Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on the cruelest day: a Tuesday, October 13, 2020. National M&Ms Day (don’t eat the brown ones!)  And yes, there was truth to the rumor that Van Halen’s concert contract required that no brown M&M’s be put in their snacks. The reason, though, was to insert an unobtrusive check to see if the contract’s specifications had been carried out. If brown M&M’s showed up, other items would be checked more carefully.  Here’s one contract rider from Van Halen’s 1982 World Tour:

A general note on M&Ms from the link above:

The “M&M” was modeled after a candy Forrest Mars, Sr. encountered while in Spain during the 1930s. During the Spanish civil war there, he observed soldiers eating chocolate pellets with a hard shell of tempered chocolate. This prevented the candies from melting, which was essential when included in soldiers [sic] rations as they were.

It’s also National Yorkshire Pudding Day (which nation?), Ada Lovelace Day, English Language Day, International Day for Failure (I’m on it!), and International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction

News of the day: Amy Coney Barrett showed up at her nomination hearing today with all her kids sitting prominently behind her—for five hours. All seven of them, which must have been torture for the kids. But the future Justice was making a point:

The Republicans spent a great deal of their time bragging that Barrett’s résumé was remarkable and that she was eminently qualified for the Supreme Court. But in their opening statements, there was little teasing or foreshadowing of supporting data points — aside from the fact that as a law professor, her students really, really liked her. Instead, they spent an inordinate amount of time crowing about her school-age children, her two adopted children and the sheer number of children under her care. To hear the Republicans tell it, children are Barrett’s most distinguished qualifications. Fatherhood on a potential justice’s curriculum vitae has not elicited a similarly boastful torrent.

It’s exactly three weeks until the election. But today is the day that secure ballot boxes are available in Chicago, and this afternoon I’ll deposit my ballot in one such box only two blocks from my home. I don’t want to trust this important vote to the mail, even though I know the mail is secure, that Illinois sends you a confirmatory email when your vote is received, and that Illinois’s electoral votes are safely Democratic. I just want to be sure.

I’ll also be taking bets from those who want to put money on a Trump victory. Anybody on? Right now FiveThirtyEight shows that Biden’s lead is strong: more than ten points. It’s doubled in size since March:

Here are the results of yesterday’s poll on whether the Economics Nobel Prize should be awarded every year. Once again the turnout was low (please vote, people; is that too much to ask?), but a large plurality were not in favor of awarding an economics “Nobel Prize”. They were right, too!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 214,955, an increase of about 350 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll is 1,086,017 (thanks to Simon for world toll link). 

Stuff that happened on October 13 includes:

This is an old church, though there are newer bits. And Darwin’s buried inside!

  • 1775 – The Continental Congress establishes the Continental Navy (predecessor of the United States Navy).
  • 1792 – In Washington, D.C., the cornerstone of the United States Executive Mansion (known as the White House since 1818) is laid.
  • 1881 – First known conversation in modern Hebrew by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and friends.
  • 1892 – Edward Emerson Barnard discovers first comet discovered by photographic means.

Here’s that photo of the comet, 206P Barnard/Boattini, and a caption from Gary Cronk’s Cometography:

This is a small portion of the image exposed for 4 hours and 20 minutes by E. E. Barnard on 1892 October 13 and is the first photographic discovery of a comet. Barnard was using the 15-cm Willard lens and was photographing the Milky Way west of the star Altair. The comet trailed during the exposure and the white arrows mark the ends of the trail in the star rich field. [This image was photocopied from the 1893 February issue of The Observatory.]

Copyright © 1892 by E. E. Barnard (Lick Observatory, California, USA)

This “miracle” was , as Wikipedia notes, “attended by a large crowd who had gathered in Fátima, Portugal, in response to a prophecy made by three shepherd children, Lúcia Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto. The prophecy was that the Virgin Mary (referred to as Our Lady of Fátima), would appear and perform miracles on that date.”

Sure enough, Mary showed up in solar garb to awe the crowd below. But, as the Wikipedia article on “Miracle of the Sun” notes, there are purely naturalistic explanations and, tellingly, no photos despite the presence of a gazillion photographers.

Here’s that first photo:

  • 1983 – Ameritech Mobile Communications launches the first US cellular network in Chicago.
  • 2010 – The mining accident in Copiapó, Chile ends as all 33 trapped miners arrive at the surface after a record 69 days underground.
  • 2019 – Kenyan Brigid Kosgei sets a new world record for a woman runner with a time of 2:14:04 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon.

Here’s a video of Kosgei setting the record at the Chicago Marathon—just last year. She broke the previous record by a minute and 21 seconds.  Sadly, there is no Chicago Marathon this year.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1821 – Rudolf Virchow, German physician, biologist, and politician (d. 1902)
  • 1853 – Lillie Langtry, English actress and singer (d. 1929)
  • 1876 – Rube Waddell, American baseball player (d. 1914)

Waddell was a great pitcher in that era, but also a big eccentric. Here’s some stuff from Wikipedia:

[Waddell] was notably unpredictable; early in his career, he would often leave in the middle of a game to go fishing.  He also had a longstanding fascination with fire trucks, and had run off the field to chase after them during games on multiple occasions. He would disappear for months at a time during the offseason, and it was not known where he went until it was discovered that he was wrestling alligators in a circus.  He was easily distracted by opposing fans who held up puppies, which caused him to run over to play with them, and shiny objects, which seemed to put him in a trance. An alcoholic for much of his short life, Waddell reportedly spent his entire first signing bonus on a drinking binge, with Sporting News calling him a “sousepaw”. His eccentric behavior led to constant battles with his managers and scuffles with bad-tempered teammates.

Waddell died at 37 from TB and alcoholism. Here’s a short video about his life and accomplishments:

Look at all the musicians born on October 13!

  • 1909 – Art Tatum, American jazz pianist (d. 1956)
  • 1925 – Lenny Bruce, American comedian and actor (d. 1966)
  • 1927 – Lee Konitz, American saxophonist and composer (d. 2020)
  • 1941 – Paul Simon, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
  • 1948 – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Pakistani musician, Qawwal & World Music artist (d. 1997)
  • 1971 – Sacha Baron Cohen, English comedian, actor, and screenwriter

Here’s one of Cohen’s best interviews as Ali G: David Beckham and Posh Spice:

  • 1989 – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, member of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress

Those who became permanently recumbent on October 13 were few; I’ve included two:

  • 1945 – Milton S. Hershey, American businessman, founded The Hershey Company (b. 1857)
  • 1974 – Ed Sullivan, American journalist and talk show host (b. 1901)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is pondering. Malgorzata explains: “In Polish ‘the heart of the matter’ is a highbrow phrase used by philosophers and ‘sophisticated intellectuals’. It is seldom used by normal people. Hili likes to present herself as a sophisticated thinker.”

A: What are you thinking about?
Hili: About the heart of the matter.
In Polish:
Ja: Nad czym myślisz?
Hili: Nad istotą rzeczy.

Two days ago Kitten Kulka climbed on Andrzej’s back and cuddled on his neck. Isn’t this adorable?

From Jesus of the Day. What a great holiday gift! Sadly, though, they seem to be sold out.

I almost never post Far Side cartoons as Gary Larson doesn’t want his work reproduced by others, but I could resist posting this one, from Peter. At first I didn’t understand it, but Peter explained it. Do you get it? (Note that Darwin was neither bald nor had a beard when he went on the Beagle voyage.)

Speaking of vampires,

Once again, bookstore employees don’t seem to know the contents of the books they’re selling:

From reader Barry. This is absolutely unconscionable. I loved Portland when I visited (twice), but (some of) the residents are out of control.

From Simon, another tweet from the Site of Academic Metaphors:

Also from Simon, who, like me, is impressed by Pete Buttigieg. Imagine how well he’d do in a debate! Here’s Mayor Pete on Fox News.

Tweets from Matthew. Here’s another testament to the power of sexual selection and mate competition. I wonder if there’s any genetic basis to the bilateral asymmetry. Can you select for right-handed versus left-handed flies?

Look at the size of this ammonite!

I don’t know the wasp model for this apparent mimic, but I bet there is one, and one that also has red and black warning colors.

I seem to remember posting this colorized and refurbished video before, but I’ll do it again. It has an immediacy and emotional resonance that the old jerky, black and white videos lack.


  1. Posted October 13, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Typo “I know the male is secure”, also the snowball fight was last week!

    Regarding the book display, do not suppose the shop workers do not know what they are doing! They may well be fully aware of what they were doing… 😉

    • TJR
      Posted October 13, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      More to the point, what are all those books about the US obsession with race doing in a bookshop in Bergen?

      • revelator60
        Posted October 13, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        American cultural imperialism at work?

      • Posted October 13, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        I suppose there are far fewer in Norwegian. University course? Norwegians read a lot of English language books.

        When I was there I recall someone saying “svarting” which was pretty loaded/racist as a term. There has been a lot more immigration into Norway since then & there are many more black Norwegians -for example Tettey who plays footie for Norwich, then Joshua King of Bournemouth…

      • phoffman56
        Posted October 13, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        In contrast to English language countries, especially USA, many European countries have substantial portions of their populations interested in knowing the histories and present politics of many nations besides their own. I’d say Scandinavian countries and Germany seem to have many such people who are not too ‘provincial’. I have spent many months in Norway and Iceland in recent decades, not much in the others.

        Those books on that shelf are not ones for which I’d know what’s in them. But it seems here to be thought to be entirely the tiresome nonsense sprouted by the Woke written as though it is full of great ideas. Hopefully, critics of the Woke are well represented there as also.

        Right now, it seems the whole world outside USA is laughing/horrified by Mass Murderer donald and company. I imagine the at least moderately intelligent among them are also laughing at the excesses of the Woke, but maybe not.

  2. drosophilist
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Great video with Pete Buttigieg! The only problem is when Buttigieg says, “Maybe the President doesn’t care about other people.” What’s that “maybe” doing there?

    On a completely different note, that giant ammonite is amazing.

    • rickflick
      Posted October 13, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Mayor Pete is a great talker. Makes me wonder where he might fit into a Biden administration.

      • merilee
        Posted October 13, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink


  3. savage
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    The Fatima mysteries have been well debunked at GWUP (all in German): https://blog.gwup.net/2010/05/09/die-geheimnisse-von-fatima-i/

    Concerning the sun miracle, only about a dozen people actually testified that they had witnessed it (hopefully without much eye damage). And on its date, the “prophet” Lucia claimed that WW1 would end on that very day and that Portugal’s soldiers would soon be home! Well, that and an admonishment to do penance and pray the rosary.

  4. John Dentinger
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    That Ali G interview is great fun (and Posh especially is a great sport!), but my all-time favorite is Ali G at Harvard for Class Day in 2004. Buyakasha!

  5. John Dentinger
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Annd, something to look forward to: Borat, Subsequent Moviefilm–releasing on Amazon Prime, October 23. Very Niice!

    • jezgrove
      Posted October 13, 2020 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Maximum respec’ to ma main man Tony Benn: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=H-YYroSudUs

      Benn was one of the few interviewees who handled Ali G. well in the days when the people who were filmed had no idea that it was a spoof and had fallen for the TV company’s line that Ali was genuinely conducting interviews to “educate da yoof”. It was very different for later interviewees like Posh and Becks, who were already in on the joke.

      • jezgrove
        Posted October 13, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        Oops, that was meant to be a reply to John, but at #4 above.

  6. jezgrove
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    That’s a seriously big ammonite!

  7. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Eddie Van Halen’s guitar tone was at some point referred to as “the brown sound”. Theres some debate about that but I wonder if theres anything but a superficial connection.

  8. rickflick
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Buttigieg is very fast on his feet and able to effectively counter arguments. This is what would have made him a good candidate against DT and his sorry bunch of thugs. I’m just wondering what role he might play in a Biden administration. Perhaps he’d make a good white house spokesman.

  9. Posted October 13, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I suspect Amy Coney Barrett’s kids are there as a hedge against outrageous questioning. “How dare you say such a thing in front of her kids!”

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Like a lot of old-school lefties, I’ve spent a fair amount of time brooding on the Spanish Civil War — from the evil of the Francoist fascists and Falangists, to the betrayal of the Loyalists of the Popular Front, to the perfidy of the Soviet communists, to the place of the Abraham Lincoln brigade in the popular imagination, to the literature it generated, from non-fiction like Homage to Catalonia to fiction like For Whom the Bell Tolls. But, I gotta admit, until today, I never knew the role the conflict played in the developments of M&M’s.

    Every day the Hili dialogue provides me something new, be it a simple factoid or information on some crucial event filling in the yawning chasm of my historical ignorance.

    That alone is enough to keep me coming back day after day.

  11. Blue
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    After the SCOTUS’ first hearing day, my reaction:

    O Jebus ! Stop with the ” … … with a
    baby on your hip or with a child on your lap
    while you, Judge Coney Barrett, are writing
    upon on your own laptop.” At NO time withIN
    this JOB INTERVIEW, did ANY queryer state
    to that Kavanaugh man about his children.
    Anyone querying did not even KNOW IF he had
    any ! Child or not has squat to do IF or NOT

    From wikipedia so, anyhow, STOP with any
    sorta laud / applause in re her and her
    kiddos’ deal: ” Jesse’s AUNT assisted with
    childcare IN their home BEGINNING when the
    eldest was about one year old.[139] ” That
    eldest IS in college. ANY of us women could
    do ANYthing IF we, also, had had i) such
    CONSTANCY in re childcare – HELP and
    ii) for AS MANY YEARS’ WORTH !

    It all would ‘ve been NO big deal. IF.

    Very, very GILEAD – LIKE with a Martha for
    the Commander’s wifey. The wife who, with
    what the World’s population is, also happens,
    within this ” episode “, to be a handmaid
    as well. From USA Today –
    https://www.usatoday.com/…/amy-barrett-we…/3596731001/ –
    ” The couple has relied on IN-HOME childcare
    by Jesse’s aunt FOR THE PAST 17 YEARS. ”

    … … OFdonald … … she be.

    And today ? Intelligent ? She, today, wears
    in an enclosed room with a lotta, some
    formerly Virus – sick, men as well as her kiddos,
    for hours and hours, … … NO mask. Selfish.

    … … and so NOT intelligent.


  12. revelator60
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I was both disappointed and relieved when I visited Westminster Abbey and learned no photography was allowed inside. Disappointed because almost every foot of the building and its contents are worth photographing; relieved because I would have taken several thousand photographs and bored my family and friends stiff with them.

    As for the malcontents of Portland…they toppled Lincoln’s statue because they disagreed with his treatment of Native Americans. Portland is an affluent town that is 76% white and 1% Native American. Therefore one can guess that many of the miscreants are whites who’ve decided toppling a statue is a low-cost way of showing solidarity and alleviating their guilty conscience for living on “stolen land” without doing anything concrete about it.

    Moral vanity is the curse of our era.

  13. jezgrove
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I failed to get the Darwin cartoon :o(

    • phoffman56
      Posted October 13, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Me too, probably.

      All I could think of was that the sailors up in the rigging were supposed to be like primates living in trees. That’s not terribly funny, even worse described in words.

      Surely there’s something much more subtle and hilarious. Anyone?

    • davelenny
      Posted October 14, 2020 at 1:11 am | Permalink

      The Descent of Man???

  14. Posted October 13, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    …’evolved from monkeys(?)’…

  15. Steve Pollard
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    That ammonite is awesome.

    There is a clip somewhere of David Attenborough talking about his own ammonite, picked up at Lyme Regis (Mary Anning’s home town).

    My seven-year-old grandson is hooked on fossils, and is taking his own Lyme Regis ammonite to show-and-tell at school tomorrow.

  16. Hempenstein
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Noted in passing:

    The Mars candy fortune enabled his widow, who inherited it, to commission a very formal yet svelte, supercharged Duesenberg.

    The official journal of the European Society of Pathology continues to be known as Virchows Archiv.

    And wokeness vs. Presidential statues has spread itself to eastern realms as well. There’s a movement afoot to remove the statue across the street from me, because he owned slaves. The statue is there because unlike almost all of the other officers in the Battle of Braddock’s Field, 9 July 1755, to which my yard represents ground zero, he emerged to ride another day.

  17. Gareth Price
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    The Van Halen contract with the “no brown M and Ms” reminds me of this two Ronnie’s sketch, so I can’t resist posting the link.

    • Gareth Price
      Posted October 13, 2020 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Oops. I meant to just post the link and it seems to have embedded the video. Sorry!

  18. FB
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    The snowball fight is closer to the American and French Revolutions than to 2020.

  19. openidname
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Waddell sounds diagnosable, although by one more qualified than I. Autism? ADHD?

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: