Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

October 20, 2019 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Sunday, October 20, 2019. Tomorrow I’m off to Chile, where I’ll spend a few days in Valparaiso before heading out of that port towards Patagonia, Antarctica, and, at the end, the Falkland Islands. I will be giving three lectures on a cruise (“The Fuegians, The Beagle, and Darwin,” “Science on Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition,” and “Evolutionary Lessons from Antarctic Animals”), and am looking forward to the trip immensely.

Posting will be reduced to a daily Hili dialogue (just the cat), which Matthew has volunteered to post. I’ll try to post from time to time on the ship, but I’m told internet is dicey, so don’t expect much. And I will, of course, be taking photos.

It’s National Brandied Fruit Day and National Eggo Day, celebrating that execrable frozen waffle. It’s also the Bahá’í holiday, Birth of the Bab, celebrating a forerunner of the Bahá’í faith, International Sloth Day (celebrating the animal, not the vice), and National Suspenders Day. (Why do people continue to wear suspenders when we have belts?) If you’re going to wear suspenders, wear these, which you can get on Amazon for a mere $19.95:

Stuff that happened on October 20 includes:

  • 1720 – Caribbean pirate Calico Jack is captured by the Royal Navy.
  • 1803 – The United States Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1935 – The Long March, a mammoth retreat undertaken by the armed forces of the Chinese Communist Party a year prior, ends.

The March lasted over a year and traversed at least 6000 km. Here’s the route:

  • 1944 – American general Douglas MacArthur fulfills his promise to return to the Philippines when he commands an Allied assault on the islands.
  • 1947 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of the Hollywood film industry, resulting in a blacklist that prevents some from working in the industry for years.
  • 1951 – The “Johnny Bright incident” occurs in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Read the link; it tells how a star quarterback and halfback from Drake University was targeted onfield by Oklahoma A&M College—because of his race. Bright, a black man, was knocked unconscious three times in the game’s first seven minutes, and had his jaw broken. Bright nevertheless threw a touchdown pass before he had to leave the game, and later and went on to a great career in Canadian football. Oklahoma State University (formerly Oklahoma A&M) didn’t apologize until 2005, and by then Bright had been dead for 22 years. Here he is:

Letters uncovered two years ago reveal why Kennedy turned down the marriage proposal of her long-time friend Lord Harlech to marry Onassis instead.

  • 1973 – “Saturday Night Massacre”: United States President Richard Nixon fires U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus after they refuse to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who is finally fired by Robert Bork.
  • 1973 – The Sydney Opera House is opened by Elizabeth II after 14 years of construction.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1620 – Aelbert Cuyp, Dutch painter (d. 1691)
  • 1790 – Patrick Matthew. Scottish farmer and biologist (d. 1874)

Matthew anticipated Darwin’s theory of selection in an appendix to his 1831 book, On Naval Timber and Arboriculture, and the resemblance is striking, but neither Darwin nor Wallace ever read that book and Matthew didn’t develop his theory, so the other two men get the credit. He even called it “the natural process of selection,” and here’s a bit:

THERE is a law universal in nature, tending to render every reproductive being the best possibly suited to its condition that its kind, or that organized matter, is susceptible of, which appears intended to model the physical and mental or instinctive powers, to their highest perfection, and to continue them so. This law sustains the lion in his strength, the hare in her swiftness, and the fox in his wiles. As Nature, in all her modifications of life, has a power of increase far beyond what is needed to supply the place of what falls by Time’s decay, those individuals who possess not the requisite strength, swiftness, hardihood, or cunning, fall prematurely without reproducing—either a prey to their natural devourers, or sinking under disease, generally induced by want of nourishment, their place being occupied by the more perfect of their own kind, who are pressing on the means of subsistence. The law of entail, necessary to hereditary nobility, is an outrage on this law of nature which she will not pass unavenged ….

It was indeed a precis of a kind of natural selection, but nobody paid any attention to it, and it was called to Darwin’s attention by Matthew himself after On the Origin had been published. In later editions of his book, Darwin gave Matthew credit for anticipating what Darwin saw as his greatest idea.

Rimbaud stopped writing at 21, and died at 37, probably of bone cancer. Here’s his grave in Charleville, France (“pray for him”):

  • 1874 – Charles Ives, American composer (d. 1954)
  • 1885 – Jelly Roll Morton, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (Red Hot Peppers and New Orleans Rhythm Kings) (d. 1941)
  • 1925 – Art Buchwald, American soldier and journalist (d. 2007)
  • 1927 – Joyce Brothers, American psychologist, author, and actress (d. 2013)
  • 1931 – Mickey Mantle, American baseball player and sportscaster (d. 1995)
  • 1936 – Bobby Seale, American activist, co-founded the Black Panther Party
  • 1950 – Tom Petty, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2017)
  • 1951 – Ken Ham, Australian-American evangelist
  • 1964 – Kamala Harris, American lawyer and politician, 32nd Attorney General of California
  • 1971 – Snoop Dogg, American rapper, producer, and actor

Here’s Snoop on the October 15 Howard Stern show, relating that Dogg employs a man whose whole job is to roll blunts for the rapper. The professional blunt roller makes between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. What a job!

Those who shuffled off the mortal coil on October 20 include:

  • 1890 – Richard Francis Burton, English-Italian geographer and explorer (b. 1821)
  • 1926 – Eugene V. Debs, American union leader and politician (b. 1855)
  • 1936 – Anne Sullivan, American educator (b. 1866)
  • 1964 – Herbert Hoover, American engineer and politician, 31st President of the United States (b. 1874)
  • 1983 – Merle Travis, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1917)
  • 1994 – Burt Lancaster, American actor (b. 1913)
  • 2012 – Paul Kurtz, American philosopher and academic (b. 1925)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is watching her diet:

Hili: This grass is not very tasty.
A: So why are you eating it?
Hili: Because it’s healthy.
In Polish:
Hili: Ta trawa jest niesmaczna.
Ja: To czemu ją jesz?
Hili: Bo zdrowa.

And at the nearby site of Leon’s future home (which once again didn’t get built this year), the Dark Tabby kvetches:

Leon: I have to look after everything myself.
Malgorazata explains the difficulty of translation:
Well, there is a problem. Leon says that he has to look after everything with  his managerial eye but it’s a Polish idiom which, moreover, uses an old-fashioned word not really used in normal speech. It definitively is not “managerial” but it was the only one I could think of. “Look after” is not a good translation either. I feel defeated by this simple sentence.
In Polish: Wszystkiego muszę dopilnować gospodarskim okiem.


From The Cat House on the Kings (nb: First word should be “ever”):

From Amazing Things. So true–I have a box like this except I KNOW I’ll never use them again.

The Egyptians love their ducks:

There was a time earlier this year when museums and libraries were competing by putting their best ducks On Twitter. Here are a few competing with the Museum of English Rural Life:

From reader Barry, a duck that thinks it’s funny (second tweet). But it’s also a bit sad, since these are ducks in the market. Sound must be up for this one.

From Matthew Cobb. This has got to be one of the best put-downs of a troll ever. (Remember the British census that counted animals?)

These lenticular lenses are amazing. I don’t understand how the lower pencils appear whole when they turn the lens vertically:

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

  1. Bon Voyage, PCC! How exciting, I bet you will have such an interesting time. The passengers are so lucky to have you speaking. Are you allowed to tell us which cruise line you’ll be on?

  2. Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. I’ve had a bag of cables like that since I was 25.

    Then again, my friends in college always did call me an “old guy.” Once I stopped partying, all I wanted was to have my tea, read a book, and get those gumdarnit kids to turn down their newfangled rap music.

    1. 😎

      Read four bags. Cat5/cat6, USB, phone (RJ11), SATA, Molex, IDE, monitor, HDMI, AV (RCA), ‘jug leads’ (IEC), TV coax, even parallel printer (Centronics).**
      Plus a separate box for ‘power adapters’ (chargers).

      ** I realise I’m conflating the connectors with the cables in some cases.

      1. Haha, but my bag is about the size of a huge cardboard box. And then I also have a drawer full of specific, labelled cables, connectors, etc. that came with specific products.

        Oh gosh, we’re comparing cable bag sizes…

        1. Oh, well, now, I didn’t mention all my connectors, adaptors, plugs of all sorts…
          Plus a small heap of obsolescent PCI cards and whatnot, keyboards, mice, several old modems…

          (Are we having a ‘my obsession is bigger than your obsession’ contest? 😉


    2. I have a couple of boxes of cables and I do occasionally need to use one. I’m sure I’ll never use almost all of them but which ones? I figure they don’t really take up that much space so they persist.

      1. Exactly! How can you know which one? Plus, you have to have extension cords, strips, HDMI cables, charging cables, and then all the specific cables…

        I could probably get rid of my old printer pin cables though.

  3. Suspenders (braces in English) are still used because bespoke suit trousers typically do not have belt loops. It is often necessary to tighten the side adjusters uncomfortably tight to keep the trousers up, so using braces makes for a more comfortable (looser) fit. Of course, in a bespoke suit you can have anything done that your tailor is willing to accommodate and you are willing to pay for, so belt loops are not excluded if the bespeaker so desires.

    But mostly, I suspect, braces are now used as part of a fashion statement and not for their functionality.

    I second the Bon Voyage. I hope that the current troubles in Chile do not disrupt your plans there.

    1. I would say that if one wants to wear suspenders one should use the kind that buttons on. Those clips always fail. And one should always try to impress one’s friends by using the word “braces”. 😉

      1. Buttons, of course. I didn’t even give that a second thought! And you have to button on your braces before you put on the trousers so I used to leave the braces attached when hanging up the trousers after use.

        1. Yeah, me too. I had some fancy braces back in the 90’s. I remember a pair with leopards on them. If I still had them I could send them to PCC[E] 😉

    2. Over the years I have acquired a bit of a gut. However my derriere has retained its boyish slimness. I find now that my trousers will not stay up unless my belt is painfully tight, and I’m still always pulling them up anyway. Suspenders are the solution, fashionable AND comfortable.

    3. The use of the word suspenders (which when I was a kid held up stockings) and braces (which hold up trousers – not even getting into the trouser/pants question here) is one that still causes me grief. A couple of weeks ago the virtues of belts were being discussed and someone said “my grandfather always wore suspenders” causing an involuntary snort from your truly.

      Happy travels

    4. Suspenders (braces) I associate with middle-aged gents from the 1950’s. As such I wouldn’t be seen dead wearing them.

      (Says he, whose normal attire is tee shirt and shorts – that’s British shorts, not underpants! – and knobbly knees).

      Fashions change, but the fashion of one-generation-older is always beyond the pale.


  4. Have a great trip.

    After Dugout Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines in 1944 he became the Supreme Command of Allied Powers (SCAP) during the occupation of Japan. He did a fine job during this time in Japan but was getting old and out of date. The Korean event closed the final chapter on MacArthur.

  5. The lenticular lens** presumably works by ‘spreading out’ light rays in one direction only – along the length of the lens.

    So when positioned horizontally, the image of the horizontal pencils is ‘spread out’ horizontally – which makes no change to their appearance – while the vertical pencils are also ‘spread out’ horizontally which completely blurs them into virtual invisibility.

    The converse happens when the lens is oriented vertically.

    **Probably a modified Fresnel lens with its prismatic elements parallel instead of circular.


    1. This is a reasonable explanation, but the cross section is not quite the same form as a Fresnel lens.

      It is a series of parallel speedbump shaped ridges, as opposed to Fresnel lenses where the ridges are (nearly) triangular in cross section. The term ‘lenticular’ truly means shaped like a lentil. This material is much like the material used in children’s toys where two, or more, images are visible, depending on the viewing angle.

      1. Thanks for the clarification enl.

        I can see how that would work. And, on reflection, it would be better in this context than a Fresnel.

        (Also probably cheaper to fabricate than a Fresnel, which would require much sharper edges on the ridges and each ridge to be slightly different geometry from its neighbours. I digress but a full-size Fresnel lens as used on e.g. a lighthouse, is a truly impressive sight).


    2. The lenticular lens** presumably works by ‘spreading out’ light rays in one direction only – along the length of the lens.

      ACROSS the axis of the lens.
      The multiple lenses form an array. So there will be dozens (typically about a half-mm spacing) of axes of the lenses. The “blurring” of the image takes place perpendicular to the axes, not along them (well, not much).
      If the axes are like this — (horizontally):
      | \ /
      | / \
      then the (chance of WordPress scrambling things is high, but there isn’t a “preview” option) vertical line will be “blurred” onto another point on the line, but the inclined lines will be “blurred” with a non-line elements.
      Eeeeh, when Ah were a lad, they’d put these lens arrays into packets of breakfast cereal, glued to “sliced” pairs or triples of pictures of roaring dinosaurs or exterminating Daleks, so as you rocked the assembly from top to bottom (in the image above’s orientation), you saw one sliced image, then the second, then the third ; the Dalek, dinosaur or whatever would “animate”. Tablets? Who needs a tablet, Moshe?

      Probably a modified Fresnel lens with its prismatic elements parallel instead of circular.

      You could view a sheet like this as a Fresnel version of something, but it would be a bi-prism, not a lens. Or, for the three-strip images I mention above, a bi-prism with a flat-sheet central section. The more “segments” you divide the lens you’re equating with, the closer your Fresnel will approach to the original lens in performance. The image used by Wikipeia shows a 5-way division of a lens (about it’s optical axis).

    1. A N D the ! Washington Nationals ! ‘ll take
      the World Series in … … less than
      … … seven entire games !

      O my ! Is this whole deal now … … jinxed, Believers ? !

      My Underg*ds !


  6. Happy & safe travels, PCC(E)! If you should find yourself in Port Lockroy and in the position of sending a postcard – I would be most interested.

  7. I hope someone gave a list of clothing you should bring. I would have no clue how to dress for Antarctica. What an exciting place to visit. Have fun!

  8. When you are in the Falklands you may enjoy seeing the Flightless Steamer Ducks which are, I believe, the largest ducks in the world. We spent two weeks there some years ago counting elephant seals, but they may have gone back to sea by now. Enjoy the trip!

  9. “Why do people continue to wear suspenders when we have belts?”

    Because suspenders are both more comfortable and more stylish. I’ve worn them since my late 20s.

  10. Happy travels! I spent a few days in Santiago on the way back to Australia from Brazil in May and went to Valparaiso one day. Lots of lovely graffiti in old upper part of town (reminds me of Melbourne), featuring lots of cats 🙂

  11. BTW, there is an appeal to a form of evolution by natural selection in Empedocles and other presocratics. Aristotle’s teleological counterattack won the day (eventually) for hundreds of years, of course.

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