Sunday: Hili dialogue

April 5, 2020 • 6:30 am

Formally, today is the beginning of a new week: Sunday, April 5, 2020. But “work week” has lost most of its meaning. For the faithful, it’s Palm Sunday. It’s National Deep Dish Pizza Day (a specialty of Chicago), National Caramel Day and National Raisin & Spice Bar Day.  Finally, it’s Geologists Day and a very weird holiday, First Contact Day, a fictional day from Star Trek:

On April 5, 2063, the first contact between humans and aliens took place, when the Vulcan ship T’Plana-Hath landed in Bozeman, Montana.

I think you’re supposed to greet people today by making Spock’s “V sign”.

News of the Day: It ain’t any better than yesterday. Trump continues to gibber wildly, in his latest press conference both suggesting that the pandemic is about to hit its worst weeks in the U.S. to the moronic suggestion that Americans may be able to assemble in church on Easter. Does he know when Easter is? (Notice how close everybody stands to each other during his pressers.) And he’s recommending that we all take hydroxychloroquine, an unproven treatment for the virus. Over the world, about 65,000 people have died of the virus, with about 8500 of them in the U.S.

In Italy, they’re weighing a plan that will let people go back to work only if they have the Covid-19 antibodies, i.e., if they’ve been affected. Jebus! To see some horrific pictures of what’s going on in Italy, see here.  An op-ed in today’s New York Times recommends you stop using toilet paper. As if someone’s going to install a bidet in your home these days!

When I went to put my recycling in the bins this morning, I was greeted with this Sign of the Times. (Someone’s eating a lot of palm oil!)

Stuff that happened on April 5 includes:

Here’s the famous scene of the Battle of the Ice from the Movie “Alexander Nevsky“, directed by Sergei Eisenstein (1938).

  • 1614 – In Virginia, Native American Pocahontas marries English colonist John Rolfe.
  • 1722 – The Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen discovers Easter Island.
  • 1792 – United States President George Washington exercises his authority to veto a bill, the first time this power is used in the United States.
  • 1900 – Archaeologists in KnossosCrete, discover a large cache of clay tablets with hieroglyphic writing in a script they call Linear B.

This is the earliest known form of Greek, Mycenaean Greek, and was used at Knossos, confirming that a form of Greek was spoken in the Minoan civilizations. Here’s a specimen with the caption from Wikipedia.

A sample of Linear B script, the earliest Greek writing, 1450 BC, and an adaptation of the earlier Minoan Linear A script. This piece contains information on the distribution of bovine, pig and deer hides to shoe and saddle-makers. It is a script made up of 90 syllabic signs, ideograms and numbers, a form earlier than that used for the Homeric poems. These clay tablets were fortuitously preserved when they were baked in the Mycenaean palace of Pylos fire 250 years later. (From Wikipedia). Creative Commons license to Sharon Mollerus.
  • 1904 – The first international rugby league match is played between England and an Other Nationalities team (Welsh and Scottish players) in Central Park, Wigan, England.
  • 1922 – The American Birth Control League, forerunner of Planned Parenthood, is incorporated.
  • 1945 – Cold War: Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito signs an agreement with the Soviet Union to allow “temporary entry of Soviet troops into Yugoslav territory”.
  • 1951 – Cold War: Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are sentenced to death for spying for the Soviet Union.
  • 1956 – Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro declares himself at war with Cuban President Fulgencio Batista.
  • 1969 – Vietnam War: Massive antiwar demonstrations occur in many U.S. cities.
  • 1999 – Two Libyans suspected of bringing down Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 are handed over for eventual trial in the Netherlands.

270 people died in that bombing, 11 of them struck on the ground by the falling plane. Only one suspect was convicted, and was released in 2009 on “compassionate ground,” having been diagnosed with terminal metastatic prostate cancer and deemed likely to die within three months. He lived as a free man in Libya for 2 years and 9 months before dying.  Here’s the guy, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi :

Manoocher Deghati/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1588 – Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher (d. 1679)
  • 1649 – Elihu Yale, American-English merchant and philanthropist (d. 1721)
  • 1732 – Jean-Honoré Fragonard, French painter and etcher (d. 1806)
  • 1827 – Joseph Lister, English surgeon and academic (d. 1912)
  • 1856 – Booker T. Washington, African-American educator, essayist and historian (d. 1915)
  • 1900 – Spencer Tracy, American actor (d. 1967)
  • 1902 – Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Russian-American rabbi (d. 1994)

Schneerson, head of the Lubavitcher sect of Hasidic Jews in New York, was deemed by his followers to be the promised Messiah, and that he would never die. But of course he did. That didn’t dissuade the Lubavitchers, as the sect goes on.  Here’s the faux Messiah:

By Fridrich Vishinsky – Scanned File, CC0,
  • 1908 – Bette Davis, American actress (d. 1989)
  • 1916 – Gregory Peck, American actor, political activist, and producer (d. 2003)
  • 1925 – Janet Rowley, American human geneticist (d. 2013)
  • 1937 – Colin Powell, American general and politician, 65th United States Secretary of State
  • 1973 – Pharrell Williams, American visionary, aspiring cyclist, and failed footballer

Check out Williams’s description. He must have had a hand in writing it!

It was curtains for these folks on April 5:

  • 1964 – Douglas MacArthur, American general (b. 1880)
  • 1970 – Alfred Sturtevant, American geneticist and academic (b. 1891)

Sturtevant, a fiercely smart geneticist, was in my academic lineage as a student of Thomas Hunt Morgan, my academic great-grandfather. Here’s “Sturt” as a young hot dog and an older man still pushing flies:

  • 1975 – Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese general and politician, 1st President of the Republic of China (b. 1887)
  • 1982 – Abe Fortas, American lawyer and jurist (b. 1910)
  • 1994 – Kurt Cobain, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1967)
  • 1997 – Allen Ginsberg, American poet (b. 1926)
  • 2005 – Saul Bellow, Canadian-American novelist, essayist and short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1915)
  • 2006 – Gene Pitney, American singer-songwriter (b. 1941)
  • 2014 – Peter Matthiessen, American novelist, short story writer, editor, co-founded The Paris Review (b. 1927)
  • 2019 – Sydney Brenner, South African biologist (b. 1927)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron, on the top step, is still a bit scared of Hili (“she”), for the cats are rarely so close to each other:

Szaron: Does she know I’m sitting here?
A: Why do you ask me?
In Polish:
Szaron: Czy ona wie, że ja tu siedzę?
Ja: Dlaczego mnie o to pytasz?

From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe, re the NRA suing New York State for closing gun shops during the pandemic.

From reader Bruce:

Posted by Diana MacPherson: a virtual spider for quarantine time:

From The Mind Awakened via reader Divy; captioned “perfect social distancing”:


From the Queen. There are a lot of posts on Facebook and other social media that are the equivalent to the first sentence of the one below, except that they’re serious. (That’s probably why Titania wrote this.)

I was so outraged by this (and I assume it’s true) that I retweeted it:

A tweet from Heather Hastie with a witticism:

Tweets from Matthew. Here’s a “sprite“, an electrical discharge above thunderstorm clouds. I didn’t know they existed until I saw this.

Here’s the first video taken of a sprite:

And some more: look for the red flashes:

And dig these crazy fish. They can climb trees!

Turn sound up: essential to hear this poor, poor kitty, especially the second meow.

22 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. I is perfectly normal for the PPE supplies to go directly to commercial firms before going on to the highest bidder. How else is Trump’s son-in-law going to get his cut on this? It’s not like it was all coming from Saudi Arabia where his cut is guaranteed.

  2. Anyone catch the governor of georgia claiming he did not know that asymptomatics could spread covid19 and that is why he hadn’t ordered a stay at home policy? UNBELIEVABLE!

    1. I heard the governor’s speech a well. It means that he was clueless or a liar. I’ll go with the latter. Conservatives have been skeptical about the severity of the pandemic. After all, who can trust scientists? They have suspected that liberals have hyped the crisis as a means to get their agenda passed. In any case, it will be the working class most affected by the pandemic should they go back on the job, most of whom will continue to vote Republican if they’re white. So, for conservatives, shutting down the economy to save disposable lives is a bad thing.

      Over the last 50 years conservatives have implemented a political strategy that has been largely successful. It is based on the premise that the white masses cast their votes based on cultural, not economic, issues. Hence, conservatives believe that campaigns to stoke cultural fear in the white masses will bring electoral victory and allow them to enact economic legislation that actually hurts the conservative base. Liberals have argued for decades that this strategy is being undermined by the nation’s changing demographics. So far this hope has come to fruition at a glacial pace due to the undemocratic elements of the American system of governance. It’s too early to tell the effect of the pandemic on the balance of power between liberals and conservatives. Liberals should mute their expectations. They may be in for another major disappointment.

    2. I think he learned that little trick from tRump. You can tell the BIG LIE and if you show conviction, they believe you.

    3. Likely correct IIRC (at least locally here), IIRC & AFAIU our local health authorities. The window for infection may be a day – up from zero – but it is believed to not be important for the epidemic spread.

      Most important factor (before vaccines and/or medicines comes around) is social distance (and wash hands et cetera). Stay at home policy is roughly what he should have organized.

      1. … but not stay at home at all times – move, get sunlight, keep healthy to stave away disease.

      2. Additionally, most people are deficient in zink and vitamin D, both thought helpful in case of COVID-19, so a good supplement would be advisable.

  3. Last month, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed (for the second time) to refer the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to the appeal court. Some people, notably Jim Swire whose daughter Flora died in the Lockerbie bombing, believe that there was a miscarriage of justice and have campaigned on al-Megrahi’s behalf.

  4. From NYT “Before paper was invented, or readily available, people used leaves, seashells, fur pelts and corn cobs.”

    Seashells and corncobs? Boy oh boy, I feel blessed to have the NYT offering helpful solutions in this time of crisis!

  5. Trump has moved on from the claim that everyone should go to church on Easter. Now he’s suggesting that sports should start up soon. I’m sure his NFL owner buddies are telling him that it will be a disaster if the season can’t start in September, asking him to do something about it.

    Opinion: Trump’s suggestion that NFL season will start on time has no basis in reality

  6. Re Peter Mathiessen who died on this date: His book The Snow Leopard might be of interest to readers of this site. It won the National Book Award. He traveled with biologist George Schaller studying snow leopards in the Himalayas. It is one of my favorite books popularizing science and scientists.

    Schaller’s own books are excellent also.

  7. Poor, poor kitty!

    I’m with the governments not disrupting supply chains, but if they themselves are supply chain crooks – inhibiting exports – any “irregular behavior” is on their door step and may want to rethink.

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