Sunday: Hili dialogue

May 20, 2018 • 6:30 am

Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) is back doing Hili, but readership and comments seem to be low, and I’m wondering how long I can sustain the will to do this. I will soldier on at least temporarily.

My heart is heavy this morning, as my brief visit to the pond revealed the arrival of yet another mallard drake (there are two besides Frank now) and no sign of mom and ducklings. I will do the feeding and a closer inspection later; I hope fervently that mom and ducklings are hiding somewhere, although I don’t know how they’d get out of the pond. But I will ensure the “duck island” is put in shape today in case of future ducklings.

It’s May 20, 2018, and a cold and cloudy Sunday in Chicago, with the high temperature predicted to be only about 50°F (10°C) . It’s National Quiche Lorraine Day (I’d prefer a cassoulet), as well as World Metrology Day (not misspelled) and World Bee Day (the birthday of the pioneer of beekeeping.

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the first atlas of the world, published on this day in 1570: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, or Theatre of the World. As Forbes notes,

. . . [it] was a novel concept in the late 16th century: a book of maps, all the same size, organized geographically.

It was the work of cartographer Abraham Ortelius, who collected the maps, added his own notes, and had the book printed from specially-engraved copper plates. It contains one of the earliest allusions to what would later become the theory of continental drift, and it’s full of the names of the leading scientists and cartographers of the late sixteenth century – people like Gerardus Mercator, whose method of representing the round globe on a flat map is still in use today. Ortelius did almost none of the actual surveying or drawing for the maps in his book; his role was to bring them all together with descriptions and references. So he cited the names of the 33 cartographers whose work he used – another first, in a period when rules about plagiarism would horrify most college professors today. He also included a list of 54 more professional cartographers.

On May 20, 1498, the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama found the sea route to India from Europe, arriving at Calicut, a city in Kerala. On this day in 1609, Shakespeare’s sonnets were published by Thorpe; Wikipedia adds “perhaps illicitly.”  In 1873, two Jewish men, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, got the U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets. The rest is history: I suppose I’ve worn them about 95% of the days of my life since my junior year of college. On May 20, 1883, the volcano Krakatoa began its infamous eruption, culminating with an explosion on August 27 that killed over 36,000 people.  On this day in 1932, Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland on the first successful solo crossing of the Atlantic by a woman pilot. She landed in Ireland on May 21.  On this day in 1940, the first prisoners arrived in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Exactly 16 years later, the first airborne hydrogen bomb was dropped by the U.S. in a test over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. Here’s a video.

On May 20, 1964, Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation—the echo of the Big Bang. Both men were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1978.  On this day in 1989, the Chinese government declared martial law in response to pro-democracy demonstrations, culminating in the Tiananmen Square massacre, with protests lasting until June 4. Finally, on May 20, 1983, a team of scientists led by Luc Montagnier published a paper in Science revealing the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Montagnier, along with  Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Harald zur Hausen, received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2008, while Robert Gallo, who fought fiercely for credit (and probably deserves some) got nothing.

Notables born on this day include Sir William Congreve (1772), Simon Fraser (1776), Honoré de Balzac (1799), John Stuart MIll (1806), James Stewart (1908), Moshe Dayan (1915), geneticist E. B. Lewis (1918), Stan Mikita (1940), Joe Cocker (1944), Cher (1946), and Patrick Ewing, Jr. (1984). Those who died on May 20 include Clara Schumann (1896), Hector Guimard, designer of the Paris Metro entrances (1942), Max Beerbohm (1956), Barbara Hepworth (1975), Gilda Radner (1989), Stephen Jay Gould (2002), and Robin Gibb (2012).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Princess gave us a scare:

A: Have you converted to vegetarianism?
Hili: No, I still live according to nature, but grass helps the digestion.
In Polish:
Ja: Nawróciłaś się na wegetarianizm?
Hili: Nie, nadal żyję w zgodzie z naturą, ale trawa wspomaga trawienie.

And spring is firmly ensconced in Winnipeg, where Gus has just been given a new catnip plant. Here he looks pretty baked:

Some tweets from Matthew. Have a gander at this lovely grasshopper, which looks as if it were made of steel:

A heron surfing on a hippo!

A rare artist who could actually draw a cat accurately:

And the world’s most graceful cat. LOOK AT THIS VIDEO!

This video claims the whale is “thanking” its rescuers for freeing it from a fishing net, but of course that’s pure speculation:

I’m not sure what mayhem ensued here:

Matthew wants us to know about this important scientific advance in cat research:

Reader Gethyn tells us about the spread of domesticated cats from their origin in the Middle East:

And from Grania, interspecies (or inter-object) love:

Ceiling Cat bless Emma Thompson, here refusing to discuss the royal wedding:

47 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Please don’t stop Hili dialogues!. I enjoy them every day, but I don´t click on the post, so it probably won’t show in the user statistics.

  2. Clicking on the quiche Lorraine link, I found hat today in 1961 a record-setting “jewfish” was caught off the Florida coast. Not sure why this fish, the Atlantic Goliath grouper, as it is now known, got such a name, or why there is still an unincorporated community, Jewfish, Florida, alongside Jewfish creek, with a name that sounds ever so slightly anti-semitic.

    The fish, Epinephelus itajara, is critically endangered, by the way. At up to 2.5 meters in length and weighing 360 kg, it’s easy to see why it was being fished to death. Luckily, the US put protections in place in 1990, according to Wikipedia. Cool fish, horrible nickname.

    1. In then-former (but also still-future) PA Gov Gifford Pinchot’s 1929 book on his zoological expedition to the Galapagos, “To the South Seas”, he mentions catching an enormous grouper that they dined on for two weeks. He referred to it as a grouper and not a jewfish, so the latter must be a regionalism. No shortage of regionalisms when it comes to names of creatures.

  3. Dear Prof CC,
    That you have returned from your trip
    and feel that you are unappreciated gives me a sad.

    I am a daily reader ever since your WEIT book came out
    & this site seemed to be for book errata etc.

    But no, it is an eclectic mix that shows an enormous effort on your part.
    News, snippets on atheism, some quite incredible accounts of your trips that are full of information, human interest and did I mention the piccies of food?

    I am in awe of your multiple areas of expertise.
    My education has been extended by your efforts.
    That you maintain the civility of this site is an achievement in this age.

    I will be at a loss should you stop.
    But would be delighted if you were able to at least publish occasionally.

    Perhaps there could be more guest posts to reduce your load?

    Best wishes from Perth in Western Australia

    1. I can only echo what Oz has expressed so nicely – especially that my education has been extended by your efforts. I am grateful for the discipline and time that goes into a site like WEIT. I read practically every post – would miss it so much.

  4. I LOVE Emma Thompson. Back in 1990, the Renaissance Theatre Company led by Thompson’s then husband Kenneth Branagh was in Chicago. It was tremendous as was Thompson. I found the Tribune review:

    But one of my favorite Thompson roles was as Frasier Crane’s first wife Nanny G in a hilarious episode of Cheers. She was so over the top funny. Here is a bit –

  5. I never miss the Hili dialogues but seldom comment. I do like all the births and deaths with your occasional comments and all the little videos and Gus and Hili of course.

  6. Please, please continue. I read you every day. I rarely comment. I love Hili. Please, please, please continue.

  7. I start my mornings with Hili and friends — first thing out of bed I hit WEIT. If I weren’t an atheist, I’d say that it’s been a godsend — no better way for me to get my brain churning and start the day. I’d be bereft if it were discontinued. I don’t always have a comment, but i always read “Hili Dialogue,” and frequently find therein things to share with friends.

    1. And faith and begorrah, I certainly enjoy Grania’s contributions when you’re away. Did not mean to slight her.

  8. Good for Emma Thompson! Now, when will she be in another film based on a 19th to early 20th century British novel? That is her true calling.

    Please keep doing these posts if you enjoy them. I start my day by reading these 🙂

      1. True. And Masterpiece Theatre is just called “Masterpiece” these days. This world is falling apart.

        1. There are her ‘Nanny McPhee’ films out there, if you have children. (She terrifies the kids in her care and looks like a witch.)

          1. I just looked that up and the images, um…do not appeal to me.

            I don’t have kids. Unless you tell me the movie is very funny in its own right, I don’t think I’ll be giving it a try 🙂 But I am open to it based on a great review!

  9. Wow, today’s Hili dialogue put me in a Cold War state of mind (especially with NoKo and Iran looming in the background). It’s a rainy day here in the tropics, so maybe I’ll watch Strangelove one more time, see if I can learn to stop worrying and love the bomb.

    I freakin’ love Emma Thompson.

  10. I did not know that cats were originally from Turkey. And, yet, I cannot get either of ours to wear a fez.

    1. With cats’ Anatolian background, it’s no wonder then that cats have pride of place in Turkey.

            1. You’d like it here from May to October. The artificially-lit half of the year can get a bit depressing. The cats don’t seem to mind, though.

  11. I read WEIT every morning with breakfast, unless I’m traveling.

    The thing that I find myself wondering often, however: don’t the “on this day in history” events repeat every year? Or does PCC find new things to focus on each year?

    1. Hili Dialogues have been expanding over time. At one time, it was just the Polish Princess. Not sure when this day in history was added. I think PCC(e) has quite a few years to go until he might repeat himself.

      1. Yeah, Teller didn’t get his way with the H-bomb till after he ratted out Oppie before the AEC.

  12. My indoor cat needs a regular supply of grass. Pet shops sell “cat’s grass” which is appreciated but short-lived. I periodically bring ordinary grass and keep it in a flower-pot for as long as I can. This spring, I was late with this operation, and the cat picked on our “Christmas star” (a decorative plant) and reduced it to bare stems. After I supplied fresh grass, the cat enjoys it and the Christmas star is recovering.

    1. Glad to hear your cat’s OK. We have a huge Christmas star (Euphorbia pulcherrima). But, fortunately, this year summer came early (25C in Tampere at the moment) and we’ve had fresh cat’s grass for several weeks.

  13. You mention lack of readership, but you must be basing that strictly on the number of clicks counted from the emails you send out. Several months ago I joined to bring your number of subscribers up to 50,000, but that is not how I read the website. Several of my friends and I actually go to the site multiple times a day to check for new material, especially cat-related (I have eight former ferals I have tamed and rescued).
    And no, I normally do not comment, but I don’t know what I would do without Hili, Leon, Gus, and all the other kitties who make my day a bit brighter, regardless of what else is happening.

  14. Like others have noted, I do read Hili every day, but sometimes just in the email, so it doesn’t count as a view. I suggest you provide just an introductory paragraph in the email, so readers have to click on the link to see the entire post.

  15. I’m rarely able to comment, but I look forward to Hili every day. She reminds me of a little tabby and white girl kitty we used to have, Annabelle.

  16. My morning ritual is (1) put on the kettle to boil or make a plunger of coffee (2) start reading Hili (3) make the coffee (and take a cup to my husband) (4) finish reading Hili while drinking my coffee.
    Where would I be without Hili?
    I do hope that Honey and her young reappear… if I believed in ‘thoughts and prayers’, I’d send some your way.
    Here in South Australia we do not have mallards, but do have Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) and Australian wood duck. The latter do not have the brilliant green wing flash of the Pacific Black Duck. However, I recently saw a Wood Duck with a wing flash — A bit of inter-generic hanky-pinky going on??

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