Sunday: Hili dialogue

January 24, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s the Sabbath for  non-Jewish people and animals that aren’t felids: Sunday, January 24, 2021, and National Peanut Butter Day. It’s also National Eskimo Pie Patent Day (patented on this day in 1922; the name is being changed because people find it offensive; it’s now called “Edy’s Pie” though I prefer “Inuit Pie”), National Lobster Thermidor Day, Beer Can Appreciation Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day (how does one do that?), and in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, it’s Uttar Pradesh Day.

News of the Day:

Famous talk-show host Larry King died yesterday in Los Angeles; he was 87. His real name was Larry Zeiger, the son of Orthodox Jews, and he was married eight times to seven women. A photo of him with his kids and last wife, Shawn Southwick, is below.  He was a nonbeliever; a quote from Wikipedia:

After describing himself as a Jewish agnostic in 2005, King stated that he was fully atheist in 2015. In December 2011, King stated that he would like to be cryogenically preserved following his death. In 2017, he stated “I love being Jewish, am proud of my Jewishness, and I love Israel”

I guess he’s frozen now.

The Russians made a huge mistake by detaining dissident Alexsei Navalny when he returned to Russia—after they poisoned him!  That was too much for many Russians, and yesterday there were huge country-wide protests against the government, with demonstrators throwing snowballs at the cops and thousands of them arrested. To its credit, and probably Biden’s, the U.S. State Department protested the arrest of Navalny and the crackdown on protestors.

Is this the beginning of the end for Putin? I hypothesize that it is.

A photo (and caption) from the NYT:

Demonstrators clashing with the police on Saturday in Moscow. Credit: Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

The horrible stuff that Trump did, especially at the end of his tenure, just keeps on surfacing. The New York Times just reported that Trump had a plan to oust Attorney General Rosen, replacing him with a Justice Department loyalist who would force Georgia to overturn its election results. Only the pledge of JD officials to resign should this happen stayed Trump’s hand. This may be an important part of Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial, and it reminds me of Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre in 1973.

Faith versus Fact: According to the Guardian, a holy man in Sri Lanka had a revelation from Kali, the goddess of death, about how to make a syrup that would destroy the coronavirus. Hundreds of people and even some politicians besieged the man’s village to get the syrup. Now the holy man himself, along with several members of his family and one prominent politician, have tested positive for the virus. Protip: science trumps revelation. (h/t: Jez)

The Guardian has an article about how eight nonbelievers find meaning in life.  But they chose photos that make some of them look like loons! Was this deliberate? (h/t Matthew).

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 417,390, a large increase of about 3,200 deaths over yesterday’s figure. We may pass half a million deaths in less than a month. The world death toll stands at 2,131,726, a big increase of about 13,600 deaths over yesterday’s total, or abut 9.4 deaths per minute.

Stuff that happened on January 24 includes:

Here’s Sutter’s Mill in 1850, where flecks of gold were found in the effluent, setting of a huge stampede of men searching for riches:

  • 1857 – The University of Calcutta is formally founded as the first fully fledged university in South Asia.
  • 1908 – The first Boy Scout troop is organized in England by Robert Baden-Powell.

Here is Powell, President Taft, and British ambassador Bryce in 1912, reviewing the Boy Scouts of Washington D.C. Taft was our fattest President, tipping the scales at 325-350 pounds. He had a special bathtub made to accommodate his corpulence (the rumor that he got stuck in it is, however, untrue):

From Wikipedia: “Despite having hidden for twenty-eight years in a jungle cave, he had known since 1952 that World War II had ended. He feared coming out of hiding, explaining, “We Japanese soldiers were told to prefer death to the disgrace of getting captured alive.” He wasn’t the last Japanese soldier to surrender, either: Teruo Nakamura gave up in December of 1974! Below the first picture is one of Nakamura.

Also from Wikipedia: “This newspaper photograph was described as Yokoi’s first haircut in 28 years.”

Nakamura after his surrender in 1974; he was given a necklace of flowers:

Notables born on this day include:

  • AD 76 – Hadrian, Roman emperor (d. 138)
  • 1670 – William Congreve, English playwright and poet (d. 1729)
  • 1712 – Frederick the Great, Prussian king (d. 1786)
  • 1862 – Edith Wharton, American novelist and short story writer (d. 1937)
  • 1917 – Ernest Borgnine, American actor (d. 2012)

Here’s the famous final scene in the movie “Marty” (1955), in which Borgnine plays an Italian butcher who rejects a girl because his friends don’t like her.  Eventually realizing that she’s a great girl and he cares for her, he calls her up for a date at the end. (The movie won a Best Picture Oscar.)

  • 1918 – Oral Roberts, American evangelist, founded Oral Roberts University and Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association (d. 2009)
  • 1928 – Desmond Morris, English zoologist, ethologist, and painter
  • 1941 – Neil Diamond, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1941 – Aaron Neville, American singer
  • 1943 – Sharon Tate, American model and actress (d. 1969)
  • 1947 – Warren Zevon, American singer-songwriter (d. 2003)
  • 1949 – John Belushi, American actor and screenwriter (d. 1982)

A classic from Belushi:

  • 1968 – Mary Lou Retton, American gymnast

Those who snuffed it on January 24 include:

  • AD 41 – Caligula, Roman emperor (b. 12)
  • 1895 – Lord Randolph Churchill, English lawyer and politician, Chancellor of the Exchequer (b. 1849)
  • 1965 – Winston Churchill, English colonel and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1874)

Note that Winston died exactly 70 years after his father.

Here’s a video hagiography of Hubbard by the Church of Scientology:

  • 1989 – Ted Bundy, American serial killer (b. 1946)
  • 1993 – Thurgood Marshall, American lawyer and jurist, 32nd United States Solicitor General (b. 1908)
  • 2017 – Butch Trucks, American drummer (b. 1947)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Her Highness indulges in her regular habit: she jumps in the windowsill when she wants to come inside. Andrzej then goes to the door and calls her, but she doesn’t budge: she waits until he comes to the windowsill, picks her up, and carries her indoors!  Here’s the Queen waiting outside:

A: Why aren’t you coming when I call you?
Hili: Because I like it when you carry me inside.
In Polish:
Ja: Dlaczego nie przychodzisz jak cię wołam?
Hili: Bo lubię jak mnie wnosisz do domu na rękach.

And little Kulka is resting. Look at the lovely patterns on her tummy!

Caption: A picture of Kulka taken by Paulina

In Polish: Zdjęcie Kulki – zrobione przez Paulinę.

From Facebook. “If the mitten isn’t fitting, you must be acquitting.”


From Marianne Williamson, for crying out loud:


Another Bernie meme from reader Andrée:

From Julian. Don’t worry, it all comes right: if you count, you’ll see 7 ducklings at the beginning and seven at the end. Somebody should cover that grate or make the holes smaller.

From reader pyers: the famous British food writer Nigella Lawson deliberately made this dish on Inauguration Day:

From Simon: “Level two Bernie.”

Ying and yang cats from gravelinspector:

Tweets from Matthew. An obsessive, but that’s what we need on Twitter, so long as they’re not ideological obsessives:

Poor Matthew! Poor Brits!

This is a fantastic space picture, and it’s real!

A Tik Tok burrowing owl. Sound up, though I don’t know the song:

Saturday: Hili dialogue

January 23, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s the Sabbath for cats and Jewish people: Saturday, January 23, 2021, and National Pie Day. It’s also National Rhubarb Pie Day, the worst pastry ever invented. I have no truck with this pie (the odious rhubarb is often mixed with strawberries, to the great detriment of the latter), though I know some people favor this gritty, sour vegetable in pies. It’s also National Handwriting Day. I notice that mine has degenerated over the years, perhaps due to either age or my complete failure to write anything by hand in the age of computers.

Wine of the Day: Here we have an inexpensive ($10-15) and delicious Italian wine, the Sartarelli Verdicchio Castelli Di Jesi Classico from 2019, made from the Verdicchio grape and the first example I’ve ever had (quaffed with an omelette made with tomatoes and Tilamook aged sharp cheddar) The wine was surprisingly viscous and extremely fruity, with notes of orange blossom, honey, and peach; and it was slightly off-dry. I’d think that this would be the ideal accompaniment to spicy Indian or Chinese food, though I usually take those with beer. If you see this one, do snap it up. It’s a great bargain.

News of the Day:

The BBC reports that in Nigeria, a 13 year old boy, sentenced to a decade in jail for “making uncomplimentary remarks about God during an argument with a friend in northern Kano state,” has had his sentence overturned by a secular appeals court. (Kano is one of the states that has a parallel system of Sharia law.) The court also overturned a death sentence against a man “for using lyrics deemed blasphemous against the Prophet Muhammad.” The singer will be retried, but the 13-year old better get his tuches out of Nigeria. Others are still serving long sentences for blasphemy—a travesty in this day and age.

Over at the Washington Post, George Conway III, a co-founder of the Republican Lincoln Project (and spouse of Kellyanne Conway), has a long essay about what criminal charges Trump may face as a private citizen. Conway, who thinks the President’s behavior was indeed criminal, goes through all the possibilities, none of which seem to include a Presidential pardon.  A quote:

“. . . Trump is the extreme case. He has proved that over and over again. Bringing him to whatever justice he may deserve is, now more than ever, essential to vindicating the rule of law, which, now more than ever, must be a critical governing policy of the new administration. Vindication of the rule of law is precisely why many Americans, including myself, voted for Biden.”

After lots of waffling and  intimations about when Trump’s impeachment trial will begin (it was first said to be immediate, then within two weeks), Chuck Schumer has announced that, by bipartisan agreement, Trump’s trial will start on February 9. I still think the trial is a good idea, although I’d bet a fair amount that Trump won’t be convicted. As is becoming more clear,  Republicans simply won’t vote for it. But a trial will still be a reminder that there must be an accounting if a President engages in the kind of actions that Trump did.  I do wonder if the Senate can bar Trump for life from holding federal office.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 414,170, large increase of about 3,900 deaths over yesterday’s figure. We may past half a million deaths in less than a month. The world death toll stands at 2,118,135, a big increase of about 15,800 deaths over yesterday’s total, or abut 11 deaths per minute.

Stuff that happened on January 23 includes:

  • 393 – Roman Emperor Theodosius I proclaims his eight-year-old son Honorius co-emperor.
  • 1556 – The deadliest earthquake in history, the Shaanxi earthquake, hits Shaanxi province, China. The death toll may have been as high as 830,000.

Why so many dead? As Wikipedia notes, “Most of the population in the area at the time lived in yaodongs, artificial caves in loess cliffs; these collapsed in great numbers, causing many casualties.”

  • 1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell is awarded her M.D. by the Geneva Medical College of Geneva, New York, becoming the United States’ first female doctor.

Blackwell, a great feminist, spent her early career organizing clinics and hospitals, and later engaged in many varieties of social reform. Here’s a photo:

  • 1937 – The trial of the anti-Soviet Trotskyist center sees seventeen mid-level Communists accused of sympathizing with Leon Trotsky and plotting to overthrow Joseph Stalin‘s regime.

Every one of the defendants was found guilty and given nine grams of lead in the head in the cellars of the Lubyanka. Trotsky, who had escaped, later got an ice pick in the head.

If anyone should be canceled, it should be Lindbergh, who was a Nazi sympathizer. But of course we don’t hear a peep. Here’s a very short video Lindberg urging the U.S. to stay out of World War II.

  • 1950 – The Knesset resolves that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
  • 1957 – American inventor Walter Frederick Morrison sells the rights to his flying disc to the Wham-O toy company, which later renames it the “Frisbee”.

Here’s Morrison, in a mock space suit, promoting his discs, then called the “Pluto Platters”, in the 1950s. Now, of course, they’re called Frisbees.

  • 1986 – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts its first members: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.
  • 2002 – U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan and subsequently murdered.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1737 – John Hancock, American general and politician, 1st Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1793)
  • 1783 – Stendhal, French novelist (d. 1842)
  • 1832 – Édouard Manet, French painter (d. 1883)

Here’s Manet’s “Woman with a Cat” (ca. 1880):

Woman with a Cat c.1880 Edouard Manet 1832-1883 Purchased 1918

Hilbert was a mathematical polymath(ematician), and here he is looking quite natty:

  • 1897 – Subhas Chandra Bose, Indian freedom fighter and politician (d. 1945)
  • 1964 – Mariska Hargitay, American actress and producer

Hargitay played the character Olivia Benson on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and Taylor Swift named one of her cats, a Scottish Fold, after Benson. Here Olivia Benson meets Olivia Benson.


Those who snuffed it on January 23 include:

  • 1516 – Ferdinand II of Aragon (b. 1452)
  • 1803 – Arthur Guinness, Irish brewer, founded Guinness (b. 1725)
  • 1883 – Gustave Doré, French engraver and illustrator (b. 1832)

Doré is one of my favorite illustrators. Here’s his version of Puss in Boots (notice the mouse hanging from his belt):

  • 1944 – Edvard Munch, Norwegian painter and illustrator (b. 1863)
  • 1947 – Pierre Bonnard, French painter (b. 1867)

Here’s Bonnard’s “The White Cat”, a bit etiolated!

Here’s Robeson, a hero of mine, singing to Scottish miners. The Youtube notes:

Extract from Mining Review 2nd Year No. 11 (1949) The highlight of this 1949 issue is the visit of American actor and singer Paul Robeson to Woolmet Colliery near Edinburgh. Robeson was also a renowned (and often persecuted) left-wing political activist and he made several visits to British mining communities. On this occasion he sings “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” for miners in the canteen, a song about an American trade unionist who was allegedly framed on a murder charge and executed in 1915. Robeson had long been something of a hero to the British mining community, ever since he starred in the film Proud Valley (d. Pen Tennyson, 1940) as an American sailor stranded in Cardiff who finds work in a Welsh colliery (the newsreel opens with a short clip from the film).

If the clip below doesn’t play, go here.

  • 1985 – James Beard, American chef and cookbook author for whom the James Beard Foundation Awards are named (b.1905)
  • 1989 – Salvador Dalí, Spanish painter and sculptor (b. 1904)
  • 2004 – Helmut Newton, German-Australian photographer (b. 1920)

Newton was a great fashion photographer. Here’s one of his photos (I can’t identify the model).

  • 2011 – Jack LaLanne, American fitness instructor, author, and television host (b. 1914)
  • 2015 – Ernie Banks, American baseball player and coach (b. 1931)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is weary from the day’s editing, but Andrzej soldiers on.

Hili: Maybe we could switch off the computer and go to sleep?
A: Just let me read this article.
In Polish:
Hili: Może zgasimy już ten komputer i pójdziemy spać?
Ja: Pozwól mi tylko przeczytać ten artykuł.

Kulka’s out in the snow again. She can’t be stopped:

Two inauguration memes. Good for Garth Brooks: after all, he’s a country singer!

And, from Jean, the best take yet on Bernie In Mittens:

A fake Time Magazine cover sent by Bruce:

Here’s a guy who trained his dogs to pray before eating!  I guess he doesn’t know that Catholic philosopher Edward Feser asserts that dogs can’t go to Heaven.

A tweet from Simon, who said, “I know it’s dogs, but he looks so much better!”

From Barry: “A male cardinal and a bronze cat”:

From Ginger K.: Another Biden reversal of Trump policy. I can’t verify that the button was real: some sources imply it was, while others have doubts.

Tweets from Matthew. As somebody said, you don’t stand on the shoulders of giants to accomplish good science—you stand on the shoulders of a whole crowd.

Well, everyone makes mistakes. This one could be seen as a double entendre:

I can’t vouch for this, but if it’s wrong I’ll let Matthew take the heat:

Bemused ducks! My ducks, too, get puzzled when they fly into the frozen pond and skid upon landing.

Friday: Hili dialogue

January 22, 2021 • 6:30 am

We’re almost through the “work” week: it’s already Friday, January 22, 2021, and National Southern Food Day, celebrating America’s finest regional cuisine. Here, for example is the archetypal dish: the “meat and three” (served always with sweet tea and usually cornbread). Here we have BBQ, black-eyed peas, collards, and mac-and-cheese (the last is always seen as a “vegetable” in the South), along with a corn muffin and sweet tea (also called the “table wine of the South”).

It’s also National Blonde Brownie Day, Roe vs. Wade Day, celebrating the anniversary of the 1973 decision (see below), and Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day (cats have only one question, and you know what it is).

News of the Day:

Although it’s still tough times, there’s something to smile about: Bernie Sanders’s informal Vermont attire at the Inauguration, which spawned a thousand memes and tweets. You’ll see some of them in the tweets at the bottom.

As the AP reports:

Many people quickly highlighted the 79-year-old independent Vermont senator’s look, and created endless memes, from Wednesday’s inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, which he said was more about keeping warm than fashion.

“You know in Vermont, we dress warm, we know something about the cold, and we’re not so concerned about good fashion, we want to keep warm. And that’s what I did today,” Sanders told CBS on Wednesday.

People were particularly enthralled with Sanders’ mittens, which were made by a Vermont elementary school teacher who has a side business making mittens out of recycled wool.

“I love it that he loves them, and that he wears them,” Jen Ellis, an elementary school teacher, told NECN-TV. “And I’m totally honored that he wore them today.”

Jen Ellis has been flooded with requests for interviews.

Joe Biden has been busy signing 17 executive orders (most of which I like) and overturning unwise decisions of the Trump administration. I won’t reprise his efforts to combat the pandemic, including a federal mask mandate on public transportation (see here), and invoking the Defense Production Act to up the supply of vaccines (something Trump should have done) and  other measures. You can see a summary of his executive orders here.

Over at the New York Times, Ezra Klein has a long piece on what Biden needs to do to avoid a disastrous Democratic defeat (loss of the Senate and perhaps even the House) in two years. He’s worried in particular about the Senate filibuster, which takes 60 people to stop:

President Biden’s agenda will live or die in the Senate. Odds are it will die, killed by the filibuster.

And referring to Biden’s “rescue plan” and bills for D.C. statehood and improved campaign financing regulation, Klein says this:

. . . none of these bills will pass a Senate in which the filibuster forces 60-vote supermajorities on routine legislation. And that clarifies the real question Democrats face.

At the City Journal, the much maligned Heather MacDonald has some words that, just because she’s a critic of the Left, shouldn’t be ignored. She criticizes Biden’s speech for actually being divisive, and foresees the return of Wokeness:

The diversity obsessives in the federal science bureaucracies waited out Donald Trump’s presidency. They will now redouble their efforts to treat a researcher’s race and sex as scientific qualifications in the awarding of federal research grants. Expect to see any mention of merit or excellence denounced as a form of bigotry, a response that the University of California and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as an army of corporate diversity trainers, have already perfected.

The next four years will likely be one long anti-white-privilege struggle session. Any real effort to close racial achievement gaps, such as fighting the “acting white” ethic that prevents many inner-city children from trying hard in school, will be deferred and discredited. Biden is betting that white liberals, at least, will continue hanging their heads in penance for their hereditary crimes and trot off to their latest show trial. Given past behavior, he’s probably right.

What is going on with the impeachment? The House vote is done and dusted, but Nancy Pelosi is holding off on sending it to the Senate, where a trial could begin within a day after its receipt. Mitch “666” McConnell has suggested delaying the Senate trial until February so that Trump’s legal team can have time to prepare. Trump just hired a lawyer from South Carolina to represent him.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 410,336, large increase of about 4,200 deaths over yesterday’s figure. We may past half a million deaths in less than a month. The world death toll stands at 2,102,386, a big increase of about 14,900 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 22 includes:

  • 1901 – Edward VII is proclaimed King after the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.
  • 1905 – Bloody Sunday in Saint Petersburg, beginning of the 1905 revolution.
  • 1924 – Ramsay MacDonald becomes the first Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
  • 1927 – Teddy Wakelam gives the first live radio commentary of a football match, between Arsenal F.C. and Sheffield United at Highbury.
  • 1968 – Apollo 5 lifts off carrying the first Lunar module into space.

Here’s a photo from Wikipedia showing “S67-50927 (November 1967):  Lunar Module-1 being moved into position for mating with Spacecraft Lunar Module Adapter (SLA)-7 in the Kennedy Space Center’s Manned Spacecraft Operations Building.”

  • 1970 – The Boeing 747, the world’s first “jumbo jet”, enters commercial service for launch customer Pan American Airways with its maiden voyage from John F. Kennedy International Airport to London Heathrow Airport.
  • 1973 – In a bout for the world heavyweight boxing championship in Kingston, Jamaica, challenger George Foreman knocks down champion Joe Frazier six times in the first two rounds before the fight is stopped by referee Arthur Mercante.

Here’s a short video showing the full fight. Frazier took a real beating. I’m glad that boxing is no longer popular:

Here’s that commercial; remember it? It was a great one, playing off the year of introduction:

  • 2006 – Evo Morales is inaugurated as President of Bolivia, becoming the country’s first indigenous president.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1552 – Walter Raleigh, English poet, soldier, courtier, and explorer (d. 1618)
  • 1561 – Francis Bacon, English philosopher and politician, Attorney General for England and Wales (d. 1626)
  • 1788 – Lord Byron, English poet and playwright (d. 1824)
  • 1849 – August Strindberg, Swedish novelist, poet, and playwright (d. 1912)
  • 1898 – Sergei Eisenstein, Russian director and screenwriter (d. 1948)
  • 1931 – Sam Cooke, American singer-songwriter (d. 1964)

Cooke was shot to death under mysterious circumstances in a Los Angeles motel. He was only 33.

  • 1938 – Peter Beard, Australian photographer and author (d. 2020)

Beard, the scion of wealth, spent many years in Africa taking photographs that put into books with handwritten annotations. He owned land in Kenya adjacent to where Karen Blixen once lived, and made it his African home.  Here’s one of his pictures:

PETER BEARD (B. 1938) Lion Pride, 1976 unique gelatin silver print, printed c. 1990 signed, dated, titled ‘from Ndutu…Southern Serengeti’ and inscribed in ink (on the recto) image.
  • 1959 – Linda Blair, American actress

Those who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on January 22 include:

  • 1901 – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (b. 1819)
  • 1966 – Herbert Marshall, English actor (b. 1890)
  • 1968 – Duke Kahanamoku, American swimmer and water polo player (b. 1890)

With the huge surfboards that were standard at the time, Duke (a five-time Olympic swimming medalist) helped popularize the sport of surfing. Here he is in 1921 with his huge redwood board:

  • 1994 – Telly Savalas, American actor (b. 1924)
  • 2000 – Craig Claiborne, American journalist, author, and critic (b. 1920)
  • 2008 – Heath Ledger, Australian actor and director (b. 1979)
  • 2012 – Joe Paterno, American football player and coach (b. 1926)
  • 2018 – Ursula K. Le Guin, American sci-fi and fantasy novelist (b. 1929)

Le Guin below. I haven’t read any of her works, as I’m not much into science fiction, but I know she has many fans:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is indoors, avoiding the other cats:

Hili: Kulka is upstairs, it’s cold outside, Szaron is at home. I will be sitting in the hallway.
A: As you wish.
In Polish:
Hili: Na górze Kulka, na dworze zimno, w domu Szaron. Posiedzę sobie w korytarzu.
Ja: Jak wolisz.

Little Kulka has just played in the snow, and now wants to come inside (she learned the trick of jumping onto the windowsill from Hili):

Caption: “And Kulka outside the window.”

In Polish: A za oknem Kulka

From Natalie via Harmonia Early Music (see caption), a cat that smiles. It’s the Weird Medieval Cat of the Week:

From Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu, Savoy c. 1475.

From reader Bruce:From Laurie.  He could be Polish, too, as in my experience they eat five meals per day, including a “second breakfast”:

Two tweets from Simon: Titania takes on Biden’s new executive order:

And the Bern talks to the Dude:

Tweets from Matthew. I’ll write about this cool paper tomorrow. There’s more to be learned about house cats!

Now this is a news intro!. From the BBC:

THIS is what the Internet is best at. Bernie in mittens! Somebody should do Bernie on Mount Rushmore. . .

Another (Matthew loves these):

Bernée avec chat:

Remember this place?

This is an excellent one:

Do your own! It really works.

See? I put Bernie atop El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He climbed it freestyle and in mittens—a first!

Thursday: Hili dialogue

January 21, 2021 • 6:30 am

Doesn’t this make you tear up?

We’re breezing through the week: it’s already Thursday, January 21, 2021:  National New England Clam Chowder Day (the only acceptable style of this chowder).  It’s also National Granola Bar Day, International Sweatpants Day (make that a whole year), National Hugging Day (only for those in your bubble) and National Squirrel Appreciation Day.  I’ve started feeding the tree rats again, and here’s a photo of one to whom I gave a walnut a few years ago. He couldn’t believe his luck!

Reader Andrée sent a link to the history of National Squirrel Appreciation Day, which includes recommended activities (feed them!) and this note:

Here’s the thing about squirrels: some people hate them and say that they’re “invasive species.” But can those people leap across a space ten times the length of their body? Didn’t think so.

Quiz of the Day: Name a popular folk/rock song that came out between 1960 and 1970 that contains the word “verdant.” No prizes, but no Googling, either.

News of the Day:

The big news, of course, is that we have a new administration, and I was far more moved than I expected by the Inauguration. I turned it on just to check in, and wound up watching the whole schmear until Biden became President.  It was touching and hopeful to see a woman taking the oath of office as Vice President, with Sonia Sotomayor administering the oath of office.

Although Biden’s speech wasn’t elegant, it was Biden: a straight-talking and decent man. Still, I fear for his “dream” of reconciliation given the polarization of the country and the deep disagreement on big issues, but it was just what he said: a vision. I wish him the best.

I’ve just listened to the first press briefing by Jen Psaki, and it was further refreshing to hear someone who wasn’t committed to putting a good spin on a dreadful administration like Trump’s. Biden has hit the ground running, overturning the Keystone Pipeline deal and Trump’s decision to allow oil and gas exploration in national wildlife monuments, reversing the U.S.’s withdrawal from WHO, putting a federal mask mandate in place, reversing the “Muslim ban,” and so on. You can see what he did—and his plans for the first 100 days in office—here.

You can guess who these women are. I like to think that the colorful clothes worn by many women were meant to symbolize a bright new era.

But out in Portland, a crowd in black attacked the Democratic National Headquarters, smashing windows and lighting fires. From the NYT:

In a city that has seen months of demonstrations over racial injustice, economic inequality, federal law enforcement and corporate power, protesters have vowed to continue their actions no matter who is president. Those who took to the streets on Wednesday said they were a mix of anarchists, antifa and racial justice protesters.

The group marched to the local Democratic headquarters, where some people broke windows and tipped over dumpsters, lighting the garbage inside one of them on fire.

A prediction, which is mine: wokeness won’t abate under Biden, but will actually increase. Wokeness wasn’t a reaction to Trump, I think, but simply the Zeitgeist, and Biden will not criticize it. And Portland is hopeless.

NYT photo: Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

And Bernie wore a non-fancy coat and MITTENS to the Inauguration, giving rise to much merriment on Facebook and Twitter. (Matthew says, “The mittens are made of recycled wool, with a lining made from ground up plastic water bottles. He was given them on the campaign trail a couple of years ago.”)

Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 406,180, a very large increase of about 4,400 deaths over yesterday’s figure. We have just surpassed the total number of Americans killed—combatants or others—in World War II, (405,399). It took four years of war to reach that figure, but less than a year of Covid-19. The world death toll now stands at 2,085,507, a big increase of about 18,000 deaths over yesterday’s total—about 12.5 deaths per minute (more than one every five seconds).

Stuff that happened on January 21 includes:

Here’s the first edition; it must be rare, as I can’t find one for sale. Has anyone here read it?

  • 1861 – American Civil War: Jefferson Davis resigns from the United States Senate.
  • 1908 – New York City passes the Sullivan Ordinance, making it illegal for women to smoke in public, only to have the measure vetoed by the mayor.
  • 1950 – American lawyer and government official Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury.

Hiss could not be convicted of spying for the Soviets as the statute of limitations had expired, but served 3 years and eight months for perjury. It’s still not clear whether Hiss, who admitted he was a Communist, actually spied. His trial and conviction are emblematic of the Red Scare era. Here’s Hiss in his mugshot at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary:

The Nautilus served until 1980, when it was retired; it now resides at a sea museum in Groton, Connecticut. Here she be:

It’s still working, but is also a historical monument, and remains the tallest free-standing structure in the UK: 330.4 meters (1,084 feet)

This novel stainless-steel car with its famous gull-wing doors hasn’t aged well: you can pick up specimens in pretty good condition for about $40,000. It was made for only two years.

  • 1997 – The U.S. House of Representatives votes 395–28 to reprimand Newt Gingrich for ethics violations, making him the first Speaker of the House to be so disciplined.
  • 1999 – War on Drugs: In one of the largest drug busts in American history, the United States Coast Guard intercepts a ship with over 4,300 kilograms (9,500 lb) of cocaine on board.
  • 2009 – Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip, officially ending a three-week war it had with Hamas. However, intermittent fire by both sides continues in the weeks to follow.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1738 – Ethan Allen, American general (d. 1789)
  • 1741 – Chaim of Volozhin, Orthodox rabbi (d. 1821)
  • 1824 – Stonewall Jackson, American general (d. 1863)
  • 1869 – Grigori Rasputin, Russian Mystic (d. 1916)

Here’s Rasputin with his kids:

Wallenda fell to his death, plunging ten stories to the street (no net or safety wire) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. You can see a video of the news report and of his fall here.

  • 1912 – Konrad Emil Bloch, German-American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2000)
  • 1940 – Jack Nicklaus, American golfer and sportscaster
  • 1941 – Richie Havens, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2013)

Those who succumbed on January 21 include:

If you haven’t read Strachey’s two famous books, Eminent Victorians and Queen Victoria, do so. He pioneered a new style of biography—psychological biography. The ending of Queen Victoria, imagining what went through her mind as she was dying, is justly famous.

Strachey was gay, but had a long platonic relationship with artist and writer Dora Carrington. They lived together in the country (Wiltshire) until Strachey died of stomach cancer at 51. Carrington committed suicide six weeks later.

Dora Carrington; Stephen Tomlin; Walter John Herbert (‘Sebastian’) Sprott; Lytton Strachey, June 1926. Photo by Lady Ottoline Morrell, June 1926

Here’s a well known painting of Strachey by Carrington. The 1995 movie about their relationship, with Emma Thompson as Carrington, is well worth watching.

  • 1950 – George Orwell, British novelist, essayist, and critic (b. 1903)
  • 1959 – Cecil B. DeMille, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1881)
  • 1984 – Jackie Wilson, American singer (b. 1934)
  • 1985 – James Beard, American chef and author (b. 1903)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has gone offline:

A: Are you hiding in the wardrobe again?
Hili: Yes, there is no social media here.
In Polish:
Ja: znowu schowałaś się w szafie?
Hili: Tak, tu nie ma mediów społecznościowych.

Little Kulka is out gamboling in the snow:

From Su:

From United Humanists (I believe Archie Bunker once used this malapropism; he also once said that the Pope was “inflammable”):

From Jesus of the Day:

And an extra meme from Marie, because we now have a new President:

I tweeted this, and a wag responded:


I found this one, too: Don’t let the door hit you on the tuches!

From Luana. Apparently “privilege” isn’t even used for white folks, just the Jews. You can check for yourself (I haven’t).

From Ginger K., who considers this apple beautiful. I agree, but I’d like to taste it. You can read more about this rare breed here; its color is due to high exposure to UV light. It’s also expensive: one apple is said to cost about 50 yuan, which is close to eight U.S. dollars.

Tweets from Matthew.  First, physicist Sean Carroll’s weird cat:

This is a longish thread (part of which is below) about all the dumb stuff Trump did as President. Go here to see it all.


Wednesday: Hili dialogue

January 20, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s Inauguration Day!!!!!  The nightmare of the last four years appears to be over and, through his actions surrounding the Capitol takeover, Trump has probably shattered whatever political career he envisioned after his Presidency. (Believe me, he won’t want to go back to reality shows and real estate deals.) Good news all around!  Even Mitch “666” McConnell is making noises that may help convict Trump during his second impeachment trial in the Senate (a conviction would of course help separate Trump from the GOP, which many Republicans want).

A couple of tweets and memes to celebrate. Sadly, the first one is marred by the misspelled “Lonney Tunes”.

h/t Marie

It’s a good day, this Wednesday, January 20, 2021, as the heinous incumbent will be ejected from the Presidency at noon. He’s off to Florida, skipping the Inauguration: the first ex-President to do that in a century.  ABC News describes the petulant little baby:

Trump, who remains consumed with anger and grievance over his election loss, refused and has not been seen in public since last week, when he traveled to Texas for one last photo opportunity at the border wall he pushed so adamantly throughout his presidency. In the end, he spent less than 45 minutes on the ground there and spoke just 21 minutes.

Trump has also refused to take part in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions that have been the capstones of the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next. He is boycotting not just the ceremony at the Capitol, but also passed on inviting the Bidens to the White House for a get-to-know-you meeting. And it remains unclear whether he will write Biden a personal welcome letter, like the one he received from former President Obama when he moved in.

It’s National Cheese Lover’s Day, and once again a misplaces apostrophe implies that only one person on Earth loves cheese, and it’s their holiday.

Is this the Cheese Lover?

It’s also National Buttercrunch Day, and Penguin Awareness Day. Here’s a Magellanic pengie photo that I took in Antarctica a year from last fall. Dear Ceiling Cat, let me go back!

News of the Day:

Trump’s pardons have now been issued and there are 143 in the last batch, with 73 full pardons and 70 commuted sentences. The list includes Steve Bannon, a couple of Trump’s other cronies, some convicted Republican congressmen, and, to Trump’s credit, a number of people convicted and serving time for nonviolent drug crimes, especially involving marijuana.  The release of the list was reportedly delayed by a long debate over Bannon. You can see the full list here.

I’m sure we have a winner in our “Who will get pardons?” contest, but it will take me some time to find the victor. If you remember your choices, it would help for readers who entered to match your choices with the pardon list and let me know if you were the first to get them all right. A prize will be forthcoming.

On Saturday, a team of Nepalese climbers accomplished a first: reaching the summit of K2, the world’s second highest mountain (28,251 ft.), in the winter. And crikey, ten of them made it to the top, having a veritable house party on the summit. No winter ascent was successful until this one.

(From the NYT): From top left: Dawa Tenji Sherpa, Mingma G, Dawa Temba Sherpa and Pem Chiri Sherpa. From bottom left: Mingma David Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Nirmal Purja and Gelje Sherpa. (Not pictured: Kilu Pemba Sherpa and Sona Sherpa.) Pool photo by Nimsdai

Here’s the route from the BBC article on the ascent:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 401,823, an increase of about 2,800 deaths from yesterday’s figure. Our death toll has now exceeded 400,000, and in two days will surpass the total number of Americans killed—combatants or others—in World War II, (405,399). It took four years of war to reach that figure, but less than a year of Covid-19. The world death toll is 2,067,591, a big increase of about 16,200 deaths over yesterday’s total, or about one death every five seconds.

Stuff that happened on January 20 includes:

  • 1265 – The first English parliament to include not only Lords but also representatives of the major towns holds its first meeting in the Palace of Westminster, now commonly known as the “Houses of Parliament”.
  • 1783 – The Kingdom of Great Britain signed preliminary articles of peace with France, setting the stage to the official end of hostilities in the American Revolutionary War later that year.
  • 1788 – The third and main part of First Fleet arrives at Botany Bay. Arthur Phillip decides that Port Jackson is a more suitable location for a colony.
  • 1841 – Hong Kong Island is occupied by the British.
  • 1887 – The United States Senate allows the Navy to lease Pearl Harbor as a naval base.
  • 1929 – The first full-length talking motion picture filmed outdoors, In Old Arizona, is released.

Here’s the whole movie if you want to have a look:

  • 1936 – King George V of the United Kingdom dies. His eldest son succeeds to the throne, becoming Edward VIII. The title Prince of Wales is not used for another 22 years.

Edward VIII of course abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson; his reign lasted a bit less than a year.  Here’s the instrument of abdication:

  • 1937 – Franklin D. Roosevelt and John Nance Garner are sworn in for their second terms as U.S. President and U.S. Vice President; it is the first time a Presidential Inauguration takes place on January 20 since the 20th Amendment changed the dates of presidential terms.
  • 1961 – John F. Kennedy is inaugurated the 35th President of the United States of America, becoming the second youngest man to take the office, and the first Catholic.
  • 1981 – Twenty minutes after Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States of America, Iran releases 52 American hostages.
  • 2009 – Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America, becoming the first African-American President of the United States.

The good old days (John Roberts leads the oath:

Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Trump was 70 on that day, but today Biden will become the oldest President by a long shot, as he’s 78.  The bad old days:



Notables born on this day include:

  • 1888 – Lead Belly, American folk/blues musician and songwriter (d. 1949)

Here’s Lead Belly singing “Where did you sleep last night?”

  • 1896 – George Burns, American actor, comedian, and producer (d. 1996)
  • 1920 – Federico Fellini, Italian director and screenwriter (d. 1993)
  • 1930 – Buzz Aldrin, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut
  • 1939 – Chandra Wickramasinghe, Sri Lankan-English mathematician, astronomer, and biologist
  • 1953 – Jeffrey Epstein, American financier and convicted sex offender (d. 2019)
  • 1956 – Bill Maher, American comedian, political commentator, media critic, television host, and producer

Here’s Maher the other day introducing his new children’s book about Trump. (They could have written poetry that scanned.)

Those who checked out on January 20 include:

  • 1779 – David Garrick, English actor, producer, playwright, and manager (b. 1717)
  • 1900 – John Ruskin, English painter and critic (b. 1819)
  • 1962 – Robinson Jeffers, American poet and philosopher (b. 1887)
  • 1984 – Johnny Weissmuller, American swimmer and actor (b. 1904)
  • 1996 – Gerry Mulligan, American saxophonist and composer (b. 1927)

Here’s Mulligan with his Quartet playing “Open Country”:

  • 2018 – Paul Bocuse, French chef (b. 1926)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili was left out in the cold for too long, and wasn’t noticed on the windowsill:

Hili: This is a lack of responsibility!
A: What do you mean?
Hili: For an hour now I’ve been banging on the window!
A: You went out ten minutes ago.
Hili: Exactly, and all this time I’ve been waiting for you to let me in.
In Polish:
Hili: To jest brak odpowiedzialności!
Ja: O co ci chodzi?
Hili: Od godziny dobijam się do okna!
Ja: Wyszłaś dziesięć minut temu.
Hili: No właśnie i cały czas czekam, żebyś mnie wpuścił.

Little Kulka, who loves to run, climb the trees, and play, is enjoying the recent snowfall.

Caption: And Kulka is enjoying herself. (Photo: Paulina)

In Polish: Kulka się cieszy. (Foto: Paulina.)

From reader Pliny the in Between’s The Far Corner Cafe, a dig at HuffPost (how could I resist?)

From Stephen:

A meme from Bruce:

From Titania, but sent by Simon. The big question here, whose answer I can’t find, is whether Winter was put in a women’s prison or a men’s. Winter still has male plumbing, and, given his rape conviction, would seem to be a real danger to the other inmates if put in a women’s prison.

From Jez. I find this astonishing! It’s almost a Tweet of the Year. Be sure to play the video.

Tweets from Matthew. I love this first one!

Truer words were never spoken (or, in this case, written):

Check out the cuticles of the old legs:

Mine are too!

This is a visual poem—one way of looking at a crow:

I told Matthew to get one of these for his three cats Ollie, Pepper, and Harry, and he says there have been familial discussions about that on and off:

Monday: Hili dialogue

January 18, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to another damn week; it’s Monday, January 18, 2021: National Gourmet Coffee Day, which should be every day (life’s too short to drink bad coffee). But it’s also an important federal holiday: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (he was actually born on January 15), so everyone’s off work (save me) and there’s no mail. Were King alive, he’d be 92 today, and we all wonder what he’d have to say about civil rights. Would he still emphasize the content of one’s character over the color of one’s skin? The New York Times has enlisted one of his sons to suggest that King would be with modern civil-right protestors.

There’s a special Google Doodle for Martin Luther King Day; click on the screenshot:

In honor of King, a hero on the order of Gandhi (yes, both men were flawed, but who isn’t?), I’m putting up the best (non-folk) song ever written about civil rights. Indeed, it’s one of the best soul songs of all time. Behold Sam Cooke with his own composition from 1964: the year of the Civil Rights Act:

It’s also National Peking Duck Day and Winnie the Pooh Day, which marks the birthday (in ) of author A. A. Milne in 1882.

The characters in Milne’s books were actually named after his son Christopher’s stuffed toys, and they still remain (except for Roo): here’s a photo of the originals, which you can see at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City. The caption: “Original Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed toys. Clockwise from bottom left: TiggerKanga, Edward Bear (“Winnie-the-Pooh”), Eeyore, and PigletRoo was lost long ago.” Eeyore is my spirit animal. 

News of the Day:

Oy! CNN reports that Trump is going to issue around 100 pardons tomorrow, his last day in office. An excerpt:

President Donald Trump is preparing to issue around 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, according to three people familiar with the matter, a major batch of clemency actions that includes white collar criminals, high-profile rappers and others but — as of now — is not expected to include Trump himself.

. . . The final batch of clemency actions is expected to include a mix of criminal justice reform-minded pardons and more controversial ones secured or doled out to political allies.

Imagine the basket of deplorables who will either go free or become free from indictment! Trump will be able to issue pardons until noon on Inauguration Day.

Russian dissident Alexander Navalny, after being poisoned by Putin’s acolytes and having miraculously survived, has returned to Russia, where he was immediately detained and taken away. That is a brave man! Will we ever see him again?

Phil Spector died of complications of Covid-19 yesterday; he was 81 and In prison for shooting nightclub hostess Lana Clarkson. At one time he was the King of Music Producers, famed for his big-noise “wall of sound” behind singers (he also produced the Beatles’ last album, Let It Be). The NYT reports:

Mr. Spector single-handedly created the image of the record producer as auteur, a creative force equal to or even greater than his artists, with an instantly identifiable aural brand.

“There were songwriter-producers before him, but no one did the whole thing like Phil,” the songwriter and producer Jerry Leiber told Rolling Stone in 2005. Mr. Leiber, who died in 2011, and Mr. Spector served a brief but crucial apprenticeship together at Atlantic Records.

. . . “He was everything,” Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys told an interviewer for the British documentary “Endless Harmony: The Beach Boys Story.” He called Mr. Spector “the biggest inspiration in my entire life.” To John Lennon, he was “the greatest record producer ever.” (Greater than George Martin?)

Here’s an example of Spector’s wall of sound:

Exciting philatelic and mail news!!!! The U.S. is issuing a pre-stamped mallard postcard this year! Be sure to buy a big supply (it has “forever” postage). Here it is (h/t: Roger); I have to say that they never show the hens as the colorful drakes are more attractive. I would have preferred Honey, though. It’s always the drakes who are pictured; the females get the shaft but I love them more.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 397,612, an increase of about 1,800 deaths from yesterday’s figure. In two days we’ll pass 400,000 deaths: double what the most pessimistic pundits thought we’d have. The world death toll stands at 2,041,016, an increase of about 7,700 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 18 includes:

  • 1778 – James Cook is the first known European to discover the Hawaiian Islands, which he names the “Sandwich Islands”.
  • 1788 – The first elements of the First Fleet carrying 736 convicts from Great Britain to Australia arrive at Botany Bay.
  • 1886 – Modern field hockey is born with the formation of The Hockey Association in England.
  • 1896 – An X-ray generating machine is exhibited for the first time by H. L. Smith.

Wikipedia tells us what the different colors mean when your baggage is screened:

The colour of the image displayed depends upon the material and material density : organic material such as paper, clothes and most explosives are displayed in orange. Mixed materials such as aluminum are displayed in green. Inorganic materials such as copper are displayed in blue and non-penetrable items are displayed in black (some machines display this as a yellowish green or red). The darkness of the color depends upon the density or thickness of the material.

  • 1919 – World War I: The Paris Peace Conference opens in Versailles, France.
  • 1943 – Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: The first uprising of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.
  • 1967 – Albert DeSalvo, the “Boston Strangler”, is convicted of numerous crimes and is sentenced to life imprisonment.

DeSalvo was stabbed to death in prison in 1973.

Here’s the bacterium, Legionella pneumophila:

  • 1983 – The International Olympic Committee restores Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals to his family.
  • 1990 – Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry is arrested for drug possession in an FBI sting.
  • 1993 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is officially observed for the first time in all 50 US states.
  • 2008 – The Euphronios Krater is unveiled in Rome after being returned to Italy by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here’s a picture of that beautiful Greek vase, created by Euphronios about 515 B.C.  Some information from Wikipedia:

The Euphronios Krater (or Sarpedon Krater) is an ancient Greek terra cotta calyx-krater, a bowl used for mixing wine with water. Created around the year 515 BC, it is the only complete example of the surviving 27 vases painted by the renowned Euphronios and is considered one of the finest Greek vase artifacts in existence. Part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1972 to 2008, the vase was repatriated to Italy under an agreement negotiated in February 2006, and it is now in the collection of the Archaeological Museum of Cerveteri as part of a strategy of returning stolen works of art to their place of origin

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1689 – Montesquieu, French lawyer and philosopher (d. 1755)
  • 1782 – Daniel Webster, American lawyer and politician, 14th United States Secretary of State (d. 1852)
  • 1880 – Paul Ehrenfest, Austrian-Dutch physicist and academic (d. 1933)
  • 1882 – A. A. Milne, English author, poet, and playwright (d. 1956) [See above].

Here’s Milne with his son Christopher Robin and some plushies. I don’t think the penguin made it into the Pooh books, but you can see the original Pooh bear!

A. A. Milne and Christopher Robin A. A. Milne and Christopher Robin Milne – playing with a toy teddy bear. CRM, son of A. A. Milne, basis of the character Christopher Robin in A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:: 21 August 1920 – 20 April 1996. AAM, English author: 18 January 1882 – 31 January 1956. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)
  • 1892 – Oliver Hardy, American actor and comedian (d. 1957)
  • 1904 – Cary Grant, English-American actor (d. 1986)
  • 1941 – David Ruffin, American singer (d. 1991)

Ruffin was the lead singer of The Temptations, producing some of the finest soul music of our time (e.g., “My Girl” and the fantastic song below):

Those who decamped from life on January 18 include:

  • 1862 – John Tyler, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 10th President of the United States (b. 1790)
  • 1936 – Rudyard Kipling, English author and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1865)
  • 1952 – Curly Howard, American actor (b. 1903)

Howard’s real name was Jerome Lester Horowitz. Like his brothers Moe and Shemp, he was Jewish, but so was Larry (Larry Fine).  Curly died at only 48 after multiple strokes.

  • 1989 – Bruce Chatwin, English-French author (b. 1940)
  • 2016 – Glenn Frey, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1948)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, now a matron, goes down into the basement to ponder her youth:

Hili: I often sat in this armchair in my youth.
A: But it’s cold in the basement.
Hili: Never mind, it’s nice to reminisce on old furniture about old times.
In Polish:
Hili: Na tym fotelu często siedziałam w młodości.
Ja: Ale w piwnicy jest zimno.
Hili: Nie szkodzi, na starych meblach miło się wspomina dawne czasy.

And little Kulka was outside for the past few days, but now it’s too cold:

Caption: It’s crackling cold outside, -18°C. (Picture, of course, by Paulina)

In Polish: A na dworze trzaskający mróz, minus 18C. (Zdjęcie, oczywiście Pauliny.)

A headline from Stash Krod. It is indeed a real article, even if it’s fake news. Read it!

. . . and another from Stash Krod, with an allusion to the Capitol siege:

From Joe:

Tweets from Matthew. The first is a stunning find, and I hope the mutants can run fast enough from predators. Note that the “dwarves” have relatively short legs, as with dwarf mutations in other species.  Below the tweet I’ve put a picture from the article showing adult males of normal size and a putative mutant.

This looks like easy prey for big cats, who tend to go after juveniles. Further, can those males mate with normal-sized females? Or vice versa?

Male dwarf giraffe, Nigel (right), and a normal-sized adult male giraffe (left) in Namibia. March 2018. (Credit: Emma Wells, Giraffe Conservation Foundation)

And what a great tribute:

Go to this link to see the wildlife video; the place was TEEMING with hummingbirds yesterday.

This guy already lost his pledge twice, so he’s now a castrato. Or should be, but I doubt he kept his promise.

Here’s the American version of The Giant’s Causeway:

Here’s a centenarian being greeted by the Queen, who’s approaching a century herself. Matthew told me this, but I already knew it: ‘Context: when you are 100 (like this lady) you get a card (used to be a telegram) from the Queen.”

Sound up.

This is a wonderful thread; I can show but three of the photos, but be sure to look at the others:

Saturday: Hili dialogue

January 16, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s Caturday, January 16, 2021: National Hot and Spicy Food Day. I’m had some of these last night as a preprandial snack with leftover bubbly, which was just just the right libation. I discovered Trader Joe’s Jerk Style Plantain Chips while investigating what else I should look for up when i went to TJ’s to get my coffee beans (the cheapest source for good espresso beans in bulk). This site rated the plantain chips highly, and they were right. They are quite spicy, not too unhealthy, and only about two bucks per bag. You don’t need to eat many to get satisfied.

It’s also National Fig Newton Day, Prohibition Remembrance Day, celebrating (?) the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919, Book Publishers Day, and National Religious Freedom Day. Remember that Fig Newtons were invented as a digestive aid and were named not after Isaac Newton, but after the town of Newton, Massachusetts, where they were once made. I love them (the UK equivalent is the “fig roll”). But I just learned that they are now called simply “Newtons”—not because they eliminate the fig paste, which remains in one version—but because there are other kinds of Newtons now, like strawberry. At least this isn’t duplicitious, like changing “Vanilla Wafers” to “Nilla Wafers” when they removed the vanilla:

Not duplicitous
Invidious name change due to decline in quality

News of the Day:

I think everyone’s heart skipped a beat when we hard that QShaman, aka Jacob Anthony Chansley, had provide the feds with information that led them to conclude that some of the Capitol rioters were bent on immobilizing and then assassinating people in Congress. But I wondered, given the clear insanity of QShaman, how anything he said, with his marination in conspiracy theories, could be credible. It turns out that it was not. According to CNN:

Justice Department prosecutors have formally walked back their assertion in a court filing that said Capitol rioters sought to “capture and assassinate elected officials.”

A federal prosecutor in Arizona asked a magistrate judge in a hearing on Friday to strike the line in a recent court filing about defendant Jacob Anthony Chansley, a man who is alleged to have led some in the crowd in the first wave into the Capitol with a bullhorn while carrying a spear and wearing a fur headdress.

The entire line the prosecutors want to omit from their court filing is: “Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government.”

The New York Times reported that some chucklehead had written “Trump” on a manatee (an endangered species); at first it looked as if the word had been carved into the skin, but now it seems “Trump” was written in algae (or rather, by scraping off algae). Still, it’s illegal to touch one of these wonderful creatures. Trumpies, keep your hands off the damn manatees!

Some relevant tweets (h/t Matthew):

I can’t help but think, cynical as I am, that if the word written was “Biden,” people wouldn’t be so incensed. Amirite?

At last India has started inoculating its population, which is a formidable task since that involves jabs for 1.3 billion people. The first people to get their shots, on Saturday, were healthcare workers. Unfortunately, they are using two Indian-manufactured vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, that lack any clinical evidence that they work. I hope they do!  (“Puja” below is a Hindu act of worship. The doctor has had henna designs put on her hands and arms.)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 392,529, a big increase of about 4,000 deaths from yesterday’s figure, or about 2.8 deaths per minute. In about two days we’ll pass 400,000 deaths: double what the most pessimistic pundits thought we’d have. The world death toll is 2,019,857, a big increase of about 15,400 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 16 includes:

Here’s the cover of the first edition:

  • 1707 – The Scottish Parliament ratifies the Act of Union, paving the way for the creation of Great Britain.
  • 1786 – Virginia enacts the Statute for Religious Freedom authored by Thomas Jefferson.
  • 1909 – Ernest Shackleton‘s expedition finds the magnetic South Pole.

Here are three members of the team, Douglas Mawson, Alistair MacKay and Edgeworth David, at what they thought was the South Magnetic Pole, but they didn’t really find the spot (read about it here). At any rate, the spot does change its position over time.

  • 1920 – The League of Nations holds its first council meeting in Paris, France.
  • 1945 – Adolf Hitler moves into his underground bunker, the so-called Führerbunker.

Here’s the bunker (foreground) in 1947 before it was razed by the Soviets. I’ve visited the site, now a grassy plot:

  • 1979 – The last Iranian Shah flees Iran with his family for good and relocates to Egypt.
  • 2003 – The Space Shuttle Columbia takes off for mission STS-107 which would be its final one. Columbia disintegrated 16 days later on re-entry.

And, one year ago today. Let’s hope the next impeachment results in a convication, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1900 – Edith Frank, German-Dutch mother of Anne Frank (d. 1945)
  • 1902 – Eric Liddell, Scottish runner, rugby player, and missionary (d. 1945)

You’ll remember Liddell as the “muscular Christian” depicted in the film Chariots of Fire. Here’s the real Liddell winning at the British Empire versus United States of America (Relays) meet held at Stamford Bridge, London on Sat 19 July 1924:

  • 1910 – Dizzy Dean, American baseball player and sportscaster (d. 1974)
  • 1933 – Susan Sontag, American novelist, essayist, and critic (d. 2004)
  • 1948 – Ruth Reichl, American journalist and critic
  • 1974 – Kate Moss, English model and fashion designer
  • 1980 – Lin-Manuel Miranda, American actor, playwright, and composer

Those who hopped the twig on January 16 include:

  • 1794 – Edward Gibbon, English historian and politician (b. 1737)
  • 1901 – Arnold Böcklin, Swiss painter and academic (b. 1827)

Here’s Böcklin’s “Isle of the Dead” (Die Toteninsel), one of many of his paintings drawn from mythology:

  • 1936 – Albert Fish, American serial killer, rapist and cannibal (b. 1870)
  • 1942 – Carole Lombard, American actress and comedian (b. 1908).

Lombard was married to Clark Gable, and when she died in a plane crash in 1942 at only 33, Gable was inconsolable. He soon joined the Air Force, something that Lombard had repeatedly asked him to do. .

(From Wikipedia): Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Mrs. Elizabeth Peters, mother of Carole Lombard (1939)

You remember Wyeth’s famous painting “Christina’s World,” right? Well, here’s “Christina’s Bedroom” (1947), painted a year earlier, and it has a cat in it:

  • 2017 – Eugene Cernan, American captain, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1934)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili still dislikes Szaron (the only animals she’s ever gotten along with are d*gs):

A: What are you doing here?
Hili: I’m waiting for Szaron so I can jump on him.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tu robisz?
Hili: Czekam na Szarona, żeby na niego skoczyć.

And we have a picture of adorable Kulka in the snow:

Caption: “And a picture of Kulka (of course, taken by Paulina).”

In Polish: I jeszcze zdjęcie Kulki (oczywiście zrobione przez Paulinę)

From Facebook:

From Su:

From Jesus of the Day. How many of us get our dreams fulfilled so easily?

Titania’s busy erasing Trump:

From Barry: a puppy seeks a down comforter:

Tweets from Matthew. It’s a long video (6.5 minutes), and the cats are a handful, but they’ve given meaning to the staff’s life.

Loons are EVERYWHERE. Listen to this one!

Cat: “I approve of this post.”

I asked my friend Andrew, who spends a lot of time in Turkey, what this crazy housing development was about. Here’s his response:

I think it was an attempt by a Turkish developer to bring in Arab money.  Someone had presumably come to conclusion that the route to the Arab soul (well, wallet) is via fake mini Disney castles.  Seems a good idea to me.  But I seem to recall that the whole thing has been a bit of a disaster economically; either the market research on Arab preferences wasn’t entirely sound or other economic factors intervened.

A great correction!

Oy! The digger on the Mars rover is having trouble getting soil samples. They’ll miss all that life! (not)


Tuesday: Hili dialogue

January 12, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s the cruelest day of the week: Tuesday, January 12, 2021: National Glazed Donut Day, celebrating my least favorite donut, especially the odious Krispy Kreme version, an insubstantial donut of sugar-covered air. It’s also Curried Chicken Day, National Marzipan Day, National Hot Tea Day, National Pharmacist Day, and International Kiss a Ginger Day.

News of the Day:

Oy gewalt! According to Politico (and the FBI), ubiquitous ARMED protests by right-wing thugs and chowderheads are still in the planning, and they’re going to start soon: several days before Biden’s Inauguration.  (h/t Enrico; see also the NYT article here):

The FBI is warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington in the days leading up to President-election Joe Biden’s inauguration, stoking fears of more bloodshed after last week’s deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol.

An internal FBI bulletin warned that, as of Sunday, the nationwide protests may start later this week and extend through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, according to two law enforcement officials who read details of the memo to The Associated Press. Investigators believe some of the people are members of some extremist groups, the officials said. The bulletin was first reported by ABC.

Expect a ton of police and security and an inauguration behind bulletproof glass. Let us cross our fingers and hope for peace.

The impeachment is proceeding in the House may proceed quickly, even getting the articles of impeachment sent to the Senate posthaste. (Biden seems to have dropped his opposition to an immediate Senate trial.) However, given that 17 Republicans have to vote for conviction, and that only one has intimated that, while just two Republican Senators, Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Pat Toomey (PA), have called for Trump to resign and presumably would vote to oust him.  Two other GOP Senators, including Mitt Romney (UT) and Ben Sasse (NE) look likely to vote for impeachment as well. But that’s still not nearly enough.

Speaking of protestors, now Fur Hat Viking Loon has two real names (see tweet below). Poor guy—no organic food! Matthew says, “Let him starve!” (h/t cesar)

According to the BBC (and other sources) Bill Belichick, the skilled head coach of the New England Patriots football team, has turned down Trump’s award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest honor that can be conferred on an American civilian:

Belichick, of the New England Patriots, said he was flattered when he was first offered the medal – the top award given to civilians in the US.

But he said he changed his mind after a mob of Trump supporters stormed Congress last week. Five people died.

The celebrated coach had previously spoken of his friendship with Mr Trump.

“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honour represents and admiration for prior recipients,” Belichick said in a statement.

“Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award.”

Belichick, who has won a record six Super Bowl titles, is considered one of the most successful coaches in NFL history.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 376,476, an increase of about 2,000 deaths from yesterday’s figure. In two weeks we’ll pass 400,000 deaths: double what the most pessimistic pundits thought we’d ultimately have. The world death toll is 1,955,155, a big increase of about 10,600 deaths over yesterday’s total, and about 7.3 deaths per minute: one every 8 seconds.

Stuff that happened on January 12 includes:

  • 1915 – The United States House of Representatives rejects a proposal to require states to give women the right to vote.
  • 1932 – Hattie Caraway becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate.

Caraway served for 13 years, and her photo is below:

His body is still frozen until the day when he can supposedly be revived and cured of his metastasizing kidney cancer. The Facebook page that details his preservation says this:

Compared to those employed by modern cryonics organizations, the use of cryoprotectants in Bedford’s case was primitive. He was injected with dimethyl sulfoxide, a compound once thought to be useful for long-term cryogenics, so it is unlikely that his brain was protected.Vitrification was not yet possible, further limiting the possibility of Bedford’s eventual recovery.
Here are some photos from that site:
Bedford (right) being frozen.

There was a hung jury and that ended matters for good.

  • 1991 – Persian Gulf War: An act of the U.S. Congress authorizes the use of American military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.
  • 2004 – The world’s largest ocean linerRMS Queen Mary 2, makes its maiden voyage.

In 2006 I did my first of two lecture series on the QM2’s transatlantic crossing. Here I am doing my daily jog around the deck (I don’t have good photos of the ship itself):

Here’s a short video of the Stoning of the Devil (and a flock of sheep awaiting the end-of-Hajj slaughter). For a longer Hajj video filmed in secret, but fascinating, see here.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1729 – Edmund Burke, Irish philosopher, academic, and politician (d. 1797)
  • 1856 – John Singer Sargent, American painter and academic (d. 1925)

Here are “Two Cats” by Sargent:

  • 1884 – Texas Guinan, American entertainer and bootlegger (d. 1933)
  • 1893 – Hermann Göring, German commander, pilot, and politician, Minister President of Prussia (d. 1946)
  • 1930 – Tim Horton, Canadian ice hockey player and businessman, founded Tim Hortons (d. 1974)

Horton, cofounder of the famous chain of donut stores, died in an automobile  Here’s a Wikipedia photo from him captioned: “Tim Horton, playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, sitting in the penalty box at Madison Square Garden, New York City during a game against the New York Rangers.” He died at only 44 after osing control of his fancy De Tomaso Pantera sports car in St Catharines, Ontario.  He was returning from a hockey game, probably intoxicated, and still playing at over 40. 

  • 1942 – Bernardine Dohrn, American domestic terrorist, political activist and academic

Dohrn and her husband Bill Ayers, also an ex-radical, live in Chicago.

  • 1958 – Christiane Amanpour, English-born Iranian-American journalist
  • 1964 – Jeff Bezos, American computer scientist and businessman, founded

Bezos is the second richest person in the world, after (of course) Elon Musk. He’s worth over $200 billion. 

Those who Bit the Big One on January 12 include:

Here’s Walker, who invented barrel aging of whisky:

  • 1976 – Agatha Christie, English crime novelist, short story writer, and playwright (b. 1890)
  • 2003 – Maurice Gibb, Manx-Australian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1949)
  • 2020 – Sir Roger Scruton, English philosopher and writer (b. 1944)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sounds like Sherlock Holmes in “His Last Bow”:

Hili: The night is coming.
A: From where?
Hili: From east Dobrzyń.
In Polish:
Hili: Idzie noc.
Ja: Dokąd?
Hili: Do Dobrzynia.

And a photo of lovely Kulka, with the Polish caption below the photo. Malgorzata explains that caption:

“Licho” is a kind of evil spirit in Polish folklore. But it’s a tiny one. It’s often used in various sayings and proverbs. Sometimes about mischievous children or animals. “A licho nie śpi” means literally “The little evil spirit is not asleep”. But it’s also used often as a warning to be careful because an evil spirit can cause harm (a small one).

In Polish: A licho nie śpi

From Chris Janis, a new Lego set!  You can put one of the guys at Pelosi’s desk:

From Jesus of the Day: How do cats make do in Japan?

A lovely photo from Emporium of Unique and Wondrous Things (no attribution of photo):

Titania got investigated by German Twitter:

Tweets from Matthew. First, the beauty of nature. The female seems to like being preened.

There’s a mole at Microsoft!

And this is adorable. Look at that clumsy baby!

Do these people know no limits????

Sean, who didn’t get his cats that long ago, has discovered the delights of the cat belly rub. I presume his cats don’t shred him when he does it.

I like whoever had this idea:

I had no idea until I posted this that Harun Yahya (Adnan Oktar) was now in jail for life. Looking it up, he was sentenced to 1,075 years, not just for sex crimes but for “sexual assault, sexual abuse of minors, fraud and attempted political and military espionage.”


Monday: Hili dialogue

January 11, 2021 • 6:00 am

It’s damn Monday again: January 11, 2021: National Hot Toddy Day. It’s also National Milk Day, National Gluten-Free Day, National Clean off your Desk Day (do it!), Girl Hug Boy Day (not this year), and National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. 

News of the day:

Weather news first: There was a huge snowfall in Spain, with Madrid receiving 20 inches (51 cm) in two days!  Everything ground to a halt, of course; there hasn’t been a snowfall like that in decades. But one enterprising guy mushed his dogs through the city!

Here’s a tweet courtesy of Dr. Cobb:

The impeachment/resignation/removal movement is proceeding on all three fronts. The House is voting this morning to ask Pence and the Cabinet to proceed with enacting the provisions of the 25th Amendment, getting Trump to resign. That’s a foolish waste of time, as Pence has already indicated he has no inclination to do that. Several Republicans have now called upon Trump to resign. That’s foolish too; if you know Trump, there’s no way he’ll leave office in his last ten days.

The big hope lies in impeachment, which looks increasingly likely as Republican Senators are moving toward voting for conviction. The problem with that, of course, is that it derails Biden’s legislative agenda with a long Senate trial. Biden may have a Democratic Senate for only two years, and he needs to start enacting his agenda now. Some, like the House majority whip (a Democrat, of course), have suggested that the House can draw up articles of impeachment now, but wait several months before sending them to the Senate for trial. That sounds like a reasonable compromise.

According to last night’s NBC News, every single FBI field office is working on identifying the suspects photographed in the Capitol takeover. The New York Times describes some of the notable arrests. I was particularly pleased to see the guy who put his feet on Pelosi’s desk (Richard Barnett) and the guy who stole her lectern (Adam Johnson) doing the perp walk. Jake Angeli, the fur-hatted, face-painted Viking warrior with a spear, has now been nicknamed “Q Shaman.” He’s been at many pro-Trump rallies in Arizona since the Orange man was elected, and now is charged with “one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.” I say throw the book at all of them; this kind of behavior needs longer-than-usual sentences as a means of deterrence.

There’s a big kerfuffle about when prisoners should be vaccinated; many people are objecting to some states’ rules that prisoners should be given the Covid-19 vaccination before the elderly. This is a tough problem given that prisoners are five times more likely to be infected than “civilians.” My own view is that their risk alone, along with any underlying conditions like age or comorbidities, should be the sole determinants on vaccination. Being a convicted prisoner should not bump you out of the queue, as you’re already serving your punishment. Being put at an extra risk beyond that due to your overall chance of dying doesn’t seem warranted—it’s punishment on top of punishment. Do you agree?

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 374,428, an increase of about 1,800 deaths from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,944,516, an increase of about 8.200 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 11 include:

  • 630 – Conquest of Mecca: The prophet Muhammad and his followers conquer the city, Quraysh surrender.
  • 1569 – First recorded lottery in England.

This was held by Queen Elizabeth I, and every ticket holder won a prize.

  • 1879 – The Anglo-Zulu War begins.
  • 1922 – Leonard Thompson becomes the first person to be injected with insulin.

The first dose was contaminated, but Thompson, 15 years old, took more and purer doses, and lived until he was 28.  Here’s Thompson:

Hoxha ruled until 1973 as one of the last old-time Marxists. Here he is on a poster with Mao:

  • 1949 – The first “networked” television broadcasts took place as KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania goes on the air connecting the east coast and mid-west programming.
  • 1964 – Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Luther Terry, M.D., publishes the landmark report Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States saying that smoking may be hazardous to health, sparking national and worldwide anti-smoking efforts.
  • 2003 – Illinois Governor George Ryan commutes the death sentences of 167 prisoners on Illinois‘s death row based on the Jon Burge scandal.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1807 – Ezra Cornell, American businessman and philanthropist, founded Western Union and Cornell University (d. 1874)
  • 1842 – William James, American psychologist and philosopher (d. 1910)
  • 1889 – Calvin Bridges, American geneticist and academic (d. 1938)

Here’s the colorful Bridges looking at Drosophila. By now you should know who he is.

  • 1906 – Albert Hofmann, Swiss chemist and academic, discoverer of LSD (d. 2008)

As I’ve said, I once heard Hofmann speak on his discovery of LSD in a lecture in Richard Schultes’s Economic Botany course at Harvard. He lectured wearing an immaculate white lab coat, as below, and was about the straightest guy I’d ever seen. I guess I was expecting a hippie.

  • 1923 – Carroll Shelby, American race car driver, engineer, and businessman, founded Carroll Shelby International (d. 2012)
  • 1946 – Naomi Judd, American singer-songwriter and actress

Those who conked out on January 11 include:

  • 1843 – Francis Scott Key, American lawyer, author, and songwriter (b. 1779)
  • 1882 – Theodor Schwann, German physiologist and biologist (b. 1810)
  • 1928 – Thomas Hardy, English novelist and poet (b. 1840)
  • 1941 – Emanuel Lasker, German mathematician, philosopher, and chess player (b. 1868)
  • 1988 – Isidor Isaac Rabi, Polish-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1898)

Here’s Rabi (who discovered nuclear magnetic resonance, the basis of NMR imaging), with two other Laureates. Rabi is on right with E. O. Lawrence on the left and Enrico Fermi in the middle.

Mitchinson was the sister of J.B.S. Haldane and a noted poet and author. Wikipedia reports this:

When asked on her 90th birthday whether she had any regrets in life, she replied, “Yes, all the men I never slept with. Imagine!”

She had an open marriage, though, and did sleep with quite a few men. Here she is:

  • 2008 – Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer and explorer (b. 1919)
  • 2010 – Éric Rohmer, French director, screenwriter, and critic (b. 1920)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili manages to carry on a conversation while she’s asleep:

A: Are you asleep?
Hili: I’m asleep.
A: Are you dreaming?
Hili: I am.
A: What about?
Hili: I’m not telling.
In Polish:
Ja: Śpisz?
Hili: Śpię.
Ja: Śnisz?
Hili: Śnię.
Ja: A o czym?
Hili: Nie powiem.

Here is a portrait of little Kulka; she can be told apart from Hili because a. she’s much smaller and b. she has golden rather than green eyes. Photo by Paulina R.

And Szaron stalking in the snow:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Stash Krod:

From Facebook:

From Titania. Besides her sarcasm, I find it hard to believe that the Chinese Embassy in Washington really tweeted that. It’s so slimy! But there’s a blue checkmark, so it must be real.

Barry calls this “the power of confidence.” Indeed. And I have to give a shout-out to Steve Stewart-Williams for producing the many tweets we reproduce in the Hili dialogues:

Tweets from Matthew. Although his cat Ollie may be nefarious, he doesn’t do this:

Two tweets showing that the “retreating” Capitol police officer was doing a damn good job, and being courageous to boot:

I retweeted this, which was sent by Matthew. If we have to have Republicans, why can’t they be more like Arnold? Do listen to his spiel:

This “rock art” is freaking amazing:

And, as NBC News says at the end of its show when it puts up a feel-good piece, “There’s good news tonight!” But where did Isaac go? We’ll never know:



Sunday: Hili dialogue

January 10, 2021 • 6:30 am

It is Cat Sabbath: January 10, 2021: National Bittersweet Chocolate Day. It’s also National Sunday Supper Day, National Oysters Rockefeller Day, Houseplant Appreciation Day, Save the Eagles Day (they’re already saved), and No Pants Subway Ride Day, which is exactly what it sounds like (although this started in New York, people now do this in 60 cities). You’re supposed to ride in your skivvies, though some people cheat and wear shorts. This Google image search shows some photos.

In the Falkland Islands it’s Margaret Thatcher Day. Because she “won the war” with Argentina, she’s a big hero there, as I discovered last November when I visited. Here’s a statue of the Iron Lady on Thatcher Drive:

Wine of the Day: This Bordeaux-like red is a Cotes de Castillon, a “satellite appellation” of Bordeaux, and I couldn’t have told it from its better-known relative. Full bodied, plummy, and with some sediment, it requires decanting and a bit of breathing. It could age for at least another five years, but was delightful now. A good red with a baguette and aged cheddar, as well as fresh tomatoes in olive oil. I’ll have the rest tonight with my weekly steak.  A very good value for the money.

News of the Day: There is lots of news about the dumpster fire that is the Presidency and the people it inflamed to commit insurrection. Just a few highlights.

First, the Washington Post reports that a week before Trump tried pressuring the Georgia Secretary of State to “find more votes,” he pressured yet another elections official in that state:

President Trump urged Georgia’s lead elections investigator to “find the fraud” in a lengthy December phone call, saying the official would be a “national hero,” according to an individual familiar with the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the conversation.

Trump placed the call to the investigations chief for the Georgia secretary of state’s office shortly before Christmas — while the individual was leading an inquiry into allegations of ballot fraud in Cobb County, in the suburbs of Atlanta, according to people familiar with the episode.

The president’s attempts to intervene in an ongoing investigation could amount to obstruction of justice or other criminal violations, legal experts said, though they cautioned a case could be difficult to prove.

These two phone calls are certainly something that should be part of any impeachment charges.

I was pleased to see on last night’s news that the feds have already tracked down a number of miscreants who stormed the capital, and have arrested them at home, making them do public “perp walks”. Those arrested include the guy who put his feet up on Pelosi’s desk, the Fur Hat Viking Man, a state lawmaker from West Virginia (now resigned), and the guy who stole and brandished Pelosi’s lectern. But so far they haven’t found those who killed the Capitol police officer. The BBC reports 82 arrests as of last evening, but I expect a lot more, and, given that this was an attempted takeover of the government, I hope that those convicted get harsh sentences—as a deterrent, though it will come too late to deter those bent on similar protests during the inauguration. (Believe me, there will be a lot more security ten days from now.)

The FBI has put up a number of photos of suspects on its Twitter account, seeking identification. Some of those already arrested were identified by people who knew them.

How did an Air Force veteran, Ashli Babbitt, the woman shot to death while storming the Capitol, become an unhinged QAnon addict? The Washington Post reprises her life and, sure enough, she carried a lot of repressed anger, even while in the service.  Here—watch one of her video tweets (note that she says she is “woke”):

A new story from the Washington Post reports that, before he was “President,” Trump repeatedly pretended, in phone calls to reporters, that he was his own publicist. You can hear a recording at the link. He often used the pseudonym John Barron, and now a satire Twitter account has sprung up under the “John Barron” nickname. Click on screenshot; it’s already got over 300K followers. (h/t Joe Routon)

Okay, enough political news. I think I should be posting more kitten videos now because the stress from ten months of pandemic combined with a fascist president and an attempted insurrection has got us all on edge.

A litter of cute kittens

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 372,651, an increase of 3,300 deaths from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,936,317, 1,924,037, a big increase of about 12,300 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 10 includes:

The Rubicon, which marked the border between Roman Italy and Gaul, wasn’t and isn’t a big river. There’s a later Roman bridge near the spot where Caesar crossed (below), an action now synonymous with doing something irrevocable:


It’s hard to find first editions of this famous 47-page pamphlet urging independence of the colonies (only three in decent condition have been auctioned since 1945), but this one sold in 2013 for $545,000:

As Wikipedia notes, “In proportion to the population of the colonies at that time (2.5 million), it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history. As of 2006, it remains the all-time best-selling American title and is still in print today.”

  • 1863 – The Metropolitan Railway, the world’s oldest underground railway, opens between Paddington and Farringdon, marking the beginning of the London Underground.
  • 1870 – John D. Rockefeller incorporates Standard Oil.
  • 1901 – The first great Texas oil gusher is discovered at Spindletop in Beaumont, Texas.

And here’s a photo of the Spindletop gusher:

Here’s an English trailer of this film, which I’ve seen. Note the Big Brother-like atmosphere. (You can see the whole movie, aber auf Deutsch, here).

  • 1946 – The United States Army Signal Corps successfully conducts Project Diana, bouncing radio waves off the Moon and receiving the reflected signals.
  • 1984 – Holy See–United States relations: The United States and Holy See (Vatican City) re-establish full diplomatic relations after almost 117 years, overturning the United States Congress’s 1867 ban on public funding for such a diplomatic envoy.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1887 – Robinson Jeffers, American poet and philosopher (d. 1962)
  • 1904 – Ray Bolger, American actor and dancer (d. 1987)
  • 1936 – Robert Woodrow Wilson, American physicist and astronomer, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1939 – Sal Mineo, American actor (d. 1976)

Mineo, most famous for his role as “Plato” in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), died at 37 from a stab wound to the heart, probably from a homosexual encounter. Here’s the famous scene in which Jim, played by James Dean, gives Plato his jacket:

I knew Hewitt, and he was a mentor of several of my friends a colleagues. A very lovely guy, smart but not arrogant.  If you knew him you’ll recognize this picture instantly:

I can’t mention Jim Croce without showing this great live performance of my favorite of his songs, “Operator” (1972). Accompanying him is Maury Muehleisen; both men died in a plane crash, with Croce just 30 years old.

Linda Susan Boreman (her real name) died at 53 of an automobile accident. She’d had a rough life.

  • 1981 – Jared Kushner, American real estate investor and political figure

Those who “fell asleep” on January 10 include:

  • 1778 – Carl Linnaeus, Swedish botanist and physician (b. 1707)
  • 1862 – Samuel Colt, American engineer and businessman, founded Colt’s Manufacturing Company (b. 1814)
  • 1917 – Buffalo Bill, American soldier and hunter (b. 1846)
  • 1951 – Sinclair Lewis, American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1885)
  • 1957 – Laura Ingalls Wilder, American novelist (b. 1867)
  • 1961 – Dashiell Hammett, American detective novelist and screenwriter (b. 1894)
  • 1971 – Coco Chanel, French fashion designer, founded Chanel (b. 1883)
  • 2016 – David Bowie, English singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (b. 1947)

Today is the fifth anniversary of his death.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili wants to escape the cold:

Hili: The night is coming. Let’s go home.
A: You are right; frost is supposed to come.
In Polish:
Hili: Idzie noc, wracamy do domu.
Ja: Masz rację, ma być mróz.

Andrzej says, “Three pictures taken by Paulina and one by me (guess which one).”  (In Polish: “Trzy zdjęcia zrobione przez Paulinę i jedno moje (zgadnijcie które.”) 

Kulka and Szaron gambol in the snow, and we see Paulina hugging her beloved Kulka. Look at Paulina’s expression! She loves her kitty. 

From Jeff:

Screenshot of a tweet found by Divy:

From Cats Making Funny Faces. The poster’s answer was “Jolene by Dolly Parton”; someone else said “I will always love you,” which I think is a better answer.

Titania in cognitive dissonance mode. I do want to read that book, though:

Simon sent two tweets. Is the first one a real video?

And Simon says “step back two steps”. Just kidding! He really says he’s known grad students like this (actually, I was one of them). Look at that chimp carry with its opposable toes!

From Barry, who assumes (as do I) that this is real and that a soundtrack wasn’t added afterwards:


A lovely snake fossil:

A fairly new photo with an old caption:

Even Pinker can’t figure this one out, so I’m not even going to try:

Another illusion, and I’ve saved the best for last. Read either side and listen to the sound. You will hear what you’re reading. This shows that your ears are conditioned to hear words that your eyes see. Try listening again without reading anything; the sound is ambiguous. I We are altering the sound in our minds. hadn’t seen an auditory illusion like this before, but it definitely says something about the evolution of and interactions between our senses.

What’s even odder is that the two words/phases: “Green noodle” and “Brainstorm” have different numbers of syllables!