Wednesday: Hili dialogue

March 15, 2017 • 6:30 am

Good morning on my last day in Chicago for a while; it’s Wednesday, March. 15. (Starting tomorrow, the Hili Dialogues will be brought to you by Grania for a while, as I’ll be Down Under.) Today is National Peanut Lovers’ Day, and all my squirrels say they’re on board with that. (I’ve provided for their care and feeding in my absence.) It’s also World Consumer Rights Day, which surely includes the right not to have homeopathic remedies sold at CVS and Whole Foods (they are).

This is of course the Ides of March, and on this day in 44 BC , Julius Caesar was assassinated. (That was using the Roman calendar, not the one we use now, so we’re just within an order of magnitude here.) Caesar was stabbed 23 times, with only one wound deemed fatal in the autopsy—the first post-mortem report in recorded history. On March 15, 1493, Columbus returned to Spain from his first voyage to the Americas. Wikipedia reports that on this day in 1819, “French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel wins a contest at the Academie des Sciences in Paris by proving that light behaves like a wave. The Fresnel integrals, still used to calculate wave patterns, silence skeptics who had backed the particle theory of Isaac Newton.” Finally this day (and part of the next) in 1952, a world rainfall record was set: in 24 hours an astounding 1.87 meters (73 inches) of rain fell in  the town of Cilaos on the Indian Ocean Island of Réunion. That’s the most rain ever recorded within a 24-hour period. Can you imagine what that downpour was like?

Notables born on this day include Saint Nicholas, the model for Santa (273 AD), Andrew Jackson (1767), Jackson Scholz (1897, see “Chariots of Fire”), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933), Jimmy Swaggart (1935), Phil Lesh (1940), Mike Love (1941), Sly Stone (1943), and Ry Cooder, (1947; clearly a good day for rock stars). Those who died on this day include, besides Julius Caesar, H. P. Lovecraft (1937), Lester Young (1959), Aristotle Onassis (1975), and Benjamin Spock (1998). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the beasts, some distance apart, are contemplating sport:

Hili: Can you play ping pong?
Cyrus: I don’t know, I never tried.
In Polish:
​Hili: Czy umiesz grać w ping ponga?
Cyrus: Nie wiem, nie próbowałem.​

Lagniappe: Can you tell the kitten from the ice cream? More important, which would you rather have? (Image from imgur, h/t: Taskin)

32 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. “On March 15, 1493, Columbus returned to Spain from his first voyage to the Americas. ”

    Thanks for keeping the Columbus voyage a running theme in The Dialogues – interesting to imagine what the voyage was like, with the timings from the major stops.

  2. From 1918 to 1955, 15 March was also the deadline for filing income tax returns. So for those years, in addition to being the Ides of March, for US income tax payers, 15 March was also the Rides of March.

  3. “It’s also World Consumer Rights Day, which surely includes the right not to have homeopathic remedies sold at CVS and Whole Foods (they are).”

    I’m afraid I’d have to disagree there.

    I entirely agree that homeopathy is crap. I also think there needs to be some limit on fraudulent advertising.

    But I think it’s a stretch to suggest that ‘consumer rights’ are served by banning the sale of any products, even rubbish or harmful products. I think consumer rights are best directed towards the prevention of monopolies, the requirement for profits to be fair and reasonable, and the honest labelling of goods for sale. (Of course that might well damage the sales of homoeocrap anyway). I just balk at the phrase ‘the right not to have X sold’. That’s a bit like a ‘right’ to censorship. If consumers are stupid enough to want to buy homeocrap don’t they have a right to do so?

    Umm, as a soft drink user, do I have a right to buy sugary soft drinks or do the dietfreaks have a right to ban them? Tricky, eh? I would certainly argue that ‘consumer rights’ entitle me to buy them – or not – as I want, while the dietfreaks would argue that the public interest overrides that.


    1. So, what would be a fair and reasonable price for the homeopathy crap? Consumer rights are not served by banning harmful products? Music to republican ears…

      1. I agree with infinite, but I’m only speaking for myself here:

        (a) except in the case of monopolistic practices, I don’t think consumers are served by the government setting a price on homeopathic crap. Let the homeopaths charge whatever they want. Just so long as the advertising is truthful and….

        (b) …as to harmful products, I totally agree that homeopathic and other alternative products should fall under the regulation of the FDA for safety testing. If and when an alternative drug is unsafe either because the advertised ingredient mix is unsafe or because what’s in the bottle doesn’t match what’s on the label, the FDA should crack down on the company and forbid the product. This, in my mind, has little to do with keeping ‘homeopathic crap’ off the shelves per se, it’s just a form of treating every marketed medicine equally, ensuring they all meet the same reasonable safety production and quality standards.

      2. I think the public interest may well be served by banning harmful products. But it could be argued that ‘consumer rights’ would suggest being able to buy the widest range possible of products, even ones that may not be ideal on health grounds. I’m thinking of cigarettes, sugary soft drinks, and fast food here. And guns. But note that I’m NOT saying that ‘consumer rights’ should always prevail or trump all other considerations.

        I guess, since you ask, a fair and reasonable price for homeopathic remedies would be the cost of manufacturing and distributing them, plus a reasonable profit margin. I don’t think it matters much in the case of homeopathic remedies. But if, for example, the manufacturers of aspirin got together to jack up the price to $10 a tablet, that would clearly be (IMO) an infringement of ‘consumer rights’ and The Guvmint should Do Something. (I think there are already laws in place that could be used for that).

        There may well be a case for banning the sale of homeopathic remedies, but I just think ascribing it to ‘consumer rights’ is putting the wrong label on it.


    2. I’ll agree with you if the products were labeled honestly, which new FDA rules are going to bring about. If they want to sell expensive water without making ANY health claims for it, that’s fine with me. But how would they market it?

      1. They market it here. Just advertise it as ‘spring water’. And sell it at about $3 (NZ) for the bottle, which is a complete ripoff since you can buy the cheapest supermarket-brand cola (which is 99% water) for 89c a litre. I buy the cola, guzzle it, and then refill the bottle many many times from the tap for effectively free.

        They also market useless ‘sports drinks’ which are just water with sugar in (I suspect). Along with TV ads blathering about ‘hydration’ and ‘performance’ and all that sort of pseudo-macho nonsense.

        So yes, they do market it.

        Though I guess your description of ‘expensive water’ relates to homeopathic remedies which I have no doubt are orders of magnitude more expensive than bottled water.

        As I see it, ‘consumer rights’ and the public interest are not always precisely coincidental.


        1. I think the point of sports drinks is to replace potassium and sodium that is lost by sweating a lot during long exercise sessions. There’s sugar, too, of course.

          The thing that burns my cork is bottled water shipped from distant places. Here, next to f*ing Lake Michigan, they sell bottled water from Europe and Fiji, of all places.

          1. My point is that the prices they charge for ‘sports’ drinks or ‘energy’ drinks (or anything ‘sports’ for that matter) is exorbitant, considering the tiny amounts of chemicals they contain.

            I absolutely agree about the bottled water, it’s a crime against the planet to go shipping it halfway round the world.
            Here (in NZ) I was at a wedding recently and they had bottled water from Bangladesh on the tables. (No it wasn’t an Indian wedding). That’s outrageous. It was almost certainly the cheapest they could buy – which in turn shows up how ludicrously overpriced our locally-bottled water is.


    1. well you’ll need to figure that out, otherwise you’ll end up with sticky fingers and a spoonful of fur and claws.

  4. It is also The Ides of Trump. The President (for now) will soon receive a flood of postcards telling him what we think of his reign. Today is the day for sending them. I’ve mailed mine.

  5. My first cat, Graby, was a short-haired grey which I rescued from a ditch when I was seven. Her first litter included an orange Persian long-hair that resembled the kitten above and which stayed with us for many years. I still have a hard time imagining the alleles which mix this way. It’s not like mixing paint or the offspring would have probably been a muddy brown.

      1. It’s complicated (like healthcare. Who knew?)

        “‘red’ O- genotype, with ll for long hair, ss for absence of white spotting, and at least one Mc gene for the mackerel tabby pattern.”

  6. Regarding the world rainfall record: I grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast, and experienced some torrential downpours (what a friend would call “frog-stranglers”). But I think they’re much less intense than downpours that can occur in equatorial regions. One of my archaeology professors, who did fieldwork in southern Mali, said he experienced a downpour that drove him to his knees (and not to pray or anything like that). He didn’t seem like the type who would exaggerate for dramatic effect, either.

  7. Today is also the birthday of one of the greatest bluesmen ever (and old pal o’mine), Lightnin’ Hopkins.

  8. Actually Julius Caesar was killed just one year after the adoption of the Julian calendar (named after him), so his death was not computed by the Roman calendar after all.

    Since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar was meant to compensate for drift that had occurred during the 1500 years of Julian reckoning, it’s possible that JulCsr’s assassination was fairly close to our own March 15th.

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