Saturday: Hili dialogue

Top of the weekend to you! It’s Saturday, October 3, 2020: National Soft Taco Day, as well as Thomas Wolfe’s birthday. Avoid all hard or medium-hard tacos!  It’s a chilly morning in Chicago (46°F, 8°C), with cool weather predicted for the week.

It’s also Global Smoothie Day, National Caramel Custard Day, National Butterfly and Hummingbird Day, and, oddly, National Virus Appreciation Day.

Wikipedia also tells us it’s “On social media: ‘Mean Girls Day’, a widespread phenomenon in celebration of the film Mean Girls.  I don’t know how you’re supposed to celebrate.

Finally, for Jews it’s the first full day of Sukkot, or Feast of the Tabernacles, a week of eating to make up for the one day of fasting during Yom Kippur. (Jews don’t like holidays that don’t involve eating.) The holiday began yesterday evening and will end at sundown on Friday, October 9. 

News of the Day: Well, of course the big news is that Trump’s caught Covid-19, along with his wife Melania, and is in Walter Reed hospital, though so far his case seems to be mild (he walked to the helicopter and off the helicopter at the hospital). He’s reported to have a slight fever, congestion, and a cough, though he put out an 18-second tweet to reassure people:

Despite the President’s illness, and the fact that two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are also positive for the virus, Senate Republicans have vowed to get Amy Coney Barrett confirmed a week before the election (there are four weeks left).

While some miscreants on the Internet are gloating, hoping Trump gets really sick or dies, decent people are wishing him a recovery; after all, he has family who loves him. Nobody, not even your political enemies, deserves to suffer physically. Even the New York Times wrote an editorial called “Get Well, Mr. President,” which is remarkably gracious, especially for them. Of course they’re far more worried about how it will affect politics and the nation than his friends and family, but still. I’m not that worried because Pence, even if he takes over, would do exactly what Trump would, and has no chance of being elected in his stead.

On the lighter side, a lost cockatiel in England was found and returned to its owners after it was recognized from singing “The Addams Family” theme song, apparently the only song it knows. Hear the bird singing it at the link. (h/t Jeremy)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 208,562, an increase of about 800 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll remains at”1.0 million +”, up 6% in the last two weeks. 

. . . And in Virginia the chinkapins are falling.

Stuff that happened on October 3 includes:

  • 52 BC – Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls, surrenders to the Romans under Julius Caesar, ending the siege and battle of Alesia.

Vercingetorix was imprisoned for six years before he was reportedly strangled to death in his cell by the Romans.

  • 1789 – George Washington proclaims a Thanksgiving Day for that year.
  • 1863 – The last Thursday in November is declared as Thanksgiving Day by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.
  • 1919 – Cincinnati Reds pitcher Adolfo Luque becomes the first Latin player to appear in a World Series.
  • 1952 – The United Kingdom successfully tests a nuclear weapon to become the world’s third nuclear power.
  • 1957 – The California State Superior Court rules that the book Howl and Other Poems is not obscene.

A first edition of Howl, autographed by Ginsburg, and with his doodles, will set you back about $1500:

  • 1985 – The Space Shuttle Atlantis makes its maiden flight.
  • 1995 – The O. J. Simpson murder case ended with a verdict of not guilty.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s the only existing video of the great Duse, from 1916:

Though much maligned by critics for overwriting and barely taught in literature courses these days, Wolfe remains a literary hero of mine. I’ve read every word he ever wrote, visited his childhood home (“The Old Kentucky Home”) as well as his grave in Asheville, North Carolina, and read a great deal about him. Yes, his prose definitely had a magenta tint at times, but when he was on, he could write like a dream. Read his short stories “The Child By Tiger” or “I Have a Thing to Tell You” (the latter story doesn’t seem to be online.) “Child by Tiger” can stand next to any short story in English.

Wolfe kept his bloated collection of handwritten manuscript pages in big crates which he delivered to his editor, Maxwell Perkins at Scribner’s, who helped shape the crates of pages into books (Perkins was a great editor who also helped Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.) Here’s Wolfe with a case of manuscript pages:

  • 1916 – James Herriot, English veterinarian and author (d. 1995)
  • 1925 – Gore Vidal, American novelist, screenwriter, and critic (d. 2012)
  • 1941 – Chubby Checker, American singer-songwriter
  • 1949 – Lindsey Buckingham, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
  • 1954 – Al Sharpton, American minister, talk show host, and political activist
  • 1969 – Gwen Stefani, American singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer

Those who became permanently quiescent on October 3 were few, and include:

  • 1656 – Myles Standish, English captain (b. 1584)
  • 1967 – Woody Guthrie, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1912)

Here’s an appropriate song from Guthrie, “All you fascists bound to lose.” YouTube says it was from a radio broadcast in the 1940s. Bob Dylan, when just a stripling, used to visit Guthrie when Guthrie was in Creedmor State Hospital in New York with Huntington’s disease.

  • 2004 – Janet Leigh, American actress (b. 1927)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being very punctilious:

Hili: I’m afraid you have to buy a new keyboard.
A: Why?
Hili: This one is very dirty.
In Polish:
Hili: Obawiam się, że musisz kupić nową klawiaturę.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Ta jest bardzo brudna.
And a report from Dobrzyn that kitten Kulka now weighs 2.3 kilograms. She’s more than quadrupled her weight (she was half a kilo when she was rescued)!

I may have posted this before, but you can’t see it too often:

From Lee: a nerdy science joke:

From Nicole. If you don’t get this, you’re not “of a certain age”:

I tweeted:

And I retweeted a tweet that came from Matthew, who, like me, loves mimicry. The “larva” is really a nymph, the immature stage of the adult insect.

From cesar: A turtle and a dog play soccer. No contest!

Tweets from Matthew (videos from me). Google translation from the Japanese of the first one showing a fearsome purse web spider:

Calommata signata dug out of a burrow  .. Reasons why it is difficult to collect this species: ① Even if you try to lure out with fishing tactics, it will never come out of the burrow ② Nest threads are very easy to tear, so it is easy to lose sight of the nest ③ If you succeed in excavating a burrow with a very deep burrow, you can worship it like a heavy tank.

Digging one out:

Trump gets an IgNobel Prize! (I think that now he also deserves a Darwin Award for mask-shunning.)

This lemming is pissed!

And another stunning example of mimicry, wherein a spider imitates a branch:



  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Looks obvious the super spread event that got the president and 8 or 9 others took place at the White House on Sept. 26. This was held both indoors and out to announce the Supreme Court nominee so every one could congratulate each other on that one. Hope Hicks, Kelly Conway, Rev. Jenkins, senator Tillis, Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, three journalist and who knows who else besides the pres. and first lady. The president then later, knowing Hicks was positive went to a fundraiser at one of his golf courses. Apparently we were in a Pandemic and none of these people were aware.

    • Robert Van Orden
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      10 White House staffers, who may or may not have been involved in the 9/26 event, have tested positive. Expect more to come in the following few days.

      While there is a certain decorum that should apply, Trump’s followers deserve a big, fat ‘I Told You So!’ from the whole lot of people who raised the alarm that he was grossly incompetent.

      The election remains one month away. Biden has taken the high road, which is probably the smart tact.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 3, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        My parents raised me to understand it was ill-mannered to wish ill on people, especially when they’re ill. So I’m wishing Trump a full and speedy recovery. (Plus, I’ve got my own selfish reasons here, too — I want the miserable s.o.b. recovered in time for election day, so he can appreciate fully the ass-whuppin’ the American electorate is fixin’ to lay on him.)

        I’ve got no compunctions, nevertheless, in noting that Trump would be giving no similar quarter were the circumstances reversed. Not only has Trump mocked his opponent for heeding the guidelines issued by Trump’s own CDC — the very guidelines that Trump, his minions, and his family have repeatedly and flagrantly flouted. But it was also little more than four years ago that Trumpworld was aflutter with the image of Hillary Clinton stumbling and fainting from pneumonia and awash with unfounded rumors (some of them spread by Trump retweets and by stories planted in the pro-Trump tabloids) that Hillary was knocking on death’s door.

        • Posted October 3, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

          This stricture not to speak ill is a vestige of superstition. Obviously thinking or wishing bad things cannot actually harm the target person, anymore than thoughts and prayers can help them. However, PCC doesn’t like it on his site, so I will keep my thoughts to myself.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

            We’re not talking good science on this one; we’re merely talking good manners.

            • Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

              Manners is respect, and I respect PCC so I would not post such a remark here. But I have zero respect for tRump, so I would have no compunction about expressing my true feelings about him elsewhere. Does anyone else think that, were the shoe on the other foot and Biden had covid, tRump would show the same compassion to him that people are expressing about tRump now? In a pig’s eye. Why do we always end up playing softball with this jerk, while he speaks and acts like a gangster?

          • Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

            I think there’s a bit more to it than simple superstition. Wishing someone ill is a bit like an incitement to violence. The utterer is basically saying that they wouldn’t mind if the person died. It steps over a line.

            I’m not suggesting I care that much if people want to step over that line with Trump. He’s certainly killed a lot of people by his negligence. He’s also threatening to cause a lot of violence during the election. Finally, I don’t think he would give anyone else this kind of respect.

            BTW, his doctors have just given an update on his condition. They say a crucial point will be reached in about 5 days when they see if inflammation of the lungs kicks in.

          • sugould
            Posted October 3, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

            Since I have no desire wish anyone ill, I will hope that as a faithful, church-going, bible-holding believer, God will heal Trump if he wants to.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted October 3, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

              The Lord helps them who help themselves to experimental Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail? 🙂

    • Posted October 3, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      I’m guessing there has been spreading at more than one event. We’ll probably never know exactly how the spread occurred because of the lack of diligent contact tracing, the fact that few people in the GOP inner circles wear a mask even after they started testing positive, and the general disorganization and incompetence of the participants. It’s like they were this big extended family who, until now, had just lucked out. Once the virus got a foothold, they started dropping like flies. I’m sure it isn’t done yet.

  2. busterggi
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Trump’s winning of the Ig Nobel should make headlines.

    • W.Benson
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      Trump has yet to meet all the requisites for a Darwin Award, but he does deserve an “A” for effort.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted October 3, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        I was just about to say the same thing. Provided he went on to meet the final requirement, ie. death(I hope he doesn’t of course), he would arguably be the most deserving recipient of the Darwin Award ever.

  3. Posted October 3, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Just watched Bernie Sanders on Bill Maher’s show. He said the Democrat plan for dealing wit Trump’s coup is that “People will take to the streets by the millions!!!” What exactly that is supposed to achieve he couldn’t say.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      What else are the public meant to do if a president illegally steals an election and transitions the country to a dictatorship? Write to their senator? Sign a petition?

      Sanders’s words sound entirely reasonable to me. If Trump enacted a coup and stole the election, mass protest and civil disobedience would surely be one of the only remaining options.

    • Historian
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      If Trump pulls off a coup, demonstrating in the streets, no matter by how many millions, will accomplish nothing alone. Sooner or later, the demonstrators would get tired and go home. What it would take to thwart a coup by Trump is that the institutions of power – the military, police, the Republican Party – deserts him. It is likely that these institutions themselves would be divided, meaning that violence would likely ensue. After the chaos finally ends, no matter how it ends, the country will be irrevocably changed from those days of ancient history under Barack Obama. The future cannot be seen because it appears so dark.

      • Posted October 3, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        It will certainly be a straight up power struggle within government institutions. “Taking to the streets” might eventually work in Belarus if there’s sufficient support from the EU & others, but Lukashenko seems to have about 20% support and the demonstrators have been extraordinarily courageous and persistent.

        Trump’s approval rating was 50% not so long ago and has always been over 40%, so there’s chance whatsoever that any “mass movement” will have any credibility as representing the “will of the people”.

        I hope Democrats are in fact working behind the scenes to develop some kind of strategy to counter the power grab that Trump has been promising since 2016 and his cronies have been planning for some time. I haven’t seen any such signs though, and Bernie’s deluded fantasies don’t indicate that they’re even taking it seriously.

        • Posted October 3, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          What it proves is that Bernie is not really involved in the Democrat response to Trump’s attempts to grab power. Given his age, it is probably a good thing he’s left it to younger and more capable people.

          As far as the response goes, there are lawyers and poll workers amassing on both sides. It’s going to be an epic battle. Unless, of course, Trump has to drop out for “health reasons”.

          • W.Benson
            Posted October 3, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

            Will COVID-19 come to be known as “Trump Virus”? Now that would be ironic.

    • Posted October 3, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      I watched that and thought it was one of the lamest responses I’ve seen. Although Bernie is an honest politician with a good heart, I am sure glad he didn’t win the primary.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Ask the Solidarność movement in Poland or the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia or the folks who marched across the Edmund Pettus bridge or those who followed Gandhi on his Salt March to the Arabian Sea.

      Worse comes to worst, the street gonna be the place to be.

  4. Hempenstein
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    What exactly IS a tabernacle, anyway?

    Darwin Awards are only awarded if the awardee has croaked as a result of the basis of the award.

    Not sure I’ve ever seen a turtle move that fast.

    • Posted October 3, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      I think a DA is also given if one performs a self-castration of sorts.

      • openidname
        Posted October 4, 2020 at 12:48 am | Permalink

        A tabernacle is a hut – a flimsy building. Think nomads who haven’t doped out tents yet.

    • Posted October 3, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      You don’t have to die, you only have to remove yourself from the gene pool. Cutting your goolies off will do it.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 4, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

        In the case of Mr tRump, wouldn’t that cause brain death?


    • W.Benson
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Also the candidate’s misbehavior must not endanger innocent bystanders. This clearly excludes Trump from any serious consideration.

  5. nancyholst
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    The link you posted for I Have a Thing to Tell you by Thomas Wolfe takes me to same page as A Child By Tiger. I’ve found an excerpt from the story I Have a Thing to Tell you from a magazine, but I’m unable to find the entire story anywhere. I have to know how this story ends (although I’ve already figured out it’s NOT good) but I sure would like to read entire story. Can anyone direct me to a site where I might find this story?

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    ‘Mean Girls Day’, a widespread phenomenon in celebration of the film Mean Girls. I don’t know how you’re supposed to celebrate.

    I suppose you can start by stop trying to make “fetch” happen:

  7. BJ
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    “Vercingetorix was imprisoned for six years before he was reportedly strangled to death in his cell by the Romans.”

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m 99% sure that Vercingetorix was kept alive for six years so he could be strangled along with other high-profile prisoners during Caesar’s Gallic triumph

    A triumph was a Roman parade for generals hailed as “Imperator” by their legions and then had their triumph approved by the Roman Senate, allowing them to enter Rome as a General with their legions for one day to celebrate their conquering of a new land. It’s a bit more complicated than that (generals and soldiers who entered Rome normally became private citizens as soon as they did), but high-profile prisoners — especially monarchs, aristocracy, or generals — were kept alive to be strangled in front of the crowd during a triumph.

  8. C.
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I guess I count as one of the miscreants as I honestly don’t care on a personal level if tRump lives. I started out going high rather than low, as Michelle Obama urged way back in 2016 but for whatever reason I woke up this morning thinking of the kids from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and other South American nations, picked up, locked up in cages, abused, neglected, ripped away from their families, and what, seven of them died in 2019 from this, so today my heart is black. I’m neither proud nor ashamed. I know that philosophically, ideologically, i am more likely to wish good things for people, but today I feel nothing. Perhaps I should try some loving kindness meditation like Sam Harris suggests. I won’t go so far as to cheer or gloat but I can’t feel sympathy for him or his family. Maybe that makes a bad person, but today I feel nothing. Nothing except the urge to listen to Deportees by Woody Guthrie.

    • rickflick
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      I share your grief.

    • openidname
      Posted October 4, 2020 at 12:50 am | Permalink

      You know Obama started that cage thing, right?

      • sugould
        Posted October 5, 2020 at 4:54 am | Permalink

        But Trump put it on steroids. Always has to outdo Obama.

  9. Posted October 3, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    “And I retweeted a tweet that came from Matthew, who, like me, loves mimicry.”

    There’s a lot of human mimicry to be observed here too. Retweeting is a form of mimicry as is your shared love of mimicry. Perhaps it’s mimicry all the way down. 😉

  10. Posted October 3, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Nobody, not even your political enemies, deserves to suffer physically.

    Trump needs to suffer physically because the absolute last thing you need right now is for him to get a mild cough, recover fully and then announce to the world “see it’s not all that bad”. Trump needs to suffer and he needs to be seen to have suffered because the people who believed him about coronavirus and think it’s nothing need to see for themselves that it isn’t nothing.

    • Posted October 3, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      I think he’s going to say that anyway even if he recovers. He’s going to stay “on brand” all the way to the end.

      • Posted October 3, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        All the better. If he’s saying “it was nothing” whilst not being able to walk a few steps and looking like he’s been through the mill, maybe some of them will realise he lies all the time or those that know he lies all the time but think it doesn’t matter will have a rethink.

    • Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 4, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      “decent people are wishing him a recovery; after all, he has family who loves him.”

      I guess I’m an indecent person, then. Leaving aside the question of, would he be less deserving of recovery if he didn’t have a family, and the assumption of whether they love him…
      a million people have died so far, most of whom, if I knew of their individual circumstances, I would likely have wished a recovery; and doubtless a few who I wouldn’t bother. Mr Trump will just have to manage without his 0.00001% share of my good wishes.


      • rickflick
        Posted October 4, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        You are almost making a case for the urgent removal(impeachment) of the president for incompetence. 😊

        His incompetence has already led to many thousands of unnecessary deaths. Thus, the question arises, should one life(his) be sacrificed to save 10s of thousands of other lives? Not that this is the real choice.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 4, 2020 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

          Well, there’s an election coming up, which he will (we all hope and trust) lose. So this makes the choice kinda irrelevant.

          But if he had (say) 3 years to go, and the best chance of rapidly replacing him with someone else who might have more rational and coherent policies to deal with the situation, was a quick and drastic dose of Covid-19, what would one wish for then?

          Ah, the trolley problem, aka ‘would you kill Hitler’.


          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 4, 2020 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

            (I’m assuming in that scenario that impeachment would take years – it usually seems to)

  11. Posted October 3, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Trump is worse than some historical dictators We could argue, because of his environmental destruction & refusal to do anything to combat climate change. That could well condemn the world to a terrible future.

  12. mhoule2013
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink


  13. mhoule2013
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    For some reason my email notifications for these posts have stopped arriving.

  14. sugould
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Since I have no desire wish anyone ill, I will hope that as a faithful, church-going, bible-holding believer, God will heal Trump if he wants to.

  15. revelator60
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    “…after all, he has family who loves him.”

    I was going to be facetious and ask “Are you sure?” but perhaps Trump’s large adult sons genuinely love their pop, since they’ve taken after him so frighteningly well. I cannot help wondering if Melania and the youngest son might be better off without the President, but that is mere speculation. It will be interesting if Barron Trump turns out much different than his brothers. Probably not, considering that environment, but Mary Trump shows you can be a Trump and have a conscience.

    • rickflick
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      When the news that the first couple tested positive hit, Borowitz joked that folk were surprised to find that Melania had been within 6 feet of DT.

  16. openidname
    Posted October 4, 2020 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    That’s a remarkably speedy turtle!

    It’s fascinating that the dog seems to be letting the turtle take turns. Well, sometimes he gets too impatient, but still. Does that imply a theory of mind?

    • sugould
      Posted October 4, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Of course the dog would let the turtle have a turn too. Dog were playing “catch” which is no fun at all, if your partner doesn’t return it. Not sure what the turtle was doing.

  17. merilee
    Posted October 4, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink


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