Friday: Hili dialogue

January 17, 2020 • 6:30 am

Good morning from Cambridge, Massachusetts on Friday, January 17, 2020: National Hot Buttered Rum Day. It’s also Ben Franklin Day, celebrating his birth (see below), and National Bootlegger’s Day, celebrating the day in 1920 that the 18th Amendment went into effect prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and alcohol. That means it’s the Centenary of Prohibition; and everyone was glad to see it repealed in December of 1933. (It’s also the  “the birthday of Templeton Rye Whiskey, bootlegger Al Capone and the son of another bootlegger, Meryl Kerkhoff.”)

It’s a chilly 18° F (-8° C) in Boston today, with snow predicted for tomorrow. But I will be here until next Wednesday, so bring on the snow!

Stuff that happened on January 17 include:

  • 1648 – England’s Long Parliament passes the “Vote of No Addresses”, breaking off negotiations with King Charles I and thereby setting the scene for the second phase of the English Civil War.
  • 1773 – Captain James Cook commands the first expedition to sail south of the Antarctic Circle.
  • 1912 – British polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott reaches the South Pole, one month after Roald Amundsen.
Not a happy group.

Here are the five men in Scott’s party photographed at the pole (Scott is upper center). They of course look disconsolate, having found a Norwegian tent and flag at the pole. All five died on the return to their base:

Here’s the spinach-loving swabbie’s first appearance in the comics, reproduced at the First Versions website (spinach had yet to show up):

  • 1945 – Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg is taken into Soviet custody while in Hungary; he is never publicly seen again.
  • 1977 – Capital punishment in the United States resumes after a ten-year hiatus, as convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad in Utah.
  • 1991 – Gulf War: Operation Desert Storm begins early in the morning as aircraft strike positions across Iraq, it is also the first major combat sortie for the F-117. LCDR Scott Speicher’s F/A-18C Hornet from VFA-81 is shot down by a Mig-25 and is the first American casualty of the War. Iraq fires eight Scud missiles into Israel in an unsuccessful bid to provoke Israeli retaliation.
  • 1998 – Lewinsky scandalMatt Drudge breaks the story of the Bill ClintonMonica Lewinsky affair on his Drudge Report website.

Here’s the first Drudge Report headline that began the ball rolling toward Clinton’s impeachment:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1820 – Anne Brontë, English author and poet (d. 1849)
  • 1863 – David Lloyd George, Welsh lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1945)
  • 1899 – Al Capone, American mob boss (d. 1947)
  • 1922 – Betty White, American actress, game show panelist, television personality, and animal rights activist

Betty White is 98 today!

  • 1927 – Eartha Kitt, American actress and singer (d. 2008)
  • 1933 – Shari Lewis, American actress, puppeteer/ventriloquist, and television host (d. 1998)
  • 1940 – Kipchoge Keino, Kenyan athlete
  • 1964 – Michelle Obama, American lawyer and activist, 46th First Lady of the United States

Those who died but didn’t find eternal life on this day include:

  • 1705 – John Ray, English botanist and historian (b. 1627)
  • 1911 – Francis Galton, English polymath, anthropologist, and geographer (b. 1822)
  • 1933 – Louis Comfort Tiffany, American stained glass artist (b. 1848)
  • 1977 – Dougal Haston, Scottish mountaineer (b. 1940)

Haston and his mate Doug Scott were the first to summit Everest by its southwest face (1975) He was also in the first party to ascend Annapurna’s south face. Like all good mountaineers, he died young in an avalanche while skiing. He was only 37.

  • 2007 – Art Buchwald, American journalist and author (b. 1925)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej are remarking on global warming, and Andrzej has seen many Januarys:

Hili: This is the warmest January in my life.
A: Mine as well.
In Polish:
Hili: To jest najcieplejszy styczeń w moim życiu.
Ja: W moim też.

From reader Irena Shulz’s FB page, a cartoon drawn by reader Su (what a pair of talents!). It shows Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo, for whom Irena is staff, referring to the “altruism in parrots” study I recently wrote about. Apparently Snowball has tossed his head feathers into the ring as a Presidential candidate. Well, he’s got the right-looking “hair”!

From Mark on Facebook:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Titania, a tweet that’s funny in at least three ways:

A tweet from reader Barry. I would love to have these birds in my palm!

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. First, Mrs. Lumpy destroys a potted plant. But it’s worth it, of course.

Via Ann German, too. What a fantastic statue!

And four tweets from Matthew Cobb, who’s happy because his book is getting high praise from prospective blurbers and his daughter just got into Cambridge Uni (congrats, Matthew!)

Look at the gams on this butterfly. Why on earth are they so fuzzy?

Check the link; this is apparently woven by a spider as a “fence” to protect its egg sacs, but the species of spider isn’t known:

I’ve posted on this tubby tabby before, and how his staff lost his frequent-flier miles by smuggling an overweight cat onto the plane and then taking him out of the cage. Now the cat + staff has an offer of a free flight, but Viktor the Tabby must lose 1.5 kg to meet the airline’s 8 kg (nearly 18 lb!) weight limit.

A future type A! Yes, make sure the sound is on!

16 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. 1977 – Capital punishment in the United States resumes after a ten-year hiatus, as convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad in Utah.

    Gilmore waived all his appellate and post-conviction rights and sought to be executed as soon after his trial as possible. His story was the subject of Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “non-fiction novel,” The Executioner’s Song.

    1. Did not his lawyers try to argue that he was insane for not appealing, so they argued he should not be executed?

  2. Since you like Chinese, check out the Mary Chung restaurant on Mass Ave. in Central Square, just a few blocks north of MIT. Cash-only, old-style place with absolutely fantastic food! Their pork belly dish is to die for.

    1. Yeah, I noticed that too; they cut that off too soon. Maybe he started balling after knocking down his tower so it wasn’t funny anymore. I’d probably think it was even more funny, but that’s just me.

    1. “Make yourself comfortable on the couch; Herr Doktor will be with you in just a minute.”

      Please tell us you didn’t have a Lamb Chop puppet of your own. 🙂

  3. The woolly-legs butterfly is an oddball. Two things come to mind. Owls have fuzzy feathers so it flies silently as it hunts. That’s not a likely adaptation here. I suspect the real answer is camouflage and as a deterrent to being swallowed.

      1. “the same reason for why moths need them”

        And why do moths need them? I suspect it’s just so they aren’t mistaken for butterflies? Must be something of a rivalry. 😎

  4. This being the 100th anniversary of the start of prohibition, I must wonder what the US would be like had prohibition not passed? What would organized crime be like? Law enforcement? Would we have ever heard of J Edgar Hoover? What would our international relations have been then and be now?


    1. The world might actually have become a distinctly worse place if not for prohibition.

      I recently read the fascinating biography of Elizebeth Friedman,
      The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies

      by Jason Fagone. Friedman was a gifted cryptanalyst in the early 20th century — during World War II she was instrumental in breaking up a Nazi spy ring which was poised to forge an alliance of South American dictatorships against the United States (the outcome of the war could have been quite different if the U.S. had had to fight on three fronts!).

      But before her wartime work she honed her skills (and built a stellar reputation) working for the U.S. Treasury Department and the Coast Guard, breaking secret codes used by run-runners and other organized crime figures.

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