Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s the end of the work week again: Friday, April 26, 2019, and we’ve moved a week further towards the grave. It’s National Pretzel Day, and I like them, but only the soft ones. The Germans have the right idea: soft pretzels with a squirt of mustard, consumed with a liter of cold Pilsner. It’s also World Intellectual Property Day; keep your mitts off other people’s ideas!

It was on this day in 1564 that Williams Shakespeare was baptized at Stratford-upon-Avon. Here’s the parish entry, which says on the 26th (in Latin), “William, son of John Shakespeare”. This is one of the few documentations of Shakespeare’s life.

On this day in 1865, Union troops cornered John Willkes Booth (assassin of Abraham Lincoln) in a barn in Virginia and shot him to death. On April 26, 1937, the city of Guernica in Spain was bombed by the German Luftwaffe at the request of Francisco Franco, who wanted the Germans to help him put down the rebellious Basques. Between 300 and 1700 people were killed in the brutal attack, which of course gave rise to this famous work of art:

On April 26, 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the country of Tanzania.  According to Wikipedia, it was on this day in 1981 that “Dr. Michael R. Harrison of the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center perform[ed] the world’s first human open fetal surgery.” The surgery was to correct a urinary tract obstruction.

It was on this day in 1989 that the infamous Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Russia had a reactor accident, destroying Reactor #4 and sending radioactive material as far away as Norway. The entire area still sits within a no-go “exclusion zone.” Exactly three years later, the deadliest tornado in recorded history hit Bangladesh, killing 1300, injuring 12,000, and leaving 80,000 homeless. Finally, exactly a year ago Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault. Now 81, he sits in a state prison in Pennsylvania.

Notables born on this day include Marcus Aurelius (121 AD), David Hume (1711), Eugène Delacroix (1798), Ma Rainey (1886), Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889), Bernard Malamud (1914), I. M. Pei (1917), Carol Burnett (1933), Duane Eddy (1938), Joan Chen (1961), and Melania Trump (1970).

Here’s a favorite Delacroix painting, A Young Tiger Playing with its Mother or, in French, Jeune Tigre Jouant Avec sa Mère.(1830-1831). I’ve seen it in the Louvre, and it’s a rare specimen of accurate cat painting:

Those who fell asleep on April 26 include John Wilkes Booth (1875), Sidney Franklin (1976), Count Basie (1984), Lucille Ball (1989), Phoebe Snow (2011) and Jayne Meadows (2015).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili asks Cyrus about her hunting prospects. Note that the cherry trees are blooming:

Hili: Were there any mice by the river?
A: I didn’t see any.
Hili: You were probably not looking closely enough.
In Polish:
Hili: Były jakieś myszy nad rzeką?
Ja: Nie widziałem.
Hili: Pewnie źle patrzyłeś.

A tweet from reader Nilou, showing the white fairy tern. I saw some of these on Oahu, and they’re truly stunning birds:

From reader Barry (and also Matthew and reader Daniel). Now the chimps will have all kinds of accidents while glued to their smartphones.

Tweets from Grania. Sound up to hear these adorable red pandas eating apples.


Do read this profile of Bari Weiss, the heterodox New York Times Lefty who writes the kind of stuff I’d write were I in her position:

This seal is really enjoying its beachside hammock:

Tweets from Matthew. Here are some billion-year-old fossilized ripples:

Bad d*gs get dunked.

Good scarabs get cherry tomatoes:

A ghost moose:


  1. rickflick
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Phoebe Snow, Poetry Man:

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    This is one of the few documentations of Shakespeare’s life.

    A line like that, might as well waive a red cape at the Oxfordians.

  3. Historian
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Typo: John Wilkes Booth died in 1865. I just learned he was only 26. Somehow I always thought he was in his 30s.

  4. Ross Foley
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Typo 2: the Chernobyl disaster was in 1986.

    • gscott
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      I just finished reading ‘Midnight in Chernobyl’ by Adam Higginbotham – highly recommended (if you’re into this kind of stuff).

    • W.Benson
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Fact Check: Chernobyl and the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant are (were) in Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine, a few miles from the border with Belarus, not in Russia.
      Another interesting Wiki-fact: “Chernobyl” mean “wormwood” in Ukrainian.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Saw “Guernica” at MoMA during the big touring Picasso retrospective. It was the second week of August 1980. Only reason I know the week is because it turned out to be the same one when the Democratic National Convention was in town at the Garden — the convention that nominated Jimmy Carter the second time, the one where Teddy gave his “the dream will never die” speech — which made it impossible to find a room anywhere near midtown, what with Manhattan crawling with politicians and hookers (ah, but I repeat myself).

    Ended up staying jammed into a tiny room with my girlfriend and her best friend downtown at the Chelsea, which had gotten pretty decrepit in those days, it being not long after the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious had croaked his girlfriend Nancy there.

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Motherboard info on Smartphone trained chimp. Primatologists & others not happy.

  7. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Just as well for Catzilla the model Bernina Express is running 12v DC 2-rail and not the 1500v DC overhead of the Rhaetian Railways original. 😉


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Incidentally, model locomotive control has improved vastly since my model railway days. I could never have got a loco to ‘creep’ smoothly at low speed like that.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Well, considering that the speed controller in my days was a variable resistor consisting of a sheet-metal slider over a resistance wire wound onto an asbestos plate … No wonder the low-power control was shoddy.
        (Which probably wasn’t helped by using the variable DC current source for electrolysing molten salts and that sort of thing. Much rapid changing of resistance.)

  8. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Booth in his last hours was hiding in a barn with another guy and the soldiers started the barn on fire to get them out. The other man came out but Booth did not and one of the soldiers spotted him through the cracks in the boards covering the barn. He shot booth through a crack in the boards. He was hit in the back and was paralyzed but not dead. They carried him out and put him on the porch of the house where he laid for several hours before dying. Booth thought if he made it south he would be welcomed as a hero to the confederacy. Not likely.

  9. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    “It’s also World Intellectual Property Day; keep your mitts off other people’s ideas!”

    Where would we be now if scientists, artists and writers of the past had all followed that rigidly?

    From the Wikipedia page – ‘Mike Masnick of Techdirt wrote that World Intellectual Property Day is intended “to promote ever greater protectionism and mercantilism in favor of copyright holders and patent holders, while ignoring any impact on the public of those things. It’s a fairly disgusting distortion of the claimed intent of intellectual property.”‘


    • Posted April 27, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Copyright protection often goes too far. However, I can see the other viewpoint as well, because I have been plagiarized. And unauthorized copying in my country reduces publishers’ profits so much that it is now difficult to get anything meaningful published.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 27, 2019 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        Not all intellectual property issues are identical, much though the IP lobby would like us to believe they are.

        I would say that patents on such things as software or natural drugs, or ‘design patents’, are generally evil, for 3 reasons: They are far too easily granted; they are written far too broadly; and lawyers use them as threats to discourage competition.
        How does Apple/Samsung/Microsoft building up arsenals of patents to fight each other, benefit the rest of the world?

        Copyrights can also be misused, but since they are construed more narrowly, the potential for abuse by the copyright holder is much more limited. Generally, to be guilty of breach of copyright, you have to steal large chunks of a work verbatim; just creating something similar won’t do it. So copyright holders can’t generally use it to squelch competition.


  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    “… a Trump-loathing theater nerd who studied at a feminist yeshiva and used to date Kate McKinnon …”

    How ya gonna not read a profile with a teaser like that?

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Whew! For a moment I thought she dated Catharine MacKinnon, the exceedingly eccentric radical feminist, anti-male theorist/lawyer, with a reverse piebald streak in her hear (surely not natural),who dated the notorious ex-Freudian Lothario, Jeffrey Masson, and teamed up professionally with Andrea Dworkin.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I had to pause a beat on that one myself, Jenny, before recognizing K. McKinnon as the versatile funnywoman from SNL, not the ur-sex-negative feminist C. MacKinnon.

  11. Jenny Haniver
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Years ago, a paleoicthyologist at the LA County Natural History Museum gave me a sort of stippled sedimentary rock that he said was the impression of paleozoic raindrops. The thought alone was mind-blowing, but to hold this rock in my hands was and is beyond comprehension. I still have it, but nobody I’ve ever showed it to is impressed with the impressions.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      In my cabinet of curiosities I also have a fly pupa, ca 10,000 years old, from the dung of a megatherium, but I have no idea what species of fly laid the egg that developed into the pupa. I also had a bit of the desiccated dung, but I sent that to Salvador Dali because the dung from a giant sloth was surreal.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      I’ve got something similar from the Triassic of the central UK – a road cutting temporary exposure Dad came across on the way back from a Sunday doing nature reserve maintenance.

      nobody I’ve ever showed it to is impressed with the impressions.

      Their loss.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        “Their loss.”

        How true. These are real relics, not some bullshit alleged splinter of the True Cross which people prostrate themselves in front of in adoration.

        • Posted April 27, 2019 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          If the impressions are not very clear, the lay viewers may have been simply unable to see them.

  12. Roger
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    That chimp is a really great ape. All of you have just witnessed the worst pun in history. (So mark this date down for next year’s Hili dialogue. Worst pun in history day.)

  13. Posted April 26, 2019 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Good day for actual philosophers, as opposed to philosophists.


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