Wednesday: Hili dialogue

February 10, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Hump Day: Wednesday, February 10, 2021, and it’s National “Have a Brownie” Day, with the scare quotes implying that you won’t be having a brownie at all. It’s also National Cream Cheese Brownie Day, National Flannel Day (for the hipsters), and Teddy Day. For the latter, I’ll show my beloved teddy bear, Toasty, whom I got the day I was born. He’s as old as I am, then, and of course we’re both showing signs of wear. At least I still have most of my hair!

Teddy desnudo

Wine of the Day:  As I write this on Tuesday evening, my palate is still stimulated by the deliciousness of this wine, consumed with a dinner of chicken breast, rice (mixed with a little hoisin sauce), and fresh heirloom tomatoes.

I have kept this wine in storage for over five years, and can’t remember what it cost, but it would probably run $40/bottle or so these days. I probably paid less than half that, and for what I got it’s even worth the present price. Its aroma, which leapt from the glass, was redolent of blackcurrants and most strikingly the “black olive” scent I associate with a good Rhone. It was gutsy, ripe, and wonderful.

This Côtes du Roussillon Villages in fact tastes like a good Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but at a substantially lower price. And at 11 years old, it is still young. Made by M. Chapoutier, one of the great names of the Rhone, this is an excellent value in younger vintages. Pick up any vintage you can find (only younger ones are available; all are going to be good, and the 2015 gets high marks), and pair it with something that complements a substantial red. Snap it up if you find it around $20. If you have patience, age it for a few years. And then decant it.


News of the Day:

From the Guardian: Ornithologists uncover election hoax in Ecuador: A video supposedly filmed in Colombia, with leftist “Colombian” guerrillas endorsing a left-wing Ecuadorian candidate in today’s Presidential election, has been outed by an ornithologist. The ornithologist and bird guide, Manuel Sanchez, noted that a bird heard calling in the video’s background was a pale-browed tinamou, found not in Colombia but only in a small region of Ecuador. In other words, it was a fake video. It’s not clear if the video was supposed to sway voters towards or away from the left-wing Andrés Arauz, but it was a bogus attempt for sure. There’s now a new category of jobs: Forensic Ornithologist! (h/t Jez)

I’m not sure how much of Trump’s second impeachment trial, if any, I’ll watch, for I can watch highlights in the evening news and the arguments alone will occupy 32 hours. Tonight’s news (and the NYT) report that the Senate vote to proceed with the impeachment was 56-44, meaning six Republican Senators voted with the Democrats. One hard-to-rebut Democratic argument is this: if you can’t try a President after he leaves office, there’s an impetus to commit “high crimes and misdemeanors” right before you’re out of the Oval Office.

More good news in parlous times: Massachusetts just voted to name a “state dinosaur” after residents voted for it in a contest. The lucky (though extinct) creature was a gracile species, Podokesaurus holyokensis (h/t: Ginger K.) Here’s a reconstruction, and there’s a long Wikipedia entry on P. holyokensis.

More news: a man lost his wallet in Antarctica while he was stationed there as a meteorologist in 1968, and it was just returned to him—after 53 years! It was found behind a locker during demolition at the McMurdo Station, and, after some dilly-dallying and searching, the owner was located, still alive at 91. Paul Grisham was stunned to get it back. The contents:

Grisham’s driver’s license and Navy ID card; a beer ration punch card with four holes punched (“I was pretty much a martini guy,” said Grisham); a tax statement; an instruction card with steps to take in case of an atomic attack; a recipe for homemade Kahlua; and two money order receipts for the poker winnings Grisham had mailed to his wife after cleaning up in card games at the base.

There was no word whether the wallet contained cash.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 468,088, an increase of about 3,200 deaths over yesterday’s figure (the rise over the last two days may be the results of congregating at home during the Superbowl). 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 2,352,871, a big increase of about 14,800 deaths over yesterday’s total, or about 10.2 deaths per minute.

Stuff that happened on February 10 includes:

Here’s Robert the Bruce (also an appropriate name for an Aussie) doing the deed:

(From Wikipedia): The killing of Comyn in the Greyfriars church in Dumfries, as portrayed by Felix Philippoteaux, a 19th-century illustrator.
  • 1567 – Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, is found strangled following an explosion at the Kirk o’ Field house in Edinburgh, Scotland, a suspected assassination.
  • 1840 – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom marries Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Here’s Victoria and her beloved Albert, who died at only 42 of a stomach ailment, leaving Victoria disconsolate.

‘Cartes de Visite’ photograph of Queen Victoria with Prince Albert by John Jabez Edwin Mayall, 1861. Museum no. 3504-1953. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • 1933 – In round 13 of a boxing match at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, Primo Carnera knocks out Ernie Schaaf. Schaaf dies four days later.

I won’t put up the video, but if you want to see the fatal boxing match, there’s a YouTube video.

  • 1940 – The Soviet Union begins mass deportations of Polish citizens from occupied eastern Poland to Siberia.
  • 1962 – Cold War: Captured American U2 spy-plane pilot Gary Powers is exchanged for captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.

The exchange took place over the Glienicke Bridge between East and West Berlin, sometimes used for spy swaps between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. Here it is; it’s still standing.


This is the amendment that stipulates what happens if the President dies or leaves office.

Here’s Kasparov defending his loss, though I have no idea what he’s talking about:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1766 – Benjamin Smith Barton, American botanist and physician (d. 1815)
  • 1890 – Boris Pasternak, Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1960)
  • 1920 – Alex Comfort, English physician and author (d. 2000)
  • 1929 – Jim Whittaker, American mountaineer
  • 1929 – Lou Whittaker, American mountaineer

The Whittakers are identical twins, both well known climbers. Jim summited Everest with Sherpa Nawang Gombu on May 1, 1963, becoming the first American to reach the top of the mountain. Four other American climbers also made it to the top on that expedition (one died in an avalanche). Here’s Jim on the summit and, in the second photo, with his brother (they’re 92 today):

(Courtesy of Jim Whittaker)

  • 1950 – Mark Spitz, American swimmer

Those who went the way of the dinosaurs on February 10 include:

  • 1755 – Montesquieu, French lawyer and philosopher (b. 1689)
  • 1879 – Honoré Daumier, French illustrator and painter (b. 1808)
  • 1912 – Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister, English surgeon and academic (b. 1827)
  • 1923 – Wilhelm Röntgen, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1845)

Here’s Röntgen, who won the very first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 for the discovery of X-rays and their use:

  • 1957 – Laura Ingalls Wilder, American author (b. 1867)
  • 1992 – Alex Haley, American soldier, journalist, and author (b. 1921)
  • 2014 – Shirley Temple, American actress and diplomat (b. 1928)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has found a place to rest where they normally keep wood for the fireplace:

Andrzej: I’m going to fetch wood for the fireplace.
Hili: Leave it in the basket.
In Polish:
Ja: Idę po drewno do kominka.
Hili: Zostaw je potem w koszu.

And here’s a picture by Paulina of little Kulka stalking through the snow:

From Facebook:

From Stash Krod:

From Divy:

Tweets from Matthew.  An empirical search by cosmonauts apparently failed to turn up evidence for a divinity.

My baby skunk acted the same way! I had my Pinkus for about six years, and he was descented. The little fellow below is a rescue skunk and will be released into nature. That means that he was not descended and there was always the danger of him spraying in the house. But he didn’t.

About this one Matthew says, “I’d get off the ice pdq!” Sound up; it’s amazing.

Oy, was there a lot of recent snow in Scotland!

A whale mom and baby. So adorable! One of the commenters, though, says that the sounds are fake. I’m not so sure (they could have been real and added), but turn the sound up:

This makes me really hungry! I particularly like the Indian kulfi at 12 seconds in. Pista kulfi with falooda (sweet noodles) is the best, and this even has rosewater syrup on it! But everything looks fantastic—except for the ice cream in bread. Ugh!

A lovely reptile from central America (Basiliscus plumifrons). They’re also called “Jesus Christ lizards” because they can run for short distance on top of water. Don’t believe me? See the video below the tweet.

See? I’ve actually seen them do this (in Costa Rica):

20 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Apparently, according to the transcript of conversations during his flight, Gagarin didn’t make any comments about not seeing God, so maybe he was moving in a mysterious way somewhere else that day…

    1. Yes, according to Wikipedia:

      In a 2006 interview, Gagarin’s friend Colonel Valentin Petrov stated that Gagarin never said these words and that the quote originated from Khrushchev’s speech at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU about the state’s anti-religion campaign, saying “Gagarin flew into space, but didn’t see any god there.”

    1. I met both of them back in 1969 when I was doing a Rainier Mountaineering Inc. (owned by Lou) course.

      As for the Baikal ice, the article says it’s half a metre thick, so no danger. I have a pair of tourskates like he’s wearing in the video, but have never had a chance to use them on nice ice like that. (For some interesting/amusing tourskating videos, look at apetor’s channel on YouTube.)

    2. I worked at Mount Rainier for 5 1/2 years and never met Jim Whittaker, but would see Lou frequently. We had an exhibit in the visitor center at Paradise with a manniken posed just like Jim’s picture above and wearing identical clothing. If you pushed the button, it would play an audio narrated by Jim. “What, you might ask, is a climber dressed for Mount Everest doing against a backdrop of Mount Rainier….” The Everest expedition practiced on Rainier. Lou brought Gombu over to the states to do some work with Rainier Mountaineering, so it was not unusual to run into him, usually at Camp Muir at 10,000 ft. On my first ascent of Rainier in 1977, with several other rangers, we came upon an advanced class from Rainier Mountaineering only to find Lou hanging from ropes down inside a crevasse where he had broken through a snow bridge. We set up a pulley system and helped extricate him.

  2. We generally see dips in reported numbers of Covid cases and fatalities on Monday, I suspect, largely because much of the world follows the “Sunday rest” meme, and there is a slight decrease in recording and reporting. This would SEEM to imply that there should be a slight surge on Monday to Tuesday, but the degree of overwork being generated by the virus may mean that the delay gets spread out a bit. Just a hypothesis.

    1. Yes, on Worldometer, Sun and Mon are always much lower for US, but surely correspond more to reported deaths Sat and Sun. The graph only makes sense if you hit the 7-day average button. I’m happy to see that the US is finally getting under 3,000/day, and dropping fast. Hopefully that will continue.

      Canada peaked recently around 160/day, now dropped to around 100/day, which figures per population compared to US would be 1440/day dropping to 900/day.

      But despite complaints, your vaccination rate is much better than ours.

  3. When I read the ice cream shop cartoon, I figured that if the vanilla was sold out, corn ice cream might not be too bad—and obviously, the only reasonable alternative. (What kind of ice cream shop only has four flavors, anyway?) Then, I was very surprised to see actual corn ice cream featured in the Ice Cream Around the World video! And it does look good!

    1. I remember an old cartoon from the 1980s: Shows a USian at an ice cream shop saying, “only 39 flavors?” and in the other panel, a Briton at the ice cream shop, showing the choice is either vanilla or chocolate, “I’m trying to decide!”

  4. I like the look of that wine. The 2015 vintage – mentioned by Jerry – appears to cost from about £12 a bottle in the UK, so the one he had last night would fetch a pretty penny today.

    I see that Chapoutier incorporates the Braille translation of the wine’s details into the label, as he does with his Rhone wines. A nice courtesy!

  5. “the rise over the last two days may be the results of congregating at home during the Superbowl”
    Superbowl congregating could not cause coronavirus deaths in the next few days unless it is from the excitement of the game. A few daily rises are absolutely meaningless, see this graph. If you click on 7 day rolling average, you will see we are on a steady downward trend for the last two weeks.

    If there is an effect of the Superbowl on deaths, it would not be seen until March at the earliest. I would bet there is a steady decline for the next several months.

    1. There are often large numbers of deaths after a weekend because these numbers rely on daily reporting from individual institutions (hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, etc). Some of these institutions don’t do daily reports, especially on weekends, so the numbers can vary quite a bit day to day for this reason alone.

  6. “Little Kulka” always seems to have a feral stalking look about her—kind of like my cat. But come every midnight or so, he jumps up on my bed, bats me on the head, wakes me up, and seems to suggest something like, “Hey, I’m going to sleep here tonight, but I promise I won’t eat you”.

  7. FWIW, Kasparov was whining about his poor performance in the match. His argument about Game 2 is pathetic: he is saying that Deep Blue did not “win” the game (it did), because Kasparov resigned in a position where he had a draw by perpetual check (he did). But what kind of excuse is that? He also says that Deep Blue allowed that draw (which Kasparov missed) in a “totally strategically winning position”: well, who allowed Deep Blue to reach that position?

    BTW, the “Mr. Benjamin” he references is Joel Benjamin, a US GM (Grandmaster) who advised IBM on this project. IIRC, Kasparov accused IBM of cheating by fine-tuning Deep Blue (presumably with Benjamin’s help) to take advantage of Kasparov’s weaknesses.

    A great chess player (probably the best ever, so far), and an outspoken Putin critic, Kasparov is also a sore loser. Of course, that’s part of what made him so good, a will to win that has seldom been matched over the board.

    PS: Kasparov (who refers to 5 games in his press conference) lost the 6th and final game very badly, allowing a known opening sacrifice by Deep Blue.

  8. The Scottish snow blower was fascinating. In NW Japan (Akita-pref.) for weird climatic reasons they get more snow than anywhere else. There are pictures of tunnels through the snow taller than two story busses and every year there’s all sorts of people stranded in cars for days (just last week actually). Many old houses have doors in their roofs so people can get out and every year when I lived there (in Tokyo) I used to be amazed by it and always wondered how they made the tunnels. It puts our light dusting in NYC into perspective.

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