Sunday: Hili dialogue

September 13, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s Ceiling Cat’s Day: September 13, 2020. Remember, cats weren’t made for the Sabbath; the Sabbath was made for cats. It’s National Peanut Day, as well as  International Chocolate Day, Snack a Pickle Day, Bald is Beautiful Day, National Defy Superstition Day, and, in Africa, the UK, and Latin America, Roald Dahl Day. It’s also Fortune Cookie Day. My last fortune:

I didn’t sleep a wink last night—for the first time in ages. My sleep’s been pretty disturbed during the pandemic (I’m not quite sure why), but this was pretty debilitating. Posting may be light today.

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) honors Terry Fox (1958-1981), the man who, with a leg amputated because of osteosarcoma, decided to run across Canada on a prosthetic leg to raise money for and awareness of cancer research. He ran for 143 days and made 5,373 kilometres (3,339 mi) before he had to stop because the cancer recurred.  He died at 22. It was on this day in 1981 that his family honored him by creating the Terry Fox Run to raise money for cancer.

Fox running through Toronto:

News of the Day: Peace talks have begun in Qatar between the Afghan government and the Taliban.  It’s been a long fight, with the U.S. in the middle, but last night on the news a spokesman for the Taliban said that their aim is to install an Islamic government in the country, and if they don’t get one they’ll keep fighting. Just what we need, another Muslim theocracy in the Middle East.

As you know, the west coast of the U.S.. is burning up. Reader Tom sent a picture and an explanation:

As if the Pacific Northwest hadn’t had enough to deal with.  This is a photo taken by my sister of the skies at noon today [Saturday] over Walla Walla, Washington.  That’s the sun at upper center.  She and the rest of the Palouse are quarantined in their homes—not from disease but bad air, categorized as officially Hazardous due to the fires afflicting Oregon and central Washington.  My sister has to wear a N95 mask just to pick tomatoes from her garden.


The New York Times article below paints a very grim picture of college reopenings. And if we don’t have a vaccine by next spring, colleges might as well tell their students not to come back after Thanksgiving. An excerpt:

New York Times review last weekend of 203 “college town” counties where students comprise at least 10 percent of the population found that about half had experienced their worst weeks of the pandemic as students returned in August, and about half of those were experiencing peak infections this month.

Editorializing in the news. The first screenshot is from the NYT’s report; the second from the Washington Post. But don’t worry; the Post will catch up. (Click on screenshots.)

Films: The NYT has a list of the “50 best movies on Netflix right now.” At first I was going to skip reading it, but I’m a sucker for “best of” lists, and this is actually a very good one—at least judging from the films I’ve seen. I was particularly chuffed to see one of my favorite foreign films, Y Tu Mamá También, on the list, and you should definitely see it if you haven’t. The two I want to watch are “Roma” and “Marriage Story.”

A note from reader Andy, a book report showing that barbecue is important but not essential in the struggle for freedom:

This is from David Rubenstein’s new book, The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians.

From his interview of Taylor Branch, Martin Luther King’s biographer and chronicler of the civil rights movement:

Rubenstein: Was King influenced by Mahatma Gandhi?

Taylor Branch: He was influenced by Gandhi, but then he went over to India in 1959 to study the Gandhians and came back saying, “They fast all the time. We can never do that in America. Those Indians haven’t eaten barbecue.”

After a short pause due to one participant who became ill, phase 3 trials have resumed in the UK for the Oxford AstraZenica covid-19 vaccine. It’s not clear, though, whether trials will resume elsewhere, nor why there’s this disparity among countries.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 193,551, an increase of about 700 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 919,772, an increase of about 6,000 deaths from yesterday. And we’re approaching a million deaths worldwide. 

Stuff that happened on September 13 include:

  • 1501 – Italian Renaissance: Michelangelo begins work on his statue of David.
  • 1541 – After three years of exile, John Calvin returns to Geneva to reform the church under a body of doctrine known as Calvinism.
  • 1609 – Henry Hudson reaches the river that would later be named after him – the Hudson River.
  • 1788 – The Philadelphia Convention sets the date for the first presidential election in the United States, and New York City becomes the country’s temporary capital.
  • 1814 – In a turning point in the War of 1812, the British fail to capture Baltimore. During the battle, Francis Scott Key composes his poem “Defence of Fort McHenry”, which is later set to music and becomes the United States’ national anthem.
  • 1848 – Vermont railroad worker Phineas Gage survives an iron rod 1 14 inches (3.2 cm) in diameter being driven through his brain; the reported effects on his behavior and personality stimulate discussion of the nature of the brain and its functions.

Here’s Gage’s skull, preserved, along with the rod that went through his eye and skull, in the Warren Museum in Philadelphia:

Gage is a case study in the medical literature not only because of his survival, but because his personality changed after he was impaled. Here he is with his iron rod a year after the accident. He died in 1860 at 36:

(From Wikipedia): Photograph of cased-daguerreotype studio portrait of brain-injury survivor Phineas P. Gage (1823–1860) shown holding the tamping iron which injured him. Includes view of original embossed brass mat. From the collection of Jack and Beverly Wilgus. Like most daguerreotypes, the image seen in this artifact is laterally (left-right) reversed; therefore a second, compensating reversal has been applied to produce this image, so as to show Gage as he appeared in life. That this shows Gage correctly is confirmed by daguerreotypes.
  • 1898 – Hannibal Goodwin patents celluloid photographic film.
  • 1899 –Henry Bliss is the first person in the United States to be killed in an automobile accident.

Bliss, below, was hit by an electric taxicab while getting off a streetcar. He fell to the ground and his skull and chest were crushed. Here’s the poor guy: the first automobile fatality in history:

Here’s the brave Meredith enrolling in school, with a little help from the feds:

(From Wikipedia): Photograph shows James Meredith walking to class accompanied by U.S. marshals.; James Meredith walking to class at University of Mississippi, accompanied by U.S. marshals. According to, the men flanking Meredith are U.S. Marshal James McShane (left) and John Doar of the Justice Department (right)
  • 1971 – State police and National Guardsmen storm New York’s Attica Prison to quell a prison revolt, which claimed 43 lives.
  • 1993 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shakes hands with Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat at the White House after signing the Oslo Accords granting limited Palestinian autonomy.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1819 – Clara Schumann, German pianist and composer (d. 1896)
  • 1851 – Walter Reed, American physician and biologist (d. 1902)

Reed built on earlier work to show that yellow fever was carried by a mosquito vector: the genus Aedes.  He did not win the Nobel Prize. Here’s a photo of him as an older man (he died at 51 of appendicitis):

  • 1860 – John J. Pershing, American general and lawyer (d. 1948)
  • 1874 – Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian composer and painter (d. 1951)
  • 1903 – Claudette Colbert, French-American actress (d. 1996)
  • 1918 – Ray Charles, American singer-songwriter and conductor (d. 2015)
  • 1956 – Alain Ducasse, French-Monégasque chef

Those who called it a life on September 13 include:

  • 1872 – Ludwig Feuerbach, German anthropologist and philosopher (b. 1804)
  • 1944 – W. Heath Robinson, English cartoonist (b. 1872)
  • 1946 – Amon Göth, Austrian captain (b. 1908)

Göth was the head of the  Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp , and was hanged for his crimes on this day in 1946, after the gallows malfunctioned twice (you can see the video of the hanging on YouTube). Göth was played by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List, and you may remember him taking potshots at the prisoners from his balcony, something that really happened. Here are his mugshots:

  • 1996 – Tupac Shakur, American rapper, producer, and actor (b. 1971)
  • 1998 – George Wallace, American sergeant, lawyer, and politician, 45th Governor of Alabama (b. 1919)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has insinuated herself into the staff’s bed, but this time on Andrzej’s spot instead of her usual spot: on Malgorzata’s pillow.

Hili: Are you sure you want to sleep here as well?
A: Of course.
Hili: Lie down in a way that does not disturb me.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy jesteś pewien, że ty też chcesz tu spać?
Ja: Oczywiście.
Hili: Połóż się tak. żeby mi nie przeszkadzać.

Here’s little Kulka in a basket, with Szaron in the other room:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Bad Cat Clothing (I may have posted this before):

From Donna:


Titania vs. manspreaders:

From reader Barry we have a randy elephant (sound up):

Three tweets from Paul Bronks. First, the famous disappearing cow:

Reluctant cygnets (they’re just like ducklings):

. . . and a playful penguin:

Three tweets from Matthew. First, a dead-easy goal gets muffed:

A lovely time lapse; I had no idea lenticular clouds could remain so stationary:

It’s sobering to think that this girl is now dead (that was the first thing I thought, which shows how morbid I am):

29 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

    1. Over the past several months, I too have had more nights in which i had trouble getting to sleep or waking after an hour and trouble getting back to sleep. Had one night in the past few months when i did not sleep a wink…first time since college studying. Got rid of caffeine drinks, but still have problems. Sometimes i go to our guest room and find that i can just read myself to sleep with the light on. So you are not alone for what that may be worth.

    2. Me, too, on the bad sleeping (although I’m not so sure it’s all related to the pandemic). I even went to a sleep center (where you stay overnight with wires on your head; curiously, I slept fine there). They determined that I did not have an apnea, which was good, but for anything else they were unhelpful.

    3. Towards the end of a week long neighborhood power outage, I had no outside city lights, no inside electronic device stand-by lights, no noise, no calls to make (conserving my phone’s battery life), no new tweets from DJT, and nobody on facebook to argue with about them.

      Nothing I could do about any of it. Three nights of the best sleep I’ve had in decades.

  1. I learned a while ago that “they” design smoke detectors for those with weak hearing that release intense aromas including horseradish/wasabi, but maybe ammonia- I’d have to look.

    1. That’s interesting, and something I’d never thought about despite our next door neighbours being deaf. (It’s probably just as well that they are, given the l-o-n-g list of “musical” instruments our kids have played over the years…)

    2. Donna’s Trump smoke detector must be faulty. When mine detects smoke, it plays a message: “Don’t worry, it’s only smoke. It will go away by itself when things heat up.”

  2. I must say, it’s really annoying the way some man sit with their legs so wide open!!!!
    I’m a woman and I’m not being sarcastic. I remember many times in the public transportation feeling uncomfortable by a man’s legs pressing mine closer together.

    1. More often than not when sitting next to a woman I must share my seat with her purse or bag. And her perfume.

      It’s a shame that so many people are unaware that sometimes their comfort comes at the expense of the comfort of others.

    2. It’s not men who are jerks on public transport, but just people. When I lived in a major city, I more often saw entire seats being taken up by a single purse or shopping bags than I did from “manspreading.” Some women just refused to put their purse or bags on their lap or the floor, and so would just take up the entire seat next to them. I remember one time getting up for a woman with a stroller and another child, while the woman sitting next to me took up two seats with her and her purse. Of course, not being a jerk, I always gave up my seat to a person who was pregnant, with children, much older, or disabled. Some people are just inconsiderate, regardless of their sex.

      A lot of guys seem to be able to cross their legs or put their thighs together, but I’m physically incapable of doing so, or of squeezing my thighs completely together (I don’t just mean it makes me uncomfortable, but that I really am physically incapable of doing it). The only way I can sit is with my thighs at least about eight inches apart. I have enormous thighs (it’s a genetic thing, as my mom does as well, and also an athletic thing, from playing ice hockey and tennis). I don’t “manspread,” splaying my thighs as wise as I can, so I can still take up only one seat. But I am physically unable to sit like the guy in that video from Titania’s tweet.

    3. I’m beginning to see the potential for an anti-spread device marketed to those of us who are well meaning but forgetful. It would be something like an elastic band to hold the legs in, or a magnet on the inside of the knees, or a maybe a clasping device disguised as a parcel or book. I’m looking for investors already. Anyone?…Anyone?…

  3. Phineas Gage reminds me of the story of the great jazz guitarist Pat Martino. He had 70% of his left temporal lobe removed because of an arteriovenous malformation. What happened after that is an amazing story:

    I was lucky enough to see him back in around 2004 or 2005, when I went to London. I was walking around one evening and ended up in a conversation with some locals. When the conversation turned to music, the told me that Martino was playing a concert nearby later that night. It turned out to be a club in the basement of a pizza parlor — one of those “secret” clubs with no advertisement. I got to see him in a room with between about 50 and 100 people. He was phenomenal.

  4. Seattle had a strange dark, murky yellow atmosphere yesterday. Outside, it looked like a picture from Titan. The smoke from the West coast fires was first blown out into the Pacific by the Easterlies that fanned them, then an onshore flow brought in a heavily smoked marine layer. Quite weird.

  5. Just in case a few readers might not recognize the scope of the achievement by Terry Fox and the reason for the name ‘Marathon of Hope’ to raise money for cancer research, the marvel is that he ran a marathon every day. Imagine removing one leg and trying to hop a marathon. Every day. Day after day, week after week, month after month (with very few days taken off due to injuries and infections and flu). Now if we add lung cancer to this routine while hopping a marathon every day in all kinds of weather conditions on roads that follow the hilly terrain half way across the continent beside traffic that produces fumes, we can begin to grasp – even for a moment- what it might have been like.

    As a runner, I am in awe of this achievement. As a human being, I am humbled by the dedication and colossal strength of character that was needed and demonstrated by this young man. His heroic legacy is one of hope and inspiration, an example of what can be achieved by each and every one of us… not all at once but one step at a time. This is a message made even more poignant today, especially during these very difficult and deeply trying times.

  6. B A C K and lovely upon … … well, just under
    my comforter and in re ” didn’t sleep ” is .exactly.

    There are others, of course. My point ?
    Because of cooler weather, finally, here
    in the USA’s Midwest ? For each of the
    last five nights’ time, not only have
    I had nine entire hours of sleep but also
    … … six of those nine each night
    were not only uninterrupted by a thing … …
    but also d e e e e p.

    I have had no problem sleeping during pandemic.
    Just a lot of interruptions per some nights,
    upwards of three to four times awakened.
    But. It was just too, too warm for a
    weighted blanket thereupon. Since its being
    back ? The daytimes are ( reclusively )… …
    awesome ! Every autumn I offer all of my sons
    and all of my nephews ( there are no nieces )
    and all of my grandchildren … … that
    I, Grandma Blue, ‘ll have one sent to each
    of them. If and as they wish.


    1. addendum: There is S C I E N C E
      behind .the why. of ( literally )
      smashing … … sleep, incidentally.

      Its biology: deep, swaddling pressure
      upon one’s skin causes endomorphic release
      of one’s own serotonin amounts.

      Serotonin is a component within one’s
      endogenous composition of melatonin,
      a sleep – induction hormone /
      neurotransmitter – like compound.

      Rest e e e e a s y … …
      along with an evening’s cordialful of
      two tablespoons’ worth of tart cherry concentrate
      within 1.5 ounces of Woodford Reserve.
      With ice … … if desired, o’course.


  7. He [MLK] was influenced by Gandhi, but then he went over to India in 1959 to study the Gandhians and came back saying, “They fast all the time. We can never do that in America. Those Indians haven’t eaten barbecue.”

    No barbecue? Plainly, they haven’t been to the mountain top, looked over, and partaken of the Promised Land.

  8. 1948 – Margaret Chase Smith is elected United States senator, and becomes the first woman to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate.

    And less than two years into her first senate term, in reaction to the rise of her fellow Republican Joe McCarthy and his batshit-crazy “Wheeling Speech” claiming that the US State Department was ridden with communists, Ms. Chase Smith made her famous “Declaration of Conscience,” becoming the first member of the GOP to denounce its own “Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear.”

    They ain’t makin’ Republicans like Margaret Chase Smith anymore, folks. Certainly not in the United States senate. Those pusillanimous, unpatriotic pricks are too busy pretending they haven’t read Donald Trump’s tweets or had time to read Bob Woodward’s book.

  9. It’s smoky down hear in Long Beach, California even though we are many miles from any fires. Last night I went outside to get our cats in for the evening and it smelled like a camp fire. My throat has been scratchy for at least a week and my eyes itch. We haven’t gotten any ash fall yet as in some past fire seasons but that’s just a matter of the wind blowing the right way. Not my favorite time to be in So Cal.

  10. 1971 – State police and National Guardsmen storm New York’s Attica Prison to quell a prison revolt, which claimed 43 lives.

    Take it away John & Yoko (accompanied here, IIRC, on the Cavett show by Messrs. A. Hoffman and J. Rubin):

  11. Regarding Phineas Gage, a recent Skeptoid podcast reviewed the evidence for the claimed personality change of Mr. Gage. It seems that many of those claims were promoted by phrenologists, who believed the change in his skull shape corresponded to the personality section of his skull.

Leave a Reply