Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

May 21, 2018 • 7:00 am

Good morning on Monday, May 21, 2018: National Strawberries and Cream Day. It’s also St. Helena Day, celebrating the discovery in 1502 of the most remote island in the world (and the one on which Napoleon died).

On this day in 1904, the famous Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, was founded in Paris. Exactly two decades later, two very bright University of Chicago students, Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr., murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks, a Hyde Park resident, just because they were confident that their planning and intelligence would lead them to get away with it.  They didn’t: Leopold left his glasses at the crime scene, and was traced readily since the style was unusual. Tried and convicted, the pair was spared the death penalty because Clarence Darrow, their lawyer (also a Hyde Park resident), talked for 12 hours in a desperate attempt to save their lives. It worked; they were sentenced to life in prison. Loeb was murdered in jail, and Leopold was released after 33 years, moved to Puerto Rico, and died in 1971. Here’s a 17-minute movie about the incident (you might look up some excerpts of Darrow’s brilliant speech):

Two aviation firsts for May 21. It was on this day in 1927 that Charles Lindbergh completed the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, landing at Le Bourget field in Paris.  Exactly five years later, Amelia Earhart completed the same feat, but with a woman (her!) at the controls. She landed in a pasture at Derry, Northern Ireland.  On this day in 1936, the Japanese sex worker Sada Abe was, as Wikipedia notes, “arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her handbag.” She had strangled her lover in a bout of erotic asphyxiation. This was a huge scandal in Japan, and you may remember was the subject of Nagisa Oshima’s movie In the Realm of the Senses, which, though infamous for its explicit (and genuine) sex onscreen, was a good film.  Abe served five years in prison and then went into seclusion. Here’s the trailer for the movie, which leaves out its pornographic aspects. (There is not a man alive who doesn’t clutch his crotch during the scene when Abe cuts off her dead lover’s penis.)

On this day in 1946, in a horrendous episode, Louis Slotin, a physicist working on nuclear reactions at Los Alamos, was fatally irradiated after his hand slipped, bringing two plutonium spheres together and initiating a fission reaction. (He was using the edge of a screwdriver to keep the spheres apart—a big no-no—and the screwdriver slipped.) Sloting died a painful death nine days later. On May 21, 1972, a vandal (“the mentally disturbed Hungarian geologist Laszlo Toth”) damaged Michelangelo’s statue Pietà in the Vatican, knocking off Mary’s arm and damaging her nose and eyelids. Toth served three years in a hospital and was then deported to Australia. Finally, it was on this day in 1991 that former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a woman suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt.

Notables born on May 21 included Albrecht Dürer (1471, one of my five favorite painters), paleontologist Mary Anning (1799), Henri Rousseau (1844), Fats Waller (1904), Andrei Sakharov (1921), Günter Blobel (1936), Leo Sayer (1948), Al Franken (1951), Jeffrey Dahmer (1960; killed in prison at age 24), Lisa Edelstein (1966), and The Notorious B.I.G. (1972). Here’s a series of Dürer sketches that includes cats.

Those who died on this day include Christopher Smart (1771; author of the best cat poem ever), social-work pioneer Jane Addams and geneticist Hugo de Vries (both 1935), and Rajiv Gandhi (see above).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s in the garden but wants the greater freedom of the orchard:

Hili: Let’s go to the orchard.
A: Now?
Hili: Yes, here I feel claustrophobic.
In Polish:
Hili: Idziemy do sadu.
Ja: Teraz?
Hili: Tak, tu mam poczucie klaustrofobii.

Leon’s family finally got the foundations of their wooden house poured, and, I hope, by the end of the summer Leon and Hili will live only about 10 km apart. Leon and his staff are still in Wloclawek, but not for long!

Leon: Sunbath in a favorite cardboard box—this is it!

In Polish: Kąpiel słoneczna w ulubionym kartonie to jest to!

Reader Barry sent a cat sleeping in such a weird pose that people suspect it was photoshopped. (I don’t think so.)

Reader Gethyn sent cat armor:

From Grania; what the Internet has come to:

What am embarrassing fate! This student will forever be known as “vagina man.”

Do read the short article:

An excerpt from Frum’s Atlantic piece:

More than 70 percent of Trump voters in 2016 described guns as “very important” to their vote, versus only 40 percent who described abortion as “very important” to their vote and only 25 percent who felt that way about gay rights. With the slow fading of battles over same-sex marriage and abortion, and the rapid collapse of other aspects of conservative ideology, guns may now rank as the single most important political dividing line in 21st century America.

. . . According to a Pew survey, only about one-quarter of gun owners think it essential to alert visitors with children that guns may be present in the home. (Twice as many non-gun-owners think so.) Only 66 percent of gun owners think it essential to keep guns locked up when not in use. (Ninety percent of non-gun-owners think so.) Only 45 percent of them actually do it.

Joyce Carol Oates apparently has a new cat, but, like me, doesn’t give a toss for the Royal Wedding. (Cats are, of course, themselves royalty.)

From Matthew, who thought today was World Bee Day (it was actually yesterday), we have a clear-winged moth that mimics a bee: a clear case of Batesian mimicry:

What is going on here? Invasion of the Giant Mallards? The backstory is here.

I’m no fan of the brouhaha around the Royal Wedding, but it sure brought out the termites:

The best use of Twitter is to show stuff like this:

Finally, a comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weinersmith (h/t: Phil D.)

21 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. Speaking of crotch-clutching scenes, I’ve never quite gotten over the castration scene in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo, which was a staple of the arthouse scene during my college years.

    And speaking of movies, the Leopold & Loeb saga has gotten the cinematic treatment a few times, including in Compulsion, with Orson Welles in the Darrow role, and Hitchcock’s Rope, where Jimmy Stewart does the honors.

  2. IMO the royal wedding was worth it just for the barely sane babblings of the Daily Fail comment section 😉


    1. I figured the far right blight would have something stupidly racist to say about her but I didn’t know they’d think she was a Bond villain!

  3. Oh, and that cat helmet reminds me strongly of Star Wars Imperial Troopers, for some reason.


  4. I’ve abused some screwdrivers in my day, as makeshift chisels and pry bars, but even I know underwriters laboratories wouldn’t approve their use to separate plutonium spheres. 🙂

  5. You say you aren’t into this blog as much as you used to be and then you produce the finest post I have read. Maybe a little ennui is what you needed!

  6. This is also from the David Frum Atlantic article:

    “The Parkland shooting earlier this year seemed at last to ignite a public movement in response to these terrible crimes. Yet even the cumulative impact of slaughter after slaughter has not softened the harsh divide of the American gun impasse. Back in 2012, Nate Silver observed: ‘Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South, or a number of other demographic characteristics.’”

    This observation by Nate Silver is consistent with the profile of the hardcore male Trump supporter as a person who owns guns as a proxy for demonstrating his superior social standing in society while fearing that his social standing is declining due to the rise of outsider groups that threatens it. The owning of guns allows him to believe psychologically that he is a person of worth as doubts creep into his mind that that may not actually be the case. As the great historian Richard Hofstadter argued more than a half century ago, “status anxiety” is a major driver for why people join certain mass movements. The political scientist Diana Mutz has recently published an article asserting that status anxiety best explains what motivates hardcore Trump supporters. The owning of guns is one technique to relieve this anxiety.

    Here is the link to the Mutz article:

    1. With a purposeful grimace and a terrible frown, they waddle to a puddle on the edge of town…

  7. The Christopher Smart poem about his cat is truly wonderful. As I recall, he wrote it while in an asylum, where his cat was his only friend.

  8. SO much information in this post. It will take me hours to read it all, including The Atlantic article. (I will skip anything re: the royal wedding.)Perfect that it’s a chilly, rainy, miserable day here in Chicago. BTW, many of the reviews of the movie In the Realm of the Senses call it “erotica” and “art”, but not “porn”. And, since it’s a rainy and miserable day here in Chicago, I think I’ll watch it and determine for myself exactly what I think it is.

  9. When I saw “Realm of the Senses” afterwards there was the longest line in front of the men’s room I have ever ever seen!!!
    When I got myself to my stall to do my business, I turned to the fellow next to me and said “Well, I’ve still got mine. You still got yours?” He gave me an angry looked and walked away.
    Perhaps unlike me, he had not been alerted to the contents of the film in advance. (My father had seen it the previous weekend and given me a “piercing” account.)


    I always associated Leopold and Loeb with the following dialogue from “Annie hall”.

    Alvy Singer: I think, I think there’s too much burden placed on the orgasm, you know, to make up for empty areas in life.
    Pam: Who said that?
    Alvy Singer: It may have been Leopold and Loeb.


    Laszlo Toth inspired the pseudonym Lazlo Toth used by comedian Don Novello (Father Guido Sarducci of Saturday Night Live). Under this name, Novello penned a number of letters to right-wing politicians under this name, many of which received serious responses, and in several cases the right-winger let their hair down and disclosed beliefs they might not have showed publicly.

  10. “She will make our country look like FOOLS.” No Daily Mirror, you already did that with your Brexit vote. Difficult to beat that as far as foolishness goes.
    That Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic is excellent!

  11. To be precise, Slotin’s accident didn’t involve “two plutonium spheres”. The complete plutonium sphere (core) was at the centre of the experiment, surrounded by two beryllium neutron reflectors.

    The same core also killed another scientist (physicist Harry Daghlian) in a separate accident, and was nicknamed the “Demon Core”. It was to be used in the third bomb to be dropped on Japan, but Japan surrendered before it was ready.

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