Friday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on a cold Friday, December 15, 2017: the day of my departure for India. As I’ve said, posting will be scant until I return in three weeks. It’s national Lemon Cupcake Day, clearly a Fake Holiday created by Big Cupcake. It’s also International Tea Day, so have a cuppa and a biscuit. Finally, it’s the day on which Christopher Hitchens died six years ago (see below).

On this day in 1890, the Lakota chief Sitting Bull was killed on Standing Rocking Indian Reservation, instigating the Wounded Knee Massacre. On December 16, 1933, the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution took effect, which repealed the 18th Amendment—the one that prohibited the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol. In other words, Prohibition ended—a lousy experiment in temperance. Exactly six years later, the movie  Gone with the Wind—still the highest grossing film of all time adjusted for inflation—premiered at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. On December 15, 1961, an Israeli court convicted Adolf Eichmann (spirited away from Argentina by the Mossad) of crimes against humanity and other charges, sentencing him to death. He was hanged on June 1, 1962.  In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association voted 13-0 to remove “homosexuality” from its list of psychiatric disorders in the DSM-II. On this day in 1978, President Jimmy Carter announced that the U.S. would recognize the People’s Republic of China and sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Finally, on this day in 1981, a suicide car bombing demolished the Iraqi embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 61 people. According to Wikipedia, this was considered “the first modern suicide bombing.”

Notables born on this day include painter David Teniers the Younger (1610), Henri Becquerel (1852), J. Paul Getty (1892), Maurice Wilkins (1916), Max Yasgur, farm owner (1919), and Michelle Dockery (1981). Those who died on this day include Johannes Vermeer (1675), Izaak Walton (1683), Sitting Bull (1890, see above), Fats Waller (1943), Glenn Miller (1944), Vallbhbhai Patel (1950), Wolfgang Pauli (1958), Walt Disney (1966), Oral Roberts (2009), and Christopher Hitchens (2011).

I often miss Hitchens and wish he were still here, for I’d love to read his commentary on today’s politics. Imagine what he’d say about Trump! In his honor, I present one of his greatest recorded pieces of elocution: a defense of free speech given at the University of Toronto on November 15, 2006. Among the YouTube comments: “The greatest orator of our time,” and “The best defense of free speech I’ve ever heard.” If you haven’t seen this (and you should have), watch it now.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, it’s big doings: today is the fourth anniversary of Andrez’s and Malgorzata’s website “Listy z naszego sadu” (“Letters from our orchard”). I announced the website (“with more Hili”) here on the next day. Although the site deals with rationalism, science, and politics, Hili naturally sees it as a vehicle to showcase her:

A; Do you know that today is the fourth anniversary of “Listy” on the internet?
Hili: That means almost 1,500 pictures of me. Good work.
(Photo: Gaia)
In Polish:
Ja: Wiesz, że dziś mijają cztery lata, od czasu jak “Listy” są w Internecie?
Hili: Czyli prawie 1500 moich zdjęć. Dobra robota.
(Zdjęcie: Gaia)

As it says above, today’s Hili photo was taken by movie actor Gaia Weiss (the daughter of Andrzej’s niece), who was introduced in Wednesday’s Hili dialogue. Although she’s an actor, Gaia has other aspirations, as described by Malgorzata:

Gaia, whose ambition since she was little was to be a film director, had the idea to start as an actress, to know what’s going on on the other side of the camera, and then go over to directing. She already started with some short films and in the photo below she wanted to conduct an interview with Andrzej about the history of Communism in Poland, Solidarity etc. While she was filming him, he took a picture of her.

Out in Winnipeg, Gus has mounted the staff’s harpsichord bench for his daily brushing, always occurring as he reclines on a flannel blanket. He’s spoiled!

A rescue-cat tweet found by Matthew. But are they feeding the kitten rice? That’s no good!

Matthew also found a swell optical illusion:

Reader Jiten sent a video tweet showing the moment a young man discovers he’s gotten into Harvard.

Goodbye, all! I’ll be in touch, and see you regularly soon after the new year begins.


  1. darrelle
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Christ. I can’t believe it’s been 6 years already since Christopher Hitchens died. We could really use him right now.

    That 2006 speech about free speech is one of my favorites. I think I’ll re-watch it this evening.

  2. Jenny Haniver
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I know virtually nothing about photography, and when I saw that photo of Hili, I had no idea who’d taken it, but my immediate response was that it exquisitely composed; so when I read that Gaia wants to become a film director, well, she’s honing her cinematographic skills still by still.

    • George
      Posted December 15, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      I think PCC(e) will have a growing dislike of Gaia. I think she is quickly replacing him in Hili’s affections.

      • Posted December 15, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        No, Hili has a capacious heart (LOL). Besides, I doubt that Gaia and I will ever be in Dobrzyn at the same time to compete for Hili’s affections.

  3. Posted December 15, 2017 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    What a loss it was when Hitch died!

  4. Blue
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Maybe Rescue Kitty is or has been ill, say when
    found, as with gastroenteritis (ie, n v d, the
    three evils of vomiting, diarrhea and likely
    nausea). Then, fasting boiled white rice along
    with fatty – and skin & bone – free chicken
    bits … … for solids on which to start back.

    Mr Hitchens ‘d be so, so lovely to listen to
    in re: the State of Things Now. I miss him, too.


    • Blue
      Posted December 15, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Then, fasting … …
      followed by boiled white rice, et cetera

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Christopher Hitchens – the one and only.

    • Mike
      Posted December 15, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Greatly missed, I would have loved to hear him on the “big orange blob”.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 15, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        He very well could have reused the line he coined for Jerry Falwell. “Give him and enema and you could bury him in a matchbox”.

        • darrelle
          Posted December 15, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          Whenever I recall that exchange I get a warm fuzzy feeling for Hitch.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Among the YouTube comments …

    Never read the comments, man, never.

    Especially on YouTube.

    • Posted December 15, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      WEIT is one of the extremely rare places on the inter tubes where reading comments is worthwhile.

  7. Rob
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Currently reading Hitch’s memoir.

    His intellectual realm is far beyond anything I could even imagine. (All I can hope is for inspiration to expand my feeble boundaries just a bit.)

    • Alpha Neil
      Posted December 15, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      It took me much longer than I anticipated to read Hitch 22 simply because nearly every page had me searching Wikipedia to learn about some massacre or dictator that I had somehow never heard of. It’s a pity he didn’t have more years but he certainly made excellent use of the years he had.

  8. Liz
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    “And I think it should be, religion, treated with ridicule and hatred and contempt and I claim that right.”

    I completely disagree with this but to each his own. I had a similar view when I was younger.

    “Don’t take refuge in the false security of consensus.”


    • darrelle
      Posted December 15, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      But notice that Hitch did not advocate or himself treat religious people with ridicule and hatred and contempt. At least not merely because they were religious.

      He did treat some religious people that way, Jerry Falwell is a classic example, but it wasn’t because they were religious. It was because they behaved in ways that merited contempt and ridicule.

      Generally speaking he was rather respectful of the believers he debated with and was a friend to many. Surprisingly so to me sometimes. In circumstances where I would have lost all pretense of respect, he would not. But yeah, when he did bring the contempt and ridicule he did so expertly.

      • ploubere
        Posted December 15, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink


      • Blue
        Posted December 15, 2017 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        +1, Mr darrelle.

        I for myself find .that. … … the Hitch Persona with a nicely behaving – theist … … so, so difficult. I know many of these folks but have a hard time staying (feigning) sweet when I know of those fictions to which their brains give so much credence.

        And it is especially difficult for me when these same people are of science or such endeavors. That just flummoxes me. To the point of my simply remaining silent. (But then I do not like myself for .that. … … for my muteness in the face of what I know are falsities !)


        • darrelle
          Posted December 16, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          I feel exactly the same in every way that you described Blue. Well said!

  9. Posted December 15, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Only Hitch and Hunter S. Thompson would be able to respond to Trump as he deserves. I miss them both.

    Merry #Hitchmas.

    • Blue
      Posted December 15, 2017 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      Actually, I believe, of the late folks, that there are at least three more who ‘d verbally
      put Mr Trump to where he belongs: Ms Hypatia, the Grecian of Alexandria, Egypt, Ms Matilda Joslyn (Gage) and Ms Rosa McCauley (Parks).


  10. rickflick
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    May your travels be thoroughly enjoyed.

  11. ploubere
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, were ratified on this day in 1791.

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Hitchens book on Thomas Jefferson is especially good.

    Although the only book of his I started that I didn’t finish, I still think it’s one of his best.

    Books of his I’ve read in entirety are the book on Mother Teresa (“The Missionary Position”), the book on the Clintons (“No One Left to Lie To”), and the book on God (“God is not Great”).
    Also read part of his “Letters to a Young Contrarian”, which was part of an edited series “Letters to a Young…” by several authors.

  13. Posted December 15, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Bon voyage!

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