Monday: Hili dialogue

July 1, 2019 • 7:00 am

Well, we’ve arrived at July, for it’s Monday, July 1, 2019. It’s National Gingersnap Day, a creditable but not superb “biscuit,” as the Brits call them. It’s also International Tartan Day (if you’re Scottish), and Canada Day, a federal holiday for our northern neighbors.

Stuff that happened on July 1 include the following:

  • 1770 – Lexell’s Comet is seen closer to the Earth than any other comet in recorded history, approaching to a distance of 0.0146 a.u.
  • 1858 – Joint reading of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace’s papers on evolution to the Linnean Society of London.

I wrote about this yesterday; it was the solution brokered by Darwin’s friends to enable him to get credit for the theory of evolution while also granting credit to Alfred Russel Wallace. Unfortunately, as this meeting occurred before Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, the joint reading didn’t make much of a stir. Indeed, Thomas Bell, who was President of the Linnean Society, said this about the preceding year in science when making his Presidential address in May of 1859:

“The year which has passed… has not, indeed, been marked by any of those striking discoveries which at once revolutionise, so to speak, the department of science on which they bear.”

Not even wrong!

  • 1863 – American Civil War: The Battle of Gettysburg begins.
  • 1874 – The Sholes and Glidden typewriter, the first commercially successful typewriter, goes on sale.

Here it is. I guess the foot pedal is for returning the carriage:

  • 1879 – Charles Taze Russell publishes the first edition of the religious magazine The Watchtower.
  • 1903 – Start of first Tour de France bicycle race.
  • 1932 – Australia’s national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was formed.
  • 1963 – ZIP codes are introduced for United States mail.
  • 1972 – The first Gay pride march in England takes place.
  • 1980 – “O Canada” officially becomes the national anthem of Canada.

Here’s the Trubol Barbershop Quartet (really one guy, Julien Neel) singing O Canada in four parts. If you’re from the U.S., you may not even have heard this anthem:

  • 1999 – The Scottish Parliament is officially opened by Elizabeth II on the day that legislative powers are officially transferred from the old Scottish Office in London to the new devolved Scottish Executive in Edinburgh.
  • 2007 – Smoking in England is banned in all public indoor spaces.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1646 – Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, German mathematician and philosopher (d. 1716)
  • 1804 – George Sand, French author and playwright (d. 1876)
  • 1818 – Ignaz Semmelweis, Hungarian-Austrian physician and obstetrician (d. 1865)
  • 1916 – Olivia de Havilland, British-American actress
  • 1929 – Gerald Edelman, American biologist and immunologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2014)
  • 1934 – Sydney Pollack, American actor, director, and producer (d. 2008)
  • 1941 – Twyla Tharp, American dancer and choreographer
  • 1945 – Debbie Harry, American singer-songwriter and actress
  • 1950 – David Duke, American white supremacist, politician and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard
  • 1952 – Dan Aykroyd, Canadian actor, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1961 – Carl Lewis, American long jumper and runner
  • 1961 – Diana, Princess of Wales (d. 1997)

Those who passed away on July 1 include:

  • 1860 – Charles Goodyear, American chemist and engineer (b. 1800)
  • 1896 – Harriet Beecher Stowe, American author and activist (b. 1811)
  • 1925 – Erik Satie, French pianist and composer (b. 1866)
  • 1983 – Buckminster Fuller, American architect, designed the Montreal Biosphère (b. 1895)
  • 1995 – Wolfman Jack, American radio host (b. 1938)
  • 2000 – Walter Matthau, American actor (b. 1920)
  • 2001 – Nikolay Basov, Russian physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1922)
  • 2004 – Marlon Brando, American actor and director (b. 1924)
  • 2009 – Karl Malden, American actor (b. 1912)

Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1 is about the most melancholy piece of music around. But it’s also ineffably beautiful. Here’s a good rendition:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is amused by a photo of herself:

A: A funny picture.
Hili: Save it fast so it won’t get lost.
In Polish:

Ja: Zabawne zdjęcie.
Hili: Zapisz je szybko, żeby nie zginęło.

Seth Andrews put this on his public Facebook page:

And a great comic by Dave Coverly:

A tweet from reader Ken, showing that we should never assume someone’s politics from where they live:

A tweet from Nilou. I can do some of these, but not all of them. If you have kids, learn them immediately!

Three tweets from Heather Hastie. Imagine being able to choose a cat this way!

A cool demonstration:

This is sad because it reminds me of Cyrus and Hili (Hili still hasn’t recovered from Cyrus’s death and avoids the room where they used to sleep together):

And the rest of today’s tweets are from Matthew (we’ve run out of Grania’s tweets for good). This first weather tweet is unbelievable, but I guess it’s true (readers can tell me):

This white moose is probably leucistic rather than albino, as its eyes are dark:

This cat is smarter than many Americans:

What is deadly can also be beautiful. This tornado occurred two days ago. Be sure to put the sound on.

A reminder that corals are colonies of individuals:




75 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

    1. I know it from hearing it at the old ballpark when the Toronto Blue Jays come to town (and the Montreal Expos, until they decamped for DC to become the Nationals).

  1. I like to use smoking as an analogy for religion…. in good company, that is…..

    How far away is the tornado? It is indeed sublime – a terrifyingly sublime object… especially with the audible signs of an idyllic summer afternoon the whole time… is a tornado an object?… the more I think about it, the more I am hypnotized by it….

  2. I have a question regarding the Canadian national anthem. The singer sang this version.

    Our home and native land!
    True patriot love in all thy sons command.
    With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
    The True North strong and free!
    From far and wide, O Canada,
    We stand on guard for thee.

    God keep our land
    Glorious and free!
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

    But, apparently there is another version.

    Our home and native land!
    True patriot love in all of us command.
    With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
    The True North strong and free!
    From far and wide,
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
    God keep our land glorious and free!
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

    Notice that the phrase “in all they sons command” has been replaced by “in all of us command.” Assuming that the latter version is now the official one, I imagine that there was a lot of agitation to have the verse changed. Is this correct and when did it take place?

    Apparently, there has been no luck in changing the verse “God keep our land glorious and free.”

    1. Yes it was changed to “all of us” last year. It’s changed a few times in my lifetime including sneaking in the God but in the 70s. People bitch whenever the anthem is changed and I always point out that it has changed often from the original.

  3. Thanks for the satie…simply and quietly beautiful. My favorite of the melancholy blended with hope is the third movement of beethoven’s op 132 in a minor. When i first heard it live in a small chamber concert venue a few years ago, i thought it was both the saddest and the most beautiful music i had ever experienced.

    1. The Satie piece is lovely. I’ve always wanted to get into classical music, but the usual composers people reference always sound so incredibly dull. It’s the more modern(?) composers like Satie and Debussy, and then even more modern composers, neo classicists, that interest me.

      1. It’s the same with ballet. The classical performances are nice but the modern ones are fantastic.

        1. I, ugh…god this is a terrible thing to admit – but…I often prefer modern art to all that old stuff too. There. I’ve said it now and I can’t unsay it.

          I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

      2. “I’ve always wanted to get into classical music, but the usual composers people reference always sound so incredibly dull. ”

        A few suggestions:

        – go see your favorite music live

        – hum along to try matching the notes especially on passages you like

        – think about what sounds you like – what groups – if you like soloists then sonatas would be interesting. If you like rock bands, or jazz groups, I.e. fewer instruments- I’d strongly suggest trios- I only recently fell in love with Mozart’s piano trios. The sound is closer to what you’d get if they were playing in your living room – very unlike listening to orchestras.

        – the notion that “modern” music is the only music with “modern” sounds is not entirely true. Mozart’s 40th symphony and Bach’s well tempered clavier have little gems that are highly unusual for classical or baroque music, respectively. Look (listen) for them. That will be interesting, at the least.

        – listen to Mozart’s magic flute highlights – the Met opera has a highly accessible video recording. I am astonished that I had ignored it for so long.

        – a subscription service can help find new music. I credit a certain tech company in Cupertino with pointing me to stuff I might have missed, which I now love.

        In short (not really) – to find music you’ll like, follow the connections, practice listening

      3. one last comment :

        I think a good question to consider is :

        “what is this music expressing, and how?”

        1. AS a long-tine classical music lover, I have always preferred NOT to think about what music “means”, but to listen to it and appreciate it fairly non-intellectually. It can be useful to pay attention to/notice certain musical themes and Leitmotifs, but just listening listening and listening again I believe is the best way to learn to love music.

          1. Yes of course – I’m not proposing to write a treatise on it, it’s more like a prompt to aid meditation that lasts only a moment before becoming lost again – and the question likely has no clear answer, yet I find it compelling.

        2. I went to see the Magic Flute a few years ago, but the place was quite hot and I fell asleep about halfway through. Mozart is exactly the kind of stuff that I instinctively dislike – I like melody, that’s my thing, anything that makes that part of my brain go warm and fuzzy.

          I hear more beauty in a two chord drone-rock song by Spacemen 3, or in Steve Reich just letting some marimbas move in and out of phase, or in some barely there, drifting chord played on an organ by Eno, than I do in a piece by Mozart which travels all over the piano, hysterically piling note upon note.
          It prances. It goes nowhere, and takes an age going about it. I admit that Steve Reich’s stuff goes nowhere too, but the journey is fascinating, and there’s a taste that dances on your tongue the whole time.

          But those are all interesting suggestions. Plenty of food for thought. Music is a very, very weird thing.

          1. You complain about Mozart not having melody??🙀 He’s all about melody. His music is very hummable. Wagner, on the other hand…you sometimes have to wait a lonnng time to find it. Except in Tristan und Isolde. The Magic Flute can certainly be accused of having a corny plot, Queen of the Night, etc., but the music is sublime.

              1. Wonderful aria and Diana Damrau is spectacular!

                I have a funny Magic Flute story. I sat next to some people from Ottawa while watching some other opera at COC in Toronto. We got to talking and they had recently seen a performance of Flute in Ottawa. During Papageno’s Pa-pa-pa-pa song, some spectator chick in the top balcony almost over the stage started leaning over the railing and singing back PapagenA’s pa-pa-pa-pas. The people around her had to haul her back in. Poor Papageno and Papagena on stage trying not to lose it.

              1. The Bergman version was wonderful. Julie Taymor, of Lion King fame (not the Disney), has also done a great version.

            1. Ok, that’s understandable. I cut out a big section where I specifically addressed that point(about Mozart being melodic) and explained precisely what I meant by ‘melody’. I was just going on too long as always.

              Yes, Mozart is technically melodic, but so is elevator music. So is improv jazz. The Great Escape has a very distinctive melodic theme tune. So that would be a lot of people’s definition of a melody. I mean, technically anything with more than one note is a melody. Or even one note played repeatedly but in a distinctive way, like the ‘morse-code’ riff in the beginning of ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ by The Supremes.

              When I use the word ‘melodic’ I’m just trying to refer to anything that’s sweet to my ears. It doesn’t have to be typically melodic. That’s why I brought up artists like Eno and Reich, who don’t, on the face of it, sound particularly melodic. Yet they’re much more melodic, ie. appealing to my ears, than someone like Mozart. I hear a hook in what they do, even if it doesn’t sound like a conventional ‘hook’.

              I want music to stroke the feather in my brain, and that’s got nothing to do with the number of notes. A drifting, minimalist electronic piece with a tune that only unfurls over ten minutes can be mesmerising, while The Magic Flute just passes me by completely.

              I’m very bad at explaining my musical tastes in an intelligible way. It’s very frustrating, so I write music instead.

              1. Since much of this thread is about music, I have a question that I’ve been meaning to ask. Didn’t you once write that Spiratualized’s “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Outer Space” was one of your favorite albums?

                If so, I was wondering if you had any other Spiritualized album recommendations. There are so many different musicians on the 8 albums and it seems the band’s sound changes with each release. Amazon reviews aren’t helping and their music is such (at least on the above album) that snippets don’t reveal anything.

                And if you aren’t the person who referenced Spiratualized, sorry for the mix-up, I’ll be on my way.

              2. “… but so is elevator music.”

                Music – original recordings- I’ve heard on elevators or department stores includes:

                Pat Metheny
                Antonio Carlos Jobim
                George Benson

                … again, not a rehash – the original recordings. That it would sound melodic is no mistake.

              3. ‘Elevator music’ aka Muzak is a description of a particular bland, carefully homogenised, retread of erstwhile popular songs designed to be played in retail outlets.

                However, not all music played in stores and elevators is elevator music. I’ve picked up on some really good older pop songs having been reminded of them in stores and even on TV ads.

                Similarly, ‘disco’ is an appalling genre, but fortunately for my sanity not everything played in discos is ‘disco’.


              4. @Saul. Mozart is the very antithesis of Muzak or elevator music. It’s not remotely bland. And @infinite, I also can’t bear much disco, but make an exception for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Abba not so much…

              5. For this I recommend One Note Samba by Jobim – easy to find on YouTube.

              6. Anything by Jobim is wonderful! I took one Quarter of Portuguese at Stanford just to be able to understand his lyrics🐰

              7. @ Mark R

                I don’t remember saying that, but yes that was almost certainly me. That’s my favourite album of all-time.

                I’d recommend very strongly LAGWAFIS obviously.

                Then there are the two preceding albums, Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase. All three of those albums make up a rough kind of ‘psychedelic phase’.

                Those were their first three albums, then they moved into a less out-there, more classically rock and roll phase, where the reference points were more ordinary – blues and soul rather than Sun Ra and 13th Floor Elevators and Dr John vodoo-psych insanity. Bit of a shame in my opinion.
                That phase started with the fourth album, Let It Come Down, and is still going on. I’m not really a fan of this phase, although it has birthed some wonderful songs here and there.

                So I’d advise you to try the first three albums.

                – Lazer-Guided Melodies has a lot of set-list staples, and it has Shine A Light, one of the most incredible pieces of music ever recorded…but it’s quite minimalist and slow. It took me a while to make peace with it although it’s probably most fans’ favourite.

                – Pure Phase is full of gorgeous tunes but the production isn’t as elegant so it all slightly mushes together. But it has Let It Flow and other utterly wonderful songs on it. The final two songs are lovely and deeply underrated space-ballads.

                – Ladies and Gentlemen is the Everest. The title track and Broken Heart are two of the most beautiful songs ever written and the rest of the album is of a preposterously high standard. Even the songs that strike you on first listen as cacophonous and ugly(there are a couple of avant-garde, free-jazz-y excursions on it) are nevertheless perfectly situated to pace the album. And if you live with the album for a while their brilliance will grow on you, especially No God Only Religion, which I hated on first listen.

                The rest of the albums get progressively less interesting, until we get to the last album which is the first of their albums that I flat-out didn’t like anything on.

                I would say I would cautiously recommend Let It Come Down and Amazing Grace, both of which have some spectacular songs on them, and then maybe dip into the others if you feel curious.

                There’s also a live album, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest live albums ever. I prefer hearing them in their studio incarnation although it does have a very different, fabulously overblown version of Broken Heart on it.

                …Then there are all the Spacemen 3 albums, the band that Jason Pierce was in before he left and formed Spiritualized.
                If you like what you hear with Spiritualized I can recommend trying tha Spacemen albums Playing With Fire, The Perfect Prescription and Recurring, all of which have examples of Pierce’s songwriting at its best. They contain stone-cold Pierce classics like Lord Can You Hear Me?(NOT the horrible version that he rerecorded for Let It Come Down fifteen years later. Don’t listen to that it’s a travesty.), Hypnotized and So Hot…, all of which will end up being mandatory listens if you find yourself enamoured of Spiritualized.

                There. Bear in mind that I actually made that as short a precis as I could! I really need some kind of mental editing software.

              8. Wow, thanks for all the info Saul. I actually bought Ladies and Gentlemen after reading your summation on said post. This was on a post where Jerry asked readers to list their favorite pieces of art iirc…probably 6 months or so ago. I always appreciate your comments, so decided to try out a band I never heard of. Glad I did!

                – Ladies and Gentlemen is the Everest. The title track and Broken Heart are two of the most beautiful songs ever written and the rest of the album is of a preposterously high standard. Even the songs that strike you on first listen as cacophonous and ugly(there are a couple of avant-garde, free-jazz-y excursions on it) are nevertheless perfectly situated to pace the album. And if you live with the album for a while their brilliance will grow on you, especially No God Only Religion, which I hated on first listen.

                I agree with this completely. First time I heard Broken Heart I melted. So sad and beautiful. And the title track is simply perfect. I enjoy all the songs, but yes, had to hear the entire album 4 or 5 times before “I got” some of the intricate excursions.

                I’ll get their 1st album next. Thanks again for taking the time, I really appreciate it.

              9. @ Mark R – That’s very cool. I had no idea anything I said had any kind of effect at all tbh. And you’re welcome for the post, I genuinely love turning people onto new stuff, especially Spiritualized.


            2. The Met Opera video you posted is – if full length- the one I mean. It really impressed me in a way I never expected- I saw how witty and humorous the characters could be, yet how stunning the spectacle of performance and production was – with clever puppets and props – and then the music – at times vigorous, elegant, witty, dramatic, humorous and light – just the overture alone! and all of the show very clear – very little bizarre slow dull parts like Wagner. The English language was, I feel, necessary – for this.

              In short, do not miss it.

      4. Can’t help another comment:

        I am fascinated by the fact that music is almost like a time machine to hear precisely what the composers heard and played long ago – being produced in some way right in your own experience. the music represents something of their experience, and the interests of music goers and society structure, sometimes 100’s of years ago, sometimes longer. I can’t put a finger on what it is.

      5. Can’t help it :

        Another way to find interesting new music is to let down your guard and pick something you thought would be stupid or uninteresting.

        I tried this with Ralph Vaughan Williams. I heard a short talk on his music and said “hey, why not try it out.” I don’t have it on infinite repeat ( like I do Mozart, Chopin, Bach, Beethoven piano works), but RVW got in my breadbasket and it’s not going away.

        Related idea : seek out soundtracks- there’s very interesting material in Cinderella Man (I forgot the composer), Field of Dreams (yes the dopey movie with Costner) and so on…. and they all have a way of opening a window onto the broader genre of, say, modern (20th and beyond) “classical” music (though I think “classical” is a specific period exemplified by Mozart, Haydn, and about where Beethoven took over…

        1. Can’t help replying in return:

          Completely agree re. movie soundtracks – they have become really great sources of fantastic music over the last two or three decades; some of the most talented songwriters and composers work there – there is so much fabulous stuff. Cliff Martinez’s work is fantastic, especially the stuff he did for Only God Forgives; and Hans Zimmer, as ubiquitous as he is, writes some truly divine pieces. And Clint Mansell.
          And of course Michael Nyman, who really drew me in in the first place.

          And I have a bunch of guilty pleasures, like the Last Of The Mohicans soundtrack(Howard something) and even certain parts of the Game Of Thrones soundtrack. Great music is everywhere in cinema; I think the snobbery about film compositions is depressing. This:

          is one of the loveliest pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time, and you could hardly describe it as populist or lowbrow.

    2. Agree with you on the Beethoven quartet. Almost anything by Ludwig or Johannes (Brahms) is worth listening to. The Satie is lovely, too, but unlike Saul, most Debussy does not do it for me.

      1. This reminds me – on the topic of finding music – there are a number of YouTubers with analyses of compositions – an interesting angle, especially if it’s unclear why a piece is supposed to be good.

      2. Look forward to hearing the performance you linked in your comment, rickflick. Speeds and presentations vary, but i think that in many if not most performances, the third movement starts later…around 16 or 17 minutes and lasts around 18 minutes. Thanks for the url.

        1. You very well could be right. The quartet paused and a screen message said “3rd movement”. The message could be wrong. Maybe it’s the second movement.

      3. Yes rickflick. Sorry that this is so late, but I was finally able to listen to your url reference for the beethoven op 132 in a minor and as you surmised, they skipped the second movement in this version. You can see and listen to the full arrangement of all four movements performed by the ariel quartet at url.
        The third movement starts at around 21:40 i think and the whole piece is 49 minutes. If you can find a quiet hour, i highly recommend enjoying the entire work.

  4. The Gay Pride sign on the back of the pickup truck is certainly uplifting, but I’ve got to wonder how long after that photo was taken that the country boys who ARE bigots set that truck on fire.

    1. My personal experience is that right wing bigots are much less violent than the left wing bigots.

      In other words, it is much safe to be pro-gay in Trump country than to be pro-Trump in progressive country.

      1. I think the statistics on left vs right violence would _very strongly_ contradict your experience.

        1. I live in a college town in Oregon so I may be biased. The antifa attacks in Portland over the weekend are just par for the course here. I used to live in the south and, while I saw a lot of bigotry, I never saw threats or violence.

          When I worked for the local university, I did not post anything anti-SJW for fear of job repercussions. Admittedly, this was not violence but it was clearly successful intimidation by leftist bigots.

          Do you have any statistics on common violence? IMO, terrorism is too rare for JohnE’s stats to be important.

          1. The terrorist stats relate to political violence over the last two decades. The right is over-represented compared to the left by orders of magnitude.

            You can’t just say terrorism is rare therefore the statistics are irrelevant. That’s not the way it works.
            Besides, the statistical breakdown I’m thinking of is the FBI’s own, and far-right attacks are not actually particularly rare.

            I instinctively dislike antifa, I think they’re cretins, but they are consistently opposed by far-right scum who turn up with guns and bats themselves. Portland is a huge, notoriously juicy target for the far-right. Let’s not pretend antifa always start fights out of thin air. For all their(many) faults they also tend not to run people over in cars or walk into synagogues and slaughter Jews.

    2. Yes, my first thought too was to wonder how long that pickup would remain un-tailgated.

      My second thought was what a nasty cynical person I am. It didn’t change my first thought though.


    1. A little observation of the video shows however that there is about a metre (whatever size the truck’s tyres are) of water on the ground (that’s not going to play well with the fuel station’s underground tanks), with a thin skin of hail and “floes” of hail cemented by ice.

      It’s not nice weather, but the implication that this is several metres thickness of hail is incorrect.

      1. Having seen a number of video clips on our nightly news, I have to contradict that. The possibility of floods did occur to me. However, from the videos I saw, those quite clearly are metre-deep drifts of hail, probably with some meltwater mixed in. People are walking on top of it.


      1. Me too because I usually call it the “ending”. Had to look up the fancy word, and I’m still not sure if it’s right haha.

  5. A cool demonstration:

    Hyperbolic Holes is a toy that shows how a straight rod, in this case a pencil, can glide through a symmetrical pair of curved holes. The design is based on the hyperboloid, the 3D ruled surface traced by an offset rotating diagonal line

    A different way of looking at this is that it demonstrates that the hyperbola – along with the ellipse, it’s special case of a circle, and a parabola are all “conic sections“.
    The pencil is tracing out a pair of coaxial right cones (their bases are perpendicular to the axis) meeting at their shared apex.

    Using a pencil is a visual pun on a pencil, of which a cone is an example.

  6. 1950 – David Duke, American white supremacist, politician and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard

    No Oxford comma?

    Who are you and what have you done with PCC(E)?


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