Wednesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Good morning on a pandemic Hump Day: Wednesday, July 15, 2020: National Tapioca Pudding Day. It’s also Orange Chicken Day (cultural appropriation), I Love Horses Day, and National Respect Canada Day (Canada don’t get no respect, sheesh!) It’s also Saint Swithun’s Day, and, as the legend goes, “According to tradition, if it rains on Saint Swithun’s bridge (Winchester) on his feast day (15 July) it will continue for forty days.”

And, if you’re an American, your income taxes are due today, thanks to the three-month pandemic extension.

News of the Day: Liberal Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been hospitalized—again—this time for an infection. If you’re like me, you’re feeling like a bad person for hoping that she hangs on until at least November (assuming that the lame-duck Senate won’t confirm a Trump appointee), because although you don’t want her to die, you especially don’t want her to die in the next six months.

With Trump against him, Jeff Sessions was soundly defeated in the Republican primary race for the Senate seat from Alabama.

As the Washington Redskins football team gets a new name, and rightly so, the offended aren’t appeased. Now the “Texas Rangers” name has to go too, because they are claimed to have oppressed minorities in the past. See the op-ed at the increasingly unreadable Washington Post.

The Trump administration has ditched its plans to force foreign college students to go home if their universities  (like Harvard) plan only online classes this fall.

With 132 deaths yesterday, Florida broke its record for the most deaths in a single day. The state will likely close down again. And so should Disney World.

In an op-ed in today’s NYT, a professor of public health at Tulane calls for a comprehensive (re)shutdown of America lest we face a very deadly resurgence of the virus this fall and winter.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 136,356, an increase of about 1000 deaths over yesterday’s report (thanks, Florida!). The world death toll now stands at 578,912, an increase of about 6,200 from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on July 15 include:

With the same inscription in ancient Greek, hieroglyphics, and Demotic script, the stone was essential in helping decipher hieroglyphics (photo below; it resides in the British Museum):

No, it’s still here as this Monty Python skit shows (part 2 is here):

  • 1838 – Ralph Waldo Emerson delivers the Divinity School Address at Harvard Divinity School, discounting Biblical miracles and declaring Jesus a great man, but not God. The Protestant community reacts with outrage.
  • 1910 – In his book Clinical Psychiatry, Emil Kraepelin gives a name to Alzheimer’s disease, naming it after his colleague Alois Alzheimer.
  • 1975 – Space Race: Apollo–Soyuz Test Project features the dual launch of an Apollo spacecraft and a Soyuz spacecraft on the first joint Soviet-United States human-crewed flight. It was both the last launch of an Apollo spacecraft, and the Saturn family of rockets.
  • 2002 – “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh pleads guilty to supplying aid to the enemy and to possession of explosives during the commission of a felony.

Here’s Lindh, with the Wikipedia caption: “Lindh photographed after being transported to Camp Rhino.” After a bit more than 16 years in prison, he was released in May, 2019:

And the anniversary of mass futile arguing, shaming, and name-calling:

  • 2006 – Twitter, later one of the largest social media platforms in the world, is launched.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1573 – Inigo Jones, English architect, designed the Queen’s House (d. 1652)
  • 1606 – Rembrandt, Dutch painter and etcher (d. 1669)
  • 1919 – Iris Murdoch, Anglo-Irish British novelist and philosopher (d. 1999)
  • 1922 – Leon M. Lederman, American physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2018)
  • 1928 – Carl Woese, American microbiologist and biophysicist (d. 2012)
  • 1930 – Jacques Derrida, Algerian-French philosopher and academic, obscurantist and corroder of modern discourse (d. 2004)
  • 1943 – Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Northern Irish astrophysicist, astronomer, and academic
  • 1946 – Linda Ronstadt, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress

Here’s the only Rembrandt I could find with a cat, “Virgin and Child with Cat” (1564). Can you spot the kitty? (In my view, Rembrandt was the greatest painter of all time.)

Those who expired on July 15 include:

Checkhov, a very great writer, died at only 44 of tuberculosis. Here he is with the venerable Tolstoy in Yalta (1900). What talent in this picture!:


  • 1929 – Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Austrian author, poet, and playwright (b. 1874)
  • 1948 – John J. Pershing, American general (b. 1860)
  • 1997 – Gianni Versace, Italian fashion designer, founded Versace (b. 1946)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej advises Hili to not be optimistic (remember, the far-right President won re-election the other day):

Hili: What does the future look like?
A: Rather dark until the dawn.
In Polish:
Hili: Jak się przedstawia przyszłość?
Ja: Do świtu raczej mrocznie.

In Wloclawek, Leon is helping his staff drive.

Leon:  Shall I put it in fourth gear?

In Polish: Leon: Włożyć czwórkę?

A true meme from Merilee:

From reader Charles:

Once again, Titania is way ahead of her time!

From Barry: Pandemic information and Monty Python pandemic lagniappe:

Tweets from Matthew. This one is grim:

Matthew says that this is the UK’s biggest gay newspaper.  Matthew also noted: “Indeed. It is not the Onion. The argument is that trans men can get it (obviously) and – get this – that because operated transwomen have reconstructed vaginas they should get smear tests… ”

It’s important that you know this, and it does seem credible.

Translation: “Which of you ate the salami?” It isn’t hard to guess.

This antlion “adult: looks like a jewel, says Dr. Cobb. Antlions are in the order Neuroptera along with lacewings, and are famous for their predatory larvae, not these flying adults.


  1. Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Blimey. When I started reading this Hili Dialogue, I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Well, their chief weapon is surprise. Surprise and fear. Fear and surprise…

      • revelator60
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        Our two weapons are fear and surprise—and ruthless efficiency! Our THREE weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency–and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope! Our FOUR—no—amongst our weapons—AMONGST our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise—I’ll come in again…

        • revelator60
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

          Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms—oh damn!

          • Max Blancke
            Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

            It is interesting how many of us know all those sketches by heart.
            I suspect younger generations don’t share that, as they have so many more choices in media.

            Last night, in response to a remark by my wife, I replied “Wait till Biggus hears of this!” For no particular reason.

            • merilee
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

              Did she find your comment wisible?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

  2. DrBrydon
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe they sold the little guy out like that.

  3. David Harper
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Apropos the Tw**t about the 43-page-long obituary section in the Houston Chronicle:

    A few years ago, I went to a local history talk about the Black Death in Suffolk, a county in eastern England. In the 14th century, deaths in each district were recorded by the manorial courts, which met every three months. The proceedings of the manorial court sessions were written on strips of vellum, and many of these still exist in the vaults of county record offices.

    The talk took place at the county record office in Bury St Edmunds, and the speaker showed us the manorial court rolls from the archives for one rural district. The records for the sessions up to 1348 were each just a few inches long. The records for the sessions in 1349, by contrast, were three or four feet in length, because so many plague deaths had to be recorded. It was a memorable way to illustrate the impact of the plague.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      They just don’t make vellum like they use to. Returning to the good old plague days – is that what Trump means by make America great again.

      On another note, I remember getting dropped off at Bury St Edmunds to catch a train to London, many years ago.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Europe differs from America in the depth of this recorded history. Here in the US, everything is NOW.

    • Jim batterson
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Every year in the 20th century, the us population increased more than a million people EXCEPT between july 1, 1917 and july 1, 1918 when it decreased by about 60,000..the yearof the spanish flu and the only such decrease in the century. The impact of flu deaths was visible in the us population change! Or at least flu deaths plus war deaths were visible, but wardeaths alone were not visible in this way any other year in the 20th century.

  4. GBJames
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    “…assuming that the lame-duck Senate won’t confirm a Trump appointee…”

    I wish we could assume this with confidence.

  5. rickflick
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    “If you’re like me, you’re feeling like a bad person for hoping that she hangs on until at least November…” I’m sure she feels the same way.

  6. Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    As I first started reading, I thought it read, “National Respect Canada GEESE Day,” which seemed quite bizarre to me. As it should, I suppose, since it wasn’t correct.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    1997 – Gianni Versace, Italian fashion designer, founded Versace (b. 1946)

    I ran into Gianni not long before he died. Literally. I had a condo on South Beach at the time and had walked to a diner on Ocean Drive for breakfast. On the way back, I was strolling down Ocean near 11th Street when this fella came skipping down some steps just to my right. We bumped into each other, both sorta grinned and said “excuse me,” him with an Italian accent.

    I thought, “damn, that guy looks familiar.” Then I looked up the steps whence he had come and recognized the building set back from the street as the Versace palazzo and realized the guy had been Gianni.

    Couple days later, Versace got clipped by Andrew Cunanan on almost exactly the same spot at almost exactly the same time of day.

  8. Hempenstein
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Tolstoy’s boots noted, also toes on Chekhov’s footwear.

  9. merilee
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink


  10. tomh
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I don’t know why anyone would think that a lame-duck Trump wouldn’t nominate, and the Senate confirm, a Supreme Court Justice.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      If Ginsburg died the morning of inauguration day, McConnell would have a Drumpf nominee approved before Biden took the oath of office.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        What? So late in the lame duck term?

        We can’t have that! 😉

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      For Mitch McConnell established an election-year no-confirmation rule after the Merrick Garland nomination.

      And Brutus McConnell is an honorable man.

  11. revelator60
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    What artistic wonders Chekhov might have performed if he’d lived a couple more decades is something to think about. As things were, he died with multiple masterpieces under his name.

  12. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Today I need moar cats! And I got it:

    “How ancient cats lived on the brink of domestication – Chemical analysis says Neolithic cats mostly ate crop pests but still lived wild.”

    • rickflick
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      “That suggests that people were eating a diet based almost entirely on farmed crops and were sharing their food with their canine companions.”

      What? The dogs were eating cereal? I hope it had milk on it.

  13. Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I saw that picture of Lindh and I thought it was somebody trying to show how the shroud of Turin was created.

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