Wednesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

It’s our first Hump Day in September: Wednesday, September 2, 2020, and National “Grits for Breakfast” Day. Why the scare quotes, though? Don’t be scared of grits!

You either love grits with breakfast or you hate them, and I’m in the first class—the right class. You can’t beat a good Southern breakfast of grits, fried eggs, country ham with red-eye gravy, strong coffee, and biscuits. Yes, there must be biscuits, and you mush up your grits with the runny egg and gravy. Here’s a photo of breakfast at the best place to get it in the South, the Loveless Cafe outside of Nashville. There’s one woman there whose only job is to make biscuits, for which the place is justly famous. In fact, everything is just a side dish to the main course of biscuits. Here are two photos I took when, at my request, my hosts at Vanderbilt took me there for breakfast when I was lecturing there in 2012:

Sure good eatin’, I gare-un-tee!

The first course of biscuits! Homemade preserves, cherry, blackberry, and peach, comes alongside. As the biscuits arrive first, you have to be careful not too eat too many of them lest you have no appetite for the platter above:

It’s also World Coconut Day, National Blueberry Popsicle Day, and the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day (or “VJ Day”), when World War II finally ended for the U.S. when the surrender documents were signed on the USS Missouri.

News of the Day: There’s a fair bit of news about Donald Trump’s mysterious visit to Walter Reed Hospital last November. It was reported by the White House as “the first part of a physical,” but the second part wasn’t completed, and there’s also a report that Pence was asked to stand by in case Trump had to be anesthetized for “a procedure.” That didn’t happen, apparently, but the state of the President’s health seems murky. Matthew says that videos like the one below may constitute evidence for “mini-strokes”, which, he adds, only the President has mentioned.

According to the Washington Post, a committee reporting to the mayor of Washington, D.C. has recommended wholesale renaming of buildings based on ideological impurities. To wit:

A committee reporting to D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has recommended renaming dozens of public schools, parks and government buildings in the nation’s capital, after studying the historical namesakes’ connections to slavery and oppression.

The honorees whom the committee says should not have public works named for them include presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson; Revolutionary leader Benjamin Franklin; inventor Alexander Graham Bell; and national anthem writer Francis Scott Key.

Here’s an article from yesterday’s New York Times by Harold Varmus, Nobel Laureate and former director of the NIH, and Rajiv Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. Click on it, but if you can’t read it, it’s about testing, and criticizes the CDC’s new guidelines that fewer asymptomatic people should be tested (I think those guidelines were forced on the CDC by the Trump administration).

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 184,564, an increase of about 1100 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 856,214 849,779, a big increase of about 6500 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on September 2 include:

  • 1666 – The Great Fire of London breaks out and burns for three days, destroying 10,000 buildings, including Old St Paul’s Cathedral.
  • 1752 – Great Britain, along with its overseas possessions, adopts the Gregorian calendar.
  • 1901 – Vice President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt utters the famous phrase, “Speak softly and carry a big stick” at the Minnesota State Fair.
  • 1912 – Arthur Rose Eldred is awarded the first Eagle Scout award of the Boy Scouts of America.

Here’s Eldred (he also saved a child from drowning), the first of nearly two million Eagle Scouts:

Arthur Rose Eldred in 1912, shortly after receiving the Eagle award and his Bronze Honor medal for saving a life.


  • 1935 – The Labor Day Hurricane, the most intense hurricane to strike the United States, makes landfall at Long Key, Florida, killing at least 400.

This was the record in terms of the lowest pressure recorded in any US hurricane (892 mbar or 26.34 in Hg).

Here’s the Instrument of Surrender (click to enlarge):

The original cost estimate of the span was $250 million, so it cost more than 25 times the estimate.

Notables born on this day include:

She was the only queen who ever ruled Hawaii, and did so for only two years. Here she is on the throne:

  • 1946 – Billy Preston, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actor (d. 2006)
  • 1948 – Terry Bradshaw, American football player, sportscaster, and actor
  • 1948 – Christa McAuliffe, American educator and astronaut (d. 1986)
  • 1964 – Keanu Reeves, Lebanese-Canadian actor, singer, and producer
  • 1966 – Salma Hayek, Mexican-American actress, director, and producer

Those whose metabolism ceased on September 2 include:

Here’s “Tiger Cat” by Rousseau.


  • 1964 – Alvin C. York, American colonel, Medal of Honor recipient (b. 1887)
  • 1969 – Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese politician, 1st President of Vietnam (b. 1890)
  • 1973 – J. R. R. Tolkien, English novelist, short story writer, poet, and philologist (b. 1892)

Here’s Tolkien (photo from Tolkien Library):

  • 2005 – Bob Denver, American actor (b. 1935)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is avoiding Szaron and Kulka (who often visit) by sleeping in the guest room:

A: Are you sleeping here? On this hard bench?
Hili: Yes, because there are strange cats there.
A: They are not strange cats.
Hili: Everybody has his own definition.
In Polish:
Ja: Tu śpisz? Na tej twardej ławie?
Hili: Tak, bo tam są obce koty.
Ja: To nie są obce koty.
Hili: Każdy ma swoją definicję.

In nearby Wloclawek, Leon and Mietek cuddle and have a chat (their staff are both teachers, and school in Poland opened yesterday):

Leon: They went to school. Finally we have a moment of quiet.

In Polish: Poszli do szkoły? Wreszcie mamy odrobinę spokoju.

From Jesus of the Day: a real photo with the caption, “Meanwhile in Australia Angry Birds 2020 edition has started. View from a rear facing motorcycle helmet camera. Photo credit : Monique Newton.”

A cartoon sent by Woody. I’ve surely alluded to this before, but don’t remember posting a cartoon:

From Charles: A Mike Lukovich cartoon about the GOP Convention:

Singer Adele got accused big time of cultural appropriation when she wore her hair in “Bantu knots”—an African hairstyle—as well as a bikini top with the Jamaican flag on it. The occasion was the Notting Hill Carnival.

Here’s one of the Offended:

I’m on the side of Naomi Campbell (whose mother was born in Jamaica), Zoe Saldana, and Chelsea Handler, whose comments on Adele’s Instagram post are below. There’s no way that Adele is hurting anybody here, and she’s clearly appropriating black culture out of admiration. People really need to lighten up.

Tweets from Matthew: an excellent Beatles/beetles tweet:

Yesterday was the 81st anniversary of the start of WWII in Europe. Here’s a disturbing video of how the Nazis began their attack on Poland:

I didn’t look closely enough to see if the trig calculation is set up properly here, but I hope some reader will freeze the frame and let us know:

To see what the Tweeter means by “the film,” you’ll have to turn the sound up (sorry!):

And, like the awesome cat above, this Polish man nevertheless persisted:

Matthew said, “Wait until they come to the UK”, and helpfully provided a picture of UK outlets (below):


  1. rickflick
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    “Tiger Cat” by Rousseau. Rousseau was an amateur primitive painter who worked as a bridge toll man. The cat shows that he did not have the training or inclination to worry much about anatomical accuracy. But, his personal style was admired by the French Impressionists because of his primitivism, and romance. His works are often magical.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    In honor of National “Grits for Breakfast” Day, here’s a pair of New Yorkers being introduced to the wonders of the Southern Breakfast:

    • Jim batterson
      Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      And a major break the case for the defense later in the movie comes when a witness insists that no self respecting southerner uses instant grits…he takes pride in his grits. Scene at.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      FWIW, Ernie Crane, the dopey witness in the courtroom scene was played by Raynor Scheine who also appeared as Woodstock in Ace Ventura, Sheriff Curtis Smoote in Fried Green Tomatoes and Josiah S ‘Beanpole’ Burton in Lincoln, among other roles. I was slightly acquainted with him via a friend @ VA Commonwealth U a half-century ago, but back then we knew him as Raynor Johnston. A good guy!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 2, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        An excellent character actor. The movie has several, including Bruce McGill (D-Day from Animal House) as the sheriff, and my personal favorite, Austin Pendleton, as the stuttering public defender.

        I suppose it’s politically incorrect regarding the handicapped, but I can’t help laughing my ass off every time I watch that scene.

        • merilee
          Posted September 2, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

          This Christopher Walken video was next to the Vinnie one. I’m always astonished at how well the guy can dance.

          • rickflick
            Posted September 2, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

            I believe one or two of the athletic moves used a stunt double. But, still, a very good dancer.

            • merilee
              Posted September 2, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

              His personality as an actor just does NOT scream out “great hoofer”.🤓

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted September 2, 2020 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

            I knew Walken was an old hoofer; the flying part came as news to me, though. 🙂

          • Posted September 2, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

            That was most excellent. I had no idea!

        • rickflick
          Posted September 2, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

          The next video that popped up for me was magic grits, from My Cousin Vinnie. Pretty amusing too, given the special day this is.

        • sugould
          Posted September 2, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

          Pendleton hated that he was typecast for years for that part: everyone wanted him to repeat it.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    The issue regarding Trump’s visit to the hospital was covered in the just released book by Michael Schmidt, New York Times journalist’s book about Donald Trump. He discovered that Pence was alerted and put on notice to stand by while Trump went to the hospital and may have to undergo a procedure. Then Trump twitted out that the media reports about him possibly having strokes, mini strokes were not true. The problem with all this is that Schmidt never said anything about the strokes. That was Trump, again sticking his foot in his mouth.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      It’s like when the Nixon White House, during a phone call from Bob Woodward early in the Watergate scandal, denied that money had been funneled to the Watergate burglars, even though Woodward hadn’t asked whether any money had been.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        Yes, and this was classic Trump. Another big finding in the new book that Schmidt reports is about the Mueller report and what was not there. Remember, Mueller did not investigate Trump’s connection to Russia and Puttin. He only covered the obstruction by Trump and went deep into that. But the connection to Russia was not done by Mueller and this is because – Rosenstein did not let him investigate that. So Mueller turned it back to the FBI for them to work. Only the FBI was not allowed to investigate either. So Rosenstein was the guy who killed that part of the investigation. What a bastard he was.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      but, but, people in black on planes…… and soup

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      but, but, people in black on planes…… and soup

  4. Snake
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Two points:

    1. Overwhelmingly the tweets criticising Adele were from the US and those defending her were from the UK. It seems we’re not so weird about cultural appropriation here.

    2. The size of UK plugs and sockets is more interesting than you might think. It arises from a series of design decisions that seek to minimise copper usage. Now we’re stuck with all of the knock-on effects.

    • Posted September 3, 2020 at 6:01 am | Permalink

      Actually, British plugs are designed primarily to avoid electrocuting people and to cause the maximum amount of pain when you tread on them.

  5. Robert Seidel
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    About that Instrument of Surrender: I see the representative of Canada messed things up by signing in the wrong place.

  6. Jim batterson
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    And harold varmus surely knows politics: i f i recall correctly, in his excellent 2009 book, “The art and politics of science”, he tells of how his efforts to have results of federally financed research made freely available and the resulting threat from a powerful congressman who had been lobbied by journal publishers to cut nih funding if he continued his efforts. I believe that after he left goverment, he was instrumental in the creation of the freely available PLOS online journals. Certainly my research at nasa was totally funded by the taxpayer…my salary, data acquisition equipment (often including aircraft, instrumentation, research or test pilots), data analysis, and writing of research papers including journal page charges when applicable.

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I think it’s time to repeal Home Rule for the District of Columbia. The Framers were right when they tried to establish the Capital in a locale free from the interference of local authorities. If the residents don’t like it, it’s not like they have to cross an ocean to get to Maryland or Virginia; it’s only a couple miles.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      No, what DC should be is a state so the people there get representation just like the rest of the country, poor as it is. You want 700,000 people to just leave the place and go to Maryland or Virginia? Makes no sense.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 2, 2020 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        Puerto Rico, too. A couple senators and three or four congressman (and a comparable number of electoral votes) would’ve made all the difference in the way those poor American citizens were ignored after Hurricane Maria.

        They’d’ve gotten better treatment than Donald Trump’s showing up to toss paper towels at them, as though he were shooting three-pointers from the top of the key.

        • merilee
          Posted September 2, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

          Did you see how he handed out (unsolicited)autographs in Lake Charles, saying you can get $10,000 each for these.
          What a marooooon!

  8. Terry Sheldon
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    I think the woodpecker is examining the ratio of the height of the pole to the distance between the base of the pole and Tom. He then can determine where to slice the pole in order to achieve the desired result.

    Having said that, his equations seem to assume from the start that the distances are equal. Furthermore, if I remember my algebra correctly, to solve for two variables you need a system of two equations. His final equation should be either x:y=1 or x=y, which is not what he comes up with.

    • sugould
      Posted September 2, 2020 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Cut the baby woodpecker some slack!

  9. Hempenstein
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Eggs, grits, biscuits, and a healthy slice of good kosher ham*. Yum!

    I prefer John Morell EZ-Cut. Your results may differ.

  10. Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    The one, and probably only, thing for which I am unlikely ever to forgive the Florida DOC is that they ruined grits for me…

  11. Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I particularly despise the arrogance of comments like the tweet by Ernest Owens, “…that nobody asked for.” Really? I’m sorely tempted to get on Twitter and reply to his tweet, “Actually, Mr. Owens, <> asked for it. Thanks, Adele, I appreciate it! Sorry about your “problematic” feelings, Ernest.”

    • Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Oops, I accidentally included an html italics command. Didn’t mean to do that. It’ should have read “I asked for it” etc.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 2, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      ” . . . the arrogance of comments like the tweet by Ernest Owens, “…that nobody asked for.”

      To paraphrase Hitch’s response to a CAIR spokesman, “Without your permission, Mr. Owens.”

  12. Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I think the photo of Adele was actually taken in Jamaica (her bikini top has a design based on the flag of Jamaica). There was no physical Notting Hill Carnival this year thanks to COVID19.

    One of my favourite tweets in response to Ernest Owens’ tweet was this one:

    which calls out rest Owens who is an American and who may not even know who the Bantu are and where they come from [jeremyp quickly googles bantu].

  13. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Love the video of the combine harvesting the crop in the middle of urban Poland. There is a guy who refuses to sell. I suspect it must be wheat he is working but can’t tell for sure. That is also the narrowest header on a combine (for small fields I’m sure).

  14. Posted September 2, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Sorry for two comments in a row but I heard the following mini puzzle the other day and seeing today’s post, I can’t help but repeat it:

    where would you be in London if you saw the canonical Roman numerals inscribed on a building in descending order ie. M, D, C, L, X, V, I.

    • Terry Sheldon
      Posted September 2, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      I’m guessing that is on St. Paul’s, rebuilt after the fire.

      • Posted September 2, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        Oh, it might be, but the is not the building I’m thinking of. You’re on the right lines though.

        • savage
          Posted September 2, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          I guess it’s on the Monument to the Great Fire of London? I don’t remember the exact inscription, but went past it many times.

          • Posted September 2, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

            Yes. It’s the Monument. 1666 is, of course MDCLXVI in Roman numerals.

    • Nobody Special
      Posted September 2, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Is it on a building that was built in 1666 and survived the fire? Surely there wouldn’t have been time after the fire and clean-up for a building important enough to warrant an inscribed date to be completed until M.D.C.L.X.VII.
      Having said that, could it be the Monument, that oversized Doric column by Wren and Hooke?

      • Posted September 2, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        It is the Monument. Savage beat you by three minutes. You’ll be pleased to know though that first prize is totally imaginary.

  15. merilee
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink


  16. Nobody Special
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Re. Beatles/Beetles; here’s my favourite take on the old joke.

    Paul McCartney was walking through his garden when he saw a beetle scurrying along. McCartney bends down and says “Hello, little beetle. I used to be in a band named after you.”
    The beetle pauses for a second then goes on his way, only to meet another beetle coming in the opposite direction.
    The second beetle greets the first.
    “Hello Eric,” he says, “Tell me, what did that man just say to you?”
    “No idea,” replies Eric, “I don’t speak human.”

  17. bill
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    not sure i’d think mini-stroke from the soup bagger incident. seems more luetic than ischemic.

  18. Posted September 2, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I think it is also newsworthy that a new TV news outlet has opened up: WGN America. It is based in Chicago. It promises to be pure news unadulterated by opinion. We’ll see. I watched a little yesterday and didn’t like the slickness of the announcers. They seemed to be performing an infomercial which is the opposite of what I expected given their no-opinion theme. Here’s a review:

  19. Posted September 2, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    The Tom & Jerry calculation is meaningless. He has two variables, X & Y, only one value – the height of the pole, and you can’t calculate either variable without more information. Y is irrelevant, as he only needs to cut the pole at the point it which the height is equal to X. Since X is unknown, without another angle there is no way to calculate it from the given information.
    In addition, he sets up an equation that should yield X:Y = 1:1, but instead writes X:Y = 12 (and some other unseen numbers).

    Since I have several more important things to do at the moment, you can see am I great at procrastination.

  20. Posted September 2, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    British sockets are superior! Good & solid!

    • Frank Bath
      Posted September 2, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      They are also double the US voltage. Approach with care.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 2, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        I had an Aussie buddy come over the house once to help me with an electrical problem. I offered him a pair of rubber gloves while he was working on a live wire. “No worries, mate,” he said, shaking his head. “This is only 110; I’m used to working with 220.”

  21. Steve Pollard
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Regarding VJ Day, it’s worth remembering that winning the war didn’t mean that everyone just came home.

    My dad was lucky. He was repatriated from Burma in Jan 1946 because his father was dying from lung cancer, partly due to having been gassed at Passchendaele in 1917. (His elder brother wasn’t so fortunate: he was stuck with the Army in Vienna and never saw their father again).

    But plenty of GIs and Tommies were still in Japan, or Greece, or Palestine, etc etc, two or more years after the official end of the war. As I say, worth remembering.

  22. Derek Freyberg
    Posted September 2, 2020 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    And, to add to the “Ignore the CDC on testing”, we now have:
    (1) NIH saying that the data on convalescent plasma aren’t adequate – here’s Endpoints News; and
    (2) linked in the Endpoints News story, an open letter from Eric Topol to Stephen Hahn, current FDA Commissioner, saying “stand up straight or quit” – here’s Medscape
    The orange menace has so thoroughly corrupted the federal medical establishment that it will be a wonder if anyone wants a vaccine approved by the current FDA.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted September 7, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      I’ve seen comments on science sites to the effect that they will wait until another nations approves the vaccine in question.

      CDC is tanked.

  23. Posted September 3, 2020 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    I loved the window cat. When I first came to NYC in the mid 1990s I lived in an old walk up apartment. The neighbor’s cat would walk along the window ledge (5 floors up) and pop into my apartment through my open window.

    A house guest first noticed it at night and I thought he was insane; “BUT I DON’T HAVE A CAT, FRANK!” I said, until the cat did it when I saw it a few nights later.

    Soon after I got myself a cat who was with me for 12 happy years.


    ps I don’t know her music but Adelle has a nice body. “Cultural Appropriation” is such a nonsense idea, spectacularly ignorant and deeply stupid.

  24. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted September 7, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    The “Danish outlet” cartoon must be dated – seems they now use the international C/F/K outlets [ ] while, say, Sweden use C (not grounded) and F (grounded), Here is a grounded F outlet:

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