Tuesday: Hili dialogue

September 8, 2020 • 6:30 am

Hola, everyone. It’s  a very rainy Tuesday, September 8, 2020.  Good weather for ducks! National Date-Nut Bread Day, celebrating a toothsome snack. It’s also International Literacy Day, Star Trek Day, World Physical Therapy Day, and National Pledge of Allegiance Day, marking the date in 1892 when the Pledge first appeared in the children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion.  The pledge was adopted as official by Congress in 1942, and you probably know that the words “under God” weren’t added until 1954—to distinguish us from those godless Commies.

And it’s also National Ampersand Day (&!); did you know that the ampersand is a “ligature of the letters et—Latin for ‘and'”. Here’s the evolution of the ampersand from Wikipedia:


I have a spiffy new Darwin-fish pandemic mask sent by Nicole. If you’d like a mask like this, or any custom mask, you can get one from this site on Facebook (there’s a phone number and you can also do a private message).

News of the Day: As I write this on Monday evening, more trouble is brewing in Portland, as now a pro-Trump caravan is going to join the mix, with over 1000 Trump supporters heading into Troublesville. Over the weekend protestors threw Molotov cocktails, setting one man on fire, and 59 people were arrested. I’ve visited Portland twice, and loved that town, but I wouldn’t want to live there now.

This morning the trouble seems to have been not horrible: there were clashes, and the Trumpers fired paint-ball guns at the other side, but nobody was killed or shot, thank Ceiling Cat.

The troubles also continue in Belarus, as opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova was snatched from the streets by masked men, stuffed in a van, and driven away. The police deny knowing anything about it, but you can bet that the dictator Alexander Lukashenko is behind it.

At Spiked, Brendan O’Neill analyzes the success and import of “race faker” Jessica Krug, a white Jewish academic who posed as an Afro-Latina.  I didn’t have much to say about this, though I was astonished at the acrimony she’s receiving.

The news is all depressing, so I won’t concentrate on politics, demonstrations, or the like.  Here’s a nostalgic road trip down the moribund Route 66, a trip I hope to make myself one day. Check out the gorgeous photograph of a railroad train at sunset.

And the NYT has a nice interview with John Cleese about books. He admires Jon Haidt, likes to read about the history and philosophy of science, and names the three famous literary figures he’d like to dine with.

150,000 purple martins have descended on Nashville during their annual migration to South America. Here’s how conservationists saved them from the exterminators (it’s illegal to hurt them). You can see a video of the huge flock here, and a simulated bird’s-eye-view of their  twice yearly 5,000-mile flight here.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 189,076, an increase of about 250 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at  891,999, an increase of about 9,300 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on September 8 includes:

  • 1504 – Michelangelo’s David is unveiled in Piazza della Signoria in Florence.
  • 1888 – Isaac Peral’s submarine is first tested.
  • 1892 – The Pledge of Allegiance is first recited.
  • 1914 – World War I: Private Thomas Highgate becomes the first British soldier to be executed for desertion during the war.
  • 1921 – Margaret Gorman, a 16-year-old, wins the Atlantic City Pageant’s Golden Mermaid trophy; pageant officials later dubbed her the first Miss America.

Sixteen is actually a bit creepy but so is the whole competition. Gorman, shown below, later said, “I never cared to be Miss America. It wasn’t my idea. I am so bored by it all. I really want to forget the whole thing.”

  • 1930 – 3M begins marketing Scotch transparent tape.
  • 1935 – US Senator from Louisiana Huey Long is fatally shot in the Louisiana State Capitol building.

Here’s a brief documentary on Long’s political life. I’m fascinated by this man, the Trump of Louisiana, though far more canny:

  • 1941 – World War II: German forces begin the Siege of Leningrad.
  • 1966 – The landmark American science fiction television series Star Trek premieres with its first-aired episode, “The Man Trap”.
  • 1974 – Watergate scandal: US President Gerald Ford signs the pardon of Richard Nixon for any crimes Nixon may have committed while in office.

Here’s the broadcast of Ford explaining his decision. He invokes God’s guidance in granting the pardon!

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s Sassoon (front) “with his brother Hamo and other students on the morning after a college May Ball at Cambridge University in 1906″ (photo from Wikipedia). This gives you a sense what life was like at Oxbridge at the turn of the last century. 

  • 1897 – Jimmie Rodgers, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1933)
  • 1922 – Sid Caesar, American comic actor and writer (d. 2014)
  • 1925 – Peter Sellers, English actor and comedian (d. 1980)
  • 1932 – Patsy Cline, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1963)
  • 1941 – Bernie Sanders, American politician
  • 1947 – Ann Beattie, American novelist and short story writer
  • 1954 – Michael Shermer, American historian, author, and academic, founded The Skeptics Society

Those who began pushing up daisies on September 8 include:

  • 1949 – Richard Strauss, German composer and manager (b. 1864)
  • 1965 – Dorothy Dandridge, American actress and singer (b. 1922)

Dandridge, a talented actor, dancer, and singer, was the first black woman to be nominated for an Academy Award (for her performance in Carmen Jones). She had a hard life, and died at 42 under mysterious circumstances (it could have been suicide).

  • 1977 – Zero Mostel, American actor and comedian (b. 1915)
  • 1980 – Willard Libby, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1908)
  • 2003 – Leni Riefenstahl, German actress, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1902)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is bored:

Hili: Stop writing and do something useful.
A: Like what, for example?
Hili: We could go for a walk.
In Polish:
Hili: Przestań pisać i zrób coś pożytecznego.
Ja: Co na przykład?
Hili: Możemy pójść na spacer.

And here’s kitten Kulka, who looks like she’s bristled up. Malgorzata said, “Kulka is in a fighting position. Hili was close by, hissing at her.”  Hili simply cannot stand this adorable kitten, for Hili is the Queen and brooks no pretenders to her throne.

Posted on Facebook by Seth Andrews, who commented, “Yes. I have a favorite spatula.”

From Jesus of the Day, the importance of proper punctuation:

Posted by Mary:

From Titania. If this is sensitivity training, I’ll skip it. Note “PayPal me” on the right-hand side.

Tweets from Matthew. This thread from Miranda Jewess (what a name!), who’s an editor, is a corker—hilarious! I’ll put up a screenshot of some of her tweets in the thread:

Oy! For evidence that Osama bin Laden’s niece endorses Trump, go here (or other places):

I couldn’t not put this one up!

And this kid is a hoot (he reminds me of my younger self). Sound up, please.

Back to obedience school!


45 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

    1. Ps you yourself eschew &!

      I like it as it saves typing & writing! Think of all the ‘ands’ in your life & in your books – time saved using two fewer characters could have been spent snoozing, living it up drinking beer, doing research, eating good food then photographing it & taunting your hungry readership! 😩🤣

  1. Here’s a nostalgic road trip down the moribund Route 66, a trip I hope to make myself one day.

    So you’re hoping to make like Nat King Cole?

    1. Things you learn that seem weird at the point when you learn them: “Route 66” was written by Bobby Troup, who later stared as Dr. Joe Early on Emergency, with his wife, singer Julie London, who played Dixie McCall. He also had a bit part in the movie M*A*S*H as the jeep driver who keeps muttering “Goddamn army!”

    2. Moribund might be a bit strong descriptor as about 85% of Route 66 still exists and can be driven on. Many miles of the road, especially in Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma still have original pavement. Many motels, eateries, and attractions are still in operation, although much has disappeared. Covid has hit these mom and pop places hard, but many are hanging on. It is a fun trip. I have done the entire route.

      The song has been recorded by many musicians. At an exhibit at the Autry museum in LA a few years ago you could listen to recordings by, as I recall, about 130 different versions.

      1. Here in Southern California, the parts of Route 66 that still remain have historical markers. Plus, many motels and other businesses still have names referring to it. We will never forget!

      2. Here in Southern California, the parts of Route 66 that still remain have historical markers. Plus, many motels and other businesses still have names referring to it. We will never forget!

    1. Huey’s boy Russell was the longtime US senator from Louisiana.

      The great roman à clef about ol’ Huey was Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men.

  2. A reminder to readers that the second one-hour MIT free lecture in the covid-19 series, “coronavirus biology”, is at 1130ET this morning.

  3. “…the words “under God” weren’t added until 1954—to distinguish us from those godless Commies.”

    I was around nine years old when it hit me that there wasn’t really any difference between communism and religion. As authoritarian systems, they both spring from an identical premise, namely, “I know what’s better for you than you do”.


    1. I remember the day…i was in first grade in u.s. public school…. when we were told to add the phrase “under god” to our daily pledge recitation. And it was emphasized that there be no pause between the words “one nation” and the new words “under god”, but rather the four words must be said as the single phrase, “one nation under god”. I never knew whether that were just a conservative state of virginia thing or if it were nation-wide.

    2. I wen to a parochial school.of nursing after the commie scares were mostly past when one of the sisters confided that the nuns were a “communist” community. A shocker for me.

  4. “This [1906 May Ball photograph] gives you a sense what life was like at Oxbridge at the turn of the last century.”

    When only the men could get degrees.

  5. There is perhaps a hidden strain of humor in Germans. When I was learning German in High School, this was one of the short dialogues we learned: “Fritz, have you seen a louse under the microscope?”, “No, Herr Schumann, we don’t have a microscope at home.”

  6. I love that kid helping with the cooking. “Why wait until it’s cooked, lets eat it now”. So funny to watch.

  7. Here’s the broadcast of Ford explaining his decision [to pardon Richard Nixon]. He invokes God’s guidance in granting the pardon!

    At the time, Ford claimed he was moved to this act of compassion while attending church services one Sunday, though most of us still suspect it was the quid in a dirty pro quo deal to get Dick Nixon the hell outta the White House.

  8. I just read that Maria Kolesnikova has been taken to the boarder and ordered out of the country. She refused to leave.

  9. The Titania-posted video is hilarious and scary all at the same time. This black lady gets up in front of a room full of white ladies and blithely states, “I just want y’all to know, you’re all racist and born as inhuman demons” (or something like that). The white ladies don’t react much either, presumably because this is what they signed up to hear. They’re all inhuman, IMHO.

  10. The protests in Portland are likely to decrease for the next few days but for an unfortunate reason – smoke. Oregon has been having lots of wildfires and both the temperature and wind are up making it even more dangerous. There have also been several minor building fires around Portland.

    To make it even worse, the wind has shifted to blow the smoke to the Willamette Valley (Portland, Salem, Eugene) and the air is nasty. Where I live, no one seems to be going outside. Portland may be better or worse but the air is not good.

  11. I’m fascinated by this man, the Trump of Louisiana,

    Huey Long; don’t know much about him but he sounds more like Bernie than (can’t say the name).

    1. Huey Long combined the economic populism of a Bernie Sanders with the cultural populism of a Donald Trump. But his demagoguery was unquestionably cut from the same cloth as Trump’s.

      Huey also wrote a song, “Every Man a King.” Randy Newman covered it on his album Good Old Boys:

  12. I read the article about John Cleese earlier. One thing that stood out was his dislike of Pinker. Asked which book he thought was the most overrated book of all, he said “Blank Slate”. He learned nothing from the book. Seems odd and I wonder if there is political baggage here?

    1. Cleese’s politics are centrist. True, he supported Brexit, but he despises Trump and dislikes Johnson and the Tories. He usually supports the Liberal Democrats. I don’t think there were any political reasons for his dislike of The Blank Slate. But it should be noted that Cleese believes in some sort of afterlife, though not in any organized forms of religion.

  13. The border collie sheep dog being “chased” by the lamb is in control. It has decided on keeping a certain distance from the lamb, and is maintaining it.

  14. – Both Norway and Denmark has dramatically passed Sweden’s infection rates in the last two weeks of local outbreaks (which we may get later this fall) [ https://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/a/aP22ld/smittan-chockokar-i-vara-grannlander ].

    While we are on the pandemic, it seems this is a thing: https://www.sturgismotorcyclerally.com/

    The San Diego State University IZA study regarding the COVID-19 cases resulting from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is blatantly faulty. The study concludes that nearly 20% of the COVID- 19 cases reported in America from August 2 to September 2 are due to the event. This outrageous conclusion is antithetical to actual case data as numerous State Officials across the United States have been actively seeking to tie any COVID-19 case to the event. Despite these active efforts, fewer than 300 cases have been identified nationwide. The careless ease with which mainstream media outlets have published a report that multiplies that factual data by 1,000 is shameful. The absolute preposterousness of the conclusion is further demonstrated by the results of the community-wide mass testing which occurred after the event, where there were 26 positives cases out of 650 patients tested.

    (The study seems to be a “discussion paper” FWIW.)

    Oy vey!

    1. (I should add that even an infection rate of 4 % at the estimated number of 500,000 visitors [if individual] is 20,000 infected, so the study is hardly a factor 1,000 away.

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