for the blood pressure, partly because you just can’t find them in Wichita Falls, Texas.

  15. “Here in our backyard, we have an admixture of two toxins, religion and Wokeism.”

    Here in my backyard (Central Oregon) my son and daughter-in-law recently had to make a choice between these two toxins when it came to sending their son to school. Though neither of them is religious, they chose a Christian school over a public school because of the woke nonsense that permeates public education in Oregon (I won’t go into detail, but you can use your imagination). In short, they thought that their son being taught to “love your neighbor” was preferable to him being taught to “love your neighbor as long as he isn’t male and white.” I had my reservations (not that I had any say in it), but couldn’t argue with that.

  16. On the subject of sandwiches, I must rant:

    WHEN was it decided to start making sandwiches UPSIDE DOWN?

    For millennia sandwiches were made, as God intended and as is most logical, with the meat on the bottom, veggies on top (or any “star of the show” in a sandwich on the bottom, all else on top – exception that cheese slice on either bottom or top optional).

    It’s how sandwiches were always made at home and served at restaurants and fast food chains in my memory, including submarine sandwiches.

    But then, especially starting with subs, they started putting the meat on top. I remember the first time I was served a sub that way at Mr. Sub (Canadian) and I asked why the meat was on the top. “We always have done it that way” was the reply. No…no you have not. This is not a mandela effect moment, I KNOW how subs have been made for most of my life! The same happened elsewhere – sandwich served at known place now meat on top of veggies, claiming “We always make them that way.” I felt like I was being gaslit or something.

    Now it’s hard to find a sandwich made the right side up unless I make it myself.

    Meat on the bottom makes the most sense to me because it matters how something enters and interacts with your mouth. The meat is the star of the show, it hits the tongue first when chewing.
    With meat on the top, the meat goes right to the top of the roof of my mouth where I can’t taste it immediately!

    So far, at least, the Burger seems to have survived this Twilight Zoning of layering hierarchy. God help us if burgers start showing up with all the veggies on the bottom, then we know we’re doomed.

    There, that’s off my chest.

    1. I always thought the meat belonged on the bottom so as to insulate the bread from moisture from the veggies, tomato particularly. Put the tomato on the bottom and gravity guides any drips down into the bread making it soggy.

    1. If you call up his podcast featuring Jimmy Webb who wrote “MacArthur Park,” you will be “blessed” with Gottfried’s version of that song. Screamingly hilarious.

  17. It looks as though Josephine Baker’s cheetah Chiquita has stashed its latest kill on her shoulders!

    1. And I was enjoying the (possibly deliberate) fact she is looking at bananas in the shop window! The Chiquita banana brand was established in 1870, so it’s possible the photographer was making a visual pun.

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