Wednesday: Hili dialogue

April 15, 2020 • 7:00 am

Good morning on Wednesday, April 15, 2020: TAX DEADLINE in the U.S. If you’re hoping for that $1200 Pandemic Reparation, you’d better file by midnight! (Actually, they’ve pushed the deadline back to July 15, but if you want that dosh it’s best to file now.)

It’s snowing in Chicago, and will be cold for several days. I’m worried about my two nesting mallard hens.

As for food, it’s National Ham Day, which of course means that Jews and Muslims are erased as Americans on this day. My entire existence has been nullified with this day that’s both Islamophobic and anti-Semitic. Ham Day in fact makes me feel unsafe, for it’s violence. 

The third Wednesday in April is also National Banana Day.

It’s Jackie Robinson Day, honoring the first African-American to play in major league baseball; Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, and of course wound up in the Baseball Hall of Fame (see video below).  Other holidays include McDonald’s Day (Ray Kroc opened the first franchised McD’s in Des Plaines, Illinois on April 14, 1955), World Art Day, and, for curmudgeons like Matthew and me, National Griper’s Day and National That Sucks Day.  Both holidays have interesting origins. For example, here’s National Griper’s Day:

National Griper’s Day was created in 1984 by Jack Gilbert, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio, in an effort “to give the disgruntled, disappointed and depressed a new audience.” He thought the creation of the day would help encourage and bring back “old-time personal communication” and “get people to feeling like people again and not afraid of high technology and computers and all that stuff.”

Gilbert published his name, phone number, and address so that people could call him up to gripe. “If I am right that it’s becoming more and more difficult to have people listen to you, the whole idea of having people call is good,” he said. During the first year, people called Gilbert to complain about topics such as consumer costs, space garbage, weather damage, unemployment, and chemicals in food.

Gilbert also said that in the first year some schools, taverns, and communities brought people together to create “griper’s corners,” bulletin boards where complaints were aired. Gilbert got the inspiration for these after stopping at a Speakers’ Corner in London, a spot where soap-box orators are listened to. It was also Gilbert’s hope that small communities would designate the day and have people gather together in their parks.

About the second holiday you can read this:

Bruce Novotny of the website That Sucks created National That Sucks Day after he noticed that April 15 has been an unfortunate day throughout history. It is the date of when President Lincoln died in 1865 after being shot the previous evening at Ford’s Theatre, and it is the date of when the RMS Titanic sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg the previous night. April 15 is also usually Tax Day. As these things are all considered to suck, Bruce Novotny thought April 15 was an appropriate day to hold National That Sucks Day.

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) honors those “coronavirus helpers” who deliver our packages:

News of the day: The death toll from Covid-19 now stands at 26,061 in the U.S. and  126,681 throughout the world.  And Trump’s behavior gets more erratic: he’s stopped U.S. funding for the World Health Organization (we contribute a bit more than 12% to their coffers) in a lame attempt to put all the blame on them for the pandemic. While Trump claimed just a day or so ago that he had sole power to “re-open” America, he’s walked that back after governors said they’d oppose him and lawyers said his stand was unconstitutional.

But perhaps things are looking up. When I made my daily latte a few minutes ago a propitious pattern formed, purely by accident!:

Stuff that happened on April 15 includes this (note that most of these do indeed suck but there’s also some good news):

  • 1755 – Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language is published in London.
  • 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot the previous evening by actor John Wilkes Booth. Vice President Andrew Johnson becomes President upon Lincoln’s death.
  • 1912 – The British passenger liner RMS Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic at 2:20 a.m., two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg. Only 710 of 2,227 passengers and crew on board survive.
  • 1920 – Two security guards are murdered during a robbery in South Braintree, MassachusettsAnarchists Sacco and Vanzetti would be convicted of and executed for the crime, amid much controversy.

Arrested for murder during the robbery, Sacco and Vanzetti, who were atheistic anarchists, pleaded not guilty, and their conviction was a travesty of justice. They were electrocuted 7 years after the crime: August 23, 1927. Here’s a photo with the Wikipedia caption:

Bartolomeo Vanzetti (left), handcuffed to Nicola Sacco (right). Dedham, Massachusetts Superior Court, 1923. This photo was taken in 1923 when Sacco was on the 23rd day of a hunger strike.

This is where Anne Frank and her sister died. The Allies found 60,000 inmates, most seriously ill, many from typhus and gastroenteritis. The conditions were indescribable: read about them here.

Here’s a short video of Robin’s debut in the major leagues:

And here’s the first franchised McDonalds, not far from here, though it no longer exists:

  • 1989 – Hillsborough disaster: A human crush occurs at Hillsborough Stadium, home of Sheffield Wednesday, in the FA Cup Semi-final, resulting in the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans.

Most Americans don’t know about this, but nearly all Brits do. Here’s a short documentary from the BBC:

  • 2013 – Two bombs explode near the finish line at the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, killing three people and injuring 264 others.
  • 2019 – The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris in France is seriously damaged by a large fire.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1707 – Leonhard Euler, Swiss mathematician and physicist (d. 1783)
  • 1772 – Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, French biologist and zoologist (d. 1844)
  • 1858 – Émile Durkheim, French sociologist, psychologist, and philosopher (d. 1917)
  • 1889 – Thomas Hart Benton, American painter and educator (d. 1975)

Here’s Benton’s “Still Life With Black Cat” from 1958:

  • 1892 – Corrie ten Boom, Dutch-American clocksmith, Nazi resister, and author (d. 1983)
  • 1894 – Nikita Khrushchev, Russian general and politician, 7th Premier of the Soviet Union (d. 1971)
  • 1894 – Bessie Smith, African-American singer and actress (d. 1937)
  • 1912 – Kim Il-sung, North Korean general and politician, 1st Supreme Leader of North Korea (d. 1994)
  • 1922 – Harold Washington, American lawyer and politician, 51st Mayor of Chicago (d. 1987)
  • 1959 – Emma Thompson, English actress, comedian, author, activist and screenwriter

Those who gave up the ghost on April 15 include these notables:

  • 1865 – Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States (b. 1809)
  • 1889 – Father Damien, Belgian priest and saint (b. 1840)
  • 1980 – Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher and author, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
  • 1990 – Greta Garbo, Swedish-American actress (b. 1905)
  • 2002 – Byron White, American football player, lawyer, and jurist, 4th United States Deputy Attorney General (b. 1917)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is very pensive, for, along with the rest of us, she’s in the dark about how and when “normalcy” will happen:

A: What are you thinking about?
Hili: I’m trying to imagine the world after the pandemic.
In Polish:
Ja: Nad czym myślisz?
Hili: Próbuję sobie wyobrazić świat po pandemii.

Nearby, Leon, restive from the lockdown in Poland, dreams of his walks last year, and puts up an old picture.

Leon: I’m yearning to be in the forest!

In Polish: Z tęsknoty za lasem

Reader Paul sent a beautiful duck painting called “Just hatched”, by Robert Fuller, whom Paul describes as a “local Yorkshire artist.” Given the quality of his work, he certainly deserves more than just “local” fame. This one was on his Facebook page and it’s lovely (you can buy prints here). I think Honey will have a brood of eight as well.


From somewhere on the Internet, ducks in tutus.

A mock book from The Purrfect Feline Page:

If you read the link to this article highlighted by Titania, you’ll see that the Canadian Army in fact requires the use of “they/them/their” in personnel reports, which MIGHT NOT BE the person’s preferred pronoun. Shame on Canada!

From reader Barry. This is a lovely haul for a dung beetle and, as Barry says, will make a meal that will last for weeks.

Tweets from Matthew. He’s working on his next book, which is about biotechnology involving genetics, and caught this un-prescient statement in Nature:

Big stars muff their lines. The first one, with Bette Davis, is great. What a potty mouth!


Do you see any invertebrates here? I don’t, but it’s ghoulish anyway:

Of this one Matthew remarked, “He could have done this just on the 40 miles between Manchester and Liverpool, where the accent changes every couple of miles (srsly).”

A fine demonstration of how people amuse themselves in lockdown. You will, of course, watch to the end (sound up).

A nice visible demonstration of gravity:


35 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Good morning on Wednesday, April 15, 2020: TAX DEADLINE in the U.S. If you’re hoping for that $1200 Pandemic Reparation, you’d better file by midnight!”

    NO! Both statements are wrong. For this year the filing and payment deadlines have been extended to July 15th. Moreover, if you haven’t yet filed your 2019 return, the economic impact payment will be based on your 2018 return.

    For more details, read these IRS statements carefully.

    1. I wonder, if we removed the number of people who do not need the money from the total, how much different would that be. Using me as an example, I assume we will be getting $2400. I have lost nothing due to the virus, no lost job or income.

      On the other hand, my car insurance company says they are backing out two months or giving us two months free. This is due to far less driving I guess.

    2. And in an unprecedented move, Donald Trump’s name will be printed on the paper checks that are sent out. He wanted to sign them, but since he’s not authorized to do that his name will be printed on the ‘memo’ line. Never happened before on IRS disbursement checks of any kind.

      1. Isn’t that a blatant campaign finance law infringement? Using Federal money for your own re-election campaign?
        Moreover, if anybody’s name should be on the check it would be Ms Pelosi’s.

      2. Yes, in Trump’s reality presidential show, it’s actually his own money he’s giving to stricken Americans.

  2. They [Sacco and Vanzetti] were electrocuted 7 years after the crime: August 23, 1927.

    On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their executions, then-Massachusetts governor (and future noted tank operator) Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and that “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names.”

    1. And the ballistic test on the Sacco’s gun that confirmed it produced the bullet that killed one of the victims?

      What about Giovannia Gambera’s death bed confession that Sacco was guilty?

      1. The Duke’s proclamation didn’t pronounce them innocent (though I think that case can be made, particularly as to Vanzetti). It merely proclaimed that they had not received a fair trial, an assertion, I submit, that is indisputably accurate.

        1. A “fair trial” is, after all, the benchmark for criminal justice in the USA — and should have been even for poor southern European immigrants during the anti-immigrant fervor of the First Red Scare of the 1920s.

  3. The latest howler from wingnuttia: Bill Gates engineered the virus so that he could inject everyone with microchips in the vaccines. I personally know people who believe this.

    1. The latest statement from Bill Gates excoriating Trump for cutting funding from the WHO should give those bozos ammunition for their conspiracy theory.

      (I cannot give the link from the WaPo because I don’t subscribe and even though it was announced that the paper would permit non-subscribers to view articles on the coronavirus, apparently, they’ve rescinded that offer — Fuck them! I’m getting as angry at the WaPo as Trump!)

      1. And now that the Trumpster has decided to de-fund the WHO…three guesses as to which nation might find it in its interest to make up the shortfall.

  4. I don’t know…when I see your latte, with its brown heart on a white background, I see an omen that the Earth will soon become the inverse counterpart to Pluto…a hot, dead, decaying planet in balance to Pluto’s cold, dead, demoted planet.

    Then again, I suffer from dysthymia and depression, so I’m probably not a good person to listen to with respect to interpreting omens.

      1. Perhaps I’m mistaken but In these days of hypersensitivity and political correctness, I think that most voice impressionists have been condemned to the trash heap of the unwoke, unless one’s imitating despised political figures or the upper classes and the like, or you’re someone like Anna Deveare Smith.

    1. It is indeed. And Matthew’s addendum about accent changes between Liverpool and Manchester apply all over the county. For instance, Liverpool-Southport-Ormskirk-Chorley-Preston could well give you just as much variation.

  5. Breaking news: Just when you hoped it couldn’t get any worse:

    Independent congressman Justin Amash said he has stopped actively campaigning for his House seat and is considering launching a presidential campaign as a libertarian.

    “He has been discussing the potential campaign with his family, his friends, his team, and others, and a decision can be expected soon,” Amash’s team said in a statement to CNN.

    Amash left the Republican party last year, citing his frustration with Trump’s presidency. When Trump falsely claimed on Monday that he has “total” authority to reopen the economy, Amash said the American people deserved “another option.”

    Just what you need – someone to split the anti-Trump vote.

    1. Yeah, despite his off-the-wall politics, I credited Amash as a profile in courage for defying his Party and putting his political future on the line by taking a principled stand on the Mueller report and Donald Trump’s impeachment.

      But the last thing we need now is a place for never-Trumpers to call home besides backing the Democratic presidential candidate. This is an election in which the commonweal demands that Trump be defeated.

      Please, no Gary Johnsons or Jill Steins redux.

  6. Bishop Winstrup’s vault had been checked earlier:

    “Historical records show the coffin has been moved a number of other times, including to the church chapel in 1875. It was also opened and the mummy inspected by Professor Otto Rydbeck in 1923”.

    They won’t let him rest in peace.

    1. There’s a whole lot more to the bishop. I urge anyone interested to read the article referred to in the tweet –absolutely fascinating – full text And this from the History channel (a baby found hidden in the coffin) And, as PCC(E) would say, some lagniappe in the form of a video Great stuff. In addition, “Sweden’s earliest fossil bedbug found in Bishop Winstrup’s death pillow.”

  7. I’ve seen the cathedral in Lund. The architecture was amazing, though I imagine it was a fairly typical Gothic cathedral. One thing that struck me was under the Lutherans almost all of the gilt you see in a Catholic cathedral had been removed. The only thing that really stood out was a Renaissance clock that told not only the time of day, but the day of the year…and 365 day clock. I don’t think it took account of leap years, though. Don’t recall.

    That was around 1998.

  8. In that McDonalds pic, framed by the pillars supporting the sign: ’53/4 Packard Clipper, ’52 Ford. Then to the R of them, ’56 Ford.

    Behind them, ’51/2 Chev and ’58 Ford – either an ordinary ragtop (Sunliner) or retractable hardtop (Skyliner).

  9. Thx for the datestamp on when insulin became generally available, too – a couple yrs earlier than I had thought. That helps put a date on the story told by my mother, who would have been 15 in 1923. She had a neighbor friend, Molly, of about the same age and who was diabetic, going downhill. She started getting insulin and improved.

    However, Molly had the misfortune of having Xtian “Scientist” parents who concluded (in the face of her improvement!!) that God didn’t approve of such things and stopped the injections. Predictably, Molly died.

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