Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s a hump day: Wednesday, January 23, 2019, and it’s National Pie Day. Awesome! Pie is the best breakfast dish there is. In India today it’s also a celebration day of Subhas Chandra Bose, an Indian nationalist who (born on this day in 1897), died in 1945 under mysterious circumstances.

My beef with Pinker (a honking big steak dinner) didn’t take place as his plane to Chicago was delayed, forcing the cancellation of his event.

Today’s News in History: On January 23, 1556, the deadliest earthquake in history occurred—in Shannxi province in China. It killed as many as 830,000 people. (Deaths were due to landslides, collapsing houses, and deep fissures in the earth.) It was the third deadliest natural disaster in history (plagues aren’t counted), after two floods in China: the 1931 China floods (death toll: 1-4 million), and the 1887 Yellow River flood (death toll ca. 1-2 million). Have a look at Wikipedia’s list: China and India can’t catch a break.

On this day in 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell was awarded the degree of doctor of medicine by Geneva Medical College in New York, making her America’s first female doctor. In 1849, for crying out loud! She had a distinguished career as physician, feminist, educator, and reformer, and here she is:

On this day in 1941, Charles Lindbergh, testifying before the U.S. Congress, recommended that America negotiate a nonaggression treaty with Adolf Hitler (Lucky Lindy had long been mesmerized by the Nazis). Lindbergh was also an anti-Semite, blaming the Jews for leading the U.S. toward war. Here’s a speech he gave in Iowa in September, 1941, decrying those who recommended war, including the Jews. (Not included in this truncated speech was his statement, “The Jews are one of the principal forces attempting to lead the U.S. into the war. The Jews’ greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our Government. I am saying that the leaders of the Jewish race wish to involve us in the war for reasons that are not American.”) Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

This kind of stuff made Lindberg’s popularity plummet.

On January 23, 1957, Walter Frederick Morrison sold the rights to his flying saucer to the Wham-O toy company, which called it the “Frisbee.” The rest is history. On this day in 1973, President Richard Nixon announced that a peace agreement had been reached in Vietnam.  Thirteen years later, the first members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: they included Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley. Good choices!

Finally, on this day 17 years ago, U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan. He was later beheaded.

Notables born on this day include John Hancock (1737), Stendhal (1783), Édouard Manet (1832), David Hilbert (1862), Subhas Chandra Bose (1897), Django Reinhardt (1910), Giant Baba (1938), Chesley Sullenberger (1951), and Mariska Hargitay (1964).

Remembering the incomparable Django, who played fantastic jazz guitar with only three digits (tweet from Matthew):

Those who died on January 23 include Arthur Guinness (1803; and yes, the brewer), William Pitt the Younger (1806), Gustave Doré (1883), Anna Pavlova (1931), Edvard Munch (1944), Pierre Bonnard (1947), Kid Ory (1973), Paul Robeson (1976), Salvador Dali (1989), Helmut Newton (2004), Jack LaLanne (2011), and Ernie Banks (2015).

Everybody knows Munch’s “The Scream,” but here’s another lovely painting of his: “Madonna” (1894-1895):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej, recuperating from his heart attack, must follow doctor’s orders. Hili is helping!

A: And how am I to work?
Hili: The doctor recommended frequent breaks.
In Polish:
Ja: I jak ja mam pracować?
Hili: Lekarz zalecił ci częste przerwy.

Reader Barry sent this dude in a pit of pythons, adding “I hope they are well fed.”

An unaffectionate cat sent by Heather Hastie:

And a very affectionate cat, also from Heather:

From Grania: Baby pandas in the snow. Need I say more?

Rep. Ilhan Omar admits to Bari Weiss that she, Omar, was befuddled when she posted her infamous Israel tweet. We’ll see how she rolls when the House begins trying to do something.

Does it take this for Trump voters to realize what kind of monster they elected?

This is one squirrel who’s laid on the fat for the winter. Remember, they don’t hibernate, so keep feeding them (#SquirrelAppreciationDay):

Tweets from Matthew. Backstory: last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine published an anti-genetics hit piece on David Reich and other paleogeneticists. Not only Reich, but several respected geneticists pushed back, and I may write about this. Meanwhile, look at Reich’s own responses, linked in the tweet below:

A palindrome you may not have known:

Ponder this theory that connects word usage with transportation mode:



  1. rickflick
    Posted January 23, 2019 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    I saw that Times Magazine critique of Reich, and found it confusing. Jerry I hope you’ll take it on if you are so inclined.

  2. kurtzs
    Posted January 23, 2019 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Re Have a look at Wikipedia’s list: China and India can’t catch a break.

    Have you considered the mammoth overpopulation there which increases the odds of these disasters?

    • Frank Bath
      Posted January 23, 2019 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      Densities of population?

      • kurtzs
        Posted January 23, 2019 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Urbanization, and concentration where agricultural productivity is better leaves vast areas unpopulated. Plus Carrying Capacity stress leaves more humans and others species vulnerable. Look at the Footprints:

        • rickflick
          Posted January 23, 2019 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          Nice maps.

    • Posted January 23, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      Yes, of course; there were high concentrations of humans.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 23, 2019 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      There are also many underground dwellings so in earthquakes there is a potential for many casualties. According to A History of Civilization in 50 Disasters:

      In 1920, the Haiyuan Earthquake (magnitude 8.5) was felt over most of China and took 234,117 lives. About 500,000 homes and cave dwellings collapsed.

    • Posted January 23, 2019 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      On the other hand I sometimes wonder what the population of China, especially, would be like if they hadn’t suffered so many large disasters, civil unrests, wars, etc.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Negligible difference. At the time of that earthquake, I’m getting their annual growth (i.e. births – deaths, not the annual number of births) as about 388 thousand. So this death toll would have put their growth back by about 3 years.
        World War 2, with around 50 million deaths, was a period of population growth.
        Population globally probably decreased in the Black Death, but we’re really unsure about the death tolls outside Europe and Asia. Since then, probably not.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 23, 2019 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Lindbergh was also an anti-Semite, blaming the Jews for leading the U.S. toward war.

    In Philip Roth’s 2004 alternative-history novel, The Plot Against America, Charles Lindbergh wins the 1940 presidential election against FDR, unleashing a wave of antisemitism across the USA. The story is told from the point of view of Roth’s own family in Newark, NJ.

    • Historian
      Posted January 23, 2019 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Anti-Semitism was particularly blatant in the 1930s. The radio priest, Charles Coughlin, was very popular. Interestingly, he started out as a strong supporter of the New Deal, but broke with FDR when he felt he was not getting the recognition he deserved. As the decade progress, he became more and more right wing, cozying up to the fascist dictators. The Holocaust Encyclopedia states: “An isolationist from the beginning of his career, Coughlin had blamed Jews for inciting the strife in Europe. He vigorously opposed any intervention by the United States government. Even after the Japanese navy and air force attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Coughlin denounced the entry of the United States into World War II, claiming that the Jews had planned the war for their own benefit and had conspired to involve the United States.”

      It is eighty years later and things haven’t changed that much. Jews remain the universal scapegoat and right-wing radio continues to thrive. It perplexes me how so many right-wingers are anti-Semitic while supporting Israel out of a belief that its existence is necessary to fulfill certain biblical prophecies. Cognitive schizophrenia is not that difficult to find.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 23, 2019 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        Yeah, the original “America First” movement.

        Funny, I seem to have heard someone embrace that phrase again recently. (I’d like to think it’s a matter of simple tone-deafness to history, but can”t help harboring dark suspicions to the contrary.)

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted January 23, 2019 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        “Jews remain the universal scapegoat and right-wing radio continues to thrive. It perplexes me how so many right-wingers are anti-Semitic while supporting Israel..”

        Your remark reminded me that just the other a.m., dial-surfing on my radio here in the ultra-liberal SF Bay Area, I happened to hear one host on a right-wing tag-team drive-time talk show (large Bay Area market with listeners of various political stripes) make this comment: “Old Mark Zuckerberg shaved off his horns so you couldn’t see them.” These guys are right wing but aren’t religious (though I’m sure they’re theists) so I doubt that they support Israel because of prophecies. They consider themselves hosts of a ‘thinking person’s’ right wing talk show, they are pro-Israel, consider themselves very hip and skeptical (but they’re really neither very hip nor skeptical); and the other host echoed the sentiment. I can’t determine if the one who made the remark was such a clod (they are clods) that he genuinely didn’t realize what he was saying or just thought that he could get away with it. I emailed the show to protest, but, of course, got no reply.

  4. Serendipitydawg
    Posted January 23, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    This kind of stuff made Lindberg’s popularity plummet


    On this day in 1973, President Richard Nixon announced that a peace agreement had been reached in Vietnam.

    Disheartening that it took so long.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 23, 2019 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Nixon and his cronies scuttled LBJ’s Vietnam peace plan in 1968 (using Anna Chennault as their emissary to convince the corrupt South Vietnamese government to abjure) — on terms better than what he and Kissinger secured in 1973 — to ensure Nixon’s victory in the ’68 presidential election against Hubert Humphrey.

      There’s an additional 22,000-plus names of American GIs on a Wall in Washington, DC, and an untold number of dead Southeast Asians, due to Nixon’s traitorous perfidy.

      One of the greatest un-prosecuted crimes in American history.

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 23, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        I never liked Nixon… when he reaped the benefit of the Apollo missions he came across as sleazy, I wasn’t in the last suprised at his ultimate fate.

        I cannot remember where I got this, I think it was a British chat show interveiw with Buzz Aldrin, though I can’t be sure: “When you shook hands with Nixon it was always a good idea to count your fingers afterward”.

  5. Andy Lowry
    Posted January 23, 2019 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    That tea/cha thing: I had no idea! That’s a great piece of linguistic trivia to put away for future use.

    • Posted January 23, 2019 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      “Chay” where I live, fits the prediction.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 23, 2019 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Lindbergh was pretty good at flying an airplane. Besides that, he was jackass and a Nazi. Kind of the Henry Ford of the airplane set.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 23, 2019 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      In the Philip Roth novel I mentioned in a comment above, President Lindbergh names Henry Ford to his cabinet.

    • David Coxill
      Posted January 23, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Yes he was a very brave man to fly single handed across the Atlantic ,pity his politics didn’t match his skill and courage .
      He strikes me as a tragic figure ,he spent the greater part of his life promoting aviation and died a tree hugger who would not let his wife use fly spray .
      Well that is what i took from A Scott Bergs Biography of him .

      • Posted January 23, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        While Lindburgh was a terrible person, I don’t see anything wrong with being a tree hugger or not wanting to use fly spray.

        • David Coxill
          Posted January 24, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          Nothing wrong with being a tree hugger ,just saying in later life he switched from being an advocate for aviation and became an environmentalist .
          He seemed to be a person who saw things in terms of black and white ,right or wrong .

  7. Posted January 23, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I had a physics instructor way back when who was compiling his own data on the “tea words” etymology. He would find this interesting.

    I see from the map the “other” he was looking for exists – in Africa most notably.

  8. Larry Smith
    Posted January 23, 2019 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Technically, the words “drawer” and “reward” aren’t palindromes. Some have called such words a “semordnilap”, or “palindromes” backwards. It may have been Nabokov who came up with that term; he is credited with identifying the semordnilaps “diaper” and “repaid.”

    Oddly, I saw two backwards license plates today: “gnorts” (strong) and “nawibo”, or Obi-Wan.

  9. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 23, 2019 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    [pedant mode ON]

    ‘drawer’ is not a palindrome, nor is ‘reward’.

    (The two words together ‘drawer-reward’ would be if there was any coherent way to use them in a sentence.)

    [pedant mode OFF]


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 23, 2019 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      I have just noticed (in fact it has just come crashing to my notice) that Larry Smith has just pointed out exactly the same thing in the comment immediately before mine, and more informatively. Oh the embarrassment.

      Must remember to read *all* comments before hitting ‘post’…



  10. Serendipitydawg
    Posted January 23, 2019 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Back to the topic of the eclipse: it would appear that a meteor impacted some time during the eclips.

    <a href=""Link to story at New York Times.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 23, 2019 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      Oh well, at least WordPress still coped with the link, and it is 01:30 here, so I am going to blame tiredness!

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 23, 2019 at 7:32 pm | Permalink


      A link that works (hopefully). Regardless, I am going to bed, goodnight 😯

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