Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

July 27, 2020 • 6:30 am

Well, here we are back the start of the week:  n = n + 1 on Monday, July 27, 2020. Is anyone dispirited like me, or is everyone ebullient? If so, why? At least we have lots of cat pictures today: all of the Polish cats including Hili, Szaron, Leon, and the tiny new kitten Kulka.

Foodimentary says that it’s National Scotch Day, though I’m not sure Scotch is a food, but make mine a well-aged Springbank. It’s also National Creme Brulée Day (another overrated dessert in the flan family), National Chicken Finger Day (I’ve never had one), and Bagpipe Appreciation Day. In North Korea it’s Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War, marking the signing of the Korean Armistice agreement in 1953 (we’re still technically at war with the DPRK), and in the US it’s National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day.

News of the Day: There are renewed calls to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, as it’s named after a Confederate general and a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. Normally I’d favor the renaming (one suggestion is to rename it the John Lewis Bridge), but the old name is so imbued with history that I think it should stay. The bridge is the site of “Bloody Sunday”—actually three Sundays in 1965 on which civil rights activists tried to march from Selma to Montgomery and were attacked by police. It was the sight of that police brutality that helped propel passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The contrast between the segregationism embodied in the bridge’s name and its role in furthering civil rights suggests that the name should stay not as a memorial to the Confederacy, but to the great struggle for civil rights.

And there was this: John Lewis’s body ferried in a caisson over the bridge where, 55 years ago, police fractured his skull with a billy club.

The name is important here. If it’s renamed, the letters should nevertheless stay.

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he will not vote to confirm any new Supreme Court nominees unless they vow to overturn Roe v. Wade. Although there are no Court openings in the offing, there are rumors that Clarence Thomas could retire, and of course there’s always RBG’s health.  But what about not voting on a President’s nominees in an election year, a Republican strategy that killed Obama’s nominee? Mitch McConnell pulls a 180:

Although no vacancy is imminent, White House officials and some top Republicans have privately discussed the possibility that Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative appointed by George H.W. Bush, could retire.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked then-President Barack Obama from making an election-year appointment to the Supreme Court in 2016. He denied Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a confirmation hearing, saying the next president should make the choice.

But McConnell has said he would push through a Trump nominee this year, should an opening occur. The difference from 2016, he maintains, is that now the same political party controls the White House and Senate.

How is that relevant?

The novel To Kill a Mockingbird is finally getting canceled, including in this piece in the Washington Post, which says that the novel is still “reinforcing and normalizing a culture of oppression.” But what are the truths about white people that, according to author Errin Haines, the novel tells? That white folks are all racist, imbued with privilege, perpetrators of systemic racism, and unwilling to lift a finger to help people of color. This is a shameful piece of propaganda by the Post.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 146,754, an increase of about 400 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 648,465, an increase of about 4400 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on July 27 include:

  • 1299 – According to Edward Gibbon, Osman I invades the territory of Nicomedia for the first time, usually considered to be the founding day of the Ottoman state.
  • 1794 – French Revolution: Maximilien Robespierre is arrested after encouraging the execution of more than 17,000 “enemies of the Revolution”.
  • 1866 – The first permanent transatlantic telegraph cable is successfully completed, stretching from Valentia Island, Ireland, to Heart’s ContentNewfoundland.

It still amazes me that several thousand miles of cable can be strung between continents without breaking it. But it was done. Here’s a painting of the landing of the cable:

(From Wikipedia): Landing of the Atlantic Cable of 1866, Heart’s Content, Newfoundland, by Robert Charles Dudley, 1866.

According to this biography, which I read recently, van Gogh did not shoot himself, but was shot by a rowdy kid in his village. Read the appendix to see the evidence, which I found pretty convincing.

  • 1919 – The Chicago Race Riot erupts after a racial incident occurred on a South Side beach, leading to 38 fatalities and 537 injuries over a five-day period.

The riots began when a group of black men entered a segregated area of the 29th Street Beach. Things mushroomed from there. Here are two pictures from Wikipedia with its captions:

A fifth picture from the series ; an African American man assaulted with stones during the Chicago Race Riot.[34] A subsequent 6th[1] and 7th[2] pictures show the arrival of police officers and the victim.
A white gang looking for African Americans during the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. This and a subsequent picture at The Crisis Magazine 1919 Vol 18 No. 6 is part of a series of the Chicago race riots of 1919.

Banting, along with John Macleod, won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1923. Charles Best, who co-discovered the hormone, should also have been honored but wasn’t. Best did give him half of his share of the Prize.

  • 1953 – Cessation of hostilities is achieved in the Korean War when the United States, China, and North Korea sign an armistice agreement. Syngman Rhee, President of South Korea, refuses to sign but pledges to observe the armistice.
  • 1974 – Watergate scandal: The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee votes 27 to 11 to recommend the first article of impeachment (for obstruction of justice) against President Richard Nixon.
  • 1987 – RMS Titanic Inc. begins the first expedited salvage of wreckage of the RMS Titanic.

Some of the artifacts have been auctioned off, including this one, which looks to me like a teapot:

Most of us remember that Richard Jewell was falsely accused of the bombing, which killed one person. Later it was found that Eric Rudolph did the deed, along with other bombings, and Rudolph is serving four consecutive life sentences in a Supermax prison.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1768 – Charlotte Corday, French assassin of Jean-Paul Marat (d. 1793)
  • 1870 – Hilaire Belloc, French-born British writer and historian (d. 1953)
  • 1881 – Hans Fischer, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1945)
  • 1905 – Leo Durocher, American baseball player and manager (d. 1991)
  • 1939 – William Eggleston, American photographer and academic

Eggleston, who owns 300 Leica cameras, was a master at color landscape photography, though the landscapes are urban, like this one:

Here’s a 7.5-minute video of A-Rod’s career highlights. He’s not in the Hall of Fame, perhaps because he used performance-enhancing steroids for a time and was suspended from baseball for a year.

Those who conked on July 27 include:

  • 1946 – Gertrude Stein, American novelist, poet, and playwright (b. 1874)
  • 1980 – Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iranian king (b. 1919)
  • 2003 – Bob Hope, English-American actor, comedian, television personality, and businessman (b. 1903)
  • 2017 – Sam Shepard, American playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, and director (b.1943)

Here’s Shepard in Terrence Malick’s great film “Days of Heaven” (1978), one of the most beautiful movies ever photographed. This is the scene where locusts take over the farm:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, outside, sees Szaron, inside, napping on her blanket:

Hili: What will it come to?
A: I don’t understand.
Hili: This cultural appropriation.
In Polish:
Hili: Dokąd to dojdzie?
Ja: Nie rozumiem.
Hili: To kulturowe zawłaszczenie.

Upstairs, Paulina plays with the new kittten Kulka, who apparently is now a permanent resident:

Caption: Lady with a fast escaping kitten.

In Polish: Dama z szybko uciekającym małym kotem.

When I was told that Kulka was a fearless kitten, and climbed the lilac bush up to the second floor of the house, I demanded pictures. Paulina obliged with these four.  Kulka weights only half a kilo (one pound!):

Caption: Photos taken by Paulina (on order from Chicago). (In Polish: Zdjęcia zrobione przez Paulinę [na zamówienie z Chicago]). 

And nearby, Leon bewails the new week:

Leon: Monday again?

In Polish: Znów poniedziałek?

A groaner from Bruce:

Two from Jesus of the Day:

From Simon: the world’s best dad:

Tweets from Matthew. First, Duckling Rush Hour at Marsh Farm:

. . . and an adorable kitten breakfast. Sound up to hear the good mews:

A tweet from Matthew showing how Gosling, Wilkins, and Franklin took the photos that helped show that DNA was a double helix. Condoms and paper clips are essential.

More examples of cancel culture. And they didn’t even include Rebecca Tuvel:

Another tweet from Matthew showing a durable Frenchwoman:

Okay, what are these rabbits doing? Mating? Fighting? Or playing?

A monument to Donald Trump in Northern Ireland:

57 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. “National Chicken Finger Day (I’ve never had one)” – well, I guess chickens’ fingers are as rare as hens’ teeth!

  2. Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1923

    I noticed that both recipients donated 1/2 their prize to respective collaborators Best & Collip.

  3. Regarding “To Kill A Mockingbird” and the “normalization of oppression”, this brings to mind something I saw on C-SPAN late one night (the best stuff is always at odd hours on C-SPAN). A young black man named Jamil Jivani was on promoting his book, “Why Young Men” and at about 40 minutes (link below) made the point that BLM, ISIS, and white supremacists all promote an alternate reality to their followers – something other than what the world presents us. It is worth listening to (I also bought the book).

    To me that is what all this is about – denying reality. I have always found that the denial of reality eventually exacts a very high price.

  4. IMO, the bridge should be renamed. History will not be lost, it will be added to. It matters who we publicly honor and what we honor them for.

  5. 1974 – Watergate scandal: The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee votes 27 to 11 to recommend the first article of impeachment (for obstruction of justice) against President Richard Nixon.

    Seven of the 17 Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee joined Democrats in voting for at least one of the three articles of impeachments the committee eventually returned against Richard Nixon. (This, against a Republican president who had won over 60% of the popular vote, and carried 49 of 50 states, in the presidential election held less than two years earlier.)

    How quaint that seems by the standards of today’s lockstep, pusillanimous Republican Party.

  6. Standard creme brulée is a bit on the staid side, but I bet you’d like my chocolate Grand Marnier creme brulée.

  7. … Terrence Malick’s great film “Days of Heaven” (1978) …

    Malick has had one of the most unusual careers of any film director. Despite his having released two great films in the Seventies (particularly by succès d’estime standards) — Badlands and Days of Heaven — he didn’t direct another film for 20 years, until 1998’s The Thin Red Line. He directed one more in the Oughties (The New World). Now, in less than the last decade, he’s already released six additional films, with a seventh on the way.

    1. Malick’s career is very strange indeed. Not only did he have long periods of idleness, but his later work didn’t live up to the promise of what came before. The Thin Red Line was very unfortunately released in the same year as Saving Private Ryan, and there’s no question that the latter was far more effective at elucidating the horror of war, which seemed to be the point of Malick’s movie. There’s no question that TTRL is excellent and a different kind of movie from SPR, but the comparison can’t be helped, and the war scenes in TTRL, while very different, pale in comparison to those in SPR. In my humble opinion, SPR is the better film in every way.

      The New World was beautiful, but ultimately felt like a slog, though one with meaning. The Tree of Life had many interesting themes, shots, and techniques, but fell flat for me in the end. Everything since then has been, well…pretty shit (in the sense of both the American and British interpretations of that phrase). Note: I have not seen A Hidden Life, but that’s only because I’ve been so disappointed by Malick’s work last decade that I don’t feel like watching it.

      So, is Malick just one of those directors who managed to make a small handful of good movies, only to be exposed as an artist unable to grow and refine his craft? It can’t be denied that he’s tried to evolve, but he’s never been able to live up to the promise of his first two pieces. At least that’s the opinion of this uneducated peasant.

      1. The Thin Red Line was adapted from James Jones’s novel of the same name, which was a companion piece (a sequel of sorts, almost) to his earlier novel From Here to Eternity. I’ve read both novels and seen both films, and I can’t think of two more dissimilar movies made from similar source material.

        Malick’s The Thin Red Line was a war movie — after a fashion. It had a riveting battle scene of the Marines taking the ridge (with its ironic conclusion that the Japanese troops were all but prepared to abandon it anyway due to the elements and their own inanition), and another that was sort of a battle scene, with the scouting patrol that got trapped up-river behind enemy lines. But other than that, I thought it was was more a mood piece about the Guadalcanal jungle and (in flashbacks) about Jim Caviezel’s character’s love life back home, than it was a war film per se.

        As for Saving Private Ryan, I thought the first three-quarters of so of the film were great — especially the brilliant opening scenes of the landing at Omaha Beach. But I thought that, with the squad’s arrival in the village of Ramelle, it devolved into the type of mundane WW2 movie that might have been made two generations earlier, with the adventitious timing of its battle sequence and its tacked-on heroic last stand.

        That highlights the issue I have with Spielberg: He’s a vastly talented filmmaker, but too quick to pander by manipulating his audiences’ emotions.

        1. I agree with you completely on Spielberg. Many of his movies — especially his old box office blockbusters — are great because of that sentimentality, but it’s unfortunate that he can’t resist it when it comes to his more serious work.

          I also agree that Malick’s TTRL is a very different movie from SPR, but the comparison is inevitable. When it comes to depicting the horrors of war, at least, Spielberg wins handily.

          1. Without his sentimentality, Spielberg would be just another talented director rather than the box office superstar he is. And without that, he wouldn’t get the budgets and the stars that he does. It’s the price we pay. Actually, I can think of no one who plays this game better. He adds just enough sentiment to gain mass appeal while still leaving plenty of room for his art.

            1. Absolutely! Like I said, some of his best work is based on that sentimentality (E.T., Indiana Jones, Close Encounters, etc.). Regarding directors who make blockbusters so they can get funding for their more personal movies, I think Steven Soderbergh is the master at that. Until a few years ago, Soderbergh was basically switching off between director-for-hire blockbusters and indie films, but I guess he finally amassed the money and/or power to just make what he wants now. He’s made quite a few movies that I really love (The Limey is on my “Favorites Shelves” in my many bookcases of DVDs/BluRays), but I still haven’t forgiven him for remaking one of the greatest space/sci-fi works of all time in Solaris, the original of which is on my very top Favorites Shelf.

              1. Is that the Solaris from 2002 with George Clooney? It sounds familiar but I’m not sure if I’ve watched it. Probably saw it in a theater but it didn’t register.

              2. Yeah, the Clooney one is the remake. Don’t bother! But definitely see the original if you haven’t yet. Tarkovsky was a phenomenal director.

              3. Tarkovsky made a number of really amazing films with strange, almost twilight zone qualities. Be sure to check them out too.

                Mirror (1975)
                Stalker (1979) …
                Solaris (1972) …
                Nostalgia (1983) …
                Andrei Rublev (1966) …
                Ivan’s Childhood (1962) …
                The Sacrifice (1986)

              4. Although I would say that you shouldn’t bother watching any other movie of his if you don’t like Solaris. Everything in Tarkovsky’s oeuvre is very slow, and a lot of people can’t sit through his movies, which is entirely understandable. Heck, Solaris probably moves quicker than most of his movies and it’s still glacial.

              5. Good point. Another thought, see them at the right time. When you’re in the mood for something different, and can dedicate some time and focus. I loved every one of his films. If you prefer a modern action hero type, CGI suffused, Disneyesque quick thrill. Don’t bother.

              6. Hey, even someone who is an aficionado and loves films from a diverse array of great directors like Altman, Frears, Spielberg, Frankenheimer, Almodovar, Cuaron, etc. can still hate Tarkovsky. His style is very particular, and people either love it or hate it, no matter how good their taste is.

                Of course, you’re right that people who only like CGI blockbusters are 100% sure to hate Tarkovsky.


    That’s my kitten WWII newsreel announcement.

    So, we have a big problem that has me extremely worried. I do not want to give up this kitten in any way. He stayed outside our door for 28 hours begging to be part of our family. He chose us, and it would break my heart if we had to foster him to someone else.

    But older cat (OC) must come before kitten (K). Unfortunately, OC seems absolutely terrified of K. Not only did OC not go near K yesterday, but he wouldn’t even walk past him. At one point, I found OC cowering in a room, growling and hissing at K, who was standing near the doorway. I had to lock K in the bathroom nearby just so OC could leave the room, which he did immediately, shooting out like a cannonball and running upstairs.

    Last night, OC did not do any of his usual routine; instead, he hid on a chair under the dining room tablecloth and even slept there. This is not a place where OC ever goes, so he was clearly there only to feel safe and avoid K. Worst of all, OC wouldn’t come into the kitchen this morning to eat until K had finished and left the room.

    I don’t know what to do. It’s only been one day since I let K out of quarantine, but it really hurts to see OC suffering so much anxiety and so many breaks in his routine. I have no idea why he’s so terrified of K. K has shown no aggression toward OC. Whenever K does go near OC, he stays about ten feet away, usually sits down completely, “smiles” with his eyes, yawns, rolls over, etc. K has clearly showed that he has no intention of harming OC, but OC remains frightened.

    Does anybody know what I can do about this? Thanks in advance for your help and for your previous comments!

    1. I’ve been through this twice and it can be anxiety inducing. I wouldn’t be too discouraged yet though BJ. It is possible that OC will never warm up to K but I think there is a good chance that OC will come to tolerate K eventually and perhaps be the better for it.

      Both times I’ve been through this the older cat had been the only animal in the house for their entire life and both were on the “uptight” side, meaning they were unhappy with change in general.

      The 2nd time is just now passed. We brought a new kitten into the house just about 10 months ago. Our OC hated it. Our K is a sweet little thing and wanted nothing more than to get close to OC. OC wasn’t having any of it. Hissing, spitting, growling. All the sorts of things you mention. Driven totally off her normal routines by this tiny little furr ball. At times we weren’t sure it was going to work, and it took a seemingly looooong time, but progress did happen.

      I think it is important to make sure to give OC plenty of attention, though I doubt you need anyone to tell you that. I’ve nothing to back it up with but we made a point of interacting with both our OC and K in the presence of the other and this did seem to help. We did of course on occasion keep K away from OC to give OC some peace, but we tried to keep that to a minimum.

      Now our OC doesn’t just tolerate K, she initiates play with K and allows K to groom her, for a certain amount of time anyway, dependent on her mood. Now, K is beyond playful and doesn’t know the meaning of the words “enough is enough,” so sometimes she still pisses OC off, but it’s just normal irritation. It no longer drives OC into hiding or anything like that.

      In this case learning to deal with K as a housemate seems to have been a big benefit for OC. Though it took her what seems a very long time she is now noticeably a happier cat. She routinely gets frisky and playful like she hasn’t done in years. She had become a cranky recluse and now she has become the playful and affectionate cat she was in her younger years. The time frame here is many months.

      Of the two times we’ve been through this experience both were eventually successful and both took a long time, as in months. With this 2nd one we are at about 10 months and it seems as if progress is still continuing.

      1. Although my experience is limited, I agree with darrelle. Perhaps OC fears being replaced in the household. Maybe you should always feed OC before K just to reinforce OC’s primacy. K won’t care.

      2. Thanks very much for working on that detailed reply.

        I really, really hope this isn’t a months-long process. I don’t want to find in half a year from now that things are still the same because, at that point, I won’t be able to do anything about it. I can’t have the kitten live here for six months of bliss, only to foster him off to some strangers, so my OC will just be miserable for the rest of his life, which isn’t fair to him.

        I’m wondering if there’s a way we can overcome all of this. Maybe I didn’t introduce them properly. Maybe putting K back in a single room for a few days would help. I don’t know. I’m just hoping things get better soon.

        1. I agree with the men. Also remember cats are very possessive and they also live in a defined, by them,rut. Anything that disrupts either of these things causes great commotion. And if YOU are distressed by this then the unhappy one is in the winning path, i.e. removing the problem. Hang in there things will get better. This is like a two year old only child suddenly having a sib and the sub is threatening the toy box.

        2. I should clarify that in both our experiences it didn’t take months before there was any noticeable improvement. Things improved steadily, gradually over such a span of time, but things started getting noticeably better fairly early on.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if you see some improvement in as little as a week. If after a month there is no real improvement then it might be time to admit defeat.

          I’d say food, play and affection, in that order, are the ways to a cats heart. Give those things to OC whenever she/he starts to get upset with K. Always give attentions to OC first. I think it’s probably a good idea to have them both use the same litter box, but starting out try to keep the little one away when OC is using the box.

          Funny aside, early on we’d give our OC a few treats, slip one to K, then more to OC, and every time we’d slip one to K OC would growl horribly while continuing to nom on her treats. Now? Now when treats are in the offing they will sit side by side and stand up on there hind legs in unison when asked.

          1. I suspect OC’s thinking on this has been honed by evolution. A cat knows instinctively that food is a finite resource for which it must compete.

            Similarly for protection. Cats seem to like attaching themselves to beasts bigger than themselves and perhaps they fight over that. I was amazed one day when one of our cats jumped onto the shoulder of a really big complete stranger, a contractor that was giving us a bid on some work on the house. Zing has never been that friendly with strangers before or after. He might have thought that we were adding a new, much bigger protector. Of course, I could be completely wrong. Perhaps he just smelled of fish.

  9. Jeanne Calment, who lived to age 122, smoked Gauloises too. She had to quit at age 119, but only because she was too blind to light them and was tired of asking others for help.

    My theory is that if your health is good enough to withstand a Gauloise, you are going to live long and prosper.

  10. Creme brulée is overrated? It’s phenomenal, especially when it’s done right, with the custard caramelized just before serving. I’m done with this trash website!

    (just kidding, I still love your work, even if you’re unforgivably wrong about this objectively delectable dessert)

  11. The statement that Edmund Pettus was made Grand Dragon of the Klan in 1877 made me wonder since the KKK only existed as an organization between 1867 and 1871. When congress moved against it, its first Grand Wizard Nathan B. Forrest, seeing that it had become a terrorist organization that lacked formal chapters or membership lists, called for it to be disbanded. Pettus, it turns out, was not the Klan’s Grand Dragon, but rather the last head of an illegal Alabama unit operating under the same name.
    The very organized Second Klan of 1915 to 1930 was a much different organization. However, it lacked effective ties with the first Klan beyond its name and the Nativist aim of intimidating ‘others’, particularly blacks, Catholics, Italians, and foreigners. It is noteworthy that the mass mid-1920s marches of the second Klan in Washington DC flew 100% American flags and 0% Confederate flags. This new Klan had chapters nationwide but was centered in the Mid-west, not the South. Between 1872 and 1915, although ethnic/racial violence in rural areas remained high, there was no organized Klan.

  12. The Titanic artifact is almost certainly not a teapot. I can’t tell how large it is, but judging by the straight neck of the glass body and the silver or silver-plate lid it is most likely a claret jug, although if it’s only small – 6 inches or less high – then it will be a cream jug to use with the dessert course.
    All of the tea and coffee services (pots, jugs, sugar bowls) I’ve seen that were made for the White Star Line’s fleet of liners were either all-silver-bodied for the captain’s table and staterooms, silver plated for 1st class cabins, bone china for 1st class dining rooms and earthenware for the rest.

  13. Perhaps they can rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge to “The John Lewis Bridge, formerly known as the Edmund Pettus Bridge”. That way people will still identify the bridge historically while it also lifts John Lewis over Edmund Pettus.

    1. I think they should put a line through Pettus’ name and place an artistically appropriate beam above it with Lewis’ name. That would both preserve the history of the bridge and serve as a demonstration of Lewis and his comrades’ triumph over the discrimination and racism represented by Edmund Pettus.

      1. Word on the bridge are not the history of the bridge! Can’t we get past confusing artifacts with history? A plaque at the site can (and should, IMO) explain the history. It should tell viewers an account of what happened at this bridge. How the bridge got the old name and why it has been renamed.

        People need to ask themselves this: fifty years from now, when some 15 year old kid looks up and wonders who was the person for which the bridge is named, do you want them to wonder “who was John Lewis?” or “Who was Edmund Pettus?”

        1. I really don’t understand how this applies to what I said. Part of the bridge’s history is that it was named for an infamous racist who was the leader of a group that terrorized and killed minorities. Keeping his name up there while dishonoring it by crossing it our and putting a beam above it with the name of someone who led opposition to people like Pettus, and to demonstrate Lewis’ victory over the Pettuses of the world, provides an important message. And, fifteen years from now, that would make kids ask who both of those people were, to which the answer would be an explanation of not only who they were, but why Lewis’ name is memorialized above Pettus’. I don’t see why they shouldn’t ask. Leaving Pettus’ name up there does not somehow honor him in any way, at least not in the scenario I’m proposing.

          More importantly, yes, his name being on the bridge is a part of the bridge’s history. Nobody is “confusing artifacts with history,” but claiming they’re not part of history is a bizarre notion. And if you think that the word “history” doesn’t mean “everything that happened before” — as in, for example, the previous names of a bridge, when it was built, the various events that happened there, etc. — then I don’t know what to say to that. The bridge being named after Pettus is incontrovertibly a part of the bridge’s history, just as every day is part of the history of my life. How can you possibly argue otherwise?

          1. What you said, “people will still identify the bridge historically” implies, or did to me at least, that removing the name “Edmund Pettus” will result in a failure to understand the bridge’s history. That, if it is what you meant, is a mistaken perspective.

            We give names to things like post offices and bridges to honor a person. Leaving “Edmund Pettus” on the bridge is a way of continuing to honor that person. Your argument is pretty much the same as that offered in defense of statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.

            The bridge is an artifact of history, not history itself. History is a story. It is a description of what happened in the past. They may help us to understand history, but only if they hold some particularly valuable bit of information about the past. This bridge is just a bunch of steel configured to let people get across the Alabama River. The name of the bridge is a way for us to honor a person or an idea that we hold socially valuable. The story of what happened at the site of the bridge, how and why the bridge got it’s original name for a Grand Dragon of the KKK, and how and why it now (hopefully) is named for a Civil Rights hero is what comprises history.

            There is no value to continue name the bridge for Edmund Pettus, even in the tortured way of crossing lines through it or, as Paul suggested, trying to use an ungainly sentence as its name.

            1. “Leaving ‘Edmund Pettus’ on the bridge is a way of continuing to honor that person. Your argument is pretty much the same as that offered in defense of statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.”

              Crossing out Pettus’ name and raising Lewis’ above it is very clearly not “a way of continuing to honor [Pettus].” To say so requires completely ignoring both my proposal and my argument for it. Furthermore, equating what I’ve said to the arguments many have made for leaving up statues of Robert E. Lee is a false equivalency. My argument is not “pretty much the same.”. My argument is clearly that we should publicly dishonor the Pettus’ name. To take what I proposed for the bridge and my argument for it and interpret it in this way requires, again, completely ignoring the core of what I advocated for: dishonoring the name publicly and raising Lewis’ name above it in triumph. People defending statues of Robert E. Lee have made no such arguments or proposals that I’ve seen. The most they’ve proposed is a small plaque explaining bad things about the man. The argument to which I assume you’re referring is the common refrain that the statues should stay, as they are, because they are part of history. If people making such arguments were to make a similar argument to mine, it would be something like putting a big red X on Lee’s face and a statue of MLK next to it that’s twice as tall and molded in a way that signifies his triumph over the evils of racist institutions like slavery and the people like Lee who fought for them. These are obviously two extremely different arguments/proposals.

              Finally, you cannot mandate that the bridge is merely an artifact that does not have a history of its own, or that some events that took place on the bridge are historical and others are not. It does have a history of its own, and also a place in history in terms of the events that took place on it. Whether or not you like part of that history or want it preserved is a different matter for which you can make entirely legitimate arguments, but arguing that it doesn’t have its own history makes no sense. You can argue the merits and wisdom of my proposal, but it can’t be argued that the bridge being named after a famously racist person — especially considering the events that took place on the bridge — is not a part of history, or even that it’s not an event. The naming was a decision made in the past by people in our government. The naming represented the tolerance and even veneration of racism in the area. The naming represented many important things, and is an event that took place. It’s not as if someone simply painted his name on the bridge for no particular reason at all.

              I will give you the final response as, per da roolz, I do not want our debate to dominate the thread. No hard feelings 🙂

              1. I did not maintain that the bridge doesn’t have a history. But the history is separate from the structure. If the object evaporates, the history still exists. This is an important distinction, IMO, that you are failing to acknowledge. The history of that bridge is important. It exists with or without the words “Edmund Pettus” appearing on display. We can honor John Lewis by renaming the bridge. Renaming requires removing the former name to qualify for the verb’s correct use.

            2. For the record, I would choose a plain old rename to John Lewis Bridge. I was only trying to make a weak joke. There’s no longer a reason to honor Edmund Pettus, if there ever was.

          2. Edumund Pettus was, among other things, the last Grand Dragon of the Alabama KKK, and perhaps only held the office for 1 year (needs confirmation) before the illegal Alabama chapter was disbanded. The National organization went extinct by Act of Congress in 1871, I believe, after operating only 3 or 4 years. The original KKK, I am told, neither had chapters or membership rolls, only sheets. First Grand Wizard Nathan B. Forrest, apparently embarrassed by the criminal anarchy, called for the KKK to be dissolved in 1869 (re: Wikipedia).
            Lynchings and violence against blacks since the 1880s has been transcontinental and similar to, but not quite proportional to, the size of black populations, about 40-50% in the Deep South vs. 5% or less over much of the Midwest. It is unknown how many bridges, parks, and courthouses in the northern and central states commemorate former KKKers. Billie Holiday’s 1939 “Strange Fruit” refers to a lynching that took place, like many others, in Indiana in 1930 in the presence of “thousands of people”, perhaps with local KKK involvement. Let’s dig them all out [sez me provocatively] for shaming?

    2. Seems to me like a good solution would be to keep the Edmund Pettus name on the side the Selma marchers entered the bridge, to show they were marching *against* the Klan, and then put John Lewis’s name on the other side where the marchers came through. Memorializes Lewis and serves as a living monument for the triumphant onward March of civil rights.

  14. I once lived a couple of blocks from Randy’s Donuts, just a few hundred yards behind it as the crow flies. I can’t remember ever getting a donut there, though, which is actually kind of surprising since I love a good donut once in a while.

  15. Who ever doubted for a second that Mr McConnell would not make a 180 when the shoe would be on the other foot?
    Stronger, I suspect he would even try to force through a Trump nominee after Mr Trump were to be defeated, between November and early January. The man has no shame.

    1. Professor Keith Whittington of Princeton recently did a good review of the history, and found that late-term election year Supreme Court nominations frequently fail, especially if the Senate is controlled by a party hostile to the President. LBJ wasn’t able to get his nominations through in mid-1968, including his nomination of political ally Abe Fortas to Chief Justice (and that was with the Democrats holding 63 seats!), partly because Nixon was campaigning on nominating judges who would take a firmer pro-police/pro-prosecution stance in contrast to the liberal stalwarts on the Warren Court. Meanwhile, in the run-up to the 1916 election, the conservative Charles Evans Hughes stepped down from the court mid-summer; Woodrow Wilson was able to replace him with political ally John Clarke with the help of a Democrat-controlled well before the election took place). Sadly but not surprisingly, politics, presidential elections, and Supreme Court nominations is nothing new.

  16. In Fargo we see the rabbits chasing and jumping over each other. It’s a mating dance, possibly a display of fitness.

  17. I am uplifted.


    Because BOSS tested and improved our cosmology, and the paper continues with the tradition of large data integration papers to support something like Weinberg’s universe among more complicated possibilities. Only this time explicitly so!

    Because my old training damage, as well as minor damages, are healing up well, and I got my wind back quite easily at the end of that. I will try to put weight on it next week!

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