Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 19, 2020 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a dreary Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (We have now set a record in Chicago for rain in May, and it’s barely halfway through the month!) It’s National Devil’s Food Cake Day: an estimable comestible (as is Angel Food cake). It’s also Malcolm X Day, celebrating the day he was born in 1925, Dinosaur Day, and Celebrate Your Elected Officials Day (nope, not all of them!)

News of the day: Well, Trump admitted yesterday that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine, apparently as a preventive measure. But why? It doesn’t work! What kind of doctor does he have? Now we have a president who, among other things, is taking ineffective and even dangerous medication.

His admission:

The drug sometimes causes hallucinations, which may explain some stuff, like Trump threatening yesterday to permanently pull American funding from the World Health Organization. We can’t get rid of this President soon enough.

Finally, on top of all this, the official death toll from coronavirus in the U.S. is 90,694, and in the world is about 319,000.

The good news is that we still have all 17 ducklings on the pond, though Honey is being harassed by the Devil Drake (he seems to disappear by late morning but he’s a real pain).

Stuff that happened on May 19 includes:

The supposed incest was with her brother, George Boleyn.

Well, that’s not quite true; the scale was developed a year earlier by Anders Celsius, a Swedish astronomer, but was published as a thermometer design by Christin the next year.

  • 1919 – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk lands at Samsun on the Anatolian Black Sea coast, initiating what is later termed the Turkish War of Independence.

Atatürk is a great secular hero, a secular reformer who was in all likelihood an atheist. He instituted many reforms, among them the banning of the veil in women and the fez in men. Here he is:

  • 1962 – A birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy takes place at Madison Square Garden, New York City. The highlight is Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of “Happy Birthday”.

Here’s that famous and salacious rendition by Monroe, introduced by Peter Lawford, about which Wikipedia notes:

Afterwards, as an enormous birthday cake was presented to him, President Kennedy came on stage and joked about Monroe’s version of the song, saying, “I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way,” alluding to Marilyn’s delivery, skintight dress, and image as a sex symbol.

The performance was one of her last major public appearances before her death less than three months later on August 4, 1962. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who rarely attended Democratic Party events, spent the day at the Loudon Hunt Horse Show with her children, John and Caroline.

  • 1963 – The New York Post Sunday Magazine publishes Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.
  • 2018 – The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, with an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1861 – Nellie Melba, Australian soprano and actress (d. 1931)
  • 1909- Nicholas Winton, (d. 2015)

Do you remember Winton, one of history’s little-known heroes. Visiting Czechoslovakia in 1938, he decided to stay and participate in the rescue of Czech children as the Nazis occupied the country. Using forged documents and getting permission for trains of children, mostly Jewish, to cross the Netherlands on their way to England, he saved 669 children. Most of their parents were sent to Auschwitz, where they died.

Here’s Winton in 1988 on the BBC television programme That’s Life!, where he was surprised by several of the many children he saved. The television clip will surely make you tear up, if not weep outright (I was blubbering in bed this morning when I watched it around 5 a.m.):

  • 1914 – Max Perutz, Austrian-English biologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2002)
  • 1925 – Pol Pot, Cambodian general and politician, 29th Prime Minister of Cambodia (d. 1998)
  • 1925 – Malcolm X, American minister and activist (d. 1965)
  • 1941 – Nora Ephron, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2012)

For a young Jewish intellectual manqué, Ephron was the equivalent of Sarah Silverman: a talented goddess. Here she is:

  • 1945 – Pete Townshend, English singer-songwriter and guitarist

Those who began full-body necrosis on May 19 include:

  • 1536 – Anne Boleyn, Queen of England (1533–1536); second wife of Henry VIII of England (b. c. 1501)
  • 1795 – James Boswell, Scottish biographer (b. 1740)
  • 1935 – T. E. Lawrence, British colonel and archaeologist (b. 1888)

Lawrence is another hero of mine —a man of both thought and action. I visited his last home in Dorset (the Cloud Hill cottage) and paid homage to the spot where he was killed in a motorcycle accident. There’s a marker there that I photographed in 2006; oddly, a car had just crashed on the same spot:

  • 1969 – Coleman Hawkins, American saxophonist and clarinet player (b. 1901)
  • 1971 – Ogden Nash, American poet (b. 1902)
  • 1994 – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, American journalist, 37th First Lady of the United States (b. 1929)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is hungry—of course:

Hili: When did I eat last time?
A: An hour ago.
Hili: That’s a very long time ago.
In Polish:
Hili: Kiedy ja ostatni raz jadłam?
Ja: Godzinę temu.
Hili: To bardzo dawno.

And here’s the lovely Szaron, who share’s Hili’s space during the day on weekdays:

From Barbara Hermel Bach’s Public Facebook Page, a lovely mother frogmouth and chick. Is there any bird more cryptic than this one (in behavior, too)?

A meme from Nicole:

From Jesus of the Day:

A meme from reader Paul:


Ah, Titania and the Guardian: Always good for a laugh:

A tweet from reader Barry:

Tweets from Matthew. This is the best tweet EVER!

Here’s a thread full of groaners; I’ll show three:



A lovely illusion; I suppose it’s on a curved screen (please turn sound up and enlarge):

This is a lovely tweet: a partly paralyzed man, once a diver, is determined to still dive once a year.

The color-shifting hogfish:

27 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I’m as sure as I can be that I took the red pill this morning (of course, that could be a side effect of taking the blue one, I suppose). Anyway, this post is here, complete with Hili talking about eating (not that that narrows things down much).

  2. It is also very likely Trump is lying about taking Hydroxychloroquine. The product had another round of bad press just a day or two before this so the great lying president had to up the game a bit more. When it comes to Trump, a lie is always the better way to go.

    1. I agree that this is the most probable situation. Alternately, I can imagine a doctor giving him a placebo.

    2. Yes, that was my thought too. tRump seems to dream up outrageous things to say just to grab headlines for another news cycle. It’s almost as if he believes he’ll completely disappear if people aren’t noticing him. Does this sound familiar? You see it in attention starved children. Children whose parents are off amassing a fortune or working the town social scene.

    3. I really hope he is taking it, since there is a small but non-zero chance of a beneficial result (not for Mr Trump, but for the rest of the world). What’s the downside? – the worst that can happen is that it has no effect. (I refer only to the case of Mr Trump, not to anybody else).


      1. I’m willing to admit that I, too, wouldn’t be grieved if there was a beneficial result for the world here.

  3. “Well, Trump admitted yesterday that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine, apparently as a preventive measure. But why?”

    He likes that people take care about him, him, and him. He is even able to use bullshit in order to attract attention. So he may have lied. But I do hope he takes those pills.

    Hydroxychloroquine has negative effects on the heart in some people. It may lead to cardiac disfunctions and cerebrovascular accidents. I don’t really see a problem if Trump wants to jeopardize his reelection.

  4. I suspect that someone at the whitehouse wrote Hydroxychloroquine on a bottle of Flintstones vitamins just to get Trump to stop asking for it.

    I’m certain that Trump announced he’s taking Hydroxychloroquine to distract us from another Friday night firing of an investigator.

  5. Trump says he’s taking HCQ. It’s not the same thing as Trump is taking HCQ. The note from his Dr. on the subject was a lesson in evasiveness.

    More like; Trump fired the IG investigating the Saudi arms deal, the distraction that the IG was investigating the walking of the secretary of state’s dog by the secret service might not wash so let’s throw up another smoke screen.

    1. And also he’s probably just plugging the product. Trump family trusts all have investments in a mutual fund whose largest holding is Sanofi, the manufacturer of Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine. Trump is basically a carny and whatever else he may be doing at any given moment he’s also always hawking whatever scams he’s got going.

    2. “Who will rid me of these meddlesome inspectors general?”

      Trump has shitcanned four of them in the last few weeks.

      That last thing he can tolerate is the thought of honest government watchdogs calling his administration to account for its corruption and malfeasance.

  6. 1941 – Nora Ephron, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2012)

    After her college days at Wellesley, the lovely and talented Ms. Ephron was an intern in JFK’s White House (although, unlike Mimi Alford, or secretaries like Fiddle and Faddle, Kennedy never hit on her or invited her to take a dip in the White House swimming pool).

    Ephron was a pretty good filmmaker, but I always thought her true talent lay as a prose stylist. I started reading her in the Seventies when she had a regular column in Esquire, which included her classic piece, “A Few Words About Breasts.”

    1. Crazy Salad was one of my favorite books at the time. I should find it a d read it again.

  7. Max Perutz had a collection of articles & essays published as “I Wish I’d Made You Angry Earlier” OUP. One is ‘Darwin was right’ that looked at Popper on Darwin.

  8. I took Hydroxychloroquine for well over a year while working in the field (and I still caught malaria!). My doctor warned of side effects and cautioned me not to take it for a longer time than necessary. It is not a drug you should just pop like an aspirin.

    The only side effects I noticed were incredibly vivid and violent-themes dreams. I do not typically dream in color, but my Hydroxychloroquine dreams were wild technicolor fantasies full of blood and violence. It was wild. So, there are definitely psychological effects with this drug.

    I cannot believe that any responsible doctor would prescribe it to a patient like Trump (not fit, obese) as a preventative drug. I think Trump is either lying about taking it or he is being lied to about taking it.

  9. It has been observed that Trump’s doctor’s note doesn’t specifically state that he’s taking Hydroxychloroquine or that he’s been given a prescription for it https://twitter.com/elizabethcrisp/status/1262537766757371905. It was, as Simon Hayward has observed “a lesson in evasiveness.”

    I vacillate between believing him because I think he’s crazy enough to do something like that, and thinking it’s yet another one of Trump’s own hoaxes. (I see now that when Trump hurls the word “hoax” at others, it’s another instance of his ‘projection’, where he projects his own flaws, weaknesses, behaviors onto others, such as calling Obama an incompetent president.

    If he is taking the drug, it would be difficult to tell if he exhibits any Hydroxychloroquine-induced mental and behavioral changes because he’s been exhibiting that kind of thinking and those kinds behaviors for years and they’ve been increasing in bizarreness and intensity. He’s obviously deluded but that’s not the same as hallucinating, and if he starts hallucinating…? I just read Nicholas K’s description of the effects of Hydroxychloroquine on his dreams. All I can say is that I hope he isn’t taking it.

    If he is taking it, is it for prophylactic reasons or treatment? I say that because I’m surely guilty of overdetermination but when he made the announcement I thought I detected some unusual features of his voice — it seemed just a bit lower pitched and slightly hoarse, and I thought I heard audible breaths and perhaps a slight sniffle.

  10. Ataturk introduced some great reforms in Turkey, not least an insistence on secularism. Last time I was there, you couldn’t go into a shop or bar or other building without seeing his portrait on the wall. So when I went to a barbershop and there was no picture of Ataturk I immediately noticed its absence, and was very surprised. When my turn came and I sat in the barber’s chair, normality was resumed – in the mirror I saw that the portrait had been on the wall above my head in the waiting area.

  11. Speaking of T. E. Lawrence, we just watched Lawrence of Arabia again. That film could never be made today. Both plot (white European leads Arabs in rebellion against Turkish overlords) and aspects of the casting (Alec Guiness as Prince Faisal) would never fly.

  12. The Nicholas Winton clip is possibly the finest thing I’ve seen on TV (though I’m not sure if I saw it at the time). I’m not a fan of Esther Rantzen and That’s Life – often too much mawkishness for me – but this story was done with great respect. It was very moving when he realised he was sitting next to one of the children he had saved, but when dozens in the audience all around him stood up too … Could there be a better demonstration of humanity?

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