Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s now Saturday, December 2, 2017, with higher-than-average temperatures predicted for Chicago over the next few days. It’s National Fritters Day, and I could use a nice corn fritter with some syrup to dunk it into.  Sadly, I haven’t even seen a fritter on a menu in years and years. It’s also a UN holiday: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

The Senate, unfortunately, passed the Republican tax bill early this morning, and by a vote of 51-49, with only one Republican (Bob Corker of Tennessee) dissenting. Changes to the bill were being made up to the very last moment.  The bill must still be reconciled with that of the House, but the GOP and Trump can now claim an “achievement”.  Pity that achievement squeaked by narrowly on purely partisan lines (figure from The New York Times):

On December 2, 1697, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London was consecrated; exactly 66 years later the first synagogue in the U.S., Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, was dedicated.  Although restored, the original building still stands:

In another house of worship, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of the French on this day in 1804.  55 years later, abolitionist John Brown was hanged leading the raid on the government arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. On December 2, 1927, the Ford Motor Company rolled out the Model A as its new car; it had produced the famous Model T for  19 years. On this day in 1942 at the University of Chicago, Enrico Fermi and his team initiated the first self-sustaining chain reaction in “Chicago Pile-1“.  Weirdly, my University is commemorating it with a two-day celebration that began yesterday, to wit:

The series will include lectures, seminars, workshops, multimedia presentations, music and dance performances, an exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry, and events involving Argonne National Laboratory, which was created in the post-war period to help pursue energy research for peaceful purposes. Expert speakers will explore the past and future of nuclear energy, as well as issues of history, nuclear weapons policy, nuclear medicine and the pursuit of peace.

Dance performances???

I’m not the only one to think twice about this: have a look at the New Yorker article below:

On December 2, 1956, the yacht Granma brought 82 revolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba, including Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. This was the start of the Cuban Revolution.  On this day in 1982, Barney Clark became the first patient to receive a fully artificial heart. He lived only 112 days. Exactly 6 years later, Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, becoming the first woman to lead an “Islam-dominated state.” Finally, you’ll remember exactly two years ago when, in San Bernardino California, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and wounded 22 at the Inland Regional Center. They died in a shootout with police.

Notables born on December 2 include Georges Seurat (1859), Maria Callas (1923), Alexander Haig (1924), and Edwin Meese (1931).  Those who fell asleep on this day include Hernán Cortés (1547), Marquis de Sade (1814), Desi Arnaz (1986), and Aaron Copland (1990).

Here’s La Callas singing my favorite opera aria.  According to Wikipedia:

Bing [Rudolf Bing, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera] later said that Callas was the most difficult artist he ever worked with, “because she was so much more intelligent. Other artists, you could get around. But Callas you could not get around. She knew exactly what she wanted, and why she wanted it.” Despite this, Bing’s admiration for Callas never wavered, and in September 1959, he sneaked into La Scala in order to listen to Callas record La Gioconda for EMI. Callas and Bing reconciled in the mid 1960s, and Callas returned to the Met for two performances of Tosca with her friend Tito Gobbi.

Callas died at only 53 after a heart attack, possibly caused by her disease dermatomyositis. She had a sad and difficult life.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, up in the trees, has apparently been reading the political news:

A: What do you see there?
Hili: I don’t know but I think it’s fake news.
 In Polish:
Ja: Co tam widzisz?
Hili: Nie wiem, ale to chyba jest fake news.

A tw**t from Grania; watch the video:

And a two stolen from Heather Hastie:

My favorite parrot (it appears that spokesbird Sirocco is still missing):

From Matthew Cobb (translation: “When your cat prepares for a magic ritual”):

I have my doubts whether this next one is true, but it might be:



  1. Mike
    Posted December 2, 2017 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    La Callas,gorgeous Voice,I particularly like Casta Diva.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted December 2, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      +1 for Casta Diva.

  2. George
    Posted December 2, 2017 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I have to call out Hili for cultural appropriation – “kulturalne przywłaszczenie” in Polish. Why does she say “fake news” instead of “fałszywe wiadomości”? Poles do this all the time. The Polish word for weekend is – weekend. And Poles pronounce it in English not Polish (sort of). They certainly do not say veh-eh-kend.

    This must stop.

  3. George
    Posted December 2, 2017 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    The Republican tax bill is not tax reform. It is a payoff to the Republican donor class. And screwing most of the idiots who voted for the orange idiot.

    They claim it will spur economic growth which it will not. Check out the IGM forum from UofC’s Booth School of Business.

    • Harrison
      Posted December 2, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      It reeks of desperation. It was well known in advance of the vote that Republican big donors were mad as hell at their inability to pass anything, one Republican even anonymously reporting a donor had told him “pass this bill or don’t ever call me again.”

      The question now though is now that Republicans have gotten as much as they’re ever gonna get out of the Trump brand, will they now turn against him?

    • Historian
      Posted December 2, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      What is feared by some analysts is that because the tax bill will increase significantly the deficit, the Republicans will use this fact as an excuse to cut safety net programs, such as Medicare and Social Security. So, the poor and the elderly will get doubly screwed. This is called the “starve the beast” strategy, i.e., the right wing dream to roll back social programs that started the with the New Deal. Should this happen, we can be sure that the members of the Trump cult will know whom to blame — the liberals who voted against cuts to their health insurance and old-age pensions. Such is America. I despair.

      The Chicago Tribune has posted a good summary of how Republicans plan to screw their most loyal supporters. Donors always come first.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 2, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        … the Republicans will use this fact as an excuse to cut safety net programs, such as Medicare and Social Security.

        That’s been Paul Ryan’s wet dream since he was college frat boy hanging out at keg parties. But the Donald promised during the campaign that that absolutely won’t happen, so I guess we can all rest easy there.

        I understand that there’s a provision in it — a tax bill! — declaring that life begins at conception, but, like the senators who voted on it, I haven’t had a chance to read all 500 pages, so can’t say for sure what’s in it.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted December 2, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        It’s so obvious that they will attempt to use this to cut social security if they’re still in government when the deficit balloons, I don’t understand why this isn’t what the Dems are focusing on.

        This Bill should prove that trickle-down is a myth once and for all. In the meantime, millions of poor and middle class people will suffer.

        • nicky
          Posted December 2, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

          Yes Heather, meseems that is the crux of it indeed. Bugger the poor, and bugger the middle-class. Apres nous le Deluge,

    • ploubere
      Posted December 2, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      One thing that became crystal clear with last night’s passage of the Republican tax bill in the Senate is that the U.S. is now undeniably an oligarchy.

      Despite overwhelming public disapproval, the senators did what the Kochs, the Mercers and rest of the ruling elite instructed them to do. And they will do the same in overturning Net Neutrality, in defunding Medicare and Social Security and numerous other programs in spite of public opposition.

      Unless we can wrest power back from the politicians who serve the elites’ agenda, the U.S. will continue to descend to a level of corruption and repression on par with present-day Russia. The stakes are high.

      • Harrison
        Posted December 2, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        Money in politics has always been a problem but it’s still striking how much worse it’s gotten in merely ~8 years since Citizens United.

  4. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 2, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    It’s a pity that’s not a Mercator projection – I’d like to see a head in Mercator.

    M. C. Escher drew a few self-portraits – reflected in mirror spheres – fortunately that was before the invention of the pouty, duck face selfie…

    • Posted December 2, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Yes, a Mercator projection of Mercator would be interesting! The whole point of the Mercator projection is that directions on it are true (hence its long history of use for navigation), so the fact that the line from ‘Gerard’ to ‘Mercator’ is curved shows the projection is not Mercator. (The notion of a Mercator projection of a 2-dimensional image of Mercator is somewhat problematic, since a Mercator projection is a 2-d projection of a spherical object. A Mercator projection of Mercator himself might be difficult, since his head was much less spherical than the Earth.)

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 2, 2017 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        One might make a transparent bust I suppose & put a lightbulb inside – then a vertical tube of semi-transparent [or even photographic] paper over the head that’s say 200mm clear of the bust all around. Then draw on the outside of the paper.

        The clearance will help reduce the ‘bumpiness’ distortion of nose, chin etc.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted December 2, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      I really want to know if that portrait is true

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 2, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        No it’s not “true” in the sense that the original image is a normal portrait engraving, with no distortion, available on his Wiki & someone has digitally warped it. The giveaway is the engraving lines are fuzzy where the pic has been manipulated. Also Mercator looks like a miserable sod who wouldn’t enjoy the joke! Here’s the Wiki image:

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted December 2, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink


  5. DrBrydon
    Posted December 2, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Dance peformances???” The Firebird?

  6. nicky
    Posted December 2, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant Maria Callas had a difficult and sad life, another Greek singer, Melina Mercouri had a difficult and sad life too. Is that a Greek female singer specialty? Does it say something about Greek society? Or is it just coincidence?
    I can’t listen to that song ‘O Mio Babbino Caro” without being reminded of 9 year old Amira Willighagen, she gave me the shock of a lifetime, I can’t help it, it just is:

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 2, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      I see opera & most musicals as ridiculous affairs, but if I forget all that & listen to the Callas voice… I can’t listen to her for long, she vocally over-emotes & there’s a LOT of vibrato going on [if vibrato is the term – I dunno].

      I read about her Met, New York experiences where some of the audience would come armed with veg to throw at her. To do with her ‘wobble’ it seems. Imagine cretins like that – going to a performance with a plan to hate it!

      Melina had an adventurous & colourful life – she grabbed it with both hands. I wouldn’t say “difficult & sad” is correct: interesting & warm early home life, eloping at 17 with a wealthy Greek, commercial success as actress & singer, exile & loss of Greek property – but with a return to a political career back in Greece, wealth, lovers, a heroine back home & reasonably long life.

      Death of cancer is a misery, she didn’t succeed in getting the Elgin marbles returned to Greece & I think her acting roles ran on rails [stereotyped as the warm hearted floozy/prostitute] – but nevertheless I think she probably had a ball.

      I can’t get that embedded video to play, but I’ve just watched other videos of Amira on “Holland’s Got Talent” & she’s great. Never heard of her before. Being level headed Dutch I’m sure she’ll make a better fist of being famous early than our very own Charlotte Church did!

  7. nicky
    Posted December 2, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Why is it that the Democrats are seen as the big spenders, while during Republican administrations the deficit is always skyrocketing?
    IIRC the last positive balance was under Mr Clinton.
    An estimated extra 1.5 trillion deficit, not bad as an effort to increase the burden on the future,
    And Yes, that ‘tax bill’ is unconscionable. I had hoped it would not pass, but it seems the Republicans are not averse to bugger their constituents.

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