Wednesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on the weekly Hump Day: Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Remember that Coynezaa, your proprietor’s personal holiday, begins in only 23 days, and lasts until December 30.

It’s National Fritters Day, and there are few appetizers or side dishes better than a nice corn fritter, especially with syrup. There are other kinds of fritters, but corn is the king:

It’s also Business of Popping Corn Day, Choose Women Wednesday (Biden did!), Safety Razor Day, International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, and Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Day (watch for owls!).

News of the Day:

Good news for Britain! Yesterday the government gave emergency authorization for distribution of the Pfizer vaccine, and Brits could begin getting vaccinated (healthcare workers first, of course) as early as next week. They beat the U.S., but this is a race in which nobody loses, and I urge my friends across the pond to get their jabs as soon as they can. In the U.S., a September Pew poll showed that only 51% of all American adults would “definitely” or “probably” take the Covid-19 shot. I think that’s a foolish decision given that the vaccination will be FDA approved. (Of course, we don’t know the very long-term consequences of the shot, but I, for one, would be glad to risk them.)

More trouble for the Trump administration, potentially involving the Orange Man himself:  the Justice Department is investigating a pay-for-pardons sceme in which undisclosed person may have funneled money to the White House “or related political committees” in return for pardons. Of course pardons can come only from the President. Stay tuned.

Speaking of the Justice Department, its head—attorney general William Barr—severely undercut his close buddy, President-Eject Trump, by affirming that his department found no evidence of voter fraud that would have changed the election results. And Mitch “666” McConnell tacitly admitted that Trump lost:

“After the first of the year, there is likely to be a discussion about some additional package of some size next year, depending upon what the new administration wants to pursue,” Mr. McConnell said at a news conference.

According to the NYT and witnesses who were on the spot, four men appeared to remove the famous and enigmatic metal monolith in the Utah deserts. We still don’t know who they are, nor whether they had anything to do with the monolith’s erection. Nobody is being charged with a crime. Here’s two NYT photos of the removal:

Photos by Michael James Newlands

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 270,627, a big increase of about 2,600 from yesterday’s figure, representing about 1.8 people dying per minute.  The world death toll is 1,488,734, another big increase of about 13,000 over yesterday’s report—about nine deaths per minute. 

Stuff that happened on December 2 includes:

  • 1697 – St Paul’s Cathedral is consecrated in London.
  • 1763 – Dedication of the Touro Synagogue, in Newport, Rhode Island, the first synagogue in what will become the United States.

The synagogue still stands—the oldest in North America. Here are the exterior and interior.

As depicted by Jacques-Louis David:

Joséphine kneels before Napoléon during his coronation at Notre Dame. Behind him sits pope Pius VII.
  • 1823 – Monroe Doctrine: In a State of the Union message, U.S. President James Monroe proclaims American neutrality in future European conflicts, and warns European powers not to interfere in the Americas.
  • 1859 – Militant abolitionist leader John Brown is hanged for his October 16 raid on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
  • 1865 – Alabama ratifies 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, followed by North Carolina then Georgia, and U.S. slaves were legally free within two weeks
  • 1867 – At Tremont Temple in Boston, British author Charles Dickens gives his first public reading in the United States.

Here’s Dickens in New York on that American tour:

  • 1908 – Puyi becomes Emperor of China at the age of two.

Here he is as a young Emperor; his exploits were depicted in Bertolucci’s film, “The Last Emperor”. Puyi, after being imprisoned for ten years, was freed and died in 1967:

  • 1942 – World War II: During the Manhattan Project, a team led by Enrico Fermi initiates the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.
  • 1956 – The Granma reaches the shores of Cuba’s Oriente Province. Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and 80 other members of the 26th of July Movement disembark to initiate the Cuban Revolution.
  • 1961 – In a nationally broadcast speech, Cuban leader Fidel Castro declares that he is a Marxist–Leninist and that Cuba is going to adopt Communism.
  • 1970 – The United States Environmental Protection Agency begins operations.
  • 1976 – Fidel Castro becomes President of Cuba, replacing Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado.
  • 1988 – Benazir Bhutto is sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan, becoming the first woman to head the government of an Islam-dominated state.
  • 1993 – Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar is shot and killed in Medellín.

Escobar grinning in a 1976 mugshot. He was worth $30 billion at his death (a lot more in today’s dollars). He kept hippos at his estate outside Medellín, and 40 of their descendants live in nearby rivers.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1859 – Georges Seurat, French painter (d. 1891)
  • 1923 – Maria Callas, American-Greek soprano and actress (d. 1977)

Here’s La Callas singing my favorite (and many people’s favorite) opera aria, Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro“. This is in Paris—I believe in 1965.  I still think Dame Kiri’s version is better (especially the recorded one).

  • 1930 – Gary Becker, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2014)
  • 1931 – Edwin Meese, American colonel, lawyer, and politician, 75th United States Attorney General
  • 1946 – Gianni Versace, Italian fashion designer, founded Versace (d. 1997)
  • 1981 – Britney Spears, American singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress

Those who became kaput on December 2 include:

  • 1547 – Hernán Cortés, Spanish general and explorer (b. 1485)
  • 1594 – Gerardus Mercator, Flemish mathematician, cartographer, and philosopher (b. 1512)
  • 1859 – John Brown, American abolitionist (b. 1800)
  • 1985 – Philip Larkin, English poet, author, and librarian (b. 1922)
  • 1986 – Desi Arnaz, Cuban-American actor, singer, businessman, and television producer (b. 1917)

Educational note: Ricky Ricardo never said, “Lucy, you got some ‘splaining to do!”

  • 1990 – Aaron Copland, American composer and conductor (b. 1900)
  • 1999 – Charlie Byrd, American guitarist (b. 1925)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gets her picture taken:

Hili: Did you fall?
A: No, I’ve lain down on the floor to take your picture.
In Polish:
Hili: Upadłeś?
Ja: Nie, położyłem się na podłodze, żeby ci zrobić zdjęcie.
And a new photo of Szaron:

From Jesus of the Day:

A cartoon from Jean:From Nicole:

From Titania, a guy who says he “has a little list”. I couldn’t find this on his Twitter feed, so maybe he deleted the 15-tweet list, because I bet John McWhorter would have been on it.

From reader Barry. Now here’s a bear that really enjoys his noms!

Tweets from Matthew. I like this first one—not fake news!

There’s never any end to the new and exciting stuff that happens in evolutionary biology.

One of Matthew’s beloved illusions:

A new genre of Christian rock! (It started with “Angels are coming from Africa right now. . . .”)  Sound must be on to hear a guitar-accompanied Copeland expelling the coronavirus:

Table tennis is much improved!

. . . and an ostrich cat:


Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Tuesday, December 1, the beginning of the last month of this wretched year. Tuesday is, of course, the cruelest day, and I hope you know where that phrase comes from. It’s three food months in one:

National Pear Month
National Egg Nog Month
National Fruit Cake Month

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) goes to a search for “December around the world, though they neglected Coynezaa (celebrated Dec 25-Dec. 30):

It’s National Fried Pie Day, a staple much beloved in the American South, especially in the peach version. And let’s not forget the non-fried pies, as it’s National Pie Day, as well as Eat a Red Apple Day (Boo to American red apples, which are mushy and without flavor: give me a tart Granny Smith). It’s Giving Tuesday, when we’re supposed to donate to charity instead of buying more online stuff (you can do both at our charity auction), World AIDS Day, and Rosa Parks Day, celebrating the day in 1955 when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

News of the Day:

Beavers have been extinct in England since the 16th century due to trapping, but they’re making a comeback as they get reintroduced. Today the BBC reported that beavers released in Exmoor (in west Somerset) have build the first dam seen in that region in the last 400 years! It’s a modest dam, to be sure, but a dam nonetheless, and here’s a photo:

Source: National Trust/PA wire

Hard to believe, but Garry Trudeau’s strip “Doonesbury” is 50 years old this year. (It was the first comic strip to win the Pulitzer Prize.) Over at the Washington Post, you can see ten strips that Trudeau says “have proved defining and enduringly meaningful to him.” You’ll want to see them as well as his comments.

Here’s a Doonesbury oldie that I well remember. It’s from 2012, when Texas passed a law requiring that any woman seeking an abortion get a sonogram (click to enlarge):

Richard Frishmann has some heartbreaking photos (and text) at the New York Times showing remnants of segregation still around in the South. They include once-segregated drive-ins and restaurants, hotels that catered to only blacks, and “colored” entrances to theaters. When I first arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1967 to attend college, I was puzzled at the presence of two men’s rooms, two ladies rooms, and two water fountains in the small Greyhound bus station. Only later did I realize what they meant.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 268,023, an increase of about 1,300 from yesterday’s figure.  The world death toll is 1,475,636, a big increase of about 8,900 over yesterday’s report. 

Stuff that happened on December 1 includes:

  • 1640 – End of the Iberian Union: Portugal acclaims as King João IV of Portugal, ending 59 years of personal union of the crowns of Portugal and Spain and the end of the rule of the Philippine Dynasty.

You think this election was a mess? Read about the one in 1824:

  • 1824 – United States presidential election: Since no candidate received a majority of the total electoral college votes in the election, the United States House of Representatives is given the task of deciding the winner in accordance with the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • 1862 – In his State of the Union Address President Abraham Lincoln reaffirms the necessity of ending slavery as ordered ten weeks earlier in the Emancipation Proclamation.

You can see Lincoln’s full speech here.

  • 1913 – Ford Motor Company introduces the first moving assembly line.

Here’s a photo of that first line, photographed in 1913. The caption notes “Ford assembly line, 1913. The magneto assembly line was the first.

  • 1919 – Lady Astor becomes the first female Member of Parliament to take her seat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. (She had been elected to that position on November 28.)

Here’s Lady Astor in 1919 canvassing the electorate:

  • 1941 – World War II: Emperor Hirohito of Japan gives the final approval to initiate war against the United States.

Six days later, the Japanese airstrike on Pearl Harbor took place, and the next day we were at war.

  • 1955 – American Civil Rights Movement: In Montgomery, Alabama, seamstress Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man and is arrested for violating the city’s racial segregation laws, an incident which leads to that city’s bus boycott.

Here’s Rosa Parks with her mugshot after the bus arrest:

  • 1969 – Vietnam War: The first draft lottery in the United States is held since World War II.

Oy, do I remember that! I was number 3, which guaranteed (at the time) that I’d be drafted into the Army. Circumstances, though, dictated otherwise, but that’s another tale.

  • 1990 – Channel Tunnel sections started from the United Kingdom and France meet 40 metres beneath the seabed.

Here’s the tunnel joining with diggers Robert ‘Graham’ Fagg and Philippe Cozette. Fagg, the Brit, later voted for Brexit (see here).

  • 2019 – First known case of COVID-19 appears.

Within just one year from this case, we now have several effective vaccines that work in different ways—a testimony to the power of science.

Notables born on this day include:

Moore, also called “The Sweet Singer of Michigan”, is the American counterpart of William McGonagall, both famous for writing godawful poems. You can see a selection of her works here (I recommend “Little Libbie,” which contains these deathless verses:

. . . One morning in April, a short time ago,
Libbie was active and gay;
Her Saviour called her, she had to go,
E’re the close of that pleasant day.

While eating dinner, this dear little child
Was choked on a piece of beef.
Doctors came, tried their skill awhile,
But none could give relief.

She was ten years of age, I am told,
And in school stood very high.
Her little form now the earth enfolds,
In her embrace it must ever lie.

  • 1933 – Lou Rawls, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (d. 2006)
  • 1935 – Woody Allen, American actor, director, and screenwriter
  • 1940 – Richard Pryor, American comedian, actor, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2005)
  • 1945 – Bette Midler, American singer-songwriter, actress and producer
  • 1949 – Pablo Escobar, Colombian drug lord and narcoterrorist (d. 1993)
  • 1970 – Sarah Silverman, American comedian, actress, and singer.

Sarah is fifty today, and my offer of marriage still stands though she spurns connubial bliss. Yes, I know she wets her bed.

Those who dropped dead on this day include:

  • 1866 – George Everest, Welsh geographer and surveyor (b. 1790)
  • 1947 – Aleister Crowley, English magician, poet, and mountaineer (b. 1875)
  • 1947 – G. H. Hardy, English mathematician and theorist (b. 1877)
  • 1964 – J. B. S. Haldane, English-Indian geneticist and biologist (b. 1892)

Here’s a cartoon of Haldane (an evolutionary geneticist) from 1949; he was a communist but renounced it when the Soviet Union, under the charlatan Lysenko, repudiated “western” genetics:

  • 1987 – James Baldwin, American novelist, poet, and critic (b. 1924)
  • 1989 – Alvin Ailey, American dancer and choreographer (b. 1931)
  • 1997 – Stéphane Grappelli, French violinist (b. 1908)

Here’s Grapelli with his famous accompanist, Django Reinhardt, in a rare video. The song gets hot about 1:30, when they show the Quintette of the Hot Club of France. Note that Reinhardt plays with just two fingers on the frets, as he injured his hand in a fire when he was young.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, there was a kerfuffle on Sunday when Hili couldn’t abide the presence of both Szaron and Kulka in the same room, and pandemonium ensued.

Hili: Everybody is hissing at each other.
A: Not at all—Kulka and Szaron want to be your friends.
Hili: And that’s why I’m hissing at them.
In Polish:
Hili: Wszyscy na siebie syczą.
Ja: Wcale nie, Kulka i Szaron chcą się z tobą zaprzyjaźnić.
Hili: Właśnie dlatego na nie syczę.

Here are Kulka and Szaron on the kitchen windowsill, where Kulka gets some noms:

I posted this classic meme on my Facebook page 12 years ago (Facebook reminded me):

From Gregory James: God’s Grifters:

From Jesus of the Day:

Titania suggests a replacement neologism:

From reader Paul. This vigorous kid apparently has COVID-19, which has killed his sense of taste and smell. I gather it returns, but I’m still puzzled about why the hot sauce didn’t make his taste buds tingle:

From reader Enrico, about Biden’s d*g-induced foot fracture. BUT: a.) Biden’s dogs are German Shepherds, and b.) THE BIDENS HAVEN’T GOTTEN A CAT YET!

From reader Ken, who agrees that the kids are alright:

Tweets from Matthew. For crying out loud, everyone knows you shouldn’t feed donuts to a horse!

Matthew critically analyzes a piece of “Trump fan art”:

Matthew called attention to the Bilby’s ears, but he hardly had to. I love these adorable marsupials.  At Easter in Oz, they eat chocolate bilbies instead of chocolate rabbits, and part of the proceeds has gone to help bring back the bilby. (Rabbits, which have wrecked much of Australia, should not be celebrated there at Easter!)

A chocolate bilby:

And this has to be the Tweet of the Month, even though the month just started:


Monday: Hili dialogue

We’re slowly squeezing our way out of the Annus Horribilis of 2020: it’s November 30, 2020: National Mousse Day.  (Hili misread it as “National Mouse Day”, became all excited, and I had to give her the bad news.) It’s also Methamphetamine Awareness Day and Cyber Monday, the latter encouraging online shopping.  Estimates are that today will the biggest online shopping day in history, with over $13 billion to be spent.

News of the Day:

Wisconsin finished its state-wide recount of Presidential votes, funded by $3 million from the Trump campaign’s coffers. The upshot: Biden still wins, and even garnered 87 more votes than he had before. Some voter fraud! And the good news is that Trump spent nearly $34,500 for each Democratic vote added to the total.

More good news: the rumor continues that the Bidens will get a cat when they move into the White House, the first since W.’s black cat India. (I mistakenly thought that the Clintons’s Socks was the last First Cat.) They already have to d*gs, which is enough, for crying out loud, but I’m not believing a White House cat until they really have one.  After all, this is what the New York Times reports:

In an interview with Fox 5 in Washington, D.C., Dr. Biden hinted that if her husband won the presidency, she would not mind getting a cat.

“I’d love to get a cat,” she said. “I love having animals around the house.”

The cat’s breed and name were not immediately available. Representatives for Mr. Biden did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Yeah, and I’d love to have a private chef, too, but I’m not getting one.

The downside of d*gs was instantiated yesterday when Biden sustained a hairline fracture in his foot from playing with his German Shepherd. He’ll have to wear a boot for a while.  See: a d*g could kill the President! You don’t play with cats like that (though Biden might trip over one.)

People are already blaming the accident on the Bidens’ cat, even though they don’t have one yet!

Thomas Friedman tells us why we should worry less about Iran’s getting nukes (it would be suicidal for them to use first against Israel, so he says, but perhaps they don’t care, getting all those virgin in Paradise and all) and worry more about precision-guided missiles, which it used in 2019 to destroy one of Saudi Arabia’s most important oilfields. This is the issue Biden will face, compounded by the new alliances between Israel and countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

 Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 266,758, an increase of about 800 from yesterday’s figure.  The world death toll is 1,466,289, an increase of about 6,500 over yesterday’s report. 

Stuff that happened on November 30 includes:

  • 1782 – American Revolutionary War: Treaty of Paris: In Paris, representatives from the United States and Great Britain sign preliminary peace articles (later formalized as the 1783 Treaty of Paris).
  • 1803 – The Balmis Expedition starts in Spain with the aim of vaccinating millions against smallpox in Spanish America and Philippines.

The upside (from Wikipedia): “Jenner himself wrote, ” ‘I don’t imagine the annals of history furnish an example of philanthropy so noble, so extensive as this.'”
The downside (ditto): “The expedition sailed on Maria Pita and carried 22 orphan boys (aged 8 to 10) as successive carriers of the virus. . .”

  • 1803 – In New Orleans, Spanish representatives officially transfer the Louisiana Territory to an official from the French First Republic. Just 20 days later, France transfers the same land to the United States as the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1872 – The first-ever international football match takes place at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow, between Scotland and England.
  • 1936 – In London, the Crystal Palace is destroyed by fire.

Here’s a photo of the Palace a few days after it was destroyed:

  • 1954 – In Sylacauga, Alabama, United States, the Hodges meteorite crashes through a roof and hits a woman taking an afternoon nap; this is the only documented case in the Western Hemisphere of a human being hit by a rock from space.

Here’s where the meteorite crashed through the roof and ceiling:

Mrs. Hodges, mayor, police chief examine hole caused by a meteorite that struck Mrs. Hodges in Sylacauga. University of Alabama Museum of Natural History.

Here’s the unfortunate victim. Look at that bruise—good thing it missed her head!

Hodges was napping on her living-room couch at mid-day when the meteorite came through the ceiling, hit a console radio, and smashed into her hip. Awakened by the pain and noise, she thought the gas space heater had exploded. When she noticed a grapefruit-sized rock lying on the floor and a ragged hole in the roof, she assumed children were the culprits. Her mother, Ida Franklin, rushed outside and saw only a black cloud in the sky. Alabamians in and around the area saw the event from a different perspective, with many reporting that they had seen a fireball in the sky and heard a tremendous explosion that produced a white or brownish cloud. Most assumed it involved an airplane accident.

(From National Geographic): Moody Jacobs shows a giant bruise on the side and hip of his patient, Ann Hodges, in 1954, after she was struck by a meteorite. PHOTOGRAPH BY JAY LEVITON, TIME & LIFE PICTURES/GETTY IMAGES
Here’s Mrs. Hodges recuperating, smiling while Mr. Hodges examines the errant meterorite:

It is a great album, and here’s my favorite song from it in 1987. This is a live performance, but clearly lip-synched:

According to Wikipedia, the song was written by Steve Porcaro of Toto:

The first version of “Human Nature” was written and composed by Steve Porcaro of Toto. He wrote the song when his first-grade daughter came home crying after a boy pushed her off the slide. He blurted out three reasons for the incident to comfort her: the boy liked her, people can be strange, and it’s “human nature”. He recorded a rough demo of the song in their studio while the Toto song “Africa” was being mixed

  • 1995 – Official end of Operation Desert Storm.
  • 2005 – John Sentamu becomes the first black archbishop in the Church of England with his enthronement as the 97th Archbishop of York.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s the Teatro Olimpico:

(From Wikipedia): Teatro Olimpico. Theater located in Vicenza, designed in 1580 by the architect of the Renaissance Andrea Palladio. It is generally considered the first permanent covered theater of modern times. View of the stage wall (Scaenae frons), the stage, and the orchestra pit.
  • 1554 – Philip Sidney, English soldier, courtier, and poet (d. 1586)
  • 1667 – Jonathan Swift, Irish satirist and essayist (d. 1745)
  • 1835 – Mark Twain, American novelist, humorist, and critic (d. 1910)
  • 1874 – Winston Churchill, English colonel, journalist, and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
  • 1912 – Gordon Parks, American photographer and director (d. 2006)

Here’s one of many photos taken by Parks of black life in Washington, D.C. (did you know he also directed the movie Shaft?):

  • 1924 – Allan Sherman, American actor, comedian, singer, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1973)
  • 1929 – Dick Clark, American television host and producer, founded Dick Clark Productions (d. 2012)
  • 1936 – Abbie Hoffman, American activist and author, co-founded the Youth International Party (d. 1989)
  • 1937 – Ridley Scott, English director, producer, and production designer
  • 1943 – Terrence Malick, American director, producer, and screenwriter

Malick’s film “Days of Heaven” (1978) is one of the finest American movies (far outstripping “Tree of Life”, a pretentious epic), and perhaps the most beautifully filmed ever. Here’s the trailer:

  • 1947 – David Mamet, American playwright, screenwriter, and director

Those who expired on November 30 include:

  • 1900 – Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright, novelist, and poet (b. 1854)
  • 1954 – Wilhelm Furtwängler, German conductor and composer (b. 1886)
  • 1979 – Zeppo Marx, American actor and comedian (b. 1901)

Zeppo was the “straight” Marx brother, and, with Gummo, the least famous of the five. In the five Marx Brothers films he was in, Zeppo played the straight man. Here he is:


Zeppo’s real name was Herbert Manfred Marks,

  • 1996 – Tiny Tim, American singer and ukulele player (b. 1932)
  • 1999 – Charlie Byrd, American guitarist (b. 1925)
  • 2007 – Evel Knievel, American motorcycle rider and stuntman (b. 1938)
  • 2018 – George H. W. Bush, American politician, 41st President of the United States (b. 1924)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is weary of the world:

Hili: Every day is a challenge.
A: That’s true, but what do you have in mind?
Hili: What to do, where to go?
In Polish:
Hili: Każdy dzień jest wyzwaniem.
Ja: To prawda, ale co masz na myśli?
Hili: Co robić, dokąd iść?

From Facebook:

An illusion from rock. The two blocks aren’t just gray: they’re the same gray:

From David. I think they used whatever sticker they had for “seedless”!

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is a groaner:

More about the putative White House cat:

The aliens took their monolith back!!!

. . . instead of a palooka, which is what I am.

This really doesn’t need translation. And one day I will see the Aurora. Sound up.

This is really a weird collection of dreams!

Matthew says that this is “a book of genuine but rude UK names” (names of people):

Matthew discovers what we’ve known for a long time:

Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s the non-Jewish sabbath today: Sunday, November 29, 2020: only about a month till we’re out of this hellish year. It’s National Chocolates Day today, so treat yourself—or a loved one. It’s also Lemon Creme Pie Day (aka Lemon Meringue Pie), Small Brewery Sunday, and, religiously, International Day of the Bible as well as Advent Sunday, the beginning of Advent (the fourth Sunday before Christmas).  Finally, it’s Throw out Your Leftovers Day, though many of them will still be good. After all, Thanksgiving was just four days ago! I once won a bet with my lab for eating, on Christmas, a piece of pumpkin pie that was brought to the lab on Thanksgiving. Granted, it was shrunken by about 75%, had the consistency of beef jerky and tasted like leather, but I won my bet.

News of the Day:

I tweeted this Very Big News:

More big news: The Utah Monolith disappeared!

After Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated several days ago, most likely by Israeli agents, Iran has vowed to retaliate. It’s not clear whether the U.S. helped with intelligence in the killing, but, given Trump’s view of Iran, I wouldn’t doubt it. The problem, of course, is that if Iran retaliates after Biden is elected, and it involves the U.S. that could be a problem. (Biden also has a much more lenient view of Iran’s nuclear program than does Trump.) I have no idea what the retaliation would involve, but if it’s against Israel, big-time conflict is in the offing.

At any rate, despite opposition to Trump’s position from the Left and the liberal media (see here), I’m still not convinced that Iran isn’t building a bomb.  In fact, all the signs are that it is, and perhaps I’ll write about this soon. I suspect that any renewal of an American deal with Iran, then, will represent only a delaying tactic, as Iran will have a bomb in the end. (Does anybody really doubt that?) And if it does, what did all this temporizing accomplish? On the other hand, state-sponsored assassinations don’t seem the way to go.

There’s a literary pedophilia scandal in France: a big-time winner of a literary prize sexually exploited children, and the jury that gave him the prize knew about it. A NYT story exposes the deeply corrupt nature of France’s “elite institutions.”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 265,940, an increase of about 1,200 from yesterday’s figure.  The world death toll is 1,459,822, an increase of about 8,600 over yesterday’s report. 

Stuff that happened on November 29 includes:

  • 1394 – The Korean king Yi Seong-gye, founder of the Joseon dynasty, moves the capital from Kaesŏng to Hanyang, today known as Seoul.
  • 1781 – The crew of the British slave ship Zong murders 133 Africans by dumping them into the sea to claim insurance.

They did this because there wasn’t enough water to give to all the slaves and the crew. So this horrific incident ensued (from Wikipedia):

On 29 November, the crew assembled to consider the proposal that some of the enslaved people should be thrown overboard. James Kelsall later claimed that he had disagreed with the plan at first but it was soon unanimously agreed.  On 29 November 54 women and children were thrown through cabin windows into the sea.  On 1 December 42 male enslaved people were thrown overboard, and 36 more followed in the next few days. Another ten, in a display of defiance at the inhumanity of the slavers, chose to commit suicide by jumping into the sea. Having heard the shrieks of the victims as they were thrown into the water, one of the captives requested that the remaining Africans be denied all food and drink rather than thrown into the sea. The crew ignored this request. In total, 142 Africans were killed by the time the ship reached Jamaica. The account of the King’s Bench trial reports that one enslaved person managed to climb back onto the ship.

There was a trial, but nobody was convicted, of course. Here’s a Turner painting about this shameful episode:

(From Wikipedia): A painting entitled “The Slave Ship” by J. M. W. Turner. In the background, the sun shines through a storm while large waves hit the sides of a sailing ship. In the foreground, enslaved people are drowning in the water, while others are being eaten by large fish.
  • 1877 – Thomas Edison demonstrates his phonograph for the first time.
  • 1899 – FC Barcelona is founded by Catalan, Spanish and Englishmen. It later develops into one of Spanish football’s most iconic and strongest teams.
  • 1929 – U.S. Admiral Richard E. Byrd leads the first expedition to fly over the South Pole.

Byrd also claimed to have flown over the North Pole, but that is hotly disputed, and there are accusations that he falsified his flight records. However, he did fly over the South Pole; here’s a poster for the 1930 movie about it:

  • 1961 – Project Mercury: Mercury-Atlas 5 Mission: Enos, a chimpanzee, is launched into space. The spacecraft orbits the Earth twice and splashes down off the coast of Puerto Rico.

From Wikipedia: “Enos being prepared for insertion into the Mercury-Atlas 5 capsule in 1961.”

  • 1963 – “I Want to Hold Your Hand“, recorded on October 17, 1963, is released by the Beatles in the United Kingdom.
  • 1972 – Atari releases Pong, the first commercially successful video game.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1627 – John Ray, English biologist and botanist (d. 1705)
  • 1803 – Christian Doppler, Austrian mathematician and physicist (d. 1853)
  • 1832 – Louisa May Alcott, American novelist and poet (d. 1888)

Here’s Alcott in 1870, when she was about 38:

  • 1874 – Egas Moniz, Portuguese physician and neurologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1955)
  • 1898 – C. S. Lewis, British novelist, poet, and critic (d. 1963)

Lewis died on the day that Kennedy was assassinated, so his death wasn’t noted as widely as it should have been. (“Should have been” is subjective, of course, since what I’ve read of his theology is pure hogwash. However, it’s probably true that he was the most popular theologian of the twentieth century.). Here he is with his beloved wife Joy, who died of bone cancer, plunging him into depression:

Image: The Marion E. Wade Center / Wheaton College
  • 1915 – Billy Strayhorn, American pianist and composer (d. 1967)
  • 1917 – Merle Travis, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1983)
  • 1942 – Felix Cavaliere, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer

Those who died on November 29 include:

  • 1530 – Thomas Wolsey, English cardinal and politician, Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom (b. 1470)
  • 1924 – Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer and educator (b. 1858)
  • 1981 – Natalie Wood, American actress (b. 1938)

Wood’s real name was Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko, as she was the daughter of Russian immigrant. I’m a big fan of hers; she was a terrific actor and, to me, the most beautiful movie star ever. Here’s the trailer for her movie with Warren Beatty, “Splendor in the Grass” (1961). Directed by Elia Kazan, it got mixed reviews but I like it.

  • 1986 – Cary Grant, English-American actor (b. 1904)

And his real name, as you may know, was Archibald Alec Leach.

  • 2001 – George Harrison, English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and music producer (b. 1943)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili feels the need for speed:

Hili: I should go hunting.
A: Are you hungry?
Hili: No, but I need the exercise.
In Polish:
Hili: Powinnam pójść na polowanie.
Ja: Głodna jesteś?
Hili: Nie, ale mam za mało ruchu.

A meme from Barry, one of many about “how evolution started” (another was this one from Gary Larson):

From Nicole (those poor women named Karen!):

From Diana MacPherson:

Two tweets from reader Barry. First, CAT McDONALD’S!

This sounds like a First Amendment violation; I hope the guy brought a lawsuit, as it’s all on tape (sound up):

Tweets from Matthew. This is one plump capybara!

I still don’t understand why the water level drops or whatever, but I’m sure a reader will explain this:

Ten to one this caterpillar is toxic or distasteful to predators:

I knew this but Matthew didn’t. Live and learn!

Notice that the starlings assume the shape that protects them best against predators:

Saturday: Hili dialogue

Saturday is here already: due to the holiday, the week seems to have flown by. It’s November 28, 2020, and National French Toast Day (this is cultural appropriation in both name and object). I love French toast with sausages on the side and real maple syrup; my mom used to make it for me if I was a Good Boy. It’s also Turkey Leftover Day (this will go on for a week), Letter Writing Day (I can’t remember the last time I wrote a real letter, but we should do it more), and Red Planet Day, celebrating the launch of Mariner 4 in 1964, the first spacecraft to fly by Mars and give us close-up views of the planet.

News of the Day: I watched the news and read the NYT on Friday evening (as I write this), and it’s very grim. COVID-19 is making a huge comeback, and if I don’t miss my guess based on holiday travel data, in about two weeks we’ll see a huge spike.

Is there war impending in the Middle East? The top nuclear scientist of Iran, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was assassinated yesterday in his car, shot by gunmen along the road he was traveling. He’s long been identified by both the U.S. and Israel as a key figure in Iran’s supposed covert program for developing nuclear weapons, and Iran blamed both countries for the killing.  I doubt that there will be all-out war between Iran and Israel, but it’s unsettling, and I doubt Iran will do nothing in response.

Crikey, yesterday statues were defaced and toppled all over the U.S., and I’m not talking about Confederate statues, but those of respectable people. In Minneapolis, a statue of George Washington was toppled and defaced with the spray-painted words, “Genocidal maniac.” A statue of pioneers was also defaced. The Star-Tribune article mentions other vandalism that happened this week:

In Chicago, somebody tried to pull down a statue of President William McKinley in McKinley Park. The sculpture was also tagged with graffiti and the words “Land Back.” [JAC: This is the slogan for promoting giving land back to Native Americans.]

In Spokane, Wash., a statue of Abraham Lincoln was vandalized with red paint. In Portland, Ore., a monument in the city’s Lone Fir Cemetery, dedicated in 1903 to the veterans of the Civil War, Mexican, Spanish-American, and Indian wars, was tagged with anti-colonialism graffiti and its statue toppled and sprayed with red paint. Three people were arrested after protest-related vandalism damaging storefronts and spraying the words “Land Back” on buildings, Portland police said in a news release.

Here’s the photo of the toppled Washington in Minneapolis; you can read “Genocidal Maniac” on the left.  What genocide did Washington commit? And a “maniac”?

Photo: Shari Gross

I’ll pass along a reading recommendation from reader Ken. I’ve read the Brooks op-ed, which is good, but not yet the other one. The issue is distrust between the elites who determine what is “true”, and the others, who feel disenfranchised and empower themselves by embracing conspiracy theories. Ken’s note:

I don’t know whether you’ve had a chance to read David Brooks opinion piece in yesterday’s NYT “The Rotting of the Republican Mind.”

It cites, and is largely based upon a longer piece from National Affairs by Jonathan Rauch, “The Constitution of Knowledge.” That essay deals in greater depth with the Right’s detachment from reality covered by Brooks’s piece, but, in the latter part, also addresses the problems caused on campus, and in the media, by the radical left. It is well worth the read.
And some good news from the site: Matthew’s new book, The Idea of the Brain, has been named one of the Time’s “Best Philosophy and Ideas Books of the Year 2020” and a Sunday Times Book of the Year. The announcement:


Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 264,724, an increase of about 1,400 from yesterday’s figure.  The world death toll is 1,451,167, a big increase of about 11,600 over yesterday’s report. 

Stuff that happened on November 28 includes this:

  • 1520 – An expedition under the command of Ferdinand Magellan passes through the Strait of Magellan.
  • 1582 – In Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway pay a £40 bond for their marriage licence.

Here’s the marriage record. Shakespeare was 18, Anne Hathaway 26, and pregnant with their first child:

A photo of that first vote from the New Zealand Herald:

Heavily outnumbered by men, women turn out to an Auckland polling booth in November 1893 to vote in their first election after securing the right to vote. The overall turnout of female voters was unexpectedly high. Photo / File

What this means is that this was the election in which Kiwi women were first allowed to vote.

Here’s Duryea’s winning vehicle. Average speed: 5.4 miles per hour (a marathon runner does way better than that!):

  • 1919 – Lady Astor is elected as a Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. She is the first woman to sit in the House of Commons. (Countess Markievicz, the first to be elected, refused to sit.)

Lady Astor served until 1945; here’s a photo:

  • 1925 – The Grand Ole Opry begins broadcasting in Nashville, Tennessee, as the WSM Barn Dance.
  • 1941 – In Germany, Mufti of Palestine met Adolf Hitler in November-28-1941, whose agents had to convince themselves he is not “pure arab” in blood.  The nazi leader still refused to shake his hand or even drink coffee with him for considering Arabs inferior. They agreed on cooperation against Jews.

And here’s a photo of that meeting:

  • 1958 – First successful flight of SM-65 Atlas; the first operational intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), developed by the United States and the first member of the Atlas rocket family.
  • 1967 – The first pulsar (PSR B1919+21, in the constellation of Vulpecula) is discovered by two astronomers Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish.
  • 1972 – Last executions in Paris: Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems are guillotined at La Santé Prison.
  • 1980 – Iran–Iraq War: Operation Morvarid: The bulk of the Iraqi Navy is destroyed by the Iranian Navy in the Persian Gulf. (Commemorated in Iran as Navy Day.)
  • 1990 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher resigns as leader of the Conservative Party and, therefore, as Prime Minister. She is succeeded in both positions by John Major.

Notables born on this day include:

Like many artists, Blake couldn’t draw cats. Here’s his “Tyger”:

  • 1820 – Friedrich Engels, German-English philosopher, economist, and journalist (d. 1895)
  • 1904 – Nancy Mitford, English journalist and author (d. 1973)
  • 1908 – Claude Lévi-Strauss, Belgian-French anthropologist and ethnologist (d. 2009)
  • 1929 – Berry Gordy, Jr., American songwriter and producer, founded Motown Records

Gordy, now 91, is still with us, and is responsible for much of the great soul music of the Sixties and Seventies.

  • 1962 – Jon Stewart, American comedian, actor, and television host
  • 1987 – Karen Gillan, Scottish actress

Those whose lives were obliterated on November 28 include:

Part of Bernini’s interior for St. Peter’s Basilica:

Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s baldachin, interior of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. Ivor Clarke/Alamy
  • 1859 – Washington Irving, American short story writer, essayist, biographer, historian (b. 1783)
  • 1939 – James Naismith, Canadian-American physician and educator, created basketball (b. 1861)
  • 1954 – Enrico Fermi, Italian-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1901)
  • 1960 – Richard Wright, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet (b. 1908)
  • 1976 – Rosalind Russell, American actress and singer (b. 1907)
  • 1994 – Jeffrey Dahmer, American serial killer (b. 1960)
  • 1994 – Jerry Rubin, American businessman and activist (b. 1938)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili finds a reason to go on living:

Hili: In spite of everything.
A: In spite of what?
Hili: In spite of everything I’m curious what will happen next.
In Polish:
Hili: Mimo wszystko.
Ja: Co mimo wszystko?
Hili: Mimo wszystko jestem ciekawa co będzie dalej.

And in nearby Wloclawek, Mietek and Leon are on the prowl together (note that Mietek is now full grown!):

Leon:  Let’s go back, there is nothing for us here.

In Polish: Wracamy, nic tu po nas.

A meme from Divy:

An great early New Year’s meme from Bruce. Better early than never!

Posted by Seth Andrews on Facebook:

Screenshot of a tweet sent in by Smith Powell. This is a good one:

From reader Barry, two tweets showing Jordan Peterson. The first I don’t think shows that he’s a “grifter”, he simply hadn’t thought through the issue when he pronounced judgment.  The second is a bit reprehensible: a demonstration of confirmation bias by Peterson, who’s conversing with Matt Dillahunty.

Tweets from Matthew. This first one is indeed a stunning time-lapse photos. It also shows that the birds leave the tree in horizontal flight:

Here’s an Amazon comment on Matthew’s new book; the loon is apparently identified in the comment thread:

It wasn’t the cat!

Imagine what the staff had faced in the past!

Matthew channels Rudyard Kipling. Read about mosasaurs here.


Friday: Hili dialogue

Are you all sated from Thanksgiving feasting? Are you going to live on turkey sandwiches for the next week? I won’t, but many will: it’s the day after Thanksgiving, i.e., November 27, 2020, appropriately, National Leftovers Day.  It’s also National Bavarian Cream Pie Day, National Craft Jerky Day, Maize Day (what you call “corn”), Turtle Adoption Day, and Fur Free Friday. In the UK, it’s Lancashire Day, commemorating “the day in 1295 when Lancashire first sent representatives to Parliament, to attend the Model Parliament of King Edward I. Finally, it’s the infamous Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when Christmas shopping begins in earnest and there are supposedly great bargains to be had.

News of the Day: At last: in a real Q&A session with the press, President-eject Trump said that if the Electoral College makes Biden the winner—as it will—he, Trump, will step down, though he added he may never conced the election. He’s still arguing that he won!

Maureen Dowd, a diehard Democratic columnist at the New York Times, has turned her column over to her Trump-loving brother (seriously), who writes a loving elegy for Trump’s presidency in the column, “Oh, brother! Tears for Trump.” If you want to see what many on the Dark Side think, read it. (h/t Enrico)

Also at the NYT, where the pundits and analysts are out in force, columnist Bill Wilkinson has a lock on why Trump did so well:

However, Mr. Trump’s relentless campaign to goose the economy by cutting taxes, running up enormous deficits and debt, and hectoring the Fed into not raising rates was working for millions of Americans. We tend to notice when we’re personally more prosperous than we were a few years before.

. . . [Democrats] allowed Republicans to define the contrast between the parties’ approaches to the pandemic in terms of freedom versus exhausting, indefinite shutdowns.

Democrats needed to present a competing, compelling strategy to counter Republican messaging. Struggling workers and businesses never clearly heard exactly what they’d get if Democrats ran the show, and Democrats never came together to scream bloody murder that Republicans were refusing to give it to them.

From the Guardian: The Austrian village with the name shown in the picture below has had it, and has finally changed its old name, which dates to the 11th century, to Fugging, which takes effect January 1. I’m sure the 100 inhabitants will be much relieved, and tourism will plummet. (h/t Jez).

A good exercise in journalistic Wokeism is a NYT interactive article called The Myth of North America, in One Painting (The painting is “The Death of General Wolfe“, painted by Benjamin West in 1770).  The article bloviates on and on and on to show how the painting fictionalizes history, shoehorning history into a classical Procrustean bed which is okay, but the real point of the article is for the author to preen by calling out colonialism at the end.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 263,336, an increase of about 1,200 from yesterday’s figure.  The world death toll is 1,439,587, a big increase of about 11,000 over yesterday’s report. 

Stuff that happened on November 27 includes:

  • 602 – Emperor Maurice is forced to watch his five sons be executed before being beheaded himself.
  • 1809 – The Berners Street hoax was perpetrated by Theodore Hook in the City of Westminster, London.

This one you have to look up!

Here’s the will, and you can find the English translation on the Nobel Prize site:

  • 1896 – Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss is first performed.
  • 1924 – In New York City, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is held.
  • 1978 – In San Francisco, city mayor George Moscone and openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk are assassinated by former supervisor Dan White.
  • 1999 – The centre-left Labour Party takes control of the New Zealand government with leader Helen Clark becoming the first elected female Prime Minister in New Zealand’s history.
  • 2006 – The House of Commons of Canada approves a motion introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper recognizing the Québécois as a nation within Canada.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1701 – Anders Celsius, Swedish astronomer, physicist, and mathematician (d. 1744)
  • 1874 – Chaim Weizmann, Belarusian-Israeli chemist and politician, 1st President of Israel (d. 1952)
  • 1903 – Lars Onsager, Norwegian-American chemist and physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1976)

Onsager, who shared a bathroom with me when I was a grad student at Rockefeller University (he was visiting), got me booted out of the dorms because he complained that I had a woman in my room. Well, I could complain that he had false teeth, which he left in a glass in the bathroom. (UGH!)

  • 1909 – James Agee, American novelist, screenwriter, and critic (d. 1955)
  • 1917 – Buffalo Bob Smith, American actor and television host (d. 1998)
  • 1940 – Bruce Lee, American-Chinese actor, martial artist, and screenwriter (d. 1973)
  • 1942 – Jimi Hendrix, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 1970)

Here’s The Jimi Hendrix experience performing “Foxy Lady” in Maui in 1970, the year he died:

Here’s Caroline with her dad; the caption is from Wikipedia:

Caroline with her father aboard the yacht Honey Fitz off the coast of Hyannis, Massachusetts at age five, August 25, 1963.

Those who decamped from life on November 27 include:

  • 1852 – Ada Lovelace, English mathematician and computer scientist (b. 1815)

Here’s a daguerrotype of Lovelace in 1843. Often seen as the first computer programmer, she died at only 36 of uterine cancer:

  • 1934 – Baby Face Nelson, American criminal (b. 1908)
  • 1975 – Ross McWhirter, English author and activist, co-founded the Guinness Book of Records (b. 1925)
  • 1978 – Harvey Milk, American lieutenant and politician (b. 1930)
  • 1978 – George Moscone, American lawyer and politician, 37th Mayor of San Francisco (b. 1929)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej are discussing the latter’s new book, What Israeli Soldiers are Doing to Palestinian Children (in Polish):

Hili: I’m curious who will buy your new book?
A: I’m curious as well, very much so.
In Polish:
Hili: Ciekawa jestem kto będzie kupował twoją nową książkę?
Ja: Też jestem ciekaw, nawet bardzo.
And here’s Hili with Andrzej’s earlier (2019) book, Atheist, which explains why he’s a nonbeliever:

Caption: “Hili is still recommending this.”

In Polish: Hili nadal poleca:

And here’s Kitten Kulka, who may well be related to Hili (photo by Paula R.):

From Facebook:

From The Fabulous Weird Trotters. Look at the expression on that cat’s face!

From Atheist Views:

Rocky the saw-whet owl, a stowaway in the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, was rehabbed for a short while, fed and hydrated, and then successfully released, as shown below:

From Barry: a humiliating cat fail:

Also from Barry—an even more humiliating squirrel fail:

Tweets from Matthew. I don’t know where he dug this first one up, but it’s a corker. The song is dreadful and I’m not that keen on the video (the full one is on Facebook), but the story is great.

Another fantastic cake:

This is lovely, and I’m glad the marmoset (how small it is!) didn’t hurt the insect:

As Matthew says of this commuting pigeon, “Hard to work out why it is doing this and how it learned it.”

I hope some of the readers who send in astronomy photos will give us a view of this:


Thursday: Hili dialogue

It’s Thanksgiving Day in America: Thursday, November 26, 2020, and National Cake Day. Here’s are some amazing cakes made by a tattoo artist:

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates the history Thanksgiving:

It’s also Unthanksgiving Day, also known as The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, described as “a yearly event that takes place on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. Coinciding with the National Day of Mourning in Massachusetts and a counter-celebration to Thanksgiving Day, Unthanksgiving Day honors indigenous people and promotes their rights. It commemorates the survival of indigenous people after the European colonization of the Americas and honors their resistance through the centuries.” Finally, it’s Turkey-Free Thanksgiving, and, truth be told, turkey is an awfully bland dish. Give me a ham, a pork roast, or roast beef! Better yet, rib tips!!!

News of the Day:

Well, we all know about this pardon; how many other undeserved and self-serving pardons will we see before January 20?

More on the shameful new Supreme Court decision on religion later today.

Diego Maradona died; the soccer legend was only 60 years old, but suffered a heart attack (he had abused cocaine earlier in his life, had other health problems, and was overweight). He was a very great player, and two of his goals (below) were notable—one “infamous”, as the video below notes, but the other deservedly famous. Both were scored in the same game: the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup, when England played Argentina. The “hand of God” goal was clearly an illegal handball

. . . and a memorial story (sound up):

For a video of Maradona training in the mud (and doing some incredible dribbling and shots), go to this Facebook video (h/t: Jez)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 262,137,  a big increase of about 2,300 from yesterday’s figure. Yesterday 1.6 Americans died every minute from the virus. The world death toll is 1,428,873, a big increase of about 12,100 over yesterday’s report. About 8.3 inhabitants of this planet died every minute yesterday. 

Stuff that happened on November 26 includes:

  • 1778 – In the Hawaiian Islands, Captain James Cook becomes the first European to visit Maui.
  • 1789 – A national Thanksgiving Day is observed in the United States as proclaimed by President George Washington at the request of Congress.
  • 1863 – United States President Abraham Lincoln proclaims November 26 as a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated annually on the final Thursday of November. Following the Franksgiving controversy from 1939 to 1941, it has been observed on the fourth Thursday in 1942 and subsequent years.
  • 1922 – Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years.

Here’s a view of the tomb when it was opened in 1922 (it had been plundered at least twice previously):

Harry Burton, View of tomb interior, November 1922 (Tutankhamun Archive, Griffith Institute, University of Oxford)
  • 1942 – Casablanca, the movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, premieres in New York City.

This needs no introduction:

  • 1950 – Korean War: Troops from the People’s Republic of China launch a massive counterattack in North Korea against South Korean and United Nations forces (Battle of the Ch’ongch’on River and Battle of Chosin Reservoir), ending any hopes of a quick end to the conflict.

Here’s an amazing fact:

  • 2003 – The Concorde makes its final flight, over Bristol, England.
  • 2004 – The last Poʻouli (Black-faced honeycreeper) dies of avian malaria in the Maui Bird Conservation Center in Olinda, Hawaii, before it could breed, making the species in all probability extinct.

Here’s one that was still alive:

  • 2008 – Mumbai attacks, a series of terrorist attacks killing approximately 166 citizens by 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan based extremist Islamist terrorist organisation, and the ship, Queen Elizabeth 2 is out of service, and docks in Dubai.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1607 – John Harvard, English minister and philanthropist (d. 1638)
  • 1853 – Bat Masterson, American police officer and journalist (d. 1921)
  • 1894 – Norbert Wiener, American-Swedish mathematician and philosopher (d. 1964)
  • 1907 – Ruth Patrick, American botanist (d. 2013)
  • 1933 – Robert Goulet, American-Canadian singer and actor (d. 2007)
  • 1943 – Marilynne Robinson, American novelist and essayist
  • 1954 – Roz Chast, American cartoonist

Now that the cartoons in the New Woker are going downhill, Roz Chast’s work remains a bright light. Here’s one of her pandemic cartoons:

Those who passed away on November 26 include:

  • 1504 – Isabella I, queen of Castile and León (b. 1451)
  • 1883 – Sojourner Truth, American activist (b. 1797)\

Her real name was  Isabella “Belle” Baumfree, she lived to be 86, and was a famous abolitionists and campaigner for women’s rights. Here she is in around 1870:


  • 1956 – Tommy Dorsey, American trombonist, trumpet player, and composer (b. 1905)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Hili dialogue is enigmatic. When I asked Malgorzata what it means, she replied, “This dialogue is not easy to explain and it can have many different interpretations, depending on the reader. One of them is that, maybe, it’s better to remain ignorant about how politics and sausages are made.”

Hili: Is it possible to understand all that?
A: No.
Hili, Maybe, it’s just as well.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy można to wszystko zrozumieć?
Ja: Nie.
Hili: Może to i lepiej.

In nearby Wloclawek, teenager Mietek has a question:

Mietek: What are you doing over there?

In Polish: Co tam porabiacie?

From Peter N., who saw this license plate on a car in front of a grocery store:

From Stash Krod:

From The Cat House on the Kings:

From reader Barry, a comparison between creationism and our “President”:

From Matthew. Here’s the most wonderful thread I’ve seen on Twitter in a long time: ANIMALS WHO ATE TOO MUCH!

DUCKLING!  This is the best one, right up there with the pastry-filled possum:

One of Matthew’s beloved optical illusions:


And variants:



Wednesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Wednesday, November 25, 2020: National Parfait Day. It’s National Jukebox Day (do they still exist?), What Do You Love About America Day (my answer: barbecue and our having voted Trump out of office), and International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

News of the Day:

Good news! Remember Rockefeller, the saw-whet owl that stowed away in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree? According to National Geographic, he’s rehabilitated already and will be set free (click on screenshot):

A aerial surveying team in the remote Red Rock Country of Utah found a 10-12 foot metal monolith embedded in the ground (see below). “It’s probably art” is the consensus, but it may have been there for 80 years or so.  And I’m sure the loons will have their own theories involving extraterrestrials. Here’s a photo:

Utah Department of Public Safety

Some savvy Chinese in Beijing are staging “performance art” in an attempt to having their faces captured on the many CCTV cameras in the country. According to the BBC, there are more than 200 million surveillance cameras in China, and by 2021 there will be at least 560 million.  But it’s futile: Big Brother is watching. Below: a photo showing the crouching protestors, who also wear reflective vests (h/t: Jez).

The Washington Post reflects on Biden’s cabinet choices so far, and concludes that they’re astute. As they say:

Nearly all the senior people he has named so far worked in previous Democratic administrations. In some cases, they held positions just under Cabinet rank. His pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, was deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama; and his choice for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, was deputy director of the CIA, and so on.

. . . These are not people who have to spend time learning how the government and their departments work. And the contrast with the Trump administration is striking.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 259,832,  a big increase of about 2,200 from yesterday’s figure. Yesterday, 1.5 Americans died every minute from the virus. The world death toll is 1,416,840, a huge increase of about 13,100 over yesterday’s report, and the biggest daily increase I’ve seen yet. Yesterday, nine inhabitants of this planet died every minute. 

Stuff that happened on November 25 include:

  • 1491 – The siege of Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, ends with the Treaty of Granada.
  • 1915 – Albert Einstein presents the field equations of general relativity to the Prussian Academy of Sciences.
  • 1947 – Red Scare: The “Hollywood Ten” are blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios.

Here they are; since they didn’t commit a crime (but were cited for contempt of Congress), they weren’t jailed, but for most of them, their careers were over:

The Mousetrap ended its performance on March 16, of this year, ended due to COVID-19. Total performances, over 28,000.,

Here’s some moving black and white footage of Kennedy’s lying-in-state in the Capitol, the funeral cortege across the Potomac, and the burial at Arlington National Cemetery:

Here’s a video; how many of the performers do you recognize?

  • 1986 – Iran–Contra affair: U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese announces that profits from covert weapons sales to Iran were illegally diverted to the anti-communist Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
  • 1992 – The Federal Assembly of Czechoslovakia votes to split the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, with effect from January 1, 1993.
  • 1999 – A 5-year-old Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, is rescued by fishermen while floating in an inner tube off the Florida coast.

Remember this photo when the boy was taken away from his relatives by federal agents and eventually sent back to his dad in Cuba (the photo, by Alan Diaz of the AP, won a Pulitzer Prize). Gonzalez is now 27, works as an engineer in a plastic-container factory, and has his own kid:

Federal agents seized Elián González, held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, in Miami in April 2000. Dalrymple rescued the boy from the ocean after his mother drowned when they tried to escape Cuba

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1562 – Lope de Vega, Spanish playwright and poet (d. 1635)
  • 1835 – Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist (d. 1919)
  • 1844 – Karl Benz, German engineer and businessman, founded Mercedes-Benz (d. 1929)
  • 1887 – Nikolai Vavilov, Russian botanist and geneticist (d. 1943)

As I’ve noted recently, Vavilov was a great geneticist and agronomist who was sent to the Gulag for the great crime of following science instead of the charlatan Lysenko. He died in the camps in 1943, and here’s his mug shot:

  • 1914 – Joe DiMaggio, American baseball player and coach (d. 1999)
  • 1941 – Percy Sledge, American singer (d. 2015)
  • 1960 – John F. Kennedy Jr., American lawyer, journalist, and publisher (d. 1999)

Those who kicked off on November 25 include:

  • 1920 – Gaston Chevrolet, French-American race car driver and businessman (b. 1892)
  • 1949 – Bill Robinson, American actor and dancer (b. 1878)
  • 1968 – Upton Sinclair, American novelist, critic, and essayist (b. 1878)
  • 1970 – Yukio Mishima, Japanese author, actor, and director (b. 1925)
  • 2005 – George Best, Northern Irish footballer (b. 1946)
  • 2016 – Fidel Castro, Communist leader of Cuba, and revolutionary (b. 1926)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is doing performance art!

Hili: The poor tree—there are no apples nor birds any longer.
A: But one can climb it.
Hili: That’s an art for art’s sake.
In Polish:
Hili: Biedne drzewo, nie ma już na nim ani jabłek, ani ptaków.
Ja: Ale można się na nim wspinać.
Hili: To sztuka dla sztuki.

And here’s kitten Kulka, with her yellow eyes (Hili’s are green) pawing at a tasty morsel (photo by Paulina R.)

From Facebook:

From Cole and Marmalade on Facebook, captioned, “Challenge accepted, humans!”

Another inadvertently salacious church sign sent by Stephen, who says, “Another catchy warning we’d all do well to heed.” (I always wonder if these signs are real.)

A tweet from Dr. Pinkah, supposedly an “alt-righter”:

13 Women against 13 Clerics: a tweet from my Iranian hero, Masih Alinejad. (Spoiler: the women win. Kudos to the brave women of Iran.)

Sound up:

Tweets from Matthew; you want the second one, the Me-Ow One Step from 1919. The YouTube video says this:

When you get to about half way through this early lateral Gennett Disc from March of 1919, you will hear a familiar melody. This was used as background music in early cartoon and films when ever a “Cat” related moment occurred . This song was composed by Mel B. Kaufman and played by the Gennett Orchestra.

Where’s the village?

I wish!

Without doubt, this is the world’s most beautiful duck, Aix galericulata. Sound up.

n.b.: This children’s book, by Bette Midler (yes, that one) will be out early next year.  Read about the Central Park Mandarin here: it has its own Wikipedia page, of course!

Matthew wouldn’t tell me what “TIL” stands for: he made me look it up. And you’ll have to as well. . . .

Sound up. Nobody knows why the woodcock moves like this. It’s interesting that the babies don’t. . . or do they? (Watch until the end; the action occurs in the last ten seconds.)


Tuesday: Hili dialogue

‘Tis Tuesday, November 24, 2020: National Sardines Day (and you can keep it!), and also D. B. Cooper Day, marking the day in 1971 when he parachuted out of a plane with a lot of dosh (see below).

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates Mexican mariachi music. As C|Net reports, “The Doodle features a mariachi serenade of the classic song Cielito Lindo – roughly translating to Lovely Sweet One.” You’ve surely heard the song before:News of the Day:

Most important, it’s EVOLUTION DAY, for it was on November 24, 1859 that Darwin published On the Origin of Species. A transformation of human thought between two covers! And, as a special treat, two pages of Darwin’s draft manuscript of the book (most of which was probably destroyed by the printer), have surfaced. Information below:

But wait! There’s more. Here are the pages:

Sadly, we have a loss that more than counterbalances this find: two of Darwin’s precious notebooks, worth millions, have been missing for 20 years from the Cambridge University Library, and they just now admitted it. This includes the notebook with Darwin’s famous “family tree” diagram of species:

They should have kept this stuff locked in a safe!  Here’s a tweet with the BBC article announcing the loss:

Matthew’s new book on the brain is in the running TODAY for the Baillie Gilford Prize, an award for the best nonfiction book of the year, and worth £50,000 (see tweet below) The results will be announced at 6 p.m. GST. Fingers crossed for Dr. Cobb! All the contenders are shown in the tweet below.

Michigan certified Biden’s victory in that state, putting yet another nail in the Orange Man’s coffin. (Trump tried to influence them by inviting Republican state legislators to the White House.) He hasn’t yet conceded, but he did issue the following tweet implying that he knows he lost Emily Murphy is the head of the General Services Administration, responsible for declaring the victor and then releasing funds to facilitate the Presidential transition. She has done both.

Here’s Joe Biden’s latest cabinet picks with their positions:

Alejandro Mayorkas: Head of Homeland Security
Avril Haines: Director of National Intelligence
Janet Yellen: Secretary of the Treasury
Antony Blinken: Secretary of State
Linda Thomas-Greenfield: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.
Jake Sullivan: National Security Advisor
John Kerry: Climate Czar
Ron Klain: Chief of Staff

So far so good—at least according to the little I know about most of these people.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 257,629,  an increase of about 1,000 from yesterday’s figure. One American is dying every minute from the virus. The world death toll is 1,403,683, 1,394,833, a huge increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s report, and the biggest daily increase I’ve seen yet. 

Stuff that happened on November 24 includes:

  • 1429 – Hundred Years’ War: Joan of Arc unsuccessfully besieges La Charité.
  • 1642 – Abel Tasman becomes the first European to discover the island Van Diemen’s Land (later renamed Tasmania).
  • 1859 – Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species.

You want a first edition, first printing? This one will cost you $400,000 in US currency (h/t Matthew):

  • 1917 – In Milwaukee, nine members of the Milwaukee Police Department are killed by a bomb, the most deaths in a single event in U.S. police history until the September 11 attacks in 2001.
  • 1922 – Nine Irish Republican Army members are executed by an Irish Free State firing squad. Among them is author Erskine Childers, who had been arrested for illegally carrying a revolver.
  • 1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is killed by Jack Ruby.

Oswald’s shooting was broadcast live on television. Here’s a photo of Ruby attacking Oswald, with the caption, “Credit…Bob Jackson/Dallas Times-Herald, via Associated Press.”

You can see the video here.

Here’s Lucy’s skeleton, or rather the bits they found:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1713 – Junípero Serra, Spanish priest and missionary (d. 1784)
  • 1713 – Laurence Sterne, Irish novelist and clergyman (d. 1768)
  • 1784 – Zachary Taylor, American general and politician, 12th President of the United States (d. 1850)
  • 1864 – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French painter and illustrator (d. 1901)

Everyone thinks that this poster for the famous cabaret was done by Toulouse-Lautrec, but it wasn’t: the artist was Théophile Steinlen.

Here’s Toulouse-Lautrec and his grave in Verdelais, in southwest France. He was a very great painter.

  • 1868 – Scott Joplin, American pianist and composer (d. 1917)
  • 1897 – Lucky Luciano, Italian-American mob boss (d. 1962)
  • 1941 – Pete Best, Indian-English drummer and songwriter
  • 1946 – Ted Bundy, American serial killer (d. 1989)
  • 1961 – Arundhati Roy, Indian writer and activist, recipient of Booker Prize
  • 1990 – Sarah Hyland, American actress

Those who went belly-up on November 24 include:

  • 1572 – John Knox, Scottish pastor and theologian (b. 1510)
  • 1957 – Diego Rivera, Mexican painter and sculptor (b. 1886)
  • 1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald, American assassin of John F. Kennedy (b. 1939) [see above]
  • 1991 – Freddie Mercury, Tanzanian-English singer-songwriter, lead vocalist of Queen, and producer (b. 1946)

Mercury loved kitties and owned many. Here he is with two of them (and wearing a Hawaiian shirt):

  • 2002 – John Rawls, American philosopher, author, and academic (b. 1921)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is politely and cutely asking for treats:

Hili: Could you be so kind and give me something very tasty?
A: Will liver pate do?
Hili: Yes, please.
In Polish:
Hili: Uprzejmie proszę o coś bardzo smacznego.
Ja: Czy może być pasztet z wątróbki?
Hili: Tak, poproszę.

A cartoon from reader Pliny the in Between’s site The Far Corner Cafetitled, “You’re a mean one, President Grinch.”

From Nicole:

From Facebook: One glance tells the (future) tale:

The meeting below is like having a panel of lions decide the fate of a gazelle. For more, go here. If white people aren’t supposed to decide what’s racist, how come BDS and opponents of Zionism are qualified to weigh in on anti-Semitism? Jewish Voice for Peace, despite its name, is an anti-Semitic organization.

From Luana. Do you really want children this young to be so adamantly supported in gender transition? (Sound up.) My view is to wait until they’re in their late teens before you start giving them hormones or surgery.

From Ken: “Tweet from Carl Bernstein identifying 21 GOP US senators who have privately expressed disdain for Donald Trump’s fitness for office, but who haven’t had the stones to say it in public:”

Here are all three of Bernstein’s tweets:

From Paul, if you need a bit of Internet insanity (sound up):

Tweets from Matthew. Sound up to hear the pleasurable sounds of the massaged kitty:

What a great find!

I’m not sure whether this cougar cub is worried about predators or interested in potential prey:

Monday: Hili dialogue

It’s Monday, November 23, 2020, and the beginning of Turkey Week in America. And you can wake up to National Espresso Day, as well as Eat A Cranberry Day, National Cashew Day (again?), Fibonacci Day (11/23—get it?; it’ll be even better on November 23, 2058), and, in Frederick County, Maryland, Repudiation Day. 

News of the Day:

Joe Biden was supposed to name his cabinet choices tomorrow, but he’s already in effect named three.

Antony J. Blinken, a defender of global alliances and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s closest foreign policy adviser, is expected to be nominated for secretary of state, a job in which he will try to coalesce skeptical international partners into a new competition with China, according to people close to the process.

. . . .Mr. Biden is also expected to name another close aide, Jake Sullivan, as national security adviser, according to a person familiar with the process. Mr. Sullivan, 43, succeeded Mr. Blinken as Vice President Biden’s national security adviser, and served as the head of policy planning at the State Department under Hillary Clinton, becoming her closest strategic adviser.

. . . Mr. Biden is also expected to name Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year veteran of the Foreign Service who has served in diplomatic posts around the world, as his ambassador to the United Nations, according to two people with knowledge of the process. Mr. Biden will also restore the post to cabinet-level status after Mr. Trump downgraded it, giving Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, who is Black, a seat on his National Security Council.

Was it kosher for the NYT to give the race of the black person but not the others?

Here’s Elisabeth Rosenthal asking the questions we all want to ask Dr. Anthony Fauci. One of them:

When do you think we’ll all be able to throw our masks away?

I think that we’re going to have some degree of public health measures together with the vaccine for a considerable period of time. But we’ll start approaching normal — if the overwhelming majority of people take the vaccine — as we get into the third or fourth quarter [of 2021].

The NYT has a photo essay on the infamous Kolyma Highway, 2000 km of road built to connect railroad stations with Stalin’s gulags, or prison camps. It’s called the “Road of Bones” because an estimated quarter million to a million people died while building the road on permafrost, and it was considered easier to fold the dead bodies into the nascent road than to bury them. The essay has some intriguing photos calling up a terrible period in Russian history.

Two federal prisoners are scheduled for execution before Inauguration Day. I guess it’s too much to expect the sociopath Trump to have enough empathy to stay their executions until Biden can decide whether to issue a permanent stay. According to this 17-month-old Tweet, Joe is opposed to the death penalty:

In the Washington Post, law professor and ex-prosecutor Randall Eliason argues “The case against indicting Trump.” I largely agree with him, but only because it’s likely that Trump will face state criminal charges—for which a President can’t pardon him—after the election.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 256,587, an increase of about 800 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,394,833, an increase of about 6,900 over yesterday’s report.

Stuff that happened on November 23 includes:

I haven’t read the pamphlet, whose title page is below, but Hitchens always recommended this as one of the must-read pieces for discussing freedom of speech. (See this wonderful video at 1:50).

  • 1876 – Corrupt Tammany Hall leader William Magear Tweed (better known as Boss Tweed) is delivered to authorities in New York City after being captured in Spain.

After an unsuccessful attempt to escape, Tweed was jailed until his death two years later. Here’s a Thomas Nast cartoon of Boss Tweed with the Wikipedia caption below it:

A Group of Vultures Waiting for the Storm to “Blow Over”—”Let Us Prey.” by Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly newspaper, September 23, 1871. “Boss” Tweed and members of his ring, Peter B. Sweeny, Richard B. Connolly, and A. Oakey Hall, weathering a violent storm on a ledge with the picked-over remains of New York City.
  • 1910 – Johan Alfred Ander becomes the last person to be executed in Sweden.
  • 1924 – Edwin Hubble‘s discovery, that the Andromeda “nebula” is actually another island galaxy far outside of our own Milky Way, is first published in The New York Times.

Here’s Andromeda, 2.5 million light years away:

  • 1963 – The BBC broadcasts An Unearthly Child (starring William Hartnell), the first episode of the first story from the first series of Doctor Who, which is now the world’s longest running science fiction drama.

Here’s the Tardis taking off for the first time in that early series:

  • 1976 – Apneist Jacques Mayol is the first man to reach a depth of 100 m undersea without breathing equipment.
  • 1981 – Iran–Contra affair: Ronald Reagan signs the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), giving the Central Intelligence Agency the authority to recruit and support Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
  • 1992 – The first smartphone, the IBM Simon, is introduced at COMDEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Here’s that rather unwieldy smartphone, which is clearly not meant to be carried around in your pocket or purse.

  • 2005 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is elected president of Liberia and becomes the first woman to lead an African country.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1804 – Franklin Pierce, American general, lawyer, and politician, 14th President of the United States (d. 1869)
  • 1887 – Boris Karloff, English actor (d. 1969)
  • 1888 – Harpo Marx, American comedian and musician (d. 1964)
  • 1942 – Susan Anspach, American actress (d. 2018)

It’s sad that Susan Anspach is gone; I’ll always remember her role in the great movie Five Easy Pieces as the pianist and unwilling love/lust object of Jack Nicholson. Here’s one scene showing the tension between them:

  • 1953 – Rick Bayless, American chef and author
  • 1992 – Miley Cyrus, American singer-songwriter and actress 

Those who passed on on November 23 include:

  • 1572 – Bronzino, Italian painter and poet (b. 1503)
  • 1682 – Claude Lorrain, French-Italian painter and engraver (b. 1604)
  • 1976 – André Malraux, French theorist and author (b. 1901)
  • 1991 – Klaus Kinski, German-American actor and director (b. 1926)
  • 1992 – Roy Acuff, American singer-songwriter and fiddler (b. 1903)
  • 1995 – Louis Malle, French-American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1932)
  • 1995 – Junior Walker, American singer and saxophonist (b. 1931)

Here’s Junior Walker performing his best song, “What Does it Take“, live on the Letterman show:

  • 2006 – Anita O’Day, American singer (b. 1919)
  • 2014 – Marion Barry, American lawyer and politician, 2nd Mayor of the District of Columbia (b. 1936)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili comments on the world. About the lunatics, Malgorzata explains, “Don’t you see lunatics all around you? Flat=earthers, antivaxxers, medicinal quacks—not to mention the world of politics? I do, and Hili does.”

Hili: A strange world.
A: Why?
Hili: Plenty of lunatics everywhere.
In Polish:
Hili: Dziwny świat.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Wszędzie pełno lunatyków.

Szaron has been cured of his Giardia, and Kulka and Szaron are again sleeping snugly together, with the dark Szaron taking good care of the kitten. (Photo by Paulina R.)

Caption: Kulka comforter.

In Polish: Kulka pocieszycielka.

A meme posted by Seth Andrews; you should be able to figure it out:

From Mark:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Barry. A man rescues tiny dog from jaw of tiny alligator, all while keeping his cigar lit.

From Ken, who says, “I’d feel a bit more confident regarding their claim that they met with Trump to discuss additional COVID-19 assistance for Michigan, were they not sitting at the Trump hotel maskless and non-socially distanced.”

From Simon. The fish don’t look all that stressed, though.

Tweets from Matthew. I found Zlamany’s portraits both inspiring and depressing, the latter as an exploration of the decrepitude of aging. You can read more about the exhibit here, and below this tweet I’ve put a 100-second video with all the portraits.

This is infinitely preferable to any fancy cat-platform you can buy:

Yes, how much knowledge could any of us impart to people two millennia ago in a way that would advance their society?

We need more of these overpasses. After all, the critters were here before we were:

This is surely not random, but I have no idea why. It has not escaped our notice that both Matthew and my last names begin with “C”.