Wednesday: Hili dialogue

January 25, 2023 • 6:45 am

Greetings on a Hump Day, or “Kupros diena,” as they say in Lithuania: Wednesday, January 25, 2023. It’s National Irish Coffee Day, a drink that I like even though it’s got cream and sugar in it. The best one I ever had was in San Francisco at some place near the Wharf that was famous for this drink, but I can’t remember its name. Here’s one:

Source. Don’t forget the Jameson’s!

It’s Burns Supper Night (haggis, tatties, and neeps; I recommend McSween’s Vegetarian Haggis if you don’t like organ meat), Fluoride Day, and National Voters’ Day in India.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 25 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*If you define a “mass shooting” as one in which there are four or more victims injured or wounded (not counting the shooter) in one incident, how many do you think we’ve had so far this year? Remember, it’s just the 25th of January.

Did you guess? It’s 39: more than 1.5 per day!

Rising gun violence and a dizzying pace of mass public shootings in recent years have pushed concerns about public safety to the forefront for many Americans. It remains an open question how 2023 will play out, but several weeks in, there have already been two major public shootings that together left at least 18 dead along with a string of other often-deadly shootings involving multiple victims.

There were 39 shootings involving at least four victims, including the deadly California mass shootings, through Jan. 23, the highest tally at this point in a year since at least 2014, according to available data from the Gun Violence Archive. The nonprofit research group, which tracks shootings, defines these events as an episode in which four or more people, not including the shooter, are wounded or killed.

These shootings have resulted in 70 deaths so far this year, according to the nonprofit, compared with 35 at this point a year ago.

Also, according to NBC News, a Kansas hunter was killed after his dog stepped on a rifle in the back seat of his car, discharging the firearm. The hunter was sitting on the passenger’s seat in front of the car and died after he was struck in the back.

*Although I’m a pacifist, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t care about who prevails in the war between Ukraine and Russia. So I’m glad to hear that, according to the NYT, the U.S. is moving closer to giving Ukraine the tanks it so badly wants. (UPDATE: Germany just confirmed it will send Leopard tanks to Ukraine.)

The Biden administration is moving closer to sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, in what would be a major step in arming Kyiv in its efforts to seize back its territory from Russia.

President Biden has yet to make a final decision, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. But if he does agree to send the advanced Abrams tanks the move would likely spur Germany to follow with its own coveted Leopard 2 tanks, the officials said.

And that would lead to other NATO members, like Poland, to fork over some tanks as well.  Send it the tanks!

The movement toward sending the Abrams tanks, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes after a testy confrontation last week during a NATO defense chiefs meeting over the refusal by Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to send the Leopards, which many military experts believe could be a decisive weapon in Ukrainian hands.

German officials privately insisted that they would only send the tanks, among the most advanced in the world, if the United States agreed to send its own M1 Abrams tanks. Publicly, American and German officials have denied that the two issues were linked.

Anticipation for a German announcement was high, as various German news outlets reported that Mr. Scholz had already decided to send the tanks. Attention was focused on the chancellor’s expected address to Parliament on Wednesday.

Many European countries use German-built Leopards. On Monday, Poland’s defense minister said his country had formally requested Germany’s permission to send Ukraine Leopard tanks from its own stocks, and other countries have indicated they would do the same if Germany agreed.

Wanna see one? Here’s a Leopard 2A7A1; Wikipedia notes that “The Leopard 2A4’s armour has a maximum physical thickness of 800 millimetres (31 in) based on unofficial measurements and estimates made by former conscripts and professional soldiers of the German army.” That’s a lot of armor!

The NBC News said last night that three government officials confirmed that the U.S. will send a “couple dozen” Abrams tanks to Ukraine, but they may take months to get there. Why so long?

*Oy! Now they’ve found classified documents at the home of Trump’s Vice-President Mike “The Mummified Person” Pence (see below). Who’s next: Kamala Harris?

A lawyer for former vice president Mike Pence, a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, found what they called “a small number” of documents bearing classified markings during a search of Pence’s Indiana home, according to letters to the National Archives.

Gregory F. Jacob, a designated representative for Pence’s vice-presidential records, said Pence gave permission for the FBI to collect the classified documents from his home Jan. 19 while the former vice president was in Washington to attend the March for Life, the yearly gathering of antiabortion advocates. Jacob noted he would deliver the boxes in which those documents were found, along with other vice-presidential papers, to the National Archives on Jan. 23.

“Following press reports of classified documents at the personal home of President Biden, out of an abundance of caution, on Monday, January 16, Vice President Pence engaged outside counsel, with experience in handling classified documents, to review records stored in his personal home,” Jacob said in a letter dated Jan. 18. “Counsel identified a small number of documents that could potentially contain sensitive or classified information interspersed throughout the records.”
All of this is bound to make it harder to convict Trump, as soon we’ll hear the mantra, “See? Everyone does it; it’s just collateral damage from the job!”

*Something must be wrong with me because the movies that Hollywood loved last year, judging from the number of Oscar nominations, aren’t coincident with the movies I liked. Granted, several of my faves are in here, but the movie that got most of the nods was one I simply couldn’t finish watching (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), and “Top Gun Maverick,” your standard issue action movie was also nominated for best picture. Even “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” a charming movie that Rotten Tomatoes rated second best of the year, was better than these.  (I note it was nominated for Best Animated Feature, and I hope it wins). But read on:

The multiverse-skipping sci-fi indie hit “Everything Everywhere All at Once” led nominations to the 95th Academy Awards as Hollywood heaped honors on big-screen spectacles like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” a year after a streaming service won best picture for the first time.

Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” landed a leading 11 nominations on Tuesday, including nods for Michelle Yeoh and comeback kid Ke Huy Quan, the former child star of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Released back in March, the A24 film has proven an unlikely Oscar heavyweight against the expectations of even its makers. Yeoh became the first Asian actor nominated for best actress.

“Even just to be nominated means validation, love, from your peers,” said an “overwhelmed” Yeoh speaking by phone from London. “What it means for the rest of the Asians around the world, not just in America but globally, is to say we have a seat at the table. We finally have a seat at the table. We are being recognized and being seen.”

The 10 movies up for best picture are: “Everything Everywhere All at Once,”“The Banshees of Inisherin,” “The Fabelmans,” “Tár,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Elvis,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Women Talking” and “Triangle of Sadness.”

. . . For the first time, two sequels — “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” — were nominated for best picture. The two films together account for some $3.5 billion in box office. Tom Cruise missed out on an acting nomination, but “Top Gun: Maverick” — often credited with bringing many moviegoers back to theaters — walked away with seven nominations, including best sound, best visual effects and best song for Lada Gaga’s “Hold My Hand.” Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” made in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s death, also scored five nominations, including the first acting nod for a performance in a Marvel movie: Angela Bassett, the likely favorite to win best supporting actress.

I haven’t seen many of these, like “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” or the new “Avatar Movie,” so I can’t speak for these. But although “The Fabelmans” was a very good movie (a lightly fictionalized bio of director Stephen Spielberg), I don’t think it was better than “Till” (not nominated). For me the best movie I saw this year was “Tár”, with “The Banshees of Inisherin” as second best. At least they were nominated, but so was a passel of action movies. For some reason these space/fantasy/chase movies don’t float my boat (this is, of course, my subjective opinion), but they did clean up a lot of nominations this year. Is it the slow pace of movies like “Tokyo Story” or “Ikuru” what would keep such a movie out of the running in an era when attention spans are short?

*The newest word to be banned for ideological incorrectness: “mummy”.  And you can guess why, right? It’s because it refers to a human but does not say that the mummy is human. And I can bet without having read the article that the preferred term is “mummified person”.  (h/t Ginger K). Let us see:

London’s British Museum and National Museums Scotland no longer use the term, preferring “mummified person” or “mummified remains” as a politically correct alternative.

I knew it!!! But “remains” is definitely humanizing

A National Museums Scotland spokesperson said: “Where we know the name of an individual we use that, otherwise we use ‘mummified man, woman, boy, girl or person’ because we are referring to people, not objects.

“The word ‘mummy’ is not incorrect, but it is dehumanising, whereas using the term ‘mummified person’ encourages our visitors to think of the individual.”

It is thought to have originated from the Arabic word ‘mummiya’, which translates to ‘bitumen’, a balming substance.

Great North Museum curator Jo Anderson also told The Daily Mail: “Legends about the mummy’s curse and movies portraying supernatural monsters […] can undermine their humanity.”

Campaign for Real Education chairman Chris McGovern said: ‘The curse of the mummy is driving these academics mad!’

I don’t know what the Campaign for Real Education is, but McGovern’s statement is pretty funny—and not far from the truth. The mummies in movies are monsters who come back to live, so whether they count as “people” or “monsters” is up for grabs. Do we really want to change the name of the movie “The Mummy” (and its sequels) to “The Mummified Person”?

A British Museum spokesman told the paper: “Displays and exhibitions have emphasised that mummified remains are of people who once lived.”

Well, what about “remains” or “corpses”? Neither of those use the word “person” or “human.” I guess you need to preface each with “human”. But these were mostly dignitaries, I think, so are you really disrespecting them to call them mummies. Pondering this kind of stuff can drive one mad.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is staring into the abyss again:

A: What are you looking at?
Hili: At the potential of the unknown.
In Polish:
Ja: Na co tak patrzysz?
Hili: Na potencjał nieznanego.

And a picture of baby Kulka in the snow by Paulina:


From Malcolm: Turning maps into portraits:

From Bruce:

From Jesus of the Day:

I don’t know what God is talking about here, but remember that His ways are mysterious:

From Maish, another victim of Iranian murder. The Farsi translation is below:

We will not forget you. (44) #Mohammadreza_Sarori, a 14-year-old Afghan child was killed by direct fire from the forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the 30th of Shahrivar 1401 in Tehran. Ali Sharifzadeh, a lawyer, published the picture of his burial permit and wrote: “The cause of death was hit by a high-speed projectile (bullet) and bleeding.


From Dom (sound up):

An adorable tweet from Malcolm: kitten practicing his right hook:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, one who made it out alive and one who didn’t, both born on this day.

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. He says this first one looks as if the mating pair is having fun, but to me they just look cold!

I had to retweet this:

What a lovely bird! I wonder if both sides are the same sex.

38 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I’ve been thinking about that mummy thing since I first saw it, and keep wondering if it’s some weird objection to “mummy” being like “mommy” from the woke campaign against women. Otherwise, I don’t see an interest group for 3,000 year old corpses.

    Also, I will always up-vote googly eyes.

    1. In the UK where the British Museum is located, “Mummy” and “Mum” are the correct spelling for the words that you might use to describe your mother. “Mommy” and “Mom” are just wrong and they set my teeth on edge for some reason.

      1. There is an old joke about a child that was sad because his daddy had become a mummy. The meaning was clear in the 1960’s, I suppose less so now.

      2. Was always Mum and Mummy when I was growing up, too. My sister and I called her Mum until the day she died. I think my grandchildren say it, too. When the five-year-old gets to the age where she sighs in exasperation and rolls her eyes at her mother because she won’t let her get her bellybutton pierced, we’ll see if it’s “Mo-o-o-mmmm!” or “Mu-u-u-mmmm!”

    2. Institutions that put dead bodies in glass cases for visitors to gawk at are being disingenuous when they claim to be concerned about dehumanizing their exhibits.

      I’m all in favor of those bodies being put on display, but I find the museums hypocritical and patronizing in their language choices.

  2. Since the Budgerigar’s cere is blue on both sides, I expect both embryos were male; females have brown ceres.

      1. Yes, I think so. It looks like an example of a chimera, when two fertilized embryos fused very early in development.

    1. I was thinking a simpler cause, which would be a somatic cell mutation in a single embryo at an early stage of development.

      1. The fused embryo theory confuses me. It happens in mammals, but did this bird’s mother lay a double-yolked egg, and the yolks fused? Did the yolk have 2 nuclear poles? I don’t know much about avian embryology, but probably more than average. I favor the somatic early crest cell mutation. Very curious.

  3. I thought “Everything Everywhere All At Once” was great. It was funny, touching, and kung fu all in one movie.

    1. Agreed. I went to see EEAAO without knowing anything about it because I’m madly in love with Michelle Yeoh and loved it. The other rather offbeat movies I enjoyed last year were “Three thousand Years of Longing” and “Nope” although I thought the latter could have lost about 15 to 20 minutes and been better for it.

      With all the streaming are we seeing the traditional big screen movie theater experience die right before our eyes? That would be very sad.

    2. I liked it, too. But I’m going to have to warn my mother against it, even though she usually makes a point of watching all the nominated Best Picture movies. She’s 92 and is having some trouble following plots and multiple characters. From her perspective, that film would be absolute torture.

  4. On this day:
    1585 – Walter Raleigh is knighted, shortly after renaming North America region “Virginia”, in honor of Elizabeth I, Queen of England, sometimes referred to as the “Virgin Queen”.

    1819 – University of Virginia chartered by Commonwealth of Virginia, with Thomas Jefferson one of its founders.

    1858 – The Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn is played at the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Victoria, and Friedrich of Prussia, and becomes a popular wedding processional.

    1890 – Nellie Bly completes her round-the-world journey in 72 days.

    1915 – Alexander Graham Bell inaugurates U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.

    1918 – The Ukrainian People’s Republic declares independence from Soviet Russia.

    1924 – The 1924 Winter Olympics opens in Chamonix, in the French Alps, inaugurating the Winter Olympic Games.

    1947 – Thomas Goldsmith Jr. files a patent for a “Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device”, the first ever electronic game.

    1627 – Robert Boyle, Anglo-Irish chemist and physicist (d. 1691).

    1736 – Joseph-Louis Lagrange, Italian-French mathematician and astronomer (d. 1813).

    1759 – Robert Burns, Scottish poet and songwriter (d. 1796).

    1882 – Virginia Woolf, English novelist, essayist, short story writer, and critic (d. 1941).

    1900 – Theodosius Dobzhansky, Russian-American geneticist and pioneer of evolutionary biology (d. 1975).

    1938 – Etta James, American singer (d. 2012).

    1949 – John Cooper Clarke, English poet and critic.

    1949 – Paul Nurse, English geneticist and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate.

    1978 – Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine and actor.

    Went into the fertilizer business:
    1742 – Edmond Halley, English astronomer (b. 1656).

    1891 – Theo van Gogh, Art dealer, the brother of Vincent van Gogh (b. 1857).

    1947 – Al Capone, American gangster and mob boss (b. 1899).

    1990 – Ava Gardner, American actress (b. 1922).

    2017 – John Hurt, English actor (b. 1940).

    2017 – Mary Tyler Moore, American actress and producer (b. 1936).

  5. I’ve just had my Burns Night lunch of haggis, tatties and neeps. This evening, I’ll pour myself a generous measure of Lagavulin to toast Rabbie’s memory.

    Apropos mummies, the Guardian had a fascinating article on Monday about a team of scientists in Egypt who used a CT scanner to look inside the mummy of a teenage boy who died around 300 BCE. The detail that they were able to discern is remarkable.

  6. Re documents. I wonder if the Pence discovery might actually make Garland’s decision easier. Contrasting voluntary disclosure, cooperation and quick return of inadvertently held materials (Pence and Biden) with stonewalling and obstruction from El Cheeto sets up a clear dichotomy and rationale to pursue one but not the other two.

    One has to wonder what a search of the Clinton (go god!), Bush, Obama or indeed many senator’s residences might unearth.

    1. The cases really could not be more different. Anyone unable to see how different Trump’s case is to the others is either ignorant of the facts that have been revealed to the public to date, or has severe biases. I know many such people exist.

    2. I guess Clinton and Obama would claim that they took possession of the documents while President, and that such was their right.
      The ones who were not President when they took the documents would have no excuse.
      But of course they are members of the aristocracy, and have good reason to expect not to suffer the sorts of consequences that you or I would.

      If a little person who has access to work on classified material takes a document home to continue work after hours, they go to jail. Even if no unauthorized person ever has access to it. Even if it is safely returned. Even if it was taken by accident.

    3. Honestly, it’d be a good use of the Witch Hunters Caucus’s time. It’s probably true that lots of higher level officials have classified documents lying around and it’d be nice to know how common it is and what to do to reduce its occurrence.

  7. So it is a given that the handling of sensitive documents is widely mis-handled. So what is to be done toward preventing this in the future? One would be to be a bit less twitchy about what is classified as being sensitive and secret. The other I suppose would be to have a system where there are people who are handlers of the documents, and our public officials must electronically check them out and return them like you would check out books at a library.

  8. I am offended and horrified! How can the National Museums of Scotland know if the mummified person identified with their natal sex?! Do better Scotland!

    “A National Museums Scotland spokesperson said: “Where we know the name of an individual we use that, otherwise we use ‘mummified man, woman, boy, girl or person’ because we are referring to people, not objects.”

    [How am I doing? Have I learned the tone and language of the woke? 😉 )

  9. Do you write all the material on this blog yourself or do you have assistants? It seems fantastic that this level of fecundity could be attributable to just one person.

    1. Yes, as a San Franciscan I’m sure the Buena Vista Cafe is the place PCC referred to. Its Irish coffee is indeed delicious!

  10. I am totally with Jerry on his film preferences. There’s nothing wrong with people enjoying frivolous superficial entertainment. Nowadays they need distraction from real life. But for me, films are art, not just games or ferris wheels. A great film lasts a lifetime, like great music and great art. It forms part of our lives and our environment; it is an aesthetic experience. I am not afraid to be called a snotty elitist or snob. Truly, the abundance of sci fi/fantasy flimsiness in films and its acceptance not to say its
    rewards from the public indicate to me a drastic deterioration in the American intellect and cultural life. Small wonder that our political and social network scenes are so ugly. The untergang of American culture has been well under way for a long time in case no one noticed. How much further it can decline no one knows.
    And what the end will be I prefer not to consider. The real human civilization, or what remains of it, is in western Europe. Having lived there for long periods of time and visited almost all of it, I believe it is the only hope for humanity.

  11. Why does nobody seem to be asking the question, as to who is responsible for secret documents? How can a document be classified as secret and go missing for five or more years and no one seems to notice? If a document is secret it should be numbered, signed for by each individual who possesses it and tracked by the group who originally produced it.

    1. Everything is classified. It wouldn’t surprise me if the lunch menus at the White House were classified.

      It is all nonsense.

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