Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s Saturday, February 22, 2020, or, in American notation, 2/22/2020. If you move the first slash one numeral to the right, you get European notation. It’s also National Margarita Day and National Cook a Sweet Potato Day, the latter brought to you by Big Yam (see photo below). It’s George Washington’s Birthday (born on this day in 1732); National Wildlife Day; Walking the D*g Day; Be Humble Day (no bragging!), and Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, a Catholic holiday honoring the wooden stool on which St. Peter supposedly sat. It resides in the Vatican, even though studies show that no part of that stool is older than six centuries.

Big Yam

Stuff that happened on February 22 includes:

The invasion was, of course, by the French, but the stalwart Welsh handily rebuffed it.

  • 1819 – By the Adams–Onís Treaty, Spain sells Florida to the United States for five million U.S. dollars.
  • 1862 – Jefferson Davis is officially inaugurated for a six-year term as the President of the Confederate States of America in Richmond, Virginia. He was previously inaugurated as a provisional president on February 18, 1861.
  • 1915 – World War I: The Imperial German Navy institutes unrestricted submarine warfare.

This policy, which involved sinking American ships (the ships of a noncombatant at the time), helped bring the U.S. into World War I.

Here is the full film of “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” (2005), which is very good. It was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category. The hideous Nazi judge Roland Freisler is particularly well portrayed in the sham trial at the end. And the last two minutes are heartbreaking (Sophie and her co-conspirators were guillotined.) These were brave young people.

Here’s the last minute of that game, which I watched live on the telly. I remember it well, including the announcer’s excited statement, “Do you believe in miracles?” (The Soviets were favored heavily to win.) This was not a game for the gold medal, but the U.S. in a subsequent game, took that medal by beating Finland 4-2.

Here’s Dolly: she lived 6.5 years (the normal longevity for a sheep is 11 or 12), but it’s not clear whether she aged prematurely from the cloning process itself:

Can you name other mammals that have been cloned since Dolly? There are eight listed here.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1732 – George Washington, American general and politician, 1st President of the United States (d. 1799)
  • 1788 – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher and author (d. 1860)
  • 1819 – James Russell Lowell, American poet and critic (d. 1891)
  • 1892 – Edna St. Vincent Millay, American poet and playwright (d. 1950)

What a life that woman had, both ups and downs. Here’s a photo and perhaps her most famous poem, a short one:

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

  • 1914 – Renato Dulbecco, Italian-American virologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2012)
  • 1925 – Edward Gorey, American illustrator and poet (d. 2000)

Reader Jon sent his annual picture of Gorey to honor the man’s birthday. He was clearly an ailurophile.

Others born on this day:

  • 1944 – Jonathan Demme, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2017)
  • 1950 – Miou-Miou, French actress [JAC: not her real name, but the best stage name ever.]
  • 1962 – Steve Irwin, Australian zoologist and television host (d. 2006)
  • 1975 – Drew Barrymore, American actress, director, producer, and screenwriter

Those whose metabolism ceased on February 22 include:

  • 1512 – Amerigo Vespucci, Italian cartographer and explorer (b. 1454)
  • 1943 – Christoph Probst, German activist (b. 1919)
  • 1943 – Hans Scholl, German activist (b. 1918)
  • 1943 – Sophie Scholl, German activist (b. 1921)
  • 1944 – Kasturba Gandhi, Indian activist (b. 1869)
  • 1965 – Felix Frankfurter, Austrian-American lawyer and jurist (b. 1882)
  • 1980 – Oskar Kokoschka, Austrian painter, poet and playwright (b. 1886)
  • 1987 – Andy Warhol, American painter and photographer (b. 1928)

Here’s a lovely Kokoshka painting, “Bride of the Wind”  (1913), which includes a portrait of his mistress, Alma Mahler.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata reports that “Hili climbed on the roof of the verandah and on the windowsill upstairs.”  The photo was taken by Paulina, who lives upstairs and also chats with the Princess in today’s dialogue:

Hili: I’m outside the window and I can see you.
Paulina: And we can see you.
Hili: That’s not a proper invitation.
In Polish:
Hili: Jestem za oknem i was widzę.
Paulina: A my widzimy ciebie.
Hili: To nie jest właściwe zaproszenie.
From Wild and Wonderful, an owl family portrait:

Matthew, who took his daughter to Cambridge University yesterday for a visit (she’ll be going there in the fall) sent this lovely picture and its caption from the Fitzwilliam Museum. Now this guy could paint cats! (Desportes specialized in painting animals of all stripes.)

Winnie sent this mosaic from the 4th century “Mosaic of the Four Seasons” in the Louvre. Nice ducks!


Some tweets. Dawkins addresses the eugenics pseudo-kerfuffle with humor. People are still going after him, accusing him of either favoring eugenics or being wrong in his claim that artificial selection on humans would produce a change in the trait selected.

Two tweets from the Queen:

Titania’s retweet of Street’s order is funny enough, but for some real chuckles go to Street’s original virtue-flaunting tweet and read the comments. Here are two:

And from Luana, some news from Andrew Doyle, the alter ego of Titania:

From Dom: “A gecko ate my research”.  But see the tweet after this one:

And a tweet from Matthew. Look at the agility of this Bengal cat! (It’s also a gorgeous moggy.)


  1. rickflick
    Posted February 22, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    The cloning experiments indicate that it is possible to clone an extinct mammal. How about a mammoth or saber toothed tiger? One example from the list of attempts is, the bucardo (Pyrenean ibex), recently extinct, which cloned successfully, but died only minutes after its birth.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 22, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    George Washington, hero of the revolutionary war it is certain, however, reluctant first president and likely wished he had skipped that 8 years of his life. Politics, it was discovered was just as nasty in the 1790s as today.

    • Posted February 22, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Louis XVI of France would probably argue nastier.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 22, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        Yes, well many lose their heads when politics becomes revolution.

  3. Ken Pidcock
    Posted February 22, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I’m fond of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Dirge without Music. As reaction to any death, I know. But I do not approve seems very appropriate.

  4. gscott
    Posted February 22, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Oskar Kokoschka never really got over Alma after she dumped him. He commissioned a weird life-size doll of her that he later decapitated at a party.

  5. Terry Sheldon
    Posted February 22, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Since I’m in a nit-picky sort of mood today, I will point out that the “Miracle on Ice” (which I watched on telly as well) was not broadcast live on American TV. It was on tape delay. The game had ended shortly before the broadcast began.

    • BJ
      Posted February 22, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Yes, the US assumed that the Soviets winning the game was a foregone conclusion, so they didn’t bother broadcasting.

      That game was basically won by Jim Craig, the US goaltender, as the Soviets out-shot the Americans 39-16. The Soviets completely dominated the Americans, but Craig made remarkable save after remarkable save. Meanwhile, Tretiak, the Soviet goaltender and widely considered one of the greatest in the world, let in two flubs on eight total shots in the first period, causing the Soviet coach to pull him in favor of backup Vladimir Myshkin.

      Many people say that pulling Tretiak was the mistake that allowed the US to win, but Tretiak hadn’t been playing well for at least a couple of weeks, and Myshkin seemed to play significantly better than Tretiak had.

      The US win truly was a “miracle.” Many of the Soviets from that team went on to dominate in the NHL, and Soviet players even went on to change how the game was played in many ways, mainly through the Detroit Red Wings’ “Russian Five” (though Fetisov was the only one who had played in the 1980 game, as the others from that era were now too old for the NHL). Their smooth passing, strategic play, and brilliant awareness ushered in a new era, and their effects still reverberate through the highest levels of today’s ice hockey.

      Some of the US players played in the NHL after the Olympics, but they were allowed to jump right in and so were still in their early 20’s, while the Soviets had to wait between eight and ten years to play in the world’s best league. By the time the Soviets from the 1980 team entered the NHL, most were in their early 30’s, but they still largely managed to demonstrate why they were considered so special.

      • Taz
        Posted February 22, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        I remember Chicago Blackhawks fans chanting “USA, USA” when they played the Wings to underscore the number of Russians on Detroit’s team.

        Kind of funny when you think about it – chanting “USA” because they had more Canadians on their team then we did.

        • BJ
          Posted February 22, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

          And to root against such beautiful hockey. Watching them play was a thing of beauty.

      • Dale
        Posted February 22, 2020 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        Anyone with access to Canadian television would have been able to see the game live. Living in Canada at the time I remember watching the Canadian broadcast and then watching the American broadcast later to see how much fun they had with it.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 22, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    1965 – Felix Frankfurter, Austrian-American lawyer and jurist (b. 1882)

    Frankfurter was the longtime holder of what for a time was referred to (sometimes even in public) as the “Jewish seat” on the US Supreme Court — the seat that had been held by Benjamin Cardozo before him, followed by Arthur Goldberg (who resigned from the Court to become the US ambassador to the UN, a move that seems all but unthinkable today), then by Abe Fortas (who was subsequently nominated to succeed Earl Warren as Chief Justice, but ended up resigning when a scandal arose during his second confirmation hearings).

    The first Jew on SCOTUS was the great Louis Brandeis (whose tenure on the Court preceded and overlapped with Cardozo’s). There are currently three Jews on the Court (all Democratic appointees), as well as five Catholics and one Gorsuch.

  7. Roger
    Posted February 22, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    “A yam, what a yam.”

  8. Roger
    Posted February 22, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Who else saw “stool” and thought the sweet potato was a giant stool, which seems appropriate for sweet potatoes?

  9. Mark R.
    Posted February 22, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Love the owl portrait. Couldn’t tell if there were 3 or 4…I think 3.

    It looks like Desportes’ “Sketches of a Kitten” isn’t finished. Looks like a pencil outline on the upper right with a painted paw floating in space.

  10. Jenny Haniver
    Posted February 22, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I think that Hili’s up there to investigate the goings on with the formerly feral cat. She knows something’s up but what? And she’s not only editor-in-chief of Listy but noser-in-chief of the estate along the banks of the Vistula. No offense to Hilli’s staff but I suspect that she won’t approve of interlopers though she might decide to be magnanimous.

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