Sunday: Hili dialogue

April 18, 2021 • 6:30 am

It’s technically the beginning of the week, though I don’t know why, as Sunday should be the week’s end. But people wiser than us have decided this, and so it’s Sunday, April 18, 2021: National Animal Crackers Day.  These treats were a childhood favorite of mine, but now they cost $2.29 a box, the carrying string has been replaced by a cardboard handle,  the animals are no longer caged in a circus wagon, but roam free, though not in one habitat as shown.  They’re also called “Barnum’s Animals”. Two servings per package? Fuggedaboutit!

Wikipedia explains the design change:

In August 2018, Mondelez International (the parent company of Nabisco) released a new design for its Barnum’s Animal Crackers boxes in the United States, showing the animals freed from their traditional circus boxcar cages. This design change was made in consultation with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), one year after the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus ceased operations. The new design shows a zebra, lion, elephant, giraffe and gorilla together in an African landscape.

The number and variety contained in each box has varied over the years. In total, 53 different animals have been represented by animal crackers since 1902. In its current incarnation, each package contains 22 cookies consisting of a variety of animals. The most recent addition, the koala, was added in September 2002 after being chosen by consumer votes, beating out the penguin, walrus and cobra.

Yay—no cages! Here’s the American version currently on sale (there’s a British version coated on one side with chocolate):

Where’s the STRING?

It’s also National Lineman Appreciation Day, National Velociraptor Awareness Day, Piñata Day, Newspaper Columnists’ Day, and International Day For Monuments and Sites.

Wine of the Day (drunk with a chicken breast, rice, and fresh tomatoes). This $27 beauty was a joy: fresh, fruity, and elegant, with a garnet color and not an off-note to the tipple. I don’t in general favor California Pinot Noirs, as they are not even close in complexity to great French burgundies made from the same grape (I’ve had very few, but have had the experience encapsulated in the saying, “Great Burgundy smells of shit“). Nevertheless, think of this as an elegant and delicious Beaujolais, not to be compared to Burgundy, and you’ll enjoy it a lot. It was well worth the money, and I was tempted to drink a third glass. (I usually get 4 or five decent glasses from a bottle, which lasts two days or so.

News of the Day:

I watched a bit of Prince Philip’s funeral on the t.v. news, and was touched by the sight of Queen Elizabeth sitting by herself (there were only 30 guests) and occasionally bowing her head as if weeping. They were married 73 years—two years more than I’ve been alive—and although Philip made some racist gaffes and was generally to be avoided in his dotage, I think about the people who loved him, and, like the Queen, now have to face life without their helpmate.

Photo: Jonathan Brady/Pool via AP

After criticism by Democrats when he decided to keep the immigration limit close to that of Trump (about 15,000 per year), Biden has now backed off, saying that the new limit would be higher (he’d promised 62,500 during the campaign.) There’s still no sign of what standards “progressive” Democrats want, giving ammunition to Republicans who say that Dems favor a complete “open border” policy. In the meantime, Mexico is stepping up its own deportations of immigrants from Central America.

How many individuals of Tyrannosaurus rex were there on Earth at any one time? The NYT takes up this burning question, giving a gloss on a new paoer in Science.  The paper floats this figure:

We estimate that its abundance at any one time was ~20,000 individuals, that it persisted for ~127,000 generations, and that the total number of T. rex that ever lived was ~2.5 billion individuals, with a fossil recovery rate of 1 per ~80 million individuals or 1 per 16,000 individuals where its fossils are most abundant.

This figure comes from known ecological data on density versus body mass, taking into account aspects of life like diet and metabolism. Drop it at a party and you’ll be the hit of the evening.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 556,452, an increase of 674 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now at 3,025,455, an increase of about 10,700 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on April 18 includes:

  • 1506 – The cornerstone of the current St. Peter’s Basilica is laid.
  • 1521 – Trial of Martin Luther begins its second day during the assembly of the Diet of Worms. He refuses to recant his teachings despite the risk of excommunication.
  • 1783 – Three-Fifths Compromise: the first instance of black slaves in the United States of America being counted as three fifths of persons (for the purpose of taxation), in a resolution of the Congress of the Confederation. This was later adopted in the 1787 Constitution.
  • 1909 – Joan of Arc is beatified in Rome.

Apparently Joan’s birthplace is still in existence; Wikipedia gives the photo below with the caption, “Joan’s birthplace in Domrémy is now a museum. The village church where she attended Mass is to the right, behind the trees.” She was burned in 1431 at about nineteen years old. 

The Passion of Joan of Arc, a 1928 movie starring Renée Jeanne Falconetti, is in my view the greatest silent movie ever made. Do watch it!  It’s free online, and you can see it here.

All 705 survivors were in lifeboats, as the water was too cold for anybody to have survived during the hour and a half after the Titanic sunk (the Carpathia began heading towards the Titanic when it received the distress call several hours before the big ship sank).

It closed in 2008, and there’s a new Yankee Stadium. Fortunately, it hasn’t been given an odious commercial named like the venue for the Chicago White Sox: Guaranteed Rate Field. That name will hold for at least eight more years. OY! Here’s a brief documentary of America’s most famous baseball stadium. (I think that leaves Fenway Park and Wrigley Field as the last original ballparks in the major leagues.

  • 1999 – Wayne Gretzky, the National Hockey League’s all-time points scorer, plays his final game at Madison Square Garden as a teammate of the New York Rangers in a 2–1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Gretzky recorded his final career point, an assist, bringing his career point total to 2,857.

Here’s that last goal and his distribution of signed hockey sticks to his team members.

  • 2020 – Coronavirus Pandemic: Europe surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. 

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s some rare footage of Darrow, Bryan, and Scopes during the 1925 “Monkey trial”:

  • 1904 – Pigmeat Markham, African-American comedian, singer, and dancer (d. 1981)
  • 1915 – Joy Davidman, Polish-Ukrainian Jewish American poet and author (d. 1960)

Davidman was married to C. S. Lewis, who wrote about her life and death in several poignant memoirs. She died at only 45 of cancer, leaving the theologian bereft (she was born Jewish as well). Here she is:

Can you believe it? Hayley is 75 today!  I grow old. . . .

Those who became devoid of life on April 18 include:

Erasmus was Charles’s grandfather, and published the idea of evolutionary change well before his son, though Erasmus never worked out the consequences.

  • 1945 – Ernie Pyle, American journalist and soldier (b. 1900)

Pyle was a great war correspondent, and was killed on Iwo Jima while reporting. Here’s a photo of his body given in the Wikipedia article with its caption:

This photo provided by Richard Strasser, perhaps never before published, shows famed World War II war correspondent Ernie Pyle shortly after he was killed by a Japanese machine gun bullet on the island of Ie Shima on April 18, 1945. Pyle, 44, had just arrived in the Pacific after four years of writing his popular column from European battlefronts. The Army photographer who crawled forward under fire to make this picture later said it was withheld by military officials. An AP survey of history museums and archives found only a few copies in existence, and no trace of the original negative. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Richard Strasser) ** NO SALES **
  • 1955 – Albert Einstein, German-American physicist, engineer, and academic (b. 1879)
  • 2002 – Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian ethnographer and explorer (b. 1914)
  • 2012 – Dick Clark, American television host and producer, founded Dick Clark Productions (b. 1929)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata describes this discussion “Hili thinks that political correctness has gone wild (see Titania McGrath).and there should be limits to it. Andrzej responds that people cannot agree where to put these limits.”

Hili: There should be limits to political correctness.
A: Everybody says so but these limits are disputed.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Polityczna poprawność powinna mieć swoje granice.
Ja: Wszyscy tak mówią, ale te granice są sporne.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

Andrzej photographed little Kulka sharpening her claws:

From Barry:

Speaking of sheep, a meme from Nicole:

From Facebook:

From Titania. By G-d, sir, this is too damn much!

A tweet from Dom about what we call a “long term study.” They haven’t yet gotten the results from this year’s bottle yet, but the thread has the results of germination from the last (120-year) bottle:

Tweets from Matthew. Look at these beautiful ducks and ducklings! I’ve seen these in captivity in their native land, New Zealand. Curiously, the female is the more colorful sex (the one with the white head and chestnut breast):

Could you have guessed what was going on in this photo?

Accordion mouthparts:

Stegosaurs are Matthew’s favorite animals of all time:

Live and learn!

21 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. My my, where did the into on Ernie Pyle come from. The info in the photo gets it right but that stuff about dying on Iwo Jima is very wrong. He was killed during the battle of Okinawa on the small island there Ie Shima.

    1. Was just going to say. I was, coincidentally, just looking this up last night. TCM is showing The Story of G.I. Joe (with Burgess Meredith as Pyle) in a couple weeks, and I had just set it up to record. I couldn’t remember whether he was killed Okinawa or Iwo Jima. I strongly recommend that movie. It is not a bio of Pyle, but a story build around his column “The Death of Captain Waskow,” which was voted the Best Newspaper Column of all time.

  2. Einstein was actually German-Swiss-American. He has been Swiss for most of his life and until his death; American only for a much shorter time. A couple of years before he became Swiss he gave up his German citizenship but I think he recovered it later.

    1. He was born in Ulm, in what is now Germany, but at the time was a citizen of Württemberg, as unified Germany did not yet exist. He was stateless for a while before becoming a naturalized Swiss citizen, which he was for the rest of his life. When he was awarded the Nobel Prize, the question arose as to who was to officially congratulate him, as it depended on nationality. It was decided that he was German because he had taken up a German professorship in Berlin (“Einstein ist Reichsdeutscher!”). He later became a U.S. citizen, but kept his Swiss citizenship. Since he was never really formally given German citizenship, I don’t know if it was ever formally revoked, but in practice of course the Nazis kicked him out and he never returned to Germany. He held no grudge against the German people, though, which he clearly stated when expressing his (positive) opinion of having a school in Germany named after him. (There are now several; I live about a five-minute walk from one.). In Princeton, his secretary and many colleagues were German and he was most comfortable speaking German until the end of his life. As for citizenship:

      “If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare me a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German, and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.”

      1. ‘Ulm’, ‘Dümmer’, ‘Hameln’, ‘Wankendorf’ and ‘Worms’, these German city names positively have this ‘Je ne sais quoi’!

  3. The 3/5ths ruling at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was one of three really bad mistakes this country suffered with for many, many years. The other two are state sovereignty and two senators per state. The 3/5th count of slaves allowed the south to dominate the government all the way to the civil war. It was really stupid but no more than the other two big mistakes which still bury us today..

    1. No – it is a Jewish week – the Sabbath is a Saturday -their god started on Sunday. He rested on the last day of the week!

    1. This guy sounds as if he’s drinking a Médoc (Cabernet Sauvignon), not a Burgundy (Pinot Noir).
      Burgundies make you lighthearted and entice laughing, while the Cabernet Sauvignon makes you grave and serious. Ilove pinot noir wines, what they may lack in colour they make up in nose.

    2. Thor Heyerdahl, a full-blown crackpot. He thought Polynesia was colonized from Peru or Central America (‘proving’ it with his ‘Kon Tiki’ expedition), and that the Americas in turn were colonized by blue eyed (!) Egyptians using papyrus rafts (his failed ‘Ra’ expedition). It was inconceivable to him that ‘lower races’ could have built the meso-American pyramids or have colonized Polynesia.
      Note, I do not think he was an evil man, just a crackpot with some wild white supremacist ideas.
      I wouldn’t want to ‘cancel’ him, since his ideas did no harm.
      [If we want to ‘cancel’ anybody it should be Christopher Columbus, an excessively cruel and evil man, even considered so by his contemporaries (which is no mean reference). As long as the ‘woke’ don’t go after him instead of Jefferson, Franklin or Darwin, I cannot take them seriously.]

      1. My comment about Heyerdahl somehow escaped to the bottom of the page! He also had fringe ideas about Odin coming from the Caucasus. As per Heimskringla I think. I would not say he was a sort of racial superiorist with the Old World – his were a reflection of the diffusionist ideas that were popular. Pyramids were older in Africa, ergo the idea must have spread from there.

  4. My guess was that 18th April 1930 must have been a Sunday. I can remember from my childhood in the 1950s that nothing ever happened on a Sunday. In fact I discover that it was a “Good” Friday Bank Holiday, so even more likely that nothing at all happened.

  5. Paradise ducks are common in New Zealand today. The Maori name for these showy shelducks is putangitangi. When I was a youth I had never seen, or even knew about, paradise ducks. I was hiking the St James Walkway, near Lewis Pass, when I saw a paradise duck for the first time. I was enchanted. Now, the birds can be seen in many parts of Christchurch and surrounding areas. There are many pairs in Hagley Park in central Christchurch. The ducks are noisy, constantly calling to each other. The male has a deep honk while the female has a high-pitched “keek, keek” sound.

    1. Yes, there was some limited miscgenation between polynesians and meso-americans, and there was the sweet potato in Polynesia, originating in South America. However, I think (just an idea, not even a hypothesis) it is more likely that Polynesians, with their well established, nearly incredible, prowess of navigating the Pacific, visited mainland America, rather than mainland Americans -not known for seafaring ability- navigating to Polynesia.

  6. Try Stauffer’s animal crackers. They taste fine, and you can buy a one-pound bag at Walmart at a reasonable price.

  7. Despite growing up in Australia and NZ (the former not very monarchist at all, the latter much more so) and not really having much time for the (any) monarchies myself – that picture of the Queen was terribly sad. You have to imagine that over the last 70+ years he was the only person she could completely trust. Now, no.
    Especially since her children are well….. unsound at best.

  8. Oh I liked the cephalopods tweet. Vampyrateusis is my favorite – a mean mean squiddy machine.

    In elementary school in NZ we had to draw a poster to “Save The…” (it was the 1970s, y’see). Other kids wanted to save the whales or the stupid pandas. Mine was “SAVE OUR GIANT SQUIDS!”
    And I stand by that today.

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