Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

October 5, 2019 • 6:30 am

I am cooling my heels in the Baltimore airport en route to Chicago, writing in advance to wish you a happy October 5, 2019, and a joyous National Apple Betty Day, a toothsome dessert better known as “Apple Brown Betty” or “Apple Crumble.” It’s also Do Something Nice Day, Global James Bond Day (don’t ask me why they picked October 5), National Get Funky Day,  and World Teachers’ Day.

Stuff that happened on October 5 includes:

Here’s the plane. Wikipedia adds: “On October 5, 1905 Wilbur made a circling flight of 24 miles (38.9 km) in 39 minutes 23 seconds, over Huffman Prairie, longer than the total duration of all the flights of 1903 and 1904. Four days later, they wrote to the United States Secretary of War William Howard Taft, offering to sell the world’s first practical fixed-wing aircraft.”

  • 1914 – World War I: An aircraft successfully destroys another aircraft with gunfire.

See here for the story. The successful plane was a French two-seater Voisin biplane, and the German plane, both of whose occupants were killed was an Aviatik biplane. Here’s the French plane. Note that the machine gun was in front of the propeller, so no synchronization of bullets with propeller was necessary.

  • 1938 – In Nazi Germany, Jews’ passports are invalidated.
  • 1943 – Ninety-eight American POWs are executed by Japanese forces on Wake Island.
  • 1944 – The Provisional Government of the French Republic enfranchises women.
  • 1970 – The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is founded.
  • 1982 – Tylenol products are recalled after bottles in Chicago laced with cyanide cause seven deaths.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1829 – Chester A. Arthur, American general, lawyer, and politician, 21st President of the United States (d. 1886)
  • 1864 – Louis Lumière, French director and producer (d. 1948)
  • 1902 – Larry Fine, American comedian (d. 1975)
  • 1902 – Ray Kroc, American businessman and philanthropist (d. 1984)
  • 1926 – Willi Unsoeld, American mountaineer and educator (d. 1979)
  • 1936 – Václav Havel, Czech poet, playwright, and politician, 1st President of the Czech Republic (d. 2011)
  • 1943 – Steve Miller, American singer-songwriter and guitarist, worst rock and roll “artist” of our time [added by JAC]
  • 1950 – Edward P. Jones, American novelist and short story writer
  • 1951 – Bob Geldof, British singer-songwriter and actor
  • 1958 – Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, cosmologist, and author
  • 1959 – Maya Lin, American architect and sculptor, designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Civil Rights Memorial

Those who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on this day include:

  • 1813 – Tecumseh, American tribal leader (b. 1768) [JAC: Read the entry; the man was a great warrior and a great leader, and died in battle. His goal was to establish a pan-Native-American nation east of the Mississippi in league with the British.
  • 1880 – Jacques Offenbach, German-French cellist and composer (b. 1819)
  • 1941 – Louis Brandeis, American lawyer and jurist (b. 1856)
  • 2004 – Rodney Dangerfield, American comedian, actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1921)
  • 2004 – Maurice Wilkins, New Zealand-English physicist and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1916)
  • 2011 – Bert Jansch, Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1943)

There aren’t many videos of Jansch, one of my musical heroes. Here he is performing Black Waterside:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili isn’t hungry (mirabile dictu!), but she wants to be hungry. The reason: she just ate. Malgorzata reports: “Yes, I’m holding Hili and she just came from the kitchen after eating a huge meal with her favorite sausage. She just couldn’t fit another bite into her stomach.”

Hili: I’m starting to long for the moment when I will be hungry.
Malgorzata: Aren’t you hungry yet?
Hili: Perhaps not yet.
In Polish:
Hili: Zaczynam tęsknić do chwili kiedy będę głodna.
Małgorzata: A jeszcze nie jesteś głodna?
Hili: Chyba jeszcze nie.

It’s some kind of anniversary for Leon: either his adoption day or his birthday; I don’t know which. If you wish, send me greetings and I’ll forward them to his staff.

Leon: Such an important day and no wishes, no presents?

In Polish: Taki ważny dzień i żadnych życzeń, żadnych prezentów?

From Pictures in History via Stash Krod: a real hammerhead shark. As Stash said, “Nailed it!”:

An amazing Facebook post by my friend Moto. The caption recounts the early life of Hank Aaron, who is still with us and will be 86 next February 5.  I can’t vouch for the truth of the narrative, but what I have checked out seems right.

And a motorcycle made from balloons, taken from the Amazing Things FB page (Caption: “ok this guy is an artist! the whole thing made of balloons”)

Two tweets from reader Barry. First a photo taken in the Library of Congress cafeteria, of all places. We have a plant in there!

Barry thinks this is a marmoset, but I’m sure it’s not. I believe it’s a sugar glider. What say you?

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. First, a miscreant tortoise, now with music:

And a real Chinese lucky cat. I suspect the owner is offstage giving cues, though.

From Matthew: Teddy, the vociferous porcupine, noms pumpkin. Sound up to hear both the nomming and Teddy’s lovely voice.

A goose and his staff go shopping at Wal-Mart. A lovely relationship, though the staff’s narration is a bit annoying;

This kauri tree lived for about 1500 years, long enough to document a near reversal of the Earth’s magnetic poles. Click on the link to read more:


What Matthew calls an “oldie but goldie” from Doonebury. It’s of course from the Nixon era, but it’s strangely relevant today:

64 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. Happy anniversary Leon for whichever one it is and many more to follow.

    After the unsuccessful conversation the other day concerning the plane crash in Connecticut I thought it must be appropriate to reconstruct some exact replica of the WWI planes from France and Germany and then provide rides to willing passengers. Seems like a great idea.

      1. Yes sir. I thought the planes described in the post would be best and we would only go up on windy days as that provides a more thrilling ride.

        1. Blame it on the Rotary engine ,puss the stick forward and the nose came up .Don’t know if they reversed the rigging ! to take that in to account .

    1. Even replica aircraft can come unstuck ,no pun intended .A Swedish man built a replica Ryan Spirit of St Louis ,the wing came off it at a air show .

      Some people with buckets of money have bought replica WW2 fighters ,such as the Spitfire and FW190 .

      1. I do not argue that people cannot buy or fix up or reproduce any plane they want. Never came close to saying that. The EAA, Experimental Aircraft Association is a fine organization. My father was a member and built several experimental planes. My concern is using such an airplane as a WWII bomber to haul passengers. Get it? End of story. When people cannot even comprehend what I am saying and know almost nothing about it, how do we even connect.

        1. And my point was that, if the passengers are aware of the risks, let them fly.

          I don’t know why you think I couldn’t comprehend your point. I comprehended it fine and rejected it.

          1. But how are the passengers able to assess the risks? I can’t imagine the operator stating “Your chances of crashing on today’s flight are X.” Even if they did, how accurate would that number be?

            1. Thanks for that note. And by the way, the operator on the B-17 hauling passengers was 75 years old. In general, I have nothing against old pilots but ask yourself, how many modern airline flights have you taken with 75 year old pilots? None I think. They do not fly for the airline past 60, or at least that use to be the age. Like all commercial pilots they get physicals every year and two simulator check rides each year.

              1. A significant distinction between conventional air travel and this historic museum piece I didn’t consider.

                I also add : part of the tragedy of this story is the decimation of the important museum piece.

                It looks like this was from the Collings foundation.

              2. Are you related to the pilot or something? Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with engaging in a little speculation. It is quite normal and healthy to talk about the risks.

              3. No I’m not related to the pilot but I think the speculation that is going on here about what the cause of the accident without any evidence is really disappointing for a web site where the discussion is usually of pretty high quality.

                Yes the pilot was 75, but also, he was the most experienced B17 pilot in the world. He’s dead now.

              4. Operator or pilot? You don’t need a pilot’s license to be the operator of a flying company. Your job is to coordinate the paperwork, maintenance etc and to take the legal responsibility for the aircraft’s legal fitness to fly. The pilot’s responsibilities include doing the pre-flight checks to determine if the aircraft is physically fit to fly.
                There’s a case grinding though the procedures in the UK where an American-owned plane (which was on a leasing agreement which precluded it’s being used for for-hire flights) crashed killing the pilot and passenger. Several layers of management in that case, including the operators of the companies involved, are likely to be doing jail time. Not that that’ll be a comfort to the families of the dead.
                How much information do passengers on these flights get? Well, I’m sure that’s going to be a matter of court action, and if the operators involved lied to them, or were “economical with the truth”, I’m sure that’ll come out in the wash. Or the courts. But if they described the activity and status of the plane “reasonably” (ohh, I hear the sound of lawyers rubbing their hands together) then the decisions of the passengers were their own informed decisions.
                Personally, I agree with you that going for a flight in a bucket of bolts is a pretty stupid thing to do for fun. I hate flying, despite clocking up the air miles (and the engines leaking oil into the passenger cabin, the shut downs in mid-flight, the engine cut-outs in mid-landing with a restart with the water ground-rushing towards your side of the aircraft, the nearly flying into the side of the boat when searching for the helideck in the fog). It’s my informed choice to do it – which I question every single time the crash cage turns upside down and dumps me head first into the cold water.
                But crazy folks are crazy folks and if they want to fly in an antique bucket of bolts, that’s their choice. As long as they are reasonably aware of the risk.
                Before I started SCUBA diving I was asked to compose, write and sign an “in case of my death” letter to my next of kin about how I was fully aware of and accepted the risks involved. They’ve still got it somewhere, still sealed.

              5. As i posted yesterday ,the plane struck something on the ground ,if that had not happened it would have landed with a smoking engine .

              6. Sure but there was clearly more than a single smoking engine, as others here have pointed out. “Cause of accident: hit something on the ground” is just not going to cut it.

            2. Do you know what the risk is? Of all the people who take flights as passengers in antique aircraft, how many are killed?

              What is an acceptable level of risk beyond which you will say to people “sorry, you can’t do that, it’s too risky”?

              Returning to your question, of course you can’t give a percentage accuracy, but you can point out the things that might go wrong. You can point out that the safety equipment is not up to modern standards and the engines might not be as reliable as those of a modern turbofan aircraft and all that. If people choose to fly anyway, what’s it to you?

              1. I have no idea what the risk is though I could imagine the FAA keeping statistics and requiring them to be explained to potential passengers. Of course, such a statistic would be a very rough guide to the risk.

                I wasn’t suggesting that people be prevented from taking the risks, just that they be informed of those risks with at least some amount of accuracy.

              2. The thing missing here is common sense. As I said, I am not accusing the pilot of anything, just giving you facts. You know what facts are? As I briefly mentioned before, this 1930s engineered bomber was not designed to haul passengers or fly around at low altitude doing anything. It is a fairly complex machine with 4 very old radial engines that are far from the most reliable even when new. There is nothing easy about flying this plane and not built for fun. In WWII lots of crew were killed in these old bombers when they were new and not just by shooting them down. I am only speaking from the practical matter that using this plane for purposes of hauling a few passengers for a thrill is pretty dangerous. Not withstanding my grandfather and father who flew and I did learn to fly many years ago, just did not stay with it, I was a crew chief in the air force on F-100s for over 3 years. I did not just look up a few articles on line.

              3. Good for you. But as somebody with experience of flying, you should surely know not to judge the causes of accidents prematurely, particularly when pilot errors might be a factor.

                As I’ve said, if people want to take the risk of flying as passengers in these old aircraft, it’s their business. That’s the end of it.

              4. I have never seen anyone who can ignore comment and talk pass a subject better than you. You are really special.

            3. On a visit to Duxford i had a flight in a DH Dragon Rapide ,can’t say it bothered me that the plane must have been built in the 1930s .

              1. It wouldn’t bother me either unless it crashed. Seems like it is more about deliberately ignoring the risks. It’s a personal choice and I might make the same one.

        2. If a WW2 aircraft is passed fit to fly I can’t see why it can’t be used to give joy rides ,it is not as if it is in the air for hours on end everyday .

          1. “… ,it is not as if it is in the air for hours on end everyday . “

            This is a weak argument – it assumes that all planes fly with equal conditions. That is not true. Antique aircraft are in a completely different class from conventional aircraft, such that their operating risks can be as significant as conventional aircraft over smaller periods of time.

            I’m not looking to get in a fight here, I’m just testing my understanding of likelihood.

              1. Missing the point

                There are no factory fresh antique aircraft to compare to – and for a proper comparison of crashing factory fresh aircraft, that is required.

            1. Missing the point

              There are no factory fresh antique aircraft to compare to – and for a proper comparison of crashing factory fresh aircraft, that is required.

              I meant that in the past factory fresh aircraft had been known to crash ,did’t the first B17 crash ?

  2. LEON!
    Best Wishes of the day … whichever day that IS. You should also know that I am always and ever applauding you, even on ordinary, nothing-special days. Revel on, Leon!

    (BTW, whatever happened to that white, earless cat? I miss him.)

  3. By the statistic ‘Offensive WAR’, Hank Aaron is is the fifth best hitter in the history of the game, behind only Ruth, Cobb, Bonds & Mays.

    ‘WAR’ is an interesting statistic because it adjusts for era and home ballpark.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of Steve Miller. How he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame boggles my mind.

    On a brighter note, my best wishes to Leon on his birthday/anniversary! Hope he gets some tasty noms for the occasion!

    1. Another agreement here with the Steve Miller aside. I don’t know about his guitar-playing, but I absolutely loathe nearly all of his hit songs.

      The only exception is “Enter Maurice,” an obscure track from (I think) his first album. A brilliant send-up of early rock ‘n’ roll doo-wop style.

      1. I share our host’s and your opinion of Steve Miller. He is one artist that gets me to change the station. “Maurice” does break a bit from his other bland material but only just. It’s partly his attitude and partly a sort of sourness in his tone. There’s virtually always something better on another station.

  5. Bert Jansch reminds me of Tim Buckley a little, not just in terms of guitar-playing, but vocally too.

  6. Yes, the goose owner was very annoying. And it should be the goose that’s annoying, otherwise a video about a goose is not doing its job.

    One last plug for a video game that gets geese RIGHT:

    This game captures the nature of geese better than any video ever could – they are vicious, trolling bastards, who want to ruin your day.

    We had geese when I was a kid, I know whereof I speak.

  7. Happy celebration day to Leon! Glad he’s well.

    I say that tiny mammal is a Senegal bush baby or similar type of galago. They don’t glide but they sure can leap and that one looks like it’s about ready to do so.

    1. The sugar gliders have stripes on their head and they glide, as per their name. Bush babies jump. For verification here’s a video of another one doing its jump. As pets they seem to be very intelligent and playful.

      1. Another American pop-culture icon I only know about because of The Simpsons 🙂

        I loved his turn as Mr Burns’s son. Completely crazy idea, but as with everything they did at that show when it was in its prime, they pulled it off.

  8. I didn’t know Maya Lin created the Civil Rights Memorial as well as the Vietnam memorial. It contains names and events of the civil rights movement in granite.

    “A film of water flows over the base of the cone, which contains the 41 names included. It is possible to touch the smooth film of water and to alter it temporarily, which quickly returns to smoothness.”

    I recall the controversy over the Vietnam Memorial: “Lin believes that if the competition had not been “blind”, with designs submitted by name instead of number, she “never would have won”. She received harassment after her ethnicity was revealed. Lin defended her design in front of the US Congress, and eventually, a compromise was reached. The Three Soldiers, a bronze statue of a group of soldiers and an American flag, was placed off to one side of her design. This was placed here after veterans and political figures were unhappy with Lin’s design for the memorial.”

  9. Hili isn’t hungry (mirabile dictu!), but she wants to be hungry. The reason: she just ate.

    As the joke goes about cement engineers (aka “mattress men”), the trick is to eat until you’re hungry, then sleep until you’re tired.

  10. Happy birthday/anniversary to Leon from me and all my cats. We wish you many more, with lots of good food and happy times. I hope your staff presented you with an extra special treat today!

  11. Back in the day they would play Steve Miller on the FM stations. It was okay. What I couldn’t stand were the never ending Bruce Springsteen songs. Those and his loud yelling went on forever and ever. Rosalita, yada yada… [three days later] … Rosalita Rosalita yada yada…

  12. And to think I was lucky to spend an hour or so with my favourite teacher (or at least favourite person who happens to be a teacher) in the whole world and didn’t know this was teacher day! Darn! (I too am an educator, though I do not know if I count in this scope.)

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