Friday: Hili dialogue

Good morning from me—and Grania, who sent the second tweet.

It’s Friday, August 3, 2018, and the weekend is nigh. It’s National Watermelon Day, but the ducks won’t get any (they don’t much like it). On this day in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, setting out from Palos de la Frontera, Spain on his three boats to “discover America.” In fact, he didn’t land on the mainland of either North or South or Central America, but did get close: here’s his “first voyage”:

On August 3, 1527, according to Wikipedia, “The first known letter from North America is sent by John Rut while at St. John’s, Newfoundland.” It was addressed to King Henry VIII of England, describing the voyage and announcing their arrival. On this day in 1911, brothers Johann Rudolf and Hieronymus Meyer made the first ascent of the Jungfrau in the Alps. On August 3, 1914, Germany declared war on France, escalating the Great War in a major way. On this day in 1921, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, former judge Kensaw Mountain Landis banned the eight Chicago White Sox players implicated in the Black Sox Scandal from major league baseball. They had gone on trial for conspiracy to defraud by colluding to lose the 1919 World Series. All were acquitted, but nevertheless never played again. One was, of course, star outfielder “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who became the target of a very famous American phrase (in bold below) that is usually misattributed. As Wikipedia reports:

Charley Owens of the Chicago Daily News wrote a regretful tribute headlined, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.” The phrase became legend when another reporter later erroneously attributed it to a child outside the courthouse:

When Jackson left the criminal court building in the custody of a sheriff after telling his story to the grand jury, he found several hundred youngsters, aged from 6 to 16, waiting for a glimpse of their idol. One child stepped up to the outfielder, and, grabbing his coat sleeve, said:
“It ain’t true, is it, Joe?”
“Yes, kid, I’m afraid it is”, Jackson replied. The boys opened a path for the ball player and stood in silence until he passed out of sight.
“Well, I’d never have thought it,” sighed the lad.

Here are the eight banned “Black Sox”:


On this day in 1948, Whittaker Chambers famously accused Alger Hiss, a government official, of being a Communist who spied for the Soviet Union. Hiss was convicted of perjury and served three years and eight months in jail. Historians still argue about whether he was guilty. Finally, on August 3, 1958, the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine, made its first underwater transit of the North pole.

Notables born on August 3 include Rupert Brooke (1887), Ernie Pyle and also evolution defendant John T. Scopes (both 1900), wrestler Haystacks Calhoun (1934), and Martha Stewart (1941). Those who became extinct on this day include Joseph Conrad (1924), Thorstein Veblen (1929), Colette (1954), Flannery O’Connor (1964), Lenny Bruce (1966), Henri Cartier- Bresson (2004), Alksandr Solzhenitsyn (2008) and Bobby “Sunny” Hebb (2010).  Here’s one of Cartier-Bresson’s photos; he’s my all-time favorite “street photographer”. This is not posed, and is a testament to enduring romance in dire weather:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being opaque again. When I asked Malgorzata what Hili meant, she responded “Well, I’m not sure either. She might mean that she is (physically) so far back she can’t go any farther. Or that her memory is short. Take your pick.”

A: We have to think back.
Hili: I can’t go back any further.
In Polish:
Ja: Musimy się cofnąć myślami…
Hili: Ja już dalej nie mogę.

Here’s a tweet showing Trump’s order to a reporter being obeyed by the onlooking d*gs:

Spotted kittens!

Tweets from Matthew, the first (also sent by reader Jiten) showing a device that helps the red crabs of Christmas Island in their famous migration:

Can you spot the lizard? Click on the tweet to see the answer below it:

Amazingly realistic cat drawings:

And non-bogus amazingly realistic murals of insects:

Fact o’ the day:

Yay! India has founded a Society for Evolutionary Biologists! Most of these people hosted me during my visit last winter.

Buzz Aldrin’s expense report to the government for his trip to the Moon. Grand total: $33.31.

Tweets from Grania; the first one showing a kid with bad vision getting glasses for the first time.

If you’re wondering how an optometrist can write a prescription for a kid too young to speak or read, go here.

An autographed book (guess the recipient):

Here’s the Tweet of the Month, and it’s only the 3rd! Emily was reasonably tall, but Charlotte was tiny. See more cartoons about Emily Brontë in this article.


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    The Black Sox scandal was the subject of an engaging feature film by John Sayles, Eight Men Out.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Columbus was not always the most popular guy on the boat. I believe it was on his third trip he returned to Spain in chains, somewhat under arrest. And yet he still made a forth trip.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    It was the investigation of Alger Hiss by the House Un-American Committee in 1948 that first launched the loathsome Richard Milhous Nixon into national prominence, leading Dwight D. Eisenhower to offer him a spot on the national ticket in 1952, leading to … ah, well, we all know the rest of that grim tale.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      House Un-American Activities Committee — though the whole damn thing was pretty goddamn un-American all on its own, you ask a lot of us.

    • George Pawlus
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Does not mean Hiss was not guilty. The Venona transcripts pretty much proved his guilt. Some Hiss true believers still dispute the evidence but the Moynihan commission on government secrecy stated –
      “The complicity of Alger Hiss of the State Department seems settled. As does that of Harry Dexter White of the Treasury Department.”

      The Venona transcripts were not declassified until 1995. The time in between has allowed the defenders of Hiss to continue to muddy the waters.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        Far be it from me to defend the old pumpkin-patch paper pusher.

  4. Posted August 3, 2018 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Minor typo:

    “the first one showing a [b]kid[/b] with bad vision getting glasses for the first time.”

    … unless you are deliberately thinking of the German.

  5. Desnes Diev
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    “Can you spot the lizard?”

    If I’m correct, it is so fossil-like that it must have sitted there since the Cretaceous.

  6. Frank Bath
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I very much liked the Cartier-Bresson photograph, blown umbrellas, an improbable ballet leap, the Eiffel Tower an ornament, but how the hell did he snap it if it wasn’t set up? Genius luck I suppose.

  7. Jim batterson
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Re buzz aldrin travel voucher. You have to wonder what parsonel travel expense the 33 bucks covered.

    • George Pawlus
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Faking a moon landing is not cheap. Buzz continues the coverup by attacking truth tellers like Bart Sibrel. OK – I just love this video, Sibrel actually wanted to press charges. Sibrel called American hero Buzz Aldrin a coward and a liar. If the DA were stupid enough to go to trial, I assume the jury would have found Sibrel guilty of assaulting Aldrin’s fist.

      • Merilee
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Great Buzz Aldrin vid! Naturally the idiot’s a bible-thumper. Too bad Buzz didn’t thump him with said book.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Hey, that was $33 in pre-inflation 1969 dollars. Be big bucks now. 🙂

      • George Pawlus
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        $226.86 to be precise.

        • Jim batterson
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          I must have too much time on my hands today. Since it appears he got to the cape about a week before launch, he may have had some meals, snacks, voq or other incidental expenses before going into pre-flight isolation. Nasa has always been pretty strictly by the book on travel regs. Maybe there is an naca/nasa reader left from that era who can enlighten us?

  8. Michael Fisher
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    The dogs sitting to Trump thing: Fake – the two left dogs [at least] are looking to the left of the TV where the dogs’ master must be lurking.

  9. Merilee
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink


  10. Merilee
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink


  11. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Jane Eyre is my second favorite novel of all time (behind Tolkien LotR), but I had no idea that Charlotte B was so diminutive.


    There’s a fair amount of evidence both for and against the guilt of Alger Hiss, but opinion seems to have shifted in recent years towards more historians thinking him guilty than not.

  12. Posted August 3, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Well, the employer did pay for Mr. Aldrin to take one of the furthest-distance trips of all time …

  13. Taz
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Typo: The first commissioner of baseball was named Kenesaw Mountain, a variation of the name of the Civil War battle where his father was wounded.

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