Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Wednesday, September 20, 2017; I am still suffering from insomnia, have my last day of hand therapy today, and apparently have lost my duck to her migratory instincts. Am I kvetching like an old Jewish man? Well, that’s what we do! It’s National Rum Punch Day, and I’m betting that not one reader will have that drink. It’s Korean Martyrs Day, memorializing over 8000 Korean Christians killed for their faith in the 19th century. Hearing stuff like pains me twice: people killing others because of their religion (note: not their culture), and people dying because they wouldn’t give up their superstition. Speaking of superstition, it’s also the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Though I don’t celebrate it, I have an off-color joke about the shofar: the ram’s horn blown on this holiday. Since this is a family-friendly site, I can’t post it, but perhaps some reader will.

On this day in 1519, Ferdinand Magellan left Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Spain to begin his circumnavigation of the globe (he didn’t make it, but his ship did). The town, by the way, is famous for producing manzanilla, a type of very dry sherry comparable to fino.  On September 20, 1848, the American Association for the Advancement of Science was created. They are too accommodationist for my taste, so I never joined, but of course I do read their journal Science.  Here’s one of their official statements:

The sponsors of many of these state and local proposals seem to believe that evolution and religion conflict. This is unfortunate. They need not be incompatible. Science and religion ask fundamentally different questions about the world.

Many religious leaders have affirmed that they see no conflict between evolution and religion. We and the overwhelming majority of scientists share this view. [JAC: That’s probably a lie.]

On this day in 1909, the UK Parliament passed the South Africa Act 1909, forming the nation of South Africa by amalgamating the British Colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River Colony, and the Transvaal Colony. On September 20, 1962, African-American student James Meredith was barred for the third time from entering the University of Mississippi because of his race. He sued and won in the Supreme Court, entering school in late September, which promptly caused rioting. We’ve come a long ways since the governor, Ross Barnett, said that the University of Mississippi would never be integrated as long as he remained governor. He was wrong.

And do you remember what happened on this day in 1973? Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match in the Houston Astrodome. As I recall, she beat him in three straight sets. On September 20, 1984, a car-bomb attack at the U.S. embassy in Beirut killed 22 people. Finally, it was exactly six years ago today that the U.S. military ended its “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

Notables born on this day include James Dewar (1842), Upton Sinclair (1878), Sophia Loren (1934) and Jim Al-Khalili (1962).

Here’s Sophia Loren with my dad and some other Army officers in Athens, a photo I’ve shown before. They’re standing before the Parthenon in about 1955, when she would have been only around 21 or 22. My dad is second from the left, standing on Loren’s right.

Those who died on this day include Chidiock Tichborne (1586), Jacob Grimm (1863), Annie Besant (1933), Fiorella La Guardia (1947), Jean Sibelius (1957), Jim Croce (1973), Steve Goodman (1984) and Sven Nykvist (2006).  I was a bigh fan of both Croce and Goodman, so let’s hear from both of them:

I loved this Croce song, and still do, but I don’t recognize the other musician:

And this song, “The Dutchman,” by Michael Smith—about an old man with dementia—always brings a tear to my eye. This is truly one of the greatest pop songs of our era. (The original recording, a masterpiece, is here. Michael Smith’s version can be heard here.) Goodman died in 1984 0f leukemia at only 36, but at least I saw him once live, in the No Name Coffee House in Harvard Square:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili once again has dreams above her pay grade:
Hili: A veritable jungle.
A: Little tiger, little jungle.
In Polish:
Hili: Kompletna dżungla.
Ja: Jaki tygrys, taka dżungla.


  1. Dave
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    “….the governor, Ross Barnett, said that the University of Mississippi would never be segregated as long as he remained governor”

    Should that be “de-segregated”?

  2. Graham Head
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Should that be
    University of Mississippi would never be DEsegregated as long as he remained governor.

    • Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      See above

      • Dave
        Posted September 20, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        Ironic that the idea of racial segregation is back in fashion on some US campuses, promoted largely by the children and grandchildren of those who fought against it in the 1960s. Governor Barnett must be pleased.

  3. Pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Sorry for being pedantic but Magellan was not supposed to circumnavigate the globe. He had to reach the “clove islands” (Moluccas) and go back to Spain the same way, avoiding traveling across territories under Portuguese control. The circumnavigation of the globe by a small part of his crew happened by accident.

    • Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      My statement is correct; I didn’t say he intended to do it, I said he “began his circumnavigation of the globe”, which is exactly what happened. When I go to the produce store after I go to the grocery store, even though the second stop was unintended, it’s still accurate to say, “I began my trip to the grocery and produce stores.”

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted September 20, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink


        People of certain political predilections despise this and hold it against the speakers.

        It is funny because just last night, I said to someone “I read the message yesterday”, but I didn’t say I finished it. I mulled it over – was I dishonest? Misleading? I suppose…? I could have added more words … but we’ve all moved along since then…

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      You could take the position that he did complete the circumnavigation, just not in one shot – he started off going east to reach somewhere in the Malay islands, came back to Europe then headed off west a few years later. He got to pretty much where he had traveled on his eastbound trip before he was killed.

  4. Historian
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Steve Goodman also wrote the “City of New Orleans.” He is probably best known for writing “Go, Cubs, Go,” which anybody living in the Chicago area last year heard at least 1,000 times and never got tired of!

    • Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Indeed, but don’t forget “Lincoln Park Pirates”, about the rapacious official towing of cars in Chicago:

      I like the City of New Orleans okay, but I think his masterpiece is “The Dutchman,” even though he didn’t write it.

    • George
      Posted September 20, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      I started college in 1974 – in Chicago. There was a great local music scene led by Steve Goodman, John Prine, Bonnie Koloc. Siegel-Schwall. To say nothing of the blues – I saw Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. I saw a lot of Goodman and Prine. One of the most memorable shows I saw was in January 1977 at Mandel Hall, a few steps from PCC(e)’s office. Goodman had a band he called the Rolling Blunder Revue. Dylan had just toured with the Rolling Thunder Review. Goodman’s band was great. It had Jethro Burns (of Homer and Jethro fame) on Mandolin. Chicago folkie Jim Post opened the show. He is famous as a one hit wonder for “Reach Out of the Darkness” (as Friend and Lover).

      Goodman brought him back out during his set and did the song. It was a bitterly cold night. This was the first of three straight brutal winters in Chicago, the last of which 1978-79 led to the election of Harold Washington as mayor which led to the election of Barack Obama. If anyone is interested, I can expound on that theory. Richard J. Daley had just died a month earlier. Goodman performed “Daley’s Gone” for the first time that night. He originally had a lyric in the song “It took three men to replace him – Michael, Bill and Dick.” Alderman Michael Bilandic took over as mayor. When he recorded the song, Goodman used “Richard J. Daley was the Mayor of our town
      But when he died no suitable replacement
      Could be found.”

      I loved Steve Goodman. I miss him.

      • George
        Posted September 20, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        I used to see Goodman at Wrigley Field. Back then, the Cubs drew about a million fans a year. Weekdays there would be about 7,000 people at a game. The left field bleachers had students, musicians and actors (Second City used to hang around there). There was usually a cloud of smoke and a sweet smell over left field. Right field had the traders from the Merc and the CBOE. I would say the gamblers as well but that would be redundant. The pits closed at 1pm. First pitch was at 1:20. So they usually showed up after the first inning. Goodman often sat by himself in the center field bleachers. I remember one time when Willie Stargell hit a ball onto Waveland (not easy for a lefty). I turned to watch the ball sail out of the park and looked at Goodman who just smiled and shook his head.

        Four days after his death from leukemia at age 36, the Cubs clinched the National League East to earn their first post season berth since 1945. I forget what happened after that – except I hate Steve Garvey. Goodman was supposed to sing the National Anthem at the first game. Jimmy Buffet sang in his placed.

        Goodman wrote “Go Cubs Go” as a promotion for WGN Radio that season. My favorite version was performed by the Chicago cast of Hamilton on Nov 3, 2016. I think something significant happened the night before.

      • BJ
        Posted September 20, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        I’m very interested in your theory and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

        But seriously, I am genuinely interested in hearing it.

        • George
          Posted September 20, 2017 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

          It would be a lengthy essay. I could make it shorter if you are familiar with Chicago political history. You can send me an email at gpawlus at the yahoo thing. I will try to expound.

  5. Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    With Jim Croce is Maury Muehleisen.

  6. Stephen Barnard
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Two old black men are walking down the street one day, when they happen to pass by a Jewish synagogue. Suddenly they hear a strange wailing sound.One old fellow turns to his buddy and says “What was THAT?!” The buddy replies “Well I used to work for a Jewish family, and I happen to know that it was the sound of the Rabbi blowing the Shofar!

    The first old gentleman thinks for a moments and says, “Hmmm… Those Jewish folk sure are good to the help!”

    • Peter N
      Posted September 20, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      I know a different version of the joke but I’m sure one is enough for this family-friendly website!

    • Posted September 21, 2017 at 4:46 am | Permalink


  7. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    About the AAAS

    It’s truth claims all the way down. Is the AAAS interested in promoting scientific literacy? Religions are truth claims produced by scientific illiteracy.

  8. JackbeThimble
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    My personal favorite Croce song is “Footsteps on your floor.” Best Break-up song I know.

  9. kieran
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink They say of the acropolis where the Parthenon is…

  10. Addie Pray
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Much as I love the Steve Goodman version of The Dutchman, its the Liam Clancy version that gets me hardest…

    • John Conoboy
      Posted September 20, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      I agree. I first heard the song from Maken and Clancy. I think they have a much more sensitive approach to the song.

  11. Stephen Mynett
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I think it worth noting the anniversary of Sibelius’ death with one of the finest tone poems written, the first an interesting archive recording with Leonard Bernstein, a brilliant conductor who was a great performer to watch as well, then a modern version. It is interesting to note the make up of the orchestras and good to see the number of women performing today.

  12. Posted September 20, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Sophia is gorgeous in that picture.

    Your dad ain’t bad, either.

  13. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Well, Jerry, Elizabeth Taylor rode in my father’s car, but only when my uncle borrowed it from him, and she and my immediate pops never met.
    So on the father-meeting-lovely-talented-actresses front, you are just one step ahead of me.

  14. chris moffatt
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    “This is unfortunate. They need not be incompatible. Science and religion ask fundamentally different questions about the world.”

    If religion were true it could not be incompatible with Science. However it does not ask “fundamentally different questions”; rather it is a millenia-old attempt unsuccessfully to answer the same questions as Science answers

    • darrelle
      Posted September 20, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      “Science and religion ask fundamentally different questions about the world.”

      This cliche claim has always annoyed me. It’s inaccurate in several different ways, and not accurate in any way. Religion doesn’t ask any questions about the world. It is merely a rigid set of claims.

      And the questions that believers say religion can answer but science can’t? Science has been giving answers to them for quite some time, all the while whittling down the number of those answers that religions claim they answer for fear of looking so foolish that they can’t hold on to their flocks.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 20, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink


      The question is how religion manages to use, essentially, everything else in the universe – different questions, stained glass, love, trances, funny clothing – to distract from its truth claims.

      I only recently connected some of these things together and I’m quite excited by it. I can now completely skip over any ad hominems by casting religion in terms of truth claims.

  15. Alan Forde
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Two things. Are all the other officers with your dad also members of t he Flying….nevermind.

    Go Cubs Go is not his best in that theme. That would be Ballad of the Dying Cubs Fan

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