Friday: Hili dialogue

April 30, 2021 • 6:30 am

Once again we’ve reached week’s end, and if I don’t miss my guess, before another week has gone by we will have ducklings. It’s Friday, April 30, 2021: National Raisin Day. We all like raisins, don’t we? It’s also National Oatmeal Cookie Day (I’ll eat them only under duress, even if they contain raisins), National Bubble Tea Day, National Animal Advocacy Day, Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, International Jazz DayHonesty Day, and  Bugs Bunny Day, celebrating the cartoon rabbit (then known as “Happy Rabbit”) who made his screen debut on April 30, 1938 in a Warner Brothers feature called “Porky’s Hare Hunt.”  Here’s the cartoon, and you can see the incipient Bugs appear after 43 seconds:

And don’t forget that it’s National Hairball Awareness Day; many of us attained this awareness by stepping on a wet one in the dark. Matthew has just informed me that it’s World Robber Fly Day, with the hashtag #worldrobberflyday

Here’s are two nice examples, with the first being a bee mimic and the second sporting shades. Many more of these amazing predators at the hashtag site.

News of the Day:

There’s some good news: gene therapy, involving injection of working genes into tissue that contains faulty genes, is beginning to pay off. The BBC reports that Jake Ternan of County Durham, afflicted with Leber congenital amaurosis, a genetic disease causing vision loss and produced by nonfunctional mutant copies of two genes, has had his vision stabilized and somewhat improved by injection of working copies of the gene directly into his retina. (h/t Jez). More of this will follow; it’s not as easy as one thinks, but the method has great promise to alleviate genetic diseases.

The NYT reports that a very old bottle of whisky has been found—probably the oldest American bottle in existence. Once thought to have dated back to the Civil War era, radiocarbon dating of a sample puts even older: probably between 1763 and 1803! Some experts doubt the age and the provenance, but they’re going to auction it off for about $40,000. That would make each dram worth a ton, but who would drink such whisky? Still, why shouldn’t you drink it? It doesn’t do anybody any good sitting in this bottle:

Photo: Skinner Auctioneers

I am sad to report the demise of John Richards, founder (and later frustrted disbander) of the estimable Apostrophe Protection Society. (It still has a website, but it isn’t active.) From his obituary:

Mr. Richards and his most enthusiastic comrades set about collecting photographic evidence, which they posted on their website, of the extent of modern apostrophe abuse: a line declaring that “Diamond’s Are Forever,” a handwritten store sign advertising “LOT’S MORE TOY’S INSIDE” and a newsstand where readers could find “NEW’S AND MAGAZINES.” They discovered a body art salon that announced itself as offering “TATTOO’S,” a concerning error for an establishment whose primary service was the permanent inking of skin.

More irritating to Mr. Richards than the misuse of the apostrophe was its omission, the careless way in which the little squiggle was so often tossed to the wind. He was particularly dismayed when several English towns, ostensibly to facilitate the use of GPS devices, eliminated apostrophes from the official names of streets and other landmarks, producing such abominations as “St. Pauls Square.”

Another disappointment came when the venerable bookseller Waterstone’s became Waterstones. If “McDonald’s can get it right, then why can’t Waterstones?” he told the Telegraph. “You would really hope that a bookshop is the last place to be so slapdash with English.”

At least 44 ultra-Orthodox Jews were crushed at a crowded religious ceremony in Israel, celebrating and dancing at the tomb of a second-century rabbi. You can see the story and a video here. I won’t comment about religion’s poisonous effects.

In March Stone Foltz, a student at Bowling Green died from alcohol consumption, part of a “hazing” ritual in which new fraternity members are subjected to various challenges and humiliations. This time, though, eight members of the fraternity have been charged with various crimes, including second-degree manslaughter, reckless homicide, hazing, and evidence tampering. I believe some of those charged face up to ten years in jail.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 574,791, an increase of 697 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,181,059, an increase of about 14,500 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on April 30 includes:

Here’s a painting of that first oath of office:

It was a bargain, at the then price of $18 per square mile. The purchased land is in white:

  • 1812 – The Territory of Orleans becomes the 18th U.S. state under the name Louisiana.
  • 1897 – J. J. Thomson of the Cavendish Laboratory announces his discovery of the electron as a subatomic particle, over 1,800 times smaller than a proton (in the atomic nucleus), at a lecture at the Royal Institution in London.

The electron was the first subatomic particle to be found; here’s a photo of Thomson, who won the Nobel for his discovery:

  • 1900 – Hawaii becomes a territory of the United States, with Sanford B. Dole as governor.
  • 1905 – Albert Einstein completes his doctoral thesis at the University of Zurich.
  • 1939 – NBC inaugurates its regularly scheduled television service in New York City, broadcasting President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s N.Y. World’s Fair opening day ceremonial address.
  • 1945 – World War II: FührerbunkerAdolf Hitler and Eva Braun commit suicide after being married for less than 40 hours. Soviet soldiers raise the Victory Banner over the Reichstag building.

Here’s the banner and a photo of it being raised over the Reichstag (it was made in the field); the banner is still preserved at the Central Museum of the Armed Forces, Moscow (third photo):

  • 1963 – The Bristol Bus Boycott is held in Bristol to protest the Bristol Omnibus Company‘s refusal to employ Black or Asian bus crews, drawing national attention to racial discrimination in the United Kingdom.

This parallels the U.S.’s Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-1956; I had no idea this had happened in the UK.

  • 1973 – Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard Nixon announces that White House Counsel John Dean has been fired and that other top aides, most notably H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, have resigned.
  • 1993 – CERN announces World Wide Web protocols will be free.
  • 2008 – Two skeletal remains found near Yekaterinburg, Russia are confirmed by Russian scientists to be the remains of Alexei and Anastasia, two of the children of the last Tsar of Russia, whose entire family was executed at Yekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1777 – Carl Friedrich Gauss, German mathematician and physicist (d. 1855)
  • 1877 – Alice B. Toklas, American memoirist (d. 1967)
  • 1926 – Cloris Leachman, American actress and comedian (d. 2021)
  • 1945 – Annie Dillard, American novelist, essayist, and poet

Those who purchased the farm on April 30 include:

FitzRoy was, of course, the captain of HMS Beagle, who failed as Governor of New Zealand, fell onto hard times in England, and cut his throat 156 years ago today (he was prone to depression, which is one reason Darwin was taken aboard the ship—as the Captain’s companion to keep FitzRoy company).  There are a few photos of FitzRoy; here’s one taken about ten years before his death:

  • 1900 – Casey Jones, American railroad engineer (b. 1863)

Jones is a hero, having saved all the passengers on his train by staying aboard and slowing it before it crashed into another train. He was the only fatality. Here he is:

  • 1983 – Muddy Waters, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and bandleader (b. 1913)
  • 2016 – Daniel Berrigan, American priest and activist (b. 1921)

Meawhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is walking her beat:

A; Where are you going?
Hili: I have to check what’s growing in the northern part of the garden.
In Polish:
Ja: Gdzie idziesz?
Hili: Muszę sprawdzić, co rośnie w północnej części ogrodu.

And we have four photos of Kulka and Szaron taken by Paulina:

From reader Rick. I make NO claims about the accuracy about the photo, the MRI, or what it shows!

An itinerant wanderer making a selfie in a mural that decorates an underpass leading to the shore of Lake Michigan:

You can buy this tee-shirt at this link.

From reader Frank, an awkward friendship. Grania would have loved this:

Here are some duck-related tweets that were sent to me by many readers. The first story bears reading in toto:

And the video. This is truly a man after my own heart!

Now the vertical duck below, which has gone viral, isn’t a wild mallard, but a domesticated breed (a runner duck) descended from wild mallards. They are flightless and stand erect, and some, like this one, have been selected to retain the wild-duck pattern. But don’t compare this to other mallards!

From Vogue via Titania. Vogue and especially Teen Vogue have become uber woke. Titania singles out the fallacy.

Tweets from Matthew. The caption to the Wadlow picture is great, but remember the one below it!

Remember this caption? (I’m referring to the photo on the right.)

41 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Bugs Bunny Day, celebrating the cartoon rabbit (then known as “Happy Rabbit”) who made his screen debut on April 30, 1938

    Fun coincidence, we just watched “What’s Opera, Doc?” and “Rabbit of Seville” last night.

  2. The loss of the apostrophe to denote possession has been accelerated in Canada by the Quebec language laws. As I understand it, all signs in Quebec must display the business name prominently in French. Personal names are not required to be translated into French so for example John Brown does not have to be converted to Jean Brun. The catch is that the business name must comply with French grammar rules so that Tim Horton’s, for example, is not a valid name; it would have to be something like Les Beignets de Tim Horton.
    Most businesses found it simpler to just omit the apostrophe and then to have just one name everywhere in Canada. The resulting name becomes Tim Hortons.

    1. That guy Tim was good on defence (as was Brewer). Leafs could have used two Tims. The plural “Hortons” seems to imply there were at least two.

      Anyway, I became a Canadiens fan in the early 70s because my 5 year old son decided to be one, because the owner Ballard was such an asshole, and because my childhood acquaintance down the street, Dave Keon, had left the Leafs.

      I probably watched Horton play at least 50 times from $2 standing room at the Gardens in the early 60s. That $100 might not be enough for a decent seat at the Air Canada Centre these days; but only and rarely basketball for me.

      And actually the food there is pretty good by fastfood standards.

        1. Good point, but one can think of the two (at least) meanings of “leaf” as two different words, whose plurals are different. Surely there’s another example of this as well???

          Actually the plural came first when the team was named the Maple Leafs. Only a microsecond after did any individual become a Maple Leaf. Nothing to do with the product of the tree.

          In Calgary, a young person might say a Flame is my flame. Actually I’m so uninterested I almost need to look in wiki to be sure of the name of the team.

          In Vancouver there are lots of Canucks who are not canucks, so surely it is a different word.

          1. And then there’s St. Catharines, Ontario. No apostrophe. A whole buncha Catharines, oris it the Quebec thing again?

  3. No! Dammit, there is goes…

    Come all you rounders if you want to hear
    The story of a brave engineer
    Casey Jones was the rounder’s name
    On the “six-eight” wheeler, boys, he won his fame

    That’ll be in my head all weekend.

    I did laugh out loud at the caption of the piper and the penguin (which sounds like a good name for a pipe tune).

    1. “[W]hich sounds like a good name for a pipe tune” – sounds like a good tongue-twister, too: “How many pickled pipers can play patriotic pipes to predictably puzzled penguins?”

      Sadly, the changes to the caption were the result of persistent humorous vandalism, rather than an unintentionally funny edit by an overzealous Wikipedia editor.

  4. That’s one stoic penguin! Here you’ve lived your whole life in the subtle soundscape of the Antarctic, and then, one fine day, something that sounds like the creaking of the hinges on the Gates of Hell hits your poor ears…

    1. Reminds me of one definition of a well-brought-up gentleman: someone who can play the bagpipes, but doesn’t.

  5. Darwin donated £100 to the Admiral Fitzroy Testimonial Fund, a fund set up to provide for Fitzroys’s children after his death. Darwin’s donation was equal to the largest up to the time of his donation. I don’t know what £100 in 1865 would be comparable to today.


      1. Thanks for the quick calculation! Sterling was much higher relative to the US dollar in 1865 (3 or 4 times the current rate of USD 1.4=GBP 1), so in USD terms Darwin’s donation was north of $50,000. (I’m not sure if economists think historical inflation-within-countries and historical exchange rates can be used in this fashion to compare currency values).


  6. The old cartoons that we grew up with were the best. Today they are all cancelled as too violent or racist or sexist. No wonder today’s cartoons are boring and make no one laugh. They were cartoons you know, not your life.

  7. Sad to hear about the death of the Apostrophe Protection Society’s founder, John Richards. In her very funny and informative book about punctuation, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss affectionately describes interviewing Richards, a moment she describes as “the awakening my Inner Stickler” and which led her to ask herself, “Why did the Apostrophe Protection Society not have a militant wing? Could I start one? Where do you get balaclavas?”

  8. Rather like the famous Iwo Jima photograph, there are iterations of this image. The first flag was planted at night so no photograph of it exists. The scene was recreated a few days later in this staged photo. But even that was doctored, with a sky full of smoke being added from another image, and a second wristwatch being scratched off the arm of one of the soldiers as it was felt it might provide evidence of looting.

  9. Was there any audio in the Bugs vid? Loved the wabbit pulling himself out of the hat, and the helicopter ears.

      1. Whoops- user error. I somehow had my sound turned down. Now I’ve gotta watch – and listen – again. When my aunt drove my cousin and me to Stanford from LA to begin freshman year (my parents were in Vienna), Cuz and I drove my aunt nutz by doing the Woody Woodpecker laugh over and over. Very mature we were🤣

        1. And Porky sort of having Elmer’s spitting lisp? But not Sylvester’s Thuffering Thuccotash.

  10. Speaking of whiskey, a local store here in Houston has a bottle of Macallan single malt distilled in 1950. The price ? $ 49,999.99 !

  11. Why did the server lift it’s left “arm” in such a way and why not the right.

    Really enjoyed the Royal Navy retiree and his duck. The ultimate though was the “cat” runner. I want to live there.

    1. How has this Cal native never heard of Selma? Thanks for the info. Maternal grandparents from Fresno/Shaver Lake.

      1. LOL. Maybe because your cousins didn’t play football for Kingsburg High School, so Selma wasn’t their cross-county-line rival.

        1. Cousins all grew up in LA area and me mostly overseas. My grandfather used to send me wonderful care packages when I was in college, including raisins and figs😋 He had a friend who had a fruit packing company but I have no idea which one.

  12. I’m pretty sure the MRI pic is mocked up. fMRI usually takes multiple exposures and averages them to get the lit up patterns…

    …and indeed, though the original MRI is real (of Dr. Rebecca Saxe and her infant son…not sure how they got him to sit still for an MRI, but Mom was there, and their scanner was probably state of the art), but they then overlaid data from an entirely separate fMRI study her lab did on infant responses to meaningful pictures, such as faces. The lit up areas have “nothing to do with oxytocin, hormones, kissing, or breastfeeding” per Dr. Saxe herself. And they are not from the original subjects.

  13. To solve the climate crisis, we must sterilise all living human beings

    Sort of tangential, but was having a very boisterous debate with the kiddo regarding the release of the CRISPR’d mosquitoes in Florida. He passionately declared that their role in the ecosystem was to reduce the human population, which is a not necessarily a bad thing. Mind you, he’s only twelve.

    1. Well, Bill Gates’ vaccine plan was rumbled, so now he’s releasing GM mosquitoes to get those chips into us… 😉

      I’d love to think I was the first person to make that idiotic suggestion, but doubtless Q has beaten me to it.

  14. The duckling rescue operation is a bit glurgy, but unnecessary. Due to their light weight (mass vs surface) and fluffiness, ducklings can fall from great heights without hurting themselves.

  15. If the split-up of Louisiana (how did that happen?) Is overturned, the states Montana,Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana would just be Louisiana. It would solve the ‘Senate Problem’. 🙂
    Their combined population would be under 28 million, hence smaller than Califotnia or Texas.

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