Tuesday: Hili dialogue

August 17, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the week’s cruelest day: Tuesday, and it’s August 17, 2021: National Vanilla Custard Day. I hope the tenor of the day doesn’t match that foodstuff.  It’s also National Nonprofit Day, National #2 Pencil Day (the best pencil number), Baby Boomers Recognition Day, and National Black Cat Appreciation Day.

Here’s a Baby Boomer and then a black cat (or rather, two of them).

Two black cats belonging to readers Laurie Ann and Gethyn. The staff’s caption is indented: (Laurie’s a big Emerson fan):

“Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being”

~ Emerson

For National Black Day, here are The Sisters/Y Chwiorydd: Alcestis Jerry (named for her famous Uncle Jerry) and Octavia Sadie, our gorgeous rescue daughters, who have been with us for two and a half years. Some residual nervousness lingers; however, they are happy and content with us and want us to be near them and THEY LOVE THEIR RUBS AND CUDDLES.  We love them. . . .


News of the Day:

The news is dreadful everywhere. The Taliban control Afghanistan, the death toll in the Haiti earthquake is currently 1,200, with a tropical storm on the way, and covid is resurging in many places. And that’s just the start.

Two items on the evening news broke my heart. One was the scene at the Kabul airport, with fearful Afghans trying to break into planes to get out of the country, even clinging to the outside of planes taxiing for takeoff, and climbing into the wheel wells. It’s a miracle nobody fell from a plane! Here’s a video of the pandemonium from CNBC News:

A number of planes were grounded, with people getting onto planes and overloading them, and pilots refusing to takeoff. The Army has established a perimeter around the runways, threating to fire on locals trying to get out. A number of those locals assisted the U.S. military, and are thus doomed if they can’t get out.

The second item, on the U.S. NBC News last night, is that the Taliban are doing a house-to-house search for young unmarried women.  You know what that means. The fate of half the citizens of the new Afghanistan is this: disappearance and death of hopes and dreams, not to mention life. I can’t help but fume even more at religion, and Islam in particular, for making this stuff happen.

Biden went on television and defiantly defended his decision to pull out troops, and for sure he could not have predicted the speed of the Taliban takeover. Still, we have a moral obligation to evacuate those Afghans whom we put in danger by having them help us during the wear, and he didn’t mention that. This doesn’t look good for the Biden administration, nor did his defiant defense of his strategy (a strategy I still agree with, but not in full). Further, he blamed the whole mess on the Afghan military, but that’s just wrong, as General Petraeus averred in another section of this interview:

For the first time in history, the federal government has declared a water shortage in the increasingly tapped Colorado River. This is due at least in part to global warming, and will mandate reduced water allocation and consumption. The Colorado is a vital source of water for millions of people in the American Southwest.

Speaking of tarot cards, I was a big fan of Molly Tuttle’s guitar work and singing, and then this came up on her Facebook “story” today. Color me disappointed. It’s like when Eric Clapton came out with his anti-vax-and-mask song.

As the NYT announced, Lusco’s Restaurant in Greenwood, Mississippi, a place that was on my life list to visit, is closing September 25. I’ll never make it there. It has a complicated history bound up with the racism of that state, but it was an icon. Well, there’s still Abe’s BBQ. . . .

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 622,224, an increase of 704 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,384,989, an increase of about 9,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on August 17 includes:

  • 1560 – The Catholic Church is overthrown and Protestantism is established as the national religion in Scotland.
  • 1585 – A first group of colonists sent by Sir Walter Raleigh under the charge of Ralph Lane lands in the New World to create Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island, off the coast of present-day North Carolina.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: In Charleston, South CarolinaUnion batteries and ships bombard Confederate-held Fort Sumter.

The first bombardment of Fort Sumter, a Union fort attacked by South Carolina batteries (the state had seceded from the Union), marked the formal beginning of the Civil War on April 12, 1861. This 1863 date is the Union’s attempt to retake the island fort, but it failed miserably. The Confederates finally surrendered the fort in 1865. You can visit Fort Sumter, which is now a National Historical Park, and here’s what it looks like:

  • 1896 – Bridget Driscoll became the first recorded case of a pedestrian killed in a collision with a motor car in the United Kingdom.

The first pedestrian killed this way in the US was Henry Bliss, hit by a taxicab in 1899.

Here’s Frank on trial in August, 1913:

It’s unlikely that Frank was guilty, for two “notes” found by the body, supposedly written by the victim, appear to have been written by the real perp, a janitor named Jim Conley. Nevertheless, Frank, 31. was convicted, rousted out of jail, and then lynched, one of the few white men lynched in the South (he was, of course, Jewish, so not really “white”). The disturbing photo below, from Wikipedia, carries the caption: “Leo Frank’s lynching on the morning of August 17, 1915. Judge Morris, who organized the crowd after the lynching, is on the far right in a straw hat.” Morris was not the trial judge. 

  • 1945 – The novella Animal Farm by George Orwell is first published.

A first edition and first printing of this novel will run you about $9000.

  • 1947 – The Radcliffe Line, the border between the Dominions of India and Pakistan, is revealed.

This was a disaster. Sir Cyril Radcliffe, in charge of demarcating Pakistan and India, had never been to either, and the line was drawn up in haste and published with almost no input from non-British people. When it was publicized, the famous “Partition“, millions of Muslims headed towards Pakistan and millions of Hindus towards India. This led to many deaths from violence, famine, and exhaustion (some estimate a 1-2 million), with 10-15 million people displaced from their homes. Here’s an informative video about the partition:

Shot by East Berlin border guards, Fechter, an 18-year-old bricklayer, bled to death over the period of an hour, with nobody from the East trying to help him, though bandages were tossed to him over the wall from West Berlin. Here’s his body; he was killed fleeing East Berlin over a wall supposedly erected to keep people in their “Communist Paradise”:

  • 1998 – Lewinsky scandal: US President Bill Clinton admits in taped testimony that he had an “improper physical relationship” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky; later that same day he admits before the nation that he “misled people” about the relationship.

Here’s Clinton’s admission:

  • 2008 – American swimmer Michael Phelps becomes the first person to win eight gold medals at one Olympic Games.

He went on to win 28 medals, with 23 of them gold—the most decorated Olympian to date. Here’s the eight from 2008:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1786 – Davy Crockett, American soldier and politician (d. 1836)

From Wikipedia: “A knife purportedly used by Davy Crockett during the Battle of the Alamo” (where Crockett was killed). He also owned a Bowie knife, whose provenance seems more secure.

  • 1929 – Francis Gary Powers, American captain and pilot (d. 1977)
  • 1932 – V. S. Naipaul, Trinidadian-English novelist and essayist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2018)
  • 1943 – Robert De Niro, American actor, entrepreneur, director, and producer

Here’s a 4-minute retrospective of De Niro’s acting career. How many movies do you recognize? (He won Oscars for two of them.)

  • 1960 – Sean Penn, American actor, director, and political activist

Those who became doom to interment in earth or flames on August 17 were few, and include:

  • 1973 – Conrad Aiken, American novelist, short story writer, critic, and poet (b. 1889)
  • 1987 – Rudolf Hess, German soldier and politician (b. 1894)

Hess was imprisoned between 1941, when he flew solo on an ill-fated “peace mission” to Britain, and 1987, when he committed suicide in Spandau Prison in Berlin, where he had spent 40 years—the last 21 of them as the prison’s only occupant. He was one of only 7 Nazis given life sentences t the Nuremberg trials, and he was convicted of “crimes against peace and conspiracy with other German leaders to commit crimes.”

Here’s the verdicts on the defendants after the Nuremberg Trials. Hess appears at 1:46, acting weirdly—probably feigning mental illness to avoid punishment:

  • 1990 – Pearl Bailey, American actress and singer (b. 1918)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn:

A: Where is Kulka?
Hili: I’m not my colleague’s keeper.
In Polish:
Ja: Gdzie jest Kulka?
Hili: Nie jestem stróżem koleżanki mojej.
And Little Kulka on Andrzej’s desk (is she bucking for a position at Listy?):

From Divy: Titanic with cats:

From Moto:

From Jesus of the Day:

Titania is back with a tweet about Afghanistan. Let’s hope that the Western press pays some special attention about what is soon to happen to Afghan women. As for the Taliban’s statement below, they’re full of it.

Two tweets from reader Simon. About this first one, he simply says “Ouch!:

Oded Rechavi specializes in turning memes into tweets about academia. This is a good one, because “submitted for publication to Nature” really means “it’s not gonna get accepted but I have to look like I tried.” Tip from Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus): papers submitted for publication should never be put as “publications” on your curriculum vitae. It looks as if you’re trying to pad your c.v.

A tweet from Ginger K. Nice video, but leave the sound off to avoid excess cloying.

Tweets from Matthew.  Play the video to see two of his beloved optical illusions.

There’s a squabble in the Twitter comments about whether this is genuine leucism or some other pigmentation defect, but it matters not. The swallows are unusual and cute (and also more liable than their conspecifics to predation):

These are most likely the protozoans that live in termite guts and break down wood cellulose into simple sugars that the termites can use. It’s a mutualism. The second tweet has a video:

17 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. 1998 – Lewinsky scandal: US President Bill Clinton admits in taped testimony that he had an “improper physical relationship” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky; later that same day he admits before the nation that he “misled people” about the relationship.

    Monica Lewinsky missed the chance for the best one-liner of all time by not repeating something which Bill Clinton had said in another context: “But I didn’t inhale!”

  2. I don’t think that the retrospective short on Robert De Niro’s career contained a clip of the movie he made with today’s other birthday boy, Sean Penn — We’re No Angels, Neil Jordan’s 1989 remake of the original 1955 comedy about two Depression-era escaped convicts posing as priests.

  3. I’ve had friends who were into Tarot, which I never was, but, that said, many Tarot decks are beautiful and creative, and can be appreciated on their own, like an illuminated bible.

  4. One of the worst moves by media yesterday on the Afghanistan story was CBS morning news. For unexplained reasons they decided that Liz Chaney would be a good one to interview. Not one word or question was asked of her about her father’s participation in this conflict. What next, an interview with one of Bush’s daughters to get her view. This is journalism without brains.

    1. That was absolutely gut-wrenching. Reminiscent of people falling from the World Trade Center on 9-11.

      1. Yes, that was my thought as well. I know they were desperate but even if they don’t fall off quickly, it is a more certain death than staying on the ground can possibly be.

  5. Apropos Oded Rechavi’s delightful kitten, I’m reminded of the paper in Physical Review Letters which was co-authored by F.D.C. Willard, who was the first author’s pet cat. Willard’s Wikipedia entry notes that he was the first cat to co-author a physics paper.

    1. Yes, that’s the likely interpretation of the Taliban’s statement on preserving women’s rights. Women have rights in their scheme, just not very many. They also said they were going to reintroduce their religion’s rules gradually. By that, I suspect they meant days instead of hours. In fact, many Afghans are doing it themselves by erasing anything that they know the Taliban will object to.

      1. Muslim fanatics insist that their culture DOES respect women’s rights-all those rules are there to protect women, not to oppress them. “We keep women locked up because they are so precious.”

  6. I was sad to see no women out on the runway in Afghanistan. They are already in hiding with no hope of getting out.

    Any comment from the squad on the Taliban takeover? I’m haven’t heard any comments from them.

  7. Thomas Friedman, in his NYT column, held out a smidgen of hope for the Afghan people. He reminded us that when the US invaded and booted the Taliban there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no iPhone. Most Afghans did not have cell phones. Now a majority do. We can hope that these technologies and platforms can keep the light shining on abuses, and perhaps restrain the Taliban.

    I hope, but I am not optimistic.

    1. As Friedman pointed out, the Taliban will be expected to “keep the lights on”. I generally like what Friedman has to say but I wonder if his optimism is justified here. Sure, the Taliban might want to keep things running but what happens if they don’t? Nothing, is my guess. They sure can’t vote them out of office.

  8. Re Partition of India video: That’s right, Muslims and Hindus were super eager to live in harmony until those nasty Brits came along and didn’t demarcate the map perfectly–a task that was in any event impossible given the co-mingling of the Muslim and hindu groups.

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