Tuesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Tuesday, the cruelest day: March 27, 2018, and it’s International Whisky Day. I’m sure several readers will be having a wee deoch an’ doris today.  Foodimentary has confused this with World Whisky Day, which is in May.  It’s also World Theatre Day.  I’m exhausted, having been unable to sleep last night, so posting may be light today. You will forgive me, I’m sure.

On this day in 1871, the first international rugby match took place, with Scotland defeating England at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh. On March 27, 1915, Mary Mallon, an undiseased carrier of typhoid nicknamed “Typhoid Mary,” was put into quarantine in America, where she would remain until she died in 1938. She had worked as a domestic cook and rarely washed her hands, thus infecting many of her charges, killing as many as 50 of them. She was quarantined earlier, between 1907 and 1910, and was released on the condition that she would never cook for other again. She lied, and was again sequestered away from people.

Pictures of Mary are rare, but here she is (first bed) during one of her quarantines. Her names lives on as a monicker for people who are toxic:

On this day in 1964, the Good Friday Earthquake, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America (magnitude 9.2), struck southern Alaska. It killed 125 people and devastated the city of Anchorage. Exactly 13 years later saw the greatest airline accident in history: two Boeing 747’s collided on a runway in Tenerife, killing 583 people. 61 survived in one plane: the Pan Am flight, while all 248 died on the KLM flight. The accident, which occurred when one plane was taking off, was attributed to faulty radio communication. Here’s a gif of the accident.

On this day in 1981, the Solidarity movement staged a “warning strike” in Poland: at least 12 million Poles walked off the job for four hours. It was the beginning of the end for Communism in Eastern Europe. Finally, on this day twenty years ago, the FDA approved Viagra as a treatment for male impotence: the first such drug approved for “ED” in the United States.

Notables born on this day include Nobel Laureate Wilhelm Röntgen (1845), mathematician and biologist Karl Pearson (1857), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886), Gloria Swanson (1899), jazz musician Pee Wee Russell (1906), another musician, the great saxophonist Ben “Frog” Webster (1909), a jazz singer, Sarah Vaughan (1924), Maria Schneider (1952), Quentin Tarantino (1963), and Mariah Carey (1970). Those who died on March 27 include the zoologist Alexander Agassiz (1910), Yuri Gagarin (1968, flying accident), Malcolm Cowley (1989), and Milton Berle, Dudley Moore, and Billy Wilder (all 2002).

Here’s Ben Webster playing “Chelsea Bridge” in 1964:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, who doesn’t drink, is admonishing visiting friend Gosia for imbibing cherry liqueur. (I had some of that, too, and it was good; homemade by Leon’s staff Andrzej II):

Hili: You’ve drunk the whole cherry liqueur.
Gosia: There wasn’t much of it.

(Photo: Gosia)

In Polish:
Hili: Wypiłaś całą wiśniówkę.
Gosia: Nie było jej dużo.
(Foto: Gosia)

From Matthew, the rotating skull of an electric fish:

A cow freaks out when seeing her first turkey:

Frogmouths are awesome birds:

Why didn’t I think of this caption, for it’s a famous photo:

And a “problem” cat that really wasn’t:

Grania loves interspecific friendship in animals, and sent two tweets demonstrating it:

Are the Amish happy in their simplicity? Not according to this study:


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 27, 2018 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Linda Brown died last night. She was (as a young schoolgirl in Topeka, Kansas) the named plaintiff in the landmark 1954 school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education.

  2. Posted March 27, 2018 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    The Typhoid Mary photo is kind of creepy: firstly, the person in the second bed looks almost identical to her. And the person in the bed at the far end doesn’t look real at all.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 27, 2018 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      I think a lot of retouching has gone on. The guy at the far end was probably dead at the time…


    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 27, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      A Better image at the bottom of this comment! This image is from her first stay at Riverside ‘Hospital’, Hunts Point, North Brother Island, NYC. [just west of Rikers Island – the infamous complex of jails although just a workhouse back then I think]

      @infinite It’s a poor version of the photo – that person isn’t dead & all the people in the pic are women except the male nurse/doctor [or someone playing the part of the doctor].

      The pic was taken 1907-10 when photographs were a big deal & all morning would have been spent getting everything ‘just so’ – it’s the Edwardian era & all women who had hair piled it up on their heads. This ‘hospital’ was a dumping ground for people without means with the unmentionable diseases: TB, gonorrhoea, syphilis etc.

      It is very badly staged which I think makes it strained & creepy. The picture would have been taken at the brightest time of day & nobody except the bedridden would be allowed to lie about on the beds.

      typoid mary
      Note someone tried to isolate Mary Mallon from the pic for some reason. That peculiar white wash behind her – was it done during photo developing?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted March 27, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        Thinking about it & comparing the two photos – that white wash effect was applied digitally much later. A better pic must exist without the wash & with more foreground.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 27, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Investigations of the Tenerife accident showed a primary cause for this worst plane crash ever was cockpit protocol. The old procedures put the captain in total control with no room for other pilots to question the captain’s authority. This most certainly occurred on the KLM plane.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 27, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      As I recall, KLM (which had been diverted from Gran Canaria) was also in a hurry to get off because any delay would mean the flight crew would reach their maximum on-duty time a few minutes before finishing the flight, which would expose them to serious disciplinary charges. The official alternative would be to abandon the flight (and put all pax up in hotels) while they had their mandatory ‘rest period’ or a new crew was flown out… a classic example (IMO) of where safety regulations, over-rigidly applied, can actually be a hazard.


      • Randall Schenck
        Posted March 27, 2018 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        Had not heard that part of the story, but not surprised. I recall a one hour documentary on the investigation of the crash, might still be available. A good friend who was an airline pilot said those old protocols and those older pilots were a problem and it is very good they changed.

        • Posted March 27, 2018 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          The KLM captain was their chief of flight training. In Air Crash Investigation they claimed that KLM were attempting to find him to take part in the investigation until they found out that he was the one flying the plane.

    • Posted March 27, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      There were many factors, any of which could have changed the tragic result. The decision to reroute traffic to a poorly equipped airport. The KLM pilot deciding to fully refuel at Los Rodeos causing a delay and increased cloud cover. It also increased the KLM take off distance. The Pan Am pilot missing a runway turnoff. Static at critical times blotting out crucial communications.

      Such cruel fate.

  4. glen1davidson
    Posted March 27, 2018 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    The owl just looks weird, until you click on the original and see that the dog’s head it’s perched on was cut off in the view given here.

    Glen Davidson

  5. Jim batterson
    Posted March 27, 2018 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I recommend reading “The Great Quake” by henry fountain, 2017. Fountain is a science writer and editor with a degree in architecture from yale. He writes this book hand in hand with georgeplafker, a field geologist (now emeritus) with the u.s. geological survey who on the “go team” of first to arrive on the scene of the quake in 1964 and has continued to study southern alaska geology to this day. It is well written and informative of the science and the human aspects of those people impacted by the quake.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 27, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      In our engineering school library were pamphlets by the American Iron & Steel Institute who had surveyed the results of a number of major earthquakes (Anchorage and Skopje were two I remember).

      In Anchorage, they noted three things that I can recall (accuracy not guaranteed):
      1. A suburb named Turnagain Heights had been built on ground overlying a thin layer of clay (Bootlegger Cove clay, IIRC). When the quake struck, the clay formed a slip layer and the whole suburb slid horizontally into the Sound.
      2. An auto dealership (?) with a huge glass front – the building was damaged but the glass front stood up – glass is surprisingly strong against gradually applied loads, if doesn’t suffer an impact. (The glass panes were very resistant to shear).
      3. A new six-storey apartment building, built by lift-slab construction (the slabs are cast at ground level and jacked up into place then anchored to the elevator shafts) – the connections were inadequate and the slabs pancaked, leaving the elevator shafts sticking up. Luckily it was unoccupied.

      As is obvious, I read those pamphlets with great interest. I must get hold of that book.


      • Jim batterson
        Posted March 27, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        Thanks. Yes the book discusses the soil issues, particularly in areas where people lived and it discusses some amazing tsunami effects in some of the steep, deep, and narrow bays. Also of interest to engineers and engineering students though not related to the quake, are two of henry petroskis books “to engineer is human” and “to forgive design-understanding failure” and of course richard feynmans “appendix f” of the rogers commission report on the loss of the space shuttle challenger.

  6. busterggi
    Posted March 27, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Do not let that cow see a male peacock.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 27, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Yeah, never let a cow watch NBC.

  7. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 27, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    I am maliciously delighted that the Amish with their self-imposed backward lifestyle aren’t very happy chappies. (This is not unconnected with the fact that they’re also ‘god-fearing’ religiosos).

    Basically, they’re a cult, whose members are subject to control, just as much as citizens in a totalitarian society are. The ‘simple life’ is surely just an image they like to project.

    “…people who engage in a voluntarily simple lifestyle enjoy high levels of subjective well-being”. The key word is surely ‘voluntarily’. I’m quite happy to believe (to be honest, I want to believe) that some hippy who goes off and lives in a shack in the woods is happy in his chosen lifestyle. Nobody’s forcing him to, that’s the key. That’s quite different from the social pressure on the Amish.

    (Not that I’m a expert…)


    • glen1davidson
      Posted March 27, 2018 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Schadenfreude, the one true Freud(e).

      Glen Davidson

    • Posted March 27, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      I was about to say the same, but my example for voluntary simple lifestyle would be a retired couple (we haven’t many hippies over here).

  8. DrBrydon
    Posted March 27, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    “What the hell is wrong with that chicken?”

    • claudia baker
      Posted March 27, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink


  9. Mark
    Posted March 27, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    “Pan Am flight, while all 248 died on the KLM flight. The accident, which occurred when one plane was taking off, was attributed to faulty radio communication.”

    Depending on how “faulty radio communication” is interpreted, that’s not accurate.

    PROBABLE CAUSE: “The KLM aircraft had taken off without take-off clearance, in the absolute conviction that this clearance had been obtained, which was the result of a misunderstanding between the tower and the KLM aircraft.

    This misunderstanding had arisen from the mutual use of usual terminology which, however, gave rise to misinterpretation. In combination with a number of other coinciding circumstances, the premature take-off of the KLM aircraft resulted in a collision with the Pan Am aircraft, because the latter was still on the runway since it had missed the correct intersection.”

    Translated from final report:

    The fundamental cause of this accident was the fact that the Commander of the KLM:

    Took off without authorization

    Did not obey the “standby for take-off …” of the Tower

    Did not interrupt the takeoff when the PANAM said he was still on the track.

    When asked by the Flight Engineer if PANAM had left the track, he answered with a categorical affirmation.

    • Posted March 27, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      I seem to recall that all of these problems were magnified by the poor visibility on the day. Since then, I believe that most major international flights land at Tenerife South (Reina Sofia) rather than Tenerife North (Los Rodeos). This is because the weather is generally much clearer in the dry south, compared to the wet north of the island, so less chance of fog.

      • Posted March 27, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        Los Rodeos was not really an international airport. Both planes involved in the collision should have been going to Gran Canaria but were diverted by a terrorist threat. Tenerife South was still being built when the disaster happened.

      • Mark
        Posted March 27, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        “I seem to recall that all of these problems were magnified by the poor visibility on the day.”

        Yes, poor visibility was a contributing factor.

        Translated form the report:

        “The peculiar meteorology of Tenerife must be considered in itself a factor. What often makes adequate visibility difficult is not properly fog, whose density and, therefore, the vision that allows it, can be measured with enough precision, but layers of clouds stuck to the ground and dragged by the wind that cause sudden and radical changes in visibility. . This can be at certain moments of zero meters to change to 500 meters or one kilometer in short periods of time and return to be practically null moments later. This condition undoubtedly makes it more difficult for a pilot to decide whether or not to perform takeoff or landing operations.”

  10. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 27, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Surely, the folks at Foodimentary got drunk as skunks on whiskey and that accounts for their confusion.

    • Posted March 27, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Ah, but that reminds us of another confusion. There’s “whiskey” in Ireland and American Southwest, but “whisky” is what they make in Scotland and Japan 🙂

  11. Posted March 27, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Ben’s cello-like timbre remains my favourite among all tenor sax sounds.

    Lots of jazz births today. Curiously, the way Russell, Webster, Vaughan and the actress Maria Schneider came in chronological order, made me realise for the first time that the great jazz composer Maria Schneider (b. 1960) has exactly the same name:

  12. Posted March 27, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    As the man said, “hey, Gagarin!”

  13. Mark R.
    Posted March 27, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone notice in the hyper-cat gif that the toilet paper was hung the wrong way? But the cat still was able to penetrate this human subterfuge.

  14. Posted March 28, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    And I thought that only sharks have teeth growing in rows!

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