Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s Friday again! Hallelujah for June 15, 2018, and National Lobster Day. Don’t eat one; just pet one! In the UK it’s National Beer Day, celebrating the day the Magna Carta was signed, which mentions beer in clause 35:

Let there be throughout our kingdom a single measure for wine and a single measure for ale and a single measure for corn, namely ‘the London quarter’

In its honor, you Brits should have a decent pint—and if you want to drink in my honor, have a Tim Taylor’s Landlord, my perennial favorite.

For those who inquired about the absence of yesterday’s duck report, let me assure you that all is well: the eight ducklings are healthy, vigorous, and growing fast, and even Honey seems to be putting on some weight. Hank and Frank remain, with Frank being the usual pain in the butt at feeding time, but my Super Soaker seems to have driven the other two intruding drakes away for good. There will be a duck report this afternoon.

On this day in 1215, King John of England affixed the royal seal to the Magna Carta, explaining National Beer Day.  On June 15, 1648, Margaret Jones was hanged in Boston for witchcraft; it was the first of fifteen such executions in a crazed furor that lasted from 1648 to 1693. Jones was convicted using a list of evidence for witches compiled by an English “witch-finder”, Matthew Hopkins. Here’s a scary drawing (c. 1647) of Hopkins identifying the Satanic “imps” of a witch. There appears to be a cat without a name, but the other names are weird. Do you recognize “Pyewackett”?

On this day in 1752, Ben Franklin (according to tradition) proved that lightning was a form of electricity. On June 15, 1846, a treaty established the 49th parallel as the border between the U.S and Canada, extending from the Rocky Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

On June 15, 1878, Eadweard Muybridge, the famous motion photographer, proved, using a series of photos of a horse and rider, that all four feet of a horse do indeed leave the ground when it runs. It’s hard to believe that that hadn’t been established before, but of course all “proof” before that would be hearsay. Here is real proof—one of Muybridge’s photos:


On this day in 1919 John Alcock and Arthur Brown completed the first nonstop transatlantic flight (not solo), landing in Galway, Ireland.  How far aviation had come since the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903! On this day in 1970, Charles Manson went on trial for the murders of Sharon Tate and her friends in Los Angeles. Finally, exactly six years ago today, Nik Wallenda became the first person to successfully walk a tightrope directly over Niagra Falls. He had to wear a safety harness (not needed in this case), and here’s a video of his feat:

Notables born on this day include Edvard Grieg (1843), Erik Erikson (1902), Saul Steinberg (1914), Erroll Garner (1921), Waylon Jennings (1937), Harry Nilsson (1941), Johnny Hallyday (1943, died last year), Helen Hunt (1963), Courteney Cox (1964), and Leah Remini (1970). Those who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on this day include James Knox Polk (1849), Ella Fitzgerald (1996), and Casey Kasem (2014).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is house-shaming his staff. Yes, their house does have that name (it’s on the plaque over the door), and the name comes from the eponymous Bergman movie.

Hili: So what is the name of our house?
A:  Smultronstället, or “Where The Wild Strawberries Grow.”
Hili: Somebody’s lost his mind.
In Polish:
​ Hili: To jak się ten nasz dom nazywa?
Ja: Smultronstället, czyli tam gdzie rosną poziomki.
Hili: Ktoś zwariował. ​
Shhhh. . . . Gus is sleeping:

Some tweets contributed by Dr. Cobb. This first video is fantastic.

Bilby! You may remember that Aussies make chocolate bilbies during Easter.

A new finding of ancient and well-preserved frogs in amber; the link is in the tweet:

And a 3-D model of that find:

A gaggle of geese, young and old, living in perfect harmony:

A cryptic black cat:

You might look up the link about a blood-drinking Mexican cult:

And once again Trump chews on his metatarsals. Listen to this nonsense!

Tweets from Ann German via Heather Hastie:


Here’s how religionists’ views have become more tolerant of politicians committing immoral acts. Only the unaffiliated remain unforgiving (if that’s the word!):

Sound up for this one: a mistake that happens to be true:


  1. Dominic
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    I like John, despite what his enemies say!
    Cheers mush!

    • Dominic
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      PS Matthew Hopkins – what do you expect from someone from Suffolk?!

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Trump lies three times before he get out of bet. His lying about the parents of dead and or lost who fought in Korea was preceded with another famous one about losing all those friend in 9/11. Hundreds of them he said. Although he never attended one funeral or any event regarding these dead. Now the whole family gets to lie about the wonderful Trump charity and all the fraud and corruption with that. Making America corrupt again.

    • Blue
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Precisely, Randall.

      To his voters: Let the normalization thereof … …
      … … c o n t i n u e.

      ‘member back ? To December y2016 ? January y2017 ? When AllWeAll screamed to “never let” him / his
      … … actually .be. ?

      It IS.


    • Historian
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      The root cause of why Trump gets away with what does is the undying loyalty of his cult following, which is the base of the Republican Party and through the primary system controls the party’s nominations. Republicans who cross Trump find that political death can come quickly, such as was the case of Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina, who lost his primary race when Trump tweeted an attack on him. Republican officeholders are willing to allow the demise of democracy so they can retain political power. The base supports a pagan and ignorant crime boss because he provides his cult of aggrieved whites a sense of power over others as the demographics of the country are rapidly turning against them. Democracy is hanging by a thread and the political system is cracking up. The 2018 election may be the last chance to stop Trump. Will enough people turn out to accomplish this? That is the question.

      In a related matter, renowned Yale historian has reviewed in the NYT a book by historian Benjamin Carter Hett on the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany. I recommend strongly the entire review, but here is the key paragraph:

      “As Hett capably shows, the Nazis were the great artists of victimhood fiction. Hitler, who had served with German Jews in the war, spread the idea that Jews had been the enemy within, proposing that the German Army would have won had some of them been gassed to death. Goebbels had Nazi storm troopers attack leftists precisely so that he could claim that the Nazis were victims of Communist violence. Hitler believed in telling lies so big that their very scale left some residue of credibility. The Nazi program foresaw that newspapers would serve the “general good” rather than reporting, and promised “legal warfare” against opponents who spread information they did not like. They opposed what they called “the system” by rejecting its basis in the factual world. Germans were not rational individuals with interests, the reasoning went, but members of a tribe that wanted to follow a leader (Führer).”

      Does this sound familiar? There are certain techniques that are timeless in their effectiveness in duping the masses.

      • Posted June 15, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        It has been pointed out recently that the Nazis broke no laws in their rise to power. Instead, they worked within the system, exploiting the many gaps that every system of government and laws undoubtedly contains. Of course, we can’t look too closely at “broke no laws” but we have to take what Trump and the GOP are doing here very, very seriously. The parallels with the rise of fascism in Germany are there. This opinion will be seen as a gross overreaction until such time as their takeover is complete.

        • Historian
          Posted June 15, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

          Snyder points out that the Nazis used violence and intimidation on their rise to power, actions that the Weimar Republic was unable to stop. So, to say that the Nazis worked within the system is subject to qualification.

          • frednotfaith2
            Posted June 15, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

            And from what I’ve read, German courts prior to 1933 often let Nazis literally get away with murder — they had already committed thousands of murders even before Hitler became Chancellor but very few if any Nazis were punished for their crimes. Of course, once Hitler took over, and especially after Hindenburg died, the “law” in Germany essentially became whatever Hitler wanted it to be (just as it was for Stalin in the Soviet Union) and Nazi crimes against non-Nazis were no longer crimes at all, at least not until after the Nazis lost the war they started.

          • Posted June 15, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

            To say the least. How does thugs running around beating and threatening people count as legal?

            • Blue
              Posted June 15, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

              in re “as legal,” apparently such was
              by the Allied Forces as well:

              definition in re human beings:
              … TO SHEAR =
              … … TO HUMILIATE &
              … … TO DEGRADE &
              … … TO DEHUMANIZE

              at least 20,000 women
              SHORN by men

              the ones ” … … .known. to have been SHORN
              during wild purge that occurred in waves
              between 1944 – 1945 … … ? ”



          • Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

            True. Hitler brags about it in Mein Kampf, so it is from them monster’s mouth.

      • Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        I think that the most likely cause for Trump to get away with all his gaffes is the lack of a palatable alternative.

        • Barney
          Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          I think there are about 150 million US-born Americans over 35 who are palatable alternatives to Donald Trump. Of the people who are technically qualified to be president, he is probably in the bottom 1%.

          • Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            However, as the wheels of the democratic process are turning, nice people get blown away like chaff and only unpalatable ones remain at the top. This has been discussed before in comments at this site, with pessimistic conclusions (but I don’t remember under which posts exactly).

            • Barney
              Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

              No, I don’t just mean ‘nice’ people. Mike Pence would be preferable to Trump, as are Paul Ryan, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and practically anyone who had a part in the 2016 election process. The worst thing most of the Republicans have done is kowtow to Trump.

            • Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

              I’d vote for Chaff in 2020!

  3. Michael Fisher
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    It’s Axelle the 250lb lioness at San Antonio Zoo

    • Posted June 15, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      I wonder how much this is because a lion has claws to grip the ground rather than its brute strength. Impressive nonetheless.

      • darrelle
        Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Many years ago I had a friend who had a South American Cougar. He rescued it from a women who acquired it when it was a cub and quickly realized as it began to grow that she was out of her league.

        He lived on a sizable piece of property and had a large area enclosed with chain link fence for it to live in. Large enough that it included a couple of sizable trees. The cougar was reportedly (by my friend) 185 lbs and my friend was probably around 210 lbs, maybe a bit more, and quite muscular and fit. One of his jobs was pro wrestling.

        He was no match for the cougar, not even close. Nobody else was allowed in the enclosure but he regularly went in to play with it. You could tell it was play, but the cat was so strong it would knock him around like a pinata with little apparent effort.

        I think it is very plausible that this lioness is simply just as strong as she appears to be compared to the men. Though I’m sure the claws help.

  4. Blue
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Birds sing. And soooo did that Darlin’ Outlaw, Mr “Waylon Jennings (1937)” who ‘ld ‘ve
    today been 81:

    For its listening pleasure, just two this morning thus: and = favoreds.


  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    On the matter of whether to eat or pet a lobster, I offer David Foster Wallace’s wondrous essay “Consider the Lobster”.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t eat a lobster, but on the other hand there’s no way I’d get my fingers within a mile of the beast. I’m fond of my fingers and I’m kinda attached to them and I intend that they shall remain attached to me…


      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 15, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        ‘Swhy New England lobster fisherman put rubber bands around their catch’s claws (and before the invention of rubber bands, used pegs).

  6. chris moffatt
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Pyewackett = Kim Novak’s cat in “bell, book and candle”. I’m getting old.

    • busterggi
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      You’re old for remembering Kim Novac?

      Heck, I remember the two women in the woodcut!

      • revelator60
        Posted June 15, 2018 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Kim Novak is still alive and movie lovers will never forget her thanks to Hitchcock’s Vertigo (ranked #1 film of all time in Sight and Sound’s once-a-decade poll).

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      The original Pyewackett was the supposed name of one of the familiars of witchfinder general Matthew Hopkins’ first victim. He secretly observed her, then had her arrested for witchcraft.

      She was kept awake for four days and nights, and confessed after that. I can’t remember if there was other torture too. Pyewackett was one of four imps Hopkins said he heard her talking to, and she confessed to doing so. Her main familiar was a white kittling (kitten) called, iirc, Hobb. There were four other animals. Two were dogs. I remember one of the imps was supposedly called Greedigutt, because I thought it was a cool name.

      It sounds to me like she was just talking to her pets, and one loved its food – a greedy guts.

      An independent woman was a threat to gits like Hopkins, especially if they didn’t want anything to do with him. Today he’d be an incel.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    … and if you want to drink in my honor, have a Tim Taylor’s Landlord, my perennial favorite.

    Or, as that other JC fella said, “do this in remembrance of me.” 🙂

  8. DrBrydon
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    For some reason Vinegar Tom was more familiar to me (no pun intended) than Pyewackett. That Caiman sure looks self-satisfied.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    … but of course all “proof” before that would be hearsay.

    Not to get all pedantic about it — oh, hell, might as well admit to getting all pedantic about it — but “hearsay” is testimony concerning what one heard (or read) from another witness outside the courtroom. What you’re describing is simply “testimonial” evidence — an account based on firsthand observation — as opposed to real or demonstrative evidence, such as a photograph or film.

    There, I got that out of my system.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Thank you very much for that clarification.

    • Posted June 15, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      So “hearsaw” then?

  10. Jenny Haniver
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    It’s also the birthday of the inimitable Mickey Katz (father of Joel Grey, grandfather of Jennifer Grey. Wikipedia has lots of great information
    Here he is singing “Come On’a My House”, a parody of the song made famous by Rosemary Clooney.

    There is another Mexican cult which involved drug dealing and human sacrifice based on Palo Mayumbe, and it spanned the class divide, which I find quite interesting. It’s a fascinating and grisly story. This is a long article about it for those who have the stomach for such things

  11. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    “On this day in 1919 John Alcock and Arthur Brown completed the first nonstop transatlantic flight (not solo), landing in Galway, Ireland.”

    ‘Landing’ is slightly charitable, since the green field they ‘landed’ on turned out to be a peat bog (well, it was in Ireland, what would you expect?); but on the other hand, to quote a cynical aeronautical saying, a good landing is any one you can walk away from. Intriguingly, it was just a few hundred yards from Marconi’s pioneering transatlantic wireless station.

    They won the ten thousand pound Daily Mail prize for the first nonstop transatlantic flight which was presented to them by Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for Air. Also got knighthoods. Considering that any mishap such as engine failure would have meant almost certain death as they disappeared without trace, I’d say they earned it.

    (Ten thousand quid in 1919 is half a million in 2018 equivalent. So, a worthwhile prize. The Mail was a reputable end enterprising paper in those days; how have the mighty fallen)


    • gscott
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      To be pedantic, they landed in County Galway, but not near the city of Galway. The landing spot is a couple of mile south of Clifden, which is a hour’s drive west of Galway. I rode my bike out there to check out the A&B monuments when I lived in the area.

  12. Posted June 15, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    We often are amazed at how fast things change now but it only took 16 years to go from an 852-foot flight to crossing the Atlantic over 100 years ago. Truly amazing! Things were moving very fast back then as well.

  13. Posted June 15, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    This morning’s Trumpism is perhaps his scariest yet. He’s talking about Kim Jong-un but perhaps US citizens in the last sentence:

    “He’s the head of a country, and I mean he’s the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

  14. Barney
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    ‘Pyewackett’ is what you get when you deprive someone of sleep for 4 nights before getting their “confession”. The other ‘familiars’ are listed here too:

  15. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Forgive my pedantry but if all four hooves do not leave the ground the horse will not move forward at all!! (well I suppose it could drag one of them along the ground). What Muybridge proved was that there is a point in the gait at which all four feet are simultaneously off the ground.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Muybridge didn’t answer the question is “there a point in the gait in which all four feet are simultaneously off the ground” – the open, disputable question of the 1880s was is this true in the trot gait where the diagonal hooves are paired in their motion.

      I think horses had been shown [drawing, painting] suspended in the air in part of the gallop gait for a long time before the 1880s & we knew horses could clear fences at the gallop since forever.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted June 15, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think you are correct. The horse in the picture is galloping not trotting. Pre-Muybridge paintings of galloping horses did indeed show all four feet off the ground but incorrectly – with the forelegs projecting forwards and the rear legs backwards whereas the point at which all four feet are off the ground is the opposite with the front legs bent back and the rear legs bent forward.

  16. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I lived at a relatively newish student dorm at the University of Pennsylvania (founded by Benjamin Franklin) in which the hall carpets frequently built up static electricity to the point where when student got out the keys to their rooms, a slight spark would fly between the key and the lock (especially for students wearing particular shoes).

    I attempted to make it a running joke that the carpets were chosen as a deliberate homage to Ben Franklin’s experiments, but it didn’t quite catch on.

  17. busterggi
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Won’t somebody think of the frogs?

  18. Posted June 15, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Geese are many things, but harmonious??

  19. John Frum
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Tomorrow is Bloomsday (it already is here in Oz) so don’t forget to get some Guinness in.

  20. Steve Pollard
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    For some of us in the UK, every day is National Beer Day. Since I also believe in drinking local from time to time, I have celebrated today with Larkins Best.

  21. Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Correction about Hili: it is her staff, not “his”.

  22. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Here is real proof—one of Muybridge’s photos:

    Didn’t you get the message about why Muybridge didn’t study the gait of cats? Or is that being saved for Saturday’s regular?

  23. Bob
    Posted June 16, 2018 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Salem Witches! One of my favorite subjects, as my 6th great grandmother was one of them.

  24. Sarah
    Posted June 18, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Beer didn’t appear in England until the 16th century.

    • busterggi
      Posted June 18, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink


      • Sarah
        Posted June 18, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        This article seems to be about beakers. ??
        The traditional date for the introduction of hops to England is 1520. There was some imported beer before that.

        • busterggi
          Posted June 18, 2018 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

          Am yor Goooogle broke?

          • Barney
            Posted June 19, 2018 at 4:00 am | Permalink

            I think Sarah is taking the narrow, rather old definition of ‘beer’ as “ale flavoured and preserved with hops”, rather than with spices or other botanicals – see, for instance, . The use of hops spread across Europe from the south east, and got to Britain later than many places.

            The word ‘beer’ was known in English as far back as 1000, but it wasn’t common – ‘ale’ was. However, since nearly all fermented barley (and wheat) drinks are now flavoured with hops, the old uses of the words aren’t very helpful – as the Wikipedia article points out, these days ‘ale’ in English usually means ‘top-fermented’, like bitter, as opposed to ‘bottom-fermented’, like lager. And they’re all called ‘beer’.

            • Sarah
              Posted June 19, 2018 at 6:38 am | Permalink

              In 1215 they were apparently talking about “ale” rather than “beer” and there was still a distinction then.

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