Saturday: Hili dialogue

May 2, 2020 • 6:45 am

It’s May 2, 2020, perhaps one day from D-Day (Duckling Day).  I’d dearly love to see the ducklings jump, but there’s only a narrow window for that, and I’d have to be on the spot. I will try, checking the nests every half hour or so starting tomorrow. Fingers crossed that all the babies make it safely to the pond!

It’s National Chocolate Mousse Day, as well as National Truffle Day, World Tuna Day, National Homebrew Day, Astronomy Day, and International Scurvy Awareness Day.

News of the Day: It’s dire, of course. The reported death toll from coronavirus in the U.S. stands at 65,605, but, as Andrew Sullivan noted yesterday, this is likely to be a severe underestimate (he posits that the ultimate toll may be,  as Fauci estimated in March, between 100,000 and 200,000). Worldwide, the reported death toll now stands at about 239,000. As I feared, the pandemic is beginning to ravage India.

Anthony Fauci has been blocked by the White House from testifying before Congress. CNN reports:

“The Appropriations Committee sought Dr. Anthony Fauci as a witness at next week’s Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee hearing on COVID-19 response. We have been informed by an administration official that the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci from testifying,” House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander said in a statement Friday.

The New York Times has a sad, heartbreaking story of long-time couples dying of coronavirus within days of each other. Finally, Kim Jong-un appears to have reappeared at a factory opening, but the report has not been confirmed.

Stuff that happened on May 2 includes:

  • 1536 – Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, is arrested and imprisoned on charges of adultery, incest, treason and witchcraft.
  • 1559 – John Knox returns from exile to Scotland to become the leader of the nascent Scottish Reformation.
  • 1611 – The King James Version of the Bible is published for the first time in London, England, by printer Robert Barker.

Here’s that first translation. I still like this version the best, although of course our take is heavily affected by the group of translators, or “God’s Secretaries” (an excellent book, by the way):

  • 1920 – The first game of the Negro National League baseball is played in Indianapolis.
  • 1945 – World War II: A death march from Dachau to the Austrian border is halted by the segregated, all-Nisei 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the U.S. Army in southern Bavaria, saving several hundred prisoners.
  • 1952 – A De Havilland Comet makes the first jetliner flight with fare-paying passengers, from London to Johannesburg.

Here’s a Pathé video of that first trip; there were a lot of stops back then!

Here’s Shishapangma; it’s the big mountain at the extreme left:

  • 1986 – Chernobyl disaster: The City of Chernobyl is evacuated six days after the disaster.
  • 2000 – President Bill Clinton announces that accurate GPS access would no longer be restricted to the United States military.
  • 2011 – Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the September 11 attacks and the FBI’s most wanted man, is killed by the United States special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
  • 2012 – A pastel version of The Scream, by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, sells for $120 million in a New York City auction, setting a new world record for a work of art at auction.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1729 – Catherine the Great of Russia (d. 1796)
  • 1860 – Theodor Herzl, Austro-Hungarian Zionist philosopher, journalist and author (d. 1904)
  • 1892 – Manfred von Richthofen, German captain and pilot (d. 1918)
  • 1895 – Lorenz Hart, American playwright and lyricist (d. 1943)
  • 1903 – Benjamin Spock, American rower, pediatrician, and author (d. 1998)
  • 1921 – B. B. Lal, Indian archaeologist
  • 1921 – Satyajit Ray, Indian director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1992)
  • 1946 – Lesley Gore, American singer-songwriter (d. 2015)
  • 1969 – Brian Lara, Trinidadian cricketer
  • 1975 – David Beckham, English footballer, coach, and model

Here’s a short documentary of the life of Brian Lara, one of the best cricket players of history.  Can you spot the cat?

Those who handed in their dinner pails on May 2 include:

  • 1519 – Leonardo da Vinci, Italian painter, sculptor, and architect (b. 1452)
  • 1957 – Joseph McCarthy, American captain, lawyer, judge, and politician (b. 1908)
  • 1972 – J. Edgar Hoover, American 1st director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (b. 1895)
  • 2011 – Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabian terrorist, founder of Al-Qaeda (b. 1957)
  • 2014 – Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., American actor (b. 1918)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cherry orchard is in glorious full bloom, and Hili and her staff are enjoying their walkies:

Hili: This are the best walks during a year.
A: I think so too.
In Polish:
Hili: To są najlepsze spacery w roku.
Ja: Też tak uważam.
And, nearby at their future home, Leon and his stepbrother sidekick Mietek are trying to prognosticate.  As always, one has to guess who’s speaking, but I suspect that it’s Leon, as he’s older and wiser.
Leon: Let’s look deep into the future now.
In Polish: Spójrzmy teraz głęboko w przyszłość.

From Pradeep:

From reader Barry:

A Facebook meme. If you don’t get it, you’re too young (go here).

Titania addresses the pandemic, but this tweet doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Tweets from Matthew. He loves Laurel and Hardy, and here Laurel, despite his promises, gets into Big Mischief:

Cat on a hot tin roof! Fortunately, it was rescued:

Needy ducks don’t want their staff to go away. The playful mallard (the domestic variety “Pekin”) in the second video is a drake, as you can tell from its inability to quack properly:

Two denizens of the American Southwest: tumbleweed and tornadoes:

More documentation of humanity as a virus for animals. Sadly, when the pandemic’s over, these lovely animals will retreat to their refuge:


20 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. data and models are valuable resources for navigating the pandemic results and making predictions :

    60,000-115,000 deaths total by August 1st when the death rate reaches zero (in the U.S.).

    The peak death rate was over two weeks ago.

    These lots more settings, data, models to navigate at that site, that is updated regularly.

    1. Your link has already been shown to be on the optimistic side.
      May 1: 2909 Covid deaths in the US, the highest yet doer a single day. Still within the MoE ‘pink area’, but nearly three times higher than the projected curve.

      1. I’m not sure how “optimistic” is parametrized but perhaps you could suggest an improvement to the error model to the scientists who built the program. I’m just a user – It’s not my work. It’s just a tool to use. It’s not a prophecy machine.

        It looks pretty clear that the peak – recorded with data – is over two weeks ago.

        1. I’m not sure how they reach their projections, all models are wrong, nearly by definition. It is extremely difficult to make projections. since about all parameters are basically unknown, or the data unreliable.
          Zach Weinersmith made an informative comic about that on 538:

          It is pretty clear the ‘peak’ in daily deaths for the US was not two weeks ago, since -until now- the highest number of daily deaths was yesterday.

          1. “all models are wrong, nearly by definition“


            In general – a model is not wrong if it makes good predictions. This can take a lot of work to establish. Prediction is not prophecy.

            But that’s not this discussion- the question here is specifically about the models on the U. Washington website and this pandemic. That’s not my job. Perhaps there’s better sources. I don’t know. Interpretation of the output is another non trivial skill, so I cited numbers from the output instead of making strong claims about anything. They say the website is updated regularly so I take them at their word, and that must mean the data will be also. Is it surprising that the number of deaths might change? Not to me.

            1. FiveThirtyEight Politics, the 538 pod cast, frequently discusses modeling, both their creation of their own and others’ creations. The April 22nd cast featured Dr. Chris Murray of UWash and his discussion about the model, how they make it, and how difficult it is to do. For example, when NY decided to re-catogorize ~3k deaths as CV related in one day, that threw a lot of stuff out the window. The episode title is Model Talk: Forecasting the Toll of COVID-19.

              Link below or search for it on Spotify or other platforms.


    1. “If you’d come today you could have reached a whole nation/Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.”

      –Judas, “Jesus Christ, Superstar”

  2. Tnx for the nice video on the british comet jet tranport innovation. In on of the frames,You can see the four person flight crew of two pilots, flight engineer, and navigator that was standard in the fifties. There is 15 minute video that gives some more details on the comet development and its demise as u.s., ussr, and france built on the british experiences with the comet to develop their own successful jets later in the 1950s. It is at

    1. Thank you Jim, for that great video. I was going to write a nasty comment about the comet being a flying coffin, but your video puts it in a greater perspective. Really worth watching.

  3. I recall seeing a number of variations on The Scream at a Munch exhibit in DC, IIRC at the Corcoran, ca. 1973. That pastel may have been among them.

  4. I’ll believe Kim is still alive when they have a picture of him holding today’s newspaper.

  5. I think that the definition of incest in Anne Boleyn’s day included having sex with a family member by marriage.

    – insect incest nicest –

    1. That was the basis on which Henry VIII tried to get his marriage to “Catherine of Aragon annulled. However, in this case, the alleged incest was with her brother.

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