Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Szaron monologue)

It’s Sunday, August 2, 2020, National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. It’s also Dinosaurs Day, Friendship Day, Sisters’ Day, and Roma Holocaust Memorial Day (on this day in 1944, nearly 3,000 Roma were killed in Auschwitz.

Here are America’s best commercial ice cream sandwiches: It’s-It: two oatmeal cookies with a thick layer of vanilla ice cream between them, the whole shebang covered with chocolate. Forget about Rice-A-Roni: this is the real San Francisco treat. Sadly, they’re not available outside the Western U.S.:

News of the Day: For the first time in modern American history, a Presidential convention will be closed to the press. It’s the GOP convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, of course. The excuse is that the coronavirus limits attendance. Portions will be livestreamed, but of course reporters won’t be onsite to interview people.

In an op-ed in today’s NYT, Frank Bruni tries to turn a necessity into a virtue, touting the “successes” of a start-up college, Minerva College, where all classes are virtual. There is a place for virtual learning, but to imply, as does Bruni, that this might be “the future of higher education” is to devalue the in-person learning that has made America’s universities some of the best in the world. I, for one, would never teach virtually, and I always reject pandemic-related requests to give virtual lectures. It’s not the kind of “performance” that I enjoy while lecturing. (I do, however do Skype sessions with high school and college classes who have used my book to learn evolution.) If I were a college student and my school (like Harvard) offered only virtual classes, I’d take a gap year. What’s the point of being on campus otherwise, and you can’t even fraternize much with your fellow students.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 154,909, an increase of about 1000 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 685,187, an increase of about 6000 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on August 2 includes:

  • 1610 – During Henry Hudson’s search for the Northwest Passage, he sails into what is now known as Hudson Bay.
  • 1776 – The signing of the United States Declaration of Independence took place.
  • 1790 – The first United States Census is conducted.

The population back then? 3,929,326.

  • 1918 – The first general strike in Canadian history takes place in Vancouver.
  • 1923 – Vice President Calvin Coolidge becomes U.S. President upon the death of President Warren G. Harding.
  • 1932 – The positron (antiparticle of the electron) is discovered by Carl D. Anderson.

As I recall, the positron was posit(ron)ed by Paul Dirac from theory, and discovered a few years later. This is one case in which the empirical method is not always sufficient to find out truths, as hypotheses can suggest observations to make, but it’s still true that empirical confirmation was necessary before the positron was accepted as real.

The act, which requires paying a tax when you buy marijuana (and in some cases, as with doctors, it was legal to do so), was overturned in 1969 in the case of Leary v. United States  (yes, that’s Timothy Leary), because it required self-incrimination. Here’s some of the stamps you bought to pay the tax: “Overprint marijuana revenue stamps from 1937.”

  • 1939 – Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard write a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging him to begin the Manhattan Project to develop a nuclear weapon.
  • 1943 – Jewish prisoners stage a revolt at Treblinka, one of the deadliest of Nazi death camps where approximately 900,000 persons were murdered in less than 18 months.

200 Jews escaped from the camp, of whom 70 survived to the end of the war. The rest were slaughtered; they’d forgotten to cut the phone lines, and the Germans called for reinforcements.

  • 1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait, eventually leading to the Gulf War.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1820 – John Tyndall, Irish-English physicist and mountaineer (d. 1893)
  • 1905 – Myrna Loy, American actress (d. 1993)

Myrna Loy was one of my great heartthrobs of the silver screen. Here she is with William Powell in The Thin Man, a series of movies in which the pair, playing sleuths, were always drunk. Loy (as Myrna) appears with Asta the D*g at 1:51:

  • 1924 – Carroll O’Connor, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2001)

I still maintain that “All in the Family” was the greatest comedy in television history, and Archie and Edith (O’Connor and Jean Stapleton) the greatest sitcom comedians. Here’s a clip:

  • 1932 – Peter O’Toole, British-Irish actor and producer (d. 2013)
  • 1937 – Garth Hudson, Canadian keyboard player, songwriter, and producer
  • 1942 – Isabel Allende, Chilean-American novelist, essayist, essayist

Those who began pining for the fjords on August 2 include:

  • 1788 – Thomas Gainsborough, English painter (b. 1727)

Here are “Six Studies of a Cat” by Gainsborough (ca. 1763-1769):

Others who died on this day:

  • 1876 – “Wild Bill” Hickok, American sheriff (b. 1837)
  • 1921 – Enrico Caruso, Italian tenor and actor (b. 1873)
  • 1922 – Alexander Graham Bell, Scottish-Canadian engineer, invented the telephone (b. 1847)
  • 1955 – Wallace Stevens, American poet and educator (b. 1879)
  • 1976 – Fritz Lang, Austrian-American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1890)
  • 1986 – Roy Cohn, American lawyer and politician (b. 1927)
  • 1997 – William S. Burroughs, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1914)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is too busy for photos:

Hili: We will have a photo session later, now I’m checking the situation on the ground.
A: That’s interesting as well.
In Polish:
Hili: Sesja zdjęciowa będzie później, teraz sprawdzam sytuację w terenie.
Ja: To też jest ciekawe.

And Szaron has something to say, too. He’s just discovered the closet as a place to sleep, but this also appears to be a double entendre. Perhaps the lad is gay.

Szaron: To get out of the closet you have to get into the closet.

In Polish: Żeby wyjść z szafy, trzeba wejść do szafy.

From Jesus of the Day:

From Stash Krod, passed along many links in Facebook. It’s apparently a cartoon from the Daily Mirror, published on January 23, 1923. Very prescient:

A good one from reader Bruce:

I tweeted this (from Matthew, of course), and reader Kurt gives a link to the story in English:

From Barry. He calls it “Don’t move,” but I call it “We’ve all had relationships like this.”

How to draw a cat. Be sure to look at all the panels:

Matthew translated the poster: “Nudist area. Mask wearing is obligatory.”

A mask cartoon from the 1918 flu pandemic:

Be sure to turn the sound on for this one. Matthew says the swifts will leave England this week or so:

Like cats and jigsaw puzzles? This one’s for you. (Sound up.)

A beautiful mother nightjar guarding its eggs. Turn the sound up to hear the strange call.



  1. David Harper
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Rubyetc’s “How to Draw a Cat” is good, but the artist has stiff competition from the late Hap Kliban (who could draw real cats as well as his iconic cartoon tabbies):

    Apropos “virtual” learning, surely this is just a trendy name for what has always been called distance learning? And whilst I respect PCC(E)’s preference for in-person classes, I’d offer Britain’s Open University as an example of excellence in distance learning for more than fifty years. The OU has provided a path to a degree for more than a million people since it was awarded its royal charter in 1969. Most of them studied part-time, often whilst holding down a full-time job, and most would never have been able to pursue a degree via the conventional route, which until quite recently was open to a rather small fraction of 18-year-olds.

    I have a first degree from a highly-rated British university, and I’ve taught at another. I also have a postgraduate diploma from the Open University, and I can attest that the quality of the OU’s teaching materials and the academic support offered by OU tutors was every bit as good as that of the other institutions.

    • Posted August 2, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Yes, the Open University is one case in which virtual learning has its advantages. But I have to say that of all the professors I know who have taught both live and virtually because of the pandemic, not a SINGLE ONE prefers online lectures.

      If both are an option for a person, I’d highly recommend the live version. Open University students often lack the option.

      • David Harper
        Posted August 2, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        In the early days of the Open University, lectures were pre-recorded and broadcast on BBC TV, usually at weekends or at night after regular programming ended. This was in the days before video recorders, so students had to be really dedicated (or insomniac!) to watch the lectures.

        Today, courses are delivered via printed course notes, course textbooks, online discussion forums and supplementary material delivered online. Even in 2003-6, when I was studying for my postgraduate diploma, there were no lectures at all in any of the modules that I took, and I didn’t feel disadvantaged in the least. Indeed, it made me wonder whether lectures are an over-rated medium.

    • Roger Lambert
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      I can truly understand how most professors would dislike the taped lesson – teaching to a room of living, interested people is fun, natural, rewarding. But the medium has the potential to offer students a much better learning opportunity than the average lecture.

      One only has to try to learn how to do something using YouTube to see the potential (and the pitfalls) of taped instructional lectures. You can have the luxury of a perfectly edited script, perfect audio and video, perfectly-animated graphic visuals, close-ups. You potentially could also have real-time Q&A.

      Perhaps if instructors were additionally financially compensated by total aggregate views, like happens on YouTube, they would like the format more.

    • C.
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      There are plenty of places in the US where one’s only option is to take online courses for a degree if moving is not an option. I’ve taken quite a few. I can’t say they were much good though and I would avoid them whenever possible. Humanities courses were the easiest to take online, and the least useful (correlation?). I tried a chemistry lecture online but after two weeks decided to make the long commute instead. The lab, of course, was necessarily in person. I don’t know how else a student would complete a lab. The lack of a fume hood, test tubes, watch glass, chemicals… and a biology lab? Slap some stamps on some frogs and post the little corpses through the letterbox? I cannot imagine how that would work. Videos and computer animations cannot replace the gloved-up guts-deep approach. Maybe I am missing something, exaggerating, or am I being too pessimistic based on my own mediocre college experiences?

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Unrelated comment:

    I listened to Obama’s eulogy of John Lewis, delivered 30 July. If anyone hasn’t yet, they must queue it up and make time(s) to listen. Here is a link :

    Sorry if I missed this on a previous Hili Dialogue. I also was heartened that G.W. gave his own thoughtful remarks on the importance of John Lewis.

  3. Ken Pidcock
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    If we’re voting on the greatest comedy in television history, I go with The Dick Van Dyke Show. There was a cast for the ages. I think I heard recently that, when cast, Mary Tyler Moore wasn’t even expected to be comic.

    • Posted August 2, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      I would put that a close second.

    • Historian
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Since we’re playing the game, I will go with the classic 39 episodes of the Honeymooners. The comedy is timeless. I’ve watched each of the episodes probably a half dozen times each over the decades and still find them hilarious. Perhaps, one reason for its continuing popularity is that Alice always stood up to Ralph even when he was out of control or screwing up one of his money making schemes. Here is an example.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted August 2, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        Best exchange on the Honeymooners in my book – it’s on YT but I can’t find it, but I think it’s in a pilot or early episode – Ed complains about something. Trixie replies something to the effect of, “Will you get a load of him! I spend the day in this hot kitchen while he gets to spend the day in the nice cool sewer!”

      • Posted August 2, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        I agree. The classic 39 are stupendous. Makes what passes for comedy today look pathetic. I especially like the one where Kramden and Norton go on TV to sell a can opener.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 2, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I gotta go with The Honeymooners, too, though I was also partial to Phil Silvers’s Sgt. Bilko.

        • jezgrove
          Posted August 2, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          When the penny finally dropped that the cartoon series Top Cat was based on Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show it explained so much!

      • DrBrydon
        Posted August 2, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        I was amazed to learn recently that it only ran for one season.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    (yes, that’s Timothy Leary)

    That Timothy Leary’s dead — and this time not merely metaphorically. 🙂

    Mr. Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out tripped the danse macabre back in ’96.

    • jezgrove
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Leary’s autobiography Flashbacks was an entertaining read. I know it wasn’t necessarily always accurate (hell, he claimed to remember the moment of his own conception IIRC), but it was a lot of fun and he certainly lived an interesting and adventurous life.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 2, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Those Scousers with the mop-top haircuts were sampling TL’s The Psychedelic Experience with the lyrics from this tune off Revolver.

        • jezgrove
          Posted August 2, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

          And, of course, “Come Together” was written for Leary’s gubernatorial election campaign when he was thinking of running against Reagan in California.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait, eventually leading to the Gulf War.

    This aggression will not stand, man!

  6. rickflick
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Having lived along the Hudson River, Henry’s exploration of the river was on our minds since there is a replica of the Half Moon, his ship of discovery. It’s a beautiful thing to see. They would dock her at towns along the waterway and conduct tours:

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Myrna Loy was one of my great heartthrobs of the silver screen. Here she is with William Powell in The Thin Man, a series of movies …

    When I was just a tyke, one of the local teevee stations had an afternoon program featuring old movies. A staple of the series was The Thin Man movies.

    One day during summer break from school, for some reason my mom was taking us kids somewhere special, so she took the unusual step of wearing a nice dress and “putting her face on.” I’d rarely seen her in full make-up in the middle of the day, and as we were pulling out of the driveway in the family Ford, I told her she kinda looked like “that lady from the Nick-and-Nora movie” we’d just had on the tube.

    She stopped the car, checked herself out real quick in the review mirror, turned to me with a great big smile and said “thank you,” as though it were the greatest compliment a kid could possibly pay his mother.

    Christ, I hadn’t thought about that in I don’t how long.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink


    • boudiccadylis
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      I always feel the complement is worth enjoying when made by someone 12 or so makes it. Must’ve made your mom feel like a million.
      I do enjoy the thin man.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    1997 – William S. Burroughs, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1914)

    Bad Bill’s Thanksgiving prayer seems particularly apropos in this, the Age of Trump:

    • John Conoboy
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Burroughs was also a visual artist. I was totally unaware of that until I moved to New Mexico. I used to go to gallery openings on Friday nights, as they would usually have free drinks and some had quite a bit of free food. I was at an opening, I think it was 1990 and noticed that some of the images were very familiar. Suddenly I realized they incorporated stills from the movie “Colors” with painted gang graffiti walls. Turns out it was a joint opening with images by Dennis Hopper and paintings by Burroughs. Both were present at the opening, but were usually mobbed by others.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 2, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        Dang, cool to have just chanced upon that kinda thing, huh?

        That something like that could happen on any rando day is what keeps it worth getting outta bed, putting your shoes on, and heading out the door.

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    We just bought All in the Family on DVD out of fear that the Ministry of Information would send it down the memory hole.

  10. Hempenstein
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I once had a neighbor who had a cat named Dirac. Dirac enjoyed having his head scratched with a key, and would even scratch his own head if I just pulled the a key out and held it at the right height.

    Otherwise, altho 2wks old, there’s a good chart here showing incidence of new COVID cases per capita in all 50 states on a moving 1-wk window. Does anyone know of an updated version, or are these stats in limbo with the Dolt impounding the data that ought to be going to the CDC?

  11. Posted August 2, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    What are the best ice cream and chocolate bars? This could get emotional. Friendships may be strained in this debate.

    Klondike Heath bars have my vote. But I got to add that a recent entry, the Snickers’ ice cream bars are genius. Geenius.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Thx for the above link & suggestion.

      And yes to anything with Heath bars. BUT – if using them in a recipe that involves heat and it doesn’t turn out the way you want, DO NOT go back and re-heat. The Heath bars just get angry and make you regret it.

  12. Posted August 2, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    If I was a patron of that nudist beach, having to wear a mask would be less concerning than the video surveillance “for my safety”.

    • jezgrove
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      In fact, the mask would be welcome in that respect!

  13. harrync
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    The marijuana [marihuana?] stamp is Scott Catalog number RJM1. An imperforate pair lists at $900 in the 2020 edition. You can usually get stamps somewhat under catalog, but still expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars for one. That is a premium pair, with wide margins and plate number.

  14. Steve Pollard
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    ‘All In The Family’ was inspired by the BBC 60s sitcom ‘Till Death Us Do Part’. Neither would make first base with TV commissioning bureaucrats these days.

    • jezgrove
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Yes, a character like Alf Garnett would never make it onto the screen nowadays, even though the whole point was to ridicule the racist old git and his prejudices!

  15. Posted August 2, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Bob and Doug just returned from the space station.

    • Posted August 2, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      They’re still bobbing about, still ensconced in the capsule.

  16. Alex K.
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I think Operation Desert Storm was a mistake.

    There are people who are loud to say that it was necessary to protect the sovereignty of a nation which is a noble cause if not for the fact that our politicians and their oil lobbyist backers had their hands tied with the Saudi regime to keep their pockets filled with cash and choked our country’s addiction to foreign petroleum further into the 21st century.

    Not to mention that it blew right back in our faces in the form of 3,000 people dying in their offices in New York City because of some angry educated Wahhabist Muslims ticked off over our temporary station in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and their barbaric ideology among other things.

    Any thoughts?

  17. revelator60
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    “I still maintain that ‘All in the Family’ was the greatest comedy in television history.”

    My vote goes to “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” The sketch comedy format offers greater comedic variety than the sitcom.

    • Posted August 4, 2020 at 4:01 am | Permalink

      When MPFC was good, it was great, but there were many dud sketches as well, now forgotten. I think that Not The Nine O’clock News was more consistently good.

  18. Andrea Kenner
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Several years ago, when our walking team did the Avon 39 walk in San Francisco, we were treated with special-edition Strawberry It’s-Its at the end of the walk. I’m from the east coast, so I had never heard of them. They were wonderful!

    Sadly, the Avon 39 is no more, and the walk we were scheduled to do this year turned into a “virtual walk” due to covid. I guess I’ll have to treat myself to whatever east-coast ice cream sandwich alternative I can find!

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