Thursday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Thursday, June 18, 2020, both International Picnic Day and National Cheesemakers Day. Blessed are the cheesemakers!

It’s also International Sushi Day, Go Fishing Day, and International Panic Day, appropriate for 2020, and, in Britain, Waterloo Day, celebrated by certain moieties of the British Army in honor of Napoleon’s defeat in 1815.

Views on this website are way down, and I’m concerned. Did I do something wrong?

And here is a gratuitous but lovely photo of my favorite mallard hen. I call it “Proud Honey”:

News of the Day:

Garrett Rolfe, the Atlanta cop who shot Rayshard Brooks twice in the back after Brooks pointed a taser at him, has now been charged with 11 offenses, including felony murder. Even if firing a taser at a cop justifies use of deadly force if the cop fears that, if he’s tased, his weapon could be taken and used against him, that doesn’t seem to be what happened from the video, as Brooks just pointed it, turned, and ran.

John Bolton’s new book on his interactions with Donald Trump, In the Room Where it Happened, reveals even more immoral and perhaps impeachable actions. Here’s one from the New York Times report:

Mr. Bolton also adds a striking new accusation by describing how Mr. Trump overtly linked tariff talks with China to his own political fortunes by asking President Xi Jinping to buy American agricultural products to help him win farm states in this year’s election. Mr. Trump, he writes, was “pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win.”

Mr. Bolton said that Mr. Trump “stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”

In a formal book review, the NYT panned Bolton’s book. The final paragraph:

When it comes to Bolton’s comments on impeachment, the clotted prose, the garbled argument and the sanctimonious defensiveness would seem to indicate some sort of ambivalence on his part — a feeling that he doesn’t seem to have very often. Or maybe it merely reflects an uncomfortable realization that he’s stuck between two incompatible impulses: the desire to appear as courageous as those civil servants who bravely risked their careers to testify before the House; and the desire to appease his fellow Republicans, on whom his own fastidiously managed career most certainly depends. It’s a strange experience reading a book that begins with repeated salvos about “the intellectually lazy” by an author who refuses to think through anything very hard himself.

Today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 117,743, an increase of about 800 over yesterday’s report.  The world death toll now stands at 448,714,, an increase of about 5,300 from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on June 18 includes:

  • 1178 – Five Canterbury monks see what is possibly the Giordano Bruno crater being formed. It is believed that the current oscillations of the Moon‘s distance from the Earth (on the order of meters) are a result of this collision.

Here’s the monks’ report (given in Wikipedia) and then a photo of the crater:

Five monks from Canterbury reported to the abbey’s chronicler, Gervase, that shortly after sunset on 18 June 1178, (25 June on the proleptic Gregorian calendar) they saw “the upper horn [of the moon] split in two”. Furthermore, Gervase writes:

From the midpoint of the division a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out, over a considerable distance, fire, hot coals and sparks. Meanwhile the body of the Moon which was below writhed, as it were in anxiety, and to put it in the words of those who reported it to me and saw it with their own eyes, the Moon throbbed like a wounded snake. Afterwards it resumed its proper state. This phenomenon was repeated a dozen times or more, the flame assuming various twisting shapes at random and then returning to normal. Then, after these transformations, the Moon from horn to horn, that is along its whole length, took on a blackish appearance.

Modern theories predict that a (conjectural) asteroid or comet impact on the Moon would create a plume of ejecta rising up from the surface, which is consistent with the monks’ description

Here’s the Giordano Bruno crater, which shows signs of being young.

  • 1812 – The United States declaration of war upon the United Kingdom is signed by President James Madison, beginning the War of 1812.
  • 1858 – Charles Darwin receives a paper from Alfred Russel Wallace that includes nearly identical conclusions about evolution as Darwin’s own, prompting Darwin to publish his theory.

Darwin, of course, had written several versions of his theory well before he heard from Wallace, including one in 1842 that he kept to himself (it was to be published by his wife if he died). That, as well as his 1859 book, gives him intellectual precedence, but Wallace was no slouch, and made major innovations in biogeography. Wallace’s letter was lost, perhaps because it was sent to Lyell or Hooker, who helped broker a “solution” in which Wallace’s letter and a sketch of Darwin’s theory were presented and published back to back here:

Darwin, C. R. & Wallace, A. R. 1858. On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection. Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of LondonZoology3(9): 45-62.

Here’s a photo of the great women’s rights activist:

  • 1928 – Aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean (she is a passenger; Wilmer Stultz is the pilot and Lou Gordon the mechanic).
  • 1940 – The “Finest Hour” speech is delivered by Winston Churchill.

Here’s an extract from Churchill’s speech with the famous words, which appear at 4:54.

  • 1945 – William Joyce (“Lord Haw-Haw“) is charged with treason for his pro-German propaganda broadcasting during World War II.

Joyce was hanged in 1946. Here’s Lord Haw Haw, with a scar he got from a razor in a brawl with Communists. The scar split open when he was hanged.

  • 1948 – Columbia Records introduces the long-playing record album in a public demonstration at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
  • 1983 – Space Shuttle program: STS-7, Astronaut Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.

Notables born on this  day include:

  • 1886 – George Mallory, English lieutenant and mountaineer (d. 1924)

Mallory’s body was discovered on Everest in 1999, but there is no clue about whether he and his partner Irvine reached the summit. You can see a photo of his body here.

  • 1913 – Robert Mondavi, American winemaker and philanthropist (d. 2008)
  • 1942 – Roger Ebert, American journalist, critic, and screenwriter (d. 2013)
  • 1952 – Carol Kane, American actress
  • 1952 – Isabella Rossellini, Italian actress, director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1962 – Lisa Randall, American physicist and academic

Those who snuffed it on June 18 include:

  • 1464 – Rogier van der Weyden, Flemish painter (b. 1400)
  • 1936 – Maxim Gorky, Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright (b. 1868)

Two great writers: Chekhov (l) and Gorky:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s trying a new way of publishing Listy z Naszego Sadu, which means “Letters from our Orchard”:

A: What are you doing here?
Hili: I’m telepathically sending letters from our orchard.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tu robisz?
Hili: Wysyłam telepatyczne listy z naszego sadu.

A meme from reader Divy, who swears that her cats like having her around:

From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe, a comment on the Big Oklahoma Virusfest:

Bruce Thiel says, “This song was popular in the 1960s and we could slow dance to it. Can you name the song just by looking at the picture? Well, can you?

A tweet from Simon, who said he had to look twice to make sure this wasn’t pink snow:

Diego the Galápagos tortoise goes home from San Diego, where he was used to restore the tortoise population. Reader Barry says, “Look at those backpacks!” (One has a turtle in it!) Read about Diego here; he fathered over 900 offspring and helped save his species (if these tortoises are indeed separate species). Be sure to watch the video on the Twitter site.

Tweets from Matthew, who says about the first study:

Two ways this could work:
A) subjects have watched chimps on films/tv
B) we share elements of our communication system.
C) It’s a crap psychology study with a small sample size
I haven’t read it yet; if you have, let us know.

I love this letter from Neil Armstrong—polite but oh so snarky:

Cool bison stampede at Yellowstone!

How peaceful these videos are, this one with the call of the swan.

From Matthew himself, who lives near a most excellent walk:

And this is amazing!

69 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

    1. Yes please. I visit just as often as in the past but have not commented as much perhaps. I seem to be having trouble formulating my thoughts in writing since about a month into the quarantine, which my wife and i, being in a fragile cohort, take very seriously. Your wide range of subjects, from science to arts to politics, and subject matter expert contributers and commenters, provide me with new awareness virtually ever day, leading to wikipedia searches or web searches for an author or new book, and sometimes even an amazon purchase of a new title or old title that is simply new to me.

    2. Stay the course, Jerry. I look at this site regularly, and just this week made it the first site I look at in the morning.

  1. Susan B. Anthony was a staunch abolitionist as well as fighter for women’s suffrage. In other words, she was a member of the Woke of her day and was excoriated as such.

    1. She and I had the same problem. Our fathers taught,let,allowed us to learn to read. Literacy knows no end.

  2. Possibly all the viewers on this side of the pond are out demonstrating. Hope so.
    I have one of those dentist appointments and will be leaving soon. Don’t think I would even read Bolton’s book, he is such a coward. That is the prize word for all republicans today.

    1. I’ll read the juicier excerpts somewhere, but sure as hell won’t buy it, or otherwise put a penny in that SoB’s pocket.

  3. The literary quality of Bolton’s book is not important. It would have been nice if he had testified at Trump’s impeachment trial, but that is water under the bridge. What is important now is that a right-wing Republican, a person hated by liberals for his foreign policy views, has provided a detailed accounting of Trump’s depravity (and, what we already knew, that he is a total ignoramus) in kowtowing to foreign dictators and betraying the national interest for the sole purpose of advancing his personal interests, particularly his re-election bid. Under the ruse of national security and executive privilege, Bill Barr’s disgraced Department of Justice is trying to get a court order to suppress the book’s publication. Too bad for Trump, the book is now in the hands of the media, and everything will be revealed. Of course, Trump has fallen back on the tactic he always uses – calling his opponents liars. It will not work except for with his cult and the Republican politicians whom I expect will say nothing about the book. The book will drive down Trump’s support to his hardcore supporters, the type who will attend a massive rally in the middle of a pandemic, showing that like many cultists of all types, they are willing to die for their dear leader.

    1. The book will drive down Trump’s support to his hardcore supporters

      I admire your optimism.

      With everything that’s been going on over the last three years, I doubt there is anything in the book that will persuade any of the people who still support Trump to stop supporting him.

      1. I think you are right, Jeremy. My conclusion after four years is that it is less Trump’s policies that attract his supporters than the way he twists the Democrats’ tails.

      2. According to nearly every recent poll — both head-to-head against Biden and overall approval — Trump’s support is approaching its hardcore, dead-end minima.

        Even in deep-red states that will almost certainly go for him in November, Trump’s support appears to be running a good 10 points or so below what he garnered in 2016 against Hillary.

        1. According to, Trump’s lowest ever approval rating was 36.9. It’s still a “healthy” four points above that. It was only 45.5 on day one of his presidency, so it’s currently in the middle of the range it has varied between in the last three and a half years.

          I guess that means there are still a good number of Trump supporters who are not part of his hard core and can be persuaded that he is a bad president, but I doubt if this book is going to move the needle significantly.

          I’d take a bet with you that this time next week, the fivethirtyeight approval rating for “all polls” is still above 40.

          1. The few tRump supporters I know seem more rabid than ever. They think he is the greatest prez in history. Bolton’s book will be like water off a duck’s back to them.

            1. So counterintuitive. They’re going to have to study the phenomenon intensely and come up with how their brains operate (or fail to operate).

          2. According to 538’s tracking poll, over the last two and a half years, Trump’s approval rating has fallen below 40 for only a couple days in late January-early February 2019.

            I WILL take a bet that Trump’s approval will fall below 40% again sometime between now and election day.

            I’m a punter, but not sucker, Jeremy. 🙂

    2. Yes water under the bridge, or perhaps more menacingly, water over the dam. I guess what we have really missed is a sort of peer review of bolton’s story that could have been realized through questions from both sides of the aisle at a committee hearing. Also, as a retired federal employee, it seems to be a severe break in the ethics taught by our nasa lawyers, to hold unique information that bolton gained due to his government employment for the ransom of a book purchase when he had the explicit opportunity to diseminate it freely to the public at the committee hearings.

    3. Bill Barr’s disgraced Department of Justice is trying to get a court order to suppress the book’s publication.

      That would clearly violate the First Amendment’s “prior restraints” doctrine, though DoJ may be able to latch onto his profits, at least temporarily, based on Bolton’s potential violation of his secrecy agreement under the Classified Information Procedures Act. Be fine with me if the whole gang of rotten thugs went down with the sinking ship.

      Bolton is a lot of things — bellicose warmonger, craven coward, and obdurate, humorless bellyacher among them — but a bullshitter, he ain’t.

      1. I once made a short film. The issue was that it was film entirely on a classified DOD installation.
        I was lucky to be able to sell it to a company that used parts of it for advertising.

        But before I could show it to anyone off base, I needed it to be reviewed and cleared by the DOD. If I had not done that, I had a good chance of being prosecuted for a federal crime. It was not up to me to decide if any of the scenes shown pose a national security risk. Although current events might indicate otherwise, an intent to reveal classified information is not required for a violation.

        That is part of the deal with being issued a security clearance and being allowed to see classified information and equipment. The clearance is a privilege, not a right, and is conditional on the person swearing to abide by disclosure rules.

        1. Yeah, Bolton could potentially be prosecuted (although he claims the book was originally cleared of classified information by the National Security Council reviewer and that the Trump administration is dragging its feet now to prevent him from publishing the book before the next election).

          But Bolton could not, under any circumstances, be prevented from publishing his book. That much was decided in the Pentagon Papers case.

          I think any federal prosecution for the disclosure of classified information requires the prosecution to establish a state-of-mind of at least negligence — which was, IIRC, the misdemeanor offense former Gen. David Petraeus pleaded to for sharing classified information with his paramour while she was writing his biography.

          I’m familiar with the CIPA procedures since I got a top-secret security clearance myself back in the 1990s, when I represented a defense contractor in an international arms-dealing prosecution involving the transshipment of anti-tank TOW-missile-equipped helicopters.

        2. At Bolton’s level he’s protected somewhat by the public’s need to know what its government is doing. Exposing conversations of valid interest to the public outweighs giving away secrets that advantage our enemies. Plus Trump’s declaration that every conversation in which he’s involved is classified is just stupid. It’s a little bit like today’s DACA decision by the Supreme Court. The reason given must have some substance.

        3. This is of course true, however it appears that the NSC already vetted the book and signed off on it on April 27th, according to Bolton’s lawyer, after requested revisions were made. Who you gonna trust? Trump and the traitor Barr or Bolton, his lawyer and the publisher? Bolton is odious no doubt but, come on. When it comes to lying no one, no one at all comes close to Trump’s record. And the traitor Barr has been documented as a liar and a crook since his earliest days of government service. No contest who is the least trust worthy here.

          You know what this looks like? It looks precisely like what Trump has always done to people that have threatened to expose his behavior throughout his entire life. Have his lawyers threaten them with law suits. The only real difference now is that Trump’s lawyer is the fricken Attorney General of the United States of America, the traitor Barr.

          There are no straws to be grasped here that could render the actions of Trump and the traitor Barr justified.

    1. I was wondering the same thing. On a couple of occasions recently (last one was on Saturday) I’ve had automated emails from WordPress saying “so-and-so liked your comment” and a link to the comment – but I don’t even see those “Like” buttons below the comments any more so it seems there’s a parallel WEIT site out there?

    2. That was my first thought too. I couldn’t even access this site for a several days after it and WordPress kept telling me to click on a link which didn’t work.

    3. If the domain name changed, then people who consume WEIT via RSS readers like I do, may not notice that they are no longer seeing the posts. I periodically review the feeds that I am “subscribed” to and find ones that have moved or died without me noticing it. If this is the explanation for your supposed loss of readership, then these people weren’t really reading your posts. At the same time, some may notice their loss and you will see your numbers gradually rise.

      1. Good hypothesis, but…

        I consume WEIT through RSS too but my feed continued to work even though the URL in the feed hadn’t changed.

        I have changed it now, so if this is my last ever comment, you’ll know the new feed is broken.

    4. I just checked the kind of redirect returned by and it is a permanent redirect (301) to so that’s good. Browsers and other reading apps are supposed to adjust their links automatically, though it isn’t guaranteed.

  4. I have no idea why views would be down. WEIT remains one of the most interesting websites around as far as I am concerned.

    I grew up in the 50s and 60s but have no idea what song that picture represents.

  5. 1178 – Five Canterbury monks see what is possibly the Giordano Bruno crater being formed.

    Wait, so a crater on the moon, the formation of which was witnesses by Canterbury monks, was named after a Dominican friar who himself went up in flames like a torch a half century later?

      1. Yes, thanks, “half a millennium” is what I meant to write. I changed it from “close to five centuries.”

  6. 1873 – Susan B. Anthony is fined $100 for attempting to vote in the 1872 presidential election.

    Did she pay it off with a sack of silver dollars?

  7. Another one and a half million filled for unemployment this last week so maybe that is keeping people away from viewing.

  8. The Canterbury monks hypothesis seems doubtful.

    “High-resolution images obtained by the Japanese satellite SELENE in 2008 were used to date the crater by counting the smaller craters within it and its ejecta deposits. This gave an age of 4 (+6−3) million years, much too old for the hypothesis.” – Wik.

    1. It also seems likely that if whatever the monks saw was really as conspicuous and dramatic as they describe it, there would have been many other reports from other parts of the world.

      1. Good point.
        Although their description was seemingly a good match to expected effects. Maybe what they saw was a different crater farther back on the moon’s back side.

  9. In his charmingly written account of his expedition to the Galapagos in 1929, To the South Seas, former and future Pennsylvania Gov. Gifford Pinchot (he served two discontinuous terms) wrote of taking some tortoises back for the collection at the National Zoo. At the time I read the book it occurred to me that some of them might still be alive but I wasn’t able to learn anything of what became of them.

    1. The only thing I can find about the Natioanal Zoo is that they have Aldabra tortoises that were brought there in the 1950s and 1970s. Nothing on their website about any tortoises from the Galapagos.

      I was lucky to see both Lonesome George and Diego at the Charles Darwin Research Center on Santa Cruz Island in 2012 just a short time before George died.

  10. Views on this website are way down, and I’m concerned. Did I do something wrong?

    Dunno about others, all I can say is that I read and greatly enjoy your comments, opinions and take on the world in general. Don’t be downhearted.

  11. I suspect “readership decline” is a consequence of the WordPress changes and, perhaps, changes in how visits are calculated. It is probably not a popular aversion to ducks.

    1. That’s also a possibility. Visits to my wordpress site have declined:

      In April there were 51, in May 41 and June only 21. Yes, June is only half over, but at least 15 of the 21 were me.

  12. If all those people in the picture had eaten something bad, it could turn into Schitt$ Creek – a television show not a song. Otherwise, I will go with Moon River.

    1. I thought it was “Bad Moon Rising,” though that song would be hard to slow dance to.

      L. Smith

  13. Well I’m no expert on how to drive up internet hits but have you considered more headlines such as:

    You won’t believe what…

    The ten best/worst/scariest/sexiest…

    What the […] don’t want you to know…

    Which of the Seven types of…are you?

    Then again, perhaps not.

  14. I get your posts in my RSS feed, old school. I don’t like some of your politics and often skip that, but love the history, science, animals, and some cartoons. Keep up the good work and thanks!

  15. Matthew’s Mersey image makes the river look like a canal. I guess it’s the result of people occupying the area for thousands of years.

  16. Re yellow spider on clover:

    Yes, Jerry, yellow crab spider, you are right – After posting to you, I was so advised.

  17. I read every post on this site, especially our host’s, religiously…umm, well, secularly then. I don’t always comment. Keep them coming please.

  18. On the reader statistics, didn’t the site recently change URL? I get this from my feed and newer saw much of a change, seems the feeder caught the URL change, but others may have been lost.

    On the Moon crater, the rest of the Wikipedia article throws doubt on the idea – primarily the crater dating is millions of years old.

    On the chimp papers, I haven’t read them, but according to the abstract the participants sizes were high. But they partitioned the chimp calls a lot, and there may be some problem there.

  19. I think the site update might be to blame for the reduced number of visits (and reduced comments and Likes?). My Likes are no longer registered, and I have given up on sending them. And now, every time I post a comment, I have to enter my WordPress password and hope WP recognizes me.

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