Saturday: Hili dialogue, first day of summer

June 20, 2020 • 7:00 am

Good morning on Saturday, June 20, 2020. It’s THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER, with the solstice at 4:44 pm Chicago time. But I think that the Summer of 2020 will be the worst many of us have had in years. And it’s no compensation that It’s also National Vanilla Milkshake Day, a “meh” treat if ever there was one. It’s also Plain Yogurt Day (another meh), National Ice Cream Soda Day, American Bald Eagle Day, National Smoothie Day, World Refugee Day, and . . . World Humanist Day

Note as well that there is a solar eclipse visible from some parts of our planet tomorrow:

I have fed the ducks and am now drinking a latte with four shots of espresso, as I am weary of the pandemic and of life.  But it is the mystery of ducks that sustains me now.

(Thanks to “Tom” for sending me dosh for duck food!)

Here is a great ending of a decent but not great movie:


News of the Day:

Big news from the Trump administration: Attorney General William Barr has tried to fire Geoffrey Berman, the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan (Barr announced Berman’s “resignatin”), but Berman, who was investigating Rudy Giuliani and other Trump associates, is refusing to step down until a successor is appointed by Congress. Now that is an interesting situation!

Tonight is, of course, the occasion of Trump’s Big “Let’s Get Infected” rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and while at first I feared that there would be no protests against the Prez and his defiance of sanity (both personally and in holding this crowded event), the protestors are finally starting to gather. Let’s hope things remain peaceful.

Today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 119,168 an increase of about 700 over yesterday’s report.  The world death toll now stands at 553, an increase of about 6,000 from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on June 20 includes:

The small cell 4.30 × 5.50 ⁠metres (14 × 18 ⁠⁠feet) was designed to hole two people, but they jammed 146 prisoners into it overnight. 123 of them died.

Here it is, with the Wikipedia caption, “Obverse (top) and reverse (bottom) side of the Great Seal, adopted in 1782. The obverse depicts the national arms, while the reverse depicts “A pyramid unfinished. In the zenith an eye in a triangle, surrounded by a glory, proper” and the mottoes Annuit cœptis and Novus ordo seclorum“.  Diana MacPherson will, I hope, translate this for us.


Or, if you prefer this one:

  • 1837 – Queen Victoria succeeds to the British throne.
  • 1840 – Samuel Morse receives the patent for the telegraph.
  • 1877 – Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
  • 1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother.
  • 1900 – Boxer Rebellion: The Imperial Chinese Army begins a 55-day siege of the Legation Quarter in Beijing, China.
  • 1942 – The Holocaust: Kazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, steal an SS staff car and escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

And check out these two. von Braun, of course, was the technical director of the V2 project

There used to be a semi-salacious joke about the Deutschmark, but it’s now outmoded since the Germans have the Euro as their currency. But here it is anyway:

An Australian tourist in Germany is lonely, so he finds himself a  prostitute. They go back to her room and she performs the best sex that he’s ever had. He can’t believe it how good she is.

Once she has finished her amazing performance he pulls out his wallet and hands over fifty Australian dollars. The German prostitute examines the strange notes and in a strong German accent says, “I would prefer Marks”.

“OK”, says the Australian, “eight out of ten.”

I’ll be here all week, folks.

  • 1963 – Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union and the United States sign an agreement to establish the so-called “red telephone” link between Washington and Moscow.
  • 1972 – Watergate scandal: An 18½-minute gap appears in the tape recording of the conversations between U.S. President Richard Nixon and his advisers regarding the recent arrests of his operatives while breaking into the Watergate complex.
  • 1975 – The film Jaws is released in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing film of that time and starting the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters”.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1819 – Jacques Offenbach, German-French cellist and composer (d. 1880)
  • 1905 – Lillian Hellman, American playwright and screenwriter (d. 1984)
  • 1909 – Errol Flynn, Australian-American actor (d. 1959)
  • 1924 – Chet Atkins, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2001)

Here’s the great Chet Atkins performing one of my favorites, “Mr. Sandman“. The song was written that same year

  • 1925 – Audie Murphy, American lieutenant and actor Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1971)
  • 1928 – Eric Dolphy, American saxophonist, flute player, and composer (d. 1964)
  • 1942 – Brian Wilson, American singer-songwriter and producer
  • 1945 – Anne Murray, Canadian singer and guitarist
  • 1967 – Nicole Kidman, American-Australian actress

Those who bought the farm on June 20 were few, and I could only find one I thought of note:

  • 1925 – Josef Breuer, Austrian physician and psychologist (b. 1842)

You might remember Breuer as the mentor of Sigmund Freud, both of whom were instrumental in developing the ludicrous “science” of psychoanalysis. Breuer in particular was renowned for his treatment of “Anna O.” (Bertha Pappenheim), which of course did nothing to cure her but made Breuer a lot of dosh.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is censusing the mouse and small rodent population:

A: Are you hunting?
Hili: No, I’m checking the supplies.
In Polish:
Ja: Polujesz?
Hili: Nie, sprawdzam zasoby.

Two memes from Terry. I always suspect these “children’s” notes and school assignments, but perhaps some of them are real.

I may have posted this before, but perhaps not everyone saw it.

From Diana MacPherson:

A tweet from Simon. What a spoilsport the man in the video is! That d*g is having a grand old time!

I may have posted this already, but if so you get to see it again. This is an Indian ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri) torturing a cat:

Tweets from Matthew, beginning with a gorgeous astronomy photo:

This paper, which I read yesterday, is correct in its conclusion, but is abysmally written and makes a number of mistakes in population and evolutionary genetics:

This monkey (what species?) doesn’t like those stringy bits on bananas.

A dogodile!

This tweet leads to a thread indicting R. A. Fisher. Matthew says “Aylward is a historian”, but I don’t agree with his conclusion that R. A. Fisher, one of the greatest biologists of the 20th century, and one of the founders of modern statistics, should be expunged from everything because he published eugenic views (they were never enacted in any British law or policy). He was one of those men whose work was brilliant, and moved the field forward, but was imperfect. (He also argued that tobacco didn’t cause cancer, arguably a more dangerous point of view in terms of causing deaths.)

Is this duck gonna get bread, and the fish know that duck = bread? If not, what’s your explanation?



38 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue, first day of summer

  1. Another vile attack on our government by the orange idiot – takeover of Voice of America, Radio free Europe and all of that. Everyone at these institutions have been fired and now Trump will be providing his propaganda.

  2. Seals: On occasion I used to smoke Parodi cigars. Gnarly little buggers but great for smoking while underneath a car, they came five to a little box, without any cellophane wrappers anywhere. On the box was a small seal – the Seal of Perfection, that always cracked me up. This is the most legible version I could find. The Marx Bros could easily have had something to do with it.

  3. The patience that this monkey shows by removing pretty much all parts from the banana is really impressive. I wonder if he wouldn’t outdo a lot of humans in his impulse control ability.

    1. A very impressive performance. I was amazed that she even cleaned a stringy bit off the log in front of her. I think it’s nascent OCD.

      1. “I think it’s nascent OCD.”

        Gets me to thinking, what would one call the opposite of that behavior? E.g., what if I, instead of sweeping the kitchen floor (at least several times a day), never sweep or actively treat the floor as a trash can? Can there be an obsessive-compulsive desire to make a mess/create chaos? One can label that behavior “sloth” or “laziness,” but AFAIK those aren’t formal psychiatric designations.

    2. The ability to delay gratification. Never been very good at it myself. Hell, it takes all I can do just to bet on a thoroughbred who likes to come from off the pace. 🙂

      1. “The ability to delay gratification Never been very good at it myself.”

        The same applies to me (at least as far as food is concerned) I suppose that this is one of the reasons why I am so impressed by the monkey’s endurance and patience.

    3. It seems that mother monkey also knows how to part her baby’s hair perfectly down the middle. Where’s her comb and monkey Brylcreem? I notice, too, that in her eagerness to get rid of the stringy bits, she doesn’t mind dropping them on her baby’s head.

      1. Well, she picked a thread off the stump, so I think she just didn’t see the stuff on her offspring’s head.

  4. The fact that tens of thousands of people are willing to risk their lives in order to pay homage to their cult leader indicates to me a lack of a basic capacity to think rationally in many, if not most, of humankind. If this premise is true (I’m sure some will disagree) then the hope of many readers at this site that religion will disappear is wishful thinking. It is possible that the traditional Abrahamic faiths may wither away, but they will be replaced by other irrational belief systems, even if they don’t specifically refer to a supernatural deity. For example, irrational conspiracy theories seem to be flourishing, aided and abetted by social media. Whether such systems will be more harmful to society than current systems is impossible to say. But a world guided by enlightenment values is not something we can expect to see, which is too bad.

    1. Your musings remind me of something Bertrand Russell wrote, viz., “It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.”

    2. “But a world guided by enlightenment values…”

      Take an average person of our time and put him in the Roman Age or the early or late Middle Ages: he would be able to refute 99.99% of the errors and false knowledge that prevailed at that time and could be considered a superhero of the Enlightenment.
      The fact that he behaves “irrationally” in some aspects according to today’s standards only means that he does not have 100% of today’s knowledge or is not able to behave according to it. But which person can? One should simply not expect that all people in all societies have the same possibility or ability to acquire the latest standards of knowledge and to behave accordingly.

      But the accumulation of scientific knowledge is unstoppable, it is gradually penetrating all areas of society, in some it is happening faster in others more slowly, but humanity as a whole is changing as a result, even though there may be more resistance to it from some individuals.

      1. I dunno. I fear that “an average person of our time,” if transported back to the Middle Ages, might readily fall in with the prevailing superstitions.

        1. If you were put into a time machine that takes you back 500 years, you could theoretically counter all the misconceptions about the universe, the beginning of life on earth and so on. In practice, you might not say a word because you did not want to risk being burned at the stake by the Holy Inquisition, which would prevent you from returning to 2020.

          1. In 1520 you would find it hard to justify your assertions about the Big Bang or the age of the universe without access to modern instruments. If you could contrive to meet Galileo before he got into trouble with the Inquisition, say in 1580, you might be able to give him some useful advice. But then the world you returned to would probably not have a place in it for you.

            1. You could be right. But this example with the time machine was only made to illustrate the huge distance that mankind has left behind. A period of time from 500 years ago, which was full of false assumptions, up to the time of today’s scientific knowledge. People were changed by this modern knowledge, they lost many of the fears the church tried to put on them only to keep them down.

      2. The idea that the increase in knowledge is somewhat linear is an interesting topic.
        There have been a number of times in the past where this was not true.

        One minor example was that I used to study a certain type of siege engine. Anyway, dating them was sort of counter intuitive, because the technologies used to manufacture the earlier examples had been lost completely when later examples where produced.

        Also, a great deal of knowledge has been just discarded as obsolete because of our current reliance on newer technologies. Most people today, if they were transported not to the Roman era, but just a couple of centuries ago, would be totally lost.
        They might have some revolutionary ideas about germ theory or sanitation, but they would likely be unable to prepare a meal, grow a crop, produce or launder clothing, or any number of basic life skills that people needed to learn in order to survive in those eras.

    3. I was thinking about that problem yesterday. I don’t know if it is depressing or funny -or maybe both- that founders of religions like Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or L. Ron Hubbard were atheists. Isn’t that obvious?

    1. Luminaries of the British left will have to go too, George Bernard Shaw, H G Wells, the Webbs….

    2. I am halfway through RA Fisher’s Genetical Theory of Natural Selection. Heavy going, but fascinating. Not always correct from a modern perspective, but the amount about genetics that people like him had worked out before Crick and Watson did their stuff is very impressive.

    1. I will be long gone, of course, but I get some little satisfaction from the knowledge that some day these cancel culture folks will be mocked by their grandchildren for their outdated morals and beliefs.

      It is my impression that their eagerness to judge historical figures comes from a certain belief that they personally hold the final and perfect set of beliefs that humanity has been striving for since prehistory. There is a total lack of humility, except for exaggerated public displays of penitence.

      I still think this is a religious movement. So many of these actions echo those of puritans and fundamentalists.

  5. I think the first day of summer deserves its own song, don’t you? Robert Heinlein named his story “The Door Into Summer” after his cat, who went outside through one door in the winter, and another door in the summer. Well, his cat, using cat logic, kept going to the door used in the summer to go out during the winter, believing that it was… the door into summer. So here is the live version of the song, “The Door Into Summer” that’s based on his story.

  6. … a decent but not great movie …

    Yes, a decent but not great movie, but based on a great novel, The Prince of Tides, one that ranks among the best of Southern Lit — up there with Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty and even Faulkner himself — the plots of which, as author Pat Conroy’s momma once summed it up for him, are all “On the night the hogs ate Willie, Mama died when she heard what Daddy did to Sister.” 🙂

    1. ” . . . Southern Lit . . . .”

      Is there a (U.S.) “Northern Lit” and “Eastern Lit”?

      (I gather that there is a “Western Lit,” what with the likes of Louis LaMour, Zane Grey, etc.)

      1. “Northeastern” was the original American Lit, with the likes of Melville and Hawthorne and Emerson and Washington Irving and Harriet Beecher Stowe, among many others.

  7. Attorney General William Barr has tried to fire Geoffrey Berman, the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan (Barr announced Berman’s “resignatin” [sic]), but Berman, who was investigating Rudy Giuliani and other Trump associates, is refusing to step down until a successor is appointed by Congress. Now that is an interesting situation!

    Barr must be feeling today like Virgil Sollozo in The Godfather who, after kidnapping Tom Hagen to convince him to make the peace with Sonny, finds out that, despite having taken five bullets, Vito Corleone is still alive:

    At bottom, Attorney General William Barr is nothing but the consigliere for a crime boss.

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