Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Kulka monologue)

It’s August 1 (2020)!!! We made it out of July unscathed, or so I hope since I haven’t heard of any disasters to befall the readers. It’s National Raspberry Cream Pie Day (one pie I’ve never had), Homemade Pie Day, National Jamaican Patty Day, (the Jamaican version of a Cornish Pastie, filled with beef), Mead Day, National Mustard Day (the ONLY semi-liquid condiment to put on a hot dog), National Girlfriends Day, and Woman Astronomers Day.

It’s also “celebration of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 which ended the slavery in the British Empire.

As for the month in food, it’s:

  • National Panini Month
  • National Peach Month, and
  • National Sandwich Month

News of the Day: Yesterday a federal appeals court overturned the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two Boston Marathon bombers (the other was killed in a shootout).  Their pressure-cooker bombing in 2013 killed 3 people and wounded 260 more. The case was sent back to a lower court because of missteps in the original trial. Tsarnaev, 27, has no chance of ever being released from the Supermax prison in Colorado where he sits, but the death penalty will be revisited in another trial. And, I suppose, the Supreme Court could eventually reinstate it, since it’s a federal case. I oppose the death penalty and so favor this decision.

A 57-year-old American citizen, Tahir Naseem, was shot to death on Thursday in a courtroom in Pakistan where he was on trial for blasphemy. (The accusation was that he claimed to be a prophet.) From the NYT:

Mr. Naseem was accused of blasphemy in 2018 on charges that carried penalties ranging from fines to death.

He had been a member of the Ahmadi sect, which has been declared heretical under the Pakistani Constitution and whose members face repeated persecution. However, representatives said Mr. Naseem had left the sect and had claimed to be the messiah and a prophet.

Blasphemy is a highly combustible and sensitive subject in Pakistan, with emotions flaring over mere rumors that Islam has been insulted. The government has never executed anyone under blasphemy laws, but people accused of it are often killed by mobs even before the police can take action, rights groups say.

And the state knows this. But a sole young man, not a mob, took Naseem’s life for no good reason, only “offended feelings”. Pakistan should enter the modern era and ditch its stupid blasphemy laws.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 153,850, an increase of about 1400 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 679,182, an increase of about 5600 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on August 1 include:

This was one of the two ships (the other being the Mayflower, of course) that brought pilgrims to America. Robert Weir, an American artist, did a painting that graced the reverse of the $10,000 bill. As Wikipedia notes, “The Embarkation of the Pilgrims is depicted on the reverse of the 10,000 dollar bill (Federal Reserve Note) issued in 1918. Only five examples of this bill are known, and “none exist outside of institutional collections.”

Here’s that note. Do you know who’s depicted on the other side? Go here to find out.


  • 1774 – British scientist Joseph Priestley discovers oxygen gas, corroborating the prior discovery of this element by German-Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele.

Well, did Priestly discover it or not?

Perky had chronic diarrhea, and invented the product in part to relieve his own symptoms. Here’s an early ad:

  • 1907 – The start of the first Scout camp on Brownsea Island, the origin of the worldwide Scouting movement.

Here’s Der Führer opening the Olympics from a British newsreel. It also shows Jesse Owens, a black American, winning the 100-meter dash, a great embarrassment to Hitler and his Aryan pals.

  • 1936 – The Olympics opened in Berlin with a ceremony presided over by Adolf Hitler.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi German occupation breaks out in Warsaw, Poland.
  • 1965 – Frank Herbert‘s novel, Dune was published for the first time. It was named as the world’s best-selling science fiction novel in 2003.

I’ve never read this book, but I suppose I should.

  • 1966 – Charles Whitman kills 16 people at the University of Texas at Austin before being killed by the police.
  • 1966 – Purges of intellectuals and imperialists becomes official China policy at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.
  • 1971 – The Concert for Bangladesh, organized by former Beatle George Harrison, is held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Here’s George Harrison and Eric Clapton performing one of Harrison’s great songs at that concert:

  • 1981 – MTV begins broadcasting in the United States and airs its first video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
  • 1984 – Commercial peat-cutters discover the preserved bog body of a man, called Lindow Man, at Lindow MossCheshire, England.

You can see Lindow Man in the British Museum. The period when he lived is uncertain, though some think it’s roughly 100 AD. His head had been bashed in and his throat cut (he was in his twenties), suggesting a ritual sacrifice. Here’s what’s left of him:

Notables born on this day:

  • 1744 – Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, French soldier, biologist, and academic (d. 1829)
  • 1779 – Francis Scott Key, American lawyer, author, and poet (d. 1843)
  • 1819 – Herman Melville, American novelist, short story writer, and poet (d. 1891)
  • 1907 – Eric Shipton, Sri Lankan-English mountaineer and explorer (d. 1977)

Shipton led several expeditions to climb Mount Everest; though his team never succeeded, he mapped out the classic route to the top through the Khumbu icefall.

  • 1931 – Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1936 – W. D. Hamilton, Egyptian born British biologist, psychologist, and academic (d. 2000)
  • 1942 – Jerry Garcia, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1995)

Those who went to the Great Beyond on August 1 include:

  • 30 BC – Mark Antony, Roman general and politician (b. 83 BC)
  • 1903 – Calamity Jane, American frontierswoman and scout (b. 1853)
  • 1981 – Paddy Chayefsky, American author, playwright, and screenwriter (b. 1923)
  • 2007 – Tommy Makem, Irish singer-songwriter and banjo player (b. 1932)
  • 2009 – Corazon Aquino, Filipino politician, 11th President of the Philippines (b. 1933)
  • 2015 – Cilla Black, English singer and actress (b. 1943)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili flaunts her Green Virtue:

Hili: We have to care for the environment.
A: I’m doing what I can.
In Polish:
Hili: Musimy dbać o środowisko.
Ja: Robię co w mojej mocy.

Here’s baby Kulka encountering a visiting husky dog who came to Dobrzyn (Andrzej and Malgorzata thought of adopting it, but it turned out it had an owner and had been stolen). And she has a monologue!

Kulka: We are not afraid of a huge dog.  (In Polish: Nie straszny jest nam wielki pies.)

From Jesus of the Day (you should know all the songs referred to here):

From Bad Cat Clothing:

From Richard Haynes. I suppose the Bible is better than nothing, but it ain’t as good as a mask!

I tweeted, but of course the original tweet came from Matthew:

All other tweets are from Matthew today because, thanks Ceiling Cat, his Twitter hiatus was a short one. First, Perseverance and Ingenuity on their way to Mars! It’s expected to land on February 21 of next year.

The mating system of anglerfish is one of the weirdest in vertebrates: males fuse to females and lose any bodily autonomy, becoming a sac of gonads permanently fused to the female’s body and circulatory system. The Beebe quote that the second tweet recommends is this one:

Naturalist William Beebe put it nicely in 1938, writing, “But to be driven by impelling odor headlong upon a mate so gigantic, in such immense and forbidding darkness, and willfully eat a hole in her soft side, to feel the gradually increasing transfusion of her blood through one’s veins, to lose everything that marked one as other than a worm, to become a brainless, senseless thing that was a fish—this is sheer fiction, beyond all belief unless we have seen the proof of it.”

A flash flood in the American desert, apparently following a forest fire. Believe me, this kind of flood is not all that unusual.

Proof of the Aquatic Canid Hypothesis:

I may have posted it before, but if I did, well, here it is again. It’s amazing that nests and chicks can be so small:

Not only do the eyes move position during development, but some species of flatfish are “right eyed,” others are “left eyed”, and some are random, with both types of individuals. The species difference is partly genetic.



  1. jezgrove
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Kulka is a brave little kitten! Lots of amazing things today, but I think the video of the tiny hummingbird nest and chicks has to be my favourite.

  2. boudiccadylis
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    IMHO Dune is not worth the read.
    What type of hummingbird or where that a finger can be used to equate its size while feeding her young? Kulka shows great promise to be a presiding female. Szaron probably knows and is planning accordingly.

  3. jezgrove
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Of course, the guy on the other side of that banknote was responsible for the “In God We Trust” thing on US coinage .

  4. DrBrydon
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I read Dune at some point, maybe in High School, but probably in College, and didn’t get the fuss. I should probably try again.

    • Michael Sternberg
      Posted August 1, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      I liked Dune because I read it after college, at a time where I could appreciate its depiction of politics and power around a scarce resource. I particularly enjoyed Herberts nicely quotable extrapolations of established wisdom, notably this one:

      All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptable. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted. [Chapterhouse Dune]

      Still resonates, doesn’t it?

      The series also has a great deal to say about the creation and political use of religion . The books in the series vary in quality but I found them entertaining. I didn’t bother, however, with the prequels by Frank Herbert’s son et al., as I heard them described as rather derivative.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 1, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t read the novel, but, FWIW, I think most of us David Lynch fans recognize its 1984 film adaptation as his most misbegotten directorial effort.

      • rickflick
        Posted August 1, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        I’m a fan, but I’ve never seen that film. I was warned away.

      • Posted August 3, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        The film was a disappointment after reading the book, but I believe there’s another one one the way:

        • Justin Seabury
          Posted August 3, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

          As a fan of the first book but not the others, and having read it multiple times, I think it is one of the best sci fi books out there, considering when it was released. The David Lynch movie should have been given 6 hours, Dune is too big to do in 2. The extended version is better. SyFy channel made a 6 hour version which is closer to the book, however it felt kind of lifeless. I hope the new movies do the book justice.

  5. rickflick
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    It’s stunning to see Persevere rover flying across the “heavens”. I’m reading Rise of the Rocket Girls which reminds us how the early days of the US space program aspired to this very event. From the 1950s, the “computers”, women who computed trajectories and the other engineers at JPL had their sights on space. They imagined sending spacecraft to Mars, Venus and other places when they had just managed to put a satellite in orbit (barely). They lay the groundwork for all the infrastructure that established the deep space array for communications across space. They analyzed all kinds of alternative routes to the planets 60 years ago. And all the computations were done using pencils and paper. IBM computers were not yet available. Some of those women may still be alive to see Perseverance speeding away through the field of stars. What a site that must be for them, after all these years.

  6. chrism
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    With respect to the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, not many people know that the British government took out a loan (from the Rothschilds) and set aside 40% of the treasury to pay all British Empire slaveowners for the slaves that were set free. The amount of 20 million pounds in 1833 would be worth 2.4 billion pounds today. The loan was finally paid off in 2015.

    And since no one else has said it – Thank you, British Empire!

  7. Posted August 1, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Although I’m a science fiction fan, I found Dune somewhat tedious. The sand worms were great but doubtful from a scientific standpoint. I just couldn’t get into the “spice trade” or the local politics.

    • Posted August 1, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Dune is one of my al time favourite sci fi books – well is it sci-fi? I’d class it as more of a fantasy novel.

      Anyway, I also read the sequels. Unfortunately.

      • Posted August 1, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        There’s no doubt in my mind that Dune classifies as Sci Fi. All fiction is fantasy considered broadly. I think of Fantasy as a category of fiction separate from Sci Fi and it always bugs me a little when they get thrown together for purposes of statistics, bookstore sections, etc. As to a definition of Fantasy, as opposed to Sci Fi, that would take more thought than I can summon at the moment.

        Maybe my poor opinion of Dune was colored by the sequels and certainly by the terrible 1984 movie.

  8. Posted August 1, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I believe Priestly published first, which is not the same as discovering first, but to the published go the spoils.

  9. Mike
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Darwin spent a lot of his life working on barnacles. His first and most famous barnacle has a mating system like anglerfishes. Males start out as perfectly good barnacles (or at least barnacle larvae), but after finding and attaching to a female the male fuses with her body and becomes a degenerate sack of sperm. His life is short, and she will have a series of consorts like this over her life. Cool fact: all this happens in a burrow that the female excavates in the shell of a snail.

  10. Posted August 1, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    What power and intensity in Harrison’s performance. Different than the more showmanlike playing of the other three Beatles.

  11. AlTazim
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    It’s quite mind-boggling to think how central music videos, and in general the visual representations of musical artists and the MTV ethos, were to popular culture, especially teen culture, in the 1980s and most of the 1990s. A great video could put a group into the spotlight, a particularly great video (like Thriller, Smells Like Teen Spirit) was a cultural event, a major artist’s new video release was critically hyped, people dropped serious dollars on VHS collections of videos… and then now, music videos mean practically nothing. It was a phenomenon confined almost entirely to Generation X.

  12. Posted August 2, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Panini *and* sandwich, eh?

    Seems a bit redundant – unless they mean the linguist. 🙂

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