Wednesday: Hili dialogue

June 16, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Wednesday, June 16, 2021: National Fudge Day. It’s also Fresh Veggies Day (I’m having tomatoes), National Vinegar Day, World Sea Turtle Day, and, of course Bloomsday—the day on which Joyce’s novel Ulysses takes place in 1904. Celebrations continue annually on June 16.  That day in 1904 is when Joyce had his first assignation with Nora Barnacle, his future wife (see below), and Joyce’s character in the novel is of course called Leopold Bloom.  Mrkgnao!

And if you’re in Sussex, it’s Sussex Day. Have a pint of Landlord to celebrate—if you can find one! I’m still a bit low, and could use a pint or two myself. Warning: I see it’s in the U.S. in bottle form, but I’m told the contents of those bottles is not nearly as good as a well-kept pint drawn from the tap in Britain.

Wine of the Day:  Sauvignon blanc is a reliable go-to white, you can find good examples, like this 2019 version, for not too much dosh ($13.79). A fresh-tasting wine, straw-colored and with notes of lemon zest and herbs in the nose, it was bone dry, and a good accompaniment for an abstemious vegetarian dinner of black beans and rice with a bit of Greek yogurt and a fried egg on top. I’d recommend this one if you want a non-expensive classy dry white that will go with many summer dishes (note: for spicy or Chinese food, though, I always recommend an off-dry white like Riesling or Gewurztraminer, though I myself prefer beer). This bottle is recommended.

News of the Day:

The Israeli/Palestinian ceasefire didn’t last long. After Hamas sent incendiary balloons and fire kites into Israel (these weapons have burned thousands of acres of Israeli agricultural land and forest), the new government has launched airstrikes on the Gaza strip. Note the New York Times headline that doesn’t mention the Gaza provocation: “Israeli aircraft bomb Gaza just days into new government.” The fire attacks aren’t mentioned until the subheadline. Such is the NYT: this is a conscious decision of a headline writer.

Other news remains thankfully thin. Biden is now in Geneva, preparing for his big face-off with Putin, though I predict the results will be scant. Putin, after all, has little to lose, and Biden is the one who requested the meeting. It’s not a very friendly meeting, either: there will be two sessions, neither of them one-on-one, there will be no joint meals, and there will be no joint post-summit press conference.

A judge ruled that Harvey Weinstein, 16 months into his 23-year sentence in New York, will now be extradited to California to face five women who accused him of sexual assault. He’s already serving what is in effect a life sentence, so this will just be more years added to that, but it’s meet and just that all of his accusers get to put him in the dock.

Speaking of law, Ruth Marcus, an editor at WaPo, is calling for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire at the end of the current term. Breyer, 82, is getting up there, and if the GOP takes the Senate in 2022, Mitch “666” McConnell is making noises that a Republican senate will not confirm a Biden nominee (who, of course, would be liberal). Marcus’s is an opinion designed to keep the court as liberal as possible for the long term.

You don’t like to hear the sound of your own voice? It’s common, and I’m one of those who can’t stand to hear myself on videos or podcasts. As CNN reports,  there are two reasons for this dislike. One is physiological (we hear our voices partly through bone conduction, while others hear them via air alone), but the other reason is psychological, and I’ll let you read about that. (h/t: Peter)

Below are the results of yesterday’s readers’ poll about which form of capital punishment is better: the Japanese system (in which you find out the date of your execution only on the morning you’re killed) or the American system (in which your execution date is known well in advance). Most people preferred the U.S. system, but many voted “no opinion,” some explaining that they couldn’t answer as they opposed the death penalty.

In light of that, I should have posed the question this way: “If YOU were condemned to execution, would you prefer it to be under the Japanese or the American system?”

And here’s yesterday’s “most searched terms” that have led browsers to this website. Bizarre, no? Deepak Chopra feud with Brian? And where did the Hawaiian shirt business come from (I wear them, but haven’t mentioned them in ages.)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 599,869, an increase of 340 deaths over yesterday’s figure. We will probably pass 600,000 deaths by tomorrow.  The reported world death toll is now 3,838,808, an increase of about 10,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 16 includes:

  • 1779 – Spain declares war on the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the Great Siege of Gibraltar begins.
  • 1858 – Abraham Lincoln delivers his House Divided speech in Springfield, Illinois.
  • 1871 – The Universities Tests Act 1871 allows students to enter the universities of OxfordCambridge and Durham without religious tests (except for those intending to study theology).

I guess that to study theology then you had to believe in a religious creed.

Here’s that roller coaster, which is pretty tame compared to the thrill-inducing rides we see today (I haven’t been on one since I was a kid):

  • 1903 – The Ford Motor Company is incorporated.
  • 1904 – Irish author James Joyce begins a relationship with Nora Barnacle and subsequently uses the date to set the actions for his novel Ulysses; this date is now traditionally called “Bloomsday“.

A first edition of Ulysses, one of 1000 numbered copies, will cost you around $95,000:

  • 1944 – In a gross miscarriage of justice, George Junius Stinney Jr., age 14, becomes the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century after being convicted in a two-hour trial for the rape and murder of two teenage white girls.

Stinney was electrocuted in a gruesome way, sitting on a Bible because he was so small and sobbing as they put the hood over his head. (A good video reconstruction, which is distressing to watch, is here.) Here’s his mugshot. 14 years old, for crying out loud, and almost certainly innocent (his conviction was overturned in 2013—69 years too late. Another argument against the death penalty.

  • 1961 – While on tour with the Kirov Ballet in Paris, Rudolf Nureyev defects from the Soviet Union.
  • 1963 – Soviet Space Program: Vostok 6 mission: Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.

Tereshkova, still with us at 84, spent nearly three days in orbit. Here’s a photo from four years ago:

  • 2010 – Bhutan becomes the first country to institute a total ban on tobacco.
  • 2019 – Upwards of 2,000,000 people participate in the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests, the largest in Hong Kong’s history.

Those born on this day include:

  • 1723 – Adam Smith, Scottish philosopher and economist (d. 1790)
  • 1821 – Old Tom Morris, Scottish golfer and architect (d. 1908)

Here’s Old Tom, born, played, and died in St. Andrews, the “home of golf”. He’s posing on the Old Course at St Andrews:

  • 1890 – Stan Laurel, English actor and comedian (d. 1965)
  • 1902 – George Gaylord Simpson, American paleontologist and author (d. 1984)

Here’s Simpson, the most famous paleobiologist of the Modern Synthesis:

  • 1909 – Archie Carr, American ecologist and zoologist (d. 1987)
  • 1917 – Irving Penn, American photographer (d. 2009)
  • 1938 – Joyce Carol Oates, American novelist, short story writer, critic, and poet

Happy birthday to Joyce. Here’s a photo I took of her at the New Yorker Cats and Dogs debate in 2014; she’s holding one of Anthony Hutcherson’s Bengal cats (she was on Team Cat):

  • 1941 – Lamont Dozier, American songwriter and producer
  • 1971 – Tupac Shakur, American rapper and producer (d. 1996)

Notables who popped their clogs on June 16 were few, and include these two:

  • 1939 – Chick Webb, American drummer and bandleader (b. 1905)
  • 1977 – Wernher von Braun, German-American physicist and engineer (b. 1912)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili spots an AOI (animal of interest):

In Polish:
Paulina: Co tam widzisz?
Hili: Obiekt mojego pożądania.

From Divy:

From Michael:

From Jesus of the Day. This person (or his carwash) has a hard job ahead!

From reader Ken, who writes: “Arizona Republican state senator Wendy Rogers seems unclear on how ‘federalism’ (and the Supremacy Clause of Article IV, section 2 of the US constitution) works”. Sound up. What a pity that Mitch “666” McConnell blocked Merrick’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

From Luana. What is wrong with the claim made in the linked article?

A tweet from Ginger K. Science fun!

Tweets from Matthew. I don’t understand why the cat shouldn’t be taking a nap on a bunch of green bananas on the tree:

A very beautiful moth; read more about it here (I’m not sure about the cobra-head mimicry).

One of Matthew’s beloved optical illusions. The illusion is produced by inserting same-sized pictures of dolls on a picture of a corridor; the dolls are not actually in the picture, and of course the illusion is produced by our expectations produced by perspective.

What are the chances of this—not just the event but being there to photograph the event?

Johnny Cash, with a. . . . .kitten???

43 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Japan for the death penalty – hoping the food would be better than in the US. Assuming I could still pleasure seeing while on death row….

  2. 1961 – While on tour with the Kirov Ballet in Paris, Rudolf Nureyev defects from the Soviet Union.

    There was a pretty good film came out a couple years ago about Nureyev’s defection, The White Crow, directed by actor Ralph Fiennes.

  3. Coverage of the Israeli strikes in the UK was more balanced than the NYT’s.

    Israel carries out Gaza Strip airstrike after militants release incendiary balloons (The Grauniad)

    Israel strikes in Gaza after fire balloons launched (BBC)

        1. Sounded for a second there as though those blokes might be taking shelter in the Underground again as during The Blitz.

    1. Some years ago when i served on a local school board, we seemed to always be at loggerheads with the local paper though sometimes it turned out they were right. Regardless, the headlines never seemed to capture the gist of the article. Perhaps the most egregious was a bold headline saying that a bomb was defused at a local middle school. The implication for many readers, i think, being that a bomb had been found at a local school. If and when the reader read through the full article, he found out that the bomb, a small pipebomb had been found on a sunday morning on the steps of a house just down the street from the school and had been brought to the middle of a large, empty field next to the school by firemen for disposal. The reporter said that he just writes the article and his editor writes the headline. I spoke with the editor who told me it was his job to sell papers and he thought that this headline was not factually incorrect and would attract attention. So it went and apparently so it goes….

  4. On the monogamy thing: Shows an ignorance of, among other things: History, biology, male competition for mates, white washes “indigenous cultures”. (Oh, maybe that’s brown-wash?)

    (You know they all sat around singing Kumbaya, don’t you? No violence, no sex-slavery, no murder, no torture, no starvation, no disease, they loved all their neighboring tribes (don’t they wonder where the sense of the word “tribalism” comes from? — Oh, right: Colonialism and white-supremacy, slap my wrist!).) And, once again, the Marxist dream of collective ownership of everything, including other people’s bodies. Cool! /s

    1. Don’t mock the dead. The author of the article had a terrible end. The article she was writing about made her blood “physically boil” – a very nasty thing to happen.

      1. HAHAHA. Killer. I was a bit taken aback by that line also. I wonder if she sold tickets to the blood boil and where I could buy them…. 🙂

    2. As other’s commented below, it’s a satirical (poe) rant. But when I was reading it I thought, jokingly, “hmmm, I guess the Mormons broke with the colonial/capitalist/christian creed. Good on them.” 🙂

  5. The first photo of the moth (left in the upper tweet) looked to me like a group of 3 snakes with their heads raised– I couldn’t make out the shape of a moth at all. Mimicry?


    1. The pattern has often been noticed. Many Saturniid moths have an eye spot near the distal ends of their fore-wings, but without any particular color pattern to suggest a snake head. One could suppose that eye spots in that area of the wing could draw a bird to attack that area, leaving the moth body alone. This would be fairly inconsequential to the moth who might meanwhile manage to escape. Variation and selection from there could then result in some species evolving more effective survival patterns like a snake head pattern.

    2. When I look at the moth on the lower picture, I can’t figure out where that third snake came from. Are there 2 moths in the 2 top photos?

  6. Most people preferred the U.S. system, but many voted “no opinion,” some explaining that they couldn’t answer as they opposed the death penalty.

    Just to clarify, in case you were referring to me, I do oppose the death penalty, but I voted “no opinion” not because of that but because, while I think I would prefer to know the date of my execution, I would much prefer the Japanese method of execution than any of the methods available in the USA.

    Having thought abut it a bit more and considering your revised wording, I think I’d go with the Japanese system.

    1. Ive since thought if I were guilty I’d prefer Japan. If I was innocent I’d prefer the US and hope the Innocence Project was on my case.

  7. The contents of a bottle are never as good as those from a “well-kept pint drawn from the tap in Britain”. And i do not think that is is just the ambiance of the pub….in my opinion of course. But they will still be very good i expect.

    1. In a sense it is the ambiance of the pub. Real ale as delivered to the hostelry needs to be kept for a while in cool conditions to finish the fermentation process. The environment in which it is kept and the skill of the landlord makes a difference to the taste of the final brew.

      With bottled beer, the process is slightly different, but I don’t know exactly what they do with that.

  8. FYI, Cinchnews, the source of the monogamy tweet in question, is a satire site on the order of the Onion and Titania McGrath.

    1. I would go further than jbillie and say it’s a phenomenal Poe. It could easily be a real article. We’ve seen far crazier, even in “reputable” “academic” “journals.”

      1. Surely a “poe” has to at least trigger a frisson of “could that be true”? I got as far as “Catholicism” and was thinking “even within Christianity that can’t be true, Catholicism being at least post-Nicea, while some of Peter’s (Paul? Whoever. God-squaddy, low double digits.) “Letter To” series of scrolls were going on about monogamy (to deflect the allegations of Xtain sex-parties) in the late decades of the first century.

        Hang on – the targets are people who know almost nothing about χtianity, aren’t they? χtians, typical church-goers, that sort.

  9. 1977 – Wernher von Braun, German-American physicist and engineer (b. 1912)

    Von Braun, in the film adaptation of The Right Stuff, assuring VP LBJ that, when it comes to rocket scientists, “our Germans are better than their Germans”:

    1. I can’t hear of Werner von Braun, and his autobiography I Aim at the Stars, or, as Mort Sahl put it, “‘I aim at the stars (but sometimes I hit London).”

  10. Of course, the NYT knows that the vast majority of people will only ever read the headline, especially of a story online. And the two lines beneath the headline read “After a day of rising tensions, which saw a far-right march in Jerusalem and incendiary balloons launched from Gaza, Israel’s new coalition government ordered airstrikes against Hamas.” Apparently, even the “far-right march” is of more importance than, you know, the weapons launched at Israel that broke the damn cease-fire.


    EDIT: Also, I imagine that, if Israel launched similar weapons into Gaza, the NYT would call them “incendiary air strikes aimed at civilian food infrastructure and natural habitats.”

  11. The “history isn’t…” photo is of James B. Worthington and George A. Custer (of Little Big Horn infamy) after the Civil War Battle of Fair Oaks in 1862. Both had gone to West Point, and Worthington was now Custer’s prisoner, as Worthington had sided with the Confederacy. Another picture taken of the two at the same time included a young escaped slave, and was rather famous, being published by Harper’s Weekly under the title “Both Sides, the Cause.” (Escaped slaves given shelter by the Union army were called “contrabands”, because as “contraband of war” they could be legally seized by the army prior to the Emancipation Proclamation; ordinary property of Confederate civilians could not legally be taken without payment.) The more famous photo can be seen here.


  12. The surname Barnacle is an anglicised version of the Irish name Ó Cadhain (Coyne). I don’t understand how, but apparently that is the case.

  13. What are the chances of this—not just the event but being there to photograph the event?

    A meteor recently fell into the most active volcano in Indonesia, Mount Merapi

    I would argue that the probability is close to 1.

    Mt Merapi is, as you say, a very active volcano. A lot of people live close in to it, vulnerable to lava, ash fall and lahars (landslides of recent ashfalls, mixed with the abundant rainfall frequently triggered by eruptions). They need continual monitoring, and mostly get at least some monitoring. (See recent discussions about the eruption on the outskirts of Reykjavik and the eruption on the outskirts of Goma.) Some of that monitoring involves fairly sophisticated machinery such as seismographs, which depend on linking multiple devices and sophisticated interpretation. And some of the monitoring is – if not “low tech”, then “off the shelf” tech – viz, web cams, aimed at the summit.
    That Merapi is relatively famous as one of the most beautifully symmetrical volcanic cones which isn’t either in Kamchatka or downtown Tokyo merely adds to likelihood that it has several webcams monitoring it permanently.

    That adds up to a close probability of 1 for this being caught on camera.

    Corollary : I had to check after writing that. Mt Fuji is about 40km from downtown Tokyo, and 20-odd km from the continuous outskirts. The Japanese do take their volcanoes seriously, so … when it erupts again (300 years since the last major one ; that doesn’t induce unbounded joy), it’s unlikely to be a huge surprise. But even the evacuation is likely to have a significant body count.
    Corollary 2 : monitor (multiple) web cams for changes in the field of view, and capture video/ image streams : (or many other solutions).

  14. Recording a voice changes it a lot. When I hear my son’s voice on a voice mail, it sounds like a recording of my voice. When I hear him live, he does not sound like me.

  15. Sorry, Jerry, but Leopold Bloom is absolutely not Joyce’s alter ego in ‘Ulysses’. That would be Stephen Dedalus, as he is in ‘A Portrait’ (and in the originally unfinished and unpublished ‘Stephen Hero’). Bloom is a composite character, but he may derive in part from a pal of Joyce’s in Trieste called Leopoldo Popper, whom he knew in about 1913; and also from the Italian author Italo Svevo.

    Delighted to know that it’s Sussex Day. I have celebrated it with a bottle of Long Man Best Bitter, brewed at Litlington in the shadow of the South Downs. Cheers!

Leave a Reply