Wednesday: Hili dialogue

September 9, 2020 • 6:30 am

Top o’ the morning to you on a coolish Wednesday, September 9, 2020. It’s National “I Love Food” Day, which is fine (who doesn’t love food?), but why the scare quotes. Is it a day to just pretend you love food? I hope not, for as Dr. Johnson said, “He who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else.”

It’s also National Steak au Poivre Day, National Wiener Schnitzel Day, Emergency Services Day in the UK, and, oddly, International Buy a Priest a Beer Day. I don’t know any priests to buy beers for.

Finally, it’s National Teddy Bear Day. Here’s my teddy, Toasty. I’ve had him since I was born, and he resides in my office. He’s now a Senior Teddy, which explains his depilated state.

A favor for me: The nice lady who made my Darwin mask yesterday (I gather several of you ordered them) has entered her cat, Clarence, in an America’s Favorite Pet competition. Clarence was rescued at age 7 or 8 when the staff, seeing him in a shelter, fell in love with him. He’s an old cat now (at least 17) and looks grumpy, but is really very sweet and is quite pampered in his dotage. He was recently in the vet hospital with triaditis, and ran up a substantial bill. If Clarence wins (he’s currently #1 with a day left) the owner gets $5000, which she will apply towards that bill and further vet care (he also has inflammatory bowel disease). If you see fit to vote for this awesome rescue cat, go here and click on “free daily vote”. (You can see pictures of Clarence and his staff at the link.) One vote is free, and there’s no need to purchase votes! You can log in through Facebook, but can also cancel any followup ads after that. Voting for Clarence will help with the medical care of a Senior Rescue Cat. (Note: the owner did not ask me to vote for him or publicize this). If you see fit to vote for him, we could push Clarence over the top. There are 40 hours left.


News of the Day: Good news: the New York Times has, in its op-ed section, a 17-minute documentary video about an older Austrian man who lives with two remarkably chill Scottish fold cats and takes them everywhere.  From the short NYT note:

The cats accompany him everywhere: to the bar, to the ski slopes, to the grocery store. As we watch their relationship unfold, the three build a world that’s exclusively and intimately theirs — a reminder that families are whatever we make them out to be. What defines them is love.

Oddly, the man seems to live in his underwear. But at the end, there be KITTENS!

Bad news: The trial of the touted AstraZenica and Oxford Covid-19 vaccine has been halted because of “potentially unexplained illness.” On the other hand, this is somewhat good news in that it shows that they’re doing the trials carefully, and aren’t rushing a vaccine to market that could be faulty.

At FiveThirtyEight, Biden still seems to hold an overall 7.5% lead over Trump. I’m remaining optimistic. Here’s an average of all the polls as of yesterday:


Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is  189,538, an increase of about 500 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 896,931, an increase of about 5,000 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on September 9 includes:

  • 1543 – Mary Stuart, at nine months old, is crowned “Queen of Scots” in the central Scottish town of Stirling.
  • 1776 – The Continental Congress officially names its union of states the United States.
  • 1791 – Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, is named after President George Washington.

That’s going to have to be changed pretty soon.

The photograph still exists. It’s below, and the caption from Wikipedia says: “Herschel’s first glass-plate photograph, dated 9 September 1839, showing the 40-foot telescope.

It’s not clear why they picked this date, as the Wikipedia article linked says nothing about September 9, 1845.  Here’s a short video about the famine, which you should watch (few of us know even these details). But the famine did grace America with a number of Irish immigrants.

  • 1923 – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, founds the Republican People’s Party.
  • 1942 – World War II: A Japanese floatplane drops incendiary bombs on Oregon.
  • 1947 – First case of a computer bug being found: A moth lodges in a relay of a Harvard Mark II computer at Harvard University.
  • 1956 – Elvis Presley appears on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time.
  • 1969 – In Canada, the Official Languages Act comes into force, making French equal to English throughout the Federal government.
  • 1971 – The four-day Attica Prison riot begins, eventually resulting in 39 dead, most killed by state troopers retaking the prison.

Here’s a short BBC video reporting on that famous riot:

  • 2015 – Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1585 – Cardinal Richelieu, French cardinal and politician (d. 1642)
  • 1754 – William Bligh, English admiral and politician, 4th Governor of New South Wales (d. 1817)
  • 1828 – Leo Tolstoy, Russian author and playwright (d. 1910)

Here’s Tolstoy in 1897, 19 years after he published Anna Karenina:

  • 1890 – Colonel Sanders, American businessman, founded KFC (d. 1980)
  • 1960 – Hugh Grant, English actor and producer
  • 1980 – Michelle Williams, American actress

Those who succumbed on September 9 include:

  • 1815 – John Singleton Copley, American-English colonial and painter (b. 1738)
  • 1901 – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French painter and illustrator (b. 1864)
  • 1907 – Ernest Wilberforce, English bishop (b. 1840)
  • 1985 – Paul Flory, American chemist and engineer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1910)
  • 1999 – Catfish Hunter, American baseball player (b. 1946)
  • 2003 – Edward Teller, Hungarian-American physicist and academic (b. 1908)

Here’s Copley’s The Boy with the Squirrel (1765), portraying Henry Pelham and a flying squirrel:


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is enigmatic, and Malgorzata must explain:

When you can’t understand how people can have different opinions about something you are deeply convinced about, you think that people holding this different opinion must in some way be abnormal and only your attitude is normal. That’s exactly what Hili is announcing. Because this phenomenon is so prevalent among people, Andrzej replies that her feeling is normal (i.e., people do have such feelings). Hili, who thought she was absolutely exceptional (and really the only normal creature in the world) is displeased and she announces that such “normality” is strange.

Hili: Sometimes I have a feeling that I alone am normal.
A: That’s normal.
Hili: Strange normality.
In Polish:
Hili: Czasem mam wrażenie, że tylko ja jestem normalna.
Ja: To normalne.
Hili: Dziwna normalność.

Reader Charles sent me a link to this pro-Trump mask for sale on etsy from a site called “Freedom Unmasked”. Only nine bucks, but somehow I think the medium is not the message. Will it sell (click photo in the unlikely event you want to buy it):

From Bad Cat Clothing:

A lovely squee from Jesus of the Day:

I retweeted this, but Matthew sent me the original tweet:

Titania goes after more mishigas:

From Barry. Now this is quite amazing:

From Simon, referring to our parlous times:

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is the most ignominious end I can imagine. What do they say in your obituary?

Beautiful footage of a pod of orcas, even though I’m lukewarm towards them because they eat seals and penguins.

Don’t know about beeflies? Read here.

One wonders what the “recent events” were. One wonders even more how geese are able to read the sign:

A persistent dung beetle. One imagines that Sisyphus is unhappy. . .

34 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

    1. Says the man who issued a library ticket to a squirrel (I am honestly not making this up)! Said ticket was later rescinded after its holder visited via an open window
      and left a wet patch on the boss’s office chair…

    1. Yep, and as far as thorough testing over at the Moderna desk, I was signed up thru the U of Pittsburgh Med Center as willing to participate in their trial. I never got called and found out that they were full up, but that they get one or two cancellations/day and so it still might be possible.

      So I called yesterday and found out after answering a few question (how many live in my house, how many do I routinely work around etc.) that they still don’t want me – they’re hunting for participants far more at-risk. I assumed that they’d assess efficacy by measuring neutralizing antibodies, but it seems that they’re trying for real-world feedback. Seems to me that anyone wanting to be in the trials is someone who is extra-cautious to begin with, but what would I know?

      It also turns out that UPMC is also participating in testing the AZ and Pfizer candidates, so maybe I’ll have a chance yet, but the Moderna vaccine particularly interests me since it’s based on mRNA encoding (which is then translated into) just a segment of the spike protein and one that has two point mutations that yield proline residues in place of the native amino acids, resulting, they say, in greater immunogenicity.

      I assume that this greater immunogenicity is from the prolines inducing a stabilizing beta-hairpin in the peptide structure, giving the peptide a longer residence time and better chance for the immune system to recognize it.

      I gather that AZ’s vaccine (immunogen) is the full spike protein itself while Pfizer’s is the mRBA to the full protein.

    2. Some of the participants in the trial have received a different vaccine as a placebo, so it is possible that the illness is not due to the trial vaccine.

  1. If that 7-pt spread is uniformly spread, all’s well. But I fear that it isn’t, and therein lies the peril, thanks to the cocked-up electoral system.

  2. Perhaps we should start refering to woke associates as frxnds, since they occupy roles so different from traditional friends, like ritual denunciator, looter, and censor.

    What’s his obit? “He died doing what he loved”?

  3. I did click through on the mask advert. Most of the products available seemed to be anti-mask masks but there was an “I ❤️ Dr Fauci” one.

    I thought of marketing a range of masks with holes in for the mouth and nostrils to aid breathing. They would be orange and the writing on them would say ‘this mask is as useful as “president” Trump’.

    1. It’s interesting that the mask shown in the post could be read as a compliment if one were so inclined, for the mask IS useful as is Dr. Fauci, though it would be nice if he were allowed to be more useful still.

      (I don’t understand the scare quotes around “DR”. I mean, the man IS a doctor, and he will be until he dies. He earned his degree fair and square. The ones around “president” in your proposed design make much more sense, given the inadequacies of the electoral system that saw him into office, as well as inappropriate external influences upon it.)

  4. Apropos the glass plate photograph by John Herschel of (the supporting frame of) his father’s telescope: The forty-foot telescope and its frame was until recently the logo of the Royal Astronomical Society, honouring the fact that William Herschel was the Society’s first President. Alas, the Society replaced it this year with a ghastly abstract design, supposedly to mark the bicentenary of the founding of the Society.

    1. The national aeronautics and space administration (nasa) in the u.s. underwent a similar logo change in 1975 when a federal graphics improvement program changedthe nasa logo from a blue disk with white stars and a red chevron swoop (known as the “meatball” since the creationof nasa in 1959-60 timeframe) to a simpler more abstract cursive-like rendering of the letters nasa known as the “worm”. There was quite a bit of grumbling particularly by old timers at the older research labs. After a visit to one of those labs, langley research center, in 1992, the newly appointed agency administrator, dan goldin, ordered that the meatball be reinstated after hearing the grumbling. The meatball remained the nasa symbol until just this year, when i understand the worm has returned with the space-x flights.

  5. Called it the United States in 1776. To0 bad they fell in love with this name and did not change it to something more appropriate such as United Republic or something and get away from the state mentality. This country has never erased the state attitude and that is one of our greatest problems. One of the gentlemen at the Constitutional convention years later added the proper correction in the Preamble with the statement – We the People but no one got it.

    1. When Prince changed his name to that weird symbol, he was asked how to pronounce it. He said “You don’t.” Maybe this is the same kinda thing.

  6. The first one is the most ignominious end I can imagine. What do they say in your obituary?

    “Mr. X catapulted himself to fame due to his handiness behind the steering wheel.”

  7. During the Irish emigration, cargo ships took timbers and other commodities to England and would return the the States with Irish in the holds of the ships. Many did not survive. When they arrived here many were picked up to work for low wages on work gangs. Things didn’t get better right away.
    A good account is The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People by John Kelly.

    1. Yes, a lesson that not everything is about color.

      And a lesson the the Irish ‘troubles’ were about much more than merely religious differences.

  8. The evolved vs. designed beetle tweet was terrific.

    I saw someone at the grocery store wearing a Tr*mp mask yesterday. No surprise he was wearing it below his nose and the top strap wasn’t tied. Reminds me of that bumper sticker “Jesus, save me from your followers!”

  9. I just voted for Clarence the handsome old feline – hope we can help with the vet’s bill this way. Be really nice if he won.

    Hope we can be kept posted on this.

  10. I don’t particularly like food. It seems like a great big chore. That’s the eating part.
    It’s even more pf a chore to have to get it, prepare it, cook it, present it, and then finally chomp chomp chomp with whatever energy you have left.

    Some food tastes nice, lollies or ice cream or good steak but mostly its a chore I could easily do without.

    Restaurants? Nope, chore to get there, to book to be seated, to be assailed by chittering loons from god knows where.

    The you to chose from a menu most of which is in a version of a foreign language referencing stuff I have no clue about, only to try something that looks nice, but isn’t but that’s ok because the portion size was absurd.

    Then you have chitter chatter with whoever you went with, over the cacophony, about just how delightful everything is (not) and then a sever drone comes along and asks if everything is fine, it isn’t but what can I say?

    So I I eek down as little as possible so as not to die, and then wait for the culture vultures with me to finish, all the while thinking just how awful and in particular ‘wasteful’ this form of alleged entertainment is.

    Bring on the food pill, save the planet and my lazy masticators.

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