Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s Friday at last: February 8, 2019, and National “Potato Lovers” Day. Why the scare quotes, though? Are there people who only pretend to love potatoes? I know of no such people. Meanwhile, in India and Nepal it’s “Propose Day,” a day when people propose to their significant others and give them flowers.

Today I must hie myself to O’Hare Airport in my second attempt to have a Global Entry interview. If I succeed in the eyes of Customs and Border Protection, I’ll get the ability to bypass those long customs lines when I return to the U.S. Because of my mission, posting will probably be light today. As always, I do my best.

I’ve timed my O’Hare appointment so I can stop for lunch at Gayle V’s Grilled Cheese emporium near the subway stop to O’Hare. If I’m feeling flush, I may get the lobster and grilled cheese sandwich, available only on Fridays, as well as their homemade tomato soup. (Is there anything more comforting for lunch on a cold day than a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup?) Here’s a video:

On this day in 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots was executed, ostensibly for plotting to murder Queen Elizabeth I. Wikipedia describes the execution:

Mary was not beheaded with a single strike. The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head. The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew, which the executioner cut through using the axe. Afterwards, he held her head aloft and declared, “God save the Queen.” At that moment, the auburn tresses in his hand turned out to be a wig and the head fell to the ground, revealing that Mary had very short, grey hair.

On February 8, 1693, The College of William & Mary, my undergraduate alma mater, was granted a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II. That makes it the second oldest college in the U.S., after Harvard, and I’ve been to them both Go W&M! On February 8, 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated. Now that girls are allowed to join, will they still keep calling them the Boy Scouts? Or will it be the Person Scouts?

On this day in 1915, D. W. Griffith’s controversial (and racist) film The Birth of a Nation premiered in Los Angeles.  Nine years later, the murderer Gee Jon became the first person killed by “state execution”. It was by lethal gas, and the story is a bit gruesome: “The officials first attempted to pump poison gas directly into Gee’s cell while he was sleeping, but without success because the gas leaked from the cell.” He was then executed in a makeshift gas chamber. 

On February 8, 1960, according to Wikipedia, “Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom issues an Order-in-Council, stating that she and her family would be known as the House of Windsor, and that her descendants will take the name Mountbatten-Windsor.” As Johnny Carson used to say, “I did not know that.” I do know that she is the Queen of New Zealand, though.  Finally, it was on this day in 1963 that Americans were prohibited by law from traveling to Cuba or having any commercial transactions with the country.

Notables born on this day include Robert Burton (1577), Daniel Bernoulli (1700), John Ruskin (1819), Jules Verne (1828), Dmitri Mendeleev (1834), Martin Buber (1878), Neal Cassady (1926), Ted Koppel (1940), Brooke Adams (1949), and Mary Steenburgen (1953).

Also born on this day, in 1794, was Friedland Ferdinand Runge, a German analytical chemist most famous for identifying and isolating caffeine in 1819.. He’s honored in today’s Google Doodle along with the formula of his discovery, the world’s most widely used psychoactive drug:

And for biologists, today is the birthday of Henry W. Bates, best known for developing theories of mimicry, particularly the form that bears his name: “Batesian mimicry.” In that form, an edible or harmless species (the “mimic”) evolves to resemble one with a pattern that has been learned by a predator (the “model”). Thanks to Matthew for sending the tweet below:

Those who expired on this day include Mary, Queen of Scots (1587; see above), Peter the Great (1725), Connie Mack (1956), John von Neumann (1957), Del Shannon (1990), Iris Murdoch (1999), and Anna Nicole Smith (2007).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is manipulating Cyrus to get food. What a devious cat she is!

Hili: You have a mission.
Cyrus: What mission?
Hili: Go to the kitchen and bark.
In Polish:
Hili: Masz misję.
Cyrus: Jaką?
Hili: Idź do kuchni i szczeknij.

A tweet from reader Nilou. The big news is that the Laysan Albatross named Wisdom, the world’s oldest known wild living bird, has had another baby at the age of (at least) 68! What a bird! She’s only about a year younger than I am. Here she is with her chick at her habitual breeding site, Midway Atoll:

From reader Barry we have a canny rat (but they’re all canny!):

Tweets from Heather Hastie. First, an island with a cloud yarmulke:

From Grania, we see that some mallards are overwintering in Chicago. Sadly, they’re forced to do stuff like this:

Take a guess at what order this beautiful amber-preserved insect is in:

Grania says, “Best cough syrup ever!” Yep, and besides stopping your cough, it’ll get you drunk and stoned before putting you to sleep.

Tweets from Matthew:  I hope this tale is true, but there’s no doubt that the guy and the Andean condor are BFFs. Sound up, please.

A farting tree? (You definitely need the sound on.) It seems as if these larvae are not feeding on a dead animal, but on a tree. Or so Torres says later in the thread:

Local guide said that tree is known to be soft so more easily attacked at its roots by what he called screw worms. Honestly not really sure, never seen anything like this. I at first assumed a dead animal had been laying there but clearly it was tree-related.

This is a worthy project (I didn’t know there were over 100,000 Holocaust survivors in the U.S. alone), but Steven Spielberg’s project of interviewing them seems more useful than just photographing them. Have a look at the linked article:

A good palindrome:


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 6:36 am | Permalink



    is a real word. Not a typo.

    I thought it was a typo before – for “hike” – as funny as it sounds..

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 8, 2019 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      Also was confused if it was from that injury.

      … yep, im I’m a WEIT fan.

  2. ratabago
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I strongly recommend going to twitter* and enlarging that “mystery” insect. The detail is stunning.

    *I can’t believe I’m recommending a visit to twitter. I’ll go and wash my mouth out immediately.

  3. Posted February 8, 2019 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    On February 8, 1960, according to Wikipedia, “Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom issues an Order-in-Council, stating that she and her family would be known as the House of Windsor, and that her descendants will take the name Mountbatten-Windsor.”

    … to conceal that the Brits are really ruled by Illuminati Germans (Mountbatten = Battenberg). For some reason, german heritage was not fashionable after circa 1945.

    • David Harper
      Posted February 8, 2019 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      The British royal family changed its name to Windsor much earlier than that, during the First World War, but anti-German sentiment was indeed the reason. Previously they were the house of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, through Prince Albert.

      The Mountbattens are Prince Philip’s side of the family. His ancestry is mainly Greek and Danish, not German.

      • Mike
        Posted February 8, 2019 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        There was a Pub not far from here, that was called the Von Blucher, after the Prussian General that saved Wellington’s bacon at Waterloo. It also had its name changed during the first War, to the Alexandra, because of anti-german sentiment. Its local name was “t’hole in’t wall” pronounce “thole int wall” It was opposite a Mine, and the first place the Miners went to when they finished their shift, at that time there were no Baths, so the Miners were as a consequence still covered in Coaldust, and they were banned from the premises, so instead they were served through a Hole in the Pub wall, hence the name.

  4. Posted February 8, 2019 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Matthew’s retweet from the Royal Society seems to say that Bates lost his entire Amazon collection in a ship fire. But it was Wallace who famously lost his collection (and nearly his life) in a ship fire. Bates learned from Wallace’s misfortune and took precautions to make sure the same fate would not befall his own collection.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted February 8, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      That was Wallace indeed, must have been a real catastrophe, Years of collecting, in difficult circumstances, and then losing everything.(much of his collecting financed him, the catastrophe was even greater than appears at first sight).
      But the man apparently was ‘undeterrable’, he went on to South East Asia, particularly Arau, and went on to discover Natural Selection during a bout of malaria. And of course he sent his manuscript to no one other than Darwin. If it were not true it would be unbelievable…

      • Posted February 8, 2019 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Yes, I’ve always admired Wallace for his drive, even after that disaster. Actually the disaster of his Amazon trip was even worse than just losing all his work. He also lost his brother who died of a disease presumably caught while they were together in the Amazon. And still, he went right back into the tropics to do it all again.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    That 1888 One Night cough syrup would make for some bad-ass purple drank.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 8, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      I’d take that cough syrup over the purple drank, which I’d not heard of until now. That kinda surprises me because in the early-mid 1960s, I sporadically hung out in Huston’s Third Ward with bluesmen and never heard of the stuff back then. The folks I hung with were old-timers who played country blues, not the slick, more modern music of the day, which I’d call R&B and all I saw anybody do was drink alcohol; I didn’t even know of anybody smoking pot but suspected they did sometimes — perhaps they concealed their use of these substances from me. They did put on situational displays of prudery and pot was considered over the line (and nobody wanted to be called a wino), but it was out there to be had if you knew where to find it. The younger, city blues folks disdained the old-timey music. I loved it.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted February 8, 2019 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      There is no doubt that One Night must have been effective: 1/8th morphine? I think only heroin is a stronger cough suppressor.

  6. rickflick
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    “…will they still keep calling them the Boy Scouts?”
    For gender neutrality I’d suggest just, Scouts.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 8, 2019 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Wouldn’t work as a name because of all the ‘splitting’ within the scout orgs over recent years. Plus bigots [usually religious] setting up scout groups that reflect their favoured prejudices re lesbians, atheists, gays [“gays are paedophiles” is a wide belief even among non-religious, non-bigots].

      The largest US scouting group “Boy Scouts of America” names their groups: “Cub Scouting” [approx 11 & under], “Scouts BSA” [approx 10- 11 upwards] & “Venturing” is the current largest co-ed US org I think & I suppose the BSA part doesn’t have to be written out in long style.

      I’m surprised to learn today that most US scouting troops are affiliated with a church property & a large portion of “Boy Scouts of America” are LDS – around 20%! Not many troops founded by schools or private citizens.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 8, 2019 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I was aware of their religiosity.

        On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey(“You must obey) the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight(as an arrow).

        Didn’t the Mormons want to dissociate because the Scouts were liberalizing and becoming more humane? Couldn’t have that now could we.

  7. Jenny Haniver
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    It is tragic and not really amusing at all; nonetheless I’m sputtering at reading about the first attempt to execute Jon Gee. Even the Three Stooges wouldn’t be that stupid.

  8. darrelle
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Love me a good grilled cheese. I can make a pretty mean one myself. But that lobster grilled cheese has me drooling.

    Never really had any interesting encounters with smart rats, but I once was terrorized by a crafty little mouse.

  9. Posted February 8, 2019 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Why National “Potato Lovers” Day? Perhaps to differentiate it from “National Potato” Lovers Day.

    • Posted February 8, 2019 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Do we have a national potato? If not, I suggest the Idaho potato receive such designation.
      Then we can talk about naming a national apple, peach, etc,

      • Posted February 8, 2019 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        No, Peruvians have it. But you have national pumpkin.

        • Posted February 8, 2019 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

          And a national bird, Eagle. Ben Franklin wanted our national bird to be the turkey. He was out voted.

  10. Vaal
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Jerry wrote: “(Is there anything more comforting for lunch on a cold day than a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup?)”

    It certainly ranks and I often have that meal.

    But for me, above it is a grilled cheese sandwich (white bread!) with chicken noodle soup…..dipping the sandwich in to the soup. There is something utterly divine about that combination.

  11. Posted February 8, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Lobster grilled cheese? That’s like lobster poutine – a mixture of expensive of and cheap. Probably good though.

  12. John Conoboy
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    By now you probably know this. Once you are scheduled for a Global Entry interview, you have already been approved. At the interview you show the TSA agent your passport, answer a question or two to show that you are the person you claim to be. They take your picture and fingerprints and you are done. The global entry trusted traveler card comes in the mail within a week or two. Not sure why you get an official card as I have never had them ask for it at the airport, but I carry it anyway.

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