Thursday: Hili dialogue

It’s now Thursday, August 2, 2018, and National Ice-Cream Sandwich Day. (Again with the hyphen! Is that grammatically necessary?) It’s also Basil Fool for Christ Day in the Russian Orthodox Church.

On August 2, 1610, Henry Hudson, during his futile search for the Northwest Passage, stumbled onto what is now called Hudson’s Bay.  On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed—the official “engrossed” copy that is on display in the National Archives. July 4, regarded by many Americans as the day the Declaration was signed, was actually when it was ratified by Congress.

On this day in 1790, the first official U.S. census was conducted.  At that time the population was recorded as 3,929,326. On August 2, 1923, after Warren G. Harding died of a heart attack, Calvin Coolidge, called “Silent Cal” because he was laconic, became President of the U.S. In 1932, Carl D. Anderson discovered the positron on August 2. As the antiparticle of the electron whose existence had been predicted from theory (by Dirac, I believe), it was the first discovery of antimatter.  On this day in 1934, Adolf Hitler became Führer of Germany after President von Hindenburg died.

A black day for stoners: on August 2, 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed, making marijuana and all its products illegal. It is still in force, conflicting with the laws of many states that legalize marijuana use.

It was on this day in 1939 that Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard wrote their famous letter to Franklin Roosevelt, urging him to start developing a nuclear weapon. You can read the letter here. It was on August 2, 1943 that the the motor torpedo boat PT-109 was sunk by a Japanese destroyer, cutting it in half and killing one man. The boat’s commander, John F. Kennedy, saved the 11 survivors, towing one of them nearly four miles through the sea with the man’s life-preserver strap in his teeth. The men were rescued after 6 days on the island and Kennedy became a war hero, helping get him elected as President two decades down the line. Finally, on this day in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, precipitating the Gulf War.

I hate to inflict this on you, but the laws of physics decree it: Jimmy Dean’s rendition of “PT-109”, which I well remember when it came out. Trigger warning: the song is dire and the rhymes atrocious.

Notables born on August 2 include John Tyndall (1820), Myrna Loy (1905), Shimon Peres (1923), Peter O’Toole (1932), Garth Hudson (1937), and Nobel Laureate Jules A. Hoffmann (1941). Those who died on this day include Wild Bill Hickok (1876), Enrico Caruso (1921), Alexander Graham Bell (1922), Warren G. Harding (1923), Wallace Stevens (1955), Fritz Lang (1976), and Roy Cohn (1986).

I’m a big fan of Myrna Loy, especially in the “Thin Man” movies with William Powell, when they were always drunk. Here’s a scene from the first movie, released in 1934:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili seems sagacious—in her own way!

Hili: I’ve thought about everything.
A: And?
Hili: I came to the conclusion that it’s better to think about something else.
In Polish:
Hili: Myślałam o wszystkim.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Doszłam do wniosku, że trzeba pomyśleć o czymś innym.

Tweets from Grania. First, an awesome cat fight; the tuxedo wins!

A pig roast was shut down after complaints. I can’t imagine who would complain! Vegetarians? Jews?

Grania notes: “It’s not just the Control Left who’s calling everyone ‘Nazis’.”

Another tweet from First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza; read the piece!

Tweets from Matthew. This first one, he says, shows “dark-wing fugus gnat maggots [larvae] on the move”. Freaky!

More larvae, this time of the caddisfly, living underwater in their protective sheaths:

I don’t know how I missed this yesterday:

Barn swallow rescue!

Something you almost certainly didn’t know about owls. Look at those combs, which are surely used for grooming:

A geology-smitten kid writes to my colleague Neil Shubin:

From reader Barry (I may have posted this before, but it’s worth revisiting). Such a lovely relationship!

Finally, again from Matthew, a famous case of polymorphic Batesian mimicry, in which members of a single species mimic different toxic models in different places. Only females are mimetic: the males look the same everywhere. Can you guess why?


  1. NormG
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Thanks Jerry, now I’ll have that little ditty in my head all day long…. “Smoke and fire upon the sea, every where they looked was the enemy”

  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    The abandoned pig roast BBQ – strange that the real reason isn’t given in this link below, or is the story not quite what it seems? :-

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      The 20 comments are worth a read

      • harrync
        Posted August 2, 2018 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

        Michael – I suppose you put up a Facebook post, because all that comes up on my screen now is “This Facebook post is no longer available…” Can you maybe tell us what the post originally said, and what some of the better comments were?

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted August 2, 2018 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

          The “no longer available” post was from this facebook: MALVERN FIRE COMPANY ~ the most recent visible post is now from April. So Malvern Fire Company have decided to unremember the BBQ kerfuffle.

          I can’t recover the facebook post, but I can recover what it said because it’s a copy/paste of the following MALVERN FIRE COMPANY PRESS RELEASE :-

          By News Desk
          July 31, 2018

          As a trusted community partner, the Malvern Fire Company Board and Members appreciate the interest in the cancellation of our annual pig roast fundraiser. While it was not an easy decision, this particular fundraising event has been cancelled due to several factors including the lack of ticket sales and in consideration of the many hours our volunteers would need to donate to organize and host this particular event.

          We are very thankful for the communities support. We had a very successful fair and are on target to have a successful golf outing. We would also like to thank the pig roast sponsors who had committed to support this event. The company is discussing other ways to apply their support to the upcoming fundraising efforts scheduled for this year.

          Realizing the Malvern Fire Company is an integral part of the community, we plan to continue the tradition of fundraising through community events and involvement. The following is our fundraising event schedule for the remainder of the year

          The 20 or so comments were divided between those calling out the supposed anon complainants who somehow got the BBQ event pulled & those calling out the Malvern Fire Company for caving to the complaints. Some said they’d no longer be donating to this particular volunteer, donation-funded fire company.

          The whole things is stinky fish. I’m thinking the Fire Company stoked up a crisis to generate interest in an under-subscribed fund raising BBQ. Maybe they got one complaint from an animal rights individual & decided to inflate it into a drama. There was no county pressure to cancel the event. The decision to cancel was made by the fire company and/or their trustees. Perhaps a trustee caught wind of the stink, asked for evidence of these complaints, not much was produced & thus the Trustee put out the press release.

          That’s what makes most sense to me anyway.

  3. Sarah
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    About that “ice-cream sandwich”: the hyphen is OK here because you hyphenate a compound adjective when it comes before the noun it modifies. The hyphens that irritate me are the ones tacked on to verbs, like “to check-in” or “to follow-on”. They are as bad as the proliferation of unnecessary apostrophes.

    • enl
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      My peeve is “quotes”…. I am ambivalent about the hyphen here, though I think I might begin to twitch is I see “a telephone made from soup-cans” again.

      • Sarah
        Posted August 2, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        But “a soup-can telephone” would be correct.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    I don’t think the hyphen in “Ice-Cream” is needed, but I don’t think it’s inappropriate as used, either. The traditional custom, I believe, has been to hyphenate nouns being used to form a compound adjective modifying another noun that follows (e.g., “video-game cartridge”), though that convention no longer seems to be followed as sedulously as it once was.

    • Sarah
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      A compound adjective is not usually made of nouns, but often an adjective and a noun or an adverb and an adjective: “a large-format book”, “a fast-running river”, for example.

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    For some reason, I associate Hudson Bay, Hudson River with cold, fall / autumn weather, and kind of sad moods. That Billy Joel song might have something to do with it.

  6. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    There’s a great Leo Kottke piece titled “William Powell”

    I’ll try to find it later….

    OK now it’s later:

    Studio / recorded / album (what do we call it?) version:

  7. Posted August 2, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Regarding the hyphen in ice-cream, all compound nouns go through. When the compound is first created it is always hyphenated (to-day, fire-place, etc.), then it goes through a period in which many people think the hyphen is superfluous so they leave it out, leading to a point where everybody thinks they are superfluous and leaves them out. (Today was often hyphenated in the 1930s, for example.) The problem? There is no official arbiter of our language who can tell people to “knock it off” with the hyphen in to-day, will you?!

    It is also possible that a proclamation by some government established the “special day” and thereby fixed the title of that day in that proclamation.

    PS Bought WEIT and am reading it, even though I don’t really need it, as partial; payment to you for this wonderful blog. Very well written! (Not quite Steven Pinkeresque, but close!)

    On Thu, Aug 2, 2018 at 7:01 AM, Why Evolution Is True wrote:

    > whyevolutionistrue posted: “It’s now Thursday, August 2, 2018, and > National Ice-Cream Sandwich Day. (Again with the hyphen! Is that > grammatically necessary?) It’s also Basil Fool for Christ Day in the > Russian Orthodox Church. On August 2, 1610, Henry Hudson, during his futile > sea” >

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    As an antidote to “PT-109,” I give you Mr. Dean’s “Big Bad John,” co-written by Roy Acuff.

  9. ChrisS
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Six-year old kids “get” transitional fossils; or at least they recognised Tiktaalik as one when Shubin showed a fossil cast to a bunch of 1st-graders at his daughter’s school.


    They can’t hold a candle to the kids when it comes to reality.

    • Mark R.
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Great anecdote…I was going to comment that I thought it really cool that a six-year-old could appreciate Shubin’s book.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    It [the Tax Act of 1937] is still in force, conflicting with the laws of many states that legalize marijuana use.

    ‘Cause “states’ rights” count only when you’re suppressing the vote, restricting women’s reproductive rights, or denying gay couples wedding cakes.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      What I don’t get is how something called a “Tax Act” can make something illegal, rather than, you know, levying a tax on it.

      Is this some sort of Newspeak?


  11. Historian
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I read the Washington Post article on the Koch Foundation linked to by Marc J. Randazza. As a liberal and opposed to most things the Kochs stand for, I am pleased that we have some common ground regarding free speech and the free exchange of ideas. I am guessing that the Kochs believe that students exposed to a wide range of ideas will mostly accept those of the libertarians. I think they will lose this bet, but time will tell.

    Meanwhile, in the political arena, the Kochs are very distressed with Trump and the Republican congress. They believe that the Republicans in Washington, whom they have generously donated to, have betrayed libertarian principles, at least in the area of free trade. Naturally, Trump has lashed out at the Kochs. Interestingly, as Jane Mayer points out in a New Yorker article, many of Trump’s appointees to his administration, his judicial appointments, and legislative achievements align greatly with the Koch Network agenda. By November we will know whether this little right wing spat has had electoral consequences.

  12. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    There are different cases where female butterflies, but not males, are polymorphic over their range, mimicking different models in different parts of their range. I had not seen an explanation for this.
    I have two fragile hypotheses. 1. The genes for this capacity are carried on the W sex chromosome, and males will lack this chromosome.
    2. Males are under selection to look like they do, so to be accepted by females.

  13. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Finally, on this day in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, precipitating the Gulf War.

    “This aggression will not stand, man!”

  14. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    “Basil Fool for Christ Day” – I thought that was something like a candidate for election. Like, say, “Trump for President”.

    Obviously, I parsed it worng. 😉


  15. nwalsh
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Thin Man’s fox terrior. My favourite pooch.

  16. Posted August 2, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    “I hate to inflict this on you, but the laws of physics decree it:”

    You gotta start resisting those pesky laws of physics!

  17. Posted August 2, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Pectinate claws are found in a number of bird families including for example the herons and egrets (Ardeidae).

  18. Posted August 2, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    With larvae moving together like that can the end of the world be far behind?

  19. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    The Koch brothers have good points now and then. But I’m fairly sure that the two cynical businessmen who bet over environment and heredity in the Dan Ackroyd/Eddie Murphy comedy “Trading Places” are modeled on the Koch brothers.

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