Tuesday: Hili dialogue

August 18, 2020 • 6:30 am

Oy, it’s Tuesday, August 18, 2020, and “National Bacon Lover’s Day”, implying once again with the apostrophe that there is only one bacon lover is being honored Who is that person?. And if there’s more than one, either omit the apostrophe or put it at the end. Get off my lawn!

It’s also National Fajita Day, National Ice Cream Pie Day, Pinot Noir Day, Helium Discovery Day, (it was on this day in 1868 that French astronomer Pierre Jules César Janssen found a band in a light spectrum that turned out to be He), and my favorite: National Bad Poetry Day. Want to see a really bad poem? Then check out the works of WIlliam McGonagall. I recommend especially “The Tay Bridge Disaster.” For McGonagall’s American equivalent, you should essay the works of The Sweet Singer of Michigan, Julia A. Moore. I recommend her elegy “Little Libbie“, which contains these stanzas:

. . . One morning in April, a short time ago,
Libbie was active and gay;
Her Saviour called her, she had to go,
E’re the close of that pleasant day.

While eating dinner, this dear little child
Was choked on a piece of beef.
Doctors came, tried their skill awhile,
But none could give relief.

She was ten years of age, I am told,
And in school stood very high.
Her little form now the earth enfolds,
In her embrace it must ever lie.

And it’s the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote in America. The story of how it was ratified in the last state needed, Tennessee, is a dramatic one; you can read about it in this NY Times article from yesterday:

News of the Day: The Virtual Democratic Convention began last night. I didn’t watch it, as I know I’m going to vote for the Biden ticket, but perhaps I should have, as CNN reports that Michelle Obama gave a “searing” keynote speech against Donald Trump. I bet it was a good one, too, and I’m going to find it on YouTube.

Yep, here it is:

Death Valley, a place where I spent many weeks doing field work on flies (nearly always in March and April) is intolerably hot in summer, and yesterday attained a high temperature of 130° F (54.4° C). That was the highest temperature recorded on Earth since 1913.  The record for the Valley in 1913 was 134° F (56.7° C), which is also the highest temperature recorded on the planet. But Wikipedia gives a caveat:

 According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the highest registered air temperature on Earth was 56.7 °C (134.1 °F) in Furnace Creek Ranch, California, located in the Death Valley desert in the United States, on 10 July 1913, but the validity of this record is challenged as possible problems with the reading have since been discovered.

As for record ground temperatures, Furnace Creek also holds the tentative record:

While there is no highest confirmed ground temperature, a reading of 93.9 °C (201 °F) was allegedly recorded in Furnace Creek Ranch on 15 July 1972.

I went there one summer looking to see if there were any Drosophila there in the heat (about 120° F), and had to stay in an air-conditioned motel at Furnace Creek Ranch because it was too hot to camp out. (I camped out when I did field work.) I found not a single fly, concluding that when they appear in the Spring they were migrants from higher altitudes of the surrounding mountains.

Nancy Pelosi called the House of Representatives back into session to investigate and repair the damage Trump is doing to the Post Office in an attempt to subvert the election. House Democrats are asking for the Post Office’s board of overseers to take control away from the Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a crony of and donator to Trump.

I tweeted the news below from yesterday. I wonder if any school will escape this fate.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 170,451, an increase of about 520 deaths over yesterday’s report.  We’ll definitely reach 200,000 deaths in the US by fall. The world death toll now stands at 779,017, an increase of about 4200 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on August 18 includes:

  • 1590 – John White, the governor of the Roanoke Colony, returns from a supply trip to England and finds his settlement deserted.
  • 1612 – The trial of the Pendle witches, one of England’s most famous witch trials, begins at Lancaster Assizes.
  • 1826 – Major Gordon Laing becomes the first non-Muslim to enter Timbuktu.

. . . and there he died, perhaps strangled.

  • 1868 – French astronomer Pierre Janssen discovers helium.
  • 1920 – The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, guaranteeing women’s suffrage. [See article above.]
  • 1940 – World War II: The Hardest Day air battle, part of the Battle of Britain. At that point, the largest aerial engagement in history with heavy losses sustained on both sides.
  • 1958 – Vladimir Nabokov‘s controversial novel Lolita is published in the United States.

Lolita is again out of fashion because of its theme. A first edition, signed to Nabokov’s cousin, will run you $55,000:

Here he is being escorted to class after he enrolled (caption from Wikipedia, which also adds: “Robert Kennedy ordered 127 U.S. Marshals as well as 316 deputized U.S. Border Patrol and 97 Federal Bureau of Prisons officers to accompany Meredith during his arrival and registration.” The University was still segregated then despite the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that no public schools could enforce segregation. Meredith is still with us at age 87.

Photograph shows James Meredith walking to class accompanied by U.S. marshals.; James Meredith walking to class at University of Mississippi, accompanied by U.S. marshals. According to http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c35515, the men flanking Meredith are U.S. Marshal James McShane (left) and John Doar of the Justice Department (right)
  • 1976 – The Korean axe murder incident in Panmunjom results in the deaths of two US Army officers.
  • 1977 – Steve Biko is arrested at a police roadblock under the Terrorism Act No. 83 of 1967 in King William’s Town, South Africa. He later dies from injuries sustained during this arrest bringing attention to South Africa’s apartheid policies.

Biko, below, was beaten to death by South African security officers.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1774 – Meriwether Lewis, American soldier, explorer, and politician (d. 1809)
  • 1922 – Alain Robbe-Grillet, French director, screenwriter, and novelist (d. 2008)
  • 1927 – Rosalynn Carter, First Lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981
  • 1932 – Luc Montagnier, French virologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate

Those who went toes up on August 18 include:

  • 1227 – Genghis Khan, Mongolian emperor (b. 1162)
  • 1850 – Honoré de Balzac, French novelist and playwright (b. 1799)
  • 1945 – Subhas Chandra Bose, Indian activist and politician (b. 1897)

Bose, who wanted to drive the British out of India, tried to do so by forming alliances with the Germans and the Japanese, forming the “Indian National Army” that was supposed to free India by fighting alongside the Japanese. He died in a plane crash on this day 75 years ago. Here’s Bose with Gandhi:

  • 1990 – B. F. Skinner, American psychologist and philosopher, invented the Skinner box (b. 1904)
  • 2014 – Don Pardo, American radio and television announcer (b. 1918)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili meets a miniature version of herself: kitten Kulka. Paulina, Kulka’s staff, is concerned that Hili doesn’t like the kitten:

Paulina: Will you be finally friends?
Hili: I’m not sure.
In Polish
Paulina: Zaprzyjaźnicie się wreszcie?
Hili: Nie jestem pewna.
And an adorable picture of Szaron and Kulka cuddling.  Caption: “But there is great love between Szaron and Kulka.” Photo by Paulina.
In Polish: Za to Szaron i Kulka to wielka miłość (Zdjęcie Paulina R.)

I’m a member in good standing, but I make my own lattes. Cartoon from Dan Piraro.

From reader Charles we have a nice cartoon by David Horsey of The Seattle Times:

I presume mice are immune:

Titania’s Twitter site is still down. I’d love to know what the story is.

From Simon, who reads this site that uses tweets to impart lessons to young scientist:

And another from the same site:

From Barry. Sound up to hear the cry of the wild loon:

Matthew sent me the tweet, and I was so impressed with this bit of “evolutionary art” that I retweeted it with a possible explanation:

Matthew thinks that the explanation I gave is less convincing when you watch the video, but I’m still sticking to it for the time being:

More tweets from Matthew. You have to be a very brave soul to pilot one of these carrier-based jets:

I try to avoid too much Trump-bashing, as it’s a low-hanging fruit, but I couldn’t resist this one (also from Matthew):

An old lady gets her first tattoo. One of the funny comments in the thread: “It’s sort of cute now, but when she gets old she will regret it.”

The King of All Beasts:


44 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I’ve been meaning to add further reasons why this site is so good:

    no annoying adverts, pop-ups or questions about how I would like my biscuits (or cookies as they are called in some parts).

  2. Ms. Moore’s elegy “Little Libbie” recalls a stanza from WH Auden’s in memoriam for WB Yeats, the final line of which concludes with one of the worst stabs at rhyme in the history of poetastery:

    Earth, receive an honoured guest:
    William Yeats is laid to rest.
    Let the Irish vessel lie
    Emptied of its poetry.

    1. I hadn’t heard of Julia A. Moore until today, but I learned about McGonagall in high school (in New Zealand). And even had the pleasure a couple of years later at university of hearing the New Zealand Broadcasting Company Symphony Orchestra – and narrator – perform McGonagall’s “The Famous Tay Whale”, as set to music by Gerard Hoffnung.[See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoffnung_Music_Festival for Hoffnung’s music.]

      1. Small correction: the concert was indeed devised and organised by the great Gerard Hoffnung; but the score for ‘The Famous Tay Whale’ was written by Matyas Seiber. It includes parts for orchestra, foghorn, espresso machine and narrator – who, in the first and (I think) last performance was the distinguished actress Dame Edith Evans.

          1. Well, if Derek has recently heard it, I was wrong in saying that the first performance (in 1958) was the last. So the NZBCSO must have a copy of the score. Mustn’t it?

            I still have the LP of the original concert. It included Malcolm Arnold’s ‘Grand, Grand Festival Overture’ which is written for an enormous orchestra plus three vacuum cleaners, an electric floor polisher, and four rifles. Once heard, never forgotten!

    1. I was deeply disappointed. I was hoping to hear a REAL cry of a wild loon, which is amazing. Humans being idiots is no more entertaining than monkeys throwing feces, and less impressive.

  3. Lolita is again out of fashion because of its theme.

    Lolita will always remain in fashion among writers and serious readers.

    First time I read it was for a Lit course in college. I came home one weekend that semester for some home-cookin’ and to get my laundry done. I recall my mom walking in the living room and espying me as I lay on the couch paging through it.

    “Readin’ dirty books again, son?”

    “This one’s for a class, ma … honest-to-god.”

    “Sure it is.”

    1. One day, when I was 14, my mother and I were in a department shore and bumped into a friend of hers who saw me carrying a book and asked what I was reading. When I showed her the title: “The Way of All Flesh” by Samuel Butler, obviously unfamiliar with the novel, she turned to my mother with an arched eyebrow and a moue, as if to say, “Florence, what kind of mother are you letting your daughter read such salacious trash?!

      1. 🤣I think I read that at around the same age. My mother had to get me special permission to take out adult books at the public library attached to our 7-9 jr. high In Maryland. I did have to sneak her copy of Peyton Place, though🤓

      2. Mr. Butler’s novel is pretty heavy going for a 14-year-old, Jenny. Good for you.

        BTW, the great immersion journalist, Ted Conover, borrowed Butler’s “The Way of All Flesh” title for the piece he wrote about his year spent undercover working in a slaughterhouse (Conover previously wrote a book, Newjack, about his year undercover as a prison guard at Sing Sing) — the best writing about US meat processing since Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. A great piece, though, like Sinclair, perhaps not for the overly squeamish.

  4. …it was on this day in 1868 that French astronomer Pierre Jules César Janssen found a band in a light spectrum that turned out to be He

    In the interests of gender equality and the onward march against the institutions of white patriarchy and imperialism Helium is to be remaned ‘Zelium’, chemmical symbol ‘Ze’.

    /not quire whimsy

  5. 1963 – Civil rights movement: James Meredith becomes the first African American to graduate from the University of Mississippi.

    Couple years after being graduated from Ole Miss, Meredith got winged by a sniper’s bullet during a march from Memphis, TN to Jackson, MS to register new voters. Meredith recovered in time to leave the hospital and finish the march.

    No snowflake, he.

  6. I would definitely recommend that you find three things from last night’s DNC event and watch them. Well worth it:

    Bernie Sanders
    Michelle Obama
    A woman who’s father, a Trump supporter, died from Covid-19. I didn’t catch her name, but what a powerful short talk.

  7. High on a mountain’s highest ridge,
    Where oft the stormy winter gale
    Cuts like a scythe, while through the clouds
    It sweeps from vale to vale;
    Not five yards from the mountain path,
    This Thorn you on your left espy;
    And to the left, three yards beyond,
    You see a little muddy pond
    Of water—never dry
    I’ve measured it from side to side.
    T’is three feet long and two feet wide.

    ~~ Wordsworth – allegedly.

    1. Julia A. Moore was the inspiration for Emmeline Grangerford in Huckleberry Finn. She was a young woman who wrote godawful poetry whenever someone in her town died. Huck is in awe of her talent.

  8. On carrier based jets, the results of a Navy program during the Vietnam war really put it in perspective. It was a study to figure out what was most stressful about air combat with an eye to figuring out ways to mitigate the stress. Unexpectedly they discovered that the basic premise was wrong. Maximum stress did not happen during air combat but during nighttime carrier landings.

  9. With respect to the apostrophe use in “Bacon Lover’s Day”…perhaps they are referring to the Platonic, ideal Bacon Lover of whom all the rest of us are mere imperfect, shadowy reflections.

  10. Regarding the elderly woman getting a tattoo, my mother did that, though not at quite that age. She unexpectedly up and got 2 tattoos. Can’t say what age she was, but all of us kids were long out of the house. One is a little cat on her shoulder. The other I don’t remember, but it is on her ankle.

    She has always been a bit liberal about that sort of thing. When I first got my ear pierced when I was in HS my sister reacted by exclaiming “I disown you!” (She didn’t of course) But my mother reacted by excitedly running into her bedroom to her jewelry box to dig out all of the ear rings that she had lost one of the pair of to see if I wanted any of them.

  11. It should be possible to conduct experiments to test whether the particular wing pattern of Goniurellia tridens deters predators. Maybe using, as a control group, some other Tephritid species of similar size and behaviour but with a less elaborate wing pattern. Hasn’t it been done already?

  12. Ah, Robbe-Grillet–It was in college that someone talked me into seeing Last Year at Marienbad, and after that I read Jealousy. I even tried to write a story in his “just a camera” style. I failed.

    1. I failed to be able to read a whole first page by Robbe-Grillet in a bookstore. The convoluted, page long sentences of Proust are easy and captivating reading compared to the half page of Robbe-Grillet’s description of objects in a room that I managed to read before falling asleep in the middle of the bookstore.

    2. Had to read La Jalousie in French in college . Iirc jalousies are like venetian blinds and there was a mille-pattes (millepied) involved. All I remember. I did like Last Year at Marienbas.

  13. One thing that gets overlooked in the history of the 19th Amendment is that when it was passed, fifteen of the forty-eight states (most of them in the west) already granted women full suffrage, twenty-six granted women limited suffrage (Illinois, for instance, allowed women to vote in primary and presidential elections) and only seven states completely barred women from all elections.

    The importance of the 19th Amendment was in that it uniformly extended the vote to all women as a right, rather than keeping it as a privilege accorded by some states and not others. Like every other amendment related to voting, it expanded the pool of eligible voters, a policy that is endangered in the current political climate.

  14. An interesting book on James Meredith’s experience from the perspective of a young Minnesota soldier is “James Meredith and the Ole Miss Riot: A Soldier’s Story” by Henry Gallagher.

  15. There have been archeological digs near the Lost Colony of Roanoke. They have found a mix of Croatoan and English artifacts on nearby Hatteras Island. The archeologists believe that this means the colony mixed with Croatoans. This matches with stories of blue eyed Indians and the famous Croatoan sign.

    I do not know the reliability of the claims and it does not appear as if they have dated the artifacts.


  16. I also find Death Valley a fascinating place to visit. Have visited many times during the winter months, don’t think I could endur a summer day there. The ground temperature is so hot during the summer that resident park rangers turn off their hot water heaters at home and use the tank to store cool water. They turn on the cold water tap for hot water and hot tap for cool water.

  17. I thought the first night of the DNC was great! Michelle Obama gave a really moving speech, surprisingly political for a First Lady, but I agreed with everything she said. I think overall they did a great job emphasizing Biden’s humanity and decency.

    There is inherent conflict between John Kasich’s “don’t worry, Republicans who hate Trump, Biden isn’t really on the left” and Bernie Sanders’s “Progressives, I know Biden isn’t as far left as he should be, but we’ll push him there.” That’s unavoidable in the big-tent Democratic Party. I just hope the two sides hold together long enough to get rid of the Agent Orange contamination in the White House.

    Funniest line of the night: “Trump may hate the USPS, but he’ll still have to send them a change of address card come January.” -Amy Klobuchar. From her mouth to God’s ears!

  18. For a brief explanation of the shut down of Titania by Twitter (along with a load of other satirical sites see Spiked

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