Monday: Hili dialogue

Well, one more day until this wretched month is behind us: it’s Monday, March 30, 2020, and it’s both National Hot Chicken Day and National Turkey Neck Soup Day.  It’s also National Doctors Day, Pencil Day, (“on today’s date in 1858, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Hyman Lipman the first patent for a modern pencil with an attached eraser”), and Take a Walk in the Park Day.

Here’s the first pencil-with-eraser patent. Lipman also invented the envelope with adhesive on it, and also the blank postcard:

News of the day: Again, depressing. At least Trump has admitted the obvious, extending the social-distancing guidelines until the end of April. So much for the “beautiful” packing of the pews on Easter! But deaths in New York State are now over 1000, the virus continues its onslaught, and Anthony Fauci has floated the possibility of 200,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S.  In Australia, a physicist trying to invent a device that would sound an alarm if you were about to touch your face has been hospitalized after getting four magnets stuck up his nose. (h/t Jeremy).

Meanwhile, we’re doing our best to cope, even with a parallel onslaught of desk weasels:

Stuff that happened on March 30 include:

  • 1818 – Physicist Augustin Fresnel reads a memoir on optical rotation to the French Academy of Sciences, reporting that when polarized light is “depolarized” by a Fresnel rhomb, its properties are preserved in any subsequent passage through an optically-rotating crystal or liquid.
  • 1842 – Ether anesthesia is used for the first time, in an operation by the American surgeon Dr. Crawford Long.

This was the removal of two small tumors from a student, James Venable, who participated in one of the many “ether parties” that people had then. Long noticed that when the stoned patients staggered about, they felt no pain when they bumped themselves.

  • 1867 – Alaska is purchased from Russia for $7.2 million, about 2-cent/acre ($4.19/km²), by United States Secretary of State William H. Seward.
  • 1899 – German Society of Chemistry issues an invitation to other national scientific organizations to appoint delegates to the International Committee on Atomic Weights.
  • 1944 – Out of 795 LancastersHalifaxes and Mosquitos sent to attack Nuremberg, 95 bombers do not return, making it the largest RAF Bomber Command loss of the war.

Here’s a refurbished and reflown Lancaster PA474 (foreground), along with a fighter (Hurricane LF363):

Photo: Cpl Phil Major ABIPP/MOD

  • 1959 – Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, flees Tibet for India.
  • 1981 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan is shot in the chest outside a Washington, D.C., hotel by John Hinckley, Jr.; three others are wounded in the same incident.
  • 2017 – SpaceX conducts the world’s first reflight of an orbital class rocket.[10][11]

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1135 – Maimonides, Spanish rabbi and philosopher (April 6 also proposed, d. 1204)
  • 1746 – Francisco Goya, Spanish-French painter and sculptor (d. 1828)
  • 1844 – Paul Verlaine, French poet (d. 1896)
  • 1853 – Vincent van Gogh, Dutch-French painter and illustrator (d. 1890)
  • 1914 – Sonny Boy Williamson I, American singer-songwriter and harmonica player (d. 1948)
  • 1937 – Warren Beatty, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1945 – Eric Clapton, English guitarist and singer-songwriter
  • 1968 – Celine Dion, Canadian singer-songwriter

Clapton turns 75 today. Here’s a live rendition, with a terrific solo, of his most famous song, and, to my mind, the best rock song ever (until it gets to the slow part). This is from the Madison Square Garden concert of 1999.

Here’s a nice painting by Goya, “Riña de Gatos” (Cat Fight):

Those who ceased to function on March 30 include:

  • 1840 – Beau Brummell, English-French fashion designer (b. 1778)
  • 1966 – Maxfield Parrish, American painter and illustrator (b. 1870)
  • 1986 – James Cagney, American actor and dancer (b. 1899)
  • 2013 – Phil Ramone, South African-American songwriter and producer, co-founded A & R Recording (b. 1934)

And a lovely Maxfield Parrish illustration for a children’s book:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron continue their wary detente:

Szaron: You don’t have to walk by so cautiously.
Hili: I don’t trust you.
In Polish:
Szaron: Nie musisz tak ostrożnie przechodzić.
Hili: Nie ufam ci.

There’s a new but blurry photo of Szron that’s captioned “Szaron – sofista,” which means “Szaron, Sophist.” He’s also on the sofa.

From Facebook.  They may be coming, but they’re susceptible to infection:

From Nicole:

Retweeted by Queen Titania. Is this a new spoofer along the lines of McGrath and Elfwick?

I made a tweet with a quote from Godless Mom sent to me by reader Barry:

Two tweets from Heather Hastie.  This is a good ad, even better than the famous flower-and-bomb ad used against Barry Goldwater.

Via Ann German. Yep, this is pretty much how those pathetic “press briefings” go:

Tweets from Matthew. The first is one of the better examples of humor during quarantine:

I think Paul Krugman has a lack-of-attribution issue here. Matthew says, “Worse. Krugman(or someone) trimmed off the credit that is always underneath Murdoch’s graphs, and the FT logo that was at the top.”

The NBC Gang sings the very first rap song. Imagine the time it took to put this together!

No human could ever be this dextrous a goalkeeper, though I think there’s an own goal in there. . .



  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    …. one of the many “ether parties” that people had then. Long noticed that when the stoned patients staggered about, they felt no pain when they bumped themselves.

    “The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge. And I knew we’d get into that rotten stuff pretty soon. Probably at the next gas station.” — HST

    • JezGrove
      Posted March 30, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      I’m guessing that’s Hunter S Thompson and not Harry S Truman, Ken?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        Truman’s drug of choice was I.W. Harper bourbon, neat.

        No word on whether he’d take a Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle out for a test run in the middle of the night and crank it up to full throttle. 🙂

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    John Oliver delivers the goods in this recording from last night :

    • rickflick
      Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      John Oliver is a national treasure. He tells it like it is. Pretty good for a Limey immigrant. 😎

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Indeed! (Gratuitous Brit-ism) he has dual citizenship!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 30, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        No one else has Oliver’s knack for doing in-depth teevee journalism while keeping it riotously waggish.

        Even if he is kinda funny-lookin’. More than most people even. 🙂

        • rickflick
          Posted March 30, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

          He often admits he’s funny-lookin’.

          • Claudia Baker
            Posted March 30, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

            Video not available here 😦

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted March 30, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, his self-deprecation regarding his own appearance is among his many charms.

            ‘Swhy I felt free to play along with the joke.

            • rickflick
              Posted March 30, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

              You gotta love him. He’s like a desk weasel.

          • Mark R.
            Posted March 30, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

            It’s funny when he shows photos of Mnuchin (who is a good resemblance) and praises his good looks. Those bits really crack me up.

  3. Marina
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Ceiling cat bless you! Clapton was what we need today👏

    • Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Another favorite Clapton song of mine is “Wonderful Tonight”. Which, like “Layla”, was written about George Harrison’s ex-wife Pattie Boyd who broke up with George and married Eric. Eric and George remained friends. George also wrote famous songe about Pattie, including “Something”.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        I remember when I heard White Room the first time – I don’t know who wrote it but I was hypnotized- so powerful so mysterious (what is this white room?) and the drumming – and the strange feel at the beginning… turns out it’s 5/4 .. then BAM “In a white room!”


        • Posted March 30, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

          Ginger Baker was amazing. More than any other drummer, he made silence as important as noise.

          • ThyroidPlanet
            Posted March 30, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

            Well put!

      • JezGrove
        Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        Pattie Boyd’s sister Jennifer was married to Mick Fleetwood (twice!) and is the subject of Donovan’s song “Jennifer Juniper”. Clapton climbed into her bed uninvited while she was visiting Pattie.

        • Posted March 30, 2020 at 11:36 am | Permalink

          Didn’t know that!

          • JezGrove
            Posted March 30, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

            As BBC Radio Four used to cheerfully remind its listeners, “You live and learn, then you for and forget it all”.

            • JezGrove
              Posted March 30, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

              Doh! That should have been “… then you die and forget it all”.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Seems a goddamn shame when even “take a walk in the park day” works out to be no walk in the park.

    O tempora! o mores!

  5. DrBrydon
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I hate Krugman. He’s become nothing but a hack, and forfeited whatever respect is due the work that won him the Nobel Prize. We are “the worst” if one assumes that a) the metric he uses is the correct one, b) at this point in time, and c) with the currently available data (China anyone?). We trail in total deaths, deaths per million, and confirmed-cases mortality (thus far) []. Since Krugman’s personal writ is to talk down conservatives, Republicans, and the President, in particular, a scary graph is better than a reasoned response. This is why many Americans are fed-up with the media.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Are you saying the graph is false or inaccurate? In what way?

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 30, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Scary graph? That graph is logarithmic, and looks innocuous, if plotted in a linear scale US-ians would be really scared!
      Yes, at this stage the US is about the worst. Countries like Brazil, with a Trump analogue-but-even-worse (Mr Bolsonaro)in power, may still overtake though.

  6. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    In the 1970s Chelsea Football Club’s goalkeeper was Peter Bonnetti. He was admired by fans for his agility and sharp reflexes and was accordingly nicknamed ‘the Cat’. I don’t think he could quite match this moggie however!

  7. rickflick
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    It’s nice to have a small good news story in troubled times. An airlift into New York has just brought in 12 million gloves, 130,000 N95 masks, 1.7 million surgical masks, 50,000 gowns, 130,000 sanitizer units and 36,000 thermometers. Much more needed, but that’s nice to know.

    • Historian
      Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      3M plans to produce a billion masks by the end of the year. Better late than never I suppose.

      • rickflick
        Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        A billion here, a billion there. Soon your talking about real relief.

        • Rita Prangle
          Posted March 30, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          Funny, I was just thinking about Everett Dirkson’s famous quote the other day!

        • EdwardM
          Posted March 30, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          It’s easy to make fun of it but the epidemic will not be over then and, in fact, we can expect future ones, vaccine or not.

          It does appear to me to be a good idea to be better prepared when it -or different one- returns.

          • rickflick
            Posted March 30, 2020 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

            Probably for many years to come people will keep a large supply of toilet paper in the attic or basement. One day, many years from now, a little grandchild will ask, “Grandma, why do you keep so much toilet paper?” Then she’ll have to tell the story one more time.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 30, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        Anybody else notice last night that when Trump passed off his plan to fill the church pews and get the country back to work by Easter Sunday as “aspirational,” it sounded a lot like when he passed off the Access Hollywood hot-mic tape as mere “locker-room talk”?

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted March 30, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

          It will definitely be “aspirational” – aspiration of the viral particles into the lung, ground zero for viral cell entry.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted March 31, 2020 at 2:10 am | Permalink

        ‘3M plans to produce a billion masks by the end of the year. Better late than never I suppose’.

        I’m guessing that their plan is not to store them up and then deliver all 1 billion at the end of the year.

  8. mike cracraft
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    my my…even Goya had trouble painting cats.

  9. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    The very privileged but humblebragging transwoman Jarvis Dupont “I use my white privilege as a raft, to transport minorities from the Cave of Oppression to the Island of Equal Prosperity. Transwoman. She/Her,” has been around for quite some time. He’s usually far more active than Godfrey Elfwick.

  10. Posted March 30, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Love Maxfield Parrish!

    I like “Layla”, even the slow George Harrison part.

    Want some desk weasels.

  11. max blancke
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    “America’s response is the worst in the world”

    I don’t think the data supports that claim. For one thing, we have no real idea what the situation is in China. We do know that the first Chinese doctor to write about the outbreak was forced to apologize and sign a confession.

    It is also early in the process. We have limited data. Confirmed cases probably excludes lots of people. But if we go with confirmed cases, as Krugman did, and run that against the death rate, we learn the following about death rates-

    Spain- 8.6%
    Italy- 7.5%
    Iran- 6.6%
    France 6.4%
    UK- 6.2%
    USA- 1.8%
    S Korea- 1.6%
    Germany- .9%

    But yes, travel from China and then Europe should have been stopped earlier. And it was pretty negligent to hold the NYC Chinese New Year’s parade, and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
    I suppose after the curves level out, we will be able to more accurately keep score and assign blame, if that is a priority.

    • John Dentinger
      Posted March 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      I’m going to respectfully disagree with PCC; my brain gives me no choice: the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song is “Peace of Mind.”
      Just imagine creating the greatest song alone in a basement–Tom Scholz did it.

    • John Dentinger
      Posted March 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      I’m going to respectfully disagree with PCC; my brain gives me no choice: the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song is “Peace of Mind.”
      Just imagine creating the greatest song alone in a basement–Tom Scholz did it.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 30, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      Travel restrictions, and even travel bans, earns you but a few days at best if not backed by other measures, such as massive scale testing, isolation, lockdowns, etc.
      Check Charts 21.b and c:
      View at

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 30, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        Oops, that was no video though, my apologies

      • max blancke
        Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

        It is true that travel restrictions are primarily a measure to buy time. Barring vaccination or reliable instant testing, successful treatment of those infected seems to be a reasonable metric for success.

        It seems like countries with large numbers of infected people fall into two basic categories: Those where deaths are below 2%, and those where deaths are above 6%. We will not know for sure what our ultimate rates will be, especially as the number of cases continue to rise steadily.
        But I think we can probably conclude that so far, it is unreasonable to say that the US response is the “worst in the world”.

        I think that honor has to go to China. Not just in the way that they covered up and allowed global spread of the disease, but now they are dealing with the outbreak in other countries by selling them defective tests and protective gear.
        “The Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (SEIMC) on its website announced that nose swab kits produced by Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology are accurate just 30 percent of the time, in contrast to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) standard of 80 percent.”

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