Monday: Hili dialogue

Good morning: it’s Monday, September 17, 2018, and the week that orientation begins for students at the University of Chicago (“O-week” starts on Saturday the 22nd—the first day of fall in our hemisphere). It’s also National Apple Dumpling Day, celebrating a pastry not often seen, as well as Constitution Day in the U.S., celebrating the signing of our founding document in 1787.

On September 17, 1630, the city of Boston, Massachusetts was founded. And—Matthew will be interested in this—it was on this day in 1683 that Antonie van Leeuwenhoek wrote a letter to England’s Royal Society describing “animalcules,” the first described microscopic animals.  On September 17, 1776, the Presidio of San Francisco was founded as a foothold for New Spain in what is now California. The area of the fort, still called the Presidio, remains, but is the remnant of a U.S. Army base. As noted above, it was on this day in 1787 that the U.S. Constitution was signed in Philadelphia. And (read about it at the link), it was on this day in 1859 that the bizarro Joshua A. Norton declared himself “Norton I, Emperor of the United States.” He did have certain emporial privileges, too, like issuing his own money that was legal tender in San Francisco’s saloons.

According to Wikipedia, on this day in 1908 that “The Wright Flyer flown by Orville Wright, with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge as passenger, crashes, killing Selfridge, who becomes the first airplane fatality.” And 17 years later, Frida Kahlo was in her famous bus accident in Mexico, crippling her at age 18 and contributing to her untimely death at 47. Because of her injuries, she was forced to give up her medical studies and take up art.

On this day in 1976, the orbiter Space Shuttle Enterprise was unveiled by NASA, but never did that much. Two years later, Israel and Egypt signed the Camp David accords, which did have many effects, but one of them wasn’t to bring peace to the Middle East.  Two years later, the trade union Solidarity was established after a long strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland. Below are pictures I took in Gdansk of the present-day shipyard and the nearby Solidarity headquarters:

Finally, it was seven years ago today that the Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York City.

Notables born on September 17 include Billy the Kid *(1859), Hank Williams (1923, died 1953), Ken Kesey (1935), and mountaineer Reinhold Messner (1944, first solo ascent of Mt. Everest and first ascent of that peak without oxygen). Those who died on this day include Hildegard of Bingen (1179), Vitas Gerulitis and Karl Popper (both 1994), Spiro Agnew (1996), and Red Skelton (1997).

Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, a polymath who did science and wrote music and books, was a visionary, and scholars still debate whether her religious visions, some of them described in her book Scivias, written about 1151, were the result of migraine hallucinations. (Oliver Sacks was one who suggested this based on the migraine-like figures she describes.) We don’t know for sure, but here’s an illustration from that book:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrezej had a conversation longer than usual. The last two lines were not translated into Polish:

In Polish:

Here’s a world map with the size of the country adjusted to reflect its population (h/t: Cesar). India and China, of course, are huge:

A tweet from reader Nilou (via Heather Hastie), who doesn’t know what to make of the cat’s expression in the video. Is it trying to get away from the owl?

A footie tweet sent by Dr. Cobb, showing a splendiferous goal:

Also from Matthew, a lovely murmuration in Norway:

Cat tweets from Heather Hastie:

A sacked out cat:

And a clumsy one:

And from Grania (most of you may know of Thomas the Tank Engine):

Rescue of squirrel with overgrown incisors!:



  1. A.
    Posted September 17, 2018 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    There is one more important 17 September for Poland. The 1939 one:

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 17, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    It should be noted that James Madison lost two important arguments during the convention in Philly in 1787. They were equal representation in the Senate and the national negative (sovereignty). At the time of signing he feared the Constitution doomed but later changed his mind on these important issues. He was probably right the first time but it is unlikely they would have had a signing without these compromises.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 17, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Imagine if there was representation based on population in the Senate. North Dakota would have almost no influence. As it is, it can compete with New York and California. I think we are due for an amendment.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 17, 2018 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        Yes, what it also tells us is, no matter how bad parts of this document needs updating and changes, it’s not going to happen. I give you the second amendment and rest my case.

        I already had one to fix the Senate long time ago. One representative (senator) for all states up to 5 million population. Then an additional senator for each additional 5 million. So states with 10 million get two, states with 15 million get three and so on. California has about 40 million so that would be 8 senators.

        • rickflick
          Posted September 17, 2018 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

          If there be a just God in heaven your suggestion will be taken up…someday.

  3. DrBrydon
    Posted September 17, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    “He did have certain emporial privileges….” I think you might mean imperial, but certainly not empirical.

  4. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 17, 2018 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Hildegard of Bingen remains the first author to give a detailed description of female orgasm

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted September 17, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      I studied/wrote about her in depth as part of a paper on Medieval Women at uni. She was an amazing woman who remains one of my favourites from the era. Hugely intelligent, interesting, and far from your typical religious. The areas in which she was an acknowledged expert is very broad.

  5. Posted September 17, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    <blockquote“The Wright Flyer flown by Orville Wright, with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge as passenger, crashes, killing Selfridge, who becomes the first airplane fatality.

    If “airplane” includes unpowered heavier than air machines, Otto Lilienthal’s death predates this one. My Google-fu was not up to finding cases of failed powered flight predating the Wright brothers that ended in a fatality.

  6. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 17, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Never heard of Hildegard- very interesting, and also the Wikipedia rabbit hole it opens on troubadours.

  7. Barney
    Posted September 17, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    The cat is clearly casing the joint, in search of plenty of money. And a pea green boat.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted September 17, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      That poem is what came immediately to my mind when I saw the tweet too.

  8. Paul Manson
    Posted September 17, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Many years ago I had a girlfriend whose father was an out and out Communist. They used to go on holiday to places like Gdansk until, quote, “Solidarity spoiled it all”. At his funeral a few years ago, the speakers all addressed the attendees as ‘Comrades’. My acquaintance with the family prompted an in-depth conversation when I needed an advanced security clearance as a Royal Navy officer.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 17, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      So how did the security clearance go, comrade?

      • Paul Manson
        Posted September 17, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Good. I just denied everything. This wasn’t exactly pre-Internet but it was pre-social media so there weren’t any shared photos of my girlfriend and me together – that made it much easier.

        More seriously, luckily you don’t have to be a saint, the vetters just want to be sure there won’t be any surprises in the future.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted September 17, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

          I’ve never been in that position, so I don’t know, but I was told by someone who was that basically if you’re honest you’re okay. He (government job) took cocine from time to time, but he told them, and so no one could blackmail him about it, so he was fine.

  9. Bat
    Posted September 17, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Enterprise played a highly significant engineering role in the space shuttle program. It tested (full scale) the aerodynamic interactions predicted in computer simulations and wind tunnel tests for the mated b747 and shuttle configuration as well as ground vibration tests. In its three i believe piloted approach and landing tests (vehicle released from 747 and glided to landing on edwards afb/nasa dryden runway in the california high desert), handling qualities and predicted aerodynamic stability and control were assessed by two astronaut test pilots. These test results were critical to the safe ascent, approach, and, in particular, landing of the follow-on missions that launched into space.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted September 17, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Yes. It was an orbiter prototype, not capable of actually orbiting.

      • Bat
        Posted September 17, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        Yes. I forget all of the details from 40 years ago, but among the aha’s from the last landing was apilot induced oscillation event usually due to a time delay in the vehicle response to pilot longitudinal stick input. If you look at a video, it appears as a porpoising like oscillation with ever increasing amplitude that if not arrested leads to the vehicle crashing into the runway. Has to do in this case with the dumbell like distribution of mass on the flight deck and the tail with not much mass in the middle empty payload bay.

  10. Roger
    Posted September 17, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Animalcules, what a cool name! Too bad it didn’t stick haha.

  11. ploubere
    Posted September 17, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    The original caption was “Thomas the Tank Engine, the meth years.”

  12. Posted September 17, 2018 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Catherine Wilson wrote a book a few years back showing the importance of the microscope to the early modern period; in a way it is the perfect complement to the telescope.

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