Wednesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Good morning on Hump Day: Wednesday, March 7, 2018, and National Cereal Day.  (Only 13 days till Spring!) Be sure to have your Cheerios or Weetabix (my favorite) this morning. I had some cherry pie: the best breakfast.

On this day in 1876, Alexander Graham bell was given a patent for the telephone.  Exactly sixty years thereafter, Germany, violating the Treaty of Versailles, reoccupied the Rhineland. Nobody did anything, and didn’t until September 1, 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland. March 7, 1965 was “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama, when 600 civil rights marchers were attacked by state and local police, an incident memorialized in the excellent movie Selma. Here’s some footage of the real march, and it’s pretty brutal:

On this day in 1989, the UK broke diplomatic relations with Iran after a fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses. The UK put Rushdie under police protection.  Finally, on this day in 2007, the House of Commons voted to make the House of Lords a 100% elected body.

Notables born on this day include Antoine César Becquerel (1788), botanist and horticulturalist Luther Burbank (1899), Julius Wagner-Jauregg (1857; the only psychiatrist to win the Nobel Prize, and he did so for research that is now seen to be bogus: the effect of malaria in curing the dementia of late-stage syphillis), Piet Mondrian (1872), Maurice Ravel (1875), Reinhard Heydrich (1904), Willard Scott (1934), David Baltimore (1938) and Brett Easton Ellis (1964). Those who expired on March 7 include Wyndham Lewis (1957), Alice B. Toklas (1967), Cool Papa Bell (1903), Edward Mills Purcell (1997), and Gordon Parks (2006). Parks is another of my favorite photographers. Here’s his “Husband and Wife, Sunday Morning, Detroit, Michigan”, taken in 1950:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is pondering her options. When I asked what this was about, Malgorzata replied, “It depends. If Andrzej is about to suggest work on “Listy”, she is asleep. If he has in mind a walk or possibly a treat, she is wide awake.

A: Are you asleep?
Hili: It depends on what you suggest.

In nearby Wloclawek, Leon is helping Elzbieta (who’s a teacher) grade her papers:

Leon: I think this answer deserves at least a few points!

(In Polish: Leon: Uważam,że tę odpowiedź należy jednak zaliczyć!)

Note the lovely markings on his forelegs.

From Grania: a miracle diet!

From Matthew: A young mantis that imitates an ant:

Cougar kittens! Three of them!

Could it be? A new species of felid!:

The British equivalent of the stork:


Alfred Russel Wallace was a tough man! This is said to be where he stayed during his field studies, but I wonder how and where it is preserved:

Edward Teller hating on Carl Sagan:

Want a drawing of a famous atheist? Here’s your artist:

From reader Barry: roughhousing with a caracal:

The U.S. aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lexington was sunk in the Coral Sea by the Japanese on May 8, 1942. After years of searching, its wreckage was found 3 days ago, resting nearly two miles below the surface. Fortunately, as this site notes, “With other U.S. ships standing by, 2,770 crewmen and officers were rescued, including the captain and his dog Wags, the ships ever-present mascot.” (WHAT ON EARTH are they doing with a dog as a mascot? It’s cats on ships—and they can mouse, too!)

Here’s a one-minute video showing the ship at the bottom:


  1. Serendipitydawg
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    They only removed the hereditary peers, I wouldn’t call the House of Lords elected…

    • Graham Head
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      And not all of them, there are still a few of them with preserved places. We still have the insult to democracy of the heredities ‘electing’ one of their number back into to the lords when one of them dies (or I think they can retire).

    • David Harper
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      The House of Lords consists of:

      1. A rump of 90 hereditary peers, following the 1999 reform.

      2. The 26 senior bishops and archbishops of the Church of England.

      3. Around 670 “life peers” who are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. These are predominantly party political appointees, although some are nominated in recognition of non-political service to the country, such as Lord Rees, who is a distinguished astronomer.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Indeed, I should have said some of 🙂

      I can vividly remember the Duchess of Devonshire bemoaninng the removal of her old man. Her attitude was that only they heridaries were qualified to be there and the new ones would have no idea… priceless.

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        I really can’t type today, sorry!

  2. George
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    You cannot mention Gordon Parks without mentioning that he directed Shaft (1971). It is a great movie and an important movie. Great opening scene – even better when the theme song kicks in.

    His son, Gordon Parks, Jr., released Super Fly a year later. Just as good and important as Shaft. Unfortunately, the son died in a plane crash in 1979. He was just as talented as his father.

    In violation of Da Roolz, here embedded is the opening to Shaft. If you are going to break Da Roolz for anyone, it would be for Shaft. We can dig it:

    • George
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      A University of Chicago connection to Gordon Parks – Hollywood producer Sherry Lansing (a graduate of UofC’s Lab School) raised the money (mostly from George Lucas) to fund the Gordon Parks Arts Hall at the Lab School.

    • Posted March 7, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      The theme to Shaft has got to be one of the coolest, now-est, and hippest musical number of all time.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        +1! A great memory from my childhood.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        Isaac Hayes. He wrote the score, too. Got an Oscar nomination for it (and won for best song for the theme above).

      • een
        Posted March 7, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        Ha! The first record I EVER bought (45 rpm single) was the Theme from Shaft. in 1971 I was 14 – that was long ago andf far away…

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      His autobiography, A Choice of Weapons, is well worth reading.

  3. Lurker111
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    If I rough-housed with my 19.5-year-old kitty like the guy did with his caracal, my next stop would be the ER.

    You don’t mess with the old lady of the house.

  4. enl
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    I had the dubious pleasure of dinner with Dr. Teller in the late 1980’s (1990, maybe even). He was neither charming nor pleasant.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      He done Oppie dirty at the AEC. For me, that puts him in a class with witnesses who cooperated with HUAC and McCarthy.

      • George
        Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        I just read a new biography of Enrico Fermi, The Last Man Who Knew Everything by David Schwartz. There is a lot in the book that makes you want to learn more about subjects that are just touched upon in the book. One is the relationship between Fermi and Teller. Teller was basically ostracized by the entire physics. He made peace with Oppy after he received the Fermi Award (circa 1963).

        One thing I took away from the book was how much physics lost with Fermi’s premature death. He had developed a great relationship with astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar – also at the University of Chicago. Who knows what would have come out of that collaboration.

        • Jake Sevins
          Posted March 7, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

          I had no idea that all of these guys (Fermi, Teller) were at the U of Chicago and that Sagan himself was educated there (before going to Harvard and then Cornell). I should have known this stuff, but didn’t…

        • Posted March 7, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

          I’ve always wondered – what killed Fermi?

          • George
            Posted March 7, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

            Stomach cancer – probably as a result of work he did in Italy before he came to the US.

    • Zetopan
      Posted March 10, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      I see much more than slight amount of projection in Teller’s claim that Sagan “never did anything worthwhile”.

      As Feynman point out several years ago, Teller was the one physicist who never came up with anything that was practical during his entire career.

      Note that Teller was promoting an X-ray laser as a space based device to knock out ICBMs in flight as part of Reagan’s idiot Star Wars Defense System. The problem with Teller’s loony X-ray laser idea was pointed out by other scientists; the *theoretical* yield of such a device was actually 5 orders of magnitude lower than what Teller was claiming. And of course the practical yield would be expected to be even lower than that.

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    “On this day in 1876, Alexander Graham bell was given a patent for the telephone. Exactly sixty years thereafter, Germany, violating the Treaty of Versailles, reoccupied the Rhineland.”

    But why were they on the phone so long?

  6. glen1davidson
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    The Battle of the Coral Sea didn’t go so well for America. It did check the Japanese advance for the moment, but at the cost of a heavy carrier, the Lexington.

    But because of the damage to the Japanese carrier Shokaku, and the loss of planes by the Japanese carrier Zuikaku, the Japanese kept both out carriers out of the Battle of Midway a month later. Which almost certainly was fortunate for the US, sinking the four carriers that the Japanese did send (with the loss of one US carrier), while six likely would have been difficult to destroy and might have caused a lot of damage to US ships (the Japanese were better at the time, and US torpedoes were nearly useless until 1943).

    Glen Davidson

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      The US scuttled the Lexington themselves. 200 died, though I’m not sure whether that was due to the constant dive-bombing by the Japanese or to the scuttling.

    • Dragon
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Thankfully, the Japanese seemed worried about our torpedoes and nearly wiped out the attacking torpedo bombers, leaving the dive bombers relatively unscathed, at the Battle of Midway. The US dive bombers were quite successful.
      I recall reading about the scouting reports from the logs of both sides. Fascinating to contemplate that orders had to be given based on such flimsy information in those days. Both US and Japanese planes were sent to incorrect locations during the battle and had to try to scout themselves.

    • phil
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      The Battle of the Coral Sea didn’t go so well for Japan either, although the RAN didn’t suffer much, largely because the major combatants (the ships) never sighted each other (an important historical aspect of the battle).

      It has been deemed an Allied loss since the IJN aviators sunk a greater tonnage of Allied ships, however the Japanese lost nearly 50% more personnel, 33% more planes, and two or three more ships. Most importantly it caused the Japanese to abort their mission, the invasion of Port Moresby, and as stated caused the IJN to send two fewer carriers to Midway.

      All in all I think it could be called a narrow tactical loss to the Allies (they conceded the field), but a serious strategic loss for Japan from which they never recovered. The IJN and its aviation went steadily downhill after that.
      Bear in mind as well that this occurred a mere five months after Pearl Harbour, and the IJN had superior forces. Going to Midway one month later the two sides were more evenly matched due in no small part to the Battle of the Coral Sea.

  7. Posted March 7, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    My father had the good fortune to be making photos next Gordon Parks in New Orleans one day (in the early 1950s).

    Both he and Mr. parks were using a Rolleiflex dual-lens camera. These cameras have a viewing screen not dissimilar to that of a view camera. One of the cool things you can do with this is hold the camera such that you are facing a different direction from the camera (which helps with candid shots sometimes).

    My Dad learned a trick that day: Mr. Parks held the Rolleiflex over his head, inverted (viewing into the screen straight over his head), in order to shoot over the heads of a crowd at a traditional New Orleans funeral.

    My current cameras (Olympus micro 4/3) have both a viewfinder and a viewing screen (electronic now) that can be tilted to allow overhead or ground-level shooting. Wonderful feature, especially for us old farts who aren’t as flexible as we used to be!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Photography is in your family. No wonder your son is already so good!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      A variant of that trick – when unable to see into tight spaces e.g. behind the car engine in the engine bay, looking for dropped components etc, a digital camera makes a handy spycam, either viewing the screen live or photographing at all angles and examining the result.

      I’ve also used one as a substitute for binoculars – take a shot on maximum zoom, then ‘blow up’ the photo on the viewfinder by 4x or 8x. Handy for reading signs in the distance without having to walk a quarter mile to read them.


  8. Posted March 7, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Regarding the small, ocelot-like, cat: looks like it’s an oncilla, Leopardus tigrinus. “Oncilla” means “little ounce”, an “ounce” being a name applied to various large cats, used in Latinate form in the scientific name of the jaguar, Panthera onca.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Whatever it is, it’s gorgeous!

  9. Posted March 7, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    As for the bobbing birds, I have not looked for comments regarding that but I suppose it is done to mimic the movement of brush in the breeze. They seem compelled to do it, and it looks odd when they are in the open but when moving under cover I bet it works pretty well.

  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Mr. Teller,

    Nuclear winter is projected to cause widespread crop failure and famine, and greatly widen the hole in the ozone layer. It’s not just cold weather. Carl Sagan is not the only scientist to work on nuclear winter.

    Sagan demonstrated that amino acids can be produced by radiation, and definitively clinched that the high temperatures on Venus are due to the greenhouse effect. He’s more than just a popularizer.

    You are clearly not very familiar with his work.

    You may be daunted by the fact that it would take you BILLions of microseconds (48 billion to be exact) to watch Cosmos, but it would be well worth your time.

    Jonathan Harvey

    • Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      Not to forget that he was one of the greatest communicators of science and nature to the public. Sagan has influenced an entire generation of young people to be scientists or at least to respect its explanatory power.
      It was through Sagan that a generation of people might learn who Teller was.

      • loren russell
        Posted March 7, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Or watch Dr. Stranglove? [OK, one thing Teller was not was being a Paperclip Nazi] But Peter Sellers’ rants about surviving the Doomsday Device came straight from the Doctor T.

        • JonLynnHarvey
          Posted March 7, 2018 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

          This suggests a modification of some of the dialogue from “Doctor Strangelove”

          Dr. Strangelove:
          No, sir…excuse me…When they go down into the mine, everyone would still be alive. There would be no shocking memories, and the prevailing emotion will be one of nostalgia for those left behind, combined with a spirit of bold curiosity for the adventure ahead!

          Muffley: Could such curiosity be cultivated by watching episodes of “Cosmos”??

          Dr. Stranglove: NO, Mr. President. He has done nothing worthwhile. Far better that they watch inspiring documentaries like “Triumph of the Will”

        • een
          Posted March 7, 2018 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          Clearly Peter Sellers had other sources of inspiration for the film, too. I was gobsmacked to see on a TV doco about the developments in space technology after WWII that there was a NASA scientist with a strong German accent who used a wheelchair… He seemed to have both hands under good control, though.

          • phil
            Posted March 7, 2018 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

            Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun. He was responsible for design and development of the V2 rocket, and “the chief architect of the Saturn V super heavy-lift launch vehicle that propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon.” (Wikipedia)

            Tom Lehrer wrote and sang a song about him


            • een
              Posted March 8, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

              Oh blimey, I should’ve known that. Now that I think of it I recall seeing a photo of his surrender/capture at the end of the war, with his arm very heavily bandaged and in a sling…

  11. Pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    “Before sex was discovered in Great Britain, people who wanted children caught them in the Thames”

    This explain why Britain is more populated in London than in the Hebrides.

    • Pierluigi Ballabeni
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink


      • phil
        Posted March 7, 2018 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        No, I think it’s gravity that drags them south.

  12. Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Weetabix is one of my favs also! Just had a bowl (2 biscuits) minutes before I read this.

  13. Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I met Teller once, up close & personal. He was a jerk.

  14. Jeff Chamberlain
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Cool Papa Bell died 03/07/1991. (He was born in 1903.)

  15. George
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Cool Papa Bell was said to be so fast that he could turn off the light switch and be in bed before the room got dark. Maybe he was so fast that he died before he was born.

  16. Posted March 7, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how many Nobels have been given for outright false items (like the one in the post).

  17. claudia baker
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Re the Selma clip:

    “this march will not continue”

    Talk about being on the wrong side of history. Pretty brutal is right.

  18. Paul Matthews
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt was born on this date (March 7) in 1944. He’s a notable in my book!

  19. Robert Ashton
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    The House of Lords in the U.K. is definitely not elected.

  20. Posted March 11, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Teller’s outbirst reminds me of a poem by Berov-Bejanova. It describes the simple life and joys of a man with mental retardation and concludes: “Idiot! He could never, ever invent the hydrogen bomb!”

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