Thursday: Hili dialogue

July 27, 2017 • 6:30 am

Good morning: it’s July 27, 2017, and also Thursday, which means I have to hie over to the hospital (5 min walk) to get physical therapy on my shoulder to help it heal. This will be a first for me, but I’m not getting any younger. I suppose it could be worse! It’s National Scotch Day, and although I’m not much of a Scotch drinker, I favor the smoky malts like Talisker and Ardbeg, though my absolute favorite is a Campbeltown brew: Springbank single malt. I once had the 21-year-old version at a Harvard Junior Fellows dinner when I was invited as a guest; it was liquid paradise! (At dinner I also sat next to the world-famous philosopher W.V. Quine, who must have been about ninety at the time, and I had no idea who he was. Quine was laconic, and may have been on the downhill slide, but, to be fair, I’m not a philosopher.)

Today’s political news, which Matthew posted yesterday: Trump is acting up again (or should I say “as usual”?). The sick thing is that he almost certainly doesn’t believe in God; he may be the first atheist President. He does, however, believe in Trump.

And be sure to read Heather Hastie’s new takedown of Donald Trump’s extremely unwise ban of transgender soldiers in the American military. It was mean-spirited, reprehensible, and counterproductive.

On July 27, 1794, Maximilien Robespierre was arrested after having thousands of others arrested and killed during the “Reign of Terror”. Trying to shoot himself before arrest, he succeeded only in badly shattering his jaw, and bled throughout the night, only to be guillotined the next day. On this day in 1866, the first transatlantic telephone cable was completed, extending from Valentia Island in Ireland to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland. Imagine what a feat that was for the time! On July 1890, Vincent van Gogh shot himself, lingering two days and then dying. He was only 37, and I consider him one of the five best artists in the history of the world. What painting he would have made had he not been depressed and suicidal. On this day in 1940, the short cartoon A Wild Hare was released (full cartoon below), introducing the wily and snide character of Bugs Bunny.  Bugs appears for the first time at 2:24, and it’s clear that he changed appearance over the years. Back then his head was narrower and his nose pointier. Like Mickey Mouse, he underwent artistic neoteny:

On this day in 1953, fighting ended in the Korean war as China, the U.S., and North Korea signed an armistice. South Korea didn’t sign, and as far as I know we’re still technically at war with the DPRK, though there’s a “truce.” Finally, on July 27, 1974, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted to recommend an article of impeachment—for obstruction of justice—against Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon. He of course resigned before impeachment, and was pardoned in advance by Gerald Ford.

Notables born on this day include Charlotte Corday (who killed Marat, 1768), Alexandre Dumas (fils, 1824), photographer William Eggleston (1939), and Peggy Fleming (1948). Here’s one of Eggleston’s photos of America:

Those who died on this day included the highly overrated Gertrude Stein (1946; I never liked anything she wrote), James Mason (1984), and Bob Hope (2003). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is contemplating the meager cherry harvest. But there will be enough for my pies! Who cares whether there’s enough for a cat who doesn’t like fruit?

Hili: Craziness!
A: About what?
Hili: About these cherries. No cat would put one into its mouth.
In Polish:
Hili: Szaleństwo!
Ja: Z czym?
Hili: Z tymi wiśniami, żaden kot by tego do pyszczka nie wziął.

Here’s a cat tw**t sent by reader Barry; I understand neither the device nor why the cat likes it. If you’re familiar with this thing, weigh in below (be sure to watch the video):

33 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

    1. Definitely good stuff. My first taste of it was when I bought a bottle for a friend for his birthday, then helped him drink it.

      Bang for the buck it is hard to beat The Macallan. The Springbank Jerry mentions is freaking expensive. I’d like to try some but the only one in the price range I’m willing to spend on booze is their lowest tier single malt, a 10 year old. Though even that seems to have uniformly high reviews. Beyond the 10 everything is hundreds and up to over a thousand dollars.

  1. Those Merrie Melodies were the best! Ya don’t see cartoons like that anymore!


    1. The detestable politician Lamar Smith has advanced from anthropic climate warming denial to claiming it is a good thing on conservative think tank media. [The science says it is not, despite Smith’s ‘greenhouses are productive and even use CO2 generation’].

      Even with a functional government, US would be in trouble.

      1. At least he’s finally forced to admit that the climate is warming. Slowly, and too late, they are losing the argument.

  2. I find many photos by William Eggleston that I like very much.

    This one, however, bugs me (this is all very much À chacun son goût, of course).

    This is an example of, in my opinion, intentionally bad composition to promote the idea of authenticity. Main subject matter dead center, horizon tilted, extraneous bits intruding on the edges. These are all consciously done (or retained; they are easily removed in printing or by moving a bit during the shooting). For me, that says phony, not authentic.

    Or maybe I’m just cranky this morning!

    1. I am not cranky this morning and that picture does nothing for me either. Even without considering any compositional contentions, I just don’t find it interesting or aesthetically pleasing in any way.

      1. I rather like the subject; but it would be plenty authentic without the muddled composition.

        If it were me, I would have “worked the subject” as Steve Simon says, and hit it from far and very near (that rusted sign would be interesting for close-ups) with (at least) normal and extreme wide-angle lens.

    2. Of course it is often the case that a photograph has more meaning in the direct historical context when it was made. You may be reacting to the fact that today the use of immediacy, physical decay, commercial objects, accidental, spontaneous, and drawing attention to modern surroundings as a reaction to romanticism have become cliché.

      1. Perhaps. Eggleston is an art photographer, even an academic one, so I assume he knew exactly what he was doing. Which is much of what makes it shout phony to me. And it contrasts sharply with most of his work, which is well composed.

        I’m far more forgiving of amateurs and their snap shots.

        I certainly understand the reaction of photographers to the soft-focus, romantic style of photos and paintings. But you can dispense with the schmaltz without dumping skill and composition.

        I doubt that the compositional faux pas (plural) in that photo are of historical significance (except to art historians, point taken).

        I just read of how the Olive Cotton Award (portrait photography) went to an “artist” who put scribbles and saliva on film material.

        This is modern photography going off the rails.

        I’ll again recommend The Painted Word, by Tom Wolfe.

  3. Your comments on Gertrude Stein reminded me of this limerick, which also mentions poet Jacob Epstein and scientist Al:

    There’s a wonderful family named Stein;
    There’s Gert and there’s Ep and there’s Ein.
    Gert’s poems are bunk,
    Ep’s statues are junk,
    And nobody understands Ein.

    I wasn’t able to find the name of the poet.

    1. SCULPTOR Jacob Epstein, not “poet!” Has any psychologist ever explained why we don’t spot these errors until the second after we post?

  4. Don’t understand the device in the cat video either, but many cats love being rubbed in the area behind their whiskers, and I think that is what this kitty is enjoying! He/she is probably purring up a storm.

  5. Friendly correction!

    It was a telegraph cable, not a telephone cable.

    John J. Fitzgerald

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  7. Cats have scent glands near the mouths along their cheeks. They use them to mark things. Rubbing their cheeks mimics that behavior. I suspect it feels good to them.

  8. I doubt Trump is our first atheist president. Do you think Obama, with an atheist mother, was really Christian? I always figured he joined that Chicago church for political reasons. Pretty sure his religion was just a show for the voters. And that likely applies to some other presidents before him.

    1. I’d agree. But, I think he’s the first US president who has fully taken on the presumption of godliness for himself. He couldn’t be persuaded to a religious frame of mind mostly because his ego gets in the way.

    2. Abe used to quote Scripture and indulge a bit of ceremonial deism, but I don’t make him for a believer, either.

  9. Are we to believe that, in all his years of visiting Poland, Jerry has never given Hili a chin rub? That seems scarcely possible.

  10. The device being used on the cat seems to be a neck or scalp massager. They are common in stores w/ Japanese products, though I don’t recall seeing one with the white balls.

  11. Ah, Bugs Bunny! How much have you and your cohorts added to my life?

    Ricker-racker! Fire-cracker! Ziss-boom-bah! Bugs Bunny! Bugs Bunny! Rah! Rah! Rah!

  12. JAC, permission to intervene in the section of “notables born” on July 27

    Johann Bernoulli

    There are two dates of birth of this famous and great mathematician on the internet: July 27 and August 6, 1667 (Old Style and New Style dates, Adoption of the Gregorian calendar, Adoption_of_the_Gregorian_calendar # Adoption_in_Catholic_countries)


    For July 27


    For the August 6, 1667

    Wikipedia, in its Spanish edition: date of his birth on July 27.

    It is the same for one or other of this two datea to honor the memory of a genius of the mathematics and his family, one of the most brilliant, prodigious and famous sagas of the history of universal science (some will call me ‘Eurocentric’ for this statement. I’m not worried, for it’s an unquestionable historical fact)

    Bernuilli Family

    Johann Bernouilli and Isaac Newton.

    Johann Bernouille’s famous sentence about the anonymous solution of a problem (to determine the brachistochrone curve between two given points not in the same vertical line) proposed by him to the community of mathematicians of his time:

     “Tanquam ex ungue leonem” (we recognize the lion by his claw)

  13. To be slightly picky, the transatlantic cable that went into service in 1866 was capable of sending only telegrams. The first telephone cable went into service in 1956. Amazingly, this was only six years before Telstar.

  14. I slightly disagree about Van Gogh. I suppose that, had he been neurotypical and happy, he would create only mediocre painting, or none at all. Many great artists have some condition that seems related to their creative abilities. To me, the problem was that he had access to a gun. Guns make suicide far too easy.

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