Saturday: Hili dialogue

March 20, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Cat Sabbath: Saturday, March 20, 2021: National Ravioli Day.

And I bet you’ve forgotten that today is the first day of Spring! Google celebrates with a gif of a flowery, bouncy hedgehog that links to that information (click on screenshot below). The season starts at 5:37 Eastern U.S. time, so will have been in progress for two hours when this post goes up.

And some Spring tweets from Matthew. Remember, the Earth is tilted on its axis as it goes around the Sun, and the equinoxes are those two days on which the sun is directly above the Equator.

It’s also Great American Meatout Day, French Language Day, Bibliomania Day, World Sparrow Day, National Corndog Day, National Bock Beer Day, National Ravioli Day, Maple Syrup Saturday, International Earth Day, and Atheist Pride Day.

News of the Day:

The troubles in Myanmar are mounting with people out in the street protesting the new military dictatorship, with nine killed yesterday alone and 233 in the last six weeks. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on the country, freezing $1 billion of the generals’ money in the U.S. Former leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains under arrest.

The New York Times has an editors’ editorial on violence against Asian-Americans that implicitly argues that the diagnosis of a sex-related crime is dubious, and that surely it must be of a piece with other racist violence against Asians. The paper has published one article on the killer’s motivations and sixteen about the incident implying it was motivated by animus towards Asians (see post later today). A quote from the article:

After eight people — including six people of Asian descent and seven women — were shot to death in Georgia this week, a deputy sheriff chalked the killings up to the suspect’s confessed “sex addiction,” adding that “yesterday was a really bad day” for the alleged shooter. That diagnosis was met with the skepticism it deserved: The same deputy promoted the sale of anti-Asian T-shirts that referred to the coronavirus as an import from “Chy-na.”

Well, we shall see.

I wouldn’t have believe this had the BBC not reported it, but the sea shanty “Wellerman” has reached #1 on the UK pop charts. The singer, Nathan Evans, was a postie, but he was offered a record deal and is no longer delivering mail. The official video is below, but I have to say that the original a cappella version (second video) is much better.  (h/t: Jez)

The hit version:

The original version:

Uncle Joe tripped three times while climbing the stairs to board Air Force One (video below). This worried me, and I hope it was due to the wind. Here’s a video.

Now here’s a clickbait headline from the BBC (click on screenshot, h/t: Jez):

A sushi joint in Taiwan had a deal in which, if you legally changed your name to one containing the word “salmon” (in Japanese), you could get an all-you-can-eat sushi meal for yourself and five friends. Dozens of people availed themselves of this offer, changing their names back after the freebie meal. The government pleaded for people not to waste their time creating paperwork (it’s only $3 to get a name change), but it didn’t avail:

According to the newspaper, one student in Taichung said she had changed her name to “Kuo Salmon Rice Bowl” but planned to change it back the next day.

Other salmon-themed names included “Salmon Prince,” “Meteor Salmon King” and “Salmon Fried Rice”, according to AFP news agency.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. 540,717, and increase of 1,510 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands at 2,714,737, an increase of about about 10,300 deaths over yesterday’s total. 

Stuff that happened on March 20 includes:

  • 1616 – Sir Walter Raleigh is freed from the Tower of London after 13 years of imprisonment. For the time Raleigh’s imprisonment was pretty cushy. He was able to write, and a photo of his cell is below. However, he lived for only a year after being freed, and was beheaded in 1617.

  • 1815 – After escaping from Elba, Napoleon enters Paris with a regular army of 140,000 and a volunteer force of around 200,000, beginning his “Hundred Days” rule.
  • 1852 – Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published.

A first edition of this book will cost you about $22,000:


But according to NASA, the paper was published in November, and the paper below says 25 November 1915. Caption to the photo below:

“Einstein’s general relativity equations were first published on November 25, 1915 in the Proceedings of the Royal Prussian Academy of Science. Having trouble reading the page? It’s in German! The title translates to: ‘The field equations of gravitation.’” Credit: Proceedings of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, Berlin

  • 1923 – The Arts Club of Chicago hosts the opening of Pablo Picasso’s first United States showing, entitled Original Drawings by Pablo Picasso, becoming an early proponent of modern art in the United States.
  • 1942 – World War II: General Douglas MacArthur, at Terowie, South Australia, makes his famous speech regarding the fall of the Philippines, in which he says: “I came out of Bataan and I shall return”.
  • 1985 – Libby Riddles becomes the first woman to win the 1,135-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Here’s Riddles after her win:

  • 1985 – Canadian paraplegic athlete and humanitarian Rick Hansen begins his circumnavigation of the globe in a wheelchair in the name of spinal cord injury medical research.

He made it; it took him 26 months of traveling, wheeling about eight hours a day.

Thirteen people were executed for this crime (Japan is one of only a handful of First World countries to have the death penalty.) Execution is by hanging, and prisoners are informed of the execution date only on that very morning.

  • 2003 – Invasion of Iraq: In the early hours of the morning, the United States and three other countries (the UK, Australia and Poland) begin military operations in Iraq.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s Ibsen. What a pair of mutton chops!

  • 1904 – B. F. Skinner, American psychologist and author (d. 1990)
  • 1908 – Michael Redgrave, English actor and director (d. 1985)
  • 1922 – Carl Reiner, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2020)
  • 1925 – John Ehrlichman, American lawyer, 12th White House Counsel (d. 1999)
  • 1928 – Fred Rogers, American television host and producer (d. 2003)
  • 1940 – Mary Ellen Mark, American photographer and journalist (d. 2015)

Mark was a “street photographer” who specialized in difficult subjects, including the mentally ill and the homeless. Here’s one of her most famous photos, taken in Turkey:

Beautiful Emine posing, Trabzon, Turkey, 1965. .Credit: Mary Ellen Mark


  • 1947 – John Boswell, American historian, philologist, and academic (d. 1994)

As I’ve said before, John (he was known as “Jeb”) lived across the hall from me when I was a sophomore at William and Mary and he was a senior. He went on to a distinguished career as a historian at Yale, and died of AIDS at only 47. Here’s a memoriam from William and Mary.

  • 1957 – Spike Lee, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1958 – Holly Hunter, American actress and producer

Those whose perished from the earth on March 20 include:

  • 1974 – Chet Huntley, American journalist (b. 1911)
  • 2020 – Kenny Rogers, American singer (b. 1938)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili celebrates an unusual season in Poland. Malgorzata explains:

We have an additional season in Poland: “przedwiośnie”, which means more or less “just before spring”. It was historically a season of scarcity and hunger. Scarcity and hunger disappeared, but the name of this “fifth season” exists until today.

The dialogue:

Hili: The trees are still naked. It was called “pre-spring” in the past.
A: It’s called the same now.
Hili: Yes, but now we have full refrigerators.
In Polish:
Hili: Drzewa jeszcze gołe, dawniej to się nazywało przedwiośnie.
Ja: Teraz to się też tak nazywa.
Hili: Tak, ale teraz mamy pełne lodówki.

Shhhh! Kulka is resting:

From Jesus of the Day. Won’t a photo do as well?

From Facebook:

From Bruce, a satisfied d*g:

From Barry: Remember “his master’s voice”, the old ad for RCA phonographs? (one is below). I didn’t know there was a video of its making, shown in the first tweet:

Here’s one of the old ads:

From Simon. Sloths are like us!

Tweets from Matthew. I had trouble understanding this one, but once you get it it’s a good joke.

What a letter!

A bit of a salacious tweet, but it apparently doesn’t violate “community standards”:

Okay, is this for real?

I wrote about this miniature chameleon before, but yesterday was Taxonomist Appreciation Day, so let’s see the adorable reptile again:

This is the arachnid equivalent of “how should a giraffe wear a tie?”:

34 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. That urn reminded me of a photograph of an electrical insulator made in Italy during the 1930s which used Mussolini’s head as the profile. Made to honor ‘Il Duce’ reputedly some of them are still on Italian power poles to this day.

  2. I don’t think that dog is satisfied. I think it is embarrassed and trying to think of an alibi to explain the chewed remote. Look at its ears.

    1. Actually, it looks more like a fancy calculator. Do people even use those these days? As they say, there’s an (phone) app for that. Perhaps its owner sacrificed it deliberately to make the video.

  3. “…the diagnosis of a sex-related crime is dubious, and that surely it must be of a piece with other racist violence against Asians.”

    Why would it have to be either or?

    Surely we’ve all seen the grotesque ads for “Asian brides”, who will be subservient, always sexually available, and compliant in every way. The characterization of Asian women in this way is both sexually AND racially nauseating.


    1. And pretty wrong. The East Asian women I’ve known were pretty strong willed ( to put it mildly).

    2. My own suspicion is that it is indeed rooted in purity culture, with a healthy dose of exotification. For those who aren’t privy – the ‘sex addiction’ thing is a term evangelicals use to frame any sex-thing outside of baby-making married sex, including masturbation and watching porn. He’d been sent to one of those faith based ‘rehabilitation’ centers before. So yeah, he’s probably little r racist, and the asian sex workers were the nearest thing to him where he could get his rocks off, he hated himself for it and by proxy, them.

    3. There seems to be something akin to an ugly Madonna/whore-style dichotomy in some men’s imagination regarding Asian women, where they’re seen to be either comfort women or dragon ladies.

      These stereotypes have been reinforced in popular culture across the years.

    1. Yeah, that was a new one on me, too. The mental image I came up with was a gorilla coming across an automatic washer for the first time, opening its lid, and sticking his head in while it was on the agitation cycle. 🙂

    1. Yes, I think it’s yet another example of a mistake in Wikipedia’s lists of events occurring on a particular date. I’ve flagged up the issue on the March 20 talk page.

    2. According to Wikipedia in German, the paper was presented orally at the Prussian Academy on 25 november and then published in March 2016 in the Annalen der Physik. The date on the first page clearly refers to a meeting (Sitzung), not to the printed publication.

  4. Wind? That only affects one person?

    Had Trump been similarly ‘affected by wind’ the national press in the USA would all over the story for days.

    1. It looked more like that red mat was slippery. I fear not for uncle Joe’s health.
      Note, I found the whole hullabaloo about Trump’s cautious descent from a slippery ramp a nothingburger. He’s a frail septuagenarian, after all.

      1. Images were widely shown that compared Trump carefully descending a ramp, with Biden vigorously ascending a ramp. But that was an unfair comparison.

  5. I was going to point out that the tank that ran over the squaddie in a foxhole is clearly a Sherman, but on clicking the link to the Tweet, I found out he was in basic training at the time. It was done deliberately, presumably to get him used to the idea of being run over by tanks.

  6. At the time, I thought a good bumper sticker for Rick Hansen would be:
    Rick Hansen – No One Pushes Him Around

  7. I just love those bass backing voices (just before the chorus starts) in the a capella-version of Wellerman

  8. About “Uncle Joe”….that’s what Stalin was called and it always gives me a start when it is applied to President Biden.

  9. Perhaps he should just be more careful when negotiating a staircase – he tried (?) to briskly run up?! Had he slipped going down, it might have been a lot worse… I fell down stairs twice in last few years, through simple carelessness – luckily not too serious injuries (apart from dents to my ego!).
    Take it easy, is the watchword, and focus and mentally prepare to tread securely, before using stairs – especially going down. And NEVER go down whithout holding on firmly to a handrail. As the years grind on we all have to make these little adjustments…

    1. I cringe when I see women descending a staircase wearing spike heels and not holding the handrail. That image is fairly common with well-known women: Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, Melania Trump, Meghan Markle, et al.

  10. Glad to see “gamahuching” made it—this has been my favorite sexual euphemism ever since I encountered it in Victorian pornographic novels. The word sounds so strange and un-sexual! It’s based on a French “gamahucher,” and the French possibly derived it from Latin. But in English it just sounds bizarre.

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