Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Well, it’s Tuesday, August 15, 2017. and we’re halfway through August, wending our way toward Back To School Time. It’s also National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, a dessert that, made properly, is a thing of beauty. (It’s also Julia Child’s birthday; see below.) In many places it’s the Feast of the Assumption, a Catholic holiday that’s also celebrated in Poland, where Andrzej, Malgorzata, Hili and Cyrus will resolutely ignore it. (The holiday celebrates the Catholic “fact”, simply declared as dogma by the Pope in 1950, that Mary was bodily assumed into Heaven. It’s not in the Bible at all; it was simply made up. Note that many people confuse the Assumption with the Immaculate Conception, which is simply Mary’s being born without sin. Also, the Immaculate Conception does not refer to Mary’s being a virgin when she became pregnant with Fetus Jesus. I suspect more atheists know these things than do Catholics.)

It’s Independence Day in India, celebrating its founding as a nation on this day in 1947, so it’s India’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday to a country I love, and Jai Hind! Below are the stirring words of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, spoken in his famous “Tryst with Destiny” address delivered to the Indian Parliament just before midnight on August 15. (You can read the entire short speech at the link.)

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.

Here’s part of the speech, regarded as one of the great orations of the twentieth century:

I’ll be giving talks in India this fall and winter for a while, and am quite excited.

On this day in 1057 (at least as recounted by some), Macbeth, king of the Scots and the model for Shakespeare’s historically inaccurate Macbeth, was killed at the Battle of Lumphanan by the army of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada. On August 15, 1534, Ignatius of Loyola and six companions took religious vows that eventually led to the establishment of the Jesuits six years later. On this date in 1939, the movie The Wizard of Oz premiered at Grauman’s Chinese theater in Los Angeles. Exactly nine years later, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) was created as a nation separate from the North, with the demarcation line being the 38th parallel north. Two years later, North Korea invaded the South, beginning the Korean war. On August 15, 1965, the Beatles gave a concert to 60,000 people in Shea Stadium in New York City, said to be the first instance of “stadium rock”. (I hate those big, loud venues and will never go to a concert in a stadium.) Finally, on this date in 2013, according to Wikipedia, “The Smithsonian announces the discovery of the olinguito, the first new carnivorous species found in the Americas in 35 years.”  While it’s in the order Carnivora, it doesn’t eat meat but subsists largely on fruit supplemented with insects. It is also a procyonid (in the raccoon family) that lives in the cloud forests of the Andes and looks like this:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili was sunning herself on the windowsill, not asking to be carried in, when Andrzej (you can see his reflection) snapped this photo:

Hili: I should now look like the Sphinx.
A: In what sense?
Hili: I’m in an enigmatic reverie which nobody is able to decipher.
In Polish:
Hili: Powinnam teraz wyglądać jak Sfinks.
Ja: W jakim sensie?
Hili: Tajemniczego zamyślenia, którego nikt nie odgadnie.
Leon is continuing his hiking vacation in the mountains of southern Poland, but he doesn’t go hiking every day; he makes his reluctance known by hiding under the bed at walkies time.  Tomorrow we’ll see that Leon has found a beautiful girlfriend!

Leon: I think I will have a rest today.

And we have a cat photo from reader Peter:

My friend posted this picture of herself and her cat, and my wife commented on how it looks like they have just had an argument 🙂 I thought your readers might enjoy this photo as well (she said I could share the pic).

Finally, speaking of camouflage, Matthew Cobb found this tw**t. Look at those cryptic eyeballs!

How an IMAX projector works

I’m worn out by the Charlottesville business, and depressed that some readers are calling for speech bans. We won’t discuss that in this thread (there are other posts where you can do that). Instead, let’s learn how an IMAX projector works. I’ve been to a few IMAX movies, the first being “Flying” or “Flight” (can’t remember the name [a reader below says it’s “To Fly”]) at the Smithsonian. They’re stunning, and until I saw this video I had no idea that a.) they involve real film stock (70 mm) and b.) they’re bloody COMPLICATED! I found this fascinating and offer it as an afternoon respite:

Armed Leftists in Charlottesville

To those who questioned whether any of those who protested against the Nazis and bigots came “loaded for bear,” here are two photos taken by a friend of mine who was in Charlottesville during the troubles. His commentary:

This “militia” was on the anti-fascist side, I’m sad to report.

While the Nazis/KKK had many groups prowling the streets, these were the only leftists I saw similarly armed.

They told me not to film them & to move on, both “requests” which I ignored & got into a heated argument with one of them: the young lady among them (2nd picture left) intervened & separated us.

Left or right, carrying an assault weapon in public is an act of terrorism as far as I’m concerned.

I’m amazed that somebody didn’t start firing, which would have made the murder by car episode seem trivial by comparison.



The Rightists also came armed, of course, and you can see those pictures here. But nobody protesting fascism or racism should be carrying weapons, much less ASSAULT RIFLES. This is just asking for trouble, or advertising that you’ll make it.

The “good” news is that “our” side had fewer guns, but that’s not a lot of consolation, as some of them had mace and sticks.

Further schisms in the Left, as observed on Everyday Feminism

I read HuffPo and Everyday Feminism (not obsessively!) to find out what the Regressive Left is up to, just as I look at Breitbart and The Daily Wire to see what the Right is thinking. Everyday Feminism is notable for its extreme denigration of white men at the expense of everyone else (they offer a course on “Healing from Toxic Whiteness“), its “listicles” about the ways you’re ideologically impure and can rectify your behavior, and courses on “self care” to help you heal from all their accusations. But it’s also notable for seeing how finely they can divide the feminist Left, by whittling away ever more people who thought they were “allies”.

So, for example, we have this piece (click on all screenshots to go to article):

Here we see that being black or Hispanic is not sufficient to participate in meetings of people of color, for if you are a Hispanic or black with lighter skin, you enjoy a privilege that you may want to consider before you start attending meetings of BIPOC (“black, indigenous and people of color”). In general, Dacumos’s answer is yes, you shouldn’t automatically count yourself as a person of color if your skin is light (note: this doesn’t automatically mean that you have white ancestry), because privilege.  As the author notes:

To be fair, us light-skinned and white-passing people cannot just snap our fingers and nullify colorism. We cannot return our privilege to the Privilege Store.

But, there are some things we can do to address our privilege, like not automatically assuming that we are entitled to be in all BIPOC spaces all the time.

And, after all, who can count themselves as BIPOC? (My emphasis in below.)

Being able to determine whether someone appears to be Black, Indigenous or a Person of Color is complicated and contested, and often depends on many different factors and contexts. For example, some BIPOC may only be seen as such when they are with other BIPOC.

But the examples of former NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal and respected Indigenous Studies scholar Andrea Smith, people who were enriched through claiming BIPOC identities even though they may not have any BIPOC ancestry, have highlighted that there might be a problem with uncritically accepting self-identification.

So we have not just a schism among BIPOC based on degree of pigmentation, but a schism about who “identifies” as a person of color. Not everybody who does that, apparently, can be taken seriously (Dolezal is a notable example). And if there’s “a problem with uncritically accepting self-identification”, where does that leave gender? After all, Everyday Feminism is an unrelenting advocate of using preferred gender identifications and pronouns. If a light-skinned black who feels black shouldn’t necessarily be regarded as black, what about a biological man who identifies as a woman, or even as a group of persons (“they”)?

In the end, Dacumos admonishes light-skinned BIPOC to think carefully before they go to gatherings of people of color, not to dominate the discussions (are the number of words you’re allowed to say proportional to your degree of pigmentation?), and to ensure that you have extra compassion for “darker-skinned Black and Indigenous people” who, she says, have been more oppressed than you.

There’s no doubt that lighter-skinned blacks have had an easier time of it: if your skin is sufficiently white, like that of Krazy Kat cartoonist George Herriman, you can actually pass for white and completely avoid racism. But by parsing people who identify as Black or Hispanic based on skin color, Dacumos is committing the error of dividing up single ethnic groups by degree of oppression, which is said to be proportional to pigmentation. That’s seems a bit on the divisive side, I think.  Barack Obama was light skinned and half white, but I was perfectly happy, as was the black community, to see him called the first African-American president.

As for further feminist divisiveness, there’s this piece on the same page:

For a short while, Israeli actor Gal Gadot, who played Wonder Woman, was sort of a feminist hero, someone who was praised for empowering young girls. Then the Regressive Left discovered that she was not only an Israeli, but had served (as nearly all Israelis must) in the IDF, the Israeli military. Oops! Well, that was it for Gadot, because, you know, and as the article says, she’s a Zionist, an agent of an oppressive regime, and of course everyone knows that “Zionism. . . contradicts the core values of the movement [feminism].”  As if Islam in Palestine doesn’t!

Author Hadiya Abdelrahman concludes this:

I, for one, refuse to celebrate Gadot’s Zionist “feminism.” It cannot take precedence over the voices and struggles of the Palestinian women who fight every day for their basic humanity.

But, while I’d love to discuss the many reasons why it is hypocritical to call yourself a feminist if you support the Zionist occupation of Palestine, we’ll leave that for another time.

For now, I’d rather make some space to discuss some badass women who exist and resist every day.

Here are five Palestinian women who have fought the world for their humanity — this is for them.

Well, one of the five Palestinian “wonder women” happens to be Rasmea Odeh (who was celebrated by Linda Sarsour), a Palestinian terrorist murderer. Convicted of involvement in a terrorist bombing of a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969 that killed two Hebrew University students and injured 9, Odeh admitted guilt, was sentenced to life in an Israeli prison, was released after 10 years in a prisoner exchange, and then moved to the U.S., working as associate director at the Arab American Action Network in Chicago. She was found out, convicted of immigration fraud for lying about her criminal past, and will soon be deported.

Yet she’s a “wonder woman”! Abdelrahman calls Odeh a “political prisoner” (wrong!), and celebrates her like this:

A few months ago, after three and a half years in court and a few months in jail, Odeh accepted a plea deal in which she agreed to give up her U.S citizenship and leave the country. She entered and left court surrounded and celebrated by dozens of supporters.

Odeh is the embodiment of the strength and resilience of Palestinian women; she holds the ability to survive and thrive and continues to build empires out of the dust of violence and loss.

Odeh embodies Palestinian resistance. I hope that, by ending with her, you might better understand why it is so important to celebrate, recognize, and learn from the strength of Palestinian women — not only as feminists but also as human beings.

Forget Gal Gadot: let’s celebrate someone who killed two civilians and injured nine as a Wonder Woman of the “Palestinian resistance.”

Seriously, doesn’t murdering civilians disqualify you as a “Wonder Woman”? Give me Gal Gadot any day.

But such are the regressives in third wave feminism, extolling a society in which women are oppressed and celebrating women who kill members of a society in which women have full rights. The world has gone mad.

h/t: Cindy

Did Hitler have free will?

Ron Rosenbaum’s 1998 book, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil, got a lot of critical approbation, much of it apparently for the author’s argument that many “Hitler studies” arrived at conclusions that were simply a projection of the authors’ preconceived biases onto the Hitler story. Here’s a bit of the original New York Times review by Michiko Kakutani:

. . . he shows how historians, philosophers and psychologists have projected their own agendas, preconceptions and yearnings for certainty onto their portraits of Hitler, and how their portraits in turn mirror broader cultural assumptions.

Unlike many intellectual histories, “Explaining Hitler” does not confine itself to simple textual analysis, but showcases Rosenbaum’s reportorial skills with acute, sometimes edgy interviews with such controversial thinkers as Claude Lanzmann, the creator of the movie “Shoah”; George Steiner, the critic and author of the much debated novel “The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H.,” and the Hitler apologist David Irving.

The resulting book, portions of which originally appeared in The New Yorker, is a lively, provocative work of cultural history that is as compelling as it is thoughtful, as readable as it is smart.

As Rosenbaum observes in this volume, “powerful tendencies in contemporary scholarship have cumulatively served to diminish the decisiveness and centrality of Hitler’s role.”

. . . In analyzing the consequences and implications of various efforts to explain Hitler, Rosenbaum himself has made an important contribution to our understanding not just of Hitler, but of the cultural processes by which we try to come to terms with history as well.

With “Explaining Hitler,” he has written a book that does for Hitler studies what David Lehman’s superb book “Signs of the Times” did for deconstruction: he has written an exciting, lucid book informed by two qualities in increasingly short supply in academic circles: old-fashioned moral rigor and plain old common sense.

Now, as explained by Laurie Winer at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Rosenbaum published an updated edition in 2014 that contained a new afterword.  The LARB has published that in full, and although I haven’t read the original book, the afterword is informative, breezy and amusing, including mentions of the “Downfall” parodies we’ve seen on the Internet as well as of “Godwin’s Law” (“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1.”)—a law that’s increasingly being obeyed, and approaching the asymptote faster. If anyone has read Explaining Hitler, please weigh in below.

What I found interesting in Rosenbaum’s new afterword was what he said about free will. Rosenbaum appears to have striven mightily to show that Hitler was not just a product of the material forces of the environment—Hitler’s genes, environment, and so on—but made his decisions freely—decisions that produced great evil—as a result of free will. Rosenbaum appears to think that Hitler was somehow free of the laws of physics. But let me show you by giving a few quotes:

But something or some things made Hitler want to do what he did. It wasn’t a concatenation of impersonal, external forces, a kind of collective determinism. It required his impassioned personal desire for extermination, even at the potential cost of defeat for Germany. It required him to choose evil. It required free will.

. . . One of the fascinating things I discovered in the course of writing this book was the reluctance of scholars and savants to use the word “evil” in regard to Hitler. Some years after writing the book and studying the question of evil, on a fellowship at Cambridge where I got to converse with scientists and theologians on this tormentingly complex matter, I ended up writing a long essay I called “Rescuing Evil.” It was an attempt to find a rationale for rescuing the idea of freely chosen “wickedness” (the technical philosophical term) from the determinists and materialists who would instead explain away evil as the purely neurochemical, physiological product of the brain.

“Neuromitigation,” the great contrarian writer and physician Raymond Tallis called it in an essay in the London Times Literary Supplement, and alas that is the way “scientific” studies of evildoers are heading. Blame it all on a brain defect. Neuro­scientists would have a field day with their fMRI machines and Hitler’s brain. Sooner or later they’d claim to find some fragment of gray matter responsible for it all. Instead, we have a gray area, a fog, a Night and Fog, to cite Alain Resnais’s groundbreaking Holocaust movie, that we may never penetrate, and physics alone may never explain.

Of course physics may never explain this, for it requires knowledge that is either inaccessible or too complicated to apprehend, but surely physics underlies all of what Hitler did, and his actions were the result of and therefore compatible with the laws of physics. The question, though, is whether Hitler’s deeds were independent of the laws of physics, and that’s what Rosenbaum seems to think.

Now it’s not absolutely clear from these passages whether Rosenbaum is a dualist, but it sure seems that way. After all, even compatibilists, who are mostly of the “determinism rules; you-couldn’t-have-done-otherwise” stripe, would agree that all human behavior is “a concatenation of impersonal, external forces, a kind of collective determinism”; that Hitler’s deeds were “neurochemical, physiological product[s] of the brain”; and, I think, would “blame it on a brain defect,” or at least on the neurological wiring produced by Hitler’s genes and circumstances. Rosenbaum’s dissing of neuroscience is telling.

I suspect Rosenbaum really does think that Hitler could have “chosen” to do otherwise, and that gives him a reason to say that Hitler had “chosen wickedness”—in other words, Hitler was morally evil. As I’ve said before (and others have disagreed, most vociferously Dan Dennett), if our behaviors are determined, the word “moral choice” loses meaning—except in the sense of meaning “determinism led somebody to do something that society deems immoral”. As I’ve written before, at least one study shows that most folks feel that a fully deterministic view of human behavior means that “people would not be considered fully morally responsible for their actions”. For them, and for me, “moral responsibility” means “you had the possibility of making either a moral or immoral choice.”

Well, even without moral responsibility, we still bear responsibility for our actions, as we are the beings who committed them. Hitler, like every other evildoer, had to be punished for his injurious (murderous!) behavior—for reformation, to sequester him from society, and as a deterrent (deterrents are of course completely compatible with pure determinism). Reformation seems out of the question, and surely Hitler would have been hanged had he been caught, but he chose to kill himself. (I’m not a fan of capital punishment, and would have put him away for life.)

An interesting sidelight: Rosenbaum argues provocatively that the military defeat of Germany, as well as Hitler’s suicide, did not mean he lost the war, for Hitler conceived of the war not as a military exercise against the allies, but primarily as a way to dispose of the Jews, whom he saw as viruses. In that, says Rosenbaum, Hitler wound up winning, for he exterminated most of Europe’s Jews—and the population has never recovered.

Charlottesville 3

Just an update: The driver of the car that plowed into the anti-racist protestors in Charlottesville, killing one woman and injuring 19 other people, driver James Fields, Jr., has been identified as one of the white supremacist demonstrators. I suspected as much. The Daily News has a photograph of him brandishing a “Vanguard America” shield before the terrorist incident. As the paper notes,

Southern Poverty Law Center spokeswoman Rebecca Sturtevant told the News that the logo — two white axes — is a variation of imagery used by the white supremacists and Fields’ outfit is standard among the hate group’s ranks.

The Anti-Defamation League depicted Vanguard American [sic] as one focused on white identity, but noted that its members have “increasingly demonstrated a neo-Nazi ideology.”

Indeed, Fields’ Facebook page was peppered with similar alt-right and Nazi imagery — such as Hitler’s baby photo; a tourist shot of the Reichstag in Berlin; and a cartoon of Pepe the Frog, the anthropomorphic frog hijacked by right-wing groups — before it was deactivated around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, gave the page the title “Conscious Ovis Aries,” using the Latin word for sheep. There was also a picture of him posing with the car that authorities say caused so much mayhem in downtown Charlottesville.

The photo with the Daily News‘s caption:

James Alex Fields Jr. (c.) brandished a shield from the Vanguard America group before the Charlottesville attack. (GO NAKAMURA/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

His mug shot:

And, of course, the white supremacists and anti-Semites are praising Trump for his “it’s everybody’s fault” reaction, and his continuing failure to decry the bigotry that infused the Extreme Right’s demonstration:

Who was responsible for the violence? Clearly Fields appears to be guilty of murder (he’s assumed innocent until convicted), but both Left and Right came to the demonstration spoiling for a fight. The white supremacists, however, had their own militia with assault rifles, which, thank Ceiling Cat, were never used. But according to the evening news last night, Leftist protestors also came with sticks, Mace, and other weapons, and after they were separated from the white supremacists, tried to find a way around the police cordons to go after their opponents.  While I doubt that the number of attacks were exactly equal on both sides, clearly the Left—at least those who wanted violence or to “shut down” the supremacists, did engage in violence. Here, from Mediaite, is a video of a “counterprotestor” attacking a woman reporter for The Hill who was simply documenting the car crash. Yes, he punched someone, but it wasn’t a Nazi.

From Mediaite:

One of the four men arrested for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia was reportedly a counter-protestor who punched a female reporter.

Virginia State Police announced last night that 21-year-old Jacob L. Smith of Louisa, Virginia was charged with misdemeanor assault & battery. And now it is known what led to his arrest.

The Hill reporter Taylor Lorenz was live-streaming the counter-protest on her phone when James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into the crowd, that left one dead and 19 injured. While capturing the immediate aftermath of the attack, where she stood only several feet away, Smith approached Lorenz, punched her in the face, and shouted “Stop the f**king recording!” The shirtless counter-protestor can be seen walking into the shot just seconds before the phone was knocked out of her hand.

Left-wing violence will only hurt progressivism and help these racist goons.  Nobody should go to a demonstration with a weapon, or with the desire to punch anyone or “shut down” a demonstration. We have recourse to peaceful protest and counterspeech, and that’s the moral high ground. I reject those who call for punching white supremacists, or even getting them fired by reporting them to employers. After all, even if this speech is reprehensible, it’s free speech and legal under the Constitution. Are we going to try to get every racist fired from their jobs? That is thought policing.

I was surprised to find several readers yesterday saying that the speech of the white supremacist/Nazi sympathizers/nativists should be banned, as some countries do.  If you believe that, then you have to decide which speech constitutes hate speech and should be banned. If there’s a slippery slope, that is one of them.

As John Stuart Mill argued eloquently in On Liberty, there’s a good case to be made for allowing even vile speech to be promulgated, for banning it only drives it underground, while allowing it gives those who hear it a chance to understand it and formulate a response to the other side’s arguments. There’s a reason why, in 1977, the American Civil Liberties Union defended the right of the American Nazi Party to march in Skokie, Illinois, a Jewish community. The case went to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled, along with the Illinois Supreme Court, that the Nazis’ display of hatred, including the swastika flag, did not constitute “fighting words”—a prohibited direct incitement of violence. The same is true of the demonstrators in Charlottesville, who basically did the same thing as the Nazis in Skokie.

In truth, I think the best response of the Left would have been to ignore the demonstrators completely. They represent only a small fraction of Americans, are widely reviled, and the counterdemonstrations gave the bigots the publicity they wanted. (Of course the media was there, but I’m not at all sure that an absence of counterdemonstrations would have been a bad thing.) And it would have helped curb the violence.

That violence was also partly due to the Charlottesville Police’s policy of allowing demonstrators to come close to each other, almost guaranteeing a nasty confrontation. Perhaps, after the model of demonstrations at political conventions, the demonstrators should be confined to a well demarcated space well apart from those they are protesting. The advantage of this is that it prevents violence but still allows the media to cover the counter-demonstrations, so the opposing speech does get publicized. The disadvantage is that the demonstrators never see those who oppose them. I think the former trumps the latter, and in future cases—and there will be more—the police need to keep the bigots and the progressives far apart, with no chance to attack each other.

At any rate, now is not the time—in fact it’s never the time—for the Left to start talking about curbing speech or physically hurting those we revile. It’s telling that when the true test of our tolerance for free speech appears—the presence of white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers—many on the Left seem to fold and ask whether we might, after all, consider some censorship. That’s a violation of everything that liberals have stood for, and of course comes with the problems of designating who’s to be The Decider and what, exactly, constitutes “hate speech.” Let’s avoid that debate and stick with the courts’ consistent interpretation of what speech is allowed and what speech constitutes harassment or direct incitement to violence.

From the New York Times, here’s a memorial to 32-year-old Heather Heyer, whom Fields murdered, and the other 19 victims of the car attack:

Edu Bayer for The New York Times

h/t: Grania

Readers’ wildlife photos

Once again I implore you to send me your photos—unless you want this feature to die a miserable death. Thanks!  Today we have lovely photos from our regularest regular, the estimable Stephen Barnard from Idaho. His notes are indented:

Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus):

Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) with a juvenile:

These enormous dragonflies (species unknown) flew into my house coupled in passion. They were noisy! I picked them up and and took them outside, where they flew off.



Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Here we are at Monday again: August 14, 2017, and it’s one week till the big solar eclipse. It won’t be total in Chicago (though it will  be downstate), but it’ll be pretty good, and I hope it’s not cloudy that day. If you live in the U.S. and want to see how the eclipse will look from where you live, go here.  Here’s what the near-totality will look like in Chicago (it also gives time lapse views, so you can know when to start looking):

August 14 is National Creamsicle Day, a favorite treat of my youth (it’s a bar of vanilla ice on a stick, but covered by what seems to be orange sherbet). I don’t know if they even make them any more, but given that they’re still the subject of a holiday, I expect they do. It’s also Independence Day in Pakistan, celebrating the Partition that occurred on midnight of that day (the midnight spanning the 14th and 15th).

On this day in 1935,  Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, a blatant act of socialism (which some seem to forget), creating a government pension for all people who had worked. On August 14, 1945, Japan accepted the allied terms of surrender (it was August 15 in Japan), and the formal surrender took place September 2 on the U.S. battleship Missouri. Here’s a photo of the formal surrender:

Japanese foreign affairs minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on board USS Missouri as General Richard K. Sutherland watches, September 2, 1945

Exactly two years later, Pakistan became independent from the British Empire. On August 14, 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show opened in London, starting the longest run of any motion picture in history. In 1980, Lech Wałęsa led the famous strike at the shipyards in Gdańsk, Poland—a place I’ll visit on my trip in September (the city, not the shipyards).

Notables born on this day include John Galsworthy (1867), Lina Wertmüller (1928), David Crosby (1941), Steve Martin (1945), Gary Larson (1950), Emannuelle Béart (1963), Halle Berry (1966), and Tim Tebow (1987). Those who died on this day include William Randolph Hearst (1951) and Bertolt Brecht (1956). All biologists (and many others) love Larson’s cartoons, and it’s very sad that he hung up his pen. Here’s one of my favorites; feel free to insert yours below (you can see many cat cartoons here):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili senses the onset of winter, a season she hates:

Hili: I can imagine that.
A: What can you imagine?
Hili: Winter and snow.
A: But you prefer summer.
Hili: Yes, imagination spoils all pleasure.
In Polish:
Hili; Mogę to sobie wyobrazić.
Ja: Co takiego?
Hili: Zimę i śnieg.
Ja: Ale ty wolisz lato.
Hili: Tak, wyobraźnia psuje całą przyjemność.
In southern Poland, Leon and his staff returned to the same place in the mountains that they hiked last winter. But now there is no snow, and Leon kvetches:
Leon: How many changes there have been here!

Yesterday it was hot in Winnipeg, and Gus was snoozing outdoors in the heat:

Finally, Matthew Cobb sent a tw**t showing a video of a rare but beautiful leucistic (not albino) moose in Sweden. I hope the hunters leave it alone!

Duck chase!

Here’s what happens when I try to feed the new to-be-named mallard at the same time as Honey. She lowers her head and swims very fast toward the interloper, driving her away. It’s competition for food, folks!

I still manage to slip some noms to the new mallard on the sly, but half the time there’s a kerfuffle. When it’s not feeding time, they’re pals, swimming peacefully in tandem.

Jerry has two duckies

(You should recognize the allusion in the title.) When I went down to feed Honey this morning, I thought I was seeing double: there were two hen mallards in the pond, swimming side by side. One was Honey, as I recognize her by her greener head, bill stippling, and her immediate reaction to my whistle, but the other was a larger hen mallard. They seemed to be friendly.

Here they are—Honey’s the smaller one on the lower right:

This, of course, produced a dilemma: I had food for one duck; should I feed them both? But that problem resolved itself. When I tried to give food to the other hen, Honey chased her away immediately. I was able to toss the interloper a few pieces of corn, but since she obviously flew in from last night (oy! were her wings tired!), she was in good shape. She also didn’t like mealworms.

Here are the beak markings I use to recognize my girl:

After the feeding, the two ducks joined up again and began feeding from the pond surface together. While Honey is clearly the dominant duck, though she’s the smaller one, they seem friendly enough when they’re not being fed. The dominance behavior is, of course, evinced most strongly when there’s something to defend—like hand-fed corn and mealworms.

I’m happy that Honey seems to have a friend, and maybe they’ll even migrate away together—but I’m worried about having to deal with two ducks and antagonistic behavior during feeding time.

So it goes.

If the new one hangs around, what should I name her? Suggestions appreciated.