Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s an overcast Saturday in Dobrzyn, but Hili, who was out all night, is sleeping cozily on the couch beside me, so all is well. It’s also August 6, which means it’s Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony Day, for it was this day in 1945 that the “Little Boy” atomic bomb was dropped by the Americans on Hiroshima, Japan, killing 70,000 people instantly and thousands more from radiation poisoning over subsequent years.

On this day in 1825, Bolivia gained independence from Spain, and, in 1914, Serbia declared war on Germany and Austria on Russia, beginning 4.5 years of a useless war that killed about 17 million people. On August 6, 1962, Jamaica became independent from the UK. And, exactly four years ago, the Curiosity rover landed on the surface of Mars (in some places the date is given as August 5). Once each year it plays itself a lonely version of “Happy Birthday,” a heartbreaking song that you can hear here.

Notables born on this day include Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809), Lucille Ball (1911, Stephen Barnard’s eagle “Lucy” is named after her), Robert Mitchum (1917), and Andy Warhol (1928). Those who died on this day include Anne Hathaway (Shakespeare’s wife; 1623), Ben Jonson (1637), Bix Beiderbecke (1931), and Marvin Hamlisch (2012). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has conceived of the Nefarious Law of Gravity:

Hili: I’m thinking.
A: What about?
Hili: Is this apple tree throwing apples at me deliberately and if so, why?
(Photo: Jerry Coyne)
In Polish:
Hili: Zastanawiam się.
Ja: Nad czym?
Hili: Czy ta jabłonka celowo zrzuca na mnie jabłka, a jeśli tak, to za co?
(Foto: Jerry Coyne)

And in Wloclawek, Leon is testing out the carved wooden furniture his staff has just bought for their new home:

Leon: I found myself a cool place, didn’t I?



  1. Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    The tree doesn’t have to throw them. Newton’s laws insure that all it need do is release the apple at the right moment.

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Two beautiful felines.

  3. Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Since you asked – I was wondering if you’d listened to Sam Harris podcast #41 with Eric Weinstein. As always Sam is worth listening to and I found Eric’s comments interesting. (Caveat – I’m only halfway through – my commute isn’t long enough to complete it in one day)

  4. somer
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Not the most auspicious day for peace in terms of modern (20th Century) history. Im glad Hili is just thinking about the falling apples and Leon is looking serious as usual – these days he even looks a bit forbidding – perhaps adjusting persona as lord of his new expansive domain.

  5. bluemaas
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Yeah, 71 years. Our flag flies at half mast today and will, again, in three more days’ time cuz … … W H Y ? Why — at all — Nagasaki ? Too ?

    Our killings could have, as well — save for a dude named Mr Hank Stimson, included next after Nagasaki’s annihilation then … … another pogrom also: Kyoto !

    Then – US Secretary o’ Warring ( ‘ith Those ‘Others’ Different Than Us Folk ) – Stimson had ‘personal’ reasons for sparing the Different Folks there in Kyoto. Yeah: personal reasons.

    I well know (nearly all) of, and over the years have quite experienced, the backlash and the blowback onto persons with thinkings as mine. So ya’ needn’t at all bother with it cuz: yeah, I am a full – on pacifist.


    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Not justifying anything but one more question might be – What does the fact that there was almost no cities left to bomb say about Japan at this time?

    • Christopher
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      I’m a 99% pacifist I guess, or something like that. I’ve wondered how things could have been different (not a question to ask any WWII vet, they’ll rip you a new one for even daring to think such a thing) and wondering if I might owe my own miserable life to those damn things, as my grandpa was in the Navy, experienced the battles in the Pacific, including kamikaze attacks, and probably would have experienced quite a bit more, or worse, had they not been dropped. These dark thoughts don’t change how I feel about the bombings, about Truman, or the people who fought. I think what bothers me the most is those, typically on the right, who still glorify the bombings and of course jumped all over Obama for his visit, which they all claimed was part of his apology tour, even though he did not actually apologize for the horrible bombings. To be disgusted by the images of dead and dying children, burned or ill from radiation sickness is not the same as wishing soldiers and sailors like my grandpa had died instead, it’s just reacting to the horrors of war, and in this case, a vile new pandora’s box of atrocities, one that’s still patiently,sadistically, waiting to be reopened…

      • rickflick
        Posted August 6, 2016 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        Good points, well put.

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

        The Strategic Bombing Survey, an inquiry board established in 1944, would disagree with those vets:

        “In 1944, the War Department set up a study group called the Strategic Bombing Survey to investigate the effects of aerial attacks. A report issued from that office in 1946 contains the following conclusion:

        The Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs did not defeat Japan, nor by the testimony of the enemy leaders who ended the war did they persuade Japan to accept unconditional surrender. The Emperor, the Lord Privy Seal, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Navy Minister had decided as early as May of 1945 that the war should be ended even if it meant acceptance of defeat on allied terms …. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or completed.

        Here are some references:

        On invasion casualty estimates: B. J. Bernstein, “A Postwar Myth,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists June/July:38-40, 1986) and R. E. Miles,Jr., “Hiroshima,” International Security (10: 121-40, 1985).

        On extent of damage to Japan: W. Reissner, “Why Truman Used the Atom Bomb,” Inter­continental Press (Aug. 19, 1985,501-503).

        On Strategic Bombing Survey report: a good library should have the original on microfilm (look for “japan’s Struggle to End the War,” M-lO 13, roll 18, report dated July 1,1946).

        National Archives Document: see G. Alperovitz, “Did We Have to Drop .the Bomb?” The New York Times (Aug. 3, 1989, A23).

        Various quotations and evidence on Japan’s readiness to surrender: see R. J. C. Butow, Japan’s Decision to Surrender (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1954, esp. 130-35) and G. Alperovitz, Atomic Diplomacy, 2d ed. (New York: Penguin, 1985) (which will lead you to hundreds of other sources).

        Erikson’s analysis: K. Erikson, “Of Accidental Judgments and Casual Slaughters,” The Nation (Aug. 3/10, 1985,65, 80-85).

  6. Christopher
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Is Poland the capital of cool carved-wood furniture? You’ve shared a lot of photos with some fantastic wood carvings, of which I am quite envious. I’d never have thought, before reading these posts over the last few years, that Poland would be near the top of my list of places to visit, but it is now. Too bad I haven’t the dosh to make it happen.

  7. E.A. Blair
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I received a Sunday Hili Dialogue at two minutes after midnight on Saturday. What’s with that?

    I’ll be commemorating the anniversary of Mrs. Shakespeare’s death by seeing a free performance of Julius Cæsar by Optimist Theater at Milwaukee’s Free Shakespeare in the Park.

    • Posted August 6, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      I acccidentally hit “post” instead of “save”. I sometimes do that when I’m tired or distracted. Then I have to copy the post, trash the old one, and save a copy in draft.

  8. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I half remember a joke about Anne Hathaway’s relationship with Shakespeare which concludes “Anne hath a way with him.”

    Also a good way to remember her name.

  9. Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Mea culpa, Jerry. Wonderful photos and narrative. I did read the Hili dialogue — as always! — and then hurriedly went straight for the food and life-with-A&M post! How might one go about getting adopted by your wonderful hosts?

    I’m also enchanted with the obvious affection between Hili and Cyrus.

  10. Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Hili sure is a pretty cat.

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