Sunday: Hili dialogue

February 28, 2021 • 6:30 am

It is the Sabbath for humans and canids: Sunday, February, February 28, 2021, and the last day of this wretched month. It’s National Chocolate Soufflé Day, as well as Global Scouse Day, celebrating a stew associated with Liverpool, and, in India, National Science Day, celebrating the discovery, on this day in 1928, of the light effect called “Raman Scattering” by Indian physicist C. V. Raman. Raman won the Nobel Prize for this discovery, becoming the first Asian to win a Nobel in science. Here’s a photo:

And here’s Raman getting his Nobel Prize in Stockholm. The Wikipedia caption is “Raman at the 1930 Nobel Prize Award Ceremony with other winners, from left C. V. Raman (physics), Hans Fischer (chemistry), Karl Landsteiner (medicine) and Sinclair Lewis (literature).”

This is Llopart’s top-of-the-line cava, and it’s unavailable in America (it was carried back from Spain). Aged for at least eight years before release, this is from the highly rated 2008 vintage. Production is limited, with only a few thousand bottles produced per vintage (note the bottle number below), so I’m lucky to have it. And oy, was it good! Dry, but with the classic “toasty” nose of French champagne, it also had overtones of apple, so the best way I can describe the flavor is “toast with apple butter.”  At 13 years old, it’s not even close to being over the hill. It’s made from two Spanish grapes, Macabeo and Xarelo

I had the first half bottle with a juicy pork chop, rice, and green beans, and drank my second glass after dinner so I could savor it on its own.  Llopart cavas, of which there are about eight varieties, are always tasty and good values; try the Brut Rosés if you like pink champagne! Cava is often made with great care in Spain, and it’s a good and affordable alternative to overpriced French champagne. But shop carefully.

News of the Day:

People are kvetching because the design of the stage at the conservative CPAC convention resembles the collar insignia of volunteer units of Hitler’s Waffen SS.  You be the judge, but I think it’s a coincidence. Seriously, would they do this on purpose?

You’ll all be relieved to hear that Lady Gaga’s two French bulldogs have been found unharmed tied to a pole behind an alley in Los Angeles. They were abducted on Wednesday, and Lady Gaga’s 30-year-old dogwalker was shot. The dog-finder stands to get a $500,000 reward, and nobody seems to care about the condition of the injured dogwalker, who, by the way, is recovering.

Even better news is that the FDA has given emergency approval to Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, which is a single-shot jab (J&J are testing a two-jab regimen) that can be stored at refrigerator temperature. The efficacy, at about 72%, is lower than that of the Pfizer and Moderna alternatives, but it’s 100% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths. With 100 million doses of this vaccine scheduled to be delivered by summer, the U.S. will be, as they say, “done and dusted.”

The Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed the House, but narrowly and without bipartisan support, with all but two Democrats and no Republicans voting for the bill (the vote waas 219-212). It now goes to the Senate, where it faces a sterner test. The $15 minimum wage provision has already been effectively removed by the Senate parliamentarian, and two Democrats (Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema), are opposed to that anyway. It will pass eventually, but without the minimum wage provision, which, sadly, looks DOA.

Finally,  today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 511,850, an increase of about 1,500 deaths over yesterday’s figure  The reported world death toll stands 2,538,691, an increase of about 7,600 deaths over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on February 28, a busy day in history, includes:

Here’s a 19th-century painting of the incident, “The Martyrdom of Cuauhtémoc”, by Leandro Izaguirre.

  • 1849 – Regular steamship service from the east to the west coast of the United States begins with the arrival of the SS California in San Francisco Bay, four months 22 days after leaving New York Harbor.
  • 1874 – One of the longest cases ever heard in an English court ends when the defendant is convicted of perjury for attempting to assume the identity of the heir to the Tichborne baronetcy.

The case lasted three years, and the claimant (real name unknown) was sentenced to 14 years in prison for trying to get the inheritance of a family member presumed lost at sea.

  • 1933 – Gleichschaltung: The Reichstag Fire Decree is passed in Germany a day after the Reichstag fire.
  • 1935 – DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents nylon.

Here’s Carothers with nylon, a polyamide compound:

You’re gonna want to know about this; here’s a bit from Wikipedia (it took them eight years to catch the error):

The word dord is a dictionary error in lexicography. It was accidentally created, as a ghost word, by the staff of G. and C. Merriam Company (now part of Merriam-Webster) in the New International Dictionary, second edition (1934). That dictionary defined the term a synonym for density used in physics and chemistry in the following way:

dord (dôrd), n. Physics & Chem. Density.

On 31 July 1931, Austin M. Patterson, the dictionary’s chemistry editor, sent in a slip reading “D or d, cont./density.” This was intended to add “density” to the existing list of words that the letter “D” can abbreviate. The phrase “D or d” was misinterpreted as a single, run-together word: Dord. This was a plausible mistake, because headwords on slips were typed with spaces between the letters, so “D or d” looked very much like “D o r d”. The original slip went missing, so a new slip was prepared for the printer, which assigned a part of speech (noun) and a pronunciation. The would-be word was not questioned or corrected by proofreaders. The entry appeared on page 771 of the dictionary around 1934, between the entries for The Dorcopsis (a type of small kangaroo) and doré (golden in color).

  • 1940 – Basketball is televised for the first time (Fordham University vs. the University of Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden).
  • 1953 – James Watson and Francis Crick announce to friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA; the formal announcement takes place on April 25 following publication in April’s Nature (pub. April 2).

Let’s correct one error here: that Watson and Crick strode into the Eagle pub on Cambridge that day and announced that they’d found the secret of life. As Matthew noted in his post on Crick’s 100th birthday party, where Watson spoke,

[Watson] finally admitted that when he wrote in The Double Helix that Crick strode into the Eagle pub and proclaimed ‘We have discovered the secret of life’, this was not true. Watson said he made it up, for dramatic effect. Crick always denied saying any such thing, and historians have long known that The Double Helix cannot be taken as an entirely reliable source.

  • 1983 – The final episode of M*A*S*H airs, with almost 106 million viewers. It still holds the record for the highest viewership of a season finale.

Here’s the end of that last episode, the 256th:

  • 1986 – Olof Palme, 26th Prime Minister of Sweden, is assassinated in Stockholm.
  • 1991 – The first Gulf War ends.
  • 2013 – Pope Benedict XVI resigns as the pope of the Catholic Church, becoming the first pope to do so since Pope Gregory XII, in 1415.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1901 – Linus Pauling, American chemist and activist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1994)
  • 1906 – Bugsy Siegel, American gangster (d. 1947)

Bugsy was a nasty member of the group of Jewish mobsters called “The Kosher Mafia”. He was one of those responsible for making Las Vegas a gaming capital controlled by the mob, and was murdered at 41. Bugsy’s real name was Benjamin Siegel. Here’s a mugshot from 1928 and his memorial plaque at Bialystoker Synagogue in New York:

Read Medawar’s 1961 review of The Phenomenon of Man, a wooey book by the priest/scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; it’s the best nasty review of a “science” book ever! I wish I’d written it.

  • 1942 – Brian Jones, English guitarist, songwriter, and producer (d. 1969)
  • 1948 – Bernadette Peters, American actress, singer, and author

Peters is renowned both for acting and for her interpretations of the songs of Stephen Sondheim. (She was also in a relationship with Steve Martin for four years.) Here she is in 1994, with Sondheim at the keyboard, singing my favorite Sondheim song:

  • 1953 – Paul Krugman, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate

Those who bought the farm on February 28 include:

  • 2007 – Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. American historian and critic (b. 1917)
  • 2020 – Joe Coulombe, founder of Trader Joe’s (b. 1930)

I just went to the local Trader Joe’s two days ago to pick up some packages of their frozen saag paneer, which is terrific. Here’s Trader Joe:

  • 2020 – Freeman Dyson, British-born American physicist and mathematician (b. 1923)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej exchange observations:

Hili: These lights and shadows are strange.
A: Indeed they are.
Hili: Dziwne te światła i cienie.
Ja: Rzeczywiście.

Here’s leaping Kulka (and Szaron) with the caption: “Paulina’s pictures from the life of Kulka.”

(In Polish): brazki Pauliny z życia Kulki.

Three cat memes today. This reenactment photo is from Fat Cat Art, and is titled “Girl with Purrl Earring”.

From Grumpy Cats:

From Facebook:

Another tweet from Titania that some poor schmoes will take seriously:

Cesar found this tweet from Nikole Hannah-Jones, the NYT’s head of the 1619 project, commenting on Ouou Kanoute, the Smith student whose false claims of racism (see here) ignited a firestorm on campus that’s still smoldering. Hannah-Jones seems to have erased this tweet, which she seems to do as often as Trump tells lies. She vowed to take a Twitter break, but, as Greenwald notes below, can’t stick to it. She’s a nasty piece of work.

(h/t cesar)

Tweets from Matthew. Sadly, this one doesn’t actually show the skunk using the rock to break ice, but it’s drinking from the bowl and holding the rock in its forepaw. FIRST KNOWN CASE OF TOOL-USING IN SKUNKS!

Here’s the latest from Statler, the aging and decrepit but game fruit bat at the Bat World Sanctuary. (I think I identify with him.) The keepers take him “flying” every day, which means walking him about as he flaps his agéd wings. They love him, and so do I. He’s now an internet personality!

Matthew highlights this amazing finding, but notes that people are missing how old it is! He says,

Everyone on Twitter is going nuts over this paper, linked to by Adam, where he says  “Well this is simply the most astonishing discovery that I can recall. A bacteria that photosynthesises from INFRARED LIGHT FROM A DEEP SEA HYDROTHERMAL VENT.”  But the paper was published in 2005 (I missed it too), and has been cited 205 times, mainly by exobiology folk and photosynthesis people. So loads of people who are impressed by this, had no idea. Odd, eh?

I blame the science journalists:

Matthew sent me the tweet with an explanation (the bomb was 2 meters long), and I added his notes and retweeted it. Sound up: it’s a big bang!

Another view:

You have to wait until the end of this one; the folks are completely taken aback!

36 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

    1. Add that they are also not motivated to spend money to update any graphic; in keeping with a party that reviles change, and a base that is suspicious of anything “new.”

  1. “February 28, 2021, and the last day of this wretched month”

    The last day of February is the same day as :


    leap year or not. January and March are left as an exercise for the reader.

    2. The dord story is delightful

    3. All the rune stage tells me is the designers are utterly uninterested in knowing history. Meaning, anyone who saw that rune would say “hmmm, let’s not ask for problems shall we?”.

    1. Is not any nx7 days later the same day? Or do I miss something?
      That Odal rune stage design ‘uninterested’ or accidental? A prank maybe? Yes, about as accidental or prank-ish as singing “Jews will not replace us”.

  2. Re Ms. Nikole Hannah-Jones, I’ve long intended to make the observation that her appropriation and attempted hipification of the name, and by extension the reputation, of Ida Bell Wells is offensive and parasitic, and does a great disservice to that fearless journalist, civil rights activist, and teacher, who risked her life in her tireless search to find the facts, the truth, which is just the opposite of what NH-J does by kicking back in her crib and cooking up pseudo-historical distortions.

    1. Yes. Appropriation that is offensive and parasitic, much like the anti-abortionists creating The Susan B. Anthony List in the ‘90s to get their candidates elected. And to confuse the voters.

    1. I am remembering a short series probably from the BBC called UXB, unexploded bomb. It was about the people who went around London disarming bombs.

        1. Yes, that was it. I thought it was pretty good but as it shows in the wikipedia, it was only on for a few months and then gone.

          I thought the British version of Law & Order was a good show. The original cast was very good but some changes started to come after the first year or two.

          1. Seems the young folks get really excited over one bomb. Wonder if they could have survived 1940.

            The temp on that skunk drinking was 56f. At least was water melt on top of the ice.

      1. For at least 60 years I’ve devoured WW2 histories, much more on the European than the Pacific theatre, but this is the first time I’ve noticed the Odal rune. A quick search of SS runes image showed many runes, this particular one being fairly infrequent.

        That someone should make anything of the similarity between the stage and the rune suggests yet one more example of the deranged Trump is literally Hitler meme.

    1. “TDS” — There’s a shitload of Trump Derangement Syndrome on display in Orlando at CPAC this week (and much more to come at 3:30 this afternoon), but not the kind you’re probably referring to.

      Just can’t quit that guy, can they?

      1. It seems the new GOP’s only platform is Trump. They don’t even know what he stands for and the GOP doesn’t know what they stand for either. Trump is their golden idol, signifying nothing; it’s just a cult of personality, plain and simple. Good luck sustaining that.

        1. I haven’t followed every single thing said at this year’s CPAC, but I’ve tried to monitor the main speeches. From what I’ve seen, there hasn’t been word one said about the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

          Disappeared down the GOP memory hole, looks like.

  3. The rune/stage thing is a crock. It’s a case of selective viewing; if you look at the design of the stage, there are parts of the blue walkway that have nothing to do with the Odal rune (for instance, that piece connecting the two “wings”). It’s like the people who draw suggestive emphasis on Egyptian inscriptions, claiming they’re UFOs or something, ignoring the rest of the inscription that shows that’s not the case.

    1. ” there are parts of the blue walkway that have nothing to do with the Odal rune ”

      I see that


      There are enough parts of the shape that match, for instance, the length of the wings. They are both short of matching the center square part.

      I agree that to make this a big deal, e.g. on Tw1773r, is dumb. But still, the strength of the pattern matching is fascinating in a risible way – how tiny details can get picked up, and tiny details get ignored.

      What OTHER shapes are interesting to pattern match? There must be endless forms, but it is peculiar how laser focused this Odal rune v. stage thing is – how strongly we have to ignore all the other stages and runes there ever were in the world. And all the other interesting things to do with geometry, etc.

      If it was me designing it though, and I knew anything about this Odal rune thing,… you know, maybe they did it on purpose for a prank!

  4. 1940 – Basketball is televised for the first time (Fordham University vs. the University of Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden).

    That was at the old Garden, up on 50th St., before MSG was moved down 8th Ave. to the building atop Penn Station at 31st St.

  5. 1983 – The final episode of M*A*S*H airs ..

    The Korean War lasted three years; M*A*S*H ran for 11 seasons — and the goddamn war still ended in a push. Good thing Ike got us out in ’53.

  6. The $15 minimum wage is dead for now but I suspect they’ll bring it back soon. My guess is that they stuck it in there in the first place in order to have something to remove to let Republicans feel that they had won something. Still, in the end, no House Republicans voted for it.

    Since the stimulus bill and the minimum wage increase are quite popular with voters, even Republican ones, I really want to see Dems make Congressional Republicans hurt with their constituents on this stuff. The Dems are being way too nice so far. I suppose it’s because they still have hope of Republicans helping. The Senate vote on the stimulus bill is the big test. If Joe Manchin doesn’t vote for it, it won’t pass without Republican help. If the bill fails in the Senate, Biden needs to make sure voters know it was Republicans who took their check away.

  7. 1874 – One of the longest cases ever heard in an English court ends …

    Certainly not longer than the Chancery Court case Jarndyce v Jarndyce?

  8. Everyone on Twitter is going nuts over this paper, linked to by Adam, where he says “Well this is simply the most astonishing discovery that I can recall. A bacteria that photosynthesises from INFRARED LIGHT FROM A DEEP SEA HYDROTHERMAL VENT.” But the paper was published in 2005 (I missed it too), and has been cited 205 times, mainly by exobiology folk and photosynthesis people. So loads of people who are impressed by this, had no idea. Odd, eh?

    It makes the rounds from time to time. First time I seem to have read it was 2012 [ ]:

    Thanks for this! I too had somehow missed the anaerobic photosynthesis in vent bacteria, though I knew bacteria may have such systems capable of capturing well into the IR. …

    [To be honest I think that when I wrote that I vaguely remembered I saw it sometime 2005ish but the web track is gone, so I punted on when I first read and commented on it. And, oy! I note in my then scribblings that it was back at the time when the Late Heavy Bombardment was the reigning idea for time constraint. It is torn down by planetary scientists combined with that our biological methods improved : .]

    By the way, I prefer NASAs term astrobiology, since it is inclusive and Earth is our type case.

  9. Sadly, despite his genius Carothers was deeply troubled and killed himself not long after inventing nylon. His lab assistant, van Natta was a colleague of my Organic professor, Trevor B Hill, while he was at DuPont. His lectures occasionally paused for a sidebar, and I remember several of those. He described vanNatta as “a henpecked little man whose wife gave him a dime for coffee with his lunch each day.” (The story continued with van Natta collecting from the change at Ben Franklin’s grave in Phila.)

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