Saturday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on a not-too-hot summer day in Chicago; it’s July 8, 2017. Is everyone having a good time? If not, it’s National Chocolate with Almonds Day, though I prefer mine plain, undiluted with nutmeats.

On this day in 1497, Vasco da Gama set out from Lisbon, sailed around Africa, and landed in what is now Kerala, India, on May 20 of the next year. It was the first sea voyage from Europe to India.  On this day in 1932, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its lowest point during the Depression, closing at 41.22. As of yesterday it was 21,414.34, about 522 times higher. Finally, on this day in 1994, Kim Il-sung died, leaving the leadership of North Korea in the hands of Kim Jong-il. He’s been in charge for over 45 years. After his death, the government abolished the office of President, which Il-sung (is that the way to say it?) held, and designated the dead leader as Eternal President of the Republic. He’s therefore still in charge—as a stiff! (His body is preserved à la Mao, and is on display.) Here are the 22.5 meter high statues of the first Dear Leader and his son at the Mansu Hill Grand Monument—an obligatory stop for all visitors to the DPRK.


Notable born on this day include John D. Rockefeller (1839), Nelson Rockefeller (1908), Billy Eckstine (1914), Jaimoe, drummer for the Allman Brothers (1944), and Joan Osborne (1962). In honor of Joan’s birthday, have a listen to her rousing version of “Heat Wave,” accompanied by the Funk Brothers, the original Motown backup musicians. It’s the best version by anyone other than Martha and the Vandellas:

And let’s not forget Billy Eckstine, a great vocalist and musician who’s been largely forgotten. What a mellow voice he had! Have a listen:

Those who died on this day include Elihu Yale (1721; his riches helped found the eponymous University), Kim Il-Sung (see above), Sir John Templeton (2008, his legacy is bad), and Ernest Borgnine (2012). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is again trying to perplex her interlocutor:

Hili: I’m trying to understand.
A: What are you trying to understand?
Hili: What I see.
A: And what do you see?
Hili: That’s what I’m trying to understand.
Who’s on first?
In Polish:
Hili: Próbuję zrozumieć.
Ja: Co próbujesz zrozumieć?
Hili:To, co widzę.
Ja: A co widzisz?
Hili: Właśnie to próbuję zrozumieć.

Stephen Barnard sent a photo of the kitten Jerry Coyne VI, now owned by his tenant. (You can see Jerry VI when he’d just been caught, around June 11, here.  At that time he was named Jerry Coyne V, but then we realized that another Jerry Coyne the Cat, the real Fifth, was in New Mexico and had been forgotten).  This one is captioned “Mountain lion in the desert”:

Ben Goren has a new kitten named Vega; he caught it roaming about on the street. So far Baihu, Ben’s other cat, has tolerated it. Vega has been taken to the vet, de-flead, and appears otherwise healthy:

Finally, out in Winnipeg, gus went to bed after dinner. Here’s his photo, titled “Gus snoozing on the deck”



  1. Lurker111
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Richard Dawson, in an old Family Feud episode, also had his “September Song,” here:

  2. Posted July 8, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Good on you, Ben, for adopting Vega!

    • rickflick
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Look at that little guy. How could he not? You don’t choose something like that. It chooses you.

  3. Katiness Everdeen
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    It just occurred to me that many pet owners might be unaware of the use of borax for flea control. One box of Twenty Mule Team Borax (look in the laundry detergent section) is cheap and goes a long way. Vacuum all furniture and carpets thoroughly, then sprinkle it down and rub or broom it into the fibers. Wait at least a week before vacuuming again. I also use it in place of expensive sticky papers in the flea traps. The added attraction of freshening the smell doesn’t hurt.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Powdered boric acid or diatomaceous earth applied lightly to the carpet with a squeeze bulb or similar applicator work on the same principle, they desiccate the fleas, and as long as it doesn’t get wet, it’s good to go and keeps them away. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of flea infestations using these substances. Also good for roaches if one has them, which I hope no one does.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    (His [Kim Jong-il’s] body is preserved à la Mao, and is on display.)

    As is V.I. Lenin’s. I think this evinces in part the quasi-religious nature of 20th-century communism.

  5. Merilee
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Congrats, Ben. Keep us posted when Vega grows into his/her ears😻

    • Colin McLachlan
      Posted July 10, 2017 at 3:39 am | Permalink

      Are you sure it’s not a gremlin?

      • Merilee
        Posted July 10, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        Soooo cute, with a Tiggerish chinny chin chin🐾🐾

  6. DrBeydon
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Those giant statues reminded me of an article I read a year or so ago about the North Korean giant statue industry. I think this is the one, but doing a google search shows that a whole bunch came out about the same time. I like how the son’s statue is slightly shorter, and has a shorter coat.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      A year or two ago a heroic statue appeared on the corner of 2nd and Madison in downtown Seattle, a couple of blocks from my apartment, on the site of the Cold-War era Federal Reserve building; here it is on Google street view. I have to believe the artist had a sense of humor, putting that statue in front of that building. I don’t know what the work’s official title is, but I call it Dear Leader.

  7. DrDroid
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Joan Osborne, great. Heatwave, also great. But the JO performance of What Becomes of The Broken Hearted, also with the Funk Brothers, is the best thing she ever did. Look it up on YouTube.

    • Posted July 8, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      I agree; it’s one of the top five soul songs ever. I put up Heat Wave because it was morning and we need waking up.

      The link to What Becomes of the Broken Hearted is here.

      • Chris Swart
        Posted July 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        The entire documentary from which these are cut is terrific. “Standing in the Shadows of Motown.”

        • Merilee
          Posted July 8, 2017 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

          Great movie!!

  8. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Congrats on the new kitteh, Ben!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      From me too. I hope he and Baihu become friends.

  9. Barbara Knox
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    For pedants, and visitors to N Korea who don’t want to end up in jail, the first Kim was the Great leader, and the second was the Dear Leader. (The current one is the Marshall, because of his alleged military prowess.)

  10. Kevin Voges
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    The statues of Kim reminded me of the statues of Mao Zedong scattered throughout China in a similar pose to the Kim on the left. The locals showing me around said they are called “Mao hailing a taxi.”

  11. Posted July 10, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Thanks, everybody!

    Vega is doing great in every way imaginable…though, of course, she’s totally consumed every waking minute of the day, plus most of the sleeping ones…which are fewer…so I’m likely dipping below radar a bit….

    We seem to have prevented a flea infestation with a good, soapy bath as soon as we got her back from the vet that first afternoon. There were a few dead fleas that came off with the comb when she was dry, and no others since. We put everything she had been on in the laundry right away…and have been doing lots of laundry since as she’s been figuring out what is and isn’t a litterbox. And we sprinkled boric acid along the edges of the floors before we put new flooring in, so we’re almost certainly clear.

    Baihu is doing remarkably well. He’s no longer stressed out. We’re not letting them directly interact, but we can’t sequester them…so somebody is constantly chaperoning the one or the other or both. It’s a good thing cats (and kittens) sleep a lot!

    Vega is viscously attacking the Evil Left Hand Monster, leaving me to type with the right, so now’s a good time to sign off….



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