Sunday: Hili dialogue

February 23, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s Sunday, February 23, 2020, and—I remind you again—this afternoon I’m off to Paris for a week of R&R&E. Matthew will handle the Hili dialogues when I’m gone, but posting is likely to be much lighter for this week. As always, I do my best, and thank Dr. Cobb for handling the Hilis.

It’s National Banana Bread Day, and, for the canids, National Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. It’s also Diesel Engine Day, National Rationalization Day, and Play Tennis Day (it’s predicted to be warm enough in Chicago to play tennis: 50°F or 9°C).  In Japan it’s The Emperor’s Birthday: Emperor Naruhito was born on this day in 1960, and so turns 60 today. Happy birthday, Mr. Emperor!

Here’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. He’s the first Japanese Emperor to have studied abroad—at Merton College, Oxford. They have one daughter, Princess Aiko, who is 18.

The Emperor and Empress of Japan.

News of the Day: The big news in the U.S. is, of course, Bernie Sanders’s big win in the Nevada primary, his numbers far outstripping those of any other candidate. The Bern did well across a diverse range of voters, giving him strong momentum for upcoming primaries, including Super Tuesday.  Below are the convention delegates each candidate picked up (from the NYT); Sanders got more than twice the number of delebat the second-place finisher, Joe Biden, and nearly four times those of Elizabeth Warren. We’ll discuss this in a post soon, as I’m off to Paris today.

One might say that the wonderful tweet below is a metaphor of the diverse groups that came together to form a vote-consuming coalition in Nevada (h/t Matthew):

Stuff that happened on February 23 includes:

There are 49 copies or nearly complete copies of this world’s most valuable book; here’s one at the New York Public Library:

  • 1739 – At York Castle, the outlaw Dick Turpin is identified by his former schoolteacher. Turpin had been using the name Richard Palmer.
  • 1836 – Texas Revolution: The Siege of the Alamo (prelude to the Battle of the Alamo) begins in San Antonio, Texas.
  • 1861 – President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, D.C., after the thwarting of an alleged assassination plot in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 1886 – Charles Martin Hall produced the first samples of aluminium from the electrolysis of aluminium oxide, after several years of intensive work. He was assisted in this project by his older sister, Julia Brainerd Hall.
  • 1903 – Cuba leases Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity”.
  • 1917 – First demonstrations in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The beginning of the February Revolution (March 8 in the Gregorian calendar).
  • 1927 – German theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg writes a letter to fellow physicist Wolfgang Pauli, in which he describes his uncertainty principle for the first time.
  • 1941 – Plutonium is first produced and isolated by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg.
  • 1942 – World War II: Japanese submarines fire artillery shells at the coastline near Santa Barbara, California.
  • 1945 – World War II: During the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of United States Marines and a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman reach the top of Mount Suribachi on the island and are photographed raising the American flag.

And of course I must present the iconic photo, perhaps the most famous of all America war photos, photographed by Joe Rosenthal. They’ve since all been identified, and three of the six Marines were later killed on the island:


  • 1954 – The first mass inoculation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine begins in Pittsburgh
  • 1974 – The Symbionese Liberation Army demands $4 million more to release kidnap victim Patty Hearst.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1633 – Samuel Pepys, English diarist and politician (d. 1703)
  • 1868 – W. E. B. Du Bois, American sociologist, historian, and activist (d. 1963)
  • 1940 – Peter Fonda, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2019)
  • 1950 – Rebecca Goldstein, American philosopher and author
  • 1960 – Naruhito, Emperor of Japan (see above)
  • 1979 – S. E. Cupp, American journalist and author

Here’s a video link to Cupp saying she’s an atheist but “aspires to be a person of faith some day.” That completely baffles me. If you’re an atheist because you see no evidence for God, which is the only good reason there is, then why would you aspire to become religious. Does that mean that you are hoping some evidence for God appears, or simply that you hope to change your mind even in light of the paucity of evidence?

Those who breathed their last on February 23 include:

Here’s a Joshua Reynolds print, “Muscipula“:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is doing her editorial job as Elzbieta comes for a visit:

Elzbieta: Lately I often see you on this desk.
Hili: Yes, I’m trying to somehow control this mess.
In Polish:
Elżbieta: Ostatnio często cię widzę na tym biurku.
Hili: Tak, próbuję jakoś kontrolować ten bałagan.

A baby rabbit from Wild and Wonderful:

Also from Wild and Wonderful, a lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudatus), one of the world’s most beautiful birds. And yes, they look like this.

From Jesus of the Day:

And from reddit’s “political humor section”:


The daily tweets:

The first one  should spark a discussion about whether racially-segregated spaces on campus are justifiable or advisable. It’s surely the next big thing in campus social justice, as it’s being promoted by students on several campuses—including mine. I can see arguments on both sides, but tend to come down against self-segregation because it erodes the aims of campus diversity. By all means talk about it in the comments. The viral video that started this discussion is in this tweet.

A tweet from Heather Hastie, who adds this:

If you go to the Business Insider article in this tweet, you’ll see a pic of Boris and Trump shaking hands recently. As he always has with Putin, Trump now shakes Boris’s hand with his hand on the bottom and Boris’s on the top.

A tweet from reader Barry: a bird aspiring to be a mouse:

Tweets from Matthew. First, the Master Cat:

One of these is a real ant, the rest are ant mimics, probably preying on ants. Can you identify the species. Answer below the fold:

Mother and baby dine together. What’s a potoroo? Go here.

This is an amazing illusion, but convince yourself that the cubes are stationary:


Click “read more” to identify the ant and its mimics in the tweet above


Answer, from Matthew: Top left ant, top right spider, bottom left mantis, bottom right assassin bug


21 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. I think I get the Cupp quote – it is intended to be satirical or something – I can’t think of a word – acknowledging the perceived absolute position of atheism – “no evidence, no god” – while challenging the religious position to show, don’t tell, about this god.

    Interesting approach. However, it’s weak, and … smarmy? Unctuous? I’m glad I finally remembered one of my favorite Hitchens words – “unctuous”

  2. Looks like it will be Bernie, to my consternation.

    Super Tuesday is only 9 days away and if the remaining field doesn’t thin out before then I fear they’ll split the non-Bernie vote.

    Sanders can deliver a knock out and be the presumptive candidate if he has another big day.

    I’ve supported Amy K. to this point but it’s time for her to get out of the race. I know longer believe her candidacy is viable (unless she can convince about three other candidates to drop out before Super Tuesday).

  3. There have been books written just on the train trip Lincoln made getting from Springfield, Illinois to Washington. I wonder what his chances of getting the republican nomination had been if we had a primary system at that time. Probably none and also none if the convention had not been in Chicago.

  4. I got the ant. Surprised me as I know nothing much about insects.
    My big question regards Hili. Is she at all concerned about Szaron? In my house of multiple cats a newcomer, especially a feral adult would be under intense scrutiny if not actually hassled.
    What sort of heart attack did Bernie have? As I’m sure you know some are more important than others.

  5. Campus segregation will only teach everyone the wrong lesson, which is that in order to manage, minorities need to be separate. I think most racists would agree with that, and minorities are giving them ammunition. What after all is inclusion?

    1. This isn’t the black separatism of Marcus Garvey or the anti-de-segregationism of Booker T. Washington — which, whatever one thinks of them (and, in retrospect, I don’t think much of either), at least had a certain consistent logic to them.

      This is something worse from people who ought to know better.

  6. I believe that iconic Iwo Jima photo is a staged recreation of the flag raising. A much smaller flag had been mounted earlier in the day. IIANM.

    Nevertheless, the photo is rightly among the most important war images of all time as it reflects the bravery, endurance, resolve and sacrifices that got those men to the top of that hill.

    1. Let me amend why I wrote. “Staged recreation” implies something I didn’t mean. I should have said this was actually the 2nd flag raised on Mount Suribachi that day.

      1. I was about to mention that this was the second, larger, flag raise on Mt. Suribachi. It was not, in my understanding, a staged event. But a photographer was present for this second flag raising.

        While not the first flag raised, the iconic picture is extremely moving.

        Two excellent films on this bloody battle are Flags of Our Fathers, from the American viewpoint, and Letters From Iwo Jima from the Japanese viewpoint. Both were directed by Clint Eastwood.

        While this was one of the bloodiest battles in WW II in terms of American casualties, the captured airfield saved the lives of innumerable airmen allowing damaged B-29s a safe place to land.

  7. Titania (above) is correct; campus segregation is a step back from MLK’s dream. It’s a very bad idea and will only exacerbate racial differences.

    I believe that is precisely what advocates of racial segregation on campuses want; it is part of their intellectual raison d’etre. It is much harder to claim victim hood if one is not, in fact, a victim.

  8. Not only do the cubes appear to rotate, I find that by fixing my gaze at a point between the cubes the apparent direction of rotation randomly changes, sometimes both switch together and sometimes just one cube appears to change direction.
    What with that and the Necker illusion I’m feeling quite dizzy 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *