Tuesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Tuesday, February 19, 2019—the 50th day of the year—and National Chocolate Mint Day. Across the pond in Bulgaria, it’s the day of Commemoration of Vasil Levski.

Note that Maajid Nawaz was attacked last night—not by Muslims, who detest him for his liberalism, but by a white person, who apparentl detested him because of his “Pakistani-ness” (he was born in England to a Pakistani family).  I cannot stand all the hatred that emanates from many corners, and violence is never on (unless you’re Dan Arel).

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld just died at 85. I wonder who will take care of his pampered cat Choupette, who had two maids. As Wikipedia notes:

She has two “beloved” maids, Françoise and Marjorie, who tend to Choupette (a task that includes taking care of her hair and other beauty jobs) and keep a diary of her activities and moods for the reference of Lagerfeld and an on-call vet. Of the two maids, Choupette is said to prefer Françoise

On this day in 1847, the first rescuers reached the Donner Party, stranded for four months by snow in the Sierra Nevada. Of the 87 pioneers who left for California, only 48 survived; the party is infamous because they ate the bodies of the dead, but I see nothing wrong with that.  On February 19, 1878, Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.  On this day in 1913,  Pedro Lascuráin became President of Mexico, but for only 45 minutes; this is the shortest duration of any head of state in history. The backstory from Wikipedia:

On 19 February 1913, General Victoriano Huerta overthrew Madero. Lascuráin was one of the people who convinced Madero to resign the presidency while he was being held prisoner in the National Palace and claimed that his life was in danger if he refused.

Under the 1857 Constitution of Mexico, the vice-president, the attorney general, the foreign secretary, and the interior secretary stood in line to the presidency. As well as Madero, Huerta had ousted Vice-President José María Pino Suárez and Attorney General Adolfo Valles Baca.  To give the coup d’état some appearance of legality, he had Lascuráin, as foreign secretary, assume the presidency, who would then appoint him as his interior secretary, making Huerta next in line to the presidency, and then resign.

The presidency thus passed to Huerta. As a consequence, Lascuráin was president for less than an hour; sources quote figures ranging from 15 to 56 minutes. To date, Lascuráin’s presidency is the shortest in history, even briefer than that of Venezuelan politician Diosdado Cabello in 2002.

On this day in 1942, 250 Japanese warplanes attacked the Australian city of Darwin, killing 243. I am not sure whether this was the only direct Japanese attack on Australia, but readers can fill us in.  On February 19, 1949, just ten months before Professor Ceiling Cat was born of a virgin, Ezra Pound was awarded the first Bollingen Prize in poetry. At the time he was confined in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., assumed to be mentally ill as well as a traitor. Both accusations are partly true, but he was also a great poet. Here’s his mug shot when captured by the U.S. Army:

On this day in 1963, Betty Friedan’s pathbreaking book, The Feminine Mystiquewas published, launching second-wave feminism in America. The book grew out of Friedan’s survey of her classmates at Smith College, finding that many of them were dissatisfied with their post-college lives. Finally, on February 19, 2002, the Mars Odyssey space probe began mapping the surface of the red planet. It’s still orbiting Mars and sending back data.

Notables born on this day include David Garrick (1717), Svante Arrhenius (1859), Carson McCullers (1917), Lee Marvin (1924), Smokey Robinson (1940), Will Provine (1942), Karen Silkwood (1946), Amy Tan (1952), and Seal (1963, real name Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel).

Those who joined the Choir Invisible on February 19 include Ernst Mach (1916), André Gide (1951), Knut Hamsun (1952), Leo Rosten (1997), Stanley Kramer (2001), and Umberto Eco (2016).

And just yesterday, George Mendonsa died, a veteran of World War II. He’s famous for being the sailor in this iconic picture, celebrating the end of the war with Japan in Times Square, New York City. The jubilant sailor kissed a woman without her consent, and would be court-martialed today.  The date: August 14, 1945. The photographer: Alfred Eisenstadt. For many years after the photo was published in Life magazine, the sailor and woman in uniform (a dental nurse, it turned out, and it was her 21st birthday) were unidentified. Historians figured it out. . .

From Rare Historical Photos:

Decades later the unknown couple was identified as the American sailor George Mendonsa and nurse Greta Zimmer Friedman. Greta Friedman was 21 years old on August 14, 1945. After reporting to work at a dentist’s office, she heard the news: Japan had surrendered, and World War II was coming to an end. She wandered into Times Square when a passing sailor locked her in an unexpected embrace. “I did not see him approaching, and before I know it I was in this vice grip,” she told CBS news in a 2012 interview. “It wasn’t my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and grabbed. That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me”.

The kisser was the 22-year-old George Mendonsa of Newport, Rhode Island. He was on leave from the USS The Sullivans (DD-537) and was watching a movie with his future wife, Rita [JAC: !!!!], at Radio City Music Hall when the doors opened and people started screaming the war was over. George and Rita joined the partying on the street, but when they could not get into the packed bars decided to walk down the street. It was then that George saw a woman in a white dress walk by and took her into his arms and kissed her, “I had quite a few drinks that day and I considered her one of the troops—she was a nurse”.

Friedman died at age 92 on September 8, 2016, in Richmond, Virginia. She is buried beside her husband, infantryman Mischa Elliott Friedman, at Arlington National Cemetery.

Here’s Mendonsa, deceased yesterday) with his Photo of Fame:

Credit: Connie Grosch/Providence Journal via AP.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is. . . well, let Malgorzata explain: “She is looking to the west (geographically), checking whether everything is in order. But she cannot resist the temptation to show off: ‘Look, I know the world’s literature!'”

A: What are you observing so intently?
Hili: It seems that all is quiet on the Western Front.
In Polish:
Ja; Czemu się tak przyglądasz?
Hili: Wygląda na to, że na zachodzie bez zmian.

A picture from reader Merilee:

And one from reader Moto:

A tweet I found showing a stupendous pass in the NBA All-Star game on Sunday.

From Gethyn, who along with his partner Laurie has just become the staff of two black kittens. Here’s a black allotment cat in Birmingham objecting to the city’s plans:

From reader Barry, who says he’s impressed because “a dog figured out two things”:

I guess “gender reveal” parties are a thing now, and reader Nilou found a particularly impressive one:

From Heather Hastie, a newborn kakapo chick. This thing is unrecognizable as a parrot!

Tweets from Matthew.  Thanks to Neil for this first one, which I can’t resist out of self-aggrandizement:

A Cambridge University physicist has a Senior Moment:

The impressive results of kin selection in H. sapiens:

Tweets from Grania. The first one is hilarious: an autotuned cat! This gets the Tweet of the Week Award. Needless to say, turn the sound up.

A brain-dump from our “President” about dogs, transcribed and tweeted by the Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star:

Grania loves those bodega cats; this one is apparently on a bread and water diet:


  1. Michael Fisher
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    change.org petition Save Walsall Road Allotments – home to SEVEN ex-feral cats

    Homage to Bill & Ben the Flower Pot Men:

  2. Historian
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    The pure exhilaration that Americans as a nation and people experienced on V-J Day is something that will never be repeated again. Almost immediately thereafter, the Cold War set in and cracks in the body politic emerged, now being giant chasms. It’s too bad that it took an horrific war to bring the nation together.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    A brain-dump from our “President” about dogs …

    I doubt there’s been a more desultory, disjointed, incoherent address by a head of state since the days of Caligula.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 19, 2019 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      This is what happens when you don’t have a wall. Four of them and a straight jacket.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 19, 2019 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      If you were to rank incoherent addresses by national leaders through all recorded time I suspect Trump would take all the spots from #1 down to #30 or so. Even Hitler on his drug cocktails could stick to a few related hating points & not drag in the kitchen sink.

      This is 10 minutes from last night’s Colbert on Trumps ridiculous national emergency, forgetful grandad ‘speech’.

      In there is a tiny bit of video of when a Bald Eagle attacked Trump during a Time Magazine photoshoot in Dec 2015. Most satisfying! Here’s a long version unembedded: https://youtu.be/o7_OWYrLVOU

      • rickflick
        Posted February 19, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Colbert is a seriously good refuge from depression. Trumps struggle with the Eagle is symbolic of his struggles with America. Not much chemistry.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 19, 2019 at 10:16 am | Permalink

          Yes it’s Symbolism Embolism Central. Plus in the background there’s the wildly successful Louisianan Jon Batiste & his Stay Human crew garnering plaudits & dosh through work & sheer talent. All that uppity clambering up the ladder by blacks must mightily pull on the orange Trumpsters choke chain!

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted February 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        You’ve got the identification of the videos reversed.

        This is taking the moment into the realm of symbology, but that bald eagle, an instantiation of the US national emblem, was extremely prescient in its behavior, and Trump hadn’t even been elected yet. Good thing it was trained! but it obviously had another, more rapacious agenda in mind than a photo shoot. At best, I think it wanted to make off with the toupee. If I were a Greek Sibyl I’d see that as an omen.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted February 19, 2019 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps, But it has been two years, and all the rest of the world see of constructive alternative is “Trump is so bad, he looks like your mama’s behind”. Proof of the mess is that I-can-never-convert-my-Utopia-to-real-politics Sanders is back, and got the rubber stamp approval from our post-communist Left Party showing how bad *he* is. Even Jerry is token spurning democracy by quoting Trump’s title as if it is not real.

      So we will suffer Trump another six years. Unless he mucks further with the remains of US democracy and makes himself President for life.

  4. yazikus
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Speaking of the Donner Party – this summer on my reading binge I came across the novel Hunger, by Alma Katsu. It is a retelling of the Party’s story, with a frightening supernatural twist. I enjoyed it very much and would not hesitate to recommend.

    • Posted February 19, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Coming from a very different angle, a 1992 study found that survival in the Donner Party depended in large part on one’s sex — women are physiologically better able to endure extreme cold & starvation — and family status — having others to share with & care for you helps immensely.


      Many factors contributed to the disaster, stretching back to the party’s formation and including mistakes & mishaps at nearly each step of the journey. I’ve also read business management essays discussing the group’s flawed leadership & hierarchy structure and decision-making mechanisms.

      Having spent considerable time on Donner Lake, including during snow storms, this holds a certain fascination for me.

      • John Conoboy
        Posted February 19, 2019 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        There is a new book out about the Donner Party by Michael Wallis called The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny I have not read it, but Michael is a pretty good writer so it might be worth checking out.

      • yazikus
        Posted February 19, 2019 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        Matt- just saw this. You should check out the book, if includes all of those elements (gender, bad planning, mistakes, poor leadership, the land, etc). Katsu writes landscape like no one I’ve read in a long time. Part of the enjoyable terror of the book is that we know what is coming, we’re just along for the ride. My library carried it, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to get a copy.

  5. rickflick
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    When I first saw the Nawaz images, I immediately thought a militant Islamist had attempted murder. But, it looks like the perpetrator didn’t know who he was.

    • Posted February 19, 2019 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Or didn’t care, lumping all “Pakis” together. What a shameful, disgusting attack!

  6. Claudia Baker
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Best wishes to Maajid. Feeling very sad for him right now.

  7. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    That dog IS impressive.

  8. Larry Smith
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    So, basically the iconic kiss photo was what would today be considered an act of sexual assault?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 19, 2019 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Yes Larry. And it was exactly that.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 19, 2019 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      It would certainly constitute an actionable battery.

      I suspect that its being V-J Day and all would be a mitigating circumstance at sentencing, assuming the nurse wanted to pursue charges in the first place.

  9. Glen Tarr
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    So the famous VJ Day photo depicts sexual assault!

  10. Posted February 19, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Mach went pretty fast.

  11. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I’m very much impressed by the ‘dad reflexes, now we know what dads are good for!

    • John Conoboy
      Posted February 19, 2019 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      When my daughter was little, she was in her high chair at breakfast. She managed to get up and sit on the arm of the chair and then fell over backward. I was next to her and reached over quickly and grabbed her leg, stopping her fall just before her head hit the floor. Back then nobody was making movies of everything on their smart phone, so I have no proof.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 19, 2019 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        It seems likely that the automatic instinctive emergency response evolved some time ago, before smartphones, so I believe you. 🙂


    • Posted February 21, 2019 at 1:40 am | Permalink

      That last guy in the dad reflexes committed fan interference (he reached over the wall into the field of play) and should have been kicked out of the stadium

  12. Jenny Haniver
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Some photos of Choupette, who commanded Karl Lagerfeld https://www.cnn.com/style/article/choupette-karl-lagerfeld-cat-scli-intl/index.html.

    I’ll take the experts’ word that the little ball of fluff is actually a kakapo chick. I went to full screen and it looked like a bigger ball of fluff. I couldn’t see anything bird-like about it.

  13. Michael Watts
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Darwin was attacked numerous times during the war with the last air raid being on May 2nd 1943. The 19th February 1942 raid was the largest, at least partly because the land bombers were reinforced by carrier aircraft.

    Several other locations on the mainland and outlying islands were also bombed. Most interesting of the attacks on Australia was a midget submarine attack against Sydney harbor on the night of May 31st-June 1st 1942 which sank a cargo ship and killed 21 sailors. The carrier subs for the midgets went on to sunk several ships offshore and shelled Newcastle on June 8th.

    Wikipedia has a decent, non-controversial, page on the air attacks against Australia


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 19, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Of course, since the north-west half of Oz is, to a first approximation, empty and uninhabitable, it would have been a sitting duck for an invasion, anywhere anybody wanted to.

      Probably what saved it is, what would an invader gain? A thousand miles of desert to cross before they reached anywhere of any interest. Just a huge resource sink if they had any more pressing military objectives.


  14. Kieran
    Posted February 19, 2019 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    On this day http://tomcreandiscovery.com/?p=1290
    Tom Crean finished his 35 mile march to find rescue for his shipmate

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