Thursday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

It’s Thursday, July 11, 2019, and it was a hot one in Chicago yesterday, with a high of 95° F (35° C). The ducks survived.

It’s National Blueberry Muffin Day: my favorite muffin, but I was shocked to learn that there are 400 calories in a Starbuck’s blueberry muffin (I never buy the overpriced baked goods at Starbucks, but I’ll take that as a widely-consumed exemplar—and those muffins are smaller than many). That’s already one-sixth of the calories required daily by an average bloke, and the equivalent of 8.3 tablespoons of sugar. So it goes.

But it’s also Free Slurpee Day at participating stores of the 7-Eleven chain in North America (check yours), and also World Population Day, designed to call attention to population issues like family planning. Do you know, by the way, the current population of humans on Earth? The world population clock, which you can access by clicking on the link below, just gave this figure (retrieved at about 5:35 a.m. today; watch how fast it ticks!).  I remember when “3 billion” was the conventional figure.



Stuff that happened on July 11 includes:

  • 1576 – Martin Frobisher sights Greenland.
  • 1789 – Jacques Necker is dismissed as France’s Finance Minister sparking the Storming of the Bastille.
  • 1804 – A duel occurs in which the Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr mortally wounds former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
  • 1893 – The first cultured pearl is obtained by Kōkichi Mikimoto.
  • 1895 – Brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière demonstrate movie film technology to scientists.
  • 1914 – Babe Ruth makes his debut in Major League Baseball.
  • 1921 – Former President of the United States William Howard Taft is sworn in as 10th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the only person ever to hold both offices.
  • 1924 – Eric Liddell won the gold medal in 400m at the 1924 Paris Olympics, after refusing to run in the heats for 100m, his favoured distance, on the Sunday.

That was portrayed in the famous movie Chariots of Fire. Here’s the real Liddell:

Eric Liddell at the British Empire versus United States of America (Relays) meet held at Stamford Bridge, London on Sat 19 July 1924

And the remarkably similar movie Liddell, played by Ian Charleson. The movie won the 1981 Oscar for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

  • 1960 – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is first published, in the United States.
  • 1972 – The first game of the World Chess Championship 1972 between challenger Bobby Fischer and defending champion Boris Spassky starts.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1767 – John Quincy Adams, American lawyer and politician, 6th President of the United States (d. 1848)
  • 1897 – Bull Connor, American police officer (d. 1973)
  • 1899 – E. B. White, American essayist and journalist (d. 1985)
  • 1920 – Yul Brynner, Russian actor and dancer (d. 1985) [JAC: real name Yuliy Borisovich Briner]
  • 1930 – Harold Bloom, American literary critic
  • 1956 – Sela Ward, American actress
  • 1967 – Jhumpa Lahiri, Indian American novelist and short story writer
  • 1975 – Lil’ Kim, American rapper and producer

Those who “passed” on this day include:

  • 1937 – George Gershwin, American pianist, songwriter, and composer (b. 1898)
  • 1966 – Delmore Schwartz, American poet and short story writer (b. 1913)
  • 1989 – Laurence Olivier, English actor, director, and producer (b. 1907)
  • 2007 – Lady Bird Johnson, American beautification activist; 43rd First Lady of the United States (b. 1912)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is licking her chops:

Hili: A whole swarm of birds.
A: They are unavailable.
Hili: I can dream, can’t I?
In Polish:
Hili: Cała chmara ptaków.
Ja: Są niedostępne.
Hili: Ale pozwalają pomarzyć.
And Leon is frequenting the beautiful garden at his future home:
Leon: You can come out. It stopped raining.

In Polish: Możecie wyjść, nie pada.

Reader Simon, who was in Washington, D.C., sent a photo and a note:

Anyhow saw the sign below yesterday in the National Gallery of Art Statue Garden. No sign of any ducks though! Ceiling Cat bless those who think about how ducklings must get in and out of basins with high walls. But can ducks read?

Shared with me on Facebook from Everything Gardening:

Mark Sturtevant sent this from “Tastefully Offensive on Instagram“:

One more from FB:

This tweet portrays part of a pretty amazing film, and quite enlightened given that it was made in 1943 (excuse the tweeter’s misspelling):

I found another tweet sent by Grania deep in my inbox (we have a few more, too). Here it is:


Two tweets from Nilou. The first shows a phenomenon I find remarkable: the ability of some birds to keep their head rock-steady even though their bodies are moved about. That ability, of course, is adaptive, helping the bird focus on something important:

And a night heron using bread to lure fish. If that isn’t tool using, I don’t know what is:

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. In the first one, she asks us to note Mr. Lumpy’s egg handling at the end:

A kitten that sucks its thumb, even though kittens don’t have thumbs:

Tweets from Matthew. The first one puts the first “out of Africa” migration of “modern” Homo sapiens as early as 210,000 years, when the conventional wisdom was about 60,000 years. That’s a substantial difference, but these first migrants probably died out without issue. See the paper below, which I’ll post about shortly, and the appended note by Chris Stringer, an author on the Nature paper:

Here’s the paper, which is available freely using the legal Unpaywall app (click on screenshot):

I posted this yesterday, but some readers doubted whether it was true. It seems to be.



  1. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted July 11, 2019 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    That anti-‘facisum’ video made my little Grinch heart swell with pride.

    I am proud of being a liberal, I really am.

  2. Harrison
    Posted July 11, 2019 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Regarding the hospital story, while I’ve long since given up hoping that big institutions will ever grow a conscience and do the right thing simply because it is the right thing, I’m still amazed that nobody in a position of power ever thinks “this will definitely blow up in our faces; perhaps we’d better not.”

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 11, 2019 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    In the 1943 film the man says you are not born with prejudices. I think this is probably true. You are also not born with a religion, or conservative or liberal, republican or democrat. Maybe independent – that’s a joke. If the DNA has a part in these traits, please explain.

  4. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted July 11, 2019 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    The footage of the ground ‘breathing’ is amazing. Like something from Evil Dead.

    When I was little I saw the cover of the video of The Hills Have Eyes, and the title was enough to terrify my literal mind for the rest of my childhood.
    The idea of the hills(especially at night, after dark) silently watching me, and waiting for some moment when they could swallow me up, scared me more than the film’s actual subject matter ever would have.

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 11, 2019 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      I still regard The Evil Dead as one of the best horror flicks of my youth.

      I think my favorite as an adult is Session 9

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted July 11, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        I’ve never even heard of Session 9…clearly I’m out of the loop. I’ll look it up.

        The best horror of all-time for me is probably still Alien. It’s just pure, pristine, pared back genre filmmaking.

        I like the recent breed of more arty horror movies, like It Follows, The Witch, Babadook, Hereditary, but they only seem to get going towards the end. I found the latter three real slogs to get through, but they had excellent endings that lingered in the memory. I’ll excuse a film a lot of flaws if it leaves me with that feeling.

        • Mark R.
          Posted July 11, 2019 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

          Did you like the “Let Me In” movies?… Dug both versions. Will look up some of them arty horrors.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 11, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    This tweet portrays part of a pretty amazing film, and quite enlightened given that it was made in 1943 …

    As a Trump supporter in Florida was heard to complain during the government shutdown: “Now, he’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.”

  6. Historian
    Posted July 11, 2019 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    The United Nations has issued a report on world population growth that surprised me. As reported in the NYT:

    “The world’s population is getting older, slowing down and may stop growing completely by 2100.”

    “Women are having fewer babies, the number of elders is rising fast and an increased number of countries face population declines, according to a projection of world population trends released Monday by the United Nations.”

    “The global population of 7.7 billion will increase to 9.7 billion by midcentury and may peak at 10.9 billion by around 2100, the United Nations said. The findings are a downward revision from the previous forecast by the global body, when it projected 11.2 billion people would inhabit the planet by century’s end.”


    This implies that many countries will have an older population than today and means that they will have to devote more resources to taking care of the oldsters. Generational conflict may become more pronounced. We are seeing that beginning today. The ending of population growth may be a good thing for the environment, but a new set of problems will emerge.

    • Dominic
      Posted July 11, 2019 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      The damage from greenhouse gasses & climate change will then be even greater & the Earth will kill us…

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted July 12, 2019 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      The population-growth figures for Europe(as compared with other continents) are either worrying or reassuring depending on your worldview.

      Personally I think they’re slightly worrying, but my dad, who thinks no-one should have children in the first place and the earth is far too overcrowded, probably thinks they’re a good thing.

      I’d like European ideals to spread rather than wither away demographically, so I find those figures rather depressing, but anywhere you allow women some control over their reproduction you will see growth figures drop precipitously.

      It’s possible that liberal ideals have their own downfall pre-programmed into them. I hope not.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 12, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        I wouldn’t worry about declining birth rates in Europe. Numbers aren’t everything. Besides, the rest of the world will fall into line in coming decades.

  7. rickflick
    Posted July 11, 2019 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    7.7 Billion people is way too many. My guess is the world could be sustainable with, perhaps half that many.

    From the population web site, this uplifting news:

    1,126,500,000 No Religion affiliation (16%): atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion. One-in-five people (20%) in the United States are religiously unaffiliated.

  8. rickflick
    Posted July 11, 2019 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    That night heron is clever indeed. He pulls back his lure when the fish are too big. Size is important.

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted July 11, 2019 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Paul Lukas as the Hungarian gentleman, and Felix Bressart as the professor.

    So they split Germany into small groups. They used prejudice as a practical weapon to cripple the nation. . . . You see, we human beings are not born with prejudices. Always they are made for us, made by someone who wants something. Rememer that when you hear this kind of talk. Somebody’s going to get something out of it, and it isn’t going to be you.

    I think this pretty well describes the extreme right and the extreme left in this country (and many others). Right now the left is winning, because their prejudices seem to have gripped the media and the universities.

    • Historian
      Posted July 11, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      “Right now the left is winning, because their prejudices seem to have gripped the media and the universities.”

      I’ll believe the left is winning when it actually controls the levers of power – government and business. You seem to think that being on the left means nothing more than having certain cultural beliefs that are foisted on others. Those on the left fight for all groups having equal access to economic opportunity and security. The growth of income and wealth inequality is heartily endorsed by the Trump administration and the Republican Party. To say that the left is winning is laughable. Winning is determined by power and that is controlled by the right.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted July 11, 2019 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        Absolutely. The idea that the extreme left are winning in America or in the west in general is flat-out absurd. Students being obnoxious on campus and inane identity politicking Twitter commenters does not compare with a crypto-fascist controlling the government and the entire direction of the world’s most powerful country.

        This is why balance is important. A lack of it gives the sense that the only political outrages happening in the US are perpetrated by the left.
        There are literally hundreds, even thousands, of YouTube channels and blogs that do nothing but aggregate horrible stories about left-wingers being nasty and deeply unpleasant. I am bombarded with them even though my tastes are liberal and moderate.

        They’re enough to make normal, intelligent people lose their political centre of gravity entirely.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 11, 2019 at 10:11 am | Permalink

        The Left has essentially won the culture war when it comes to establishing de jure equality for minorities, for gays, and for women (although women’s hard-won reproductive freedom is rapidly growing in extremis).

        The Left is also largely winning the battle of the ballot box in the US. But the Right continues to cling to most of the levers of political power through an admixture of gerrymandering, voter suppression, the ruthless exercise of parliamentary procedure, and the inherently undemocratic nature of the composition of the United States senate and electoral college.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted July 11, 2019 at 10:23 am | Permalink

          I think sometimes all of this left/right stuff misses the forest for the trees. Evidence today says that corporate America has taken over and controls the levers that matter. This is also what Bernie says. What has to be attacked and destroyed is this fact. The problem is, how exactly does Bernie attack this fact?

          When Rachael Maddow asked him this last night his answer was pretty questionable. She said, if you Bernie become president in 2020 how do you get your plan in if Mich is still in control of the Senate? His answer was to go to Kentucky and get the masses to rise up. I don’t think that gets it.

          All of these wonderful plans by Bernie or the other top democratic candidates does not solve or correct what is wrong with our current form of government. Presidents change all the time but the same problems are with us.

          • Historian
            Posted July 11, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

            You are correct that corporate capitalism runs America and has done so to varying degrees since at least the end of the Civil War. This will not change any time soon because both parties, indeed, most Americans, like capitalism. I am not going to get into the debate as to whether this view is justified, but say simply that the difference between the parties is that Republicans believe business should be essentially unregulated while Democrats believe in a regulated capitalism to control its excesses. A socialistic system in which government owns the means of production, to use an old Marxist term, is a pipe dream.

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted July 11, 2019 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

              I think may we may have different definitions of the corporate ownership of our government. It is a much harder line control today. Notice you have no separation within the republican party, they are in lock step on everything. I do not think there was a K-street 150 years ago and a lobby that actually wrote the bills that get passed in congress. The size of the big banks, big Pharma and others that drives all economic regulation or deregulation is complete. The military industrial complex of today did not exist at civil war times. Facebook today has more than 2 billion users. Please name another unregulated company of this size and people do not even see anything wrong with it.

        • Historian
          Posted July 11, 2019 at 10:37 am | Permalink

          “The Left is also largely winning the battle of the ballot box in the US.”

          I think it more accurate to say that the Democratic Party, as opposed to the Left, is largely winning the ballot box, although it hasn’t gained the commensurate political power. If you equate being a liberal with a leftist then the Democratic Party can now be called liberal per a January 2019 Gallup Poll. It notes that “the percentage of Democrats identifying as liberal averaged 51% in 2018, up from 50% in 2017, marking the first time a majority of Democrats have adopted this term, following gradual increases since the 1990s.” Still, almost half of the Party do not consider themselves liberal.

          Although in the last two years there has been a drift in the Democratic Party to the left, this migration is nothing compared to the Republican Party’s drift to the hard right over the last decade.

      • DrBrydon
        Posted July 11, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        I obviously disagree Historian. The left (extreme left) is winning the battle over the terms of debate. When we see Twitter and Facebook censoring heterodox opinions, and people being attacked for wearing MAGA hats, I would say that the debate is going their way. Especially in this country, governmental power is only part of the story. As a final note, I would also argue that the extreme left is no longer fighting for equality and justice, but for exclusionary power.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted July 12, 2019 at 12:36 am | Permalink

          And a little Vietnamese gay guy who doesn’t toe a left line, gets bashed left and right and kicked and abused by many many people and many on the left endorse or excuse it.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted July 12, 2019 at 6:57 am | Permalink

            And Jews get gunned down in their homes, media figures who criticise Trump get pipe bombs mailed to them, protesters get murdered by an alt-right guy in a car, a coastguard collects weapons in advance of a white supremacist slaughter, etc. etc. Not a word is breathed about it by the American right.

            It’s absolutely insane to try and argue yourself into the idea that the left are more dangerous than the right. That’s simply an alternate universe viewpoint, and the statistics on this make it inarguable.

  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 11, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Another point I would make is – Hitler and the Nazi rise to power required a set of circumstances that made it ripe for such a takeover. Without the bad economic conditions and fear of the future and lose of hope and failure of current government, Hitler would not have happened. The same could be said of Trump. Our economic and political situation for more than 40 years is what lead to the likes of Trump and what happened to the republican party.

    They like to say, It was WWI, that lead to WWII.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted July 12, 2019 at 12:40 am | Permalink


  11. Posted July 11, 2019 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    “Current World Population is about 8 billion.

    View all people on one page”

    That’s going to take a while to load.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 11, 2019 at 10:19 am | Permalink


      That’s ok; think of the progress: in the days of the dial-up modem, you’d’ve needed scientific notation to express the load time.

      • Harrison
        Posted July 11, 2019 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        Dial-up internet was so slow, if you wanted to look something up, it was quicker to just wait for 4G to be invented.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted July 12, 2019 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      When you visit that page you can watch the ‘total population’ figure tick upwards second by second. If you do, you notice that the count stutters every few seconds and goes backwards, which is when the count factors in people who die.

      I found that slightly creepy. A giant clock carelessly reeling off these momentous events, and it looks so banal and meaningless. Which I suppose it is in the grand(lack of a) scheme of things

  12. Dominic
    Posted July 11, 2019 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    As I said to the dead baby post yesterday, what is the obsession with dead bodies that people get so hung up on them? Feed me to the flies, slugs, worms…

  13. Posted July 11, 2019 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I admired Ian Charleson as an actor. He had major roles in two Oscar-winning films (Chariots of Fire and Gandhi), yet he could walk the streets unrecognized.

%d bloggers like this: