Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Wednesday, July 17, and National Peach Ice-Cream Day (why the hyphen in “ice-cream”?) It’s also World Day for International Justice and World Emoji Day. Although I use emojis, I can’t decide whether they’re a good or bad thing, as they replace words with sometimes ambiguous symbols, and reduce the propensity to write accurately. That said, when I use them I favor the smiley- and frowny-face emojis as well as the smiling cat or cat-with-heart-eyes emojis. (And sometimes the duck, though the emoji group is sexist since they depict only a drake and not a hen.)

Stuff that happened on this day includes:

  • 1717 – King George I of Great Britain sails down the River Thames with a barge of 50 musicians, where George Frideric Handel’s Water Music is premiered.
  • 1867 – Harvard School of Dental Medicine is established in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the first dental school in the U.S. that is affiliated with a university.
  • 1902 – Willis Carrier creates the first air conditioner in Buffalo, New York.
  • 1918 – Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his immediate family and retainers are executed by Bolshevik Chekists at the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
  • 1938 – Douglas Corrigan takes off from Brooklyn to fly the “wrong way” to Ireland and becomes known as “Wrong Way” Corrigan.
  • 1945 – World War II: The main three leaders of the Allied nations, Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin, meet in the German city of Potsdam to decide the future of a defeated Germany.
  • 1975 – Apollo–Soyuz Test Project: An American Apollo and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft dock with each other in orbit marking the first such link-up between spacecraft from the two nations.
  • 1984 – The national drinking age in the United States was changed from 18 to 21.

The story of “Wrong Way Corrigan” was once a big deal: Wikipedia reproduces it:

Douglas Corrigan (January 22, 1907 – December 9, 1995) was an American aviator born in Galveston, Texas. He was nicknamed “Wrong Way” in 1938. After a transcontinental flight from Long Beach, California, to New York City, he flew from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, to Ireland, though his flight plan was filed to return to Long Beach. He claimed his unauthorized flight was due to a navigational error, caused by heavy cloud cover that obscured landmarks and low-light conditions, causing him to misread his compass. However, he was a skilled aircraft mechanic (he was one of the builders of Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis) and had made several modifications to his own plane, preparing it for his transatlantic flight. He had been denied permission to make a nonstop flight from New York to Ireland, and his “navigational error” was seen as deliberate. Nevertheless, he never publicly admitted to having flown to Ireland intentionally.

Although Corrigan’s flight was 9 years after Lindbergh’s, his story caught the fancy of the public and he became somewhat famous. Here he is:

Here’s his “jerry-rigged” plane (sans wings) coming back to New York on the liner Manhattan (Corrigan got a ticker-tape parade down Broadway):

And here’s the headline of the New York Post on Friday, August 5, 1938, with a “wrong way” headline:

And there were four big airplane crashes and one train crash on this day between 1996 and 2014. Consult the “July 17” entry for Wikipedia for details.

Those who were born on this day include:

  • 1763 – John Jacob Astor, German-American businessman and philanthropist (d. 1848)
  • 1871 – Lyonel Feininger, German-American painter and illustrator (d. 1956)
  • 1889 – Erle Stanley Gardner, American lawyer and author (d. 1970)
  • 1899 – James Cagney, American actor and dancer (d. 1986)
  • 1910 – James Coyne, Canadian lawyer and banker, 2nd Governor of the Bank of Canada (d. 2012)
  • 1947 – Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
  • 1954 – Angela Merkel, German chemist and politician, 8th Chancellor of Germany

I’ve often said that Feininger was one of my favorite painters. Here’s his “The Market Church at Halle” (1930):

Notables who “fell asleep” on this day include:

  • 1790 – Adam Smith, Scottish economist and philosopher (b. 1723)
  • 1793 – Charlotte Corday, French murderer (b. 1768)
  • 1887 – Dorothea Dix, American nurse and activist (b. 1802)
  • 1912 – Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, physicist, and engineer (b. 1854)
  • 1918 – Victims of the Shooting of the Romanov family
    • Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1901)
    • Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1899)
    • Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1895)
    • Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1897)
    • Alexandra Fyodorovna of Russia (b. 1872)
    • Aleksei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia (b. 1904)
    • Nikolai II of Russia (b. 1868)
    • Anna Demidova (b. 1878)
    • Ivan Kharitonov (b. 1872)
    • Alexei Trupp (b. 1858)
    • Yevgeny Botkin (b. 1865)
  • 1959 – Billie Holiday, American singer (b. 1915)
  • 1961 – Ty Cobb, American baseball player and manager (b. 1886)
  • 1974 – Dizzy Dean, American baseball player and sportscaster (b. 1910)
  • 2001 – Katharine Graham, American publisher (b. 1917)
  • 2006 – Mickey Spillane, American crime novelist (b. 1918)
  • 2009 – Walter Cronkite, American journalist and actor (b. 1916)

Here’s a photo I took of the tombs of the Romanovs in St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg (photo from July, 2011). The remains were identified and buried in the cathedral. The Czar and Czarina are in the middle:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili mistakes biology for cosmology:

Hili: A black hole.
A: Don’t be afraid, it will not gobble you up.
Hili: But mightn’t there be a horrible spider inside?
In Polish:
Hili: Czarna dziura.
Ja: Nie bój się, ona cię nie wchłonie.
Hili: Ale czy nie kryje się w niej jakiś straszny pająk?

Two cartoons I found on Facebook:

And more cats:

Four tweets I found. The first involves two poor penguins in New Zealand: all they wanted was fish!

Nice slow-motion, video: a bullet goes through a block of gelatin:

Parkour, but I wouldn’t do this:

This seems a bit excessive: does it matter where Trump’s tweets were written, as they’re execrable no matter where they were composed? Is every President tainted by living in a slave-built house?

A tweet that Grania sent me on October 20 of last year: big noms for a big mammal:

A tweet from Heather Hastie. As they say, no cat ever suffered from insomnia:


Tweets from Matthew Cobb, who said to have a look at the thread. As he told me of this one, “Mainly they are very bad puns, but you might be amused, or have your own.”

I told you that cats always land on their feet!



  1. Stephen Barnard
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    “Jury-rigged” is more appropriate for that airplane than “jerry-rigged”. They don’t mean the same thing. 🙂

    • Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Is “jerry-rigged” even a thing?

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:15 am | Permalink

        It is — probably a corruption of “jury-rigged”. It implies something hastily and sloppily done, as opposed to “jury-rigged” which implies something done cleverly and effectively.

        • Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

          I always thought hastily and sloppily was “jerry built” not rigged and jury rigged was improvised because the correct parts or tools were not available.

          • Mack
            Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

            jury rigged probably comes from the nautical term jury mast which is a temporary construct used to hold sail when a permanent mast has broken.

            • Jenny Haniver
              Posted July 17, 2019 at 10:43 am | Permalink

              You’re right about that but I had to resort to a Google search for an explanation of the difference between “jerry-rigged” and “jury rigged”

              • Stephen Barnard
                Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

                From that informative link:

                “So, who (or what) is jerry? We’re just not sure. But, we hope these don’t remember some poor, shoddy craftsman named Jerry (a nickname for such names as Jeremy, Jerome, or Jeremiah) for all time.”

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted July 17, 2019 at 9:19 am | Permalink

            I always unthinkingly assumed it was a reference to the Germans in the war. As in ‘Jerry’, ‘Jerrycan’, etc..

            Given their reputation for ruthless, terrifying efficiency it doesn’t make much sense to use it to describe shoddily made stuff though.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    A great supreme court justice died yesterday – John Paul Stevens

    Corrigan was probably a worse lire than navigator.

    • Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Hey, anyone know how the backwards headline was created in 1938, when letters were lead type? Do you think publishers created special backwards N, G, R, C letters? Would there have been another way to do this?

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        I think you are right. Special letters…

      • enl
        Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        If I were to make an educated guess, the headline was printed, photographed, the negative reversed, and then inserted like any image. Wouldn’t take long, in the production line environment of a large newspaper, and pretty standard practice, other than the reversal.

        The text type was set using linotype (cast-in-line automatic typesetters that for producing lines of text for blocks and columns), but head type, special characters, special faces, like script, and so on, were often handled manually, and the cases were racked up by hand into the 1960’s or 70’s, or later, when phototypesetters and photo-offset took over.

        • enl
          Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:29 am | Permalink

          Sorry: ..the PAGES were racked up by hand…

          The lines and other components were racked into a frame, licked with quoins, then plates were cast from these to be used in the press.

        • Posted July 17, 2019 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

          The thin metal* offset plates, attached to the rollers of the press, were produced photographically from an initial impression made on cardboard from the set type. So one extra step like you describe wouldn’t be very hard.

          * (Nowadays, rubber)

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Weren’t the original emojis ASCII text? E.g.

    Colon caret close-parenthesis

    Which should produce (if magical fairies do not manipulate the text)


    Thus, the “modern” emojis that do not use ASCII at all should be distinguished as emoji “2.0” or emoji 4K or some such… IMHO…. ;^)

    • David Harper
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      You can blame the Unicode Consortium for the explosion in emojis.

      That’s not a sinister cabal of super-villains, but rather, a non-profit organisation which maintains (and extends) the Unicode standard that allows computers to process and display all of the world’s languages.

      It’s thanks to the untiring work of the Unicode Consortium that the world’s computers all agree that the code for displaying a “pile of poo” symbol is U+1F4A9.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted July 17, 2019 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        “that’s not a sinister cabal of super-villains”

        I don’t know…they sound like ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ to me. And “non-profit” is basically just a euphemism for ‘commie’.

        …I wonder how long it’ll be before they come to the attention of Alex Jones et al.?

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Ah! U+1F4A9 is a pile of shit. Now, in polite company, I can utter the code itself to express my disgust with someone or something and not many will know what I’m referring to.

    • Posted July 17, 2019 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Aren’t we culturally appropriating the Japanese by using the term ’emoji’?

  4. Historian
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Current presidents should not be tainted by the fact that the White House was built by slaves and that the slaveholding presidents kept their chattel in that building, but it does illustrate the hypocrisy upon which the country was founded. All of this evokes in me a cynical interpretation of the basis of the American Revolution. We know that the revolutionaries produced a mountain of literature defending the concepts of liberty and freedom and how they were being suppressed by the evil king. But, exactly whose liberty and freedom were being jeopardized? The answer is the elites that controlled the colonies through the colonial assemblies. Until the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, the Crown pretty much left the colonies alone. But after the war, Britain needed revenue to pay for the war and confronted the challenge of administering the western lands ceded by France. It called upon the colonies to contribute financially. It also tried to regulate migration over the Appalachians. The colonial elites didn’t want to pay (“No taxation without representation”) and thought that the land speculation that some engaged in could be peril. Hence, tensions rose, ending in revolution, as the elites didn’t want their traditional power curtailed and Britain wouldn’t back down from demonstrating that it was the ultimate controlling force for the colonies. So, one can make the argument that all the colonial rhetoric about freedom and liberty was designed to justify the actions of the colonial elites, politically and economically, with little concern for the “common people” as well as the slaves.

    This rhetoric, however self-serving it may have been for the elites, was taken seriously by many people and was used to justify the democratization that took place during the first half of the nineteenth century. Lincoln frequently referred to the Declaration of Independence. By the end of the presidency of Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), the nation had been transformed into a white man’s democracy in terms of voting rights. Of course, there was still an economic elite, but not necessarily the descendants of the colonial elite. Early on the American elites learned something that the European ruling class did not, namely, physical oppression of the masses through the use of police was not necessary to remain in power. Nominal democracy was sufficient to curtail social unrest.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      The only thing I might add to this good description of the elite or upper class in the 18 century was a culture within this class that slowly went away as we moved into the 19th century. The gentlemen class tended to take their obligations toward the poorer class very seriously. Many of them would lend money to the neighbors living around them and find work for children of less fortunate. It was a kind of build in social safety net that did not last much as they moved into the 19th century. Certainly the freedom and equality was not for the slaves or women or even the lower classes. But even the requirement to serve in government was considered an obligation of the elites and they assumed, wrongly, that it would always be their kind in government. When this changed later, many of the founders were shocked and surprised by this.

  5. Liz
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Parkour PARKOUR – The Office US

    I love this.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      That’s the only clip I’ve ever seen of the US Office(we Brits are often quite puritanical about the UK version being the ‘real’ Office.) – it’s very funny.
      I’d like to give the US series a go, but it’s not on UK Netflix(never has been as far as I know).

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Willis Carrier with the air conditioner invention. We are having a bit of hot weather with a high today of 101F/38C. As Mr. Pinker would say, it is a hell of a lot better today than earlier times.

    • XCellKen
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      The Patron Saint of Houston, Texas (The most heavily air conditioned city in the world)

  7. Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Cats do *not* always land on their feet. (Sad story of a cat who jumped from a 2nd story deck, and ended up dying.)

    • Ruthann L. Richards
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Thank you for noting that, as you are correct: cats do NOT always land on their feet. A couple of mine have fallen from a cat tree and not landed on their feet (upon which the top level of the cat tree was removed).

      • Posted July 17, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        O noes!

        • merilee
          Posted July 17, 2019 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          I think kitties need a certain minimum distance to allow them to flip and land on their patty paws🐾🐾

  8. Barry Lyons
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Love the confidence of the cat that fell! “Nothing to see here, folks!”

    • merilee
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      Insouciance purrrrsonified.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      The cat really styled it out at the end there. I wish I was that good at styling things out.

      • merilee
        Posted July 17, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        Paul Gallico’s famous cat, Jenny, always said “When in doubt, lick a paw.”😻
        Like the exp’n “style it out.” Gotta remember that one.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted July 17, 2019 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          ‘Lick a paw’ – is that the cat equivalent of flicking a nonexistent piece of dust from your shoulder? I like that.

          • merilee
            Posted July 17, 2019 at 9:58 am | Permalink


  9. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    The parkour video is amazing. It’s surprising how difficult it is to distinguish the footage from footage of Mirror’s Edge, the underrated videogame from the late noughties. That’s as close as I’ll get to doing any of this.

    If I was ten-fifteen years younger I can imagine getting into it, but I’d have to work my way up quite slowly. Start out by sliding down bannisters(balustrades?), or crossing the road without looking both ways, that kind of thing. Also, I’m quite lazy, so the running aspect might have put me off. Is there walking parkour?

    • rickflick
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      The film made me dizzy and feeling unlucky on behalf of those fellows. It’s like the rock climbers and rope walkers – seems they don’t really enjoy life so they have to play with death to feel alive. Not for this old man.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted July 17, 2019 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        I reckon it’s probably pretty exhilarating once you’re up there, but my sense of invincibility disappeared about a decade ago, so it’s not for me.

  10. Marion
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    “ice-cream” is hyphenated because it is a compound modifier. It’s not Cream Day but Ice-cream Day.

  11. Dominic
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    “Although I use emojis, I can’t decide whether they’re a good or bad thing”

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      In theory I deplore the superfluous use of emoticons and emojis ‘on principle’, which is to say I think they are often used to excess when the meaning is apparent. A bit like a laugh track on a sitcom.

      HOWEVER, on the Internet, where ‘tone-of-voice’ and irony are notoriously difficult to detect, and misinterpretations can easily arise, they do perform a useful function.

      WordPress frequently arbitrarily translates some emoticons into emojis, for example
      ‘: – )’ gets changed into 🙂
      but 8) (if I recall rightly) stays as an emoticon.


  12. Mark R.
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    It seems wordpress doesn’t accept many emojis. I type in the code and I see the code. I will display 😜

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      don’t ask

  13. Posted July 17, 2019 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I guess if one is an elephant, eating pumpkin is not as tedious!

  14. David Coxill
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    1975 – Apollo–Soyuz Test Project
    I remember reading in a newspaper at the time ,about a guy from Mongolia naming his new born babies Apollo and Soyuz ,i wonder what happened to them ?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      If there is any justice in the universe (a big IF ! ), they’re running a used car dealership in Ulan Bataar.
      If there is any more justice in the world, they’ve got a chunk of RD107 debris on the lot (though it would have to have been seriously off course to make it to Mongolian territory).

  15. harrync
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think my father admitted he flew to Ireland on purpose to anyone, though my late brother said he sort of admitted it to him once. [Yes, “Wrong Way” was my father; I think I have just blown my anonymity here on WEIT.] Thanks, Jerry, for this recognition. You are right he is not a big deal to most people today, though when I moved the plane out of my brother’s garage to more secure storage, KABC was interested enough to send a film crew and reporter to cover it.;-soon-to-be-in-museum/3020421/ [The “soon to be” was optimistic, but it should be in a museum by the end of this year. Probate courts move slow.] My brother had sort of an emotional attachment to the plane, and even though he did not take real good care of it, I wasn’t going to bug him about it because he took care of my father the last years of his life. The compass story is a bit more complicated than indicated; his regular N-S-E-W compass failed, but his course compass still worked. You just line up two needles, and if you keep them lined up, you arrive at your destination. Set a course for Long Beach, CA, follow the wrong end, you end up in Ireland.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      One day when I was hill-walking (doing geological mapping, to be precise), I met a seriously lost person whose good day hill walking had gone badly wrong when he used the wrong end of the compass and walked that way off a saddle (col) instead of this way. While I put him on the outside of a meal and a couple of mugs of tea, we worked out that at one point during his day he’d been nearly 40km off-route. He realised that he must be in error when he met a second multi-km long loch without crossing a railway line. And sensibly, he retraced his route until he bumped into me and got squared-up. I’d actually seen him on an unexpected bit of trackless bog as I prepared my lunch bag that morning, 10 hours earlier.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        “I put him on the outside of a meal”

        That’s quite a line.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

        Heh. I once drove right across northern Italy on the wrong autostrada (just following direction signs for ‘Bardonecchia’) 30 miles south of where I thought I was, and it wasn’t until months later when I compared a couple of hurried snaps I took of motorway signs, with Google Streetview, that I worked out where I had been.

        It’s very easy to make what you’re seeing conform to what you expected to see.


        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted July 18, 2019 at 8:50 am | Permalink

          It’s very easy to make what you’re seeing conform to what you expected to see.

          Yes, that certainly happened to my lost soles. And he managed to recognise it and start digging himself out. Which is not so common.

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Wow. This is poignant. Thanks for the post. Hopefully Jerry will read this as it’s a cool coincidence.

  16. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    1954 – Angela Merkel, German chemist and politician, 8th Chancellor of Germany

    I wonder what is causing her “shaking illness”. It’s quite worrying in political terms, and is obviously distressing for her too.

  17. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Nt just a paper title, but an entire paper that deserves immortality

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:29 pm | Permalink




      • Posted July 18, 2019 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Published without revisions! There’s an accomplishment!

  18. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted July 17, 2019 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    “And there were four big airplane crashes and one train crash on this day between 1996 and 2014.”

    Respectively killing 230, 60, 199, and 298 people, and – causing ‘at least 25’ injuries. I’ll let y’all guess which one that was.

    One reason I like trains. In what other form of transport is an accident that only caused injuries considered worthy of note? 🙂


  19. Andrea Kenner
    Posted July 22, 2019 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    The capital A in the paragraph about Wrong Way Corrigan is a link to the Wikipedia article about the United States. Coincidence? I think not.

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