Wednesday: Hili dialogue

July 24, 2019 • 6:30 am

It’s Wednesday, or Hump Day: July 24, 2019, and National Tequila Day (I always worry about cultural appropriation on such days).  It’s also National Tell an Old Joke Day, and so I will comply. It’s a Jewish joke, of course, and may be old, but I doubt that more than 1% of readers have heard it:

An elderly rabbi, having just retired from his duties in the congregation, finally decides to fulfill his lifelong fantasy–to taste pork.

He goes to a hotel in the Catskills in the off-season (not his usual one, mind you), enters the empty dining hall and sits down
at a table far in the corner.  The waiter arrives, and the rabbi orders roast suckling pig.

As the rabbi is waiting, struggling with his conscience, a family from his congregation walks in!  They immediately see the rabbi and, since no one should eat alone, they join him.

Shocked, the rabbi begins to sweat.  At last, the waiter arrives with a huge domed platter. He lifts the lid to reveal-what else?–roast suckling pig, complete with an apple in its mouth.

The family gasp in shock and disgust, they quickly turned to the rabbi for any type of explanation.

“This place is amazing!” cries the rabbi. “You order a baked apple, and look what you get!”

I’ll be here all year, folks!

Stuff that happened on this day includes:

  • 1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is forced to abdicate and replaced by her 1-year-old son James VI.
  • 1847 – After 17 months of travel, Brigham Young leads 148 Mormon pioneers into Salt Lake Valley, resulting in the establishment of Salt Lake City.
  • 1901 – O. Henry is released from prison in Columbus, Ohio, after serving three years for embezzlement from a bank.
  • 1911 – Hiram Bingham III re-discovers Machu Picchu, “the Lost City of the Incas”.
  • 1959 – At the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev have a “Kitchen Debate”.
  • 1966 – Michael Pelkey makes the first BASE jump from El Capitan along with Brian Schubert. Both came out with broken bones. BASE jumping has now been banned from El Cap.
  • 1974 – Watergate scandal: The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Richard Nixon did not have the authority to withhold subpoenaed White House tapes and they order him to surrender the tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor.
  • 1987 – Hulda Crooks, at 91 years of age, climbed Mt. Fuji. Crooks became the oldest person to climb Japan’s highest peak.

Crooks was a tough old bird. Wikipedia adds this:

 Affectionately known as “Grandma Whitney” she successfully scaled 14,505-foot (4,421 m) Mount Whitney 23 times between the ages of 65 and 91. She had climbed 97 other peaks during this period. In 1990, Day Needle, an Act of Congress renamed one of the peaks in the Whitney area Crooks Peak in her honor.

Here she is:

Here’s Machu Picchu in the overgrown state at which Bingham saw it 108 years ago today:

And in the restored state today. I’ve been there, and it’s one of the three most beautiful places I’ve visited on the planet (the other two are Mount Everest and the Taj Mahal in full moonlight):

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1783 – Simón Bolívar, Venezuelan commander and politician, 2nd President of Venezuela (d. 1830)
  • 1802 – Alexandre Dumas, French novelist and playwright (d. 1870)
  • 1860 – Alphonse Mucha, Czech painter and illustrator (d. 1939)
  • 1895 – Robert Graves, English poet, novelist, critic (d. 1985)
  • 1897 – Amelia Earhart, American pilot and author (d. 1937)
  • 1900 – Zelda Fitzgerald, American author and poet (d. 1948)
  • 1920 – Bella Abzug, American lawyer and politician (d. 1998)
  • 1949 – Michael Richards, American actor and comedian
  • 1951 – Lynda Carter, American actress
  • 1969 – Jennifer Lopez, American actress, singer, and dancer

I featured Alphone Mucha ten days ago, as he was born on July 14. Today he’s featured again as he died on July 24. Here’s one of his beautiful Art Nouveau posters from the Daily Art site; you can see 12 others at the link and still others at his Wikipedia page. These original posters are now worth tens of thousands of dollars:

Notables who expired on July 24 were few, they include:

  • 1862 – Martin Van Buren, American lawyer and politician, 8th President of the United States (b. 1782)
  • 1991 – Isaac Bashevis Singer, Polish-American novelist and short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)
  • 2007 – Albert Ellis, American psychologist and author (b. 1913)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is restless:

Hili: I’ve changed my plans.
A: And where are you going to?
Hili: I’m going to look out of the window on the east side.
In Polish:
Hili: Zmieniłam plany.
Ja: I co będziesz robić?
Hili: Popatrzę przez okno po wschodniej stronie domu.

Reader j.j. sent this, taken from Language Log, a fascinating site. I’m sure you don’t want a big order of the stuff, but Language Log explains the mistranslation:

Aussie humor from reader Merilee:

Grania’s sister has finally shut down her Skype account, which remained active (and call-able, though there was no answer) for a long time after she died. Now I see this, which is ineffably sad:

Here’s a tweet Grania sent me on November 23 of last year. Her email was called “Interesting thread”. (It is!)

From reader Barry: Mango and Ponzu are inseparable! (Sound up, please.)

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. Look at that bat climb!

I’m not sure what’s going on here; perhaps someone can explain.

Four tweets from Matthew. Both he and I have always been fascinated with the unusual markings of baby tapirs, which changed drastically as they get older. It must be the case that this pattern is adaptive in a little one, but not in a big one:

It’s hot in Europe!

Problem solved (well, at least identified):

Baby skunks imprinted on a human (I once had one of these):


30 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I laughed at your dad joke!

    Here is mine –
    I am giving up my career as a graffiti artist – to be honest, the writing’s been on the wall for a while…

  2. A version of one of my favorite Jewish jokes:

    John, who was in financial difficulty, walked into a church and started to pray. ”Listen God,” John said. ”I know I haven’t been perfect but I really need to win the lottery. I don’t have a lot of money. Please help me out.”

    He left the church, a week went by, and he hadn’t won the lottery, so he walked into a synagogue. ”Come on, God,” he said. ”I really need this money. My mom needs surgery and I have bills to pay. Please let me win the lottery.”

    He left the synagogue, a week went by, and he didn’t win the lottery. So, he went to a mosque and started to pray again. ”You’re starting to disappoint me, God,” he said. ”I’ve prayed and prayed. If you just let me win the lottery, I’ll be a better person. I don’t have to win the jackpot, just enough to get me out of debt. I’ll give some to charity, even. Just let me win the lottery.” John thought this did it, so he got up and walked outside.

    The clouds opened up and a booming voice said, ”John, help me out, buy a fucking lottery ticket.”

    1. Don’t usually like jokes, partly because I can never remember them properly, but yours reminded me of this one:

      An Irishman was flustered not being able to find a parking space in a large mall’s parking lot.

      “Lord,”he prayed,”I can’t stand this.If you open a space up for me,I swear I’ll give up drinking me whiskey, and I promise to go to church every Sunday.”

      Suddenly, the clouds parted and the sun shone on an empty parking spot. Without hesitation, the man said,”Never mind,I found one.”

  3. Good joke

    What is being demonstrated in the physics demonstration, anyone? it looks like a zealous magic show, lacking any set up cues – perhaps a caption or two would have helped. Intriguing though.

    1. It’s a display of magnetic levitation. A spinning top is used because the spin stabilizes it and prevents it from flipping over in the magnetic field which it would otherwise do. The bubble and smoke are added effects to make it clear that no wires, mono-filament, or other means of material support are being used. And to look cool of course.

  4. 1974 – Watergate scandal: The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Richard Nixon did not have the authority to withhold subpoenaed White House tapes and they order him to surrender the tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor.

    I wonder how that vote would come down with the current SCOTUS cast?

    Otherwise re. Art Nouveau, I’ve long thought it a pity that it never made it into American architecture in more than a very token amount. The entryway of Mineral Hall at the Kansas City Art Inst is the best example I know of.

  5. Bat on the tree in Heather’s tweet reminds me of Alex Honnold making his way up El Cap in Free Solo.

  6. Here is my joke:

    Stephen Hawking went on a date. when he came back, his glasses were smashed, he had a broken wrist, a twisted ankle and grazed knees; apparently she stood him up!

  7. From Herb Silverman (Atheist Without a Prayer):
    A Jewish Atheist and his family moved to a small town, and the atheist father wanted to send his son to the best school. He asked around and found out it was the Catholic school, so he enrolled his son. Every day he would ask the boy what he learned. One day, the son answered, “Today we learned about the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” Furious, the father grabbed the boy by the shoulders and said, “Joey, listen, because this is important: there is ONE God – and we don’t believe in Him”.

  8. My contribution for “old joke day”

    During my check-up I asked my doctor, “Do you think I’ll live a long and healthy live?”
    He replied, “I doubt it. Mercury is in Uranus right now”
    I said, “I don’t believe in any of that astrology bullshit doc”
    “Neither do I. My thermometer just broke”

    1. When did medics stop using mercury thermometers? I know the one my parents had (vintage early 60s or late 50s) was an alcohol one, and I suspect that Arctic explorers (Franklin and the like) would probably have been dealing with temperatures below the freezing point of mercury in the 1840s. But when did alcohol-water (or alcohols-water, for lower vapour pressure) become common?
      You’d still have to be careful about your choice of alcohol. Methanol – very dodgy and high vapour pressure ; ethanol – tolerable toxicity, but still fairly high v.p. ; propanol – not nice, but tolerable toxicity, lower v.p. …

  9. Brava Grandma Whitney!

    The thread about Portman and the Sentinel Islanders and his colonial anthropology is indeed fascinating (and disgusting). I must learn more.

    Following the thread on the little girl and the animals that accompany her (there’s additional footage), it turns out that her grandparents rescue wild animals and when she visits, she hangs with them. Very cool. She has an extraordinary rapport with both wild and domestic animals. I’m envious.

    Last week someone pilfered a long pole I used for stretching exercises. I’d left it in a common area of my apartment building. How the heck did it end up with Hili in Poland? I know that Hili can talk and is a web editor, but can she teleport?

    1. All cats can teleport. And time travel. But normally they don’t let the staff see it.
      It all comes down to that Schrödinger dude and his cat, Cat. The logical analysis of what happens to causality when Cat is sealed into a closed box with a capsule of poison gas and a radioactive triggeralmost always leave out an important point : Cat’s opinion on matters. Obviously, Cat understood what Schrödinger was saying as he described the experiment, and understood the implications (particularly, “dead cat – Cat”). So, once the box lid was closed, there was an intense evolutionary pressure through all the myriad (Many Worlds interpretation) future time cone of Cat⁰, into one of the many future possible Cats, Cat` (“Cat-prime”) which had acquired the natural ability to teleport in time and space. Cat` then (for a very loose meaning of “then”) teleported back in time to rescue the progenitor cat, Cat⁰ from a fate worse than worming tablets on showering day. Then, once the poison gas had dispersed, Cat⁰ returned to the box with it’s latent ability to teleport in time and space instantiated.
      Since then, when not engaged in sleeping on Schrödinger’s typewriter (“I don’t have writer’s block, I have a cat!”), Cat⁰ has been gallifreyanting around through time and space, spreading the ability.
      Confirmatory experiment: look carefully for cats before descending the stairs. When you trip over a cat which was not there, you’ve just met one of Cat⁰’s descendants.

        1. I forget the source – I think it was a catroon book titled “101 uses for a dead cat“, or possibly “101 More Uses of a Dead Cat“, “Uses of a Dead Cat in History“, but I definitely knew the spiel before “The Cat’s Revenge – More Than 101 Uses for Dead People” was published.

  10. Two Ian Paisley jokes:

    Paisley was preaching hell and damnation in his Ulster Free Presbyterian church, and thundered: ‘On the day of judgement, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth’. An old lady in the congregation piped up: ‘Please, Dr Paisley, some of us don’t have any teeth’. Paisley thundered back: ‘Teeth will be provided!’

    Paisley was asked by Gerry Adams what was the difference between his Free Presbyterians and the rival Fundamentalist Presbyterians. He thundered back: ‘The Fundamentalist Presbyterians believe that you Catholics are damned because ye’re predestined to be damned. But we Free Presbyterians believe that you Catholics will be damned on yer merits’.

    Helps if you tell them in an exaggerated Northern Ireland accent.

    1. How do you sink an Irish submarine?
      Knock on the hatch.

      (Sorry ’bout that)

      Since I’m English, here’s my favourite:

      An Englishman, a Jew, and a Hindu are travelling in deserted country, and as evening falls they come on a lonely farm. So they knock on the door and the farmer says “Okay, I’ve got a spare room with only two beds, but the third one can stay in the barn, it’s quite warm and I’ve a spare mattress and blankets”.

      So they draw straws, the Hindu loses and duly trudges off to the barn.

      Five minutes later, there’s a knock on the door and there’s the Hindu. “I am sorry for the buggeration, but there is a cow present in the barn, and to us cows are sacred, I cannot sleep in the vicinity of this animal.”

      So the other two draw straws and the Jew loses. Oy vey! He trudges off to the barn.
      But five minutes later, there’s another knock on the door and there’s the Jew. “I am so sorry, but there is a pig in the barn, and to us pigs are unclean.”

      Drat! The Englishman grumbles his way off to the barn.
      But five minutes later there’s another knock on the door.
      So they open the door and standing there are a cow and a pig…



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