Sunday: Hili dialogue

August 30, 2020 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Ceiling Cat’s Day: Sunday, August 30, 2020, and I am tired after only about four hours of sleep (more on that later). It’s National Toasted Marshmallow Day; below are some “medium” toasted marshmallows, which are already too burnt for many people but not burnt enough for me. These may be useful for s’mores, but it’s the gastronomic equivalent of eating a steak well done:

But I prefer mine burnt to a crisp, which you can do by setting the whole thing on fire (no “toasting”) and waiting for the flames to die down. I couldn’t find a picture of my preferred “well done” marshmallow, but here’s an approximation. My optimum state, however, is totally black all over, a round ash.

It’s also National Beach Day, National Slinky Day (do they still make them?), and International Day of the Disappeared.

News of the Day: Lovely news: after 79 years of marriage, an Ecuadorian couple have just set the record for the combined age of a married couple: nearly 215 years. He’s 110 and she’s 104!

The two retired teachers live in Ecuador’s capital of Quito, where in mid-August they received the Guinness certification.

Their daughter Cecilia says they are both lucid and active, although they no longer have the agility they had before. But “for a month they have been different, more downcast because they miss large family gatherings”.

And they can gather quite a crowd: four surviving children, 11 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

“Since March, we have not had any of that,” Cecilia said. “My parents need family contact.”

She said her father enjoys watching television and drinking milk and that her mother, who enjoys desserts, likes to read the newspaper every morning.

Here are the lovebirds:

CNN reports on the brand-new Celera 500L, a bullet-shaped jet airplane that carries six passengers but has only one-eighth the fuel consumption: It gets 18-25 miles per gallon compared to 2-3 for conventional jets of the same size. Here’s the weird-looking thing (this is a test version; the passenger version will have side windows):

“Featured news” from Huffpost (click on screenshot if you want):

There are reports that a 25 year old man from Nevada has contracted coronavirus twice, judging by the genetic differences between the viral strains in both infections. If this is true, we’re screwed.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 182,611, an increase of about 900 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 842,024, an increase of about 5,500 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on August 30 includes:

Here’s the one Gould made a big deal of in his book Wonderful Life: Pikaia, a chordate, and thus more closely related to us than are the other fossils. Remember that though it’s a chordate, and thus in the same phylum as we are, this doesn’t mean it was our ancestor, though Gould does some heavy breathing about that. It could have been a relative of our chordate ancestor, but one that went extinct.

This is one of the great adventure stories of all time, and is well worth reading about. Shackleton died of a heart attack at 47.  Here’s his grave on South Georgia Island, where he navigated to get help for his men. If I ever get back to the Antarctic I hope to visit it (one traditionally toasts Shackleton by quaffing a shot of whisky at the grave).

Grave of Ernest Shackleton, Grytvyken, Island of South Georgia
  • 1918 – Fanni Kaplan shoots and seriously injures Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, which along with the assassination of Bolshevik senior official Moisei Uritsky days earlier, prompts the decree for Red Terror.
  • 1963 – The Moscow–Washington hotline between the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union goes into operation.

The hotline isn’t a red telephone as many people think; it was a fax machine, a teletype, and now a secure computer line that handles emails.

  • 1967 – Thurgood Marshall is confirmed as the first African American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • 1992 – The 11-day Ruby Ridge standoff ends with Randy Weaver surrendering to federal authorities.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1797 – Mary Shelley, English novelist and playwright (d. 1851)
  • 1871 – Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand-English physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1937)
  • 1893 – Huey Long, American lawyer and politician, 40th Governor of Louisiana (d. 1935)

Long was assassinated in Baton Rouge. Here’s the old demagogue giving a speech (with a Louisiana accent) about “sharing the wealth”. A corrupt authoritarian along the lines of Trump, he also had a populist appeal à la Bernie Sanders:

  • 1901 – Roy Wilkins, American journalist and activist (d. 1981)
  • 1930 – Warren Buffett, American businessman and philanthropist
  • 1943 – Robert Crumb, American illustrator

Ah, Crumb, the comic-book hero of hippies! I have many of his comics, and I can’t leave out a Crumb drawing! Here’s Mr. Natural speaking truth to power:

Those whose lights went out on August 30 include:’

  • 1940 – J. J. Thomson, English physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1856)
  • 2013 – Seamus Heaney, Irish poet and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1939)
  • 2015 – Oliver Sacks, English-American neurologist, author, and academic (b. 1933)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej have a tender moment of bonding:

Hili: I like sitting with you on the steps.
A: Yes, these are very nice moments.
In Polish:
Hili: Lubię siedzieć z wami na schodkach.
Ja: Tak, to są bardzo miłe chwile.

Here’s a heart-melting photo of Szaron and Kitten Kulka, now BFFs, sleeping together upstairs (photo by Paulina):

From Bad Cat Clothing:

From Quick Turtle. Send me your photos like this—I’ll put ’em up! (The site has 18 more photos; click on the screenshot):


From Jesus of the Day. I desperately need an explanation of this photo:

A tweet from reader Barry with a guy rattling off Trump’s lies from his RNC speech. It’s pretty devastating, and Barry adds, “I love Anderson Cooper’s this-is-entertaining sip from his cup.” (That’s at 2:43.)

From Dom, who adds, “Cue Cheesus jokes!”

Simon likes this site, which turns videos into metaphors for academia:

Tweets from Matthew. The first one shows a great movie clip. They don’t make movies like this any more, and it’s a shame. But people wouldn’t go to see them now because every popular movie has a chase scene. (In fact, many of them, like Mad Max: Fury Road, are one long chase scene.)

Here’s a word puzzle. Neither Matthew nor I can figure it out, but Matthew says, ”

There’s something in common with all these combinations (eg you could put letters before them or after them) or they sound like something. It’s a riddle. The answer isn’t in the thread, just lots of ppl saying how clever it is.

Can you figure it out? If so, put your answer in the comments

A retweet from Matthew with good fly information. The garbled Google translation of the Japanese is this:

At the same pond as Ginyanma-senpai, he finally made his debut with a cute fly such as a mantis called a mantis. I was watching it to the extent that it did not cause heat stroke, but it was cute and mysterious that the average club (white protrusion under the wing base) was always moving during the mysterious dance of the example. (´-` Wasn’t this just used when flying?

Very clever filmmaking on the cheap:

A murmuration of sandpipers! This is fantastic:



31 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Intrigued by the phoneme puzzle. One of my favorites – attributed to I think an Irish writer is “ghoti”, using all English language sounds.

    Fact : activated charcoal absorbs organic molecules – including vitamins. It is apparently eaten to absorb things out of the digestive system. So I am wary of eating char. In fact I ate over charred BBQ one day and was ill for over a day after. Never figured it out, but it’s possible the char absorbed vitamins and other things out of my body.

      1. there’s so many things in it, it probably isn’t defined, even if I looked it up, which I would have to do.


        Activated charcoal is definitely used in the laboratory in specific ways as an adsorption substrate for things with six-membered aromatic rings.

        When I read it was used in people I was astonished. Perhaps it’s not FDA approved but there’s claims out there.

        But #2

        Eating BBQ definitely has char on it and goes in the body. So I commented thusly.

    1. “Ghoti” as a spelling for “fish” (the “f” sound from “enough“, the “i” sound from “women”, and the “sh” from “station”) was given as an example by George Bernard Shaw of the ridiculous inconsistency of phonetic sounds in conventional English spellings. He advocated moving to a truly phonetic alphabet that would eradicate such nonsense, and indeed left a substantial amount in his will towards achieving this goal. He didn’t get to see his cash squandered, of course…!

    2. I can report that Nature’s Bounty, a brand sold in CVS, has “activated charcoal (new!)”. The labels says to take two capsules every day. Each capsule contains 260 mg of “activated charcoal – of vegetable origin”. Note the correct use of the word “adsorb” in the following:

      “Traditional use claims are based on historical or traditional practices. Activated charcoal has been traditionally used to adsorb a variety of substances for over 180 years and was first documented by French and American health practitioners.”

  2. Oh.

    Never mind what I wrote then.

    Oh – nobody did anyway. Very good.

    Carry— … never mi—


  3. “There are reports that a 25 year old man from Nevada has contracted coronavirus twice, judging by the genetic differences between the viral strains in both infections. If this is true, we’re screwed.”
    Not a big worry, unless many people get reinfected. It’s know that a single point mutation can make people much more vulnerable to infection by a particular disease. This is a new area of study. It seems genetics plays a larger role that previously understood.

    1. I take it as good news, actually. It shows me that we get reports on people who got infected twice, so we would have gotten more if there were more. Therefore we haven’t gotten very many because there aren’t very many. With 25 million cases world wide, it is clearly in the 1 in a million range, which is good.

      1. In one of the few suspected cases (I think it was this one), IIRC it looked like the immune system may have been on the job. I.e. second time around produced viruses but was asymptomatic. But yes, different strains. so who knows.

    1. Nothing like the thing in the tap routine! The legs would have all had to touch the same spot in the middle of the sheet of paper and would have been tangled together after the first few dance steps.

  4. The fly is in the shore fly family (Ephydridae). They are predators with modified front legs much like a praying mantis. They also signal to one another, but I am not sure why.

  5. The best use of marshmallows is to toss them in a campfire. They burn in most interesting ways as they flow like lava. I’m sure this is the original intent for this product.

  6. 30 August y2020 =

    ¡ Haaaappy, Happy Birthing Day today ! For you, Ms Koraszewska,
    deeeep breaths. enough sunshine and appropriately
    spaced cordialfuls of brisk, medicinal whiskeys made,
    o’course, with gooood waters
    … … per Flying Hawk, Chief, Oglala Sioux, y1854 – y1931


  7. Burnt vs toasted – It’s very important to know what you like. When I was a kid I could eat a whole bag nicely browned. Today, one or two is my limit.

  8. The Artotyrites would benefit by incorporating the cheesy theology of Menocchio, a literate peasant in the 16th century, who developed a cosmology based on piophilia casei, the cheese fly: “And out of that bulk a mass formed – just as cheese is made out of milk – and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels.” For this heresy, he was tortured and executed. The story is well told in Carlo Ginzburg’s fascinating book “The Cheese and the Worms.”

    The prefix “pio” comes from Greek, meaning “fat” but if one thinks of “pio” in Latin, it becomes “pious,” which works with Menocchio’s religious cosmology.

    I write above about the Artotyrites in the present tense because it turns out they’re still around (or their church has been resurrected), because they have a website

    Wikipedia states that they might have baked the bread and cheese. Mmmmm, cheese bread! Those round cheese crisps could substitute for hosts.

  9. Huey Long was widely believed to be the inspiration for Willie Stark in Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, although Warren himself said, “Willie Stark was not Huey Long. Willie was only himself, whatever that self turned out to be”.

  10. PCC(e), a correction:

    The Celera 500L aircraft you mentioned is not a jet; it uses a conventional V-12 piston engine called a RED A03 and a “pusher” propeller (as you can see in the photo). Interestingly, according to the CNN article, the engine can run on jet fuel.


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