Wednesday: Hili dialogue

February 19, 2020 • 6:45 am

We’ve arrived at mid-week, since it’s Wednesday, February  19, 2020. It’s National Chocolate Mint Day, and what better mint than Chicago’s delicious famous chocolate Frango Mint, first sold at Marshall Field’s and now, since that store went extinct, by the new owner Macy’s. Here are some Frangos:

It’s also National Lash Day, not a day to whip people but, as the site says, “to notice and appreciate both true and false eyelashes for the beauty they add to every look” Every look?

It’s also Iwo Jima Day, honoring the day in 1945 when American troops invaded the island, beginning a five-week bloody battle. Wikipedia reports that of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers on the island, dug into an extensive system of tunnels and trenches, only 216 were taken prisoner, though some of the 3,000 who hid surrendered later, some as late as 1949. The Americans lost 6,821 men, with 19,217 wounded.

The two Clint Eastwood movies about the battle, Flags of Our Fathers (shown from the American side) and Letters from Iwo Jima (from the Japanese side), are excellent, though the box office take from both films was small. Here’s a compendium of the battle scenes, following the landing, from Flags of Our Fathers. Don’t watch it if you can’t abide movie war violence:

News of the day: Yesterday “President” Trump went on a pardon spree, commuting the sentences of or pardoning eleven malefactors, including our ex-governor Rod Blagojevich (he was given 14 years for corruption, but served 8 so far). The list of the pardoned is here. This raises the question of whether anybody beyond parole boards, and that includes not only Presidents but governors, should have the right to pardon people. Hold on with your comments; we’ll have a discussion of that soon.

Stuff that happened on February 19 include:

  • 356 – Emperor Constantius II issues a decree closing all pagan temples in the Roman Empire.
  • 1600 – The Peruvian stratovolcano Huaynaputina explodes in the most violent eruption in the recorded history of South America. Wikipedia explains:

The 1600 eruption was the largest historical eruption in South America, measuring 6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. It occurred on 19 February and continued with a series of events into March. Witnessed by the people of the city of Arequipa, its impact in the region was severe, wiping out vegetation and burying the surroundings with 2 metres (6.6 ft) of volcanic rock; it also damaged infrastructure and economic resources. The eruption had significant effects on Earth’s climate, decreasing temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere, causing floods, famines and cold waves in numerous places, and depositing several million tons of acid. The climate disruption caused social upheaval in many countries such as Russia and may have played a role in the onset of the Little Ice Age.

  • 1847 – The first group of rescuers reaches the Donner Party.
  • 1878 – Thomas Edison patents the phonograph.
  • 1942 – World War II: Nearly 250 Japanese warplanes attack the northern Australian city of Darwin, killing 243 people.

This is said to be the largest attack ever mounted on Australia by a foreign power, though air attacks by the Japanese continued for two years. Here’s a photo, taken by a Japanese pilot, of ships burning in Darwin Harbor after the attack:

  • 1945 – World War II: Battle of Iwo Jima: About 30,000 United States Marines land on the island of Iwo Jima. [JAC: see above]
  • 1953 – Censorship: Georgia approves the first literature censorship board in the United States.
  • 1963 – The publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique reawakens the feminist movement in the United States as women’s organizations and consciousness raising groups spread.
  • 1976 – Executive Order 9066, which led to the relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps, is rescinded by President Gerald Ford’s Proclamation 4417.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1831 – James A. Garfield, American general, lawyer, and politician, 20th President of the United States (d. 1881)
  • 1921 – Roy Campanella, American baseball player and coach (d. 1993)
  • 1933 – Larry King, American journalist and talk show host
  • 1936 – Dick Cavett, American actor and talk show host
  • 1938 – Ted Turner, American businessman and philanthropist, founded Turner Broadcasting System
  • 1942 – Calvin Klein, American fashion designer, founded Calvin Klein Inc.
  • 1956 – Ann Curry, Guamanian-American journalist
  • 1959 – Allison Janney, American actress
  • 1961 – Meg Ryan, American actress and producer
  • 1962 – Jodie Foster, American actress, director, and producer
  • 1966 – Shmuley Boteach, American rabbi and author [JAC: I like the name Shmuley, which I believe is a diminutive of “Samuel” in Hebrew. It sounds funny]

Notables who joined the dearly departed on February 19 are few, and include:

The mask appears to have been made of velvet, and the prisoner has never been identified, though of course there are candidates. See the link.

Fetchit’s real name was Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, and although he played the stereotyped servile and lazy black character, he became the first African-American actor to earn a million dollars. Here’s an example of what passed for an acceptable character back then: Fetchit in the movie Marie Galante in 1934. It’s a sign of progress that this would never, ever pass muster in movies today.

  • 2013 – Frederick Sanger, English biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1918)
  • 2014 – Mike Nichols, German-American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1931)
  • 2017 – Mel Tillis, American singer and songwriter (b. 1932)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is anticipating warmer weather when she can roam outside:

Hili: I have the feeling that the days are getting longer and longer.
A: You are not mistaken.
In Polish:
Hili: Mam wrażenie, że dni są już coraz dłuższe.
Ja: Nie mylisz się.

And some exciting news from Dobrzyn: the black tabby that Andrzej and Malgorzata have been feeding has become more tame, and is now permitting both of them to pet him (it’s a male). He’s been named Szaron, and has moved into the garage, but the plans are to move him into the house as soon as he’s sufficiently tame. If Hili cannot tolerate him, the lodgers upstairs, who love cats, have promised to adopt him. Here’s Szaron, who has an unusual black and gray tabby pattern:

Szaron!   Photo by Paulina R.

Posted by reader Beth:

From Jesus of the Day:

And a video sent by readers Merilee and Michael. The notes:

August 2nd, 2016. “A pair of wild bear cubs were caught on camera escaping from the summer heat by playing in a water-filled backyard planter of a family’s home in Pasadena, California. Sainty Wang and Carlos Chavez captured the adorable moment from behind a sliding glass door at their home. The two cubs squeezed into the planter much like birds would use a birdbath. The couple says that the mother bear was keeping an eye on her cubs from close by. The cute video ends with the bears crawling out of their makeshift tub and running out of the yard.”


A tweet from Colin Wright, who co-wrote the Wall Street Journal piece we discussed on the distinctness of the sexes. What he notes below is very odd, and I wonder why UC Santa Cruz is asking the question.

A tweet sent by reader Barry, who says it looks like an outtake from Jurassic Park. Look at that gator! More important, are these guys completely nuts?

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. I’d see the first video before, but hadn’t realized it was Adam Savage’s idea, nor that it was him in the carriage.

And another tweet proving that cats are liquids:

A tweet from Hemant, sent by Matthew.

More tweets from Matthew. By now everyone here should know what mitosis is:

An awesome bird. One of these flew overhead when I was in Northern California, and was much closer than this one. Park rangers along Route 101 will tell you where you might see one.

Enlarge the photo if you miss the fifth beetle (no, it’s not George Martin):

41 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

        1. Thanks for the correction – I should have checked before writing; as it’s widely reported that the last California brown/grizzly bear was killed in the 1920s. The only ones I’ve seen (in Yosemite) were brown.

          1. We have cinnamon bears living near our house. They are a type of black bear, but a lovely red color.
            I have never managed to get a decent picture of any of them. Just a series of blurs.

              1. We have a ranch in SW Colorado. But we winter in NC. The Cinnamon bears are at the Colorado place.

  1. Just a caution on the Szaron project over in Poland. You should look for possible spraying when bringing him indoors.

        1. Yes, my experience is with bringing a male neutered cat from outside to inside, where there was already a female, caused problems. I would recommend a fall back plan if possible because it is a hard one to correct.

  2. UC Santa Cruz is likely seeking information to figure out how many nonbinary and transgender students they have so they can determine if they are serving them adequately. The information on how they present makes sense in this context as gender association and presentation may differ, with the latter affected by social stigma.

    1. Unrelated to the sex/gender issues, it’s reported this morning on the “California Report” on our local NPR station that UC Santa Cruz grad student TAs are on strike. It’s a wildcat strike, as the TAs are unionized and have a contract with the university through the end of spring 2022. They have apparently been failing to turn in grades for some time (including apparently some failing to turn in fall grades), and are asking for an increase of $1400/month in salary (or whatever TA pay is now called – average TA pay right now is reportedly $2400/month). The university has now said “submit grades by the end of the week or be fired”.

    1. It seems odd that satanists and atheists should be grouped together. Satanists are more like Christians. In fact they believe in the same gods but just don’t agree on which one is evil.

  3. Yes, I like the name Shmuley. I first heard it when we lived in Tel Aviv in 1950. Most evenings a woman who lived opposite would appear on her balcony and yell “Shmuley! Shmuley!” up and down the street summoning her son home for tea.

  4. It’s also Iwo Jima Day, honoring the day in 1945 when American troops invaded the island, beginning a five-week bloody battle.

    My dad had a battle star on his ribbons from Iwo Jima, earned as a 20-year-old sailor aboard a destroyer close in to the action, since his ship had brought in the “frogmen” (the forerunners of today’s Navy Seals) to prepare the beach in advance of the landing.

    I’m not sure what he would’ve made of the two Clint Eastwood films about the battle, since he died a couple decades before they were released, but I know he had a particular loathing for the John Wayne “classic” The Sands of Iwo Jima.

    I recall watching it one morning when I was about nine or ten, after I’d turned on the old black & white tv set to warm it up to watch the Saturday baseball game of the week. As I was watching, my dad walked into the living room from whatever he was futzing around with in the garage or basement.

    He came in just as the Duke was essentially winning the battle single-handedly, mowing down rows of Japanese soldiers with a sub-machine gun. The old man (who had come out of the War a pacifist, owing mainly to the time he’d spent pressed into service as a corpsman at the Pearl Harbor Naval Hospital, tending to badly wounded and disfigured US Marines) took one look at the screen, shook his fist at John Wayne, and with a disgust I’d never heard in his voice before, yelled “That’s it, that’s it! Kill ’em, KILL ‘EM ALL!!!”

    Then he turned to me (with rather more scorn than seemed warranted toward a nine-year-old, I felt, as though I’d been complicit with Wayne for watching) and said, “Chrissake, son, don’t you think Japanese mothers cried just as hard as American moms did when their sons came home from the War in a box?”

    He then turned on his heels and walked out of the room back to whatever he’d been doing before, saying over his shoulder, “Lemme know when the goddam ballgame comes on.”

    1. Your story about your father is part of what makes Letters from Iwo Jima so great. Still, Spike Lee probably criticized Eastwood for not having any black soldiers on the Japanese side.

      And then he probably tweeted the address of some poor old couple in Florida with the last name Eastwood, who have no idea why they’re now suddenly receiving death threats 🙂

    2. Iwo Jima followed closely by Okinawa just months later were among the worst battles of the war. We had no way to deal with the defenses and tactics of the Japanese. Bombing did little good when they were underground and they created defenses that made it very hard and painful to overcome. At one point on Okinawa there was a suggestion to make a landing behind enemy lines on the south end of the Island but it was rejected. It might have helped but we will never know.

      1. I have spent a lot of time in Japanese underground fortifications, both of the manmade type and the ones made in improved natural caves. One thing that stands out in the film presentations is the fact that many of them are a lot tighter than would be practical for filming purposes.
        And there is heat. Here in North America, caves are cool and pleasant places. On Saipan especially, I found that the deeper you go into the Japanese fortifications, the hotter it gets.
        On Iwo Jima, there were few if any civilians involved. On many of the islands, the soldiers were holed up in those complexes with women and children, the fumes of little generators, and the screams of the wounded.
        It is a real challenge to try to portray those events in film. Probably a truly realistic portrayal would be unwatchable.
        But I did enjoy the dual perspective of Eastwood’s films.

    1. An Australian crocodile is my guess (based on the accent of one of the fellas and the size of the croc, since American crocodiles are both much smaller and rare, with a habitat in the brackish waters along the edge of the Everglades).

      1. Because of the guy’s accent,I’d agree that it would be an Australian crocodile, saltwater. But y’all got some Nile crocodiles down in them Florida swamps; they can grow up to 20ft. and have a taste for human flesh.

  5. I was under the impression the tail of the crocodile was the second most dangerous place to be. This must a really old one, looking at the teeth and all the lichen on it and look at those eyes.

  6. I’ve never seen a Californian condor in the wild, but I cherish a long-deceased friend’s account of his being frightened by a “thunderbird” near Mollala Oregon, sometime around 1906. My friend Frank was about 6 then, a budding naturalist and quite familiar with hawks, eagles and vultures. But this bird was huge, and he instinctively dove under a shrub until it had passed.

    This must have been one of the last condors making its journey to the Columbia River to feed on spawned-out salmon. The last “official” records of the condor on the Columbia are also from the first decade of the 20th C. One hundred fifteen years ago — I should maintain the oral tradition by telling this story to the next kid naturalist I meet.

  7. We were at Grand Canyon before I had heard about condors being released there. I was walking from a parking lot toward the rim when one flew right over my head. I knew instantly what it was and practically gave myself a heart attack racing to the car to grab a camera. I soon found that there were a dozen or more perching on rocks along the rim and soaring down below. Returning from that same trip, we also saw sea otters and elephant seals, both also back from the brink of extinction.

  8. According to the linked Wikipedia article, Frangos were first sold at Seattle’s Frederick and Nelson department store (1918), prior to Marshall Field’s acquisition of F+N (1929). So really that should be “Seattle’s delicious famous chocolate Frango Mint”. And yes, I’m from Seattle. 🙂

    1. Okay, having now looked at the article more closely now, I see that the situation is a little more complicated that I had originally surmised. I still think Seattle deserves at least half the credit, though…

  9. Jerry, Jerry…
    Frangoes were originated at Fredricks’s & Nelsons’s department stores in Seattle. Frangoes – FRedrics And Nelsons…

    They eventually became part of Marshall Fields and they made the delicious truffles.

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