Thursday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

It’s Thursday, June 8, 2017: National Jelly Donut Day. I occasionally have one, but my favorite is the double chocolate: a chocolate cake donut with chocolate icing on top. It’s also World Brain Tumor Day.

On this day in 632, Muhammad died in Medina, but again there are calendar problems. On June 8, 1789, James Madison introduced nine amendments to the U.S. Constitution in Congress; seven of these would eventually become part of the first ten amendments known as the Bill of Rights. On this day in 1949, the year of my birth, George Orwell published his famous Nineteen Eighty-Four. On June 8, 1972, AP photographer Nick Ut took an iconic picture of the Vietnam War, featuring the nine-year-old girl Phan Thị Kim Phúc,  burned on the arms and back by American napalm, running down a road. That photo won Ut a Pulitzer Prize:

Phúc, whose burns were so severe they didn’t think she would survive, underwent many surgeries, and her odyssey took her to Cuba and ultimately, as a refugee, to Ontario, where she now lives with her husband and two children. She’s 54 (I remember well when the picture came out!), and here she is with one child, showing the scars from the napalm burns:

Finally, in 1987 New Zealand established its country as a nuclear-free zone, which for one thing means that any ship carrying nuclear weapons, including those from the U.S., can’t dock in its harbours (see the spelling? Am I an honourary Kiwi now?)

Notables born on this day include Frank Lloyd Wright (1867), Francis Crick (1916), Barbara Bush (1925), mountaineer Jim Wickwire (1940), Boz Scaggs (1944), and Derek Trucks (1979). Those who died on this day include Andrew Jackson (1845), Cochise (1874), George Sand (1876; real name Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin), Gerard Manley Hopkins (1889), mountaineer George Mallory (died on Everest on either June 8 or 9, 1924; it’s not clear whether he and Andrew Irvine, who also died, reached the summit), and Satchel Paige (1982).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, today’s Hili Dialogue is very opaque, and I asked Malgorzata for an explanation. Here it is:

There is a order of Friars Minor. In Polish it is called Order of Little Brothers but the wording is specific and Polish speakers know that here it is an allusion to this order and at the same time it means literally “little brothers”. Mice are Hili’s “little brothers”. I don’t know what are you going to do with this for your non-Polish speaking readers.

So. . .

Hili: It all looks very interesting.
A: What does?
Hili: The world of little brothers.
 In Polish:
Hili: To wszystko bardzo interesująco wygląda.
Ja: Co takiego?
Hili: Ten świat braci mniejszych.

In nearby Wloclawek (pronounced “Vote-Sva-Vek”), the Dark Tabby Leon is hankering for noms:

Leon: I think it’s time do go home for supper.

And from reader Ed Suominen, here’s a photo of Theresa May, with Larry, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, ignoring her. Ed thought it was a “random cat”, but I think he was unaware of Larry’s official government status. Even a cat, given that it’s the Chief Mouser, can ignore a Prime Minister!


  1. Sarah
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    That “u” in “honour” disappears in “honorary”. It would be easier to drop it everywhere.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Only if you’re American.

      English spelling has its own rules and attempts to ‘reform’ it usually end badly.


      • Sarah
        Posted June 8, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Regularizing the haphazard u of honour and honorary is not a major reform, especially as “honour” is relatively recent.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted June 9, 2017 at 12:21 am | Permalink

          And ‘colour’? ‘Candour’? ‘Armour’? ‘Rumour’? ‘Humour’? etc etc etc

          Where ya gonna stop?

          How about words like ‘nation’, shouldn’t they be ‘nayshun’? (But, ‘nashernal’?) If not why not?


          • Sarah
            Posted June 9, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

            My comment was about reverting to a consistent spelling–nothing about pronunciation or spelling reform a la Shaw.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted June 9, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

              Ain’t no such thing. If you demand to change ‘honour’ because of ‘honorary’ then – for consistency – ‘humour’ would have to change because of ‘humorous’, no? And ‘armour’ because of ‘armorial’? Can of worms…


              • Sarah
                Posted June 9, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

                Not really. A convention like that was changed and could change back, but it is probably too entrenched in one set of dialects to happen. But think of the way “gaol” is giving way to “jail”.

  2. Graham Head
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Hopefully not prime minister tomorrow. But she probably will be.😭

    • Dale Franzwa
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

      Given today’s voting results, maybe for not much longer.

  3. Randy schenck
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    A dangerous setting there Leon, at least for human feet.

    I know that Japan also has a policy of no ships with nuclear weapons and has for many years. Note also that when congress was working on those amendments it was two years after the Constitution had been completed.

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      I’m not current on this, but while Japan has a public (i.e. “this is our policy”) policy of no nuclear weapons, I believe that they also have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which did/does allow US ships carrying nuclear weapons into Japanese ports as long as no-one says “we have nukes aboard”. And, if I recall correctly, there are a couple of other countries that operate the same way.
      The US Navy had many ships carrying (or at least potentially carrying – their policy is “you can ask but we won’t tell”) nuclear weapons in, say, the 1970s; but I understand the number is much smaller now.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted June 8, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        I am not aware of the Navy’s policy one way or the other with regard to an understanding with Japan on this agreement. I recall that the U.S. Navy was not bringing any Carriers into Japan ports simply because they are nuclear powered ships.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 8, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

          Whether or not a ship is nuclear powered is not classified information. NZ law requires US ships to also confirm whether or not they’re carrying nuclear weapons. The Japanese take a “neither confirm nor deny” stance. We do not. Therefore, until last year, not even a coast guard cutter could dock here because the US won’t confirm or deny that, even in situations where everyone knows the answer.

          One thing to note, Japan and the others have nuclear power. We don’t, and our policy includes saying no nuclear power.

          As a result of the policy, NZ is no longer an official ally of the US, and hasn’t been since the policy was implemented.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted June 8, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            True, even though e.g. the Operation Deepfreeze flights through Christchurch to McMurdo continued without a hitch, and the NSA spooks still operate their wholesale communications snooping setup at Waihopai… there was an awful lot of posturing about the nuclear ban. What spooked the US was a sort of nuclear domino theory.


          • Randy schenck
            Posted June 8, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

            Understand. And certainly our relationship with Japan militarily and otherwise is much more complex than anything we would likely ever have with NZ. Being non-nuclear is certainly a good way to go if you can. Our responsibilities in the world have not allowed us to get there as yet.

      • eric
        Posted June 8, 2017 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

        The Japanese and NZ approaches were very different for another reason: NZ initially banned any ship using a nuclear power plants. The Japanese, in contrast, actively use nuclear power and don’t have a problem with it.

        I believe NZ’s official ban/opposition on nuclear-powered ships has softened somewhat, but I could be wrong about that. In any event, when the policy was implemented it was manifestly not just about nuclear weapons.

  4. Posted June 8, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Chief Mouser disapproves of May, and cats know best. Brits, you know what to do. 🙂

    • Sarah
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      I wonder if Larry is coming back from visiting the Queen, as in the nursery rhyme.

  5. Posted June 8, 2017 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Interesting to learn about the present-day Phuc. She seems to be at peace with the world; makes me want to know more about her.

    • Colin McLachlan
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      I found the juxtaposition of photos quite moving.

    • Posted June 8, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      There’s a pretty comprehensive bio on Wikipedia.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    The three iconic photographs from the war in Vietnam are the one above of Phan Thị Kim Phúc, the photo of South Vietnamese chief of national police Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing a bound Viet Cong prisoner, and the one of Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức self-immolating.

    That these three photos serve to encapsulate that conflict, tells you just how fucked-up it was.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      True, those are well known and famous photos of the conflict. However they do almost nothing to explain for those inside and outside the United states how tragic this war was or to learn the appropriate lessons that are so important to avoid repeating such events. There are many books on the subject that will help in this area but anyone can google away for that assistance.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 8, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        The best I’ve read in that regard is Neil Sheehan’s A Bright Shining Lie. (Goes well with Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest.)

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 8, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          My, I almost have forgotten about that book. Read it long ago, about John Paul Vann and many of the earlier years of Vietnam. Great book

          I can’t think about Halberstam without thinking of his book on Korea. Another guy to read is Andrew Bacevich, history prof. at Boston College. He is the real deal, historian and student of the military, served in Vietnam late in the war as a Company Commander. Also, his son died in Iraq.

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 9, 2017 at 3:29 am | Permalink

        “However they do almost nothing to explain for those inside and outside the United states how tragic this war was or to learn the appropriate lessons that are so important to avoid repeating such events.”

        Oh, I think I they go a long way on the tragic front…As for those famous lessons we were supposed to learn from it–what a short memory, eh? (Could you believe it when Kerry voted yes for Iraq?)

        Now we have lessons we’re supposed to have learned from Iraq the first. But didn’t. I’ll bet we were supposed to have learned a lot of lessons from Korea, too.

        (Not at all to denigrate the books you and others have mentioned here! Only the public/governmental inevitable amnesia…)

    • Posted June 8, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      I think some photos of boat people are also relevant.

  7. Posted June 8, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Great photos of Phan Thị Kim Phúc. Maybe especially the second one — wonderful!

  8. Heather Hastie
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Well done with harbour! That certainly gives you a few bonus points!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink



      • claudia baker
        Posted June 8, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        Bonus points from Canada too, for that spelling!

    • eric
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      You sure you kiwis don’t want to give him a whole tonne of bonous points now, and a few more latre?

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted June 9, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        Took me a while to work that one out! 🙂

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