Wednesday: Hili dialogue

May 20, 2020 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Hump Day: Wednesday, May 20, 2020, both National Quiche Lorraine Day and National Pick Strawberries Day. It’s also Flower Day, World Bee Day, World Metrology Day (not Meteorology Day),and, appropriately, International Clinical Trials Day. There is promising news of a coronavirus vaccine, but the sample size is tiny (eight, I believe), so we have a long way to go.

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the short but inspiring life of Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole, who was born on this day in 1959 and died in 1997. If you click on the screenshot below, you go to a Google YouTube animation of his life accompanied by his famous (and moving) song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World”.

The song was done in one take; as Wikipedia reports:

Kamakawiwoʻole called the recording studio at 3 am. He was given 15 minutes to arrive by Milan Bertosa. Bertosa said, “And in walks the largest human being I had seen in my life. Israel was probably like 500 pounds. And the first thing at hand is to find something for him to sit on.” A security guard gave Kamakawiwoʻole a large steel chair. “Then I put up some microphones, do a quick sound check, roll tape, and the first thing he does is ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ He played and sang, one take, and it was over.”

News of the Day: Moderately depressing but with some good spots. “President” Trump is doubling down on his taking hydroxychloroquine, saying (in two big lies) that a gazillion medical workers are taking it as a preventive because it’s been shown to work. On the other hand, this has been good for the sale of the moribund Hydrox cookie, an alternative to Oreos (h/t cesar).  Good news: Captain Tom Moore was awarded a knighthood for raising millions of pounds for the National Health Service. He will now be Captain Sir Tom (or is it Sir Captain Tom?).

According to the New York Times, many colleges are planning to re-open by the fall, but with a short first semester that gets students home by Thanksgiving, not to return until after Christmas. That wouldn’t work well for the University of Chicago, as with our quarter system we don’t begin classes until the beginning of October, giving a quarter of less than eight weeks (it’s usually ten or more).

Reported deaths from coronavirus now stand at 92,258 in the U.S. and about 323,000 in the world.

Moaning of the day: Yesterday’s HuffPost “Personals” section, describing the travails of those quarantined:

Stuff that happened on May 20 includes:

  • 325 – The First Council of Nicaea is formally opened, starting the first ecumenical council of the Christian Church.
  • 1497 – John Cabot sets sail from Bristol, England, on his ship Matthew looking for a route to the west (other documents give a May 2 date).
  • 1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovers the sea route to India when he arrives at Kozhikode (previously known as Calicut), India.
  • 1570 – Cartographer Abraham Ortelius issues Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas

Here’s the world map from that Atlas. Not bad for those days, eh? The shape of South America is a bit off, though:

And here’s the front page of that publication. Even if it was an illicit publication, what treasures lay within!

Here’s an old pair of Levis dug up in Nevada, and dated to the 1880s—perhaps the oldest existing pair of Levis. SFGate says it was expected to bring $35,000 at auction:

  • 1875 – Signing of the Metre Convention by 17 nations leading to the establishment of the International System of Units.
  • 1883 – Krakatoa begins to erupt; the volcano explodes three months later, killing more than 36,000 people.
  • 1932 – Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland to begin the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a female pilot, landing in Ireland the next day.

From History, a photo of Earhart’s landing in Ireland:

  • 1940 – The Holocaust: The first prisoners arrive at a new concentration camp at Auschwitz.
  • 1956 – In Operation Redwing, the first United States airborne hydrogen bomb is dropped over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.
  • 1983 – First publications of the discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS in the journal Science by Luc Montagnier.
  • 1996 – Civil rights: The Supreme Court of the United States rules in Romer v. Evans against a law that would have prevented any city, town or county in the state of Colorado from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect the rights of gays and lesbians.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1772 – Sir William Congreve, 2nd Baronet, English inventor and politician, developed Congreve rockets (d. 1828)
  • 1806 – John Stuart Mill, English economist, civil servant, and philosopher (d. 1873)
  • 1908 – James Stewart, American actor (d. 1997)
  • 1918 – Edward B. Lewis, American biologist, geneticist, and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2004)
  • 1944 – Joe Cocker, English singer-songwriter (d. 2014)
  • 1946 – Cher, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress
  • 1958 – Ron Reagan, American journalist and radio host

Those who found eternal rest on May 20 include:

  • 1506 – Christopher Columbus, Italian explorer, discovered the Americas (b. 1451)
  • 1896 – Clara Schumann, German pianist and composer (b. 1819)
  • 1989 – Gilda Radner, American actress and comedian (b. 1946)
  • 2002 – Stephen Jay Gould, American paleontologist, biologist, and academic (b. 1941)
  • 2013 – Ray Manzarek, American singer-songwriter, keyboard player, and producer (b. 1939)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron have not yet become friends but Hili’s leaving the door open:

Szaron: Can we become friends?
Hili: Theoretically, it’s possible.
In Polish:
Szaron: Czy możemy się zaprzyjaźnić?
Hili: Teoretycznie to jest możliwe.

From Jesus of the Day:

Posted by Gregory James. People are thinking this woman is an insane Trump-ite, but I’m pretty sure this is a joke, telling people of the folly of their “let us out” arguments. What say you?

Also from Jesus of the Day:

From Titania. I don’t find the UN’s suggestions objectionable, but I find Titania’s pretty funny:

A tweet from Tyler and Gregoray. Sign up that cat for Real Madrid!

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. Cat wants only ONE towel under it!

I will clearly have to read this paper and then write about quolls:

Sarah Cooper takes on Trump’s latest folly: taking hydroxychloroquine.  Note how he insists that it works as a preventive, despite what all the data say:

Another paper I must read and write about. How bird wings are related to dispersal ability. And there’s a big difference between birds in the tropics and the temperate zone:

Wild pigs run amok in the streets of Berlin! I love it!

Finally, this tweet shows the underwater swimming behavior of mallard ducklings. Mine do it too, but tend to do it, like these, all at the same time. They’re not foraging but swimming fast horizontally, and I suspect it’s an antipredator behavior, like the famous video of the duckling escaping a tiger.


25 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I once read that the reason Boss Tweet consumes so much from McDonalds is that he has long thought that he’d wind up being poisoned and figures McD’s somehow affords the best odds against that.

    Perhaps hydroxychloroquine will wind up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  2. Apropos gender-neutral language, my spouse always refers to her elected representatives as congress-critters.

  3. Seeing those HuffPo columns gives me much the same reaction as I have to all the cell phone videos that make up 90 percent of any local new broadcast these days: an overwhelming urge to eat a Tide pod.

    I don’t know why that is.

  4. I’m pretty sure the woman with the drunk driving sign is being sarcastic and pointing out the moral vacuity of people demanding the right to, for instance, go to a grocery store without a mask. It’s a comparison I’ve made myself, though less cleverly and subtly.

    I must say, it’s hard to believe sometimes that the same species that produced the likes of William Shakespeare and Captain Sir Thomas Moore also produced the likes of the people I mentioned above and the ones who made the posts in the HuffPo personals. I often suspect that, if one took the integral of the overall quality of the human race (by almost any reasonable measure) across all time and people, the “area under the curve” would be profoundly negative, despite occasional sharp, high peaks. And nothing in current events or the various media leads me to think the slope of the curve is positive as time increases. I am more and more filled with despair for…well, everything.

    1. She abandoned her membership in Mothers Against Drunk Diving and joined DAMM (Drunks Against Mad Mothers)

  5. When I saw a photo of the sign that inspired the #drunkdrivers4trump (it was a woman objecting to lockdown and carrying a sign that read “My Body My Choice”), I couldn’t help but wonder whether she felt the same way about abortion and birth control. I also speculated about the people who object to businesses who tell their customers that they must wear masks: do they also support the right of photographers and bakers to deny service to same-sex weddings? It seems that hypocriccy and doublethink is yet another pandemic we have to deal with.

  6. About a dozen years ago, I was running in the woods near one of Berlin’s southwestern suburbs when a herd of wild pigs came charging over the hills. The way they swooped down one hill, turned, and went up the next almost looked like a porcine murmuration – very impressive.

    1. I need to get my eyes tested. I read “porcine murmuration” as “porcini mushroom” and thought “how did the pigs look like that?”

    1. For a moment when I first saw the picture I thought someone had snuck into my bedroom and rummaged around underneath the bed.

  7. How is the term ‘representative’ equivalent to ‘businessman’? And they still don’t solve the senator/senatrix issue, since ‘legistator’ does not identify which house they sit in, and legislator is masculine as well. It would be legislatrix.

  8. I am quite confused about this gendering or ungendering business with relation to the word “women” used in Titania’s post. Not confused by her usage but by the word “unwoman” itself. I first thought it was some weird new term for those who didn’t consider themselves female, then I Googled and I’m laughing because I think what was meant was “UN women” as in United Nations. Then I learn it’s also used in “The Handmaid’s Tale” as the lowest form of woman.

    Those women at the UN who use that word need to carefully state the specific definition according to the context.

  9. That old map is wonderful. It places Quito almost correctly (should be right on the Equator) and even places the tiny present-day town of Tumbes more or less correctly.

    The author’s summary about the Nature bird wing article seems fundamentally flawed, as it seems to imply that flight ability determines distance flown, while the reverse could also be true: selection for long-distance flight and wing anatomy could be driven by ecological factors. The truth is probably that all factors work together: birds which belonged to clades that are good flyers are more likely to occupy niches that require good flying, and vice versa. I think that cause and effect are often inappropriate concepts when we are talking about evolution.

  10. Nice of the Berlin police to stop the traffic to allow the pigs to cross. Wild boar have got Berlin surrounded. (I guess that’s somewhere around Schlachtensee area?)

  11. I cannot believe I am going to write this but I like the HuffPost personal articles. They personalize the suffering that everyday people are enduring.

    Understanding the pain causes by both the quarantine and the disease helps us formulate the best (least bad really) response. It also helps us empathize with people who we may disagree with.

  12. 325 – The First Council of Nicaea is formally opened, starting the first ecumenical council of the Christian Church.

    And ever since then, Christianity has been the most consistent and monolithic arbiter of peace/morality in the history of the human race in which no petty and needless bloodbaths have been fought over before the advent of another religion of peace….


  13. For those who don’t know German at the start of the wild pig video: “Schwein” does mean “pig,” but “Schwein gehabt” is an idiom meaning “had luck” since pigs are a symbol of luck in Germany. Nice play on words!

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