Tuesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Tuesday, March 10, and National Ranch Dressing Day—one of the condiments that is both popular and was invented during my lifetime. I find, though, that it smothers the taste of a salad, but to each their own. The Jewish holiday of Purim ends at sundown today.  As are many of our holidays, it celebrates the salvation of the Jews from those determined to kill them. These holidays can be characterized as “We were threatened, but then we were okay; let’s eat!” For us secular Jews, it’s a day to eat the delicious pastry Hamantaschen, a triangular cookie-like thing filled with fruit jam (I prefer the traditional prune, though apricot is also good). Eat yours while they’re still being sold!


It’s also International Day of Awesomeness, in which you’re supposed to do something fun, International Bagpipe Day, Landline Telephone Day (yes, I still have one, though I don’t know why), and Pack Your Lunch Day (I have the makings of lunch at work). In the U.S. it’s Harriet Tubman Day, celebrating the birthday of the great abolitionist and runner of the Underground Railroad, who died on March 10, 1913.  I’ve put a photo below of Tubman and some of the slaves she rescued.

News of the Day: The entire country of Italy is now on lockdown, with all sports events and outdoor gatherings canceled, schools closed, and travel of citizens restricted until April 3. Apparently you can still travel there as a foreigner, but, given the pandemic, I don’t know why one would want to.

Stuff that happened on March 10 includes:

  • 1804 – Louisiana Purchase: In St. Louis, Missouri, a formal ceremony is conducted to transfer ownership of the Louisiana Territory from France to the United States.
  • 1865 – Amy Spain, American slave, is executed for stealing from her owner; believed to have been the last legal execution of a female slave in America.
  • 1876 – The first successful test of a telephone is made by Alexander Graham Bell.
  • 1922 – Mahatma Gandhi is arrested in India, tried for sedition, and sentenced to six years in prison, only to be released after nearly two years for an appendicitis operation.
  • 1949 – Mildred Gillars (“Axis Sally“) is convicted of treason.

Gillars was in prison from 1949-1961. Here’s a short video history of her activities (she was the German equivalent of Tokyo Rose), featuring a bit of her broadcasts:

  • 1969 – In Memphis, Tennessee, James Earl Ray pleads guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King, Jr. He later unsuccessfully attempts to recant. [Note below that it was his birthday.]
  • 1970 – Vietnam War: Captain Ernest Medina is charged by the U.S. military with My Lai war crimes.
  • 2000 – The Nasdaq Composite stock market index peaks at 5132.52, signaling the beginning of the end of the dot-com boom.

Now it’s the beginning of the end of something else.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1903 – Bix Beiderbecke, American cornet player, pianist, and composer (d. 1931)
  • 1903 – Clare Boothe Luce, American playwright, journalist, and diplomat, United States Ambassador to Italy (d. 1987)
  • 1928 – James Earl Ray, American criminal; assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. (d. 1998)
  • 1939 – Hugh Johnson, English author and critic
  • 1940 – Chuck Norris, American actor, producer, and martial artist
  • 1958 – Sharon Stone, American actress and producer
  • 1977 – Robin Thicke, American singer
  • 1983 – Carrie Underwood, American singer-songwriter and actress

Those who went the way of all flesh on March 10 include:

  • 1682 – Jacob van Ruisdael, Dutch painter and etcher (b. 1628)
  • 1913 – Harriet Tubman, American nurse and activist (b. 1820)

Here’s Tubman (left) standing with a group of slaves whom she rescued via the Underground Railroad:

  • 1940 – Mikhail Bulgakov, Russian novelist and playwright (b. 1891)
  • 1988 – Andy Gibb, Manx-Australian singer-songwriter and actor (b. 1958)
  • 1998 – Lloyd Bridges, American actor and director (b. 1913)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are approaching each other warily. They are not buddies, but neither do they hiss at each other, nor does Hili chase Szaron.

Hili: Szaron is sitting over there.
A: And will you become friends with him?
Hili: I don’t know yet.
In Polish:
Hili: Tam siedzi Szaron.
Ja: I co, zaprzyjaźnisz się z nim?
Hili: Jeszcze nie wiem.

And, in the same place in Dobrzyn, Szaron has now learned to jump on the window like Hili, calling attention to his presence! I’ve suggested that since Hili is the official editor of Listy, then Szaron should be appointed Security Guard.

. . . and the lad is getting ever tamer. Here’s a photo from Paulina with her caption:

Szaron: Stepwise domestication.
(Foto: Paulina)

In Polish: “Szaron, stopniwe udomowienie.”

An oldie but a goodie from Jesus of the Day:

Also from Jesus of the Day:

And a beautiful kitty from Wild and Wonderful:

I wonder if this new television show is going to get off the ground. But the response tweet (un-embeddable) is a gem!

Maybe if English departments taught using the “new criticism” (read the damn text and enjoy it), rather than depending on critical theory, they wouldn’t be dying.

A tweet from reader Barry. Turn the volume up so you can hear the sound of HYENA LOVE (better than muskrat love):

A tweet sent from Dom: a composite of an osprey dive:

Tweets from Matthew. Look at the antennae on this beetle!

Okay, here’s an insect with a stunning kind of camouflage: its head is actually to the left, and the rear end has become exaggerated, complete with fake eyespots and antennae, to make it look like a head. The second tweet shows the real head.

This is not that uncommon in insects; can you figure out the adaptive significance of this trick?

. . . and Saturnrise! (Watch the video.)


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    There’s a phenomenon called “physics envy”. I assume readers know about that. A thought occurred to me – could “critical theory”, post-modernism, and so on -as seen in “English”/literature/writing departments be a symptom of physics envy?

    • EB
      Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      I think that’s right. Physics envy coupled with a way for academics to continue being “radical” after the heyday of the sixties.

    • sted24
      Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Well, there is “Author Envy” as per Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author”. Essentially, the author doesn’t matter only the reader does, especially superstar readers like, er, Barthes!

      Later critics pointed out that it really didn’t matter what Barthes meant in his essay. He was merely the author, so as reader you could take it to mean anything you liked.

      Further, Barthes appeared not to think the severing of author and work appled to him. He signed the essay and claimed copyright

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

        Vraiment! Those postmodernists/
        deconstructionists were some of the most arrogant narcissists around, claiming claiming imperial primacy for themselves as they denied coherency and agency to everybody else. Far be it for anybody else to challenge Barthes in any way, or Derrida or Lacan, et al. The irony is delicious. Must confess, though, that I love many of Barthes essays, which I can read only in English; nonetheless, I find them poetic but I make of them what I want to.

  2. Nicholas K.
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I don’t know much about Axis Sally, but the real Tokyo Rose lived here in Chicago after the war. Her family owned a Japanese shop on Belmont Avenue for many years and you would often see her working there. She died and the store closed some years ago. Jimmy Carter pardoned her, as she was a young, impressionable student in Japan who was doing what she was ordered to do.

  3. Posted March 10, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Ah, bagpipes. The only instrument I hate more than the harp. (If heaven existed, I would be obliged to kill myself…) So it’s time for bagpipe jokes. My favorite is:

    Q. How do you get two bagpipes to play a perfect unison?
    A. Shoot one.

    But this is a good quote:

    Bagpipes (noun) – I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man-made object never equalled the purity of sound achieved by the pig. -Alfred Hitchcock

    There are more here.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Do you know this ditty:

      In heaven there’ll be no algebra
      No knowing dates and names;
      But only playing golden harps
      And reading Henry James.

      My response:

      Some study algebra for fun
      Some relish dates and names.
      What’s hell to me? An eternity
      Of harps and Henry James.

      • merilee
        Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        Love it, despite loving both algebra AND Henry James.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted March 10, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

          I definitely love algebra and onomastics, dates, too.

          What say you about harps?

          As for Henry James, this is what Mark Twain had to say about reading one of his books: “Once you’ve put it down, you simply can’t pick it up.”

          • merilee
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

            I like harps, a lot more than bagpipes and accordions.

            • Jenny Haniver
              Posted March 10, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

              I have grave problems with bagpipes; a little goes a long way and most times I can’t take even a little. I like zotico (usually spelled xydeco, which doesn’t at all reflect the creole pronunciation I heard when I was in Louisiana, so I spell it my way) but I’d like it a lot better if the accordian weren’t the primary instrument, I would like a concertina. For the most part I don’t like accordion music; however, I recently happened upon some lyrics, “Mon amour est partie avec le loup dans les grottes de Rockamadour ” that I thought must be from some obscure Troubador music but when I found the song on Youtube, to say the least, I was in for a surprise because it was French punk rock accordion
              https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x22byhr, which I actually kind of like if only because it’s so raw and demented, not at all like the ancient sort of fairy tale lament I’d imagined.

              I do like the Gaelic harp music of Mary O’Hara https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVmK-jGTHzU, and African harp music; otherwise, I find the instrument a turn-off, though I think if I investigated, I could find harp music that I’f like.

              • merilee
                Posted March 10, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

                That punk accordion’s a hoot, especially with the girly silver bows on the instrument. I might “parts avec ce loup-la à les grottes.”🤓

              • Jenny Haniver
                Posted March 10, 2020 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

                There’s a wolf a-waiting in the grottoes:
                “Rocamadour is not only home to the Black Madonna but also to an underground world of stalacite-decked caves with calcified pillars and original Paleolithic drawings of horses and deer that date back to 20,000 B.C.” https://www.visit-dordogne-valley.co.uk/discover/natural-heritage/prehistoric-caves

                And this “Two lifts take you down hundreds of feet into limestone caves with a river running through the caves. The entrance includes a guided tour (also in English) and a boat ride along the river in the caves. Amazing shapes and patterns and enormous stalactites.”

              • merilee
                Posted March 10, 2020 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

                Very cool art, though I might get claustrophobic, despite having been deep down in the saltmines near Salzburg. But I guess the wolf would protect me.

              • merilee
                Posted March 10, 2020 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

                I have a wonderful wolfy photo I can’t seem to post here. Send me your email to merilee@Sympatico.ca and I’ll send you it.🐾🐾

      • rickflick
        Posted March 10, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink


        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted March 10, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink


  4. merilee
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink


  5. rickflick
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Saturn rising is amazingly steady. There is, of course, some wavy atmospheric distortion, but not very much. It must have been a very calm and clear night. Amateur astronomers do great work!

    • Posted March 10, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      It might have made use of the amazing capabilities of modern amateur telescopes. For example, they have software that combines digital images collected over a period of time to produce a single image similar to that of a long analog film exposure. Probably better, since it can filter out noise.

      • rickflick
        Posted March 10, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        I always wanted a telescope as a kid. I decided the kind I could afford wouldn’t have made me happy.

        • Posted March 10, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          I had a 2-1/2″ refractor as a kid but it really was fairly useless, especially with city lights. I almost got a bigger kick out of its user manual’s “How to clean the len.”

          • merilee
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

            The “len”? Chinese? I have a fieplace implement rack that talked about the “york”. Must have meant yoke.

            • Posted March 10, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

              I suspect it was Japanese as that’s where cheap stuff came from in the early 60s.

          • merilee
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

            The “len”? Chinese? I have a fieplace implement rack that talked about the “york”. Must have meant yoke.

          • rickflick
            Posted March 10, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            If you’re in the field, just spit on it and rub with your sleeve. 😎

  6. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    As I opined yesterday, I’m hoping that Hili and Szaron will soon become pals and it seems that the (physical and emotional) space between them is diminishing. Soon I hope they’ll be nibbling one another’s ears and mock fighting. Maybe even curling up together.

  7. sted24
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Possible error re the backward beetle:

    “The second tweet shows the real head.”

    Isn’t that the false head (tail) pointed towards us?

  8. Posted March 10, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I think there are two possible adaptive advantages for a false head. First, perhaps it discourages attacks by predators on the prey’s blind rear because the predator thinks it has been spotted. Second, and somewhat contradictory, perhaps it deflects predator attacks toward the prey’s rear which is less vulnerable than the real head. I guess I don’t really know.

    • EB
      Posted March 10, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      This kind of thing is ripe for an experiment where you have two kinds of prey: ones with the false head removed by surgery and ones with the false head removed and reattached (to control for damage incurred by the surgical procedure itself). One could then compare whether the two classes of prey suffer different numbers of attempted attacks from a predator (consistent with your first hypothesis) or whether they have different rates of survival after predation attempts (consistent with hypothesis #2). Might also be a combination of the two.

  9. Andrea Kenner
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    My mother-in-law made the world’s best prune hamantaschen. I wish I had gotten her recipe.

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