Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Well, it’s Independence Day: July 4, 2017, and the U.S. is 241 years old today. It’s National Barbecue Day, and of course that’s the way many Americans celebrate the Fourth, along with blowing off bits of their body with small explosives.

Google has a special Doodle for the holiday, to wit:

Today’s Doodle is inspired by Stephen Mather (also born July 4), a noted conservationist and the first director of the National Parks Service. Often hailed as “America’s Best Idea,” the NPS was created by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Over a century old, America’s national parks span 84 million acres and host more than 275 million visitors every year.

And it’s Happy Birthday to Queen Sonja of Norway, who is 80 today; Norwegians celebrate by flying their flag.

Fireworks! Real ones, and they happened a millennium ago. For on this day in 1054 AD, the supernova SN 1054 was first seen and reported by astronomers from China and Arabia. The reconstruction below shows what the exploding star looked like in the daytime sky (it was visible for almost two years). Its remnants are the familiar the Crab Nebula, and since that nebula is about 6500 light years away, we saw the explosion on Earth that long after its occurrence—in about 4000 BC.  Now that was a Fourth of July firework!

Simulated image of supernova SN 1054 at the position of modern Crab Nebula, as presumably would have been observed from capital of Song Dynasty at Kaifeng, China during the morning of July 4th, 1054.

The Crab Nebula today:

Giant picture mosaic of the Crab Nebula, remnant of SN 1054, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in visible light. Credit: NASA/ESA.

On this day in 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was announced, expanding the area of the U.S. tremendously. And here’s something you may already know: on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary to the day of the Declaration of Independence, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died. Jefferson had drafted it, both men had signed it, and both became Presidents of the new country. It’s purely coincidence, of course, but still moving: both men wanted to stay alive until that day, and then promptly gave up the ghost (that’s metaphorical!). On July 4, 1855, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was published In Brooklyn, and 7 year later Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell the tale that would eventually be published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. On this day in 1886, the French gave the Statue of Liberty to America: a wonderful gesture.

Lots of stuff happened on this day. In 1939, Lou Gehrig, afflicted with the ALS that would soon kill him, was celebrated at Yankee Stadium; in his speech he announced his retirement from baseball and said he considered himself “The luckiest man on the face of the Earth.” It was not a good day for my second adopted country of Poland: on July 4, 1941, the Nazis massacred Polish intellectuals in the Ukrainian city of Lviv; two years later an RAF bomber crashed in Gibraltar, killing, among others, General Władysław Sikorski, the commander-in-chief of the Polish Army and the Prime Minister of the Polish government-in-exile. And three years later, after the war, ANOTHER pogrom of Jews took place in Poland: the The Kielce Pogrom, in which Poles themselves killed 42 Jewish Holocaust survivors and wounded 40. That convinced the surviving Polish Jews that they had no place in their country, and over 100,000 left, many migrating to the British Mandate of Palestine.

On this day in 1966, Lyndon Johnson signed the U.S. Freedom of Information Act into law. In 1997, the first Mars space probe, the Pathfinder, landed on the surface of the planet, and 5 years ago today, CERN announced the discovery of particles consistent with the predicted properties of the Higgs boson.

Notables born on this day include Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807), Stephen Foster (1826), Calvin Coolidge (1872), Rube Goldberg (1883), Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer; 1918), Queen Sonja of Norway (1937; see above), and Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino (1982). Here’s a Rube Goldberg cartoon showing his complicated “inventions,” I believe the Brits had an equivalent cartoonist but I can’t remember his name (I’m sure we’ll get it shortly):

Those who died on July 4 include, besides Adams and Jefferson, James Monroe, another U.S. President, who died on the 55th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (1831), and velvet-voiced singer Barry White (2003). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the beasts have detected a strange odor:

Hili: Do you smell something?
Cyrus: Yes, but I don’t yet know what.
In Polish:
Hili: Coś wyczuwasz?
Cyrus: Tak, ale jeszcze nie wiem co.



  1. BobTerrace
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Typo: You said “died in this day” where you should have said “born on this day” (Garibaldi, etc.)

    • nicky
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      I’m sure that Jerry will fix it as soon as he sees it.

  2. jardino
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Ruth Goldberg’s British equivalent is Heath Robinson.


    • rickflick
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Wikipedia has a few examples of Heath Robinson’s work.

  3. Randy schenck
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Another bit on that composition of the Declaration many may not know. Adams was very jealous of Jefferson regarding who wrote the thing and he always said that he actually had already written the declaration many months earlier. He had written a similar idea but it remains fact that Jefferson wrote the true declaration during the summer of 1776. He was in fact part of a group headed by Ben Franklin that included Jefferson and Adams. Franklin immediately passed the job off to Adams who passed it to Jefferson. Jefferson was also pretty upset with the editing done by Franklin and others when he completed the work. Actually they made improvements by removing parts that did not belong, such as blaming slavery on the King.

    • Historian
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      “Actually they made improvements by removing parts that did not belong, such as blaming slavery on the King.”

      This is the deleted passage you refer to prefaced by an explanation:

      When Thomas Jefferson included a passage attacking slavery in his draft of the Declaration of Independence it initiated the most intense debate among the delegates gathered at Philadelphia in the spring and early summer of 1776. Jefferson’s passage on slavery was the most important section removed from the final document. It was replaced with a more ambiguous passage about King George’s incitement of “domestic insurrections among us.” Decades later Jefferson blamed the removal of the passage on delegates from South Carolina and Georgia and Northern delegates who represented merchants who were at the time actively involved in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Jefferson’s original passage on slavery appears below.

      “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”

      Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being His Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages, Addresses, and other Writings, Official and Private (Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Maury, 1853-1854).



      Note that this sentence remained in the Declaration:

      “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

      The “domestic insurrections” referred to in this ambiguous passage apparently refers to slave revolts. Southerners feared that certain British officials were urging slaves to revolt against their masters for the promise of freedom. Throughout the history of slavery in America, slave owners lived in constant fear of slave insurrections. As has often been pointed out, the Declaration’s phrase that “all men are created equal” can be interpreted as rank hypocrisy. Whether or not it was hypocrisy has been rigorously debated over the centuries. I think it was. As Samuel Johnson reputedly put it: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”

      • Randy schenck
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        Yes, and also hypocritical to blame King George for your peculiar industry. Jefferson would have been more accurate in writing All white men are created equal. And then better still if he changed all to some. If we think of it in terms of ideals and not reality, it is easier to get down. If Jefferson was anything he was an idealist.

        • Doug
          Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          While the phrase “All men are created equal” may be hypocrisy, I’m glad that it is in the Declaration. It served as a spur to future generations to bring the country in line with its ideals.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I always think of those supernovas, whose light reaches us thousands of years after the event, as having had civilizations wiped out before we even had a chance to meet them. Sadly, I think the vastness of the universe continuously gives us bad timing. Maybe one day, if we live long enough, that will be us, flashing out, seen by some distant civilization as a pretty display in their sky.

    • nicky
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      One of the nicest musings about this is ‘the Fermi paradox’ by Tim Urban

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        That was a really good read – thanks!

        • nicky
          Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

          Yes, isn’t it?
          Personally I root for ‘the Great Filter behind us’, the eukaryotic cell (most other options are basically “we’re fucked”).
          For that optimistic option you need to read Nick Lane [“Sex, Power and Suicide”, or his ‘The Vital Question’ (I started the latter but didn’t finish, can’ find it, don’t know where I put it)].

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            I always thought we’d end up finding out we were the smartest things in the universe. Imagine how disappointing that would be, given that we’re smart enough to recognize our severe limitations in intelligence. I think it’s the dark part of me, that appreciates a good dark joke.

            • nicky
              Posted July 4, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

              I never really thought we are the smartest things in the universe, but I hope we are, or at least in our galaxy.
              As said, if not, “we’re fucked” big-time in most scenarios. Just think what the Maori did to the Moriori. Not to mention the Vogons 🙂

              • nicky
                Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

                Note, Douglas Adams was careful, there is no malice in the Vogons, they are just bureaucratic. That won’t help us though.

            • Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

              My grandfather on my father’s side was something of a self-described cynic. I have his copy of _Intelligent Life in the Universe_ – an 1960s book on that subject, by Shlovskii and Sagan. Anyway, towards the end he’s written into it something like “Despite all my doubts, I do think that there is intelligent life in the universe after all.” I am sure he was aware of the ambiguity – and I agree with him, usually 😉

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted July 4, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

              I think there are probably smarter things than us out there because the universe had been going for billions of years before we even got a planet. Therefore something else has had a lot longer to evolve.

              • rickflick
                Posted July 4, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

                Your hypothesis is sound, however, there is always the possibility evolution can get stuck in some environments leading to creatures like the alligator which has not changed much in 10s of millions of years. What are the chances of a planet somewhere populated by creatures no more developed than the Donald. Think of a population of billions of Donalds occupying some corner of the sky. 😉

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted July 4, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

                I’d rather not! Although I’m not sure if he could have evolved without the right circumstances around how he’s been treated all his life. I think he’s a case where the parents have a lot to answer for and adulthood didn’t have the right environment to correct their errors.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

                Genetics might play a role too. Of the books written about sociopathy by sociopaths, they had the genes for sociopathy and their upbringing made a difference but they were ever perplexed at how their not-sociopathic-siblings coped with adversity in such different, and to their eyes, weak ways.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

                That’s really interesting. The more I learn about sociopathy, the more it seems to apply to him.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

                Sociopathy and narcissism often go together and they both involve low empathy. I had a text book narcissist boss that would do some things people might see as sociopathic but it’s hard to untangle the two sometimes. I remember friends of his stopped being friends with him because he ditched them all for an event at the last minute, leaving them high & dry for the tickets he didn’t pay for. Standard sociopathic behaviour. He really didn’t give a shit and didn’t care that they were angry with him or no longer friends with him. People would always be hurt by him and I couldn’t understand why they didn’t see him for who he was and were always let down.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

                Yeah. From what I can see, they just use people when it suits them. They know how to act to seem like nice people, but their own needs always come first at the end of the day. People who are nice think the nice things they do come from a good place and don’t realize that they’re just being used.

          • Steve Pollard
            Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

            Nicky, find it again, or buy another copy. It’s one of the most mind-blowing books I’ve read for some time.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        I like the idea that we are like creatures in a park being managed by a type III civilization. They wouldn’t let us blow ourselves up would they?

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        I am interested in astrobiology, and personally I found that an unreadable potpourri of unrealistic click bait claims. For example, broadband radio does not reach the next star above the noise threshold, nor are there any feasible technological and economical ways that civilizations would have system wide “energy scales” due to the literary astronomical distances involved. The current situation versus SETI is something like 0.1 % of the easiest signal space looked at, and there is no tension with astrobiology.

        The history of the area is much more interesting than the splashy images. Did you know that it is actually Fermi’s question and that he immediately resolved it without leaving a paradox? Much like the problem with energy scales Fermi realized that there is no reasonable technological and economical way to visit other systems.

        To round off, even assuming we one day would be able to put tension between our own capabilities and our observations, I do not think a specific “filter” is a good model. As many biologists claim, evolution is the necessary and sufficient model, the resulting diversity is so large that it is unlikely to find independent pathways to unique traits (like the elephant trunk). Then, like the tower of turtles, there are differences “all the way down”.

    • Richard
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Did you ever read Arthur C. Clarke’s short story ‘The Star’? He uses very much the same idea.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        No, I haven’t read that, but I’ll look for it now.

      • nicky
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Any pdf link or so?

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Maybe one day, if we live long enough, that will be us, flashing out, seen by some distant civilization as a pretty display in their sky.

      Our sun isn’t big enough to explode. Instead, it will do a slow-motion bloat to red-giant size, then gradually shrink to a white dwarf.

      Stars massive enough to explode do so within a few tens of millions of years, and so don’t last long enough for complex biology to evolve (even assuming it could withstand the intense radiation).

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I’m aware re: our sun, but there will be some sort of event just as we see stars swell & wink out from our vantage point in the universe.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          But we don’t actually see that. It’s like speciation: we know it happens; we see snapshots of various stages in the process; but the process itself is much too slow to observe in real time.

          The only stars we actually see winking out are the ones that explode catastrophically.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

            We’ve observed stars that have gotten super bright then gone down to nothing before.

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

              Yes, those are the exploding ones.

      • nicky
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        Swelling to a red giant or exploding will not make a big difference to our fate. Earth will be “fucked”.
        I think the visionary Elon Musk is overly optimistic, the greatest problem in colonising Mars (as a first step) is not the payload, it is the absence of a magnetosphere, of oxygen and water.
        However, I think he’s right too, sooner or later we will have to leave our planet, and even our solar system.

        • nicky
          Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

          And the thing I’m pondering, how much of non-human species will we carry with us?
          Is a life without, say, rhinos, kingfishers, cats, bottle-nose dolphins, blind mice or beetles mimicking ants (etc., to millions) worthwhile?

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          If we have to leave our solar system, then surely whether the end comes in an instant or in a billion years makes all the difference to our chances of success.

          In Larry Niven’s A World Out of Time, future humans use Uranus as a giant fusion rocket to move Earth out of the danger zone.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

            Imagine the aliens we contacted are super small like jumping spider sized.

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink


  6. nicky
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I always heard that Teddy Roosevelt started National Parks, well before Woodrow Wilson. Ok that is not the NPS, but still, he should get some credit, methinks.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      The National Parks go back to 1872 with the designation of Yellowstone National Park. Teddy Rooselvelt was responsible for the National Forests and he used the Antiquities Act to set aside several National Monuments. The National Park Service (no “s” on the word “park.”) was established in 1916. Wilson did not have much role in that beside signing the bill.

      • nicky
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        1872 is well before Teddy, who designated Yellowstone?

        • John Conoboy
          Posted July 4, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          President Grant signed the legislation. There were expeditions to the area in 1871 under Ferdinand Hayden, which included photographer William Henry Jackson and artist Thomas Moran. This led to public awareness and a push for protection of the area, but the real force leading to the park came from railroad interests who saw money to made by taking tourists to see the park.

  7. DrBeydon
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

    Also, on July 4, 1863 Vicksburg, MS surrendered to General Grant, returning the entire Mississippi River to US control.

    • nicky
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Isn’t that considered the turning point in the US Civil War?

      • Historian
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        Some historians would say yes to Vicksburg. Others would say it was Gettysburg, which ended on July 3rd. Some would say it was both combined. It is possible to argue that some other battle was the turning point. Of course, one must define what is meant by turning point. As with so many other historical arguments, definitive agreement is unlikely. It’s a fun parlor game among Civil War buffs to debate the issue. Although, my Civil War professor did note that after Gettysburg Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia were never again able to mount a sustained offensive

        • nicky
          Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

          Never realised these battles were more or less simultaneous. Always thought Gettysburg was later (don’t ask me why, I’m not American). So, a double turning point, or turning points(?), I’d say.
          The question is now, what would have happened if the Confederation had won those battles? I tend to think that somehow the Union would still have won in the end (stronger economy), but I’m not versed enough in US history to make a meaningful speculation. What do you think?

          • Randy schenck
            Posted July 4, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

            Sometimes the what if’s are interesting to speculate about but sometimes there is no turning point. In review, once the civil war was started (and it was the south who did that part) if was likely inevitable the North should win. The North had everything going for it and the South, almost nothing. The real question was always – Did the North have the will. That was the part that Lincoln played.

          • DrBrydon
            Posted July 4, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            It would really have been a political question. Not winning at Vicksburg then wouldn’t have meant much. Grant and Sherman had been struggling there for months. Losing at Gettysburg, though, would have increased the pressure on Lincoln to end the war, which is what the Confederates were counting on. It is hard to say whether the loss would have stiffened resolve or destroyed it.

            • frednotfaith2
              Posted July 4, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

              I have read that after Grant took the city, it was a long time, maybe over a century, before the 4th of July was celebrated again in Vicksburg. My maternal grandfather was born there in 1898 — he died in 1954, 8 years before I was born. Never been to Vicksburg myself.

          • nicky
            Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

            Thanks for the replies, but I’m aching for some more speculation. what if the Confederation would have won the war?

            • Historian
              Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

              If you want speculation about what would have happened if the Confederacy had won the war look up the works of Harry Turtledove, an extraordinarily prolific writer of science fiction and alternate history.

  8. claudia baker
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    As you mention Lviv, I am just reading a book by Philippe Sands called ‘East West Street’, which is about those pogroms and two men from the area who were central to the Nuremberg trials: Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin.

    Lauterpacht came up with the idea of putting the term ‘crimes against humanity’ into the Nurenberg statute and Lemkin is said to have invented the word ‘genocide’.

    The book intertwines the lives and stories of these two men and their families with the history of the author’s own family. His grandfather, Leon Buchholz was born in Lviv in 1904.

    It is a fascinating read. I can hardly put it down. John Le Carre describes it: “A monumental achievement: profoundly personal, told with love, anger and great precision.” And Antonoy Beevor says: “A triumph of a astonishing research…No novel could possibly match such an important work of truth.” I heartily agree!

    Oh, and happy 4th of July to all of you south of the border. Though, I don’t know how ‘happy’ some of you are feeling right now, what with the Orange Overlord and all.

    • nicky
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Thanks Claudia, I’m learning here. Can hardly believe (but do now) that the term ‘genocide’ is so recent. Maybe because the practice is so ancient.

  9. W.Benson
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    It is misleading to attribute the Lviv pogroms of 1941 exclusively to the “Nazi’s,” i.e. Germans under Hitler. The Wikipedia account begins as follows:
    “The Lviv pogroms were the consecutive massacres of Jews living in the city of Lwów [in Galicia, part of Poland for <20 years from the end of WWI until Sept. 1939, and previously, since the late 1700's, Austrian] (now Lviv, Ukraine), perpetrated by Ukrainian [Galician] troops serving under Nazi Germany [led by the Austrian Adolf Hitler] from 30 June to 2 July 1941, and from 25 to 29 July 1941." On top of the endemic anti-Semitism, the people of Galicia had been taught during the 19th century to think of themselves as being Germans and of superior European origin, and not, like the Slaves, 'mongrelized' with Asians.

    In 1943 the SS recruited Ukrainian troops in droves (82,000 volunteered for the SS-Waffen Galacian Division) to fight Stalin. Lviv was the city that supplied much of the manpower to overthrow the elected pro-Moscow Kiev government in 2014.
    As William Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It is not even past."

    • W.Benson
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      I didn’t see claudia’s comment before I posted. My point is you can’t have a tyrant without followers with mindsets that can be manipulated.

      • Historian
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        “My point is you can’t have a tyrant without followers with mindsets that can be manipulated.”

        Indeed. History provides countless examples of how a skilled practitioner can easily manipulate thousands, if not millions of people. Undoubtedly, psychologists and sociologists have thoroughly studied the topic and provided cogent explanations as to why this happens. My conclusion is that no matter how educated a populace may be or how technologically advanced it has developed, large segments of the population will be susceptible to psychological manipulation. Trump is one of those skilled practitioners.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 4, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          The really scary possibility is you could have someone as skillful in manipulation as Trump but much more appealing as a person – maybe minus the obvious narcissistic tendencies….someone more skilled at presenting a “presidential” persona. That is really frightening.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      My grandmother came from what we knew in our family as Lvov. She left in the late 1800s, however, and was from a German Jewish family. I recall my mother saying that Grandma grew up in Poland.

      I recall a display at the Holocaust Museum in DC about a mayor from Lviv who helped save some Jews from the Nazis.

    • Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      We pro-democracy Bulgarians have also been smeared with allegations of ties to Nazi Germany more than half a century ago. Happily, the smears didn’t stick, and we are in the EU now, to great displeasure of our local oppressor and land-grabber Russia. The poor Ukrainians, whom Russia starved and got away with it, have it harder. They are under perpetual Russian aggression, and many people are willing to do the Russian propaganda, some even for free. Repeated enough, it becomes truth, as Goebbels would say.

      You quote Wikipedia: “The Lviv pogroms were the consecutive massacres of Jews…” and add: “Lviv was the city that supplied much of the manpower to overthrow the elected pro-Moscow Kiev government in 2014.”

      On another Wikipedia page:

      you can find more data about this “manpower”:

      “Yuriy Verbytskyi, a scientist (seismologist) from the Geophysical Institute in Lviv… Verbytskyi was kidnapped from the Oleksandivsky Hospital… His body was found on 22 January close to village Gnidyn… with signs of torture.”

      Another one: “Dmytro Chernyavskiy, born in the Donetsk Oblast. Studied at Lviv National University, born in 1992 (22 years old). On 13 March, participated in the meeting for the unity of Ukraine in the city of Donetsk. Was stabbed to death in clashes with pro-Russian activists.” Is this 22-yr-old off the hook because he is from Donetsk, or is his study at Lviv University enough to make him a Nazi?

      The same list includes the Jew Oleksandr Scherbatyuk (46), killed by snipers.

  10. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    In 1997, the first Mars space probe, the Pathfinder, landed on the surface of the planet

    Not the first by a long shot; Viking landers touched down on Mars in 1976, and the Soviet Mars 3 soft-landed in 1971 (but ceased transmission seconds later).

    Mariner 4 was the first successful flyby in 1965. Unsuccessful attempts date back to 1960.

    • Alan Conwell
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      @10: Yes, that grated on me too. To be charitable, maybe what was intended was that Pathfinder carried the first Rover (Sojourner) to be landed.

      • Posted July 4, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        Yes, that’s what I meant. But mistakes shouldn’t “grate on you”; we all make them,and this one was innocent.

  11. bluemaas
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Haaaappy, Happy Birthday,
    m’Darlin’ Velvet Man … … Mr White !

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcd3XuQwDQQ ! R I P


  12. revelator60
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of Jefferson, today the NY Times published the editorial “Thomas Jefferson’s Bible Teaching,” by historians Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf. It has a number of very interesting passages, including this one:

    “By the mid-1790s, he had developed a reputation as a faithless philosopher, even an atheist, certainly not a Christian. This was a grave matter, for religious beliefs then, as now, are often conflated with character. Nervous New Englanders and his enemies in the Federalist Party took this notion to heart; rumors spread that Jefferson planned to outlaw the Bible.

    On his watch, they said, incest and adultery would run rampant. He betrayed his true sentiments, they claimed, by his ardent support of the French Revolution, which sought to eradicate religion in France. Their talking point was clear: Jefferson’s atheism disqualified him from the presidency.

    Continue reading the main story
    But Jefferson was no atheist. As a young man, he embraced the tenets of “natural religion,” or deism, rejecting conventional Christianity and any use of religious dogma as a tool to control people. As he aged, however, Jefferson undertook a spiritual quest that focused his attention intensively on the New Testament.”

    The authors go on to discuss the famous “Jefferson Bible.” But they also feel the need to reassure the reader that Jefferson was not a non-believer:
    “Far from being an atheist, Jefferson was a precocious advocate of what was later called ‘civil religion,’ the moral foundation of a truly free and united people.”

    Whatever that is! I don’t blame Jefferson for being a Deist—during the Enlightenment that was the most common option for intelligent, well-educated people who could no longer believe in the supernatural—but I do wonder why he thought the Bible would add up to much after all the hocuc-pocus was taken out. Jesus was more a cult-leader than a moral philosopher. It was very good of him to speak out against those planning to stone the adulteress, but most cultures would recognize the folly of such extreme punishment anyway.

    But I suppose Jefferson’s revamped bible was an attempt to wean Americans off Christianity. We know that religious moderates treat the Bible like a buffet they can pick and choose from, so Jefferson ultimately had the right idea.

  13. Laurance
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Not only was Ann Landers born on the Fourth of July, so was Dear Abby. The Friedman Twins, Esther Pauline and Pauline Esther grew up to be those famous newspaper advice mavens. I used to read them faithfully back in the ’60’s and ’70’s.

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