Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 25, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the cruelest of all weekdays: Tuesday, and May 25, 2021, to boot. It’s also National Wine Day and Geek Pride Day. as well as International Missing Children’s Day and  National Missing Children’s Day (United States), as well as National Tap Dance Day and, in honor of Douglas Adams, Towel Day.  

And it’s another Three Bun Day, as I saw three Eastern Cottontails on my walk to work. They don’t live very long, but nor are they aware of their mortality.

Wine of the Day: This bottle from Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy may be the first Sancerre I’ve had (it’s a French appellation with most whites made from sauvignon blanc). It’s not a wine I look for, and can’t remember buying this one, though I have $30 written on the bottle, so that’s what I paid. Was it worth it? I don’t think so. It’s a decent specimen of sauvignon blanc, redolent of citrus and apple, but one can do better: equally good sauvignon blancs are available for $20 or less. You win some, you lose some. . .

Drunk with fettucine alfredo; a slight touch of sweetness would have improved the pairing.

News of the Day:

In an op-ed at the NYT, mercifully free of politics, Salman Rusdie’s thesis is “The stories we love make us who we are.” An exponent of magical realism, at least in his best book, Midnight’s Children, Rushdie says this:

This is the beauty of the wonder tale and its descendant, fiction: that one can simultaneously know that the story is a work of imagination, which is to say untrue, and believe it to contain profound truth. The boundary between the magical and the real, at such moments, ceases to exist.

In his paean to “wonder tales,” one of Rushdie’s favorite novels is also in my pantheon of the greats:

When, as a college student, I first read Günter Grass’s great novel “The Tin Drum,” I was unable to finish it. It languished on a shelf for fully 10 years before I gave it a second chance, whereupon it became one of my favorite novels of all time: one of the books I would say that I love. It is an interesting question to ask oneself: Which are the books that you truly love? Try it. The answer will tell you a lot about who you presently are.

Well, you can take issue with his thesis, but not with the claim that The Tin Drum is one of the best novels of our time.

A fossil fruit, 52 million years old, has been discovered , a tomatillo found in South America.  (h/t Nicole) It shows this:

Delicate fossil remains of tomatillos found in Patagonia, Argentina, show that this branch of the economically important family that also includes potatoes, peppers, tobacco, petunias and tomatoes existed 52 million years ago, long before the dates previously ascribed to these species, according to an international team of scientists.

(From GeeologyIn.com: The new fossil groundcherry Physalis infinemundi from Laguna del Hunco in Patagonia, Argentina, 52 million years old. This specimen displays the characteristic papery, lobed husk and details of the venation. Credit: Ignacio Escapa, Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio

According to the Guardian, the body of a missing Catalonian man was found inside the leg of a large dinosaur statue. What a way to go, too: a police spokesperson explained the tragedy this way:  “It looks as though he was trying to retrieve a mobile phone, which he’d dropped. It looks like he entered the statue head first and couldn’t get out.” (h/t: Matthew Cobb)

And another strange story, this time from the BBC: Criminal trapped by a photo of Stilton cheese!  Carl Stewart, 39, posted this photo on an encrypted messaging service, which was decryptic by the police:

His finger and palm prints from the photos were sufficient to get him indicted for conspiracy to supply heroin, cocaine, ketamine and MDMA, as well as for transferring criminal property.  He’s now in jail for over 13 years because he broadcast his love of Stilton cheese! (h/t: Jez)

From the Times of Israel, Blake Ezra has a good piece about the distortions of the media (and by others, including celebrities) about the recent battles in the Middle East: “I’m fed up.” Ricky Gervais’s comment about Hollywood celebrities in the piece is appropriate.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 589,926, an increase of 410 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,488,194, an increase of about 9,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 25 includes:

Can you imagine the relief of those people who no longer had to eat annelids?

Wilde moved to France the day he was released from prison and never came back to Britain. Here’s his tomb in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, photographed by me three years ago. A plexiglas barrier surrounds Jacob Epstein’s superb tomb, as people would cover the sculpture with lipstick by kissing it (you can see some kiss marks in the photo):

Here I am honoring Scopes at his gravesite in Paducah, Kentucky. The Discovery Institute excoriated me for publishing this picture, saying that I was honoring a man who taught eugenics and racism. But he didn’t: he taught human evolution for one day as a substitute teacher (the other stuff was in the textbook he used for that day, but didn’t teach):

  • 1935 – Jesse Owens of Ohio State University breaks three world records and ties a fourth at the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • 1955 – First ascent of Mount Kangchenjunga: On the British Kangchenjunga expedition led by Charles Evans, Joe Brown and George Band reach the summit of the third-highest mountain in the world (8,586 meters); Norman Hardie and Tony Streather join them the following day.

I went to Darjeeling in India largely to see Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill, the prime viewing spot. For four days the mountain was invisible, socked in by clouds, and then, the day before we left, I climbed Tiger Hill with my camera and tripod an got a morning view of Kanchenjunga that looked like this:

Here’s Kennedy’s pronouncement exactly sixty years ago today:

  • 1977 – Star Wars (retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) is released in theaters.
  • 1978 – The first of a series of bombings orchestrated by the Unabomber detonates at Northwestern University resulting in minor injuries.
  • 1986 – The Hands Across America event takes place.

Remember this? Well, a continuous chain of linked human hands wasn’t achieved, though 6.5 million people participated, but it was sort of successful. From Wikipedia:

In order to allow the maximum number of people to participate, the path linked major cities and meandered back and forth within the cities. Just as there were sections where the “line” was six to ten people deep, there were also undoubtedly many breaks in the chain. However, enough people participated that if an average of all the participants had been taken and spread evenly along the route standing four feet (1.2 m) apart, an unbroken chain across the 48 contiguous states would have been able to be formed.

Here’s Weihenmayer on the summit:

  • 2011 – Oprah Winfrey airs her last show, ending her 25-year run of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  • 2012 – The SpaceX Dragon becomes the first commercial spacecraft to successfully rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station
  • 2018 – Ireland votes to repeal the Eighth Amendment of their constitution that prohibits abortion in all but a few cases, choosing to replace it with the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland.
  • 2020 – George Floyd, a black man, is murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest when he is restrained in a prone position face-down on the ground for more than nine minutes, provoking protests across the United States and around the world

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1803 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and philosopher (d. 1882)
  • 1878 – Bill Robinson, American actor and dancer (d. 1949)

Robinson, a superb tap dancer, was invariably relegated to the “subservient black man” roles. Here he is doing a dance on a staircase:

  • 1889 – Igor Sikorsky, Russian-American aircraft designer, founded Sikorsky Aircraft (d. 1972)
  • 1929 – Beverly Sills, American soprano and actress (d. 2007)
  • 1944 – Frank Oz, English-born American puppeteer, filmmaker, and actor
  • 1969 – Anne Heche, American actress

Those who exited this life on May 25 were few, and include:

  • 1954 – Robert Capa, Hungarian photographer and journalist (b. 1913)

Capa was the only photographer to land with U.S. troops on Omaha Beach on D-Day. Here’s one of the eleven photos he took of the landing:

  • 2003 – Sloan Wilson, American author and poet (b. 1920)

Author of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Wilson was the father of biologist David Sloan Wilson.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, there is some joy this day, at least from Paulina:

Paulina: At last some good news from the world.
Hili: You must be joking again.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Paulina: Nareszcie jakieś dobre wiadomości ze świata.
Hili: Chyba znowu żartujesz.

And Szaron’s hiding in the space where firewood is stored:

A meme from Nicole:

I posted this several years ago on Facebook:

From Bruce, a grilled chicken:

One of many odious tweets by a working BBC journalist. People are demanding she be fired, but I won’t join that mob.

From Barry; nice try, but no cigar. . .

Tweets from Matthew. Learn this trick, for some day it may save your life:

One excerpt:

While the familiar munching and slurping of the dinner table are innocuous enough to most, those with misophonia – literally a hatred of sound – can find them profoundly irritating, to the point that they become disgusted, anxious, angry and even violent.

Does anyone here have misphonia?

I didn’t know there was a Duck of the Day site. Fortunately, Matthew is following it:

Below: the average distance traveled by swifts was 570 km per day, but they often went much farther: the record was 830 km per day (roughly 500 miles) over nine days!

Now THIS is a gorgeous beetle:

A failed prediction from Mechanix Illustrated:

44 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. As this is the day in 1787 the Constitutional Convention began, I will recommend a read if you desire more about the people and the process that created this government. The book – The Summer of 1787, The Men Who Invented The Constitution, David O. Stewart, copyright 2007

  2. Re: Wine of the Day. I’m sorry and surprised that you didn’t like the Sancerre.

    I often buy wines by the back of the label (who imported the wine) rather than (as much) the front label.

    I have found that Kermit Lynch is the most reliable importer of wines from (Especially) France that I have found. All of his wines are unfiltered (he won’t buy filtered wine, pretty much) and transported in refrigerated containers. And I have usually found his wines a good bargain for the money.

    Of course, much depends on one’s taste. I know and prefer French wine (most of the time).

    On the prices, since that was a 2019 vintage, it certainly suffered from the Trump tariffs. They have hugely inflated the cost of French products (and other European products), for no benefit I can see. It was all to boost Voldemort’s ego.

    1. I almost feel embarrassed by my working class wine appreciation. I’m quite happy with a $5-$7 french red, or Hungarian egri. I’m a simple man with simple peasant tastes and simply no money for better. But then if I had the dosh, I’d probably spend it on Belgian ale instead.

      1. Much depends on where you live. If wine has to cross the Atlantic in bottles (and pass the US Voldemort tariffs) the cost goes up dramatically. Possibly my favorite wine experience (many times repeated) is buying wine direct from the vignerons(nnes) in Provence, right from their large tanks (en vrac) at around US$1-US$2 per liter. The greatest wine value I’ve ever experienced*. And it’s not like Retsina: This wine still tastes great when transported out of Provence!

        (* Selling the wine direct from the tank saves the producer a lot of money. I have many professional winemaker friends and these cost a surprising percentage of the overall cost of production: Bottles, corks, labels, label design, cartons, and the labor to bottles, label, and package the wine.)

    1. I cannot pass up a chance to ask someone in the legal world – How is it the justice department appeals the release of Barr’s work protecting the orange one? Shame on them and or this Administration. A very good judge says do it so what gives?

      1. I take it as a matter of wanting to maintain the institutional integrity of internal Justice Department deliberations. I don’t think AG Garland wants to set a precedent for rolling over after a single district court opinion without playing out the appellate string.

        1. After the judges opinion on this matter I just do not buy it. By appealing it means we never see this in the light of day or at minimum, one or two years down the slow road of the justice department. by then – who will care. I thought lawyers were interested in justice?

          1. Hey, I’m bitterly disappointed in DoJ’s decision, too. But it demonstrates that, unlike his Roy Cohn manqué predecessor as US Attorney General, Merrick Garland is to his core an institutionalist.

            I also think district judge Amy Berman Jackson’s decision ordering the Barr memo’s release will be affirmed on appeal. And it may happen quicker than you think.

          2. Hey, as of 4 pm today, we may not have much time anyway. The Manhattan DA is convening in the Trump criminal probe to hear evidence. Let the defense attorneys get lined up for this one.

  3. You can’t find your position using just the Sun unless you know what time it is.

    Oh, and the “I’m Fed Up” article was really good and I agree Ricky Gervais’s advice is good but it doesn’t just apply to actors, it applies to almost everybody in the West.

    Also, I was going to criticise you for forgetting Towel Day, but it turns out I am the one deserving criticism for not reading the first paragraph properly.

    Also, late breaking news. Gryffyndor, a cat, had to be rescued from forcibly removed from a comfy perch on a live electricity pole. The street was without electricity for a good five minutes while the operation was in progress.


    1. You can’t find your position using just the Sun unless you know what time it is.

      That’s why it was such a big deal in the 18th century to develop a reliable marine chronometer.

      It’s also why, when I was delivering yachts (back in the days before GPS) we carried aboard ship a radio device that would send a signal when it was noon at the prime (Greenwich) meridian, so we could take a reading of the sun with a sextant to determine our longitude every day.

      1. The Beagle on its second surveying expedition, the one carrying Darwin beginning in 1831, had 22 chronometers on board from different manufacturers to help assure accurate time measurements. Four were removed from the ship during the voyage, and of those remaining, only eleven were still working when they arrived back in England. [It is amazing what you can find on Wikipedia!]

  4. I have misophonia!! I discovered when I was at a dinner and someone was chewing very loud. I felt like screaming and that I needed to leave the table immediately. I thought that was a little strange and googled it…I also remember thinking “Is nobody else bothered by this?? How is that possible?”. I still have a hard time understanding how people are not bothered by that kind of sound.

    1. In my experience, people who make loud sounds while eating are also doing it with their mouths partly open, and also talk before they’re finished chewing. Seeing someone’s partially-chewed meal was always more disturbing than the sound.

    2. Mine started in earnest back in the early 80s and has become progressively worse. Compulsive throat clearing, whistling, gum chewing (even if it isn’t really audible, oddly enough), unwrapping of candies during a film or classical music performance — all these and many more will make me leave a room immediately. And the sound of young people’s voices/accents, the horror! I offer it all up for the souls in purgatory, who, if I were to join them, no doubt would make the place a living (sort of) hell for me.

      1. You mention young people’s voices. I’ve noticed a great many young women now make no effort to modulate their voices, and seem to think a very high voice is attractive! It literally hurts my ears.

  5. “2012 – The SpaceX Dragon becomes the first commercial spacecraft to successfully rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station”

    I’m pretty sure this happened in 2020, not 2012.

    1. The situation does not seem to be totally grim at Everest. Brazilian news reports that two days ago the first Latin American black woman arrived at Everest’s summit in a party of five Brazilians. Sra. Duarte, a fighter, had earlier scaled Kilimanjaro, Erebus, Aconcagua, and numerous lesser peaks. Windows will translate the following links from Portuguese into English:

  6. 1878 – Bill Robinson, American actor and dancer (d. 1949)

    Robinson’s sobriquet — “Bojangles” — became a generic name of sorts for dancing street buskers. It was the best of one of these buskers that the late scofflaw king, ol’ Jerry Jeff Walker, met while the two were doing time in the drunk tank of the New Orleans Parrish Jail together, giving inspiration to his famous tune:

  7. I kind of like the house of tomorrow, but why did designers think that people in the future would want so much of their life on display to their neighbors? And can you imagine how hot it was inside? Also, I can’t tell if that’s the entry to the house’s garage, or if the road winds around and goes under the house. That would be annoying.

    1. I was half expecting the QAnon brigade to try out that tactic in January, but they blew it with their shenanigans earlier that month.

  8. Quoted from Rushdie’s opinion piece referred to above: “…India’s bitter, stifled, censorious, sectarian present.” Sad to say, I believe these adjectives apply to the present USA as well, indeed, to many other countries at this time. BTW, the f-word makes a strong, colorful appearance in Rushdie’s piece. I can’t recall the Gray Lady printing the f-word before. Is this her first time?

    1. Seems to me that when, in 2016, after all its fretting, The Times quoted Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood hot-mic “grab ’em by the pussy” comment, it crossed a threshold regarding what’s considered “all the news that’s fit to print” and hasn’t looked back since.

  9. I really enjoyed reading this morning’s post. Chock full of interesting things. Thank you Jerry.

  10. In Manhattan it just used to be the (mainly Fire Dpt) sirens which drove us insane – so much so that even 14 floors up you put your fingers in your ears and the FDNY employees are suing the department for making them deaf. For some reasons the local politicians don’t seem to be interested (too busy being woke?)

    Lately, post-pandemic, however, 8th Ave (and parts of Queens, I hear) has become a free-lance speedway for car drag racing and deep throated motorcycle a-holes. All. The. Time.

    I’m not super-sensitive about noise but I like to not have my conversations interrupted (again, 14 floors up behind double glass) and my ears hurt.


  11. Tala Halawa and Marjory Taylor Greene appear kinda close. Lunatic fringe meets lunatic fringe. What was that called again? Godwin’s Law? Only they are not beating about the bush there and head straight for their loss of the debate.

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