Tuesday: Hili dialogue

January 3, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the first Cruel Day of the year: Tuesday, January 3, 2023. It’s National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, and it’s hard to find a good one (most places use maraschino cherries, which are dire).

It’s also J. R. R. Tolkien Day (born Jan. 3, 1892), Humiliation Day, Festival of Sleep Day, and the tenth of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Oh, and Memento Mori Day, on which you must remember that you’re gonna die.

2nd December 1955: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien ( 1892 – 1973) the South African-born philologist and author of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord Of The Rings’. Original Publication: Picture Post – 8464 – Professor J R R Tolkien – unpub. Original Publication: People Disc – HM0232 (Photo by Haywood Magee/Getty Images)

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 3 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The New York Times highlights the ridiculousness of America’s lax gun and open-carry laws in a piece called “A heavily armed man caused panic at a supermarket. But did he break the law?”  Here are two episodes described in the piece:

Two days after a gunman killed 10 people at a Colorado grocery store, leaving many Americans on high alert, Rico Marley was arrested as he emerged from the bathroom at a Publix supermarket in Atlanta. He was wearing body armor and carrying six loaded weapons — four handguns in his jacket pockets, and in a guitar bag, a semiautomatic rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun.

Moments earlier, an Instacart delivery driver had alerted a store employee after seeing Mr. Marley in the bathroom, along with the AR-15-style rifle, which was propped against a wall. A grand jury indictment later described what had come next: “panic, terror and the evacuation of the Publix.”

Marley was charged with 11 felonies. The charges were dropped. He was then set free but rebooked on 10 misdemeanor charges of “reckless conduct.” But it looks as if he violated no laws. Here’s another:

In February, a man named Guido Herrera was discovered at the Galleria mall in Houston, a few yards from a youth dance competition, wearing a spiked leather mask and carrying a Bible and an AR-15-style rifle. An off-duty police officer working as a security guard was alerted to his presence and tackled him. Mr. Herrera was found to have more than 120 rounds of ammunition with him, as well as a semiautomatic handgun holstered in his waistband.

He was charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor that under Texas law includes knowingly displaying a firearm in public “in a manner calculated to alarm.” A jury found him guilty, and he was given a six-month jail sentence.

Well, at least the guy got some time, but in a better world (or another country) the guys couldn’t have toted those guns in public.

*The war in Ukraine continues, now with news of a massive missile strike that killed about 400 Russian soldiers on New Year’s Day. The Ukrainians don”t admit responsibility, but who else woul have done it? (Plus the death toll estimate comes from Ukrainian sources!

Without claiming responsibility for the attack, Kyiv’s military command said that at least 400 soldiers were killed in the attack in Makiivka, a city in eastern Ukraine under Russian occupation, and that at least 300 soldiers were injured. Russia’s Defense Ministry put the death toll at 63.

The Washington Post could not independently confirm an accurate toll.

In a statement posted to Telegram, the Department of Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine provided little detail, suggesting sarcastically that the incident was the result of “the careless handling of heating devices, neglect of security measures and smoking.”

. . . Russia’s Defense Ministry blamed Kyiv for the strike and said that the Ukrainian military had fired four long-range missiles from U.S.-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), two of which were shot down.

Daniil Bezsonov, a senior Moscow-backed official for the region, wrote on Telegram that just after midnight on New Year’s Day, a Ukrainian missile had struck a vocational school in Makiivka that housed soldiers.

Note that the attack was on the military, not on civilians or civilian infrastructure. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime, which of course Russia has committed repeatedly.

*First we were going to have a recession, then the Fed raised interest rates and it looked like maybe we could avoid it. But the Fed keeps raising rates to stem inflation, and now, according to the Wall Street Journal, two-thirds of economists at major financial institutions predict that the U.S. will have a recession this year, and a few more that it will come in 2024.

Big banks are predicting that an economic downturn is fast approaching.

More than two-thirds of the economists at 23 large financial institutions that do business directly with the Federal Reserve are betting the U.S. will have a recession in 2023. Two others are predicting a recession in 2024.

The firms, known as primary dealers, are a collection of trading firms and investment banks that include companies such as Barclays PLC, Bank of America Corp., TD Securities and UBS Group AG. They cite a number of red flags: Americans are spending down their pandemic savings. The housing market is in decline, and banks are tightening their lending standards.

“We expect a downturn in global GDP growth in 2023, led by recessions in both the U.S. and the eurozone,” economists at BNP Paribas SA wrote in the bank’s 2023 outlook, titled “Steering Into Recession.”

The main culprit is the Federal Reserve, economists said, which has been raising rates for months to try to slow the economy and curb inflation. Though inflation has eased recently, it is still much higher than the Fed’s desired target.

The Fed raised rates seven times in 2022, pushing its benchmark from a range of 0% to 0.25% to the current 4.25% to 4.50%, a 15-year high. Officials signaled in December that they plan to keep raising rates to between 5% and 5.5% in 2023.

Is the Fed the culprit for not raising interest rates even higher? But that would, as the next paragraph notes, increase unemployment.

Most of the economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect the higher rates will push the unemployment level from November’s 3.7% to above 5%—still low by historical standards, but that increase would mean that millions of Americans would lose their jobs.

Most also expect the U.S. economy to contract in 2023.

Watch out for those grocery bills!

*My friend and departmental colleague Steve-Pruett Jones is quoted extensively in a four-day old WSJ article, “In Chicago, a South American bird scratches out a hardscrabble home.” The bird in question is the monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus), native to south-central South America. When I first moved here, I was startled to hear a parrot call, and soon discovered that hundreds of these birds had built huge, communal nests in the trees and on telephone poles in Hyde Park. (They like the transformers for warmth.) It’s the world’s only parrot that actually builds a nest out of sticks instead of using a tree hole, and those nests can get huge. This is a small one:

And a present nest under the Chicago Skyway, the road from Hyde Park into Indiana and parts east:


A photo of one in Brazil, taken from Wikipedia:

and what they say about the Chicago population:

The population in Chicago is estimated to be at 1,000 birds, with healthy colonies located in several of the city’s parks. Parrot origin theories include a University of Chicago experiment gone awry, an overturned truck on its way to a pet store, escaped birds from a holding pen at O’Hare Airport]or released / escaped pets. According to University of Chicago ornithologist Dr. Stephen Pruett-Jones, “They got here through the pet trade and the pet trade really peaked in the mid- to late 1960s.”

The first documented parrot nest in Chicago dates to 1973. The species continues to thrive despite several unusually harsh winters that occurred during the 1980s and in 2014. Various attempts to remove them were made over the years, most of which were resisted by a group of Hyde Park residents, including Mayor Harold Washington. The birds are generally welcomed in the city, especially by bird watchers, and were the subject of a 2012 ornithological study.

From the WSJ:

Chicago is on a main flyway for migratory birds, but monk parakeets have put down deep roots here. The South American members of the parrot family were brought north in the 1950s and 1960s and sold as pets, said Stephen Pruett-Jones, an emeritus faculty member of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago. They were first spotted on the loose in the city in 1968, he said, and somewhere along the way, enough escaped or were set free that they began to breed and flourish.

Monk parakeets have established perches in Miami, New York and other cities. But the colony underneath the Skyway, where the birds build their nests among the concrete and steel supports several stories off the ground, is one of the more improbable spots they scratch out a living.

Nancy Buis, a retired marketing manager for a nonprofit, was birding in a park near the Skyway last month when she ran into a big flock of the birds. “All of a sudden, I’m hearing these really loud noises, you know, and so I just stopped the car. And right above me were all these birds in two separate trees,” said Ms. Buis, 67.

When she got home, she counted the birds in her photographs and came up with a total of 217, a record sighting for the birds in the U.S. on one popular birding sight, she said.

. . . . But they have long had fans in high places here. Former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, who lived across the street from one of their first settlements in Hyde Park, considered them a good-luck charm and pushed back against federal efforts to eradicate the birds, Mr. Pruett-Jones said.

So far, the birds haven’t posed a major problem in Chicago, though they can cause power outages when they build their nests on transformers, he said.

Mr. Pruett-Jones says the birds have shown amazing adaptability to survive in the nation’s third-largest city, where winter temperatures can dip below zero for days at a time. The birds, which hail from temperate and subtropical areas of South America, are the only member of the parrot family to make stick nests that they inhabit as a colony.

So how do they survive the cold winters, so unlike their ancestral home? They find sheltered places (e.g., the communal nests), and, at least in Hyde Park, people feed them:

The highway shelters them from snow, and the nests help insulate from the cold. They forage most of the year, Mr. Pruett-Jones says, but they likely wouldn’t make it through Chicago’s harsh winters without the help of humans.

There was a time when Steve and I planned to get big ladders and put thermocouples in the nests to see how much warmth the nests could add, but we never got around to it. The birds are removed because they damage power lines, but they’re also damned for being agricultural pests, which isn’t really the case.

*Well, the late Pope Benedict is lying in state, body visible to all, at the Vatican, and at the end of yesterday, over 65,000 people had come to see him—more than twice the initial estimate.

As daylight broke, 10 white-gloved Papal Gentlemen — lay assistants to pontiffs and papal households — carried the body on a cloth-covered wooden stretcher after its arrival at the basilica to its resting place in front of the main altar under Bernini’s towering bronze canopy.

A Swiss Guard saluted as Benedict’s body was brought in through a side door after it was transferred in a van from the chapel of the monastery grounds where the increasingly frail, 95-year-old former pontiff died on Saturday morning.

His longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, and a handful of consecrated laywomen who served in Benedict’s household, followed the van by foot for a few hundred yards in a silent procession toward the basilica. Some of the women stretched out a hand to touch the body with respect.

Before the rank-and-file faithful were allowed into the basilica, prayers were recited and the basilica’s archpriest, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, sprinkled holy water over the body, and a small cloud of incense was released near the bier. Benedict’s hands were clasped, a rosary around his fingers.

A sign of the times. At least (I hope) there were no selfies.

There will be three days of Pope Corpse Viewing.

AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

Yep, he looks like he’s bereft of life. I don’t understand why much of the press is lionizing him as a great Pope. He covered up clerical child abuse!

AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is trying to be philosophical again:

Hili: There is a kind of fate in all this.
A: What kind?
Hili: I don’t know, but I can hear history giggling.
In Polish:
Hili: Jest w tym wszystkim jakaś ironia losu.
Ja: Jaka?
Hili: Nie wiem, ale słyszę chichot historii.


From Facebook. Look at those paws on the Lynx!

Two more cat cartoons from Facebook. First, one from Tiina Menzel:

And one from Maria Scrivan:

Over at Mastodon, God is treating His creation like a stuck candy machine:

Rowling retweets Masih:

From Barry. Is this cute or what? Sound up.

From Malcolm. No, nothing’s moving:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: (I post only one item per day, but there are always several on each day; go here to see them all).

Tweets from Matthew. ORCAS!


In case you didn’t know what a trebuchet is:

Isn’t this a handsome cat?

25 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1870 – Construction work begins on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, United States.

    1911 – A gun battle in the East End of London leaves two dead. It sparked a political row over the involvement of then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill.

    1947 – Proceedings of the U.S. Congress are televised for the first time.

    1977 – Apple Computer is incorporated.

    1993 – In Moscow, Russia, George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin sign the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

    2020 – Iranian General Qasem Soleimani is killed by an American airstrike near Baghdad International Airport, igniting global concerns of a potential armed conflict.

    106 BC – Cicero, Roman philosopher, lawyer, and politician (d. 43 BC).

    1722 – Fredrik Hasselqvist, Swedish biologist and explorer (d. 1752).

    1892 – J.R.R. Tolkien, English writer, poet, and philologist (d. 1973).

    1909 – Victor Borge, Danish-American pianist and conductor (d. 2000).

    1926 – George Martin, English composer, conductor, and producer (d. 2016). [And “Fifth Beatle”.]

    1929 – Sergio Leone, Italian director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1989).

    1945 – Stephen Stills, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer.

    1946 – John Paul Jones, English bass player, songwriter, and producer.

    2003 – Greta Thunberg, Swedish environmental activist.

    2003 – Kyle Rittenhouse, American conservative personality.

    Nailed to the perch:
    1795 – Josiah Wedgwood, English potter, founded the Wedgwood Company (b. 1730). [And grandfather of both Charles Darwin and his wife Emma.]

    1875 – Pierre Larousse, French lexicographer and publisher (b. 1817). [France’s Dr Johnson?]

    1946 – William Joyce, American-British pro-Axis propaganda broadcaster (b. 1906). [Nicknamed “Lord Haw-Haw”, he was hanged for high treason. His daughter Heather died just last week.]

    1980 – Joy Adamson, Austrian-Kenyan painter and conservationist (b. 1910). [Wrote Born Free about raising Elsa the lion cub. Coincidentally, the actor Bill Travers, who played Adamson’s husband George in the 1966 film adaptation, was born on this day in 1922.]

  2. Yes, supporters of the Second Amendment must figure out how the casual observer is supposed to know whether the obviously armed man walking down the street or into a building is a lawful citizen flaunting his rights or a lunatic bent on mayhem.

  3. Today the House of Representatives will attempt to elect a Speaker. It took the 34th Congress two months and 133 ballots to choose Nathaniel Banks as Speaker, and the 36th Congress a similar period and forty-four ballots to choose William Pennington. Thank god talk of trying to elect Trump as Speaker has quieted. Those in the Republican Party have said that the promises that McCarthy has made are meaningless, as they don’t trust him, which is a problem where promises are made.

    1. Kevin McCarthy’s a fella prefers to keep a very low profile in courage, a fella whose spine deliquesces at the sound of Donald Trump’s voice. He’s busy right now writing promissory notes to every last swinging dick and swinging dickless in the House Republican caucus in an effort to secure the 218 votes needed to become Speaker — promissory notes his ass won’t be able to cover if he gets the job.

      One of the first tasks assigned the Speaker of the House is to administer the oath of office to the members elected last November. So until there is a new Speaker, the 118th US congress will be without a House of Representatives.

        1. Wild mushroom hunters know this word because there is a genus of edible mushroom, Coprinus, that deliquesces, i.e. turns into a thick black wet mass, if you dont eat it right away. Coprinus gets its name from the same place as “corpse”, of course, i.e death decay. The most common one is Coprinus
          micaceous. It is said that you get stoned if you eat it along with some form of alcohol. It is very delicate and grows in small clusters. Goodness gracious, Coprinus micaceous!!!

          1. You, my friend, are (as this is family friendly) full of dung. And by you i mean Coprinus: (from Wiktionary) From Ancient Greek κόπρινος (kóprinos, “full of dung, filthy”), referring to the characteristic habitat.

  4. It is true that Joseph Ratzinger covered up the sexual abuse of children and aided in the preventable illness and deaths of thousands through his opposition to the use of condoms but, on the positive side, the passage of time means we are now unlikely to get another leader of the Catholic church who was a former member of the Hitler Youth.

    1. Yeah, Ratzinger was the last of the popes called upon to answer the crucial question, “What did you do doing The War, padre?”

  5. Tuesday is the 2023 anchor day – same day as last day in February leap year or not. Some memorable dates :


    Others might be found.

  6. I wouldn’t be surprised if a ‘pilgrim’ walked to Benedict’s corpse and took a piece of toenail as a “relic,” and then claim the remission from his arthritis as a “miracle” from that same pope.

  7. It is monk parakeets that have done well in Chicago, while it is ring-necked parakeets that can now be found in many London parks. So there is a question why some parakeet species adapt more easily to life in places like London, Chicago and New York. Are the immigrant species that have done well the same species that were sold and kept as pets? Or, among captive parakeet populations, are some populations better at surviving in the wild once they escape or are freed?

      1. Does the natural habitat of monk parakeets have low temperatures like those in Chicago? The ring-necked parakeet does not naturally inhabit temperate areas, according to Wikipedia. If you have info about their natural habitat, do cite. It would be interesting to see whether these immigrant birds have indeed adapted to climates different from the climates where they originated. If these birds have indeed survived in climates quite different from the climates in which they evolved, that would be interesting.

  8. I am linking to a piece on immigrant parakeets (and related birds) in Lima, which brings out a central feature of their evolutionary history….the presence of lots of greenery….absent in coastal Peru.
    This is interesting as it shows how the birds have done well in a city in a region very different from the regions in the northern hemisphere with big immigrant parakeet populations.

  9. “Wait… Those aren’t dolphins!”

    Yes they are. Orcas happen to be the largest dolphins in the family Delphinidae. “Killer whale” is a misnomer for this species.

  10. In the fishing boat video, they were Orcas, often called “Killer Whales”, a common sight here in the Puget Sound.

    1. Delightfully playful, but most boaters in the Puget Sound stop our engines, or at least seriously slow down when they show up.

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