Sunday: Hili dialogue

December 29, 2019 • 6:30 am

It’s the last Sunday of 2019: December 29, to be exact. It’s the penultimate day of Coynezaa and the Fifth Day of Christmas (Golden Rings).  It’s “National Get on the Scales Day” (why the quotes?) so you can despair at the results of your holiday eating, but also National Pepper Pot Day, celebrating a soup of meat, tripe, and pepper that sustained George Washington’s troops when they were encamped at Valley Forge during the frigid winter of 1777-1778 .

Finally, it’s Still Need to Do Day, reminding you to finish those tasks you meant to accomplish in 2019.

The weather continues to be unseasonably warm in Chicago: though it’s drizzling right now, today’s high is predicted to be a steamy 62° F (17° C)! It will get cooler as the week progresses, but no snow is on the horizon.

Stuff that happened on December 29 include:

  • 1170 – Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, is assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II; he subsequently becomes a saint and martyr in the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.

Do you remember the 1964 movie Becket, starring Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton as the Archbishop? Here’s the scene in which Becket is told he is charged with crimes.

  • 1845 – In accordance with International Boundary delimitation, the United States annexes the Republic of Texas, following the manifest destiny doctrine. The Republic of Texas, which had been independent since the Texas Revolution of 1836, is thereupon admitted as the 28th U.S. state.
  • 1851 – The first American YMCA opens in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 1890 – Wounded Knee Massacre on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, 300 Lakota are killed by the United States 7th Cavalry Regiment.
  • 1916 – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the first novel by James Joyce, was first published as a book by an American publishing house B. W. Huebschis after it had been serialized in The Egoist (1914–15).

A so-so copy of the first edition of that book will run you around $3800, but that’s not nearly as much as a first edition of Ulysses, which will cost you about $40,000 unsigned and $150,000 signed (only 1000 copies were printed).

  • 1937 – The Irish Free State is replaced by a new state called Ireland with the adoption of a new constitution.
  • 1989 – Czech writer, philosopher and dissident Václav Havel is elected the first post-communist President of Czechoslovakia.
  • 1997 – Hong Kong begins to kill all the city’s 1.25 million chickens to stop the spread of a potentially deadly influenza strain.
  • 2011 – Samoa and Tokelau skip straight to December 31 when moving from one side of the International Date Line to another.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1876 – Pablo Casals, Catalan cellist and conductor (d. 1973)
  • 1936 – Mary Tyler Moore, American actress and producer (d. 2017)
  • 1943 – Rick Danko, Canadian singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer (d. 1999)
  • 1963 – Dave McKean, English illustrator, photographer, director, and pianist

McKean is a famous British artist, illustrator, writer, and polymath who illustrated many of Neil Gaiman’s books. He also did the illustrations for Dawkins’s The Magic of Reality.  Here’s a cat in a phylogeny from that book:


And McKean’s cover illustration for the book Varjak Paw by S. F. Said, about a cat whose name is the title:

  • 1972 – Jude Law, English actor

Those who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on December 29 include:

  • 1894 – Christina Rossetti, English poet and hymn-writer (b. 1830)
  • 1926 – Rainer Maria Rilke, Austrian poet and author (b. 1875)
  • 1937 – Don Marquis, American journalist, author, and playwright (b. 1878)
  • 1986 – Harold Macmillan, English captain and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1894)
  • 2004 – Julius Axelrod, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1912)

If you know your onions (and books), you’ll know that Marquis was the author of the Archy and Mehitabel series, detailing the adventures of a typing cockroach and a beat-up alley cat:


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is freaked out by the lodger’s footwear:

Hili: What monstrosity is that?
Paulina: It’s my slipper.
Hili: You have no mercy.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Co to za zmora?
Paulina: To mój pantofel.
Hili: Nie masz litości.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

From Jesus of the Day:

From somewhere on Facebook:

And a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon from reader Barry. Is math a religion?

Tweets from Matthew, beginning with the daily exodus of fowls from Marsh Farm Barn, which is led by a flying duck! Once again Cuthbert is given Goose Privilege by being named—again!

I had no idea that this happened at the University of Chicago, and I don’t know the details, but there you are:

Okay, how are these things moved around?

Have a gander at this beautiful fly:

A bad (and self-aggrandizing) screw-up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

I don’t know why, but it seems to me that a bristly pig would have an itchy back (sound up):

Draw a kitten by New Year’s Day!  I’ll put up a few examples I found at the #DrawAKitten hashtag.

14 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. The floating fish are fascinating. Are they suspended on threads? Are there tiny wheels? Maybe helium gas. But what gives them horizontal velocity?

  2. Artists of the medieval period could draw everything except for kittens for some reason. Give them something to draw and they could do it. Unless it was a kitten.

    1. I would say that European medieval manuscript artists couldn’t draw any organisms [inc. people] true to life, but they were all copyists trained to not make many mistakes ten hours a day. I think the art of drawing from life has to be taught & practised & hardly anyone does it well without instruction – perhaps if I was untaught I would stick a human face on a cat & not see the incongruity.

      Yet from the long stretch of history we do see remarkably fine wood carving & stone carving, but I assume carpenters & masons were taught differently from the human machines making copies of texts.

  3. If PCCE thinks that Cuthbert gets pride of place at the expense of the other animals, he should explore the Curly Tails twitter feed. Sir Dudley of Dudley seems to be the only pig on the farm.

    After watching the video of Dudley getting his scratches, I looked for medieval illustrations of pigs, which aren’t very realistic, either (as Michael Fisher notes “I would say that European medieval manuscript artists couldn’t draw any organisms [inc. people] true to life,” except occasionally, though they were pretty good with snails) and I came across an abstract of this curious scholarly paper, “[What did pigs look like in the middle ages?]” The researchers examined medieval drawings of pigs. I don’t know what to say about this sort of research. What if they looked at medieval cats to determine what real medieval cats looked like?

  4. A so-so copy of the first edition of that book [A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man] will run you around $3800, but that’s not nearly as much as a first edition of Ulysses, which will cost you about $40,000 unsigned and $150,000 signed (only 1000 copies were printed).

    The google machine tells me that a first edition of Finnegans Wake (of which just 500 were printed) will set you back upwards of $20k.

    All copies of the book are in pristine condition, of course — or at least the back half of the books are, since no one’s ever read it past the midway mark. 🙂

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