Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on a cool but clear Tuesday, June 26, 2018: National Chocolate Pudding Day. In Hamelin, Germany it’s Ratcatcher’s Day, the day on which, according to the Brothers Grimm, the Pied Piper led the children out of Hamelin (he’d previously led out the rats).

All the ducks are fine, but we’re going into a heat wave with highs of about 34°C (93°F) near the end of the week.

On this day in 4 AD, Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, adopted his stepson Tiberius, who was to succeed him.  On June 26, 1483, Richard III became King of England.  He would have traded his kingdom for a horse, but it was not to be; he was ignominiously buried under a carpark, where the cars of his subjects despoiled his grave.  On June 26, 1886, Henri Moissan isolated the element fluorine for the first time, ultimately leading to Teflon.  On this day in 1945, 50 Allied nations signed the United Nations Charter in San Francisco. Exactly three years later, William Shockley filed the patent for the first bipolar junction transistor (whatever that is; I presume it has two poles).  On this day in 1953, the odious head of the Soviet Secret Police (and rapist) Lavrentiy Beria was arrested on the orders of Khrushchev. He was ultimately shot in prison. I don’t believe in the death penalty, but if I did Beria would be the first to get it. On June 26, 1959, the Swedish boxer Ingemar Johansson defeated American Floyd Patterson by a technical knockout, becoming the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. That was a HUGE fight, and I do remember when it happened.

On this day in 1960, Madagascar became independent from France. Three years later, John F. Kennedy gave his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech supporting West Germany after the Wall was built.  Here’s the famous words, although he says “ish” instead of the “ich” with a gutteral.

On June 26, 1977, Elvis gave his final concert—in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was found dead on August 16 of that year.  On this day in 2000, the federally funded Human Genome Project announced that it had completed a first “rough draft” sequence.  And today marks two landmarks in gay rights. On June 26, 2013, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. That Act had allowed states to ban same-sex marriage and defined marriage, for federal purposes, as the union of one man and one woman. Exactly two years later, by a narrow vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled that, under the 14th Amendment (equal protection of citizens), same-sex couples had the constitutional right to marry.

Notables born on this day include Abner Doubleday (1819; once thought to have invented the game of baseball, a claim now debunked), Pearl S. Buck (1892), Marine General Chesty Puller (1898), Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1911), Derek Jeter (1974), and Dave Rubin (yes, that one; 1976).  Those who expired on June 26 include balloonist Joseph-Michel Montgolfier (1810), Malcolm Lowry (1957), Roy Campanella (1993), Strom Thurmond (2003), Nora Ephron (2012) and Howard Baker (2014).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Cyrus are discussing spiders. I asked Malgorzata for an explanation, and this is what she said:

Your post that we translated today is about ballooning spiders and Hili, who read it, is especially attuned to spiders today. She is a bit afraid of spiders and she is hiding behind Cyrus. Cyrus wants to reassure her and he says that it’s spider who is afraid of Cyrus which means she has nothing to be afraid of.

Hili: Do you see this spider?
Cyrus: Don’t frighten him. He is afraid of me.
In Polish:
Hili: Widzisz tego pająka?
Cyrus: Nie strasz go, on się mnie boi.

Some tweets from Matthew. This first one is hilarious, even if it’s an old joke:

Rothera Point is a British station in Antarctica.

As Matthew noted of this video, “A cat wouldn’t even blink!” D*gs!!

A roo on the pitch!

These are blood-engorged TICKS! OMG!

Live and learn:

This tweet has disappeared, but Matthew sent me a screenshot. It’s Cygnus, the cat with the world’s longest tail. Cygnus Regulus Powers, the cat with a tail that’s 44.66 cm long (17.58 inches), happens to live with the world’s tallest cat, Arcturus, who is 48.4 cm tall (19.1 inches) and still growing. Cygnus is a Maine Coon, but Arcturus, a savannah cat, has genes from a tall wild felid and so his record shouldn’t really be vaid. See the video below the tweet to observe these cats:

Cygnus and Arcturus:


Francesca Stavrakopoulou, who I think is an atheist, is also Professor of Biblical and Ancient Studies at the University of Exeter. She’s got a great sense of humor.

And remember A. N. Wilson, whose Darwin-bashing biography I raked over the coals? Well, here’s a tweet from yesterday that singles out an article Wilson wrote in The Spectator. I can’t be arsed to read it.

As for Prime Minister May, here’s a picture of her curtseying to her future King. Seriously, those of you who like the royalty—is this seemly? Does any human being, including one who’s not even King yet, deserves this kind of obsequious behavior?  (h/t: Grania)


  1. Dominic
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Not seemly – but made me laugh! 🙂

    “the cars of his subjects despoiled his grave”!! That also made me laugh!
    Just got the latest 1486 Two-door sports car made in Yorkshire eh?!

    Typo ‘vaid’ for valid in tall cat section!

  2. freiner
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Hmm. I presumed Shockley’s device went through extreme mood swings.

  3. Geoff Toscano
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    That curtsy was vomit inducing and totally unnecessary.

  4. Royal Protocol Chief
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    (Note: cancel PCC invitation to Royal Christening… Obsequious, indeed…)

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Is curtseying to a royal even close to having a president such as the one we have. I do not think so. I’ll take the queen.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Okay, although (speaking as an Englishman) St George is *our* saint (so what the hell is he doing in Spain? Okay, prob’ly just another English expat heading for Sunny Spain to get away from English weather…) – and though the ‘restoration’ makes him look remarkably like some character out of a Pixar movie – it is not even remotely as God-awful as the Ecce Homo fiasco to which it has been compared. The original of that was painted with considerable talent – just look at the eyes – and the ‘restoration’ with far more incompetence, than St George suffered.


      • Posted June 27, 2018 at 3:57 am | Permalink

        King Edmund of East Anglia was the English patron until his relics were stolen by the French during The First Barons’ War.

  6. Don Quijote
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    I thought that “ish” and “ich” in German was something to do with north/south differences.

    • pierluigi Ballabeni
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      Or with non German speakers being unable to pronounce a German ch. The guttural ch is pronounced after a, o, or u. The non guttural version after e or i. The latter however does not sound like ish, it is something else. German speakers, please correct me if I am wrong; I speak German but this is not my native language.

      • pierluigi Ballabeni
        Posted June 26, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        PS: the guttural pronounciation sounds very much like a Spanish j.

        • SecMilChap
          Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

          The terminal consonant in ,,ich” is an unvoiced velar fricative, similar to the voiced “ll” in Spanish as spoken near the Rio Plata. It’s often heard by English speakers as “ish”. What’s especially sad about the JFK quote is that (as many know), it translates as “I am a jelly doughnut.” But … if he’d had a really good coach, he could have said: ,,Icka ben Balina, ya!” … and they’d still be screaming approval. I’ve heard ,,ich” with a guttural fricative only in Yiddish.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 26, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        My first German teacher in high school taught me German pronounced as “ish” and he was doing it correctly as he was born and lived in Dusseldorf for his childhood. I then changed my German when taught by various German speakers.

    • Craw
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      That is my understanding too. I have heard both. One of the great speeches anyway.

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry, Jerry. Beria believed in the death penalty enough for the both of you.

  8. dabertini
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    What a hoot those tweets are. BTW i have edited your wiki page in one very important way.

  9. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    “William Shockley filed the patent for the first bipolar junction transistor (whatever that is; I presume it has two poles).”

    Just think of it as ‘a transistor’. For some time it was the only type of transistor in common use. The BIG significance of it is that it was a solid-state electronic switch that didn’t require large, hot and flimsy heating coils in an evacuated glass tube like ‘valves’ (UK) or ‘tubes’ US).


  10. BJ
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Cygnus! WOOOOOO!

    • BJ
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Sorry for posting the video rather than the link. In the last few weeks, only the link would show up when I simply copy/pasted it in, but now it’s back to directly posting the video in my comment. I thought maybe you had changed a setting, but I guess not.

      At least this will be an opportunity for more people to hear The Good News (that Rush is awesome).

  11. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    It’s bad enough that May bows to our own aggregate of inbred spongers; the fact that she does it with any despot or minor royal from any wealthy country on earth is much worse.

    The idea that anyone should have to bow to another human being is creepy in and of itself. Even if it was a worthwhile idea, anyone who actually wants to be bowed to in the first place is by definition not the kind of person who would deserve it.

  12. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I’d like to say that, since I don’t go on Twitter and I don’t go on the big sites like Buzzfeed where they aggregate all these gifs and stuff, I love these daily posts on WEIT where you get cat videos mixed with optical illusions and topical tweets and miscellanea that catches the host’s ete.

    I wouldn’t have seen 99% of the viral videos, photos, stories, etc., and they always tend to be a nice mix of daft and interesting. And it saves me from getting dragged down the rabbithole that would inevitably open up if I ever visited those sites that aggregate this stuff for a living.

    • Glenda
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink


      • Claudia Baker
        Posted June 26, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink


    • Diane G
      Posted June 28, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      + 3

      Heather Hastie’s blog is another place to find some nice tweets.

  13. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    A. N. Wilson must be desperate if he can see any erotic appeal in Theresa May. Either desperate in the ‘shag-anything-that-moves’ sense or maybe just desperate for a bit of cheap publicity for himself.


    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Actually, I think he’s just _that weird_.

      • Christopher
        Posted June 26, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        What, just because he has a fetish for people that look like a moderately ill Mr. Bean in drag?

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted June 26, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          There’s definitely something of the Bean about her. A Beany quality. A hint of Bean. She’s a Bean bag. If she ever gets her head shaved she’ll be a shorn Bean. Etc.

          God I’m bored

          • Claudia Baker
            Posted June 26, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            But I love Mr. Bean!

    • Posted June 26, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      As the proverb says, for each train there are passengers.

  14. PeteT
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I like the fact that we in the UK have a monarchy where the person with the most political power (a woman for the second time let’s not forget) is expected to bow before a person with no political power roughly once a week and also has to explain their actions over the preceding week to them. Such people should be regularly reminded that they serve the people, not the other way round. A little enforced humility does them no harm. They are bowing before the institution and what that represents more than the person who happens to wear the crown at the time. Presidents with political power, elected or unelected, are responsible for so much that is currently wrong in the world that I wish monarchies were more widespread, not less. Perhaps people should remove the Trump from their own eye before they criticise the speck of May in other people’s!

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Well said…

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      It’s a stretch to portray the queen as a representative of the British people. Does she relay these conversations with the PM to the British people? Does she ask questions on our behalf? Did we get a chance to choose her as our representative at any point?

      • PeteT
        Posted June 26, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        Fair point well made. And I am a reluctant defender of the British monarchy as an institution. I just think it might be the least bad option out there. I present as evidence Denmark, the Netherlands, the USA and Russia.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted June 26, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          Yes, it’s not quite as simple as both sides make it out to be, that’s true.

        • Diane G
          Posted June 28, 2018 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

          You’re a fan of Brexit, then?

          • PeteT
            Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:06 am | Permalink

            No, I voted remain. My apologies but I do not understand the relevance of the question. Is there a link I am unaware of between being in favour of parliamentary democracy with an apolitical head of state and being in favour of leaving the European Union?

            • Diane G
              Posted June 30, 2018 at 5:39 am | Permalink

              Sorry, I was being too glib and certainly not at all clear. I was reacting to your statement, “I like the fact that we in the UK have a monarchy where the person with the most political power (a woman for the second time let’s not forget) is expected to bow before a person with no political power roughly once a week and also has to explain their actions over the preceding week to them.” My initial response was basically, “a lot of good that did.” Because I rather assumed the Queen would not be a Brexit supporter.

              Didn’t mean to sound so snarky.

              • PeteT
                Posted June 30, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

                Yes, parliamentary democracy has rather let me down on this occasion, hasn’t it? Turns out I’m not that keen on government by referendums either! Thank you for taking the trouble to explain your comment.

              • Diane G
                Posted July 1, 2018 at 6:04 am | Permalink

                And thank you for acknowledging my apology. 🙂

    • Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      I’m okay with Constitutional monarchy, but the bowing and scraping needs to go. A respectful handshake is enough.

  15. Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I was surprised that US Christians pictured God as young. I’d have thought they would picture him as old, white and male.

    • enl
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      two out of three….

      • Posted June 26, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        To me, just one of three, for he seems intersex. As a teen, I once made the mistake to cut my hair very short and ended up looking like this. And because my body was too skinny, people kept mistaking me for a boy. Only then did I realize how slowly hair grows.

        • Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

          Right. Everyone knows God has a beard.

  16. Posted June 26, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Ugh, those ticks! I’ve pulled many an engorged tick from my dogs but they’re rarely that huge. Yuck.

  17. Christopher
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    May isn’t curtsying to her futur king, she is demonstrating how she became the first female Minister of Silly Walks.

  18. Posted June 26, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    In athletics bowing (and curtseying, where it is still practiced) has been subverted – the entire premise of the act is turned on its head.

    With royals you’re signaling subservience, subordination; a recognition and acceptance of difference in class. In athletics it means the exact opposite – it means you acknowledge that despite the outcome of the match or game you recognize the equality of your opponent – you acknowledge the shared effort, skill and performance in both the event and training leading up to it. You are telling your opponent that they are your peer and that despite the competition, you share a bond.

  19. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    A.N. Wilson’s whole modus operandi seems to be to find secret motivations in actions for which he has little or no evidence that they exist.

  20. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Augustus is my favourite emperor and though I consider him the first, Caesar had a run at it but it didn’t turn out as well for him. I always admired Augustus’s change management skills but really I think he was mostly a sociopath with Caesar’s money and armies and the ability to manipulate people well. He even had his own fake news in the form of artists and historians.

    • Posted June 26, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Have you read Marguerite Yourcenar’s “Hadrian”? If not, and you are a fan of Roman Emperors, I recommend. If you haven’t read it, it’s Yourcenar’s attempt to re-create Hadrian’s lost autobiography. She does a sublime and thorough job. You might change you mind about which of the old buggers is your favorite.

      • Posted June 26, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Of course, I didn’t mean “fan” in THAT way. I meant interest or something similar.

        I feel I have to clarify myself always these days.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 26, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        Nah, Hadrian was ruling during the height of the empire. All the crap that Augustus had to get through, including civil war, was centuries behind him. Also, he had a beard. You know who else had a beard? Nero! Though let’s face it, side burns on Nero were actually kinda cool.

        I’ll always like that asshole Augustus. All my essays were on Augustus. I even bought the Zanker book, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, right from under the grad students, as an undergrad. I still have to read Adrian Goldworthy’s Augustus though I read his Caesar and loved it.

      • Liz
        Posted June 26, 2018 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        I, Claudius, also.

    • revelator60
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I’m fond of Tiberius, one of the more underrated but notorious Emperors. He had the good sense to leave the cesspit of Rome and enjoy himself in Capri, so the Romans made up all sorts of stories about how depraved he was.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 26, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        Tiberius liked the soldierin’. The rulin’ wasn’t his thing. I also like Titus. He had a lot of bullshit to contend with and no one likes him because of Masada and his arch.

    • Posted June 26, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      I have always quite liked Vespasian. Soldierly, successful, a bit of the common touch, created public toilets. Good bon mots: ‘pecunia non olet’, ‘I think I am turning into a god’. His sons though…

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 26, 2018 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        Also had a kick ass amphitheatre.

  21. revelator60
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    In light of Jerry’s understandable hatred of Beria, I hope he will see the comedy “The Death of Stalin,” released earlier this year and now on DVD. Beria is the villain and gets his just desserts. The film was directed by the great satirist Armando Iannucci and has a superb cast (Michael Palin as Molotov, Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, Simon Russell Beale as Beria, Jeffrey Tambor as Malenkov, and Jason Isaacs as General Zhukov).

    • David Coxill
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Or the book “The court of the red Tsar ” by Simon Sebag Montifiore .

    • Posted June 26, 2018 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Actually, I thought Simon Russel Beale’s performance made Beria an almost sympathetic character. I felt sorry for him at the end.

      Jason Isaacs stole the show though. Hello to Jason Isaacs.

      • revelator60
        Posted June 26, 2018 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Beale gave an excellent performance and certainly portrayed a well-rounded character, but the film did not shy away from showing Beria’s monstrousness, including his penchant for torture and raping teenage girls.

  22. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Exactly three years later, William Shockley filed the patent for the first bipolar junction transistor (whatever that is; I presume it has two poles).

    Actually a transistor has three poles, the middle “gate” is generally used to control the current that passes from on of the other poles to the next. “Bipolar junction” refers to the specific construction used which effectively puts two bipolar diodes (“junctions”) back-to-back to form a gate in between. The detailed theory of these devices, or the “unijunction” CMOS – or more rarely FET transistors – and how they can be connected to make active (mostly) circuits, fills books.

    The simple idea is that transistors can control a passed current by an applied gate current (bipolar) or voltage (CMOS).

    • Richard Bond
      Posted June 27, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      “Bipolar” refers to the two kinds of charge carriers necessary to the operation of the device: electrons (negative) and “holes” (positive). Field effect transistors use only one kind, though it can be either.

  23. Posted June 27, 2018 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    I think May, may have picked up her style from Black Adder, it is so exaggerated it reminds me of the groveling Baldrick!

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