December 30, 2012 • 11:44 am

Today’s the last day of Koynezaa (actually 11:45 tomorrow evening, for that is 24 hours after the time I was born), and thanks to the many readers who have sent good wishes that I’ve completed another orbit around the sun, and remain alive.

Here are two particularly nice presents I got. The first is a greeting from Hili, the recently adopted tabby of Andrzej and Malgorzata, who run the Polish rationalist website Racjonalista. Every day Hili and Andrzej have a dialogue in which Hili expresses her queenly attitude and superiority to humans. Today Hili’s dialogue was a birthday greeting!


Picture 2And an anonymous reader sent me some lovely physical swag: pictures, buttons, and a hand-drawn cartoon. Here are two of the buttons, based on Richard Dawkins’s tweet touting this site:


And this is fantastic, though I’m really not that standoffish!

CartoonThanks to all!

46 thoughts on “Swag!

      1. Completely unscathed? So, still twitching and trying to escape.
        Ah, such tender feline solicitude for your poor, under developed hunting skills. S/he’ll try to teach you to hunt and kill if it’s the last thing s/he does!

        1. She gave up on teaching me to hunt long ago, accepting my limited skill set. Even when she leads me to the kitchen every morning to prepare her breakfast (a mere 20 feet away) she still always looks back at least once to make sure I haven’t gotten lost along the way.

          1. Such solicitude for her staff.
            I’m just wondering what proportion of robotics researchers are cat owners, and how much they are being manipulated by their feline masters to produce more reliable robotic feline domestic staff?
            I fear that extinction looms. Or at least, obsolescence.

          2. Such solicitude for her staff.
            I’m just wondering what proportion of robotics researchers are cat owners, and how much they are being manipulated by their feline masters to produce more reliable robotic feline domestic staff?
            I fear that extinction looms. Or at least, obsolescence.

    1. Wow. The last “present” that I got from one of my cats was two mangled legs from a black widow spider. Apparently Reginald ate the “good part” and didn’t like the prickly bits.

      Anyway, Happy Birthday Dr. Coyne! And thank you for sharing the Koynezaa celebration with us here.

      Great buttons, too!

      1. Impressed that you can identify a black widow from the legs alone. I would have thought that identifying them from intact body markings would have been a more urgent learning point. Or maybe it was?
        Reginald evidently knows the difference between “poisonous” (which very few spiders are) and “toxic” (which IIRC all spiders, and most chelicerates (speellung?) are). That alone should guarantee him a decent score on “QI”.

        1. Out in the desert, I wouldn’t try to identify them in this way. But we don’t get many spiders in or on the house, and black widows are the most common and the only kind that is shiny black all over (except for the red abdominal “hourglass”). The desert species gets pretty big, measuring an inch or more across.
          Reggie routinely patrols the windowsills, porch corners, and other crevices for spiders, and eats them web and all. He’s not allowed outside, so I don’t know what he’d do with a tarantula!

    1. ‘Twon’t need much explanation, I should think. Just sauté some chicken livers with some onions in some schmaltz and pretty much everybody should go for it. You can turn it into paté pretty easily, too; recipes abound.

      Reminds me…I should probably get Dad’s….


      1. Just got back from dinner with Mom & Dad. The appetizer just happened to be liver, so here’s the recipe for, as Dad calls it, Paté de Foie Poulet à la Grand-Mère Juive. If you like paté de foie gras, you’ll like this. And it’s easy and cheap to make.


        one pound / ½ Kg chicken livers
        two onions
        two hard-boiled eggs
        one tablespoon / 15 ml schmaltz
        salt and pepper


        Chop one of the onions and sauté it over medium low heat in the schmaltz with some salt and pepper until the onions start to brown. Add the chicken livers (cut the lobes in half or quarters) and keep cooking just until no longer pink. You may optionally choose to deglaze the pan at this point with a splash of sherry or cognac or the like.

        Dump the contents into a blender with the eggs and the second (raw) onion and blend until smooth.

        Chill and serve with something in the broad theme of crackers. Homemade matzohs are great, but thinly-sliced toasted rye bread is very good, too.

        Don’t have any schmaltz and you don’t have a butcher who’ll save up chicken fat for you and you don’t want to save it up for yourself? No worries. Just make a pot of chicken soup with a family pack of chicken thighs. After the meal is done, strain the leftover broth into a jar and refrigerate it; the fat will rise to the top, and that’s schmaltz. (I suppose butter would probably make a culinarily-acceptable though decidedly inauthentic substitute).

        And chicken soup is silly easy, and pretty quick if you’ve got a pressure cooker.

        Most stores sell pre-packaged mirepoix, possibly labeled as “stew mix,” in quart / liter containers. It’s fresh chopped carrots, onions, and celery in a 1:2:1 ratio. Of course, you can always chop your own. Dump it in the pot, sprinkle a couple teaspoons of salt and a bunch of pepper on top (and maybe some dill and parsley or the like, preferably fresh), dump the family pack of thighs on top, optionally splash some white wine or sherry or the like on top, just barely cover it all with water, and either simmer for an hour or three (with a traditional pot) or cook for 20 – 30 minutes under pressure in a pressure cooker (and let the pressure drop on its own.

        Again, after you’ve had the soup for dinner, bone the remaining chicken and store in one container for sandwiches and chicken salad and casseroles and the like; strain out the remaining mirepoix for instant flavor and / or a thickening agent for lots of dishes; and the rest is chicken broth that’s far better than anything you can buy in a box with a layer of pure schmaltz on top.



        1. Sorry for the multiple HTML fails…and I should add that you want the thighs with the skin. Skinless thighs have no fat left, and the fat is the schmlatz.

          Thighs are especially good for soup because they’re meaty and easy to debone and they’ve got a good proportion of non-meat bits (bone, cartilage, fat, and skin) that are essential for flavor and the like in the soup but that’re very easy to discard after they’ve been cooked. The traditional way, of course, would be to cook up the whole bird minus the organs but plus the neck and back, and that absolutely makes for great soup…but soup from a package of thighs is just as good and a lot easier to deal with.


          1. Excellent recipes, Ben, but poor Kink sent Jerry a nice birthday card complete with picture and was sort of neglected in recognition.

            Poor Kink, aka, what am I, chopped liver!

            Thus the comment.

            I’m glad I didn’t write, “Take my wife … please!” No telling what you would have written!

              1. Normally, I’d be the first to agree with you — especially as I’m somebody who generally dislikes eggs recognizable as such (though I do quite like custards and quiche and muffins and fried rice and other dishes with eggs in them).

                However…I really would put Dad’s liver up there with the genuine paté de foie gras I’ve had, so I’ll stand by this recipe.

                (Of course, I’m not suggesting that you couldn’t tell the difference between the two. They’re two different (but related) dishes; of course you can! I’m just claiming that the dish Dad makes could be served at a fancy French restaurant and the chef would acknowledge it was not at all out of place.)


  1. “Hoppy” Koynezaa! What celebratory ale will you be drinking to toast the event? Though I guess it won’t be over-burdened with hops? Cheers, Prof Coyne and many happy (and hoppy, but not too much) returns!

  2. Thanks for all your fun and interesting articles. I enjoy them very much, but don’t understand where you take the time and energy to post them all.


    1. Ditto, you are a conjurer with time; and I’m so grateful to be on this list. May your next trip around the sun be fulfilling, and thanks for sharing.

  3. Happy Koynezaa Dr. Coyne.
    May your website broadside many creationists and acommodationists,
    Celebrate many new wonders of evolution,
    And show many new pairs of cowboy boots in 2013,

  4. May I wish you a merry last day of Coynezaa if it ain’t too late (have been on an interweb holiday for a week!)…

    Remember, 2013 is WALLACE year, 8th January his 190th birthday & November 200th anniversary of his demise…
    So, I expect some Wallace posts!

  5. My IQ isn’t up to snuff
    And your English ain’t “American” enough
    But I relish your words
    And delight in your verbs
    So I hope this birthday’s not tough!

    I so hate having to follow those pesky rhyming rules.

    Happy Birthday from the Midwest!

  6. All very best wishes to you, Jerry, on your birthday. The world is a better place with you in it.

    As for the rest of youse, Happy damn New Year.

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