Saturday: Hili dialogue

July 11, 2020 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Saturday, July 11, 2020: National Blueberry Muffin Day, a calorific treat (an average muffin has nearly 500 calories, the equivalent of 34 teaspoons of sugar).  It’s also World Population Day, National Rainier Cherries Day, National Mojito Day, and National Cheer up the Lonely Day. 

The world population clock is here; as I write this, we share the planet with 7,797,289,980 people. I remember when it was 3 billion! Already nearly 52,000 people have been born today. Go see how fast the clock ticks. The most populous country is China, with 1.4 billion people. Number two is India, with 1.3 billion people, and the U.S. is a distant third—about 331,000,000 people.

It’s also Free Slurpee Day at 7-Elevens, but it’s been canceled this year because virus. However, you can still get a coupon for a free Slurpee (I like the Coca-Cola flavor) here.

News of the Day: I am told that the cherry crop in Dobrzyn is good this year, there are many cherries and they’re exceptionally big and tasty. But I won’t be there this summer to have my daily pie. 🙁

Trump commuted the sentence of his pal and campaign adviser Roger Stone—convicted of seven felonies and facing 40 months in jail—for obstructing a Congressional investigation. Par for the course, no? Wait until he tries to pardon himself.

Curiously, a letter to the editor appears by itself on the NYT op-ed  headlines, something I don’t remember happening before. “It’s Time, Dr. Fauci” calls for Anthony Fauci to resign from Trump’s team because it gives unwarranted credibility to Trump’s coronavirus task force, which ignores his recommendations. Second column here; click screenshot to read:

New Covid-19 infections in the U.S. set another record: the seventh in eleven days. Over 68,000 cases were reported, besting Friday’s record by nearly a thousand. We are well and truly screwed.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 133,901, an increase of about 800 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 559,104, an increase of about 4500 from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on July 11 include:

  • 1576 – Martin Frobisher sights Greenland.
  • 1804 – A duel occurs in which the Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr mortally wounds former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton, paralyzed by the shot, suffered for 31 hours before he died. As his birth date was uncertain, he was either 47 or 49 years old.

Here is Mikimoto, whose pearl company is still around, and lucrative. (I’m not sure if cultured pearls are distinguishable from real ones, even by X-ray. Readers?)

Not everyone knows that Ruth was a terrific pitcher for the Boston Red Sox (his winning percentage was 0.671) before he joined the Yankees as a slugging outfielder.  In the opinion of many, including my late friend Kenny, a baseball expert, Ruth was the greatest ballplayer of all time. Here he is with Boston:

  • 1919 – The eight-hour day and free Sunday become law for workers in the Netherlands.
  • 1921 – Former president of the United States William Howard Taft is sworn in as 10th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the only person ever to hold both offices.
  • 1924 – Eric Liddell won the gold medal in 400m at the 1924 Paris Olympics, after refusing to run in the heats for 100m, his favoured distance, on the Sunday.

Remember the movie “Chariots of Fire”? Here’s a clip showing Liddell learning that the 100-meter heats would be held on the Sabbath, and, as a diehard Christian, he decided not to run.

Here’s the ship being denied entrance to Palestine. The British forced the passengers to go instead to postwar Germany (!), where they were put in refugee camps.

Exodus ship following British takeover (note damage to makeshift barriers). Banner says: “HAGANAH Ship EXODUS 1947”.

A first edition of this classic will run you upwards of $20,000, more if it’s signed. This one, with a note and artwork by Lee, goes for $100,000:

  • 1972 – The first game of the World Chess Championship 1972 between challenger Bobby Fischer and defending champion Boris Spassky starts.

Both births and deaths of notables were thin on the ground on July 11. Notables born on this day include:

  • 1776 – John Constable, English painter and academic (d. 1837)
  • 1933 – Gene Wilder, American actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 2016)
  • 1939 – Jackie Stewart, Scottish race car driver and sportscaster

Why has Scotland produced so many great Formula 1 drivers? Stewart, at 80, is the last surviving F1 champion from the 1960s. Here’s a 12-minute interview with Sir Jackie, the Flying Scot:

  • 1959 – Hugh Laurie, English actor and screenwriter

Those who found quietus on July 11 include:

  • 1979 – John Wayne, American actor, director, and producer (b. 1907)
  • 2001 – Timothy McVeigh, American terrorist (b. 1968)
  • 2003 – David Brinkley, American journalist and author (b. 1920)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is an unkempt mess:

A:  Look at your fur!
Hili: You have to brush me because I got wet in the forest.
In Polish:
Ja: Jak to twoje futro wygląda?
Hili: Musisz mnie wyczesać, bo zmokłam w nocy w lesie.

A great idea from reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe:


A cat meme from reader Deirdre:

From Bruce Thiel:

A tweet from Luana. AOC has NO idea what “cancel culture” really is, nor the way that “canceling” can be publicized.  But of course she’ll be re-elected. Chad responds to her blather with a cartoon:

From Barry: an in-bread cat:

From Simon: another gem from the inimitable (or rather mimetic) Sarah Cooper. To read about Trump’s “cognitive test”, go here.

Tweets from Matthew. First, a lovely and amazing thread involving a Roman golden ring and J. R. R. Tolkien. Start with this tweet and read the thread:

I used to lecture on “false heads” in my mimicry lecture, and would show a drawing of such a butterfly. But this video is far better!

A sad coincidence:

Not Army material, but amply qualified to be a Deadhead!



28 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. 1. There’s a comet named NEOWISE that is observable in the next few days… in the northern hemisphere I guess… I read it and lots of ads in

    2. Ron Graham died. He was a famous mathematician. Graham’s number, which he formulated, is named for him. I read this on a WordPress blog. Numberphile has many videos with Ron, going through his computations.

      1. I won’t attempt to link so as to avoid accidentally embedding it but curious minds should check out the Numberphile videos, maybe start with What Is Graham’s Number (Feat. Ron Graham).

    1. Sad news indeed. I see no cause is listed, but with the recent passing of Conway from Covid-19, that was the first thing that jumped to mind. Add to Canadian paleontologist and author Robert Carroll, who died earlier this year from Covid-19, Ellis Marsalis, John Prine…we’ve lost some great minds and talents from this nasty little virus. But even if Graham died of age-related health issues instead of Covid-19, which somehow would seem less tragic, the end result is the same.

    2. Caught an excellent view of NEOWISE at 3:30a in Seattle this morning. Very bright in the NE sky. Couldn’t see much of a tail because a half-moon made the sky fairly bright.

  2. Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence represents another example of the country’s descent into a banana republic where there is no such thing as the rule of law. His actions give credence to an op-ed in the Washington Post by Jonathan Greenberg entitled “Twelve signs Trump would try to run a fascist dictatorship in a second term.” What is interesting about Greenberg’s twelve signs is that they all represent creeping fascism, which is quite insidious. In other words, fascism is not being foisted on the country by a sudden military coup. Rather, it is a slow step-by-step process where each step is barely noticed or not given much attention by the general public. These are the twelve steps that Greenberg discusses.

    1. Trump uses military power and federal law enforcement to suppress peaceful political protest.
    2. Trump persistently lies about voter fraud, setting the stage for him to use emergency powers to seize control of the election or challenge the results if he loses.
    3. Trump has repeatedly suggested that he might remain in office after a second term and has offered reason to doubt he’d leave peacefully after this first term.
    4. Trump appears to believe he has the power to outlaw speech critical of him, and he calls the free press “the enemy of the people.”
    5. With Fox News promoting Trump’s lies as truth, the president controls one of the most powerful propaganda machines ever created.
    6. Trump believes that he has the power to do what he wants, regardless of Congress or the courts.
    7. Trump acts as if he owns our government and can fire any official who defends the law.
    8. Trump uses federal prosecutorial powers to investigate his opponents and anyone who dares scrutinize him or his allies for the many crimes they may have committed.
    9. Trump viciously attacks his critics and has publicly implied that the Ukraine whistleblower should be hanged for treason.
    10. Trump has messianic delusions that are supported with religious fervor by millions of his supporters.
    11. Trump subscribes to a doctrine of genetic superiority and incites racial hatred to scapegoat immigrants and gain power.
    12. Trump finds common ground with the world’s most ruthless dictators while denigrating America’s democratic allies.

    Trump cannot accomplish his goals alone. He needs the acquiescence of the Republican Party, which he has. All this adds up to why the November election is the most important since 1860. Trump must be defeated and the Republican Party reduced to ashes, out of which, perhaps, a principled conservative party will emerge. Trump’s dangerous cult will still live on, but at least they will not hold the levers of government power.

    1. Which has me wondering if tRump actually thought this all through and is executing a strategic plan modeled on other dictators, or is he just flying by the seat of his pants? Is this, perhaps, all coming out of the heads of Steven Miller and other cronies? Or, is this just what emerges spontaneously from a psychopathic personality?

      1. The diagnosis may be in on the latter, his niece who has a recent Ph.D. in clinical psychology has certainly met him as required.

        “Trump shaped by ‘sociopath’ father, niece writes in memoir”

        “Too Much and Never Enough deals extensively with the emotional abuse of a household topped by an absent father and an ill, neglected mother. Mary Trump contends that Fred Trump Sr’s many failings – ultimately, his being a “high-functioning sociopath” – weighed heavily on all his children, including her father Fred Trump Jr, who died from illness arising from alcoholism in 1981.

        “Having been abandoned by his mother for at least a year,” she writes, “and having his father fail not only to meet his needs but to make him feel safe or loved, valued or mirrored, Donald suffered deprivations that would scar him for life [and acquired] personality traits [including] displays of narcissism, bullying, [and] grandiosity”.”

        [ ]

        1. Sounds plausible. The stuff I read said DT is very strongly classifiable as a psychopath. Which, in turn is highly heritable (50%). This would suggest his father was a psychopath and that DT inherited the trait. The environment, bad as it was, may not have been all that important. Whatever the case, what we have now, for sure, is a psychopath for a president who stands a chance of being reelected by slightly less than a majority of the American people.

  3. I don’t see any argument for Babe Ruth not being the greatest of ball players.

    I saw Jackie Stewart race twice, Silverstone and Madrid, Spain. Probably around 71.

    I wonder if the mob boss will pardon himself from losing the election.

    1. Babe Ruth was my gateway drug into hard core baseball obsession back in 6th grade. I stumbled upon a history book in the school library and was hooked from there on out. A fascinating if somewhat disturbed hero.

  4. That in-bread cat is very cute. And Sarah Cooper’s video was a work of (stable) genius, as always

  5. Why has Scotland produced so many great Formula 1 drivers?

    Following Johnson, perhaps it’s the narrow roads and fast driving to get to England?

    1. I agree that the narrow twisty and sometimes single track roads promote swift reactions in some of our drivers, but I have to admit that Finland, with a similar population, clearly excels in both Formula 1 and international rallying. I suspect the weather has something to do with it as well, in both cases.

  6. Seems to me, with his pardon of Roger Stone, our “president” has crapped all over his Roy Cohn-like attorney general, William Barr.

    Barr took a lot of heat, inside and outside the US Justice Department, when he overruled his own prosecutors to force the government to recommend a sentence for Stone below what was called for by the federal sentencing guidelines. (Stone’s guideline range called for 7 to 10 years imprisonment, the range the prosecutors who tried Stone’s case originally recommended for him to the sentencing judge. After Barr’s intercession, all four of the original prosecutors refused to sign onto the lower recommendation and withdraw from the case, and Stone received a four-year sentence. Barr went on record at the time vouching for the “righteousness” of both Stone’s underlying conviction and the four-year sentence he received. There was no point to this entire charade — and the public outrage it engendered — if Donald Trump was simply going to turn around and commute whatever sentence Stone received, The entire episode makes AG Barr look like a fool.)

    Now that Trump has commuted Stone’s sentence and Stone no longer faces any imprisonment for his crimes, the move now would be for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (or, failing that, for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office or the NY Attorney General’s office) to haul Stone before a grand jury, give him a grant of immunity (so he can no longer claim his 5th Amendment self-incrimination privilege) and force him to spill his guts about everything he knows. If Stone refuses to testify, he can be held in jail on civil contempt (which, since it isn’t a criminal conviction, Trump has no power to pardon). If Stone lies before the grand jury, he can be prosecuted for perjury (a crime not covered by a grant of immunity).

  7. I thought Harper Lee was cancelled-white saviour complex, and a woman lies about rape in TKAMB. The price of first editions should drop.

  8. Births on 11th July are even fewer than that…. Constable’s birthday was 11th June (which I only know because I happen to share it!). Thanks for a great blog. I’m fairly new to it – I love it and have learnt so much. Lucy

  9. When I see things like that splendid and spectacular ring, and also having a slight acquaintance with what’s involved with goldsmithing, I wonder what sorts of tools/processes were used in making it.

    Also, could it be that Silvianus had developed arthritis to the point that he could no longer wear the ring on his finger and had to carry it in some way, making it easier for Senicianus to steal it?

  10. Re Mikimoto: …(I’m not sure if cultured pearls are distinguishable from real ones, even by X-ray. Readers?).
    Neither do I know if that is possible, but it reminded me of the amusing and recommendable short story “A String of Beads”, told by my favorite author Somerset Maugham.
    I just had an enjoyable ten minutes’ read again.

  11. NYT publish another article that gives a false impression on Covid-19 responses, the 2nd in short order:

    If you happened to read The New York Times this week, you may be under the false impression that the World Health Organization significantly changed its stance on whether the pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, spreads by lingering in the air.

    [ ]

    Trump commuted the sentence of his pal and campaign adviser Roger Stone—convicted of seven felonies and facing 40 months in jail

    Apparently he has said he was “a law and order” president.

    I guess in the same way he said he was “a war [on pandemic]” president.

    Worst US President Ever(TM).

  12. A bit late to the party but regarding pearls, it is usually quite easy to tell natural from cultured and it’s because of how the pearls are formed by the oyster’s secretions around a foreign object such as a grain of sand.
    In nature there is obviously no control over what becomes the nucleus of a pearl and more often than not this nucleus is an irregularly shaped grit particle or two or more sand grains lying close to each other. Because the nucleus is an irregular shape, and because the oyster’s secretions cover the nucleus evenly the build-up becomes an irregular shape, often elongated and/or lumpy and bumpy.
    When creating cultured pearls the nucleus is introduced by the ‘farmer’ and tends to be a regularly-shaped grain meaning that the pearl forms in a regular, sperical shape.
    In a nutshell (oyster shell?) if the pearl is sperical it’s almost certainly cultured; if it’s irregular, bumpy or elongated it’s natural.

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