Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

September 22, 2019 • 6:30 am

We have but one more day until summer goes away: it’s now Sunday, September 22, 2019, and National Ice Cream Cone Day. It’s also Daughter’s Day (note misplaced apostrophe: we’re not celebrating a single daughter), National Hobbit Day (although The Hobbit was first published on September 21), National Girls’ Night In Day, and National Elephant Appreciation Day (though there are no wild elephants in the U.S.)

Today’s Google Doodle is a gif that, if you click on it, goes to a number of sites about Junko Tabei, a Japanese woman and the first of her sex to climb Mount Everest, accomplishing the feat in 1975. But she also climbed the “Seven Summits”: the highest mountain on each continent, shown in this animation.

Here she is in action:


Stuff that happened on September 22 includes:

As Wikipedia notes, Jonson got off easy:

Tried on a charge of manslaughter, Jonson pleaded guilty but was released by benefit of clergy, a legal ploy through which he gained leniency by reciting a brief bible verse (the neck-verse), forfeiting his ‘goods and chattels’ and being branded on his left thumb.

  • 1692 – The last hanging of those convicted of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials; others are all eventually released.
  • 1823 – Joseph Smith claims to have found the golden plates after being directed by God through the Angel Moroni to the place where they were buried.
  • 1888 – The first issue of National Geographic Magazine is published.
  • 1896 – Queen Victoria surpasses her grandfather King George III as the longest reigning monarch in British history.
  • 1927 – Jack Dempsey loses the “Long Count” boxing match to Gene Tunney.

Tunney eventually won, though he might have lost had Dempsey been aware of the rule to go to a neutral corner after a knockdown. Here’s a video of the infamous “long count” (supposed to be ten seconds):

  • 1975 – Sara Jane Moore tries to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford, but is foiled by the Secret Service.
  • 1979 – A bright flash, resembling the detonation of a nuclear weapon, is observed near the Prince Edward Islands. Its cause is never determined.
  • 1980 – Iraq invades Iran.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1515 – Anne of Cleves (d. 1557)
  • 1791 – Michael Faraday, English physicist and chemist (d. 1867)
  • 1901 – Nadezhda Alliluyeva, second wife of Joseph Stalin (d. 1932)
  • 1902 – John Houseman, Romanian-American actor and producer (d. 1988)

Housemen, born in Romania and originally named Jacques Haussmann, acquired his English accent through education. He’s perhaps most famous for the role of the stern law professor Charles W. Kingsfield in the movie The Paper Chase (1973), also starring Timothy Bottoms and Lindsay Wagner. My favorite scene is in the trailer below, where, at Harvard Law School,  Kingsfield gives Hart a dime and tells him to call his mother. (Go here for a real law professor’s take on the accuracy of the movie.)

  • 1932 – Ingemar Johansson, Swedish boxer (d. 2009)
  • 1956 – Debby Boone, American singer, actress, and author
  • 1958 – Andrea Bocelli, Italian singer-songwriter and producer
  • 1959 – Saul Perlmutter, American astrophysicist, astronomer, and academic, Nobel Prize Laureate

“Time to Say Goodbye” (“Con ti partirò“) is Bocelli’s most famous song, and, as one of the best-selling songs of all time, has become somewhat of a cliché. But I still love it, and here’s his rendition (another famous rendition is a duet with Sarah Brightman, a great version of which you can hear here):

Those who bought the farm on September 22 include:

  • 1554 – Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, Spanish explorer (b. 1510)
  • 1776 – Nathan Hale, American soldier (b. 1755)
  • 1777 – John Bartram, American botanist and explorer (b. 1699)
  • 1828 – Shaka Zulu, Zulu chieftain and monarch of the Zulu Kingdom (b. 1787)
  • 1961 – Marion Davies, American actress and comedian (b. 1897)
  • 2001 – Isaac Stern, Polish-Ukrainian violinist and conductor (b. 1920)
  • 2010 – Eddie Fisher, American singer (b. 1928)
  • 2015 – Yogi Berra, American baseball player, coach, and manager (b. 1925)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is investigating a vole hole:

Hili: This black hole is swallowing everything.
A: You are exaggerating.
Hili: Well, everything that’s interesting.
In Polish:
Hili: Ta czarna dziura pochłania wszystko.
Ja: Przesadzasz.
Hili: Wszystko to, co jest interesujące.

And in Wloclawek, Leon, riding on Elzibeta’s shoulders, doesn’t say a word. I had to make up the Leon monologue.

Leon: If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.

Malgorzata’s translation: Jeśli widziałem dalej, to dlatego, że stałem na ramionach olbrzymów.

From Amazing Things, a cryptic Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa). Photo: @AlanMurphyphotography. Since I can’t imagine much preys on these creatures, perhaps the crypsis hides it from prey.

Another owl from Amazing Things; it’s the Pic of the day by: @Elena Mikhaylova. I love this photo:

From Stash Krod. There’s one design flaw with this apparatus. . .

I will put up, over the next few weeks, tweets that Grania herself tweeted. First, Grania’s header:

Then, the last thing she posted:

From gravelinspector:

Two tweets from Heather Hastie:

Her caption: “Just for the pleasure of hearing a cat purr”:

Tweets from Matthew. Guess what this first one is? A SPIDER!

Matthew says, “Big snake!” Indeed. Go to the story to read about the snake, a green anaconda, and I’ve put the video below:

From Wikipedia:
The green anaconda[Eunectes murinus] is the world’s heaviest and one of the world’s longest snakes, coming to 5.21 m (17.1 ft) long. More typical mature specimens reportedly can range up to 5 m (16.4 ft), with the females, around a mean length of 4.6 m (15.1 ft), being generally much larger in adulthood than the males, which average around 3 m (9.8 ft).  Weights are less well studied, though reportedly range from 30 to 70 kg (66 to 154 lb) in a typical adult.


44 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. Re national Hobbit day, this date would have been chosen because it is the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, and the day on which that pair cross the sundering seas at the end of the Lord of the Rings.

  2. I find George and Kellyanne Conway’s marriage completely bewildering. It’s like the Bermuda triangle or something. Can anyone explain how they’re still together? How have they not killed each other yet? Do they live in a rubber house?

    How have we ended up in the one universe where these two have managed to remain married?

    1. It is perplexing. There’s the precedent of James Carville and Mary Matalin, but I think there was less distance between the two. I suspect the Conways are Catholic, which may or may not be a reason, or the fact that they have four children.

  3. I’m not sure about the pic of the day – I’m looking at the shadows, the alignment of the figure’s spine and head – the plausibility of an owl not only perching, but spreading it’s wing on what appears to be a toddler of perhaps 30 pounds total… I’m not sure what an average owl mass is…

    1. There are additional pictures of the girl with the barn owl perched on her shoulder in other poses. The owl is surely tame, probably trained, and she has a thick coat on so the claws won’t puncture her skin. The photo is definitely posed but I doubt that it’s been been manipulated, though since I don’t know the fine points of photography (or owls), others can determine that better than I.

      1. I apologize for this, but I’m intrigued:

        Results of a Google image search of “Elena Mikhaylova” and also with those terms plus “owl” the photo above turn up one more with different owl and child, and perhaps one more with an owl :

        There is also one with apparently the same child posing with a goose:

        Unfortunately, the goose photo was the subject of some further deliberate fabrication, and is confusing to my question.

        here’s the same child with a fox :

        at last, I found the same owl, child, and background – i.e. the same photoshoot – with a Google Image search, however, the website is unusual so I will paste it with “DOT”, “SLASH” substitutions :


        I will give that professional photographers will edit their photos, and, as such, the photo will show editing artifacts. However, my impression of the lighting of the owl compared to the child seems off, by eye.

        I found some more types of human-with-wild-animal photos with some Google searches. The photos are quite convincing. for example :

        … those show a live bear.

        I apologize again, but I am simply astonished if any of these are genuine.

    2. The photo is by the Russian Elena Mikhaylova from St. Petersburg & Moscow – she is a cheap [£65/hr], hard working wedding & portraits photographer who has a twee, almost Victorian, sentimental style of depthless, ‘instagrammy’ photography. Everything alive & dead looks dead. No ‘movement’ or dynamism at all. I don’t like it, it’s like someone imitating Elgar’s pastoral music badly only in a photo equivalent.

      The general public will love it in the same way as the eat up Jack Vettriano or velvet paintings of Elvis or big eyed dogs.

      HERE IS HER WORK ON, but you can find her all over the place. All her wedding subjects are white people & the studio stuff is also entirely white folks with a very high proportion of blond with blue eyes. It is statistically impossible to be so exclusively white in Russia today as there are plenty of well-to-do ethnic non-whites who can easily afford her. Something distinctly ‘nationalistic’ about her work & yes she’s a white blond.

      Well spotted my friend, but the photo is real of a fake Barn Owl [or rather it’s stuffed], but there’s plenty of imagery at her site featuring montages of a human pretty, pretty girl with animal & background added as separate layers.

      Here’s the same stuffed owl & same girl in various poses & bottom right is the same stuffed owl with different girl. Note the impossible talons on the latter just resting on her shoulder – that last one could be a montage using the stuffed critter, but I’m leaning towards it being one shot. Note the heavy use of Photoshop filters to redden the owl, girl & background in a matching hue.

      1. I was counting on this! Well done, Michael Fisher. A *stuffed* owl would explain it – I suppose – I mean, I’m not a photographer, a wild animal tamer, or a … owl stuffer either.

        1. I think most or all of her outdoors portraits are indoors, studio green screen background stuff which enables her to ‘flatten’ the lighting on her subjects. Where the girl is sitting on a railing & so on – just a table edge in the studio.

          I bet her portrait studio is too busy to go swanning off into the back of beyond with all those eager, silly paying customers queueing to have their snotty kidz turned into shop window dummies.

          1. Right. The control of light says it’s a studio. Not a chance for a cloud or gust of wind to invade the precious subject space. I’ll agree, this is crass commercialism which would look trashy on your living room wall. Obviously, not everybody thinks so since she’s making a living. But they do catch your eye at first glance.

      2. the 35pro link I wrote above – with the dummy DOT and SLASH – show a pic with the girl’s hand posed … in a peculiar way, I guess…

        … I suppose I should state, for the record, I think these work as delightful *fantasy* photos, very captivating, almost magical, evocative of children’s fairy tale fantasy.

      3. I’m thinking it’s not a stuffed owl, unless it’s one with articulating joints. The head rotation is different in every shot. In the center shot in the montage, the eyes are squinted. I’d say it’s just a very tame owl.

        1. The middle owl is not squinting. Here’s the four pics of the owl that are full face including the middle one, which is second from left in my new montage at a larger scale. Its face is pointing slightly down in that pic & thus no light reflection to camera:

          Before I put up my original comment I was careful to look for Google pics of barn owls grasping onto people & there should be some if owls are tameable – I could find none, but as predators with huge talons I doubt they can be trained & trusted to grasp people’s arms & shoulders – even kids wearing Kevlar vests under coats will be risking their squishy eyeballs.

          They’re like cats, but with steak knives on their ‘paws’ & a spare knife in the middle of their faces! The owl is definitely stuffed. The short feathers on top of the head are ‘ruffled’ identically in every shot [the right one is from a different session]. The feathers around the disc & the beak I identically asymmetric – that’s no living bird.

          You make a good point re flexibility of the stuffed owl & I’m going to look if flexible, realistic fake owls exist – Harry Potter created high demand after all.

          1. Good argument

            I wrote about lighting but wasn’t clear I was referring to a different owl pic.

            … I suppose this means someone had to “get” the owl – and the bear, if that is also articulated taxidermy, tongue and all.

            1. Not an inch of her imagery is as per camera – flat lighting style, hue filters & enhanced ‘instagram’ style colours, soft focus [some areas] & use of green screen helps everything look convincing, but for the scale. If you look through her work you’ll note that some of the animals are far too large – indicating an obvious layering of images, including the bear.

          1. I would have said because a wild one would be hard to hold. But, given Michael’s careful look, I’ll agree with him. Come to think of it, another picture shows an owl with the wing strait up beside the girl’s face. This is a common pose for stuffed birds. QED.

  4. “1896 – Queen Victoria surpasses her grandfather King George III as the longest reigning monarch in British history.”

    A record she held until four years ago, when her great-great-granddaughter took it from her. It’s a safe bet that none of those currently in the line of succession will take it from Queen Elizabeth II.

  5. The article in Wikipedia on Benefit of Clery gives the Neck Verse in Latin, which I must confess I never thought of before. Being able to recite in Latin would be more of an indicator of education. I wonder if in Johnson’s day the requirement would still have been for Latin?

  6. The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky’s twitter comedy was hilarious. I wonder if he wrote it himself?

    Imagine trump doing something like this.

    Never mind.

    1. Depending on your viewpoint, hilarious, or deeply offensive. Deeply offensive if your name is Donald Trump ; hilarious otherwise.

      But – is it normal, or even common, for a sitting USian President to visit the UN? I know Trump is prone to doing extraordinary things, but that wouldn’t be in the top 1 of things I could imagine him doing.
      Besides, isn’t there an arrest warrant out for him in New York for having a particularly dodgy lawyer, or something like that?

    1. That is much better – thank you. Also no Sarah Brightman [recordings worth buying now have “Brightman free” labels prominently displayed]

      1. “Brightman free” labels. I love it. I cannot abide her or her singing but until now I didn’t know that I’m far from the only one who detests her.

        1. Here’s Sarah in high heels & swimsuit type outfits with Hot Gossip – the early period in her career nobody dare mention today in her presence. Then she closed her eyes tight & shagged & married Andrew Lloyd Webber for long enough to secure her ‘artistic’ future. “Clever Girl” to borrow from a dino movie. 🙂

          1. That was fucking hilarious*, I love it. It got funnier and funnier towards the end as the dance moves got odder and odder.

            *not the Kenny Everett stuff, that was excruciating. I can’t believe he was so popular.

  7. 1979 – A bright flash, resembling the detonation of a nuclear weapon, is observed near the Prince Edward Islands. Its cause is never determined.

    I had to do a double-take on that one. I first thought – it’s a typo, but no, it’s not. It’s not the Canadian province, but some islands in the borderland between south Atlantic and Indian oceans. A collection of seamounts on the African- Antarctic extension of the mid-Atlantic ridge.
    I remember discussion of the event from the time. It was widely suspected to be a detonation of a nuclear weapon built as part of the so-called “Polecat Alliance” of South Africa, Israel and Taiwan. Deeply suspicious at the time. The South Africans admit to having a nuclear programme at the time, but have shut it down since the end of apartheid. The Israelis carefully don’t say anything about their nuclear capabilities. The Taiwanese need allies, still.

    1. To my mind it’s definitely the Israel/South Africa arms alliance of the era testing a nuke. The clincher is that the US set up a committee to investigate their own satellite data on this & engineered the committee to come up with an inconclusive result. It would have been disastrous for US international politics for them to declare it an Israeli fission weapon so they fudged the investigation – spreading doubt about the obvious, most straightforward & simplest explanation.

      1. The committee was independent and included a physicist with a Nobel prize.
        The committee’s came up with a conclusive result: Due to a discrepancy between the satellite’s sensors, the event was within 20 meters from the satellite, like many other of the false positives the satellite had detected. Thats very far from the prince Edward islands.
        The satellite had no ability to determine the location of the light source it detected beyond the hemisphere it was facing. The prince Edward island location was determined from the analysis of white noise data from ocean sensors. The entire thing looks like an example of how not to do science.
        Source: Open the Wikipedia page for the Vela incident, ignore the conspiracy theories, and click on the “Ad hoc Panel Report on the September 22 Event” which is the original report by the committee.
        Also: The Israel SA alliance was soviet propaganda from the cold war. I can’t believe people still buy this stuff.

        1. Thank you for the interesting pdf – I’ve read it with great interest. YY:

          “The committee was independent and included a physicist with a Nobel prize. The committee’s came up with a conclusive result: Due to a discrepancy between the satellite’s sensors, the event was within 20 meters from the satellite…”

          The committee chairman, Jack Ruina, was chosen by the Carter Administration & served in other roles associated with Carter – his interests & the Carter Admin’s interests went hand in hand. Thus not as independent as you believe.

          Also, it is untrue that the committee came up with a “conclusive result”, perhaps you’ve had time to forget the contents of the pdf you suggested to me? Here’s the relevant part from Point 4 on page 2 of the pdf:-

          “…the panel concludes that the signal was probably not from a nuclear explosion. ALTHOUGH WE CANNOT RULE OUT THE POSSIBILITY THAT THIS SIGNAL WAS OF NUCLEAR ORIGIN, the panel considers it more likely that the signal was one of the zoo events, possibly a consequence of the impact of a small meteoroid on the satellite”


          “The Israel SA alliance was soviet propaganda from the cold war. I can’t believe people still buy this stuff.”

          In 1975, the Israel–South Africa Agreement was signed. South Africa’s biggest arms supplier before [right back to the ’60s] & after that date was Israel & South Africa [& Argentina I think] provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required for its nuclear program. Not Soviet propaganda old fruit.

          Now I’m going to present you with an interesting comparison between the twin bhangmeter readings from the ‘Vela incident’ & a French nuclear test – note the large differences in the inputs within the pairs & the similarity between the pairs. The French test was not 20 metres from the satellite:

          The above diagram is from SCIENCE & GLOBAL SECURITY, Vela Incident: The Detected
          Double-Flash. Christopher M. Wright & Lars-Erik De Geer A PAPER FROM 2017 pdf there is also a follow up 2018 paper that concludes it was a nuclear explosion. Interestingly Los Alamos researchers who have analyzed the event over the years remain convinced had all the hallmark signatures of a nuclear test.

          I still think the most likely explanation is the testing of a low-yield nuclear artillery shell by SA/Israel. Nothing is certain of course, but this isn’t at the level of conspiracy theory in the same way as the ‘Moon Landings Hoax’ & such like.

      2. Oh, that’s very much what we thought at the time. With American nuclear bases just down the road, we knew that we were likely to die of American politics.

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