Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Good morning; it’s the weekend for most people: Saturday, July 15, 2017 and—Ceiling Cat help me—it’s National Gummy Worms Day! This is clearly the handiwork of Big Gummy, and I firmly eschew these gelatinous annelids. It’s also Social Media Giving Day, celebrating the use of that media to create social good instead of hounding New Atheists and showing that video games are tools of The Patriarchy.

On July 15, 1099, during the First Crusade, Christian soldiers, after a hard siege, captured the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. On this day in 1799, one of Napoleon’s soldiers found the Rosetta Stone in the eponymous Egyptian village. Having the same inscription three times over, but in ancient Greek, demotic Egyptian, and hieroglyphic Egyptian, it was a key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics. Inscribed in about 196 BC, it was taken from the French by the British, and now resides in the British Museum (it’s behind glass; formerly you could get real close to it). The Egyptians have asked for its return, but there’s about as much chance of that happening as the Elgin Marbles going back to Greece (see Hitchens’s book on the Marbles; he favors their return). Here’s the Rosetta Stone:

On this day in 1834, the Spanish Inquisition officially ended after more than 350 years of Catholic persecution. And you know what I’m going to put up next:

It’s a banner day for nonbelievers, for on July 15, 1838, Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered a controversial address to six graduating students at Harvard University’s Divinity School: the famous Divinity School Address. Among other things, Emerson cast doubt on the miracles of Jesus described in the Bible and asserted that one’s moral intuition was a better guide to ethics than was Scripture. As you might imagine, it caused an outrage. Finally, on this day 11 years ago, Twitter was launched. I suppose in the main it’s a good thing, but I don’t engage in battles on it and depend on others to call my attention to good tw**ts. This website takes enough time.

Notables born on this day include Rembrandt (1606), my colleague Leon Lederman (1922; he’s 95 today), Carl Woese (1928), Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943), Linda Rondstadt (1946), and the miscreant Ariana Huffington (1950). Here’s an improvement over one of Rembrandt’s great paintings: “Aristotle Contemplating his Moggie”:

Those who died on this day include Anton Chekhov (1904), Hermann Emil Fischer (1919), and John J. Pershing (1948). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is affronted by the trash left by the river by a group of thoughtless Polish lads. (Malgorzata and Andrzej always take a bag on their walkies to collect trash.)

Hili: Take a bag for the rubbish.
A: Why?
Hili: Yesterday a few young men were admiring the beauty of the river.
In Polish:
Hili: Weź torbę na śmieci.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Wczoraj kilku młodych mężczyzn podziwiało piękno rzeki.

And nearby, where Leon and his staff are still awaiting the arrival of their house, his staff has made a restorative–but one not to Leon’s taste:

Leon: Can’t we, instead of an infusion of marigold make an infusion of tuna?

Reader Charleen sent a cat tw**t (one thing Twitter is good for!):


  1. Posted July 15, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    There’s a stray dog line up at the bottom!

  2. Mike
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Magnificent Monty Python.

    • Richard
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      I can remember seeing the Spanish Inquisition episode when it was first broadcast on the BBC. I guess that dates me.

  3. Katiness Everdeen
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Why can’t we have nice things like this.

  4. Historian
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I have very mixed feelings about Twitter. On the one hand, it allows people to get their views out to millions of people instantaneously. On the other hand, the 140 character limitation or the necessity to transmit multiple tweets can result in oversimplification and may very well contribute to what appears to be (perhaps I am wrong here) the growing shortening of the attention spans of so many people. A complex world such as ours requires often complex explanations that are inappropriate for a tweet. I also fear that Twitter can be used by governmental authorities, particularly those with an authoritarian bent, to issue dictums that all people must immediately respond to and obey. Orwell’s 1984 comes to mind.

    Twitter is a subset of the computer revolution that has overtaken the world in about the last 25 years. Overall, this development has been a big positive for humankind. But, it requires continual vigilance, not just to prevent hacking, but to assure that democratic institutions are not undermined.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Good comments on the subject. With every new invention or thing concerning the computer world the society seems to take off on another love affair with using it. Seldom do we stop and look at the down side or the long term damage that might be included. In the extreme negative area we have many deaths and injuries on the roads and highways due to telephone use but we except it. Now, today we have the likelihood that results of a presidential election were obtained or at least modified because of possibilities in the digital world, always with human beings causing these disasters. I do not think Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton would be happy.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      But, the character limit helps develop concision.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted July 15, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        Does it really. I thought it limited the rant. Abe Lincoln was pretty good with concision and he had no twitter.

        • rickflick
          Posted July 15, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

          Abe Lincoln was a friend of mine, and Donald J. Trump is no Abe Lincoln.

  5. David Coxill
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Poor man having 5 cats ,i think 4 is enough .
    When i get up during the night for a snack i can’t see the bottom of the kitchen door from where i made my sandwiches ,so when a cat comes in the kitchen it looks as if the door is opening by it’s self ,scared the crap out of me the first time it happened .

  6. Posted July 15, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Seriously, the dogs.

  7. Posted July 15, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    A shout out to my fancy man; the throb of my heart! A red-letter day for atheists and Emerson lovers!

  8. claudia baker
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    In a New York Times interview in 2013, Linda Ronstadt is quoted as saying: “I was an atheist by third grade.” Another reason to love her.

  9. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    And you know what I’m going to put up next:

    I for one, did not expect our scarlet-cloaked overlords, but welcome them nonetheless.

  10. busterggi
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Mr. Kadrey, when you are given good advice take it.

  11. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Emerson’s Divinity School Address is a kind of post-Thomas Paine religiosity. He continues Paine’s attack on classical conservative Christianity, and then talks a lot about the positive religiosity he would like to supercede it.

    My favorite line:
    “But the very word Miracle, as pronounced by Christian churches, gives a false impression; it is Monster. It is not one with the blowing clover and the falling rain.”

  12. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Also dead today is Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman winner of the Fields medal (2014). ; ]

    Her birth nation of Iran has, you guessed it, published tributes with her in covered hair, despite her later preferred attire [see the BBC article].

    “Some social media users criticised Iranian officials for not using recent images of Prof Mirzakhani which showed her uncovered hair. Iranian women must cover their hair in line with a strict interpretation of Islamic law on modesty.

    Iranian official media and politicians used older pictures in their social media tributes, which show her hair covered.”

    For shame, Iran.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      Yes, for shame.

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