Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 26, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s Tuesday, the Cruelest Day: May 26, 2020, a double food holiday: National Blueberry Cheesecake Day and National Cherry Dessert Day. It’s also World Redhead Day, National Paper Airplane Day, and Sally Ride Day, honoring America’s first woman in space, born on this day in 1951. In Australia it’s National Sorry Day, a day of apology for the treatment of indigenous people.

News of the Day: As the nation begins re-opening, the news shows scenes of people blatantly violating social-distancing regulations still in place, crowding together in bars and pools. We shall see if, as many predict, there will be a second wave of infection (sometimes it seems as if people are hoping for a resurgence, perhaps to justify their own quarantining). A 23-year-old University of Connecticut student went on a rampage, killing two people and kidnapping one before releasing him. There’s no explanation for his behavior, but Peter Manfredonia is the subject of a huge manhunt.

In the “make a virtue of necessity” department, this NYT article argues that it’s a great thing that colleges have gone online, and it’s so much cheaper to educate remotely. While there are a few good points in the piece, it says very little about the quality of online education.  College has become a product, with the cheapest degree the most desirable.

Today’s reported Covid-19 death toll is 99,462 in the U.S., and will exceed 100,000 by tomorrow; the worldwide toll is now about 346,000.

Stuff that happened on May 26 includes:

  • 1857 – Dred Scott is emancipated by the Blow family, his original owners.

This is an infamous case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that blacks could not be U.S. citizens. Scott, a slave, was eventually set free by one of his “owners”, but shortly thereafter died of tuberculosis. Here he is:

  • 1868 – The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson ends with his acquittal by one vote.
  • 1896 – Nicholas II becomes the last Tsar of Imperial Russia.
  • 1923 – The first 24 Hours of Le Mans was held and has since been run annually in June.

This is the longest continually run car race in the world. Here’s an image of the cars in the first (1923) competition:

I became an atheist when I listened to this album for the first time, and the deconversion, such as it was, was virtually instantaneous. Read about the incident in the Chicago Tribune. When I visited my sister and her husband in 2012, I recovered the album among the possessions removed from my parents’ place after my mother died. Here’s the very instrument of my deconversion!

  • 1998 – The Supreme Court of the United States rules that Ellis Island, the historic gateway for millions of immigrants, is mainly in the state of New Jersey, not New York.
  • 1998 – The first “National Sorry Day” was held in Australia, and reconciliation events were held nationally, and attended by over a million people.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1886 – Al Jolson, American singer and actor (d. 1950)
  • 1895 – Dorothea Lange, American photographer and journalist (d. 1965)
  • 1907 – John Wayne, American actor, singer, director, and producer (d. 1979)
  • 1912 – Jay Silverheels, Canadian-American actor (d. 1980)
  • 1926 – Miles Davis, American trumpet player, composer, and bandleader (d. 1991)
  • 1928 – Jack Kevorkian, American pathologist, author, and assisted suicide activist (d. 2011)
  • 1940 – Levon Helm, American singer-songwriter, drummer, producer, and actor (d. 2012)
  • 1947 – Carol O’Connell, American author and painter
  • 1948 – Stevie Nicks, American singer-songwriter

In honor of Stevie Nicks’s 72nd birthday, I show once again what I think is the best impromptu rock video ever made. It was in 1981 in the Rolling Stone offices, and Stevie Was being made up for a photoshoot when the music for her song “Wild Heart” came on. She couldn’t resist singing, interrupting the makeup assistant, and was joined by Lori, her sister in law. I could listen to this rendition forever, and it’s certainly better than the live version.

  • 1949 – Jeremy Corbyn, British journalist and politician
  • 1951 – Sally Ride, American physicist and astronaut, founded Sally Ride Science (d. 2012)
  • 1966 – Helena Bonham Carter, English actress

Those who breathed their last on May 26 include:

  • 1703 – Samuel Pepys, English politician (b. 1633)
  • 1914 – Jacob August Riis, Danish-American journalist, photographer, and reformer (b. 1849)
  • 1933 – Jimmie Rodgers, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1897)
  • 1976 – Martin Heidegger, German philosopher and academic (b. 1889)
  • 2010 – Art Linkletter, Canadian-American radio and television host (b. 1912)
  • 2017 – Zbigniew Brzezinski, Polish-born American politician (b. 1928)

Here’s Jimmie Rodgers, the Great Yodeler, one of the first country singers popular across the U.S. He died at only 35 of tuberculosis. Here he performs “Blue Yodel #1”:

Meawhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej woke up Editor Hili this morning. Time to get to work!

A: Time to get up, our readers are waiting.
Hili: Go to sleep; while we’re sleeping we don’t make mistakes.
In Polish:
Ja: Pora wstawać, czytelnicy czekają.
Hili: Śpij, śpiąc nie popełniamy błędów.

From Jeremy: a jigsaw puzzle. His comment:

I am a former Molecular Biologist turned Computer Scientist (the money was better), lover of cats, and a fellow Atheist. I found this puzzle in my basement with the kid’s toys and immediately thought of you. Enjoy!
A tuxedo cat Duck Inspector!

A “Quarantine Barbie” from Jesus of the Day.Note the roots:

From Bruce Thiel. At least in Illinois this is true: the “dispensaries” are considered essential services.

Do NOT call these people “pigs”. And read the Mediaite story here.  Eight ducklings saved from a storm drain, and a quote:

“The mother immediately went to them, and together she and her nine babies — the family fully reunited — walked back into the grass,” added the statement. “A small act amid the enormity of the ongoing health crisis, perhaps, but for one mother duck and her tiny babies, it made all the difference in the world.”

Two tweets from reader Ken. First, another Big Lie from the White House Press Secretary. What a dumbass!

Here’s a pot/kettle tweet from Donald Trump six years ago:

Tweets from Matthew. This first one was my life last week, and it’s so true (it’s a 7-tweet thread):

And it has a happy ending:

I think she means, “I will do anything, including driving into the mountains for an hour, to save a duckling. Screw the writing and emails.”

Matthew’s using his legal bragging rights here (it is a very good book).

I didn’t know this quote, but it seems to be true:

I’ve posted a lot of photos of leucistic animals before, but never a badger. This thing doesn’t even look like a badger:


36 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

    1. I think Trump “University” was conducted in person, in places like hotel conference rooms.

      In in-person part was essential to the scam’s success, to up-sell the marks by pressuring them to buy the next, more-expensive lesson. It was also essential to have someone watch over their shoulders as they filled out their course evaluations to ensure that they said they were satisfied, so that Trump would have an excuse to refuse to refund their fees once the marks finally caught on to the scam.

      1. I’ll take a guess, the scam was already up and running under a different name until they put tRump’s name on it. It wasn’t a difficult sell.

  1. 1907 – John Wayne, American actor, singer, director, and producer (d. 1979)

    The examples I could find on youtube of the Duke crooning all appear to have been dubbed by another.

    Gene Autry or Roy Rogers, he ain’t.

      1. So the best-known cowboy star and the best-known Indian star [of his day, at least] were born on the same date. That must MEAN something, but I don’t know what.

      2. If Wayne could carry a tune, I should think there would’ve been a third-part harmony in Deano and Ricky Nelson’s duet of “My Rifle, My Pony, and Me” (with Walter Brennan on the harpoon) in Rio Bravo:

  2. The Dred Scott decision was one of the defining incidents of the 1850s that paved the way to the Civil War. Its impact cannot be overstated. It was a very complicated decision; entire books have been written about it. Why did it create such a furor? It was not only because the Court declared that African Americans could not be United States citizens, but also that it declared the Missouri Compromise of 1820 invalid. This compromise forbid slavery in U.S. territories north of a certain line. Now, in theory at least, federal law could not forbid slavery in any federal territories. A core position of the newly formed Republican Party was that Congress could ban slavery in the federal territories. The decision was a major victory for the South and hardened the divisions between North and South.


  3. 1703 – Samuel Pepys, English politician (b. 1633)

    And diarist — I think his diary provides his primary claim to fame.

  4. “This thing doesn’t even look like a badger”

    It looks somehow like a very well-fed ermine.

    1. Well, it ain’t! The whole programme is worth watching. Springwatch is usually concentrated over three days in one week. This year, it’s being extended to three weeks, with the regular presenters locked down all over the UK.

      As the lead presenter, the great Chris Packham, said, the lockdown has enabled many of us to engage more closely with the natural world all around us; and indeed to appreciate how quickly it can revive given half a chance.

      The highlight for me tonight was the goshawk nest, with the fledglings starting to throw their weight around. Looking forward to tomorrow evening!

  5. I do wonder if a sizable percent of the population heading off to live at college as a rite of passage will look like a quaint ritual of yore in a couple of generations, the way we look back on eras/places where it was common to send children to boarding school. I think this would be a terrible shame but I do suspect it might be coming. As was often pointed out before the pandemic, college recently became more of a requirement for many jobs and simultaneously far more expensive at the same time. The cost of college became, for many families, such a primary concern that it limited family size and shaped spending habits for the 18 years before their child went. And maybe after. Student loan debt is also a huge problem.

    I also don’t think college falls into the category of ‘timeless things’. Sometimes people have predicted the end of the music industry, or movies, or living in cities, and so on, and I brush those predictions aside because those are timeless facets of society that reemerge again and again in different times and places. They change shape but for the most part aren’t going anywhere. But the scenario of going away for approximately 4 years post childhood to receive higher education is not, as far as I know, a universal thing, it has been more unique to this time and place. There will probably always be things like rites of passages wherein young adults find a place to experiment, define themselves outside the context of their families, etc., but I think that could change to one’s first workplace, moving to a new city by oneself for the first time, etc. I can even see big companies replacing that experience to an extent with very large internship programs for groups of young people, possibly even with housing. (I think Disney already does something like this because already they already have the infrastructure to be an appealing site for such an experience – but other companies could create this over time. Intern housing with pools, gyms, etc.)

  6. My deconversion was slower but there was a definite inflection point; I was 13 at Easter mass when I realized that it’s not a sacrifice if you take it back. That was when I knew what I suspected was true; it was all made up.

    You at least have a souvenir.

    1. “… it’s not a sacrifice if you take it back.“

      How interesting

      What do you mean precisely? That the god of Abraham does all sorts of smiting and sending people to hell?

          1. So here it is; I was at an Easter mass, which is about Jesus bodily arising to heaven. His ascension of course, was necessary because he had been “sacrificed” on the cross, right?

            John 3:16
            “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

            But Jesus didn’t die. Or at least didn’t stay dead . This is one of the most centrally important points to the faith; that Jesus rose bodily to heaven and so will those who follow him.

            The whole thing is completely incoherent. To my 13 year old brain it was so obvious they were just making shit up.

          2. I see. Yes, that’s peculiar.

            If only a Sophisticated Theologian(TM) could have been there to help!

  7. Hi, Jerry. That article doesn’t explain why the album gave you that epiphany. Is that something you can explain? I know that the answer might be “no.” Many of us can’t explain why or how we realized we were atheists (including me. It just sort of happened when I was about twelve years old).

    1. No, and I can’t explain it, either. I was lying on the couch listening to the album, and I just had an epiphany that religion was a purely human construct. There was nothing in particular (at least that I recall) that incited that idea.

      1. I certainly had a (non-) religious moment the first time I heard A Day in the Life.

        Still my favorite Phish encore song.

      2. A Day in the Life is also the number one song I play for people when they say that Ringo wasn’t that good of a drummer. All the time signature changes, and the fills he plays are just wonderful.

  8. Why do religionists keep saying things like this? The Chicago Herald article describes sophisticated theologian John Haught’s making of a virtue from necessity.

    “For Haught, evolution means that the chore of creation is going on all around us, all the time. Most important, the process does not follow a preordained path, because God loved the world enough to set it free.”

    “I think Darwin was a gift to theology,” Haught says. “We can’t have exactly the same thoughts about God that we did before.”

    So, if everything looks the same if God exists or if he doesn’t exist, what’s the point of God? That’s an exactly different thought for you.

  9. The comments section of that NYT article about online courses is vitriolic. Fully justified vitriol seems to me.

  10. To be fair, Obama TECHNICALLY went golfing after Daniel Pearl was beheaded…probably several times. So have a great many people. As Obi-wan’s spirit explained, “So I what I told you was true…from a certain point of view.”


  11. Jimmie Rodgers. “one of the first country singers ” jerry ! I’m shocked: He was the First: indeed defined and created the gendre : he is the man…

  12. Augustine of Hippo was a Manicheist beforehand which used to be a worldwide religion and a competitor to all the other monotheistic faiths before dying out in China.

    It’s interesting to contemplate an alternate universe if one Roman emperor decided to promote Manicheism instead of Christianity. Then again, the same problems with religion would still happen.

  13. Very cool, Professor. The Beatles helped me on my atheist journey also though upon colliding with *Christianity* at age 8* I suspected it was a huge con (I’m proud to say). Total de-brainwashing of ALL religious nonsense for me required the Four Saints – John, Paul, George and Ringo. And realizing that while a genius, George was WRONG on the lord crap.
    *In 1978, I’m 49 now.
    David Anderson, J.D., NYC
    ps I remember rotary phones as well- so much damn WORK in those days!Ugh.

  14. Also, Bari Weiss – while she talks with great authority and evidently thinks a great deal of herself she’s usually WRONG.
    Plus… she’s a “professional Jew” – obsessed with everything Jewish, Antisemitism, etc. — and – regardless of which flag somebody’s waving – even mine – I’m always suspicious of people who lead with their identity group first.
    —-Podcasts are popular for the reasons she sites but they’re not “replacing” most traditional media anytime soon, just augmenting it.
    ((David Anderson))

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