Sunday: Hili dialogue

January 5, 2020 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Ceiling Cat’s Day: Sunday, January 5, 2020. It’s National Whipped Cream Day (for food purposes only), as well as Fruitcake Toss Day (self explanatory), National Bird Day (yay!), and National Keto Day (I don’t want to hear anything else about “keto” this year).

To celebrate Bird Day, here’s the official 2019 duck stamp, which you must purchase if you want to shoot these lovely waterfowl:

Finally, it’s the twelfth and last day of Christmas (drummers drumming). Tomorrow is Epiphany!

Stuff that happened on January 5 includes:

  • 1875 – The Palais Garnier, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, is inaugurated in Paris.
  • 1895 – Dreyfus affair: French army officer Alfred Dreyfus is stripped of his rank and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island.
  • 1912 – The 6th All-Russian Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Prague Party Conference) opens. In the course of the conference, Vladimir Lenin and his supporters break from the rest of the party to form the and formed their own, Bolshevik movement.
  • 1919 – The German Workers’ Party, which would become the Nazi Party, is founded in Munich.
  • 1933 – Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins in San Francisco Bay.
  • 1953 – The play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett receives its première in Paris.
  • 1974 – The warmest reliably measured temperature within the Antarctic Circle, of +59 °F (+15 °C), is recorded at Vanda Station.

Vanda Station being run by Kiwis, there were of course hijinks:

Vanda Station was well known for The Royal Lake Vanda Swim Club. Visitors to Lake Vanda Station could dip into the high salinity waters when the icecap edge melted out during summer to form a “moat”, and receive a Royal Lake Vanda Swim Club shoulder patch. Vanda staff would assist the melt by hacking out a “pool”. Many dignitaries and politicians were inducted into the club, The dip had to be naked (Rule 1), complete immersion (Rule 4), witnessed by a “Vandal” (Vanda Station staffer) and with no restrictions on photography (Rule 6) to qualify. Rule 10 allowed a natural figleaf, but it had to be natural and also naturally green without artificial aid.

I am apprised that you are allowed to keep your socks on.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1779 – Zebulon Pike, American general and explorer (d. 1813)
  • 1855 – King Camp Gillette, American businessman, founded the Gillette Company (d. 1932)

King Camp Gillette (I have no explanation for his first two names) was a true capitalist:

While working as a salesman for the Crown Cork and Seal Company in the 1890s, Gillette saw bottle caps, with the cork seal he sold, thrown away after the bottle was opened. This made him recognize the value in basing a business on a product that was used a few times, then discarded. Men shaved with straight razors that needed sharpening every day using a leather strop. As existing, relatively expensive, razor blades dulled quickly and needed continuous sharpening, a razor whose blade could be thrown away when it dulled would meet a real need and likely be profitable.

More births on December 5:

  • 1917 – Jane Wyman, American actress (d. 2007)
  • 1928 – Walter Mondale, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 42nd Vice President of the United States
  • 1931 – Robert Duvall, American actor and director
  • 1932 – Umberto Eco, Italian novelist, literary critic, and philosopher (d. 2016)
  • 1942 – Charlie Rose, American journalist and talk show host
  • 1946 – Diane Keaton, American actress, director, and businesswoman
  • 1978 – January Jones, American actress

Those who went extinct on January 5 include:

Shackleton, of course, was the intrepid explorer of the South Pole region, who saved all his men after his ship, Endurance, was broken to bits by encroaching sea ice (below). But I’ll never forgive him for ordering the execution of Mrs. Chippy, the ship’s cat:

Pierce Blackborow (r) and Mrs. Chippy, who was executed on Shackleton’s orders.
  • 1942 – Tina Modotti, Italian photographer, model, actress, and activist (b. 1896)

Here’s a photo taken by Modotti showing Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and other revolutionaries.


  • 1963 – Rogers Hornsby, American baseball player, coach, and manager (b. 1896)
  • 1970 – Max Born, German physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1882)
  • 1979 – Charles Mingus, American bassist, composer, bandleader (b. 1922)
  • 1981 – Harold Urey, American chemist and astronomer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1893)
  • 1994 – Tip O’Neill, American lawyer and politician, 55th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (b. 1912)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili reveals herself as an opponent of Social-Justice Warriorism: When I told Malgorzata that I didn’t know Hili thought this way, she replied, “Hili’s disdain for social justice warriors knows no bounds!”

Hili: I’m a pessimist.
A: About what?
Hili: About the craziness of intersectionality.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Jestem pesymistką.
Ja: Na jaki temat?
Hili: Obłędu intersekcjonalności.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)
Last year’s ducklings, because I miss them:

Unintended humor from A Science Enthusiast:

From Jesus of the Day:

Did you see the travel ad that Kylie Minogue made to lure Brexit-weary poms to Australia? Well, here it is, which leads in to the first tweet below. (Even though the Aussie ad is cheesy, and plays into many stereotypes, I kind of like it—especially the quokka part.)

The response (h/t: Robert):

A tweet from reader Scott. Vermeule is a professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School. I can’t even. . .  I am shaking and crying now! (The dude has to be religious.)

A tweet from reader Barry: feeding young birds:

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. First, the new age of fireworks. Look at that drone clock!!

A deep-sea jellyfish with a hitchhiker:

Tweets from Matthew; the first is one he put out:

Julian Baggini takes apart Philip Goff’s latest attempt to foist the ridiculous theory of panpsychism (the new alchemy) on a numinous-hungry public. Patricia Churchland agrees:

A cut-rate horror movie:


39 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. I am apprised that you are allowed to keep your socks on.

    Like the male talent in those old 8mm stag films?

      1. The ones that introduced the idea of anal flossing to the wonderful world of make-up artistry.

          1. You don’t listen to enough Stephen Fry.
            That’s alright, with the exception of Mr Fry (and possibly his psychobabblologist), nobody listens to enough Stephen Fry.

  2. Singapore, Marina Bay, New Year drone show.
    I urge you to turn the sound off it’s as annoying af – why not just have the sounds of the crowd?:

    Part I:

    Part II [with clock]:

    Shanghai also had a 2020 New Years’ Drone show – even bigger, but they pre-recorded it a few days earlier & released it to the world media at the appropriate time, who stupidly assumed it happened on New Year.

    China has form for doing this such as the fireworks crossing Beijing like footsteps during the 2008 Olympics which was a digital fake for TV audiences. South Korea too, who in 2018 broadcast pre-recorded drones for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics – because of the risk of freezing weather & winds causing disruption on the night [BBC source].

    1. The price for these shows is a mere $50,800 per show. Not too bad. The software to design and drive hundreds of drones in 3D is through a graphical interface which is shown briefly in this video at 00:14.

    2. I think we’re seeing the death knell of the toxic dust clouds from firework displays. (Barium oxide dust in particular.)

  3. Vermeule is a professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School.

    Vermeule converted to Catholicism in 2016. He is a proponent of the doctrine of “integralism,” which seeks to eliminate the separation of church and state. He is also a former law clerk for the late SCOTUS justice Nino Scalia.

    1. Catholic integralism, What Fun!

      …it supports subordinating the state to the moral principles of Catholicism.

      Moral principles of Catholicism?…what a laugh, and a good oxymoron to boot.

      1. Do you remember when Kennedy first started to run for president and there was an uproar that the Pope would run the country if he were elected. The timing is about right 60 years.

        1. The anti-papist whisper campaign that there would be a “pipeline” between Vatican and White House. JFK had to make the hajj to Houston to convince the a group of Protestant preachers that he was committed to the separation of church and state, in order to become the first (and thus far only) Roman Catholic president.

          Seems we’ve come full circle.

  4. I don’t know how many people saw “Hancock” with Will Smith but every time Will would land the ground would sort of “break”. Well that’s what happen s when you toss fruitcakes so be careful out there folks.

  5. Fascinated by Adrian Vermeule’s Twitter mash-up logo of the 12-star EU flag surrounding the Virgin Mary, I looked him up…

    He is a dangerous character should the winds blow in his favour [highly unlikely thank dog]. According to WIKI he has converted to Catholicism & is now an advocate of integralism, a Roman Catholic political doctrine which calls for the abolition of the division between church & state & it would be up to “integralists” such as him to determine the “Highest Good.” The usurpation of democracy this would require to come into effect, would be achieved from within the system rather than by a vote. Integralists deny this would be a theocracy!

    Ultimately the aim is a NWO under Catholicism – I really must start to take crank tin hats more seriously, like the Mel Gibson character Jerry Fletcher in Conspiracy Theory, sometimes these loons can be pigeon chess right!

  6. Were I a Pommie, that Kylie Minogue ad would have me headed Down Under. Sure, it’s kitschy, but knowingly, winkingly so. I think it’s inspired.

    1. I agree Ken! But the correct form is to refer to the “Pop Princess” just as Kylie & if you want to say hi to her you’d better head to Chelsea, London where she has her nest. 🙂

      Kylie Trivia: She has had more London Madame Tussauds wax effigies than Queen Liz II.

      And this is for you [no body double used]:

        1. I regret she went into the dance/show girl thing – that’s been full to brimming since Madonna whereas there’s always a shortage of female rockers who can vamp & rock both. I think her voice, with training of a kind, might have been better suited to a rock style where force & conviction of delivery matters more than being accurately on key. PJ Harvey [my avatar] is the best of a rare breed of lassie along with Bjork & Patti Smith – none of them entirely accurate.

        1. Never knew of that performance & that is rather excellent, her innovative timing on “tease, tease ….. tease” is spot on. tyvm

          1. I chose it because I saw it when that show was first broadcast. At the time, I just thought of Kylie as a manufactured pop star who couldn’t really sing, but that performance completely changed my opinion of her.

  7. “a razor whose blade could be thrown away when it dulled would meet a real need and likely be profitable.”

    When I interviewed with 3M in St. Paul, years ago, they showed me a $300,000 heart bypass pump used by surgeons. I was impressed by the shiny metal and the glitzy valves, but they then told me the pump was not profitable, but the plastic tubing, which was single-use, was.

    1. I wonder what 3M was charging for a single-use sterile tube – $500? Ink jet printer consumables come to mind, & the data cables & B.S. extended warranties.

      A mate of mine who sold printers broke even on the machines & wasn’t competitive on the inks [v competitive market is the carts] so he finagled profit from the cables [2,000% gross profit] & the delivery charge [200% to 300%] plus he ‘sold’ his invoices to a finance company for 97.5% that paid him the day he raised the invoice.

      1. Various times the factoid has been reported that inkjet ink literally costs more than gold, weight-for-weight. Probably varies for
        That’s somewhat complicated by the cost of the cartridges, which it is hard to avoid paying.
        We did the sums at work one time, and found it worthwhile to spend about £900 modifying a £300 inkjet printer to take it’s ink from a one-litre external tank. I’m not sure how many kilometres of print we did off that, but it was a lot. The storesman used to love the couple of hours overtime for going in on Saturday evening to make sure the machine hadn’t run out of ink or paper. Or draughting film, when we were doing archival copies.

  8. “1974 – The warmest reliably measured temperature within the Antarctic Circle, of +59 °F (+15 °C), is recorded at Vanda Station.”

    This is surprising given global warming. Is it due to lack of measuring, “unreliable” measuring, or what? I’ve heard that global warming has hit the Arctic harder than the rest of the world (or is it just greater effect?) so why isn’t it the same for the Antarctic?

    1. Sorry for the length of this post Paul & the lecture mode – I’m sure you know most of this 🙂

      Anyway the OP data is out of date.

      The WMO reports that the highest temperature in recorded history for the Antarctic Region – defined as ALL LAND & ICE BELOW 60°S – was observed on 30 January 1982 at Signy Research Station [coastal] hit 19.8°C! This in a continent with an average range −10°C on the Antarctic coast to −60°C at the highest parts of the interior.

      That’s going some

      But the highest temperature for the Antarctic continent THE BITS ON ROCK happened only recently, with 17.5°C being recorded on 24 March 2015 at the Argentine Research Base Esperanza near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Antarctic Peninsula is now one the fastest warming regions of the planet, gaining almost 3°C over the last 50 years.

      The highest temperature for the Antarctic Plateau – defined as at or above 2,500 metres was -7.0°C 28 December 1980 at an Automatic Weather Station (AWS) site on the Adélie Coast.

      The Antarctic is being hit hard, but ground measuring stations are sparse especially in the interior & thus there’s not a lot of pre-satellite data to compare with current data to identify trends with certainty. And the WMO & other orgs have learned the hard way to collect more data points [which are made publicly available to stop talk of post hoc adjusting] & hold off on the grand statements until a solid trend is identified with a solid climate model backing it up.

      e.g. The dead Michael Crichton in 2004 wrote an irresponsible docu-novel, State of Fear that asserted that the Antarctic data contradict global warming – all down to Crichton’s ignorance [a trend in many of his bollocks books].

      So there may well have been warmer days more recently than the one noted, but nobody was there to hear the tree hit the ground so to speak. The US-NOAA polar satellites have been up for a few decades, but I don’t know their capabilities – can they somehow infer winds & cold air movements sliding down from the Antarctic highlands to the lowland coastal regions? Antarctica after all is the highest continent on Earth: average elevation is 2500m with the highest point on the icecap not rock] is 4100m. A real challenge to model all this compared to the Arctic.

      My intuition is that the Antarctic is a huge latent heat sink that stabilises temperature variation inland & we shouldn’t expect extremes at the interior yet – Crichton [as I understand it] latched onto a real Antarctic interior cooling as evidence against warming, without bothering to find out [or purposefully ignoring] how the Antarctic can be warming overall while the interior got colder for a few years.

    2. P.S. I’ve just noticed that the two data points of “highs” I mentioned are at latitudes between the ‘official’ Antarctic 60°S & the Antarctic Circle at 66°33′47.9″ S whereas the site in the OP [Vanda] is at 77°31′0″ S – thus the OP data isn’t out of date as defined.

  9. If Antonio Banderas could master the accent, he could play the part of Shackleton. He’s a doppelgänger, if I’ve ever seen one.

    It’s sweet to see the man feeding the baby birds.

    I’m deeply saddened to learn that an estimated half a billion animals have died in the fires that have raged across Australia.

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