Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

October 20, 2020 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, October 20, 2020: National Brandied Fruit Day and National Eggo Day. (If you don’t know what an Eggo is, go here). It’s also International Chefs Day, the Birth of the Bab (see below), and World Statistics Day. 

Here’s a statistic to celebrate the day: the average height of the American male is 5 feet, 9.3 inches (176 cm), and of American women is 5 feet, 3.7 inches (160 cm). That makes me, at about 5’8″,  a shorty.

News of the Day:  This is a pretty funny article about words that were censored (by software filters) in the discussion sessions of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology online meetings. Those words include “bone,” for chrissake (it’s also American slang for “to copulate”), but also “penetrate,” “stream,” “knob”, “crack”, and “sex”. Hard to have a fossil meeting without some of those words!



Trump rarely surprises me any more with his rudeness and mendacity, but his latest trashing of Anthony Fauci is beyond the pale. He could only wish he had the integrity and self-control of Fauci.  From CNN:

Referring to Fauci and other health officials as “idiots,” Trump declared the country ready to move on from the health disaster, even as cases are again spiking and medical experts warn the worst may be yet to come.

Baselessly claiming that if Fauci was in charge more than half a million people would be dead in the United States, Trump portrayed the recommendations offered by his own administration to mitigate spread of the disease as a burdensome annoyance.

“People are tired of Covid. have the biggest rallies I’ve ever had, and we have Covid,” Trump said, phoning into a call with campaign staff from his namesake hotel in Las Vegas, where he spent two nights amid a western campaign swing. “People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots.”

“Fauci is a nice guy,” Trump went on. “He’s been here for 500 years.”

Let’s hope Trump is only here for three more months.

BTW, Microphones will be muted during part of Thursday’s Presidential debate. During each candidate’s two-minute initial response to a question, the other candidate’s mike (not “mic”) will be turned off. Do you think that will stop Trump from bloviating? I don’t think so—he’ll just yell across the stage. Trump says he consider the muting “very unfair.”

And OMG—Jeffrey Toobin? Oy gewalt! Read about it here.

How many ideological missteps can you find with this statue of Medusa holding the head of Perseus, just installed in New York as a tribute to the #MeTooMovement (yes, it was reversed in mythology, with Medusa decapitated). But the Offense Brigade is out in force after this one. Read about it at the Washington Post.

Illinois, long one of the lowest states for Covid-19 infections, is now joining nearly every other state in experiencing the dreaded “second wave” (remember when Trump said the virus would disappear in the summer)? Here are the latest Illinois data from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 220,058, an increase of about 500 over yesterday. The world death toll is 1,123,472, an increase of about 4,600 over yesterday’s report.   

Stuff that happened on October 20 includes:

Here’s what we got from the French (area in white), at $15 million, or about 3¢ per acre:

  • 1935 – The Long March, a mammoth retreat undertaken by the armed forces of the Chinese Communist Party a year prior, ends.

Here’s a map of the Long March (caption from Wikipedia), which lasted almost exactly a year:

Light red areas show Communist enclaves. Areas marked by a blue “X” were overrun by Kuomintang forces during the Fourth Encirclement Campaign, forcing the Fourth Red Army (north) and the Second Red Army (south) to retreat to more western enclaves (dotted lines). The dashed line is the route of the First Red Army from Jiangxi. The withdrawal of all three Red Armies ends in the northeast enclave of Shaanxi.
  • 1941 – World War II: Thousands of civilians in German-occupied Serbia are murdered in the Kragujevac massacre.
  • 1944 – American general Douglas MacArthur fulfills his promise to return to the Philippines when he comes ashore during the Battle of Leyte.
  • 1947 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of the Hollywood film industry, resulting in a blacklist that prevents some from working in the industry for years.
  • 1951 – The “Johnny Bright incident” occurs during a football game between the Drake Bulldogs and Oklahoma A&M Aggies.

Bright was a nationally-ranked player for Drake, and was black. The Oklahoma players targeted him because of his race, and he was knocked unconscious three times in the first seven minutes of the game by defensive tackle Wilbanks Smith, the last hit breaking his jaw. Bright stayed in the game for a while as halfback/quarterback, and even completed a touchdown pass.

But there was a photograph showing a deliberate and grossly illegal hit; in fact, it qualifies as assault:

A six photograph sequence of the incident captured by Des Moines Register cameramen John Robinson and Don Ultang clearly showed Smith’s jaw-breaking blow was thrown well after Bright had handed the ball off to Drake fullback Gene Macomber, and was well behind the play. Robinson and Ultang had set up a camera focusing on Bright before the game after the rumors of him being targeted became too loud to ignore. They rushed the film to Des Moines as soon as Bright was knocked out of the game. Ultang said years later that they were very lucky that the incident took place when it did; they had only planned to stay through the first quarter so they could have enough time to develop the pictures before the deadline. The sequence won Robinson and Ultang the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for Photography, and eventually made it into the November 5, 1951, issue of Life.

Oklahoma refused to admit wrongdoing, and Oklahoma didn’t apologize until 2005! Smith never admitted wrongdoing, and Bright went on to a stellar career in the Canadian Football League.

Look at that hit in the last photo!

(From Wikipedia): The Pulitzer Prize-winning sequence of photos showing the first hit on Johnny Bright by Wilbanks Smith.
  • 1973 – “Saturday Night Massacre“: United States President Richard Nixon fires U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus after they refuse to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who is finally fired by Robert Bork.

I remember this well, and once encountered Elliot Richardson on the subway in Harvard Square some years later (a handsome and public figure, he was instantly recognizable). I thanked him for his refusal to fire Cox.

  • 1973 – The Sydney Opera House is opened by Elizabeth II after 14 years of construction.

Notables born on this day include:

In 1831, 28 years before the publication of Darwin’s Origin, Matthew published a book about wood and shipbuilding: On Naval Timber and ArboricultureIn the Appendix’s last 28 pages, Matthew proposed a theory very similar to Darwin’s theory of natural selection. You can read some excerpts here and at Wikipedia, and learn why Matthew doesn’t really get credit for natural selection. Here’s a picture of the book from Wikipedia:

It’s another day for the birth of artists and musicians:

  • 1819 – Báb, Iranian religious leader, founded Bábism (d. 1850)
  • 1854 – Arthur Rimbaud, French soldier and poet (d. 1891)
  • 1859 – John Dewey, American psychologist and philosopher (d. 1952)
  • 1874 – Charles Ives, American composer (d. 1954)
  • 1885 – Jelly Roll Morton, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (Red Hot Peppers and New Orleans Rhythm Kings) (d. 1941)
  • 1925 – Art Buchwald, American soldier and journalist (d. 2007)
  • 1931 – Mickey Mantle, American baseball player and sportscaster (d. 1995)
  • 1950 – Tom Petty, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2017)
  • 1971 – Snoop Dogg, American rapper, producer, and actor

Snoop registered to vote for the first time this year—at age 48. Here he shows us how to do it online. (His real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus.)

Those who cashed in their chips on October 20 include:

  • 1890 – Richard Francis Burton, English-Italian geographer and explorer (b. 1821)
  • 1926 – Eugene V. Debs, American union leader and politician (b. 1855)
  • 1936 – Anne Sullivan, American educator (b. 1866)
  • 1964 – Herbert Hoover, American engineer and politician, 31st President of the United States (b. 1874)
  • 1983 – Merle Travis, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1917)
  • 1984 – Paul Dirac, English-American physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)

A four-minute bio of the great but eccentric Dirac:

Here’s Lancaster in a very famous scene: the “beach scene” in From Here to Eternityplaying sergeant Milt Warden, who has an affair with his commanding officer’s wife, played by Deborah Kerr. This scene was considered extremely erotic for the time.  The movie is well worth seeing: it also stars Frank Sinatra (in a role that was a comeback for him), Montgomery Clift, and Ernest Borgnine.

  • 2011 – Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan colonel and politician, Prime Minister of Libya (b. 1942)
  • 2012 – Paul Kurtz, American philosopher and academic (b. 1925)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is importuning Andrzej, but for what?

A: Is there something you want?
Hili: I have to think about it.
In Polish:
Ja: Czy jest coś, czego chcesz?
Hili: Muszę się zastanowić.

Here’s Kulka, who no longer qualifies as a “kitten”

Here’s an oldie from 2014 that I don’t think I’ve posted before. Leon went hiking, and has a monologue:

Leon: Learning the world is tiresome.

In Polish: Męczące jest to poznawanie świata.

A good question from Facebook:

From Nicole: I may have posted this before, but if so, here it is again:

From Jesus of the Day:

I tweeted! Many, many readers sent me links to articles about this Nazca-line cat, making it, I think, the story sent to me most often in the history of this website.

Speaking of social-media offense, Titania expresses the feelings of many:

From Simon, a tweet from the famous Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, once spoken of as a possible Supreme Court nominee (as you see, he’s a liberal):

And the rest of the tweets from the estimable Dr. Cobb. This way of sleeping seems very maladaptive for avoiding predation, but I suppose they have to rest sometime.


This event partly armed the warheads, but, thank Ceiling Cat, nothing bad happened.

An amazing roadcut showing the distortion of sediments by colliding tectonic plates:

Try this with your cat and get back to me:

What’s the technical name for a huge mess of geckos?


53 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. Trump rarely surprises me any more with his rudeness and mendacity, but his latest trashing of Anthony Fauci is beyond the pale. He could only wish he had the integrity and self-control of Fauci.

    That’s okay, Fauci got the last laugh by quoting the famous line from The Godfather: “It’s nothing personal; it’s strictly business.”

    The Donald is way outta his league if he thinks he can play The Dozens with a paisan from the mean streets of Brooklyn like Tony Fauci.

  2. So what does Toobin say – didn’t think the camera was loaded?

    Free speech just isn’t what it use to be. Our Major of Wichita was on the Lawrence O’Donnel show last night. A guy was arrested for texting threats to kidnap and kill the major.

    1. Did you try right-clicking to open it in a private browsing window? Basically, it calls the statue “banal”, and says that it’s not a good depiction of female empowerment, and that it should show Medusa turning Poseidon (her rapist) into stone.

      Garbati’s Medusa nonsensically employs a male tool for bloodshed — Perseus’s sword — as a symbol of female empowerment, sending the message that women need to copy men’s tactics to wield power. But Medusa was already a symbol of female power in her ability to use the male gaze against would-be predators.

      It also faults the artist for making Medusa a beautiful woman with obvious white features.

      1. Thanks for the private browsing tip. I never need fear the WaPo’s paywall again. Possibly also, I could have just deleted the cookies.

        Personally, I love the piece but I think that the alternate described by the author might also make an interesting sculpture, but, instead of whining about the fact that somebody else hasn’t done what she wanted, she should make (or commission if she lacks the required talent) the piece she wants herself.

    2. What’s pretty clear is that the current complainers have no idea that the piece was done in 2008. It was not commissioned for the MeToo era. At the time it was praised for its pro-woman aspects. The artist said Medusa’s appearance is intentionally meant to match the style of classical antiquity in Greek statues. I don’t look like Hermes, either, but I’m not complaining about it in public.

  3. 1973 – “Saturday Night Massacre“: United States President Richard Nixon fires U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus after they refuse to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who is finally fired by Robert Bork.

    Technically, I believe Richardson and Ruckelshaus resigned rather than carry out Nixon’s order to fire Cox. Under the circumstances, I think that was the appropriate action on their behalves. What Nixon ordered them to do was immoral and unethical (especially as regards Richardson, who had pledged his word to congress during his confirmation hearings that he would not fire Special Prosecutor Cox), but the order was not illegal since Nixon had the constitutional authority to fire Cox. Had Nixon’s order been unconstitutional or illegal, then I think the obligation of Richardson and Ruckelshaus would have been to refuse to carry out the order and insist on being fired.

    This distinction came into play regarding Donald Trump’s firing of acting US attorney general Sally Yates in February 2017. Yates had refused to defend Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries because Yates believed that order to be unconstitutional. Accordingly, she insisted on being fired rather than resigning.

  4. … the great but eccentric [Paul] Dirac …

    Dirac was a famously out atheist — so open and vocal about it that, at the Fifth Solvay International Conference in 1927 (the one at which was taken the famous photograph), fellow Physics Nobel laureate Wolfgang Pauli (in a play on the First Pillar of Islam) quipped that, “There is no God, and Dirac is his prophet.”

  5. Don’t forget, Viggo Mortensen (actor – who played Aragorn among numerous other roles – and polyglot) was born on this day in 1958. Also, a regular and enthusiastic follower of your website and frequent (inane) commenter was born on this day in 1969.

    1. Happy B-Day from an April ‘69er.

      My favorite role of Mortensen’s is The Road. Maybe because I read the book after seeing the movie and Viggo was the face of the man. This has happened to me before; I haven’t decided if it adds to a novel’s pleasure or not.

  6. Dirac was famously extremely literal-minded (some have speculated that he had a form of autism) which led to some unintentionally humorous incidents. My favourite is the story that his long-suffering but devoted wife once asked him what he’d say if she said she was leaving him. Dirac thought about it for a moment then replied ‘Then I should say “good-bye, dear”‘

    1. There’s a good biography of him which discusses this, in light of what we understand a bit better now. Not so recent, in fact: Farmelo, “The Strangest Man”, 2009.

  7. This scene [in From Here to Eternity] was considered extremely erotic for the time.

    Particularly given that the film was made at the height of Hollywood’s restrictive so-called Hayes Code.

    Had it been filmed a couple decades later, Burt and Deb would’ve probably been going at it on the beach in a manner that could be described by words that would get censored from an online meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. 🙂

      1. He was, however, planning to attend Officer Candidate School to get his commission, so she could divorce her husband and marry him.

  8. The Paul Dirac video portrays him as a cheerful soul out for fun in the sun. Yet, he was a reclusive and odd person. His wife was the complete opposite. In his last years she became jealous of his close friendship with a fishing buddy and forbade him spending time with his friend. She was a piece of work.

    1. She was the sister of the (almost-as-famous-as-Dirac) Eugene Wigner, a Nobelist and maybe most famous among non-physicists for “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics.”

  9. “Here’s what we got from the French (area in white), at $15 million, or about 3¢ per acre:”

    The map shows land which is in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. My dad came from there.
    What happened? Did us guys beat the shit out of Usians with wet noodles or something??

    1. I propose that territory should be considered a single state. Population-wise it would not be the US largest, but it would go a long way to solve the ‘Senate Problem’.

  10. “1984 – Paul Dirac, English-American physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)”

    Never was USian citizen I think. His dad made him be Swiss, and he became British at 17, though he’d never lived anywhere else. After a career in Cambridge, he lived in his 70s in Tallahassee, died and buried there.

    Graham Farmelo has a nice biography “THe Strangest Man” I think, ~2014.

    Dirac is 2nd only to Einstein among theoretical physicists of 1900–>1950, IMHO.

    After he presented a lecture at a conference, one colleague raised his hand and said: “I don’t understand the equation on the top-right-hand corner of the blackboard”. After a long silence, the moderator asked Dirac if he wanted to answer the question, to which Dirac replied: “That was not a question, it was a comment.”

    Dirac was known among his colleagues for his precise and taciturn nature. His colleagues in Cambridge jokingly defined a unit called a “dirac”, which was one word per hour. (Wiki)

    One must realize that the unit is normalized by requiring a person with the name Dirac to have value 1 dirac, no more, no less. (Wiki assumes sufficient sophistication to not write this last.)

    1. “That was not a question, it was a comment.”

      When I read that line, I heard Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” delivering it.

  11. WaPo: “And Medusa was empowered.”
    Until Perseus lopped her head off and she became a byword for defeat. Woke as the new statue is, I’ll take Cellini’s version any day. Completely rewriting very ancient myths to conform to very modern practices seems a bit pathetic.

    “Here’s what we got from the French”:
    Could pay them to take it back? Just imagine the faces of those folks in Arkansas when they realize the French are their new overlords.

  12. How certain is it that the Johnny Bright incident was motivated primarily by race?
    Wilbanks Smith denied that it was a racist attack a pointed out that a similar attack had happened to a white player a bit earlier.

    In football over here it was not uncommon for good players to be lined up for as much physical attention as the opposition thought they could get away with.
    It had nothing to do with race. People were knocked out all the time. The game was a lot tougher back then as modern sensibilities and TV cameras have resulted in a much less physical game.

    It seems to me, that despite the racist language, they were targeting the best player as a way to win the game.

  13. I couldn’t access the WaPo article, I’m sure the woke brigade can find offense in anything, but is the Medusa statue….. ahem…shaved?

    That’s very contemporary don’t you think?

  14. The fact that the theory was published as an appendix to an obscure publication shows that the author didn’t quite realise how important his theory was!

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