Friday: Hili dialogue

September 13, 2019 • 6:30 am

It’s Friday, September 13, and we’re having The Mother of All Thunderstorms in Chicago this morning. I hope my ducks don’t get wet!

It’s National Peanut Day.  It’s also Friday the Thirteenth, which many people deem unlucky (I live in a 13-story building, but the thirteenth floor has an elevator button labeled “T”, for “top”.) I wonder if airplanes have a row 13? (I just looked this up and, indeed, some airlines are missing row 13. It’s one of the few examples I know of a company catering to superstition.)

At any rate, it’s also, appropriately, National Defy Superstition Day, as well as Blame Someone Else Day (this is Trump’s own holiday), Bald is Beautiful Day, and Snack a Pickle Day (I didn’t know “Snack” was transitive verb). Finally, but only in Africa, the UK, and Latin America, it’s Roald Dahl Day (Dahl was born on this day in 1916.)

Stuff that happened on September 13 include:

  • 1541 – After three years of exile, John Calvin returns to Geneva to reform the church under a body of doctrine known as Calvinism.
  • 1609 – Henry Hudson reaches the river that would later be named after him – the Hudson River.
  • 1788 – The Philadelphia Convention sets the date for the first presidential election in the United States, and New York City becomes the country’s temporary capital.
  • 1814 – In a turning point in the War of 1812, the British fail to capture Baltimore. During the battle, Francis Scott Key composes his poem “Defence of Fort McHenry”, which is later set to music and becomes the United States’ national anthem.
  • 1848 – Vermont railroad worker Phineas Gage survives an iron rod 1 14 inches (3.2 cm) in diameter being driven through his brain; the reported effects on his behavior and personality stimulate discussion of the nature of the brain and its functions.

Gage lived 12 years after the accident, though, famously, people reported that his personality changed considerably. It’s instructive to read the Wikipedia entry linked above; you’ll marvel that he survived. Here’s Gage after he recovered, his skull, which was exhumed and preserved, and the big iron bar that went through it:

  • 1899 – Henry Bliss is the first person in the United States to be killed in an automobile accident.

As Wikipedia notes,

Bliss was disembarking from a streetcar at West 74th Street and Central Park West in New York City, when an electric-powered taxicab (Automobile No. 43) struck him and crushed his head and chest. He died from his injuries the next morning.

Arthur Smith, the driver of the taxicab, was arrested and charged with manslaughter but was acquitted on the grounds that he had no malice, nor was he negligent.

  • 1953 – Nikita Khrushchev is appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
  • 1962 – An appeals court orders the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith, the first African-American student admitted to the segregated university.
  • 1993 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shakes hands with Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat at the White House after signing the Oslo Accords granting limited Palestinian autonomy.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1475 – Cesare Borgia, Italian cardinal (d. 1507)
  • 1819 – Clara Schumann, German pianist and composer (d. 1896)
  • 1851 – Walter Reed, American physician and biologist (d. 1902)
  • 1857 – Milton S. Hershey, American businessman, founded The Hershey Company (d. 1945)
  • 1860 – John J. Pershing, American general and lawyer (d. 1948)
  • 1874 – Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian composer and painter (d. 1951)
  • 1876 – Sherwood Anderson, American novelist and short story writer (d. 1941)
  • 1908 – Chu Berry, American saxophonist (d. 1941)
  • 1911 – Bill Monroe, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1996)
  • 1916 – Roald Dahl, British novelist, poet, and screenwriter (d. 1990) [see above]
  • 1918 – Ray Charles, American singer-songwriter and conductor (d. 2015)

Those who died on September 13 were few; they include:

  • 1759 – James Wolfe, English general (b. 1727)
  • 1944 – W. Heath Robinson, English cartoonist (b. 1872)
  • 1946 – Amon Göth, Austrian captain (b. 1908)

If you remember the movie Schindler’s List, you’ll remember that the cruel and tyrannical Göth was played by Ralph Fiennes.  The real Göth was hung for war crimes, but the gallows malfunctioned twice, depositing him on the ground, before they finally worked. If you want to see his hanging, with the malfunctions, it’s on YouTube.

  • 1949 – August Krogh, Danish physiologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1874)
  • 1996 – Tupac Shakur, American rapper, producer, and actor (b. 1971)

Robinson is best known for his complicated Rube-Goldberg-like “contraptions,” but he was also a well known illustrator. Here’s a picture he did for Puss in Boots:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is on the prowl, but not really:

A: Are you hunting?
Hili: I’m just pretending.
In Polish:
Ja: Polujesz?
Hili: Tylko udaję.

I got this UPS notice yesterday, and informed them via Twitter that they need to check their apostrophes:

Reader James sent me this altered photo of Trump, with his mouth in the appropriate place:

Grania sent me this tweet on April 7; it’s a beautiful photo of my town:

From reader j.j. Those kittens don’t look that fat to me!

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. This one looks familiar, but I’ll post it again just in case: a cat feels the burn:

This parrot has been taking lessons from the seagulls in Finding Nemo:

Four tweets from Matthew Cobb. The first shows a superb and amazing new explanation for parallel evolution in sticklebacks (read the thread). My take is this: this can’t be “adaptive mutation”, as the “need” for reduced pelvic fins isn’t constant. It must be more or less an accident of DNA structure.

Happy Science London? Science???? I’d ask her to tell me exactly where the Dow Jones average will be in a week:

A nice interview with a real young activist:

This seal should be made an honorary cop.


32 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

    1. There’s a London/Hong Kong based bank whose headquarters in London doesn’t have a 4th floor for this reason

      It just goes 3rd floor then 5th floor


    2. I wonder if airplanes have a row 13? (I just looked this up and, indeed, some airlines are missing row 13. It’s one of the few examples I know of a company catering to superstition.)

      Or maybe they could just have rows 12, D and 14. For those who balance their cheques books in hex.

    1. My mother was born on April 13th… her day of birth was Monday but she has had many very nice Friday birthdays. I am unable to write here what she has said in response to the superstitious doomsayers 😀

  1. Happy? maybe. Science? Nah!

    Yet another religion.

    Happy Science believers have a strong faith in the God of the earth, El Cantare. A part of him was born as Shakyamuni Buddha. In the Old Testament, El Cantare is known as Elohim, and he also represents the ancient legend of “The Tree of Life.” All religions originally come from one source – El Cantare, the being that designed this world with love. A part of El Cantare resides within Master Okawa, and is guiding humanity to create a world of harmony and prosperity.

    I am betting there is cash for Master Okawain there somewhere, but then I am a cynic.

  2. Didn’t you post the same tweet about the fat cat and fat kittens and also make the same observation before or am I losing it?

  3. According to the dates in Wikipedia (so it must be true), “Heath Robinson” entered the language for weird contraptions between 1914 and 1918 whereas the first recorded use of “Rube Goldberg” for the same was in 1928. It’s therefore more accurate to describe Rube Goldberg as a creator of complicated Heath-Robinson-like contraptions than the other way around.

    I don’t know if one artist was influenced by the other or if this is a case of convergent inkolution.

    1. On the third hand, the tradition of building complex apparatus from “available materials” – which would very much be a road Heath Goldberg and Rube Robinson would build road-sweepers for, of unimaginable complexity and ingenuity – pre-dates them both.
      Concerning JJ Thopmson – discoverer of the electron – WikiQuotes says

      His reluctance to pay for elaborate or expensive equipment, perhaps the result of an impoverished childhood, had established the legendary “sealing wax-and-string” tradition of the Cavendish, where everyday materials were ingeniously used to make and patch up experimental equipment, with sealing wax proving particularly useful for vacuum seals.

    1. Yes, some interesting research gets acknowledged. And the mystery of how wombats produce cubic poops is closer to being solved.

  4. The Ray Charles whose birthday is referenced was Charles Raymond Offenberg, a/k/a “The Other Ray Charles” or “The Ray Charles Singers.”

  5. Not fair that Roald Dahl day is only in Africa, the UK, and Latin America (why the latter?). He used to live in Washington, DC, too.

    1. Chocolate I’m guessing is the link. Dahl loved chocolate & wives he wasn’t married to. I assume the former small obsession [he was a connoisseur of the stuff] led to his most famous story.

  6. O, I so appreciate each morning
    the Hili Dialogue. Such history
    I learn or relearn.

    Within today’s for instantiation ?
    Within my 20s I actually lived for
    three years’ time whilst a student
    just a coupla blocks’ / easy – walking distance from 74th and Central Park West.
    I practiced veterinary medicine upon the cattle and at 50 of their 100 parlors’
    the kitty cats as well … … all of these
    dairying farms set up to supply
    the milk for its chocolate products
    and allegedly to assist poor and / or motherless boys and, later, girls who lived and worked these farms by Milton S and
    Kitty Hershey. And four times completely through I viewed the Schindler’s List film
    and wonder, still, how Mr Göth could .by. that youthful age of 38 .and before. of his … … .already. be so “tyrannical”;
    but, o’course, he was.

    And I adore Mz Hili’s repose and response
    this morning !


    1. WEIT is a democracy. One man, one vote. PCC is the one man, and he has cast his vote.
      I suspect it is one of the very few things about WEIT of which the Trump-et would approve.
      P>And the picture does elevate Trump’s status unduly, I agree.

    2. I do have to agree about the picture (while carefully not questioning PCC’s right to post whatever he likes).

      tRump does such a good job of making himself look ridiculous, attempts to gild the lily just detract from Mr Trump’s own sterling efforts.


  7. I highly recommend reading the twitter thread by James Lingford on DNA fragility.

    It is a long and delightful breakdown of the research, with case after case of a) a question; b) an experiment done; and c) an explanation of the result, leading to the next question.

    The actual subject is fascinating, but even if it isn’t your thing, the approach of this twitter thread is worth the read. It would be great to see this kind of detailed explainer become more common on twitter.

  8. Just as heads up – that UPS email is a phishing scam. We get those all the time at work and our IT department warns us that such typos and misspellings as well are indicators of phishing scams. Just wanted to mention that.

    1. As a quick check, hover the mouse pointer over any links in the email (like those buttons at the bottom) and see what the actual link is. Any good email client should show the link in a little box at the bottom of the screen.
      If the link is patently unrelated to UPS then that’s a pretty good indication it’s a fake.

      Currently I’m getting a lot of extortion emails – “I put a virus on your computer and it took pictures with your camera of you watching porn videos, send me Bitcoin or I’ll send them to everybody in your address book”. Not even worth replying ‘screw yourself’ as the ‘from’ address is always faked.


      1. And surprise surprise, I just got one of those dodgy ‘Your parcel is on its way’ emails myself.

        They really aren’t very inventive, are they? Even less imagination than the scriptwriters for ‘reality’ shows.


  9. I have always marvelled about the story of Phineas Gage and his survival. And even though it is incredible, it is not unique. People are surviving gun shot wounds to their heads, and in 2019, Sanjay Bahe in India survived after an iron rod pierced his head and came out on the other side of his skull. What makes Cage’s story so unbelievable is the size of the hole in his skull, the size of the iron bar and the lack of proper medical treatment at that time. However, this case is very similar too – – here a boy survived when a two metre and a half steel pole speared straight through his skull.

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