Monday: Hili dialogue

April 6, 2020 • 6:45 am

First, can you spot the cat in this cartoon? Read no further until you see it!

From Catbird & Co. Ragdolls

Well, it’s Monday, April 6, 2020: time to go back to work, except nobody is going to work. It’s  International Carbonara Day and New Beer’s Eve, the day before Prohibition was repealed in 1933. Further food holidays include Fresh Tomato Day and National Caramel Popcorn Day, a treat best obtained from Garrett Popcorn Shops in Chicago, National Twinkie Day, and Sweet Potato Day. On the non-food side, it’s Plan Your Epitaph Day (given the circumstances, we’d best plan that soon), National Tartan Day, and National Siamese Cat Day. George Beadle, Nobel-Prize winning geneticist and later President of the University of Chicago, had eight Siamese cats (h/t: Matthew):

Here’s one of the best epitaphs around: that of Mel Blanc, who voiced characters for many cartoons, like that of Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Bugs Bunny. What a wag!

News of the day: Awful. Deaths continue to mount (as of this writing, 69,527 worldwide and 9,643 in the U.S.). Boris Johnson has been hospitalized with coronavirus (no celebrating here, please, we don’t rejoice when anyone gets ill or dies), and Trump continues to promote the unproven—and possibly dangerous-to-patients—antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.  Here are the results of yesterday’s poll, with those readers voting (once again, a sample smaller than I’d like) coming down on the side of Trump’s defeat in November:

And a tiger in a New York Zoo tested positive for Covid-19; it had respiratory illness, but is expected to recover. It apparently caught the virus from an infected keeper. (h/t: Paul)

Today’s Google Doodle is a shout out to the coronavirus helpers during this pandemic (note the flattened curve); clicking on it goes to a list of thank-you sites:

Finally, Robin Ince and several experts did a Q&A on Covid-19 that Matthew watched and thought was useful. I haven’t seen it, but the YouTube video is linked below.

Stuff that happened on April 6 includes:

  • 1320 – The Scots reaffirm their independence by signing the Declaration of Arbroath.
  • 1327 – The poet Petrarch first sees his idealized love, Laura, in the church of Saint Clare in Avignon.
  • 1808 – John Jacob Astor incorporates the American Fur Company, that would eventually make him America’s first millionaire.
  • 1830 – Church of Christ, the original church of the Latter Day Saint movement, is organized by Joseph Smith and others at either Fayette or Manchester, New York.
  • 1860 – The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, later renamed Community of Christ, is organized by Joseph Smith III and others at Amboy, Illinois.
  • 1893 – Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is dedicated by Wilford Woodruff.
  • 1895 – Oscar Wilde is arrested in the Cadogan Hotel, London, after losing a libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry.
  • 1896 – In Athens, the opening of the first modern Olympic Games is celebrated, 1,500 years after the original games are banned by Roman emperor Theodosius I.
  • 1930 – At the end of the Salt March, Gandhi raises a lump of mud and salt and declares, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.”

And a tweet (h/t Matthew) recounting events on this day in 1944. Klaus Barbie, who worked for U.S. intelligence for a while, fled to Peru and Bolivia, was extradited to France in 1983, indicted in 1984, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1987, and died in prison of cancer four years later:

More stuff that happened on this day.

  • 1968 – Pierre Elliott Trudeau wins the Liberal Leadership Election, and becomes Prime Minister of Canada soon after.
  • 1973 – The American League of Major League Baseball begins using the designated hitter.
  • 1974 – The Swedish pop band ABBA wins the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Waterloo”, launching their international career.
  • 1992 – The Bosnian War begins.
  • 1994 – The Rwandan genocide begins when the aircraft carrying Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira is shot down.
  • 1998 – Nuclear weapons testing: Pakistan tests medium-range missiles capable of reaching India.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1892 – Lowell Thomas, American journalist and author (d. 1981)
  • 1927 – Gerry Mulligan, American saxophonist, clarinet player, and composer (d. 1996)
  • 1931 – Ram Dass, American author and educator (d. 2019)
  • 1937 – Merle Haggard, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2016)
  • 1952 – Marilu Henner, Greek-Polish American actress and author

Marilu Henner, whom you might remember from the t.v. show “Taxi”, is one of only ten people in the world who has a perfect memory. She is able to remember everything that happened to her in her life, and is perfect on remember dates and days of the week. I don’t know how all that stuff is stored in her neurons, but watch her remarkable facilities in the first part of this segment from the Aussie version of “60 Minutes”.

  • 1969 – Spencer Wells, American geneticist and anthropologist

Those who turned toes up on April 6 include:

  • 1199 – Richard I, king of England (b. 1157)
  • 1520 – Raphael, Italian painter and architect (b. 1483)
  • 1528 – Albrecht Dürer, German painter, engraver, and mathematician (b. 1471)
  • 1935 – Edwin Arlington Robinson, American poet and playwright (b. 1869)
  • 1971 – Igor Stravinsky, Russian-American pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1882)
  • 1998 – Tammy Wynette, American singer-songwriter (b. 1942)
  • 2005 – Rainier III, Prince of Monaco (b. 1923)
  • 2014 – Mickey Rooney, American soldier, actor, and dancer (b. 1920)
  • 2015 – Ray Charles, American singer-songwriter and conductor (b. 1918)
  • 2016 – Merle Haggard, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1937)
  • 2017 – Don Rickles, American actor and comedian (b. 1926)

I could not find any cats drawn or painted by Dürer, but here’s a nice tabby from the Dutch engraver Cornelius Visscher (1629-1658):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is taking it easy:

A: What are you watching?
Hili: I’m observing how time goes by.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu się tak przyglądasz?
Hili: Patrzę jak czas przemija.

Posted by Ali Rizvi: a virtual Last Supper.

From reader Bruce:

Posted by Mary. That’s our draconian but effective mayor, Lori Lightfoot:

From the Queen: nevertheless, victimhood persists!

A tweet sent by reader Andrée. I have no explanation for this weird phenomenon, but perhaps it has something to do with the duck regularly being fed, and the fish cottoning on to that:

A tweet sent by reader Barry. This is clearly fake, but it’s damn funny. But what about circumcision? Long scissors?

Two tweets from Heather Hastie via Ann German. First, a cat on the catwalk. (This is one chill moggy!)

More waffling on the pandemic from the Trump administration:

Three tweets found by Matthew. First, a great photo of a jumping spider nomming a fly:

People are quite inventive and humane in how they find new ways to interact while “distanced,” but I call this a loss of good wine:

Look how these ducklings use their claws to climb high obstacles. I only hope that Honey and Dorothy’s ducklings can do this. One route to the pond from Honey’s nest involves climbing stairs, and I hope I don’t have to help the ducklings climb them.


72 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. Wish I could remember whom to give credit to for what I think is the best epitaph ever:
    “Always finish what you . . .”

  2. Yes, it is a heavy burden but I remember that 60 minutes on Marilu. It was a Sunday – Ha.

  3. So a tiger at the Bronx zoo test positive for the corona virus. Animals to people and back again.

      1. The articles on line say – Covid-19 test confirmed by USDA National Vet Service lab, Ames, Iowa

  4. Many years ago my dad played the young romantic lead in a stage play opposite an actress who had a photographic memory. You’d think it would help her – no struggling to learn the lines, after all. But even though the words were all in her head, every time she performed it was like she was reading them for the first time, and dad swore that as he stood on stage gazing into her eyes, as his role required, he could see them moving from left to right. Dad has always been a bit of a joker (he will be 89 next month, and sadly struggles with his own memory now), but he always swore this anecdote was absolutely true.

  5. That last video suggests the solution to the stairs problem will be to set out bricks on the steps to be intermediate jumping points.

    Saw no cat in the first one, then I went back and it fairly leaped out at me.

  6. “Trump continues to promote the unproven—and possibly dangerous-to-patients—antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine”.

    My sources tell me this drug, as well as a handful of others are being considered primarily for their anti-inflammatory effect. A strong immune response causes considerable inflammation which is a primary cause of tissue damage. The principle reason it is not being strongly suggested is that supplies of this drug are simply to low. Manufacturing is not in this country. Otherwise, there would likely be many less deaths. At least that’s the hope. Unfortunately, the medical system is not set up to rapidly investigate safety and efficacy on an emergency basis. We have our hands tied behind our backs by the gold standard of double-blind formal testing with thousands of subjects (who do you think is eager to accept a placebo when you’re on your death bed?).
    tRump, likely, knows or cares little about this situation and has just latch on hydroxychloroquine as a talking point.

    1. The proper answer would be – Trump is an idiot. He is not a doctor so why would he overrule his own expert right on TV. Only a full blown moron does that.

      I hear medical people say you can only use this product in a controlled hospital environment because it is not tested. The idea that the average joe blow would just take this stuff because it might help…ridiculous.

      1. Almost as bad as the average Joe Blow taking it just because they are going on holiday to a non-resistant malarial zone? I used to prescribe tons of the stuff to patients taking it for prevention in malarial destinations. Much more benign to take than the drugs for chloroquine-resistant areas of the world.

    2. While Trump’s pushing of this drug is just more of his stupidity, I do have one problem with this hydroxychloroquine story. It is well-known that healthcare officials wouldn’t tell someone to take this drug unless it has been completely vetted and approved for this particular use. To do otherwise would be unethical and cost them their medical license and/or subject them to lawsuits. This prevents these experts from giving completely honest opinions as to whether their years of experience, and knowledge of the drug, makes them feel it is likely effective against COVID-19 and that, all things considered, the benefit to an infected patient is more likely than experiencing serious side-effects. It would be nice to know what they really think.

      1. Not really; one can prescribe off-label, and docs do it all the time. It’s not unethical or ineffective, once you remember that drug companies get a license to make a drug in the easiest and most obvious way. Let’s say you have an anti-hypertensive drug. You show the drug licensing body of your country the evidence that it lowers blood pressure and has these known and acceptably rare side-effects. You get your license and it is marketed. Then we discover it helps some forms of arrhythmia or it modifies the long-term changes in the heart that worsen congestive heart failure. Guess what? Those off-label indications probably account for a sizeable minority (and maybe just a majority) of beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors prescribed in western countries these days.
        Is it reasonable to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19? Well, obviously not reasonable for Trump to have an opinion. Given the drug is rather benign, with a similar s/e profile to aspirin, it probably won’t do harm. Currently, I’d say don’t change policy around it, prescribe if you like, but don’t expect too much. But then, no one’s asking me.
        Colchicine is being touted by some as a drug capable of slamming on the brakes with respect to cell multiplication (which is how the root of the autumn crocus has worked for a couple of thousand years as a gout treatment). Here, it might do something to stem the cytokine storm that kills those who respond very vigorously to respiratory viruses. And as a free thought for the day: is there a correlation between those who develop cytokine storms and the hygiene hypothesis of allergies? I’m thinking of the unintuitive fact that an unexpected proportion of deaths from respiratory viruses occur in young, healthy immunologically competent people from ARDS. Are they being over-competent, and are they the same group that express allergies that have become more common in recent years because they didn’t play in the dirt and eat worms as small children?

        1. That makes sense but you are still much more free to give a reasoned opinion on this subject than Fauci standing in front of the whole country knowing that millions are listening. He isn’t even telling people to ask their MD as that would be a tacit recommendation and admission that the drug probably works at least some of the time and it is fairly low-risk. He either doesn’t feel that way or he feels it is too dangerous for someone in his position to render such an opinion. I’m betting it is the latter but the real issue is that we don’t know his true opinion.

        2. A New York infectious disease specialists is trying a new approach which should be safe for elderly patients with underlying conditions. Hopefully, there will be viable approaches in coming weeks and months that don’t depend on the moron in chief being competent.

          “Doxycycline is an anti-inflammatory with properties similar to azithromycin but without the safety concerns and without cardiac toxicity,”

        3. Is this the one prescribed for Lupus like my sister has? Hopefully, ethical Drs. Aren’t over-prsecribing it so she can’t get it.

      2. I suspect there are docs who are using various drugs to suppress symptoms of COVID-19 – somewhat under the table? They may very well be able to learn and teach from their experience. Especially in other countries where rules can be bent. But, the fact remains that there is not enough of drugs like hydroxychloroquine to go around in the US. Ramping up research and production of drugs is something the government can’t do without direction from the highest levels (ain’t going to happen for reasons you site). Only Bill Gates and other private actors are working the problem in the short term. Bless their deep pockets.

  7. The tiger that has Covid-19 suggests to me that a feline species might serve as an experimental model for drug and vaccine testing. (As long as it was safe for the cats).

  8. There are 2 cats in that drawing. The second one is behind the red curtain watching birds. You can even see its tail hanging down between the orange brick and broom handle.

  9. It may be slightly macabre, but I HOPE Marilu Henner (and the other nine people) has made arrangements for her brain to be donated to some reputable scientific body at the time of her death. And that her genome has been sequenced, and EEGs and fMRIs and anything else we can do. There’s possible very interesting knowledge to be gained there.

    1. I’ve always wished I had a better memory. Yes, this should be researched. Maybe something as simple as a single gene.

      1. If we could get the genome of these 10 people and compare it with genomes of the population in general, and find some common way in which they are unique…it would be quite a point of departure for research at least. Maybe it’s already being done.

        1. I remember watching a tv show that told the story of a lady who could, given a date, tell you all that happened on that day. The point they made was that it was not really any kind of magic ability so much as an obsessive dedication to reading the news every day and thinking about little else. One can imagine that she was born with a good memory and an obsessive personality, received lots of attention to her memory tricks when she was growing up, and the rest was her choice.

  10. I’m sure no one one here would be uncouth enough to celebrate Boris Johnson being hospitalised. Those insufficiently civilised to avoid such a faux pas are probably primitive enough to be superstitious and thus unlikely to tempt fate so egregiously. I hope he recovers quickly and fully, just as I would wish the same for any sufferer.

    1. To my knowledge, no one has and I personally wish it on no one. That said, and maybe I am reading too much into it, but your comment seems more political than humanitarian. To repeat, maybe I am being overly defensive.

      1. Indeed. If Trump catches it I will wish him a speedy recovery too. Is that a political comment or a humanitarian one?
        It boils down to this: we treat many people, and we don’t like a lot of them. But we still treat them just as well as the ones we like. Just as you would especially defend the free speech of someone you really disagree with, I have had to do my utmost to treat people I can’t stand. Just the way it works (or ought to work).

  11. What would be really interesting to know about Marilu Henner is what she doesn’t remember. Or, more generally, what price does she pay for her perfect memory? (Sorry if the article, which I haven’t read, explains this.) While these things are certainly not zero-sum games, it seems like there would be some kind of deficit.

    1. I have nothing like Marilu’s savant-level ability, but I have always passed exams by reading the image of pages of textbooks in my memory. I never had to revise or study, just read the book mentally during the exam. Got me through medical school. Annoyingly, I suffered a serious head injury in the mid-90’s and after that I have lost that ability. Might be relevant that my grandfather and father were engineers, and I have an autistic son. Me? I just ordered a few kilos of Ca(OH)₂ to go with the KOH I keep for soap making so I can nixtamalize some corn and make my own maicitos. Maybe just a tiny bit of Aspie in there somewhere!

    2. The 60 Minutes story on “highly superior autobiographical memory” said that such people have trouble maintaining long-term relationships. Because, you see, they perfectly remember every argument and inconsiderate word or deed.

    3. “Yeah I loved you all my life
      And that’s how I want to end it
      The summer’s almost gone
      The winter’s tuning up
      Yeah, the summer’s gone
      But a lot goes on forever
      And I can’t forget, I can’t forget
      I can’t forget but I don’t remember what”

      – Saint Leonard of Canada

  12. The only way I found the cat in the top picture was when I turned the picture upside down on my phone. I couldn’t find it at all just looking at it the image. When I turned it upside down, the shapes didn’t make sense and I saw the cat.

        1. If you drag diagonally from the upper right corner, some controls will appear, and one of them allows you to lock the rotation of the screen.

              1. I suspect that is the case. I couldn’t find the cat even with the secret treasure map above.

              2. It’s sideways, right under the yellowish checkered curtain. Now I’m the expert🤣

              3. Ah! There it is! You know, I really couldn’t see the damned thing until I covered up the boobs with my thumb. 😉

            1. It is the cat-shaped yellow area bounded by the woman’s face and shoulder on one side and the curtains on the other. The orange brick separates its front legs.

  13. re 60 Minutes total recall, I wonder if they can remember how many times and on which days they have remembered some incident.

  14. Regarding the survey of opinions on the dRumpf’s re-election prospects, I didn’t vote because I have a great fear that he will cancel the election! He will then offer the great gift of standing in for as long as necessary!

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