Monday: Hili dialogue

SORRY: This is out of order! I didn’t sleep very well last night, and forgot to schedule this.

Well, it’s Monday again, September 25, 2017, and classes begin today at the University of Chicago. Today’s food holiday doesn’t celebrate the food but its purveyors: it’s National Food Service Workers Day (roughly a quarter of Americans have worked in food service; have you?).

On a side note, have you been watching the new PBS documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, “The Vietnam War”? I am making an exception of my “almost no t.v.” rule to watch this, and it’s a fantastic documentary, weaving together deftly the military actions in Asia with antiwar ferment stateside, as well as the history of the conflict and recordings by people like LBJ and many soldiers who participated. The series is 18 hours long, and you’ll learn a lot. 50,000 Americans died in that losing cause along with over a million Vietnamese, many of the civilians. Nothing was accomplished. What’s new to me is the sheer bloodiness of the conflict: an aspect of the war hidden from Americans at the time by the government and the media. Parts are quite gruesome.

1066 was a rough year for England. Beside the Normans, the Brits took on the Vikings, defeating them on this day at The Battle of Stamford Bridge.  On this day in 1513, the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa “reached what would become known as the Pacific Ocean.” That’s what Wikipedia says, but on that day Balboa only saw the Pacific from a mountain peak after crossing the Isthmus of Panama. He didn’t get to the ocean for four more days. On this day in 1789, the U.S. Congress passed twelve amendments to the Constitution, including the ten known as the Bill of Rights, which had the famous First Amendment (freedom of religion, assembly, and speech), and the infamous Second (possession of guns to permit formation of well regulated militias). Finally, on this day in 1957, with the help of U.S. Army troops ordered out by President Eisenhower, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas was integrated. Here’s a short video showing the “Little Rock Nine” (the six black women and three black men who broke the barriers). It shows how far we’ve come:


Notables born on this day include Fletcher Christian (1764), Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866; my academic great-grandfather: advisor to the advisor of my advisor), William Faulkner (1897), Mark Rothko (1903), Barbara Walters (1929), Shel Silverstein (1930), Glenn Gould (1932) and Catherine Zeta-J0nes (1969; shares birthday with her husband Michael Douglas, born in 1945).  Here’s a Rothko—”Woman and Cat” (1933):

Those who died on this day include Ring Lardner (1933), Emily Post (1960), Hugo Black (1971), Billy Carter (1988; remember “Billy Beer”?), Edward Said and George Plimpton (both 2003), Andy Williams (2012) and Arnold Palmer (last year).  Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the drainpipe was broken by a vine, as it is yearly, and Hili calls attention to it. It’s now been fixed:

Hili: You have to fix this drain pipe.
A: Yes, I’m afraid I have to.
 In Polish:
Hili: Musisz naprawić tę rynnę.
Ja: Też się tego obawiam.

Here are two tw**ts stolen from Heather Hastie’s daily compendium:

And one found by Matthew Cobb. Be sure to turn the sound up to hear the fearsome roars!

Finally, Grania sends in two pictures with a note: “Here is a photo series you have seen before but you cannot see it too often. FISHING EXPEDITION”:

Explanatory notes:

I waited two years to try to capture this behaviour which is only possible when the Savute Channel starts to recede leaving the catfish stranded in the isolated pools of water. It wasn’t until August in the second year that I was there when the conditions were right and after many days waiting, I was finally rewarded with this female leopard jumping into the muddy pool with remarkable success. There are three related leopards in the area that are known to fish although tney rarely try it in daylight. Not only is the behaviour remarkable, it has been learnt by the oldest female in the last 5 years as before that the channel had not flowed for 30 years. She has then taught it to two separate litters of offspring.


  1. Mike
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Love the Lion Cub.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Me too. It’s gorgeous! I wish it was one of my tweets! Matthew always finds excellent ones.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Nice pictures today. Good to see Hili is also a home inspector.

    The Vietnam documentary by Ken Burns is a good one as are all of his projects. I believe they spent ten years doing this one. For those of us who read history and are of a certain age, it brings back a lot of memories. As shown on the show last night, covering 1968, it was a really bad year in many ways. Since I was one who was facing the draft at that time it was a turning point not only for that conflict, but for me.

  3. Posted September 25, 2017 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I have been watching the excellent documentary about the Vietnam war as time allows. The sheer waste in lives and resources is astonishing.

  4. Historian
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    The Vietnam documentary makes clear that the Johnson Administration kept forces in the country for the sole purpose of maintaining face. As early as 1965, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara knew that the war could not be won. The military leaders in the field, such as General Westmoreland, had no understanding of what tactics could be successful or whether any existed potentially at all. They sent thousands of American soldiers and marines to needless deaths, destroyed a country, and killed millions of Vietnamese. This show should be an object lesson for those who do not remember the war how political leadership can affect the physical lives of many and the stability of the world. This is a lesson that the United States appears not to have learned.

  5. Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Ahem PCC[E]… Brit[on]s is not equal to English…! 😉
    The Welsh soon had their own wars with the bloody Normans, as did the Kingdom of Scotland (which was a mix of Gaelic, Brythonic, Viking & Anglo-Saxon) which became Normanised under the descendants of Malcom Canmore…

    I hate the Normans! 😦

  6. David Harper
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    For PCC(E)’s British readers: the BBC is showing Ken Burns’s new documentary series from tonight on BBC4. It looks like we get episodes 1 and 2 tonight (Monday), followed by episodes 3 and 4 next Monday. That’s as far ahead as the BBC web site lists future episodes.

  7. Jenny Haniver
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    In case WEIT readers haven’t yet heard, Berkeley Free Speech Week ended with a whimper. No Coulter, no Bannon, no Geller.
    Only Milo showed up, spoke to his few supporters without a microphone for about 20 minutes, then was hustled away. The entire thing began to smell like a set-up to me last week,when the organizers began making questionable claims about the university shafting them. They’re the ones who were trying to play the university and the greater Berkeley community. They had no documentation or other credible evidence to support their allegations, and, frankly, the student Patriot leader I heard interviewed came across as just plain stupid and whiny, and he wasn’t the only one who sorely lacked the ability to explain and defend his views in the public arena. Apparently, there’s evidence that the entire thing was a set-up from the beginning and they just wanted to stir up discord and provoke antifa.; Frankly, I was surprised that antifa didn’t fill the vacuum, so to speak.

    I’ve found that a lot of these macho alt-right folk get quite whiny and blubbery, when challenged, especially when the words “racist” or “racism” is brought up.

  8. Randy schenck
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    The important lessons to learn from the Vietnam conflict was repeated a few times in the Burn’s documentary as I knew he would. In simple terms he referred to what our presidents said, from Truman to Johnson – the domino affect (believing the communist were going to get all the countries in southeast asia if we let them get Vietnam. This was a very poor and wrong reading of the situation. Vietnam was a struggle by Ho to reunite the country. To him it was an internal conflict, a civil war. As Von Clausewits tells us, do not go to war if you do not know the purpose. Do not go to war if you do not know the enemy. Do not go to war if you cannot define the enemy. Do not go to war if the people are not fully understanding and with you. I could go on but the bottom line Clausewits tell us is, you will loose.

    I will also fall back on my favorite military historian, Andrew Bacevich, who said this –

    Imagine if at the end of 1965, just months after the U.S. combat troops had arrived in South Vietnam, the American high command in Saigon had come to the realization that nationalism rather than international communism defined the nexus of the ongoing conflict–that the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese were fighting not to spread Totalitarian ideology around the world but simply to unite the arbitrarily divided country, thereby exercising the right to self-determination. Even such a heresy would have been to demolish the basis for U.S. intervention.

  9. Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    have you been watching the new PBS documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, “The Vietnam War”? I am making an exception of my “almost no t.v.” rule to watch this, and it’s a fantastic documentary

    Yes! And I fully agree.

    Wonderfully, PBS sells their series before they have fully aired. I have the full project on BluRay at home now and I am 40% of the way through it. Fantastic, if harrowing.

    This is must-see for all Americans, in my opinion.

    • Historian
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      It is a must-see, but it is extremely painful to watch. I am in the middle of watching the episode on the Tet Offensive, but I had to take a break halfway through. This tragedy, caused by the miscalculations and bunglings of the American leadership, military and civilian, must not be forgotten.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        The Tet was a political disaster for the Americans and a military disaster for the North Vietnamese. That tends to be the sad irony of the entire conflict.

      • Posted September 26, 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink

        I can highly recommend Mark Bowden’s latest book, Hue, 1968 about the battle for Hue during the Tet Offensive. Brilliant and gripping.

  10. harrync
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    The cat on the stairs wasn’t doing anything a slinky couldn’t.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      I think he was looking for a massage.

    • John Frum
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      His back legs didn’t move at all so possibly he is paralysed and that’s the only way he can go down.
      Probably carried up by his slaves.

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