Tuesday: Hili dialogue

August 6, 2019 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Tuesday, August 6, 2019, National Root Beer Float Day (I use to drink a lot of those as a kid, but haven’t had one in decades). It’s also “A-bomb day” (see below), which means that it’s also Hiroshima Peace Memorial Day, when the victims of the first atomic bomb used in warfare are commemorated. It’s also National Fresh Breath Day, National Gossip Day, and Wiggle Your Toes Day (?).

Stuff that happened on August 6 includes the following:

  • 1787 – Sixty proof sheets of the Constitution of the United States are delivered to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Here’s a copy of the proofs.  According to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, “This copy of the draft of the Constitution was printed secretly for the delegates in August 1787. In order to make it easier for them to take notes it was printed with wide margins. Delegate Pierce Butler, one of the wealthiest slaveholders from South Carolina, owned and marked up this copy.”

More stuff from August 6:

  • 1890 – At Auburn Prison in New York, murderer William Kemmler becomes the first person to be executed by electric chair.

The execution was badly botched; read about it here. I don’t understand why anybody would think the electric chair is a humane way to execute someone.

  • 1914 – World War I: Serbia declares war on Germany; Austria declares war on Russia.
  • 1926 – Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

Five men had swum it before, but Ederle beat their record by a full two hours, completing the swim in 14 hours and 34 minutes, a record that stood until 1950.   Here’s a video of the occasion. She appears to have had musical accompaniment during her swim, and her feat was celebrated with a ticker-tape parade down Broadway:

  • 1930 – Judge Joseph Force Crater steps into a taxi in New York and disappears, never to be seen again.

This is perhaps the most famous missing-persons case in American history. There was no solution (the case was closed in 1979 with not a hint of what happened to the judge.

  • 1944 – The Warsaw Uprising occurs on August 1. It is brutally suppressed and all able-bodied men in Kraków are detained afterwards to prevent a similar uprising, the Kraków Uprising, that was planned but never carried out.
  • 1945 – World War II: Hiroshima, Japan is devastated when the atomic bomb “Little Boy” is dropped by the United States B-29 Enola Gay. Around 70,000 people are killed instantly, and some tens of thousands die in subsequent years from burns and radiation poisoning.

Here’s a movie of the bombing, recounted by the man who filmed it:

  • 1960 – Cuban Revolution: Cuba nationalizes American and foreign-owned property in the nation.
  • 1962 – Jamaica becomes independent from the United Kingdom.
  • 1965 – US President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.
  • 2012 – NASA’s Curiosity rover lands on the surface of Mars.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1667 – Johann Bernoulli, Swiss mathematician (d. 1748)
  • 1766 – William Hyde Wollaston, English chemist and physicist (d. 1828)
  • 1809 – Alfred, Lord Tennyson, English poet (d. 1892)
  • 1881 – Alexander Fleming, Scottish biologist, pharmacologist, and botanist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1955)
  • 1902 – Dutch Schultz, American gangster (d. 1935)

Schultz was murdered by rival mobsters in 1935, who had shot him with rusty bullets to cause infection. He died 29 hours after the shooting, speaking gibberish. As Wikipedia reports:

Schultz’s last words were a strange stream-of-consciousness babble, spoken in his hospital bed to police officers who attempted to calm him and question him for useful information. Although the police were unable to extract anything coherent from Schultz, his rambling was fully transcribed by a police stenographer. These include:

A boy has never wept…nor dashed a thousand kin.
You can play jacks, and girls do that with a soft ball and do tricks with it.
Oh, Oh, dog Biscuit, and when he is happy he doesn’t get snappy.

Schultz’s last words have inspired a number of writers to devote works related to them. Beat Generation author William S. Burroughs published a screenplay in novel form titled The Last Words of Dutch Schultz in the early 1970s, while Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson connected Schultz’s words to a global Illuminati-related conspiracy, making them a major part of 1975’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy. (In Wilson’s and Shea’s story, Schultz’s ramblings are a coded message.) In his 1960 anthology Parodies,Dwight Macdonald presents Schultz’s last words as a parody of Gertrude Stein. In the novel Billy Bathgate, the protagonist used clues from Schultz’s deathbed ramblings to locate his hidden money.

I find the last line, about dog Biscuit, mesmerizing.

Other notables born on August 6 include:

  • 1911 – Lucille Ball, American actress, television producer and businesswoman (d. 1989)
  • 1928 – Andy Warhol, American painter and photographer (d. 1987)
  • 1934 – Chris Bonington, English mountaineer and author
  • 1970 – M. Night Shyamalan, Indian-American director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1973 – Vera Farmiga, American actress

Here’s Bonington on Everest in 1985, which he first summited when he was 51 (he’d led a successful expedition before that, but didn’t get to the top). He was part of a Norwegian expedition this time; I’m not sure who the other person is.

Those who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on this day include:

  • 1637 – Ben Jonson, English poet and playwright (b. 1572)
  • 1931 – Bix Beiderbecke, American cornet player, pianist, and composer (b. 1903)
  • 1991 – Harry Reasoner, American journalist, co-created 60 Minutes (b. 1923)
  • 2004 – Rick James, American singer-songwriter and producer (b. 1948)
  • 2012 – Marvin Hamlisch, American pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1944)

Here’s Beiderbecke’s most famous song, “Singing’ the Blues”, recorded on February 4, 1927, when he was just 24.  It begins with a C-melody saxophone solo by Frankie Trumbauer (it was Trumbauer’s orchestra), and then, at 1:03, Beiderbecke’s cornet solo begins. This ranks, along with Louis Armstrong’s “Potato Head Blues”—recorded the same year—as one of the seminal songs in improvisational jazz. (Armstrong’s famous solo begins at 1:50.) Sadly, Bix died at 28 of alcoholism and related ailments.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is keeping to herself:

In Polish:

A contribution from reader Michael, who said “You’ll like this.” Indeed!

From Amazing Things:

From reader Meriliee. Did you see what it was at first glance?

A tweet that Grania sent me on January 9 of this year:

And for the d*g lovers among us, a tweet of dog-and-owner reunions (from Ann German via Heather Hastie):

Matthew sent a bunch of tweets today, many about gun control (he’s angry!).

From the former Secretary of Labor who served three Presidents, including one Republican:

And some palliative, also from Matthew:

Yes, this is not a worm but a snake:

Presumably you know what a stop codon is? Surely most people at Penn don’t!

22 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. That dog-owner reunion video has messed me up a bit. Very beautiful, especially the first one. The sight of grown men crying really affects me for some reason.

      1. More specifically, it’s a signal to the ribosome to end translation of the messenger RNA into a protein. In other words, it’s a stop codon. I bet University of Georgia also has stop codons on their traffic cones, but they probably only use one of the three stop codons.

      2. Not the codon – the pylon. I am disputing the meaning UAG. I think a university department accidentally has a three letter acronym that is a codon. Actually I bet it’s not uncommon.

        Best I could come up with, given that there’s an associated so-called “ag school” :

        University Agricultural Group
        “ “ Garage

        … etc.

  2. This [Beiderbecke’s cornet solo] ranks, along with Louis Armstrong’s “Potato Head Blues”—recorded the same year—as one of the seminal songs in improvisational jazz.

    Legend has it that Bix and Pops played together just once, at an after-hours club in Chicago (local cabaret laws at the time prohibited black and white musicians from appearing together on stage). There was long-rumored to be a recording of this session, but as far as I know, no such recording has ever been discovered.

  3. Bix was expelled from my high school (as was Jean Harlow). They were both a few years ahead of me, though.

      1. Love the furry belly and chinny chin Chin. Not sure why Siri capitalized the final Chin unless she thinks it’s someone Chinese😻

  4. 1965 – US President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.

    In 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, SCOTUS, by a margin of 5-4, invalidated the so-called “pre-clearance provisions” in Section 5 of the VRA of 1965, the section that required states with a demonstrated history of racially biased voting practices to obtain US Justice Department approval before enacting any change to their voting laws. This, despite the Voting Rights Act (including Section 5) having been reauthorized by congress, with overwhelming bipartisan support, in 2006.

    According to a recent study by the Brennan Center, 17 million people were purged from the voting rolls nationwide between 2016 and 2018. Now, many of those names were purged because they had died or moved out of state. But the most interesting statistic uncovered by the study is that, in states that had been covered by the Section 5 pre-clearance provisions before the Shelby County case, the purge rate was 40% higher than it was in the states that had no demonstrated history of racial bias in their voting laws. This rate disparity has resulted in the purging of an addition 1.1 million voters in the states that had previously been covered by Section 5 of the VRA.

  5. I do recommend treating yourself once again to a root beer float. It will be good, and also invoke strong memories of childhood. By consensus in our family, the best root beer that is commonly sold in stores is Frostie.

    1. Been a long time but I used to treat myself fairly regularly to a nice supersized Black Cow. I’d use one of the heavy liter glass mugs acquired from Oktoberfest in Munich back in the 70s. It’s best to wait a bit after pouring the root beer to give time for a crunchy ice coating to form on the outside of the ice cream. Then you eat the ice cream by scraping the coating off section by section, scoop by scoop. By the time you get back to where you started the crunchy coating has reformed and you start again. By the time the ice cream is all gone you’re left with a bit of wonderfully creamy root beer.

      Getting older sucks. Can’t eat liter sized black cows anymore. At least not without being miserable the next day and gaining even more weight.

  6. Just this morning, a stray dog showed up at my house out of the woods and decided to hang out with me and my dog. Turns out he was the neighbor’s so I led him back for the happy reunion.

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