Sunday: Hili dialogue

June 20, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Sunday, June 20, 2021: National Vanilla Milkshake Day, which means it’s going to be a bland day. And it’s the longest day of the year! The summer solstice begins at 11:32 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time in the U.S.

It’s also Father’s Day, for which Google has an animated Doodle (to see it, click on screenshot). The Doodle also links to information about Father’s Day.

And it’s Plain Yogurt Day, National Ice Cream Soda Day, American Eagle Day, National Turkey Lovers’ Day (at least they put the apostrophe in the right place!), West Virginia Day (in West Virginia), World Refugee Day, and World Humanist Day

Wine of the Day:  This is a 2018 California Deperada “Kleio” chenin blanc that I paid $16.99 for some time ago, but the price is now listed as much higher. At the price I paid it’s a bargain, a good accompaniment for pizza (it’s hot and I wanted a cool white). It’s a complex chenin blanc, quite dry but with a floral, perfume-y bouquet with (I swear) a slight odor of bananas and minerals. But look at this tasting note, which is over the top!

The seashell minerality in this sustainably-farmed Chenin is densely backed by bruised quince, kumquats, lime blossom and hints of beeswax. The bright acidity mingles with nutty notes of raw almonds and white sesame seeds, making this bottle a great candidate for shellfish and poultry pairings.

Beeswax? Sesame seeds? I can’t smell it, but you know how these things are. Anyway, I think that now this bottle would be both pricey and hard to find, but I’ll have two days to enjoy it. (Depending on the bottle, I’ll drink it over either two or three days; the latter if it’s a gutsy red that may get better.) This is a textbook example of a good, dry chenin blanc, which, with sauvignon blanc, should be on your list of go-to whites in this hot season.

News of the Day:

The Bidens have announced that their beloved German Shepherd “Champ” has died at the age of 13. They have another younger dog, but remember the promises by the President and First Lady that they were going to put a cat in the White House? As I predicted, that hasn’t happened. Well, Joe, now it’s time. If not now, when?

In a tepid election, with less than 50% of voters casting a ballot (the lowest since the 1979 Iranian Revolution), Iranians have elected hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi as their new President. Raisi is a theocrat and the handpicked choice of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the “Supreme Leader” of the country. The citizens clearly weren’t enthused:  only 48.8% of the populace bothered to vote. Raisi, though a bigger opponent of the U.S. than his predecessor, is said to be in favor of reviving the nuclear agreement with the U.S. and other countries that Trump canceled. As I’ve said, this agreement is futile, as anybody with two neurons to rub together knows that Iran will get nuclear weapons some day and has been developing them all along.

I’m glad they made Juneteenth a holiday, which starts immediately, but the NYT editorial page is already grousing about it in multiple ways. Juneteenth tee shirts? Can a national holiday be kept as a black holiday, or will it be coopted by white folks and greedy commercial interests? Have we made much progress in the struggle against racism? Let’s just celebrate what the day stands for and leave the kvetching for a while. In fact, three of the NYT’s 11 front-page editorials are kvetches about the holiday (click to read):


As they say at the end of each episode of the NBC News, “there’s GOOD news tonight”.  Today’s good news: a kitten in Pennsylvania has been rescued from a storm drain and adopted. The Facebook post is below. I love animal rescue stories.  (h/t GInger K)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. 601,352, an increase of 301 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll is now 3,876,269, an increase of about 8,500 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 20 includes:

Only 23 of the 146 prisoners survived; the rest died of thirst, trampling, or suffocation.

Here’s the great seal with the meaning of its symbols:


Reverse (the Big Eye always freaks me out):

Here’s a photo of Victoria when she was relatively young, though I couldn’t find the date:

Here’s that patent:

  • 1877 – Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
  • 1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother.
  • 1900 – Boxer Rebellion: The Imperial Chinese Army begins a 55-day siege of the Legation Quarter in Beijing, China.
  • 1942 – The HolocaustKazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, steal an SS staff car and escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Here’s a tweet Matthew found to commemorate the successful escape:

  • 1943 – The Detroit race riot breaks out and continues for three more days.
  • 1944 – The experimental MW 18014 V-2 rocket reaches an altitude of 176 km, becoming the first man-made object to reach outer space.

This, the world’s first guided ballistic missile, crossed the Kármán line, the legal boundary between space and the Earth’s atmosphere: it’s 100 km above the Earth’s mean sea level. The rocket (below) was designed by the Germans to attack allied cities, and were used to attack places in five countries. Fortunately, they were developed too late to be of much use to the Nazis; had Germany had them in reliable form at the beginning of the war, England might have lost. Here’s a V-2 replica:

von Braun was in fact a leading figure in designing the developing the V-2 rockets described above.

  • 1963 – Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union and the United States sign an agreement to establish the so-called “red telephone” link between Washington and Moscow.
  • 1972 – Watergate scandal: An 18½-minute gap appears in the tape recording of the conversations between U.S. President Richard Nixon and his advisers regarding the recent arrests of his operatives while breaking into the Watergate complex.

Nixon’s secretary had a dubious explanation for that gap (from ABC News):

Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s loyal private secretary, was tasked with transcribing the tapes before they were turned over to prosecutors. Woods testified in front of a federal grand jury in 1974 that she was using a dictaphone, which had a pedal that would pause the recording when she lifted her foot off it, and she claimed she had erased part of the tape by mistake.

“Her explanation was that she was listening to the tape and … the telephone rang,” said Wine-Banks. “So she kept her foot on a pedal, pushed the wrong button. She pushed record instead of off and reached for the phone.”

And that funny re-enactment by Woods:

(AP photo): Rose Mary Woods, President Richard Nixon’s secretary at her White House desk, demonstrates the “Rose Mary Stretch” which could have resulted in the erasure of part of the Watergate tapes, 1973.
  • 1975 – The film Jaws is released in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing film of that time and starting the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters“.

A famous scene from the movie:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1875 – Reginald Punnett, English geneticist, statistician, and academic (d. 1967)
  • 1905 – Lillian Hellman, American playwright and screenwriter (d. 1984)
  • 1909 – Errol Flynn, Australian-American actor (d. 1959)

Flynn was a handsome devil, and beloved by the ladies. There’s a still-used phrase that may derive from him (from Wikipedia):

The expression “in like Flynn” is said to have been coined to refer to the supreme ease with which he reputedly seduced women, but its origin is disputed. Flynn was reportedly fond of the expression and later claimed that he wanted to call his memoir In Like Me. (The publisher insisted on a more tasteful title, My Wicked, Wicked Ways.)


  • 1924 – Chet Atkins, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2001)
  • 1942 – Brian Wilson, American singer-songwriter and producer
  • 1945 – Anne Murray, Canadian singer and guitarist
  • 1952 – Vikram Seth, Indian author and poet

Those who reached their pull date on June 20 include:

  • 1925 – Josef Breuer, Austrian physician and psychologist (b. 1842)
  • 1947 – Bugsy Siegel, American mobster (b. 1906)

Bugsy was a Jewish gangster who nevertheless was hand in hand with the Italian mafia, and he was largely responsible for getting organized crime into Las Vegas (see The Godfather). He was killed at 41. Here’s one of his mugshots, taken when he was 22:

  • 2002 – Erwin Chargaff, Austrian-American biochemist and academic (b. 1905)

No, as he said, “I did not find the double helix.” But he did find the key to the pairing rules of DNA: the number of As and Ts are the same, as are the number of Cs and Ts, but the first pair is not equal in proportion to the second pair. Ergo, A pairs with T, and G with C. He did not get the Nobel Prize for this.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili refuses to be a Popperian:

Hili: This is a dead spider, probably.
A: You have to try to falsify it.
Hili: You do it.
In Polish:
Hili: To jest prawdopodobnie martwy pająk.
Ja: Musisz to spróbować sfalsyfikować.
Hili: Ty to zrób.
And a picture of baby Kulka in the garden:

From Barry, though I don’t know if the data are correct:

From Bruce:

From Jesus of the Day:

Tweets from Matthew. First, the magic of Christiano Ronaldo. Want a Coke? Just ask him! (See here for recent news showing that perhaps Ronaldo is no longer so keen on the soft drink.)

76 ducklings in the Big Parade! Some were clearly ducknapped; no merganser could have incubated that many eggs.

This is a gynandromorph stag beetle, split right down the middle, with the big pincer on the male side. (See another one here.)

This is a good question; how stupid of me not to ask it before. On the other hand, one could say that they do replicate in terms of being able to serve as a template for a twin DNA strand.

So many people risked their lives to save Jews during the Nazi regime! Here’s one, part of a thread that tells the story. Read more about his story here, which includes his allowing his daughter to horsewhip Gestapo agents trying to arrest Jews.

Matthew says this is an excellent book for the layperson; you can buy it read about it here (only £15 for a lavishly illustrated hardback about insect behavior. Matthew adds that the thread below the book includes some great insect pictures and videos. One is shown below: a moth pupa that’s a pretty good mimic of a dead leaf.

Another moray eel hunting on land. NOBODY IS SAFE NOW!

27 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. I can’t believe the white stripes represent purity and innocence. That is so racist. They will have to change the color of the stripes on the flag, urgently.

  2. Noting that on the reverse of the Great Seal we’ll have to change the date on the bottom of the pyramid to MDCXIX.

  3. Re the Biden’s lack of cat; I’m thinking that with their younger dog having a difficult time adjusting to life in the White House (evidenced by recent mildly aggressive behavior), someone has probably (and wisely) advised the delaying of adding more stress by introducing a new animal. Also, he may not get along with cats as many dogs don’t. We’ll have to wait and see.

    1. It might even be a political decision. Having a cat die in the White House from a dog attack would be a PR nightmare. Fox News would be using it forever. It’s not worth the risk.

  4. “Raisi, though a bigger opponent of the U.S. than his predecessor, is said to be in favor of reviving the nuclear agreement with the U.S. and other countries that Trump canceled. As I’ve said, this agreement is futile, as anybody with two neurons to rub together knows that Iran will get nuclear weapons some day and has been developing them all along.”

    And lifting sanctions will just be awarding billions of dollars to what is essentially a terrorist theocracy. Now they’ll be able to funnel even more money into the hands of anti-democratic, anti-West, anti-Israel terrorist organizations! Hooray for the nuclear agreement, which seems to be that the US and P5+1 countries agree to basically give Iran tons of money by lifting all nuclear-related sanctions, and Iran agrees to pretend that they’re not trying to build a nuclear bomb until the day they finally finish building a nuclear bomb. As the Iranian government said in 2015 after negotiations, “we have told them in the negotiations that we will supply arms to anyone and anywhere necessary and will import weapons from anywhere we want and we have clarified this during the negotiations.” So, organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah need not worry, as they’ll be raking in even more dough.

    The only reason to do this from the Biden administration and Democratic Party’s point of view is because it’s the “progressive” thing to do, and it’s the “progressive” thing to do because Republicans are against it and Trump nixed it. Another demonstration of how making every issue into a binary choice between “progressive” and “being with the bad guys” is deeply damaging to our politics, policies, and culture.

    1. Only a recommendation by a respected person would entice me to buy a wine displaying a naked lady with a mark on her bottom .
      There is not much chance that if I encounter it I’d miss it though.

  5. 1837 – Queen Victoria succeeds to the British throne.

    Let’s have Ray Davies and The Kinks kick things off with an up-tempo paean to HRH:

    1. Man I love The Kinks so damn much. One of the most underrated bands in history. The Beatles may have been Brits, but The Kinks’ music was truly British. They have two of my favorite albums of all time.

      Also, The Village Green Preservation Society is without a doubt one of the greatest tunes ever written. It’s literally perfect in every way.

    2. Question for our British readers: Are The Kinks still not afforded the recognition their music so obviously warrants over on your side of the pond? I know they weren’t appreciated nearly as much as they should have been when they initially released their greatest albums, but I assume that their popularity exploded over time in the UK. I feel like I remember reading that they finally got their due and became very popular in the late 70’s. The US as a whole still doesn’t hold them in as high regard as they should, that regard being one of the greatest bands of all time.

      1. Damned if I know what the situation is today, but in the years (say, 1975 to 1988, about) that I listened to broadcast music, the older generations of DJs (40s-60s, -ish?) were forever going on about the Kinks being one of the most influential bands of the dim and distant past (1960s, wasn’t it). I never heard of them before then, but I never listened to music before then.

    3. One of my favorite memories is of seeing the Kinks in Berkeley, CA, circa 1970. Absolutely marvelous band.

  6. The rocket (below) was designed by the Germans to attack allied cities, and were used to attack places in five countries. Fortunately, they were developed too late to be of much use to the Nazis; had Germany had them in reliable form at the beginning of the war, England might have lost.

    I think it’s unlikely. The V2 was a very expensive way to deliver a bomb to the UK and it wasn’t very accurate even by the standards of bombing at the time.

    1. The V2 was basically an instrument of state terrorism, and Wernher von Braun was its father. von Braun, who became a major in the SS, and his team, including his brother Magnus, built V2s using slave labor. The Truman and Eisenhower administration crawled into bed with former Nazi’s before the cannon barrels could even cool.

  7. Bugsy was a Jewish gangster who nevertheless was hand in hand with the Italian mafia, and he was largely responsible for getting organized crime into Las Vegas (see The Godfather).

    The character Moe Green in The Godfather was loosely based on Bugsy Siegel, but the parallels aren’t really made clear until The Godfather Part II, when Hyman Roth (based on the Jewish mobster Meyer Lansky — one of the founders, with Siegel, of “Murder Inc.” — and played in the film by the celebrated acting teacher Lee Strasberg) explains the role of Moe Greene in founding Las Vegas to Michael Corleone while the two are in Cuba:

  8. “Why call genes “replicators” when they are not things that replicate, but rather things that get replicated?”

    Genes code for replication machinery. Genes are necessary but insufficient for replication.

    Protein products aid replication. The Nucleic acids assist in replication. Nucleic acid/protein assemblies aid replication. They have other roles too. New copies of nucleic acid exit from any of these assemblies and are condensed into chromosomes, and the process continues indefinitely. This is obviously a complex story that has taken a century at least to understand.

    Dawkins’ term (I believe) “replicators” was coined (I believe) in a general audience book to promote that audience’s understanding the role of genes in life.

    I do not understand the question – unless the term “replicators” is being used in the primary literature?

  9. I doubt a reliable V2 would have made for a different outcome of WWII. A more accurate V2 definitely. The fact that they couldn’t really guide it made it a weapon of terror, not victory. Same for the V1. That’s what made them both weapons of desperation. Germany was essentially saying, “Ok, if we can’t win then we’ll kill as many of your citizens as possible.”

  10. ‘And it’s the longest day of the year!”. Well here in the southern hemisphere it is of course the shortest day of the year, the start of winter.
    Note we have 2 days of ‘Bergwind’ now, temperature 32 degrees C (90 F), due to adiabatic compression. Went to the beach with the children today and a braai. Great Fathers day! Tuesday the cold will hit us again (last week I had beautiful ‘ice flowers’ on the windscreen of my car).

  11. Smallbones must undoubtedly have the ‘Yad Vashem’, in my modest opinion the greatest distinction a man (or woman) can have, surpassing any other medal or distinction in valour.

  12. Speaking of Iran: only 48.8% of the populace bothered to vote.
    How does that compare with our 2020 voter turnout?

  13. … history’s first attempt at self-government by it’s people

    Hmmm, I see both Periclean Athens and Republican Rome jostling to get to the front of the queue to challenge that. OK, neither gave any sort of vote to slaves or women, and the Roman model only really applied democracy (well, plebiscite) to election to the Tribunes (vaguely comparable to “mayor”), but not the senate (vaguely comparable to a parliament) while the Athenians put essentially all government business to the popular vote … neither models much like any of today’s, but they both have a good couple of millennia head start on the American attempt.
    Anyone got a pre-Columbian American (sense – hemisphere) example? Just to stir the pot.

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