Friday: Hili dialogue

December 21, 2018 • 6:45 am

We’re coming up on Christmas, as today is Friday, December 21, 2018—only 4 shopping days left until Coynezaa. It’s National Hamburger Day (I’m having leftover Chinese food) as well as São Tomé Day, a holiday on the island where I used to study Drosophila.

Most important, it’s the first day of winter (it officially begins at 5:23 p.m.) and the shortest day of the year. Google has an animated winter Doodle:

On this day in 1620, the Pilgrims who sailed on the ship Mayflower under the leadership of William Bradford, landed at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts. On December 21, 1872, the famous Challenger expedition, marking the birth of oceanography, sailed from Portsmouth, England on the HMS Challenger, commanded by Captain George Nares. On this day in 1879, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House premiered at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen.

On December 21, 1913, the world’s first crossword puzzle, Arthur Wynne’s “word-cross puzzle” was published in the New York World. Here it is; can you solve it? It’s pretty easy, especially if you do the NYT Sunday puzzle.

On December 21, 1937, the world’s first full-length animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. Now try to name the seven dwarfs—there are two that people always forget. Exactly three decades later, the first recipient of a human to human heart transplant, Louis Washkansky, died in Cape Town, South Africa, only 18 days after the transplant.  On this day in 1968, the Apollo 8, carrying a crew of three, flew to the Moon, orbited it, and returned safely to Earth. It was a dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 that landed on the Moon in 1969.  Finally, it was on December 21, 1988 that a bomb exploded on Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people: the deadliest air disaster on British soil.

There must have been a lot of copulation in late April, as many notables were born on this day. They include Benedict Arnold (1615), Jack Russell (1795; yes, the dog breed was named after him), Benjamin Disraeli (1804), Maud Gonne (1866), two famous geneticists—Sewall Wright in 1889 and Hermann Joseph Muller in 1890—Rebecca West (1892), Anthony Powell (1905; I couldn’t finish his big series of novels), Heinrich Böll (1917; Nobel Laureate), Paul Winchell (1922), Phil Donahue (1935), Jane Fonda (1937), Frank Zappa (1940), Samuel L. Jackson (1948), Chris Evert (1954), Florence Griffith Joyner (1959), and Julie Delpy (1969).

I knew of Maud Gonne as an actress and women’s rights activist, but especially as the woman with whom Yeats was smitten. He proposed to her four times, and was turned down each time; and he wrote many poems inspired by her. Yet until today I didn’t know what she looked like, so I found some photos:

Gonne and Yeats:

She lived until 1953.

Those who expired on this day include F. Scott Fitzgerald (1940, he was only 44), George S. Patton (1945), and Nikolaas Tinbergen (1988; Nobel Laureate).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Hili dialogue is enigmatic because the mice are safer from predation under the snow. Who knows what this Polish/Jewish cat is thinking?

Cyrus: There will be a White Christmas.
Hili: I don’t know whether the mice will be happy about it.
In Polish:
Cyrus: Będzie białe Boże Narodzenie.
Hili: Nie wiem, czy myszy się ucieszą.

Here are Calvin and Hobbes discussing atheism. There are a lot of Santa/God comparisons going around these days.

Two funnies from reader Merilee (Diana MacPherson objects to the orientation of the rolls):

A groaner:

Tweets from Heather Hastie, sent to her by Ann German. Some great cat photos in the first one: look at the smiling dude at upper right!

Salacious but funny:

From reader Blue: a cat that likes to reset the clock.

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is amazing, and links to an Anolis blog post that contains the video I present below the tweet. A reptile that encases its body in a bubble so it can breathe underwater! I’ll be!

Stop what you’re doing and watch the video immediately.

The video:

Matthew: “All lines are parallel and at right angles.” It sure doesn’t look like it, but Dr. Cobb is always right.

Words we use that come from Arabic:

Tweets from Grania.  Now this is some weird cat behavior: stalking followed by an affectionate approach:

Boxing hares!

And look at this hail that fell on Sydney:

Finally, more words of outrage from the super-woke Titania McGrath:


36 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

    1. The cute little guy is definitely blowing a bubble. But inasmuch as this comes from exhalation, how does it function as an extra reservoir of air, which might increase bottom time? Seems like it’d be the same amount of air – with or without the bubble.

      1. I think that its entire body is encased in a layer of air. A bubble that is form fitted to its body due to the hydrophobic scales and the pressure of the water. If you look closely you can see an iridescence or shimmer of sorts on various parts of the body that indicate air trapped against the body. When it exhales it causes a momentary local bulge in the form fitting body-bubble.

  1. When I focus, I see a tilted square in the middel. When I don’t focus (take my glasses off) , I see parallel lines. The tricks of the visual system are endless!

  2. I must admit that this “first day of winter” stuff is a major pet peeve of mine. The differences between Astronomical winter and Meteorological winter are important to note. It’s not as if “Mother Nature “ flips a switch and it’s suddenly winter, which is why it gets colder sooner in Toronto than in Little Rock. But, since nobody understands the distinction, we get statements like “I can’t believe it’s snowing, and it’s not even winter for a few more weeks “ from people who’ve never bothered to question this.
    I wonder, is this primarily an American thing, or do people in countries with better basic science education make the same boneheaded statements?

      1. PS Maud Gonne’s bird hat is illustrative of the hideous massacre of birds that took place in the later 19th century to feed women’s fashions especially with hats. The RSPB was founded partly as a result of attempts to combat that trade.

        1. Birds of paradise? Were they not particularly targeted?
          Here we had the growth of the ostrich feather industry, but just the feathers were taken, which do grow back.

          1. Here are a couple of articles about the feather trade and the decimation of wild birds for their feathers 1) how it was stopped; and 2)info about birds of paradise and their feathers, Some fascinating folklore grew out of early explorers’ encounters with birds of paradise — such as they had no feet and so flew continuously. The feet of the dead birds were frequently cut off so they were received by Europeans footless, thus the lore.

    1. Yup. The eye tends to try to ‘straighten out’ or simplify lines and shapes, so the little ‘ears’ each end of the top edge of each square appear to make that edge tilt (same for the sides and bottom).


  3. And look at this hail that fell on Sydney

    I’m guessing the hail grew rapidly (depositing white, aerated ice) on the way down through the cloud, but deposited the clearer seemingly darker ice layer high in the cloud. So multiple ups and downs in the cloud.

    Anyone with more practical interest in mega-hail who can read the history of these stones better than me?

  4. On this day in 1968, the Apollo 8, carrying a crew of three, flew to the Moon, orbited it, and returned safely to Earth. It was a dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 that landed on the Moon in 1969.

    This is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 8. It took three days to travel to the Moon, orbited for less than a day, and flew back home, landing on December 27th.

    Arguably, Apollo 10 was the dress rehearsal for Apollo 11, since it included all phases of the moon landing except the actual landing, EVA and ascent from the Moon.

    Apollo 8 was more of a further shakedown of the Command-Service Module (after Apollo 7), a flight test of the S-IVB third stage of the Saturn V, a test of the process of getting to the Moon and back, and close reconnaissance of the upcoming landing sites.


    1. The complexity of the undertaking is astonishing. Especially considering the primitive state of the technology. That flight and those that followed I consider a highlight of my life.

      1. I agree. Aside from Apollo 11, this was the flight that made the most impression on me. It marked the first time mankind left the confines of Earth orbit, and it was Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders who took the famous photo “Earthrise”, which changed our perspective of our home in the Universe.


    1. I would have greatly preferred something secular such as The final paragraph of On the Origin of the the Species.

      Actually, I remember when the crew of Apollo 8 read from Genesis it seemed rather ludicrous to me. Here we were, Homo sapiens, the wise ape, in the 20th century, having arrived at the moon, reading from ancient myths. How incongruous.

Leave a Reply