Saturday: Hili dialogue

February 20, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the Cat Sabbath: Saturday, February 20, 2021, and National Muffin Day.  It’s also National Cherry Pie Day, World Day of Social Justice, Love Your Pet Day, World Whale Day, and World Pangolin Day. Here are a pair of pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters (family Pholidota, eight species worldwide). The babies often ride on mom’s back:


Wine of the Day: Beaujolais is best NOT drunk as the alcoholic grape juice released each November 15 as “Beaujolais Nouveau.” That is a festive drink and goes down easily, but is for quaffing, not serious enjoyment. Fortunately, even the serious versions of Beaujolais, like the heavier Morgons or Moulin-a-Vents that I love, are not expensive. The one I had last night, a Beaujolais-Villages, lies above regular Beaujolais but ranks below the ten named crus.  The bottle could not have cost me more than ten bucks, though I have no record.  And, with a chicken breast and trimmings, it was a treat: fresh, fruity, and redolent of cherries, an adjective that almost everybody uses when it comes to Beaujolais. It might not be the wine you want with steak or beef burgundy, but it’ll go with almost any other meat. Many French restaurants serve a Beaujolais as the house red.

One review at the first link says that this is “best drunk when young”, before two years, but it showed no sign of senescence now.  And if you want a real treat, try finding a Morgon from a good producer (Duboeuf is reliable), especially if it comes from a named grower like Jean Descombes. It is a delicious tipple, will age well, and will set you back no more than $15.

News of the Day:

There’s not a lot of exciting news: the Pfizer vaccine can take higher temperatures than thought, Ted Cruz is in big trouble for fleeing to Cancun, and the Biden stimulus package is winning converts. I got over 500 emails yesterday. I’ll give a few lighter items.

The Washington Post has an article about a shop in Paris that sells antique travel posters, just a few blocks from where I lived in the Rue Jacob, and it’s wonderful to look at their offerings. I love the old French posters, and have one or two, including a large poster urging enlistment in World War I. The old travel posters have skyrocketed in price, but have also activated my Wanderlust. I desperately need to go somewhere, but every place is closed. (A Paris reader tells me that every restaurant in Paris is closed tight save for some “underground restaurants” known to cabbies. Paris was going to be my first big destination after vaccination, but it’s a no-go, for Paris without restaurants is like a pond without ducks.) At any rate, here are two old travel posters.

From 1921, 5,000 Euros:

From 1905: 3,750 Euros:

This Guardian headline is certainly clickbait (click on screenshot; h/t Jez):

Fortunately, the butt bite wasn’t serious. The brother of bitee Shannon Stevens describes the post-bite forensics:

“I opened the toilet seat and there’s just a bear face just right there at the level of the toilet seat, just looking right back up through the hole, right at me,” he said.

“I just shut the lid as fast as I could. I said, ‘There’s a bear down there, we got to get out of here now,”’ he said. “And we ran back to the yurt as fast as we could.”

Once safely inside, they treated Shannon with a first aid kit. They determined it wasn’t that serious, but they would head to Haines if it worsened.

“It was bleeding, but it wasn’t super bad,” Shannon said.

The next morning, they found bear tracks all over the property, but the bear had left the area. “You could see them across the snow, coming up to the side of the outhouse,” she said.

They figure the bear got inside the outhouse through an opening at the bottom of the back door.

Remind me to tell you the story of the pig and the outhouse in Goa, India. I witnessed a similar situation man years ago, but don’t want to ruin your appetite right now.

The number of new coronavirus cases is at last declining, which clearly shows in this plot from the NYT:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 495,553, an increase of about 2,600 deaths over yesterday’s figure We are likely to exceed half a million deaths within three days. The reported world death toll stands 2,465,341, an increase of about 11,100 deaths over yesterday’s total. The death rate is dropping worldwide as well as in the U.S.

Stuff that happened on February 20 includes:

  • 1472 – Orkney and Shetland are pawned by Norway to Scotland in lieu of a dowry for Margaret of Denmark.
  • 1792 – The Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department, is signed by United States President George Washington.
  • 1816 – Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville premieres at the Teatro Argentina in Rome.
  • 1835 – The 1835 Concepción earthquake destroys Concepción, Chile.

Darwin was there when this happened, and famously wrote about it in The Voyage of the Beagle:

An earthquake instantly reverses the strongest ideas, the earth, the very emblem of solidity, has trembled under our feet like a thin crust placed on a fluid, a space of a second was enough to awaken the imagination a strange feeling of insecurity which hours of reflection would not have occurred. … But I confess that I saw with great satisfaction that all the people seemed more active and happier than it would have been expected after such a terrible catastrophe. It has been noted, with some truth, that being general destruction, no one felt more humble than his neighbour, no one could accuse his friends of coldness, two causes which always added a sharp pain to the loss of wealth. …

  • 1877 – Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake receives its premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
  • 1933 – The U.S. Congress approves the Blaine Act to repeal federal Prohibition in the United States, sending the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution to state ratifying conventions for approval.
  • 1935 – Caroline Mikkelsen becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.

She was accompanying her husband on an expedition, and landed, though it’s not clear whether it was on an island or on the continent proper.  She was a Dane married to a Norwegian; here she is “raising the flag of Norway at a cairn on the Antarctic Tryne Islands, 1935.”

If you’ve been to O’Hare Airport in Chicago, you now know for whom it was named. Here’s Butch O’Hare in his Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat, showing the flags of 5 the Japanese bombers he shot down. Wikipedia adds “The wartime censor has blanked out the famous “Felix the Cat” squadron insignia on this photo.”  O’Hare was shot down and disappeared in 1943.  I’ve added the Felix the Cat insignia from the squadron:

Here’s the original painting for “Freedom of Speech”, photographed in the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA:

  • 1962 – Mercury program: While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth, making three orbits in four hours, 55 minutes.
  • 1998 – American figure skater Tara Lipinski, at the age of 15, becomes the youngest Olympic figure skating gold-medalist at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1844 – Ludwig Boltzmann, Austrian physicist and philosopher (d. 1906)
  • 1901 – René Dubos, French-American biologist and author (d. 1982)
  • 1901 – Louis Kahn, American architect, designed the Salk Institute, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Bangladesh Parliament Building (d. 1974)
  • 1902 – Ansel Adams, American photographer and environmentalist (d. 1984)

Here’s an Adams photo showing “relocated” Japanese-Americans working on a farm during World War II: they were put in the Manzanar Relocation Center in the Owens Valley of California, a place that you can now visit as a museum of that shameful time. It was a beautiful location for an American concentration camp.

Adams, A., photographer. (1943) Farm, farm workers, Mt. Williamson in background, Manzanar Relocation Center, California / photograph by Ansel Adams. California Manzanar, 1943. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,
  • 1927 – Roy Cohn, American lawyer and political activist (d. 1986)

Now there was a bad piece of work. Famous for his helping Joe McCarthy during the Army/McCarthy hearings, Cohn worked for about every bad cause and miscreant who needed a lawyer, including Trump. Here he is with Joe:

  • 1927 – Sidney Poitier, Bahamian-American actor, director, and diplomat
  • 1941 – Buffy Sainte-Marie, Canadian singer-songwriter and producer

Buffy turns 80 today; here she is six years ago:

  • 1942 – Mitch McConnell, American lawyer and politician


  • 1950 – Walter Becker, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2017)
  • 1954 – Patty Hearst, American actress and author
  • 1966 – Cindy Crawford, American model and businesswoman
  • 1984 – Trevor Noah, South African comedian, actor, and television host

Those “fell asleep” on February 20 include:

  • 1895 – Frederick Douglass, American author and activist (b. c. 1818)
  • 1920 – Robert Peary, American admiral and explorer (b. 1856)
  • 1961 – Percy Grainger, Australian-American pianist and composer (b. 1882)
  • 1999 – Gene Siskel, American journalist and critic (b. 1946)
  • 2005 – Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author (b. 1937)

Thompson killed himself with a gun, and his funeral was a gala event, described by Wikipedia:

From Wikipedia: On August 20, 2005, in a private funeral, Thompson’s ashes were fired from a cannon. This was accompanied by red, white, blue, and green fireworks—all to the tune of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” and Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”. The cannon was placed atop a 153-foot (47 m) tower which had the shape of a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button, a symbol originally used in his 1970 campaign for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado. The plans for the monument were initially drawn by Thompson and Steadman, and were shown as part of an Omnibus program on the BBC titled Fear and Loathing in Gonzovision (1978). It is included as a special feature on the second disc of the 2004 Criterion Collection DVD release of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and labeled as Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood. According to his widow, Anita, the $3 million funeral was funded by actor Johnny Depp, who was a close friend of Thompson’s. Depp told the Associated Press, “All I’m doing is trying to make sure his last wish comes true. I just want to send my pal out the way he wants to go out.” An estimated 280 people attended, including U.S. Senators John Kerry and George McGovern; 60 Minutes correspondents Ed Bradley and Charlie Rose; actors Jack Nicholson, John Cusack, Bill Murray, Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn, and Josh Hartnett; musicians Lyle Lovett, John Oates and David Amram, and artist and long-time friend Ralph Steadman.

The tower holding the cannon, below, was torn down later in 2005 (photo by Paul Conrad, the Aspen Times):

And the duo depicted in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:

(From Wikipedia): Thompson’s 1971 trip to Las Vegas with Oscar Zeta Acosta (right) served as the basis for his most famous novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej and Hili are bargaining.

A: Can we start negotiation?
Hili: What do you suggest?
A: I will give you something tasty and you will let me work.
Hili: For the moment, I’m not interested.
In Polish:
Ja: Czy możemy zacząć negocjacje?
Hili: Co proponujesz?
Ja: Dam ci coś smacznego, a ty mi pozwolisz pracować.
Hili: Chwilowo nie jestem zainteresowana.

We have three cat memes today (well, it is Caturday, no?) The first is from Stephen. What a sad kitty!

From Bruce:

A cat and a dog’s first date from Divy:

Titania is extremely prescient:

From Luana. I have to check to see if Titania has put this on her “things that are racist” list. Nope, not yet.

From Barry, a tweet from the space editor of Ars Technica:

Also from Barry, a quote from Rush Limbaugh. I’ve verified that Rush said at least the bit up to “one of us,” but haven’t yet verified the rest. Harambe was the gorilla who was shot by zookeepers in 2016 after a child fell into his enclosure. And you should be able to refute Rush’s claim, an old creationist chestnut.


From Simon. A PI is the “principal investigator,” a professor who runs the lab. I’m proud to say that I worked at the bench until the end.

Tweets from Matthew: This one is pretty amazing:

I lived in Athens for 2½ years when I was about six, and I don’t remember ever seeing any snow that whole time. (In those years the Parthenon was open to the public, and I used to play inside it.)

Give the giraffe the carrot and run like hell!

34 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. I’m enjoying your wine notes, Jerry. Keep ’em coming, for locked in reverse isolation I can’t do anything but dream about a nice bottle at some time in the future….

  2. WE should recall that pangolins are some of the mist illegally traded & endangered mammals because of idiots who slaughter them for Chinese ‘medicine’ that is hardly the right term for such quackery.

    500 emails- & I sent one – my apologies! 😢😬

        1. Dom loves collecting dead things. He once got upset when my wife wouldn’t stop the car – with our three young kids in the back – so that he could scrape a dead badger from the side of the road and put it in the boot (trunk) for him to take home for his collection.

      1. I think you’re on to something, Merilee. Marjorie Taylor Greene would be interested in hearing from you! I’m contemplating contacting Sydney Powell because I’ve found proof positive of her assertions about the revenant Hugo Chavez voting fraud conspiracy. The secret lies in a little blue bird.

  3. Famous for his helping Joe McCarthy during the Army/McCarthy hearings, [Roy] Cohn worked for about every bad cause and miscreant who needed a lawyer …

    Even before his villainous partnership with Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn was a young Assistant US Attorney in the Southern District of New York on the legal team that prosecuted Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Afterward, Cohn bragged about his unethical ex parte telephone conversations with the trial judge, Irving Kaufman, in which the two connived to ensure that both Rosenbergs were sentenced to the death penalty.

    Tom Wolfe wrote an interesting longform profile of Cohn back in 1988, in the guise of reviewing a pair of books about Cohn published shortly after his death — Sidney Zion’s The Autobiography of Roy Cohn and Nicholas von Hoffman’s Citizen Cohn — for the The New York Times Book Review.

  4. I can corroborate Darwin from personal experience here: earthquakes are not fun! Okay, the one I survived was a relatively small one and nobody was hurt or anything damaged, but still, for a kid it’s very scary to hear a bomb-like sound and for the room to start shaking… It was in Zante, Greece. I remember all the hotel guests ran outside in various shades of disrepair while the receptionist/owner casually stood at the desk, continuing to speak on the phone. They’re used to it there, it wasn’t that big a deal, and we were told after that you’re safer inside the adapted buildings than outside. I still have a piece of rock that fell off the roof. There were tremors for days afterwards and loud rumbling noises triggered me for a long while after…

    Chamonix! My only visit to France, unfortunately, but what a visit it was. High school geography trip to the Alps, where we went up Mont Blanc and crossed the border to a Swiss chocolate factory. And the little hotel we stayed in had an astonishing view of the Alps, just right there in front of you, rising up. Good times.

    Roy Cohn…what a slimeball. He died of AIDS, but denied he had it, claiming he was suffering from liver cancer. Typical homophobic hypocrite. He’s a character in Tony Kushner’s play ‘Angels in America’ and the AIDS memorial quilt memorialises him thus: ‘Roy Cohn. Bully. Coward. Victim.’

    1. I’m with you on the horrors of earthquakes. Living in California, I was used to small tremblers, and even considered them kinda fun. But then I experienced the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 while living in San Jose, about 30 miles from the epicenter; it was a 7.0 that lasted 15 seconds. Complete chaos and terror; I thought the apartment was going to cave in. I ran outside and had to crawl down the stairs on my ass because the steps were jumping around as if made of rubber. When I got to the ground, the quake stopped, and I thought it was Armageddon or something, and I came very close to vomiting. A lot more to the story, but to this day, even a slight tremor triggers me big time. I had PTSD during the weeks of aftershocks. One happened early in the morning and I found my self outside the apartment before I was even awake or aware of what happened. It’s hard to explain what a big earthquake is like unless you’ve experienced one. I hope I never do again.

      1. Gosh, that sounds awful. Much worse than my experience! I’m pretty much fine now but, then, I was a young kid so perhaps more resilient in the way kids can be, and it wasn’t as big a quake as that, I don’t think.

    2. Experiencing an earthquake is still on my geological “to do” list. Potentially hazardous, but oxygen is a poison, and the tyrannosaurs didn’t get a lot of warning.

  5. According to his [Hunter Thompson’s] widow, Anita, the $3 million funeral was funded by actor Johnny Depp, who was a close friend of Thompson’s.

    Depp played Thompson in Terry Gilliam’s 1988 adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (with Benicio Del Toro in the role of the “three-hundred pound Samoan lawyer” inspired by the Chicano legal activist Oscar Acosta). Bill Murray also played HST in 1980’s Where the Buffalo Roam (with Peter Boyle in the Acosta role).

    The real-life Acosta was the central character in one of Thompson’s best longform journalism pieces, “Strange Rumblings in Aztlan,” about the Chicano uprising in East Los Angeles during which Mexican-American television reporter Ruben Salazar was killed by a tear-gas canister to the head fired by the LAPD. Thompson also published a tribute of sorts to Acosta, “The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat,” following the latter’s unsolved 1974 disappearance in Mexico.

    1. After seeing that the Professor posted a description of Thompson’s funeral, I was sure you’d post some interesting tidbit regarding the Doc, and I was right.

      I’ve recently watched Gilliam’s great adaptation, but haven’t seen Where the Buffalo Roam in ages; thanks for the reminder. 👍

    2. I thought Depp had become an unperson last week? Or am I getting the name confused with someone else?

  6. Limbaugh was an idiot, but his question raises an issue I sometimes ponder. When I contemplate our common ancestor with the chimpanzee, I can’t help but think of it as more chimp-like than human-like. But why? Chimps have evolved from it as long as we have. Is it simply a human supremacy bias on my part that lumps all non-human apes as similar and “primitive” as compared to humans?

    1. I agree. It’s hard to imagine what the chimp-human ancestor was really like. Do we even have a good fossil skeleton for it? Even if we do, it is hard to imagine how it lived or behaved. I suppose it was more “primitive” than both but what does that look like?

      Is it reasonable to assume that a branch in the tree of life generally gets more sophisticated in certain ways or stays mostly the same? I realize that is a hugely vague generality. In the human-chimp split, we assume that the humans were the ones that evolved in an interesting, unique direction with the chimps staying largely the same. The first part of this is certainly true, almost by definition, but we may be wrong about the chimps’ evolution being largely static.

      I loved to hear from the experts on this but perhaps we don’t have much beyond idle speculation.

      1. It’s my understanding that chimp fossils are exceedingly rare. Early hominids are not much better, but there are a few like Ardipithecus. So lots of room for speculation!

    2. The molecular clock people (which is genuine evidence, but the clocks do have a significant rate variations, and you do need to apply the sodium chloride granules to the interpretation) put the LCA of humans and chimps at around 7 million years ago. (I forget if it is bonobos, or the more common central/ western sub-species that is closest to humans; the answer may be “both”)
      The further reaches of the hominid family tree go back to about that time (Sahelanthropus tchadensis, but are from a savannah/ riparian environment which is a considerable ecological “distance” from the chimpanzee habitat. Well, today’s chimpanzees. So they’re not wildly helpful.
      All together now, for a chorus of “More Data!”

      While I think about it – if throwing sodium chloride over your shoulder knocks the De’il off, what happens of you throw potassium chloride over your shoulder? Copper chloride? Or, to be really evil, that “low salt” salt (which is about 50/50 NaCl/ KCl from the last time I read the packet). Partial exorcism by over-dilution?

  7. Snow on the Acropolis, just brilliant.

    A few years ago a Greek friend advising me to visit Athens in February as its very cheap but still warm.

    I’m now glad I went in November instead, when it was still very warm.

    1. Bears love eating human waste. There are horrible examples of bears eating people alive by opening the stomach & dining on the intestines, so she was bloody lucky.

      Also demonstrates that weather conditions permitting bears do not always hibernate.

      1. I sent the link to some German friends yesterday, who were duly … tickled?

        When I was working in the Russian woods (about here, we had a bear fall into – or climb into – the shit pit and fail to climb out. The Russians shot it, then sent a roughneck into the pit to tie a chain round it’s leg and drag it off to a future as a rug. The Shellies were livid, and insisted on building a septic tank for the rig’s camp, which provoked much eye-rolling in Cyrillic. (The rigs with production camps attached had already got decent sanitation, being expected to be permanent sites.)

  8. Dead or alive, Limbaugh was an utter scumbag – a distillation of the worse of all of us, mainly the hard, idiot right whom he empowered for a generation.

    if you recall – and it seems few do now – his “hard line” on opiate users who should be “sent up the river” a few months before his own arrest for buying oxycodone from his maid for years. You can’t MAKE assholes like that, they’re born.

    All history owes the dead is the truth, not respect: death does not dissolve one’s sins.
    D.A., NYC

    1. Yep, I wonder how many at the assault on the Capitol would not have been here but for him.

      As someone said, “Some people spend their life trying to make a contribution to humanity. Others wait until the last moment.”

    2. You can’t MAKE assholes like that, they’re born.

      Oh, you can make them. A certain natural talent does help, but almost every religious scum-bag in the world has a lifetime of training by a previous generation of religious scumbag … going all the way back to …
      Actually, that’s an interesting question. How far does it go back? Historically, I’d probably look to the invention of orthodoxy/ heterodoxy, which would probably also mean the invention of monotheism … so within spitting distance of 3 millennia ago, But that’s little more than a wild-arsed guess.

      Obviously it’s not just religion, but like bear shit in the rabbit’s fur, it does tend to get everywhere. I’m just being reminded of the poisonous bigotry of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, and dead friends. That Russell T.Davis has a good pen on him.

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