Saturday: Hili dialogue

May 26, 2018 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a to-be-hot Saturday in Chicago: May 26, 2018, and National Blueberry Cheesecake Day. I’m a purist, and prefer mine plain, though with a bit of arm-twisting I can tolerate cherries on top. It’s National Sorry Day in Australia, a day of contrition for the horrible way the European settlers treated the aboriginal people.

As you’ve probably heard, yesterday’s referendum for repealing the anti-abortion part of the Irish constitution gave a resounding “Yes!”. Good news! Grania, our reporter on the ground in Ireland, will give a full report in a bit.

Ten years ago yesterday, the Phoenix Lander successfully touched down in the polar regions of Mars. Although it completed its mission in August, and gave up the ghost in November of 2008, it was successful as all the data planned for collection was in fact collected. Here’s a tweet from Mission Control at the moment of touchdown. I can only imagine the angst and then the glee in that room:

On this day in 1857, Dred Scott, the escaped slave who petitioned the Supreme Court for his freedom, only to have the Court rule (on March 6) that neither Scott nor any other person in America of African descent could be citizens, much less be absolutely free of slavery, was finally freed by his original owners. His freedom, though, was short-lived: he died of tuberculosis in September of 1858. On this day in 1868, the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson ended with his aquittal by a single vote.  On this day in 1896, Nicholas II became the last Tsar of Russia; he and his family were of course executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Here they are, photographed in 1913 or 1914. I don’t favor monarchies, but killing royal families is just out:

On this day in 1897, Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was published. On this day in 1998, two events occurred: the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Ellis Island, the immigration gateway for millions (including my maternal grandparents) belonged mostly to New Jersey, not New York. Also, the first National Sorry Day was held in Australia (see above). I think such a day is great, but it has to be accompanied by provisions to overcome segregation.

Notables born on May 26 include Al Jolson (1886), photographer Dorothea Lange (1895), Peggy Lee (1920), Miles Davis (1926), Levon Helm (1940), Stevie Nicks (1948; she’s 70 today!), Sally Ride (1951), Lenny Kravitz (1964), and Zola Budd (remember her?) in 1966.

Dorothea Lange took many iconic photos of poverty during the Great Depression: here’s one of them:

A family traveling between Dallas and Austin, Texas. “The people have left their home and connections in South Texas, and hope to reach the Arkansas Delta for work in the cotton fields,” Lang wrote in her notes. “Penniless people. No food and three gallons of gas in the tank. The father is trying to repair a tire. Three children. Father says, ‘It’s tough but life’s tough anyway you take it.’  Dorothea Lange/Library of CongressAn

And, once again, what may be Nicks’s greatest performance, an impromptu accompaniment to a tape while she was being made up for a Rolling Stone Shoot:

Notables who died on May 26 include the monk Bede (735), Samuel Pepys (1703), Jimmie Rodgers (1933), Edsel Ford (1943). Martin Heidegger (1976), Art Linkletter (2010), and Zbigniew Brzezinski (2017; I once sat at a table next to that of  Brzezinski and his family in a Chinese restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is a bit arcane in her words. Malgorzata explains:

“Ecosystem” is a fashionable word. You do not have countryside, forest or a meadow any longer. You have “ecosystem” (which, of course, humans are destroying). Hili wants to follow the fashion but she means that when you are out in nature you have to be observant: any moment something edible (a mouse) can show itself, or something dangerous (an alien dog) can chase her.
Hili: One has to have open eyes.
A: On what?
Hili: On the ecosystem.
In Polish:
Hili: Trzeba mieć oczy otwarte.
Ja: Na co?
Hili: Na ekosystem.

From Matthew. A heartbreaking photo taken 74 years ago today.

A gray fox is serenaded by a scrub jay.

Watch the video: so many mayflies that they show up on radar:

What a great job! I’m fostering too, but my charges go back to nature, not to other people.

Not a face!


A nice video showing inertia.

From Heather Hastie. Bats are our friends!

A tenacious kitten:

And a noble kakapo from Heather Hastie:

29 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. One of my small claims to history:

    I work for a company that manufactures valves. I was privileged to design and build some of the valves in the TEGA experiment on the Phoenix lander.

  2. In the Grey Fox video, what was moving the water about? Didn’t look windy from the foliage, except for some curious vertical lines (grass?) in front of the other larger basin, and they weren’t moving all the time.

  3. Dred Scott, thought to be the worst decision by the supreme court until modern times. Andrew Johnson, probably the worst decision by Abe Lincoln. What it was like during the Depression, an example of what Pinker was talking about. You do not have to measure that picture.

  4. Sorry, Jerry, but we differ on this one: Nicholas II. Killing royal families is no worse than killing poor families, especially if the royalty are arrogant killers and the poor are oppressed pawns. Also, I do not think the circumstances surrounding the assassinations imply a Bolshevik policy for their elimination.

    The “Nicholas II of Russia” Wikipedia entry says Nicholas II “was given the nickname Nicholas the Bloody by his political adversaries due to the Khodynka Tragedy, anti-Semitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, the violent suppression of the 1905 Russian Revolution, the executions of political opponents, and his perceived responsibility for the Russo-Japanese War.[refs] Soviet historians portray Nicholas as a weak and incompetent leader whose decisions led to military defeats and the deaths of millions of his subjects.[ref]” It doesn’t bother me that Marie Antoinette was beheaded either, at least not as much as injustices like the internment of Japanese in California during WWII and the collateral hardship and deaths it may have caused.

    1. You’ve completely misunderstood me. I never said killing royal families was worse than killing poor families; I said killing royal families was OUT. Did you even read what I wrote?

      Killing anybody is out, as I don’t believe in the death penalty, espeially when exercised in this way, and really, do you think it was also okay to shoot and bayonet the Tsarina, the daughters, Alexei, and the retainers? Do we differ on that, too?

      Maybe we differ in whether we think bad rulers should be executed rather than imprisoned (or exiled), but I’m eagerly awaiting your answer about whether you think it was okay to execute the whole family.

      And you could admit that you misunderstood what I meant while you’re at it. After all, I never compared royals versus poor families.

    2. So Nicky II was an incompetent leader who allowed pogroms, violent suppression of 1905 etc, etc. I do think he was a bit better than his predecessors, but let us admit he was a kinda monster (I do not think so, but let us admit it just for the sake of argument).
      Is that sufficient reason to murder his family too? These beautiful women and children?
      I don’t think so.

  5. Great for Ireland! First passing gay marriage and now supporting the rights of women. Freeing themselves from the oppressive, abusive yoke of Catholicism.
    All the unwanted children born when abortion was illegal probably made much easier targets for sex abusing priests. Too bad for you priests!

  6. On this day in 1896, Nicholas II became the last Tsar of Russia; he and his family were of course executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

    Say, you know who killed the Czar and his ministers while Anastasia screamed in vain?

  7. The 1971 film “Nicholas and Alexandria” based on a non-fiction biography by Robert Massie is quite good.

    It is fairly sympathetic to the royal couple, although it portrays Nicholas as a hapless ruler whose reign is disastrous largely due to his total cluelessness. Both Massie and the Tsar had sons with hemophilia, which inspired the former to write the book.

    Wikipedia reports that “Soviet historians portray Nicholas as a weak and incompetent leader whose decisions led to military defeats and the deaths of millions of his subjects.”
    The film does not deny this, but still presents the couple as mild-mannered and kind.

    The Russian Orthodox church controversially canonized him in 1981 over considerable internal opposition.
    Wikipedia reports, “Religious leaders in both churches also had objections to canonising the Tsar’s family because they perceived him as a weak emperor whose incompetence led to the revolution and the suffering of his people and made him partially responsible for his own murder and those of his wife, children and servants. For these opponents, the fact that the Tsar was, in private life, a kind man and a good husband and father or a leader who showed genuine concern for the peasantry did not override his poor governance of Russia”

    Both of those sides of Nicholas’ personaare portrayed quite well in the film.

    An early performance by Tom Baker (4th Doctor Who actor) as Rasputin is a standout.

  8. It’s National Sorry Day in Australia, a day of contrition for the horrible way the European settlers treated the aboriginal people.

    The band Midnight Oil highlighted this issue with their performance of “Beds are Burning” at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The song should bring back memories for those of us who watched too much MTV years ago – don’t want the video to embed without PCC(E)’s permission, so I’ve altered the link below in an obvious way. In addition to the song, I’ve always really liked their truck that appears at the beginning of the video.

  9. I got Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a prize at high school one year. (We were allowed to choose which book we received.) There had just been another Dracula movie (fairly faithful to book) and a pretty suggestive still from the movie was on the cover. The principal suggested making sure the book was cover-down when it was presented to me so no one saw it.

    1. BTW, it was presented right way up! The principal realized that was a stupid idea as soon as she said it. It was more about what the person presenting the prizes would think than what she thought. She was a cool person.

  10. Worth noting, I think, that the Opportunity rover which was launched five years before Phoenix is still going, a testament to great engineering.

    AFAIK National Sorry Day is not an officially recognised day of remembrance or celebration. As Wikipedia states “a popular movement evolved to celebrate “sorry day” in the absence of formal political recognition from the conservative government.”

    I am at a loss to understand what “segregation” exists that needs to be overcome. National Sorry Day was instituted to remind people, particularly politicians, of the traumas of the Stolen Generation, as outlined in the 1997 Bringing Them Home report.

    The Stolen Generation is a term used to denote aboriginal and islander children taken from their families and fostered with white families in the hope of assimilating them into white society. This ended by the mid 1970s.

    I’m pretty sure any attempt at segregation on the basis of aboriginality would fall foul of the commonwealth (i.e. national) Racial Discrimination Act of 1975, which prohibits discrimination in employment, land, housing or accommodation, provision of goods and services, access to places and facilities for use by the public, advertising, or joining a trade union.

    I am unaware of any overt systematic segregation that has existed in Australia within recent decades (although I might be just ignorant).

    That’s not to say there are no serious issues impacting aboriginal citizens. Australia’s history of the past few centuries is blotted with all sorts of sad and bad incidents. Even today aboriginal people are over represented in gaols, generally suffer poorer health care and have shorter life expectancies. I think this is largely a result of social disadvantage, and probably some covert discrimination.

  11. Mayflies on the radar initially surprised me. I then remember seeing the clips of how huge the clouds of mayflies could be. It’s not just mayflies that show up. In Austin, during the evening news, the weather reporters show the weather radar and explain the colored area over Town Lake isn’t rain it’s the bats. In NYC the birders check the online weather radar to keep track on bird migrations and find good times and areas for birding.

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