Wednesday: Hili dialogue

December 18, 2019 • 6:45 am

Good morning on a chilly Wednesday, December 18 (temperature in Chicago: 23° F or -5° C). It’s one week till Christmas and seven shopping days until the beginning of Coynezaa.

The big news, of course, is that it’s Impeachment Day in Congress, as the House of Representatives votes today on the impeachment of Donald Trump, and he will be impeached, becoming only the third U.S. President to suffer that fate. It was a day later, on December 19, 1998, that Bill Clinton became the second President to be impeached (do you know the first one?) As we noted yesterday, Trump responded “vigorously” with a 5+-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi comparing his impeachment to the Salem Witch Trials (in fact, he said the witches got more of a hearing than he did).

Today is one of those weird food days with quotes: National “I Love Honey” Day.  Is that supposed to be a wink-wink declaration by someone who hates honey? But in my own case, of course, it’s literally true when referring to my beloved mallard hen. Will she return next Spring for the fourth year running?

It’s also International Migrants Day, National Ham Salad Day (not kosher), Bake Cookies Day, National Roast Suckling Pig Day (also not kosher), Snowflake Appreciation Day, and, oddly, National Wear a Plunger on Your Head Day, a holiday apparently celebrated by just two creatures:

. . . a day that ex-bounty hunter Vern Halsey and his beloved Komodo Dragon, Felix, continue to celebrate almost entirely by themselves:


Stuff that happened on December 18 includes:

  • 1271 – Kublai Khan renames his empire “Yuan” (元 yuán), officially marking the start of the Yuan dynasty of Mongolia and China.
  • 1777 – The United States celebrates its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the American rebels over British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga in October.
  • 1865 – US Secretary of State William Seward proclaims the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, prohibiting slavery throughout the USA.
  • 1898 – Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat sets the first officially recognized land speed record of 39.245 mph (63.159 km/h) in a Jeantaud electric car.
  • 1917 – The resolution containing the language of the Eighteenth Amendment to enact Prohibition is passed by the United States Congress.
  • 1932 – The Chicago Bears defeat the Portsmouth Spartans in the first NFL playoff game to win the NFL Championship.

Here are some big-time Bears fans: Bill Swerski’s “Superfans” celebrating Thanksgiving. These are, of course, parodies of how Chicago sport fans are supposed to talk and act.  This is from 1991’s Saturday Night Live; Chris Farley, the big dude on the left, died from drug use and atherosclerosis six years later (he was 33). And, as you see below, Farley died on this day: December 18.  Remember Farley’s turn as motivational speaker Matt Foley, who lived in a van down by the river? (See a video here with David Spade, who can’t control his laughter, and Christina Applegate as the wayward kids.)

  • 2015 – Kellingley Colliery, the last deep coal mine in Great Britain, closes.
  • 2018 – List of bolides: A meteor exploded over the Bering Sea with a force over 10 times greater than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. On December 18, 2018 at 23:55 GMT[3]

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1800 – James Watney, English brewer and businessman (d. 1884)
  • 1856 – J. J. Thomson, English physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1940)
  • 1878 – Joseph Stalin, Georgian-Russian marshal and politician, 4th Premier of the Soviet Union (d. 1953)
  • 1879 – Paul Klee, Swiss-German painter and educator (d. 1940)
  • 1886 – Ty Cobb, American baseball player and manager (d. 1961)
  • 1888 – Robert Moses, American urban planner (d. 1981)

The biography of Robert Moses by Robert Caro, The Power Broker, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in 1974, is one of the finest biographies I’ve ever read.

  • 1916 – Betty Grable, American actress, singer, and dancer (d. 1973)
  • 1939 – Harold E. Varmus, American biologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1943 – Keith Richards, English singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer
  • 1946 – Steve Biko, South African activist, founded the Black Consciousness Movement (d. 1977)
  • 1946 – Steven Spielberg, American director, producer, and screenwriter, co-founded DreamWorks
  • 1963 – Brad Pitt, American actor and producer
  • 1978 – Katie Holmes, American actress
  • 1980 – Christina Aguilera, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress

Here’s Klee’s Cat and Bird from 1928:

Those who kicked off on December 18 include:

  • 1829 – Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, French soldier, biologist, and academic (b. 1744)
  • 1971 – Bobby Jones, American golfer and lawyer (b. 1902)
  • 1975 – Theodosius Dobzhansky, Ukrainian geneticist and biologist (b. 1900)
  • 1997 – Chris Farley, American comedian and actor (b. 1964)
  • 2011 – Václav Havel, Czech poet, playwright, and politician, 1st President of the Czech Republic (b. 1936)
  • 2014 – Mandy Rice-Davies, English model and actress (b. 1944)
  • 2016 – Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hungarian-American actress and socialite (b. 1917)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is pining for Spring already, even though it’s only December.

Hili: Sometimes the light creates an illusion.
A: And what you think you can see?
Hili: Spring flowers.
In Polish:
Hili: Czasem gra świateł tworzy iluzję.
Ja: A co ci się wydaje, że widzisz?
Hili: Wiosenne kwiaty.

Reader Paul sent this cartoon that, he says, is “making the rounds.” You can figure out its meaning yourself:

A stolen kiss from Cat Lovers Community:

From Jesus of the Day: unromantic cats:

Two tweets from reader Barry. Of the first he says, “What are these bugs, and what’s with the choreographed movement?” I have no answer to either question, but Matthew did. I’ll let you guess.

. . . and a cat treating a mouse like a kitten!

Two cat tweets from Heather Hastie. This beautiful moggie responds well to a simple call:

Okay, what are these cats doing?

Matthew wants us to start the day right with the quotidian egress of fowl from the Marsh Farm Barn. As the nice man says, “A nice sunrise is the best medicine ever.”  But why does Caspar always get a special greeting?

More tweets from Dr. Cobb: The Far Side cartoons are coming back in 2020 on a new website. Stay tuned! Here’s a preliminary sketch from Larson:

I LOVE this cat cartoon from 1906. Enlarge it so you can read it. Scared by a turnip!

Now this is really cool, and I hope the explanation is correct. But perhaps it’s just a pleiotropic effect of the male expressing genes that are adaptive in the female:

And a surprise tweet (click on the photo):

43 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. The Matt Foley character – Farley is so intense – so convincing- it’s intended as irreverent humor, but there’s something powerful about it, the way a troubling fact of life looms over the skit – it seems on the brink of what might be categorized as classic what – theater?

    1. I fear that Farley died because he was so much like his characters – or he got so into the roles that it perpetuated some of his own bad habits. Tragic – and an occupational hazard of good actors, no doubt.

  2. The marching insects seem to be Hemiptera (pentatomid stinkbug) nymphs. The original youtube video shows they are walking on pine siding on a shed. I suspect they are searching for a plant to feed on, and that they stay together using chemical signals. Since they are so small, staying together may reinforce their unpleasant odor and help deter predators such as ants and birds. Kin selection may also come into play.
    What does Matthew say?

  3. On my way to the dentist on this cold morning. Today is impeachment day and the letter from Trump along with everything else he says makes it clear he does not have a clue. No understanding of what impeachment is and it shows every time he opens his mouth. Even his perfect phone call he still talks about as if he were the only person who knows. In the call, how many times did he say get with Giuliani – 6 times. Falsely accusing Biden of doing something he did not do and Trump has no evidence. Everything is distorted and when that does not work, just lie. Keep on lying Trump, you are good at it. Did anyone mention Andrew Johnson, he besides Clinton was the only other president to make it this far. Nixon threw in the towel.

      1. Meathead, that’s a good name for him. That’s what Archie called Michael, the son in law on All in the Family. Trump keeps using the word perfect probably because it’s the only word he knows. I’m sure he has never heard coherent either.

        1. Maybe “coherent” was where he was trying to go, when he arrived at the no-dictionary town that is “covefe”?

          (I bet I’ve spelled “covefe” non-canonically.)

      2. Everything he does, he categorizes as the greatest of all time. Perfect, and thus beyond criticism, would be the perfect word in his narcissistic worldview.

    1. You’d think Republicans would hesitate to lash themselves too tightly to Trump’s mast while there are still so many mines floating in the harbor — Rudy Giuliani seems likely to be indicted by his old office in the Southern District of New York for his dealings with already indicted meatballs Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman (whose Ukraine shenanigans increasingly appear to have been funded by extradition-fighting oligarch/Russian mafiya figure Dmytro Firtash). Plus, Trump keeps getting his brains beat out in court while trying to keep his tax returns and Deutsche Bank records hidden(and there’s no telling what kinda fuckery they may reveal).

      But I suppose Republicans are too far gone up Trump ass even to worry about that kinda stuff anymore.

  4. I remembered William Seward was also the man who bought Alaska from the Ruskies for the ridiculous sum of $7 million. I didn’t know that, “Seward became an ardent expansionist and even contemplated the purchase of Greenland and Iceland.” I was wondering where tRump got the idea.

    1. He also hung around and continued as secretary of state for Johnson. Him being there may be the only thing that saved Johnson from impeachment/conviction.

  5. As a native Chicagoan and aficionado of the Chicago accent, I still think the Superfans is the best and funniest thing SNL ever did.

  6. It’s Cuthbert, not Ccaspar who gets the special greeting.

    Here’s Cuthbert’s story. It explains why he’s so special

    Apparently, as in the fairy tale, he was hatched by a duck that rejected him; the story proceeds from there, including how he got his name, which began as “cuff-bert.”

  7. This is probably of little interest to any one but me. Sorry!

    “1898 – Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat sets the first officially recognized land speed record of 39.245 mph (63.159 km/h) in a Jeantaud electric car.”

    Wow! Three decimal places! In 1898! How could speed be measured with such precision when stopwatches were only accurate to about 1/10th second? Turns out it’s an consequence of conversion.

    The run was recorded (according to WikiP and elsewhere) as 1km in 57secs. Converted to km/h (1x60x60/57) yields 63.15789, or 63.158.

    NOTE: This is different from the Prof’s 63.159 and WikiP’s 63.15.

    So who’s right?

  8. Watneys: probably the worst major brewery there has ever been in the UK.

    The name itself became an acronym: Weaker And Tasting Nastier Every Year.

    Good riddance.

    1. I find Tetley’s to be pretty unsatisfactory. Can’t say I’ve ever tried Watney’s. Sounds like I haven’t missed anything.

      (On a more note, I had some Robinson’s Iron Maiden Trooper ESB the other day and very much enjoyed it.)

      1. Tetley’s is indeed worse than Watney’s, in that it still exists. Watney’s packed up in about 1974.

        Glad you like Robbo’s. It’s an independent brewery from Stockport, near Manchester (some would say that Manchester is near Stockport); and Trooper was actually brewed in cahoots with Iron Maiden.

        They also brew a strong bottled beer called Old Tom, recommended for ailoruphiles:

        1. Should I happen upon some Old Tom I shall certainly avail myself of the opportunity!

          I had the Trooper at a local beer bar that emphasizes quality and variety. We don’t often see Brit beers there since our own craft beer scene has exploded so much. I’m just happy to have lived to see this Golden Age of Beer. (Not to be confused with the Age of Golden Beer.)

  9. A golden age indeed, in some ways. I think I am right in asserting that there are more breweries in the UK today than there have ever been. Most of them are local microbreweries, of course, and most have fiercely loyal local supporters.

    On the other hand, far too many pubs are closing down, and far too many of the rest are owned by what are in effect property companies, rather than beneficent organisations dedicated to providing the public with good, reasonably priced beer.

    On the third hand, a lot of the pubs that remain open are much more salubrious and family-friendly, and still serve good beer into the bargain.

    Good night.

  10. Today is one of those weird food days with quotes: National “I Love Honey” Day. Is that supposed to be a wink-wink declaration by someone who hates honey?

    I’m trying to remember – is honey produced by bees pooing out digested nectar, or vomiting it up?

    According to Wikipedia, it’s vomiting … and I was just checking the cupboard for any honey, but I’ve got Marmite instead.

      1. There’s a line for the Marketing Dept. Bee vomit versus Koala poo.
        But surely it’s Vegemite that should be the koala poo? From the country next to the one that brought you “Made in Scotland, from girders”, they turned beer-surplus into brown vitamin-spread.

          1. It seems there is a NZ material called “Marmite” which is venerable enough to not be troubled by infringement claims. Over to Heather!

  11. On Larson and his work: That’s two great things – one personally – I love _The Far Side_. But also professionally. I am about to start a project to talk about data integrity here at work, and it seems L’s desire to protect his work is a good example to start with.

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