Thursday: Hili dialogue

September 22, 2022 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Thursday, September 22, the day of the Autumnal Equinox (it’s a holiday in Japan). Yes, the first day of fall begins at 9:04 p.m. today, so most of today will still be summer.  And it’s National White Chocolate Day, though “white chocolate” isn’t really chocolate since the white stuff contains cocoa butter but not cocoa solids (the latter are required for something to really be “chocolate.” They should call it “white Choklet”, along the duplicitious lines of the faux foods “krab” and “kreme-filled donuts.”

It’s also National Ice Cream Cone Day, Hobbit Day (the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins), National Elephant Appreciation Day,    National Centenarian’s Day (which centenarian?), and World Rhino Day.

From two years ago: Indian one-horned rhino Tensing and her new baby at the Denver Zoo. Notice that they’ve cut her horn off, implying that she came from the wild where horns are removed to protect the animals. 

Stuff that happened on September 22 includes:

  • 1692 – The last hanging of those convicted of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials; others are all eventually released.
  • 1776 – Nathan Hale is hanged for spying during the American Revolution.
  • 1823 – Joseph Smith claims to have found the golden plates after being directed by God through the Angel Moroni to the place where they were buried.

This story is so bogus, what with the hat, the peepstones, and the mysterious disappearance of the plates. Yet a whole religion is founded on it, and serious people believe this stuff. In fact, in the book of Mormon 11 people testify at the beginning that they saw the plates. Here are eight, and there’s separate testimony comes from three others. 11 eyewitnesses!

From Wikipedia: “A 21st-century artistic representation of Joseph Smith translating the golden plates by examining a seer stone in his hat.” His translations were written down by another guy who, of course, was separated from Smith by a curtain. I suggest looking into the Book of Mormon, for the very cadences of the writing come straight out of the Bible. Smith, like Ron L. Hubbard, was a fraud who is now worshipped by a gazillion people for confecting a religion. 

This is a weird one:

The Lindal railway incident happened on Thursday 22 September 1892 near Lindal-in-Furness, a village lying between the Cumbria towns of Ulverston and Dalton-in-Furness. A locomotive shunting at sidings disappeared into the ground after a large, deep hole opened up beneath it. The locomotive was never recovered and still lies buried beneath the railway, though the depth remains a source of speculation.

It’s at least 60 feet down (photo below), but it’s strange that they can’t tell for sure. Given that nobody died in the accident (only the locomotive went down, and the engineer and fireman jumped free), maybe they just don’t care:

  • 1896 – Queen Victoria surpasses her grandfather King George III as the longest reigning monarch in British history.

Ah, but now she’s surpassed, by almost 7 years exactly. Here are the three longest monarchies in British history:


  • 1941 – The Holocaust in Ukraine: On the Jewish New Year Day, the German SS murders 6,000 Jews in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. Those are the survivors of the previous killings that took place a few days earlier in which about 24,000 Jews were executed.

Total: 30,000. Here’s a famous photograph of a Vinnytsia Jew about to be killed by a member of  Einsatzgruppe D.  Named “The last Jew in Vinnytsia,” the photo was taken between 1941 and 1943, and perhaps he was the last of the approximately 30,000 murdered. In the pit in front of him lie the bodies of those previously executed. This is an iconic photo that has haunted me ever since I first saw it.

  • 1948 – Gail Halvorsen officially starts parachuting candy to children as part of the Berlin Airlift.

Here’s the heartening story:

Gail Halvorsen, one of the many Airlift pilots, decided to use his off-time to fly into Berlin and make movies with his hand-held camera. He arrived at Tempelhof on 17 July 1948 on one of the C-54s and walked over to a crowd of children who had gathered at the end of the runway to watch the aircraft. He introduced himself and they started to ask him questions about the aircraft and their flights. As a goodwill gesture, he handed out his only two sticks of Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum. The children quickly divided up the pieces as best they could, even passing around the wrapper for others to smell. He was so impressed by their gratitude and that they didn’t fight over them, that he promised the next time he returned he would drop off more. Before he left them, a child asked him how they would know it was him flying over. He replied, “I’ll wiggle my wings.”

The next day on his approach to Berlin, he rocked the aircraft and dropped some chocolate bars attached to a handkerchief parachute to the children waiting below. Every day after that, the number of children increased and he made several more drops. Soon, there was a stack of mail in Base Ops addressed to “Uncle Wiggly Wings”, “The Chocolate Uncle” and “The Chocolate Flier”. His commanding officer was upset when the story appeared in the news, but when Tunner heard about it, he approved of the gesture and immediately expanded it into “Operation Little Vittles”. Other pilots participated, and when news reached the US, children all over the country sent in their own candy to help out. Soon, major candy manufacturers joined in. In the end, over three tons of candy were dropped on Berlin and the “operation” became a major propaganda success. German children christened the candy-dropping aircraft “raisin bombers” or candy bombers.

Here’s a candy drop:

Here’s Halvorsen, also known as “The Candy Bomber”, preparing his candy parachutes:

  • 1975 – Sara Jane Moore tries to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford, but is foiled by the Secret Service.

Here’s the aftermath of the assassination attempt. Moore was sentenced to life in prison, but was released in 2019 after 32 years in stir. She’s still alive at 92.

  • 1979 – A bright flash, resembling the detonation of a nuclear weapon, is observed near the Prince Edward Islands. Its cause is never determined.

Here are two explanations given by Wikipedia:

The Vela incident was an unidentified double flash of light detected by an American Vela Hotel satellite on 22 September 1979 near the South African territory of Prince Edward Islands in the Indian Ocean, roughly midway between Africa and Antarctica. Today, most independent researchers believe that the flash was caused by a nuclear explosion—an undeclared joint nuclear test carried out by South Africa and Israel.

The cause of the flash remains officially unknown, and some information about the event remains classified by the U.S. government. While it has been suggested that the signal could have been caused by a meteoroid hitting the satellite, the previous 41 double flashes detected by the Vela satellites were caused by nuclear weapons tests.

Here’s “4Q7, a fragment of the book of Genesis found in Cave 4”.  The scrolls generally date between the 3rd century BCE to the first century AD:

Da Nooz:

*Putin has taken one step towards a “general mobilization” of Russian soldiers (i.e., a draft). In a speech yesterday, he announced it along with some other slightly chilling stuff:

In a rare address to the nation, Mr. Putin stopped short of declaring a full, national draft but instead called for a “partial mobilization” of people with military experience. Though Moscow’s troops have recently suffered humiliating losses on the battlefield, he said that Russia’s goals in Ukraine had not changed and that the move was “necessary and urgent” because the West had “crossed all lines” by providing sophisticated weapons to Ukraine.

The videotaped speech was an apparent attempt to reassert his authority over an increasingly chaotic war that has undermined his leadership both at home and on the global stage. It also escalated Russia’s tense showdown with Western nations that have bolstered Ukraine with weapons, money and intelligence that have contributed to Ukraine’s recent successes in reclaiming swaths of territory in the northeast.

Mr. Putin accused the United States and Europe of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” against his country and warned that Russia had “lots of weapons” of its own.

“To those who allow themselves such statements about Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and some components are more modern than those of the NATO countries,” he said.

In case you didn’t get the import of that last sentence, he’s certainly implying tactical nuclear weapons. If he used them, what would we do? Give some of ours to Ukraine? Well, let’s hope it doesn’t get to that, but if 300,000 reservists aren’t enough, start worrying.

*The Russians are protesting even the partial mobilization Putin announced. The NYT reports that protests are spreading across the country, and that at least 1,252 people were detained in 38 cities.

In Moscow, hundreds of protesters gathered on the Old Arbat, a well-known pedestrian street in central Moscow. They screamed “Send Putin to the trenches!” and “Let our children live!” Footage showed riot police dragging people away.

In Tomsk, a woman holding a sign that said “Hug me if you are also scared” smiled serenely as she was dragged away from a small protest by three police officers. In Novosibirsk, a man with a ponytail was taken away after he told police officers, “I don’t want to die for Putin and for you.”

Protest is effectively criminalized in Russia, where before this week almost 16,500 people had been detained for antiwar activity, according to OVD-Info — including the simple act of an individual standing in a public place holding a blank piece of paper. Since March, it has been illegal to “disseminate false information” about the war and to “discredit the Russian Army.”

Russians came to protest despite a warning from the general prosecutor’s office issued Wednesday that unsanctioned protests could result in punishment of up to 15 years of prison for spreading false information about the military, which became a criminal offense in February.

Jailed dissident Alexei Navalny (remember him?) is also calling for more protests. It’s a sign of Russian discontent that so many protestors are willing to risk stiff jail sentences. In another sign, after Putin’s announcement of mobilization, one-way flights out of Russia are selling like hotcakes, and overpriced ones:

Tickets to visa-free destinations such as Istanbul; Dubai; Yerevan, Armenia; and Almaty, Kazakhstan, were either sold out for the next several days or their prices had skyrocketed.

There were no one-way tickets out of Moscow to Yerevan, Istanbul or Dubai for Wednesday on an airline ticket aggregator that is popular in Russia. Aeroflot, Russia’s national airline, had no tickets to Istanbul or Yerevan for this week, according to its website. Aeroflot operates up to eight flights per day to the two cities, according to its schedule.

Who on earth would want to fight for Putin in Ukraine? Not only do you stand a good chance of being killed or injured, but it’s an unjust war of aggression. And that reminds me of Vietnam.

*Other protests are spreading in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, which was almost certainly a murder by Iran’s “morality police”. Amini, 22, was detained by the morality cops for not wearing her hijab properly. Witnesses say she was beaten up inside the police van, while Iran says she suffered “heart failure” while waiting to attend a “re-education class”. Who do you believe? Her family says she had no record of heart problems.  Amini died last Friday after three days in a coma, and has become a symbol of Iranian repression, especially against women.  CNN reports that women throughout the country are burning their hijabs in solidarity against the regime and its oppression of women (see also the NYT story here).

In the video, a massive crowd cheers as a woman lifts a pair of scissors to her hair — exposed, without a hijab in sight. The sea of people, many of them men, roar as she chops off her ponytail and raises her fist in the air.

It was a powerful act of defiance Tuesday night in the Iranian city of Kerman, where women are required to wear hijabs (or headscarves) in public, as outrage over the death of a woman in police custody fuels protests across the country.

Iranian authorities said Wednesday that three people, including a member of the security forces, have been killed in the unrest, which has stretched into a fifth day.

Human rights groups have reported that at least seven people have been killed.

The death last week of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested in Tehran by morality police — a dedicated unit that enforces strict dress codes for women, such as wearing the compulsory headscarf — has sparked an outpouring anger over issues ranging from freedoms in the Islamic Republic to the crippling economic impacts of sanctions.

From Masih:

And they’re writing her name:

Can these brave women be the catalyst that finally deposes the mullahs? I doubt it, at least now, but the people of Iran are truly yearning to breathe free—and let their hair blow in the wind. I’m heartened by the number of men who are joining the protesting women.

This is a heartening tweet; watch the whole thing, particularly the woman chewing out the man at 1:09:

*A new trove of Hemingway material has been revealed, consisting of stuff he left 8 decades ago at one of his favorite watering holes, Sloppy Joe’s bar in Key West, Florida.

And in a notebook entry from 1926, there is a three-page meditation on death and suicide — 35 years before he took his own life.

The items, part of the most significant cache of Hemingway materials uncovered in 60 years, are in a new archive recently opened to scholars and the public at Penn State University. Called the Toby and Betty Bruce Collection of Ernest Hemingway, the material includes four unpublished short stories, drafts of manuscripts, hundreds of photographs, bundles of correspondence and boxes of personal effects that experts say are bound to reshape public and scholarly perception of an artist whose life and work defined an era.

For years, most Hemingway scholars could only salivate about the Bruce collection, uncertain of its exact contents or even location. What they did know was that in 1939, after his second marriage crumbled, Hemingway, a notorious pack rat, left his belongings in the storeroom of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, his favorite watering hole in Key West, Fla. He never returned to collect them.

After Hemingway’s death, his fourth wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway, went through the material, packed up what she wanted, and gave the rest to longtime friends, Betty and Telly Otto Bruce, known to his friends as Toby. Toby Bruce was part of Hemingway’s inner circle for years, not only as his right-hand man, but also as his contractor, mechanic and sometime chauffeur.

The trove of materials spent decades uncataloged in cardboard boxes and ammo storage containers, surviving hurricanes and floods. Years ago, Betty and Toby’s son, Benjamin Bruce (known as Dink) and a local historian, Brewster Chamberlin, began creating an inventory of the haul in consultation with the Hemingway scholar Sandra Spanier. It was here, amid bullfighting tickets, checks, newspaper clippings and letters from his lawyer, family members and friends like the writer John Dos Passos and artists Joan Miró and Waldo Peirce, that they discovered a stained brown notebook. Inside was Hemingway’s first known short story, about a fictional trip to Ireland, written when he was 10 years old.

There are excised portions of published work, unpublished work, unflattering portrayals of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and all manner of memorabilia. Here’s one bit:

There’s a check for $10 to Arnold Gingrich, the co-founder of Esquire magazine, to settle a boxing bet.

*The Webb Telescope has produced a breathtaking photo of Neptune’s rings (I didn’t know the planet had any until the other day).  (h/t: Malcolm)

The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope is showing off its capabilities closer to home with its first image of Neptune. Not only has Webb captured the clearest view of this peculiar planet’s rings in more than 30 years, but its cameras are also revealing the ice giant in a whole new light.

Most striking about Webb’s new image is the crisp view of the planet’s dynamic rings — some of which haven’t been seen at all, let alone with this clarity, since the Voyager 2 flyby in 1989. In addition to several bright narrow rings, the Webb images clearly show Neptune’s fainter dust bands. Webb’s extremely stable and precise image quality also permits these very faint rings to be detected so close to Neptune.

Neptune has fascinated and perplexed researchers since its discovery in 1846. Located 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth, Neptune orbits in one of the dimmest areas of our Solar System. At that extreme distance, the Sun is so small and faint that high noon on Neptune is similar to a dim twilight on Earth.

This planet is characterised as an ice giant due to the chemical make-up of its interior. Compared to the gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, Neptune is much richer in elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. This is readily apparent in Neptune’s signature blue appearance in NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images at visible wavelengths, caused by small amounts of gaseous methane.

Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) captures objects in the near-infrared range from 0.6 to 5 microns, so Neptune does not appear blue to Webb. In fact, the methane gas is so strongly absorbing that the planet is quite dark at Webb wavelengths except where high-altitude clouds are present. Such methane-ice clouds are prominent as bright streaks and spots, which reflect sunlight before it is absorbed by methane gas. Images from other observatories have recorded these rapidly-evolving cloud features over the years.

More subtly, a thin line of brightness circling the planet’s equator could be a visual signature of global atmospheric circulation that powers Neptune’s winds and storms. The atmosphere descends and warms at the equator, and thus glows at infrared wavelengths more than the surrounding, cooler gases.


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the apples are falling:

Hili: An apple fell again.
A: Yes, they are getting ripe and starting to fall.
Hili: THat’s why I’m sitting here and not there.
In Polish:
Hili: Znowu spadło jabłko.
Ja: Tak, dojrzewają i zaczęły spadać.
Hili: Dlatego siedzę tu, a nie tam.

And a still life: “Kulka with Grapes”:


From Nicole:

From Malcolm, a Bizarro Cartoon by Dan Piraro.  I missed it at first because I didn’t read the caption carefully.

From Anna, a Scott Metzger cartoon:

God is very upset about the murder of Mahsa Amini, and rightly so. See Da Nooz above:

Do you really think this bird (a crow, of course) knew it was instigating a fight?

From Simon: an over-the-top mockery of today’s world:

Reader Paul sent a screenshot of a tweet, nothing that “One lucky photographer covering the funeral got to stroke Larry the cat. Now that definitely beats getting a knighthood.”  What I wouldn’t give to experience that! The Number 10 Cat: the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew.  I don’t know where this swing is, but I’d love to try it:

This is a real heartwarmer. Be sure to click each frame separately:

The “old Yiddish sayi below was also in “Fiddler on the Roof”:

23 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. You gotta love the prose here :

    “Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship.”

    … I imagine someone bellowing these words out across a canyon, their chest proudly pushed forward, laying it down on the unenlightened souls in need of salvation.

    I have a hunch that religion is all about that feeling – bellowing across the canyon.

    This also comes to mind – in the late 19th-early 20th century :

    ….[ reloads page]..

    Hey! The edit button is back! Hello, edit button!

  2. 1692 – last witch hanging in Salem, Mass: It is always striking to me that the society in which the College of William and Mary was founded in 1693 and in which Harvard had been operating for most of the century (in Massachusetts no less!) still included magic and shamanism as accepted behavior. Of course these were not the modern research universities that we know today, but at least they were a good start.

  3. –“Witnesses say she was beaten up inside the police van, while Iran says she suffered “heart failure” while waiting to attend a “re-education class”. Who do you believe?”–

    I can’t remember the source, and a quick search doesn’t show it, but I has been said that when death is defined as the moment the heart stops, all deaths can be classed as heart failure.

    1. Heart failure is a chronic disease of many possible underlying causes in which the heart fails to pump enough blood to maintain the body’s organs in optimal function, especially during attempts to exert oneself. Sudden catastrophes affecting the heart, such as a clot obstructing a coronary artery or the mechanical rupture of a heart valve can cause acute heart failure, recognized as shock. In medical use, as on death certificates, heart failure does not merely mean the heart stopped beating, although one suspects the term is being cynically misused here to conceal murder. Young people do occasionally die suddenly of unrecognized heart disease peculiar to their age group but extreme skepticism should be applied to this report of any death in custody.

      Edit: sorry for all the typos. I’m getting only a tiny little window less than one line high to make comments and I literally can’t see what I’m doing, until I edit.

  4. This was such a great H.D!

    Started with my comment on the lovely Mormon prose, diverted to a Hemingway “discovery”, and finish on a Neptune knowledge reboot – where else can you get that in 10 minutes!?

  5. 1942 the Holocaust in Ukraine…”this is an iconic photo that has haunted me ever since I first saw it”. Yes this and many of the individuals’ photos that you post daily haunt me…particularly the very young. I grew up in the 50’s when the reality of the Holocaust among our gentile neighbors was never questioned…maybe because so many eyewitness soldiers were still alive and less than ten years removed from the stark discoveries of the camps. My Hebrew school teachers had fled Germany and regularly reminded us of persecution of the Jewish people through the centuries and the Holocaust in particular. These photos bring meclose to tears some mornings.

    1. This might be the time to say that each morning I read the section Auschwitz Memorial and contemplate for a moment. Seeing the photos does move the subject of the holocaust to a deeper level. It is one thing to read and understand the events during that murderous period but at a human level I have never been able to comprehend how we can treat others so viciously. My appreciation to our host Jerry Coyne for doing this. I was thinking that if I am moved by what I see for only a moment then it must be a heartache to be locating and posting these.

  6. “Smith, like Ron L. Hubbard, was a fraud who is now worshipped by a gazillion people for confecting a religion,” one of whom was Gail Halvorsen.

  7. Sipple, a former Marine, saw Moore prepare for a second shot and grabbed her arm, causing her to miss hitting Ford. Sipple begged reporters to let him remain anonymous, as his own family didn’t know, but friends in the gay community outed him for the good publicity.

    Ford didn’t thank Simple at the time, but sent him a bland note three days later. Aftermath ruined his relationship with him family, and he drank himself to death at 47. A good deed that he came to regret in later years. His body was not discovered until 10 days later.

    1. The other day I read a NY Times tennis writer article from a year or so ago about Martina Navritalova (sp.?). The writer said that a reporter had told Navritalova some years ago that he was going to run an article revealing her sexual orientation, based on information she had previously given the reporter in an off-the-record basis. Certainly a bright spot in the history of the media.

      (I’m reminded of a contemporary philosopher/public intellectual, who perhaps made an error in agreeing to be inteviewed in his home by a noble media stalwart, giving the latter more credit and benefit of the doubt than he deserved. The reporter had to use the restroom and while doing so took an inventory of what he saw there – did he open doors and drawers? – being sure to mention it in detail once his interview was published. Had the philosopher declined, imagine how that would have been spun by the reporter. Lesson: if one must succumb to an interview, have it at a neutral site with several witnesses.)

      IMHO, Jacqueline Kennedy was an outstanding example of how to deal with the media. NOT AT ALL. From “Fiddler on the Roof,” the rabbinical students to the rebbe: “Is there a proper blessing for the Tsar?” He replied, “May God bless and keep the Tsar – far away from us!”

  8. A new trove of Hemingway material has been revealed, consisting of stuff he left 8 decades ago at one of his favorite watering holes, Sloppy Joe’s bar in Key West, Florida.

    In Hemingway’s day, Sloppy Joe’s wasn’t at its current location at the corner of Duval and Greene Streets, but about half a block down Greene Street at the current location of Captain Tony’s Saloon (the boîte that still bears the name of its original owner Capt. Tony Tarracino, an old rumrunner and character in his own right).

    “Dink” Bruce, mentioned in the post above as one of the people who discovered the cache of Hemingway materials died just over two years ago. Last time I ran into him, it was at the memorial service for another buddy. Hell, the only time I ever see that old crew anymore is at memorial services. It’s hell getting old. Can’t say my momma didn’t warn me.

  9. I didn’t know much about the Mormons, apart from what I read in Sherlock Holmes a long time ago. I didn’t even realize they were real until later.

    I met some Mormons recently. They didn’t tell me anything about Joseph Smith being a fraud, so that part must have been made up. Blasphemy! They gave me a booklet called The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On its cover is a picture of a long haired chap with a lamb in his arms. He looks American.

    The little book kicks off with a bit about the revealed truth being rejected by the people. It says that scripture reveals a pattern of God choosing prophets from among us. But the problem is, even though the prophet bleats the Good Word like billy-o, the people cool off after a while and fall into what’s called a state of apostasy — they become thick in the head.

    But it turns out we have a direct line to God: it all boils down to something in the bible which says that if you lack wisdom, ask God and he will happily give you some. Ask God is what Joseph Smith did, because he was confused by all the different churches of his time. God told him they were all wrong and called Smith to be his prophet. Cool stuff!

      1. Somewhat similar to the clean-cut 1950s-looking dudes who always feature in the drawings in the Jehovah’s Witness pamphlets I suppose?

  10. Like most of the ‘modern’ religions, Mormonism is patently absurd. It’s amazing that these faiths have any appeal today, yet their numbers are often very large.

    I recently spent a week in Salt Lake City and want to share a couple of impressions:
    1) The Mormons seem to live what we might call healthy lives – they are mostly polite, gregarious, engaging, and have positive family values (apart from the large number of children);
    2) They take an inordinate interest in genealogy and have scoured the world to find sources of this information and generously provide this valuable resource to everyone;
    3) They totally dominate the state of Utah politically and economically, unfortunately with a consistently conservative viewpoint; and
    4) Their music (especially the organs and choirs) is very entertaining.

    1. Mormonism must have been fashionable when it was invented, but some of its claims (like the explanations of archeological findings and the history of Native Americans) seem embarrassing today.

      Not that old religions are any better. They would get much less respect if we knew more about how they came about and what their founders were like in person.

  11. I must confess that I did not catch the news that Gail Halverson passed away in February of this year at the ripe old age of 101. Many people in Germany attribute it to his actions that the US-Americans in 1948 were no longer seen as occupiers but more and more as friends.

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