Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Good morning to all; it’s Tuesday, July 18, 2017, the 199th day of the year, and National Caviar Day. I had some sevruga caviar years ago and loved it, but wouldn’t eat it today given the rarity of the sturgeon. I’ve had non-sturgeon caviar (whitefish, etc.) more often, but it never came close to the Sturgeon Gold Standard. Now I eschew all caviar. It’s also Mandela Day, honoring the birthday of the South African hero (see below).

The good news is that, at least for the time being, TrumpCare appears to have died in the Senate after two more Republican Senators have defected. With four Republican Senators saying they don’t favor the plan, the bill won’t even be discussed, As CNN reports:

“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” [Senate majority leader Mitch] McConnell said in a statement late Monday. He said the Senate would vote in the coming days on a bill that would delay the repeal of Obamacare for two years — all as Trump called for a wholesale repeal of the law.

On this day in AD 64, The Great Fire of Rome occurred, lasting six days and destroying half of the city. It’s the fire during which Nero is said to have played his fiddle, though it’s not at all clear whether the Emperor had anything to do with the conflagration. And on July 18, 1870, the First Vatican Council created the dogma of papal infallibility (or “inflammability,” as Archie Bunker called it). It’s not often realized that the Pope’s infallibility when speaking ex cathedra was simply decided by a vote. It’s amazing how God can channel his thoughts into the Cardinals! On this day in 1926, Adolf Hitler published Mein Kampf, pretty much laying out the plan for his dictatorship and the extirpation of the Jews. On July 18, 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy crashed his car into an estuary at Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, killing his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne. And on this day in 1976, Nadia Comăneci became the first person in Olympic history to score a perfect 10 in gymnastics. Her routine was on the uneven parallel bars, and here it is. Looks pretty flawless to me!

Finally, on July 18, 1992, the very first picture was posted to the World Wide Web: it was a photo of the group Les Horribles Cernettes, CERN employees (the WWW was created there). Wikipedia explains:

. . . was an all-female parody pop group, self-labelled “the one and only High Energy Rock Band”, founded by employees of CERN which performed at CERN and other HEP-related events. Their musical style is often described as doo-wop. The initials of their name, LHC, are the same as those of the Large Hadron Collider which was later built at CERN. Their humorous songs are freely available on their website.

Here is that photo (it should have been a cat!):

This picture of Les Horribles Cernettes was the first photographic image published on the World Wide Web in 1992. From left to right: Angela Higney, Michele de Gennaro, Colette Marx-Neilsen, Lynn Veronneau.

Notables born on this day include Hendrik Lorentz (1853), gangster Machine Gun Kelly (1895), Red Skelton (1913), Nelson Mandela (1918; the year of my father’s birth), Hunter Thompson (1937), and Martha Reeves (1941). Those who died on this day include Caravaggio, one of my very favorite painters (1610), John Paul Jones (1792), Jane Austen (1817), Nico (1998), and William Westmoreland (2005). (Writing this every day is a bit depressing, as it not only brings home death, but who died recently draw closer and closer to me in age.) 

Here’s Machine Gun Kelly, whose sobriquet came from his habitual carrying of a Thompson submachine gun. Convicted for kidnapping a rich man for ransom in 1933 (the victim survived), Kelly spent the last twenty years of his life in prison. His trial was a notable one; as Wikipedia notes:

The kidnapping of [Charles] Urschel and the two trials that resulted were historic in several ways. They were: 1) the first federal criminal trials in the United States in which film cameras were allowed; 2) the first kidnapping trials after the passage of the so-called Lindbergh Law, which made kidnapping a federal crime; 3) the first major case solved by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI; and 4) the first prosecution in which defendants were transported by airplane.

Enough lucubration: here’s a wonderful painting by Caravaggio, “The Calling of St Matthew” (1699-1700). In college we used to pose like subjects of famous paintings and ask others to guess what the painting was. This was one I liked to do:

(Wikipedia notes): The painting depicts the story from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 9:9): “Jesus saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom house, and said to him, “Follow me”, and Matthew rose and followed Him.” Caravaggio depicts Matthew the tax collector sitting at a table with four other men. Jesus Christ and Saint Peter have entered the room, and Jesus is pointing at Matthew. A beam of light illuminates the faces of the men at the table who are looking at Jesus Christ.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sounds profound. Malgorzata explained, “Hili discovered a deepity: that you can’t stop the present and admire it, as it becomes a past in a blink.”

Hili: A fraud!
A: What is a fraud?
Hili: The present becomes past when you try to catch it red-handed.
In Polish:
Hili: Oszustwo!
Ja: Co jest oszustwem?
Hili: Teraźniejszość, staje się przeszłością jak tylko próbujesz ją przyłapać na gorącym uczynku.

Summer is fleeting, and Leon and his staff’s house still hasn’t arrived from southern Poland. What a bummer!

Leon: I’m observing how summer holiday is passing by.

And another photo from Malgorzata, whose former tenants are visiting. Here’s their daughter, with a caption: “Hania went to visit her friend and there were kittens!”


  1. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted July 18, 2017 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    We had a couple of kids stay with us recently; they arrived at about the same time as our four new kittens were at their most frisky and cute.

    We obviously thought the kids might be taken by the kittens, we even thought they might go a bit OTT, but we underestimated them – they completely lost their minds.
    They didn’t want to leave the house to go to the beach, they didn’t want to eat supper, they didn’t want to go to bed – they just wanted to play with these kittens, all the time. And when they weren’t playing with them they were writing about them, making charts about their physical characteristics, googling how to gender kittens… I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like a kind of trance.

    • Posted July 18, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      I hope they are more successful than my brother. When he took his cat Eliot to the vet to have his bits cut off, they found out they should have booked “him” in to be spayed. Eliot became Ellie.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted July 18, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        Nah, they weren’t successful – they were just kids, guessing. And I’m not sure how their mum, who’s pretty careful with them, would react if they took it seriously and really began inspecting feline genitalia with magnifying glasses.

        • claudia baker
          Posted July 18, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

          “They completely lost their minds…It was like a kind of trance.” Hahaha – love this. I can just picture it. When I was a kid, we lived on a farm, and when our barn cat had kittens in the hayloft, we kids just stayed there. Rain or shine. Our Mom had to drag us in to dinner. It’s a kid/kitten thing. There’s no better way to describe it than a “trance”.

          Hania and the kittens – O.M.G. What a gorgeous shot.

          • Blue
            Posted July 18, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

            ALL of this, Ms Baker.
            O ! the hours & hours for us farm kiddos of
            newly born barn kittens’ entrancement !

            And, too Ms Malgorzata & Saul Sorrell – Till,
            … … +1 !

            ALL minds lost = just bonkeringly juiced
            we were ! As I stated: for hours and hours.

            Darling !

  2. Debbie Coplan
    Posted July 18, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    That picture of Hania with the kittens is priceless!
    It’s just so adoreable it belongs in a museum-or a book of wonderful photographs.

  3. Randy schenck
    Posted July 18, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Love those cats. Where is that house? And once again the republicans show they are not only the party of NO, they are also the party of can’t do anything.

  4. Mike
    Posted July 18, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Caravaggio is one of my favourites,he was a bit of a lad,considering the amount of religious works he painted,He was accused of Murder and was murdered himself.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 18, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Wouldn’t this be the 199th day of the year?

    • Frank Bath
      Posted July 18, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      I jumped too. Jerry’s wayward finger strikes again.

    • Posted July 18, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      Yes, sorry. Fixed.

  6. Serendipitydawg
    Posted July 18, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Kitten #1 on the left has a definite “You will pay for this” look… I hope it was fleeting 🙂

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted July 18, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      🙂 Yep. Although it seems aimed at the photographer rather than the child.

      Having said that, kittens’ memories seem to me to be so appalling I think within four or five seconds any life-long grudge will have disappeared from its memory.

  7. rickflick
    Posted July 18, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Caravaggio is quite an amazing painter. You can almost always tell one of his by the almost photographic style. Love that healthy dose of chiaroscuro.

  8. E.A. Blair
    Posted July 18, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    “…you can’t stop the present and admire it, as it becomes a past in a blink.”

    In my college days, I designed something I called the Zen Watch™. It was one of those LED watches on which you had to press the button to make the display segments light up. In the case of the Zen Watch, when you pressed the button, it lit up and displayed “NOW”. Of course by the time you realized it was NOW it was no longer that moment, so it was always 100% accurate and 100% wrong at the same time.

  9. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 18, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Last year was the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and this year the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen.
    Fewer observances, but only 3 years ago everyone was celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of her “Pride and Prejudice” (yes, just 3 years before her death).

    This means that at some point in the last year Shakespeare’s death was twice as far from us as Austen’s.

    My inner nerd cannot help noting that last and this year were the 133rd and 134th anniversary of Richard Wagner’s death, making his a third the distance from Shakespeare’s death.

  10. E.A. Blair
    Posted July 18, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I was led to Nico’s music by a circuitous route. I was an early fan of Roxy Music, which led me to Eno’s solo work and his collaborations with John Cale, who had frequent interactions with Nico as musician and producer. Cale is 75 and, as of last year, still putting out records. Nico’s death came just as her creativity was on the rise again following her addiction treatment. I own all of her studio albums and a fair number of her live ones and still enjoy listening to them.

  11. Posted July 18, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I don’t mean to knock Nadia’s performance, but I heard that there was some collusion between the judges. They deliberately gave inflated marks to some of the other competitors, and with Nadia so much better, they had no option but to give her a 10. Regardless an impressive performance.

    • darrelle
      Posted July 18, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      I think that is not at all unusual for any kind of competition that is decided on by judges using some sort of grading / scoring scheme. There doesn’t need to be and most often isn’t anything improper going on, it’s simply that people that came before received a certain score and then someone comes along later and does noticeably better requiring a higher score. What made that particular incident stand out was that the scoring system being used was limited.

      I think the perfect 10 was justified. But that’s keeping in mind that the perfect score doesn’t mean she was perfect. She just pushed the system to its breaking point because she was legitimately very good. Looking at her performance here I was struck by how even by today’s standards it still looks pretty damn good. Compare skate boarding from the ’70s to current skate boarding. Not even in the same ball park. I know because back in the ’70s I was one of them.

      And though there are much bigger and more varied tricks today, she was nearly flawless.

  12. John Conoboy
    Posted July 18, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Gymnastics scoring has now been changed so the high score is open ended. Simone Biles is probably a much better gymnast than Nadia but there is no way she could get a “perfect” score with the new system.

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