Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s Friday, January 20, and the food holiday is both National Buttercrunch Day and National Cheese Lover’s Day. More important, it’s also Penguin Awareness Day; reader Dom informed me that the picture below, which shows all 18 species of penguins, was tweeted by the Royal Society. In my view, you should be able to name at least eight species: Start with the Emperor, King, and Galápagos (the northernmost species, which, endemic to those islands, lives on the Equator). In my view, the small Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae, named after the wife of a French explorer) is the cutest:


Adélies on the march:


And of course in the U.S. it’s Inauguration Day, described by Wikipedia like this:

Since 1937, Inauguration Day takes place on January 20 following a presidential election. The term of a president commences at noon (ET) on that day, when the Chief Justice administers the oath to the president. However, when January 20 falls on a Sunday, the Chief Justice administers the oath to the president on that day privately and then again in a public ceremony the next day, on Monday, January 21.

At noon today, then, we’ll be faced with having to say “President Trump”. But of course saying the name and title is the least part of our worries, which are predominantly, “What is this guy going to do to America?” As the time for Obama’s departure drew near, I went into denial, unable to even think about the consequences of a Trump presidency—combined with a majority Republican leadership in both houses of Congress and the certainty of a hyperconservative Supreme Court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia.

That day is now here. I cannot force myself to say that “Trump is not MY president,” for of course he is. We—and by that I mean America—elected him. But neither do I have any hope that he will mellow in office, for narcissism is one of the hardest personality disorders to cure. We are in for a rough four years—and let’s hope it’s only four years.

I bet several hundred dollars that Trump would lose to Clinton, for the prospect of Trump’s election was inconceivable, and I thought I’d take advantage of those scared liberals who, relieved at Clinton’s election, would be glad to pay up if she won.

I was wrong. The unthinkable has come to pass, and it starts today. As for those Americans who voted for Trump, I hope they are at least savvy enough to recognize the damage he will do to America. Truth be told, I am ashamed to be an American today, even though I’ve never been one to say I’m “proud to be an American”, which, after all, was just an accident. But neither am I one of those petulant luminaries who threatened to move to Canada if Trump were elected (did anybody actually do that?), for my home is here. But, for at least for the next four years, it will be a dysfunctional home.


h/t: Ivan

If you wish to watch the inauguration live (I can’t bear to), this page gives you a number of links. The formal “festivities” begin at 9:30 a.m. EST, but coverage can begin as early as 6 a.m.

As I’m dispirited, I’ll just give one event that happened on this day. That was in 1937, after the 20th Amendment to the Constitution moved the beginning of the Presidential term from March 4 to January 20. So, on January 20, 1937, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Nance Garner were sworn in for their second terms as U.S. President and U.S. Vice President—the first inauguration to take place on January 20. Roosevelt, elected four times, served as President for 12 years before dying in office.

A notable person born on this day was Buzz Aldrin (1930), one of the first two humans to walk on the Moon. And Audrey Hepburn died on this day in 1993.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Hili dialogue demanded an explanation, which Malgorzata provided:

Lazy Hili is lying on the sofa without a worry in the world. Now, the work is waiting, Andrzej is impatient to get next article for Listy ready and the Editor [Hili] does nothing. And wants to continue doing nothing.

A: We have to get our act together.
Hili: Maybe a bit later.
In Polish:
Ja: Musimy się zmobilizować!
Hili: Może troszkę później.

From the Arctic wastes of Winnipeg, reader Taskin sends a Gus video:

Gus has a certain suspicion of the basement of our house. Instead of following me down, he walks down the narrow ledge that runs along the stairwell and peers into the basement while waiting for me. All the other cats I’ve had have been able to turn around on the ledge, Gus however does not. He demonstrates how awkward cats are when they go in reverse.

May Ceiling Cat help us all.


  1. somer
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Im biased being from Oz but I think the Port Phillip Fairy penguins are the cutest!

    • eric
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      I saw them several times, way back in the ’70s when the set-up allowed you to walk right by/among their rookery. Very cute.

    • Posted January 20, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Emperors rule!

  2. E.A. Blair
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Other notables born on this day include Arthur Eric “Arte” Johnson (of Laugh-In fame, 1929), Tom Baker (1930, considered by many to be the quintessential Dr. Who), Jackson Deforest Kelly (1920, “Bones” of the original Star Trek) George Burns (1896), actress Patricia Neal (1926), Bill Maher (1956) and (dare I say it) WEIT reader E.A. Blair (1957).

    Notables who died on this day include Edgar Froese (2015, founder of Tangerine Dream) and Alan Freed (1965, Cleveland DJ credited with originating the phrase “rock ‘n’ roll) and, in 2017, the American Presidency as we know it.

    • Posted January 20, 2017 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Happy 60th birthday! If you’re not a Trump fan, I suppose this is causing you some cognitive dissonance. . .

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

        Thank you. As to my being a Trump fan, may I refer you to links here, here here and here.

        As I may have said in a previous comment, every four years I get a turkey for my birthday and they put him in the White House (Carter, Clinton and Obama are the only exceptions since I became old enough to vote) and going from Eisenhower and Kennedy to Bush II and Trump in a span of sixty years is, indeed, a journey from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    • eric
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      Bones *and* Tom Baker? A good day for sci-fi doctors. 🙂

    • Taskin
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Happy Birthday! Cheers!

  3. Linda Calhoun
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    I have a suggestion for everyone who will be attacked by a Trump supporter in the next couple of years.

    What I tell them is that if I am wrong about him and his “policies”, I will be willing to admit it. Ask him or her if they are wrong, will they be willing to admit it, or will they be looking to blame Obama, the Democrats, Hillary, etc. somehow? L

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Donald Trump receives instruction this morning on implementation of the nuclear launch codes.

    My understanding is that it’s four minutes from the commander-in-chief’s decision to use nukes until those weapons are launched. Nothing to worry about there, huh?

  5. Christopher
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I think it is important to remember that WE did not elect him, by around 1.6 million votes, WE did not elect him, the unelected Electoral Collage did. Not very comforting, but a good reminder, as it was after W’s “election” in 2000, that the first order of business under the next democratic president should be the elimination of the undemocratic Electoral College. Then adjust our elections so we are a direct representative democracy rather than the undemocratic winner-take-all that we are now. Either that or we quite playing pretend with this whole democratic republic stuff.

    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      I think the correct figure is that he lost by 2.85 million votes.

    • eric
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      His election is just as legitimate as every other modern President*, since every election operates under those same rules you now complain about. That includes Obama. So the argument that our electoral college system delegitimizes Trump’s presidency also applies to Obama’s. And Clinton’s.

      Its also ridiculous to claim that the popular vote under this system means Hilary would have won under a popular vote system. Had that been the case, every candidate would’ve conducted very different campaigns and we have no way of knowing how even the primaries under that system would have turned out. It might have ended up being “Christie beats Sanders.” Its impossible to tell. Claiming the popular vote under the electoral college system means something pretty much fits the definition of post-hoc data cherry picking in support of a previously held conclusion.

      • eric
        Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        Oops, forgot my footnote.

        *With the possible exception of Bush II’s first election, since the involvement of the Florida election authority and SCOTUS was certainly irregular enough to undermine some of the legitimacy of the result.

        • Linda Calhoun
          Posted January 20, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

          I am not disputing that he won under the system that we have.

          But, Gore won the popular vote by half a million. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly six times that.

          The question in my mind is, at what point along the continuum does the disparity become disturbing? Would ten million still be acceptable? Twenty?

          The fact is that rural votes count for more than urban votes. As the population concentrates more and more into urban and suburban areas, are we still OK with the disparity of power?

          My feeling is that if the results had been reversed, the Republicans would be shrieking. Trump himself tweeted at one point about how “rigged” the Electoral College is.

          If we all have to play by the same rules, fine. But, when people are OK with the rules when they win, but not OK when they lose, I have a problem with that.

          And, my personal threshold for when the disparity between the popular result and the Electoral result is fast approaching. Half a million is, to me, uncomfortable but still acceptable. Three million makes me a whole lot less comfortable.

          I am intrigued by the interstate compact idea, which has been ratified by (not sure how many) several states, and which would bypass the need for a Constitutional amendment. I can’t see the rural flyover states being willing to give up their considerable power over the results via an amendment. L

          • Posted January 20, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

            “My feeling is that if the results had been reversed, the Republicans would be shrieking. Trump himself tweeted at one point about how “rigged” the Electoral College is.”

            Undoubtedly correct, losers always find an excuse to squeal. But what if Hillary had won in the EC but lost the popular vote? Would the Dems be whining about how unfair the system was and how Trump was robbed? We all know the answer to that question.

            And as Eric said, if the system was different the candidates strategies and spending would be different. Trump would have spent more time in NY and Calif. He still would have lost there, but might have gotten a million more votes.

            • Linda Calhoun
              Posted January 20, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

              The last two times that a party lost the Electoral vote but won the popular vote, Democrats lost.

              So, yes, there is more reason on our side to question the validity of the system.

              And, you haven’t responded to my question about what particular level of disparity should cause an examination and reevaluation of the system.

              Frankly, if Democrats won with a minority, and a large discrepancy, I would personally still be uncomfortable with the result. I don’t believe that if it’s my ass it matters, and if it’s yours, it doesn’t. L

          • eric
            Posted January 20, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            I’m ambivalent to a shift towards a true popular election. It has some cons, but if the NPVIC is successful and goes into effect, my primary feeling about that is going to be curiosity, not anger or any feeling of being upset. So I’m perfectly fine with people advocating for that system and opining that they think its better.

            My only point is that a popular majority under this system means nothing in terms of how the election would have gone under a popular majority system, because the current system’s rules contributed to campaign behavior and voter behavior. You can’t draw a credible conclusion about Hilary being victorious over Trump in a popular-vote system from the data we have. This is particularly true given the breadth of the GOP primary field in early 2016, and how a shift to a national popular vote might change the way the states then do their primary systems as well as how the parties themselves might change their internal rules to deal with that new reality.

            Its kind of like watching a cat competition, and saying “well if we switched to preferring longer coat lengths, my cat would’ve won.” No, if they had done that, then it’s very likely all the other cat-owners would have taken that into consideration when they decided which cat to bring to the competition, how to groom it, etc…, and you still probably wouldn’t have won.

      • Christopher
        Posted January 20, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        There have been five presidents given the office without the popular vote: John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush, and now Donald Trump. An Electoral College that follows the will of the people would not invalidate an election but support it. However, even if HRC had won, it would not diminish my disgust with the Electoral College as unelected king-makers. It is a broken system that needs to be fixed, as I argued in my original post, but you ignored that and cherry-picked statements to fit your world view in your own post. WE The People did NOT elect trump, the Electoral College did and it is long past time to change from a winner-take-all to a direct representative democracy. It’s a pretty simple idea, really.

        • eric
          Posted January 20, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

          WE The People did NOT elect trump, the Electoral College did

          In the same way that “WE the People” did not pass civil rights laws. Or give women the vote. Or go to war in Afghanistan. Or fund NIH cancer research. All of those decisions were made by proxy representatives of the people – which is what the electoral college is, just in more limited form.

          So, my question to you: if a decision is made by proxy representatives, does it count as government by the people, for the people? And is your answer consistent, or do you carve out an exception for presidential elections, and say you’re okay with calling legislation developed by proxy representatives to be government by the people, but in the case of a presidential election that sort of structure doesn’t count as government by the people?

      • ploubere
        Posted January 20, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        Let’s not forget that the original intention of the Electoral College was to prevent a popular demagogue who is unqualified and/or under the influence of a foreign power from winning the office. So that system failed on all counts.

        Trump has never had more than 50 percent approval in any poll. He’s currently at around 40 percent. So it’s likely he would have lost a national vote.

        • Posted January 20, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          “Trump has never had more than 50 percent approval in any poll. He’s currently at around 40 percent.”

          I am not sure. Brexit showed that when people are rigorously shamed about their choice, they may, instead of changing their choice, lie in opinion polls.

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted January 20, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

          The original intention of the electoral college was actually a sop to the slave states to let them count their 3/5ths of their disenfranchised residents for purposes of representation, giving them more legislative clout than non-slave states of equal white population, and should have been done away with when the 13th amendment was ratified (and, if not, definitely with the 14th). The “popular demagogue” argument was as much of a whitewash as it was anything else. So by the demagoguery argument it’s a failure and as a gesture to the slaveholding states it’s obsolete.

    • Robert Ryder
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      I think it will probably take a loss by the Republicans such as that by Hillary Clinton for there to be bipartisan support of eliminating the electoral college. I hope that comes sooner rather than later. Why would the Repubs do away with it now? They’ve had Bush and Trump as a result of the current system.

      • eric
        Posted January 20, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        I don’t think a constitutional amendment is likely even in that case. But the NPVIC reaching critical mass might occur, if at least some red states see it as being in their best interests.

  6. rickflick
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Like Gus, I suspect there are a lot of Trump voters who wish they could go back.

  7. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    There’s a meme from Futurama – a guy says “no! I like living on this planet! YOU get off!”

    Likewise, I am not going to let anyone drag me down to being ashamed of where I live or ashamed of my citizenship. I like living here and holding the most important position in a democracy – that of the citizen (that’s a Louis Brandeis paraphrase). It is Trump and his supporters who are to be ashamed.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      … but yes, it was an accident – I get that. but that fact does not imply a direct causal relationship between accident and “going nuclear” (as Stephen Law says) and becoming a nihilist.

  8. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Also thanks for the penguins.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Yep. Forget the Drumpf, penguins are cute.

      Also there’s one penguin PCC(E) missed –



  9. Posted January 20, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    * On 20 January 1961 the poet Robert Frost read a poem at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration.

    Today: Trump… First offering a top post for the National Endowment of the Arts to Sylvester Stallone (who declined) and now preparing to defund it…

    [In fact, Robert Frost was unable to read the poem he had just written for the inauguration, “Dedication”, because the glare of the sun in the snow was too strong. Instead, from memory, he recited his more widely known (and JFK’s original request) “The Gift Outright”.
    More here:

    * 20 January 1920 – Federico Fellini is born

  10. kieran
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    2018 midterms, you got beat this time. The 2018’s are so important to stopping both trump and republicans for writing the next decade of american history. Time to start planning.

  11. dougeast
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Good night all. I’m starting my hibernation at noon (ET) today. Wake me in 4 years and tell me the bad news. I’ll compare it to my sealed prediction list and see how we all fared.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Hibernation is good – there aren’t enough mind-altering substances to last for the next four years.

  12. Billy Bl.
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    You don’t have to call him “President Trump”. You are free to call him the other things he is.

  13. Historian
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    For those interested in learning more about inauguration day, I would suggest taking a look at this posting by my friend, Don Ritchie, retired official historian of the U.S. Senate.

  14. Glenda
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Hands across the boarder on this sad Inaugural Day. Kindest thoughts go out to all our intelligent and worried US friends. Several of us here in Kelowna BC are wearing black today. Seriously.

    Please – do take a little time to be despondent. Then you must gain strength from one and other and prepare (and fight)for seats in the next round of elections. Americans must vote to control this unintelligent, remarkably crass person – who is unfit to lead. It is important to people everywhere who want a better world.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      People here in Ontario, too, are thinking of our American friends and send our sympathy. My friends and I are calling this day the true *Black Friday*.

      And, there is a women’s march tomorrow in Ottawa, in solidarity with the one happening in Washington. This goon doesn’t just affect America, he will affect us all. I woke up this morning with the same feeling of dread as I did on the day after the election.

      Ceiling Cat help us all, indeed.

  15. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I think some Americans forget that you can’t just move to Canada and that we’re a whole other country with our own immigration policies. Canadians forget they can’t just move to America too. I think it’s because we’re so used to our undefended border (I wonder if that will be gone soon since overtime there is a terrorist attack, there is a report that it came from Canada which is soon disproved).

    I did, however, meet several Americans in the IT industry, who moved to Canada after George W Bush became president so it does happen.

    • eric
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Canadians forget they can’t just move to America too.

      Actually, while there are few statistics tracking it, the guesstimates I’ve heard are that at this time about half of our annual illegal immigration rate is due to visa overstays, not illegal crossings. And guess where most of those illegal visa overstays come from. 🙂

      I’m not complaining about it, it’s just something interesting to consider. You are absolutely right that, in terms of general behavior, when someone says “if X happens I’m moving to Canada” they are generally venting and not at all serious.

    • Posted January 20, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      There was a significant influx of young American men into Canada during the Viet Nam war. I’ve heard as many as 40K. I don’t know how many stayed.

      • Posted January 20, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        However, Canadian authorities respected these men’s objection to the war. I doubt that they would today bend their system to accept Trump-triggered Americans in droves. At least, not until Trump does something really gross.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 20, 2017 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        Quite a few most likely stayed according to this Maclean’s article.

  16. Heather Hastie
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    There’s a new pop-up hospital for injured seabirds in the south of NZ. This is a news story from yesterday which shows them treating penguins:

    • rickflick
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Cool veterinary care.

  17. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Tw##t from Richard Dawkins

    “Ashamed to be American?” Don’t be. The majority of you voted against this narcissistic, xenophobic, vainglorious, ignorant 2-year-old.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      I am not ashamed to be an American but I am embarrassed by the Americans who elected Trump and espouse his ideology. However, if I were traveling abroad, I would seriously consider pretending to be Canadian.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 20, 2017 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

        You better be well behaved then! There have been times travelling where Americans were behaving badly and I had to be ashamed on their behalf because I sound just like them and people don’t believe I’m not American, saying “are you sure your not from America-way!”

        “Oh wait, let me check my passport. Nope I’m from Canada.” 🙂

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted January 20, 2017 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

          Some years ago, I spent a lot of time in the Toronto area on business, and I always got along well with the Canadians I worked with. I was polite to them (for one thing, they seemed to appreciate that I never referred to where I was from as “America” but as “the States” (but that could have been their politeness)). I also have a half-sister and a nephew in Canada, and that could give me a leg up if I decided to emigrate (although I can’t afford to do that). Actually, if I could emigrate to any other country I’d be thinking about Iceland (where I know a bit of the language) or Finland, which is a country I have long admired, though the language is somewhat difficult for an English speaker because of the intricate case system.

          I have always been aware of the image of the Ugly American, and have always found it revolting. Fortunately, I’ve always found it easy to fit in with my surroundings.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 20, 2017 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

            I think Canadians, at least most of us along the border, simply refer to America as “the States” and where we go for cross border shopping. Maybe we’d call it “America” to the rest of the world but “The States” to Americans and other Canadians. Like how you talk to your family:)

          • rickflick
            Posted January 21, 2017 at 12:03 am | Permalink

            I was reminded by this discussion of the book the Ugly American from 1958. I had never read it, but it was very popular and it’s title became a shorthand for the boorish American tourist. However, I just looked up the book review from the NY Times and discovered that the book was actually about something quite different. It describes the awkward approach taken by American diplomats no tourists. The policy of the US was described as being out of touch with actual needs of a foreign culture. The US Ambassador typically did not speak the native language, and thought mainly about high level issues such as anti-communism. The book was instrumental in Kennedy’s decision to start the Peace Core. It pays to read beyond the title of a book.


  18. Mike
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I love the Emperors, and the Adele’s are quarrelsome little buggers,watched one on a Doc the other day, trying to build his stone nest,every time he turned his back this other one stole his pebble, so his lady friend dumped him and went with the Thief, “the ladies always like the bad boys,” needless to say there was a right donnybroook, alas to no avail, and to rub salt in the wound she mated with the thief in front of him. lol

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