Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s Sunday, August 25, 2019, and it’s both Banana Split Day and National Whiskey Sour Day. I like ’em both, the former a sweet treat for kids, the latter a sweet treat for adults. It’s also National Kiss and Make Up Day (good advice!), and Sacrifice our Wants for Other’s Needs Day (the apostrophe is once again in the wrong place). In the DPRK it’s Day of Songun, a day to celebrate the dictator Kim Jong-un, whose real birthday is a bit unknown: it was in either 1983 or 1984, though it seems to be January 8.

Here’s a Felid of the Day. The photo came from reader William, who says that it was taken by Vivian Baik through his kitchen window. It was sent to me as a picker-upper on Surgery Day, for which I’m very grateful. At any rate, Ms. Baik’s lovely picture of a curious bobcat (Lynx rufus).

Stuff that happened on August 25 includes:

  • 1609 – Galileo Galilei demonstrates his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers.
  • 1814 – War of 1812: On the second day of the Burning of Washington, British troops torch the Library of Congress, United States Treasury, Department of War, and other public buildings.
  • 1823 – American fur trapper Hugh Glass is mauled by a grizzly bear while on an expedition in South Dakota.

Glass’s story, highly fictionalized, forms the central tale of the movie The Revenant, with Glass played by Leonardo DiCaprio. But Glass’s real story is just as amazing; it took him six weeks to get back to “civilization” after he was mauled, with his ribs exposed to the bone and maggots eating his flesh.

But wait! There’s more:

  • 1875 – Captain Matthew Webb becomes the first person to swim across the English Channel, traveling from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in 21 hours and 45 minutes.

Webb died in 1883 trying to swim the Whirlpool Rapids below Niagara Falls. It was declared impossible but, in the cartoon below, he said it wasn’t. He was wrong.

  • 1894 – Kitasato Shibasaburō discovers the infectious agent of the bubonic plague and publishes his findings in The Lancet.
  • 1939 – The United Kingdom and Poland form a military alliance in which the UK promises to defend Poland in case of invasion by a foreign power.

And that invasion, by Nazi Germany, happened one week later. And so there was war.

  • 1944 – World War II: Paris is liberated by the Allies. [Read Matthew Cobb’s excellent book on this event.]
  • 1967 – George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, is assassinated by a former member of his group.
  • 2012 – Voyager 1 spacecraft enters interstellar space becoming the first man-made object to do so.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1836 – Bret Harte, American short story writer and poet (d. 1902)
  • 1900 – Hans Adolf Krebs, German physician and biochemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1981)
  • 1913 – Walt Kelly, American illustrator and animator (d. 1973)
  • 1918 – Leonard Bernstein, American pianist, composer, and conductor (d. 1990)
  • 1921 – Monty Hall, Canadian-American television personality and game show host (d. 2017)
  • 1927 – Althea Gibson, American tennis player and golfer (d. 2003)
  • 1928 – Herbert Kroemer, German-American physicist, engineer, and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1930 – Sean Connery, Scottish actor and producer
  • 1949 – Martin Amis, British novelist
  • 1954 – Elvis Costello, English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer

Anybody remember Walt Kelly’s comic strip, Pogo? It was ahead of its time: one of those strips that appealed to both kids and adults. Does this jog your memory?

Those who passed away on August 25 include:

  • 1776 – David Hume, Scottish economist, historian, and philosopher (b. 1711)
  • 1819 – James Watt, Scottish-English engineer and instrument maker (b. 1736)
  • 1822 – William Herschel, German-English astronomer and composer (b. 1738)
  • 1867 – Michael Faraday, English physicist and chemist (b. 1791)
  • 1900 – Friedrich Nietzsche, German philologist, philosopher, and critic (b. 1844)
  • 1908 – Henri Becquerel, French physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1852)
  • 1956 – Alfred Kinsey, American biologist and academic (b. 1894)
  • 1984 – Truman Capote, American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter (b. 1924)
  • 1998 – Lewis F. Powell, Jr., American lawyer and Supreme Court justice (b. 1907)
  • 2009 – Ted Kennedy, American politician (b. 1932)
  • 2018 – John McCain, American politician (b. 1936)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili jokes about the orchard:

Hili: This apple tree is crazy.
A: Why?
Hili: It thinks it will tempt me with a low hanging fruit.
In Polish:
Hili: Ta jabłonka jest szalona.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Myśli, że mnie skusi nisko rosnącymi owocami.

A cartoon sent in by Peter Nothnagle. The captions to these “fish-evolving-limbs” cartoons appear to be inexhaustible!

From Amazing Things on Facebook: a photo of a flamingo taken from under the water:

A cat meme from reader Laurie. But I don’t see why this is a problem.

Here’s a tweet that Grania sent me on January 28 of this year, noting that it was a “very funny thread”. And so it is. I’ll give a few examples:

It goes on for a long time after that!

From reader Daniel. Eric Weinstein seems to have gotten himself entangled with intelligent design, or at least with their claim that mutations aren’t random. He’s got one foot on the intelligent-design path.

Lehmann’s reference is to Gelernter’s dumb article in the Claremont review of books, which I critiqued heavily on this website. I hope Weinstein, whose brother is an evolutionary biologist, hasn’t befouled himself by treading into the muddy hinterlands of ID.

From reader Barry: a cat doesn’t like its staff wearing a facial cleansing mask:

Matthew and I are fascinated with watermelon-striped tapir calves, so different from the appearance of the adults. (It must be camouflage.) Here one of the stipey babies gets massaged:



  1. Linda Calhoun
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I think it must be tough sometimes to be a cat in the modern world.

    That cat reacting to the facial mask reminds me of my Frida, just yesterday, growling at Alexa when it answered a question I had asked.


  2. Ken Pidcock
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I remember learning of Matthew Webb’s attempt while at Niagara Falls, looking at the river and wondering how the hell anyone who supposedly understood how water works ever imagined they could do that. Vanity has no bounds.

    • David Coxill
      Posted August 25, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      He was a Shropshire lad .

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    What a cat picture….

  4. Eddie Janssen
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I once saw a picture of a tapir calf lying on the forest floor. The different parts of the floor that were shaded and not shaded looked an awful lot like the calf’s fur.
    Sadly enough I cannot find the picture again.

  5. merilee
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 8:59 am | Permalink


  6. rickflick
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    William’s bobcat image is really the cat’s meow. The dark background set of the kitty to great advantage.

  7. Sarah
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Matthew Webb did that whole swim across the Channel using the breaststroke! He was further slowed by not understanding the way the tides worked and having to wait for hours offshore before reaching France. No wonder Channel swimmers now do it in a third the time or less.

  8. Posted August 25, 2019 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    “Anybody remember Walt Kelly’s comic strip, Pogo?”

    I not only remember Pogo but consider it the best comic strip ever. It influenced Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, Doonesbury, Bloom County and countless others. In its day, Pogo’s main competition for popularity was “Li’l Abner,” which, to say the least, hasn’t weathered the test of time. Pogo, IMO, is timeless.

    • Posted August 25, 2019 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      I often wonder how Walt Kelly would be dealing with the whole “drain the swamp” metaphor and what characters he would have introduced to the regulars at Okefenokee Swamp.

      • Richard Pardoe
        Posted August 25, 2019 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        Not only remember but collecting the definitive reprint of the strip: Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Strips.

        5 Volumes (1949-1958) have been published so far with the 6th (1959-1960) due out in November.

        In volume 5, there is a reprint of a strip (non-Pogo) that Walt Kelly did back in 1948 which is surprisingly prescient on today’s times:

      • Posted August 25, 2019 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        Yes, think what he could have done with Trump. Simple J. Malarkey, his caricature of Sen. Joe McCarthy, was so spot-on it was spooky.

  9. Sarah
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I have fond memories of Pogo and the month when Friday the 13th fell on a Wednesday.

  10. DrBrydon
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Where do I sign up to give tapir’s belly scritches?

  11. Robert Van Orden
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I drilled down into the Eric Weinstein tweet a little bit and I found it fruitless. I must admit that I don’t have the technical expertise to answer his critique.

    However, a question I would have regarding supposed missing transition fossils is shouldn’t we look at the fossils we do have? Do they support Darwin? Why fret over missing links when surely it can’t be expected that all fossils would survive?

    I noticed too that Bret Weinstein has come under some Twitter fire recently. He has made some vague statements on Twitter recently. Perhaps the Evergreen episode increased his profile more then his expertise warrants.

  12. Joe Dickinson
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Remember Pogo? A absolutely. I loved it even as a “tween”. It did not appear in our local paper, so some kind friends of my parents religiously clipped it from their paper and sent it to us in bundles every three months or so for several years. Very exciting to receive a set. Now those are friends!!

  13. danstarfish
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think Eric Weinstein is hinting at Intelligent Design. His tweet is hard to parse because he is being coy and doesn’t come out and say what he is hinting about.

    I did a bit of searching and turned up something that might explain it. It is actually a clip from his brother Bret, but I have heard him talk with admiration and pride about his brother’s ideas about evolutionary theory and that makes me think he likely does have opinions close to Bret’s.

    The clip is from the Ruben Report and Bret is talking about a debate he had with Richard Dawkins. Bret says in evolutionary theory, he and Dawkins agree up to the point of the Selfish Gene and then they start to disagree about cultural evolution and whether religion could have been evolutionarily adaptive to environments in the past, even if they both think it is not as adaptive to the modern world. He doesn’t mention group selection, but I got the impression that is part of the disagreement too.

  14. bPer
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    One more famous death on August 25th: Neil Armstrong! He died on this day in 2012.

    Wow – Watt, Herschel, Faraday, and Armstrong – so many of my personal heroes died on my birthday! Bummer.


  15. Hempenstein
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    When she was a grad student at University College London in the ’60s, my PhD advisor, a Polish Holocaust survivor who proved that was possible to be anti-Semitic as well (I always thought it was inexplicable that she drove a VW, too) was at a party and asked someone, “Who ees dat old man who keeps looking at me?”

    “Oh, that’s Hans Krebs,” was the reply.

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