Monday: Hili dialogue

Well, September is right on our tail since it’s August 31, 2020. Tomorrow is what I’ll take to be the beginning of Autumn, though it doesn’t really start until September 21. It’s National Trail Mix Day (mine consisted of dried fruit, M&Ms, and peanuts), as well as Eat Outside Day (which is what you’re going to do if you go to a restaurant). It’s also National Matchmaker Day, and National Diatomaceous Earth Day (remember when you got a vial of the white stuff with your starter microscope kit?).

Posting may be light today as I have some extra-website writing to do. Bear with me.

News of the Day: First, the good news. Seth Goldstein, a retired engineer, has been making Rube Goldberg machines—if you’re a Brit, W. Heath Robinson machines—for a while, but he’s completed his masterpiece during the pandemic. Pictured below is the “Rube Goldberg exercise bike,” which not only gives you exercise, but also scratches your back and dispenses both drinks and cookies. Here’s a video:

Oh dear lord, another killing, this time in Portland with the victim apparently a Trump supporter, part of a caravan of right-wingers who cruised through the city, clashing with protestors. People are blaming it on Trump, but I pin it on guns and tribalism. People are getting killed on both the Right and Left, and I can’t stand any more shootings.

In the NYT, liberal Gail Collins and conservative Bret Stephens have their sporadic joint column, this time on “Joe Biden had better watch it,” describing the conventions and strategies Biden needs to adopt to win. (I’m still not worried.)

O Canada! A march in Montreal in favor of defunding the police (in CANADA!) ended with the protestors toppling a statue of the nation’s first prime minister, Sir John Macdonald. Macdonald created Canada’s “residential schools” program that took indigenous people from their families and sent them to horrible schools to deprogram them.

From the Reuters report:

“Whatever one might think of John A. Macdonald, destroying a monument in this way is unacceptable,” Quebec Premier François Legault said in a tweet. “We must fight racism, but destroying parts of our history is not the solution.”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 182,986, an increase of about 300 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 845,984,, an increase of about 3,900 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on August 31 includes:

Of course he didn’t govern then; a “regency council” did it. Henry VI was crowned King of England and France at age 7, but didn’t get any real power until he was 16.

  • 1864 – During the American Civil War, Union forces led by General William T. Sherman launch an assault on Atlanta.
  • 1888 – Mary Ann Nichols is murdered. She is the first of Jack the Ripper’s confirmed victims.
  • 1897 – Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.

Here’s what an early Kinetoscope looked like. You’d peep in through the top, with the film moving inside:

That radio tower still stands—possibly the tallest wooden structure in the world (387 feet or 118m ). This is where WWII really began, and you can go see it in Gliwice, Poland:

  • 1957 – The Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gains its independence from the United Kingdom.
  • 1997 – Diana, Princess of Wales, her companion Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul die in a car crash in Paris.
  • 2006 – Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream, stolen on August 22, 2004, is recovered in a raid by Norwegian police.

Notables born on this day include:

  • AD 12 – Caligula, Roman emperor (d. 41)
  • 1870 – Maria Montessori, Italian physician and educator (d. 1952)
  • 1879 – Alma Mahler, Austrian-American composer and author (d. 1964)
  • 1907 – William Shawn, American journalist (d. 1992)
  • 1935 – Eldridge Cleaver, American activist and author (d. 1998)

Cleaver is now gone, but was once a leader in the Black Panther Party. His collection of essays, Soul on Ice, written when he was in Folsom State Prision, was something we all read in college. Here he is with his wife Kathleen (also famous for radicalism) and their child, photographed in exile in Algeria:



  • 1945 – Van Morrison, Northern Irish singer-songwriter
  • 1945 – Itzhak Perlman, Israeli-American violinist and conductor

Those who were ferried by Charon on this day include:

  • 1654 – Ole Worm, Danish physician and historian (b. 1588)
  • 1867 – Charles Baudelaire, French poet and critic (b. 1821)
  • 1963 – Georges Braque, French painter and sculptor (b. 1882)
  • 1973 – John Ford, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1894)
  • 1979 – Sally Rand, American actress and dancer (b. 1904)

Rand was of course “the fan dancer”, teasing audiences with views of her in silhouette, supposedly nude (she usually wasn’t). Here’s a fan dance from the 1934 World’s Fair:

  • 1997 – Dodi Fayed, Egyptian film producer (b. 1955)
  • 1997 – Diana, Princess of Wales (b. 1961)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gets some new noms, but is hardly grateful:

A: I bought a new treat for cats.
Hili: Just in time because I would like to eat something.
In Polish:
Ja: Kupiłem nowy przysmak dla kotów.
Hili: W samą porę, bo właśnie coś bym zjadła.

Here are two pictures of little Kulka, who now has a collar and is running all over the place. Here she’s standing on the jars that Hili used to stand on as a kitten:

And here’s Hili as a kitten standing on the jars. Don’t the two look similar?

A meme from Scott:

From Bruce:

From Jesus of the Day:

Well, we haven’t heard from Dan Arel for a while, but his Twitter feed used to be good for a lot of laughs (he didn’t intend it, of course). It apparently still is. He doesn’t seem to have thought about white looters, and emitted the tweet that he later deleted. But someone saved it.


From Barry who says. “Look at this thing. We need to find his spaceship pronto.”

Tweets from Matthew. It’s parlous times to be a college professor. This one was really polite, but a disaffected student is trying to bring him down:

As Matthew said, “Matte painting is a great skill.”

A most excellent cartoon:

Andrew Hendry, whom I know, is an evolutionary biologist in Canada, a land where men are lumberjacks and the moose are big:

A Galápagos marine iguana filmed underwater:

And some university censorship:



  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Pearls Before Swine is one of the great ones. The rat makes it better.

    Get outside and exercise, even if it is just walking.

  2. Posted August 31, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Henry VI wrote this beautiful poem –

    Kingdoms are but cares,
    State is devoid of stay,
    Riches are ready snares,
    And hasten to decay.

    Pleasure is a privy prick
    Which vice doth still provoke;
    Pomp, imprompt; andfame a flame;
    Power, a smouldering smoke.

    Who mesneth to remove the rock
    Out of the slimy mud,
    Shall mire himself, and hardly scape
    The swelling of the flood.

  3. C.
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    23 years ago I was hyped up about going to Spirit Fest at the Liberty Memorial in Kc where I would squeeze my way as close as possible to the stage with who knows how many hundreds of others to see Bob Dylan and his band perform (and of course we would hear that Princess Di was dead). I can’t imagine standing shoulder to sweaty shoulder with fellow concert goers will be a thing for years to come, if ever.

  4. rickflick
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I say we should remove the Statue of Liberty.
    It’s offensive to neo-NAZIS.

  5. Jenny Haniver
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I love seeing Hili as a kitten! What a darling little kitten she was. Not that she’s not darling now, she’s just not so little.

  6. Posted August 31, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    The bit about university censorship and HIPPA: I don’t think that one is quite censorship. At least not yet. Student rights to privacy have long been very strict, and loose talk that might “out” a student could be in error which would be pretty bad for the student even so.
    We have a directive at our U that if we learn or suspect that a student has COVID or is possibly exposed to it, we are to report to the university health services but to not talk about it to anyone else. That latter part is to ensure the privacy of the student.

    • Taz
      Posted August 31, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Out of curiosity, what’s your university’s policy in regard to informing other students that they may have been exposed?

  7. merilee
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink


  8. mike cracraft
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Re: The Thinker.
    Nearly half of the US population is already offended.

  9. Posted August 31, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Fun fact about the kinematic scope it only worked with his building so he couldn’t sell it anywhere unless he sold his building to which for an adventure sucked but as a kind of Genius he didn’t like other people having ideas he hadn’t come up with though

    • Posted August 31, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      0 that was also the same building where they filmed that elephant getting killed by electrocution

  10. Posted August 31, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    “People are blaming it on Trump, but I pin it on guns and tribalism.”

    Certainly the violence and deaths are on both sides but Trump is fanning the flames on purpose. A majority in the US believe that police misconduct is a problem but Trump is silent on that issue. Instead he’s all about crushing the protests because it’s the only chance he has at changing the topic away from the pandemic in order to have any chance at all of re-election.

    Biden needs to do more than issue fairly bland statements. It is not so much about telling us what position he takes but what he wants to do about it and how Trump isn’t the answer but much of the problem.

    Love the kitten pics!

    • Mark R.
      Posted August 31, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think Biden’s speech today in PA was bland in any way. It was impassioned and spot on. He and other dems need to keep reminding people that this is Trump’s America, not Biden’s. I find it beyond ironic that Trump keeps saying that if Biden is elected, violence will erupt and America will look like it looks like when Trump is President.

      • Posted August 31, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        I haven’t heard what he said today yet. Had to go to an eye appointment. I’ll probably catch the highlights later. Sounds like Biden is getting good advice and heeding it.

        • Mark R.
          Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I just hope he keeps visible and keeps hitting back (and heeding good advice). He was very clear on his stance against the violence/looting coming from both sides.

  11. Jenny Haniver
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    As for people who think that banning “The Thinker” is an absurdity, it’s not as farfetched as it might seem. For various reasons some people do not like to think and condemn the activity. They usually mean abstract thought as opposed to concrete and binary thought. They believe that abstract thinking is deleterious to the mind and spirit (“an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”)– but they had to engage in a lot of mentation in order to come up with that thought. Authoritarians, many religions (especially fundamentalists), and some schools of psychotherapy foster concrete thought and condemn abstract thought. A professed condemnation of abstract thought goes hand-in hand with anti-intellectualism. “The Thinker” represents abstract thought.

    I’ve come across numerous videos by the pan-spiritualist Alan Watts on Youtube, decrying thought. Evidently, he thought a heck of a lot about how bad thinking was for the soul. Sometimes he says thinking is bad; sometimes “overthinking.” For him, I think that’s a distinction without a difference. Further, I read somewhere that Emily Dickinson’s mother was anti-thought. Thank goodness she didn’t pass that trait on to her daughter.

    As the psychoanalyst Justin Frank observes when speaking about Trump; “The problem with binary thinking is that unless you learn to think complex thoughts, you have a very limited range of responses to adversity or trouble. A person who thinks in that way either tries to run away from adversity or to kill it somehow. Over the years Donald Trump has compromised his ability to think critically. Trump can only react using a simple good-or-bad binary.” But this also applies to most every other aspect of life; without engaging in abstract thought, we’d still be living in caves and grunting. What if Einstein had been limited to concrete, binary thought?

    One last note, black people were/are said to be incapable of abstract thought, and that stupid and pernicious notion persists. Is it any wonder that some black people, and others similarly stigmatized, turn around and condemn the very thing that they’ve been deemed incapable of engaging in and denied the tools to develop? Wasn’t too long ago that women were said to be similarly deficient.

  12. Dragon
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    It is interesting to me that Dr. Tricia McElroy is wrong about violations of HIPAA, but correct about the spelling both times. But Emrys Donaldson is correct that it is not a HIPAA violation, but spells HIPAA wrong twice – and once with a ‘sic’ suggesting she is copying the doctor’s spelling.

  13. Mark R.
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Hili and Kulka are related (as was implied last week iirc). They look incredibly similar.

    That marine iguana is beautiful…what a colorful reptile.

    Re. The black mantis: “We need to find his spaceship pronto.” LOL!

    • Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Malgorzata also suspects that Hili and Kulka are related because Dobrzyn is a very tiny town and there aren’t that many cats there.

  14. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Love the photos of Kulka — gorgeous kitten.

    What does HIPAA? It’s not an acronym that I’m familiar with.

    • Posted September 2, 2020 at 3:34 am | Permalink

      I was going to say “Try Google”, but on this site it has to be “Try DuckDuckGo”.

  15. Blue
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    in re … … ” describing the conventions
    and strategies Biden needs to adopt to win.
    (I’m still not worried.) ” =

    I am. I am worried. As much, and more, as
    I was correct within September and October
    of y2016. .THAT. worried. I knew back then
    that … … the Fascist ‘ld win that election.

    Men such as these:
    and ?

    These men ‘ve been around, and successfully
    pressuring as well as violent and violating,
    for far, far l o n g e r than many of Us
    of Any Level o’the Left have had a n y idea.


    • Posted August 31, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      I am worried too. Yesterday we learned that the Director of National Intelligence will no longer brief Congress in person on foreign election interference, supposedly because of fears that Congress would leak the information to the press. Instead it will be provided in written form only. This is wrong on so many levels but I’m not going to address them here.

      What is more significant is that Trump keeps coming up with new ways to tip the scales in his favor. How many things will he come up with between now and Inauguration Day? So many possibilities and no way to hold him accountable other than the election itself which he can screw with in so many ways.

      Topping this all off, we now hear that Biden has only 2/3 chance of winning. If he puts in a bad performance at the debates, we’ll see this lead evaporate in a flash. And that’s if the election is fair.

      It’s simply amazing to me that there are so many people willing to vote for this guy.

    • Mark R.
      Posted August 31, 2020 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you and Paul. I mean, we’re dealing with a really, really sick individual here. He has no concept of what the Presidency is or just the basic ideas of justice and law, universal freedom, fairness and respect for that which stood before…the Constitution. Just a wreck of a human being that will wreck the world to get his way and avoid punishment or the narcissistic agony of being seen as naked. A prez who has the mindset “I’m the best and don’t take advice and if you don’t agree, you’re gone. A vote for Biden is a vote for insanity! Look at my Awesomeness!!!…” Projection all the way down. So something in the machinations must give and see things how they are and have a restart. We’ll see…Mitch doesn’t even know what reboot means. It’s full steam towards fascism for him.

      • rickflick
        Posted August 31, 2020 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

        My take as well.

    • Blue
      Posted August 31, 2020 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      And The Thing is, which is stated above,
      Mr Topping, Mr Mark R: There are incredibly
      h u g e numbers of American voters who
      .themselves. are as he and who want, therefore,
      .that who is just like themselves.
      presiding withIN / INside my and your House.

      I just finished Chapter Four of Iowan
      Ms Kobes du Mez’s Jesus and John Wayne:
      How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith
      and Fractured a Nation. JUNE y2020 !
      ( AND not published within the 1940S or
      the 1950S ! BUT just a couple of
      months’ time ago ! )

      So far and simply put: fucking frightening.

      It is of NO wonderment AT ALL to me as to
      WHY I so, so willingly remain a hermitess.
      With or without a pandemic. With so very
      many such Americans as she chronicles ?
      I want squat to do with … … my being
      ‘ out there ‘ interacting.


  16. Doug
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Sally Rand: My father told me a poem he and his buddies used to recite when they were kids [Billy Rose was a famous producer and nightclub owner]:

    Said Billy Rose to Sally Rand,
    “Next time dance without your fan.”
    So Sally danced without her fan,
    And Billy rose
    And Sally ran.”

    This was considered pretty daring.

  17. Blue
    Posted September 1, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    in re ” the beginning of Autumn, though it
    doesn’t really start until September 21 ” … …

    Scientifically, thus actually, the y2020 Autumnal Equinox
    is Tuesday, 22 September, within the USA and
    points eastern therefrom.

    From time to time, the actual scientific seasonal change
    varies a w a y from the 21st date.


  18. Nancy Everhart
    Posted September 7, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Where have you gone? I miss you. I hope you are okay.


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: