Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s Caturday, September 16, 2017, and in a few hours I’ll haul my weary carcass to the Chopin Airport in Warsaw for the nine-hour flight back to Chicago. That means, of course, that posting will be light today. If my plane crashes, it’s been a good run. If it doesn’t, let’s hope the airplane movies are decent (and no, “Interstellar” didn’t suck because the screen was small; it sucked because the plot was dumb and the acting and script lame). In the news, I’m grateful that nobody was killed in London bombing, though 29 people were injured and ISIS has claimed responsibility. I note as well that Trump embarrassed himself, and angered the Brits, by unleashing a series of dumb tw**ts. I shudder to think that this parody of a leader might be reelected in a bit more than three years.

It’s National Peach Pie Day, and I’ll court sympathy by saying that my Days of Pie have ended. But Wikipedia adds that it’s also two other food days: National Guacamole Day and National Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Day. September 16 is also Cry of Dolores, celebrating the beginning of Mexico’s war of independence from Spain.

On this day in 1620, the Pilgrims left England for America on the Mayflower—or so says Wikipedia in its “September 16” entry. But the Mayflower entry says “the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth on September 6, 1620. . .”, so this is likely an error (if you’re an editor, correct it, please). The first winter in America killed off just over half of the hundred-odd Pilgrims. On September 16, 1814, Francis Scott Key finished his poem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”; its lyrics would become, in 1931, the words to America’s National Anthem—one of the worst of all such anthems. On this day in 1959, The first Xerox 914, the world’s first successful photocopier, was demonstrated on television in the U.S. Are you old enough to remember its predecessor: the mimeograph machine with its fragrant purple ink.

On this day in 1975, Papua New Guinea gained independence from Australia. And exactly one year later, the championship swimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan saved 20 people from drowning after a trolleybus went into the water in Yerevan, Armenia. Breaking the glass with his legs, he repeatedly dove down into the cold, silty water—30 times—(the bus was 10 m deep) to rescue people, after which he was in a coma for 46 days and got a bad infection, which ended his career as a swimmer. What a hero that man was! Did you even know that tale? (I didn’t.) And he later saved several people from death by running into a burning building.

Karapetyan’s photo is below. You can read about his heroism here, and here’s a quote from that link:

Bystanders who watched Shavarsh bring people up to the surface said that his feet and back were full of glass shards. When later asked, what was the most horrifying part of this, Shavarsh replied by saying:

“I knew that I could only save so many lives, I was afraid to make a mistake. It was so dark down there that I could barely see anything. One of my dives, I accidentally grabbed a seat instead of a passenger… I could have saved a life instead. That seat still haunts me in my nightmares.”

After his 30th dive, Shavarsh lost consciousness. This courageous act has cost him dearly; he incurred heavy 2-sided pneumonia and blood contamination from the polluted water. Doctors were unsure if Shavarsh would ever recover. His life was hanging on by a thread while he stayed unconscious for 46 days. He finally recovered, but was never able to compete again. Today’s experts agree that no one but Shavarsh could have done what he has done.

Karapetyan now lives quietly, running a shoe shop in Moscow.

Finally, on this day in 1992, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was sentenced to 40 years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering. Extradited to Panama in 2011, Noriega died in May of this year after brain surgery.

Notables born on this day include Clive Bell (1881), Nadia Boulanger (1887), Lauren Bacall (1924), B. B. King (1925) and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (1950), Those who died on September 16 include Edward Whymper (1911), Maria Callas (1977), Mary Travers (2009), and Edward Albee (2016). And I’ve just noticed that Harry Dean Stanton died today. Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is suffering existential despair:

Hili: Not a single hope from anywhere.
A: What for?
Hili: That’s what I don’t know.
In Polish:
Hili: Znikąd nadziei.
Ja: Na co?
Hili: Właśnie nie wiem.

Matthew wants us all to see this illusion. Can you figure out how it was done? I think I can.

The proper hierarchy of beasts:

And a cartoon from readers jsp:


  1. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    That is a neat trick. Not sure how he blew up the ball, though.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      It’s the only mysterious part.
      Although the rest is a bit easier, it definitely motivates me to watch more of the channel.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      The big ball is already in his right hand when the film starts. I’m guessing it’s made of compressible foam.

      The small ball disappears into his mouth, I think.

  2. Mike
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    What a great man Shavarsh Karapetyan is,I have never heard of the man, nor the story,that man defines the word Hero.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Helluva story. 10m is a long way to go in restricted viz. 30 times is incredible.
      How on earth could a trolley-bus end up in the water? It’s not as if they can choose the wrong road. From the Wiki, “On that day, training with his brother Kamo, also a finswimmer, by running alongside the Yerevan Lake, Karapetyan had just completed his usual distance of 20 km (12 mi) when he heard the sound of a crash and saw a sinking trolleybus which had gone out of control and fallen from a dam wall.” Still appallingly bad design, to not have a sufficient restraining wall between the trolley tracks and the water.
      30 recovered. 20 survived. The last ones recovered would have been in the water for approaching 15 minutes without breathing, which is not good. To achieve his cited 30sec/ person recovery rate, someone must have been handling survivors on the surface, which from the extended description would have been his brother. And others. “They also serve…”

      • Posted September 16, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        We used to have what we called trolley buses in Glasgow, and they were simply ordinary double deck buses with normal wheels and tyres, running on asphalt. The only difference was that they were electric powered, fed by overhead lines using spring-loaded trolley poles. So they could easily turn the wrong way, though they would soon run out of power as the trolleys became detached from the power cables.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted September 16, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

          Hmm, yes. I was thinking of the ones that run on rails. I’d forgotten about the other type.
          Doesn’t the motor in such things turn into a brake if the ends are shorted together. So if the pantograph is released from the overheads, a simple mechanical switch would stop everything PDQ.

  3. Randy schenck
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    The date of the sailing might be confused because there was a false start in the beginning. There were two ships, the Mayflower and the Speedwell, however the Speedwell leaked and would likely sink. So they returned to shore and all piled on the other ship. A bad start and a bad finish. They left far too late in the season to begin with and then landed at Cap Cod instead of Virginia. If not for some help from the locals it is likely that none would have survived.

    • George
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      UK did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752. I think the correction for a 1620 date after the switch from Julian to Gregorian is 10 days. So the date is either Sept 6 (Julian) or Sept 16 (Gregorian).

      • Wayne Robinson
        Posted September 16, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Handel was Born in Halle on February 23, 1685 according to the Georgian calendar. He later moved to England and became an English citizen. When he died and was buried in Westminster Abbey, his grave records his dob as February 23, 1684, according to the Julian calendar. The version of the Julian calendar used started the new year in late March, I think it was March 25, so any dates before that were in the previous year.

        The British correct Julian dates for the year, not the day. The Americans correct Julian dates for both the year and the day. The September 6 is probably from a British source. The September 16 from an American source.

    • Bob Bottemiller
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Gregorian vs. Julian confusion.
      I used to marvel that Isaac Newton was born the same year Galileo died: 1642. Kind of a supernatural “passing of the torch.” But his birth date is 25 December 1642 based on the Julian calendar still in use in England. Using the Gregorian calendar in Galileo’s country, with 10-day offset, Newton’s birth would have been in 1643. It is convention to keep quoting significant dates as occurring on the date noted by the local, contemporary calendar.
      Crap, there goes the cool coincidence!

  4. Posted September 16, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Interesting jumble of things, a great tale of the man who saved all those lives, and a well-deserved shout-out to Wiseman’s channel. The series how to win bets is great, especially the ones that are usually at the end (see for yourself).

    I like about the illusion that it has three interesting moments: the first, when you realize it’s not as it seems. The second, when you think how it really is like (differently sized objects) and then a third one, when you realize that some things are still off.

  5. Posted September 16, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Also Jerry, sign up to Netflix, Amazon Prime etc (maybe you have an account already), you’ll probably get a free month, too. Get the respective app. Then you pick a film or films, or series, and download them for watching later (this is a fairly new feature at least in Netflix).

    Takes only minutes to set up, and you’ll have a backup when the selection turns out not so great.

    The hippest thing among nerdy intellectuals is the cartoon Rick & Morty, sitting above 9+ on ImDB, deservedly. Dial in here. I know, you prefer more realistic material. They also have documentaries.

  6. Ken Phelps
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    If your plane *does* go down, when you get to Heaven could you please check in with Tiger, Panther, Fred, Fred 2, Leo, Opus, Hunter, Carver, Turbo, Photon, Tucker, & Crusher for me? Being as it’s Heaven I suppose Crusher will let you give him a belly rub, because lion/lamb and all that, but it might be prudent to wear a glove the first time just in case.

  7. Randy schenck
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Regarding the Trump note, it may not be possible to be re-elected after being impeached but who knows…in this country anything is possible. With Putin’s assistance and even better use of the media, obviously anyone can be president.

  8. mfdempsey1946
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    The wonderful actor Harry Dean Stanton (whom I once had the honor to meet and talk with briefly) said in a New Yorker interview, quoted in his Variety obituary:

    “When you’re deep asleep and not dreaming, where the fuck are you? There’s total blackness, it’s nothing, right? So I’m hoping that’s what death is, that it’s all gonna go. I don’t want to deal with any consciousness afterward.”

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      A fine actor and person. Also 91 years old. He was in the Navy and on a ship as a cook during the Battle of Okinawa.

  9. Posted September 16, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I remember the first Xerox ads. One part showed a boy coming up to the machine with a box turtle and xeroxing that. Years later I wanted a picture of the characteristic holes sea otters make in sea urchins they eat. I remembered that, xeroxed them, and put them in the report. Surprised some people.

  10. Sarah
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Before the mimeograph (with black ink) there was the Dittograph (with purple ink) and before that there was the primitive hectograph with a jelly-like material in a tray. That ink may have been purple, too. I recall the first Xeroxes were white on black, but that soon changed.

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      I don’t remember what it was called, though I think mimeograph, but there was a duplicating technique that allowed the use of different colors of ink. The technique was something like printmaking, you’d cut a stencil per color, print as many sheets of paper as you wanted with the first color, change the stencil and ink, print the second color on those already once-printed sheets, and so on. I remember helping my father do this in the early 1960s: he was working on his PhD and needed three-color test sheets for the studies he was doing.

      • Sarah
        Posted September 16, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        That sounds like a mimeograph all right. You had to be careful not to tear the stencils. They were made of some kind of thin membrane and you typed or drew on the stencil hard enough to make an impression (so the ink could come through it) but not hard enough to make a hole or tear. It seemed quite advanced at the time…

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