Thursday: Hili dialogue

I’m leaving tomorrow for Paris and, as Captain Oates said, “I may be some time” (Actually about 12 days). Posting will be light, but Grania, peace be upon her, has agreed to take over the Hilis. Plus she is putting up an extra special post tomorrow.

It’s November, and winter is insinuating its frigid fingers into the Midwest. Yes, it’s Thursday, November 1, 2018. I often post the poem below on November 1 to celebrate the dissolution of the year:


by Wallace Stevens

Yillow, yillow, yillow,
Old worm, my pretty quirk,
How the wind spells out
Sep – tem – ber….

Summer is in bones.
Cock-robin’s at Caracas.
Make o, make o, make o,
Oto – otu – bre.

And the rude leaves fall.
The rain falls. The sky
Falls and lies with worms.
The street lamps

Are those that have been hanged.
Dangling in an illogical
To and to and fro
Fro Niz – nil – imbo.

It’s also, oddly, both National Bison Day and National Paté Day (I’ll eschew the bison).  Further, it’s both International Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome Awareness Day and National Brush Day in the U.S.(refers to toothbrushing).

A lot of historical stuff happened on November 1. For instance, in 1512 Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were first exhibited to the public. On November 1, 1520 Magellan first traversed The Strait of Magellan at the tip of South America.  On this day in 1604, Shakespeare’s play The Tempest was premiered, at Whitehall Palace in London. And on this day in 1755, Lisbon was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami. Between 60,000 and 100,000 people were killed. Voltaire, of course, used this famous disaster to show that the world was not overseen by a benevolent god.  On this day in 1894, Nicholas II became the last Tsar of Russia upon the death of his father. Nicholas and his entire family were murdered by Bolsheviks in 1918. Here they are:

On this day in 1896, according to Wikipedia, “A picture showing the bare breasts of a woman appear[ed] in National Geographic magazine for the first time. How many young men perused that magazine to see “approved” nudity?  On this day in 1928, according to The Law on the Adoption and Implementation of the Turkish Alphabet, Atatürk, in one of his attempts to modernize his country, replaced the Arabic alphabet in Turkey with the Latin alphabet. On November 1, 1938, the horse Seabiscuit defeated the horse War Admiral in a race called “the match of the century”. It’s recounted in Laura Hillenbrand’s great book Seabiscuit, and here’s the race:

On November 1, 1941, Ansel Adams took the famous picture “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico,” perhaps the most famous art photo in American history. It is lovely (below); as WIkipedia notes,

The photograph became so popular and collectible that Adams personally made over 1,300 photographic prints of it during his long career. The fame of the photograph grew when a 1948 print sold at auction “for the then-unheard-of price of $71,500” in 1971 ($432,100 in 2017); the same print sold for $609,600 in 2006 ($740,000 in 2017) at a Sotheby’s auction.

I should have made an effort to revisit this place (Wikipedia gives the GPS coordinates) when I went to New Mexico this spring.


On this day in 1950, Pope Pius XII took the Chair and proclaimed himself infallible (or, as Archie Bunker would say, “inflammable”), declaring as dogma that Mary was bodily assumed into Heaven. This declaration in the absence of evidence is one more thing that makes Catholicism look silly.  On this day in 1956, the Indian states of Kerala, Andra Pradesh, and Mysore were formally created under the “States Reorganization Act”.  Finally, on this day in 1968, the Motion Picture Association of America introduced the ratings system for films: G, M, R, and X.

Notables born on this day include Louis the Stammerer (846), Stephen Crane (1871), Alfred “Nevertheless They Move” Wegener (1880; he proposed the theory of continental drift), Larry Flynt (1942), Kinky Friedman (1944), and Lyle Lovett (1957).

Those who died on November 1 include Dale Carnegie (1955), the ecologist Robert MacArthur and the poet Ezra Pound (both 1972), Phil Silvers (1985), Severo Ochoa (1993, Nobel Laureate), and Walter Payton (1999).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Hili dialogue needs a bit of explanation from Malgorzata:

“‘Do not praise the day until it’s over’ is a Polish saying—the equivalent of ‘Do not count your chickens before they are hatched’. Hili is warning Andrzej not to be too happy with a nice day because the newspapers are full of horrors and he will be somber and sad when he reads them.”

And so the dialogue (Andrzej has a new camera and so the pictures of Hili have gotten very good):

Hili: “Do not praise the day before it’s over”.
A: Why? It’s a very nice day.
Hili: You will change your opinion when you take a look at the newspapers.
In Polish:
Hili: Nie chwal dnia przed wieczorem.
Ja: Czemu, bardzo miły dzień.
Hili: Zmienisz zdanie jak zajrzysz do gazet.

From reader Su:

A tweet from Heather Hastie first discovered by Ann German:

Tweets from Grania. The first one is a great example of “President” Trump’s narcissism:

This one is is from Grania’s new favorite site, Bodega Cats:

The background to the tweet below (from the fake but hilarious DPRK News site) can be found here.

Well, one can ponder these things. . . .

This one’s fricking awesome, and reminds me of Neymar taking a dive:

Tweets from Matthew. Paul Bronks, whoever he is, is a reliable source of good animal tweets:

The Institute of Animal Genetics at Edinburgh produced some world-class scientists and work. Here’s a link to a collection of pictures, with this tweet showing a Drosophila ballet!

This is a fantastic picture:

These are all variants (presumably genetic) of the same species. If they are genetic, why does the species remain variable?

Tweet O’ the Day: Squirrels run the cosmos:


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 1, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    “The president: I went to the site of a mass murder and everyone was very nice to me.”

    We should be thankful, I suppose, he didn’t fling matzo at shiva-sitters, the way he did paper towels at the survivors of Hurricane Maria.

  2. Posted November 1, 2018 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    I suspect it is a source of genuine puzzlement to “President” Trump that some people simply do not share his own sense of his awesomeness. That in itself is not too surprising–but in most of us that feeling goes away by age three. What is more surprising is that so many people do share this sense.
    And, a lot of them are women. No-one forced three smart, attractive, and accomplished women to have children with him. And they are just the official ones.
    They all looked upon the glory that is Trumnp and went, “Yep–that’s what I want growing inside me.”
    I’m reminded of Bill Maher’s quip that “Women have to stop blaming everything on men until their taste in them improves”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 1, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Donald Trump has the personality of a petulant, malicious juvenile delinquent — the kind every junior-high teacher likely has had the misfortune to meet, the kind who will accept responsibility for none of his own misdeeds, but will glom onto the credit for anything that goes well done by others.

    • Posted November 12, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      There are more women wishing a family than nice men, which means that some women end up with a**holes.

  3. Posted November 1, 2018 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Re the jewel bugs, could it be a density-dependent color polyphenism (like you can get with cicadas)?

    • mikeyc
      Posted November 1, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      This makes sense.

  4. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 1, 2018 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    “International Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome Awareness Day”

    Can’t say it’s been very successful, since I’ve never heard of Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. Has anybody?


    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted November 1, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      But isn’t the point of publicizing little-known conditions precisely to make people aware of them and hopefully look them up?

  5. rickflick
    Posted November 1, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Curious about Seabiscuit, I found this documentary:

    Aren’t sea biscuits pretty tough? Quite a project.

  6. rickflick
    Posted November 1, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I looked up the site of “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico,” on Google Earth based on the GPS coordinates. The grave yard is still there, but the lovely little adobe building on the left of the photo seems to have disappeared. It would be fun to stop there and stroll among the tombstones.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted November 1, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      The location is easy to find and many people stop there. This has resulted in the local folks who live there to get very irritated by the incursions into their privacy. They are likely to come out and chase you away. Best to just stop on the road and take a quick picture and leave.

      • rickflick
        Posted November 1, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        Likely so.

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted November 1, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    From Thomas Hood’s “November”:

    No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
    No comfortable feel in any member—
    No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
    No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted November 1, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, where I live, climate change has put the lie to those verses. I just returned from a leisurely bike ride in the sun. There were flowers, fruits, birds, butterflies, beas. It’s a glorious November day here! But it’s sure not the November I knew and looked forward to as a child, even in this temperate area of the US

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted November 1, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      I don’t want to occupy space by writing the whole thing out, but Ted Hughes’ poem “Pets” is a nice little portrayal of a November night, an inquisitive kitten, and a big old tabby tom.

  8. Monika
    Posted November 1, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Interesting, in German we say: ‘Man soll den Tag nicht vor dem Abend loben’ You shouldn’t praise the day before evening.

    Hili of course is right, sometimes it’s really depressing to read the news.

    • Posted November 1, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Hili didn’t really say she had read the news. Perhaps she just peed on it. 😉

  9. Jenny Haniver
    Posted November 1, 2018 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I don’t recall ever seeing a photo of a bare-breasted white woman in National Geographic. They did a lot of T&A photos of Africans and Aboriginal people from around the globe. That should be noted — okay to ogle the ‘primitive’ people — that was their natural state (and so to do so was an anthropoligical duty), but not the breasteses of the flowers of civilization. That is exceedingly offensive.

    That aside, I love Wallace Stevens.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted November 1, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      I think you are correct. In recent years, it seems that Nat. Geo. has been avoiding showing breasts, but the Oct. 2018 has a story about the last tribes in the Amazon and breasts are back. But teenage boys no longer need this magazine as there is lots of naked people on the internet.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted November 1, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha! I think you are correct, lots of naked people of all ethnicities and races and degrees of ‘civilization’;many regard it as a badge of honor, others find the very act to be uncivilized in esse, others don’t give a fig(leaf).

        It should be noted that Natl. Geographic didn’t shy away from showing the male genitalia of native people.

    • BJ
      Posted November 1, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      I mean, what were they supposed to do? If these tribeswomen don’t actually wear clothes that cover their breasts, is the magazine simply not supposed to show them? Or ask them to cover up in a way that they never would and they may find offensive?

      The reason they didn’t show white people like that is because, as far as I know, there are no primitive tribes of white people who dress that way.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted November 1, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        It definitely was a dilemma, I’m not denying that

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted November 1, 2018 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

          I do recall bare-breasted white women of various hippie tribes in the Sixties.

          • BJ
            Posted November 1, 2018 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

            Well, this was before my time. But I can recall seeing photos of bare-breasted hippies in publications about the history of the original Woodstock.

            Anyway, my real point was that there certainly was no intent for people to “ogle” the people from those tribes. It was simple documentation of things in the world to which their readers were not normally exposed and of which they would not likely know without the exposure (no pun intended) by the magazine.

            The fact that young boys will take any opportunity they can find to see some boobies simply can’t be helped. It’s a fact of life 😛 Although, I imagine that there are no young boys looking at National Geographic to get sneak a rare look these days. All hail the internet!

          • Posted November 2, 2018 at 6:59 am | Permalink

            And they got covered — maybe not in NG; but still. Certainly in Life mag.

            Take a look at news photos from the 60s and 70s.

  10. Posted November 1, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    The first recorded performance of The Tempest was on November 1, 1611. A February 11, 1604/05 performance of an unknown play, The Spanish Maze, has been identified by some as The Tempest, albeit without evidence.

    The first of the comedies that appear in the First Folio of 1623, the play’s plot and characters closely parallel standard plots and characters of the Italian commedia dell’arte which reached the height of its popularity in in England during the 1570s. The politics and names of several of the characters (including ‘Prospero’)first appear in English in a history book published in 1549.

    The Tempest was likely written in the early 1580s and staged only much later. It was first registered and printed in 1623.

  11. Posted November 1, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Possible explanations for the persistent variability of the jewel bugs might be:

    1) Density dependent selection. e.g. a predator may have a ‘search image’ for the more abundant form which therefore bears a heavier level of predation. Over time this would result in an oscillation in the relative abundance of morphs as the common morph, subjected to heavy predation, will get rarer and the rare morph that experiences low predation levels will become more abundant until a cross-over point is reached.
    2) If the bugs are involved in a mimicry circle there could also be density dependent effects relating to the relative abundance of both model and mimic as the effectiveness of mimicry depends on the harmless mimic not being too common relative to the model.
    3) Potentially the different colour morphs are maintained by opposing selection pressures.
    4) Heterozygote advantage – if for some reason the heterozygous form has a fitness advantage over either homozygote (assuming the morphs are determined by a single allele) then the polymorphism will be maintained.
    5) assortative mating – if mate choice is based on an arbitrary preference and some females prefer to mate with males of one colour morph and others prefer another colour morph this could maintain a polymorphism. If not disrupted this could eventually lead to sympatric speciation I guess.

    As I am not a professional geneticist or evolutionary biologist I may be barking up the wrong tree here and would love to hear the views of a professional please PCC!

  12. Lars
    Posted November 1, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Whenever I feel unable to work effectively on a paper or an analysis because I can’t find a reference, or can’t get the software to work, or some other fiddling obstruction, I think of Robert McArthur retreating to an isolated house in the country when his health really started to go, and writing “Geographical Ecology” in his last few months, just on the basis of what he could remember.

  13. Diane G
    Posted November 1, 2018 at 11:05 pm | Permalink


  14. Posted November 2, 2018 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Ansel Adams covers the making of “Moonrise” in his superb book, Examples, The Making of 40 Photographs, which I highly recommend (along with his series, The Camera, The Negative, and The Print).

    If I remember correctly, he set up the camera on the roof of his car (he had a platform on top) to get a higher point of view. And the light was dying fast, he had time for a single exposure. Because he wanted to preserve the foreground detail (key to the photo), he used a relatively small aperture. This resulted in an shutter speed of, I think, 1 second.

    One of his skills was modifying the development recipe for films to preserve the broadest possible range of illumination as usable negative density. He used that skill to the hilt on this negative. And it still took quite a bit of darkroom exposure work in printing (burning, dodging, multiple exposures) to achieve the final image: Black sky, stark moon, and ghostly white foreground objects, while retaining shadow detail in the foreground. A masterpiece.

    • Posted November 2, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      One of the interesting things to me is his choice of composition. He chose to retain that huge area of black sky above the moon.

      A more conventional composition would have been to crop it down quite a bit, removing something between 1/3 and 1/2 of it. I’m sure I would have chosen that.

      Maybe this is part of its appeal: The unusual balance.

      • rickflick
        Posted November 2, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        I think the large space above is the first thing that strikes the viewer, whether consciously or subconsciously.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 2, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      You bring to mind the many delightful hours I spent in my darkroom over the years. The fun and magic of negatives, the enlarger, chemicals and paper, can’t be equaled by managing pixels in Photoshop. When the transition to digital took place, I could see it as great boon to mankind and as a tragedy. I hope diehard film photographers keep up the tradition. It’s not unlike some Japanese sword maker following the hundreds of years old methods.

      • Posted November 2, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        I used to be (up until about 2004) a die-hard film guy. An all-manual guy. I almost never even used a light meter: The (Yuge) majority of my shots were outdoors in daylight (and I had formulas for star or moonlit shots as well): I learned my films (Tri-X Pan, Kodachrome 64) and just judged the light by eye.

        I “rolled my own” B&W film canisters, developed all my own B&W film (the Kodachrome went to Kodak: Finlay, OH!), and did all my own B&W printing. And I did a lot of it. I set up dark rooms even in rental residences.

        Up until that time (around 2004), digital seemed like a toy to me. I was also in a phase of life when I wasn’t shooting much at all. I did get a simple P&S digital camera for family snaps and that was about it.

        In 2006, I got my first DSLR and it was a revelation (it was a gift).

        However, with my all-manual, not modification, Kodachrome point of view, I did not go for photo editing software.

        I was eventually convinced, some years later, to try Lightroom and PS Elements by an enthusiast coworker. Then it was all over. Especially after I got a Canon PIXMA Max printer that prints up to 13X19 inches.

        I have small blips of nostalgia for the darkroom; very small ones; but I find the advantages of digital far outweigh the pluses of film.

        I’ve got something like 100K images in my Lightroom Library. A substantial chunk of that is scans of my and my Dad’s images. (Like I said, it took years!)

        The advantages of modern digital cameras, lenses, SW, and printing, in my opinion:

        1. Archiving. I can put same-as-origin copies in multiple places. (I have scanned all my old slides and negatives — or at least the fraction worth doing that with — for just that reason (it took years of effort). And also so I can post them and print them.)

        2. One lens. The light only has to suffer passage of a single lens in the entire process. Sharpness and contrast are preserved. Printing with ink deposition with a sufficiently fine printer is something like magic to me.

        3. The new lenses blow the doors off my old film lenses — and they were good lenses.

        4. Compactness. I am now Micro 4/3* and I love it and will never go back. Just the size, weight, cost, electronic VF, and tilting LCD screen make it a slam dunk for me. The only thing I wish mirrorless had is phase-detect AF; but I’m sure it’s coming.

        5. The SW! You can manipulate images faster, easier, 100% repeatably, make multiple variants easily, etc., etc. I shoot in RAW all the time. The SW tools are wonderful. Of course, they can be used poorly; but that’s nothing new.

        6. You don’t need the space a darkroom consumes.

        7. The materials are relatively imperishable. The chemicals won’t be going bad in the bottle and the film and paper won’t be deteriorating on the shelf. Your don’t have chemicals to dispose of.

        8. Printing ease and speed. I can do stunning 13X19 prints at home for very little money and only seconds of time. And they are VERY stable.

        (* As I have noted to many photographer friends: The history of photography has always moved towards smaller formats and equipment, as soon as the quality rises to the required level. How many 20X30 inch or 40X60 inch prints are you going to do in your life? My M4/3 will go 20X30, no problem.)

        Don’t despair, I know quite a few film guys. Many have gone back to film, especially B&W. Film-retro is very much a thing now.

        I also will never sell my photography books (almost all of which are from the film era). Adams’s books, Galen Rowell’s books, the books from Zone VI Studio, Freeman Patterson’s books, are all still as useful and salient as they ever were.

        As I have always told everyone: Photography is mainly about training yourself to SEE. Really SEE what’s around you. Seeing and composition, the most important factors, are independent of the technical medium used. (Of course, if you want repeatable results, you must also master your tools.)

        — Cheers! Keep on shooting!

        • rickflick
          Posted November 2, 2018 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

          Yup. That is pretty much a reflection of my own experience. I’m now shooting with a Pany GH5s because I now do mostly video. But, ya. I did all those things pretty much as you did. The only thing I’d add with respect to darkrooms is that there is a problem with disposal of chemicals and such. I used to dump my used chemicals into the drain. Probably not the best for the local watershed. Digital has a downside in that there is a tendency to shoot a bazillion images since they are essentially free. That makes a photographer a bit lazy in selecting composition. But, in general, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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