Friday: Hili dialogue

Well, we’ve almost made it through July: it’s July 31, 2020, and so on to August. It’s National Cotton Candy Day (I believe it’s called “candy floss’ in the UK), as well as Shredded Wheat Day, National Avocado Day, National Raspberry Cake Day, and National Talk in an Elevator Day (canceled this year).

Today’s colorful Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates Filipino artist Pactica Abad (1946-2004), famous for her stitched and padded canvases. She’s pictured below the Doodle with one of her works:

News of the Day: For a lift, read Helen Macdonald’s nice essay on swifts—birds that almost never touch down—in the New York Times. Macdonald wrote the excellent bestseller H is for Hawk.

Or, if you want to get angry, read the first tweet below, in which “President” Trump intimates that he might try to delay the election, something he’s not legally entitled to do, because of the phantom possibility of fake “voting by mail.” I also watched, for the first time in months, Trump’s “press conference” on the coronairus. It was full of lies and braggadocio, and was hard to watch. If you listen to the deranged head of the government, you’d think that the U.S. was the best country on Earth in dealing with the coronavirus.

You’ve probably heard that Herman Cain, who challenged Mitt Romney for the 2012 GOP candidacy, died of Covid-19 after attending Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa on June 20. He didn’t wear a mask, but it’s not clear whether he contracted the virus at the rally.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 152,431, an increase of about 1200 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 673,583, an increase of about 6400 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on July 31 include:

  • 1492 – The Jews are expelled from Spain when the Alhambra Decree takes effect.
  • 1588 – The Spanish Armada is spotted off the coast of England.
  • 1658 – Aurangzeb is proclaimed Mughal emperor of India.
  • 1703 – Daniel Defoe is placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, but is pelted with flowers.
  • 1777 – The U.S. Second Continental Congress passes a resolution that the services of Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette “be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States.”
  • 1790 – The first U.S. patent is issued, to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.

Here’s that patent:

  • 1941 – The Holocaust: Under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring, orders SS General Reinhard Heydrich to “submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired Final Solution of the Jewish question.”
  • 1970 – Black Tot Day: The last day of the officially sanctioned rum ration in the Royal Navy.

The rum ration was  . Here’s the “grog tub” of HMS Cavalier. Although the tot was abolished fifty years ago today (it had gone down to 1/8 of a pint), Wikipedia says it’s still issued sporadically: “Today, a tot (totty) of rum is still issued on special occasions, using an order to “splice the mainbrace“, which may only be given by the Queen, a member of the royal family or, on certain occasions, the admiralty board in the UK

Phelps won a total of 29 medals; Latynina’s record was 18.  Phelps won 13 gold medals in individual events and ten gold medals in team events, so his fully-decorated torso looks like this (he also won 3 silver and 2 bronze events). Phelps is now an eloquent activist for awareness and treatment of mental illness.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1800 – Friedrich Wöhler, German chemist and academic (d. 1882)
  • 1867 – S. S. Kresge, American businessman, founded Kmart (d. 1966)
  • 1912 – Milton Friedman, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2006)
  • 1919 – Primo Levi, Italian chemist and author (d. 1987)

Levi, a great writer, was imprisoned in Auschwitz for a year in 1944-1945 before he was liberated. He committed suicide (though some say his death was due to a fall) in 1987. Here he is in the 1950s.

  • 1951 – Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Australian tennis player
  • 1965 – J. K. Rowling, English author and film producer

Those who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on July 31 include:

  • 1784 – Denis Diderot, French philosopher and critic (b. 1713)
  • 1886 – Franz Liszt, Hungarian pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1811)
  • 1944 – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French pilot and poet (b. 1900)
  • 1966 – Bud Powell, American pianist (b. 1924)
  • 2012 – Gore Vidal, American novelist, screenwriter, and critic (b. 1925)
  • 2017 – Jeanne Moreau, French actress (b. 1928)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Elzbieta has brought treats for the cats, though Szaron is wary:

Szaron: What is it?
Hili: It’s scrumptious, try it, and it’s from a good hand. You need not be afraid.
In Polish:
Szaron: Co to jest?
Hili: Pyszne, spróbuj i z dobrej ręki, możesz się nie bać.

Some bonus pictures of the kitten Kulka.

Caption from Andrzej: A break in my work to pursue Kulka. (In Polish: Przerwa w pracy na pogoń za Kulką.)

Three cat memes today! Your cat wants you to know this:

From Nicole:

From Su:

I tweeted, but Matthew sent me the original Trump tweet:

A tweet I found on Titania’s site:

From reader Doug, an exploding meteor (see more here):

More insanity from Trump, via reader Ken. This isn’t even a dog whistle—it’s a locomotive whistle!

From reader Barry, a great video of various animals loving on humans. We’ve seen some of these before. I like the big cat ones best, but look at the expression on the face of that horse!

From Simon: a good way to shame a clumsy golfer. Sound up!

Tweets from Matthew. I’m not sure why anyone would WANT tires like this, but I’m sure they could do a better job 60 years later:

Poor Richard!


  1. Simon Hayward
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    If you have 40 mins to spare and want to listen to a President communicating with his audiences (local and distant), Obama’s eulogy for John Lewis is worth listening to. It’s on YouTube and CNN (and I assume elsewhere too). He never mentions Trump by name but it’s a rallying cry of which Lewis would have approved.

    • Dragon
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Well worth listening. I heard it on MSNBC Rachel Maddow. Obama always says things well.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Indeed. Just listened during morning coffee. Excellent!

  2. BJ
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Trump’s suggestion that we delay the election was so outrageous that even Senator Mitch McConnell and Representative Kevin McCarthy immediately repudiated the idea, along with basically every high-profile Trump ally:

    It’s seemed for a few months now like Republicans are slowly backing away from Trump like they would after accidentally shitting themselves at a gala.

    • Historian
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Trump is setting the stage to claim the election was rigged, and, therefore he will have his rationale for not leaving office. He will tweet that the election should have been postponed, which he suggested. Should he lose the election, it will be up to the Republican Party to tell him to go. But will they? Democracy may hinge on the answer to that question.

      • BJ
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        I am not the least bit concerned about him refusing to leave office. He’s setting the stage for claiming it was rigged so he can save face when he loses. He will not fight to stay in office if he loses and, on the .0001% chance he does, nobody will stand behind him except the most absolutely bonkers cranks from backwoods districts whose political careers depend on the backing of die-hard Trumpers.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      And ref. the part about a “great embarrassment to the USA” – there he goes talking about himself again.

    • eric
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Don’t believe this is any sort of ‘realization’ that Trump is actually awful. It’s pure political calculation. The closer election looms, the less potential value he has to them. But if Trump wins in November, they’ll all be back to full-throated support.

      • BJ
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        Naturally. I would certainly never claim otherwise. A turtle may paint his shell a different color, but the same turtle is still inside 😛

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    I also watched, for the first time in months, Trump’s “press conference” on the coronairus. It was full of lies and braggadocio, and was hard to watch.

    I watched his presser yesterday, too, between some phone calls I had to take. For the first time, Trump came across as truly whooped, like a man getting ready to go full Willy Loman, a man who’s out there in the blue, but no longer able to get by on a shoeshine and a smile (or a scowl, in Trump’s case). Outside his hardcore, dead-end base, Trump isn’t even “liked,” let alone “well-liked.” And when the end finally comes, Melania won’t be around to claim “respect must be paid.”

    We’re watching “Death of a Huckster” play out on a yooge stage.

    • BJ
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Have you noticed how he’s been walking up to the podium at these press conferences lately? He looks like he’s just had his ass pounded by 50 dudes while suffering from hemorrhoids.

  4. Posted July 31, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    On the tyres – I’m reminded of those light-up shoes one can still get!

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    1970 – Black Tot Day: The last day of the officially sanctioned rum ration in the Royal Navy.

    Leaving the Royal Navy’s only remaining traditions sodomy and the lash? 🙂

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    … a good way to shame a clumsy golfer.

    Reminds me of the story about a guy who was golfing with his wife. He shanks the ball off the tee, and his ball ends up next to a barn lying between him and the green. He’s getting ready to chip the ball back into the fairway when his wife suggests that they open the doors to the barn so he can play straight through. He tries it, but his ball hits a beam in the barn, careens back, and hits his wife in the head, killing her straightaway.

    A couple years later, the same golfer is playing the same hole on the same course with a buddy of his and again shanks the ball behind the barn. His buddy suggests opening the barn doors and playing his ball straight through.

    “Are you kidding?” says the golfer. “The last time I tried that it cost me a double bogey.”

    • Posted July 31, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      🏌️‍♂️😀 Good one.

    • Posted July 31, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Reminds me of another that everyone has already heard, probably.

      A foursome of retirees was preparing to tee off when a funeral procession drives by. One of the old golfers faces the procession, removes his cap and bows his head as it passes by. One of the other golfers says “That was very respectful of you.” The first golfer says “It was the least I could do. I was married to her for forty years.”

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I discovered those neothane tires a few months ago. Remember that that was the heyday of Neon signs. Who wouldn’t have wanted those tires, especially on their Caddy or Lincoln? I have no doubt that they would have some popularity today with folks who consider the exterior lighting of their cars important.

    • Doug
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      I like them. They look like something Elvis would have had on his car.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    … Herman Cain, who challenged Mitt Romney for the 2012 GOP candidacy, died of Covid-19 after attending Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa on June 20. He didn’t wear a mask …

    Maybe Herman Cain wasn’t infected at Trump’s Tulsa rally; maybe he was already infected and passed COVID-19 on to others there, since he was sitting, without a mask, next to others sans masks, packed cheek-by-jowl into the bottom deck of the arena for the sake of the tv cameras, even though the arena’s upper deck was all but empty, leaving plenty of room for social distancing.

    Any man’s death diminishes me, as John Donne wrote, because I am involved in mankind. But we need not send to know for whom the bell tolls on this one.

  9. rickflick
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    tRump may be shooting himself in the foot.

    …the phantom possibility of fake “voting by mail.”

    According to the NYT, polls show Republicans believe the lie much more than do Dems. Dems also are willing to use mail-in more than GOPers. So, I’m thinking many Republicans may simply not vote due to Covid risk or diminished enthusiasm for tRump. Whereas Dems will vote by mail and swamp the election for Biden. Fingers crossed.

    • eric
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Dems also are willing to use mail-in more than GOPers.

      I’m curious to know where you got this. From what I understand (mostly via FiveThirtyEight), analysis of past vote by mail changes and implementations indicates it doesn’t actually favor either party. You might get different Dems and GOPers voting, but you get about the same ratio of Dems and GOPers voting.

  10. revelator60
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Birthday boy Denis Diderot has the distinction of being sent to prison for atheism. His “Letter on the Blind for the Use of those who can see” resulted a stay of several months in the dungeons at Vincennes. The letter is also notable for containing proto-theories of natural selection and evolution.

    For those looking for a place to start with Diderot’s other writing, try his experimental novel “Jacques the Fatalist,” a delightful romp about determinism and free will.

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