Friday: Hili dialogue

June 14, 2019 • 6:30 am

It’s Friday, June 14, 2019: the 165th day of the year, so we have 200 more to go. It’s National Strawberry Shortcake Day, celebrating a fine dessert. Below we see the New England version, served with a biscuity ‘shortbread’ rather than  with a soft, spongy cake. I like both types. And it’s World Blood Donor Day.  In the U.S. it’s Flag Day, a holiday nobody observes (see below for its origin).

News of the day: All the ducklings are doing well. We had a third hen land at the pond yesterday, but Katie and Anna teamed up to drive her off. Please pray to Ceiling Cat that we don’t get a third brood this year! Pictures later.

On this day in 1775, the Continental Army, the precursor of the U.S. Army, was established by the Continental Congress. And exactly two years later, the Stars and Stripes was adopted as the U.S.’s official flag. It looked like this:

On June 14, 1789, the survivors of the HMS Bounty mutiny, including Captain William Bligh and 18 others, finally reached reach Timor after journeying nearly 7,400 km (4,600 mi) in an open boat. It took them 47 days, but Bligh had superb navigational skills, and was aiming directly at Timor. He returned to England to sail again. On this day in 1822, Charles Babbage proposed his “difference engine“, which could be seen as a precursor of the modern computer, in a paper to the Royal Astronomical Society. And on this day in 1900, Hawaii became a United States Territory.

On June 14, 1907, Norway gave women the right to vote (the U.S. didn’t get it until 13 years later). One hundred years ago today,  John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown flew from St. John’s, Newfoundland on the first nonstop transatlantic flight (no, Lindberg’s was the first solo flight). After 14.5 hours in the air, and many mishaps (their heated suits malfunctioned, for instance), they crash-landed in Galway, Ireland, but the men weren’t hurt. Here’s the Vickers Vimy plane after arrival:

On June 14, 1940, the German occupation of Paris began. Matthew Cobb wrote two great books on the Nazi occupation of France, the resistance, and the liberation of Paris (here and here). On that same day, 728 Polish political prisoners became the first occupants of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

On this Day of Infamy in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill placing the words “under God” into the United States Pledge of Allegiance. “One nation” thus became “one nation, under God”, which, though supposedly “indivisible”, was immediately split between the religious and the nonreligious. On June 14, 1966, the Catholic Index Librorum Prohibitorum (“index of prohibited books”), was abolished; it had been in effect since 1557.  Finally, on this day in 1982, during the short Falklands War, Argentine forces conditionally surrendered to British forces in the capital Stanley.

Notables born on this day include Robert M. La Follette Sr. (1855), Alois Alzheimer (1864), Karl Landsteiner (1868, Nobel Laureate), Margaret Bourke-White (1904), Burl Ives (1909), Donald Trump (1946), Leon Wieseltier (1952), Boy George (1961), Campbell Brown (1968), and Steffi Graf (1969, 50 today).I was a fan of newswoman Brown, and even more so when I found out she had Andy Warhol’s banana tattooed on her ankle (do you know any other national correspondents with tattoos?). Sadly, Brown fell on hard times. The tattoo:

Those who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on this day include Benedict Arnold (1801), Edward FitzGerald (1883), Mary Cassatt (1926), Emmeline Pankhurst (1928), G. K. Chesterton (1936), Jorge Luis Borges (1986), Henry Mancini (1984), and Kurt Waldheim (2007). In honor of Pankurst, a great leader and suffragette, here’s her picture being arrested:

And here’s Mary Cassatt’s “Children playing with a cat” (1908):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is supercilious:

A: You are looking down at the world again.
Hili: Yes, I’m finding a certain pleasure in it.
In Polish:
Ja: Znowu patrzysz na świat z góry.
Hili: Tak, znajduję w tym pewną przyjemność.

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. She says this about the first one: “I think hairless cats are dreadful, and I’m disgusted someone bred them. It’s unfair to make a cat without hair. If you’re allergic, find an animal without hair naturally, or put up with the symptoms.”

Heather didn’t know what these are. I guessed that they are Jackson’s chameleons, but the blue color (and lack of horns, which are present in males) gave me pause. Readers?

From Nilou: multiple Darwin awards!

I found this one on the same site, and couldn’t resist posting it.

Tweets from Grania. Can you figure out this color change?

This is a few days old, but who cares, as it’s only the 44th anniversary. But I should remember a Marathon bar, and I don’t. . .

WTF? To learn more about the likoi, watch this video.

Tweets from Matthew. A big YES to this one:


An excised lizard tail. But why do people insist on confusing “lose” and “loose”?


57 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Agree with Heather on the hairless cat. Same goes for declawing a cat. If you think this is necessary, don’t get one.

    1. Yeah, me too. Couldn’t agree more. Same for many other functionally impaired for weird humans’ pleasure breeds. The ones with smooshed faces that impair breathing, seeing and normal use of the mouth really disgust me. Not the poor animals but that people created them for their pleasure and amusement.

      1. Me too. I’ve always chosen dogs that are well mixed. Mongrels and mutts are usually free of obnoxious traits produced by inbreeding. All official dog varieties are inbred. Even Darwin who married his cousin knew the danger.

    2. I think you’re all too harsh on the Sphinx.
      They are extremely affectionate and quite healthy in general. And in temperate climates they rarely hunt your beloved birds. I think it is unfair to discriminate against these cuties!
      However, they are not necessarily hypoallergenic. If you have a ‘cat hair’ allergy, please spend some time with them before getting one. Your allergy may be due to saliva or shedded skin cells, and Sphynxes are profuse shedders.

  2. Who never skips Flag Day?


    ( Don’t ask me how I know this – but I know it Big Time )

    1. I’m an idiot- it’s “leg day” not “flag day”….

      But still, please, don’t ask me how I didn’t know that.

  3. I think that i may have written this in an earlier post a few years ago, but recommend the book, charles babbage: pioneer of the computer, a 1982 princeton university press book by anthony hyman. Babbage was a wonderful engineer who made connections (as engineers do) between the math/science of the times and industrial applications. It is an easy reasonably non-technical read, though having had a freshman calculus course makes the discussion of his work on frequency response and vibrations of british trains even more compelling.

      1. Do you have a source other than that fairly tendentious essay?

        For what specific war crimes should Waldheim have been prosecuted, based on what evidence?

  4. Snickers bars seem to be universal. I’ve seen them in a vending machine in Vladivostok, a station kiosk at Amazar (the middle of Siberia), the snack display on the Rossiya (aka Trans Siberian Express), Moscow, Snickers flavour ice cream in Berlin Hauptbahnhof, and Sintra, Portugal. From one end of the Eurasian continent to the other.

    We also have them in New Zealand, of course, and evidently they occur on the American continent too.


    1. Yes, I think the ‘Marathon’ thing was a UK only branding. Oddly enough I saw an advert on Youtube that showed an American Marathon ‘candy’ bar that looked like our Curly-wurly.

    2. I can confirm that the Marathon renaming was a UK only thing. I think it’s always been called Snickers elsewhere.

      Also, it’s a minor dent to my ego that Wikipedia does not class me as a notable.

    3. Some Greek guy even claimed he ran 150 miles from a battlefield to get a Marathon. You should have heard the snickers.

  5. Alcock & Brown’s landing would have been perfectly successful if the field they chose hadn’t turned out to be a bog.

    Never mind. ‘A good landing is one you walk away from. A perfect landing is when you get to use the aeroplane afterwards’.


  6. I’ve always thought the American Flag looks too crowded. 50 stars is just too much squeezed into the little blue box. You know there’s bound to be trouble between states force together like that. The 13 colonies look relaxed and each star can be comprehended as a design element full of independence. Once you start getting 20 or 30 stars, tension arises. I don’t know what the solution is. You can very well just leave out states or merge them into super states. But, there should be another way to represent the number 50 without crowding. Just putting the number “50” in place of the starts would be a bit hokey, but there has to be a way to loosen it up.

    1. The American flag is a model of clarity compared to the flag of the United Kingdom, which tries — inelegantly — to combine the cross of St George (for England), the cross of St Andrew (for Scotland) and the cross of St Patrick (for Northern Ireland), and still manages to omit any symbol for Wales.

      Wales does have its own flag, a red dragon against a green and white background, which is much more impressive than the Union Flag.

      1. Sorry, as a Brit I have to defend the clarity and elegance of The Union Jack. I believe Wales is missing (shame)because it’s only a principality and a part of the Kingdom of England.
        The Stars and Stripes is a fine thing too.

        1. The Union Jack is certainly very distinctive, but a rather messy design.

          Better than the Stars & Stripes, though. 😉

          To my mind a simple tricolor like that of Luxembourg, or the Scandinavian cross of Norway, is much more elegant.


          1. Lest I start another transatlantic war, I think I’ll wihdraw my second sentence. That was a reaction to David Harper’s snark. Both flags are equally messy, they suffer from their history.

            For a more elegant flag with stars, I’d submit the EU flag. And it is very distinctive. Though like the US flag it suffers from the need to revise it every time a country joins or leaves (cough cough Brexit).

            As to the Welsh flag, I’d be interested to see any suggestion how to incorporate that into the Union Flag without messing up the design still more. In general dragons and all other heraldic devices look great on coats of arms and letterheads but really should be avoided on flags; they just look crap when shrunk to fit, are frequently badly rendered, and give flag makers headaches. If the crest on your flag could be replaced with the label off a Budweiser bottle and nobody would notice, it’s probably time to think of simplifying it.


    2. The original flag had 13 stars and 13 stripes (I counted). Obviously they were less superstitious in those days. But logically there should now be 50 stripes as well.

      I would guess that design considerations overrode and they decided just to be content with multiplying the stars and left the stripes alone.


      1. The original idea was to ass a star and a stripe, and, in fact, this was done when Vermont and Kentucky joined the union, giving the flag fifteen stripes. When it became Tennessee’s turn to become the 16th state, someone realized that adding stripes would become unwieldy, so it was decided that the stripes should comemmorate the original colonies and just add stars for new states.

  7. If the lizard voluntarily sheds the tail, it coulld be said that it is “loosed”, but the lose/loose error is far too common.

    1. I’ve always been fond of “loosed” as the past participle of the transitive verb “loose” (meaning to cut loose or release) — as in W.B. Yeats’s line “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

      1. “That very time I saw (but thou couldst not)
        Flying between the cold moon and the Earth,
        Cupid all armed. A certain aim he took
        At a fair vestal thronèd by the west,
        And loosed his love shaft smartly from his bow”

        Translated from the original Klingon.

  8. The underside of that tiger lotus leaf is yellow-green by transmitted light and purplish by reflected light.

    I would say that its underside has a thin layer that passes light in the yellow-green range of wavelengths. So when you see light coming through the leaf from the other side, it’s yellow-green; when you see light reflected off the underside, it’s that part of the spectrum that hasn’t been absorbed.


    1. I thought of structural colours, with packed layers reflecting different wavelengths at different angles, like we see in some butterflies.
      However I’m not conversant with structural colours in lotus leaves, I might be completely wrong.

  9. “… (do you know any other national correspondents with tattoos?)”

    Are there still many people without tattoos? I have none and when the summer comes I have the impression I belong to a vanishing minority.

      1. Thank you for sharing that video. Now, however bad my day might be, I can say to myself “at least you didn’t get your head stuck in an elephant’s anus.”

          1. The elephant and the donkey. Yes, I’d rather be shat upon by a donkey than suffocate in the elephant’s arse.

    1. Sorry Mark, I commented under Infinite’s post (at 10) before I saw this one.
      Yes, structural colours it might be indeed..

  10. “We had a third hen land at the pond yesterday, but Katie and Anna teamed up to drive her off.”

    Botany pond is obviously a hot real estate market for potentially breeding mallard hens. I wonder why.

  11. I think the horse woman thing was a set up. Obviously to produce a viral YouTube video. Note the knowing grin of the woman and the convenient camera angle. Horse shit is almost all undigested grass and some people who work with horses are probably not that avers to it. I remember a film from years ago where a fellow was smeared with horse shit over his head and face. No CGI in those days. Scary but not such a big deal unless your fussy.

  12. [1775] And exactly two years later, the Stars and Stripes was adopted as the U.S.’s official flag.

    Odd. The impression that I’d got on this side of the pond was that the Stars ‘n’ Stripes was adopted after the shelling of Washington. Some other story conflated, I guess.

    We could let those southern states go. That might improve things somewhat.

    Good for the flag designers perhaps ; maybe not so good for the inhabitants who happen to not be in a majority. It wouldn’t take long to reinstitute slavery of one form or another.

    and even more so when I found out she had Andy Warhol’s banana tattooed on her ankle

    Looks more like a leech to me.

    The Lykoi cat also known as the Werewolf Cat

    Noisily posed on what I’m fairly sure is a slab of “Black Larvikite” from northern Norway. Beautiful iridescence. Unsurprisingly, there’s a brown and blue variety too, and the blue has lovely plumage.

  13. The Difference Engine was a calculator; the Analytical Engine (never built) was a computer in the sense we know it. (I.e., stored program.) I went looking to see if Turing (or von Neumann) were aware of it, once. Nothing that I could see at the time …

    1. Babbage built his difference engine in 1822, but in 1807, the Jacquard loom appeared. It was not a general purpose machine, of course, but it was programmable by punched cards and so could be considered the first computer. Jacquard had earlier work of similar efforts to build on. Which tells me that any claim to be the first inventor of anything is likely to owe a significant debt to others.

      1. Although the punch card development was a great advance and Jacquard deserves full credit for it, I don’t think you could call it a ‘computer’ in any way since it simply translated each punched slot into one action of the loom. In the same way a pianola plays a tune. No arithmetical or logical function involved.


  14. I should have mentioned earlier based on the mention of flag day today. This is also the birthday of the Army, number 244. They say they go back to June 14, 1775 as that was when the first continental army was started. Enlistment was for one year. I think they are stretching it a bit as Washington was not even nominated as the guy in charge until a day later. The first Army regiment was not created until 1784. But anyway, people were already fighting and dying up north so if the army wants to take credit…so be it.

  15. Possible, but I doubt that. Not only is the basin of a very different colour, deep blue and not turkoise, but although Chamaeleons can change colour (by a mixture of pigments and structural colours) their adapting colour for camouflage is limited (compare that to an octopus!). Their colours are thought to be mainly for signalling purposes, (and for thermoregulation and indeed camouflage in third place).
    It probably varies from species to species, there are a dozen or so genera.and hundreds (?) of species.
    I haven’t a clue what species these little fella’s are.

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