Tuesday: Hili dialogue

January 31, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the last day of the month, Tuesday, January 31, 2023: National Hot Chocolate Day, and not a moment too soon given Chicago’s freezing temperatures (it was 2ºF [-17ºC] when I walked to work today).

Here’s some of the world’s best hot chocolate, thick and with whipped cream on the side, served with pastries at Angelina’s in Paris. My pastry in the foreground is the famous chestnut-flavored Mont-Blanc.  This is a real pig-out!

It’s also Brandy Alexander Day, Eat Brussels Sprouts Day (I’d rather die), Scotch Tape Day (first marketed on this day in 1930), Amartithi (celebrated in Meherabad, India by followers of Meher Baba) and Street Children’s Day in Austria.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 31 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Obituaries first, and there are three today:

Hockey great Bobby Hull died on Sunday evening.  I don’t know much about hockey, but everybody in Chicago has heard of Hull, who brought glory (notably in the form of a Stanley Cup) to the Chicago Blackhawks, our city team. He was a local fixture and well loved. From ESPN:

Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, a 12-time All-Star and two-time Hart Trophy winner, has died, the Chicago Blackhawks announced Monday. He was 84.

“We send our deepest sympathies to the Hull family,” the team said in a statement. “The Hull family has requested privacy during this difficult time. They appreciate the sympathies that have been sent their way.”

Hull, known during his playing career as the Golden Jet because of his blond hair and his speed on the ice, became beloved in Chicago for teaming with Stan Mikita to help the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961, ending a 23-year title drought.

Following Mikita’s lead, Hull became known for curving the blade of his wooden stick in the 1960s and had one of the most feared slap shots in the league. His slap shot was reportedly clocked at 118 mph.

He played 15 seasons in Chicago and is the franchise’s career leader in goals scored with 604. For eight of those seasons, he played alongside his brother Dennis, who scored 298 goals with the Blackhawks. Bobby Hull won back-to-back Hart Memorial Trophies as the league’s most valuable player in 1964-65 and 1965-66, when he won the NHL scoring title for the third time in his career.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement called Hull “a true superstar with a gregarious personality.”

A brief bio showing him in action on the ice (Notice that in one shot he’s missing his two front teeth. This is a common condition among hockey players, especially back then with no helmets or faceguards. I’ll mention here that my own dentist is also the official team dentist for the Chicago Blackhawks, and has to go to every home game lest there be a dental mishap. He tells me that mishaps are so common that there’s a dental clinic in the stadium.)

*Cindy Williams, who played Shirley Feeney on the popular television show “Laverne and Shirley” passed away last Wednesday; it was announced last night.

Cindy Williams, who was among the most recognizable stars in America in the 1970s and 1980s for her role as Shirley opposite Penny Marshall’s Laverne on the beloved sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” has died, her family said Monday.

Williams died in Los Angeles at age 75 on Wednesday after a brief illness, her children, Zak and Emily Hudson, said in a statement released through family spokeswoman Liza Cranis.

“The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” the statement said. “Knowing and loving her has been our joy and privilege. She was one of a kind, beautiful, generous and possessed a brilliant sense of humor and a glittering spirit that everyone loved.”

Williams worked with some of Hollywood’s most elite directors in a film career that preceded her full-time move to television, appearing in George Cukor’s 1972 “Travels With My Aunt,” George Lucas’ 1973 “American Graffiti” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation” from 1974.

But she was by far best known for “Laverne & Shirley,” the “Happy Days” spinoff that ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983 that in its prime was among the most popular shows on TV.

Williams played the straitlaced Shirley Feeney to Marshall’s more libertine Laverne DeFazio on the show about a pair of blue-collar roommates who toiled on the assembly line of a Milwaukee brewery in the 1950s and 1960s.

Remember this intro to the show?

*If you’re old enough to have watched “The Addams” family on television, you’ll remember Wednesday, the freaky little kid. Here she is teaching Lurch to dance:

Wednesday was played by Lisa Loring, who started on the show Wednesday in 1964, when she was just six years old. To me that doesn’t seem so long ago, but it was, and Loring grew up. Sadly, she just died, and at the relatively young age of 64. It was cigarettes and high blood pressure that did her in:

Lisa Loring, best known as the first actress to play Wednesday Addams in the original “The Addams Family” sitcom, has died at the age of 64.

Loring “passed away on Saturday surrounded by her family,” longtime agent Chris Carbaugh told CNN in a statement on Monday.

“She brought to life one of the most iconic characters in Hollywood history that is still celebrated today,” Carbaugh said. “Lisa loved sharing her memories and meeting all her fans across the world.”

The former child star was a mother and grandmother, her agent added, saying: “She will be missed dearly.”

Laurie Jacobson, Loring’s friend, also reported her death on Facebook, saying she had “suffered a massive stroke brought on by smoking and high blood pressure.”

“She had been on life support for 3 days. Yesterday, her family made the difficult decision to remove it and she passed last night,” Jacobson wrote. “She is embedded in the tapestry that is pop culture and in our hearts always as Wednesday Addams.”

Following news of her death, fans flocked to social media to pay tribute, with one person writing on Twitter: “Farewell to Lisa Loring, the person who DEFINED Wednesday Addams at a time when she was just a frowning newspaper drawing.”

Young and older:

*For 30 years, Linda Greenhouse reported on the Supreme Court for the NYT; now she writes books and teaches at Yale Law School (she won a Pulitzer at the NYT). She has a guest essay at the Times today that’s worth reading, “The latest crusade to place religion over the rest of civil society.

Back in the good old days, when the Supreme Court wasn’t a theological body, they decided that an employer need accommodate an employee’s religious needs only if they imposed almost no cost or hardship to the business. As Greenhouse writes,

An accommodation requiring an employer “to bear more than a de minimis cost” — meaning a small or trifling cost — need not be granted, the court said in Trans World Airlines v. Hardison. In that case, an airline maintenance worker claimed a legal right to avoid Saturday shifts so he could observe the tenets of the Worldwide Church of God, which he had recently joined. Ruling for the airline, the court noted that if one worker got Saturdays off for religion reasons, the burden would fall on other workers who might have nonreligious reasons for wanting to have the weekend off.

“We will not readily construe the statute to require an employer to discriminate against some employees in order to enable others to observe their Sabbath,” the court said.

Well, that was then; this is now. Greenhouse predicts that the new Court will shift the balance far more towards accommodating religion:

That isn’t an idle prediction but rather the surely foreordained outcome of the new case the justices recently added to their calendar for decision during the current term. The appeal was brought by a conservative Christian litigating group, First Liberty Institute, on behalf of a former postal worker, Gerald Groff, described as a Christian who regards Sunday as a day for “worship and rest.”

Mr. Groff claimed a legal right to avoid the Sunday shifts required during peak season at the post office where he worked. Facing discipline for failing to show up for his assigned shifts, he quit and filed a lawsuit. The lower courts ruled against him, with the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit expressing no doubt that the disruption and loss of morale Mr. Groff’s absences caused in the small rural post office where he worked exceeded the de minimis threshold that the Supreme Court’s 1977 precedent requires an employer to demonstrate.

The decision to hear his appeal brings the Supreme Court to a juncture both predictable and remarkable. It is predictable because Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch have all called for a case that would provide a vehicle for overturning a precedent that is clearly in tension with the current court’s privileging of religious claims above all others, whether in the context of public health measures during the Covid-19 pandemic or anti-discrimination claims brought by employees of religious organizations.

. . . The moment is remarkable for the bold activism the court is about to display. In the days when the justices professed respect for the doctrine of stare decisis, or adherence to precedent, the general understanding was that decisions that interpreted statutes should be harder to overturn than those that interpreted the Constitution.

. . .It may be just a coincidence, but the plaintiff who finally persuaded the justices to take his case is in fact, according to the joint statement of facts agreed to by the parties, “an evangelical Christian within the Protestant tradition.” When the court doubtless rules for him later this term, the decision will not stand for a vindication of minority rights. It will instead signify the court’s complete identification with the movement in the country’s politics to elevate religion over all other elements of civil society.

Whether today’s Supreme Court is helping to lead that movement or has been captured by it is by now beside the point. Religion is the lens through which the current majority views American society; as I have written, there is no other way to understand the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The endpoint of this project is not yet in view.

Is that depressing or what? The only question is whether the vote to advance religion will be 6-3 or 5-4.

*Some people say that gun violence in the U.S. can’t be curbed, even with stricter gun regulation, for criminals will get guns no matter what. (Of course many inadvertent deaths occur from guns owned legally.) Now Florida and its gun-loving governor (perhaps a candidate in the next Presidential election) have done their best to make homicide as easy as pie:

Saying gun owners don’t need a government permission slip to protect their God-given rights, Florida’s House speaker proposed legislation Monday to eliminate concealed weapons permits, a move Democrats argue would make a state with a history of horrific mass shootings less safe.

Republican leaders, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, have expressed support for the idea, so the bill should not have a problem passing in a legislature with a GOP a super-majority.

“What we’re about here today is a universal right that applies to each and every man or woman regardless of race, gender, creed or background,” Speaker Paul Renner said at a news conference.

Get that? A fricking UNIVERSAL RIGHT! Where did that idea come from.

Democrats immediately responded that the proposal could lead to more gun violence and accidents. They said that the bill supporters call constitutional carry will allow people to buy guns with no training or background checks.

“Untrained carry is what it is,” said Democratic Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, who was mayor of Parkland when a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student fatally shot 17 students and faculty. “You are not making our communities, our schools or any places safer with this.”

Renner said law-abiding gun owners will take safety seriously.

“Anybody that is a gun owner and uses guns knows that safety comes first,” Renner said. “That’s important, but it’s not required. So the permit and all aspects of that permit will go away.”

And this is from a county sheriff:

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said people who want to do harm to others won’t be stopped by the permit requirement.

“Criminals don’t get a permit. Not one of them. They don’t care about obeying the law. Our law-abiding citizens have that immediate right, guarantee and freedom to protect themselves,” Ivey said.

That’s right: citizens should have the same “rights” as criminals. If criminals don’t have permits, then citizens shouldn’t have to have them, either. What kind of twisted logic is that?

And no training? People walking around with concealed weapons, completely lacking official permission to have them? What could possibly go wrong?

And the next step? Open carry!

*Amazingly, dolphins have been spotted swimming in the Bronx River x

New York City residents were delighted by the unexpected arrival of dolphins to the city’s Bronx River this week. The dolphins‘ return is being hailed as a win following a decades-long effort to clean and restore the river to its former health.

The 39-kilometre-long Bronx River was once a vibrant waterway, but in the 19th and 20th centuries, the river became a dump site for human and industrial waste. Species that were previously abundant, including dolphins, turtles and fish, plummeted in number.

More than $10 million of federal funding has since helped rehabilitate the damaged waterway, which, in 2007, welcomed the city’s first beaver in over 200 years. The river now hosts a variety of aquatic life, from oysters and crabs to beavers and snapping turtles, though restoration efforts are still far from complete.

Dolphins are a rare sight in New York City waters, but on the evening of 16 January in the Bronx’s Starlight Park, a resident captured a video of multiple dolphins’ dorsal fins breaking the water’s surface.

The last reported dolphin sightings in the area were in 2013 and again in 2021 when bottlenose dolphins showed up in the city’s much larger East River. The recent marine visitors likely entered the Bronx River in search of fish, according to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.

Officials are asking residents to keep 50 metres away from the dolphins to minimise disturbing the animals.

A tweet with PROOF!:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili hears the sounds of silence:

Hili: I’m looking with suspicion.
A: And what do you see?
Hili: Unsettling silence.
In Polish:
Hili: Patrzę podejrzliwie.
Ja: I co widzisz?
Hili: Niepokojącą ciszę.


From Marion:

From Beth:

And from Malcolm, an instrument designed by Leonardo da Vinci. It sounds great!

Masih’s reaction to the arrest of three Eastern European men who were plotting to kill her. Have a listen to her thoughts.

This is horrible. Below are people who, on the 75th anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination, are celebrating the man who killed him, Nathuram Godse, who was hanged as one of the plotters. They’re re-enacting the assassination with fake blood. Godse is revered by a fair number of Hindu nationalists and members of India’s ruling party, the BJP. (Godse shot Gandhi because the Mahatma was supposedly being too conciliatory towards Muslims.)

The famous  “rainbow” waterfall at Yosemite sent in by Gravelinspector, who says “I ‘thumbnail’ it as the Sun being at about 60~70° elevation, but I’d need to look up Yosemite’s latitude to make that a time-of-day (local, not. UTC).”   It’s gorgeous.

From Barry, who says “Performative BS indeed!”.  What is going ON here?

From Malcolm: a 40-second miscellany of animal behavior:

From the Auschwitz Memorial. a soccer player killed upon arrival:

Tweets from Matthew. I love this one!

But who was Henry? And what is that flap for?  Go here and you’ll find out that it has no known function, only speculations about it. But parasites can gather in it, so it’s somewhat maladaptive.

Classic WPA art from the Depression:

55 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1747 – The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital.

    1865 – American Civil War: The United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery, and submits it to the states for ratification.

    1915 – World War I: Germany is the first to make large-scale use of poison gas in warfare in the Battle of Bolimów against Russia.

    1945 – US Army private Eddie Slovik is executed for desertion, the first such execution of an American soldier since the Civil War.

    1953 – A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands and over 300 in the United Kingdom.

    1961 – Project Mercury: Mercury-Redstone 2: The chimpanzee Ham travels into outer space.

    1968 – Vietnam War: Viet Cong guerrillas attack the United States embassy in Saigon, and other attacks, in the early morning hours, later grouped together as the Tet Offensive.

    2001 – In the Netherlands, a Scottish court convicts Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and acquits another Libyan citizen for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. [Private Eye magazine still argues that this was a miscarriage of justice.]

    2020 – The United Kingdom’s membership within the European Union ceases in accordance with Article 50, after 47 years of being a member state.

    2022 – Sue Gray, a senior civil servant in the United Kingdom, publishes an initial version of her report on the Downing Street Partygate controversy.

    1868 – Theodore William Richards, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1928). [The first American scientist to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, earning the award “in recognition of his exact determinations of the atomic weights of a large number of the chemical elements.”]

    1915 – Alan Lomax, American historian, author, and scholar (d. 2002).

    1921 – Carol Channing, American actress, singer, and dancer (d. 2019).

    1929 – Jean Simmons, English-American actress (d. 2010).

    1937 – Philip Glass, American composer.

    1956 – John Lydon, English singer-songwriter. [AKA Johnny Rotten.]

    1961 – Lloyd Cole, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    In the horizontal phone booth:
    1606 – Guy Fawkes, English conspirator, leader of the Gunpowder Plot (b. 1570). [His co-conspirators Ambrose Rookwood, Robert Keyes, and Thomas Wintour were also executed for treason by hanging, drawing and quartering on this day.]

    1933 – John Galsworthy, English novelist and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1867).

    1956 – A. A. Milne, English author, poet, and playwright, created Winnie-the-Pooh (b. 1882).

    1974 – Samuel Goldwyn, Polish-American film producer, co-founded Goldwyn Pictures (b. 1882).

    1976 – Ernesto Miranda, American criminal (b. 1941).

    2007 – Molly Ivins, American journalist and author (b. 1944).

    1. I missed the anniversary of Yeats’s death on January 28. His poetry still resonates, from “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen:”

      We too had many pretty toys when young;
      A law indifferent to blame or praise,
      To bribe or threat; habits that made old wrong
      Melt down, as if it were wax in the sun’s rays;
      Public opinion ripening for so long
      We thought it would outlive all future days.
      O what fine thought we had because we thought
      That the worst rogues and rascals had died out.

      Now days are dragon-ridden, the nightmare
      Rides upon sleep: a drunken soldiery
      Can leave the mother, murdered at her door,
      To crawl in her own blood, and go scot-free;
      The night can sweat with terror as before
      We pierced our thoughts into philosophy,
      And planned to bring the world under a rule,
      Who are but weasels fighting in a hole.

  2. The problem with a legal ruling that employers must specially indulge the religious is that they then need a way of determining what is or is not a “religion”. Can anyone found their own religion, complete with its own special requirements, that employers must indulge?

    1. They can always ask God, of course.

      Another big problem here is that they’re creating what amounts to a privileged caste of workers who will be deeply resented by other workers. If the end goal is to promote public respect for Christianity, I think this is the wrong way to go about it. It won’t just foster animosity, it’ll do so on the basis of fear of the law.

  3. The WPA Chicago painting reminds me of a slice of Thomas Hart. Benton’s 1932 “Depression, Radical Protest, Speed” on display at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA. I know nothing about art, but the forms, colors and shapes in both paintings simply move me.

  4. Another recent death: Barrett Strong, who recorded Motown’s first hit (“Money”, later recorded by the Beatles), and co-wrote many hits for other artists including “War,” “I Heard it through the Grapevine,” “Just my Imagination,” and “Papa was a Rolling Stone.”

    1. You might search YouTube for “Adult Wednesday Addams” if in need of entertainment. There are several channels mirroring the videos, the originals of which were taken down after legal threats by the producers of the new movie (even though it came after the YT series). They are funny and not “adult” in the NSFW sense.

  5. Anybody that is a gun owner and uses guns knows that safety comes first,

    I would have thought it is obvious that this is manifestly not the case. If you allow your six year old son to get hold of your gun and shoot his teacher with it you clearly do not know that safety comes first. Also, since there are around 500 deaths from unintentional shootings every year in the USA, we can deduce that at least one person every day fails to put safety first.

    1. What that means is the safety – that is, the small lockout pin near the trigger – has to “come first” – needs to be switched or the trigger won’t pull back – in order for the joy to flow from the nozzle into The Bad Guys’ skulls.

      …. BTW subscribe ain’t workin’..

  6. Monday’s child is fair of face,
    Tuesday’s child is full of grace.
    Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
    Thursday’s child has far to go.
    Friday’s child is loving and giving,
    Saturday’s child works hard for a living.
    And the child born on the Sabbath day
    Is bonny and blithe, good and gay.


  7. Linda Greenhouse has been a long-time observer and writer about the Supreme Court. Lately, she has turned her attention to the danger the Court poses to secularism and the separation of Church and State. In an article in the New York Review of Books (unfortunately paywalled), she states this:
    The image of the “Jesus Saves” and “Proud American Christian” banners that members of the mob carried on January 6, 2021, is indelible, but also misleading. It’s not that Christian nationalism presents no real threat to American democracy—it does. It’s not that such violence won’t recur—it might. The problem is that a one-dimensional focus on that shocking event diverts us from recognizing Christian nationalism in its less violent manifestations and calling it out when we see it: public funding of religious schools in the name of equality; social policy turned to serve Christian doctrine; nondiscrimination principles abandoned in deference to religious objectors, whether individual or institutional. These threats to long-held assumptions about how the country works are not theoretical. They are happening now, in partnership with the Supreme Court.


    What Greenhouse and other critics of white Christian nationalism are pointing out is that it is a nationwide movement, aided and abetted ironically by a largely Catholic Supreme Court, to allow religious expression to trump secular concerns. The movement is particularly dangerous because although it originated and is dominated by right-wing Protestants, it has the tacit support of right-wing Catholics. These two branches of Christianity have hated and killed each other for centuries, but are now in alliance. It is perhaps a marriage of convenience, but it reflects the panic and fear that right-wing religion is experiencing as the nation as a whole becomes more secular. Right-wing religion perceives itself as a cornered best, prepared to strike out and destroy democracy in order to survive. The current Supreme Court provides the legal basis for it to do just that. It can be argued that five or six people in robes can incite a silent coup.

    1. Yeah, ’twas not so long ago that many Protestant sects refused to acknowledge Catholics as “Christians,” disparaging them as “Papists” instead. Hell, I remember when I was a little kid and Irish-Catholic candidate John F. Kennedy had to make the hajj to Houston to assure an annual convention of Baptist ministers that there would be no “pipeline” between the Vatican and the White House were he to be elected US president.

      Evangelicals and right-wing Catholics didn’t make common cause until after Roe v. Wade in the battle against abortion rights and, later, against gay rights, particularly as regards same-sex marriage.

    2. I’ve recently subscribed to Hulu and am in the 3rd season of binging “A Handmaid’s Tale”. For those who don’t know, it shows where we are heading with this move towards state supported Christianity. Today’s viewing has a humongous cross at the end of the Washington Mall

      1. Thanks for the link, old boy (though that’s The New York Review of Books, sometimes confused with, but quite distinct from The New York Times Book Review).

  8. Schlemiel, Schlimazel, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!…

    Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, great TV shows to grow up on. Today…? Not so much. I’d still rather watch reruns of those banes of my youth, The Love Boat, and Fantasy Island, than crap like today’s Love Island or pretty much anything else that’s on. Three cheers for crusty old farthood. Things were better in my day…

    1. Those are all simple campy shows. I too grew up on them and enjoyed them at the time, but take the recent Netflix series “Wednesday”. IMO heads and shoulders above what I could have watched as a kid. I’m so very happy TV shows aren’t like that anymore…or rather, there is a lot more to choose from nowadays and it’s not all camp.

      1. I agree. Both specifically, Wednesday was a very good TV show, and more generally, TV these days is much, much better than TV in the “old days.” Both in quality and in variety.

        I recently went ahead and got HBOmax via Amazon Prime and was finally able to watch Game of Thrones. Very entertaining. Then I found a little show I’ve never heard of, just 2 seasons, CB Strike. It’s a British show about a private detective. Not a big flashy show, but just so well done. Excellent writing and acting. I kept saying to myself, “Wow, this is really well done.”

        1. If you like sci fi, check out “The Expanse,” also on Amazon Prime. An amazing solar system adventure, based on a well written “space opera” series. It’s actually one of the few shows where I like the cinema more than the novels…or at least tied. I like it a wee better than GoT because there are less characters (it’s tighter) and the ending (though it’s not finished yet) will undoubtedly top it. 😉

          1. Yeah, I really like The Expanse as well. I might have to re-watch it from the beginning. I think it’s a contender for best science fiction TV show to date. And for me, a sci fi geek from about age 8, that’s saying a lot. I’m the guy that likes the original Battlestar Galactica better than the re-make.

            1. The original Battlestar Rules!!!
              I have to agree (another sci fi nerd here) that the Expanse is up at the very top of all time best sci-fi shows. I’ve seen the entire series twice, and both times were a lot of fun. Time for a third. 😉

        2. Oh, and I’ll check out CB Strike haven’t heard of it, but Brit shows are consistently good. Brit box is another good platform…damn, it’s too much! How much time do we supposedly have? It seems a lot!

          1. Strike is based on the series of books by JK Rowling (writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith). The first five have been filmed now. The shows are good, but I prefer the books.

      2. I enjoy simple, campy shows. I prefer lighter fair these days. Life is serious enough. I know there’s plenty of good stuff on various streaming platforms, I’m just too jaded to care, not to mention too cheap to shell out the monthly fees. I like the almost comedic old British murder mystery programs, not the newer gritty realism everyone else seems to prefer. same with old horror flicks. I’m happy with the type that features every Saturday night on Svengoolie, and don’t care to ever see the gore-porn that dominates the genre today. In general, I like stuff that you can watch with children or grandparents in the room without cringing.

        Now, I don’t know anything about your recommendation (again, too cheap for Netflix) but if I’m somewhere that has it on, I’ll give it a look.

        1. I propose that we are in a new golden age of television. The problem is curation. In our family, that is mostly my job. Even if we assume that 95% of shows are unwatchable dross, it still leaves more high quality shows than one could ever watch.
          Wednesday is a fun series, although it relies a bit too heavily on the “teenagers at the school for kids with special powers” thing that has been popular since H. Potter.

          I recommend the following current or recent shows-
          Poker Face- Natasha Lyonne is on the run from the mob, and has the ability to tell when people are lying. Sort of a crime of the week show, but very well done. A-list actors play many of the supporting roles. It is fun.

          Russian Doll- Natasha Lyonne again, in sort of a “Groundhog Day” time travel situation. Clever and Fun

          Extraordinary- A new British series about a world where everyone gets a super power when they turn 18, except the protagonist. That could be done poorly, but not here. The superpowers are often trivial or unhelpful, like a dentist who causes those around her to generate a personal, audible soundtrack based on their emotions. So lots of horror music in the exam room.

          That is three English-language series with pretty positive vibes, although each have some language that might not be good for kids.

        2. Fair enough, nothing wrong with the camp, just cramps my style. Old horror flicks are always fun, Creature Features was my fave.

  9. Back in the good old days, when the Supreme Court wasn’t a theological body, they decided that an employer need accommodate an employee’s religious needs only if they imposed almost no cost or hardship to the business.

    It may be just a coincidence, but the plaintiff who finally persuaded the justices to take his case is in fact, according to the joint statement of facts agreed to by the parties, “an evangelical Christian within the Protestant tradition.”

    The original accommodation SCOTUS struck regarding private businesses that fired employees for refusing to work on Saturdays because that’s the day on which they celebrate their Sabbath was that such fired employees could not be denied unemployment benefits as having been fired for good cause. See Sherbert v. Varney (1963). In Sherbert v. Varney, the fired employee belonged to the Seventh-day Adventist church.

    The Court modified its Sherbert test in Employment Division v. Smith (1990), holding that private employees who are members of the Native American Church could be denied unemployment benefits where they were fired for taking peyote, one of the sacraments of the Native American Church, for religious reasons.

    If, as expected, SCOTUS rules in favor of Petitioner Gerald Groff in the case in which it recently granted a writ of certiorari discussed above, it will be interesting to see how the Court’s Christian theocrats deal with claims subsequently raised by members of less mainstream religions.

  10. Lowering that baby from “Heaven” to Earth is a bizarre ritual. Never underestimate the lengths to which the religious will go to fabricate weird rituals.

    Of course, guns as a universal right and religion above all else are crazy weird too—and dangerous to the many. Dropping the baby into the ground is only dangerous for the baby.

    Love the Dance of Lurch!

    1. The “baby” is apparently a little statue of the Christ child, not a living human. It’s still a strange ritual, though.

        1. Promises and good intentions are like crying babies in church. They should be carried out immediately.
          Unless you need one for sound effects.

  11. Brussels sprouts roasted with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar! Yum. Add some maple syrup and pecans and you basically have dessert.

    1. I bet a lot of readers agree with me when I say that I’d rather have a piece of pie. To make this odious vegetable palatable, you have to turn it into a sweetmeat!

      That shows how horrible Brussels sprouts are!

      1. The key to enjoying Brussels sprouts is to remove enough of the bitter outside leaves. The pale yellow interior is sweet and delicious.

    2. I prefer mine savory. Roasted with potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, some apple chunks and a few cranberries for a bit of tartness and sweetness, nothing more than a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Paired with some crusty bread and some wine or stout and it’s a cozy winter meal. But I suppose that the glucosinolates found in varying quantities in Brassicaceae means they aren’t for everyone. Of course, I also like rhubarb in pie, so I’m probably on the naughty list here anyway.

      1. I’m obviously schizoid; I despise any form of Brussels sprouts and really like strawberry rhubarb pie. 😄

  12. Cindy Williams did a really good job in an entirely serious role in “The Conversation”.
    Without revealing a spoiler, I will mention that major elements of the plot turn on the exact intonation of one of her lines.

    1. I once installed an interesting exhibit at the Miami Art Museum named The Conversation, inspired by the movie. A few other installers and I prepared a large plain room. Bare concrete floor and bare white walls. At the direction of the artist we placed “bugs” randomly over the wall surfaces, wired them to a recorder and then covered all the walls with wall paper. The artist then selected a few people, I was one, to carefully and quietly search for all of the bugs, no talking aloud, and carefully cut and peel the wall paper to reveal them, while the take from the bugs during the whole process was recorded.

      The exhibit for the public was the bare room as it was left after searching for all the bugs and finding them, with the recording of the bugs take from during the search being played at modest volume.

      1. You’ve mentioned art installations before; fascinating and cool job (it seems). This exhibit is especially cool sounding. I think they could have done better if the bugs were discovered by you all each day for the drama and such; I’m sure you and others would oblige…c’mon, it’s Disneyworld country down there! 🙂

        1. It was pretty fun. I did installations for museums, which is excellent experience but pays very low, in order to gain experience and make contacts. Then I also did lots of installation for galleries and private collectors. I did installs for several different galleries for Art Basel Miami and other notable art fairs over a number of years. Lots of interesting problems to solve, lots of great art, lots of really bad art too, and lots of partying with the rich & shameless. I considered making a career of it, but though I was able to make money at very good rates, ultimately I couldn’t see a way for me to get consistent enough work to do it.

          1. Struggling artists and struggling art installers. Sheesh, tough business all around, I’d say. Sounds like a great experience though.

      2. Well, at least the artist didn’t have to worry about mastering perspective and draping of fabric or perfecting his/her brush strokes and command of colour and shading. And getting painted eyes to follow you around the room.

  13. MONT BLANC at Angelina’s!!!My favorite dessert, unless it contains some kind of liqueur in which case I reject it. Living in Paris in 1964-65, my husband secretly ordered a huge Mont Blanc for my birthday. I was overjoyed! But as I dug into it, I found that it contained some kind of liqueur! Bummer. Otherwise and elsewhere I sought it out eagerly, in Italy as well as France. No on in the US seems to be interested in making one of the great desserts of the world (the other great French one is the one that includes hazelnut puree and chocolate along with the chestnut puree and meringue….I forget its name but it is superb). Liqueur or other alcohol in desserts? Also a bummer.

  14. Rum cake! Never had a bad rum cake…liquor can soak (which you don’t like) but the cake’s sugars mellow the alcohol. In other preps, when the liquor mixed with sugar is evaporated with heat, it can become a sublime and most delightful syrup. Subjective, of course. No amount of liquor makes a fruit cake sing, though. blech.

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