Saturday: Hili dialogue

January 25, 2020 • 6:45 am

Good morning on a cold and slushy Chicago Saturday: January 25, 2020. In two months the mallards will be winging north, with one special hen, I hope, homing to Botany Pond.



It’s National Irish Coffee Day: a good way to imbibe your stimulant and your depressant at once. And it’s also Burns Night, so save some of that whiskey to serve with your haggis. Finally, it’s Macintosh Computer Day (which is what I’m typing this on), Fluoride Day, celebrating another triumph of science, and, for much of the world, Chinese New Year!

To celebrate Chinese New Year, Google has a new Doodle that links (click on screenshot) to various articles on the Lunar New Year (the second new moon after the winter solstice, a variable holiday that falls between January 21 and February 20). This happens to be the Year of the Rat, but, sadly, many New Year’s events in China have been canceled because of the spreading coronavirus.

The Doodle explanation page tells us that this one is animated, but if you go to the Doodle’s own page and click on it, you don’t see any animation. Am I missing something? At any rate, here’s why we’re celebrating the Rat:

According to ancient legend, an emperor challenged different animals to race through the land to determine their order in the zodiac. Due to his size, the rat knew it could not cross a river on his own, so he hitched a ride on the ox’s back. But, just before reaching the opposite shore over a river, the rat then cleverly leapt off—winning first place in the race and thus the zodiac calendar!

Things that happened on January 25 include:

  • AD 41 – After a night of negotiation, Claudius is accepted as Roman Emperor by the Senate.[1]
  • 1533 – Henry VIII of England secretly marries his second wife Anne Boleyn.[6]
  • 1858 – The Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn is played at the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Victoria, and Friedrich of Prussia, and becomes a popular wedding processional.
  • 1909 – Richard Strauss’s opera Elektra receives its debut performance at the Dresden State Opera.
  • 1915 – Alexander Graham Bell inaugurates U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.
  • 1945 – World War II: The Battle of the Bulge ends.
  • 1961 – In Washington, D.C., President John F. Kennedy delivers the first live presidential television news conference.
  • 1971 – Charles Manson and three female “Family” members are found guilty of the 1969 Tate–LaBianca murders

You all know what Charlie looks like, but here are the three family members convicted with him: Leslie Van Houten, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel (left to right). Van Houten and Krenwinkel remain in prison, while Atkins died in a prison hospital of brain cancer in 2009.

  • 1996 – Billy Bailey becomes the last person to be hanged in the U.S.A.

Here’s Bailey, who chose to be hanged rather than have a lethal injection because, he said, “I’m not going to let them put me to sleep.” He was found guilty of two horrific murders.

  • 2011 – The first wave of the Egyptian revolution begins throughout the country, marked by street demonstrations, rallies, acts of civil disobedience, riots, labour strikes, and violent clashes.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1627 – Robert Boyle, Irish-English chemist and physicist (d. 1691)
  • 1874 – W. Somerset Maugham, British playwright, novelist, and short story writer (d. 1965)
  • 1882 – Virginia Woolf, English novelist, essayist, short story writer, and critic (d. 1941)
  • 1900 – Theodosius Dobzhansky, Ukrainian geneticist and pioneer of evolutionary biology (d. 1975) [JAC: I may have erred by saying that his birthday was yesterday, but Wikipedia gives his birthday on both Jan. 24 and Jan. 25! Could somebody check on this and fix it in Wikpedia?]
  • 1949 – Paul Nurse, English geneticist and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1981 – Alicia Keys, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actress

Those who went extinct on January 25 include:

  • 1586 – Lucas Cranach the Younger, German painter (b. 1515)
  • 1891 – Theo van Gogh, Art dealer, the brother of Vincent van Gogh (b. 1857)
  • 1947 – Al Capone, American gangster and mob boss (b. 1899)
  • 1990 – Ava Gardner, American actress, world’s most beautiful woman (b. 1922)
  • 2004 – Fanny Blankers-Koen, Dutch runner and hurdler (b. 1918)
  • 2005 – Philip Johnson, American architect, designed the PPG Place and Crystal Cathedral (b. 1906)
  • 2017 – Mary Tyler Moore, American actress, dancer, and producer (b. 1936)

Here is Cranach the Younger’s “Allegory of the Fall and Redemption of Man”, with a couple of grotesque figures.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is apparently acting as a feline United Nations, charged with guarding the world’s order. As Malgorzata said, “There is an order in the world: food appears, no chairs are floating in the air, there is always somebody to open the door. Hili is guarding this order so nothing untowards happens.”

A: Are you asleep?
Hili: No, I’m guarding the order of our world.
In Polish:
Ja: Śpisz?
Hili: Nie, pilnuję porządku naszego świata.

From Jesus of the Day:

A timely greeting card for Chinese New Year (h/t: Winnie):

From reader Donna:

From Wild and Wonderful, the “flying duck orchid”:

More from the Queen of Wokeness. And I don’t think Mexica Tiahui’s reply is a joke:

And even if that response to Weetman is a joke, Matilda Valentine’s isn’t—unless, that is, both are parody accounts like Titania’s. You go over, have a look, and tell me. It’s getting ever harder to distinguish wokeness from parody of wokeness:

I made a tweet because the New York Times published some extremely dubious scientific speculation:

I think the glasses give this duckling a “sexy librarian” look:

From reader Barry: How to know when a cat is in pain. Watch (sound up) if you love cats.

A tweet from Heather Hastie via Ann German. Heather says, “You have to love Prince Charles now.” I guess the principle is that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Two tweets from Matthew. I had no idea that bobcats could have a leopard-spot morph, which is presumably the reappearance of an ancestral coat pattern. I put a regular bobcat below to show the difference.

The “non-rosette” (regular) morph:

34 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Woo-hoo”, said my brother, on Jerry’s last birthday no less. “Look after the house, I’m off to China again to teach EFL for the University. 10 weeks this time.”
    “Where you staying?” I inquired.
    “Wuhan, in the middle.”
    “Bon voyage,” I enviously replied.

    Frank is now stuck in his hotel, on the war bit of ‘War & Peace’, which I foresightedly uploaded to his kindle, staring out of his window at a “Ballardian” cityscape, reading a “rubbish” prehistory of fascism, considering teaching a fellow-lecturer how to play chess, trying & failing to watch the Tata Steel Chess Masters 2020 online, consoling himself that it is the first real historical event that he has witnessed close-up, & appears to be in the euphoric stage of reactions to deeply peculiar events.

    It cannot last.

    1. Upload him the Count’s other door-stop tome, Anna Karenina, Dermot. The two of ’em together oughta keep him in reading material, even should the coronavirus pandemic outlast the Black Plague. 🙂

        1. Yes, he’s got loads, 2/3rds of Austen, some Henry James, some of whose sentences feel like they last as long as from here to Spring, & a few others. Project Gutenberg is our friend.

          He’s in the end of ‘A handful of Dust’ by Waugh: reading Dickens novels out loud to a psychotic devotee in the jungle…forever.

          “Good morning,” I texted him this morning.
          “It is,” he somewhat runically replied.

    1. I don’t think Matilda Valentine is a parody account. If it is, it is extremely unfunny in its seriousness, which means that it is actually hilarious.

      Take this excerpt as sent to another Twitterer:

      “Such spaces are oriented on ethnocentric hegemonic discourse and powered structural language. Only by deconstructing the cultured spaces of Western powered hegemony, can appreciation for nonconformist spaces be achieved without patriarchal distortion.”

      There’s a lot of that there.

      Larry Smith

      1. I’m pretty sure it is a parody account.

        “I’m genuinely considering emigrating to Mogadishu. I no longer feel safe in London as a gender-neutral woman. I wish it wasn’t this way, but it is. We must show solidarity with our sisters in this country during Tory rule.

        1. Now I think that it’s definitely a parody account, but genuine or bogus, they’s so over the top that I’ve become a follower. So many priceless tweets, for instance:

          This was the tip-off for me: “We have a duty to help black and brown people survive in this world. It’s not enough for the privileged to simply give to charity once a year, we need to incorporate social justice in our daily lives. I usually give the janitor at my work money when I see him. #WhitePrivilege”; though I’d bet there actually are ignorant woke folk who’d do this, or something close.

          Another tip-off is the too-facile use of woke language. Hyper-fluency (similar to the way some German speakers who’ve mastered English, have no trace of an accent, and speak better English than most native English speakers so they’re assumed to be native speakers of English. But I can usually tell — perhaps because of a certain hyper-precision of pronunciation that’s de trop, and German; not an accent per se but a distinctive linguistic feature of some native German speakers. Pace, native speakers of German. Guess I should use the word “Muttersprachler” for Germans, and ‘mother tongue” instead of the unwoke “native”.

          The genuinely woke aren’t nearly so proficient communicating in their own ideological language. This is linguistic expertise that only a Titania or a Jarvis, et al., could muster/master. I sure wish I were so fluent. I’d start my own titter parody account, but I don’t want to immerse myself in all that crap, it would pollute the linguistic parts of my brain.

      2. Matilda Valentine is a real piece of work. She sounds like Titania McGrath on steroids. Maybe she is Titania. Hre’s something else I found on her twitter site: “Thank you! Islam is an intersection of peace, love, and tolerance. Disputing this is, by definition, adverse to liberal progression.” She’s got to be Titania.

        In truth, I think she’s a real person and sick, sick, sick. In dire need of heavy psychotherapy at once. Hope you read this, Matildy.

        There are those who consider learning another language and investigating different cultures to be the work of the devil. I encountered this when I once visited an Ecuadorian fundamentalist Christian church, and though welcomed as a visitor, I was treated to an impromptu sermon in Spanish (translated by a parishioner) about how people who go outside their own ethno-cultural group and are interested in other cultures and languages have been possessed by Satan and will come to a bad end. I took this as a warning to me to get out of that space and not return. This went for outsiders venturing into the culture of the “other” and members of the group seeking experiences beyond the group. Ironically, most of the church members appeared to be indigenous people but were speaking in Spanish, the language of conquest.

  2. … Fluoride Day, celebrating another triumph of science, and, for much of the world …</blockquote

    Some, like General Jack D. Ripper, beg to disagree: 🙂

              1. I didn’t realize, until just checking, that Dame Vera is still among the quick at age 102.

                Quite the songbird, that one. Thanks for the link.

  3. The chronotype speculation is hardly that of the NYT. They are just reporting. It is called the “poorly sleeping grandparent hypothesis” and has been floating around for a couple of years now based on observations of hunter-gatherer populations. These are highly related groups of people so it is consistent with kin selection rather than requiring group selection. It is still speculation, of course, but perhaps not completely “wild.”’s-sleep

    1. I am a night owl. I have read theories before about why humans have the sleep patterns they do. I have wondered about that myself. Even before our ancestors could be called hunter gatherers there would be advantages to intermittent sleeping and light sleeping. Pretty speculative stuff I sgree.

    1. And did you notice how Pence’s face drew up into a pained and angry grimace at the snub, like a little kid who just realized that he wasn’t chosen to be on the team when he fully expected it.

      1. As kids, choosing sides for baseball was a constant test of status. The two captains would take turns until the last guy, who was usually the same miserably bad player every time. No coordination, no ability, can’t hit the ball…

        So Pence was probably that last guy at some point in his early life. That must be why they turn bad. A fraud. A resentful loser who wants to get even any way they can.

  4. According to the Zodiac legend, the cat was originally in the race, but never made it to the end.

    According to one version, the cat and the rat hitched a ride on the ox’s back to cross the river, but during that time the rat pushed the cat into the river. By the time they reached the shore, the rat jumped off the ox’s back and made it first while the ox finished second. The rest of the animals came afterwards except the cat who drowned in the river. This legend was also used to explain why cats hunt rats.

    So yea, the rat’s a dick.

  5. The Wikipedia article about Theodosius Dobzhansky gives his birth date as 25 January, but for some reason he erroneously appeared in the separate list of people born on 24 January (and correctly in the one for people born on 25 January). I’ve fixed the error now.

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