Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

February 8, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s Saturday, February 8, 2020, and “National Potato Lover’s Day”. Because of the apostrophe placement, I have to ask this: “Who is the one potato lover being celebrated today?”

It’s also National Molasses Bar Day, a confection I haven’t tried, National Boy Scouts Day, commemorating the day of that group’s American founding in 1910, Opera Day, and, importantly, Propose Day (the second day of “Valentine Week”, which I didn’t know existed), a day when you’re supposed to pop the question to your significant other.

Stuff that happened on February 8 includes:

  • 1587 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is executed on suspicion of having been involved in the Babington Plot to murder her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.
  • 1693 – The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is granted a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II. [JAC: After Harvard, W&M is the oldest college in America]

William & Mary, my undergraduate alma mater, is also the only college in the U.S. with a royal seal. I have that on my ring, which I’ve worn every day since 1971:

  • 1915 – D. W. Griffith’s controversial film The Birth of a Nation premieres in Los Angeles.
  • 1924 – Capital punishment: The first state execution in the United States by gas chamber takes place in Nevada.

This is a horrible way to execute somebody, and though I’m opposed to capital punishment, if you must do it they should use lethal injections (sadly, they can’t get the right drugs these days).

  • 1946 – The first portion of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the first serious challenge to the popularity of the Authorized King James Version, is published.
  • 1960 – Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom issues an Order-in-Council, stating that she and her family would be known as the House of Windsor, and that her descendants will take the name Mountbatten-Windsor.
  • 1963 – Travel, financial and commercial transactions by United States citizens to Cuba are made illegal by the John F. Kennedy administration.

This also outlawed the purchase of Cuban cigars by Americans, a ban that holds to this day. Since President Kennedy was a fan of a good Havana, he had Pierre Salinger, his press secretary, go out and buy him 1200 Petit Upmanns right before he signed the decree in 1962 making their purchase illegal. The story is here.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1577 – Robert Burton, English priest, physician, and scholar (d. 1640)
  • 1819 – John Ruskin, English author, critic, and academic (d. 1900)
  • 1828 – Jules Verne, French author, poet, and playwright (d. 1905)
  • 1834 – Dmitri Mendeleev, Russian chemist and academic (d. 1907)
  • 1878 – Martin Buber, Austrian-Israeli philosopher and academic (d. 1965)
  • 1921 – Lana Turner, American actress (d. 1995)
  • 1922 – Audrey Meadows, American actress and banker (d. 1996)
  • 1925 – Jack Lemmon, American actor (d. 2001)
  • 1926 – Neal Cassady, American author and poet (d. 1968)

Cassady, second from left. Do you recognize the others?

  • 1940 – Ted Koppel, English-American journalist. [Koppel is 80 today.]
  • 1953 – Mary Steenburgen, American actress

Matthew sent this birthday tweet; it’s a day late, but listen to that woman play the mandolin! More about Donna and Roni Stoneman here, and about the Stoneman family here (Pop Stoneman had 23 kids).

Those who became corpses on February 8 include:

  • 1587 – Mary, Queen of Scots (b. 1542)
  • 1725 – Peter the Great, Russian emperor (b. 1672)
  • 1921 – Peter Kropotkin, Russian zoologist, geographer, and philologist (b. 1842)
  • 1999 – Iris Murdoch, Irish-born British novelist and philosopher (b. 1919)
  • 2007 – Anna Nicole Smith, American model and actress (b. 1967)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is sick of winter—and quite chubby! As for the “no winter”, Malgorzata explains:

Normally, winter in Poland lasts from December to February. Neither in December nor in January was there was any winter (no snow, temperatures were above freezing). Hili is asking whether February will be winter-free as well.

Hili: Do you think that there will be no winter this month either?
A: I’m afraid not.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy myślisz, że w tym miesiącu też nie będzie zimy?
Ja: Obawiam się, że nie.

And in nearly Wloclawek, Mietek the Kitten, now fully healed, is growing up and doing monologues. Isn’t he cute?

Mietek: I’m trying to incorporate myself into this still life.

In Polish: Próbuję się wkomponować w martwą naturę.

From Bad Cat Clothing:

From Jesus of the Day:

And, from GIPHY, Michelangelo for the next generation:

From Dom, a lovely weevil. He also sent a link to the species (here).

From reader Barry. If ever a pig looked fab, this is the one. And look at that expression! Sound up to hear some piggly grunts of pleasure.

Tweets from Matthew. Here’s the end of a many-hour courtship, and I can’t quite spot the moment of “climax”:

Matthew and I love these murmurations, which are explained by the birds following one or two simple rules of movement. Amazingly, they never run into each other! (Well, hardly ever. . . )

I should have posted this tweet two days ago, but notice that Lyell’s book preceded Darwin’s own book on human evolution by 8 years. Lyell was, of course, one of Darwin’s mentors.

A sea angel, which is a form of sea slug—a mollusk. Sea butterflies, their prey, are also mollusks (gastropods), and I’ve put a video of one below this tweet.

Would you have guessed this is a mollusk?

Astro Christie (Christina Koch) returned to Earth, setting a record for U.S. women in space, just 12 days short of the male record. She’s now confined while they study what happened to her body and physiology during nearly a year at zero gravity.


34 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

  1. “Since President Kennedy was a fan of a good Havana, he had Pierre Salinger, his press secretary, go out and buy him 1200 Petit Upmanns right before he signed the decree in 1962 making their purchase illegal. The story is here.”

    That’s politics in a nutshell. Laws are for the little people.

    1. Years ago I heard Mort Sahl on NPR, talking about politicians who had unexpected senses of humor. It’s been a while, but I believe he told this story about Al “I’m in charge here” Haig. He was smoking a Cuban cigar, and someone asked him about it given then ban. He smiled and said, “I like to think of it as burning their crops.”

    2. During the summer between 2L and 3L, I did an internship with the U.S. Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force. One of the senior lawyers there admitted to me over drinks after work one night that, whenever he took his family on a vacation to Canada, he’d smuggle back Cuban cigars in a box of his wife’s tampons.

      1. I used to bring a few back from every road trip to Vancouver BC (pretty frequent). I stuffed them amongst my dirty laundry (hiking gear, it was dirty!).

    3. Herbert Hoover was a bigtime cigar smoker, too, altho there doesn’t seem to be much agreement on what he smoked. As Wm Howard Taft’s funeral dragged on in 1930, he was craving one. On the way back to the White House he apparently said something to the effect of “At my funeral, everyone will be allowed to smoke.”

    1. In principle, lethal injection should work well. After all, d*gs and cats are routinely put down gracefully in this way. I’m not sure why all the fuss, except I’ve heard human physiology is less predictable in reaction to drugs. On the other hand, maybe they should just stop.

        1. Indeed. By whichever method is used capital punishment is barbaric. There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that it is not effective as a deterrent against serious crime (e.g. states with high execution rates such as Missouri still have amongst the highest homicide rates) and there is also the issue of any miscarriages of justice being irreversible if the person has already been executed.

          I watched a documentary in which the former UK government minister Michael Portillo investigated humane execution methods (I believe his position was that he was opposed to capital punishment but that if it is to be carried out it should be done as humanely as possible). Interestingly, when he spoke to supporters of capital punishment in the US they seemed to be nonplussed by his interest in finding painless, humane methods: they felt that the more unpleasant the death the better and more effective the punishment.

          If I recall correctly Portillo’s conclusion was similar to that of Jeremy Pereira below, i.e. ashphyxiation in a pure nitrogen atmosphere. This would bring about a rapid loss of conciousness with no feelings of panic or pain.

      1. The fuss is that the barbiturates that are used to put cats and dogs to sleep will not be given to prisons by the companies who make them, as those companies have moral objections to helping with executions, something I can understand. Ergo, the prisons have to use inferior drugs, sometimes obtained from dubious sources. Or so I recall.

        1. Couldn’t they just order barbiturates from Europe or Asia? Maybe those sources also refuse. Come to think of it, I think the US is practically the only western country that has capitol punishment.

          1. The companies in Europe (where capital punishment has been banned by nearly every nation) also refuse to sell the requisite drugs to US penal institutions to be used in executions.

            In addition, the AMA ethical code prohibits US doctors from supervising or otherwise participating in executions.

            1. This is a good example of moral progress. A far cry from, “…shall be drawn and quartered, his head set upon a pike!”.

    2. Being gassed in a pure nitrogen environment would be my choice. Your body is unable to detect when there is not enough oxygen in your blood, only if there is too much carbon dioxide, so, in a pure nitrogen environment, you die completely unaware that you are being asphyxiated.

  2. Maybe they should just make up their mind regarding the “sale” of their product. They don’t seem to have a problem putting inferior medications on the market or those products that d o n ‘t q u i t e meet their promise.

  3. Has anyone told Hili that yesterday it was warmer in Antarctica than in Dobryzn? Maybe better not to let her know.

  4. Cassady, second from left. Do you recognize the others?

    There’s no mistaking that that’s Allen Ginsberg to the right of Casady. And I’m reasonably sure it’s Kerouac all the way on the right and Burroughs on the left.

    As a group, the epicenter of the Beat Generation.

      1. Thanks, Jenny, I look forward to listening.

        I know Kerouac died young, at just age 47, but he was already old before his time — a fat, drunken, pro-Vietnam War reactionary. I understand he was a sullen prick when Cassady brought Kesey and the Pranksters over for a visit while they were in town for the ’64 NY World’s Fair.

        I still recall his embarrassing appearance on Bill Buckley’s Firing Line near the end.

        1. That is cringeworthy to be sure but I needed to see that. Did you see “Ginsberg on Kerouac,” a 9 min. reminiscence about that debacle which was next up in my queue following the video you linked to? G gives the backstory to the interview and after watching that video, I see that interview of Kerouac with Buckley in a different light; Ginsberg says that Buckley set Kerouac up and ‘llI buy that. Nonetheless, to be sure, Kerouac was a mess. Too bad the audio is so muddy in both videos; some due to technical constraints of the time as well as the age of the videos and sound quality on my computer, but a lot of it has to do with the people who are speaking — every one of them, including Buckley though I know that was his usual manner of speaking. One would think they’d have better diction at least in front of microphones and cameras.

          1. Reading over my previous comment I see that my writing is proving to be the equivalent of Kerouac’s muddy speech in the video and I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol.

            1. Thanks. I’d not thought to look for videos of Kerouac until you linked to his appearance on Firing Line; now I’m exploring several.

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