Wednesday: Hili dialogue

September 18, 2019 • 6:30 am

It’s Wednesday, September 18, 2019, and National Cheeseburger Day. I can has? It’s also Rice Krispies Treats Day, International Read an eBook Day (I never have), World Bamboo Day, and World Water Monitoring Day.

Stuff that happened on September 18 includes:

  • 1793 – The first cornerstone of the United States Capitol is laid by George Washington.
  • 1809 – The Royal Opera House in London opens.
  • 1870 – Old Faithful Geyser is observed and named by Henry D. Washburn.

Wikipedia reports:

Eruptions can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 US gallons (14,000 to 32,000 L) of boiling water to a height of 106 to 185 feet (32 to 56 m) lasting from ​112 to 5 minutes. The average height of an eruption is 145 feet (44 m). Intervals between eruptions can range from 60 to 110 minutes, averaging 66.5 minutes in 1939, slowly increasing to an average of 90 minutes apart today, which may be the result of earthquakes affecting subterranean water levels.

Geysers appear to be rare fixtures, the result of surface water seeping down gradually onto hot magma, reaching the boiling point and then erupting vertically, spouting water and steam.  Here’s Old Faithful, which I’ve never seen in the flesh (or water):

  • 1919 – The Netherlands gives women the right to vote.
  • 1943 – World War II: Adolf Hitler orders the deportation of Danish Jews.
  • 1948 – Margaret Chase Smith of Maine becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate without completing another senator’s term.
  • 1981 – The Assemblée Nationale votes to abolish capital punishment in France.
  • 2014 – Scotland votes against independence from the United Kingdom, by 55% to 45%.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1709 – Samuel Johnson, English lexicographer and poet (d. 1784)
  • 1819 – Léon Foucault, French physicist and academic (d. 1868)
  • 1905 – Greta Garbo, Swedish-American actress (d. 1990)
  • 1925 – Harvey Haddix, American baseball player and coach (d. 1994)

If you’re a baseball fan, you should be able to answer this question: what baseball record is Harvey Haddix known for? Hint: It was “the greatest game ever lost.”

More births:

  • 1933 – Robert Blake, American actor, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1940 – Frankie Avalon, American singer and actor
  • 1947 – Drew Gilpin Faust, American historian and academic
  • 1951 – Ben Carson, American neurosurgeon, author, and politician
  • 1954 – Steven Pinker, Canadian-American psychologist, linguist, and author

Pinkah is 65 today, and his hair remains not only attached to his head, but is as curly as ever. Here he is showing off his cowboy boots in my office in October, 2013. (He’s since gotten fancier custom boots.)

  • 1967 – Tara Fitzgerald, English actress
  • 1971 – Lance Armstrong, American cyclist and activist, founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation

Those who “fell asleep” on this day include:

  • 1783 – Leonhard Euler, Swiss mathematician and physicist (b. 1707)
  • 1961 – Dag Hammarskjöld, Swedish economist and diplomat, 2nd Secretary-General of the United Nations, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
  • 1964 – Clive Bell, English philosopher and critic (b. 1881)
  • 1964 – Seán O’Casey, Irish dramatist and memoirist (b. 1880)
  • 1970 – Jimi Hendrix, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1942)
  • 1980 – Katherine Anne Porter, American short story writer, novelist, and essayist (b. 1890)

Reader Keith noted this (Johnson’s death is noted in Wikipedia)

I thought you’d be interested to know and possibly to note Sept. 18th is the anniversary of the death of blues great Blind Willie Johnson. I learned of him last year from watching a documentary on the Voyager mission. His song “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” was included on the golden records in the two satellites.
Here’s the song, followed by the only known photograph of Johnson:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Sarah, a big fan of Hili, has come for a long visit. Hili, like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction,  will not be ignored:

Sarah: Hili remembers me.
Hili: Of course, I remember you, but I prefer people to speak to me not about me.
In Polish:
Sarah: Hili mnie pamięta.
Hili: Oczywiście, że cię pamiętam, ale wolę jak ludzie mówią do mnie, a nie o mnie.
From Merilee: A good answer to a pressing question:

From reader Colin:

This is a cartoon by Argentine cartoonist Quino which I thought would amuse you. I suspect your Spanish is good enough to translate but just in case, “We work here so that people can then give thanks to God”.

I found this in my collections, but can’t remember where I got it.

Grania sent me this tweet on May 8, and we have only one to go before I run out of things she sent me. The Japanese title is translated as “curious cat”:

Three tweets from Heather Hastie via Ann German.

I am Jerry Coyne, and I endorse this ad:

A jilted kitty:

. . . and one of several memes of this quote:

From reader Barry, who suggests that this may be feline abuse:

And three tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, meet this lovely North American mustelid:

Live and learn: this factoid will make you the hit of the party—if it’s a dull academic party:

Badgers: The zebras of the UK. Here is Mr. Lumpy and offspring, helping themselves to a fine meal set out by the staff:


32 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. That table – surely Protestants do NOT make god images – puritans… they ripped them out in England on two occasions, the Reformation, then the English civil war…

    1. Not all protestants are puritans, thank something-or-other.

      In fact if you include evangelicals as a sub-species of Protestant, they’re awash with piccies of Jezus-who-is-God.


        1. Most politicians seem to me to be transparent psychological specimens. I’ve never seen any as obvious as Ben Carson. He keeps the original of this large painting hanging prominently in his living room.

  2. Steven Pinker, welcome to Medicare. Not painful, or something to debate on. You pay for it, you earned it. Like someone in the car business once said, if you find a better one, buy it.

  3. The tread-mill cat made me laugh aloud! the fisher is gorgeous – not surprised they are hard to see as they have been so hunted for fur. The cane etymology is hardly boring! but then I sometimes do those ‘did-you-knows’!

    1. It is clear that, with some notable exceptions, such as France (1944) and Switzerland (1971!), most Western countries had national voting rights for women before the US. Take that US! 🙂
      I see the Netherlands had the weird situation that, albeit for only two years, women could be voted into office (1917), but not vote themselves (1919).
      Heather will be pleased to note -well of course she knows that- that NZ (1893) was the first country to give the national vote to women. Kudos to NZ!
      Many countries on that list are ‘late’, because they were late becoming democracies. Before the given date, nobody was allowed to vote. Still, a highly informative list.

  4. 1948 – Margaret Chase Smith of Maine becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate without completing another senator’s term.

    In just her second year in the senate, in 1950, a few months after her fellow Republican Joe McCarthy made his infamous speech in Wheeling, WV, claiming to have an unseen list of known communists in the US State Department, Margaret Chase Smith became the first United States senator of either party to denounce the Red Scare, taking the senate floor to deliver her famous “Declaration of Conscience” speech.

    They ain’t makin’ Republicans — or, frankly, politicians of any stripe — like Margaret Chase Smith anymore.

  5. The mighty Fisher!

    While the behavior is not common, fishers have been known to kill larger animals, such as wild turkey, bobcat, and lynx. Researchers in Maine have found “about a dozen” cases of confirmed fisher predation on Canadian lynx, and several more suspected cases, in a four township area of Maine. According to Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife wildlife biologist Scott McClellan, the fishers involved in these kills attacked lynxs bedded down in snowstorms with a quick “powerful grip” bite to the lynx’s neck. Signs of struggle indicated that some lynxs attempted to defend themselves but McClellan states that “the fishers would finish the cats off pretty quickly. ‘There was some struggle certainly, but it didn’t appear to last very long. There were some broken branches, tufts of fur, and claw marks where the lynx was trying to get away.’ The McClellan study in The Journal of Wildlife Management documents 14 fisher-caused mortalities of Canadian lynx from 1999 to 2011 in northern Maine, and found that predation was the leading source of mortality of lynx in the study area (18 deaths, 14 by fisher).

    Fishers are one of the few predators that seek out and kill porcupines. Stories in popular literature indicate that fishers can flip a porcupine onto its back and “scoop out its belly like a ripe melon”. This was identified as an exaggerated misconception as early as 1966. Observational studies show that fishers make repeated biting attacks on the face of a porcupine and kill it after about 25–30 minutes.


    1. Since I’d never heard of the fisher, I looked it up and read the same shocking revelations about their predation on Canadian lynxes, cats weighing more -up to double- and as ferociously armed as a fisher.
      If you’d have told me lynxes were preying on fishers I’d not have been surprised, but this revelation is shocking.
      Do fishers deserve the same badass reputation as their (not too close) relatives, the honey badgers and wolverines?

        1. LOL – you got there. And yes, those Fishers can dole out the pain, I suspect their edge, besides the teeth & the aggression, is down to speed & tenacity. Nearly all of their kind – weasels, otters, ferrets, martens, minks, and wolverines are on hair trigger reaction times & it doesn’t matter how big you are if one of these beasties is out of reach with her teeth in the back of your neck.

  6. The Quino cartoon of surgeons working on a patient reminds me of the wonderful comments by Dan Dennett after his heart surgery. “Thank Goodness I’m alive” he said. “There is a lot of goodness in the world. And more goodness every day…to whom then do I owe a debt of gratitude? To…science…”

    The whole letter of thanks is read here:

    1. A top DD quote:

      The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn’t need its brain anymore, so it eats it! (It’s rather like getting tenure)

    1. And for something like 19 innings or so, until he lost the perfect game and the game, finally.

      I could look it up, of course, but I think this is the gist.

  7. The album (song collection?) called “God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson” came out a few years ago, and it is phenomenal. Lucinda Williams, Cowboy Junkies, Blind Boys of Alabama, Tom Waits… Listen to Sinead O’Connor’s rendition of “Trouble Soon Be Over”: her vocal on this track is just as good as it was on “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

    My other favorite track is “Jesus is Coming Soon” by Cowboy Junkies. Fascinating references to the Spanish Flu, and how “thousands of the people in the city dying/On account of their wicked ways.” Calls to mind when a natural disaster hits the US and the preachers blame it on the gays, etc. The more things change…

  8. Baseball nerd…

    In 1959 or around there (I could look it up, but I am too lazy), Haddix pitched a game such that it was a perfect game (no hits, walks or errors) for something like 11 innings. Unfortunately, his teammates (the Pittsburgh Pirates I think) were unable to score as well. Anyways, in the 12th inning (the last one), the opponent got a runner on base due to an error (so technically, still a no hitter). However, after that someone was able to get a single or something and a runner scored, thereby ending the game with the Pirates losing. So, since then, it has been known as the greatest single game pitching performance of all time.

    1. I approve of this “children deserve to be safe at school” video too. Great to see the different contenders working together.
      AND any of them would make an infinitely better POTUS than the present usurper.

      This rolling her eyes up and right is weird indeed, didn’t she learn as a prosecutor that that gives an unreliable, shifty impression?

  9. Badgers: The zebras of the UK. Here is Mr. Lumpy and offspring, helping themselves to a fine meal set out by the staff:

    How to tempt badgers into range of your camera :

    but it’s best to stick to foods that most closely match their natural diet.
    Fruit – grapes, apples, pears, plums
    Raw peanuts or brazil nuts (no salt or chocolate)
    Dried dog food (muesli type)
    Peanut butter (unsalted, sugar-free)

    More info here.

  10. 1870 – Old Faithful Geyser is observed and named by Henry D. Washburn.

    I hope he got a better clock afterwards.
    The archætypal geyser is at Geysir, Iceland. They’re all irregularly irregular – the nature of the geysering process is always going to lead to irregular changes of the underground plumbing. Even engineered ones like Lusi are quite irregular in their activity.
    People who like this sort of thing on Twitter might want to follow @CriticalStress_ who is doing a “Mud Volcano of the Day” thread this year. He’s currently on holiday, but the 136 sets of GeoPr0n so far will probably sate most mud lovers until he re-starts.

    1. Interestingly (to me, at least), there are also cold-water geysers. These are driven by pressurized CO2 instead of steam, and are almost always caused by someone drilling into a pressurized aquifer (but there are a few natural occurrences). I’ve only seen one – in Herlany, Slovakia where I was lucky enough to arrive just as the 36-hour dormant period was ending.

      (I’ve also visited the original Geysir, Yellowstone, and Rotarua, so I guess I’ve seen a few conventional (steam-punk) geysers.)

      1. When I was thinking up my previous response, I was also thinking about the Fontaine de Vaucluse with it’s annual (and less sporadic) surges. The Vaucluse seems to be primarily driven by an underground reservoir with a syphoning point, but there are smaller (karstic) syphons where exsolution of CO2 from the water in the low-pressure section has been implicated in screwing up the timing of events.
        Vaucluse is a good one to demonstrate the self-modifying nature of such systems. Diving exploration has failed to reach it’s elbow, but has clearly showed that the passage has variable deposits of sand and mud. But the peak flow (hundreds of cubic metres per hour) is enough to move decimetre cobbles, and the “solids” in the passage have moved between visits. But there aren’t many visits.
        Would be a good case for pre-exploration by a tethered (or autonomous) vehicle.

        1. I remember reading Jacques Cousteau’s account of diving into Vaucluse when I was a wee lad – enough to put me off cave-diving for the rest of my life*.

          *… not that I’d ever done any.

Leave a Reply