Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

May 17, 2020 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Ceiling Cat’s Day, May 17, 2020. Remember the Sabbath—like every other day—was made for cats, not cats for the Sabbath. And so it’s National Cherry Cobbler Day (yum!), as well as Pinot Grigio Day (an overrated wine; try Chenin Blanc instead), National Walnut Day, World Baking Day, and National Mushroom Hunting Day. Finally, it’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT).

The good news is that I fed the ducks (at 5:15 a.m., when it was already getting light) and the roll call showed 17 little heads, though it was a bit dark to count.

News of the Day: The same—bad. The good news is that many states are reopening their economies—with restrictions. The bad news is that many experts thinks this will lead to a new wave of the virus. (Illinois is one of the very few states that hasn’t loosened its stay-at-home orders.

Obama criticized the administration’s  handling of the pandemic while avoiding mentioned Our Chief Moron. As Obama said in a virtual graduation speech to historically black colleges,

“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” Mr. Obama said in the afternoon address streamed online. “A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Well, Trump pretends to be in charge, but he’s clueless.

Fred Willard and Phyllis George both died; the former was 84, the latter 70.  Finally, the official death toll from coronavirus now stands at 89,420 in the U.S. and about 312,000 worldwide.

Stuff that happened on May 17 includes:

  • 1536 – Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s marriage is annulled.
  • 1673 – Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette begin exploring the Mississippi River.
  • 1875 – Aristides wins the first Kentucky Derby.

And here’s the prize-winning horse:

  • 1900 – The children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, is first published in the United States. The first copy is given to the author’s sister.

Here’s the cover of a first edition and the title page. This book will run you about $5000:

  • 1954 – The United States Supreme Court hands down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
  • 1973 – Watergate scandal: Televised hearings begin in the United States Senate.
  • 1977 – Nolan Bushnell opened the first Chuck E. Cheese’s in San Jose, California.

Here’s Bushnell and the rodent Mr. Cheese in 1978. I am proud to say that I’ve never been inside one of these:

  • 1984 – Prince Charles calls a proposed addition to the National Gallery, London, a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend”, sparking controversies on the proper role of the Royal Family and the course of modern architecture.

Here’s the “monstrous carbuncle”: the Sainsbury wing of England’s National Gallery. Compared to the flying saucer they built atop Chicago’s Soldier Field, this is positively elegant.

  • 1990 – The General Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) eliminates homosexuality from the list of psychiatric diseases.
  • 2004 – The first legal same-sex marriages in the U.S. are performed in the state of Massachusetts.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1749 – Edward Jenner, English physician and microbiologist (d. 1823)
  • 1866 – Erik Satie, French pianist and composer (d. 1925)
  • 1918 – Birgit Nilsson, Swedish operatic soprano (d. 2005)
  • 1936 – Dennis Hopper, American actor and director (d. 2010)

Put yourself in a pensive mood this morning by listening to Satie’s famous Gymnopédie, perhaps the most melancholy work ever written, performed here by Daniel Varsano and Philippe Entremont:

Those who joined the Choir Invisible on May 17 include:

  • 1829 – John Jay, American politician and diplomat, 1st Chief Justice of the United States (b. 1745)
  • 1987 – Gunnar Myrdal, Swedish economist, sociologist, and politician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1898)
  • 1992 – Lawrence Welk, American accordion player and bandleader (b. 1903)
  • 2011 – Harmon Killebrew, American baseball player and sportscaster (b. 1936)
  • 2012 – Donna Summer, American singer-songwriter (b. 1948)
  • 2014 – Gerald Edelman, American biologist and immunologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1929)

I am sure I possess the only scientific journal ever autographed by Harmon Killebrew. Below is proof and the backstory I posted here 8 years ago:

In 1972 I lived in New York City, working at a hospital as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.  I used to take long walks through Manhattan, and would carry some journals with me to read during breaks.  On this occasion I was strolling in front of the Plaza Hotel and noticed a huge bus disgorging sportsmen, who were surrounded by a pack of kids. It was the Minnesota Twins, in town to play the Yankees.  I recognized Killebrew (he was a big guy) and joined the throng around him for autographs.  When my turn came, I proffered the only thing I had to autograph: a copy of the March, 1972 issue of Genetics. (It must have been April then: the 1972 Twins schedule shows them in New York from April 28-April 30.)

When Killebrew took the journal to sign his name, he turned it over and saw the title.  He looked quizzical.  I told him, “It’s a science journal, Mr. Killebrew.  I’m a geneticist.”  He looked at me as if I were nuts, but signed it anyway.  This has to be the only copy of a scientific journal signed by a Hall of Famer!

In fact, does anybody know of a scientific journal science by any major-league ballplayer? (My late friend Ken Miyata got Emmylou Harris to autograph his Ph.D. thesis.) Given its uniqueness, it must be worth some dosh; ya think?

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili weighs in on the coronavirus:

Hili: It’s an outrage with this virus.
A: Why?
Hili: So small and so horrid.
In Polish:
Hili: To jest skandal z tym wirusem.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Taki mały, a taki okropny.

And Mitek rhapsodizes in nature as the setting sun turns the orange cat into gold. Doesn’t he look good?

Mietek: A kiss from sun, a stroke from wind – I like it.

In Polish: Pocałunek słońca, muskanie wiatru, lubię to.

A meme from Stash Krod:

From Bruce Thiel. I love this one:

From reader Paul Hughes. This is a good one for grammar sticklers:

Okay, the British police are getting absolutely ridiculous with their wokeness. First going after “hate speech,” and then this:

Two tweets from reader Simon: First, Trump’s “super duper missile”. Jebus.

Second, the inimitable (or imitable) Sarah Cooper doing Trump. It’s not just the good lip-synching, it’s the mannerisms, which are sort-of Trumpian but for some reason hilarious:

Tweets from Matthew. Stop him before he writes again! He just came out with a VSI (OUP’s “Very Short Introduction” series) on his area of research: smell.

Well, at least the proprietor spider took the fly and not the cute jumping spider:

A lovely video of a pair of Lesser Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna javanica) and their offspring. Look at those dappled babies! The species is found on the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

It appears that virologists are much less likely than nonvirologists to express an opinion about whether viruses are alive or not. Go to the tweet to see the answers:

A tenacious tiger goes after a courageous dhole, an Asian wild canid (a tweet Matthew retweeted):

28 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

  1. Thank you for the link to the deeply lovely satie. A nice and calming start to a sunday morning…though all mornings are seeming to run together these days. I often listen to the molto adagio movement of beethoven’s quartet 15 in a-minor, opus 132. When i first heard it played, in a small chamber concert venue, i was very moved, describing it as being one of the saddest and also hopeful pieces of music i had ever experienced.

  2. To be fair, I suspect the offense tweeted about by the Derbyshire Police was for pandemic protocol violation not gender offense.

    1. That, or maybe contact tracing (though I don’t know if they’re actively doing that in UK at present)

      But he’d certainly get a warning from our police here in NZ


    2. Or maybe they wanted to talk to a driver who got his lorry stuck under a bridge because that’s driving without due care and attention, plus the bridge probably had to be checked for structural damage.

  3. Am I the only one who thought TurnFear2Fascination said TurdFerguson. Had to do a double take on that one.

  4. That dhole is not running for its life but mocking the tiger and telling all in the forest where the tiger is.

    1. I wondered about that. It seems to me the dhole is teasing the tiger. I kept waiting for a whole bunch of them to arrive and assault the tiger.
      Is this a common experience between the two?

      1. I, too, was wondering why the dhole was teasing the tiger, thinking that perhaps were dhole puppies nearby. And the tiger, hoping to be dhole-full, has ended up doleful.

  5. “It appears that virologists are much less likely than nonvirologists to express an opinion about whether viruses are alive or not.” Dunning-Kruger strikes again?

    1. Are virus alive? Everyone speaks of killing the virus. If it is not alive, how can it be killed? I think of life, in the biological sense, as self-reproducing real entities (i.e., have successive generations) that are complex enough to exhibit sufficient hereditary variation to permit, via selection, ecological or social adaption. The sterile metabolizing offspring or such entities would also be considered to be living. Virus by this definition would be alive.

      1. “If it is not alive, how can it be killed?”

        That’s an odd question, which seems to imply that the questioner is unaware that all life/virii are just bunches of chemicals, so that to kill anything you just need to disrupt some chemical bonds.

      2. Viruses evolve, and their “life” cycle do contain seed viroids and reproduction within cells. But so do other genetic elements that may or may be encapsulated by protein containing membranes, such as plasmids.

        There are three major hypotheses on viruses, and only one of them – parasitically simplified cells – has a nuclear genome lineage. But I think the hypothesis that they derive from escaped genetic machinery is the current dominant one. (C.f. how giant viruses has purloined their massive gene sets from earlier or current hosts.)

        Instead virologists have come up with notions such as virocells, where the host cell – which can be infected by several viruses – are no longer destined for own replication. Are virocells “alive”? Not if the nuclear genome lineage counts for replication.

  6. I liked your autograph story. The only autograph I ever requested was from Howling Wolf. He gave me a hard look before signing my copy of The Bhagavad-Gita.

  7. I recently found Christopher Parkening’s recordings and I assume arrangements of gymnopedies on this :

    If that playlist doesn’t work try this :

    2nd :

    3rd :

    Bonus Debussy :

    … it’s a perfect instrument for those pieces. “Furniture Music” I think is what Satie called them… The only thing better might be harp…. hmmmm…..

  8. I was intrigued to see that Aristides’ jockey looked African-American. Wikipedia reveals that he was: a guy called Oliver Lewis, who subsequently became a bookie’s runner and then a bookie himself. It also says that 13 out of the 15 jockeys in that first Kentucky Derby were African-American. Was that par for the course (as it were) at the time? Quite interesting!

  9. KNOWN homeopathy booster Prince Charles is himself a carbuncle, even w/o the homeopathy (which cost the NHS $13M in a recent year, at his urging allegedly!)
    He often pees all over modern art/architecture. One’s political predilections are often represented in architectural taste – leading to various conservative idiots comparing the worst in modern architecture to the best of traditional – in complete defiance of “survivorship bias” for a start. Being conservative is often correlated to religiosity though, so their tenuous grip on reality generally should warn us to not take them seriously. D.A., J.D., Chelsea, NYC

  10. It appears that virologists are much less likely than nonvirologists to express an opinion about whether viruses are alive or not. Go to the tweet to see the answers:

    “No opinion” wasn’t one of the options. So it’s impossible to say that virologists are less likely to express an opinion. In fact, I doubt if 6.2% (when I checked the tweet) of the population are virologists, so you could argue that they are more opinionated on the subject.

    The poll only tells us that, of the people who bothered to vote, the virologists are evenly split on the matter but non virologists who believe viruses are not alive outnumber non virologists who believe viruses are alive two to one.

  11. On viruses, I don’t know if virologists are the best to consult on evolution but viruses do evolve.

    I think the hypothesis that they derive from escaped genetic machinery is the current dominant one. (C.f. how giant viruses has purloined their massive gene sets from earlier or current hosts.)

    Cultural differences?

    Okay, the British police are getting absolutely ridiculous with their wokeness. First going after “hate speech,”

    Mostly covid-19 regulation, I think.

    And yes, in some nations like Sweden the crime McGrath is decrying is sexual harassment [ ].

    But what’s ridiculous about police doing their jobs? Maybe the laws are ridiculous – but we don’t know that re hate speech laws – and police don’t make laws.

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