Tuesday: Hili dialogue

August 11, 2020 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Tuesday, “the cruelest day” as I call it after T. S. Eliot: August 11, 2020. Readership remains low and I am dispirited. It’s National Panini Day, an example of cultural appropriation, as well as National Raspberry Bombe Day, National Raspberry Tart Day, and Ingersoll Day, honoring the Great Agnostic, born on August 11, 1833.  I didn’t know what a raspberry bombe was, either, but it turns out to be a beautiful frozen dessert with ice cream and raspberries, and sometimes cake and meringue. I’ve certainly never had one, but here’s a specimen:

News of the Day: Sadly, there was widespread looting in downtown Chicago yesterday, with over 100 people arrested, 13 police officers injured, many stores damaged, and a civilian and a security guard in the hospital in critical condition. It appears to be a reaction to an incident in Englewood when police officers and a man shot at each other (nobody was killed though the man was injured). Lori Lightfoot, our badass mayor, called the looting “straight-up felony criminal conduct.”

I believe Joe Biden will announce his running mate this week, possibly today. It will be a woman for sure, but whether a white woman (like Gretchen Whitmer, said to be a prime candidate) or a black woman like Kamala Harris or Susan Rice is a subject of discussion. Even Elizabeth Warren is under consideration, though I’m guessing she won’t be the choice. My money is on Harris.

A quirk of nature: a waterfall in Australia blown backwards (up) by high winds. See the video at the BBC here (h/t: Jeremy).

Yesterday’s poll on whether the term “master bedroom” should be eliminated because it’s sexist and/or racist showed a strong majority against elimination (80.6%), with about 6% favoring elimination and the rest having no opinion. Here are the results as of 5:30 a.m. today:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 163,015, an increase of about 540 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at  734,902, an increase of about 4400 deaths from yesterday.

It is a thin day for everything today. Stuff that happened on August 11 includes:

  • 3114 BC – The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, used by several pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations, notably the Maya, begins.
  • 1858 – The Eiger in the Bernese Alps is ascended for the first time by Charles Barrington accompanied by Christian Almer and Peter Bohren.

The treacherous North Face, which has killed 64 climbers, was not successfully climbed until 1938: here’s why:


  • 1929 – Babe Ruth becomes the first baseball player to hit 500 home runs in his career with a home run at League Park in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • 1934 – The first civilian prisoners arrive at the Federal prison on Alcatraz Island.

Here’s what a cell on Alcatraz was like. You can now visit the island and prison courtesy of the National Park Service.

Source. © Jennifer Boyer/Flickr
  • 1942 – Actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil receive a patent for a Frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system that later became the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi.
  • 1965 – Race riots (the Watts Riots) begin in the Watts area of Los Angeles, California.
  • 1972 – Vietnam War: The last United States ground combat unit leaves South Vietnam.
  • 1984 – “We begin bombing in five minutes“: United States President Ronald Reagan, while running for re-election, jokes while preparing to make his weekly Saturday address on National Public Radio.

Here’s a recording of that mike test, which was a joke, though it put the Soviets on military alert for some time:

Notables born on this day include:

Ingersoll, the Hitchens of his day for his atheism, eloquence on the platform, and great writing style, died at only 65 from heart failure. Here’s the only known photograph of The Great Agnostic speaking to an audience:

  • 1905 – Erwin Chargaff, Austrian-American biochemist and academic (d. 2002)

Chargaff, of course, figures out that the ratio of As to Ts in DNA was 1:1, as was the ratio of Cs to Gs. This showed to Watson and Crick that their model was right, as it involved pairing of As with Ts, and of Cs with Gs. But Chargaff didn’t win a Nobel Prize, as he didn’t realize the import of his finding.

  • 1921 – Alex Haley, American historian and author (d. 1992)
  • 1926 – Aaron Klug, Lithuanian-English chemist and biophysicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2018)
  • 1933 – Jerry Falwell, American minister and television host (d. 2007)
  • 1950 – Steve Wozniak, American computer scientist and programmer, co-founded Apple Inc.
  • 1967 – Joe Rogan, American actor, comedian, and television host

Those who checked out on August 11 include:

  • 1494 – Hans Memling, German-Belgian painter (b. 1430)
  • 1890 – John Henry Newman, English cardinal and theologian (b. 1801)
  • 1919 – Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist, founded the Carnegie Steel Company and Carnegie Hall (b. 1835)
  • 1937 – Edith Wharton, American novelist and short story writer (b. 1862)
  • 1956 – Jackson Pollock, American painter (b. 1912)
  • 2002 – Galen Rowell, American photographer and mountaineer (b. 1940)
  • 2014 – Robin Williams, American actor and comedian (b. 1951)
  • 2018 – V S Naipaul, British writer (b. 1932) 

Here’s Galen Rowell’s great photograph of the Potala in Lhasa with a rainbow. Rowell, a mountaineer as well as a superb photographer, is one of my idols, and was killed in a plane crash in the Owens Valley at only 61.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili talks about that small town:

Hili: Once upon a time it was a big town.
A: It wasn’t bigger than today.
Hili: That’s true, but other towns were smaller then.
In Polish:
Hili: To było kiedyś duże miasto.
Ja: Nie było większe niż dziś.
Hili: To prawda, ale inne miasta były wtedy mniejsze.

Here are two pictures of Kitten Kulka, one with his new staff, Paulina:

A meme from Nicole. I had one of these “service animals” (descented) for several years:

Somehow I missed this tweet by Dick King-Smith, reproduced at Jesus of the Day:

Also from Jesus of the Day:

I tweeted because this imbalance angered me. The story about the riots and looting here is an important one, but got scant coverage in the New York Times compared to the Master Bedroom Kerfuffle:

Two tweets from Simon, the first labeled by him, “Grounds crew doesn’t quite have it together.”

Simon also knows about Nature papers:

From Barry, who says, “Such a scary kitty!” This is the best video I’ve seen yet of a lion cub “roaring”.

Tweets from Matthew. About this first one on porcupines, he said “I had no idea.” Me neither:

You’ll miss the pooping unless you watch closely:

This is an excellent idea for anyone who lives with animals nearby:


59 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. There are some who are describing the looting in downtown Chicago as a protest over an alleged police shooting. Per a Washington Post news article:

    “Black Lives Matter’s Chicago chapter released a statement Monday that blasted Lightfoot for not providing ‘black communities any alternative for demanding justice.’”

    I am glad that Mayor Lightfoot has condemned the criminality. It seems that Black Lives Matter is veering towards extremism where any act of violence is condoned. I wonder how many votes Trump has picked up because of this incident.


    1. According to detailed stories in this morning’s ‘Chicago Tribune,’ the man pursued and shot by police was 20 years old. Police spokespersons say he had a gun and in fact shot at the officers first. Should this be true, then the Chicago police were doing their duty. In the meantime, benefit of the doubt is in order (though the police almost never get that these days, and perhaps have through repeated brutality forfeited the right to it).

      Also, the newspaper reported that the trouble may have begun with–or was exacerbated by–social media messages blaring that the suspect was a 15-year-old boy, unarmed.

      Mayor Lori Lightfoot finds herself in a terrible bind right now, caught between the imperative to govern and the desire for social justice. And a major source of her troubles is the undeclared political war being waged against her by two other powerful elected officials, both women and African-American: Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

      This is ironic, yes. But Chicago politics is still a fight-to-the-death affair, despite the city’s having elected these progressive Black women to its highest offices. Women who now work against one another in a three-way struggle [note: my belief is that Lightfoot is the best of them by far].

  2. Just a quick question, how is your readership counted? I ask because I rarely comment so won’t show up anywhere but I always read the site.

    1. I too am wondering how readership is counted. Most of the time I read the postings in the WordPress reader app, as I’m doing now, but the rest of the time I read postings directly in the email notices from the site. I rarely miss any of your postings, Professor!

    2. WordPress provides statistics on various things like the number of times your site has been accessed and how many visitors there have been.

      I suspect WordPress has recently changed the way these stats are counted because I also saw a dip in readership on my site. It went down from about five a week to two or three a week, one of whom is me and the other is usually a bot looking for suitable spamming targets.

    3. Don’t be dispirited about readership numbers, Jerry. I read you most days and wouldn’t miss a single duck report or cowboy boot update or picture of something you were gamely about to eat. You are both a significant source of information as to how I know so many Americans are idiots (% “God created man in present form” Gallup poll results) and how I know so many are thoughtful, smart, reasonable, caring people. Keep up the good work!

    4. Same here. I read everything, sometimes more than once, and often share the articles with my contacts; but I don’t necessarily comment.

    5. It’s page views, which counts everyone who looks at the site, presumably on a computer or who goes to it on their phone rather than reading an email. That’s the only way I’ve ever counted readership per day, and the only way I can count readership per day.

  3. I got to meet Galen Rowell a couple of times (some signed books as prizes). Nice guy, amazing mountaineer and great photographer.

    The story of how hard he had to work to get that Potala Palace shot is interesting.Mountain Light, pp. 210-211 (first edition).

    He ran his ass off at high altitude to be in position to make the shot. He knew how to maneuver himself into the right spot when the sun broke through clouds to illuminate the palace and create the rainbow. That is preparation, advanced study, and pre-visualization. These and just being “out there” much more of the time than your average bear is what got him many shots.

    I highly recommend Mountain Light, in which he explains how he got may of his iconic images.

  4. Oh, I’m delighted by the roaring lion kitten! With all the horrible news we get day after day, it’s a pleasure to see this little lion child.

    And thank you for the suggestion that we put out water for wild animals. I’m going to go and do that right now.

    1. I thought the road a little half harted. He seemed to be distracted easily. He was absolutely cuddlesome..

  5. So many great tweets etc. in today’s Hili! I can’t decide whether my favourite is the scary lion cub or the sleeping duckling.

    Re. “We begin bombing in five minutes” : At least Reagan had a sense of humour (albeit misguided in this incident) unlike the current occupant of the White House.

    1. Biden was seen riding a bike in Delaware (he was also wearing a mask). Here’s an exchange he had with a Fox reporter.

      “Mr. Vice President, have you picked a running mate yet?” Fox’s Peter Doocy shouted at Biden, who was riding through the streets of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

      “Yeah, I have,” said a mask-clad Biden, to which Doocy quickly responded: “You have? Who is it?”

      “You!” Biden answered, joking with Doocy.

      Hopefully, in November, we get a new POTUS with a sense of humor.

  6. Shallow bowls of water are great places for mosquitoes to lay eggs. If you are going to put them out, make sure you stir them every day.

    1. In my area, not a problem. It’s so dry the water will evaporate quickly. I’d need to refill every day.

  7. I can decide if there is too much or not enough Yakety-Sax in the world, but that tarp clip deserved it, either way.

  8. Dear PCCE,
    I understand that ‘readership count’ is the principal way in which you see the results of your tiring daily grind, and thereby are pleased or disappointed. As with the initial comments above, I always begin with the email version of WEIT, and I don’t always get to the WordPress edition unless, as now, I comment or follow one or more of the tweets.

    But I’m out here, sir, and nearly every day make a connection with you. I hope you realize that you’re helping me and many others with your work, the more so in these dreadful times. Please don’t be disheartened!

  9. PCE, I receive an email every time you post, and I read the post in my email, so, like others, I’m not sure if I am being counted by Word Press. I read much of what you write every day, although work is slowing me down and I am often behind because you are so prolific. Don’t worry, Jerry, your fan club is still out here! I wish I could go to Chicago and visit you and the ducks, but I’m stuck at home in Kansas.

  10. Re Chicago riot – was barely mentioned on my news station, blotted out by Orange Man overreach and Biden VP pick sweepstakes.
    Re Master Bedroom kerfuffle – I voted “meh” but should have said “No” as I don’t like the easily offended appropriating useful terms. As Freud is said to have said: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  11. I think Biden boxed himself in. Even if he was sure he’d choose a woman, why announce it early? Once he committed to a woman, the question became whether or not she would be Black. And now, I think, she has to be Black because of expectations.

    1. Doesn’t really matter, can one propose a better candidate VP than Ms Rice? My money is on her.

          1. I don’t think it should be as much a question of competence — after all, what does a vice president DO? — as it is states delivered and “authenticity”. Harris is a Californian, and Biden already has the state wrapped up. Harris’s father is Jamaican and Rice Jamaican on her mother’s side. Neither seem to have ties to toss-up states that might help Biden win bigger.
            I was and am a fan of Stacy Abrams — smart, articulate, and well educated. Her appeal to authentic American roots and her political savvy could, I believe, have flipped one or more toss-up states in the deep south.

  12. “I had one of these ‘service animals’ (descented) for several years”

    PCC, have you ever devoted a post to your old pet skunk? I would love to see and read more about that critter.

    1. I could, but all my pictures of Pinkus (his name, after my father’s college roommate Irving Pincus), are on slides, so I can’t really show them. Perhaps some day I’ll write about him.

      1. My Dad has spent part of his retirement scanning his old slides into digital pictures. I’m not sure how he does it, but if you ever have lots of downtime…

  13. Water containers for wildlife, even though shallow, can be death traps for small animals and birds. Slick surfaces and steep sides facilitate drowning. I add small rocks or twigs if the contaier is shallow, and dangle a piece rope if the container is tall.

  14. I write for 2 fairly popular websites, one political and one general. BOTH editors tell me their readership is down over the last few months also. They are in similar funks.
    Its temporary I’m sure, in your and their cases.
    Keep up the good work, Professor.

    D.A., J.D., NYC

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