Saturday: Hili dialogue, Leon monologue, farm rush hour and some curious tweets

November 16, 2019 • 7:43 am

by Matthew Cobb

Hili is observant:

Hili: We are carefully watching the surroundings.
A: What surroundings?
Hili: I’m watching the one close by, Malgorzata the one further away.
In Polish:
Hili: Wszyscy uważnie śledzimy otoczenie.
Ja: To znaczy?
Hili: Ja bliższe, Małgorzata dalsze.
Meanwhile, Leon is uncertain:
Leon: Who came with the idea that journeys educate?
In Polish: Kto to wymyślił,że podróże kształcą?
Finally, Mietek has a bit of a monologue too—his first!
Mietek: Does a bookworm look like this?
Down on the farm, it’s a muddy old Saturday morning rush hour – no lie-in for them!


Some curious tweets:

This is a Magellanic Woodpecker from Ushaia in Argentina, not that far from where Jerry has been:

We’ve all been here. BUT LOOK AT THE KITTENS!

Now this is the way to travel:

Beautiful silver spider:

This is actually pretty interesting. Leaving aside the creepy filters, and the way the cats look, some of these cats clearly understand what a mirror does. However, before you go thinking this shows they are self-aware (the mirror self-recognition test is often used as a proxy of this), remember that B. F. Skinner trained pigeons to use mirrors to locate objects they couldn’t see. HIs whole point was that this was merely a conditioned reflex, just like our self-awareness… Anyway, these cats may realise that the things they see in the mirror are behind them, without necessarily realising that the cat-shaped thing they see is them…

This is simply astonishing. When was the first US woman train driver signed up?

Bizarre, bizarre. Click for the full dream-like letter:

Finally, a fabulous fossil fly


21 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue, Leon monologue, farm rush hour and some curious tweets

    1. She died in 2011.

      She first started working for British Rail in 1977. The timing suggests to me that it was the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act (despite the name, it was about outlawing sex discrimination) that opened train driving up to women. I vaguely remember it coming in to force (I was nine at the time). The news was full of stories about how we’d have to call the postman a post person and firemen firepeople. Presumably these were other careers not open to women before 1975.

    2. That there’s a very young Grateful Dead.

      The nitrous oxide canister brought back some fond Dead show memories. Smart folks made a lot of money off that gas. $5 per balloon. Fun, funny shit I tells ya.

  1. The only useful adaptation of “silver” in the silver spider would be as a disguise as a chewing gum wrapper.

    1. Or Lady Hale’s brooch

      Or we need to figure out how the silver body looks to other species of [web spinning] spiders. These spiders live on the edge of the webs of other larger spiders & they steal the catch. During hard times, some silver spiders are said to eat the web of their host. Little buggers!

      Perhaps a silver spider looks like a raindrop on the web to other spiders & birds.

  2. Argyrodes spp in Theridiidae are often silver coloured. This looks like it could be an Argyrodes or related genus. It has the typical abdomen shape of a theridiid. Argyrodes are kleptoparasites which you sometimes see in the webs of other spiders, where they steal the prey of the web owner.
    The genus Theridiidae contains Latrodectus, the widow spiders.

  3. Thanks for the Mietek monologue. Can never have enough kitteh monologues.

    I don’t know about a book worm, but I think he may be a book mark! 😉

    1. Better watch out lest Mietek starts imitating my dear departed cat, Jasper, who had a penchant for sinking his teeth into the edges of books and papers and leaving little perforation marks all around the sides. I thought it was amusing but now when I pick up an old book or some papers that I had filed away and find his little decorations, I tear up.

      1. I once had a dog who chewed up Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker. I mean REALLY chewed it up to the point where a couple chapters are gone. He died soon after, and for whatever reason, I couldn’t bring myself to throw out the book. I still have it, and when I notice it, I too tear up. I loved that damn dog. 🙂

  4. …”remember that B. F. Skinner trained pigeons to use mirrors to locate objects they couldn’t see. HIs whole point was that this was merely a conditioned reflex, just like our self-awareness…”

    And that’s why a vampire doesn’t recognize itself in a mirror.

    Anyways, I showed my cat a Skinner box, and she jumped right in and Chompskied her way through the pigeons.

    1. I suppose we ask that question because our brains are floating in a liquid inside a hard shell & when we are hit hard in the head, our grey matter gets splatted against the inside of the skull as the head bounces away from the blow. A quick googlywoogle suggests the woodpecker brain is not so loose in the skull [it’s not floating free, like a driver without a seat belt, as much] & the skull/brain is more burger bun-shaped with the short axis aligning with the direction of acceleration/de-acceleration. Also skull bone more spongy.

      I expect being built on a smaller scale than us permits greater tolerance of changes in velocity too.

      There is some suggestion from a study, that a protein whose abnormal build up is considered a sign of human brain damage also accumulates in woodpecker brains. I haven’t researched that, but perhaps if you’re producing young from the age of one or two it doesn’t matter too much if you’re a punch drunk teen – you’ve done your bit already. 🙂

      1. Also, there mechanisms to dissipate energy. One is an outer layer of scales that dissipate energy as they scrape against each other. Also, note that the beak does not stop at the wood surface but easily penetrates the wood which reduces shock. Another aspect, the bone backing the beak can deform slightly to absorb shock.

      1. Thank you for those insights. Interesting that wood peckers are being researched for the benefits of football players! I doubt if there would have been research funding without that link…

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