Tuesday: Hili dialogue

December 10, 2019 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a dreary and frigid (21° F, -6°C) Tuesday, December 10, 2019, National Lager Day. Human Rights Day, and, oddly, the Festival for the Souls of Dead Whales.  In Sweden it’s a flag holiday: Nobel Prize Day, when the winners announced last year get their prizes in Stockholm.  In Stockholm, several countries are boycotting the Nobel Ceremony because Peter Handke, who won the Literature prize last year, has been accused of supporting the war criminal Slobodan Milosevic. Finally, there are only two weeks of shopping days until Coynezaa.

Things that happened on December 10 include:

  • 1520 – Martin Luther burns his copy of the papal bull Exsurge Domine outside Wittenberg’s Elster Gate.

Too bad he didn’t barbecue it!

A papal bull
  • 1684 – Isaac Newton’s derivation of Kepler’s laws from his theory of gravity, contained in the paper De motu corporum in gyrum, is read to the Royal Society by Edmond Halley.
  • 1868 – The first traffic lights are installed, outside the Palace of Westminster in London. Resembling railway signals, they use semaphore arms and are illuminated at night by red and green gas lamps.

They left out one detail, as reported by the Guardian:

THE FIRST traffic signal was invented by J P Knight, a railway signalling engineer. It was installed outside the Houses of Parliament in 1868 and looked like any railway signal of the time, with waving semaphore arms and red-green lamps, operated by gas, for night use. Unfortunately it exploded, killing a policeman. The accident discouraged further development until the era of the internal combustion engine.

  • 1884 – Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is published.
  • 1901 – The first Nobel Prize ceremony is held in Stockholm on the fifth anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. (See above.)
  • 1906 – U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the mediation of the Russo-Japanese War, becoming the first American to win a Nobel Prize.
  • 1907 – The worst night of the Brown Dog riots in London, when 1,000 medical students clash with 400 police officers over the existence of a memorial for animals that have been vivisected.

Do read about the riots and the brown dog (yes, there was one) who set them off. Here’s a statue to the Brown Dog, which stood from 1906 until 1910, when miscreants removed it:

  • 1909 – Selma Lagerlöf becomes the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • 1953 – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill receives the Nobel Prize in literature.
  • 1978 – Arab–Israeli conflict: Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin and President of Egypt Anwar Sadat are jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1996 – The new Constitution of South Africa is promulgated by Nelson Mandela.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1815 – Ada Lovelace, English mathematician and computer scientist (d. 1852)
  • 1830 – Emily Dickinson, American poet (d. 1886)
  • 1851 – Melvil Dewey, American librarian, created the Dewey Decimal System (d. 1931)
  • 1891 – Nelly Sachs, German-Swedish poet and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970)
  • 1960 – Kenneth Branagh, Northern Ireland-born English actor director, producer, and screenwriter

The first photo below the only authenticated photo of the reclusive Dickinson (she was 17 at the time), although the one below that, found in Amherst in 2012, is thought to show Dickinson with her widowed friend Emily Scott, and experts believe that the person on the left is our poet. I haven’t heard reports about that photo for several years.

Those who began pushing up dirt on this day include:

  • 1896 – Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist and engineer, invented Dynamite and founded the Nobel Prize (b. 1833)
  • 1911 – Joseph Dalton Hooker, English botanist and explorer (b. 1817)
  • 1968 – Thomas Merton, American monk and author (b. 1915)
  • 1999 – Rick Danko, Canadian singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer (b. 1943)
  • 2005 – Eugene McCarthy, American poet, academic, and politician (b. 1916)
  • 2005 – Richard Pryor, American comedian, actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1940)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili surveys the surroundings as she ventures out:

Hili: If I see correctly, there is nothing there.
A: It’s better to check everything.
In Polish:
Hili: Jeśli dobrze widzę, to tam nic nie ma.
Ja: Lepiej wszystko sprawdzić.

Elzbieta sent a photo of Leon hanging around with his new brother Mietek:

From Jesus of the Day:

The ArtBasel installation, cat version, credit to @bocaratona, h/t: Stash Krod


From reader Barry: an aerial view of a sheepdog at work. It is mesmerizing!

Three tweets from Heather Hastie. This one is ineffably cute. Cats like warmth!


As the kids say, “Oh. My. God.”


And this cat drinks vapor!


Tweets from Matthew, first the usual morning egress at Marsh Farm as the breakfast bar opens for business:


This one has some interesting comments in the thread that follows it:

Matthew says of this one: “Amazing video. Marsupials are weird.” But to a marsupial, placental mammals are weird! Sound up.

Anybody interested in playing this video game?

22 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Hello out there.
    The photos in the start of a decade, end of a decade could be something else? In the second picture we cannot put down our phone long enough to take a picture?

  2. PCCE:

    “1868 – The first traffic lights are installed, outside the Palace of Westminster in London. Resembling railway signals, they use semaphore arms and are illuminated at night by red and green gas lamps. […] They left out one detail, as reported by the Guardian […] Unfortunately it exploded, killing a policeman. The accident discouraged further development until the era of the internal combustion engine”

    That additional info from the Guardian is mostly wrong in places & speculative in others. It’s a regular Guardian feature where readers answer questions & its not up to snuff every time! Here is a more accurate version:

    [1] In the months BEFORE its installation, two Members of Parliament had been badly injured & a traffic policeman killed at that junction, hence it was the site chosen for this experiment [MPs no doubt interested in saving their skins in smoggy/foggy London – the dead policeman being of no concern].

    [2] The device was a rubbish design with the gas lights being to weak in daylight & the meaning of the semaphore positions [& the fact that it was a semaphore] not being obvious. There was a notice next to the device explaining the signals – kind of useless!

    [3] The signals sometimes broke down & were ignored by some traffic any way

    [4] A gas leak caused an explosion at the base of the semaphore, badly burning the face of the police operator. The newspapers didn’t report the policeman’s name [naturally – he’s just a copper] & didn’t report his death either. Wiki & other sources have perhaps combined the policeman death from before the signals were erected to the the serious injury of a policeman caused later by the signals.

    [5] The signals remained ‘operational’ for the rest of the year & were done away with for being useless – not because of the cop’s death

    Punch magazine compared the signals to a scary apparition lurching through the fog:


  3. 1999 – Rick Danko, Canadian singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer (b. 1943)

    I’ve always been a huge fan of Rick Danko’s singing. For my money, “It Makes No Difference” was his best:

    1. My former brother-in-law, who’s about 10 years younger than Rick and grew up in a small town right near Rick’s , was always thrilled to have once bought a hotdog from him. Dad was a butcher or something, B-i-l became a musician cum biochem prof.

    1. I had to Wiki that. Looks like he was far from innocent:
      “After Milošević’s death, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concluded separately in the Bosnian Genocide Case that there was no evidence linking him to genocide committed by Bosnian Serb forces during the Bosnian War. However, the Court did find that Milošević and others in Serbia had committed a breach of the Genocide Convention by failing to prevent the genocide from occurring and for not cooperating with the ICTY… “

    1. Yeah, it would take some serious dedication raising a wombat from infancy. I’d do it, that little critter was adorable.

  4. Badly kept secret: my wife, the vegetarian, did a physiology & genetics BSc between her preclinical and clinical studies at UCL/UCH. For the physiology part, she held a vivisection license and practised her dark arts on cats in the same lab that Bayliss and Starling used, which looked as if it had not been modernised one bit since their days. Hard to believe this was the same woman who had nearly been thrown out for her reluctance to sacrifice rats for biochemistry lab practicals two years earlier!

    1. As I understand cats arrived frozen where rats had to be euthanized. As a cat owner (9) I understand her reluctance and ability to proceed. Too bad she wouldn’t have had a more current setup.

      In the picture of Leon and Mietek was M trying his paw at a little gardening?

      1. Actually, these cats required intraperitonel injections of an ancient anaesthetic agent – I can’t recall what it was – and were euthanized at the end of the procedure. I discreetly concealed her atrocious history from all our pet cats.

  5. On the Jesus game. Since they cannot use all the source material (being self-contradictory and all), I wonder if this might be a good thing – provokes players into thinking: waitaminute, where *did* my favourite story go? (I am thinking the interactivity will do this more than just watching a stitched together version, like, e.g., _Jesus Christ Superstar_.)

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