Monday: Hili dialogue

Good morning; it’s Monday, August 21, and exactly one month before Fall comes. And it’s ECLIPSE DAY (see the next post for details), with about 90% totality in Chicago, beginning about noon. Had I known that Amtrak was running special one-day “eclipse” trains downstate to Carbondale, where it’s a total eclipse, I would have signed up, but the two trains sold out in 24 hours.  Today’s Google Doodle is a gif of that’s now called The Great American Eclipse (“Make the eclipse great again!”; Nobody has better eclipses than we do!”; “We’re gonna have an eclipse, and we’ll make the Sun pay for it!”, etc.):

It’s also the annual National Sweet Tea Day in the U.S., and that means heavily sweetened iced tea—the perfect accompaniment of heavy Southern food or barbecue. It’s sometimes called “the table wine of the South.”

On August 21, 1770, James Cook claimed the eastern part of Australia for Great Britain (how does one “claim a land”?), and named it New South Wales. On this day in 1831, Nat Turner‘s slave rebellion took place in Virginia as both free blacks and slaves marched for the emancipation of slaves. They were brutally suppressed, Turner was hanged, and new laws were passed in the South, prohibiting among other things any education for slaves and free blacks.  In 1888 William Seward Burroughs patented the first successful adding machine in America; his grandson, writer William S. Burroughs, acquired a lot of his dosh from his grandfather’s machine.  On this day in 1957, the Soviet Union successfully tested the first intercontinental ballistic missile, the R-7 Semyorka. On August 21, 1959, President Eisenhower, in an executive order, made Hawaii America’s 50th state and, two years later, Motown Records released its first #1 hit. Can you guess what it is? (see here).

Notables born on this day include Count Basie (1904), Wilt Chamberlain (1936), Peter Weir (1944), Kim Catrall (1956), and the french cartoonist Charb (1967), who worked for Charlie Hebdo and was killed in the terrorist attack on the magazine in 2015.

I loved the old Basie big band, and the first ten minutes or so of this vintage video show the group in action. (Bonus: Duke Ellington’s band follows with a bit of “Take the A Train” and the great song “Cottontail”, with Paul Gonsalves substituting on sax for the man who made that solo famous, Ben Webster):

Those who died on this day include Leon Trotsky (1940), George Jackson (1971), Buford Pusser (1971; I love that name!), and my colleague in physics Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1995). Wikipedia also lists Jerry Lewis as dying on this day, but it was yesterday, August 20. Someone please correct that!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili makes an astute observation:

Hili: Are you aware how much love of cats is on these shelves?
A: I don’t understand.
Hili: Almost all the authors of these books loved cats.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy jesteś świadomy ile jest miłości do kotów na tych półkach?
Ja: Nie rozumiem.
Hili: Prawie wszyscy autorzy tych książek kochali koty.
Her claim is true, and here’s why (h/t: Taskin):

Here’s a lovely tweet found by reader Charleen: it’s a video of two lions being reunited after two years with the woman who raised them. And yes, I watched it several times.

Also from Charleen:

Finally, here’s one I swiped from Heather Hastie, who now posts a well-chosen selection of “daily tweets.” I wasn’t aware that owls bathed, much less with such alacrity:

En passant, we have fewer than 150 subscribers to go till we hit the Magic Goal. Is it possible?


  1. Posted August 21, 2017 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky?
    He got an ice pick
    That made his ears burn…
    Whatever happened to the heroes?
    No more heroes any more…

  2. Mike
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    I’m always a little leery watching reunited videos, with dangerous animals, though these two look very happy to see her. Also they could clear that gate very easily.I remember watching Oscar Peterson and Count Basie chatting and playing together,and Basie who was sparse with his piano playing said of OP,what I like about you Oscar, you never play one note where 21 will do.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    “the table wine of the South”

    The vin ordinaire of an extraordinary cuisine.

    I do so have a love/hate relationship with that region of our nation.

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    I never knew Sinatra recorded with Basie

    Sinatra at the Sands – live at The Sands

    There’s another one in the studio.

    … I suspect some other recordings I’ve heard are with Basie but I don’t know – arrangements seem the same. Damn good arrangements!

  5. bbenzon
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I only saw the Ellington band once, in the early 1970s. This was in Baltimore at the Famous Ballroom on Sunday afternoon, where the Left Bank Jazz Society held their early evening soirées. The band looked like they’d been riding the Sleepy Time Express from Outer Mongolia. They were beat.

    And then Gonsalves got up to play a solo, I forget which number. He walked to the stage and started blowing, but off-mike. A helpful member of the audience got up and moved the mike directly in front of him. He took one hand from his tenor and angrily moved the mike away. None of that amplification nonsense for Paul Gonsalves, nosiree! Just the pure sound of a tenor sax on fire. Woweee! The man blew the roof offa the joint. You looked up and you could see the moon and the stars dancing with joy.


  6. Reggie Cormack
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Us Brits could walk in anywheres and claim a country. As if proof is needed ….

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    On this day in 1831, Nat Turner‘s slave rebellion took place in Virginia as both free blacks and slaves marched for the emancipation of slaves.

    William Styron got a great (if controversial) novel out of that incident.

    W.S. Burroughs II — for my money, the best of the Beats.

  8. Posted August 21, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Usually I disapprove of small children harassing birds, but that baby elephant is cute!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Baby elephant versus goose – standoff.

  9. George
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Hawaii did not become a state because of an executive order by Eisenhower. Congress passed the Hawaii Admission Act on March 18, 1959, signed by Eisenhower that same day.

    On August 21, 1959, Eisenhower issued Proclamation 3309 which said that Hawaii met all the requirements under the Hawaii Admission Act to become a state.

    A Presidential Proclamation is different than an Executive Order.

    Do we really need such pedanticism (is there such a word) on Eclipse Day?

  10. Barney
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    And that R-7 rocket was the basis for the Soyuz rockets which are now the only way of getting people to the ISS. It’s had a far more successful career in space, that rocket family having launched all the Soviet/Russian manned flights, and about 1,900 launches in all, than as a missile, as which only one was ever armed on one occasion – the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Great arrangements on those Basie tunes — though that’s in the nature of a redundancy, I suppose. I mean, it’s Basie, man.

  12. Alan Clark
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

  13. Doug
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    “How does one ‘claim a land?'”

    British comedian Eddie Izzard explained this perfectly:

    “We stole countries with the cunning use of . . .flags. Just sail around the world and stick a flag in. ‘I claim India for Britain!’

    They’re going “You can’t claim us, we live here! 500 million of us!’

    ‘Do you have a flag . . .?’

    ‘No . . .’

    ‘Well if you don’t have a flag, then you can’t have a country. Those are the rules . . .that I just made up!'”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      When Balboa claimed the Pacific Ocean and all lands adjoining it for the Queen — that one struck me as a bit cheeky.

    • David Coxill
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      First us Brits had to fight the French to see who planted their flags .

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