Saturday: Hili dialogue

May 5, 2018 • 6:45 am

It’s Saturday, May 5, 2018, and tomorrow I leave for the world’s most beautiful city, Paris (Prague runs second). But today is National Enchilada Day (I’ve just had many in New Mexico), and, famously, Cinco de Mayo, celebrating the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The holiday also celebrates Mexican culture, which of course includes enchiladas and other wonderful food. You’re allowed to eat them today without being accused of cultural appropriation.

On this day in 1260, Kublai Khan became head of the Mongol Empire, and decreed the construction of a stately pleasure dome.  In the U.S. on this day in 1809,  Mary Kies became the first woman awarded a U.S. patent, involving a method for weaving straw together with silk and thread.  On May 5, 1821, Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile on St. Helena, one of the most remote spots on Earth. And, on cinco de Mayo, 1862, Ignacio Zaragoza’s Mexican troops defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla.  On this day in 1891, Carnegie Hall in New York City formally opened with a big public music performance; Tchaikovsky was the guest conductor.  On May 5, 1904, the very first perfect game in modern baseball was pitched—by the immortal Cy Young. (In a “perfect” game, nobody reaches first base) On this day in 1912, the newspaper Pravda, the organ of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, began publishing in St. Petersburg.

A historic day in evolutionary biology: it was on May 5, 1925, that teacher John T. Scopes was given his arrest warrant for teaching human evolution in a public school, violating Tennessee’s Butler Act.  In 1961, astronaut Alan B. Shepherd became the first American in space, going up and down without orbiting. If you read The Right Stuff, you’ll see that he was neglected in favor of the first American to actually orbit the Earth: John Glenn.  On this day in 1973, the horse Secretariat won the 1973 Kentucky Derby with a time of 1:59.4, a record that still stands. And exactly 8 years later, Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands died in Long Kesh Prison hospital; he’d been starving for 66 days and was 27 years old.

Here’s Secretariat’s marvelous victory, coming from sixth place to win by two lengths. He went on to win the Triple Crown that year. What a horse! Here’s the sad last footage of the horse before he was euthanized.

Notables born on this day include  Søren Kierkegaard (1813), Karl Marx (1818), geneticist Helen Redfield (1900), Tyrone Power (1914), Tamy Wynette (1942), and Michael Palin (1943). Those who died on May 5 include Napoleon Bonaparte (1821; see above) and Bobby Sands (1981; see above).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is engaged in her usual solipsism:

Hili: It’s a pity that my fur is not black.
A: Why?
Hili: I would look like a panther.
In Polish:
Hili: Szkoda, że nie mam czarnego futra.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Wyglądałabym jak pantera.

Reader Barry sent a punny tweet:

From Grania:

From Grania: listen to those tiny meows? I think this is one of those short-legged mutant cats:

And a HUGE mutant cat!

From Matthew, a sad commentary on the increase in incarcerated Americans:

What a graceful lizard!

. . . and a fish I didn’t know existed: the pineapplefish (Cleidopus gloriamaris) from waters off Australia:

The volcano Kilauea erupted on the Big Island (Hawaii) yesterday, driving many people from their homes. This picture tells the tale:

From Matthew: two leaf-mimicking crickets in flagrante delicto:

From Grania and Matthew: a list of people’s screwups. Go read the thread connected with the second one below:

24 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. What’s the difference between an entomologist and an etymologist?

    An entomologist studies bugs; an etymologist is someone who can tell you the difference between an entomologist and an etymologist.

  2. “—first American to actually orbit the Earth”: Enos was American AFAIK 🙂

    He was the first chimp & 3rd hominid after cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin & Gherman Titov to achieve Earth orbit. Enos’ orbited twice on November 29, 1961 & was recovered safely. Not a happy ending though

      1. Enjoy Paris. I understand that the Poilâne boulangerie on the rue du Cherche-Midi makes fantatic bread. I did not know about them when I last was in Paris.

        My wife and I will be spending a couple of nights next week in Chicago as part of a road trip along Route 66 to visit some places we have missed.

    1. That shouldn’t be too hard as when I was there a couple of years ago there were 30 different types of baguette in the supermarket.
      Best of all though was the Belgian beer selection in the supermarket and it was so cheap compared to here in Oz.

  3. The short-legged cats are Napoleon cats, a breed that was developed by my friend Joe Smith (a goat person, too).


  4. Greatest race horse ever – Secretariat.

    I moved to Hawaii in 1983. That was the year that Kilauea came back to life and has been causing problems since. During my time over there I visited the Big Island once. Mostly on the Kailua-Kona side of the Island but visited Kilauea and other sites on the Island. There are other larger volcanoes on the Big Island including Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

  5. The disturbing facts about our incarceration rates can be seen more fully by comparing the population of the US as a whole to number of people in prison. In 1972 there were 300,000 out of 209.9 million and in 2014 2,300,000 out of 320 million. I haven’t seen the program mentioned above but I’m willing to bet that the privatization of prisons and boneheaded measures like the three strikes rule are behind the surge, and so long as we view prison as a method of state sponsored revenge rather than an opportunity for rehabilitation we will see this disturbing trend in incarceration continue.

    1. All that and more. The system of bail puts thousands in prison and jail for long periods simply because they cannot make bail.

      1. For your assertion to have any validity, you’d need to show what percentage, if any, of the 2.3 million incarcerated cited in that graphic are comprised of detained individuals who were later found not guilty.

    2. ‘Revenge’ vs. rehabilitation is a false dichotomy. The primary purpose of incarceration should be to remove bad actors from civil society. Rehabilitation is fine, but to assume that all criminals are capable of rehabilitation is a serious error.

      Crime in the US rose dramatically from the 1960’s to a peak in the early 1990’s. Tougher responses to crime, including increased incarceration, led to a steady decline in crime that continues today.

      Despite false memes to the contrary, the large majority of inmates are guilty of violent or property crimes. For such individuals, no viable options to incarceration exist.

      Our high incarceration rates are merely a reflection of the simple fact that the US has more criminals than other western nations.

      1. “‘Revenge’ vs. rehabilitation is a false dichotomy. The primary purpose of incarceration should be to remove bad actors from civil society. Rehabilitation is fine, but to assume that all criminals are capable of rehabilitation is a serious error.”

        I don’t know much about it, but I thought imprisonment was about three things:
        1. Retribution/punishment/revenge
        2. Prevention – your removal of bad actors
        3. Rehabilitation

        As a beginner (OK, I was quite close to Jeremy Bentham’s waxwork as a student at UCL, and I have visited Pentonville, Holloway, Wandsworth and Broadmoor as either a medical student or as a psych resident) I’d be inclined to look at a society that has low imprisonment rates and even lower recidivism rates if I wanted to learn something about how it ought to be done. I believe Norway has things to teach us in that regard.
        As for:
        “Our high incarceration rates are merely a reflection of the simple fact that the US has more criminals than other western nations.”
        I hope you don’t actually believe that, but if you do – why is it the case?

        1. Our penal system is schizophrenic and can’t decide its purpose(s). My suggestion is to focus on the removal of criminals from society, with rehabilitation an option for those who are capable of reforming.

          Unless Norway once had high crime & recidivism rates, then successfully lowered them, it has little to teach the US.

          The US crime rate is higher than those of comparable western nations. The increase in incarceration began with a concerted – and successful – effort to reduce crime. If you have an alternate, non-causal explanation for the correlation between our higher crime rate and our higher incarceration rate, please share it.

          Are you asking why the US has more crime?

    3. What about Three Strikes laws do you find “boneheaded”? They remove from society career criminals and recidivists who clearly neither ‘learned from’, nor were rehabilitated by, their earlier arrests & detentions.

      1. The “boneheaded” part is that you essentially have criminals who have nothing to lose. This doesn’t bode well, for example, for a less confrontational approach to arrest (it might even explain to a certain extent why the police has escalated violence in its approach to the public):

        Beyond what you say, there IS a positive factor to three strikes law, namely that there’s a reduction of recidivism in first and second “strike” offenders.

        However there’s also the issue of “in for a sheep, in for a lamb”. If someone’s only perspective amounts to basically permanent loss of freedom, they might be tempted to commit worse crimes to either profit more or escape to other, less draconian jurisdictions:

        A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of three strikes laws needs to include these elements.

        1. Yes, those are identified side effects of three-strike laws. But crime begets crime, and criminals beget criminals (literally & figuratively.) Ultimately, the wholesale removal of the criminal element leads to a society with extremely low crime rates.

          1. I’m not so sure. Preventing criminal escalation seems to work well in other countries, like Norway.


            Incarceration rates in Norway are very low, especially when compared to the US, but so are crimes:


            I’m sure that there are some elements typical of the United States culture/environment that make it different from Norway (lack of easy access to several public services, possibly?). But still.

            1. Your first link shows that incarceration rates are on the rise in Norway, while the crime rate is declining. We already figured that one out in the 1990’s.

              Your second link shows that immigrants commit crimes at a much higher rate than native Norwegians. (Immigrants comprise 13% of the population but 30% of prisoners.) Is that the lesson we should learn from Norway?

            2. Reoffending rates in US and Norway are not that different, when similar statistics are compared (many sources conflate rearrest with reincarceration rates):

              “Comparing the United States’ 67.8% to Norway’s approximately twenty percent paints a bleak picture for the United States.

              However, the differences are not as drastic as they might appear at first glance. When looking at re-incarceration rates, not merely re-arrest rates, the U.S. rate is lower, at 28.8%. Norway’s rate of actual re-incarceration is higher, at about twenty-five percent. Furthermore, discrepancies also arise from the types of offenders being jailed. If a country jails offenders who commit crimes without a high degree of recurrence, it naturally follows that its recidivism rates will be lower than those countries that jail offenders who commit crimes with high degrees of recurrence. For example, one study confirmed that, “[e]xcluding traffic offenders, [a group few other countries jail and a type of crime without a high degree of recurrence,] Norway’s recidivism rate would . . . be around 25 percent after two years.” Both the United States and Norway, however, face the difficulty of reoffenders charged with property crimes.”

  6. “Sham was a large horse at 16.2hh. He also had a very large heart, about twice the size of the average horse’s” (Wikipedia).

    Near the end of the above video, Sham and Secretariat are side by side. Secretariat is noticeably bigger.

  7. On Secretariat:
    A salesman entering a farm, was very surprised by a voice because there was nobody around. Turned out to be a horse, who beckoned him to approach the fence, and told him he had won the Kentucky Derby. in 1970.

    Of course, when the astonished man was received by the owner of the land, the only thing he could do was to point to the gate and stammer:
    – A spea- spea- king horse!
    – That’s right. But he is a damned liar. Sure he told you he won the Kentucky in 1970?
    – Ye- yes.
    – You see! Lying again. That was in 1960!

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