Sunday: Hili dialogue

May 24, 2020 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Sunday—Ceiling Cat’s Day, for truly the Sabbath was made for cats, not cats for the Sabbath. It’s May 24, 2020, and National Escargot Day (cultural appropriation), and I cannot abide the snail, though I’ve tried them in France. It’s also Asparagus Day.

News of the Day: Terrible, and it makes me quite low. As I wend my way closer to the Big Nap, I see that my remaining time will be constricted by the ravages of Covid-19. I am no longer young and can’t look forward to many good years. Yes, I know others have it worse, and I wish they wouldn’t, but I, at least, can’t assess life satisfaction based on everyone who’s less well off. If one did that, then everybody but the worst-off person in the world should be consoled.

Today’s reported Covid-19 death toll is 97,426, so not quite the 100K highlighted in the papers (see below); but that will come. The world death toll is now roughly 342,000. The disease is beginning to ravage both Africa and, especially, South America. The news from Brazil, with mass deaths and a medical system unable to cope, is especially depressing.

Here’s the headline for today’s New York Times:

The picture associated with that tweet has disappeared, but here’s part of the front page, which lists the names of everyone who died of the virus (I presume the list continues inside, and is fairly complete):

For some reason I can’t embed that tweet, which had the graphic below, but here’s the front page:

And I find the tweet below a bit harsh; Trump is far from the only person who mishandled the pandemic:

Finally, I find this suggestion quite dispiriting:

No, that’s now what I need. I need to go to Poland, to Antarctica, to Paris, and many places yet unvisited. Making a virtue of necessity, the author suggests we can have a lot of fun vacationing in our own countries. Wismayer suggests, for instance, that Britons should visit their seaside towns, which have become neglected and decrepit. Should they re-create Butlin’s holiday camps? Develop a taste for Brighton Rock? Oy!

Stuff that happened on May 24 includes:

  • 1607 – One hundred English settlers disembark in Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America.
  • 1683 – The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, opens as the world’s first university museum.
  • 1689 – The English Parliament passes the Act of Toleration protecting dissenting Protestants but excluding Roman Catholics.
  • 1738 – John Wesley is converted, essentially launching the Methodist movement; the day is celebrated annually by Methodists as Aldersgate Day and a church service is generally held on the preceding Sunday.
  • 1844 – Samuel Morse sends the message “What hath God wrought” (a biblical quotation, Numbers 23:23) from a committee room in the United States Capitol to his assistant, Alfred Vail, in Baltimore, Maryland, to inaugurate a commercial telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington D.C.
  • 1883 – The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City is opened to traffic after 14 years of construction.
  • 1940 – Igor Sikorsky performs the first successful single-rotor helicopter flight.

Here’s an early newsreel shows an early Sikorsky helicopter setting a record for duration of “flight in suspension”: 92 minutes.

  • 1940 – Acting on the orders of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, NKVD agent Iosif Grigulevich orchestrates an unsuccessful assassination attempt on exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky in Coyoacán, Mexico.T

Trotsky was murdered, again on Stalin’s orders, on August 21 of that year, with an ice axe to the skull.

Here are some of the Freedom Riders’ mug shots. Note that, contrary to the assertions of the 1619 project, there were many whites, young and old, secular and religious, who fought alongside African-Americans (the main impetus, of course) for an end to segregation:

In fact, California cabernets beat Bordeaux in this blind tasting, a result repugnant to the French. Here’s a picture from Wikipedia of some of the competing wines, with their caption:

A collage of several producers who competed in the 1976 Judgement of Paris wine tasting event. From top left row-by-row: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (Note SLV not Cask 23 was the Paris Winner) (California), Chateau Montelena (California), Château Haut-Brion (Bordeaux), Château Mouton-Rothschild (Bordeaux), Château Montrose (Bordeaux), Château Léoville-Las Cases (Bordeaux). Note: With the exception of the Chateau Montelena image, the actual wines tasted were from different vintages and/or series.
  • 1991 – Israel conducts Operation Solomon, evacuating Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
  • 1999 – The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands indicts Slobodan Milošević and four others for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo.
  • 2019 – Under pressure over her handling of Brexit, British Prime Minister Theresa May announces her resignation as Leader of the Conservative Party, effective as of June 7.

Notables born on this day include:

If you want to know how the freezing and boiling points of water were set at 32 and 212 degrees respectively in this cumbersome system, read here.

  • 1819 – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (d. 1901)
  • 1941 – Bob Dylan, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, artist, writer, and producer; Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1960 – Kristin Scott Thomas, English actress

Notables who took the Big Nap on May 24 were few, and include:

  • 1879 – William Lloyd Garrison, American journalist and activist (b. 1805)
  • 1974 – Duke Ellington, American pianist and composer (b. 1899)
  • 1995 – Harold Wilson, English academic and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1916)

Here’s the Duke and his band playing “It Don’t Mean a Thing” in 1943, just after the Band reached its peak (the “Blanton-Webster” incarnation) in 1942. The quality of the video is poor but the sound is smoking:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili claims dominance over Szaron:

Szaron: Why are you looking at me like that?
Hili: So you know who is in charge here.
In Polish:
Szaron: Dlaczego tak na mnie patrzysz?
Hili: Żebyś wiedział kto tu rządzi.

And nearby, at the site of their future home, Leon and Mietek ponder the haying of the big field next door:

Mietek: Will not this haying harm our voles?

In Polish: Czy te sianokosy nie zaszkodzą naszym nornicom?

Two memes from Bruce Thiel. This first one’s a groaner of the good kind:

From Jesus of the Day:

A tweet from Matthew that I retweeted with a similar story of my own (I’ve related it here before):

Two tweets from Clementine Ford (posted by Isabelle); supposedly a joke, but the mask slips in her second tweet:

Below: good news from The Friendly Atheist. I wrote about this issue earlier this year when Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna School Board,(MSSB) serving the second largest school district in Alaska (about 16,000 students), pulled these 5 books from the 11th and 12th grade reading lists (that’s 17- and 18-year olds!):

 “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
Catch-22” by Joseph Heller
The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

No longer!:

A tweet sent by reader Barry, featuring our own Matthew Cobb identifying a parasite removed from a wasp (a successful operation!). Strepsiptera are endoparasitic insects parasitizing other insects, and have a bizarre life cycle. Read about them here.

A tweet from reader Ken. Henry Ford was a bigot and a notorious anti-Semite. Here Trump touts him for Ford’s “good bloodlines.”

Tweets from Matthew. CORVID-!9 = SATAN!

OMG a fossilized cockroach fart!

This feat is absolutely unbelievable. What humans won’t do for kicks! Sound up, please.

Ceiling possum! How dare they criticize this animal?

27 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Paul McCartney also said that he found the meaning of life while tripping and wrote it down: “There are seven levels.”

  2. Notice Sikorski wears a hat while flying the machine. They must have clued that thing on.

    1. Were I living in England, I could find many, many interesting places to visit. But one of Butlins concentration, oops sorry holiday, camps would not be one of them.


      1. I was taken to Staleg Butlin’s and it wasn’t so bad. Mind you I was a lot younger than I am now.

    2. I went to one as a kid in the early 1960s. Not sure which one though. Perhaps it was in Torquay. As far as I can recall, I loved it. I doubt if I would as an adult but who knows?

      1. I went to one about five years ago. I quite enjoyed the trip but that was more about the people I was with. The accommodation was dire but the entertainment was ok especially for children.

        1. I think it’s like a cruise but without the viral load and a lot more family oriented. Perhaps I should have said “Disney cruise”.

          I remember making friends with a kid my own age named Ian. As I was not one to make friends quickly, it probably accounted for most of my positive recollection of holiday camps.

          I’d be interested to know how much the experience has changed in 50 or 60 years. If I had to guess, not much. More flat screen TVs for sure.

  3. In her essay for the 1619 Project regarding the civil rights movement, Nikole Hannah-Jones says: “For the most part, black Americans fought back alone.” Here we confront the ambiguity of words. The phrase “for the most part” can mean anything over fifty percent. Therefore, people can attribute just about anything they want to the sentence. We all use ambiguous or imprecise language, thereby making communication difficult. I do not see a way around it. All we can conclude from Hannah-Jones’ sentence is that she has conceded that at least one non-black participated in the civil rights movement. She should have written more explaining what she meant.

    1. I believe, Historian, that that wording was deliberate. To cite actual numbers and facts would undermine her narrative – this tactic is done more than once in that piece. She resorts to ambiguity precisely in order to preserve her narrative; it cannot be maintained without it.

      You have said elsewhere here at WEIT that it is a common and accepted practice for historians to focus attention on new perspectives in such a way that they “re-write” history, which you say is what historians do anyway. It’s a persuasive argument.

      Is it your sense that this is kind factual obfuscation, whether it was deliberate or not, is a common tactic among historians who wish to explore a different perspective or is this an outlier?

      1. I’ll just say that it is not uncommon for historians to use the word “many” when they think that a substantial number of people believe or are involved in something when hard numbers are unavailable. Of course, my using the word “uncommon” is ambiguous since I can’t give you hard numbers. As I stated above, language is such that ambiguity can’t be avoided much (another ambiguous word 😊) of the time.

        1. I always liked this quote by historian David Hackett-Fischer:

          “Historians have been known to write ‘always’ for ‘sometimes,’ and ‘sometimes’ for ‘occasionally,’ and ‘occasionally’ for ‘rarely,’ and ‘rarely’ for ‘once.’

          In historical writing, ‘certainly’ means ‘probably,’ and ‘probably’ means ‘possibly,’ and ‘possibly’ means ‘conceivably.'”

  4. Really good that the alaska local school board reversed themselves on books after public outcry. It is important that citizens participate in their local school board decisions by keeping an eye on agendas and when deemed necessary, provide public testimony at board meetings.
    Great accomplishment by the jumpers in body wing suits (and the pilot!). Nasa astronauts scheduled to launch fromthe cape to space station at 4:30 wednesday. Afternoon Weather at this time of year may delay it, but you can (likely) watch on nasa or spacex stream.

  5. That stunt with the wingsuits is extraordinary. Probably only a Pilatus Porter a.k.a. flying barn door has a side door that big and can hold a dive that steep at that airspeed.


  6. The President says the founder of Ford has good bloodlines..

    Another perfect distraction. tRump is a very stable genius at distracting us from his many, many failings as a human being. If you spend time wondering what in hell he meant by this remark, you’re not thinking about the 1,000 dead piling up at his feet every day.

  7. No, Trump isn’t the only person who mishandled (and continues to mishandle) the pandemic, but his mishandling has been monumental. I started checking numbers of cases and deaths in early March to see when the US would overtake Japan, which wasn’t in the best of states at that point. It didn’t take long; now the US has more deaths in a day than Japan’s cumulative total. As for the golf, one can only recall what Trump said about Obama’s golfing when Obama was president.

  8. 1976 – The Judgment of Paris takes place in France, launching California as a worldwide force in the production of quality wine.

    There was a feature film based on this incident, Bottle Shock, released about a decade ago. It never really caught on with audiences or critics, but I thought it had its charms, including an excellent cast led by the late Alan Rickman as the fussy Paris-based ex-pat Brit wine-shop owner who organizes the competition. Here’s the trailer:

  9. One of the best dream-banalities, attributed (probably wrongly) to the philosopher William James under the influence of laughing gas, goes:

    Hogamous, Higamous,
    Man is polygamous,
    Higamous, Hogamous,
    Woman’s monogamous.

    Sounds OK to me.

  10. What is it they say about parachuting? Why would someone want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane? Or only two things fall out of the sky. Bird shit and paratroopers.

  11. The Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama, near Enterprise, Alabama, has a very good collection of early helicopters. Well worth the visit.

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