Monday: Hili dialogue

February 1, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greet the new month!: Welcome to Monday, February 1, 2021, and a triple food holiday: National Cake Pops Day, National Baked Alaska Day, and National Dark Chocolate Day. It’s also food months for the following items:

Canned Food Month
National Chocolate Lovers Month
National Cherry Month
National Grapefruit Month
National Snack Food Month
National Potato Lovers Month
Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
National Hot Breakfast Month
3rd Weekend of February: National Margarita Weekend
“Superbowl Sunday” : National Pork Rind Day (aka National Pork Rind Appreciation Day)
Further, it’s  G. I. Joe Day, Change Your Password Day, National Serpent Day, and Spunky Old Broads Day. Finally, it’s the start of Black History Month and National Freedom Day, celebrating the signing by Abraham Lincoln (not erased) of the Thirteenth Amendment, freeing the slaves, on February 1, 1865.

News of the Day:

The protests against the detention of Alexei Navaly continue in Russia, with thousands taking to the streets yesterday. Over 5,000 people were arrested, and Putin appears to be taken the hard line. I’m hoping this is the end of his oligarchy.

Big trouble in Myanmar. The leader of the country, Aung San Suu Kyi, my erstwhile hero who fell from grace (she’s a Nobel Laureate in Peace), has been detained after the military deposed an elected government and seized power for at least a year.  After spending 15 years under house arrest, Suu Kyi fell into disrepute (in my view) when she didn’t lift a finger to prevent the country’s genocide of the Rohingya minority.  She’s been in office for five years, but the military decided that the last election was “fraudulent” and took control.

Suu Kyi (before she fell from grace):

At the NYT, Roger Cohen bemoans a Paris that is shuttered, and that was the first place I wanted to go when I was able to travel. But if the restaurants are closed, well, there’s no point.

Paris is gone for now, its lifeblood cut off by the closure of all restaurants, its nights silenced by a 6 p.m. curfew aimed at eliminating the national pastime of the aperitif, its cafe bonhomie lost to domestic morosity. Blight has taken the City of Light.

Taboos fall. People eat sandwiches in the drizzle on city benches. They yield — oh, the horror! — to takeout in the form of “le click-and-collect.” They dine earlier, an abominable Americanization. They contemplate with resignation the chalk-on-blackboard offerings of long-shuttered restaurants still promising a veal blanquette or a boeuf bourguignon. These menus are fossils from the pre-pandemic world.

Margaret Sullivan, the Washington Post‘s media columnist, denies that cancel cutlure exists—or at least gives no examples of it that she considers valid.  Instead, she says it’s just “bad faith squealing,” simply representing people being held accountable for what they say. In one sense she’s right, but she simply can’t fathom the difference between being held accountable for ideas on one hand and having an angry mob trying to ruin your life on the other. Denial of “cancel culture”, which surely exists, is, along with “free speech butterism,” a sign of a woke mentality.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 441,296, an increase of about 1,900 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The death rate is now falling, but we’re still likely to exceed half a million deaths in less than a month. The reported world death toll stands at 2,239,013, an increase of about 8,100 deaths over yesterday’s total, another daily drop in the number of cases.

Stuff that happened on February 1 includes:

  • 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln signs the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • 1884 – The first volume (A to Ant) of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.

Here’s the first edition of volume 1:

Here’s the famous studio, which was lightproof:

  • 1896 – La bohème premieres in Turin at the Teatro Regio (Turin), conducted by the young Arturo Toscanini.
  • 1918 – Russia adopts the Gregorian calendar.
  • 1950 – The first prototype of the MiG-17 makes its maiden flight.

Used widely, and by many Russian bloc countries, the plane is still in use, owned by 17 people in the United States:

Here are the four brave students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College who, adopting the now-obsolete nonviolent tactics of Gandhi, sat quietly at the white part of the lunch counter while they were reviled.  There were no arrests, and students kept coming every day, swelling the seated and then spreading to other segregated facilities. Four years later, the Civil Rights Act declared such segregation illegal.

The Greensboro Four: (left to right) David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell A. Blair, Jr., and Joseph McNeil

This photo, which you can see here (the video is here, both are disturbing), produced considerable antiwar sentiment. Wikipedia is debating eliminating the photo, which is a mistake. It was historically important and won Adams a Pulitzer Prize.

Here’s a video of that infamous bowling incident, something that the Kiwis have not fogotten or forgiven. The delivery was legal under the rules of that match, but was considered unsportsmanlike, and underarm bowling was soon banned.

  • 2002 – Daniel Pearl, American journalist and South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, kidnapped January 23, 2002, is beheaded and mutilated by his captors.

Pearl’s kidnapper was just released from a Pakistani jail and his sentence overturned.

Here’s a news report of the disaster:

  • 2009 – The first cabinet of Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was formed in Iceland, making her the country’s first female prime minister and the world’s first openly gay head of government.

Notables born on this day include:

A famous scene between Gable and Vivian Leigh from Gone with the Wind:

  • 1902 – Langston Hughes, American poet, social activist, novelist, and playwright (d. 1967)
  • 1931 – Boris Yeltsin, Russian politician, 1st President of Russia (d. 2007)
  • 1937 – Don Everly, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1947 – Jessica Savitch, American journalist (d. 1983)
  • 1969 – Andrew Breitbart, American journalist, author, and publisher (d. 2012)

Those who crossed the Styx on February 1 include:

  • 1851 – Mary Shelley, English novelist and playwright (b. 1797)[29]
  • 1944 – Piet Mondrian, Dutch-American painter (b. 1872)
  • 1966 – Buster Keaton, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1895)
  • 1976 – Werner Heisenberg, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1901)

Heisenberg was the physics equivalent of Calvin Bridges: literally and figuratively the “golden boy” of his field. His pathbreaking work was published when he was 25, and he won the Big Prize at 31.

  • 2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia crew
    • Michael P. Anderson, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1959)
    • David M. Brown, American captain, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1956)
    • Kalpana Chawla, Indian-American engineer and astronaut (b. 1961)
    • Laurel Clark, American captain, surgeon, and astronaut (b. 1961)
    • Rick Husband, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1957)
    • William C. McCool, American commander, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1961)
    • Ilan Ramon, Israeli colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1954)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili blames Putin for the weather. As Malgorzata explains, “Hili dislikes all dictators, no matter whether they are from the left or from the right of the political spectrum. Hili is a liberal cat.”

Hili: Is this a high pressure front from the East?
A: Yes.
Hili: It’s Putin’s fault
In Polish:
Hili: Czy to jest wyż ze wschodu?
Ja: Tak.
Hili: Wina Putina.
Little Kulka jumped on the windowsill, making her desire to come in known to the humans inside (she learned this trick from Hili):

From Jesus of the Day:

For those afraid of the Pfizer vaccine:

From Charles, a new theory of how religion got started: The Argument from Chapeaux


From Luana, a tweet about a new paper in Cell. Note the figure’s implication that the reviewers are racist. You can see the original paper here; it more or less explicitly states that the deficit of African-Americans as faculty in molecular biology is due to racism that prevents them from getting grants. In other words, it sees lack of “equity” (equal outcomes) as prima facie evidence of racism.

A tweet from Jez via his wife (I may have posted this before; sound on):

Tweets from Matthew. First, a bull-goose loony who is apparently allowed to drive:

This photo belongs on the Facebook site Crap Wildlife Photography, which has some doozies:

Nearly a century before its time:

Nevertheless, she persisted. See the article about this intrepid fox in the Guardian.

The bees have no chance; the hornets chomp them to death at an astounding rate. I describe this scenario at the beginning of Chapter 5 of Why Evolution is True.

Well done! That’ll do dog; that’ll do.

30 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. … National Freedom Day, celebrating the signing by Abraham Lincoln (not erased) of the Thirteenth Amendment, freeing the slaves, on February 1, 1865.

    President Lincoln’s signing of the 13th Amendment was entirely symbolic. Article V of the US constitution establishes the procedure for constitutional amendment: they are proposed through passage by a 2/3 majority vote by both houses of congress and ratified by 3/4 of the states (or by a constitutional convention, although the nation hasn’t held a con-con since the original in Philadelphia in 1787). The president has no official role to play in the process. His signature is not required, and he holds no veto power over constitutional amendments.

  2. „At the NYT, Roger Cohen bemoans a Paris that is shuttered, and that was the first place I wanted to go when I was able to travel. But if the restaurants are closed, well, there’s no point.“

    *** vaut bien un voyage

    1. My son is sous-chef in a Paris restaurant. He has been able to work for only a few weeks in the past 10 months. Frustrated isn’t the word for it! Fortunately the French chomage (furlough scheme) is fairly generous.

  3. “The professor and the madman” based on the eponymous book by Simon Winchester is available on Netflix. It tells the story of a part of the origin of the OED. Well worth a look.

    1. Winchester’s other book on the origins of the OED, The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, is also very good.

    2. The movie is terrible. Do not waste your time. Helen and I loved the book so we soldiered on and watched the entire movie. I could go on and point out the numerous flaws in the film but I have already spent too much time thinking about it.

  4. “Aung San Suu Kyi, my erstwhile hero who fell from grace” – yes, she trashed her reputation for nothing and is back under house arrest. Very sad.

  5. Dang, that description by Roger Cohen in the NYT of Parisian nightlife in the time of pandemic is the saddest scene set in Paris since Sydney Carton went to the guillotine for Charles Darnay at the end of A Tale of Two Cities.

  6. The Mig 17 is owned by several people in the U.S. I wonder how many would still be in flying condition? How many have the guts to fly it. I would guess most are flower pots or soon will be.

    1. It’s quite difficult to keep military jets in airworthy condition. One of the biggest problems (which I fund out about by reading the report on the Shoreham air disaster) is maintaining the ejector seat, which is considered to be an explosive device.

      I’d be surprised if there are any Mig 17’s still flying in the USA, although several air forces are apparently still using them.

      1. Yes, that several air forces are using them would tell us those countries are pretty well out of it. The only way I could see them doing this is to have a junkyard full of Migs to get parts. One thing I know from working on old military jets is – they do not age well.

        The ejector seats (egress) is very primitive and it is not like you can test them to see how they are doing. The back up method may be to get the canopy off, turn the thing upside down and fall out.

  7. When it comes to Clark Gable scenes, I’ll take his teaching Claudette Colbert the proper technique for dunking a donut in Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night:

  8. “Wikipedia is debating eliminating the photo [of the execution of Viet Cong officer Nguyễn Văn Lém by South Vietnamese National Police Chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan], which is a mistake. It was historically important and won Adams a Pulitzer Prize.” – The importance of the photo is beyond doubt, and the debate seems to be a complicated one about the legalities of whether the photo is truly in the public domain (and therefore can be used by Wikipedia) or not. It appears that many contemporary newspapers around the world carried the image without following the conventions on copyright, which is a complicating factor.

  9. I wonder if Sullivan would say that the Hollywood Blacklist didn’t exist, but that it was just people being held accountable for what they didn’t say? This “fine for thee, but not for me” attitude is insufferable.

    1. I know that knocking over the Lincoln Logs is good for the team in the field, and hitting the ball and running back and forth between the Lincoln Logs is good for the team that is at bat. Beyond that, no idea.

    2. No one who is not from a cricket playing country can. I remember when living in England years ago they would put a cricket match on TV and it would go all afternoon. Don’t remember if it was BBC1 or 2.

      1. I was born and grew up in Australia and NZ and I’ve travelled to India where the country STOPS for big cricket matches. It is like a mind virus – to steal from R. Dawkins. It is horrible, and interminable. It makes even baseball nearly look interesting it is so bone crushingly dull. Cricket is partly why I emigrated from that part of the world I think when I see it on TV.
        D.A., NYC

    3. Oh, you can write the principles of cricket on a tea-towel:

      “You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.

      Each man that’s in the side that’s in, goes out, and when he’s out, he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.

      When they are all out the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out.

      Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

      When both sides have been in and out including the not-outs, that’s the end of the game”.

  10. I don’t think Margaret Sullivan is denying cancel culture exists, just that recent complaints by Trumpy politicians that they are being cancelled are bogus. They aren’t being cancelled but held accountable for their words and deeds. A great example of what she’s talking about: Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tweeted “Impeachment is the zenith of cancel culture”. Sullivan rightly points out that it isn’t at all. It’s a constitutionally sanctioned performance review by Congress.

    1. One of the great annoyances of modern life is that every superb expression devised to describe cultural problems gets over-used and abused by the right wing, to the point of losing its credibility with everyone else. The right wing is doing to “cancel culture” what it did to “virtue signaling” — rendering a good concept unusable to anyone who doesn’t want to be mistaken for a right-winger.

  11. Loved the cricket bit. The commentator at the end, “ of the worst things I have ever seen on a cricket field.” The Brits do love their cricket, the Aussies and the Kiwi’s too. GROG

  12. My goodness – I was 10 when it happened but I remember the Australian-NZ underarm bowling scandal. It was HUUUGE – I thought it’d lead to war. (See R. Kaupczinski, “The Soccer War”). People down there take their cricket seriously. It was bonkers.

    There’s a real MIG atop a plinth at a major roundabout in Dhaka Bangladesh – which I always thought was very cool – and you can still see them in the wild on training flights above the city from time to time. They’re wonderfully noisy.

    I’ve always thought that about hats (and religion). They need those goofy costumes and hats because the stories are so lame. Plus “Let’s play dress ups!” – and just about all the religions do it.
    D.A., NYC

Leave a Reply