Sunday: Hili dialogue

Well, we’re now into September, on a chilly and drizzly day that’s a harbinger of cold days to come in Chicago. It’s September 1, 2019, and National Gyro Day (i.e., more cultural appropriation). It’s also Emma M. Nutt Day, celebrating the first telephone operator (she began work in 1878); International Vulture Awareness Day;  and National Hummingbird Day. In Australia it’s National Wattle Day, celebrating a plant (the harbinger of Spring) mentioned in the famous Monty Python “Bruces” sketch, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be online.

Here be aware of this King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa), a denizen of Central and South America.  It is not very sexually dimorphic, so the vivid coloration and patterning may be due to either mutual sexual selection or some other factor(s):

Stuff that happened on this day include:

  • 1604 – Adi Granth, now known as Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhs, was first installed at Harmandir Sahib.
  • 1859 – One of the largest coronal mass ejections ever recorded, later to be known as the Carrington Event, occurs.
  • 1878 – Emma Nutt becomes the world’s first female telephone operator when she is recruited by Alexander Graham Bell to the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company.

Here’s Ms. Nutt (1860-1915), and a note from Wikipedia:

To be an operator, a woman had to be unmarried and between the ages of seventeen and twenty-six. She had to look prim and proper, and have arms long enough to reach the top of the tall telephone switchboard. Like many other American businesses at the turn of the century, telephone companies discriminated against people from certain ethnic groups and races. For instance, African-American and Jewish women were not allowed to become operators.

Also from Wikipedia: “This scene from “Bold Experiment – the Telephone Story”, depicts the first women operators, Emma and Stella Nutt, working alongside boy operators at the Edwin Holmes Telephone Despatch Co. Boston, Massachusetts in 1878.” As the entry above shows, boy operators were found too rowdy and garrulous, and were largely replaced by women:

  • 1897 – The Tremont Street Subway in Boston opens, becoming the first underground rapid transit system in North America.
  • 1914 – St. Petersburg, Russia, changes its name to Petrograd.
  • 1914 – The last known passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, dies in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo.

Here’s Martha when she was still alive (she was stuffed postmortem and given to the Smithsonian):

  • 1934 – The first Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animated cartoon, The Discontented Canary, is released to movie theatres.

Wikipedia says this is one of only four MGM cartoons in the public domain. Watch it, as there’s a CAT!

  • 1939 – Adolf Hitler signs an order to begin the systematic euthanasia of mentally ill and disabled people.
  • 1952 – The Old Man and the Sea, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Ernest Hemingway, is first published.
  • 1958 – Iceland expands its fishing zone, putting it into conflict with the United Kingdom, beginning the Cod Wars.
  • 1972 – In Reykjavík, Iceland, American Bobby Fischer beats Russian Boris Spassky to become the world chess champion.
  • 1983 – Cold War: Korean Air Lines Flight 007 is shot down by a Soviet Union jet fighter when the commercial aircraft enters Soviet airspace, killing all 269 on board, including Congressman Lawrence McDonald.

Notables born on September 1 include:

  • 1653 – Johann Pachelbel, German organist, composer, and educator (d. 1706).

Here’s Taco Bell’s famous Canon in D major by Jean-Francois Paillard and the Kanon Orchestre de Chambre. It’s good waking-up music for today:


Others born on this day include:

  • 1854 – Engelbert Humperdinck, German playwright and composer (d. 1921)
  • 1875 – Edgar Rice Burroughs, American soldier and author (d. 1950)
  • 1925 – Art Pepper, American saxophonist, clarinet player, and composer (d. 1982)
  • 1933 – Ann Richards, American educator and politician, 45th Governor of Texas (d. 2006)
  • 1938 – Alan Dershowitz, American lawyer and author
  • 1939 – Lily Tomlin, American actress, comedian, screenwriter, and producer
  • 1944 – Archie Bell, American soul singer-songwriter and musician
  • 1946 – Barry Gibb, Manx-English singer-songwriter and producer
  • 1948 – Russ Kunkel, American drummer and producer
  • 1957 – Gloria Estefan, Cuban-American singer-songwriter and actress
  • 1970 – Padma Lakshmi, Indian-American actress and author

Those who left us on this day include:

  • 1838 – William Clark, American soldier, explorer, and politician, 4th Governor of Missouri Territory (b. 1770)
  • 1967 – Siegfried Sassoon, English captain and poet (b. 1886)
  • 1977 – Ethel Waters, American singer and actress (b. 1896)
  • 1981 – Albert Speer, German architect and author (b. 1905)
  • 2014 – Joseph Shivers, American chemist and academic, developed spandex (b. 1920)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili is philosophizing again.

Hili: What can we tell about reality?
A: That it should be taken into consideration.
Hili: That’s not very romantic.
In Polish:
Hili: Co możemy powiedzieć o rzeczywistości?
Ja: Że należy ją brać pod uwagę.
Hili: To mało romantyczne.

From the Dover Public Library, which has a very interesting Facebook page:

From Mark:

Grania sent me this lovely penguin tweet on March 22 of this year:

From reader Ken. I may have posted this before, but it’s appropriate, now that Dorian is bearing down on the East Coast of the U.S., that see this view from space.

Two tweets from Heather Hastie featuring “China’s hard man.” I don’t know who this dude is, but he’s plenty weird.

And a quartet of tweets from Dr. Cobb. The first shows a guy about as chill as it’s possible to be with a burglar thrusting a rifle into your face. Matthew asks, “Cool or drunk or stupid?”

This is absolute proof that not all cops are horrible people, as some would have us believe. Sound up.

Matthew says that I need one of these:

If and when Brexit happens, many people who were formally in Britain legally will be deported. I can’t fathom that, but here’s one of them:


  1. Posted September 1, 2019 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    “Here’s Taco Bell’s famous Canon in D major”

    Indeed, making it first US fast food restaurant that contributed to classical music.

    • JezGrove
      Posted September 1, 2019 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      Yes, I wasn’t sure if that was a joke or the curse of auto correct.

    • Posted September 1, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Indeed! Made me laugh.

    • Posted September 1, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      I assume it was a typo.

      • Posted September 1, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        Few know this, but Pachelbel invented the taquitos after he wrote his first toccata, and when he considered to pursue a career in fast food.

  2. Bruce Lilly
    Posted September 1, 2019 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    “the famous Monty Python “Bruces” sketch, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be online”

    Some resources:
    The script:

  3. rickflick
    Posted September 1, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Is this the Bruces sketch?

    • Bruce Lilly
      Posted September 1, 2019 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      That’s the philosophers song bit from the Live at the Hollywood Bowl performance (with Italian? subtitles); no mention of wattles in that.

    • Posted September 1, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      That material comes later in the sketch. The ‘How are you Bruce’? part is earlier, and I can’t find it other than various scripts like this one:

  4. Posted September 1, 2019 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Hey Jerry, the first Saturday of September is the International Vulture Awareness Day, so that would on the 7th of September

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 1, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      You better now Salon?

  5. David Harper
    Posted September 1, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    “If and when Brexit happens, many people who were formally in Britain legally will be deported.”

    This is not strictly true. The U.K. government has behaved despicably towards the three million EU27 citizens living legally in pre-Brexit Britain, but as yet, not even the cruel new Home Secretary Priti Patel has mentioned deportation.

    Still, this is a government without a shred of conscience, driven by xenophobia, which hasn’t balked at deporting British citizens of the Windrush generation, so they may actually stoop to this if given the chance.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 1, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      It’s hard to believe that they could make such harsh decisions sipping tea and crumpets. I always thought British reserve and restraint would save the day. I guess not always.

      • Posted September 1, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        British reserve and restraint

        Since the Brexit vote, I have learned a lot about the country of my birth and the country I loved, none of it good. The famous reserve and restraint is one of the things I have found out is a myth.

      • David Harper
        Posted September 2, 2019 at 12:37 am | Permalink

        The political forces at work in the U.K. are the same as those that enabled the Tr*mp presidency: an appeal to xenophobia and racism. Tr*mp’s border wall and the U.K. government’s “hostile environment” immigration policy are both based on fear of the outsider. It’s truly depressing that it’s so easy for populist politicians to stoke that fear.

  6. Robie
    Posted September 1, 2019 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Recently I saw that 3-kitten hurricane labeled as a “Cat 3 Purricane.”

    • Blue
      Posted September 1, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      O my, Robie, .that. is just darlingly t r u e !
      Thank YOU !


    • Posted September 1, 2019 at 6:13 pm | Permalink


  7. merilee
    Posted September 1, 2019 at 10:24 am | Permalink


  8. Posted September 1, 2019 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    When I read the bit about the professor who “doesn’t believe in laser pointers”, all kinds of strange thoughts popped into my mind. Does he fear damage to his and/or student eyes? Perhaps he invented the laser pointer and didn’t receive credit for it? Perhaps he (like President Trump) believes laser pointers cause cancer (or was it wind turbines for Trump?).

    • merilee
      Posted September 1, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Maybe he’s afraid some kitties will sneak into the room and attack it .

      • Posted September 1, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        I am not afraid. I welcome the kitty attack!

    • Posted September 1, 2019 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      One of the comments at the link said that laser pointers are hard for students with red/green colour blindness.

      • Posted September 1, 2019 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        Yes. Someone else suggested that the shaky moving point of light gave some people headaches.

        I added my own comment suggesting that perhaps it was a marketing opportunity. Someone should develop a white laser pointer with built-in stabilization. I think both of these technology elements exist already.

  9. Posted September 1, 2019 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    The King Vulture photo not only honors Vulture Awareness Day but also Wattle Day, because “wattle” is also the term for the weird fleshy growths coming out of some birds’ heads.

  10. Mobius
    Posted September 1, 2019 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    OK. Why isn’t the invasion of Poland by Germany, the start of WW II listed as a major event?

  11. Posted September 1, 2019 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if Hili is remembering Cyrus. I miss him.

  12. openidname
    Posted September 2, 2019 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    That’s hard to believe . . . maybe they can’t tell whether it’s green or red, but it should still appear as a point of light.

  13. Posted September 3, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Anyone else remember the _The Bloodhound Gang_ episode about the passenger pigeon?

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