Friday: Hili dialogue

February 12, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to TGIF Day: Friday, February 12, 2021. It’s cold as hell here (currently 13°F or -11°C), and going to get even colder this weekend: here are the predicted temperatures for next week, both high and low, in Fahrenheit and then in Celsius. Bonus: snow predicted on four of the next seven days!

And here’s a picture by Phoebe Rice, who lives in a flat high above Lake Michigan. Look how far out the lake is frozen: I’ve never seen it like this! The western edge of the lake is right above the tree-lined road (Lake Shore Drive), and the lake extends into the distance, frozen as far as you can see.

As for food, it’s National PB&J Day (Peanut Butter and Jelly). I’ll have two of those sandwiches for lunch. It’s Chinese New Year, beginning the Year of the Ox, as well as NAACP Day, National Lost Penny Day (I have a drawer full of useless pennies),  National Freedom to Marry Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, and, most important, International Darwin Day (both Lincoln and Darwin were born on February 12, 1809). The Freedom from Religion Foundation has a life-size latex statue of Darwin in their library, and it’s pretty freaky. Here I am posing with Chuck in March, 2018:

In honor of DarwinDay, but a bit late, Matthew will be speaking this Sunday on flies; here’s the tweet and link:

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Lunar New Year (which seems to be a sanitized version of Chinese New Year); click on the screenshot: As it’s the Year of the Ox,  a handsome ox is in the middle:


News of the Day:

The second and last day of the “prosecution’s” case for Trump impeachment took place today, and again I did not watch, though I did see video summaries. The case against him focused more on his lack of contrition, which I have to say is striking, and gave lots of testimony by people who either say that Trump made them storm the Capitol or certainly wanted them to. They even brought up Charlottesville, where the Orange Man famously said there were good people on both sides, a remark I’ll never forget.

Three NYT op-eds you might want to read:  Ezra Klein on “The Senate is making a mockery of itself,” Keith Olbermann on “Is this the end of obsessively hating Trump?” (he looks forward to the criminal trials), and Stacey Abrams and Lauren Groh-Wargo on “How to turn your red state blue.”

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article on how hospitals keep their prices secret to rake in the dosh and stifle competition. I’ve bitched about this during the three operations I had in the last decade (two hernia and one sinus), but now there may be some transparency:

“It is shining a light on the insanity of U.S. healthcare pricing,” said Niall Brennan, chief executive of the Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit that analyzes medical costs. “It’s at the center of the affordability crisis in American healthcare.”

Under a Trump administration rule that took effect in January, nearly all hospitals must make their prices public, a move the industry sued to block. Courts rejected hospitals’ arguments that their prices should remain under wraps. Healthcare economists say these rates are a major driver of U.S. medical costs, the highest in the world, and they are largely paid by American companies and workers.

Can you believe that hospitals want to keep their prices secret? We shouldn’t accept that, and I guess we don’t have to any longer. Have a look at the article, which reveals huge disparities on what a hospital charges different people for the same operation; it can vary more than tenfold. 

Renowned jazz musician Chick Corea died yesterday of a rare form of cancer; he was 79. With 69 Grammy nominations for jazz and 23 wins, he’s the biggest winner of all in that category.  Here’s an improvised Corea solo in Vienne, performed in 2012:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 475,224, an increase of about 3,900 deaths over yesterday’s figure (the rise over the last few days may represent Superbowl party congregating). We will likely exceed half a million deaths within the month. The reported world death toll stands 2,380,451, a big increase of about 13,800 deaths over yesterday’s total, or about 9.6 deaths per minute.

Stuff that happened on February 12 includes:

  • 1502 – Isabella I issues an edict outlawing Islam in the Crown of Castile, forcing virtually all her Muslim subjects to convert to Christianity.
  • 1832 – Ecuador annexes the Galápagos Islands.
  • 1909 – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded.
  • 1915 – In Washington, D.C., the first stone of the Lincoln Memorial is put into place.

Here’s the cornerstone being laid on February 15. Will we live to see the Memorial torn down because Lincoln was a bad man?

  • 1924 – George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue received its premiere in a concert titled “An Experiment in Modern Music”, in Aeolian Hall, New York, by Paul Whiteman and his band, with Gershwin playing the piano.
  • 1946 – African American United States Army veteran Isaac Woodard is severely beaten by a South Carolina police officer to the point where he loses his vision in both eyes. The incident later galvanizes the civil rights movement and partially inspires Orson Welles’ film Touch of Evil.

This is a horrific story: Woodard was beaten and blinded by the cops simply because he asked to use the restroom (and a “colored” one) during a rest stop. The cops in the next town burst his eyeballs with their nightsticks. The result:

  • 1974 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, is exiled from the Soviet Union.
  • 1993 – Two-year-old James Bulger is abducted from New Strand Shopping Centre by two ten-year-old boys, who later torture and murder him.

Here’s the famous photo of the abduction (it led to the identification of the suspects), and mug shots of the two murderers—the youngest people ever convicted of murder in the UK. They were paroled in 2001 after detention in a “care centre”. One of them is now back in jail for parole violation and possessing child pornography.  It was a horrific crime:

  • 1999 – United States President Bill Clinton is acquitted by the United States Senate in his impeachment trial.
  • 2002 – The trial of Slobodan Milošević, the former President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, begins at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands. He dies four years later before its conclusion.
  • 2004 – The city of San Francisco begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in response to a directive from Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Here’s the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the city: Del Martin (left) and Phyllis Lyon (right); they’re being married at City Hall by the Mayor on June 16, 2008. What a lovely photo!

AFP PHOTO / POOL / Marcio Jose Sanchez (Photo credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AFP/Getty Images)

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1606 – John Winthrop the Younger, English-American lawyer and politician, Governor of Connecticut (d. 1676)
  • 1663 – Cotton Mather, English-American minister and author (d. 1728)
  • 1809 – Charles Darwin, English geologist and theorist (d. 1882)
  • 1809 – Abraham Lincoln, American lawyer and politician, 16th President of the United States (d. 1865)

If you forget everything you read on this site, just remember that these two men (who may be canceled in the near future) were born on exactly the same day.

  • 1881 – Anna Pavlova, Russian-English ballerina and actress (d. 1931)

The great dancer in 1905, when she was about 24:

  • 1884 – Max Beckmann, German painter and sculptor (d. 1950)

Beckmann painted a lot of cats. Here’s “The Old Actress” (1923)

  • 1914 – Tex Beneke, American singer, saxophonist, and bandleader (d. 2000)

This is the full clip of the Glenn Miller band with Tex Beneke along with one of the greatest dance routines ever in movies by the Nicholas Brothers. From the 1942 movie “Orchestra Wives”.  The Nicholas Brothers are far better, of course, but I can’t find “Kalaazoo” by itself. That song exemplifies the cheesy white jazz of the 1940s, but I still like it. Tex could sing (here with the Modernaires, play sax, and whistle real good. His gal is a real pipperoo. Miller conducts and plays the trombone.

  • 1918 – Julian Schwinger, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1994)
  • 1980 – Christina Ricci, American actress and producer

Those who came to naught on February 12 include:

  • 1804 – Immanuel Kant, German anthropologist, philosopher, and academic (b. 1724)
  • 1929 – Lillie Langtry, English singer and actress (b. 1853)
  • 1942 – Grant Wood, American painter and academic (b. 1891)

Everybody knows Grant Wood’s “America Gothic,” one of the most famous American paintings—if not the most famous—but here’s another: “January” (1940-1941):

  • 1976 – Sal Mineo, American actor (b. 1939)
  • 1979 – Jean Renoir, French actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1894)
  • 2000 – Charles M. Schulz, American cartoonist, created Peanuts (b. 1922)
  • 2014 – Sid Caesar, American actor and comedian (b. 1922)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili scoffs at Andrzej’s optimism. Look at her expression! (I just made her face in this photo my Twitter profile picture.)

A: There is a lot of good news in the world.
Hili: I can just see it.
In Polish:
Ja: Jest dużo dobrych wiadomości ze świata.
Hili: Właśnie widzę.

And we have Paulina and her beloved Szaron. She is asking him what he’d like at the grocery store.

Caption: Paulina is going shopping.

In Polish: Paulina wybiera się na zakupy.

Good advice from Stash Krod:

A cartoon from Jean showing how mean dogs are:

Reader David sent a bunch of “old people” jokes. Here’s one:

From reader Barry. Sound up to reduce stress!

From Ginger K. As I said yesterday, expect a bunch of cat/lawyer cartoons:

From Simon. Another cartoon showing that religion poisons everything. Simon’s caption, “Oy!, as you might say.”

Tweets from Matthew. First, a lovely murmuration, and right over the water:

Successful cat herding! Yay!

An especially peripatetic white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). I’ve put a photo of one below. Why is this of interest? Because the species was driven to extinction in the UK by the early 1900s, and reintroduced to Scotland in the 1970s and to England only in 2019. This is the UK’s largest bird of prey. UKers—have you seen one?

White tailed eagle (photo from the BBC):

Matthew says, “This was from last summer, but is still balm for the soul.” I wonder why all those sunfish congregated.

26 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. That with tailed eagle (I’ve never seen one) looks more like it lives in King’s Lyn with a holiday home in Whitby. The Isle of Wight seems to be just somewhere it’s been once before. I find these movements of large predators (birds as well as land and marine mammals and sharks) fascinating.

  2. “Renowned jazz musician Chick Corea”

    It is a terrible loss. I am unsettled since last night. Corea was not merely a jazz musician. He changed the instrument in a way the greatest musicians have. Yes, Corea is in the same company as Mozart, Tatum, and all of them.

    It also is a shock – this shouldn’t have happened. Indeed I am a bit angry about it.

    The guy was so nice too – not that I met him but he was such a positive, constructive, creative intellect, and radiated that – expressed that.

    1. Yes, a very sad loss. Here’s Chick, drummer Roy Haynes, and bass player Miroslav Vitouš back in ’68:

      Amazingly, Haynes is 95 and still playing – he won Contemporary Jazz Drummer of the Year as recently as 2006! Charlie Watts said of him, “Age seems to have just passed him by” (and Charlie should know about that!)

  3. Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 475,224, an increase of about 3,900 deaths over yesterday’s figure (the rise over the last few days may represent Superbowl party congregating).

    I have to say I think that’s unlikely. The Super Bowl was only last Sunday. Given that it takes about five days for the symptoms to become apparent and then maybe a couple of weeks for COVID19 to kill you, any peak in deaths due to the Super Bowl is probably still a week or two out. People who got COVID19 as a result of mixing during the Super Bowl are only just now getting the symptoms.

    1. Yes, this nonsense has been posted on this blog for the last three days. I keep complaining but the author has not responded. To see any meaningful numbers you need to look at a seven day rolling average because reporting varies according to the day of the week. Deaths have been dropping for the last two weeks presumably because of MLK Jr’s birthday.

      The last 5 Sundays have had relatively low numbers of deaths (1349, 1866, 1807, 1805, 1305). When there are low numbers this Sunday, I wonder what the reason will be.

  4. 1993 – Two-year-old James Bulger is abducted from New Strand Shopping Centre by two ten-year-old boys, who later torture and murder him.

    There was an excellent, riveting, Oscar-nominated short made a couple years ago by an Irish filmmaker, Vincent Lambe, about the James Bulger murder, Detainment. Here’s the trailer:

  5. I have been fortunate enough to see wild White tailed Eagles (vagrants) in the UK before the reintroduction, as well as in Scandinavia. Magnificent birds (and closely related to Bald Eagles which aren’t bad either!)

    1. When travel is once again permitted I’d recommend a trip to the west coast of Scotland to anyone wanting to see these magnificent birds. On and around the island of Mull there is an excellent chance of getting close views (as well as plenty of other wildlife including the, also magnificent, golden eagle).

      1. We had a trip scheduled to Lewis and Harris, etc., for late April 2020. Covid forced a rescheduling to October. And then again to late May this year. I fear we’ll have to reschedule it one more time unless things open up a lot in Spring. Fingers crossed.

  6. Thank you for remembering Sgt Woodard. His is an important story that should not be forgotten, Richard Gergel told his story recently in a book entitled Unexampled Courage. The incident that you recounted here led to the desegregation of the US Armed Forces and to the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Gergel’s book is “available in fine bookstores everywhere!” Thanks again.

  7. 1979 – Jean Renoir, French actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1894)

    You can watch a beautifully restored print of Renoir’s 1937 masterpiece, La Grande Illusion (with English subtitles), for free here at The Internet Archive.

  8. “…an increase of about 3,900 deaths over yesterday’s figure (the rise over the last few days may represent Superbowl party congregating)”

    For the last few days you’ve (PCCE) made this comment but I don’t see how it could be so. The Superbowl was only 5 days ago. Cases transmitted at parties would only be starting to appear in the later part of this week and deaths resulting wouldn’t show up for a couple more weeks. So I think we need to wait until late this month to see if there’s a spike from that event. No?

  9. Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler Magazine, died yesterday at age 78. Flynt was an overall pretty scuzzy character, but he had a knack for making the right enemies. The case in which he convinced the squares on SCOTUS to hold unanimously that his Compari ad parody — the one that featured Jerry Falwell in an incestuous relationship with his mother in an outhouse — was protected by the First Amendment put beyond the pale of punishment for all time any parody or farce or satire or anything else that was plainly not meant to be taken as literally true.

    To his credit, Flynt was also an ardent capital-punishment opponent who advocated for clemency for the sniper whose bullet turned Flynt into a paraplegic (when his would-be assassin, white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, was later put to death for an unrelated murder).

  10. Saw a single Mola mola a few years ago while on a whale watching trip in Monterey Bay. At first, when you see that fin you think shark, but a shark fin does not wave around like that of a sunfish.To see such a large group of them is unusual. I recall reading that there has been an increase in sunfish near the British isles because of increases in jelly fish, which they eat, due to warming waters. I would guess that any increase in sunfish near Monterey is similarly due to warming ocean temperatures. Does anyone have more information?

  11. For a sense of the scope of Chick Corea’s musicianship, consider this performance – with Keith Jarrett no less – of one of Mozart’s concertos for two pianos :

    For more about that performance, there are apparently a number of videos on YouTube to find. In addition to that, there are a number of Chick’s performances from the piano literature including Scriabin. Keith Jarrett shares this scope of musicianship, by the way.

  12. Regarding hospital costs, here in South Australia, it is required by law that hospitals and all medical practitioners charging a fee for an admission gain ‘informed financial consent’ prior to admission. I’m recovering from a knee replacement so I have observed this recently. Of course if something goes awry, this could change but I had paid all my fees in advance and no monies changed hand upon my release.

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