Thursday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

April 16, 2020 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Thursday, April 16, 2020, a two-part food holiday: National Eggs Benedict Day,  and Day of the Mushroom.  It’s also Save the Elephant Day, National Librarian Day, National Orchid Day, World Semicolon Day; National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day (aren’t many doing that anyway?); World Voice Day; and, finally, National Ask an Atheist Day, created by members of the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Illinois. Here’s one of my answers:

Interlocutor: Atheist, how do you explain the existence of moral and physical evil?
Me: Naturalism, including natural selection.
Interlocutor: Well, that settles that.

Today’s Google Doodle continues its series of saluting coronavirus “helpers” by feting  food service workers (click on screenshot):

News of the Day: Worse and worse every day. The death toll from coronavirus now stands at 28,579 in the U.S. and 137,078 in the world.

The new “coronavirus reparation checks” are going to have Donald Trump’s name on them—the very first time the Internal Revenue Service has done this. And an IRS official says this may mean a bit of a delay in the checks going out. What a fricking narcissist! Further, Trump is threatening to adjourn Congress so that he can make various recess appointments pushed through. This may be unconstitutional, but is certainly unethical.

In five minutes I am going to the grocery store. I have bet Matthew $50 that I will die from the virus within the year, but if I win, I can’t collect!

Stuff that happened on April 16 include:

  • AD 73 – Masada, a Jewish fortress, falls to the Romans after several months of siege, ending the Great Jewish Revolt.

Here’s an aerial view of the fortress of Masada, now a World Heritage Site and tourist destination. According to Joesphus, nearly a thousand of the remaining Jews committed suicide rather than fall into Roman hands:

Masterson (whose real name was Bartholemew William Barclay Masterson, and who was the hero of a television series of my youth, had a colorful life. He was born in Quebec but moved to the Western U.S. to become a buffalo hunter, civilian scout, Indian fighter and then sheriff and gunfighter in Dodge City, Kansas. He later moved east and became a journalist and a friend of President Theodore Roosevelt. He died of a heart attack, age 67, in 1921.

Two photos (captions from Wikipedia). The first one looks heavily retouched, and may be a fake, but it is both guys:

Deputies Bat Masterson (standing) and Wyatt Earp in Dodge City, 1876. The scroll on Earp’s chest is a cloth pin-on badge.

Here he is in his gunfighting day (with Wyatt Earp!) and then later as a “respectable” citizen (he was embroiled in several scandals):

Bat Masterson circa 1911 in New York City

From the Moscow Times:

Arriving at the Finland Station in Russia’s former capital of Petrograd (modern-day St. Petersburg), Lenin climbed atop an armored train car to address the thousands of his followers who had gathered. In a now-historic speech, Lenin argued that the Bolshevik Party must use armed force to seize control from the provisional government that had been formed after Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication.

“The people need peace; the people need bread; the people need land. And they give you war, hunger, no bread. … We must fight for the socialist revolution, fight to the end, until the complete victory of the proletariat. Long live the worldwide socialist revolution!” he cried that night.

Lenin’s arrival at Finland Station marked a turning point in Russian history. From this point, Lenin would go on to take the revolution into his own hands — and by early November (October O.S.), the Bolsheviks would seize power in what is today known as the October Revolution, setting the stage for the establishment of the Soviet Union.

Here’s a photograph I took in St. Petersburg, at the Finland Station, of the locomotive engine that took Lenin to his famous arrival in 1917. It was a lot of trouble to get to see this, as you have to pass through security, and the people at the station didn’t speak English. I finally drew a picture of a train with Lenin standing on top of it, and then they realized what I wanted to see:

  • 1919 – Mohandas Gandhi organizes a day of “prayer and fasting” in response to the killing of Indian protesters in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre by the British colonial troops three days earlier.
  • 1943 – Albert Hofmann accidentally discovers the hallucinogenic effects of the research drug LSD. He intentionally takes the drug three days later on April 19.

Here’s a very brief history of Hoffman’s discovery:

  • 1945 – World War II: The Red Army begins the final assault on German forces around Berlin, with nearly one million troops fighting in the Battle of the Seelow Heights.
  • 1947 – Bernard Baruch first applies the term “Cold War” to describe the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • 1961 – In a nationally broadcast speech, Cuban leader Fidel Castro declares that he is a Marxist–Leninist and that Cuba is going to adopt Communism.
  • 1963 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pens his Letter from Birmingham Jail while incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama for protesting against segregation.

You can see the text of that letter here.

Kevorkian spent over eight years in prison (some of his patients were reported not to be terminally ill), and died of liver cancer four years after being paroled in 2007.

  • 2007 – Virginia Tech shooting: Seung-Hui Cho guns down 32 people and injures 17 before committing suicide.
  • 2012 – The trial for Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks, begins in Oslo, Norway.
  • 2012 – The Pulitzer Prize winners were announced, it was the first time since 1977 that no book won the Fiction Prize.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1844 – Anatole France, French journalist, novelist, and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1924)
  • 1867 – Wilbur Wright, American inventor (d. 1912)
  • 1889 – Charlie Chaplin, English actor, director, producer, screenwriter, and composer (d. 1977)

A Chaplin birthday tweet, found by Matthew. It’s color photos from 1917!

  • 1918 – Spike Milligan, Irish actor, comedian, and writer (d. 2002)
  • 1919 – Merce Cunningham, American dancer and choreographer (d. 2009)
  • 1939 – Dusty Springfield, English singer and record producer (d. 1999)

Here’s my favorite of Dusty Springfield’s songs, performed live. She died at only 59 of breast cancer:

  • 1971 – Selena, American singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer (d. 1995)

Those who relinquished their ghost on April 16 include:

  • 1828 – Francisco Goya, Spanish-French painter and illustrator (b. 1746)
  • 1850 – Marie Tussaud, French-English sculptor, founded the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (b. 1761)
  • 1947 – Rudolf Höss, German SS officer (b. 1900)
  • 1958 – Rosalind Franklin, English biophysicist and academic (b. 1920)
  • 1991 – David Lean, English director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1908)

Here’s a lovely Goya: “Cats fighting”, from the collection of the Museo del Prado:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are in the same room (Szaron is on “my” sofa), but Editor Hili rebukes the new cat:

Hili: I’m working and he is lying on the sofa.
Szaron: I’m doing distance working.
In Polish:
Hili: Ja pracuję, a on sobie leży na sofie.
Szaron: Ja pracuję zdalnie.

From Muffy. I hope this is real, for I love the unintentional irony:

From Nicole (again, why is cat staff always called “Karen”):

A great Instagram from Matthew: a pandemic story made of book titles, posted in Instagram by Phil Shaw:


I tweeted this, but reader Don directed me to the video:

From József: more religious irony:

From Luana. I believe this is genuine, but I couldn’t figure out why blacks were prohibited and not white Westerners. Then I realized it’s because the media is highlighting the disproportionate effect that the virus has on black communities.

Tweets from Matthew. Do we have to give everything back to the humans?

Oy! In case you didn’t know (and Conway should!), the “19” in “Covid-19” stands for 2019; there weren’t 18 strains of virus before it.

Ah, Matthew found another one of our beloved optical illusions. Check this teaser for yourself:

I hope these cows aren’t trying to lick salt off the cat!

No, the dinos weren’t like big bats walking upside down in a cave. Somehow the sediments got folded upside down and wound up in a cave. A stunning finding!



45 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. The new “coronavirus reparation checks” are going to have Donald Trump’s name on them—the very first time the Internal Revenue Service has done this.

    With this, Trump has cast himself in the role of beneficent monarch, passing a bit of the crown’s bounty back to his suffering subjects.

    1. Ken, isn’t that a blatant campaign finance violation? Using Federal money to advance his re-election campaign? And if not, why not?
      This legally untrained mind is puzzled.

      1. Campaign finance law is a legal world unto itself, Nicky, one on which I have no particular expertise.

        Assuming that Trump’s slapping his name on the “memo” line of the stimulus checks (since he has no authority to be the signatory on Treasury Dept. checks) constitutes a form of tax-payer-financed campaign advertisement (an assumption that is probably a stretch in itself) it might violate the spirit, although likely not the letter, of campaign-finance law.

        In any event, this would present an issue of first impression, since nothing like it has occurred before in US history.

          1. Yeah, my first thought upon hearing that Trump had cut off funding for the WHO was that it violates congress’s so-called “power of the purse” under the US constitution’s Article 1, Section 8 Spending Clause.

            As he demonstrates nearly every time he opens his yap, Donald Trump has no earthly idea what the express, limited executive powers of the US presidency under Article 2 of the constitution actually are.

            1. It’s the fact that he doesn’t care whether it’s legal that upsets me most. Our Constitution was just not built to deal with a “never ask permission or forgiveness” philosophy applied on such a massive scale.

          2. Right now tRump has pretty much cart blanche as far as illegal actions go. All he will say is, “So, sue me.” Like so many cases already filed against him, they linger in the courts for years, by which time he’ll be on his way to Mar-a-Lago with the bags of loot.

  2. You will lose your $50 bet professor. BBC online reports in Britain: ‘More than nine in 10 people dying with coronavirus have an underlying health condition, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.’

  3. The three other people in the Kellyanne video were probably like, wow she’s a real genius why didn’t we think of that. Spokespeople are basically paid blabbermouths.

    1. The people in the video with KaC were, in the days before social distancing, the three lumps on the couch that serves as the set of the “Fox and Friends” morning show. None of them is famous for his or her prowess at ratiocination.

  4. Some good Coronavirus-related news from the UK. Last week, a 99-year-old army veteran decided to do 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday later this month, doing a few every day. His plan was to raise £1,000 for a charity helping NHS workers. He completed the 100th lap this morning. The amount he has raised so far?. Over £13 million, which I make about $16.25 million!

  5. Dusty Springfield was probably best known for what may be the ultimate torch song, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” But I was more keen on “Son of a Preacher Man,” which Mr. Tarantino got pretty good mileage out of in Pulp Fiction, in the scene where Vincent Vega picks up Mia Wallace to take her out on the town, as her husband, Marsellus, had requested:

    1. Every year, the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress selects 25 “aural treasures worthy of preservation because of their cultural, historical and aesthetic importance to the nation’s recorded sound heritage.” One of this year’s picks is the album Springfield made with Jerry Wexler in 1969, “Dusty in Memphis” which includes Son of a Preacher Man. The NPR show 1A does a series called “Sounds of America” which covers the National Recording Registry’s selections and
      yesterday the show was about “Dusty in Memphis.”

    2. A torch song of sorts. A 15 year-old girl singing like she has been in showbiz for 50 years. I weep tears of joy and delight each time I watch this, same as I do when I re-watch Susan Boyle’s first appearance on Britain’s Got Talent – I love a little lachrymeal-induced oxytocin therapy.

      Sarah Ikumu.

      1. Link didn’t work, but I found it on Youtube. Damn, but that little gal is a belter. Watching it got me all misty, too.

  6. “Kevorkian spent over eight years in prison (some of his patients were reported not to be terminally ill), and died of liver cancer four after being paroled in 2007.”

    Should be “four years.”

  7. The siege of Jerusalem (three years before the siege of Masada) is one of the greatest military battles in history — well, less of a battle and more of a war of attrition in itself. Here’s a great video about it, explaining the ingenuity of both the Jews and the Romans. The Romans were incredible engineers who could build just about anything in a matter of days, while the Jews used cunning maneuvers to cut down or render useless most of the siege unites built by the Romans. Here’s a video about it:

    A video on the siege of Masada can be found here, and it’s also a remarkable story:

  8. I don’t know how you define retouched, but that photo of Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp looks like a cut and paste job. I have several pictures of grand and greatgrandparents from the era where they took a good face shot cut out from throwaway picture and pasted it onto the good body pose picture.

  9. And I think the tracks on the ceiling are casts of the tracks in the layer below which has fallen to the floor.

    1. Yes. I think that often happens. The lower layer gets eroded away first. Should be easy enough to tell as the footprints won’t be depressions but bumps in the ceiling.

  10. “In case you didn’t know (and Conway should!), the “19” in “Covid-19” stands for 2019; there weren’t 18 strains of virus before it.”

    Isn’t she famous for her right to “aternative facts”? Perhaps she “knows” that there are covid-3, -4, and -17 even if nobody else does? She is a good trumpistanite after all.

    1. I’ve got a nasty feeling that you’re right and that she knows full well that Covids 1-18 don’t exist, but is deliberately stoking up the base’s anti-WHO outrage.

  11. Whenever an evangelical minister, like the Bishop Glenn, dies defying nature, or when one of them dies from a rattle snake bite that they encouraged on themselves, my deep down soul does a little happy dance. There you go! What an idiot. Of course, I quickly recover, gain back my perspective, and admit these sorry bastards deserve my sympathy. Then I feel guilty. It’s become a regular emotional roller coaster.

  12. Bat Masterson apparently went out with his boots on, as a journalist, dying at his typewriter. Also covered on that page, Wyatt Earp spent much of the 1920s in Hollywood, all of which learned from going off to find the pic of him standing beside a shiny 1926 Packard.

    Unrelated to that, N degrees of separation, my late roomate @ Wm&Mary, Jerry Kenney, went off to eventually join Kervorkian atty Jeffrey Fieger’s law firm.

  13. I tend to doubt that the anti-African racism in China over the COVID-19 is due simply to the media highlighting the fact that blacks are dispoportinally affected by the coronavirus. I don’t think that has anything to do with what’s going on in Guangzhou. Quartz has a comprehensive article on the matter and I’ve read similar accounts elsewhere. This seems to be the genesis of the current spate of xenophobia: (from Quartz) “According to Chinese state media, five Covid-19 infected Nigerian men broke quarantine and infected others. These reports seem to be what sparked the current wave of suspicion and anti-foreigner sentiment in the city where Africans”.

    Another relevant article from Axios This notes that anti-black racism is nothing new in China (I’ve certainly been aware of it for quite some time). Here’s a JSTOR article from 1994 – 26 years ago!, “Anti-black Racism in post-Mao China” (one can get access to 5 free articles a month by signing up).

    I’m becoming rather disturbed that so much energy is given to downplaying incidents of anti-black racism over COVID-19 in China and elsewhere in the world, attributing it to factors that are not pertinent to the matter as being exculpatory, such as the Western news reports about blacks being disproportionally affected, or woke victimology, etc. Is the same standard going to be used to downplay the anti-Muslim hatred that’s being fanned in India blaming Muslims for COVID-19? What about COVID-19 based anti-Asian prejudice in Israel These incidents are just an extension of racism/xenophobia that has existed for a long time, not just in these and other societies, but within homo sapiens as a species, despite our aspirational altruism, and which is now being “repurposed” to justify various narratives of blame.

    1. It’s very simple, according to the ‘Work’ none of the Peoples of Color (Black, Brown, Asian, Muslim) can behave racistly towards any of the other Peoples of Color, therefore reports of Chinese behaving in this way must have been faked by ‘Whitey & The Jew’ and can be dismissed without question.

      Of course in the real world people know that it is quite possible for racism to occur even between people of the same skin color, just look at how the Irish or the Italians were depicted down the years.

  14. The new “coronavirus reparation checks” are going to have Donald Trump’s name on them—the very first time the Internal Revenue Service has done this.

    Name or not, when Bush ordered his “tax rebate” checks sent out, everyone knew the who and why. It didn’t really make a difference in his long-term popularity. Then again, he did it immediately after being elected, not in the last year of his term.

    I’m surprised you don’t remember those tax rebate checks, Jerry. After all, everyone re-invested their $300 in science and technology, spurring a grass-roots boost to the economy that proved the Republicans right as no centrally-planned R&D effort has ever matched it’s results!

  15. Referring to cat staff as Karen may be a case of borrowing from the hospitality trade. My granddaughter who works as a server and bartender tells me that it is a long standing tradition with servers to refer to an overly demanding, picky and hostile female customer as a “Karen”. In their private conversations they will warn each other of the presence of a “Karen”. They can expect a skimpy tip no matter how hard they try to meet expectations from a “Karen”. Seems a good fit to apply it to a cat. We’ve had a lot of cats over the years and I would guess that almost all of them had strong Karen tendencies. 😉

    1. As I’ve mentioned in previous comments on this site when it came up, I have encountered “Karen” used to refer to a generic female person in many contexts like this one. As to why that name in particular, I suspect it is simply because it is a common name that starts with a “K” sound, well known to be funny. Evidently research was done to prove this. Once “Karen” got established, she had a life of her own:

  16. My previous post has an error in wording. I meant to refer to the cats as Karen, not the staff. Tried to correct it but failed. Sorry.

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