Tuesday: Hili dialogue (with Leon and Mietek)

Good morning on the cruelest day of the week, Tuesday, and it’s February 4, 2020: both National Homemade Soup Day and National Stuffed Mushroom Day.  I was excited to read that it was also National Quacker Day, but that is a cruel ruse:

National Quacker Day celebrates “Quackers,” those who are enthusiasts of Quacker Factory, a women’s clothing company founded by Jeanne Bice.

It’s also Liberace Day (if you remember him, you’re old), born Władziu Valentino Liberace, and who died on this day in 1987.

And it’s Rosa Parks Day, celebrating the Civil Rights icon born on this day in 1913 (she died in 2005). In California and Missouri, however, it’s celebrated on December 1, the day she was arrested for not relinquishing her seat to a white man in 1955. That led to the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott, which successfully challenged the law requiring segregation. The very bus that made her famous is now preserved at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Detroit, Michigan.

Here’s a short video recounting the story of Parks and what happened to the bus:

News of the Day: If you’ve followed the voting in Iowa yesterday, you’ll know that there are NO RESULTS YET. There’s apparently been a delay in reporting the delegate counts, and although we know nothing, several candidates, including Bern, say they have a “good feeling” about how they did. We shall see.

In lieu of those results, here’s what yesterday’s WEIT caucus showed: a victory for Bernie. (As usual, not that many people voted, though.). Uncle Joe was second, with everybody else far behind, with Warren barely registering. You’re all a pack of socialists!

Stuff that happened on February 4 includes:

  • 1555 – John Rogers is burned at the stake, becoming the first English Protestant martyr under Mary I of England.
  • 1703 – In Edo (now Tokyo), all but one of the Forty-seven Ronin commit seppuku (ritual suicide) as recompense for avenging their master’s death.
  • 1789 – George Washington is unanimously elected as the first President of the United States by the U.S. Electoral College.
  • 1846 – The first Mormon pioneers make their exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, westward towards Salt Lake Valley.
  • 1948 – Ceylon (later renamed Sri Lanka) becomes independent within the British Commonwealth.
  • 1969 – Yasser Arafat takes over as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
  • 2004 – Facebook, a mainstream online social networking site, is founded by Mark Zuckerberg.

Notables born on this day includes:

  • 1818 – Emperor Norton, San Francisco eccentric and visionary (d. 1880)
  • 1902 – Charles Lindbergh, American pilot and explorer (d. 1974)
  • 1906 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian (d. 1945)
  • 1913 – Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist (d. 2005)
  • 1921 – Betty Friedan, American author and feminist (d. 2006)
  • 1948 – Alice Cooper, American singer-songwriter

Bonhoeffer is one of only a handful of pastors and theologians I admire (well, perhaps the only one!), mainly because he stood up for science in the “God of the gaps” problem, and mainly because he was immensely brave, and was hanged by the Nazis for conspiring to assassinate Hitler. The circumstances of his hanging (whether it was quick or deliberately prolonged) are cloudy, but it’s clear that he was stripped of all his clothing before he was executed. Here he is:

Those who became ex-persons on February 4 include:

  • 1968 – Neal Cassady, American novelist and poet (b. 1926)
  • 1982 – Georg Konrad Morgen, German lawyer and judge (b. 1909)
  • 1983 – Karen Carpenter, American singer (b. 1950)
  • 1987 – Liberace, American singer-songwriter and pianist, (b. 1919)
  • 2006 – Betty Friedan, American author and activist (b. 1921)

Two of my heroes—Karen Carpenter and Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty in Kerouac’s On the Road)—died on the same day. Here’s Neal, who also drove The Buss (with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters aboard) in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. He looks a bit like Elvis:

Cassady died at 41 from drugs, his comatose body found alongside a railroad track in Mexico. I’m pretty sure that’s the way he would have wanted to go.

 I didn’t know there was a documentary about that famous bus trip “Magic Trip“, but here’s a trailer, with several shots of Cassady. I must see this movie, but it’s not on YouTube and who would have it?


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, we have a pun in today’s Hili:

Hili: I had a nap and now I understand everything.
A: What do you understand?
Hili: The complexity of the world.
In Polish:
Hili: Przespałam się i teraz wszystko rozumiem.
Ja; Co rozumiesz?
Hili: Złożoność wszechświata.

And Elzbieta reports that Leon and Mietek the Kitten had their first walk together! As I had hoped, Mietek is being leash trained. He took to the leash wonderfully, and so can go for walks with his brother Leon. Here’s three photos and Elzbieta’s caption:

First walk together.

In Polish: Pierwszy wspólny spacer.

From Facebook, a very great cartoon (except that ducks don’t have teeth):

A Kliban cartoon posted by Stash Krod:

A cartoon clipped and saved by my friends Tim and Betsy:

And a superb series of photos from Wild and Wonderful titled “The best steal in history.”

This is bad: HARVARD is on the list. Click the link for the reasons:


A tweet sent by reader Ken. SPY MONKEY! It’s a monkey-shaped cam, and when the langurs think it’s dead, something very much like grief appears.

A nice demonstration, though I’m not sure it’s safe to breathe the stuff:

Well, this is from the bad Womens March—the original, not the the good splinter groups—and yes, this is on their home page. If you want to see the demonstration video, go here.

A good quote from the one Dawkins book that almost nobody reads:

From reader Barry. Yes, this is a beautiful creature indeed, but it’s lazy compared to the women lions!

A tweet from Heather Hastie: Badger love. Is that as good as muskrat love?

Look at the legs on this beetle!

When I asked Matthew what those legs were for, he sent a picture with a note: “They do this apparently”. It seems to be, as the caption suggests, a kind of defensive behavior. Readers with some free time might want to see if those legs can squirt a noxious fluid as well.


  1. JezGrove
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    “You’re all a pack of socialists”: but wasn’t the poll about who readers thought would win, not who we thought should win? Though given the mess the Dems have made for themselves with the failure to tally the outcome, maybe Trump is the winner in Iowa.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    You’re either on the bus or off the bus.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Didn’t someone yesterday say the Iowa caucus was a joke. Oh, that was me. I would guess the results will be far different from the poll.

  4. Posted February 4, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    As I am an outlander, can somebody explain how these caucuses work? Do you go to some sort of meeting and talk about it before voting? Why not just have a secret ballot?

    • Posted February 4, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Yes, more or less. It’s a tradition in some parts of the USA. Similar to the house of Commons, most caucuses physically divide the group and count heads. But it varies from place to place.

      Why not secret? Tradition.

      Minnesota, where I live, has traditionally done caucuses. It means that the activists have more power than they otherwise would.

      This year, we are having a presidential primary (not sure if this will continue after 2020), and I am going to vote in a primary for the first time in my life (I always vote in the general elections). I already have the (absentee) ballot and will fill it out this week.

      I never would do caucuses because of the hassle factor. It takes a long time, there’s no option on timing (very adverse for people with jobs or kids’ activities), and you have to sit and listen to the speeches rather than just voting.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        Yes, and as I recall in Iowa, the democratic caucus is for democrats only. So independents cannot attend. Usually they will hold these at a school and the different candidates go to different rooms. Then they send people to other rooms and try to talk people into changing. It is really off the wall, and also not well attended. Just like voting.

        • Posted February 4, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

          For my primary ballot in MN, I had to choose party (Dem of course).

          The Republican ballot has only der Drumpfenführer and a write-in box. There was a law suit on this; but it was rejected. I had to agree with the court: Parties can decide who is on their primary ballots.

        • Posted February 4, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

          I would say caucuses are mainly about parties maintaining control. They are a highly selective filter, letting through mainly the very highly motivated (the activists and boosters in the parties). Therefore, in my opinion, they are a contributor to the polarization of politics in the USA.

          They are less about actually getting public opinion, in my estimation.

          I am saddened by the media fiasco going on in IA right this moment and I hope the IA Dems can right the ship quickly today.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted February 4, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

            Yes, the caucus is an odd, throwback kind of thing. Within the small towns/cities you have a small number of politically active people. At caucus time they tend to run things while most everyone else stays away.

            Lets see, do you want to just vote like they do at a primary or do you want to show up at a specific location at around 6 pm and spend half the night listening to other people talk about candidates. It is a group think thing.

    • GBJames
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      “As I am an outlander, can somebody explain how these caucuses work?”

      As the evidence shows, they don’t!

  5. Liz
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Magic Trip
    Rent $0.99
    Buy $12.99

    Magic Trip
    Rent $0.99
    Buy $12.99

    I’ve never used Amazon Prime to rent or buy anything. I’ve used itunes for music and a movie once or twice. I’d recommend itunes if it can’t be found on Netflix.

    A hard copy of a dvd can probably be ordered from Barnes and Noble or Amazon. It might be at a library also.

    • boudiccadylis
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Might also check libraries you have to which you have access. That ranges from free to nominal.

  6. Deodand
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    A little Dutch tune…

    “Confess your sins,
    Hide your gin,
    Throw away your LSD…”

  7. merilee
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink


  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    If you’ve followed the voting in Iowa yesterday, you’ll know that there are NO RESULTS YET. There’s apparently been a delay in reporting the delegate counts, and although we know nothing …

    “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” — Will Rogers

    • mike cracraft
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      As for another saying of Will Rogers slightly modified: Will Rogers never met Donald Trump.

    • GBJames
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Somewhere there’s a set of developers saying “We told the client we needed more lead time to allow for testing!”

  9. Posted February 4, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I don’t know…based on your words and tone yesterday, I’d guess you have at least SOME admiration for the four chaplains. ^_^

    Then again, I don’t know much about them other than their heroic final act, so I suppose it may be reasonable to admire the act, but possibly not them. Still, in my book, that would make up for a lot of other flaws.

    • Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      Yes, I admire the act, and to that extent the men who acted. But I know nothing about those chaplains. I know more about Bonhoeffer.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        Martin Niemöller was another German pastor who resisted the Nazis. For his efforts, he was imprisoned at Dachau, but survived the War.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      There are also some churchmen who can be admired for things that are entirely separate from their religious vocation or the relationship between that and their moral stance.

      For example Gilbert White was an 18th century Church of England curate was an astute and close observer of the flora and fauna in the parish of Selborne, Hampshire where he lived. He made a number of discoveries including the fact that the willow warbler (or willow wren as he knew it) Phylloscopus trochilus was not one species but three – P trochilus, P collybita (the Chiffchaff) and P sybilatrix (the wood warbler). His book the Natural History of Selborne has been continuously in print since it was first published. Charles Darwin is one of many notable people who have expressed their admiration for White and his close and patient observation of nature.

  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    The systems problems during the Iowa caucus reminds me of a bigger IT problem the company I worked for had back in the 80s. Warehousing was being automated and software companies were coming out with systems you could buy off the shelf that would automate your distribution system. It was all the rage. So the company purchase a system and then selected the distribution center in Germany to install it first. Did they test the system a great deal and then maybe install it in pieces to see how it functioned? No, they slammed it in and away they went. The whole thing crashed and it took years to totally re-write all the software and make it work.

    • GBJames
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      One of the great mistakes people make is thinking that they can “buy a system” and it will work. Never happens that way. You can buy bits of a system but if you want the thing to work you have to invest a lot of time tailoring and testing. And testing and fixing. And testing and…

    • DrBrydon
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      I work for one of the big enterprise software companies. When I started about fifteen years ago, my boss told me that when he started around 1990, all the had to do was show a demo, and take out his order pad. The market is much more bruised and savvy now.

      • GBJames
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        Somewhere out in Iowa there is a person, or more likely a committee of people, who didn’t begin acquiring their savvy bruises until last night.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        Yes, I think it was around 1986 when they had their first crash and burn with the new system. Spent the next 5 or 6 years with lots of labor fixing this very bad system. As most know, the warehousing business is really three parts, receiving, storage and shipping. We started at the front fixing and then implementing new programs into all the centers a little at a time.

  11. DrBrydon
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Sulfur hexafluoride: He’s witch! Burn him!

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Cassady died at 41 from drugs, his comatose body found alongside a railroad track in Mexico.

    The character Ray Hicks in the National Book Award winning novel Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone (Ken Kesey’s buddy and fellow alumni of the Stegner fellowship writing program at Stanford) was inspired by Neal Cassady.

    The film adaptation of that novel, Who’ll Stop the Rain, starred Nick Nolte in the Hicks/Cassady role. Like Cassady, the Hicks character dies in the desert while walking along railroad tracks:

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink


    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      You and PCCE are quite woke this morning. You’re unwittingly presaging Latin for the trans community, when every college graduate, irrespective of gender, will be referred to as alumni.

      And I was boggled to see that PCCE referred to female lions as “women lions.” What will become of us?!

      IMO Robert Stone was one of the best novelists, a hidden gem. I didn’t know much about his life and had no idea that he was at Stanford with Ken Kesey or that “Who’ll Stop the Rain” (which I’ve never seen) was based on “Dog Soldiers.”

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        I met Robert Stone once. In the late Seventies, he came into the waterfront joint where I was tending bar in Key West. We were shooting the bull for a bit, and he told me he was in town looking to do some research for a novel he was writing (which turned out to be A Flag for Sunrise) that had a sort of magical realism scene set aboard a shrimp boat. He wanted to make a fishing trip with some shrimpers — said he didn’t have any experience (except that he’d been in the Navy), and wasn’t looking to get paid, but he was willing to work his ass off if they’d take him out. I hooked him up with a couple commercial fishing buddies of mine who happened to be sitting a few stools away at the bar.

        • Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

          Ken, when are you writing the autobiography? 🙂

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

            It’d have to be an “unauthorized autobiography,” jblilie. 🙂

            Or maybe a roman à clef would be the way to go.

      • merilee
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        I’ve never liked woman/women used as an adjective.

        • Posted February 5, 2020 at 5:10 am | Permalink

          I was making a joke!

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted February 5, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

            Thank Goodness! But I plead the fact that one of the first things the woke folk did was make humor and satire suspect as the inaugural step to killing that sort of free expression; which may have something to do with the rise of the smiley face emoji to indicate “just kidding” or “that was meant ironically”. Even at this website, one can and often does become confused — and that’s not a value judgment, just stating what I find. And my comment was made as tongue-in-cheek, but it was taken as requiring an explanation. One can only-go-only down the rabbit hole with this. 😀 Is Titania McGrath making me paranoid? No, because she tweets about real events and reflects on real life.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I’m not convinced that collapsing in a coma, alone by a railroad track is really the way that Cassady would have wanted to go.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        Maybe not, Jonathan. But a dynamo like Cassady wasn’t ordained to die of old age, either. Better to burn out than to fade away, as Neil Young sang.

        Or as Ms. St. Vincent Millay said in her poem:

        My candle burns at both ends;
        It will not last the night;
        But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
        It gives a lovely light!

        • Jonathan Wallace
          Posted February 5, 2020 at 12:52 am | Permalink

          Yes I would agree with that. Perhaps it would be truer to say that, as with people who race cars or climb Himalayan mountains, people who live a life such as Cassady’s implicitly or explicitly accept the risks associated with their chosen life-style and deem the the more vivid life they are living well worth that risk. I daresay that Cassady would not have welcomed the idea of living out his final days in an armchair in a home for seniors.

          Thank you for the St Vincent Millay poem.

  13. rickflick
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    A fake spy monkey is nice reminder of the original human instinct for empathy and compassion. The religious often say you need religion to be moral. Unless these monkeys are religious, they are moral out of their nature.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      There are also studies suggesting that chimpanzees have a rudimentary understanding of “the golden rule.”

      • rickflick
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Very interesting. Mirror neurons must play a part in this.

        “When the first chimp struggled to open the door, the second chimp watching the struggle (but unaware of the reason for it), would pull a chain to open the door. In trials, chimps would help out a struggling mate nearly 80%”.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      There are scholars of the Greco-Roman era in Egypt who, based on certain behaviors observed by primatologists in the field, as well as material in “The Greek Magical Papyri” and ancient Egyptian beliefs about Hamadryas baboons (such as baboons greeting the sun with their calls –the sun being an Egyptian god), speculate that hamadryas baboons might have had a kind of collective vocal ritual that presaged religious impulses — not asserting that these baboons had a religious sense but that it might have presaged the religious impulse in humans. Extremely speculative. I don’t know what if anything has become of this speculation. Will have to check but I wonder what Sapolsky thinks about that.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Sapolsky = go-to monkey man.

  14. jwwalker
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Sulfur hexafluoride was demonstrated on Mythbusters. I think it’s fairly safe, except that unlike helium, you have to be careful to exhale it all. Otherwise, its density will keep it sitting at the bottom of your lungs, blocking you from getting oxygen.

    • Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Apparently it is fairly inert. But the problem is that your body does not detect lack of oxygen but rather rather acidity induced by carbon dioxide solutions! A chemical test for a physical problem – ah, the joys of evolution.

  15. rickflick
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Here’s an interaction between a robot and gorillas. Somewhat different reaction.


  16. Posted February 4, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Best cure to shake the Black Dog is to adopt a real one – like a black lab or labradoodle or something.

  17. Posted February 4, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    What’s become of Gus the Earless, and our human friends Ben and Blue?

  18. Posted February 4, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Cassady kinda resembles Burt Lancaster too.

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