Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

It’s Tuesday, the Cruelest Day: April 16, 2019, and National Eggs Benedict Day, a dish that Anthony Bourdain advised you never to order at brunch, since it’s likely to be cobbled together from leftovers from the week. It’s also World Voice Day, a rather bizarre commemoration of the phenomenon of the human voice. Finally, it’s Foursquare Day, since April is the fourth month and 16 is four squared.

On April 16, 1818, the U.S. Senate established a demilitarized border with Canada by ratifying the Rush–Bagot Treaty. In 1881, in Dodge City, Kansas, sheriff Bat Masterson fought his last gun battle (he wasn’t hurt and lived to a ripe old age).  Here’s a picture of Masterson and another famous sheriff; it’s from Wikipedia but definitely looks pasted together:

(From Wikipedia): Deputies Bat Masterson (standing) and Wyatt Earp in Dodge City, 1876. The scroll on Earp’s chest is a cloth pin-on badge.

On this day in 1912,  Harriet Quimby, the first woman to get a pilot’s license in the U.S., also became the first woman to fly an airplane across the English Channel. She died in 1912 after being thrown from a two-seater plane. Here’s Quimby’s photo, this time not altered:

On April 16, 1917,  Lenin returned to Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) Russia from exile in Switzerland. He arrived at the Finland Station and gave a fiery speech calling for revolution. (You may have read Edmund Wilson’s famous history of socialism, To the Finland Station.) When I was in St. Petersburg a few years back, I made a special trip to the station to see the engine that pulled one of Lenin’s trains. Nobody spoke English, and the platform. where the car resides, was restricted, so I had to draw pictures of Lenin in a locomotive before they understood what I wanted to see.  Then they became very nice and let me see the engine. Here it is along with a plaque in both Finnish and Russian (translation please).

Wikipedia’s caption for its own picture (these one are mine) is “The engine that pulled the train on which Lenin arrived at Petrograd’s Finland Station in April 1917 was not preserved. So Engine #293, by which Lenin escaped to Finland and then returned to Russia later in the year, serves as the permanent exhibit, installed at a platform on the station.”

Exactly a year later, Gandhi organized an India-wide day of prayer and fasting in response to the April 13 killing of unarmed Sikh celebrants by General Dyer’s troops in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

On April 16, 1943, Albert Hoffman accidentally discovered that LSD was hallucinogenic while doing pharmaceutical research on the fungus ergot. Three days later he took the drug on purpose to verify its effects, and the rest is history. (I heard him lecture on this discovery when I was sitting in on Richard Schultes’s economic botany class at Harvard. He was a stiff, Swissy man who talked in a starched lab coat, not at all an acid head!)  Exactly two years later, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous  Letter from Birmingham Jail while locked up for protesting segregation. You can see the whole letter here.

On April 16, 1990, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, aka “Doctor Death”, helped in his first assisted suicide. After several more of these, he was jailed from 1999-2007.  Finally, on this day in 2007, 32 people were killed and 17 injured at Virginia Tech when Seung-Hui Cho, a mentally ill former student, went on a shooting rampage. He then shot himself in the head.

Notables born on this day include David Hume (1711), Ma Rainey (1886), Rudolf Hess (1894), Bernard Malamud (1914), I. M. Pei (1917), Fanny Blankers-Koen (1918), Carol Burnett (1933), Bobby Rydell (1942), and Melania Trump (1970). Remember this Rydell hit, “Swingin’ School”? OY!

Those who bought the farm on April 26 include John Wilkes Booth (1865), Arnold Sommerfeld (1951), Gypsy Rose Lee (1970), Count Basie (1984), Lucille Ball (1989), and Jayne Meadows (2015).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata explains Hili’s disgust: “Andrzej’s shoes really need cleaning – not of mud but of everyday dirt. They are simply dirty shoes which haven’t seen shoe polish for ages.”

Hili: I’m afraid you have to clean your shoes.
A: It’s none of your business.
In Polish:
Hili: Obawiam się, że musisz buty wyczyścić.
Ja: Nie twój interes.

And in his future home nearby, Leon asks about the exams that all Polish secondary-school students are taking:

Leon: Tell me about it. Was it difficult?

Opowiadajcie,jak było? Trudne?

A tweet from reader Barry, showing a cat getting a massage while hearing music. (Video; sound on.)

A tweet from reader Nilou, who thinks these baby ravens are adorable:

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. She said this about the first one: “How’s this for cute?” Be sure to watch the video:

I didn’t know, either. . .

Matthew shows the variation in the vernacular words for a fish across the UK. Things get a little hairy in northwest England. (You may have to download and enlarge the picture.)

A science “hoax” perpetrated by a good science Twitter site, @justsaysinmice:

The conflagration at Notre Dame was horrible, but it appears that a large part of the main cathedral has been saved. I got an email today from a childhood playmate I had about 60 years ago and had lost track of until very recently. He told me this:

I just happened to see your recent comment about the Notre Dame fire:
  “I’m just unspeakably sad. Yes, it was a religious structure, but that doesn’t detract from its historical significance, its beauty, and the emotional effect it has on many (including me).”
That comment sparked my memory of a conversation I had with your father many years ago.  He told me that when you were very young they took you on your first tour of Paris.  He said nothing much impressed you and you seemed pretty bored by the whole excursion.  Then you went into Notre Dame and he said you stopped in your tracks and appeared absolutely mesmerized and in awe of the place. He said he had never seen you react quite so intensely at any other place you ever visited when at that age.  I have no idea how that emerged from a deep burial in my memory bank but there it is.

Tweets from Grania. This one is inexcusable as the study reports results in MICE. And it was tweeted by Discover Magazine!

A man and his best friend, a muscovy duck.

A snow leopard pounces, but no living creatures were hurt in the making of this video.



  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I believe maybe we moved ten days ahead on the died list. Booth spent those last days running from the largest man hunt in U.S. history and was shot while hiding in a barn. Others involved in the plot to kill Lincoln were hung.

    • Dominic
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      I had no idea others were involved! Interesting. Conspiracy…!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Dr. Samuel Mudd, the physician who set the leg John Wilkes Booth broke jumping to the stage at Ford’s theater, was imprisoned at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, an isolated group of islands out in the Gulf of Mexico, about 70 miles west of Key West.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        And that is where we get the old saying – My name is mud. Just leave off the second d.

      • EdwardM
        Posted April 16, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        The good Dr was neck deep in the plot but even with the loose evidence rules of a military trial they could not directly connect him as the chief witness to his role, Booth, was dead. He and Booth had known each other for several years before the assassination; Booth had planned ahead and relied on Mudd for his escape. To link Mudd to the conspiracy, the prosecution relied on the evidence of a confederate spy who knew Mary Surratt’s son and who also stayed in her boarding house. Mary Surratt was one of many Northerners with Confederate sympathies who spied on the North and who boarding house provided aid and comfort to other Confederate spies.

        Mudd was found guilty of conspiracy but escaped the noose by single vote.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted April 16, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          “many Northerners with Confederate sympathies” — Damn “Copperheads”!

    • Jeff Chamberlain
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      The “born on” list, too, is really for April 26.

    • Posted April 16, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      There were widespread arrests and trials of anyone who remotely had contact with Booth and his conspirators. Some were later released; others jailed. Sadly, the woman who merely ran the boarding house in which Booth and his conspirators stayed was tried and hung alongside them.

      • EdwardM
        Posted April 16, 2019 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        She didn’t “merely run the boarding house”. Mary Surratt was an active participant in the plot.

        • Posted April 16, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

          All information that I have heard and read is that accusations about her complicity were uncorroborated. One of the actual conspirators begged for her to be found released, saying she knew nothing of it.

          • EdwardM
            Posted April 16, 2019 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

            Lewis Powell did plead on her behalf but the other surviving conspirator, George Atzerodt, did not and in fact he went further in his condemnation of Surratt by extending her role in the conspiracy, claiming that it was Surrat and not Booth who procured the weapons, rifles and binoculars.

  2. Dominic
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    The piano cat is very sweet…

    They saved the, er, ‘crown of thorns’ from Notre Dame I see… I thought they might have left that. Has anyone ‘religious’ yet said the fire is a sign from god to a secular state, (or maybe make sure your insurance is up-to-date)…?

    Many mediaeval cathedrals have survived catastrophic fires in the past & survived. Loss of any more perishable fixtures & fittings & paintings etc is a real pity.

    When I worked at St.Paul’s Cathedral, firemen told us that of course if they aimed water at a burning roof it would ‘explode’ as it hit hot lead. That is why just dumping water from planes, vide Trump, was not a good plan. Also the sudden cooling of super hot stone would probably cause cracks or spoiling of the surface with damage to the strength. The people concerned knew what they were doing.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      I believe Trump said his taxes were on file in the church so he will not be able to provide them to congress. Another miracle.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    National Eggs Benedict Day, a dish that Anthony Bourdain advised you never to order at brunch, since it’s likely to be cobbled together from leftovers from the week.

    Bourdain was no fan of brunch; that’s for certain. IIRC, his absolute Sunday brunch bête noire was “the seafood omelette.”

  4. Don
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    The picture of Bat Masterson may have been photoshopped the old fashion way. I have several old family photos where a face in a group picture was replaced by a better face from a different picture being cut out and pasted on top (with actual scissors and actual glue).

  5. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Bat Masterson & Wyatt Earp image:
    Looking at other pics of the guys it’s obvious they parted their hair on the usual left side. I’m not saying the below isn’t fake, but it’s at least the correct way around:

    bat & wyatt

    Wyatt appears to be sitting sideways on a chair with his right arm propped up on the back. If the above is fake I should be able to find Wyatt in the same pose in a different photo without Bat [I’ll go look later] – always assuming that is Wyatt of course. I also notice that Bat looks a LOT like his brother Ed so there’s plenty of room for error & ‘fake news.’

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Yeah, the real Wyatt Earp has a much more impressive ‘tache. I found the genuine article below out of Petsmart, Michigan City & he warns us to be wary of fake unpawmarked memorabilia. He claws attention to the auction of a supposed ‘Earp’ Colt .45 pistol that went for $225k in 2014 – “spend your money on salmon & chicken liver instead!” he advises.

      Wyatt Earp

    • rickflick
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Wyatt had an interesting life. I’m reading the Wikipedia entry. They should make a TV show or a movie out of it. Although, for the sake of the kids, they should leave out the fact that he out of his brother’s brothels for a good part of his life. 😎

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted April 17, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Messing with the Western mythos? I would like to see that – the Little House series of books for example are much better than the TV pap although the author’s father is treated too generously in the books – he was a pretty poor provider & a crap homesteader apparently. I’ve seen old photos of those one-room sod homesteads & it was a decidedly grim existence.

        If you recall the excellent, dark Unforgiven – the scene at William Munny’s Kansas pig farm – that to me is a successful homesteader & yet it’s misery all the way even when you make a go of a bad job. Imagine five months of winter on the Kansas Great Plains, with winds making a house call all the way from the sub-Arctic, living out of a shack. No thank you!

        • rickflick
          Posted April 17, 2019 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          I saw one of those early homesteaders hovels. About 12′ by 20′ with room for a table and a bunk. The man and his son lived there for 4 or 5 years as I recall. I don’t know what drove people to do it.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted April 18, 2019 at 9:34 am | Permalink

            My mum was born & brought up in a single room double garage-sized whitewashed stone & thatch cottage outside Castlebar in Co. Mayo. Peat fire, no running water, no lecky & shoes only on Sunday for Catlick church. Born 1933, three sisters, a brother, mum & dad in a dank hole with an absentee landlord [the only good news]. I saw it in 1962 @ 7yo & I was struck by the smell of burning peat everywhere in Castlebar & thereabouts. I suppose if you’re a serf working someone else’s land in Europe & you shift yourself to the New World, owning your own lot in the middle of nowhere is an attractive option compared to the ghettoes of NYC. I note you can still homestead in the USA all over the place – free land so long as you build a home on it! Mankato, Kansas [Little House fame] strangely enough is one of the places.

            • rickflick
              Posted April 18, 2019 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

              In our travels through Ireland a couple of years ago we passed many little villages build of local stone. Many very old and some ancient sites. Somehow I was thinking that was ages ago. Perhaps not so long after all.

              We went the southern route and up the western coast, but only as far as Loop Head Lighthouse. We returned Stateside from Shannon.

              I didn’t know you could still get free land in the US. This is a big country, but the land around Caldwell, Idaho is now going for outrageous prices. Housing is chewing up the farm land 40 acres at a time like a mad dog.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    He [Albert Hoffman] was a stiff, Swissy man who talked in a starched lab coat, not at all an acid head!

    Owsley Stanley, he wasn’t.

  7. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Lenin’s locomotive in St Petersburg – H2.293 – was built by the Richmond Locomotive Works for Finnish State Railways, hence the very American lines. It was donated to the USSR by Finland in 1957. The brass plaque, in Finnish and Russian, presumably commemorates this.

    I’d love to get a clear look at the cylinder/valve arrangement, which is very curious; in addition to the cylinder and the piston valve above it, there is another small-diameter cylinder between them whose function I can’t fathom. Googling shows that many other Finnish types had this arrangement, I’ve never seen it on anything else. It isn’t an American feature, so far as I know.

    Lenin’s ‘other’ locomotive, U-127, which pulled his funeral train, is preserved in Moscow at a small railway museum – “Museum of the Moscow Railway” – alongside Paveletsky railway station.

    It – U-127 – is a de Glehn 4-cylinder compound, Russian built:

    • Dominic
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      I spot a steam nerd! 🙂

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 16, 2019 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Absolutely! 🙂


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Translation of the plaque:

      (It’s surprising how many words are recognisable just by transliterating the Cyrillic into Latin – Finlyandii, Lenin, Sovetsnik, Sotsialistichesnik, Respublik)

      Anyway, Google Translate gives:
      The Government of Finland presented this locomotive to the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in commemoration of the visits that Lenin made in difficult times on the territory of Finland.


    • Posted April 16, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      I just see these engines and am reminded of Thomas the Tank Engine. Then I get that damn theme music in my head.

  8. BJ
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I never knew how much I wanted a video of Sam Neill being friends with a duck, but I apparently wanted it very, very much. Love me some Sam Neill.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Played a pretty credible Rooskie in Enigma and Red October. I especially liked him as the yacht owner, along with his young wife Nicole Kidman, tormented by Billy Zane in Dead Calm, and as Holly Hunter’s sonuvabitch husband in Ms. Campion’s The Piano.

      • BJ
        Posted April 16, 2019 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        For some reason, Dead Calm is always the first movie I think of when I see his name, despite his more well-known roles. And I really like that movie. Philip Noyce is an excellent director when he’s given some good material (see The Quiet American for further reference).

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted April 16, 2019 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

          From my favorite Graham Greene novel. There was an earlier film version from the Fifties, but Noyce’s remake is much the better, IMO.

  9. Posted April 16, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    On the kangaroo – I’ve heard it said that all mammals can swim if they have to, but I am not sure that’s true.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 17, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      I too was wondering how many animals can’t swim at all, if the alternative is drowning. And I wouldn’t restrict the question to mammals.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted April 17, 2019 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        It is thought that great apes, including us** of course, can’t swim unless they’re taught to do so. All other tested mammals can swim.

        ** human babies under 6 months & other baby mammals have a ‘diving reflex’ that prevents water entering the airways, but human babies cannot naturally perform the actions that would save them from drowning.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted April 17, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          I was much more thinking of adults. After all, you’re not a child for long, and most of the natural events that are likely to leave you swimming are going to occur in adulthood.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted April 17, 2019 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

            Like I said – adult great apes can’t swim without instruction. OK?

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted April 17, 2019 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

              Has the experiment been tried?

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted April 17, 2019 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

                Yes. It’s easy to find.

        • rickflick
          Posted April 17, 2019 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

          We took our daughter to “Water Babies” class at the pool back in the day. As I recall she was able to “swim” toward us underwater by clawing with her arms and legs a bit. Not sure if that would have ever saved her from drowning.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted April 18, 2019 at 9:16 am | Permalink

            A good thing – not nearly enough parents get their kids swimming

            • rickflick
              Posted April 18, 2019 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

              Agreed. Michigan, I think, passed a law requiring children learn to swim, I know Minnesota considered such a law.

  10. David Coxill
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Off topic ,but have you seen on the news about the two male Bald Eagles and a female all raising their young in the same nest .

  11. DrBrydon
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Is that a snow leopard, or a tigger?

  12. Posted April 16, 2019 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I liked the report about young Prof. Coyne in Notre Dame.

  13. Igor
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Translation: “The government of Finland gave this Steam engine to the government of the USSR in memory of the voyages, that Lenin made in the hard times through the territory of Finland.”

  14. Posted April 16, 2019 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    That baby polar bear will grow up to hunt down that seal.


  15. openidname
    Posted April 17, 2019 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    I gotcher prickly-dick right here. Also yer cock-hardy and bony-prick.

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