Saturday: Hili dialogue

Yay! It’s a new month, and maybe a less gloomy one, for today is February 1, 2020. And on Sunday the sun is predicted to shine for the first time in 11 days (the record is 12).

As it’s a new month, there are a number of food designations for February, including Canned Food Month, National Chocolate Lovers Month, National Cherry Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Snack Food Month, National Potato Lovers Month, Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month, and National Hot Breakfast Month. It’s also the beginning of Black History Month. It’s also Hijab Month, a celebration of the oppression of women, but more on that later today.

But today is also a quintet of food days: National Cake Pops Day, National Baked Alaska Day, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, International Pisco Sour Day, and National Dark Chocolate Day.

Leaving aside food, it’s take Your Child to the Library Day, Change Your Password Day, and Robinson Crusoe Day, celebrating the day in 1709 when the real-life “Crusoe,” Alexander Selkirk, was rescued five years after leaving his ship to live in solitary on Más a Tierra Island.  Selkirk eventually went back to sea and died of yellow fever in 1721. Finally, it’s National Freedom Day. . . 

. . . honoring the signing by Abraham Lincoln of a joint House and Senate resolution that later became the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. President Lincoln signed the Amendment outlawing slavery on February 1, 1865, although it was not ratified by the states until later.

News of the Day: The Republicans managed to shut down the possibility of witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial. The vote was 51-49 with two GOP defectors: Susan Collins and Mitt Romney. (No Democrats broke ranks.) So that’s it: the impeachment trial is over, the readers were right (I hoped that Bolton would testify and bring down Trump, but readers said “No way”), and the “President” will stay in office, with apparently little damage done to him. And Britain left the European Union yesterday afternoon (midnight Brussels time). Brexit is a done deal, but not really “done”, as nobody knows what will happen now.

Stuff that happened on February 1 includes:

  • 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln signs the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution(see above)
  • 1884 – The first volume (A to Ant) of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
  • 1893 – Thomas A. Edison finishes construction of the first motion picture studio, the Black Maria in West Orange, New Jersey.
  • 1896 – La bohème premieres in Turin at the Teatro Regio (Turin), conducted by the young Arturo Toscanini.
  • 1918 – Russia adopts the Gregorian calendar.
  • 1960 – Four black students stage the first of the Greensboro sit-ins at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Google commemorates that brave gesture, an iconic incident in the Civil Rights Movement—blacks weren’t allowed to sit at lunch counters with white)—with today’s Doodle. If you click on it, it links to information about the sit-ins:

The picture below shows not the sit-in mentioned above, but one that took place soon thereafter with some white students also sitting in. Look what the racists did to the peacefully protesting students! And to think this was considered normal behavior by Southern whites!

  • 1964 – The Beatles have their first number one hit in the United States with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.
  • 1968 – Vietnam War: The execution of Viet Cong officer Nguyễn Văn Lém by South Vietnamese National Police Chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan is recorded on motion picture film, as well as in an iconic still photograph taken by Eddie Adams.

Here’s the photograph taken at the moment of execution (more on it here); you can see the complete video of the incident here(bloody), along with commentary by Eddie Adams and others. Adams won the Pulitzer Prize for that photo in 1969, which, some think, helped end the Vietnam War by emphasizing its brutality.

  • 1979 – Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to Tehran after nearly 15 years of exile. [JAC: Appropriate that it coincides with Hijab Day, as the Iranian government, against the protest of many women, soon instituted the mandatory hijab in Iran.]
  • 2002 – Daniel Pearl, American journalist and South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, kidnapped January 23, 2002, is beheaded and mutilated by his captors.
  • 2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during the reentry of mission STS-107 into the Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1894 – John Ford, American director and producer (d. 1973)
  • 1901 – Clark Gable, American actor (d. 1960)
  • 1902 – Langston Hughes, American poet, social activist, novelist, and playwright (d. 1967)
  • 1918 – Muriel Spark, Scottish playwright and poet (d. 2006)

Spark wrote the novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which I haven’t read for years but remember as a very good book. It was made into a movie with Maggie Smith in the title role; Smith won an Best Actress Academy Award for her performance.  If you have a spare two hours, the entire movie is on YouTube, and it’s right below.

  • 1931 – Boris Yeltsin, Russian politician, 1st President of Russia (d. 2007)
  • 1937 – Don Everly, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1937 – Garrett Morris, American actor and comedian
  • 1942 – Terry Jones, Welsh actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 2020)[2]
  • 1947 – Jessica Savitch, American journalist (d. 1983)
  • 1948 – Rick James, American singer-songwriter and producer (d. 2004)

Those who kicked the bucket on February 1 include:

  • 1851 – Mary Shelley, English novelist and playwright (b. 1797)
  • 1944 – Piet Mondrian, Dutch-American painter (b. 1872)
  • 1966 – Buster Keaton, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1895)
  • 1976 – Werner Heisenberg, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1901)
  • 1986 – Alva Myrdal, Swedish sociologist and politician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia crew
    • Michael P. Anderson, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1959)
    • David M. Brown, American captain, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1956)
    • Kalpana Chawla, Indian-American engineer and astronaut (b. 1961)
    • Laurel Clark, American captain, surgeon, and astronaut (b. 1961)
    • Rick Husband, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1957)
    • William C. McCool, American commander, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1961)
    • Ilan Ramon, Israeli colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1954)
  • 2013 – Ed Koch, American lawyer, judge, and politician, 105th Mayor of New York City (b. 1924)

This cannot be a real Mondrian, but it looks like one. Here’s “Red Faced Cat”:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili refers to a Polish expression, “Can you prove you’re not a camel?”, and Malgorzata explains its meaning:

“This is a saying you use when you are accused of something like “you are a racist, an Islamophobe” etc. You don’t have to prove that you are a man, that you speak English – obvious things. But such accusations make you say: “How can I prove that I’m not a camel?” This saying sits very deep in Polish culture and I have some trouble explaining it. It’s when you are asked to prove something absolutely outlandish which on the one hand is rather obvious, on the other is very difficult or impossible to prove. That’s the best I can do. It’s funny: our Polish readers got Hili’s saying and liked it. That’s the difference between cultures!”

Hili: Somebody is coming.
A: Who?
Hili: I don’t know but he claims he is not a camel.
In Polish:
Hili: Ktoś tu idzie.
Ja: Kto?
Hili: Nie wiem, ale twierdzi, że nie jest wielbłądem.

Lagniappe: An orphaned bat cooing while getting fusses (h/t: Merilee):

From The Cat House On the Kings: a badly deceived moggy:

A meme sent by reader Paul. I’ll never be able to say the word “homeowner” properly again! “Ho-Meow-Ner”!

Reader Ken tells Democrats to start steeling themselves for this fall’s election:

Titania’s still standing up for social justice:

A fantastic technological innovation, and boy does Mumbai need it!

Tweets from Matthew. Look at these raccoon loaves! They’re obviously fed regularly:

Another chubster raccoon. He’s not really going down the drainpipe, but through a hole in the roof behind the drainpipe:

This is funny, and yes, it appears to be the real Pete Best:

A wonderful leaf-mimicking butterfly; it’s an orange oakleaf (Kallima inachus).

Such beautiful cats, perhaps the species with the most stunning pattern:

If I’ve posted this before, my apologies, but it’s worth seeing again. That calf is having a bad day. . . .


  1. Roger
    Posted February 1, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    My theory, for which I receive considerable abuse from the lovely hooman inhabitants of the internets when I mention it, is that “I Want to Hold Your Hand” is the first heavy metal song. A fine species we are by the way.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 1, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      I heard the original German version when I went to see Jo Jo Rabbit a couple weeks ago.

      • Roger
        Posted February 1, 2020 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        Even more metal. 😛

    • XCellKen
      Posted February 1, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Please elaborate

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 1, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      It’s not Balls Out Bass Guitar/Drum enough as played by the Beatles – and the vocal harmonies are too sweet to qualify as Metaloid. Beatallica squeezed it rather badly into a Metallica costume with I Want To Choke Your Band & the result is rather horrible & not ‘Metal’ either.

      I can’t decide on what’s first as it’s like asking who was the first hooman, but it’s likely a Brit band that has the most Metal alleles. Yardbirds, Who, Spencer Davis Group? Before Led Zep & Sabbath anyway.

      Here’s a nice candidate downstream from whomever the source is:
      Blue Cheer Summertime Blues [volume 11 essential]

      • rickflick
        Posted February 1, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        I thought I read “Blue Cheese”, at first – which I took to be a joke.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 1, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

          Emmetal hard Swiss cheese would be more appropriate, no? 🙂

          What do you think of their sonic bombing campaign though?

          • rickflick
            Posted February 1, 2020 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

            No idea what sonic bombing consists of.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 1, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        P.S. According to Wiki, Geddy Lee cites Blue Cheer as the first heavy metal band, but I don’t think they recorded the first Heavy Metal tune. The Summertime Blues track was recorded in 1967 after a band member saw Hendrix at the Monteray Pop Festival [June 16 to 18] that year – hence it includes the main riff from Foxy Lady in places & they stripped out the call/response parts of the original. Result: Genius & brutal both – one step beyond a Who sonic attack.

        • Posted February 1, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

          Blue Cheer was early metal but I vote for the Yardbirds.

      • Roger
        Posted February 1, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        John Lennon is really jammnmg out on his guitar part. (Pan to the left on the youtube stereo version.) Kinda like “Paranoid”, except a little sweeter like you said. And then they drop to the sweet chorus part like a lot of metal songs do. Metal all the way. 🤘

  2. Posted February 1, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Although Lincoln did sign the 13th Amendment, this was an extra-Constitutional step. Amendments are the province of Congress and the States– the president has no role. Lincoln strongly supported the amendment, and his signing it was an expression of that support, but it had no legal meaning or effect.

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 1, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Democracy is dead in the US and no one really cares. Prufrock seems fitting:

    We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
    By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
    Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

    • Posted February 1, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Democracy is not dead. Another election is coming up in November. And whoever gets enough votes in the right places will win, just as it is written in the constitution, which is still in effect and working.

      Cheer up. We all made it through January and its now February. Amazing how much better I geel knowing that.

      • Mark R.
        Posted February 1, 2020 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps not dead, but on its death bed. We’ll see. I’m with Diana.

        I’ll add more Eliot:

        We are the hollow men
        We are the stuffed men
        Leaning together
        Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
        Our dried voices, when
        We whisper together
        Are quiet and meaningless
        As wind in dry grass
        Or rats’ feet over broken glass
        In our dry cellar

        • Posted February 1, 2020 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I know that. My freshman year in college in 1960 I has a fraternity brother who would keep reciting that every time he got drunk.

          • Mark R.
            Posted February 2, 2020 at 12:01 am | Permalink

            A nice drunken rant to be sure! 😂 I think I’d like your old frat bro.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted February 2, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

          TS Eliot has always been a favourite of mine and he seems so much more relevant today!

          • Mark R.
            Posted February 2, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

            He’s one of my favorites as well. Yes, Eliot’s themes coincide well with the declining state of the earth and human affairs.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 3, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        We’re another month closer to the next January.

        • Posted February 3, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

          Dread you not the winter
          or things that may not be
          but live in the very minute
          and live as to be free.

          Ernest Harben

  4. Jim batterson
    Posted February 1, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Astronaut dave brown, like jac, graduated from the college of william and mary in biology. He then received an MD from eastern va medical school before becoming a navy flight surgeon and being selected as a nasa astronaut.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted February 1, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      I remember that, too. Before the flight the Alumni Mag ran a piece about him, so I felt an extra connection with the crash.

      Curiously enough, too (if that’s the right term), one of the experiments that was on the flight was one from my old department @ Pitt, something with C elegans. It survived and I think there was a resulting publication. I remember hearing the grad student from that lab present the results, anyway.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 1, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    We can learn much from our country’s current failures if we add some history to the story. In the beginning James Madison put forward the Virginia Plan and this included a couple of nonnegotiable proposals. One of these was that both branches of the legislature must be based on population. The other was a kind of executive veto over state laws – outright federal sovereignty over the states. He lost on both of these essential ideas.

    So at the end of the convention Madison was convinced they had failed and that what they had achieved was fatally flawed. Sometimes first instincts are correct and at this moment Madison was correct. Later, during the ratification process he changed his mind on these issues but today it is easy to see how right he was in the first place.

  6. Deodand
    Posted February 1, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Good on Daniel Kaluuya, to quote author Caitlin R. Kiernan, who happens to be transsexual…

    “What is this race to be defined, to be boxed in? I am not defined by my sexuality, or by my gender, or my race, or my mental illness, or by my physical disabilities, or my bad teeth, or my insomnia, or my addiction, or my hillbilly childhood, or my atheism, or my generation, or my belief in the Democratic Party, or the pronouns that are used to describe me. None of these things are sufficient, but only possessed of a certain fluctuating piecemeal relevance. I am not a bisexual writer or a transsexual writer or white writer or a liberal writer or a schizophrenic writer or a Southern writer or a female writer or an atheist writer or a boomer writer or an evolutionist writer or an impoverished writer, though I am, to whatever degree, surely all of those things. But you choose one, and you hang it on me, and you are inevitably telling a lie by omission. ”

    Sadly most students have been taught that a persons character should be judged by the color of their skin.

  7. Charles Sawicki
    Posted February 1, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Baby elephant: A great parable for our times illustrating the danger of being a Trumpkin (mindlessly devoted follower of Trump).

  8. Ruthann Richards
    Posted February 1, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Where is Caturday??? Please, please, please!!

  9. Liz
    Posted February 1, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    “‘Homeowner'”. Meow. This makes my day.

  10. Roger
    Posted February 1, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    What did the sailor who didn’t know the difference between sweet potatoes and the other equally bad vegetable say to the huge sweet potato. “A yam, what a yam.”

  11. grasshopper
    Posted February 1, 2020 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    “Can you prove you are not a camel?

    One hump, or two?

  12. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted February 2, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    And Britain left the European Union yesterday afternoon (midnight Brussels time). Brexit is a done deal, but not really “done”, as nobody knows what will happen now.

    On the one hand Johnson is arguing for a trade deal with EU like the one we have with Canada, but it took 7 years and he give himself 1 year before going to “no deal”. A likely loss for democracy.

    On the other hand, it seems we may see “Little England” since Scotland, North Ireland and Wales all voted against the Johnson Brexit [ ]. A likely win for democracy.

    On the gripping hand, many of EU’s populist parties that wanted an EUxit has seen the UK problems and now want to rEUmain. Neither win nor loss but a stronger EU.

    It may be odd in the future if someone visit Ireland and looks back towards the rest of Europe and asks: “what are the islands that lie in between, has anyone heard of them?”

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 3, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      On the gripping hand,

      Odd, that’s the third Nivenisam that has crossed my laptop since Brexit. Very funny-peculiar.

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