Thursday: Hili dialogue

May 12, 2022 • 6:45 am

Greetings on Thursday, May 12, 2022: National Nutty Fudge Day. Truth be told, I like my fudge, like I like my political parties, without nuts.

Here are a few events that happened on May 12:

  • 1497 – Pope Alexander VI excommunicates Girolamo Savonarola.
  • 1846 – The Donner Party of pioneers departs Independence, Missouri for California, on what will become a year-long journey of hardship and cannibalism.
  • 1932 – Ten weeks after his abduction, Charles Jr., the infant son of Charles Lindbergh, is found dead near Hopewell, New Jersey, just a few miles from the Lindberghs’ home.
  • 1937 – The Duke and Duchess of York are crowned as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Westminster Abbey.
  • 2002 – Former US President Jimmy Carter arrives in Cuba for a five-day visit with Fidel Castro, becoming the first President of the United States, in or out of office, to visit the island since the Cuban Revolution.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1812 – Edward Lear, English poet and illustrator (d. 1888)

Here’s Lear’s own illustration of his famous poem, “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat“:

  • 1820 – Florence Nightingale, Italian-English nurse, social reformer, and statistician (d. 1910)
  • 1907 – Katharine Hepburn, American actress (d. 2003)
  • 1937 – George Carlin, American comedian, actor, and author (d. 2008)

Carlin was  mesmerizing presence and a comic genius. Here’s my favorite clip of him, one in which he tells the truth about religion; do watch it.

  • 1966 – Deborah Kara Unger, Canadian actress

Those who croaked on May 12 include:

  • 2001 – Perry Como, American singer and television host (b. 1912)

Como was once a barber in a town near Pennsylvania near where my father grew up, and was a barber before he was a singer. My father swore that, when he was younger, Como gave him a haircut.  Heeere’s Perry with one his more famous songs:

*And as for news: as expected, a vote in the Senate to guarantee abortion rights throughout the U.S. failed due to Republican opposition and a paucity of “yes” votes needed to overcome the 60-vote filibuster limit. It wasn’t even a tie: the vote was 51 senators voting “no” and 49 “yes”. Who was the Democratic holdout? Joe Manchin of West Virginia, of course, who might as well declare himself a Republican

*Finland has said it plans to apply for membership in NATO, discarding its longstanding policy of nonalignment. There’s little doubt its application would be accepted, but that will drive Putin up a(nother) wall given that Russia and Finland are contiguous and share a border of 1,340 km (830 mi).

*Finally, the ACLU continues to sink lower, concentrating on getting transsexual women, many of whom were in men’s prisons for committing sex crimes against women into women’s prisons. According to the thread, the ACLU and its allies are seeking to speed up the transfer of 300 such inmates, at least a third of whom are in prison for sex crimes, into women’s prisons.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is having on Andrzej:

Hili: We have to sharpen our tools and start field work.
A: Do not even think about birds.
Hili: I said nothing about birds.
In Polish:
Hili: Trzeba naostrzyć narzędzia i zabrać się za prace polowe.
Ja: Nie myśl nawet o ptaszkach.
Hili: Nic o ptaszkach nie mówiłam.
A lovely formal portrait of Kulka by Paulina:

And here’s Karolina grabbing up Kulka again (photo by Paulina):

From Divy:

From Only Duck Memes:

From Jesus of the Day:

I retweeted this extraordinarily stupid statement from Jordan Peterson (originally sent by Barry). As I said, I don’t follow Peterson, but if you’re a fan, please explain this:

From Titania:

A lovely Egyptian cat ring (the carnelian is a single stone) sent by Gravelinspector:

From Ginger K.:

Tweets from Matthew. Two from a little-known figure of history. Read more about him here.

. . . and a statue and Knorozov’s gravestone:

Here’s his Wikipedia photo with his Siamese cat Asya, clearly the model for the gravestone:

Look how long this flying fish is out of the water! But Matthew makes a good point:

And watch this one to the end:

Wednesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon and Kulka monologues)

December 30, 2020 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. And guess what: it’s the last day of Coynezaa:—my birthday! And guess what else? I have to go to the dentist and may have to get a tooth pulled. Some fun! The end of the annus horribilis. Because of this ill-timed annoyance, posting will be light today.

But the misery is leavened by this lovely birthday drawing that Jacques Hausser made for me. Ceiling Duck!!! (Jacques studies shrews, so there’s one in there, too.)

Well, it’s a crappy food day: National Bicarbonate of Soda Day, presumably to recover from all your holiday eating. It’s Bacon Day, for those still indulging,

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates Elizabeth Peratovich (1911-1958), described by Wikipedia as

“. . . an American civil rights activist and member of the Tlingit nation who worked on behalf of equality for Alaska Natives. In the 1940s, her advocacy was credited as being instrumental in the passing of Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, the first anti-discrimination law in the United States.”

News of the Day:

We have two waterfowl stories today, both about bird love. This first one is sad, and comes from the Guardian. It’s about a swan mourning for its dead mate (h/t: Jez):

Police and firefighters in Germany were forced to intervene to move an apparently “mourning” swan that was blocking a high-speed railway line, according to a statement released by the rescuers on Monday.

The swan was pictured blocking the line near Fuldatal, causing at least 20 trains to be cancelled, after a second swan was killed when it flew into the overhead line above the tracks.

After the accident the second swan settled on the railway tracks below, preventing trains from passing on the route from Kassel to Göttingen. According to reports in local media, firefighters brought in specialist equipment to remove the dead swan from the overhead lines and the second swan from the tracks, taking it to the Fulda river where it was released.

This almost brings tears to my eyes. And here’s a photo:

Reader Jeremy pointed me to a story about another beautiful but errant Mandarin duck drake (Aix galericulata), this one in a pond near Cincinnati. (If you recall, a Mandarin showed up in the Central Park pond last winter.)  But the Ohio drake seems to be in love with a mallard hen, and the species aren’t all that closely related (their common ancestor lived about 20 million years ago).  Reader Jeremy went to see the duck, snapped a photo of the drake and his would-be paramour, and said this:

I stopped by and took a couple of pictures from my phone last week. Thought you might be interested. Beautiful bird indeed!

Matthew tweeted this, and it looks like the new UK coronavirus mutant really is spreading much faster that the “normal” one:

The first isolate of this mutant has now been identified in the U.S.—in a Colorado man in his twenties with no recent travel history.

Yesterday, Republican congressman-elect Luke Letlow, only 41, died from complications of coronavirus. There will be a special election to fill his seat.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 338,767, a huge increase of about 3,600 deaths from yesterday’s figure, equivalent to 2.5 deaths per minute. The world death toll is 1,799,076, another big increase of about 15,500 over yesterday’s total and representing about 10.8 deaths per minute from Covid-19—more than one every 6 seconds.

Stuff that happened on December 30; pickings are slim!

  • 1066 – Granada massacre: A Muslim mob storms the royal palace in Granada, crucifies Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela and massacres most of the Jewish population of the city.
  • 1890 – Following the Wounded Knee Massacre, the United States Army and Lakota warriors face off in the Drexel Mission Fight.
  • 1916 – Russian mystic and advisor to the Tsar Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was murdered by a loyalist group led by Prince Felix Yusupov. His frozen, partially-trussed body was discovered in a Moscow river three days later.

The postmortemrumors were that he had been almost impossible to kill, but we don’t really know what happened with a group of nobleman, worried about Rasputin’s influence over the Czar, decided to murder him. Here he is with his wife and daughter Matryona (Maria) in his St. Petersburg apartment in 1911. Matryona later moved to the U.S. where she became a riveter and a circus performer, and died in 1977. 


  • 1922 – The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is formed.
  • 2006 – Former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein is executed.

Notables born on this day include:

  • AD 39 – Titus, Roman emperor (probable; d. 81)
  • 1865 – Rudyard Kipling, Indian-English author and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1936)

Kipling and his family lived in Vermont for several years, where he began The Jungle Books(a great favorite of Matthew). Here’s Kipling in his study at Naulakha, Vermont in 1895:

  • 1910 – Paul Bowles, American composer and author (d. 1999)
  • 1928 – Bo Diddley, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2008)
  • 1931 – Skeeter Davis, American singer-songwriter (d. 2004)
  • 1935 – Sandy Koufax, American baseball player and sportscaster
  • 1945 – Davy Jones, English singer-songwriter and actor (d. 2012)
  • 1946 – Patti Smith, American singer-songwriter and poet
  • 1949 – Jerry Coyne, American biologist and author.

Here’s Coyne in the Karni Mata “Rat Temple” in Deshnoke, India.  In the rear are some of the thousands of resident rats, drinking a sacred offering of cream.

  • 1959 – Tracey Ullman, English-American actress, singer, director, and screenwriter
  • 1965 – Heidi Fleiss, American procurer
  • 1975 – Tiger Woods, American golfer

Those who kicked the bucket on December 30 include:

  • 1916 – Grigori Rasputin, Russian mystic (b. 1869) [see above]
  • 1979 – Richard Rodgers, American playwright and composer (b. 1902)
  • 2006 – Saddam Hussein, Iraqi general and politician, 5th President of Iraq (b. 1937)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, I got special birthday greetings from Hili!

Hili: Is a birthday an adaptation?
A: Probably not. Why do you think it is?
Hili: Gifts help survival. Happy Birthday, Jerry!
In Polish:
Hili: Czy urodziny są adaptacją?
Ja: Chyba nie, dlaczego tak sądzisz?
Hili: Prezenty pomagają przetrwać. Happy Birthday, Jerry!
And I’m told that Szaron wishes me a happy birthday in his “shy and silent way”:

Happily, we have our first Kulka monologue: she got so excited that she finally spoke!

Kulka: A new cardboard box!

Kulka: Nowy karton!

In nearby Wlocawek, Leon also has a few words to say (unlike Mietek, he likes the holidays and parties).

Leon: My place for the New Year’s Eve party
In Polish: Moja miejscówka na sylwestra

From Stephen, who says, “A vivid example of the law of the excluded middle.” I like it, though. 

A cat mugshot from John:

An old cartoon from Sarah:

From Titania:  This is an actual poster from the strike at Bryn Mawr College. It was posted in the Science Building on November 9 of this year.

From Simon, a good XKCD cartoon:

Tweets from Matthew, who points out: “Alfred Russel Wallace falls even further. After spiritualism and human specialness, he became an anti-vaxxer.” The story is a bit more complicated, as doctors were exaggerating the effiacy of vaccination back then.

They need to get these individuals together:

This is sad and sweet at the same time.


Pandemic albatrosses:


Friday: Hili dialogue (and a Kulka Christmas monologue)

December 25, 2020 • 6:30 am

Merry Christmas and Joyous First Day of Coynezaa!  It’s Friday, December 25, 2020, and National Pumpkin Pie Day. You can get a huge one at Costco (3 lb 10 ounces) for about six bucks, and they are mighty tasty. This is one of the best food bargains going. Sadly, Costco is closed today, and you have to be a member anyway. But if you are, don’t miss out on this behemoth pie during the holiday season (and you can freeze the leftovers).

News of the Day:

Do you really want bad news on Christmas? Well, there’s plenty. First, though, the good news: the U.S. military, charged with the annual tracking of Santa, has confirmed that the pandemic will not throw off St. Nick: presents will be delivered on schedule. That’s something that even the U.S. Postal Service can’t do.

As we speak, 85 million Americans are carrying viruses across the country in cars and planes, or are heading towards a place to get them. All health officials have advised against travel. But they’ve got a ticket to ride, and they don’t care. We’ll see the result in a couple of weeks.

But if you’re coming from Britain, you’d better have a negative Covid-19 test, as the U.S. has just required all passengers from Old Blighty to have tested negative within 72 hours before their departure. If you don’t have a documented negative test result, you can’t board the plane. And it better be the PCR test too, as that’s the one required (it’s the most accurate). This is a response to reports that the new mutant virus that supposedly is more infectious than the old ones. (We still don’t have real evidence for that.)

And, of course, Congress is in turmoil, with the Democrats pretending that they acceded to Trump’s request for an increase in per-American pandemic payments fro $600 to $2000, trying to force Republicans to look like they’re falling in line with Trump’s wishes (he said he’d veto the stimulus bill unless Congress folds). The Republicans didn’t fold, and so right now the whole thing is stalemated. The losers are the American people—the people who need money for rent or loans to keep their businesses going.  I hate to say this, but it looks like the Democrats are trying to make political capital at the expense of hard-up Americans. As the NYT says:

The Democrats’ Christmas Eve gambit on the House floor was never meant to pass, but the party’s leaders hoped to put Republicans in a bind — choosing between the president’s wishes for far more largess and their own inclinations for modest spending.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 329,237, a substantial increase of about 2,800 from yesterday’s figure—roughly two deaths a minute. The world death toll is 1,751,191, a big increase of about 11,300 over yesterday’s report and the equivalent of about 7.8 deaths per minute.

Stuff that happened on December 25 include:

  • 336 – First documentary sign of Christmas celebration in Rome.

This is from the Chronograph of 354, and you know, doesn’t that just prove that Jesus wasn’t only real, but divine?

  • 800 – The coronation of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor, in Rome.
  • 1013- Sweyn Forkbeard takes control of the Danelaw and is proclaimed king of England.The first Danish king of England, he ruled for only five weeks before he croaked. Here he is at his dad’s funeral, which looks like a gluttonous affair. His beard doesn’t look forked, either.

    Sweyn and the Jomsvikings at the funeral ale of his father Harald Bluetooth. Painting by Lorenz Frølich, c. 1883–86, Frederiksborg Castle.
  • 1066 – William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy is crowned king of England, at Westminster Abbey, London.
  • 1492 – The carrack Santa María, commanded by Christopher Columbus, runs onto a reef off Haiti due to an improper watch.
  • 1758 – Halley’s Comet is sighted by Johann Georg Palitzsch, confirming Edmund Halley’s prediction of its passage. This was the first passage of a comet predicted ahead of time.
  • 1776 – George Washington and the Continental Army cross the Delaware River at night to attack Hessian forces serving Great Britain at Trenton, New Jersey, the next day.

The Continental Army won in a decisive and morale-boosting victory. Here’s the famous painting by Emanuel Leutze. From Wikipedia:

The painting is notable for its artistic composition. General Washington is emphasized by an unnaturally bright sky, while his face catches the upcoming sun. The colors consist of mostly dark tones, as is to be expected at dawn, but there are red highlights repeated throughout the painting. Foreshortening, perspective and the distant boats all lend depth to the painting and emphasize the boat carrying Washington.

The people in the boat represent a cross-section of the American colonies, including a man in a Scottish bonnet and a man of African descent facing backward next to each other in the front, western riflemen at the bow and stern, two farmers in broad-brimmed hats near the back (one with bandaged head), and an androgynous rower in a red shirt, possibly meant to be a woman in man’s clothing. There is also a man at the back of the boat wearing what appears to be Native American garb to represent the idea that all people in the new United States of America were represented as present in the boat along with Washington on his way to victory and success.

Did you read that? A woman (or person of indeterminate gender), an African-American, and a Native American (probably case of cultural appropriation)? This painting was way ahead of its time.

  • 1809 – Dr. Ephraim McDowell performs the first ovariotomy, removing a 22-pound tumor.
  • 1826 – The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy concludes after beginning the previous evening.
  • 1831 – The Great Jamaican Slave Revolt begins; up to 20% of Jamaica’s slaves mobilize in an ultimately unsuccessful fight for freedom.
  • 1868 – Pardons for ex-Confederates: United States President Andrew Johnson grants an unconditional pardon to all Confederate veterans.
  • 1950 – The Stone of Scone, traditional coronation stone of British monarchs, is taken from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students. It later turns up in Scotland on April 11, 1951.

Here’s the real Stone of Scone, which is now scheduled to be moved to Perth City Hall (?) in 2024:

Here’s its return to Scotland in 1996, where it will stay except when a new British monarch is crowned in Westminster Abbey:

  • 1968 – Apollo program: Apollo 8 performs the first successful Trans-Earth injection (TEI) maneuver, sending the crew and spacecraft on a trajectory back to Earth from Lunar orbit.
  • 1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as President of the Soviet Union (the union itself is dissolved the next day). Ukraine’s referendum is finalized and Ukraine officially leaves the Soviet Union.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s an “forensic anthropological” reconstruction of what Jesus looked like, but the methodology is pretty bogus (check the link). And of course I’m still not convinced that a Jesus person ever existed.

  • 1642 (OS) – Isaac Newton, English physicist and mathematician (d. 1726/1727)
  • 1821 – Clara Barton, American nurse and humanitarian, founder of the American Red Cross (d. 1912)
  • 1884 – Evelyn Nesbit, American model and actress (d. 1967)
  • 1899 – Humphrey Bogart, American actor (d. 1957)
  • 1907 – Cab Calloway, American singer-songwriter and bandleader (d. 1994)

Here’s Cab in his heyday doing his most famous song, “Minnie the Moocher“:

Sissy Spacek is only five days older than I am, so I keep an eye on her to see how I am aging—comparatively.  Here she is in 2018 with Robert Redford in the movie “The Old Man and the Gun“. We’re all getting older, but she still looks pretty good:

  • 1971 – Justin Trudeau, Canadian educator and politician, 23rd Prime Minister of Canada

Those whose metabolic processes became history on December 25 include:

  • 1946 – W. C. Fields, American actor, comedian, juggler, and screenwriter (b. 1880)
  • 1977 – Charlie Chaplin, English actor and director (b. 1889)
  • 1983 – Joan Miró, Spanish painter and sculptor (b. 1893)

Here’s Miro’s “The Farmer’s Wife, Kitchen, Cat, Rabbit”, with a cat detail:

  • 2005 – Birgit Nilsson, Swedish operatic soprano (b. 1918)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, we have a Christmas photo of Hili wryly contemplating the Scriptures:

Hili: How many times are cats mentioned in this book?
A: I don’t know, I have the impression that they are not mentioned at all.
Hili: You see? And cats exist.
In Polish:
Hili: Ile razy w tej książce piszą o kotach?
Ja: Nie wiem, mam wrażenie, że wcale.
Hili: No popatrz, a koty istnieją.

And little Kulka, now freed from ths post-spaying jacket, posed beside the Christmas tree. Malgorzata notes, “This will be a bit of a clumsy translation because Andrzej uses Polish words with double meaning. All his ironic hints are immediately understandable in Polish but I have no idea how to retain them in English”. (Photo by Paulina; the Polish is below the picture.):

Kulka: I wish everybody who celebrates everything they wish themselves.

In Polish: Wszystkim, którzy obchodzą życzę wszystkiego, czego sobie sami życzą. Kulka (Foto: Paulina Raniszewska)

From Mark, a short history of canid domestication.

From Nicole (be sure to see our own Cat Confessions Contest from 2014):

Here’s a purple frog from Donna. Yes, it’s a real species, and you can read about it here and here (the second link has a video of the frog calling).

Another photo:

From Titania, who always finds these things:

Another tweet that I got from Matthew and retweeted. Be sure to watch the whole video so you can see it open that huge maw!

Now here’s a lovely fish, and I’m glad they threw it back:

Christmas tweets from Matthew, with an awesome Gary Larson cartoon:

I wonder if Baby Jesus tasted of wine and wafers:

One of the 25 Days of Crustmas: a mutualism!



Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

September 12, 2020 • 6:30 am

We’re into the weekend, and fall is coming on strong, as: it’s Saturday, September 12, 2020, National Chocolate Milkshake Day. It’s also International Drive Your Studebaker Day (does anybody have one?), National Iguana Awareness Day, Aunt’s Day (which aunt?), Video Games Day, and National Day of Encouragement, whatever that’s for.

News of the Day: Don’t forget to vote for Clarence to pay off his vet bills. Vote here; it’s free. He’s in first place, and we must keep him there. There are 5.5 days left, and you can vote for free once every 24 hours. Do it for Ceiling Cat!

Clarence and staff.

Regular news: After the UAE voted to normalize relations with Israel, Bahrain just announced it is doing the same. I hope this is the beginning of a trend.

Reader Ken sent a link to a New Hampshire Union-Leader article reporting that a woman in Exeter voted topless:

The unidentified woman cast the bare-breasted ballot after showing up at the Talbot Gymnasium polls wearing a shirt with images of President Donald Trump and the late Sen. John McCain and the legend “McCain Hero/Trump Zero.”

Town Moderator Paul Scafidi told the woman, who appeared to be about 60, that she would have to remove the shirt or cover it up because of laws against electioneering inside polling places — though Trump’s name wasn’t on Tuesday’s state primary ballot.

When the woman, who was wearing a mask, pointed out someone wearing a shirt with an American flag, she was told that was different.

“She said, ‘You want me to take my shirt off? That’s what you want?’” Scafidi recalled.

He told the woman it was her choice, and before he could say anything more, the shirt was gone. She was not wearing a bra.

She was not arrested.

The Washington Post reports that a group of students at Miami University of Ohio were having an unmasked beer-drinking gathering on the front porch of a house. A police check revealed that several had Covid-19, but they apparently didn’t care. Six students were cited (a civil violation) and fined $500 each. But is that enough to deter others? As somebody said, a university rule that depends on 100% voluntary compliance will never be properly obeyed. I’m worried about my own school opening up in a couple of weeks (part virtual learning, part “real” learning).

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 192,853, an increase of about 1,200 deaths over yesterday’s report. We’ll soon hit the dreaded 200,000 mark that nobody thought possible. The world death toll now stands at 913,780, an increase of about 3,700 deaths from yesterday. And here we’re approaching a million deaths. 

Stuff that happened on September 12 includes:

  • 1609 – Henry Hudson begins his exploration of the Hudson River while aboard the Halve Maen.
  • 1846 – Elizabeth Barrett elopes with Robert Browning.
  • 1910 – Premiere performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in Munich (with a chorus of 852 singers and an orchestra of 171 players. Mahler’s rehearsal assistant conductor was Bruno Walter).
  • 1933 – Leó Szilárd, waiting for a red light on Southampton Row in Bloomsbury, conceives the idea of the nuclear chain reaction.

Here’s Szilard (right) at the University of Chicago, where the first self-sustaining fission reaction took place in the gym, Stagg Field. That gym is no more, but there’s a Henry Moore sculpture on the site:

(From Wikipedia): Szilard and Norman Hilberry at the site of CP-1, at the University of Chicago, some years after the war. It was demolished in 1957.

Now this is a weird one. Three boys saw a UFO and a weird being that looked like this:


After investigating the case in 2000, Joe Nickell of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry concluded that the bright light in the sky reported by the witnesses on September 12 was most likely a meteor, that the pulsating red light was likely an aircraft navigation/hazard beacon, and that the creature described by witnesses closely resembled an owl. Nickell suggested that witnesses’ perceptions were distorted by their heightened state of anxiety. Nickell’s conclusions are shared by a number of other investigators, including those of the Air Force.

The night of the September 12 sighting, a meteor had been observed across three states—Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. According to Nickell, three flashing red aircraft beacons were also visible from the area of the sightings, which could account for descriptions of a pulsating red light and red tint on the face of the supposed monster.

How could they mistake an owl for a being twice as big as a human?

A photo of the wedding:

  • 1959 – Bonanza premieres, the first regularly scheduled TV program presented in color.

Hoss: Pass the potatoes, Little Joe.

Here’s Kennedy’s famous statement, and of course we were on the Moon in less than a decade. That’s remarkable!

  • 1984 – Dwight Gooden sets the baseball record for strikeouts in a season by a rookie with 276, previously set by Herb Score with 246 in 1954. Gooden’s 276 strikeouts that season, pitched in 218 innings, set the current record.
  • 2011 – The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City opens to the public.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1852 – H. H. Asquith, English lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1928)
  • 1880 – H. L. Mencken, American journalist and critic (d. 1956)

The great man:

  • 1888 – Maurice Chevalier, French actor, singer, and dancer (d. 1972)
  • 1898 – Ben Shahn, Lithuanian-American painter and photographer (d. 1969)
  • 1913 – Jesse Owens, American sprinter and long jumper (d. 1980)
  • 1931 – George Jones, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2013)
  • 1944 – Barry White, American singer-songwriter (d. 2003)

Here’s Barry White in a famous scene from the t.v. show Ally McBeal, in which a big fan of Barry gets a special birthday present:

  • 1981 – Jennifer Hudson, American singer and actress
  • 1986 – Emmy Rossum, American singer and actress

Those who began pining for the fjords on September 12 include:

  • 1660 – Jacob Cats, Dutch poet, jurist, and politician (b. 1577)
  • 1977 – Steve Biko, South African activist (b. 1946)
  • 1992 – Anthony Perkins, American actor, singer, and director (b. 1932)
  • 1993 – Raymond Burr, Canadian-American actor and director (b. 1917)
  • 2003 – Johnny Cash, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1932)
  • 2008 – David Foster Wallace, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1962)
  • 2009 – Norman Borlaug, American agronomist and humanitarian, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1914)
  • 2014 – Ian Paisley, Northern Irish evangelical pastor (Free Presbyterian Church) and politician, 2nd First Minister of Northern Ireland (b. 1926)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili prepares to edit Listy:

Hili: We have to mobilize our whole strength to work.
A: How?
Hili: First, it’s best to take a nap.
In Polish:
Hili: Musimy zmobilizować wszystkie siły do pracy.
Ja: Jak?
Hili: Najlepiej najpierw się przespać.

And nearby, at the site of their future home, Leon and Mietek are juiced about the weekend:

Leon: The weekend has started, which means there are plenty of things to do.

In Polish: Weekend się zaczął,czyli mnóstwo spraw do załatwienia.

Two photos of kitten Kulka As Malgorzata said, “In a few months we will have trouble telling Kulka and Hili apart.”

From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe:

From Facebook:

From Jesus of the Day:

All tweets today are from Matthew, who fortunately is not on one of his sporadic holidays from Twitter.

First, chicken training. I’m not sure if this chicken is encountering the situation for the first time here, but even if not, it’s still a good example of “active learning”:

Boris Johnson has threatened to field “covid marshals” to enforce quarantine rules. This swan would be a great one, for it knows how a mask should be worn.

I yearn to be back on my Rollerblades again, but I can’t find ones with a stiff boot rather than a soft shoe. It was great exercise, and, importantly, fun exercise. But I never got to do this:

Okay, some enterprising reader needs to find out more about this:

This is a hydrozoan:

Back to politics and the banality of evil:

Matthew, knowing me, sent me this tweet with the note, “This will trigger you terribly BUT IT ALL TURNS OUT OK.”

As Johnny Carson used to say, “I did not know that.”


Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Kulka monologue)

August 1, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s August 1 (2020)!!! We made it out of July unscathed, or so I hope since I haven’t heard of any disasters to befall the readers. It’s National Raspberry Cream Pie Day (one pie I’ve never had), Homemade Pie Day, National Jamaican Patty Day, (the Jamaican version of a Cornish Pastie, filled with beef), Mead Day, National Mustard Day (the ONLY semi-liquid condiment to put on a hot dog), National Girlfriends Day, and Woman Astronomers Day.

It’s also “celebration of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 which ended the slavery in the British Empire.

As for the month in food, it’s:

  • National Panini Month
  • National Peach Month, and
  • National Sandwich Month

News of the Day: Yesterday a federal appeals court overturned the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two Boston Marathon bombers (the other was killed in a shootout).  Their pressure-cooker bombing in 2013 killed 3 people and wounded 260 more. The case was sent back to a lower court because of missteps in the original trial. Tsarnaev, 27, has no chance of ever being released from the Supermax prison in Colorado where he sits, but the death penalty will be revisited in another trial. And, I suppose, the Supreme Court could eventually reinstate it, since it’s a federal case. I oppose the death penalty and so favor this decision.

A 57-year-old American citizen, Tahir Naseem, was shot to death on Thursday in a courtroom in Pakistan where he was on trial for blasphemy. (The accusation was that he claimed to be a prophet.) From the NYT:

Mr. Naseem was accused of blasphemy in 2018 on charges that carried penalties ranging from fines to death.

He had been a member of the Ahmadi sect, which has been declared heretical under the Pakistani Constitution and whose members face repeated persecution. However, representatives said Mr. Naseem had left the sect and had claimed to be the messiah and a prophet.

Blasphemy is a highly combustible and sensitive subject in Pakistan, with emotions flaring over mere rumors that Islam has been insulted. The government has never executed anyone under blasphemy laws, but people accused of it are often killed by mobs even before the police can take action, rights groups say.

And the state knows this. But a sole young man, not a mob, took Naseem’s life for no good reason, only “offended feelings”. Pakistan should enter the modern era and ditch its stupid blasphemy laws.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 153,850, an increase of about 1400 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 679,182, an increase of about 5600 deaths from yesterday.

Stuff that happened on August 1 include:

This was one of the two ships (the other being the Mayflower, of course) that brought pilgrims to America. Robert Weir, an American artist, did a painting that graced the reverse of the $10,000 bill. As Wikipedia notes, “The Embarkation of the Pilgrims is depicted on the reverse of the 10,000 dollar bill (Federal Reserve Note) issued in 1918. Only five examples of this bill are known, and “none exist outside of institutional collections.”

Here’s that note. Do you know who’s depicted on the other side? Go here to find out.


  • 1774 – British scientist Joseph Priestley discovers oxygen gas, corroborating the prior discovery of this element by German-Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele.

Well, did Priestly discover it or not?

Perky had chronic diarrhea, and invented the product in part to relieve his own symptoms. Here’s an early ad:

  • 1907 – The start of the first Scout camp on Brownsea Island, the origin of the worldwide Scouting movement.

Here’s Der Führer opening the Olympics from a British newsreel. It also shows Jesse Owens, a black American, winning the 100-meter dash, a great embarrassment to Hitler and his Aryan pals.

  • 1936 – The Olympics opened in Berlin with a ceremony presided over by Adolf Hitler.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi German occupation breaks out in Warsaw, Poland.
  • 1965 – Frank Herbert‘s novel, Dune was published for the first time. It was named as the world’s best-selling science fiction novel in 2003.

I’ve never read this book, but I suppose I should.

  • 1966 – Charles Whitman kills 16 people at the University of Texas at Austin before being killed by the police.
  • 1966 – Purges of intellectuals and imperialists becomes official China policy at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.
  • 1971 – The Concert for Bangladesh, organized by former Beatle George Harrison, is held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Here’s George Harrison and Eric Clapton performing one of Harrison’s great songs at that concert:

  • 1981 – MTV begins broadcasting in the United States and airs its first video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
  • 1984 – Commercial peat-cutters discover the preserved bog body of a man, called Lindow Man, at Lindow MossCheshire, England.

You can see Lindow Man in the British Museum. The period when he lived is uncertain, though some think it’s roughly 100 AD. His head had been bashed in and his throat cut (he was in his twenties), suggesting a ritual sacrifice. Here’s what’s left of him:

Notables born on this day:

  • 1744 – Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, French soldier, biologist, and academic (d. 1829)
  • 1779 – Francis Scott Key, American lawyer, author, and poet (d. 1843)
  • 1819 – Herman Melville, American novelist, short story writer, and poet (d. 1891)
  • 1907 – Eric Shipton, Sri Lankan-English mountaineer and explorer (d. 1977)

Shipton led several expeditions to climb Mount Everest; though his team never succeeded, he mapped out the classic route to the top through the Khumbu icefall.

  • 1931 – Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1936 – W. D. Hamilton, Egyptian born British biologist, psychologist, and academic (d. 2000)
  • 1942 – Jerry Garcia, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1995)

Those who went to the Great Beyond on August 1 include:

  • 30 BC – Mark Antony, Roman general and politician (b. 83 BC)
  • 1903 – Calamity Jane, American frontierswoman and scout (b. 1853)
  • 1981 – Paddy Chayefsky, American author, playwright, and screenwriter (b. 1923)
  • 2007 – Tommy Makem, Irish singer-songwriter and banjo player (b. 1932)
  • 2009 – Corazon Aquino, Filipino politician, 11th President of the Philippines (b. 1933)
  • 2015 – Cilla Black, English singer and actress (b. 1943)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili flaunts her Green Virtue:

Hili: We have to care for the environment.
A: I’m doing what I can.
In Polish:
Hili: Musimy dbać o środowisko.
Ja: Robię co w mojej mocy.

Here’s baby Kulka encountering a visiting husky dog who came to Dobrzyn (Andrzej and Malgorzata thought of adopting it, but it turned out it had an owner and had been stolen). And she has a monologue!

Kulka: We are not afraid of a huge dog.  (In Polish: Nie straszny jest nam wielki pies.)

From Jesus of the Day (you should know all the songs referred to here):

From Bad Cat Clothing:

From Richard Haynes. I suppose the Bible is better than nothing, but it ain’t as good as a mask!

I tweeted, but of course the original tweet came from Matthew:

All other tweets are from Matthew today because, thanks Ceiling Cat, his Twitter hiatus was a short one. First, Perseverance and Ingenuity on their way to Mars! It’s expected to land on February 21 of next year.

The mating system of anglerfish is one of the weirdest in vertebrates: males fuse to females and lose any bodily autonomy, becoming a sac of gonads permanently fused to the female’s body and circulatory system. The Beebe quote that the second tweet recommends is this one:

Naturalist William Beebe put it nicely in 1938, writing, “But to be driven by impelling odor headlong upon a mate so gigantic, in such immense and forbidding darkness, and willfully eat a hole in her soft side, to feel the gradually increasing transfusion of her blood through one’s veins, to lose everything that marked one as other than a worm, to become a brainless, senseless thing that was a fish—this is sheer fiction, beyond all belief unless we have seen the proof of it.”

A flash flood in the American desert, apparently following a forest fire. Believe me, this kind of flood is not all that unusual.

Proof of the Aquatic Canid Hypothesis:

I may have posted it before, but if I did, well, here it is again. It’s amazing that nests and chicks can be so small:

Not only do the eyes move position during development, but some species of flatfish are “right eyed,” others are “left eyed”, and some are random, with both types of individuals. The species difference is partly genetic.