Wednesday: Hili dialogue

Welcome to midweek, aka Hump Day: Wednesday, August 5, 2020, also known as National Oyster Day. But August has no “r”s in it, so how can it be Oyster Day? It’s also Green Peppers Day, National Underwear Day, and Work Like a Dog Day (but only “working dogs” work, and that is a tiny minority of canids).  And apparently the American Episcopal Church has designated this day as a Christian feast day for three great painters: Albrecht DürerMatthias Grünewald, and Lucas Cranach the Elder. Now that’s a new one to me.

Today’s Google Doodle shows the letters wearing facemasks, and if you click on it (do so) you go to an admonition to wear a mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.

News of the Day: First, the good news. According to the Guardian, the number of emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica has been revised upwards by 20%, to a total of 55.  These were detected by imaging from a new satellite, looking for the brown patches of penguin guano (shit). The colonies look like this:

Photo: British Antarctic Survey

Some are over a hundred miles from the ocean, which means both mom and pop (alternately) have to walk that far to get to their fish. The species lives only in Antarctica (h/t: Jeremy)

The New York Times has a long article about BethAnn McLaughlin, a former Vanderbilt faculty member and activist for feminism in science.  After being denied tenure, she set up a fake Twitter account, adopting the persona of a bisexual Hopi #MeTooSTEM activist, and taking the money donated to the fictitious person. McLaughlin was outed in part by Michael Eisen, the originator of the Great Worm Fracas.

Speaking of art, check out the Washington Post’s story on how an amateur art sleuth is making waves by claiming that nearly all of Paul Gauguin’s last paintings are forgeries.

Join the club: in the NYT, Jennifer Senior reports record levels of “mental distress” in Americans during the pandemic.

But even the luckiest among us haven’t been spared. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 36 percent of Americans report that coronavirus-related worry is interfering with their sleep. Eighteen percent say they’re more easily losing their tempers. Thirty-two percent say it has made them over- or under-eat.

Well, my own sleep is severely disturbed and I am getting peevish, which I try to control. My eating habits, though, haven’t changed.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 157,302, an increase of about 1300 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 700,989, a big increase of about 7200 deaths from yesterday

Stuff that happened on August 5 include:

  • 1305 – William Wallace, who led the Scottish resistance against England, is captured by the English near Glasgow and transported to London where he is put on trial and executed.


  • 1620 – The Mayflower departs from Southampton, England, carrying would-be settlers, on its first attempt to reach North America; it is forced to dock in Dartmouth when its companion ship, the Speedwell, springs a leak.
  • 1735 – Freedom of the press: New York Weekly Journal writer John Peter Zenger is acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, on the basis that what he had published was true.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: In order to help pay for the war effort, the United States government levies the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US$800; rescinded in 1872).
  • 1884 – The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty is laid on Bedloe’s Island (now Liberty Island) in New York Harbor.
  • 1914 – In Cleveland, Ohio, the first electric traffic light is installed.
  • 1957 – American Bandstand, a show dedicated to the teenage “baby-boomers” by playing the songs and showing popular dances of the time, debuts on the ABC television network.

Remember this? I watched it after school regularly; this clip is from 1957:

Here’s Barack Obama visiting Mandela’s cell on Robben Island. Note that Mandela slept on a pallet on the floor:

  • 1962 – American actress Marilyn Monroe is found dead at her home from a drug overdose.
  • 1981 – President Ronald Reagan fires 11,359 striking air-traffic controllers who ignored his order for them to return to work.
  • 2010 – The Copiapó mining accident occurs, trapping 33 Chilean miners approximately 2,300 ft (700 m) below the ground for 69 days.

Notables born on this day include:

Repin painted a picture that stopped me in my tracks when I saw it in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. I looked at it for a very long time. It’s Barge Haulers on the Volga (1870-1873), depicting 11 burlaks (what people were called who had this backbreaking job). The people are based on real people Repin knew, and the faces are very realistic.

And a photo from Wikipedia titled “1900s photograph of burlaks on the Volga river”. It looks remarkably like Repin’s painting.

  • 1889 – Conrad Aiken, American novelist, short story writer, critic, and poet (d. 1973)
  • 1906 – Wassily Leontief, German-American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1999)
  • 1930 – Neil Armstrong, American pilot, engineer, and astronaut (d. 2012)

Those who turned into stiffs on August 5 include:

Miranda would surely be decried today as a Latina stereotype, what with her fruit hat and all. But here she is. (She died of a heart attack at 46.)

  • 1959 – Edgar Guest, English-American journalist and poet (b. 1881)
  • 2000 – Alec Guinness, English actor (b. 1914)
  • 2019 – Toni Morrison, American author, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Nobel laureate (b. 1931).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a good question:

Hili: How did cats domesticate humans?
A: You’ve asked about that a few times: step by step.
In Polish:
Hili: Jak koty udomowiły człowieka?
Ja: Pytałaś już o to kilka razy. Krok po kroku.

And tiny Kulka has begun climbing the trees, just like her big doppelgänger Hili. Here she is in a cherry tree with a red nose; apparently she got into the cherries.

A meme from Bruce:

. . . and one from Nicole:

From Jesus of the Day, to help me boost readership:

Two tweets from Simon. First, you may have heard Trump prounce “Yosemite”, as in park, as “Yo, Semite”, as if somebody were calling to a Jew. Who hasn’t heard the word pronounced???

But then it could have been a dog whistle!

From Su, a beautiful black panther in the rain:

Sent by reader cesar. I had no idea that Mandarin ducks went through such an extreme change during their molt:

Tweets from Matthew. A hemipteran imitating a weevil? Why? Well, some weevils are brightly colored as a “warning signal” (aposematism), and weevils could be Batesian mimics. Others say that weevils are hard to eat because their carapace is tough, and if you look like one, predators will avoid you. Regardless, true bug has surely evolved to mimic a weevil.

A tweet from a site that collects Right-wing stuff turns out to look like it comes from the Left. This is from a Christian creationist site and refers to evolution:

A Trump mocker retweeted by Sarah Cooper:

“I think it was owl number three.”



  1. jezgrove
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Holy er… guano! Ten years since the Copiapó mining accident already.

  2. eric
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Miranda would surely be decried today as a Latina stereotype, what with her fruit hat and all.

    IIRC, she invented her look. So not a stereotype at all, since Carmen Miranda can’t be an oversimplified image of Carmen Miranda. And I’m not sure why it should be considered latina, given she was the only one to successfully pull it off. It’s not like fruit hats are a common hispanic mode of dress. This is a look that should be associated with the individual, not with any ‘group’ she belongs to. All in all, I think a more apt term for her is “iconic.”

    But, I’m being a pedant. Yes, another person coming along today and copying her look for attention would probably be called a latina stereotype.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Remember this? I watched [American Bandstand] after school regularly; this clip is from 1957 …

    I’d give that Fats Domino “Big Beat” tune an 88. It’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    1955 – Carmen Miranda, Portuguese-Brazilian actress and singer (b. 1909)

    The namesake for the famous Miranda warnings: You have the right to wear fruit on your head. You have the right to a conga line. If you wish to have a conga line, but cannot afford one, a conga line will be assigned to you at no expense …

    You could look it up.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    First, you may have heard Trump prounce [sic] “Yosemite”, as in park, as “Yo, Semite”, as if somebody were calling to a Jew.

    Yeah, well, if they let Trump put a Trump-branded golf course in one of the meadows there, you can bet your ass Trump would learn to pronounce “Yosemite” correctly. The “Trump Yosemite Country Club” — the greatest, most fantastic golf course ever built. Everyone says so.

    • eric
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      I got an eagle on the ‘top of Half Dome to Merced river” hole. But it was a par 5 so not that impressive.

    • Curtis
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      If you read a lot, this kind of mispronunciation is common. When I was in high school (big difference in age I realize) I made the same mistake and was teased by my friends. Until my twenties, I also thought there were cities in California named La Jolla and La Hoya.

      In my family filled with readers, one of once would day something and the others would say that they mentally pronounced it differently. Off to the dictionary we went. Cacophony was one word I remember my sister being amazed about. The Lord of the Rings characters were also interesting.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        Sure. I used to pronounce “sociopathy” wrong. And don’t get me started on how I embarrassed myself the first time I said “epigone” out loud.

        But Trump’s mispronunciation hardly stems from his having “read a lot.” Quite the opposite: essentially, he reads not at all. I think his problem in pronouncing “Yosemite” comes from his having no curiosity whatever about this nation’s national park system.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      There is actually a real golf course in Yosemite National Park. It is in the Wawona district. Only nine holes however.

      After he said Yo Semite, he tried again and said Yo Seminite.

    • grasshopper
      Posted August 6, 2020 at 2:42 am | Permalink

      I learned how to pronounce “Yosemite” from watching Loony Tunes cartoons. Maybe Donald Trump never had a proper childhood.

      Meep meep.

  6. rickflick
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    When Ronald Reagan fired the air-traffic controllers, I was working for IBM in software. One of my coworkers was a fired controller who had programming skills and didn’t miss a beat.

    Strange that the Russians didn’t have mules and horses to pull boats as they must have had in other parts of the world. Too expensive? And another thing – in the painting, they use broad straps around their bodies, while in the photo they merely press their weight into bare ropes. That must have hurt like hell by the end of the day.

    • Frank Bath
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Unless my eyes deceive me in the painting the tow point on the barge appears to be the top of the mast.

      • rickflick
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        That’s interesting. I’d say the painter was using his artistic license to introduce a very graceful line into the composition.

        • Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

          The graceful line is a slack catenary, so they aren’t pulling very hard. Heck, one of them is smoking a pipe.

          • rickflick
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

            Some are working harder than others. That contradicts Marxist principles.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

              Though not so much the principles of 19th century czarist Russia under the Romanovs.

              • rickflick
                Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

                Maybe it was Lenin who took away their straps and gave them ropes. 😛

          • rickflick
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

            Catenary – as in how cats get on and off the ship?

            • Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

              😀 Either that or the hybrid offspring of Sylvester and Tweetie.

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I used to have a print of Repin’s “Reply of the Cossacks of Zaporozhi to Sultan Mehmed IV” that I got in the Soviet Union.

  8. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    The ice cream licking (“cleaning”) comic is brilliant!

    • Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Yes, but it’s fake news. Our cats love ice cream though I guess it is mostly melted before they taste it.

  9. Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I bet that’s how Kulka has cemented her claim on a forever home – ‘step by step’. She is the cutest!

    • boudiccadylis
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      And I think she knows it very well.

  10. Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    As a teenager, I had a friend who pronounced “Yosemite” as “yose-e-might”. He’d only heard of it in the context of Yosemite Sam, not the valley. I was able to correct him because I had been there on a fabulous holiday to America.

    As for Trump, I have a theory which is mine that occurred to me when watching his car crash Axios interview. He read “the World” off one of the data sets as if he didn’t know what “the World” means. My theory, which is, as I said, mine, is that the bit of Trump’s brain which does reading is not properly connected to the bit that parses meaning. He reads words and he can say them but he doesn’t understand what they mean. This is why his speeches aways sound so flat when he is reading a script. It’s a bit like I would soundd if I was reading Spanish.

    • Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      data set -> graph

    • Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Yes, that “world” comment caught my ear as well. However, I think there’s a prosaic explanation. He was reading a graph in which there were lines for different countries but also one for all of them combined and labelled “World”. Unsurprisingly, the US did better than the World in having fewer deaths per COVID case.

      • Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        That strengthens my point. He read “the World” off the graph. He should have immediately known what it is and why it is an inappropriate example but he didn’t. He just read it out as if it was just another country.

        • Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

          It’s inappropriate but only to someone who thinks critically. He knows that “US is better than the World” is what is going to register with most listeners. He doesn’t care whether it is rational science but goes only for his statements’ effect on most of his listeners. You might say he’s got it wrong but, in his mind, he’s got it exactly right. He’s not going for truth but leverage.

          • Posted August 6, 2020 at 4:17 am | Permalink

            You think the difference between “the World” and a country in it is only apparent to somebody who thinks critically? It’s quite obvious from the way he said it and the context, that Trump simply did not parse the meaning behind the words “the World”.

  11. Gareth Price
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Only yesterday I read the following: “Never ridicule someone for mispronouncing a word. It means they learned it from reading a book”.

    Has Trump actually been reading? Perhaps the Lonely Planet California guidebook?

  12. Vaal
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    “Well, my own sleep is severely disturbed and I am getting peevish, which I try to control. My eating habits, though, haven’t changed.”


    I’m finding myself being more snappy too. The Pandemic stuff sits like a low level white buzz of anxiety in my brain.

    As for your eating habits, I’m really curious: As a fellow “foodie,” the closure of restaurants and the threat of eating out has me very bummed. In Toronto we’ve just moved to stage 3 where indoor dining (with precautions of course) is allowed.

    I still don’t feel ready for that myself.

    How have you been managing your noms? Cooking at home? Take out? Patio dining?
    Have you or would you dine inside at this point?

    • Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I’m bummed as well. I get occasional take-out food but mostly I’m cooking at home. When I don’t feel like cooking, I’ll make a frozen pizza or have a microwaved Trader Joe’s Indian dish. I treat myself by opening some really good bottles of wine from my collection, which I prefer to share but that’s not possible now.

      I’m not ready to dine inside yet.

      • Vaal
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        Ok, thanks.

        We are doing a fair amount of take-out, both to alleviate monotony and keep local places alive. (My all time favorite bakery says they are touch and go every day whether to stay open or close down!).

        There has certainly been a spike in frozen pizza in our house too.

        • Posted August 5, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          If I found a spike in my frozen pizza, I’d send it back. Sorry.

          • Vaal
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

            Ok, Paul, your comment has inspired a “bad food/pizza experience” story from my past.

            Years ago a group from my work had lunch at a local sit-down pizza place. We ordered, as I remember, a huge pizza that was placed in the middle of the circular table, and we were sharing the pizza.

            A few of us started having the sensation that tiny *something* was splashing on us. Weren’t sure though. Then it was “did you just see a few drips of water come down from the ceiling?” No. Oh..ok…thought I saw it. Back to eating.

            Several minutes later: Wait there it is again! We were sure we saw water drip from the ceiling on to the pizza. Where is it coming from?

            We look up. Then a minute later we faintly hear a toilet flush from above the ceiling over our table. And following the flush, water started dripping on to the pizza. Another toilet flush, more water drips down.
            We had a toilet leak dripping on to our pizza during that whole time.

            Horrified we notified the management. They were horrified too. Lunch was over, but they offered in recompense “a free pizza lunch next time.”

            Uh…no thanks.

            • Posted August 5, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

              Wow! That is some awful story. Reminds me of two stories, one good and one bad.

              First the bad story. We went out for one of those mass office lunches, I think to celebrate someone’s birthday. We were served water in glasses but as we started to drink we smelled something funny. Evidently they had sprayed insecticide in the kitchen and some had gotten into the glasses, the water pitcher, or both.

              The good story is about pizza. At another lunch with a couple of coworkers, not at a pizza place, somehow the conversation turned to pizza. Someone mentioned that they liked the double-crust pizza from Chicago. The rest of us had not heard of it. A different person pulled a photo out of his wallet and said, “Do you mean like this?” It was a picture of a double-crust pizza. Evidently he and a friend were trying to perfect cooking of such a pizza in their home pizza oven. It seemed hilarious at the time. Serendipitous and who carries a picture of a pizza in their wallet?

              • Vaal
                Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

                Nice to see a balance of good and evil in the Pizza stories.

                I’ll stop there…before I mention the time my sister cooked our family roast (her first time) in the oven without taking off either the plastic wrap or the Styrofoam plate it was sitting on.

                “Does anyone taste…plastic?”

  13. Derek Freyberg
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    “Don’t eat the brown snow” will now replace “Don’t eat the yellow snow” in my mind.

    • Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Don’t eat the colored snow! Or is that racist? 😉

  14. Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I thought Creationists had already come to grips with dinosaurs. They were created at the beginning, co-existed with humans, and drowned in the flood.

  15. Jenny Haniver
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    “Sure. I used to pronounce “sociopathy” wrong. And don’t get me started on how I embarrassed myself the first time I said ‘epigone’ out loud.”

    Me, too, on both counts. Then there was the humiliation of mispronouncing the “prix” in “grand prix” when I was about twelve.

    I haven’t posted regularly in quite some time,though I posted yesterday. What’s with this new mode of response that I’ve encountered in this post today? Lousy!!!!! One loses all continuity having to go to the bottom of the entire post to make a reply. And to scroll all the way back up to check something one forgot.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      BS! to this. My response was to the comment by Ken Kukec way back at the end of the thread he began at comment #5. Now it’s a stand-alone, not by my inattentiveness but because of the template or whatever it is. This comment will surely be a stand-alone as well, though it’s supposed to be an addendum to my previous comment.

  16. Hempenstein
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    At least a couple yrs ago the Dolt couldn’t even handle pronouncing Utah. It came out You-tuh

  17. uommibatto
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    OK, too late in the day for anyone to read this, but…

    The Yosemite Sam bit about being modeled after his Jewish creator, and having the full name of Samuel Rosenbaum, reminded me of a classic SNL Stefan skit.

    In the skit, Stefan (Bill Hader) is talking about Dracula, and then says there’s a black Dracula named Blackula. He then impishly says, “There’s a Jewish Dracula, too.” The Weekend Update host (Seth Meyers or Colin Jost, probably) takes the bait and says, “Oh, and what’s his name?” Stefan, barely keeping from laughing, says, “Sidney Applebaum.”

    Is that offensive? I don’t know, but I think it’s funny as hell.

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