Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on another day slogging through multiple troubles: racial and political division on top of a persistent pandemic. Yes, it’s Tuesday—the Cruelest Day—June 16, 2020, and National Fudge Day, commemorating the 19,128 false or misleading claims that Trump has made during his 1,226 days in office (h/t: Ginger K.) That works out to be 15.6 whoppers per day! (Actually, Fudge Day, celebrating the confectionary, is real, as are the figures reported by the Washington Post; the connection is mine.)

It’s also Fresh Veggies Day, National Cherry Tart Day, National Vinegar Day, and World Sea Turtle Day.

And of course if you’re a Joyce fan you’ll recognize this as Bloomsday, the day on which his novel Ulysses is set in 1904. Mrkgnao!

Finally, it’s been exactly a year since Grania died in Cork, Ireland. I’ll have a memoriam for her after this post, and, in her memory, I may not post anything else today.

News of the Day: We finally had some good news in the 6-3 Supreme Court decision yesterday, with Gorsuch and Roberts voting along with the liberal justices to prohibit employment discrimination against gay and transgender people. But of course there’s bad news. Among lots of other stuff is the news that yesterday North Korea blew up the building in Kaesong (near the border but in the DPRK) where North and South Korean officials used to discuss matters of mutual interest. This destruction reflects the deteriorating relationship between the two countries, and is not a good portent. But look what the DPRK said!:

Hours later, the North’s official news agency said “the liaison office was tragically ruined with a terrific explosion,” adding that the action reflected “the mind-set of the enraged people” of North Korea.

As if “the enraged people” ordered it destroyed ! Who do these clowns think they’re fooling? Well, they think they’re fooling the 26 million inhabitants of North Korea.

Today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 116, 207, an increase of about 800 over yesterday’s report.  The world death toll now stands at 436,533,, an increase of about 3,400 from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on June 16 includes:

Here’s the famous opening of that speech, delivered after Lincoln had accepted the Republican nomination for the position of U.S. Senator from Illinois. The first sentence is in quotes because it comes from the Bible.

“A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”

I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

It will become all one thing or all the other.

Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South

  • 1871 – The Universities Tests Act 1871 allows students to enter the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham without religious tests (except for those intending to study theology).
  • 1884 – The first purpose-built roller coaster, LaMarcus Adna Thompson‘s “Switchback Railway“, opens in New York’s Coney Island amusement park.

Here’s a drawing and a video reconstruction of what would be considered a really tame roller coaster today:

  • 1903 – Roald Amundsen leaves Oslo, Norway, to commence the first east–west navigation of the Northwest Passage.
  • 1904 – Irish author James Joyce begins a relationship with Nora Barnacle and subsequently uses the date to set the actions for his novel Ulysses; this date is now traditionally called “Bloomsday“.

Here are Joyce and Nora:

Well, it was more than just “a relationship”: Wikipedia says this: “On 16 June 1904 they had their first outing together, walking to the Dublin suburb of Ringsend, where Nora masturbated him. This event was commemorated by providing the date for the action of Ulysses (as “Bloomsday“)

  • 1944 – At age 14, George Junius Stinney, Jr. becomes the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century.

Stinney was accused of murdering two young white girls, and was convicted (by an all white jury, of course) in a bogus trial that lasted less than a day, with the jury deliberating only ten minutes. The only evidence against him were his two verbal confessions, which did not jibe.  Below are his mug shots, and here’s the horrific account of his execution. He had a booster seat in the electric chair!

Standing 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighing just over 90 lbs, George Stinney was executed at the Central Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina on June 16, 1944, at 7:30 p.m. At 7:25 pm, three police officers approached the cell where George was being held, then one officer entered and took him out of his cell. The officers escorted him to the execution room where they placed him in the electric chair, using a Bible he was carrying as a booster seat because George was so small. George was then restrained by his arms, legs, body to the chair. His father was allowed to approach George to say his final words to his son. An officer asked George if he had any last words to say, but George just shook his head. George Stinney could only whimper and take big deep breaths as one of the officers pulled a strap from the chair and placed it over his mouth, causing George to break into tears. They then placed the face mask over his face, which did not fit him, as George continued sobbing. When the lethal electricity was applied, the mask covering George’s face slipped off, revealing George’s burned scalp and tears streaming down his face, saliva dripping from his mouth. Stinney was declared dead after eight minutes. His teeth were smoking and he had one eye missing. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Sumter, South Carolina.

  • 1961 – Rudolf Nureyev defects from the Soviet Union.
  • 2010 – Bhutan becomes the first country to institute a total ban on tobacco.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1723 – Adam Smith, Scottish philosopher and economist (d. 1790)
  • 1829 – Geronimo, American tribal leader (d. 1909)
  • 1890 – Stan Laurel, English actor and comedian (d. 1965)
  • 1902 – Barbara McClintock, American geneticist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1992)
  • 1902 – George Gaylord Simpson, American paleontologist and author (d. 1984)
  • 1909 – Archie Carr, American ecologist and zoologist (d. 1987)
  • 1917 – Irving Penn, American photographer (d. 2009)
  • 1938 – Joyce Carol Oates, American novelist, short story writer, critic, and poet

I met Joyce at the New Yorker Festival Cat versus Dog debate in 2014, and after the debate (Team Cat lost), we went to dinner at the Union Square cafe with her now-late husband Charlie Gross, a biologist. She’s a lovely woman, and we’ve kept in touch since then. Here’s a photo of Joyce (a cat lover) holding one of Anthony Hutcherson’s Bengal cats that I put in her arms in the Green Room. She was smitten, and later got a Bengal from Anthony (and I still have an offer of one from him).

And here’s one of her several children’s books (on cats, naturally) that she autographed for me. Cherie was the name of her real cat. I brought the book to New York expressly to get her autograph.

Here are the two Bengals Anthony brought for the debate (I had one on my lap for much of the evening:


  • 1971 – Tupac Shakur, American rapper and producer (d. 1996)

Those who attained oblivion on June 16 include:

  • 1939 – Chick Webb, American drummer and bandleader (b. 1905)
  • 1977 – Wernher von Braun, German-American physicist and engineer (b. 1912)
  • 2019 – Grania Spingies (b. 1970). South African financial consultant and Huge Friend of This Website.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s increasing girth has got her in trouble:

A: Are you stuck?
Hili: Don’t worry, I will squeeze through soon.
In Polish:
Ja: Utknęłaś?
Hili: Nie martw się, zaraz się przecisnę.
It turns out that the very small Szaron weighs nearly as much as Hili! Malgorzata reports:
You are not going to believe it. I still don’t. We had to weigh tiny Szaron. Paulina was here and she went on the scale with Szaron and without him. The difference was 5.2 kg! We couldn’t believe it. She got her own scale from upstairs and we repeated the procedure. The result was the same. Then she grabbed Hili and it turned out that Hili’s weight was 5.4 kg. Such a tiny difference between them while when you look at them you could make three Szarons out of one Hili. We are all baffled.

A meme from Bruce Thiel:

From Jesus of The Day: What is “elegance” in urination?


From Titania. Does this person even know who Churchill was?

From reader j.j. Spot the cat!

Tweets from Matthew. Somebody please try this with their cat!

Speaking of cats again, here’s a very large one:

Live and learn:

Surely the elephant must have been trained to do this. Or did he figure out to put the hat on its own head?


Sound up to hear the gorgeous call, which includes a trill:

This can’t possibly be a real paper, but I wonder. . . .

h/t: Bat


35 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Great to see Trapper John finally published. He played second fiddle to Hawkeye for far too long……

  2. North Korea blew up the building in Kaesong (near the border but in the DPRK) where North and South Korean officials used to discuss matters of mutual interest. This destruction reflects the deteriorating relationship between the two countries, and is not a good portent.

    Meanwhile, the DPRK continues to stockpile fissile material, nuclear devices, and ballistic missiles, so long as Kim Jong-un occasionally emerges to send fustian love letters to Donald Trump — a suppurating sore that’s been all but buried in the US public consciousness amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the resultant economic collapse, and widespread civil unrest.

  3. I’m sure when Lincoln gave that speech in 1858 he could not know which way it would end or what would take place to get there. He only knew it would not stay the same.

  4. Professor, there’s a typo in your USA Covid-19 death toll figures; it’s missing the 116,000 in front of the 207.

  5. 1884 – The first purpose-built roller coaster, LaMarcus Adna Thompson‘s “Switchback Railway“, opens in New York’s Coney Island amusement park.

    At least the old Cyclone was still standing last time I stopped by the Coney Island boardwalk for a Nathan’s Famous.

  6. “On 16 June 1904 they had their first outing together, walking to the Dublin suburb of Ringsend, where Nora masturbated him.

    As one does when taking a first walk to Ringsend.

      1. Nora apparently had her own ideas about “speed dating.” Wonder whether she swiped left or swiped right.

  7. “Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”

    In this one paragraph, Lincoln summed up the crisis of the 1850s. The South felt that slavery had to expand in order to survive. The North (at least those Republican inclined) feared that someday slavery could become legal in the North. The Dred Scott decision stoked these fears. The Northern fear of the expansion of slavery was not entirely because of a moral objection to the institution. Many Republicans feared it because it represented an economic threat to free white labor. Also, many whites in the North did not want even free blacks in their states because of the economic threat. This means that one could oppose slavery and still be a racist. Also, it must not be forgotten that many in the North did not have any moral or economic objections to slavery, at least in regard to its expansion into the territories. These people, a sizeable minority, belonged to the northern Democrats under the leadership of Senator Stephen A. Douglas of the Illinois. Douglas promulgated the policy he called “popular sovereignty.” It advocated that before statehood, the people of the territories should vote as to whether slavery should be allowed or not. This policy was bitterly opposed by the South, which wanted Congress to guarantee that before statehood slavery would be allowed in the territories. This conflict between the Douglas Democrats of the North and the southern Democrats became very bitter and resulted in the splitting of the Democratic Party in 1860.

    Thus, we can see why by the late 1850s the nation was unraveling quickly. The Republicans wanted slavery banned in the territories; the southern Democrats wanted it legalized by Congress; and the Douglas Democrats of the North wanted the people in the territories to decide. This conflict also shows why Lincoln’s statement that by banning slavery in the territories, it would be put on the road to ultimate extinction was essentially wishful thinking at best. People who opposed slavery hadn’t the faintest idea of how it could be ended, at least any decade soon. The problem was intractable because the South didn’t show the least inkling of a desire to end it. There were a few people who warned of the potential of secession and civil war, but even then the thought that such a war would end slavery was not really contemplated. In any case, Lincoln thought the threat of secession was a bluff, even after his election in 1860. He thought that he could induce back into the Union the seven Deep South states that had seceded between his election and inauguration. Obviously, he was very wrong.

    1. Jefferson said they had the wolf by the ears and could not let go. Jefferson’s problem was that he would not let go, so someone had to do it for him. In his case it was poverty at death and a farm sale.

    2. I think a good case can be made that Lincoln not only wanted to get rid of slavery but also to send, using funds appropriated by congress, freed slaves and freemen to resettle outside the US in tropical America. Today it would be called a type of racial cleansing. Lincoln said the following in a debate in 1860: “I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will for ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be a position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
      In Aug 1862, before a group of five black community leaders invited to the White House, Lincoln cajoles blacks to voluntarily resettle in Panama with congressional funding. Said Lincoln “You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. . . . [T]his physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated. . . . The aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but on this broad continent, not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours. Go where you are treated the best, and the ban is still upon you.”
      Lincoln seems to have justified his ideology of white superiority, at least in part, on an anonymous pseudo-scientific work, “Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation” [according to his biographer Wm H. Herndon, Lincoln avidly read both the 1844 and 1848 editions], which organized human races in a bogus transcendental evolutionary sequence supposedly mirrored in human embryos.
      Historians often claim that Lincoln abandoned his racist views before his assassination, but his Secretary of State William Seward wrote in 1877 that Lincoln “by no means abandoned his policy of [voluntary] deportation and emancipation, for the two were in his mind indispensably and indissolubly connected. Colonization [resettlement of blacks outside the US] in fact had precedence with him.”

      1. The Lincoln quote in your paragraph did not come from a debate in 1860 (I don’t believe there were any). This exceedingly well know quote came from the fourth Lincoln-Douglas debate in Charleston, Illinois on September 18, 1858.


        It is also well known that Lincoln supported the idea of colonization throughout most of his political career. He idolized Henry Clay of Kentucky, who had helped organize the American Colonization Society. As late as December 1862, in his message to Congress, he again touted colonization, but since the Message was delivered only a few days before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, one can only wonder how serious he was about colonization.

        You reference the article by Phillip Magness, who has taken a minority position in the historical community that Lincoln still believed in colonization to the end of his life. Whatever the case may be, colonization was never seriously implemented, although a few thousand free slaves were sent to Liberia.

        Was Lincoln a white supremacist? Of course, he was. But, then again almost all white Americans were except for a relatively few abolitionists. This does not diminish the fact that Lincoln took the bold step of issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, an event that would have seemed impossible two years earlier.

  8. “1871 – The Universities Tests Act 1871 allows students to enter the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham without religious tests (except for those intending to study theology).”

    My alma mater University College London was founded in 1826 in response to the need for a university in England that did not impose a religious test on aspiring students. Its opponents derided it as the “Godless Institution of Gower Street” and set up King’s College London in response. The two colleges eventually became the founding colleges of the University of London, but there has always been a rivalry between UCL and KCL.

  9. What is “elegance” in urination?

    I was once peeing alongside an arroyo in the Sonoran desert at dawn, leaning back for maximum arc, when the first glint of sunrise shone through distant mountains and gleamed off the stream. (It was the color of Donald Trump’s hair, the only time I’ve ever encountered that particular hue in nature).

    That’s as close to “elegance” as I’ve ever achieved in the micturition process.

    1. To be fair, while the word kirei can mean elegant, it is probably used here with the meaning cleanly.

      1. Woops, What I meant was ‘kirei can mean clean as well as elegant’.
        Note to self, always read before posting!

  10. This will come as a surprise (not) to most readers but George Stinney was a Black boy accused of raping and killing two white girls in South Carolina. The only evidence was a coerced confession. The trial took one day. The all white jury convicted Stinney in ten minutes. His conviction was overturned in 2014. One investigator said the actual culprit came from a well-known, prominent white family.

    1. I should have read further down before posting. Unfortunately, I knew the George Stinney story. One of the reasons I hate southern propaganda like GWTW.

  11. It seems strange that US C19 deaths are at 800 per day and the world rate is only 3,400 per day.
    The United States accounts for four percent of the world’s population, and 25 percent of global COVID-19 deaths. God is punishing the Great Satan.

  12. Words are fun: I realized not too long ago that “sanction” means both approval and penalty. If anyone tells you that they want you to sanction someone, ask which thing they mean.

  13. “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”

    And with this impeccable logic, Jesus proved that he was the son of God. Truly, a great logician was he.

  14. Here in Brazil the roller coaster is known as the “montanha-russa”, or Russian Mountain. This always intrigued me, so today, egged on by PCC, I Googled it. The working concept of the roller coaster was first developed in St. Petersburg in Russia, and involved carts made to slide down ice hills. In 1812 a real rolling coaster was built in Paris with wheels and rails. It was known as the Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville). As in many things, the Yankees were Johnny comes lately — in this case by a century or two –, although it was the US that made the concept a money-maker.

  15. Tracking down our medical researchers:

    Andre Young — Andre Romelle Young (born February 18, 1965), better known as Dr. Dre

    Trapper John — Captain “Trapper” John McIntyre of the 4077th M.A.S.H.

    Meredith Gray — resident at Seattle Grace Hospital

    Douglas Powers — Austin Power’s twin brother

    but who is Amanda Kerri?

  16. The Japanese is best translated as: “Thank you for using the toilet cleanly”. I used to live in Tokyo and read/speak Japanese. Its hilarious, they so often mangle translations like this and its one of the nicest things about living there. D.A. NYC

  17. I have always found this “Titania McGrath” parody(?) account dumb beyond belief. Is it true that Churchill was racist? Certainly yes. His statements about Indians and their culture and about Gandhi in particular are unbelievably racist, cruel and vicious (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/04/churchill-gandhi-briton-indian-greatest/584170/). These views cannot be swept under the rug by claiming Churchill just suffered from the acceptable prejudices of the society and times in which he lived; the broader English society was not as reactionary and xenophobic as Churchill himself was and he had plenty of critics in the Parliament and the civil service itself.

    He was a complex historical figure possessing both exemplary and problematic qualities in spades and one should not whitewash nor malign Churchill wholecloth. One should learn to admire and learn from his positive attributes while also accepting that he was a deeply flawed figure in other ways (just as his adversary Gandhi was, I might add). Easy to tweet a video of a lady who nobody knows or has heard of (and maybe even taking it out of context); but it takes somewhat more effort and dare I say more decency, empathy and fair-mindedness to see the world clearly as it is. Given these 2 options, I am not surprised what this “Titania” parody account comedian did. Truly embarassing and cringeworthy. It is a good grift though tapping into the resentments and grievances of (some) angry (I assume mostly) men to sell books and comedy shows. I hope he makes good money.

    1. Fine, you have your opinion and others have different opinions about Churchill. Nobody denies he had “problematic views”, but pulling down statues is, in my view, not the way to go.

      I’m glad we have readers like you who are so empathic and decent, and able to see the world as it really is!

      1. My point is not that I am more empathetic, etc (even if that may be true, it is not relevant). As for “[my] opinion”, it is not just an opinion. Any basic scrutiny of historical records will show that. I am very happy to be corrected on this point. As for, “others hav[ing] different opinions about Churchill”, while I think there is more subjectivity introduced in the study of History compared to (say) the study of Biology, I think these “different opinions” need to be defended.

        I did not advocate pulling down the statue and as far as I can tell, neither did the lady in the video.

        Finally, a lot of Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, etc, tore down statues of Lenin, Stalin and other Soviet-era figures from their public squares after the Berlin wall fell. I don’t think the “Titania” comedian has thought very much about this but if he did, something tells me he wouldn’t get very upset about it. One wonders why.

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