Friday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Good morning! It’s Friday again, July 21, 2017, and I’ve survived my cortisone shot (it wasn’t too bad). If the pain in my shoulder doesn’t abate in a week, it’s physical therapy for Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus). Still, it’s curable and I’ll live. It’s National Crème Brûlée Day, a dessert I find tasty but insubstantial.

News today: Richard Dawkins was de-platformed in Berkeley for a scheduled book talk. I’ll post in detail about this soon.

On July 21, 1861, at the First Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Virginia, the Confederates and Union engaged in the first major battle of the Civil War. When it was over, the Confederates had won.

On this day in 1865 in Springfield, Missouri, Wild Bill Hickok shot and killed Davis Tutt in a duel about poker and the theft of Hickock’s watch. Wikipedia notes that this “is regarded as the first western showdown”. Hickock himself was shot in the head (from behind) while playing poker in 1876, supposedly holding the “dead man’s hand“, shown below:

An anniversary for evolutionary biology: on July 21, 1925, John Scopes, a high-school biology teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, was convicted of violating the state’s Butler act for teaching human evolution as a substitute teacher in a biology class. The judge fined him $100, but the verdict was set aside on appeal because juries and not judges were supposed to levy fines over $50.

And a banner day in space exploration: on this day in 1969, at 02:56 UTC (GMT), Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the Moon. I watched this live on television, and I’ll never forget the excitement and awe we all felt. The video below shows some highlights of the Apollo 11 mission, including Armstrong’s famous quote. It was a brave crew that undertook this landing, for they didn’t really know if the module would take off again.

Finally, on this day in 1983, thermometers recorded the world’s lowest temperature in an inhabited location. On that day at Vostok Station, Antarctica, the mercury hit a low of −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F).

Notables born on this day were Ernest Hemingway (1899, committed suicide in 1961), Garry Trudeau and Cat Stevens (Yusaf Islam; both born in 1948), and Robin Williams (1951, also a suicide—in 2014). Those who died on July 21 include Robert Burns (1796), the Great Agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll (1899; he was of course really an atheist), Basil Rathbone (1967; I didn’t know he was from South Africa), astronaut Alan Shepherd (1998), and E. L. Doctorow (2015). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being petulant:

A: Aren’t you going with us to the river?
Hili: I will wait for you here, under the acacia.
A: Why?
Hili: Because I decided to.
In Polish:
Ja: Nie idziesz z nami nad rzekę?
Hili: Poczekam tu na was pod akacją.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Bo tak postanowiłam.

And, roaming the grounds of his future home, Leon’s beginning to have doubts about his move.

Leon: I’m not sure Whether I want to become a country cat. The species “couch cat” seems more agreeable.
Finally, in Winnipeg, where the weather is sunny and mild, Gus enjoys an al fresco nap. Staff member Taskin reports:
A Gus picture from this afternoon. He is snoozing in the shade while I have my tea. He’s such nice company.


  1. Posted July 21, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    What was the fifth card in that hand?

    • Posted July 21, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      I don’t think it was either an ace or an eight; the story is that it was two pair, not a full house.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted July 21, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        Yes, I do not think it matters as he did not get to play the hand…

      • BJ
        Posted July 22, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        Would be amusing if it was a suicide king.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Love those cat photos. I too watched the landing live, sometime in the middle of the night on the BBC from Lackenheath, UK. It did not look fake at the time?

    • Richard
      Posted July 21, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      My mother let me sleep through it (I was nine at the time): “It’s alright, they’ve already landed. We didn’t wake you because we thought you could watch it on the repeats.”.

      • Posted July 21, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        I was three. One of my earliest memories is of being dragged out of bed by my parents in the middle of the night and being plonked in front of the telly which was showing a spaceman stepping onto the Moon.

        To be honest, I can’t remember if it was Neil Armstrong, but they never got me out of bed for anything else on the telly ever, so I have to assume it was.

      • Posted July 21, 2017 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        This is what you missed.

        • Richard
          Posted July 22, 2017 at 6:47 am | Permalink

          LOL! Thank you for that.

  3. Posted July 21, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Just a professional pedant’s note that ‘commit suicide’ references a crime. Certainly now I would write ‘killed himself’ re Hemingway or, say, Chester Bennington.

    • Rita
      Posted July 21, 2017 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      I noticed the use of that phrase “commit suicide”, and looked up the definition. The pertinent definition in this case is “to do; perform; perpetuate”. Using that definition, the expression “commit suicide” is correct and doesn’t have to reference a crime. But, I agree it does sound questionable. I’m not sure saying “killed himself” is any better.

      • Posted July 21, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        As a hack in London for many years, I have been steered away from the ‘commit’ version. The BBC style guide, for example, says the following:


        Some people are offended by the use of the term ‘commits suicide’, as they say it implies a criminal action. It’s not banned by us, but the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines say that ‘kills oneself’ or ‘takes one’s life’ are preferable options. At inquests, say: The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide. The Editorial Guidelines stress that detailed descriptions of the method of suicide should be avoided, as it could lead to copycat behaviour.

        • Posted July 21, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          Associated Press gives similar guidance:

        • BJ
          Posted July 22, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

          Weird, I’ve never heard it said any other way, and it has never occurred to me that it could somehow be offensive.

          It seems a lot of BBC style guide suggestions aren’t about grammar but rather avoiding offence. You’re the expert, so am I wrong in this impression? Just curious.

          As the poster said above, to me the word “commit” means to carry out.

  4. Lurker111
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    When the spouse & I go to a restaurant in the dead of winter, and especially if there’s snow and ice piled up outside, I’ll make it a point to say to another patron, “I hear today’s not a good day for the chicken al fresco.”

    Some of them then ask the waitstaff why not?


  5. allison
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Given his apparent fondness for dirt, I don’t understand how Gus manages to always look so clean!

    • Randy schenck
      Posted July 21, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Cats are pretty much self-cleaning.

      • BJ
        Posted July 22, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        That’s why I have them run my dry cleaning service.

        It creates some confusion when the customers try to pay, but I trust them to do so (the cats, on the other hand, are probably stealing from me. We’ll see when I install the hidden cameras).

  6. Hempenstein
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Re. the start of the Civil War, this book, titled simply 1861, is a great account of what it was like to live thru that year. Cheap copies abound on Alibris, too.

    And re. Robin Williams, Conor Oberst’s song A Little Uncanny laments the loss of Christopher Hitchens, Oliver Sacks, Robin Williams, and Sylvia Plath in quick succession. They play it a lot on our local station, WYEP, and I like hearing those lines every time.

  7. claudia baker
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Watching the moon landing is a thrill I will never forget.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 21, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      I remember. It was very exciting. I could hardly breath.

    • Richard
      Posted July 21, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Lucky you (see my comment above).

  8. Pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    “It’s National Crème Brûlée Day”

    Do you have a day in the year that is not National Something Day in the States? 🙂

  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    You can always just ignore the pain until it’s excruciating. That’s what I do. Maybe not the best advice….

    • Posted July 21, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      April 25th: National First Day of the Year That Is Not National Something Day Day.

  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    My fave work of Robert Ingersoll is “The Great Infidels” in which he attacks the doctrine of hell.
    “All the meanness, all the revenge, all the selfishness, all the cruelty, all the hatred, all the infamy of which the heart of man is capable, grew blossomed, and bore fruit in this one word—- Hell.”

    “SOme Mistakes of Moses” is another good one.

    He is overtly atheist in his essay “The Gods” which can be read here.

    Finally, Ingersoll was a terrific orator (an equal of William Jennings Bryan) and talked on a wide variety of subjects, including Shakespeare, and revived the reputation of Thomas Paine.

  11. Michael Fisher
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    For Apollo 11, I watched the UK ITV TV channel [rival to the BBC] – there was a 10-hr party-style programme, hosted by David Frost, leading up to the moon landing. A very strange affair with the acclaimed author Ray Bradbury walking out in disgust before he could be interviewed due to the frivolity…

    At one point the historian A.J.P. Taylor discussed the ethics of space exploration with that acknowledged space expert Sammy Davis Jr! [this I don’t remember at all]

    Bradbury made a wise move – it enabled him to get some proper interviews under his belt with Walter Cronkite & the like.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 21, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Frost always struck me as a near pathological grandstander. He did some pretty interesting things, like the interviews with Nixon, but he seemed never to be satisfied with being an interviewer.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted July 21, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely agree. Highly mannered. False. I hated his vocal mannerisms & he wasn’t funny.

        He became very well connected & he used it – he got a memorial stone in Poet’s Corner for example – some shenanigans in high places going on there.

  12. Heather Hastie
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    That video of the moon landing was a laugh. Astronauts are officially nerds. I’d never heard the “bippity, boppity, boo” thing as he skipped across the surface!

    • rickflick
      Posted July 21, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Ha. I noticed that all those decades ago. 😎

  13. David Duncan
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a post about Hili’s birthday. Is hers known?

    • Posted July 21, 2017 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      No, she was brought to Malgorzata and Andrzej as a young kitten, so there could be an approximate birthday, but the staff doesn’t celebrate either human or animal birthdays.

  14. Wayne Y Hoskisson
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    The moon landing happened when I was in Vietnam. I do not recall watching TV any other time while in Vietnam. We set up a TV in a hooch that served as a day room. I cannot recall where we obtained the TV. We did not see the entirety of the broadcast, just the landing portion. We may have seen more but I cannot recall. Reading about this and remembering it sucked up about two hours before I decided to respond. Watching the moon landing was a surreal moment in a long surreal year. We lived in an old, old graveyard in July, 1969. I was a long way from anything that made such an event feel even remotely possible. The broadcast came from the “real world” as we called our homes and not from the world we lived in.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 21, 2017 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      What a remarkable perspective! Thanks for sharing.

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