Tuesday: Hili dialogue

February 9, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s the cruelest day of the week: Tuesday, and February 9, 2021, also known as National Pizza Day. It’s also Chocolate Day, Extraterrestrial Culture Day, and Read in the Bathtub Day (I much prefer showers and can’t remember the last time I took a bath, which I do only when injured and need to soak. I was permanently traumatized as a child when my dad, who abjured baths, told me, “Why would anybody want to sit in their own schmutz?”)

It’s also cold—probably the coldest week of the year. And there will be no letup.  It snowed yesterday and it’s currently 6°F (-14°C).  Here are the predicted high and low temperatures for this week in Chicago, first Fahrenheit and then Celsius:

In this dire weather, I’m constantly fretting about where my ducks are, and whether they are cold and/or starving.

Here’s Professor Ceiling Cat on his walk to work this morning. (Note Wright’s Robie House in the background.) WHO’S a good boy?

News of the Day:

It’s Impeachment Day! Mitch “666” McConnell and Chuck Schumer have agreed on the timing and protocols in the trial, expected to start today and last 1-2 weeks.  You can read the formal rules here; each side has 16 hours to present its case, and there may be a debate and a vote on whether to call witnesses.  Today there are some preliminaries, and then the House presents its case on Wednesday, with Trump’s lawyers then given two days to exculpate the Guilty. They’ve already submitted a brief to dismiss the case because, they argue, impeachment is “unconstitutional” for an ex-President. The House “impeachment managers,” aka The Prosecution, rejected the brief.

Here’s a relevant cartoon from reader Pliny the In Between’s Far Corner Cafe:

A report at NPR suggests that the new “spreader” strains occurring in the coronavirus may have formed in patients who were persistently infected because of immune-system defects. That would allow the virus to build up and exchange mutations to arrive at a strain highly resistant to our immune system. While South Africa has suspended the rollout of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine on the grounds that it doesn’t work well against the “South African” variant of the virus. Various studies are confusing. What is sad is that this was the vaccine that was going to halt the pandemic in South Africa.  The mRNA vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna, at least so far, appear effective against the new variant strains.

According to the New York Times, the U.S. is weighing requiring a negative coronavirus test before any air travel within the U.S. Mayor Pete, now Secretary of Transportation, is in charge of that, and I have doubts about that decision. For one thing, it would destroy the airline industry. A mask mandate on planes seems sufficient to me. And if you fly, you should wear a cloth mask over a surgical one.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 464,921, an increase of about 1,600 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The number of new cases is now falling, but we still may exceed half a million deaths within the month. The reported world death toll stands 2,337,977,  an increase of about 9,000 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on February 9 includes:

“All in favor of Allesandro, say ay!” (That was his “secular” name.) Gregory ruled only a year and a half.

Davis was imprisoned for two years for treason after the war, and then pardoned by Andrew Johnson. He was going to be tried by a jury of 24, shown in the photo below, which included 12 blacks and 12 whites. (That trial never took place.) Davis made many trips in England hoping for a job, didn’t get one, wrote his memoirs, and died in 1885.

(From Wikipedia) The 24 members of the petit jury impaneled by the United States Circuit Court for Virginia in Richmond for Davis’s trial for treason in May 1867. Contemporary composite image from two glass plate negatives.
  • 1895 – William G. Morgan creates a game called Mintonette, which soon comes to be referred to as volleyball.

The first game was played on July 7, 1896, at Springfield College.

It was called “The Mud March” because it was raining and conditions were atrocious. Nevertheless, they persisted. Here’s the Daily Mirror’s headline two days after the march:

  • 1942 – Year-round Daylight saving time (aka War Time) is re-instated in the United States as a wartime measure to help conserve energy resources.
  • 1950 – Second Red Scare: US Senator Joseph McCarthy accuses the United States Department of State of being filled with Communists.
  • 1959 – The R-7 Semyorka, the first intercontinental ballistic missile, becomes operational at Plesetsk, USSR.
  • 1964 – The Beatles make their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, performing before a “record-busting” audience of 73 million viewers across the USA.

The video of this appearance isn’t on YouTube or Vimeo, so I can’t embed it. But if you click on the screenshot below, you can see this performance on a Facebook video:

It is a great shame that Satchel Paige didn’t get to play in the major league (it was segregated) until he was over 40. His won/loss record in the Negro League was 146-64.  As Wikipedia notes, “On town tours across the United States, Paige would sometimes have his infielders sit down behind him and then routinely strike out the side.” Here’s a short documentary:

  • 1996 – Copernicium is discovered, by Sigurd Hofmann, Victor Ninov et al.

This element was created in the lab and its most stable isotope has a half-life of only 28 seconds.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1737 – Thomas Paine, English-American philosopher, author, and activist (d. 1809)
  • 1874 – Amy Lowell, American poet, critic, and educator (d. 1925)
  • 1896 – Alberto Vargas, Peruvian-American painter and illustrator (d. 1982)
  • 1909 – Carmen Miranda, Portuguese-Brazilian actress, singer, and dancer (d. 1955)

Miranda was of course known for her “fruit hats”. Here she performs “Chica Chica Boom Chic” for the 1941 film “That Night in Rio“. A heavy smoker, she died at 45 of a heart attack. Did you know that she had an affair with John Wayne?

  • 1910 – Jacques Monod, French biochemist and geneticist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1976)
  • 1928 – Roger Mudd, American journalist
  • 1930 – Garner Ted Armstrong, American evangelist and author (d. 2003)
  • 1940 – J. M. Coetzee, South African-Australian novelist, essayist, and linguist, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1943 – Joe Pesci, American actor

Remember this scene from Goodfellas?

  • 1944 – Alice Walker, American novelist, short story writer, and poet
  • 1945 – Mia Farrow, American actress, activist, and former fashion model

Those who dropped dead on February 9 were few, and include:

Here’s Dostoyevsky’s death mask that I photographed in his apartment (now a museum) in July, 2011. If you’re ever in St. Petersburg, you must go to his flat, which is as he left it when he died. Go have a look at my post about visiting the place, written shortly after I returned from a meeting in Russia.

  • 1981 – Bill Haley, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1925)
  • 1995 – J. William Fulbright, American lawyer and politician (b. 1905)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s appropriated Andrzej’s coat as a blanket:

Hili: This coat has to stay here.
A: Why?
Hili: I’ve put my paw on it.
In Polish:
Hili: Ten płaszcz ma tu zostać.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Położyłam na nim łapę.

From Facebook. Recognize the sculptor?

From Stash Krod:

From Stephen, clearly a response to Marjorie Taylor Greene’s insane claim that California wildfires were set by Jewish-controlled space lasers designed to clear land for a high-speed rail system:

From Titania. I don’t know who this guy umairh is, but but his Twitter feed shows that he’s a). woke, b). obsessed with d*gs, and c). tweets a gazillion times a day. Combined with that tweet, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Coyne’s Fourth Law: anybody who tweets more than 15 times a day should not be taken seriously.

Tweets from Matthew.  This is almost certainly a mimic of a salticid (jumping spider); I’ve put a picture of a real salticid below it.  Barklice are in their own order, and are scavengers.

Here’s a salticid from Github:

And another spider from the great arthropod photographer Nicky Bay:

The answer to the question below is in the thread:

This woman has the world’s best job. Sound up!

This is a few days back, but it looks scary driving a train in a white-out. I guess you have to trust the tracks.

This bird appears to be a carunculated caracara, (Phalcoboenus carunculatus):

30 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

    1. In high school in the mid-1960’s, my chemistry teacher had penned in Lawrencium, element 103, on the periodic table hanging on the classroom wall. This was exciting to see new science, particularly when i brought a copy of my father’s 1936 edition of the “Handbook of Chemistry and Physics” in which the periodic table showed only 92 elements.

      1. That’s interesting – let’s look:

        Year Z Symbol
        1960-ish 103 Lr
        1996 112 Cn

        Almost 10 elements per 40 years, or about four years to *synthesize* one new element.

  1. Regarding Jacques Monod, Sean B Carroll (the biologist not Sean Carroll the physicist) wrote a wonderful book about Monod and Camus described by its title, “Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize”. (Crown Publishers 2013)

    1. Yup, I could only see a lot of suggestions in the thread, but nothing that said it was the definitive answer.

  2. 1950 – Second Red Scare: US Senator Joseph McCarthy accuses the United States Department of State of being filled with Communists.

    That would make this the anniversary of McCarthy’s infamous “Enemies Within” speech before the Women’s Republican Club in Wheeling, West Virginia. During the speech McCarthy waved around a piece of paper saying it was a list of the names of 205 known communists in the US State Department.

    He later gave versions of the same speech around the nation, waving around a sheet of paper, but McCarthy, who was half-drunk most of the time, could never seem to remember the number of names supposedly on the list, varying it wildly as the mood struck him.

  3. I was intrigued by the photograph of the jurors for the aborted Jefferson Davis treason trial. How did it come to pass that half of the jurors were African-American in 1867 Virginia? How did the white men feel about serving with African-Americans even if they were Unionists during the war? A quick search revealed very little information. This was this from the Encyclopedia of Virginia:

    “One of two group portraits made by David H. Anderson shows eleven of a pool of twenty-four potential petit, or trial, jurors appointed by the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Virginia in 1867 as part of proceedings against former Confederate president Jefferson Davis on treason charges. However, the trial never went forward. Davis was released on bail on May 13, 1867, and the charges against him dropped early in 1869. Nonetheless, some of the photographed men did sit on juries for trials held during that session of the U.S. Circuit Court in Richmond, which lasted from May to November 1867. They were likely Virginia’s first African American petit jurymen. The grand jury for that session of the circuit court was also interracial. One of two group portraits made by David H. Anderson shows eleven of a pool of twenty-four potential petit, or trial, jurors appointed by the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Virginia in 1867 as part of proceedings against former Confederate president Jefferson Davis on treason charges. However, the trial never went forward. Davis was released on bail on May 13, 1867, and the charges against him dropped early in 1869. Nonetheless, some of the photographed men did sit on juries for trials held during that session of the U.S. Circuit Court in Richmond, which lasted from May to November 1867. They were likely Virginia’s first African American petit jurymen. The grand jury for that session of the circuit court was also interracial.”

    https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/slide_player?mets_filename=sld2088mets.xml

    I also found this reminiscence from 1896 by an African-American who served on the integrated grand jury:

    http://blackvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1673

    I would love to learn more about this episode. Integrated juries did not last very long in Virginia and, I believe (not sure) African-Americans serving on juries, period.

  4. It is a great shame that Satchel Paige didn’t get to play in the major league (it was segregated) until he was over 40.

    Satchel Paige’s actual birthdate was long shrouded in mystery, but is officially given as July 7. 1906, which would have made him 42 when he joined the Cleveland Indians in 1948 (the season after Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers — and the last season in which the Indians won the World Series, for those of us still patiently keeping track).

    Although Satchel didn’t join the team until mid-season in July, he had six wins against just one loss, with a 2.48 earned run average, the rest of the way out, and Bill Veeck, the Indians’ wheeler-dealer owner, nominated him for Rookie-of-the-Year honors. The powers that be in baseball declined to give the award to a player Paige’s age.

  5. 1. I live approximately 250 N of PCC (another 2 hours north of Green Bay). ACTUAL temp this morn when I got up at 5 was -23%.

    2. Don’t know if it’s still available, but years ago I purchased the Sullivan shows with The Beatles. The complete shows–it was cool to see the other acts as well.

    3. In sad news, Mary Wilson of The Supremes passed away.

    4. Making the news rounds around here, and sure to be on national news and interweb soon is traffic cam footage of a truck flipping off an elevated interchange in Milwaukee, and falling 70 feet. The driver lived.

  6. I was watching a recent documentary about the making of Goodfellas, as it is now seen as an enduring classic. If I recall correctly, the dialogue from Joe Pesci in that scene was rather impromptu. I recommend the documentary, it is easily found online.

    1. Yeah, I’ve heard both Scorsese and Pesci say that the scene was first improvised by Pesci during rehearsals before principal photography began, based on something Pesci had witnessed years before in a club in Little Italy.

      I know there’s no scene like it in Wiseguy, the nonfiction book by Nicholas Pileggi, from which Scorsese and Pileggi adapted the Goodfellas script.

  7. “And if you fly, you should wear a cloth mask over a surgical one.”
    This is a bit controversial. You’ve got to be careful not to restrict breathing too much. When that happens air is forced to go out the sides of the mask so the value of filtration through the mask is lost. A N95 mask is pretty well optimized to force most air through and not around. A surgical mask is less effective and probably could benefit from some extra filtering with a secondary scarf. This comes from my personal physician who sited several research papers.

  8. I like the cold weather because it means any snow fall is light and fluffy and the sky is a brilliant blue and the sun is out!

    1. I have no love of a cold winter day.
      As the poet says, and I agree,
      “There’s a certain Slant of light,
      Winter Afternoons –
      That oppresses, like the Heft
      Of Cathedral Tunes –”

      On my porch it is 82oF, overcast & thundery — 6″ of rain this week –,
      with a couple of mosquitoes trying to bite my ankles.
      Couldn’t be better.

    2. Me too.

      Also the colder the less slippery underfoot in general–even on pure ice.

      Once it’s -40, it’s like skiing on dry sand, no glide wax works. So those antarctic explorers don’t get good glide, okay, safe, up and down difficult mountains, but crap on flats. World level ski races verboten at -20, about -4 in Faren-medieval-heit. A student of mine once got pneumonia after they didn’t, but should have, cancelled a university ski race near Huntsville, ON.

      I consider myself lucky it has stayed below zero steadily here for so long, with a 100 metre hill in a 300 metre driveway. But there’s still some ice there from a big stupid rain one Saturday night in December, followed by a quick hard freeze.

    1. Why not request K? Or “other units^*”?

      Fight the temperature binary!

      ^*https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature

      1. “Why not request K?”

        I suppose because nobody uses it for everyday stuff. And that because such big numbers are hard to relate to, though a lot of that is just what you are accustomed to.

        But US is definitely a small minority in sticking to Faren-medieval-heit I think. Centigrade has the advantage of decimally-famous numbers for the transitions of our most famous substance.

        And you were joking mostly. Not you, but’s not surprising that many denizens of a large country forget they might be ‘talking’ to more foreigners than domestics. I’m surprised they don’t still use cubits. Or go in the other direction and make the diameter of the visible universe to be one trillion trillionth of the new fleeting unit of distance.

    1. “..how did our ancestors live/survive without central heating? ”

      From 1963 to 1966 I lived in front of little coal fireplaces, doing all my grad studies in Manchester, UK. They used to get a big fog for a couple of days after the productions on Guy Fawkes night were added to what was coming out of a million chimneys. And the uni buildings on Oxford Road were black as the ace of spades. Now that’s fixed.

      I think governments should subsidize/loan the capital costs of ground-based heat pumps, geothermal central heating. My experience is that it is paid off in about 6 years, with a reduction to about ¼ the cost for we who live in the country with no natural gas pipeline, so diesel/furnace oil needed. Natural gas is maybe twice as good climate-change-wise, but the Canuck government here should still tax the hell out of it, to pay the climate change damage. And no more bloody oil sands! Move to Montana/Wyoming if you want to be a fascist.

      Slow recovery from dental digging, pulling, poking, prying and scraping, so I better stop grouching and preaching!

      1. Maybe I’m ahead of myself – this really isn’t my topic – but I have a feeling ALL our energy and heat needs will one day be met by punching a hole in the crust of the earth. Go ahead — mock my ignorance – but SOME people are saying it is doable.

        D.A.
        NYC

Leave a Reply