Thursday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Thursday, March 5, 2020: National Cheese Doodle Day. I don’t understand how people can like those “cheese”-flavored styrofoam packing squiggles, but many do. It’s also National Absinthe Day (I have some of the real thing, which doesn’t give me the reputed high of the French poets, and Multiple Personality Day, calling attention to Dissociative Identity Disorder. And in Cornwall it’s St. Piran’s Day, celebrating the patron saint of tin miners.

And I voted on the Democratic primary ballot. Guess whose box I ticked at the top?

In today’s news, everyone is still recovering, happy or sad, about Uncle Joe’s big Super Duper Tuesday win. Those who are sad include several editorial writers, including Gail Collins at the NYT , Michelle Cottle at the NYT, Joan Vennochi at the Boston Globe, Amanda Terkel at HuffPost, and Emily Peck at HuffPost, who seem to take Biden’s victory as a sign of prejudice against women: the continuing hegemony of “old white men”. (It’s okay to talk like this if you’re a feminist.) As Peck wrote:, “Still, the 2020 race right now does feel like a letdown for anyone who cares about electing women.”

But this doesn’t wash. It neglects the fact that the Democratic candidate in 2016 was a woman, and one who won the popular vote, and that in this year’s race there were several good women candidates, including Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. Those women have dropped by the wayside because the voters—get it, voters of both sexes—weren’t keen on them. It is largely women, and African-American women in some states, who went for Biden. If the persistence of Bernie and Biden reflects misogyny, it’s a misogyny of both sexes. The Biden vote, in the end, was a vote about which candidate was perceived by voters to be more liable to defeat the odious Trump, not a referendum on the number of X chromosomes. After all Massachusetts elected Warren to be their Senator, but voted her a dismal third in the Presidential race, with only 24% of Massachusetts women voting for her. I don’t think this reflects a view of voters that Warren was qualified to be a Senator but not a President.

Yes, it’s high time for a woman president. But defeating Trump is more important right now than ensuring that the nominee is Elizabeth Warren. I am hoping that the Democratic nominee, who may serve only one term, chooses a woman as his running mate.

Stuff that happened on March 5 include:

  • 1616 – Nicolaus Copernicus’s book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres is added to the Index of Forbidden Books 73 years after it was first published.
  • 1770 – Boston Massacre: Five Americans, including Crispus Attucks, are fatally shot by British troops in an event that would contribute to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War (also known as the American War of Independence) five years later.

Attucks, a man of mixed race, part Indian and part black, was the first to be killed, and is considered the first American killed of the Revolutionary war.

  • 1836 – Samuel Colt patents the first production-model revolver, the .34-caliber.
  • 1933 – Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party receives 43.9% at the Reichstag elections, which allows the Nazis to later pass the Enabling Act and establish a dictatorship.
  • 1936 – First flight of K5054, the first prototype Supermarine Spitfire advanced monoplane fighter aircraft in the United Kingdom.

Take a ride in a rebuilt Spitfire, a plane crucial to Britain’s victory in the Battle of Britain. Wikipedia says that about 60 of these planes are still flying:

  • 1946 – Cold War: Winston Churchill coins the phrase “Iron Curtain” in his speech at Westminster College, Missouri.
  • 1953 – Joseph Stalin, the longest serving leader of the Soviet Union, dies at his Volynskoe dacha in Moscow after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage four days earlier.
  • 1963 – American country music stars Patsy ClineHawkshaw HawkinsCowboy Copas and their pilot Randy Hughes are killed in a plane crash in Camden, Tennessee.

This was The Day the Country Music died.  Have a listen to Patsy once again, here singing her most famous song live at the Grand Old Opry. You probably know this song was written by Willie Nelson and released in 1961. Cline was only 30 when she was killed.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1512 – Gerardus Mercator, Flemish mathematician, cartographer, and philosopher (d. 1594)
  • 1871 – Rosa Luxemburg, Polish-Russian economist and philosopher (d. 1919)

If you haven’t read Christopher Hitchens’s paean to Luxemberg in the Atlantic, “Red Rosa,” I recommend it.

  • 1898 – Zhou Enlai, Chinese politician, 1st Premier of the People’s Republic of China (d. 1976)
  • 1908 – Rex Harrison, English actor (d. 1990)
  • 1938 – Lynn Margulis, American biologist and academic (d. 2011)
  • 1955 – Penn Jillette, American magician, actor, and author
  • 1958 – Andy Gibb, English-Australian singer-songwriter and actor (d. 1988)
  • 1963 – Joel Osteen, American pastor, author, and television host
  • 1974 – Eva Mendes, American model and actress

Those who checked out on March 5 include:

  • 1770 – Crispus Attucks, American slave (b. 1723) [see above]
  • 1950 – Edgar Lee Masters, American poet, author, and playwright (b. 1868)
  • 1953 – Sergei Prokofiev, Russian pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1891)
  • 1953 – Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator and politician of Georgian descent, 2nd leader of the Soviet Union (b. 1878)
  • 1963 – Patsy Cline, American singer-songwriter (b. 1932) [see above]
  • 1980 – Jay Silverheels, Canadian-American actor (b. 1912) [JAC: If you’re old enough, you’ll remember that he was the guy who played Tonto in the television show The Lone Ranger.]
  • 1982 – John Belushi, American actor (b. 1949)
  • 2013 – Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan colonel and politician, President of Venezuela (b. 1954)
  • 2013 – Duane Gish, American biochemist and academic (b. 1921)

Belushi was of course one of the great comic talents of our time. Remember his turn in Samurai Delicatessen on SNL?

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili wants a nice book (she can read, you know):

Hili: It’s time for quiet reading.
Paulina: And what are you going to read?
Hili: I don’t know yet, I will look for something about cats.
In Pollish:
Hili: Czas na spokojną lekturę.
Paulina: A co będziesz czytać?
Hili: Jeszcze nie wiem, poszukam czegoś o kotach.

Also in Dobrzyn, the newsly adopted stray Szaron was put into a carrier after a struggle and schlepped to the local vet for a checkup. He had a treatable eye infection, and is getting his shots and also getting neutered. Malgorzata reported this morning

We are back from taking Szaron to the vet. We are both properly scratched. Szaron didn’t want to co-operate and it was an epic fight to get him into the carrier. According to the vet, he is around one year old and generally healthy but for the eye infection. He got something for his eyes immediately. The vet convinced us to let her neuter him today because it’s high time and it will not be more traumatic for him than the journey to the vet already was. She is going to do it some time after 2 p.m. (he ate before we left home and she cannot give him anaesthetics sooner than after a few hours).

I will report back on Szaron tomorrow, but all seems well.

From Giphy, a modern way to change a light bulb:

From Wild and Wonderful, a tufted coquette  (Lophornis ornatus), a tiny hummingbird that lives in northern South America. I didn’t even know these existed. This is a male, of course.

From Jesus of the Day:

A prime example of Language Policing that accomplishes exactly nothing. WHO must stand for the “Woke Health Organization.”


Two tweets from Heather Hastie via Ann German. First, a grazing wombat. Who knew?

Drama Kitten indeed! Sound up, please.

Four tweets from Matthew. This first one is what they call a “barn burner.” Notice the nictitating membranes closed to protect the eyes.

A possible example of VERY WIDE gene transfer:

Amelia Earhart visited the precursor to NASA (latter founded in 1958) and got part of her raccoon fur coat sucked into a wind tunnel:

Duck family rescue! I hope they were all reunited in the end. . .




  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 6:41 am | Permalink


  2. Posted March 5, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink



  3. Historian
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    It would shock me that if the Democratic nominee, whether Biden or Sanders, does not pick a minority and woman for vice-president. For Biden, Stacey Abrams of Georgia would be a good choice; for Sanders, Kamala Harris of California.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 5, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      I’d be shocked, too, if the eventual Democratic VP nominee isn’t either a woman or minority (or quite possibly both).

      I don’t think it will be Kamala Harris, though. She doesn’t add anything in terms of geographical balance, since she’s from deep-blue California. Someone from a state that’s potentially in play would be preferable. Plus, if a Democrat wins the presidency, I’d look for Kamala to be named to head the Justice Department as Attorney General. That seems to be the position she’s best qualified for, by both experience and temperament.

  4. Jim batterson
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    The picture of amelia earhart was taken in 1928 at the naca (national advisory committee for aeronautics) langley memorial aeronautical laboratory (now nasa langley research center) in hampton va. The naca was established by the us congress in 1915 and the langley reserah lab was established in 1917 in response to the dearth of aircraft available in the us at the start of world war 1 and the progress in aeronautics being led by other governments such as the rae lab in farnborough at that time. When i visited farnborough in the 1980s i was struck by how similar the architecture and feel was to langley where i worked from 1978 to 2008. On ms earhart’s left is a young H. J. E. Reid, who was the engineer in charge at langley until just after the change of mission to nasa in the early 1960s…an incredible career.

    • Posted March 5, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Excellent comment, thanks Jim.

      • Jim batterson
        Posted March 5, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Historian james hanson’s comprehensive book, “engineer in charge”, that gives an excellent social and technical history of the langley research lab from 1917-1958 and a bit of earlier naca political history is available free on the web by googlebooks.

  5. kieran
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    “thefts of anything worth than $950 are considered misdemeanors”

    More? Or Less?

  6. Nicholas K.
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    When I was in school at University of Illinois, there was a person who owned a Spitfire. I don’t know if it was truly vintage or rebuilt, but there’s be days in Summer when you could look up in the sky and see a Spitfire cruising around. Such an iconic and somehow inspiring sight. Nothing quite like it.

    • max blancke
      Posted March 5, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      My Dad had a P-51 Mustang for a while. He always buzzed the house when he flew it. I just love the sound.
      Of course as it was a single seater, I never once flew in it. But I got to sit in it, and of course wash it.

  7. aburstein
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    The link you posted for the shoplifting video takes you to a Trump fan video about Biden touching kids, not about petty crime.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    If you haven’t read Christopher Hitchens’s paean to Luxemberg in the Atlantic, “Red Rosa,” I recommend it.

    I’d read several of his pieces in which Hitchens discussed Rosa Luxemburg, but don’t recalling encountering that one before (even though I think I still subscribed to the print version of The Atlantic when it was written and used to read the Hitch’s regular articles in the “Books” section religiously, to use that term in its most metaphorical sense).

    The man was nothing if not erudite.

  9. rickflick
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I’ve always felt sad about Copernicus. His Revolutions was revolutionary, but the sad thing is, he seems to have had a serious relationship with a woman, his housekeeper, which was thwarted by the Church. As a member of the priestly class, he was under the observation and control of his bishop. The “wife” had been justified as a “housekeeper”. Suspicious, the bishop did not like the idea of Copernicus enjoying a love life, and so, told Copernicus to end the relationship. I like to think they had a great romance going and it was spoiled by a cranky old man who thought sex was a sin. Of course many generations of priests have lived such a sad scenario.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted March 5, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Don’t forget sexually frustrated nuns.

      • rickflick
        Posted March 5, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        Lot’s of sadness to go around. Sad too that the nuns take it out on the kids they teach.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted March 5, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          Too true.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 5, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Ol’ Nick should’ve just explained to His Excellency the bishop that love makes the world go round. Or at least hummed a few bars for him. 🙂

      • rickflick
        Posted March 5, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        Feels so fine now…

      • Posted March 6, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        But we had to wait to Kepler to have some idea about what makes the world go round!

  10. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    “New study finds transposable elements (genetic sequences) in sea snakes that probably jumped from fish and coral genomes into sea snake genomes”

    How exactly does this horizontal gene transfer occur?

    Speaking of evolutionary processes, the NY Times had an interesting article about convergent evolution of fish that live deep in the lower Congo River Fish that live in such deep water that they die of the bends if brought up.

    The deeps of the lower Congo itself — amazing. I’ve never heard of anything like what goes on down there.

    • W.Benson
      Posted March 5, 2020 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      Cattle, I have read, have a large amount of snake DNA in them, supposedly transmitted by ticks.

  11. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Following one of the twitter feeds in this post, I came to this dear and funny video of a goggle-eyed southern ground hornbill chick being dandled and scratched. Listen with sound.

    When the chick’s abdomen is scratched it has a reaction quite like the Babinsky reflex.

    • Posted March 5, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      This kind of thing would make a great scene in Jurassic Park II!

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted March 5, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        Gotta be in 3D for that lunge-peck at the very end. But what a cutie. I’d love to hang with hornbills.

  12. Posted March 5, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I voted! Early, in the Minnesota primary. I voted for Amy, so my vote was “wasted”.

    But the MN Primary results came out as I expected, though Amy tanked (probably due to throwing in the towel the day before and endorsing Biden).

    13% of the Minnesota population showed up Tuesday (or voted early) for the DP primary. And impressive showing; and, I hope, a harbinger of a huge DP turnout in November.

  13. rickflick
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    The tufted coquette, I notice at Wikipedia, was used as an example of sexual selection by Darwin in his Descent of Man.

  14. Posted March 5, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Copernicus’s book stayed banned for a long time too, of course — it wasn’t removed from the Index until, propitiously, 1859.

  15. Roger
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Not to ruffle feathers but I like the cheese doodles. What I don’t get is those things they call “chow mein noodles”. Oh my gosh keep those things away from me. Not to ruffle more feathers but I never liked John Belushi at all. But he’s not nearly as bad as Kate McKinnon.

  16. Posted March 5, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I googled “shoplifting san francisco” and got a Yelp review!


  17. W.Benson
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Is the diving osprey’s eye being protected by its nictitating membrane? Neat.

  18. Adam M.
    Posted March 5, 2020 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    It’s not just San Francisco. This kind of thing is spreading all over the country. The idea is that arrests for shoplifting primarily impact people of color, so shoplifting should not be prosecuted. Same with fare evasion on public transit, library fines, etc.

    Since people of color are overrepresented in every category of crime, the logical conclusion of this “social justice” is to not arrest anybody for anything. Maybe some very specific crimes, like insider trading, would survive…

  19. Posted March 6, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    On the broken water – (liquid) water actually does sort of break and reform all the time.

  20. Posted March 6, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Oh, and the *city* sending a ballot? That’s interesting. I thought states did that.

  21. Stephen Wilson
    Posted March 7, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Duane Gish described as a “…biochemist and academic” seems a stretch.

  22. Herb
    Posted March 7, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    The incident in San Francisco did happen, but the explanation given for it is false in every way and pure right wing propaganda to boot. See:

    It would be worth posting a retraction, since your mention of it may have given people the mistaken impression it was legitimate.

    • Posted March 7, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      I removed it. But you could have put it in the comments instead of telling me what I should do. The explanation is NOT necessarily false in every way as we don’t know if the SF police would even have bothered to respond to a report, nor did they divulge the value of the goods.

  23. Hempenstein
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    In the fascinatig book I’m now reading, Master of Spies (Memoirs of General Frantisek Moravec), the case is made that it was the information gleaned in 1934-5 by Czech Intelligence (supplied by a monocled Prussian source named Salm who was subsequently beheaded) on the buildup of the Luftwaffe and turned over to the British what was responsible for galvanizing the British into producing Spitfires in sufficient quantity to enable them to win the Battle of Britain in 1940. In support of that, in 1941 Britain conferred the Order of the British Empire on the entire exiled high officer staff of the Czech military Intelligence, and Moravec, who was head of Czech Intelligence, was made Commander of the Order.

    The book also notes that France was given the same information which they dismissed as a fabrication.

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