Thursday: Hili dialogue

June 6, 2019 • 7:00 am

Good morning on Thursday, June 6, 2019—the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Veterans of that operation, or of WWII in general, will be nearing 100 years old, and young people will live to see the last WWII veteran pass away. It’s very sad. There are some videos and tweets below to pay homage to those who fought for a good cause.

It’s National Gingerbread Day, and also Queensland Day, celebrating that date in 1859 when Queen Victoria allowed the colony to become self governing.

Posting will be light today as I’ve things to do. But, as always, I try my best. However, it’s disheartening that traffic continues to drop, comments are few on the science posts that people claim to like, and I’m always wondering whether I should give up this site.

I missed yesterday’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot below), which honored Elena Cornaro Piscopia, born June 5, 1646, who became the first woman in the world to get an academic degree from a university (Padua). Piscopia was a polymath, as you can read at the Wikipedia link. She was a first, and her like was rare for centuries thereafter; how many talented women were never given the chance to get university degrees! From Wikipedia:

Upon the recommendation of Carlo Rinaldini, her tutor in philosophy, Felice Rotondi, petitioned the University of Padua to grant Cornaro the laurea in theology. When Cardinal Gregorio Barbarigo, the bishop of Padua, learned that she was pursuing a degree in theology, he refused on the grounds that she was a woman. However, he did allow for her to get a degree in philosophy and after a brilliant course of study she received the laurea in Philosophy.The degree was conferred on 25 June 1678, in Padua Cathedral in the presence of the University authorities, the professors of all the faculties, the students, and most of the Venetian Senators, together with many invited guests from the Universities of Bologna, Perugia, Rome and Naples. Lady Elena spoke for an hour in Classical Latin, explaining difficult passages selected at random from the works of Aristotle: one from the Posterior Analytics and the other from the Physics. She was listened to with great attention and when she had finished, she received plaudits as Professor Rinaldini proceeded to award her the insignia of the laurea: a book of philosophy, a laurel wreath on her head, a ring on her finger, and over her shoulders an ermine mozzetta. She was proclaimed Magistra et Doctrix Philosophiae [“teacher and doctor in philosophy”].

On this day in 1822, as Wikipedia notes, “Alexis St. Martin is[was] accidentally shot in the stomach, leading to William Beaumont‘s studies on digestion.” St. Martin lived to be 78.

On June 6, 1844, the world’s first mechanically frozen ice rink, the Glaciarum in London, was opened. Exactly fifteen years later Queensland was established as a colony separate from New South Wales, so it’s also Queensland Day, as noted above. In 1889, the Great Seattle fire destroyed the entirety of downtown Seattle. Three years thereafter, the Chicago Elevated Rail System (the “L”) opened for business. It’s still up and running.

On June 6, 1912, the biggest volcanic eruption of the twentieth century, that of Novarupta in Alaska, began, releasing 30 times the volume of magma unleashed by the eruption of Mount St Helens, and producing the present Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

On June 6, 1939, Judge Joseph Force Crater, after having vanished without a trace on August 6, 1930, was declared legally dead. He is one of the most famous missing persons in American history.

And, of course, on June 6, 1944 the Allied invasion of Europe (“Operation Overlord”) began as 155,000 Allied soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. Despite considerable losses, the invasion was a success, as the pushback of the German Army began from the West.

Here are two movies commemorating the invasion and showing some re-enactments. The first, detailing the fraught history of American-British cooperation in the invasion, was sent by reader Michael:

And some old planes resurrected to use in re-enacted paratroop jumps:

On this day in 1985, as Wikipedia notes, “The grave of ‘Wolfgang Gerhard; [was] opened in Embu, Brazil; the exhumed remains [were] later proven to be those of Josef MengeleAuschwitz‘s ‘Angel of Death’; Mengele is thought to have drowned while swimming in February 1979.”

Finally, in 2005, in the case of Gonzales v. Raich, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal law banning the production and consumption of cannabis and medical marijuana. Marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, though it’s been declared legal in many states: a conflict that must some day be resolved.

Notables born on this day include Nathan Hale (1755), Isaiah Berlin (1909), Levi Stubbs (1936), Lee Smolin (1955), and Uncle Kracker (1974).

Those who perished on June 6 include (besides the many Allied and German soldiers at Normandy) Patrick Henry (1799), Jeremy Bentham (1832), Carl Jung (1961), Robert F. Kennedy (1968, assassinated), J. Paul Getty (1976), Stan Getz (1991), Anne Bancroft (2005), Arnold Newman (2006), and Vincent Bugliosi (2015).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has slept on a wicker shelf high off the floor in the front alcove. When she stays out late and the humans go to bed, the front door is left open so Hili can jump on her elevated “nest” to spend the night:

A: What are you thinking about?
Hili: About all those poor cats who do not have a shelf high on the wall.
In Polish:
Ja: O czym myślisz?
Hili: O tych wszystkich biednych kotach, które nie mają swojej półeczki wysoko na ścianie.

From Facebook, a poorly chosen logo:

A tweet from reader Barry.  Is monogamy natural in cats? Apparently not.

Several ravens were born at the Tower of London this year, and one of them, George, is going to stay. Here he is on the Ravenmaster’s bed (tweets from Nilou):

What a handsome lad George is! His blue eyes and still-pink mouth mark him as a yearling raven.

Tweets from Heather Hastie. Owl kitty is fearsome!

You know what he’s saying (nom-nom-nom. . .)

A pair of tweets from Matthew In honor of the brave men who fought a just war. Here’s a 95-year old veteran who parachuted into France on D-Day 75 years ago. The second video is an interview before the jump:

Harry made the second jump! Thank you for your service, sir:

Matthew is rightfully a fan of Buster Keaton. Keaton did many of his own stunts, but don’t ask me how they pulled this one off!

Tweets from Grania.The first one is a good party trick.

This is physically impossible.

This pampered squirrel must be a pet, because no wild squirrel would let you massage it without biting the hell out of you:


67 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

    1. Depends who you ask down here. Could be he’s in the Witsec program. Could be he’s livin’ high off the hog in the Caribbean. Could be he sleeps with the fishes.

  1. If there ever was a “good” war World War II was it. Yet, we should take care not to over romanticize the nobility of the Allies. Most people know that to defeat the Nazis, the Western allies made an alliance, albeit a temporary one, with the Stalinist Soviet Union. What is probably less known is that France looks back on the war with quite ambiguous feelings, as David Frum reminds us in an Atlantic article. The sad fact is that many French collaborated with the Germans, not just officials of the Vichy government. Charles de Gaulle was embarrassed by this. So, the defeat of Nazi Germany was perhaps the most important event of the 20th century. Still, we must try to keep myth and reality separated.

    As an aside, it should not be surprising that so many French collaborated with their Nazi overlords. It seems to be a psychological fact that a sizeable percent of the population identifies and supports their rulers regardless of what the latter stand for and do. Just look at how the Republican Party caved, almost overnight, to become Trump’s toadies.

    1. “Most people know that to defeat the Nazis, the Western allies made an alliance, albeit a temporary one, with the Stalinist Soviet Union.” …. who were also fighting to defend their country against the incursion of the Third Reich. What was wrong with that?

      I don’t see that casts a shadow over the efforts of the western Allies. There are plenty of things that could be called into question, but allying with the USSR to fight Hitler at a time when he seemed almost unstoppable is not one of them, in my view.


      1. I didn’t mean to imply that it was wrong for the western allies to make common cause with the Soviet Union. Certainly, whether Hitler could have been defeated if the Soviet Union had somehow been able to sit out the war or Germany had defeated them early on is highly debatable. For the “greater good” it is sometimes necessary to associate with other people or groups that you don’t particularly like. This alliance is an example of the adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

        1. Bunge says something like:

          There are no just wars. Some wars, like WWII have a just side, but even the just side can do unjust things (e.g., the nukes, the firebombing). And this is not exactly directly related to alliances, eitehr.

        2. Historian, I was just quibbling with the implication that allying with the Soviet Union somehow invalidated the legitimacy of the Allies’ efforts.

          I think, from your subsequent remarks, that wasn’t intended and I apologise if I read too much into it.


      2. I would only say that what Historian is saying, you sometimes make deals with the devil. You do understand what a murdering bastard Stalin was? On the same level with Hitler.

        1. Sometimes you can look from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but it’s impossible to say which is which.

          1. Snowflake!

            (Or was it Napoleon? Which probably has a rather different reading in about half of British minds.)

          2. I think that statement admirably, if unwittingly, explains why transgenic pigs are so popular.

        2. Yes and what allies the Russians made! Sacrificing to many in the war effort…the Russians were tough and so was Russia.

  2. Those goats climbing down the tree have been seen before on this site and the camera is tilted at a 45-degree angle.


    1. Anyone who thinks the laws of physics don’t apply to goats has never had to stand over their rotting remains for an hour while belaying the leader on a rock climbing crag.

      When will technology bring us full 3-sense “Smellovision”, to encourage the sharing of such … sensations?

      1. I’ve not had any experience with goat carcasses at crags, but no doubt physics applies to them, and they have remarkably effective adaptations to cross terrain at speed that barefoot humans can rarely achieve.

  3. Regarding your decision whether to keep on with the site, I hope you do. But I would never tell you what only you can determine.

    I was listening to one of the few remaining survivors of Normandy, Jake Larsen, talk about his experience landing at Omaha Beach 75 years ago. Some of the people in California raised the money to send him back for the event today. Jake is 96 years old.

    It should be remembered, as mentioned in one of your videos here, that is was FDR who made D-day happen. Earlier in the war, in 1942, 43 and on it was apparent that Churchill, the English military and even most of the American military were against it. They found more reason not to do it the longer the planning went on. Roosevelt is the guy, the best vision for what needed to be done. It never would have happened as it did without Roosevelt.

  4. Please continue the email. I read it faithfully every day.
    You said that readers from aps dont get counted.

    I cant comment on the science. I know so little.

  5. Thanks for the videos with the c-47 dakotas. Some of us remember that plane as the workhorse for airlines serving u.s. small cities in the 1950s and early 60s as the dc-3. When on an aero business trip to the uk in the mid 80s i saw a revered and restored spitfire at a british aerospace installation, then a few days later a fully restored dakota in an Rae farnborough hanger. My farnborough hosts were extremely proud of that airplane for its major role in bringing victory the war. I was really touched by their emotion.

    1. I just finished reading an older book by Stephen Ambrose, one of his last about WWII. It is about B-24s and the crews who flew them, particularly George McGovern and his crew. Massive production in the U.S. was really responsible for our success in this war. Just one small statistic – 9000 B-24s were produced in 1944 each month. 110,000 planes in one year.

      1. Hi ,i think your figures are off somewhat ,it might be 9000 Aircraft of all types were produced a month in 1944 .

        1. Correct, I got that all wrong. All planes per month, not just B-24s. I think the total on 24s for the whole war was more like 18,500.

          1. 18,500 is an amazing figure for a 4 engined Aircraft .Willow Run where they were made is supposed to have been the largest room/building in the world .

            1. My reading said they made 5000 more B24s than B-17s. They were the hardest bomber to fly and they carried the biggest load until the B-29.

    2. A bit of Daks video overload for you. Recorded at IWM Duxford earlier this week. Segues into an exploration of the treasures in the hangers [inc. my favourite the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt – the mighty eight imperial ton “Jug”]:

      1. That is the largest collection of military aircraft I have seen anywhere. It is massive. Did not see the one I worked on but so many in one place.

        1. Very good! I suppose that’s the 1/72 Revell rather than the 1/48 Tamiya who coloured their bull & text differently.

          I looked up the pilot, he survived 91 ground attack sorties in WWII with only one recorded bit of bad luck while dive bombing. He was killed in 1952 in the USA in a ‘bolt while attempting a forced landing [I think] – probably due to smoke interfering with his vision. A well above average flyer. More here: CAPT. MILTON WILLIAM THOMPSON

  6. Please continue the site. While I do read part or all of various science posts, I do not know enough about any of it to comment (having last had a science class over 50 years ago). I do learn from the posts–but I do not read them by email,but rather by going to the regular wordpress website. And I don’t know what I would do without all the nature posts, the duck updates, and most especially the cats.

            1. LOL. I DO have some 5-toed socks which I call my twinkle toes. I wear them to yoga cuz they have grippy soles. Hmmmm, might well work in a goat-filled tree??

  7. Regarding the complaint that traffic is light: I normally read the site by RSS. Do you have any way to know how many people do that?

    You could force me to visit the actual web page more often by just putting brief teasers, rather than whole articles, in the RSS feed, as some sites do. I assume there’s some way to do that with WordPress.

  8. I hope you don’t shut down the site. I read it every day (and throughout the day) unless I don’t have access to the Internet, but don’t always comment. Do you note any change in traffic that could be attributed to the seasons? My visits to WEIT might not be counted because though I look for new posts in my email, I don’t access them from the email notice. Instead, I always keep a tab open solely devoted to WEIT’s “Author Archives,” and access individual posts from there, so perhaps my visits aren’t counted because of that.

    The “Author Archives” suit my purpose far better than than any other lists of posts because there’s just enough information given so that I can remember previous posts and access them when I need to do so, but not too much info that I lose a sense of where one post is in relation to others. I don’t know how I ever found “Author Archives,” but I’m sure glad I did. The “Author Archives” page is not the same as the “Archives” page (which now is a blank page) listed on the left of the site, . I think that is simply a list of posts with no other information. I wish that you’d post a link to “Author Archives” as well because I think others might find it useful.

    1. You get to “Author archive” by clicking the author text link at the bottom of the post. Thanks for mentioning its existence, that is a useful view for me.

  9. Real battle: Normandy
    Fake battle: Trump’s River of Blood.

    “How would they know that?” Mr. Trump asked when told that local historians had called his plaque a fiction. “Were they there?”

    Mr. Trump repeatedly said that “numerous historians” had told him that the golf club site was known as the River of Blood. But he said he did not remember their names.

    Then he said the historians had spoken not to him but to “my people.” But he refused to identify any [employees] who might still possess the historians’ names.

    “Write your story the way you want to write it,” Mr. Trump said finally, when pressed unsuccessfully for anything that could corroborate his claim. “You don’t have to talk to anybody. It doesn’t make any difference. But many people were shot. It makes sense.”

    1. I’m just surprised it wasn’t a revolutionary war battle. He could have had Washington crossing the river and chasing the British. Maybe not bloody river but bloody hell.

    2. Woof! Thanks for that link. It’s bad enough to broadcast fake news as news, but to memorialize it in a bronze plaque is even more scary. I wonder if Betsy Devos has a cadre of Trump revisionist historians re-writing the textbooks? If so, they can cite the “numerous historians” Trump mentions, and also call the plaque tangible “evidence” for this non-existent battle.

      1. Fake history is easy to do on TV. Not so much in the world of historians who guard the truth because it matters to them. I’m guessing this plaque, and DT himself will eventually become a chapter in the textbook of hoodwinks and frauds at the far end of the bookshelf.

    3. I notice that the fake memorial plaque has got tRump’s name on it – of course.

      And it starts “Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot…” Isn’t that typical wanting-to-have-it-both-ways tRRRump? (Too bad about the merely average soldiers, we don’t want to remember them…)

      “It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!” – exactly which bits of river did he preserve?

      Even if it was genuine, it would still be typical tRump.


  10. YOU CANNOT STOP! You must continue, so long as you must go to work each day (and probably after you retire for good) – you have no “choice”! Hahahahaha!

  11. I’m a new reader as of yesterday, came across WEIT because of search result with the critique of Mukherjee’s explanation of mechanism of epigenetic effects on chromosones.

    Hope you keep up the great work. I’ll try do do a little personal Facebook promotion FWIW.

  12. Please don’t stop, I enjoy your science posts immensely and have learned so much. Like many others I don’t have the background to be able to post on most of them but I love being one of your thousands of students.

  13. George’s blue eye is really beautiful. Sorry he will lose it after the first year. They are like dark pools…and at the bottom…deep thoughts.

  14. Dear Jerry, as long as you’re fit and well, please don’t stop. WEIT is part of my daily fix of rationality, love of nature and science, and the never-ending struggle to call out religious BS wherever it raises its ugly head. Your voice is distinctive and widely noted (and cited). I would almost say that it’s your civic and intellectual duty to keep going. Please do!

  15. The only valid reason for giving up the web site would be if you were writing a book. For that, I could almost forgive you.

  16. As has been mentioned before, many people read all the content in the email without actually visiting the site, so you don’t get those counts. If you only included a teaser in the email, then people would have to click on the link.

    As for commenting, the science topics are usually about something on which I am not qualified to comment, but I still find them interesting. I hope you continue to post them.

  17. If anyone wants to see Keaton’s stunts in context:

    Failed jump to rooftop down to fire engine
    The Three Ages

    Grabs car
    Cops (short)

    Grabbing streetcar
    Day Dreams

    Running on train (he broke his neck when the water slammed him down to the tracks, but it only gave him severe headaches) and riding down to the car
    Sherlock Jr

    Car falls apart
    The Three Ages

  18. Keaton was absurdly athletic; he thought he could make that jump, but he couldn’t. There was a net just out of sight below the frame. However, he hit the net with his feet, which is bad form and hurt his knees. He didn’t break anything, but he was sore for days.

    Once he recovered, he reworked the gag so as to get more humor out of the fall itself.

  19. Canada made food.
    The US made stuff and money.
    The SU made people.

    (These are approximations: Canada made radios for the SU, some of which can be seen in our war museum after the Russians redonated them some point back in the 1990s.)

  20. However, it’s disheartening that traffic continues to drop, comments are few on the science posts that people claim to like, and I’m always wondering whether I should give up this site.

    Sometimes we just can’t get to the posts until a few days later. And there’s often not much to say on the science posts.


    1. In the northern hemisphere spring/summer period traffic drops on every site – people spend less time on the webs. The only proper way to measure a site is in terms of traffic rankings compared to other sites for the same period.

      According to Alexa, WEIT has jumped UP in the rankings from #118,224th 90 days ago to #111,041st today. Alexa also says visitors to WEIT are 6.3 times more likely than the average user to visit sites in the science category. It also says the biggest visitor overlap is with Quillette rather than another science site! I suspect this is because of the type of sociopolitical content put up by JAC. I’m not going to comment on a science post unless I have a contribution or [at one time] a question – but I stopped asking questions a few years back because more likely than not, by a fair margin, there is no reply.

      WEIT readers should not be ‘guilted’ into worrying about the user dynamics of this site. If more engagement is desired then it has to be not just us but also our host being in the comments more IMO! Engagement [quality] is more important than numbers [quantity].

  21. I really enjoy this site and your twice daily posts. I hope you keep doing them.

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