Sunday: Hili dialogue

June 24, 2018 • 7:00 am

It’s Ceiling Cat’s Day, when all cats rest (that’s actually every day): Sunday, June 24, 2018. It’s also National Pralines Day. (Shouldn’t that be “National Praline Day”, singular?) In Scotland it”s Bannockburn Day,  celebrating Scottish independence (see below).

The ducklings are fine and VERY big. They’re also ravenous and downed a huge breakfast, slurping noisily as they ingested their duck pellets and dried worms from the water. It will be warm and sunny in Chicago today; a good day to feed and photograph waterfowl.

On June 24, 1314, the Battle of Bannockburn was won by the Scottish forces headed by Robert the Bruce in the First War of Scottish Independence. Exactly 60 years later, the people of Aachen, Germany were afflicted by an outbreak of St. John’s Dance, which, according to Wikipedia, “caused people in the streets of Aachen to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse[d] from exhaustion.” But why? This phenomenon, which recurred through the Middle Ages in several places, has always fascinated me, but we still don’t know the explanation. The Wikipedia entry under “dancing mania” says this:

Numerous hypotheses have been proposed for the causes of dancing mania, and it remains unclear whether it was a real illness or a social phenomenon. One of the most prominent theories is that victims suffered from ergot poisoning, which was known as St. Anthony’s fire in the Middle Ages. During floods and damp periods, ergots were able to grow and affect rye and other crops. Ergotism can cause hallucinations and convulsions, but cannot account for the other strange behaviour most commonly identified with dancing mania. Other theories suggest that the symptoms were similar to encephalitis, epilepsy, and typhus, but as with ergotism, those conditions cannot account for all symptoms.

Numerous sources discuss how dancing mania, and tarantism, may have simply been the result of stress and tension caused by natural disasters around the time, such as plagues and floods. Hetherington and Munro describe dancing mania as a result of “shared stress”; people may have danced to relieve themselves of the stress and poverty of the day, and in so doing, attempted to become ecstatic and see visions. Another popular theory is that the outbreaks were all staged, and the appearance of strange behaviour was due to its unfamiliarity. Religious cults may have been acting out well-organised dances.

That would have been something to see!

On June 24, 1509, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon were crowned King and Queen of England. She ruled until 1533, when she was deposed after Henry became enamored of Anne Boleyn.  On this day in 1880, the first performance of O Canada, the song that would become the national anthem of that country, took place at the Congrès national des Canadiens-Français. Let’s hear the anthem of our friendly neighbors to the North:

On this day in 1948, the Soviet Union started the Berlin Blockade, making transport of goods and travel between West Germany and East impossible. That, of course, instigated the Berlin Airlift.  Exactly two years later, apartheid was formalized in South Africa by passage of the Group Areas Act. And read about British Airways Flight 9, which lost power in all four engines after flying through a cloud of volcanic ash on this day in 1982. That scared the bejeesus out of all the passengers, most of whom thought they would die for sure. Fortunately, the engines were restarted and the plane landed safely. Here’s a brief video in which a passenger on that flight describes what happened:

Finally, on this day six years ago, the last known individual of the Galápagos turtle subspecies Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii, known as “Lonesome George“, died in captivity.  He was about 102.

Notables born on  this day include Henry Ward Beecher (1813), Ambrose Bierce (1842), Jack Dempsey (1895), Fred Hoyle (1915), Jeff Beck (1944), Robert Reich (1946), Mick Fleetwood (1947), and Lionel Messi (1987; NO GOOOOOOOOOOOAL!).  Those who died on this day include Grover Cleveland (1908), Stuart Davis (1964), Jackie Gleason (1987), Paul Winchell (2005), and Eli Wallach (2014).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili plays Robert Frost:

Hili: I’ve decided.
A: What did you decide?
Hili: That this is not the right path, let’s look for another one.
In Polish:
Hili: Podjęłam decyzję.
Ja: Jaką?
Hili: To nie jest właściwa ścieżka, szukamy innej.

A tweet I found: The BBC shows how there can be such a thing as being too “woke”. This is a funny take on a “cure from wokeness” seminar:

Tweets sent by Matthew: Ziya Tong shows a lit-up frog who’s ingested a firefly:

And Tong shows how a ladybird beetle follows a line:

Poor turtles!

I’ve seen rare blooms in Death Valley, California, and they’re stunning. Here’s one in the deserts of Utah:

Look at this insect!

That’s the chill White Basket Cat (Kagonekoshiro) harboring (and ignoring) a snail:

Aposematic coloration to the max:

Use this tweet for the link; it’s a great resource:

And I name this video Tweet of the Month:


13 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Re the Galunngung 747 incident, there was an episode of ‘Mayday’ / ‘Air Crash Investigations’ made about the incident.

    Not least among the crew’s achievements was landing, since the ash had sandblasted all the front cockpit windows to opaqueness.


  2. “Another popular theory is that the outbreaks were all staged…”

    Staged, in much the same way that Sandy Hook and the kidnapping of immigrant children were “staged”.

    Cheez, have Republicans really been around that long?


    1. Medieval ‘crisis actors’ no doubt.

      The ergotism hypothesis is tantalizing, but I go with contagious hysteria.

      1. I thought that the ergotism theory was well and widely accepted. Apparently not, but I still don’t see a better explanation. Ergotamine definitely has -and well established- psychodysleptic properties, and I do not see which parts of the phenomenon it would not explain.

        1. A number of years ago, I’d done some reading into the matter and was won over to attributing it to ergot poisoning; then, I read some conflicting info. Just now, seeking to refresh my recollection about the matter, I found this very compelling article in the Lancet (full text)that explores all aspects of the debate

          I’m reminded of the laughing mania that overtook people in Tanzania/Tanganyika in 1962

  3. The turtle video seems an apt metaphor for the G7, with You Know Who being the over large turtle that keeps rolling the log.

  4. Re the BA engine loss flight. I just loved the captain’s announcement and the account. An extraordinary example of British cool and understatement.

  5. Shouldn’t that be “National Praline Day”, singular?

    That depends on if you can … have … just … one …

  6. For over a century, Henry Ward Beecher was mainly known as an effective abolitionist preacher and the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe (“Uncle Tom’s Cabin”), but in recent days there seems to have been more discussion of him as the subject of America’s very first clergy sex scandal.
    Historians are fairly sure he was guilty, although he was exonerated in 3 separate hearings.

  7. It is interesting to note that the dance called Tarantella was related to tarantism. I am not sure if it was supposed to be be the cure or the disease itself. I plan to avoid both.

  8. Very strange of that snail to keep its head out while the other cat was sniffing him; reminds one of the trematode parasites that infest some snails and make them act in a way as to get eaten by the parasite’s ultimate host.

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