Saturday: Hili dialogue

We’ve reached the weekend, and it’s now June 17, 2017 in the U.S.: National Apple Strudel Day. But it should read “International”, for the best strudel, I’ve found, is found in Europe: Austria, to be precise. And because the treat is a bit dry, I like mine mit Schlag. It’s also Þjóðhátíðardagurinn, or Icelandic National Day, celebrating the independence of that island nation from Denmark on June 17, 1944.  Why that day? As Wikipedia notes, “The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, a major figure of Icelandic culture and the leader of the 19th century Icelandic independence movement.” A friend told me last week that I must visit Iceland, and I hope to do that some day. I’m just worried about eating fish all the time, as I’m not a piscivore.

On this day in 1579, Sir Francis Drake landed somewhere in the Bay Area of California (probably the place now called “Drake’s Bay”) and claimed it for England as Nova Albion. On June 17, 1631, Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Mughal Emperor Shan Jahan, died during childbirth. The distraught emperor spent the next 17 years building her monument and mausoleum: the Taj Mahal. It’s one of the three most beautiful places on Earth to me, the others being the Everest region of Nepal and Machu Picchu.  It’s gorgeous, and inlaid with intricate Arabic writing and designs in semiprecious stones:

The two tombs and some of the inlay:

On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the French, arrived in New York Harbor. June 17, 1939 saw the last public guillotining in France: convicted German murderer Eugen Weidmann was chopped in Versailles at the Saint-Pierre Prison (there is a short video of the execution here: no gore, but you can see the blade dropping and the big crowd who came to watch). On this day in 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against reciting Bible verses and the Lord’s Prayer in public schools (an 8–1 decision in Abington School District v. Schempp). Hooray for the First Amendment! But exactly nine years later, five men, acting under orders from the White House, were arrested in a break-in at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. They were trying to wiretap the Democrats, and it was the beginning of the end for Erlichman, Haldeman, Dean, Nixon, and the whole corrupt gang. Exactly 30 years today, the last individual of the dusky seaside sparrow died; the subspecies had dwindled to five males so it was doomed. The sparrow was not a species, but was considered a subspecies of a still extant species, the seaside sparrow (the dusky is Ammodramus maritimus nigrescens). Here’s one of those beautiful birds:

Finally, on June 17, 1991, the parliament of South Africa repealed the odious Population Registration Act, which required that every South African at birth be given a racial designation: “European”, “Native” (African), “Coloured”, and “Indian.”

Notables born on this day include Igor Stravinsky (1882), M. C. Escher (1898), Newt Gingrich and Barry Manilow (both 1943), and Venus Williams (1980). Those who died on this day include Kate Smith (1986) and Rodney King (2012). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is still wheedling for noms:

Hili: A total idyll but something is lacking.
A: What is lacking?
Hili: Two or three full bowls.
I wish I were sitting with her in that familiar yard!
In Polish:
Hill: Pełna idylla, ale czegoś tu brakuje.
Ja: Czego?
Hili: Dwóch, albo trzech miseczek.

Grania sent a tw**t issued by Larry the Cat, the Official Chief Mouser of the (British) Cabinet Office. The gif shows a cat that is Not Larry, being rubbed with a leek. Is the cat Welsh or something?


  1. Frank Bath
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    You don’t have to eat fish in Iceland, I’m told by a friend who went there that Puffin figures large on the menu. So another reason not to go.

    • Doug
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      They also eat sheep’s head. The eyeball is considered the best part.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Sheep’s head and testicles are hardly dubious delicacies confined to Iceland. Many cultures consider these highly esteemed foods. Not for me, thanks. Those are cultural trends I do not wish to appropriate.

    • David Coxill
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Wrapped in Puffin pastry no doubt ?.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Hili appears as queen of the surroundings.

    I use to not be able to think of someone more obnoxious than Newt Gingrisch.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Gingrich is doing his best to retain the title in recent days, though of course the one who surpassed him is unlikely to relinquish the title any time soon, if ever.

      Yesterday I heard Gingrich proclaim that it was impossible for a president to obstruct justice. Didn’t he try to impeach President Clinton for doing just that?

      • Randy schenck
        Posted June 17, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        Precisely. And at the time he was doing it he was throwing a previous wife under the bus while having a fling with number three or two. And by the way, what a catch.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 17, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

          Oh yes, number two. How could I have forgotten that?!

          How do all these dreadful men keep persuading women to marry them, over and over again? Both of them, along with Giuliani, are onto their third wives.

          • Randy schenck
            Posted June 17, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

            Someone should look into these three time losers.

  3. MKray
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    If you don’t like fish, Iceland offers plenty of horse and whale.. Yes, there are horse farms. Whale meat is popular, but the whale watching tourist industry opposes it (of course). (And actually, the best steak I’ve ever had.)

    • amyt
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      When I was in Iceland was told by many that the whale eating industry was almost entirely supported because of tourists wanting to try it.

  4. David Coxill
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Two pounds of whale meat please ,and can you keep the head on for the cat .
    Old joke ,still a bit funny.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Speaking of Taj Mahal, since it’s black music month, how ’bout some “Fishin’ Blues”?

  6. Les Faby
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Abington School District v. Schempp
    was combined with the more famous Madalyn Murray O’Hair case.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how the Germans came up with Schlag for whipped cream. Such an ugly word for a delectable treat.

  8. amyt
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Dear Professor
    You should definitely plan a trip to Iceland. I spent 2 weeks there in Sept 2016 (I only travel when schools are back in session). Unbelievable!! Best way to travel is in a camper van….no reservations necessary at that time of year. Most campgrounds have community cooking facilities if one does not want to cook brekkie outside. Food in restaurants rivals any place; hot dogs are all the rage and believe it or not quite good. Aurora borealis to boot. It was like Switzerland, Yellowstone and Scandanavia all rolled into one country. The ultimate test for me when I evaluate a place I’ve been…”Would I go back?” You betcha; in a heartbeat!! However, I only saw one cat the whole time 😦

  9. Julian C
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I coincide with amyt! Definitely would go back. Ate very well there, and not all fish (and don’t recall menus with whale on them). Ex cellent lamb, too.

  10. John Conoboy
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    I am allergic to fish and spent 18 great days in Iceland without getting hungry. I had a good excuse for avoiding one of the local delicasies-fermented shark. Did not find many places that served whale or puffin and would not go to any restaurant that did. Great scenery and wonderful people. We stayed in guesthouses which lets one meet a lot of people and have a nice warm bed and shower.

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