Wednesday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

March 25, 2020 • 7:00 am

We’ve reached the hump of the week but are a long distance from the hump of the pandemic. Welcome to Wednesday, March 25, 2020: International Waffle Day, Pecan Day, National Lobster Newburg Day (never had it), Tolkien Reading Day (not coinciding with any events in Tolkien’s life), and Manatee Appreciation Day, celebrating members of the order Sirenia whose ancestors invaded water independently of the ancestors of whales and seals. Remember, marine mammals evolved three times independently (from Nature):

Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and sirenians (manatees and dugongs) emerged during the Eocene epoch through diversification from the Cetartiodactyla and Afrotheria, respectively. Pinnipeds (seals, sea lions and walruses) emerged approximately 20 million years later during the Miocene from within the Carnivora.

Finally, it’s International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. 

News of the Day: The Senate and President have apparently agreed on the pandemic stimulus package, which involves dispersal of $2 trillion. Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus. Otherwise, everything is going to hell as usual and people are getting stir-crazy at home, as evidenced by the following tweet (h/t Matthew):

Stuff that happened on March 25 includes:

From Wikipedia:

Along with suggestions of eczema, tuberculosis, syphilis, motor neurone disease, cancer or stroke, a diet of rich court food has also been suggested as a possible contributory factor in Robert’s death. His Milanese physician, Maino De Maineri, did criticise the king’s eating of eels as dangerous to his health in advancing years. [Bruce was 54.]

Why are they always blaming EELS for deaths in those times? Are eels bad for you?

  • 1584 – Sir Walter Raleigh is granted a patent to colonize Virginia.
  • 1655 – Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is discovered by Christiaan Huygens.
  • 1807 – The Slave Trade Act becomes law, abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire.
  • 1811 – Percy Bysshe Shelley is expelled from the University of Oxford for publishing the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism.
  • 1911 – In New York City, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire kills 146 garment workers.

The story is well known: workers couldn’t escape because the doors were locked, and many died from jumping from windows. Here are some of the bodies of the jumpers on view so that relatives could identify them. The dead included 123 women (mostly Jewish women aged 14-23) and 23 men.

  • 1931 – The Scottsboro Boys are arrested in Alabama and charged with rape.

This is another travesty of justice after a false accusation of rape in Alabama. Read the link. They were all eventually freed, largely due to the efforts (four years of pro bono work) of lawyer Samuel Leibowitz, shown here with the nine suspects, who were initially sentenced to death. Both the defendants and Leibowitz had to be protected by the National Guard against raging lynch mobs.

  • 1948 – The first successful tornado forecast predicts that a tornado will strike Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.
  • 1957 – United States Customs seizes copies of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” on obscenity grounds.
  • 1965 – Civil rights activists led by Martin Luther King Jr. successfully complete their 4-day 50-mile march from Selma to the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • 1969 – During their honeymoon, John Lennon and Yoko Ono hold their first Bed-In for Peace at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel (until March 31).

Here’s a short video of the bed-in. Ah, those were the days, my friend!

  • 1995 – WikiWikiWeb, the world’s first wiki, and part of the Portland Pattern Repository, is made public by Ward Cunningham.

Notables  born on this day include:

  • 1863 – Simon Flexner, American physician and academic (d. 1946)
  • 1867 – Arturo Toscanini, Italian-American cellist and conductor (d. 1957)
  • 1908 – David Lean, English director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1991)
  • 1918 – Howard Cosell, American soldier, journalist, and author (d. 1995)
  • 1920 – Paul Scott, English author, poet, and playwright (d. 1978)

Scott wrote The Raj Quartet and Staying On, two books that I recommended yesterday.

  • 1925 – Flannery O’Connor, American short story writer and novelist (d. 1964)
  • 1934 – Gloria Steinem, American feminist activist, co-founded the Women’s Media Center

It’s hard to believe that Steinem is 85 today, but she’s still trotting around the globe promoting progressive and feminist causes. Here’s a good article about her from the New Yorker in 2015.

  • 1942 – Aretha Franklin, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 2018)
  • 1947 – Elton John, English singer-songwriter, pianist, producer, and actor
  • 1965 – Sarah Jessica Parker, American actress, producer, and designer
  • 1982 – Danica Patrick, American race car driver

Those who gave up the ghost on March 25 include:

  • 1857 – William Colgate, English-American businessman and philanthropist, founded Colgate-Palmolive (b. 1783)
  • 1918 – Claude Debussy, French composer (b. 1862)
  • 1931 – Ida B. Wells, American journalist and activist (b. 1862)
  • 2006 – Buck Owens, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1929)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s dialogue requires a bit of explanation from Malgorzata:

Hili is just marveling over the play of sunlight falling through the blinds. She knows a bit about how our brains can deceive us and create an illusions and that’s what she is remarking about.

Hili: LIghts and shadows.
A: Nothing extraordinary.
Hili: A world of illusion.
In Polish:
Hili: Światła i cienie.
Ja: Nic nadzwyczajnego.
Hili: Świat iluzji.

And Szaron, also in Dobrzyn, is less pessimistic. Caption by Andrzej:

“Sharon says he’s optimistic. (It’s a trait of youth.)”

In Polish: Szaron mówi, że on jest optymistą. (To cecha młodości.)

Szaron is getting tamer: he slept inside last night. As Malgorzata reports,

Revolution! Yesterday evening, after we sat on the veranda, Szaron just came inside with us. Andrzej closed the door and Szaron started to explore all corners. Hili sat on my desk and was fuming. We got Szaron’s nest, bowls and his litter box into the guest room, filled the bowls and closed the door behind him. And went to sleep. Hili slept with us. In the morning, Andrzej got up much earlier than I did and closed the door to our bedroom. Then he opened the door to the guest room. Szaron didn’t run to the door but went around the rooms, tried to jump on Andrzej’s lap when he sat at his desk, and went out with him when outside for a minute- and returned with him! Just now Szaron is out but was in and out a few times. Now we have to discuss with Paulina [the upstairs lodger who wants to be the staff of Szaron] what to do next – should he stay with us downstairs or will she try to entice him upstairs?  He can be pronounced a tame cat now (I hope my shout of victory is not premature!)

It was a bumper day for cats in Dobrzyn yesterday. The feral black cat reappeared when Paulina (the lodger) was feeding Szaron. The unnamed black cat spoke:

Black cat: I was told that homeless cats are fed here.

In Polish: Podobno tu karmią bezdomne koty.

Neaby in Wloclawek, the rescue kitten Mietek is bored silly and trying to cook up some mischief.

Mietek: I will think of something straight away.
In Polish: Zaraz coś wymyślę.

From Vidya: sexual selection in human males:

Matthew shows us one of his three cats—the one that laid my nose open when I nuzzled it. His comment: “Ollie staring at the hated tom cat in the garden next door.”

From Richard:

Patrick Stewart, as his palliative for isolation (and for our enjoyment) is reciting a Shakespearian sonnet a day on Twitter. Here’s sonnet 116:

Skeptic Jen Gunther takes down Gwynnie for her apparel for visiting the farmers market. Read the thread.

Tweets from Matthew, who is sending a combination of bumming-out tweets and palliatives. One of the former:

. . . And one of the latter (sound up):


Another of the latter, posted by Matthew hiimself:

Some underwater crypsis:

31 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

  1. Regarding that first tornado forecast, you could predict a tornado to hit Oklahoma City every year and probably be correct 25% of the time.

  2. “Ah, those were the days, my friend!” Seems like there’s currently a perfect opportunity for a recreation of the bed-in.

      1. Thanks for that link. I was unaware that that eel blood was poisonous. I did know that the ancient Greeks and Romans found eels delectable and even kept them in pools as pets. The scientific name of the Mediterranean (moray) eel is Muraena helena. In the Deipnosophists of Athenaeus of Naucratis, the eel’s beauty is compared to that of Helen, thus “helena,” a thought that I find quite fetching – Helen as an eel.

        Now I’m going to look for mention of eel blood in Athenaeus and elsewhere in classical and medieval authors. Pliny and Aelian must have stories purportedly explaining why eel blood is poisonous.

        Eels are very cool and intelligent fish.

        1. That reminds me of the internationally recognised unit of beauty: the millihelen. A face of one millihelen of beauty is defined as that which can launch one ship under standard conditions of temperature and pressure.

  3. It’s interesting to realize just how many Jews were involved in the Civil Rights movement, and the terrible reward which they got for it. As ‘African Studies’ courses across America teach that Jews ‘Owned’ the slave trade.

    I’ve always found it ironic that one of the largest failed uprisings by African slaves took place not in the Americas, but in what is now Iraq.

    The Abbasid Caliphate imported thousands of East Africans as part of a plan to drain the Tigris-Eupharates marshes. The slaves revolted and it took 20 years to put down the uprising. The leaders heads were paraded through Baghdad on pikes. But because it took place in the Middle East and not the America’s no one is taught about it.

    1. The Zanj revolt is a fascinating part of Middle Eastern history. I wish more people of whatever background knew about it, but fer chrissakes, that happened not only in the Middle East but in the 9th century! To try to blame woke folk for suppressing this knowledge is a false equivalence. It’s not “woke” SJWs (and their “allies) suppressing inconvenient knowledge about the revolt of the Zanj, even in ‘white’ academia, even in the pre-woke era,in Arabic Studies, I’d bet that most students didn’t know about the Zanj rebellion or only faintly remember what it was unless they’d studied that period of history. Why, I’m sure the woke imperialists are also suppressing information on the first battle of Gallipoli in 1354 since the Ottomans won that battle. and Christians in the Balkans are still nursing their wounds. What occurred way back in 1354 still fuels a lot of their Islamophobia today, though some pundits dismiss its importance in forming the mind-set, I don’t. I don’t know who among the present day Zanj or SJWs here are still nursing a grudge for what happened in the 9th century. They don’t even know about it.

  4. I can’t find if this has been posted before. If so, apologies. It’s from January 2019 and shows how delicately a lion can stalk, etc!

    How Not to Wake Up a Lioness

  5. Have been caught up in the tweets of Holly Bik for the past hour! Mind blowing. Thanks for posting.

  6. They [the Scottsboro Boys] were all eventually freed, largely due to the efforts (four years of pro bono work) of lawyer Samuel Leibowitz, shown here with the nine suspects, who were initially sentenced to death.

    Leibowitz’s defense of the Scottsboro Boys was funded by the CPUSA. Still it took the big brass ones of Daniel entering the lion’s den for a New York Jew hired by Commies to show up in 1930s Alabama to defend a group of black boys accused of raping white women.

    Leibowitz (and Joseph Brodsky, hired by the International Labor Defense organization) represented the defendants at their retrials. At their initial trials, the defendants were represented by a pair of local incompetents in a series of one-day trials (before all-white juries, the only type then permitted in the Jim Crow South). All the trials resulted in convictions, and all but one of the nine defendants (a 13-year-old) were sentenced to death.

    Those convictions were overturned by SCOTUS in Powell v. Alabama. the landmark case first holding that the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel applied to the states (not just as against the federal government). The Scottsboro Boys case also led to a separate decision by SCOTUS, Norris v. Alabama, holding that Negroes could not be excluded from jury service.

    The Sixth Amendment right to counsel was finally given real teeth three decades later in Gideon v. Wainwright, where SCOTUS held that it encompassed a right to appointed counsel for indigent defendants. And in 1985, SCOTUS finally gave some teeth to the Norris decision by holding that prosecutors could not use their peremptory challenges systematically to excludes minorities called for jury service from being impaneled to sit on juries in criminal cases.

    1. It seems the Norris decision was ignored in the O. J. Simpson trial. As I recall, the jury was almost all black women. Or, perhaps that was just the fault of the prosecution for not raising the issue.

      1. The Simpson criminal trial was atypical, in that many jurors in the pool were excluded because of exposure to pretrial publicity. Plus, Los Angeles DA Gil Garcetti decided to file the charges in downtown Los Angeles, rather than in Santa Monica where the murders occurred (presumably for security and logistical reasons). That decision regarding venue resulted in there being many more blacks in the pool of potential jurors.

        Moreover, lead counsel for the prosecution, Marcia Clark, seemed more interested in exercising her peremptory challenges to eliminate men than blacks from the jury panel. The jury ultimately selected comprised 10 women and two men; nine of the 12 jurors were black. (NB: Peremptory challenges, as opposed to challenges for cause, traditionally can be exercised for any reason at all. The SCOTUS case that extended the Norris principle to peremptory challenges, Batson v. Kentucky, requires only that, if it appears a party is exercising its peremptory challenges systematically on the basis of race, the trial court can disallow such challenges, unless the party making the challenge can present a plausible reason other than race for challenging the potential juror; the reason given need not rise to the level needed for a challenge for cause.)

        1. Our system of justice seems so ad hock, so ineffectual at times. For anyone with a strong inclination to rationality and empiricism, the law seems hopelessly desultory.

          1. The law is certainly ad hoc: Anglo-American common law has been accreting case-by-case since before the Magna Carta. And legislation was born as a codification of the common law, with which congress and state legislatures now tinker every legislative session.

            As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, “[t]he life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

  7. Love Dewey Balfa’s music. I hadn’t known of him, now must investigate.

    I also didn’t know that Hili was a Platonist. And I’m glad to know that Szaron is re-learning the benefits of being able to come inside, and that the door to a house isn’t a sign of a diabolical trap.

    The amphipod is very cool.

    1. The Balfa Brothers were outstanding. Tony, the nephew in the video, is alive and well but left Louisiana and currently resides in the mountains near Ellijay, Georgia. Very few folks there are aware of Tony’s musical talents or his musical heritage – including the fact that he joined with his uncles for a performance at one of the 1981 Reagan inauguration festivities.

  8. Doubtful that Robert the Bruce had syphilis. The first known European cases of syphilis were in 1494/95 in Naples. It’s probable that Columbus and crew brought syphilis to Europe from the Americas.

    1. Yes, probably propaganda spread by us English. Reported deaths of leaders tend to be attributed to inglorious causes by their opponents, as seen in the case of Catherine the Great.

  9. Speaking of eels – I heard that Elvers Presley died from a surfeit of lampreys, though a friend said they saw him last week at the fish market.

Leave a Reply