Saturday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on a chilly Saturday, January 13, 2018.  I see on my phone that it’s 8° F (- 13° C) outside, with a predicted high of only 16°F (-9° C), so it’s gonna be a cold one.  Nevertheless I must go out, as there are two cases of vino with my name on them waiting at the wine store, including the fruits of a Bordeaux future for which I’ve been waiting a long time. It’s also National Peach Melba Day, a dish invented by Escoffier in Paris in the early 1890s, named after Australia soprano Nellie Melba, and made from  peaches, raspberry sauce, and vanilla ice cream. I’ve never had it; have you? Here’s what it looks like:

There’s an animated Google Doodle today in honor of Zhou Youguang, born on January 13, 1906 (died 2017), a Chinese economist and polymath who developed a method for writing Chinese characters in Roman script, a method used by both the Chinese government and the United Nations. Despite his development of this system in the 1950s, the Cultural Revolution forced him work in a rice field for two years beginning in 1968.

On this day in 1879, and I’ll quote Wikipedia here,  “In Mozart Gardens Brooklyn Ada Anderson completed a great feat of pedestrianism – 2700 quarter miles in 2700 quarter hours, earning her $8000.” That was a lot of dosh in those times, but look up “pedestrianism”. In that particular event, it took Anderson 28 days to complete the 65-mile walk around a track, and she had no more than nine minutes of sleep at a time. Exactly nine years later, the National Geographic Society was established in Washington, D.C., and on January 13, 1898, Émile Zola published his famous article J’accuse…!, laying bare the the lies of the Dreyfus affair. On this day in 1953, Pravda published an article accusing prominent doctors, who were mostly Jewish, of a conspiracy to poison the Soviet leadership. Many doctors were jailed, but, fortunately, none were killed, and they were freed after Stalin’s death on March 5.  On this day in 1968, Johnny Cash performed his famous live concert at Folsom State Prison in California. It’s one of the highlights of the excellent movie about Cash, “I Walk the Line”, and the live album of the concert became one of the best selling records of all time. On this day in 1982,  Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge shortly after takeoff from Washington’s National Airport, killing 78 people, including four motorists. Among the dead was someone I knew: Bob Silberglied, a Smithsonian butterfly biologist who I met at Harvard when he was on the staff; he was a terrific guy. Finally, on this day in 1990, Douglas Wilder, the first elected African American governor in the U.S., took office in Virginia.

Those born on January 13 include Salmon P. Chase (1808, he used to appear on America’s largest circulated banknote, the $10,000 bill). Here’s that bill (I’ve never seen one, of course, and it’s no longer legal tender):

That’s not the biggest U. S. banknote ever printed, though, which is this one, used only for government transactions and printed only in 1934-1935:

Others born on January 13 include Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832), Chaim Soutine (1893), Jack London (1905), Paul Feyerabend (1924), geneticist Sydney Brenner (1927 and still with us; Matthew interviewed him in Singapore recently), and Jay McInerney (1955).  Here’s a nice Soutine, and I think it’s a cat. Kudos to the reader who finds out whether that’s true:
Notables who expired on this day include Charles the Fat (888), Jan Breughel the Elder (1625), Stephen Foster (1864), Wyatt Earp (1929), and Lyonel Feininger (1956, one of my favorite painters). Here’s a nice Feininger watercolor:
and a classic Feininger (“The Cathedral”, 1920):


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is looking for food. I’m told that at this moment she’s on MY couch, curled up with Cyrus, who serves as a very large hot water bottle (cats are exploitative):
Hili: Do you think they could’ve hidden something here?
Cyrus: I think you are too suspicious.
In Polish:
Hili: Myślisz, że oni tam coś schowali?
Cyrus: Chyba jesteś zbyt podejrzliwa.

From Grania: a polite elephant deposits trash in the proper receptacle:

From Heather Heying, former (and once demonized) biology professor at Evergreen State. Check out the salsa link:

Matthew sent this tweet, showing how deeply New Zealand wants to save its keas (the world’s only alpine parrot):

This is near Milford Sound, where the birds delight in moving traffic cones:



  1. allison
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I’ve never had peach melba. It looks quite tasty aside from the french fries on top!

    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      I think those things are sliced peaches, but yeah, that was my first thought, too.


    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      I think those things are sliced peaches, but, yeah, that was my first thought, too.


  2. Posted January 13, 2018 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Peach Melba as shown is delicious.

  3. Hunt
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    According to wikipedia, Jack London was born in 1876, and on Jan 12 (?). I know 1905 is way too late.

  4. George
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    The latest cover of Der Spiegel implies directionality to evolution but it is still funny.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Your high of 16F, -9C is our current Temp. here in the middle. Had to stop carrying those $100,000 bills around; hard to get stores to take them.

    Must say I have seen two films lately and would recommend both as outstanding. Darkest Hour and the Post.

    • harrync
      Posted January 13, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Randall, I actually have had a personal encounter with $100,000 bills. About 20 years ago the Raleigh Coin Club made a modest donation to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian, and were in return invited for a behind the scenes visit. While other club members were looking at such oddities as an 1820 fifty cent piece struck in platinum, I wanted to see the 1865 Gold Certificates. At the time, color reproductions of US currency was forbidden, and I wanted to make sure that the backs were printed in gold ink; they were. Along with the $1000 1865 certificate, they brought out their three $100,000 gold certificates. They said that as long as they were getting out gold certificates, they might as well bring these too, though I had not requested to see them. They took them out of their holders, handed them to me, and said “Now you can say you have held over a quarter million dollars in your hands.” Well maybe. The status of those $100,000 notes is a bit ambiguous. Although they say “legal tender” on their face, they were only for making transfers between Federal Reserve Banks, so if a private person had one, it would be uncertain whether they could actually spend it or not.

  6. George
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Small typo – you wrote that Salmon P. Chase is on the $20,000 bill. Think you meant the $10,000 bill like in the picture.

  7. ladyatheist
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    The Soutine looks like a woman clutching a book (Bible?) I don’t see a cat there.

  8. rickflick
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    The viper dogfish seems to have detached it’s uppers completely! I wonder if she’d like a bite of Peach Melba?

  9. Posted January 13, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Love the kea working hard at improving road safety!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      If only we had as many keas as we do traffic cones, the world would be a much more entertaining place.


      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Incidentally, I was surprised to see the keas actually shifting those cones – the things are quite heavy, even if the keas were only moving half the weight at a time. Those birds are surprisingly strong!


  10. Joseph Stans
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Think how bad it would beef we let Kea into soccer games — it wold be symphony destruction.

  11. Posted January 13, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    It’s probably a good thing that the $10,000 bill is no longer legal tender. Can you imagine your embarrassment at the end of a meal when you have to ask the wait-person whether s/he can make change for a Salmon because you have nothing smaller in your wallet?

  12. harrync
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    A few additions and corrections about the $10,000 bill: The illustrated Series 1934B bill is a specimen, indicated by the all zero serial number; it never was legal tender. There are known to the collecting fraternity about 200 issued bills; they are all still legal tender. A nice condition one will go to a collector for about $100,000, so don’t expect anyone to try to spend one today. [The late Amon Carter, owner of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, was an avid currency collector and part owner of Holiday Inn. He liked to check in and offer the clerk a $10,000 bill to cover the room deposit, just to see their reaction.] The first $10,000 bills were gold certificates issued in 1865; no examples are known to exist today [but a $5,000 from the same issue is known!]; there are known specimen notes of the 1878 legal tender issue, but all issued notes have been redeemed. [The Bureau of Engraving and Printing still has the master dies to the 1878 series; back in 1984-85 they used them to make specimen reprints of the face and back (on light card stock, not banknote paper); you can still pick one of these up on eBay today, about $10 to $20 each.] The small size issue with the portrait of Chase first appeared in 1928.

  13. Posted January 13, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    The $10 000 is still legal tender. However, as the Federal Reserve states:

    On July 14, 1969, David M. Kennedy, the 60th Secretary of the Treasury, and officials at the Federal Reserve Board announced that they would immediately stop distributing currency in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000. Production of these denominations stopped during World War II. Their main purpose was for bank transfer payments. With the arrival of more secure transfer technologies, however, they were no longer needed for that purpose. While these notes are legal tender and may still be found in circulation today, the Federal Reserve Banks remove them from circulation and destroy them as they are received.

  14. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Pedestrianism in the first sense is not at all pedestrian in the second sense.

  15. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Salmon P Chase? What is it with ‘Muricans and wacky names? I can just imagine Mr and Mrs Chase discussing names for the new arrival – John? No, too ordinary. James? Harold? No, same thing. How about ‘Toaster’? – can’t, not been invented yet. ‘Salmon’ then – oh yes, great, I bet no-one’s ever been called *that* before.

    I woke up this morning with the name ‘Reince Priebus’ in my head, which I blame entirely on this website (where I prob’ly read it). It distresses me to think I may never be able to get that name out of my head with anything short of 9mm. 😦


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