Monday: Hili dialogue

Good morning to a new week and the knowledge that this cold, gray month will soon be history: it’s Monday, January 27, 2020. And it’s National Chocolate Cake Day, World Breast Pumping Day, and Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day (I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those miscreants who love to break the bubbles and make loud pops).

It’s also Thomas Crapper Day,  in honor of the businessman and plumber who died on this day in 1910. He didn’t invent the modern toilet, as is often said, but he did patent three improvements for the loo, including the floating ballcock in the water tank that keeps the amount of flush water constant.

Heeeeeere’s Crapper:

Finally, it’s a somber day, too: International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the 75th anniversary of the day in 1945 when Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by the Red Army. Here, from Wikipedia, is a photo of a “selection” of Hungarian Jews in 1944, showing new arrivals being sent to either the barracks (where they wouldn’t remain alive very long) or the gas chamber, where they’d die within the hour.

Topping the news is yesterday’s tragic death of basketball star Kobe Bryant (only 41), his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other unnamed people in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles. Bryant leaves behind his wife and three other daughters; their pain is surely unbearable. It was so sudden, and the scale of mourning shown on the news reveals how popular the man was.

Kobe was a big star in Asia, too, and reader Winnie from Hong Kong sent a picture going around on Chinese social media:

I wondered about those yellow rectangles, and Winnie replied, “I think the two yellow rectangles are supposed to be joss paper that you burn for the dead (money for them to spend in the netherworld).”

Joss paper

Stuff that happened on January 27 includes:

Here’s one of my favorite romantic paintings, showing one of the meetings in Florence between Dante and his courtly love and muse Beatrice Portinari:

(From Wikipedia): Dante and Beatrice, by Henry Holiday. Dante looks longingly at Beatrice (in center) passing by with friend Lady Vanna (red) along the Arno River


  • 1606 – Gunpowder Plot: The trial of Guy Fawkes and other conspirators begins, ending with their execution on January 31.
  • 1785 – The University of Georgia is founded, the first public university in the United States.
  • 1880 – Thomas Edison receives a patent for his incandescent lamp.
  • 1944 – World War II: The 900-day Siege of Leningrad is lifted.
  • 1967 – Apollo program: Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee are killed in a fire during a test of their Apollo 1 spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
  • 1973 – The Paris Peace Accords officially end the Vietnam War. Colonel William Nolde is killed in action becoming the conflict’s last recorded American combat casualty.
  • 1983 – The pilot shaft of the Seikan Tunnel, the world’s longest sub-aqueous tunnel (53.85 km) between the Japanese islands of Honshū and Hokkaidō, breaks through.
  • 1996 – Germany first observes the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1756 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian pianist and composer (d. 1791)
  • 1832 – Lewis Carroll, English novelist, poet, and mathematician (d. 1898)
  • 1836 – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Austrian journalist and author (d. 1895)
  • 1885 – Jerome Kern, American composer and songwriter (d. 1945)
  • 1921 – Donna Reed, American actress (d. 1986)
  • 1948 – Mikhail Baryshnikov, Russian-American dancer, choreographer, and actor
  • 1956 – Mimi Rogers, American actress

Watch this dude dance! The best male ballet dancers seem to levitate, having a magic force that keeps them in the air longer than gravity allows:

Those who joined the Choir Invisible on January 27 include:

  • 1901 – Giuseppe Verdi, Italian composer (b. 1813)
  • 1910 – Thomas Crapper, English plumber and businessman (b. 1836)1967 – crew of Apollo 1
    • Roger B. Chaffee, American pilot, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1935)
    • Gus Grissom, American pilot and astronaut (b. 1926)
    • Ed White, American colonel, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1930)
  • 1972 – Mahalia Jackson, American singer (b. 1911)
  • 2004 – Jack Paar, American talk show host and author (b. 1918)
  • 2009 – John Updike, American novelist, short story writer, and critic (b. 1932)
  • 2010 – J. D. Salinger, American soldier and author (b. 1919)
  • 2014 – Pete Seeger, American singer-songwriter, guitarist and activist (b. 1919)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is adopting the argot of social justice:

Hili: Is the allergy to cat fur a social construct?
A: No, I’m afraid it’s a fact.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy alergia na kocią sierść to konstrukt społeczny?
Ja: Nie, obawiam się, że to fakt.

From Jesus of the Day: I’m pretty sure these are Valais Blacknose sheep.

Posted by Maria on Facebook:

Posted by Ayoob Pa on Science Humor:

Titania’s Twitter feed is a gold mine not just of spoof wokeness, but of news as well. This is a true story:

Someone used a wrapped piece of cheese as a marker in a book returned to the Liverpool Uni library. That created a torrent of peevish responses from other libraries that also found gross bookmarks (click on the first tweet to see some). And someone used a TACO!

From reader Ken; listen to Trump’s “spiritual advisor” have a brain dump about wildlife and “satanic pregnancies”, which she begs God to terminate. She’s as nuts as Trump is!

A tweet from Matthew sent by Barry, who says “Notice the crab’s excitement after it opens up the shell!”

Three tweets from Heather Hastie. She says this about the second one: “Proof that if a cat can get their head through, they can get their whole body through.”:

When life imitates art:


And three more tweets from Matthew. The first one suggests an interesting form of commensalism (one species benefits, the other is neither harmed nor hurt): Cow gives fusses and milk to cat, suffers no loss:

Oh, to see a wild tiger:

If this is a vulture, it could be a bad sign. But it’s really cool:


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    1973 – The Paris Peace Accords officially end the Vietnam War. Colonel William Nolde is killed in action becoming the conflict’s last recorded American combat casualty.

    I believe the Mayaguez incident from May 12-15, 1975, in which US forces fought to recapture a merchant ship and its crew taken hostage by the Khmer Rouge, is officially considered the last battle of the Vietnam War. Fifteen US Marines were killed in action during the battle, and three more captured by the Khmer Rouge were later executed.

  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Not skydiving – it’s just paragliding with a trained Egyptian vulture [parahawking] that comes to the glove and/or the whistle to be fed. There’s was an outfit in Nepal for example that was closed down by the government for use of endangered birds [or so it is claimed – I’m saying nuffin]:

    • rickflick
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Glad you pointed this out. The OP showed the wrong relative wind for a skydiver.

  3. Silvia Planchett
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Paula White and Gwyneth Paltrow would make a great team!

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Lots of grief piling up today already- so I’ll take this :

    “ born on this day …

    1756 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian pianist and composer (d. 1791)”

    … as a good sign.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      … plus – I’ll call my plumber!

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      … also old like to emphasize:

      The grief I refer to is largely unnecessary- it didn’t have to pass. Don’t need to set into detail I suppose but that’s the sort of grief I think it is : could have been avoided.

  5. johnjfitzgerald
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The Vietnam Conflict did not end in 1973. The fighting continued on to 1975. In the period after 1975, the United States did not have diplomatic relations with Vietnam. Full diplomatic relations did not come about until the Clinton administration. To this day Vietnamese farmers and children are killed or injured by unexploded ordinance that is found all over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

    • GBJames
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      All for dominos.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      One thing that did happen on 27 January 1973 was that the Selective Service announced that the draft was being suspended and that people were no longer being turned into cannon fodder called up for active duty. Young men were still required to register when they turned eighteen and the draft lottery continued until 1975. That final lottery year was the year I turned eighteen and my birthday came up #2 in the 1975 drawing.

      • Posted January 27, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        Nobody from the class of 1971 in college or thereafter got drafted into the Army. I got drafted as a CO, though, which was a violation of Selective Service rules (if you have draft number X, they call both COs and soldiers up with number X at the same time). I took the government to court with the help of the ACLU, and we won our class-action suit, which I think resulted in over a thousand men being released from CO duty (I had already worked 13 months when my ‘induction’ was overturned.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 27, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        Should note that in 1975, last year of the lottery, no one was drafted in. As Jerry stated, none were drafted after the first year of the lottery which started in December of 1969. I was already in the service for more than a year at that time. Remember only the army and marines were affected by the draft. So anyone telling you they were drafted into the Navy or Air Force is putting you on. Lots of people joined those organizations to avoid the draft, such as I.

  6. Hempenstein
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Watching that crab, occurs to me that they don’t have tactile sensations in their appendages (do they?). At least no nerve endings in the exoskeleton (are there?) to give the sensation of having grabbed something as we have in our fingertips. So for the crab operating on the scallop, it must be like operating one of those dime-store contraptions where you try to get the prize out of the box by operating controls to move the bucket that grabs the prize.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Crabs have hairs on their claws & other parts to detect water currents at a receptor density six times more than the touch receptors in the human finger – I would guess these serve also to fine-tune grasping. They also pick up vibrations via scraping that may give them surface texture information.

      Unrelated [ish]: I was reading about hermit crabs last week – they borrow discarded shells [or other objects] as external protection. some scientists tested them for ‘body image’ & it seems that these crabs quickly learned the extent of their adopted armour in all directions without there being a direct touch receptor to aid ‘visualization’ – they figured it out by bumping into stuff.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      In addition to the surface sensors Michael mentions, I would think the crab can sense based on resistance to movement. A kinesthetic sense – awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body by means of sensory organs (proprioceptors) in the muscles and joints, Proprioception is mediated by proprioceptors, mechanosensory neurons located within muscles, tendons, and joints. There are multiple types of proprioceptors which are activated during distinct behaviors and encode distinct types of information: limb velocity and movement, load on a limb, and limb limits. Vertebrates and invertebrates have distinct but similar modes of encoding this information.

    • Posted January 27, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      The shell has numerous hairs, and shorter structures that are all innervated. These sensory receptors are for touch, pressure, and probably for taste as well.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        Thx Michael, Rick $ Mark!

  7. merilee
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink


  8. E.A. Blair
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    There is a virtual bubble wrap page where you can endlessly pop all you like.

    It may be bad form to contradict Hili, but it was determined a number of years ago that people who are allergic to cats are not allergic to the fur or dander, but to an enzyme present in cat saliva. Of course this enzyme gets transferred to the fur when cats groom themselves. For a long time, cat allergies were considered to have no remedy, but it turned out that the researchers were looking in the wrong place for the offending substance.

    Despite the fact that I am allergic to cats, I have lived with them for fifty years. I find that I become tolerant of my owners through exposure, but that I have peoblems when I am around unfamiliar cats. When I bring in a new household member, I go through a few weeks of adapting, but it’s worth the temporary discomfort.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:40 am | Permalink

      ‘Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day’ reminds me of a particularly bad recent joke:

      ‘Gosh, I’m tired. I had to deliver three rolls of bubble-wrap. The lady said “Just pop it in the corner”. Took me seven hours’.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      I use bubble wrap to pack delicate equipment. I’m often dismayed by those who pop it, square meters of it, rendering it close to useless.
      Please bubble wrap poppers, make sure it is not needed anymore before you engage in this destructive behaviour.

  9. boudiccadylis
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Is someone in Hili’s immediate environment who has an allergy problem?

  10. rickflick
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    The University of Georgia is founded in 1785. What science would students have had available for study?

    Prior to 1800

    Galileo and Newton, of course
    The Leyden Jar
    Uranus discovered
    Mercury barometer
    Microscopic organisms
    Earth’s magnetic field

    After 1800 – stuff they would not have seen:

    Electric Battery
    Periodic table
    Atomic number

    From Scientific Discoveries Timeline:

  11. mike cracraft
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Spot the cat. There appears to be a cat in the Henry Holiday painting of Dante.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Yes, the cat seems to be stalking the pigeons. There’s also a d*g in the image.

  12. Posted January 27, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Before 1800 I though at university studies were mostly of classic, Latin, Greek, etc. Georgia was originally a land grant college will emphasis on agriculture and still has a department of agriculture doing research.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      That sounds right.

  13. Mark R.
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    While watching Baryshnikov dance (amazing!), I scrolled down to have a look at the comments. This one made me laugh.

    Watching Baryshnikov makes me feel like I’ve accomplished nothing in my life.

  14. Posted January 27, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Actually, Hili, it’s not the cat fur; it’s the cat saliva, urine and dander that are the source of the allergens.

  15. Posted January 27, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Btw, anchor Jim Lehrer died on Jan. 23rd.

  16. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 30, 2020 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    That Paula White raving lunacy isn’t from The Onion, is it?

    (Actually, I feel sorry for The Onion these days – how can you possibly satirise the sheer lunacy of what’s going on?)


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