Sunday: Hili dialogue

July 5, 2020 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a steamy Sunday, July 5, 2020. For the next 14 days, the high temperatures in Chicago are predicted to exceed 85°F (29.4°C), and creep into the nineties. These are truly the D*g Days. The ducks won’t like it either.

It’s National Apple Turnover Day as well as National Graham Cracker Day (only edible when slathered with chocolate frosting or in S’Mores), National Workaholics Day (count me in), Bikini Day (marking the day the bikini debuted in 1946), and Mechanical Pencil Day. (I’ve never understood why people use these rather than regular pencils. Yes, I know they waste less wood and don’t need sharpening, but I still prefer my classic pencil.)

Re the bikini: there’s a Wikipedia article on it that says this:

Although two-piece bathing suits were being used by women as early as the 1930s, the bikini is commonly dated to 1946, when partly due to material rationing after World War II, French engineer Louis Réard introduced the modern bikini. It [sic] modeled by Micheline Bernardini, on July 5, 1946, the name for his design borrowing from the Bikini Atoll, where post-war testing on the atomic bomb were taking place.

Here’s Ms. Bernardini modeling the very first bikini; the caption is from Wikipedia. I wonder if Réard’s profession as an engineer helped him with the design.

The new ‘Bikini’ swimming costume (in a newsprint-patterned fabric), which caused a sensation at a beauty contest at the Molitor swimming pool in Paris. Designer Louis Reard was unable to find a ‘respectable’ model for his costume and the job of displaying it went to 19-year-old Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris. She is holding a small box into which the entire costume can be packed. Celebrated as the first bikini, Luard’s design came a few months after a similar two-piece design was produced by French designer Jacques Heim. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

News of the Day: As the NYT reports, Hong Kong is “navigating a new reality” as stricter security measures, with stricter punishments for dissent, have been put in place by the mainland Chinese.  Over at the Washington Post, an article describes Trump’s recent spate of race-baiting, including his Fourth of July speech at Mount Rushmore, and how it’s unnerving Republicans with its message of division and implicit hatred.

And of course the coronavirus is still raging, with an especially nasty surge in Texas. The only bright spot is that the death rate is lower than at the beginning of the pandemic.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 129,680, an increase of about 670 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 529,875, an increase of about 3850 from yesterday.

Reader Bruce Thiel was chastised by a disguised Pecksniff for his family’s Fourth of July display. The story and three photos:

Since 1980, my wife has been putting her flags out in the driveway and front yard for July 4th, Memorial Day etc.  This afternoon some young anonymous woke neighbor, disguised in mask and sunglasses, put these signs in our yard.  Granted, with the flags, it did look a little like a Trump rally staging area, but geez. . .

JAC: Looks like the 1619 Project is successfully propagandizing the young, as it was designed to do when used as a school curriculum:

Stuff that happened on July 5 includes:

  • 1687 – Isaac Newton publishes Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
  • 1841 – Thomas Cook organises the first package excursion, from Leicester to Loughborough.
  • 1937 – Spam, the luncheon meat, is introduced into the market by the Hormel Foods Corporation.

Yes, besides computer messages, you’ll know of Spam from this Monty Python sketch:

The sketch was even used in advertising by Spam itself. Note, though, that they use a knight, not a Viking.

Spam, photographed in 2015. Credit: Kevin Schafer/Getty Images
  • 1946 – Micheline Bernardini models the first modern bikini at a swimming pool in Paris. [See above.]
  • 1948 – National Health Service Acts create the national public health system in the United Kingdom.
  • 1954 – Elvis Presley records his first single, “That’s All Right,” at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee.

Here’s that song:

  • 1975 – Arthur Ashe becomes the first black man to win the Wimbledon singles title.
  • 1996 – Dolly the sheep becomes the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.
  • 2009 – The largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever discovered in England, consisting of more than 1,500 items, is found near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, Staffordshire.

Here’s some of the Staffordshire Hoard with the Wikipedia caption, “A selection of highlight pieces from the Staffordshire Hoard (top) and a gold sword hilt fitting with cloisonné garnet inlay (below), uncleaned by conservators, still showing traces of soil.” These are beautiful pieces!

Notables born on this day include:

Fitzroy was, of course, the captain on the second Beagle voyage (1831-1836), the one that carried Charles Darwin as the captain’s companion (not, as often assumed, as the ship’s naturalist). Fitzroy slit his throat with a razor in 1865.

  • 1810 – P. T. Barnum, American businessman, co-founded Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (d. 1891)
  • 1889 – Jean Cocteau, French novelist, poet, and playwright (d. 1963)
  • 1891 – John Howard Northrop, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1987)

Northrop was used as the basis of one of the characters (Gottlieb, I think), in Sinclair Lewis’s novel Arrowsmith. 

  • 1904 – Ernst Mayr, German-American biologist and ornithologist (d. 2005)

My appreciation for Mayr’s work, published in Evolution, can be found here, and my short obituary in Science is here. Does the younger generation of evolutionists know of his work? They should.

  • 1946 – Gerard ‘t Hooft, Dutch physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1950 – Huey Lewis, American singer-songwriter and actor
  • 1985 – Megan Rapinoe, American soccer player

Notables who popped off on July 5 were few, and include:

  • 1826 – Stamford Raffles, English politician, founded Singapore (b. 1782)
  • 1969 – Walter Gropius, German architect, designed the John F. Kennedy Federal Building and Werkbund Exhibition (b. 1883)
  • 2002 – Ted Williams, American baseball player and manager (b. 1918)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has her priorities straight: one cannot ponder the Big Questions on an empty stomach.

A: Are you asleep?
Hili: No, I’m digesting and thinking about the future of the world.
In Polish:
Ja: Śpisz?
Hili: Nie, trawię i myślę o przyszłości świata.

A cute meme from reader Barry. Apparently the young like to eat nuts.

From Jesus of the Day:

Also from Jesus of the Day:

Reader E. A. Blair adds, “Maybe someone shot the serif, but not the deep-U-t”:

From reader Simon, a video I think I’ve shown before. I think this kind butcher is from Turkey:

From reader Barry. I would have thought it was rhodonite (I have a pendant that looks a bit like that), but several answers say “no”. Could it be a piece of glass?

Tweets from Matthew. Below are two forms of the Japanese rhinoceros beetle, in which males are usually substantially larger than females and have a Y-shaped horn, like the one on the left. But different developmental conditions can produce hornless mini-males, and one is shown here. I don’t know much about these, or whether they get mates:

A good pun:


This group looks quite prescient about the coronavirus, but I think others also issued similar warnings about “ticking time bombs.”

Translation: “A Javan rhino (Rhinocerus sondaicus) captured by a video trap with a duration of 2 minutes and 15 seconds in a waterfall in the Cigenteur Block of Ujung Kulon National Park.”

That rhino is having a fine wallow!

Clearly the sweet spot here is 2-3 mph:

From reader Ken. I see no explanation for this woman’s tweet save racism, but why on earth would she go public with it, especially as an election commisioner?



43 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. The Vise Grip(TM) feeding photo is completely fake – you can tell because these tools use steel wool for nests, not straw.

    1. But, as with donuts, one must develop the proper dunking technique. It’s all a matter of timing:

  2. I preferred a mechanical pencil. While the point was not as sharp and clean as a freshly prepared regular pencil, it was consistent in lts line. Also i did not seem to have the coordination to sharpen pencils without their tips breaking. In later years, i found that it was easier and cleaner to carry a mechanical pencil in my shirt pocket for the day along with a ballpoint pen. Yes, i also settled for the mediocracy of a ball point versus a fountain pen as my penmanship was so bad that a ball point seemed easier to make my hen scratching legible…no longer an issue in our keyboard world.

    1. I have always liked clutch pencils with soft leads. You could smudge areas of sketches made with soft leads with your finger to invoke shape and shadow and the dark lines looked more robust.

      In the last few years I have graduated to Faber-Castell clutches with 4B and 6B 3mm leads, perhaps making writing and reading easier.

    2. I agree on the mechanical pencil. I started to use one when taking a drafting class back in eighth grade I think. Those used large leads that needed sharpening as well. But then I found the .5mm mechanical pencils. Always sharp consistent line, easy to carry.

    3. I vastly prefer mechanical pencils with a wide diameter of soft lead. It it excellent for writing on a musical staff, and gives a very consistent width and darkness. The only downside is a softer lead will break more easily, but that’s easily fixed by extruding more lead from the pencil. Sorry for the gratuitous use of “extruding.”

  3. The 1852 speech by Frederick Douglass was very long, as was typical of that day. People today could never sit through it. But, here is the essence of what he was trying to get across.

    “The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be
    roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced. What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”

    We have come a long way since 1852, but not far enough. The ideals of the Revolution, promulgated, in part, by the slaveholding Founders, have not been fully realized. Occasionally, circumstances are such that frustration and anger boil over into protests and demonstrations. So, the Trump presidency in general and the George Floyd murder in specific have combined to light the fuse. These demonstrations should remind us that a lot needs to be done to bring true racial justice to this country. If Trump is re-elected, I fear that what is going on now will be viewed as the spark that ignited the explosion.

    The speech is reprinted in this Washington Post article:

    1. I see on the grid for the Grand Prix in Austria, all the drivers are wearing black t-shirts with sayings on them. Hamilton’s says Black Lives Matters.

    2. Thank you. Excellent piece of writing.

      This piece of writing has been making headlines. I see it is important to emphasize, in the title of the piece, “to a slave”.

    3. Donald Trump, and his right-wing media enablers, have attempted to use the recent protests to stoke racial resentments and scare white people into supporting Trump. (To hear the way they tell it, you’d think Joe Biden was out there in blackface himself tearing down and defacing statues of the Founding Fathers.)

      But the video of the brutal murder of George Floyd, and the protests it has engendered, have seemed to me to have had the opposite effect — to raise the national consciousness regarding the unequal treatment of minority communities.

      In his speech at Mount Rushmore, Donald Trump — who frequently touts himself as a leading proponent of “sentencing reform” — said he would be signing an executive order imposing a 10-year mandatory sentence upon anyone convicted of defacing a federal monument (something the US constitution gives him absolutely no authority to do).

  4. Regarding the cat in the shop in Turkey, while in Istanbul Several years ago we had an early supper at a seafood restaurant down by the Sea of Marmara. It was really late afternoon and we were the only people in the restaurant. After noshing for awhile (with impecable service by the way) we began noticing a gathering of cats assembling nearby on the quay. One or two of the bolder ones came to investigate the floor under our table and we accommodated them with some bits of fish. After we completed our meal the waiter came and cleared the remains and rather than dump them in a trash can took them to a concrete pad next to the restaurant where they were placed neatly for the cats to consume. It was our first day in Istanbul and we wondered about the practice. We asked the waiter to fill us in and he sat with us for awhile and told us about the belovEd status of cats in the city. Many restaurants apparently had similar practices and cats are truly royalty.

    1. Feeding the cats seems kind, but I wonder if they do anything to protect the health of the cats. Parasites, for instance. And, without action, they will overpopulate and create a major difficulty.

  5. 1889 – Jean Cocteau, French novelist, poet, and playwright (d. 1963)

    And influential filmmaker — both director and screenwriter, probably best known for his Orphic Trilogy.

  6. I think the Mississippi Election Commissioner’s comment was not intended for public distribution. It was one of those times that racists think they are speaking privately but post to a larger group. From the looks of it, it seems to have been on Facebook.

    1. It’s pretty bad when “I didn’t intend to say this in public” is their excuse. And how can one do anything on Facebook and expect it to be truly private?

      1. People shouldn’t, but people do all the time. It isn’t entirely a bad thing when people expose themselves. It can be a “learning moment”.

        1. It’s hard to believe but I suppose someone could become an Election Commissioner by simply being a “people person” willing to do what I imagine to be a thankless job. Computer skills, or a brain, not required.

          1. It probably varies state by state. Here in Wisconsin the six are filled by Governor and Legislative appointments, split between R and D, to fill six year terms. Officers are selected every two years and toggle back and forth from R to D. Currently the Chair (a neighbor of mine) and Vice Chair are Democrats and the Secretary is a Republican. The power of the Election Commission is a political issue itself.

      2. It’s OK to be a racist. It’s just a problem when you accidentally tell the world.


        There are countless examples of people failing to understand that posting on social media is more akin to posting your thoughts on an outdoor billboard than having a quiet conversation in the pub with your mates.

        How many times have you heard of people getting fired from their jobs after being critical of their employer on Twitter or Facebook? It’s almost comical.

      1. Displaying the American flag in no way should associate one with Donald Trump.

        Displaying the confederate flag, OTOH, almost certainly indicates that one is a Trumpist. And Mb<humping Old Glory on the stage at CPAC makes one Donald Trump himself:

  7. The death rate is a lagging statistic, particularly since the current rise is probably due to the young socializing in bars and nightclubs. It lags (a) because it takes a while for someone who gets COVID to die and (b) it takes a while for the young, sick people to bring the virus home to grandma, grandpa, and sickly aunt Mabel.

    1. Exactly what I was going to say. I read about the US infection statistics with horror because 50,000 confirmed infections today is going to be several hundred confirmed deaths in a week or two.

      It’s especially heartbreaking when you consider that, in days gone by, the US would be taking the lead in a coordinated World effort to beat the disease. There were so many opportunities to stop this and they’ve all been squandered by the Trump administration.

      The following article is a long read, but well worth it.

      It really puts into perspective what a corrupt and malign force the current US administration is.

  8. The original version of “That’s All Right, Mama”, was written and recorded by Arthur Crudup in 1946, eight years before Elvis. I am sure it can be found on YouTube. Elvis didn’t really change it at all. To me, the song has a more authentic, bluesy feel in Crudup’s version.

    1. Elvis’s version wasn’t meant to be a generic blues, which is what Crudup’s version is. Elvis’s first single had a “hillbilly” version of a blues song for the A side (“That’s All Right”) with a R&B version of a country song for the B (“Blue Moon of Kentucky”). His version of “That’s All Right” is a countrified, fleet-footed remake of the song that sounds far more high-spirited—it marks the creation of rockabilly and stands as one of the first rock’n’roll songs.

  9. What makes it OK to post signs on private property? How does the poster know they aren’t damaging structures or plants under the soil, etc.?

    As for the “discourse” on display- all I see here is the tangible equivalent of Anonymous typing messages on a website with an implied “checkmate”, awaiting a reply to the bait.

    1. FWIW, it is likely public property. Street curbs generally are. Note the fire hydrant, probably not privately owned.

        1. Same with snow removal & they will fine you even if you’re an old elderly woman who can’t manage it.

  10. Noted Darwin scholar John van Wyhe —
    (2013, “My appointment received the sanction of the Admiralty”: Why Charles Darwin really was the naturalist on HMS Beagle.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and
    Biomedical Sciences)
    — argues that Darwin was in fact appointed to be the Beagle’s naturalist and not just FitzRoy’s intellectual companion. The pdf is available at “Darwin On-line”:,%20John%20van%20Wyhe,%20My%20appointment…Darwin%20was%20the%20naturalist%20of%20the%20Beagle.pdf

  11. What was the reason for @TrinityExists to give someone a middle name in scare quotes, including the peculiar choice of middle name “Karen”?

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