Monday: Hili dialogue

August 2, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the first Monday in August, the second day of the month, 2021: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, the apotheosis of which is the It’s-It, vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies, and the whole shebang dipped in chocolate. Sadly, this treat is available only west of the Rockies.

It’s also National Coloring Book Day, Dinosaurs Day (Matthew will like this), and the following remembrances of the genocide of the Romani (formerly “gypsies”):

News of the Day:

After a false start, Marcell Jacobs of Italy won the men’s 100-meter dash at the Olympics with a time of 9.8 seconds. The Olympic record is 9.63 seconds, set by Usain Bolt in 2012, and the world record is 9.58 seconds, also set by Bolt. Here’s the race. Press “Watch on YouTube” for all videos:

And in a heartwarming act of sportsmanship, the two best high-jumpers in the men’s event, after tying, agreed to share the gold medal in the event (see below).  A video:

Even more heartwarming sportsmanship: in an 800-meter men’s qualifying heat, contender American Isaiah Jewitt was tripped, fell, and another athlete, Nijel Amos of Botswana, went down with him. So much for their chances at a medal. What did they do? Helped each other up, hugged, and crossed the finish line together—dead last.

Have you lost your motivation but don’t feel very depressed—just blah? Well, you may have the “middle child” of mental illness, languishing I suspect that many of us, including me, are suffering from this. The cure? Well, there are many suggestions, though I don’t know if any have been subject to double-blind tests. Here’s one:

So what can we do about it? A concept called “flow” may be an antidote to languishing. Flow is that elusive state of absorption in a meaningful challenge or a momentary bond, where your sense of time, place and self melts away. During the early days of the pandemic, the best predictor of well-being wasn’t optimism or mindfulness — it was flow. People who became more immersed in their projects managed to avoid languishing and maintained their prepandemic happiness.

As someone said on another topic, “All this is as plausible as anything else.”

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 612,982, an increase of 310 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,241,322, an increase of about 7,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on August 2 includes:

  • 216 BC – The Carthaginian army led by Hannibal defeats a numerically superior Roman army at the Battle of Cannae.
  • 1610 – During Henry Hudson’s search for the Northwest Passage, he sails into what is now known as Hudson Bay.
  • 1776 – The signing of the United States Declaration of Independence took place.

Here’s the signed document, which you can see in the U.S. Archives (visit it if you can). While the document was proclaimed by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, signing occurred later. As Wikipedia reports:

The Declaration was transposed on paper, adopted by the Continental Congress, and signed by John Hancock, President of the Congress, on July 4, 1776, according to the 1911 record of events by the U.S. State Department under Secretary Philander C. Knox. On August 2, 1776, a parchment paper copy of the Declaration was signed by 56 persons. Many of these signers were not present when the original Declaration was adopted on July 4. Signer Matthew Thornton from New Hampshire was seated in the Continental Congress in November; he asked for and received the privilege of adding his signature at that time, and signed on November 4, 1776.

The document is badly faded, and is kept in a gas-filled chamber that can be automatically moved below ground in case of attack. But you can still see the big “John Hancock” signature at the bottom:

Here’s the census, and note that slaves are counted as full people, not 3/5 of a person. There were almost 4 million people in the country then. Note the categories:

  • 1870 – Tower Subway, the world’s first underground tube railway, opens in London, England, United Kingdom.
  • 1923 – Vice President Calvin Coolidge becomes U.S. President upon the death of President Warren G. Harding.
  • 1932 – The positron (antiparticle of the electron) is discovered by Carl D. Anderson. [JAC: He won the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery. The particle’s existence was predicted by Paul Dirac.]

Here’s a cloud-chamber photo of the first positron ever observed. The caption is from Wikipedia:

Cloud chamber photograph of the first positron ever observed. The thick horizontal line is a lead plate. The positron entered the cloud chamber in the lower left, was slowed down by the lead plane, and curved to the upper left. The curvature of the path is caused by an applied magnetic field that acts perpendicular to the image plane. The higher energy of the entering positron resulted in lower curvature of its path.

Here’s the letter, which you can read by clicking twice. It’s signed by Einstein, but was written by Szilard:

  • 1943 – The Holocaust: Jewish prisoners stage a revolt at Treblinka, one of the deadliest of Nazi death camps where approximately 900,000 persons were murdered in less than 18 months.
  • 1943 – World War II: The Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 is rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri and sinks. Lt. John F. Kennedy, future U.S. president, saves all but two of his crew.

Here’s Lieutenant Junior Grade John Kennedy aboard the PT-109 in 1943:

POF/PSF/PT109-1 Lt.(jg) John F. Kennedy aboard the PT-109 in the South Pacific, 1943. Photograph in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
  • 1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait, eventually leading to the Gulf War.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1820 – John Tyndall, Irish-English physicist and mountaineer (d. 1893)
  • 1905 – Myrna Loy, American actress (d. 1993)

Loy was at her best in The Thin Man as Nick Charles’s bibulous partner (they were both bibulous). Here’s a clip from the original 1934 movie, which spawned five Thin Man sequel:

Here’s Baldwin explaining on the Dick Cavett show on why he left America for France, where he lived from when he was 24 until he died at 63): segregation and racism. I read quite a bit of his writing during the first part of the pandemic, and think that his semi-autobiographical novel Go Tell It on the Mountain is the best.

Was O’Toole ever better than in “Lawrence of Arabia”? Here he is discussing some of the material he absorbed to play Lawrence:

  • 1937 – Garth Hudson, Canadian keyboard player, songwriter, and producer
  • 1942 – Isabel Allende, Chilean-American novelist, essayist, essayist

Those who cashed in their chips on August 2 include:

Here’s an apparently unfinished painting by Gainsborough, “The Artist’s Daughters with a Cat”. The cat is either unfinished or a ghost:

  • 1876 – “Wild Bill” Hickok, American sheriff (b. 1837)
  • 1923 – Warren G. Harding, American journalist and politician, 29th president of the United States (b. 1865)
  • 1955 – Wallace Stevens, American poet and educator (b. 1879)

Does this man look like a poet? No, he looks like an insurance company executive, which is what Stevens did most of his life. Yet during that time he wrote some of our era’s greatest poetry. My favorite is “Peter Quince at the Clavier“. Clearly the humdrum of insurance work didn’t deaden his inner life.

  • 1976 – Fritz Lang, Austrian-American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1890)
  • 1986 – Roy Cohn, American lawyer and politician (b. 1927)

One of the more odious characters in American history, Cohn came to public attention as the aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings. He was evil then, and remained so until he died.  He was a buddy of Donald Trump, and Cohn’s influence there is clear. Here he is in 1954 during the hearings.

  • 1997 – William S. Burroughs, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1914)
  • 1998 – Shari Lewis, American television host and puppeteer (b. 1933)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is doing metaphilosophy:

Hili: I have to think for a moment.
A: What about?
Hili: Good question. I have to think for a moment what to think about.
In Polish:
Hili: Muszę chwilę pomyśleć.
Ja: O czym?
Hili: To dobre pytanie. Muszę chwilę pomyśleć, o czym mam pomyśleć.
And little Kulka jumped on top of Andrzej and Malgorzata’s refrigerator:

Caption:  World seen from the top of a refrigerator:

In Polish: Świat widziany z dachu lodówki.

From Jean. I like the X-axis:

A public post on Facebook I found and passed on.  If you don’t get it, inquire in the comments and ye shall be enlightened. Comments: a. this is the woods, though sparse woods, and b. I don’t know where the Pope is:

Another superfluous sign from David:

Titania is so prescient!

Bill Maher, inspired by the Olympics, dilates on woke and cancel culture in his latest monologue:

A tweet from Ginger K. NOT DEAD!

Tweets from Matthew. This pose of a mantid that makes it look like a vertebrate with its jaws open, is stunning. I think it’s likely that that is what’s being mimicked, and think of the behavioral and morphological mutations involved in the evolution of this trait. Not only that, but if it’s not disturbed, it mimics a dead leaf.

It is a win-win, but only if they tied. And they did. According to the AP, they could have settled the gold with a jump-off, but Barshim suggested they each get a gold, and the Olympic judge agreed! I wonder if they eliminated the silver medal from this competition.

Here’s a mossy frog that Matthew sent me to cheer me up. And listen to the call it makes! Translation: “Remember the moss tree frog (Theloderma corticale), which occurs in Southeast Asia and looks like something else? This one is the vocalization that males of this species emit to attract females!”

Either there were tricksters back then, too, or this proves that there are aliens:

The only thing I don’t get about this is why the guy didn’t insist that he get the second sandwich he paid for. I’d gladly buy a sandwich for a raccoon!

33 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. Breaking news: In the last few minutes the transwoman weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has crashed out of the 87kg+ competition. According to The Grauniad‘s live stream:

    Laurel Hubbard is out of the weightlifting final. There was so much attention on her qualification, but Laurel Hubbard will not advance. Her first lift at 120 in the snatch contest she lost over the back and couldn’t hold. Her second lift at 125 she did elevate and hold, but the judges disqualify it for a twitch of the elbows. Her third lift at the same weight goes the same way as the first, over the back.

    And so, even though there is still the clean-and-jerk part of the event to come, Hubbard has no successful lifts from three attempts and won’t proceed.

    1. Hmm, well, while she had the clean-and-jerk necessary to compete in the women’s final, her snatch always was less convincing.

  2. “Was O’Toole ever better than in “Lawrence of Arabia”? ” – a very different performance, obviously, but he was magnificent in 1989’s Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell.

    1. He was great in My Favorite Year, playing an alcoholic ex-matinee idol … definitely my favorite of all his movies.

  3. I have every sympathy with that poor brown bear.
    Nearly out of the woods when a cold sweat breaks out
    and the nether region’s orifice starts pulsating . . .

    Yep, been in that dire situation a few times.
    I now pay closer attention to “use within x days of opening”
    as well as “use by” dates on food items!

  4. 1937 – Garth Hudson, Canadian keyboard player, songwriter, and producer

    Garth’s a multi-instrumentalist. Here he is blowing some sweet saxophone at the 4:30 mark during the instrumental break of Rick Danko’s great vocal on The Band’s “It Makes No Difference”:

    1. And uncanny of Henry Hudson to sail into Hudson Bay on Garth’s birthday.

      Also, I love this pic of him sitting on the quarter panel of his ca. 1950 Hudson coupe.

  5. I thought the issue with the Pope was a not where he is but what is his religion. Anyway, I don’t know what his religion is, but he loves pets. In fact, I read that he is a cat-aholic.

    (Joke stolen from Milton Jones.)

  6. Does this man [Wallace Stevens] look like a poet? No, he looks like an insurance company executive, which is what Stevens did most of his life. Yet during that time he wrote some of our era’s greatest poetry.

    Stevens lived in Key West in the Thirties, same time as Hemingway. Stevens’s insurance-exec demeanor notwithstanding, the two got into a legendary fist-fight. Here’s Papa’s version of the bout.

  7. “Here’s the census, and note that slaves are counted as full people, not 3/5 of a person.”

    As odious and dehumanizing as slavery was, the 3/5 Clause is often misunderstood. It wasn’t about considering slaves as “three-fifths of a human being”, but rather about representation in the House of Representatives (and the Electoral College). The slave states would have been very happy to count the slaves a full 5/5, for that purpose at least—heck, they would probably have insisted on counting slaves as 5/3 of a person if they thought they could have gotten away with it. The non-slave states didn’t want to “count” slaves at all—“You say these people are ‘property’ but then you want them to have representation in Congress?” Hence the compromise of the 3/5 Clause.

  8. Somewhat inevitably, the “Mowing-Devil” has its own Wikipedia article – but I’m still no nearer to knowing where in Hertfordshire the incident is supposed to have occurred. We have “The Devil’s Hopscotch” nearby on Therfield Heath so apparently there’s a lot of it about in these parts.

  9. The men 100m dash was very exciting, complete with a flashy light show build up before the race. Felt very bad for the runner who had a false start, and was surprised this disqualified him.

      1. Hughes also made a false start in late June:

        Zharnel Hughes, who was disqualified from the 100m for a false start on Saturday, took advantage of the rule allowing those doubling up to sit out their second event and will have a strong claim to an Olympic place after running a personal best of 19.93 in May.

        Very sad, but he should have been well aware of the procedure.

  10. On the virtuous runners, Jewitt and Amos, the LA Times this morning said that Amos has advanced to the finals but Jewitt did not. So Amos is still up for a medal. I believe Amos is the one that tripped Jewitt running in front of him so life is unfair once again.

  11. Cat not dead reminds me of a large sign outside of Sugar Grove, Illinois: HORSE NOT DEAD. Posted for a similar reason.

  12. Anyone else remember when Saturday Night Live posthumously awarded Roy Cohn some award “given annually to the person who has brought the greatest disgrace to people of the Jewish faith.”?

  13. I’m also a fan of many of Wallace Stevens’ poems. I’ve always liked this line from Peter Quince:

    Beauty is momentary in the mind
    A fitful tracing of a portal
    But in the flesh it is immortal

    Maybe my favorite of his poems though is “The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man.” I was taking a poetry class in college, and missed a day due to illness. The professor said, “well, where’s your homework?” “Well,” says I, “I wasn’t here.” He said, “that’s no excuse: this is college, not high school.”

    As punishment, I had to analyze and write an essay on this poem. It turned out to be a great experience, as I needed to really work on it and try to understand what was going on. For me, it’s one of his clearest expositions on the value of the imagination in shaping and enriching one’s world. Here are the final four lines from memory, which have become for me something of a personal mantra, or words to aspire to:

    It may be that the ignorant man, alone
    Has every chance to mate his life with life
    That is the sensual, pearly spouse, the life
    That is fluent in even the wintriest bronze.

  14. In a strong field of NY Times bloviating – er, uh Ah mean reporting – in today’s hard-copy Times on pg. D6, the headline of the article reporting Jacobs’s win: “Coming From Italy and From Out of Nowhere to Win.”

    First para.: “The man in Lane 3 ws a mystery to nearly everyone, including the world-class sprinters who had lined up next to him . . . .”

    Second: “I really didn’t know nothing about him . . . .” (Kerley of the U.S.)

    Third: “I thought my main competition was going to be the Americans . . . .” (De Grasse of Canada)

    For the sake of a fatuous lede, the Times deems Jacobs worthy to be finally mentioned by name in the fourth para. – after naming/quoting his apparently more exalted brethren.

    The Times: “Still, his triumph was improbable . . . In a field full of underdogs, Jacobs was almost an afterthought . . . he was unfamiliar to more than a few of the other finalists in Tokyo.”

    Wear it out, NY Times. Did Jacobs owe you and the “world-class sprinters” a duty to “check in” and provide a dossier? Seems Jacobs was freely available to interact with you – had you thought him worth the trouble.

  15. One shining, golden moment, I spied a box of It’s-It at a Costco in Maryland! Of course, it went home with me!

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