Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s September 8, 2019, and Ceiling Cat’s Day, so do not pick up sticks on pain of death. It’s also National Date-Nut Bread Day (I could do without the nuts). And aware that it’s National Ampersand Day (&&&&&&!). Where did this odd symbol come from? Wikipedia tells us:

The ampersand can be traced back to the 1st century A.D. and the Old Roman cursive, in which the letters E and T occasionally were written together to form a ligature [JAC: “et” is “and” in Latin. The figure below shows, using modern type, how the figure originated]. During the later development of the Latin script leading up to Carolingian minuscule (9th century) the use of ligatures in general diminished. The et-ligature, however, continued to be used and gradually became more stylized and less revealing of its origin.

The linear evolution of the ampersand:


Why is it called the “ampersand”?  Read and learn: “It was also common practice to add the “&” sign at the end of the alphabet as if it were the 27th letter, pronounced as the Latin et or later in English as and. As a result, the recitation of the alphabet would end in “X, Y, Z, and per se and“.

It’s also International Literacy Day, Virgin Mary Day and National Hug Your Hound Day, which I suppose means hug your d*g, even if it’s not technically a hound.

Stuff that happened on September 8 includes:

  • 1504 – Michelangelo’s David is unveiled in Piazza della Signoria in Florence.

Here’s the statue—perhaps the world’s most famous statue—which was removed in 1873 to the  Galleria dell’Accademia, where it still resides.

  • 1522 – Magellan–Elcano circumnavigation: Victoria arrives at Seville, technically completing the first circumnavigation.
  • 1892 – The Pledge of Allegiance is first recited.
  • 1914 – World War I: Private Thomas Highgate becomes the first British soldier to be executed for desertion during the war.
  • 1916 – In a bid to prove that women were capable of serving as military dispatch riders, Augusta and Adeline Van Buren arrive in Los Angeles, completing a 60-day, 5,500 mile cross-country trip on motorcycles.
  • 1921 – Margaret Gorman, a 16-year-old, wins the Atlantic City Pageant’s Golden Mermaid trophy; pageant officials later dubbed her the first Miss America.

Sixteen! Way too young for a Miss America. I remember the days when all Americans were glued to the television each year to see the pageant; now hardly anybody remembers it exists. A sign of the times, and probably for the better.

Futher stuff that happened on September 8:

  • 1930 – 3M begins marketing Scotch transparent tape.

It’s amazing that name is still used (and trademarked!) given its origins:

 The brand name Scotch came about around 1925 while Richard Drew was testing his first masking tape to determine how much adhesive he needed to add. The bodyshop painter became frustrated with the sample masking tape and exclaimed, “Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!” The name was soon applied to the entire line of 3M tapes.

That’s a slur on the Scots!  Here’s an early container of the tape from 3M, which is the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company:

  • 1935 – US Senator from Louisiana Huey Long is fatally shot in the Louisiana State Capitol building.
  • 1941 – World War II: German forces begin the Siege of Leningrad.
  • 1944 – World War II: London is hit by a V-2 rocket for the first time.
  • 1966 – The landmark American science fiction television series Star Trek premieres with its first-aired episode, “The Man Trap”.
  • 1978 – Black Friday, a massacre by soldiers against protesters in Tehran, results in 700–3000 deaths, it marks the beginning of the end of the monarchy in Iran.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1157 – Richard I of England (d. 1199)
  • 1841 – Antonín Dvořák, Czech composer and academic (d. 1904)
  • 1886 – Siegfried Sassoon, English captain, journalist, and poet (d. 1967)
  • 1897 – Jimmie Rodgers, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1933)

Rodgers was an immensely popular country singer who died of tuberculosis at only 35. Here’s a rare video of his singing:

  • 1922 – Sid Caesar, American comic actor and writer (d. 2014)
  • 1925 – Peter Sellers, English actor and comedian (d. 1980)
  • 1932 – Patsy Cline, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1963)
  • 1941 – Bernie Sanders, American politician
  • 1954 – Michael Shermer, American historian, author, and academic, founded The Skeptics Society

Those who “passed” on this day include:

  • 1949 – Richard Strauss, German composer and manager (b. 1864)
  • 1977 – Zero Mostel, American actor and comedian (b. 1915)
  • 1980 – Willard Libby, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1908)
  • 1981 – Roy Wilkins, American journalist and activist (b. 1901)
  • 2003 – Leni Riefenstahl, German actress, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1902)

If you haven’t seen her Nazi propaganda films, “Triumph of the Will” (about the Nuremburg Rallies) and “Olympia“, (about the 1936 Olympics) they’re well worth watching as both documents of the dictatorship and highly influential propaganda films, which also influenced filmmaking in general. You can see them in their entirety at the links.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is sitting on Andrzej and conceives of that as a victory, as in a wrestling match.

Hili: I won!
A: Not the first time.
In Polish:
Hili: Wygrałam!
Ja: Nie pierwszy raz.

From Homer the Blind Wondercat:

From Jesus of the Day (maybe this is real):

He lives!

Here’s a tweet of a gecko licking its eye, sent to me by Grania on April 7:

Two brave Iranian woman risking prison for telling the truth on video, and doing so without the mandatory hijab:

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. The first is a satellite view of Hurricane Dorian showing the lightning.

How did they get a kitten to ride a tortoise?

Four tweets from Matthew.  About the first one Matthew says this: “According to the thread, this species lays its eggs in wasps nests. It must be chemically camouflaged. Look how it continually preens itself – I think that is significant and it is spreading cuticular hydrocarbons [which may change its scent] or something:

A video montage made from photographs taken by the Mars Curiosity Rover:

Not just a farting capybara, but a farting capybara with ducklings!

But is it really a gift from the crows, or are they enacting an avian form of barter: “I give you shiny stuff and you give me food”. Click on the link to see the details.


  1. mikeb
    Posted September 8, 2019 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Nice marbles & such.

  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted September 8, 2019 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    According to NOAA lightning occurs on average 44 (± 5) times every second over the entire Earth, making a total of about 1.4 billion flashes per year [that excludes Alabama of course]. That’s flashes not strikes.

    The GIF Tweet of the Martian landscape composed in Blender from 41 Navcam still images by Rob Haarsma: rubbish quality, use the link provided to view his original on Vimeo.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 8, 2019 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Thanks for pointing out the higher quality version of Mars landscape. It’s interesting that the light seems pretty constant. One would expect the angle to change over several days.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 8, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        I was puzzled by the shadows always respecting one direction even though it’s around three stills per day.

        WOT I FOUND OUT:

        The stills are stereo – there is a left & right NavCam on the Rover.

        Each still consists of an image file [which I think is UV or includes UV], a depth file [like a contour map, but drawn as distances from the cam] & the position & point direction of the camera

        The series of stills are fed into Blender that has a purpose built addon added on: SEE HERE

        The addon makes a camera-view mesh of the landscape for each still & interpolates as many intermediate meshes between stills as you like. This takes a long time on a top end PC so go on a weekend break.

        You then put the landscape onto the mesh like a texture skin

        Then you choose a light source position & blender ray-traces shadows

        Then you put in a sky backdrop mesh & paste the sky.

        That’s the basics, but Blender has many other tricks the author obviously used such as secondary reflections & motion blur.

        • rickflick
          Posted September 8, 2019 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          Wow! That’s even more sophisticated than I thought. “Blender is a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software toolset used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, motion graphics, interactive 3D applications, and computer games.” I didn’t know.

          Originated in 1998. I’d consider getting it but i’m not sure I want to spend a lot of time learning it.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted September 8, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

            Lots of good amateur training vids on YouTube

            Your PC might need to go on a course of fitness training for a few months first to reduce risk of heart attacks

            • rickflick
              Posted September 8, 2019 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

              Now you’ve got me thinking about it more. Hmmmm…

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 8, 2019 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

        Slight change of explanation upon thinking about it more:

        Blender builds just the one mesh not many.
        The path of the Rover NavCam is represented as a curve above the mesh by the requisite height.
        The ‘creator’ can then choose any Rover NavCam path [best to stick close to the original path or the unknown, unseen bits behind outcrops will appear as voids]
        Creator chooses regular points along the path such that each point is one frame in the desired movie & specifies NavCam orirntation for each frame.
        Blender builds a mesh movie ready to be dressed with texture, light & etc.

        To save calculations these programs ray-trace FROM the NavCam ‘eye’ – as if the eye lights the scene, which I understand was an early view of how the eye worked. If you were a God shaping reality you’d need to invent the Planck length or calculations would never end. I’ve never heard a religious loon use that bit of info as a faulty God proof yet so keep it under your hat!

        • rickflick
          Posted September 9, 2019 at 9:43 am | Permalink

          I will keep it under my hat. The cap with the threadbare peak in the back of the closet. The flatness of the lighting actually would support the idea of a ray trace from the eye. Thanks for the augmented explanation.

    • max blancke
      Posted September 8, 2019 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Once, I was on a ship that was maneuvering in the vicinity of a hurricane. For several days when we were close to the eye, I timed the visible lightning strikes, which were mostly sky to water. The number I got was an average of one strike per 2.5 seconds, averaged over several days. And that did not include random distant flashes in the clouds.
      We also had ball lightning at night, which was tremendously unsettling. It would start way up on top of the cranes, roll down the diagonal wires, then sort of move randomly around on deck.

      • rickflick
        Posted September 8, 2019 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

        Ball lightning sounds supernatural. Bizarre. Did it leave any marks on the ship?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 8, 2019 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

        I was thinking Saint Elmo’s Fire [SEF], but SEF doesn’t uproot & move, thus Ball lightning it must be. William Beaty, electrical engineer & member of the Mad Science Network, has this to say on the two phenomena i.e. the standard not much at all on Ball Lightning:

        SEF is a type of continuous electric spark called a “glow discharge.” You’ve seen it many times before, since it is almost exactly the same as the glows found inside fluorescent tubes, mercury vapour street lights, old orange-display calculators and in “eye of the storm” plasma globes. When it occurs naturally, we call it St. Elmo’s Fire, but when it occurs inside a glass tube, we call it a neon sign.

        SEF & normal sparks both can appear when high electrical voltage affects a gas. SEF is seen during thunderstorms when the ground below the storm is electrically charged & there is high voltage in the air between the cloud and the ground. The voltage tears apart the air molecules and the gas begins to glow. It takes about 30,000 volts per centimetre of space to start a SEF [although sharp points can trigger it at somewhat lower voltage levels.]

        SEF is plasma. A normal gas is composed of molecules. The molecules are composed of atoms, which in turn are composed of electrons and clusters of proton particles. If the electric force applied to each bit of gas is greater than a certain level of voltage, it causes the electrons and protons of the gas molecules to be pulled away from each other. High voltage transforms the gas into a glowing mixture of separate proton clusters and electrons. We call this mixture of particles by the name “plasma” & it is conductive. It also fluoresces with light.

        The colour of the glow depends on the type of gas involved. If we lived in an atmosphere of neon gas, then SEF would be red/orange, and lightning would be white with orange edges. Our atmosphere is nitrogen and oxygen & this mixture glows blue/violet when exposed to high voltage fields. If a neon sign tube was filled with nitrogen/oxygen instead of neon, it would light up blue/violet rather than red/orange.

        Is this phenomenon related to ball lightning? No one knows, because no one knows what ball lightning is, and it might not be a spark at all. SEF is sometimes mistaken for ball lightning. Among other differences, ball lightning can drift around like a soap bubble, while SEF always remains attached to an object.

        • Posted September 9, 2019 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          I thought ball lightning was a plasma bubble, so like SEF but not as a sheet. Hmm.

  3. Posted September 8, 2019 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    “2003 – Leni Riefenstahl, German actress, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1902)”. You forgot director of Nazi propaganda films and probably intimate friend of Hitler. Wikipedia says: ‘In the 1930s, she directed the Nazi propaganda films Triumph des Willens (“Triumph of the Will”) and Olympia, resulting in worldwide attention and acclaim. The movies are widely considered two of the most effective, and technically innovative, Nazi propaganda films ever made.’

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 8, 2019 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      JAC mentions much of that – see immediately below the bit you quoted.

      • Posted September 8, 2019 at 7:36 am | Permalink

        Oops, sorry about that. Wonder how I missed it.

        • J Cook
          Posted September 8, 2019 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          She published a photo/essay book in the late ’70’s (I think) Called “Nuba”. A Nilotic people living in the Nuba Mountains in Kordofan, Sudan. Some beautiful photos of a beautiful people. The civil wars in Sudan and South Sudan have been very hard on the Nuba.

          • J Cook
            Posted September 8, 2019 at 10:10 am | Permalink

            Actually called “The People of Kau”
            My mistake.

    • Graham Head
      Posted September 8, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      The British response to Triumph of the Will.

      The Lambeth Walk

    • Al
      Posted September 8, 2019 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Riefenstahl disputed she was an intimate friend of Hitler. She approached “Triumph of the Will” and “Olympia” from a filmmaking point of view and I don’t think she was all that aware of the politics. Filming the Olympics was a mammoth undertaking and the planning that went into each days shooting was incredibly meticulous. Riefenstahl has said that Hitler regarded the Olympics as a big distraction, contrary to the usual narrative of him seizing on the event as a showcase. Both of those works were groundbreaking and I am inclined to believe that they resulted from Riefenstahl’s technical ability and devotion to her craft rather than from ideological fervour.

  4. Posted September 8, 2019 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Also disappeared on 8 September 1969, was ALexandra David-Néel, singer, orientalist, explorer, adventurer, anarchist, feminist, writer and a fascinating person. Among her exploits was sneaking into Tibet in 1924 when it was forbidden to foreigners. You can read about her on Wikipedia or in French on Hé

  5. Hunt
    Posted September 8, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    That thing the crows brought her looks like the awkward lag screws and plastic inserts people used to hang their coaxial TV cables from. Anyone remember rooftop TV antennas? I haven’t seen them for years, but then, it looks decades old.

    • enl
      Posted September 8, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the item is a cable standoff. I installed many, many of these back in the day. I think that is for 300ohm (the flat, twin conductor type) rather than coaxial, but it has been a long time.

      Crows are kinda awesome, no? Spend time watching the locals with my house panther most days.

  6. merilee
    Posted September 8, 2019 at 10:21 am | Permalink


  7. rickflick
    Posted September 8, 2019 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Peter Sellers was quite an amusing fellow. His versatility can be seen in Dr. Strangelove he played several of the key characters. Perhaps his most memorable scene for me was the minkey scene, in which he plays a French policeman in The Return of the Pink Panther:

    • max blancke
      Posted September 8, 2019 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      Last week, were having a family discussion on the best comedy scene in cinema. That scene was what we decided was the best ever.

      I will try to quote from memory-
      “I am a musician, the monkey is a businessman. He does not tell me what to play, and I do not tell him what to do with his money…”

      The scene itself is just amazing. The fact that a bank robbery is going on in the background makes me wonder at the amazing creativity behind writing such a scene.

      Our second scene was from what is not a good film, but the scene, when my wife and I saw it the first time, had us literally on the floor and in pain. I don’t know if it is really all that funny, or if our reaction to it is based on nostalgia. But anyway- “snakes” from “Earnest Saves Christmas”-

      • rickflick
        Posted September 8, 2019 at 9:59 pm | Permalink


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

      Are you blind? Yes.
      Chimpanzee munkey.
      I think there was also the old saw about Does your dog bite? He is not my dog.
      Sellers was hilarious! The one where he ruins the pool table with the crooked cue and his boss getting so fed up he stabs himself with his cigar trimmer. Haven’t watched those in years.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 9, 2019 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      Peter Sellar’s ‘French’ accent is utterly hilarious. The way he mangles diphthongs is a joy to behold. My favourite is probably the way he crams an unexpected number of vowels into ‘swimming piuiool’


      • rickflick
        Posted September 9, 2019 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

        Some of his plots and scenes were just too silly, but often they were marvelous.

      • merilee
        Posted September 9, 2019 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

        Along with a VW Bugif I remember correctly.
        Btw, this Sellers is spelled with an e. Peter SellArs is a brilliant director of operas, among other thingd.

      • merilee
        Posted September 9, 2019 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

        Also known for his weird hair.

        • rickflick
          Posted September 9, 2019 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

          Obviously, the hair is to maintain an identity distinct from the comedian. 😎

          • merilee
            Posted September 10, 2019 at 8:37 am | Permalink

            🤓. He’s also known for his beads. I’ve heard him speak and seen some of his productions and he’s a surprisingly serious guy. Mark Morris, the choreographer,also goes in for beads, but over something like a black t shirt and a very old-mannish baggy beige cardigan.

            • rickflick
              Posted September 10, 2019 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

              Very fashionable. I’m kind of a hole permeated T-shirt guy myself. 😎

  8. EdwardM
    Posted September 8, 2019 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    “How did they get a kitten to ride a tortoise?”

    Super glue?

  9. Jenny Haniver
    Posted September 8, 2019 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I fear that the set-up for the photo of the potatoes in the pot is the Irish equivalent of “Epaminondas and His Auntie.”

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