Sunday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Sunday, June 14, 2020, National Strawberry Shortcake Day (in New England, it’s made with biscuits, not cake).  It’s also National Bourbon Day, Race Unity Day, Flag Day, (celebrating the adoption of the U.S. flag by the Continental Congress on this day in 1777), and World Blood Donor Day.

News of the Day:  There’s trouble in Atlanta after police shot and killed a black man who grabbed a cop’s taser. There have been protests and arson, and the city’s police chief has resigned. And there’s been a new outbreak of coronavirus in China, with 57 infected after visiting a fruit and vegetable market. All in all, there’s not much hope except the incessant and annoying mantra “We’re all in this together.” Well, if there were a hell, that’s what the denizens would scream to each other as they were licked by flames.

Today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 115,545 , an increase of about 800 from yesterday (the increase in deaths in our country is still slowing). The world toll now stands at 429,700.

Yesterday was very chilly for this time of year, and I was cold outside in my aloha shirt (no, I am not a “boogaloo boy”!). To feed the ducks in the chill, I put on the only spare clothing I had in my office: an academic gown (don’t ask me how I got it; I have no idea). So here is the crazed Professor Duck properly garbed for feeding waterfowl. It was, by coincidence, Virtual Convocation Day at the University of Chicago, and although the ceremonies were broadcast on the internet, many students wore caps and gowns and were photographed on campus.

Photo by Jean Greenberg

Stuff that happened on June 14 includes this:

  • 1775 – American Revolutionary War: the Continental Army is established by the Continental Congress, marking the birth of the United States Army.
  • 1777 – The Stars and Stripes is adopted by Congress as the Flag of the United States.  Here’s the flag; the claim designer is Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey. It has thirteen stars, six red stripes, and seven white stripes.


Bligh’s journey is in green. According to Wikipedia, “the  voyage prior to mutiny is red, voyage of Bounty after mutiny is yellow, voyage of Bligh and others in the longboat is green. Five labeled small islands enlarged for visibility (not to scale).  Other details:

Thus, Bligh undertook the seemingly impossible 3,618-nautical-mile (6,701 km; 4,164 mi) voyage to Timor, the nearest European settlement. Bligh succeeded in reaching Timor after a 47-day voyage, the only casualty being the crewman killed on Tofua. From 4 May until 29 May, when they reached the Great Barrier Reef north of Australia, the 18 men lived on 112 pound (40 grams) of bread per day. The weather was often stormy, and they were in constant fear of foundering due to the boat’s heavily laden condition. On 29 May they landed on a small island off the coast of Australia, which they named Restoration Island, 29 May 1660 being the date of the restoration of the English monarchy after the English Civil War. Over the next week or more they island-hopped north along the Great Barrier reef—while Bligh, cartographer as always, sketched maps of the coast. Early in June they passed through the Endeavour Strait and sailed again on the open sea until they reached Coupang, a settlement on Timor, on 14 June 1789. Several of the men who survived this arduous voyage with him were so weak that they soon died of sickness, possibly malaria, in the pestilential Dutch East Indies port of Batavia, the present-day Indonesian capital of Jakarta, as they waited for transport to Britain.

A replica of Babbage’s engine: “The London Science Museum‘s difference engine, the first one actually built from Babbage’s design. The design has the same precision on all columns, but when calculating polynomials, the precision on the higher-order columns could be lower.”

  • 1900 – Hawaii becomes a United States territory.
  • 1919 – John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown depart from St. John’s, Newfoundland on the first nonstop transatlantic flight.
  • 1937 – U.S. House of Representatives passes the Marihuana Tax Act.
  • 1940 – World War II: The German occupation of Paris begins.
  • 1940 – Seven hundred twenty-eight Polish political prisoners from Tarnów become the first inmates of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
  • 1949 – Albert II, a rhesus monkey, rides a V-2 rocket to an altitude of 134 km (83 mi), thereby becoming the first monkey in space.

This was not the first monkey in space, as Albert II was preceded by Albert the First, who suffocated during the flight. But the first Albert didn’t reach 100 km high, the conventional demarcation of “space”.

  • 1954 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a bill into law that places the words “under God” into the United States Pledge of Allegiance.
  • 1966 – The Vatican announces the abolition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (“index of prohibited books”), which was originally instituted in 1557.
  • 1982 – Falklands War: Argentine forces in the capital Stanley conditionally surrender to British forces.

Notables born on this day include:

Stowe of course wrote the famous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) about the dire conditions of slaves; it was the second best-selling book of the 19th century, after the Bible. And it exacerbated abolitionist sentiment, fueling animus toward the slave-holding South and contributing to the conditions that began the Civil War.  A first edition, first printing of the book will cost you only $4,000. (Has anyone read it here?) Here’s the title page:

  • 1904 – Margaret Bourke-White, American photographer and journalist (d. 1971). Here’s a famous photo of the famous photographer:
LIFE photographer Margaret Bourke-White making a precarious photo from the Chrysler Building. (Photo by Oscar Graubner/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)
  • 1909 – Burl Ives, American actor and singer (d. 1995)
  • 1931 – Junior Walker, American saxophonist (d. 1995)
  • 1961 – Boy George, English singer-songwriter and producer

I cannot mention Junior Walker without showing a live version of his most famous song, this one performed on the Letterman show. That’s a smokin’ sax! Doesn’t it make you want to get up and dance?

And for these people it was curtains on June 14:

  • 1801 – Benedict Arnold, American general during the American Revolution later turned British spy (b. 1741)
  • 1883 – Edward FitzGerald, English poet and author (b. 1809)
  • 1926 – Mary Cassatt, American-French painter (b. 1843)
  • 1936 – G. K. Chesterton, English essayist, poet, playwright, and novelist (b. 1874)
  • 1986 – Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator (b. 1899)
  • 2007 – Kurt Waldheim, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Austrian politician, 9th President of Austria (b. 1918)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is outraged after finding Szaron’s toy in her “nest” (a pile of blankets left for her should she return home in the middle of the night). Malgorzata explains:

Yes, it’s on the verandah and this is Hili’s nest into which Szaron dragged his toy. The toy is a tiny plush mouse. Hili is angry that Szaron is using her nest. Luckily, she still doesn’t know that he is also jumping on her beloved shelf on the veranda!

A: What are you looking at?
Hili: Szaron brought his toy here.
A: Is it bad?
Hili: Very bad.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu się tak przyglądasz?
Hili: Szaron tu przyniósł swoją zabawkę.
Ja: Czy to źle?
Hili: Bardzo źle.

A meme from Bruce Thiel:

From Su:

From Scott Metzger on FB via Divy:

From Barry. Readers: what species of bird is this? Be sure to put the sound up:

From Merilee: A sheepcoon named “Governor”. I can envision a BBC show: “A man and his raccoon.”

Tweets from Matthew. Them’s some powerful legs!

Cat racing is even harder than cat herding:

One of Matthew’s beloved optical illusions:

See the link for the video:

From the science communicator at Chicago’s Field Museum, we hear of big trouble at that venerable institutions. That is a LOT of job loss!

As Matthew notes, this beautiful next is an “extended phenotype” in the Dawkinsia sense:


28 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Love the academic dress adorned with thongs! Several years ago while in London on holiday, I was walking along the south bank of the Thames and went into a retired church (now a museum of garden history), largely because I needed to find a loo. Thereafter I wandered into the graveyard of the former church and found Captain Bligh entombed there together with his wife, Ann (I think, but that could be wrong). I was quite excited to ‘meet’ him!

  2. “We’re all in this together.” Well, if there were a hell, that’s what the denizens would scream to each other as they were licked by flames.

    “L’enfer, c’est les autres.”

    1. I don’t picture hell as flames, etc.

      My personal hell would be heaven. I cannot imagine spending eternity surrounded by a bunch of sanctimonious bigots.

      I don’t want to spend the next five minutes with those people. Why would I want to spend eternity with them?


      PS: That bird looks like a male house finch.

      1. It’s a european goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), which made an appearance in another post here a week or two back.

        1. Thanks for the ID on the bird.

          We don’t have those here. We have bunches of lesser goldfinches, which are yellow, not red.


  3. “Strawberry shortcake (in New England it’s made with biscuits, not cake)” – in olde England we probably wouldn’t recognise that usage of “biscuits” and wouldn’t make a shortcake with them or cake.

  4. I’ve read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in an edition annotated by Henry Louis Gates. It’s worth reading–both the novel and the annotations. The novel contains action, pathos, and even humor.

    One thing in the novel that stuck out for me was a character comparing the fight against slavery in the U.S. to revolutions going on in Europe at the time, and argues that humans are turning against all forms of tyranny. I’ve never seen anyone else make this connection. Does anyone know if the rebellions in Europe influenced the anti-slavery movement in America? Or scared the pro-slavery forces?

    (I’m from her hometown, Litchfield CT, and back in the 1980s Stowe was voted the Official Town Hero.)

    1. I cannot really answer your question but before France’s revolution started slavery was not allowed. In fact, if you came to France as Thomas Jefferson did and brought slaves with you, which he did, the slave could ask for freedom and get it but he did not.

      1. I would also say, as far as England was concerned, the North always worried that Britain would back the south, due to the cotton business. I believe they thought about it but never did. After Lincoln produced the Emancipation any thought of Britain backing the south went away.

    2. See this webpage that asserts the following:

      “But while the 1848 Revolutions did not foster majority American interest in intervention in Europe, the revolutions did have an impact in the United States. Advocates of various reform movements — urban labor organization, women’s rights, and most prominently, antislavery — perceived that transatlantic reform was indeed gaining momentum, and used upheavals in Europe to argue that analogous change should occur in the United States. Revolutionary Europe, these groups declared, was an indicator of American defects, and a warning of what awaited the United States if inequities went unattended. After passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, requiring the national government to help recapture runaway slaves, the antislavery press described episodes of slaves’ flight and apprehension in terms of Hungarian freedom- fighters succumbing to Austrian oppression. Land reform in the western United States in part stemmed from pressure brought by immigrant and native laborers who used revolutionary Europe as a foil.”

      Also, see this speech by Frederick Douglass in 1848 in which he discusses the significance of the 1848 revolutions in Europe. Back then, people seemed to have much greater attention spans today. His speech was many times longer than people today would tolerate.

    3. Many of the people who fought as or sympathized with the revolutionaries of 1848 in Europe came to America. Milwaukee’s German population was one example. These immigrants were generally anti-slavery and many fought in the Union armies.

  5. I cannot really answer your question but before France’s revolution started slavery was not allowed. In fact, if you came to France as Thomas Jefferson did and brought slaves with you, which he did, the slave could ask for freedom and get it but he did not.

  6. I wonder if governor’s herding isn’t him seeking their attention. He’s just trying to be friendly.

  7. For some reason I’m almost hoping this evolves into “Shaggy professor, naked under academic robes, felled by tranquilizer dart during rooftop harangue about celebrity PSAs in Hell at recently established Robie House duck squat.”

  8. Re: The Horse Puzzle.

    That would be my best attempt too.

    It probably says something fundamental about my being lazy, but I truly hate puzzles. To me they are just a picture someone took, cut up and said “now put it back together!” Like some hopeless, make-work project a prison-guard in some colony might make up for a prisoner to amuse himself.

    The sheer arbitrariness of the whole thing and the drip-drip of time in performing the task brings on existential despair.

    I’d much rather be out doing something. But, horses for courses…

  9. The finch is not a pure Eurasian Goldfinch, but a hybrid, probably with canary. European, particularly Central European breeders did a lot of crossing to improve song mimicry and colour ; see Tim Birkhead’s book “The Red Canary”.

  10. Happier to share a birth date with the likes of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Junior Walker and even Boy George over that orange-hued, ignoramus demagogue currently mis-ruling our nation.

  11. “Has anyone read it here?”

    Anthony Burgess published a positive review of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in his essay collection “Urgent Copy.”

    Some excerpts:

    “Reading it, we find that all we have to forgive is the style…structurally the book is very sound, and it even has a visual skeleton provided by the geography of slavery…what may look like self-indulgence frequently turns out to be structural necessity…The sugar lilies and the weeping Topsy may be intolerable, but Mrs. Stowe makes up for that—Faulknerian realism begins here—with those protracted sufferings on the old plantation…all of Mrs. Stowe’s characters, who might well have been mere morality fascias, have a remarkable roundness…The whole book sometimes seems to resolve itself into a protest, not just against slavery, but against the forces—law or prejudice—which destroy simple affection or break family ties…It is the impact of the characters, and what they say, that excuses the frequent ineptitude of the récit, the hollow prophecies, and the tedious moralizing. Uncle Tom’s Cabin works well as fiction, but the fiction is also the feather of a dart.”

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