Saturday: Hili dialogue

February 9, 2019 • 6:30 am

It’s Caturday Saturday, February 9, 2019, and National Pizza Day (I suspect I’ll eat Chinese food, though). It’s a chilly 8°F (-13°C) in Chicago today, but will warm up tomorrow, though snow may also come.

My grilled cheese sandwich yesterday was good but it was very small, and I wasn’t nearly full after lunch. The first requirement of a good meal is that you don’t get up from the table hungry, and Gayle V’s Grilled Cheese emporium didn’t pass that test. (The homemade tomato soup was also good, but $5 for a small cup was too expensive). The good news, though, is that I am now, as judged by the U.S. government, a Trusted Traveler.

Enough carping. On to history, which was thin on this day. After the U.S.’s tenth Presidential election in 1824, it was on this day in 1825 that the U.S. House of Representatives chose John Quincy Adams as President, since no candidate had received a majority of the electoral votes. On February 9, 1861, Jefferson Davis was elected as Provisional President of the Confederate States of America by the Confederate Convention in Alabama.

On February 9, 1950, Senator Joe McCarthy fomented the American “red scare” by accusing the nations State Department of being filled with Communists.  Exactly 14 years later, the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, attracting a record 73 million U.S. viewers, or about 1 out of 3 Americans. Here’s their 12-minute set:

Finally, on February 9, 1971, Satchel Paige became the first “Negro League” player to be voted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. And boy, did he deserve it. Because of segregation, which prevented black players from playing with white ones, Paige didn’t make the major leagues as a rookie until he was 42, yet he was one of the best pitchers of all time. As Wikipedia says about Paige:

In 2010, sportswriter Joe Posnanski, writing for Sports Illustrated, named Paige as the hardest thrower in the history of baseball. He based this, in part, on the fact that: “Joe DiMaggio would say that Paige was the best he ever faced. Bob Feller would say that Paige was the best he ever saw. Hack Wilson would say that the ball looked like a marble when it crossed the plate. Dizzy Dean would say that Paige’s fastball made his own look like a changeup.”  Posnanski further noted that:

for most of his career Satchel Paige threw nothing but fastballs. Nothing. Oh, he named them different names—Bat Dodger, Midnight Rider, Midnight Creeper, Jump Ball, Trouble Ball—but essentially they were all fastballs. And he was still unhittable for the better part of 15 years. One pitch. It’s a lot like Mariano Rivera, except he wasn’t doing it for one inning at a time. He was pitching complete games day after day. That had to be some kind of incredible fastball. … [he was] perhaps the most precise pitcher in baseball history—he threw ludicrously hard. And he also threw hundreds and hundreds of innings.

Here he is in the best Negro League team of all time: the Pittsburgh Crawfords, which also starred Josh Gibson and Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe (I met him in a soul food restaurant on the South Side here; he was over 100 years old). Paige is the tall guy third from the left in the top row.  In their prime, many of these players would have been stars had they been allowed to play in the Major Leagues.

Notables born on this day include Thomas Paine (1737), Amy Lowell (1874), Alban Berg (1885), Carmen Miranda (1909), Jacques Monod (1910; Nobel Laureate), Ernest Tubb (1914), Roger Mudd (1928, still with us), Garner Ted Armstrong (1930), J. M. Coetzee (1940; Nobel Laureate), Carole King (1942), Joe Pesci (1943), Alice Walker (1944), and Mia Farrow (1945).

Those who joined the Choir Invisible on February 9 include Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1881), Sophie Tucker (1966), Percy Faith (1976), Bill Haley (1981), J. William Fulbright (1995), and Princess Margaret (2002).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,  Hili is cold and kvetching about it:

Hili: I’ve read an article about old tiled stoves.
A: And?
Hili: They were better from these modern, flat heaters.
In Polish:
Hili: Czytałam artykuł o starych piecach kaflowych.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Były lepsze od tych nowoczesnych, płaskich grzejników.

A photo sent by Heather Hastie:


Two bird tweets from reader Nilou, the first showing how much the Egyptians loved their ducks. They were a wise people, even if they didn’t let the Jews go.

And look at these mustachioed Inca terns (Larosterna inca):

Two tweets from Heather Hastie, the first a majestic lion. Be sure to watch until he stands up, as he’s HUGE!

This video of a rescued baby chimp meeting other chimps for the first time will make you tear up, as it did Heather and I:

Three cat tweets from Grania, the first showing an absinthe-swilling cat:

Comedian Shapi Khorsandi has a new puppy to go along with her tabby cat:

This kitten carrying a toy really cracks me up (Matthew also sent it):

Tweets from Matthew. “Ghost apples” are lovely:

A very careful removal of a botfly larva from a human (I left mine in until it emerged naturally):

And what’s said to be the world’s first color film:

28 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. This is new: Every time I click on a video I get a message saying I must “agree to Twitter’s use of cookies”. What’s that all about?

    1. It’s probably not a good idea to try to pull botfly larvae out with tweezers. If the larva is punctured and ruptures inside its cavity, you may end up with an infected mess. Better to do like Jerry and let the larva grow up, crawl out, and make a pupa. A larva can be made to emerge early by taping a piece of bacon over its breathing hole, thus forcing it to crawl out for air. Actually, botflies are no big deal.

  2. There is a nice 2013 book on jacgues monod and albert camus by sean b carroll (the molecular biologist, not sean carroll the physicist). It is called “brave genius, a scientist, a philosopher and their daring adventures from the french resistance to the nobel prize”. Light, informative, and interesting reading for the general reader.

      1. I think it interesting that with a 1970 B.S. in math and physics from a small liberal arts college, i had read camus, but had not heard of monod, a world famous researcher at the time in a sister science discipline until many, many years later.

  3. Packing all the talent of baseball into a few teams made for a different spectator sport. It was similar with major league baseball before expansion. Expansion and free agency results in 250 hitters with million dollar contracts. Everyone wonders why is baseball so boring.

  4. The Edgar Thomson Works was Andrew Carnegie’s first steel mill in Braddock PA, E of Pittsburgh. The mill had a baseball team called the Edgar Thomson Community, which seems to have been a de facto Negro Leagues minor league team. By one account Josh Gibson came from the Community. The field they played on sat on the former grounds of early coal baron JB Corey’s mansion. Schwixon was built adjacent to it. Here’s a shot of the Community, with Schwixon in the background and one player (center, kneeling) in a Grays uniform. Josh Gibson certainly played on this field, and it’s probably likely that Satchel Paige did, too, since the Grays seem to have played variously at local fields.

  5. Struggling to understand how those “ghost apples” work. What process can make them mushy and runny that won’t also thaw the ice coating?

      1. This article gives the most detailed explanation I’ve found

        This explanation and others I’ve found concurs with what you say about the lower freezing temperature of the apples. Scroll down to “update February 8”: ‘William Shoemaker, a retired fruit and vegetable horticulturalist from the University of Illinois, pointed out that those apples, leftover from harvest, just went through a week of “exceptionally cold weather” due to the polar vortex. “Besides being somewhat mummified, they could also be rotten,” he explained. “It happens a lot with apples left on the tree. They maintain their form, but their substance gets closer to applesauce.”

        When their temperature drops to around -18°C (around 0°F), their structure collapses, and a few could “spew their rotten contents successfully.” Although some may wonder why the apples didn’t freeze solid during the polar vortex, Shoemaker noted that the apple has a significant acid content, so it would have to get exceedingly cold before it froze solid.

        “It’s certainly unique, but I would guess it has happened before,” he said, adding: “but it probably never had exposure to a journalist before.”’

  6. Welcome to the Trusted Travelers Club, Jerry.

    What I particularly like about the club is that you get a special membership card that is only good if you arrive at a port of entry on a ship.

    1. So that is what the card is for. Did not know that. Global Entry is wonderful as it does speed up getting out of the airport when you get back from traveling abroad.

  7. When I was cant-remember-where (I was doing a tour of the country at the time), I ran into four of the Rockford Peaches, of the WWII-era All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. I got to sit down and talk with them — hell, this was at a Denny’s, after all — and they were actually on the team depicted in the uplifting but somewhat saccharine film A League of their Own. They were a handuful even in their 80’s and 90’s. Had a great time with ’em.

  8. When it comes to the Beatles, don’t forget that the first radio station to play one of their songs in the U.S. was WLS, the mighty voice of Chicago! Greats like Dick Biondi and Ron Riley worked for them at the time. Of course, as the Buggles pointed out, “Video killed the radio stars.”

    1. My first Beatle experience was in early 1964 having a beer with friends at an Atlanta tavern (Moe’s and Joe’s) shortly after I turned 21. Customers repeatedly played “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Let Me Hold Your Hand” on the jukebox, with raucous singing accompaniment, until the bar tender pulled the plug.

  9. “[The Egyptians] were a wise people, even if they didn’t let the Jews go.”

    If you’re referring to the Exodus mythology, the ancient Hebrews were never in Egypt. The Exodus story has been recognized as 100% fictional among Egyptologists for a long time.

    No description of the pyramids exists within the biblical books and likewise the ancient Hebrews didn’t even know about the existence of domestic cats – both of which would be impossible had they been enslaved in Egypt for even a day.

    The Hebrew tribe was one of many Canaanite tribes within that region of the world and the other Canaanite tribes rejected them. So they invented the Exodus fable to hid that fact.

    Also notice the old testament claims that the ancient Hebrews subsequently “defeated” the Canaanites, but went against their weather deity’s orders to exterminate them since there were still lots of Canaanites around.

    The Exodus mythology is no more true than the Adam and Eve fables.

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