Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning: it’s January 23, 2018, and National Pie Day! Eat some pie—the breakfast of champions. It’s also World Freedom Day in Taiwan and South Korea, celebrating the repatriation of prisoners captured during the Korean War. Meanwhile, the North and South Koreans are practicing various Winter Olympic sports at a resort in the North, and I can’t help but feel, as I’ve said before, that the South has been duped. What kind of “peace” will it get from this if the North refuses to negotiate over its nuclear program? But at least the U.S. government is operating today—for at least a couple of weeks.

On January 23, 1556, what is supposed to be the deadliest earthquake in world history, the Shaanxi earthquake, occurred in the province of that name in China. As many as 830,000 people may have been killed. Why so many? As Wikipedia notes, “Most of the population in the area at the time lived in yaodongs, artificial caves in loess cliffs, many of which collapsed with catastrophic loss of life.” On this day in 1719, the principality of Liechtenstein was created. And on January 23, 1849, the U.S.’s first woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell got her M.D. at Geneva Medical College in Geneva, New York. In 1957, Walter Frederick Morrison sold his invention of a “flying disc” to the Wham-O toy company, who renamed it the “Frisbee.”  On this day in 1973, Richard Nixon announced that a peace agreement was reached in Vietnam. In 1986, the first members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were inducted: Chuck Berry, James Brown, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley. That seems a worthy list; was anybody omitted?  Finally, on January 23, 1997, Madeline Albright became the first woman to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State.

Notables born on this day include Stendahl (1783), Édouard Manet (1832), David Hilbert (1862), Django Reinhardt (1910), Ernie Kovacs (1919), and Jeanne Moreau (1928).

Below is Manet’s famous painting “Olympia”, created in 1863 and exhibited in 1865, causing a huge scandal. Note that there’s a black cat visible on the bed to the right. Some background from Wikipedia (my emphasis):

What shocked contemporary audiences was not Olympia’s nudity, nor the presence of her fully clothed maid, but her confrontational gaze and a number of details identifying her as a demi-mondaine or prostitute. These include the orchid in her hair, her bracelet, pearl earrings and the oriental shawl on which she lies, symbols of wealth and sensuality. The black ribbon around her neck, in stark contrast with her pale flesh, and her cast-off slipper underline the voluptuous atmosphere. “Olympia” was a name associated with prostitutes in 1860s Paris.

The painting is modelled after Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538) [see it here]. Whereas the left hand of Titian’s Venus is curled and appears to entice, Olympia’s left hand appears to block, which has been interpreted as symbolic of her sexual independence from men and her role as a prostitute, granting or restricting access to her body in return for payment. Manet replaced the little dog (symbol of fidelity) in Titian’s painting with a black cat, which traditionally symbolized prostitution. Olympia disdainfully ignores the flowers presented to her by her servant, probably a gift from a client. Some have suggested that she is looking in the direction of the door, as her client barges in unannounced.

Here’s an enlargement of the cat, substantiating my theory (which is mine) that many otherwise good painters couldn’t portray cats very well:

Those who died on this day include Arthur Guinness (1803; founded the beer and the brand), Gustave Doré (1883), Edvard Munch (1944), Paul Robeson (1976), photographer Helmut Newton (2004), Johnny Carson (2005; heavy smoker), Jack LaLanne (2011), and “Mr. Cub”, Ernie Banks (2015).

I love Doré’s woodcuts, particularly those he produced for Dante’s Inferno. But here’s his rendition of Puss in Boots:

Here’s Helmut Newton’s photograph of Twiggy with a cat (1967):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is still balking at going out in the snow:

Cyrus: Let’s go to the river.
Hili: Not a chance.
In Polish:
Cyrus: Chodź, idziemy nad rzekę.
Hili: Mowy nie ma.

Here are three tweets from Grania. First, a strawberry cat!

This is hilarious, but Malgorzata says the dogs are being maternal towards the kittens. Alternative hypothesis: the dogs want to nom them.

Turkish cats:

And two from Matthew. Be sure you click on the original tweet to see the news headline:

And a trenchant cartoon:


  1. Posted January 23, 2018 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    And an earthquake with potential tsunami in Alaska…

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Dunno about the “breakfast of champions” bit, but I do enjoy a slice of pie on those mornings when scoring the silver medal still sounds pretty good. 🙂

    And I don’t think SoKo is being duped so much as feeling the need, given the madman leading the free world, to seek its own separate peace.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    South Korea was duped for letting a few from the North participate in sports? I wonder who was duped as we see members of the U.S. Olympic Committee resigning in the wake of the sex scandel that went on for years? Or maybe I wonder who Putin thinks was duped in the 2016 elections?

  4. Posted January 23, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    “These include the orchid in her hair…”

    Doesn’t look like an orchid to me. At that time there were only purple Cattleyas; modern hybrids that were salmon or orange didn’t exist then. Unless Manet used some paints that faded with time. Evidence that this might be the case is the gray ring of flowers around the central white flower. Not many boquets have gray flowers. Maybe they were originally blue or purple?

  5. Bric
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Proust took the orchid (a cattleya) and the closed carriage ride from Madame Bovary and made a remarkable scene for Swann and Odets. “Afterwards, we called the intimate act ‘fait le cattleya’.”

    • Bric
      Posted January 23, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Odette not Odets

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 23, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        You had me wondering what the author of “Waiting for Lefty” was doing getting jiggy with Swann. 🙂

        • bric
          Posted January 23, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

          Auto-correct on an Ipad; it tried to make ‘cattleya’ cattle and ‘Bovary’ bovine. Which sort of makes sense.

  6. rickflick
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Where North Korea is concerned it’s hard to figure what there motives and intentions are. But, it’s just possible that since they’ve managed to acquire nukes with a delivery system, maybe they will be less paranoid and more willing to relax and even get along. I think a big driver in their thinking so far has been fear of a preemptive attack. With that fear reduced(MAD), a new thaw in relations could come about. Maybe.

    • George
      Posted January 23, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      North Korea is simple to figure out. Just think of the Tudor era in England. The only thing that mattered to the king was to stay in power. The people are starving? Who cares. Just keep the people who protect you and your clan fat and happy. Kill family members who are a threat.

      North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is very logical and easy to understand. The US is a threat. Bush 43 said they were part of the Axis of Evil. We talk about regime change. We demand they they get rid of their nukes. But look what happened to Libya after they got rid of their nuclear program. Can the US even be trusted. Iran is adhering scrupulously to the agreement to get rid of their nukes. Yet we keep threatening them.

      Why would North Korea and the Kims ever get rid of their nukes? We can offer them nothing. And they have a deterrent that stops us from acting.

  7. George
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    PCC(e) – the great Sam Cooke is spelled with an “e”. We need a video from him to correct this slight.

    • Posted January 23, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      OY, I knew that. Will fix immediately!
      Thanks for the video; my favorite, though, is
      “A Change is Gonna Come,” which is see as one of the best soul songs (and THE best civil rights song) ever recorded.

      • George
        Posted January 23, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        I posted “A Change Is Gonna Come” (in violation of Da Roolz again) in a prior post. You should watch Change back to back with Cooke’s “Blowin’ In the Wind”. And then Curtis Mayfield “People Get Ready” and Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On.”

  8. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I had that Doré Puss n Boots picture in a faery tale book my aunt got me when I was a young kid. I always loved it though the man’s face in the background freaked me out.

    • bric
      Posted January 23, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Looks like Animal Control

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 23, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        Yes! It does look like it’s plotting to try to catch Puss!

  9. Richard Bond
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    That seems a worthy list; was anybody omitted?

    Eddie Cochran?

    • Doug
      Posted January 23, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Eddie Cochran was admitted the next year.

      One oversight in the early days was that the Hall would induct the lead singer of a group and ignore the other members. They inducted Buddy Holly but not the Crickets, Bill Hailey but not the Comets, Smokey Robinson but not the Miracles, etc. Years later they corrected this by retroactively inducting these other musicians.

  10. jaxkayaker
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    The most important thing about Guinness is not the beer, but that they contributed to the development of statistics by their use in their production process and by permitting publication of information about the t distribution, but under the pseudonym “Student”, to disguise their use of stats from their competitors. “Student” was William Sealy Gosset.

  11. Posted January 23, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Some artists remark that in order to draw one has to study anatomy. Maybe there’s a bioscience lack on the part of the cat-illustrators?

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Re the cartoon.

    Christianity seems to have fractured more radically in English-speaking countries than anywhere else.

    Although there are nearly 40 Eastern Orthodox denominations, the actual belief-differences between them seem relatively slim- likewise with the 20-odd Methodist denominations.
    But in the English world we have Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, etc etc which actually have radically different beliefs than other churches all of them, as the cartoon, states thinking they are the ones who finally got it right.

    • bric
      Posted January 23, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      The World Christian Encyclopedia estimates about 33,000 denominations, representing about 300 major ecclesiastical traditions.


      • Posted January 24, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        I read somewhere that an amazing number were founded in the US, too. (I think I saw something like 10K, but I am not sure.)

  13. Frank
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Malgorzata nailed it in saying the pooches want to be maternal to the kittens. They are Goldens, after all.

    • Frank
      Posted January 23, 2018 at 11:25 pm | Permalink


%d bloggers like this: