Sunday: Hili dialogue

July 21, 2019 • 6:30 am

It’s Ceiling Cat’s Day—July 21, 2019, so be sure not to pick up sticks today on pain of death.  It’s National Crème Brûlée Day, but you can’t eat that, either, unless you are cognizant of the cultural heritage and deep oppression of the French. It’s also National Be Someone Day, as well as National Junk Food Day. (It’s about time a day was devoted to chazerei!) That last word, by the way, is one of “17 Yiddish words that should be in your vocabulary“, even if you’re one of the goyim. Learn them; there will be a quiz.

Things that happened on this day include:

  • 365 – The 365 Crete earthquake affects the Greek island of Crete with a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme), causing a destructive tsunami that affects the coasts of Libya and Egypt, especially Alexandria. Many thousands were killed.
  • 1865 – In the market square of Springfield, Missouri, Wild Bill Hickok shoots and kills Davis Tutt in what is regarded as the first western showdown.
  • 1873 – At Adair, Iowa, Jesse James and the James–Younger Gang pull off the first successful train robbery in the American Old West.
  • 1925 – Scopes Trial: In Dayton, Tennessee, high school biology teacher John T. Scopes is found guilty of teaching evolution in class and fined $100.

Here are some photos of the Scopes Trial and then some rare live footage (without sound, of course, since this is 1925) of the trial.


Here are two opposing attorneys during a break. Notice that they’re in their shirtsleeves due to the ungodly heat:

Clarence Darrow, left, and William Jennings Bryan.
  • 1944 – World War II: Claus von Stauffenberg and fellow conspirators are tortured and executed in Berlin, Germany, for the July 20 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
  • 1969 – At 02:56 UTC, astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the Moon.
  • 1983 – The world’s lowest temperature in an inhabited location is recorded at Vostok Station, Antarctica at −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F).
  • 2012 – Erden Eruç completes the first solo human-powered circumnavigation of the world.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1911 – Marshall McLuhan, Canadian author and theorist (d. 1980)
  • 1920 – Isaac Stern, Polish violinist and conductor (d. 2001)
  • 1924 – Don Knotts, American actor and screenwriter (d. 2006)
  • 1948 – Garry Trudeau, American cartoonist
  • 1951 – Robin Williams, American actor, singer, and producer (d. 2014)
  • 1968 – Brandi Chastain, American soccer player and sportscaster.

I still think this is one of the best cartoons Trudeau ever drew:

Those who went extinct on July 21 include:

  • 1796 – Robert Burns, Scottish poet and songwriter (b. 1759)
  • 1944 – Claus von Stauffenberg, German soldier (b. 1907)
  • 1977 – Lee Miller, American model and photographer (b. 1907)
  • 1998 – Alan Shepard, American admiral, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1923)

Here’s Lee Miller’s famous photograph of the liberation of Buchenwald. Elie Wiesel is in this photo: second tier of bunks, middle square, farthest from camera. He was 16 years old.  Miller was one of the few accredited women war correspondents, and, as they say, she “saw a thing or two.”

UPDATE: As Greg notes in the comments, this photo is by another Miller, probably an Army soldier named Miller. Despite several claims on the Internet that this famous photo was by Lee Miller, that appears to be untrue.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is suffering from malaise, but finds one redeeming thing:

Hili: In a dismal world it’s good to hide somewhere.
A: But later one has to return to reality.
Hili: Yes, and eat something tasty.
In Polish:


Hili: W ponurym  świecie dobrze jest się schować.
Ja: Ale potem trzeba wracać do rzeczywistości.
Hili:  Tak i zjeść coś dobrego.

This, found on Facebook, was attributed to reddit by the Amazing Things site, which captioned it “Am I cute” with a giraffe emoticon.

You say you want a revolution:

What a great idea!


A tweet Grania sent me on October 30 of last year, from the fake DPRK News Service:

And in honor of Grania, here’s a tweet from one of her favorite websites. Look at that face!

A tweet from Nilou. This cat looks even more like Wilford Brimley than my BFF cat Pi:

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. I love this first one as it involves an animal rescue, but Heather noted,

“Such a comment on our society. Man-made rubbish thrown into the sea is a danger to wonderful creatures like this manta ray. Then when people get the opportunity to do something about it, most of them just film the ‘ray’s suffering until somebody takes charge.”

A protective d*g:

Three tweets from Matthew.  The first is Germans honoring those who attempted to assassinate Hitler 75 years ago yesterday. They failed, and all were executed.

Translation from Twitter: “There are moments when disobedience can be a duty.” refers young Bundeswehr soldiers to the Basic Law (Art.20) and commemorates the Hitler assassins of July 20, 1944. The resistance fighters of those days are role models.”

Sad but sweet:

A fishing cormorant. Translation from Twitter: “Today I recorded a cormorant hunting fish. Brutal how they swim.


29 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. At the end of the newsreel on the Scopes trial, the narrator stated that the trial had destroyed the fundamentalist cause regarding education and thinking. If that were only true!

    1. The overheated narration of the Scopes Trial footage is misleading in a number of ways. The suspenseful wait for a verdict was not very long — the jury deliberated for only a few minutes. In fact, both prosecution and defense were hoping for a conviction. The defense was looking to bring the matter before the U.S. Supreme Court. When the Tennessee Supreme Court threw out the conviction on a technicality, it eliminated that possibility.

    2. I noticed the same thing (see below) before I noticed you’d already said so. Is that awkward wording, or what?

  2. John Lennon’s “Imagine” is one of my favorite songs, but I have always thought there was a tad of hypocrisy in him singing about a world without possessions.

  3. The end of the Scopes trial film has a happy ending:
    “The encounter, in Dayton Tennessee, had solved the basic struggle of thinking and education, in the modern day world.”

    I’m glad that’s settled.

  4. I got this in last yesterday but it probably mostly disappeared beneath the fold.

    If von Stauffenberg had succeeded, I think it’s safe to say that most who died in the European theater after July 20, 1944 would likely have survived the war, and the course of history would have been greatly changed. Germany could have had a greater role in charting its own course, too, and if Germany itself could have repudiated Nazism, we might not have as many neo-Nazis.

    But as to how things in the US might have been different, I came across this – that very day was the middle of the Democratic convention, and Henry Wallace’s re-nomination for VP was hanging in the balance. He missed re-nomination by a matter of inches and seconds when the convention was hastily gavelled closed for the day, as detailed here. Do read it!

    Had von Stauffenberg succeeded, and the news reached the Convention, Wallace might have been re-nominated in the jubilation, and we might have had a President Wallace by April ’45. How would that have affected the outcome of the Potsdam Conference? Would Wallace have been able to defeat Dewey in ’48? How would Eisenhower have emerged, and so forth.

  5. National Be Someone Day reminds me of my favorite Lily Tomlin line: “I always wanted to be somebody but now I realize I should have been more specific.”

  6. The resistance fighters of those days are role models

    Whilst the aim of the plot was to kill Hitler their motivations for doing so were not that pure. From what I have read their desire was to get an aristocratic group in charge of the government and try to end the war with Poland, Austria and the Sudatenland annexed to Germany.

    1. Nothing wrong with their motives. They could see that Hitler was dragging Germany to ultimate destruction and having a corrosive effect on German society. Their aim (as I understand it) was, having ditched Hitler, to negotiate an end to the war on the best terms they could get at that time.

      If successful, they would have saved millions of lives on all sides.


      1. It’s appropriate to remember those dark times especially with the specter of fascism once again gestating in our midst.

        1. I don’t dispute that, however, the quote I highlighted imputes motives that are less than certain. The apparent motive wasn’t simply the destruction of an authoritarian government and had elements of a restoration to power of an aristocratic elite who felt disempowered.

            1. I disagree (though not with the Churchill comment from tr jackson, he was a pretty odious imperialist racist, despite getting top spot in a “greatest Britons” public vote… there are many better).

              They had their own agenda that fed their own interests and the 20/20 hindsight definitely smacks of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”.

              There is no doubt they (and their family and friends) suffered the consequences, but that says nothing about their cause so much as the odiousness of the Nazi regime.

              I am not willing to go all dewy-eyed on their behalf, just as I give Churchill no particular regard, despite his firm stance as PM in what were difficult times.

              And I think that is all I have to say on this subject, unless someone has a reference to scholarly research that paints them as selfless paragons…

          1. Much like the widely-lauded Churchill’s lust to re-establish the Empire, and re-subjugate its victims, who have proven quite capable of subjugating themselves.

      2. I have erroneously replied to Mike’s reply rather than yours…

        Again, I don’t dispute what the effects of their success would have been, I simply regard the phrase I quoted as imputing purer motives to the plot than were apparently the case. Remember that their government would have been attempting to subsume annexed territories into Germany, that does not imply a group motivated purely by a desire to overthrow a totalitarian dictator.

  7. With regard to Yiddish words: chutzpah has always been one of my favourites, though the website definition as ‘Nerve’ doesn’t do it justice, I prefer:

    “To murder one’s parents and then beg the mercy of the court on account of being an orphan.”

    1. The classically-trained band Colalaila covers old klezmer songs with panache. They even spice up “Wenn Ich Einmal Reich Wär…” (a Broadway tune the title of which I’m sure can be deduced.)

      The old Yiddish lyrics are quite amusing, even for someone muddling through via German.

  8. Proud to say ten of twelve of those Yiddish words are part of my vocabulary.

    Years ago I owned a copy of Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish, which I gave to a friend. Several years ago, I asked for a copy for Christmas. As we opened presents, my friends’ said, Why do you need that? I explained that Yiddish is a part of American culture that enrichs us, and is being lost. They were skeptical, so I opened it at random to the word “eydem,” and read, “Son-in-law. . . It was quite common for a family, as part of a girl’s dowry, to pledge support of the young couple. . . .” Now my goddaughter was there, with her whole family and her new husband, who was unemployed, and they were living with her parents. At the cost of some good-natured embarrasment, I proved my point.

  9. But …but… isn’t streptomycin an antibiotic?? Another example of a good idea shot in foot??

    If Gary’s trying to draw the contrast twixt a “primitive” antibiotic and a complex, evolved, one, then that middle line shouldn’t say “before antibiotics”.

    1. Yes, Streptomycin is an early antibiotic, but still a very effective one so Trudeau chose poorly. I’m definitely not a medico, but I suspect the continued efficacy of streptomycin is because it’s not given out like candy – it is ‘side effects hell’ – if you avoid the dizziness it might just make you blind or dead [you don’t get to choose].

      Effective against plague apparently, but perhaps mostly the equivalent of turning up with an 80 mph Scorpion CVR[T] to the fox hunt**

      ** Hmmm not a bad idea – a CVR fitted with a Hooray Henry detector…

  10. Jerry and I have been discussing this by email, and he may make an addendum to the OP, but it is unclear that the Buchenwald photo was taken by Lee Miller.

    There are websites that attribute the photo to Lee Miller, but I’ve found an attribution to “H. Miller” on several sites (and one for “A. Miller”). Here’s a sample caption: “This is a detail of a famous photo taken inside Buchenwald Barrack 56 by Private H. Miller of the Civil Affairs Branch of the U. S. Army Signal Corps on April 16, 1945”

    The picture is on the National Archives site, but they do not give the photographer. At first I thought the attribution to the Army barred Lee Miller as the photographer, but looking further I see that accredited correspondents (she was one) actually were dressed in US Army uniforms, so it seems possible that her photos could be listed among Army photos. Archives do say it is uncopyrighted, which suggests it was an official Army photograph; Lee Miller’s photos would have been copyrighted. Wikipedia used to list it as in the public domain since it is the work of a soldier; the current page doesn’t mention copyright.

    And here are the credits on a German site:

    Datum: 16. April 1945

    Autor: Private H. Miller. (Army)

    Beschreibung: Sklavenarbeiter im KZ Buchenwald nahe Jena; viele waren an Unterernährung gestorben, als U.S. Truppen der 80th Division das Lager betraten. Der sehr kranke Mann auf dem Rücken im unteren Stockbett ist Max Hamburger, der an TBC und schwerer Unterernährung litt. Er konnte sich erholen und wurde Psychiater in den Niederlanden. In der zweiten Reihe, siebter von links liegt Elie Wiesel. Aufnahme 5 Tage nach der Befreiung.

    Quelle: U.S. Defence Visual Information Center, image #HD-SN-99-02764; NARA image ARC #535561, file #208-AA-206K(31).

    Lee Miller’s official website does not show the photo among its set of Buchenwald photos, but the website has only about 5% of her photos on display.

    Both Wikimedia and the German site mention U.S. Defence Visual Information Center, image #HD-SN-99-02764, apparently a US military media reference– this may be the origin of many of the copies on the web, but the link in Wikimedia is dead, so I’m not sure what’s there.

    I’m not sure who took it– she is a possibility.

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