Sunday: Hili dialogue

April 19, 2020 • 7:00 am

Good morning on a weekend that, these days, doesn’t seem like a weekend: it’s Sunday, April 19, 2020—exactly two weeks until the due date of The Great Leap Forward: when the broods of ducklings will jump from the windowsills to be led by Honey and Dorothy to the pond. I’m nervous!

Foodimentary tells us, in their campaign to encourage cultural appropriation, that it’s National Rice Ball Day. It’s also National Garlic Day, National Amaretto Day (too sweet and cloying!), John Parker Day, celebrating the captain of the militia in Lexington, Massachusetts, where the first skirmish of the American Revolution began , and Dutch-American Friendship Day as well.

It’s also the day Charles Darwin died in 1882 (see below).

The two-week Google Doodle series on coronavirus helpers has apparently come to an end, though the virus is still widespread; you can see all the previous Doodles here.

News of the Day: Dire, dire dire. As I wrote yesterday, the protests against lockdowns continued yesterday, expanding into three states, although the numbers of protestors remains small. Coronavirus deaths continue to mount: 39,158 in the US and 160,952 in the world.

Here’s an excerpt from Tom Friedman’s latest NYT column, “Trump is asking us to play Russian roulette with our lives.” It’s about the Chief Moron’s latest series of tweets urging people in three states to “liberate” themselves:

Because it is clear that millions of Americans are going to stop sheltering in place — their own President is now urging them to liberate themselves — before we have a proper testingtracking and tracing system set up. Until we have a vaccine, that kind of system is the only path to dramatically lowering the risk of infection while partially opening society — while also protecting the elderly and infirm — as Germany has demonstrated.

And as individuals, every person will be playing Russian roulette every minute of every day: Do I get on this crowded bus to go to work or not? What if I get on the subway and the person next to me is not wearing gloves and a mask? What if they sneeze? Do I get in the elevator at the office if there is another person on it? Do I go into the office lunchroom or not? Do I stop for a drink at this bar, where the stools are six feet apart, or that crowded one my friends chose? Do I use this toilet or that drinking fountain? Do I send my kid back to school or not? Do I stay in a hotel? Ride an airplane? Let the plumber in? Do I go to the doctor to check that strange lump or not?

What will be so cruel about this American version of Russian roulette is how unfair it will be. Some people will have no choice but to take the subway or the bus to work. Some people will have to send their kids back to school because they can’t afford to stay home from work. Some bosses will demand that their employees show up to reopen their workplace, but some of those employees may be afraid to come back. Do you fire them? Do they bring a lawsuit against you if you do, or do they go on Twitter and post a picture of how closely together you forced them to work — six inches apart, not six feet?

This is the state of play when you have a president who one minute is responsibly issuing sober guidelines for when and how people should go back to work, and the next minute is telling states that they are responsible for getting the testing, tracking and tracing units that we need in place and then, in the third minute, is inciting people on Twitter to “liberate” their workplaces, cities and beaches — even though none of the conditions are in place to do so safely.

“Liberate”? Think about the use of that word. We were not in jail! We were not doing something wrong! We were doing what our president, governor, mayor, and national epidemic experts told us to do: behave responsibly and shelter in place to break the transmission of this virus.

Stuff that happened on April 19 includes:

  • 1506 – The Lisbon Massacre begins, in which accused Jews are being slaughtered by Portuguese Catholics.
  • 1770 – Captain James Cook, still holding the rank of lieutenant, sights the eastern coast of what is now Australia.

I’m not sure if he was the first European to glimpse Australia, or only its eastern coast. Readers can help here.

She was only 14, and ascended the throne four years later, reigning until she was deposed and then executed in 1792.

She was a piece of work. Here’s a note from her Wikipedia bio:

When approached for permission to allow her likeness on The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, West initially refused, asking “What would I be doing in a Lonely Heart’s Club?” The Beatles wrote her a personal letter declaring themselves great admirers of the star and persuaded her to change her mind.

  • 1943 – Albert Hofmann deliberately doses himself with LSD for the first time, three days after having discovered its effects on April 16.
  • 1956 – Actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco.
  • 1984 – Advance Australia Fair is proclaimed as Australia’s national anthem, and green and gold as the national colours.

Here’s a rendition of “Advance Australia Fair”. The words are dire, but the tune is far better than the “Star Spangled Banner”.

  • 1995 – Oklahoma City bombing: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, USA, is bombed, killing 168 people including 19 children under the age of six.
  • 2005 – Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is elected to the papacy and becomes Pope Benedict XVI.
  • 2011 – Fidel Castro resigns as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba after holding the title since July 1961.
  • 2013 – Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is killed in a shootout with police. His brother Dzhokhar is later captured hiding in a boat inside a backyard in the suburb of Watertown.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s an interview with Bird, perhaps the greatest of all cricket umpires, as he approached 80 years of age. He’s 86 and still with us.

  • 1933 – Jayne Mansfield, American model and actress (d. 1967)
  • 1935 – Dudley Moore, English actor, comedian, and pianist (d. 2002)
  • 1968 – Ashley Judd, American actress and activist
  • 1972 – Rivaldo, Brazilian footballer

Rivaldo made many great goals, and here’s one of them:

Sharapova’s annoying grunts as she hits the ball have been measured up to 109 decibels in loudness: the volume of a chainsaw or an auto horn 1 meter away. Hear some of grunts and squeals here. Personally, I think grunting should be banned from professional tennis.

Those who rested in piece on April 19 include:

  • 1588 – Paolo Veronese, Italian painter (b. 1528)
  • 1768 – Canaletto, Italian painter and etcher (b. 1697)
  • 1824 – Lord Byron, English-Scottish poet and playwright (b. 1788)
  • 1881 – Benjamin Disraeli, English journalist and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1804)
  • 1882 – Charles Darwin, English biologist and theorist (b. 1809)
  • 1906 – Pierre Curie, French physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1859)
  • 1937 – William Morton Wheeler, American entomologist and zoologist (b. 1865)
  • 1989 – Daphne du Maurier, English novelist and playwright (b. 1907)
  • 1993 – David Koresh, American religious leader (b. 1959)
  • 2004 – John Maynard Smith, English biologist and geneticist (b. 1920)

Maynard Smith, or “JMS” as he was known, was a student of J.B.S. Haldane, and I knew him (in fact, I put him up in my house once, whereupon he drank my entire beer supply in several days). He was tremendously accomplished but not at all arrogant. Here’s JMS on biology’s great unsolved problems. If you let the video end, it segues to further videos of JMS (there are 102 in total).

  • 2012 – Levon Helm, American singer-songwriter, drummer, guitarist, instrumentalist, and actor (b. 1940)

Meawhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a plan B; Malgorzata explains: “Hili thinks that in the current situation everybody sitting and doing nothing should have a plan B – do something. Which, in her case, means take a nap.”

Hili: I have a plan B.
A: What’s that?
Hili: To start doing something.
In Polish:
Hili: Mam plan B.
Ja: Jaki?
Hili: Zacząć coś robić.

A public Facebook post by Joy Cico Boyer. Horses, fortunately, don’t get Covid-19, but if they did there would be no shortage of masks.

Posted by Lori Anne:

From Susan:

A tweet sent by reader Barry. These animals are so graceful (they’re also known as “giraffe gazelles”), and the male such a gentleman! Read more about them here.

A tweet from Heather Hastie. Man, are these badgers treated well!

Tweets from Matthew. First, a lovely waterspout. As Wikipedia notes, “Most waterspouts do not suck up water; they are small and weak rotating columns of air over water.

There’s some sound on this one, though it’s just running water:

This is a critically endangered subspecies (not a species), comprising 200 individuals.

Matthew says he missed three—the first three. The answers are in the thread (or right below the tweet here):

Matthew labeled this tweet as “spider nookie”:


21 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Ah, dear old Dickie Bird, subject of my greatest ever faux pas… hint: when at lunch at Lords and somone hisses “There’s Dickie Bird” do not say “who?”.

  2. Yes the Australian song is far better than ours, coming from our first useless war that resulted in no win and achieved almost nothing but to get the white house redecorated.

    1. Just to be annoying, I’m going to bring up the fact that the Australian National anthem has come under attack for being racist–some people interpret “Australia Fair” to mean “White Australia.”

  3. I missed the first deliberate mistake but got the other 11. I usually do much worse on these things, so it’s probably just a fluke.

  4. The Dutch navigator Abel Tasman for whom Tasmania was named, explored the north coast of Australia in 1644. Do not know if anyone has a date for when he first sighted this coast.

    1. There is in SE Australia a legend of “The Mahogany Ship”, supposedly the remains of a Portuguese caravel,which were exposed in the early days of white settlement, and then hidden again by drifting sand dunes.
      There have been many unsuccessful attempts to locate it again. My own theory is that if it really existed, and it was exposed again, the early settlers would have seen it a major resource for construction timber and hauled it away piecemeal.

  5. The song “I am Australian,” written by Bruce Woodley of the Seekers is very popular in that country. I gather that some people there would like it to become the national anthem. In any case, it gives me chills when I hear it. It’s many times more moving than the Star Spangled Banner. I also love the Seekers. Judith Durham’s voice is as good as it was 50 years ago.

    1. Very good. The Star Spangled Banner does impress me when the singer is actually able to sing it. It’s range is impossible for me. This song at least I think most people could at least since almost on key.

      I suppose an English drinking song fits the USA pretty well in the end.

  6. Interesting that the great goal by Rivaldo was actually deflected by a defender. Who knows if the goalkeeper could have gotten to it if it hadn’t been deflected but it must have made it much harder.

  7. “Advance Australia Fair” — Gimme “Waltzing Matilda” any day of the week.

    Here’s the Man in Black translating that tune into Yank English:

  8. My personal plan B has definitely been inspired by cats among others!

    Maynard Smith wrote on origins of life in the context of evolutionary transitions in the late 90’s, which may explain why a biologist and geneticist think that the problem is solved by “getting the chemistry to work”. Today the popular solution lies in the intersection between geology and biology, where it naturally, well, originated. [And personally I’m still holding out on usefulness of transitions. They have been used as “rare Earth” schemes where you control the result by adding or subtracting any factor you like.]

    I must have a good day today, I got 12 of 12 mistakes but it seems I had an odd water spout as candidate instead of the obvious [redacted spoiler].

  9. Humorist Richard Armour described the origin of the SSB this way: “In an attempt to take Baltimore, the British attacked Fort McHenry, which protected the harbor. Bombs were soon bursting in air, rockets were glaring, and all in all it was a moment of great historical interest. During the bombardment, a young lawyer named Francis Off Key [sic] wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner”, and when, by the dawn’s early light, the British heard it sung, they fled in terror.”

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