Wednesday: Hili dialogue (and Szaron monologue)

March 17, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a humpish day: Wednesday, March 17, 2021: National Irish Cuisine Day, as well as a specimen of that cuisine: Corned Beef and Cabbage Day.  And of course this is all because it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, a big holiday in Ireland and in Chicago, too. Two days ago they even dyed the Chicago River vivid green, as they always do, despite saying they wouldn’t do it this year because of the pandemic.

Here’s a news piece about the celebrations in Chicago, including the traditional river dyeing, which was done as a surprise:

There’s a Google Doodle celebrating St. Patrick’s Day; if you click on it you go to a lot of information about the holiday:

News of the Day:

There’s not a lot of big news today, and perhaps that’s not a bad thing.

Well, a tax increase is in the offing, and is needed to pay for all of Biden’s expensive initiatives. The good news is that very few of us have to pay a higher percentage. The proposal from Biden’s aides says that the tax rate will be raised only for those making more than $400,000 per year, that corporate tax rates will rise to 28% from 21%, that there will be an increase in the estate tax, and that there will be an increase in the capital gains tax for individuals making more than a million bucks a year.

There was an unusual ending to a story on yesterday’s NBC Evening News. A car hitched to a trailer went over the edge of a bridge in Idaho, and a man, his wife, and their two dogs were hanging off the bridge 100 feet over the water, held up only by the chains connecting the car to the trailer. If you go to the last segment, you’ll see Lester Holt describing the incident and the successful rescue of the people and animals by a specialized team. His final words:

“The heroic rescue–less a miracle than a reflection of the training, teamwork, and dedication of those who served.”

At last the credit is given to people and not God!

More and more, the New York Times is changing from straight news to a tabloidy content, including an increase in celebrity gossip. Here’s a new specimen of that from the front page (click on screenshot). My view is: who cares? The more important query is “How crappy can this paper get?”

And yet, for some reason I’m more interested in the work of Lily Hevesh, known on YouTube as Hevesh5, the Queen of Dominos. The Washington Post has an article on her work, which consists of making videos of elaborate domino tableaux in which everything topples. Hevesh left college to pursue her dream job—building domino sets—and is actually making a living doing it.

Her works include “the amazing triple spiral,” involving 15,000 dominoes, and whose fall has 1.4 million views. Watch it below. Hevesh has set her sights on breaking the world record for a domino fall: 5 million pieces.

Here’s my latest read: a 350-page book all about Texas BBQ! It was a gift from a barbecue-loving friend in Texas:


Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 536,472, an increase of 1,245 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands at 2,683,643, an increase of about about 10,100 deaths over yesterday’s total. 

Stuff that happened on March 17 includes:

  • 180 – Commodus becomes sole emperor of the Roman Empire at the age of eighteen, following the death of his father, Marcus Aurelius.
  • 1776 – American Revolution: The British Army evacuates Boston, ending the Siege of Boston, after George Washington and Henry Knox place artillery in positions overlooking the city.
  • 1942 – Holocaust: The first Jews from the Lvov Ghetto are gassed at the Belzec death camp in what is today eastern Poland.

Here are Jews heading to Belzec from Zamość.  Virtually every Jew sent to the camp was gassed on the spot.

  • 1945 – The Ludendorff Bridge in Remagen, Germany, collapses, ten days after its capture.
  • 1950 – Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley announce the creation of element 98, which they name “californium”.
  • 1960 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the National Security Council directive on the anti-Cuban covert action program that will ultimately lead to the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
  • 1968 – As a result of nerve gas testing by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in Skull Valley, Utah, over 6,000 sheep are found dead.
  • 1969 – Golda Meir becomes the first female Prime Minister of Israel.
  • 1985 – Serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka the “Night Stalker”, commits the first two murders in his Los Angeles murder spree.
  • 1992 – A referendum to end apartheid in South Africa is passed 68.7% to 31.2%.

Notables born on this day include:

Oates famously sacrificed himself during Robert Scott’s ill-fated return from the South Pole, during which every man died. Oates walked outside into a blizzard, and to his death, after saying, “I am going outside and may be some time.” Here he is before that deadly trek, tending the horses (his job on the expedition):

  • 1881 – Walter Rudolf Hess, Swiss physiologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1973)
  • 1919 – Nat King Cole, American singer, pianist, and television host (d. 1965)
  • 1938 – Rudolf Nureyev, Russian-French dancer and choreographer (d. 1993)

Here’s a pas de deux with Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn from “Swan Lake” (1963).

  • 1941 – Paul Kantner, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2016)
  • 1944 – Pattie Boyd, English model, author, and photographer
  • 1972 – Mia Hamm, American soccer player
  • 1979 – Stormy Daniels, born Stephanie Gregory, American adult film actress
  • 1997 – Katie Ledecky, American swimmer

Those who croaked on March 17 include:

  • 180 – Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor (b. 121)
  • 1782 – Daniel Bernoulli, Dutch-Swiss mathematician and physicist (b. 1700)
  • 1871 – Robert Chambers, Scottish geologist and publisher, co-founded Chambers Harrap (b. 1802)
  • 1956 – Irène Joliot-Curie, French physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1897)

Joliot-Curie, the eldest daughter of Marie Curie, won the Nobel with her husband Frederic for creating radioactive elements by bombarding non-radioactive ones with alpha particles. She died at 58 of leukemia, probably from exposure to radiation. This may be the only case of a whole family getting Nobel Prizes. Here’s Irène with her mother in 1925:


  • 1965 – Amos Alonzo Stagg, American football player and coach (b. 1862)
  • 1974 – Louis Kahn, American architect and academic, designed Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban (b. 1901)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili wants to “ask” a starling something, which will be the last question that bird ever answers:

Hili: The starlings have returned.
A: I wonder where they have been.
Hili: I’ll have to ask one of them.
In Polish:
Hili: Szpaki wróciły.
Ja: Ciekaw jestem gdzie były?
Hili: Muszę któregoś zapytać.

And we have a lovely monologue from Szaron!

Szaron: I’m no longer a frightened, half-wild cat. (Photo by Paulina R.)

In Plish: Nie jestem już wystraszonym półdzikim kotem. (Zdjęcie Paulina R.)

From Terrible Maps, the most oddly named town in each state. Britain, of course, has much weirder names, like Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Still, Satan’s Kingdom, Massachusetts, shouldn’t be sniffed at, nor should Toad Suck, Arkansas.

From Nicole:

From John:

Yes, there’s James Lindsay and Fox News in there, but there’s also a point:

Tweets from Matthew. Both he and I love lanky mustelids like martens and stoats. Here’s a young brood of European pine martens (Martes martes) disporting themselves.

A skillful glass artist ensures that the number of tibial segments is correct:

Matthew follows the Auschwitz Memorial account, and this put up five days ago. Notice the shaved head and deer-in-the-headlights appearance common to new arrivals at Auschwitz. This is one of the lucky ones who survived the war:

Don’t watch this if you’re prone to seasickness.

Spot the snail!

I’m starting to really dislike pelicans. . .

Two lovely blue slugs:

34 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue (and Szaron monologue)

  1. My sister-in-law had a pine marten living in the roof of her house in northern Spain a few years ago, and my wife and I were lucky enough to see a pair of them frolicking outside another family house a couple of miles further down the hillside so they seem to be doing quite well in Asturias.

    1. I would guess they were stone martens. Pine martens (Martes martes; marta in Spanish) leave in forests and usually do not approach houses. The stone marten (Martes foina; garduña in Spanish) likes human habitats and often occupies attics. The two species look almost identical and are difficult to distinguish. In Guirilandia if you see one in a human habitat you are sure it is a stone marten. But as they say “Spain is different”, maybe their pine martens are different too.

    2. Momma marten in the video wears a radio collar. She and her two kids are filmed twice passing by the same point.

      1. Not as good as some of the others, but there is also a town called “Maidenhead.” When i first heard it mentioned on a British comedy, I assumed that it was a joke.

    1. I used to live near a Kent village called Pratts Bottom. A little further away is Badgers Mount. A neighbouring village (Halstead) has a pub called The Cock Inn. (‘Tell me, how far is the Cock Inn?’)

      1. In Bill Wyman’s autobiography, he mentions stopping at the Four Ways Inn. He said, “I only know three.”

  2. I think there are other towns in NM besides Pietown Iit’s NOT two words) that could compete – Weed? Tortugas (Spanish for Turtles)?


  3. Apropos silly British place names: Yelling and Ugley are both villages near Cambridge. It is said that a local newspaper once carried a wedding announcement with the headline “Yelling woman marries Ugley man”.

  4. I saw that piece on the news last night where the vehicle went over the bridge. What a place to decide this is where we want to leave the road? They were extremely lucky the safety chain on the trailer was strong enough to hold the vehicle. Otherwise they would all likely be dead. Also very lucky that the resources were available to rescue them and the two dogs.

  5. Captain Oates, so often held up in our school assemblies as a person to admire and, if necessary, emulate. However, as I’ve got older and more cynical, I tend towards Rimmer’s view (from Red Dwarf) –

    “and how do we know he did that? Because it’s written down in Scott’s diary.

    Well, he’s hardly likely to have written ’10 December, cracked Oates over the head and scoffed him with the last of the potatoes’. He probably came up with that ‘I may be some time’ line while he was mopping up the gravy!”

      1. PCC,

        Not at all, although I feel that the particularly apt ‘last words’ weren’t true and were Scott trying to capture his own feelings about what Oates did as I doubt they would have just let him walk away.

        I favour the scenario of Oates slipping out without being noticed to prevent his friends from trying to stop him and the diary entry then acknowledges the truth of why he did it and, perhaps, helped Scott and co assuage any guilt they might otherwise have felt that they couldn’t/didn’t stop him and even any shame that they might feel grateful for the choice he made.

        Red Dwarf’s Rimmer is a coward and an idiot, so he’d kill and eat a team member if it gave him a chance to live, it wouldn’t occur to him that others might not be the same.

        The script and delivery is still spectacularly funny though

  6. The only time I saw Nureyev live, in La Sylphide (as opposed to Les Sylphides), he was wearing a calf-length kilt🙀 What a missed opportunity to see those incredible legs!

  7. Re unfortunate names, I have family who live near Boring. Outside the local post office there is a large sign proclaiming ‘Boring Oregon’. It makes a nice photograph.

  8. I think Lily Hevesh should be made World Co-President, to rule alongside David Attenborough.
    Or at least given a military-sized budget to buy as many dominoes as she sees fit.

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