Saturday: Hili dialogue

We’re now into September, which used to fill me with dread as it was “back to school time.” Now, however, I just mourn the passing of summer and the departure of my ducks. It’s Saturday, September 1, 2018, the first day of the three-day Labor Day weekend in America, and National Gyro Day. (I may have rib tips, as a new place opened up on 71st Street). In New Zealand, my second country, it’s Random Acts of Kindness Day (Feb. 17 in the U.S.) and I wonder if anyone here will perform one. If you do, put it below with details.

On this day in 1715, Louis XIV of France died; he had reigned 72 years—the longest reign of any European monarch. (In contrast, Queen Victoria reigned a mere 63½ years.) On this day in 1878, Emma Nutt became the world’s first female telephone operator, recruited by Alexander Graham Bell to work for the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company. Here she is working alongside her sister Stella and two male operators in that same year. Note that they had to work standing up—what a job!

On September 1, 1914, St. Petersburg, Russia, had its name changed to Petrograd. A decade later it became Leningrad, and then reverted to St. Petersburg in 1991. On the very same day, the last known passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. Martha was estimated to be 29 years old, dying of old age (she’s now stuffed and mounted). Here she is still alive in that year:

Stuffed and mounted (2015):


On this day in 1934, the first MGM animated cartoon, The Discontented Canary, was first shown in movie theatres. Here it is:

And of course it was on this day in 1939 that Nazi Germany invaded Poland, beginning World War II in Europe. On that same day, Hitler signed an order to begin systematically euthanizing disabled and mentally ill people. On this day in 1952, Hemingway’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Old Man and the Sea, was first published. Exactly two decades later, Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland to gain the world chess championship.  On September 1, 1983, a Soviet jet fighter shot down Korean Air Lines flight 007 when the plane accidentally entered Russian airspace. All 269 people on board were killed. Finally, on September 1, 1985, a French and American expedition located the wreckage of the RMS Titanic.

Notables born on September 1 include Engelbert Humperdinck (1854), Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875), Rocky Marciano (1923), Art Pepper (1925), Ann Richards (1933), Alan Dershowitz (1938), Barry Gibb (1946, the last surviving Bee Gee), Russ Kunkel (1948), Gloria Estafan (1957) and Padma Lakshmi (1970).

Here’s Pepper’s live rendition of “But Beautiful” at the Village Vanguard. I think it’s one of the most moving and plaintive jazz songs ever—a scream of anguish through a saxophone. (Pepper had a rough life.)  George Cables is on piano, George Mraz on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums.

Notables who died on September 1 include Jacques Cartier, Louis XIV (see above), Siegfried Sassoon (1967), Albert Speer (1981) and Luis Walter Alvarez (1988, Nobel Laureate).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili made a funny:

A: Look how many apples have fallen during the night.
Hili: Gravity must’ve been exceptionally strong.
In Polish:
Ja: Patrz ile jabłek w nocy spadło.
Hili: Musiała być wyjątkowo silna grawitacja.

Reader Barry wants to know what breed of cat this is, as he suspects it may be a robot.

From reader Blue; this has been verified by Snopes:

Tweets from Matthew. We all know that honey badgers are fierce, but have a look at them coming up against lions:

Look at the snout on this weevil!

. . . and a very bizarre fish:

A striking example of sexual selection:

There are some wits on the Internet:

Tweets from Grania. Who knows what these medieval artists were smoking?

A kitty playing patty-cake with its staff:

and interspecific love. . .



  1. Linda Calhoun
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Napoleon cat?

    Even if it is a robot, it’s a pretty good representation.

    I know about them because the breed was developed by my friend Joe Smith (also a goat person) while he was still living here in NM.


  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    This is from the year before Nutt [approx] when it was all teen boys. After the Nutt success, within a handful of years, these US switchboards were 100% female staffed with an all female chain of line management. The all female thing was to reassure parents their girls were safe at work – that their chattel value was preserved 🙂

    I suppose they were vetted for voice & would have been selected for sounding like an 1870s Audrey Hepburn [post this: “The rine in spine stys minely in the pline”]

    12 hr days at $10/mnth

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink


  3. Hempenstein
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Those fish suggest that before walking on land, there was walking under water.

    Phone operators: There seems to be a universal reaction that if you’re sitting and on the phone with someone that won’t quit talking, you stand up. Of course the other person can’t see that.

    Passenger pigeon: Is the genome known? How different from ordinary pigeons?

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Phone flight reflex.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      Those fish suggest that before walking on land, there was walking under water.

      That was one of the points clarified by the discovery of Tiktallik – and its fairly complete post-cranial skeleton. Basically, in shallow water, “fin-walking” becomes an optimal mobility strategy.

      Passenger pigeon: Is the genome known? How different from ordinary pigeons?

      I don’t know if the genome is known. I do know that the preserved blown eggs – potentially including DNA in the preserved-if-dried membranes – are very rare and their locations correspondingly kept quiet.

  4. johzek
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    In light of their need to publicly signal their virtue would an SJW be more apt to tell someone they had performed a random act of kindness, especially if done for a member of an “oppressed” group?

  5. Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    On September 1, 1870, Emperor Napoleon III of France surrendered with his entire army at Sedan. Six weeks earlier, France had declared war on Prussia over a tweet.

  6. Merilee
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Steve Tyler looks nothing like The Cheetoh. Blasphemy!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Does this refer to the “Venn diagram”? I still don’t get the relevance, but I still only recognise the Tiny-Handed President. Wiki remains uninformative.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

        trump teeth tyler teeth tyler botox melania botox
        that’s my interpretation

        • Merilee
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

          Still stooopid, seems to me, but then anything Trump-related can’t help but be.

      • Merilee
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

        Yup, Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler seems to be the overlap between Dunce and Melanie.

    • MikeBend
      Posted September 2, 2018 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      It took me an entire day to get it, but now I’m shrieking with laughter, inwardly.

  7. W.Benson
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Surprisingly, to me at least, the Cape Sugarbird is monogamous, pairs defend territories in flower ‘patches’, and the female, although a little smaller with a relatively shorter tail, looks similar to the male. Could the long tail in both sexes have some function, such as keeping balance on wind-whipped flower branches?

  8. Jenny Haniver
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Hili is particularly prescient today. Gravity does fluctuate. It was stronger this morning — I know because I could barely rise from my bed.

    I must say that I’m quite partial to Bayle St. John’s translation of the Duc du St. Simon’s memoirs of the court of Louis XIV. I picked it up in a used book store decades ago, and it’s been with me ever since. It’s a desert island book. It’s fascinating, bizarre and crazy. In fact, it’s time to re read it and today’s as good a day as any to start: “Le roi est mort, vive le roi!”

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      I just spent a couple of hours poring over (and pouring over) a recent paper (Nature, v560 p0582 “Measurements of the gravitational constant using two independent methods”) showing that the 5th significant figure of “big G” remains elusive -and still no one knows why. They still can’t work out why experiments disagree. Discomforting.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        Just look at them apples all over the ground, a scene to make Newton jealous. They need to consult Hili. She will solve the problem.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    “Navajo lawmaker harassed by Trump supporters”

    But, hey, it’s all about “economic insecurity,” right?

    • Merilee
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      I saw that. Unbelievable!

  10. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t that Venn middle Aerosmith’s singer Steven Tyler? He has ordered Trump to stop playing the band music at rallies.

    “Aerosmith’s Livin’ on the Edge was played at a Trump rally in Charleston, West Virginia, on Tuesday. In a cease-and-desist letter, Tyler’s lawyers argued: “Mr Trump is creating the false impression that our client has given his consent for the use of his music, and even that he endorses the presidency of Mr Trump.””
    [ ].

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      Well, that’s more informative. I guess it’s an old photo. (Has someone gone to the effort of trying to correlate date with the unreality of Trump’s baldness substitute? Or is the signal-to-noise ratio unpromising?)
      I guess a cease-and-desist is all they can do, if they signed the song’s rights over to a management company.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

        Photo is from after a September 2014 Aerosmith concert that the Trumps attended. Trump has the rights to play the tunes – candidates don’t need an artist’s thumbs-up to play their songs at rallies as long as the campaign or the venue has obtained a blanket license from the performing rights organizations ASCAP and BMI. It costs Trump around 6 cents per attendee & nowt that Aerosmith, REM etc can do about it.

  11. Posted September 2, 2018 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    But Beautiful.. but beautiful. Nice job.

  12. Posted September 4, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    “Gone but not forgotten. 1914.” – a plaque about the passenger pigeon, on _3-2-1 Contact_’s “The Bloodhound Gang” segment.

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