Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s Friday, June 8, 2018—one day until graduation (“Convocation“) at the University of Chicago. As usual, we don’t get famous people to speak, only scholars. It’s all part of our serious ethos—the same ethos that got rid of varsity sports and made this school dead last on the list of America’s 300 best party schools. Here are two photos of the set-up for graduation: the entire quad is filled with chairs, with the stage at the east end:

It’s also National Jelly Donut Day, and Bounty Day (named after the ship) on Norfolk Island.

On this day in 632 A.D., the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) died in Mecca. But how do they know that?  On June 8, 1042, Edward the Confessor became King of England, one of its last Anglo-Saxon kings. On June 8, 1789, James Madison introduced into Congress twelve proposed amendments to the Constitution; ten of these became the Bill of Rights, including our great First Amendment and the ambiguous Second. On this day in 1856 (see above), 194 residents of Pitcairn Island, descended from the mutineers of HMS Bounty, arrived at Norfolk Island to settle it. And on June 8, 1949, an FBI report named Communist Party members, including, for crying out loud, Helen Keller, Dorothy Parker, Frederick March, Paul Muni, Danny Kaye, and Edward G. Robinson. Also on that day, ironically enough, Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was published. On this day in 1953, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that restaurants in Washington, D. C. could not refuse to serve black customers. It was another 11 years before that became national policy. On June 8, 1972, as Wikipedia reports, “Vietnam War: Nine-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc is burned by napalm, an event captured by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut moments later while the young girl is seen running down a road, in what would become an iconic, Pulitzer Prize-winning photo. Here’s that photo, which did much to turn American sentiment against the war:

Finally, on this day in 1987, New Zealand established a national nuclear-free zone. No ship carrying nuclear weapons, including any from its ally the U.S., can stop in a New Zealand Port.

Notables born on June 8 include Robert Schumann (1810), Frank Lloyd Wright (1867), Francis Crick (1916), Barbara Bush (1925, died this year), Joan Rivers (1933, died 2014), Boz Scaggs (1944) and Julianna Margulies (1966). Those who sent to sleep on this day include Muhammad (632, see above), Thomas Paine (1809), Cochise (1874), George Sand (1876), Gerard Manley Hopkins (1889), and Satchel Paige (1982).

Here’s my favorite Boz Scaggs song: “Georgia“:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the animals are reproaching Andrzej. As Malgorzata notes, “In case it’s not obvious: both animals are looking at Andrzej who is sitting at his desk instead of being in the kitchen and preparing breakfast.”

Hili: You were supposed to prepare a breakfast.
Cyrus: Exactly.
In Polish:
Hili: Miałeś robić śniadanie.
Cyrus: Właśnie

Up in Winnipeg, Gus’s staff played with him, including giving him the Dangerous Belly Rub. He takes a few retaliatory swipes:

Heather Hastie sent this tweet of my favorite bird. Be sure to read the thread following it to see how concerned Kiwis are about the world’s only flightless parrot. Each nest has a tent full of people and machines nearby to monitor the single egg!

From Matthew: Duck FTW!

A sad commentary on what’s happening in U.S. schools:

Two species, but so different!

More ducks FTW. They’re replacing pesticides and herbicides!

Monkey see, monkey do:

This is unbelievable: how do wombats do this:

Music once banned in the Soviet Union.  Tina Turner! Van Halen!

Read the whole thread following this tweet:

From Grania; the horrible moment of realization:



  1. Posted June 8, 2018 at 6:54 am | Permalink

  2. Barney
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    That music list is great. I can actually see why they put Pink Floyd on it – The Final Cut, in 1983, did directly criticize Brezhnev (along with Thatcher, Galtieri and Reagan). But 10cc ‘neofascist’? They were “the biggest Jewish band ever to come out of Britain”. And if they did ever get political in their lyrics, they were liberal.

    “Neofascist” seems to be the all-purpose excuse for banning artists. At least Ron Mael of Sparks had the mustache and haircut, I suppose …

    • neil
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      Odd that they flag up Canned Heat for homosexuality, but The Village People were all just in it for the violence…

      • TJR
        Posted June 8, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        You beat me to it.

        Also how on earth would Styx cause violence? People barging each other out of the way to escape?

        Reminds me of the Half Man Half Biscuit song about humiliation and embarrassment: “I feel like I’ve just been seen by my mates coming out of a Styx gig”.

      • nicky
        Posted June 8, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, weird. I cannot see anything homosexual (nor violent) about Canned Heat or anything violent about the Village People. As far as I know the latter were indeed a band (the first?) flaunting their being gay.
        Mindboggling. (and yes, you all beat me to it).

    • Desnes Diev
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      I’m astonished to see The B-52’s in second place for “punk, violence”? To much dancing rythms for soviet sensibilities, perhaps, and humor is indeed harmful for austere ideologies.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      What about Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath being charged with “religious obscurantism”?
      There must be a Soviet definition of the term. I found something by Berdayev online, but it’s too obscure for me to read.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted June 8, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        The original Russian goes like this:
        13. Блек Саббат — насилие, религиозное мракобесие

        “религиозное мракобесие” is regarded as an evil because it means the religious manipulation of the population by a few at the top who know full well the game they are pushing is rigged/fake. As an example… I would say that the RCC Mass in Latin is a good way to keep the serfs in their place – they cannot question what they don’t understand. Here is the original table as it appears in “Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More The Last Soviet Generation” by Alexei Yurchak [Princeton University Press, 2005]:-
        black sabbath

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      You are trying to understand something using western values. The table is not what it seems.

      This list was of music not to be played at dancehalls in the Ukraine – compiled by a youth committee of busybodies. The people who do this kind of thing are wishing to be seen to be doing something – with an eye to promotion within the party – that’s why the table uses 25% of the space telling you who put it together. Accuracy is irrelevant since the ‘higher ups’ will not know the difference.

      These lists were not enforced, nobody went around the dancehalls looking for DJs playing banned music. Usually.

      BUT because the list has been distributed & because there’ll be a master list of which DJs got a copy of the table, it could be used to criminalise any DJ at any time [or turn them to informer more likely].

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted June 8, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Also you have to know that you couldn’t run a dancehall without playing banned music – it would be empty if you followed the rules. There were many Soviet bands ‘doing’ the Beatles etc, but the titles were changed to remove offensive words such as “America” & lyrics were usually nearly meaningless ‘soundalikes’ in the local language.

        When access to the original music opened up the people who didn’t hear the originals before were somewhat taken aback!

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted June 8, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I do understand the idea of obscurantism in the way you describe, but Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath were hardly religious elites in the Soviet Union, or elsewhere for that matter, bent on restricting religious knowledge (at least, I don’t think so). And, it’s the Soviet Union, fer chrissakes! Why in heaven’s name would that entity be worried about religious obscurantism. I find the use of the term a non-sequitur in the context of the list as it stands.

          But what you say in your second and third comments are quite instructive, and provide a good warning that, unfortunately plagues us all — one thinks that one can understand something, and busts one’s brains trying, congratulates oneself on the (apparent) success and considers it proof of an acute, superior intellect, only to find out that one has but a simple, superficial understanding (if it even can be called that) and there emerge heretofore hidden depth,s which cannot be ignored and which make one question one’s prior certitude. Alas, that happens to me all the time.

    • Posted June 8, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      I’m just a little bit amused that from a list containing Pink Floyd, The Sex Pistols, Talking Heads, The Ramones, the Clash and many others, the highlights are Tina Turner and Van Halen.

      Unless I’m reading it wrong and PCC(E) thinks those two acts are too innocuous to go on the list.

      Anyway, imagine what it must have been like to be a young person in Soviet Russia when that list was rescinded and you could listen to all of those bands for the first time.

  3. David Duncan
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    The Jelly Donut link points to Convocation.

  4. David Harper
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    The University of Chicago may not feature highly in the list of party schools, but it made #9 in the latest QS World University Rankings, placing it in the company of Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Oxford, Cambridge, ETH Zurich, Imperial College London and University College London as one of the world’s top ten universities.

  5. Posted June 8, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    The polyglot Bernard Lewis tells us that the salawat, the pbuh salutation, should more accurately read, “Salvation be upon him”. This puts a radically different gloss on the phrase.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Always good to add some background to the work Madison was doing in 1789. He was reluctantly working on the bill of rights to satisfy the opposition, so if you are wondering when the split took place. It was already there before the beginning. Note also this is two years after the Constitutional Convention where the idea of a bill of rights was voted down. As Madison believed then, why try to write down what is already given.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    To my thinking, of all the iconic photographs from the conflict in Vietnam, there are three that rise above the others, in that they capture distinct phases of the American involvement there — Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức self-immolating (in reaction to the Catholic Diem regime’s abuses while Americans were still acting in an advisory capacity); ARVN Thích Quảng Đức’s coldblooded execution of a Vietcong prisoner in 1968, in the immediate aftermath of the Tet Offensive; and the picture above of Phan Thị Kim Phúc, taken in 1972 while the US was looking to escape.

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Nguyễn Ngoc Loan was the police chief who executed the Vietcong prisoner. Given the context of the execution, ‘cold blooded’ is possibly a bit misleading.

  8. Jim batterson
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    It is nice that chicago still convocates(?) on the quad. Of course they thankfully have no football stadium. William and mary has moved graduation to the football stadium in recent years…maybe that is the only way to fill the stadium up….perhaps the new william and mary prez, of liberal arts background, can move the ceremony back to a more serious and academic venue.

    • David Harper
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      When I graduated from University College London in the 1980s, all of the colleges of the University of London came together in mass graduation ceremonies in the Royal Albert Hall, which is better known as the venue for the annual season of Proms concerts each summer. It was basically an industrial-scale graduation production line, and I opted out.

      Some years later, the colleges were allowed to hold their own graduation ceremonies “in house”, making for a much more enjoyable and meaningful experience for students, their families and the faculty alike.

    • George
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      UofC does have a football stadium. Not like the original Stagg Field where Regenstein Library now sits and where Fermi had the first chain reaction.

      Convocations on the Quad are recent. I got both my degrees in Rockefeller Chapel. Convocations after the other three quarters are still held there. The big Spring convocation is now held outdoors in the Quad. Spring used to have four sessions for Convocation. Now it has one big one and the each unit of the University goes and does its own thing.

      • Jim batterson
        Posted June 8, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Thanks. Cute. More like a football field with a few bleacher seats than a stadium…which is nice. I know that logistics get more difficult as our schools grow, but my traditional (you kids get off my lawn!) wants desire some comfort with those who taught and inspired me directly over the years and those i toiled with to learn over those years. I like current chicago continuity, at least for undergrads it appears, of large academic gathering followed immediatelt by lunch and smaller more intimate ceremonies…where, as you point out, each does its own thing.

  9. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Re: Wombat poop

    Ibtimes reports
    “….the unique shape of the wombat’s poop derives from its moisture content. The wombat has the driest poop of any mammal, a result of its insanely long digestive tract. It can take 14 to 18 days for food to get processed and excreted. “This process allows the wombat to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from its food before it turns it into a smelly Lego block,” Today I Found Out notes.

    As the wombat’s food travels through its body, all the moisture is absorbed, producing very solid and compact droppings. It’s a smart tactic in arid conditions, where moisture can be hard to come by.”

    Adaptively, it makes it easier for the wombat to use its droppings to mark out its territory.

    Re: Death of Mohammed

    Wikipedia reports,
    “The earliest surviving written sira (biographies of Muhammad and quotes attributed to him) is Ibn Ishaq’s Life of God’s Messenger written c. 767 CE (150 AH). Although the work was lost, this sira was used at great length by Ibn Hisham and to a lesser extent by Al-Tabari.[32][33] However, Ibn Hisham admits in the preface to his biography of Muhammad that he omitted matters from Ibn Ishaq’s biography that “would distress certain people”.[34] Another early history source is the history of Muhammad’s campaigns by al-Waqidi (death 207 of Muslim era), and the work of his secretary Ibn Sa’d al-Baghdadi (death 230 of Muslim era).[30]

    Many scholars accept these early biographies as authentic, though their accuracy is unascertainable”

    • nicky
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      That they are dry -the wombat poops- does not explain their cubic character. It is a unique feature: all poops are basically shapeless, roundish or cylindricallish. Wombat poops are a Great Wonder of Nature. I’m profoundly awed. Why is this enigma not more widely known? Do wombat guts have a square transsectional shape or what? And if so, why? I mean a (speculative) squarish transactional shape would only move the problem from poop to gut. I’m really gutted here.

    • nicky
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Well, I even doubt there actually was a Mohammed as described in the Syra or Hadith.
      The only reason I believe there might have been such a person is the passage where Aisha, (yes, that very not even teenage bride) is scathing about Mohammads ‘revelations’, she points out they always turn out to be extremely convenient to the Prophet at that moment. This really sounds authentic, so maybe there actually was a Mohammad as described in the Syra and Hadith. I wonder why it was left in, and not expunged like the ‘Satanic Verses’. Note also that she must have been among the earliest Islamic apostates.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      I googled around on wombats:

      – Evolving feces with flat surfaces would be useful, since wombat feces are marking territory.

      – The images (and left poop as per above) are likely selective, since you can find videos with more normal looking feces.

      – The slow working and large digestive system include a muscular rib upper colon as in most animals, where flattish surfaces can be made. Survival of such surfaces would be helped by some unusually dry feces.

      And now I know why wombats like to rub their behind on logs or stones (for evacuation) …

  10. Doug
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    So Donna Summer is banned for “eroticism” and Tina Turner for “sex.” I wonder what the difference was.

    As Neil mentions above, it is odd that they didn’t flag the Village People for homosexuality; they must not have understood the implications of the lyrics. To be fair, not everyone in this country did at first. The US Navy hired them to make a recruiting commercial (“In the Navy! You can join your fellow man!”) before someone explained to the Navy what the song was actually referring to . . .

    • Posted June 8, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      You mean Y.M.C.A. wasn’t about good, clean Christian fun!?!

    • George
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      The Village People are guilty of cultural appropriation. Not just for dressing up a member as a native American. But they were not all that gay. Some iterations of the group were majority straight. Victor Willis, the cop in YMCA and admiral In the Navy, was straight. He was married to Phylicia Rashad – the mother on the Cosby Show. Willis wrote many (most?) of the songs. The son of a preacher, he insisted that YMCA was about a YMCA in the neighborhood where he grew up. He also wrote (or cowrote) Macho Man and In the Navy.

  11. Michael Fisher
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    The Ukrainian idealogical hacks were too literalist in the music they denounced. What got ’em in the end was out of left field – David Hasselhoff & of course the magical ABBA! From 1975:

    Peace from a Agnetha Fältskog [still singin’] fan!

    • nicky
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      I noticed that Anny-Fried Lingstad is wearing a cat on her dress and that Benny Anderson is sporting a leopard themed jacket. I’ve never been a fan of ABBA, but PCC must certainly be after seeing this!

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted June 8, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        Anny-Fried? I forgive you for not being a fan, perhaps one day you’ll correct your error 🙂

        What you say about their famous 1975 cat costumes is true, but Agnetha is also sporting a cat. The costume comes with a white wraparound skirt to the floor with long cat tails printed in a spiral. Here is the blue, spotted Agnetha cat – note the cat whiskers [party shops still stock this iconic ABBA costume]:

        • nicky
          Posted June 8, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

          Well even more reason for PCC to like them. On the video I thought it was a Hippo! Shame on me.
          Anni-Frid, is that better? As said, I never was a fan, but that is no excuse, I admit guilt.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted June 8, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

            LOL. You’ll come around!

            • nicky
              Posted June 8, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

              And it is a lovely song. The keyboard play is nothing short of brilliant.
              Although not a fan, I admit they were great professionals. Maybe I’m half a fan: I do not like that kind of pop music, but I admire how good they were at it.

      • Posted June 8, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        I’m sorry: cats or not, I cannot abide ABBA and never could.

  12. George
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    PCC(e) – UofC never got rid of varsity sports. They dropped football in 1939. Brought it back in 1969. Quit the Big Ten in 1946. The Maroons compete in NCAA Division III. They are a member of the University Athletic Association – the only athletic conference with all of its members (UofC,Emery, WUSTL,CWRU,CMU,NYU,Rochester,Brandeis) in the Association of American Universities – the 62 leading research universities in the USA and Canada. Big Ten used to have that distinction until Nebraska got kicked out. Dartmouth is not a research university so the Ivy League does not have that distinction.

    And UofC does well. This past year, it finished 12th out of the 442 DIII schools in the Learfield Cup, which measures the overall athletic performance of a school.

    • Posted June 8, 2018 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Yes, I erred. What we got rid of, and this is still true, I think, is athletic scholarships. And I’m proud that athletics is subsidiary to academics here.

      • George
        Posted June 8, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        Until UofC joined DIII, it still gave out athletic scholarships. Three Stagg Scholarships for men and two Dudley Scholarships for women. Back then, the College was about 70% male so they based the number of scholarships on the enrollment. The Dudley Scholarships were the first athletic scholarships for women anywhere in the country. Staggs and Dudleys were four year scholarships and you did not have to play sports. I had a friend who was a Stagg Scholar and opted not to play varsity sports.

        It was UofC and Wash U that started the UAA. They wanted to associate with “peer institutions” rather than sully themselves with local Chicago and St. Louis schools. The only other schools which would qualify for UAA membership are Johns Hopkins (which was affiliated with the UAA at one time), MIT and Caltech. I think Caltech is too far away and simply not competitive – only has 960 undergrads. You could make a case for Tufts but it is not a member of the AAU.

        UofC uses sports to recruit students. Which is why they have that big pool. It is turning into a DIII swimming power. When I was in the College, the big pool was in the basement of Bartlett (then a gym now a dining hall). It was 17 yards long and had four lanes.

      • nicky
        Posted June 8, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        I’ve always wondered about ‘athletic scholarships’, what has sport to do with academia? or science? (yes, I know there is sports science, but you get my gist).
        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think sports scholarships are a uniquely American phenomenon.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted June 8, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          Sports scholarships are available at Brit universities now, but we’re talking a few thousand pounds to defray training/travel expenses. As far as I know you apply to university via the normal UCAS route & the sports scholarship is independent of the academic application. University sports teams play no part in British social life – normal people don’t go to watch/support them.

          The sports with the funds [mainly soccer] scout for talent at schools when the potential recruit is say 10 to 13 years old [guessing ages] & the talent goes to summer soccer camps & the like. The very small number that survive that process might get offered an apprenticeship with a club when they’re 17 ish. There is a huge supply of free talent available from Africa** so clubs seem to avoid developing local talent & growing it! This is why the England soccer team will never win a World Cup ever again – you have to field English nationals [approx.].

          ** A scout could go to Paris & put together a sports team from local immigrants, in the Paris satellite towns, that could beat any English football club given a season’s acclimatisation to the English game. Sad face.

        • Posted June 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

          The highest paid employees in American colleges, by far, are football coaches. That’s ridiculous.

          Below is the list of the top 10 coaches and their total salary:

          1. Nick Saban, Alabama – $7,087,481

          2. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan – $7,004,000

          3. Urban Meyer, Ohio State – $5,860,000

          4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma – $5,400,000

          5. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – $5,150,000

          6. Charlie Strong, Texas – $5,100,270

          7. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M – $5,000,000

          8. James Franklin, Penn State – $4,400,000

          9. Les Miles, LSU – $4,385,567

          10. Hugh Freeze, Mississippi – $4,310,000

          • nicky
            Posted June 8, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

            They are not football coaches, but hand egg coaches.
            See John Cleese ‘soccer vs football’. I wont post the link since that would post the video, something our host doesn’t like. But it Googles easily.

  13. Blue
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    That last gif from Ms Grania in re the horrible moment
    is just precious ! Kinda like this moment, too !


  14. Posted June 8, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    We had scary drills, but no poems, when I was in school. But it was incoming commie missiles, not local shooters. A far more remote threat.

  15. nicky
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Those rows of chairs on the lawn reminds me of the rows of crosses in military graveyards. Weird, I do not know if that means anything.

  16. nicky
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Those two badgers are great, however, if you are the size of a rabbit or less, I would advise against accepting an invitation for tea from a European badger. Despite their neat looks, they are quite badass animals. They take on foxes, or even dogs twice their size.
    I take (a completely irrational) pride in the fact that the most badass of them all are the South African ‘ratels, aka honeybadgers. They take on angry bees, poisonous snakes, leopards and even lions. In the latter two cases it sometimes ends badly for them, but they often get away with it.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 8, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I’m with you on the honeybadger. Extremely intelligent too…I think here on WEIT PCC(E) posted a video where a pair of them worked together to escape their compound. They were constantly escaping. I admire animals that are intent on escaping.

  17. Bob Bottemiller
    Posted June 8, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    “Those who sent to sleep on this day include…”
    There has to be a joke that begins “Into a bar walk Muhammad, Cochise and Satchel Paige. Bartender asks ‘What’ll you have?'”
    Unfortunately, I can’t think of a punch line.

  18. Posted June 8, 2018 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Julio Inglesias = neofascism WTF.
    I don’t listen to the guy but neofascist? they’re taking the piss!
    …from the Guardian, Julio on trump.

    “I have sung many times in his casinos, but I won’t do it again. He seems to be an asshole,” Iglesias told the Barcelona-based daily newspaper La Vanguardia. “He thinks he can fix the world forgetting what immigrants have done for his country. He is a clown! And my apologies to clowns.”

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