Tuesday: Hili dialogue

It’s the cruellest day: a Tuesday, but this gray month is almost gone, as it’s January 28, 2020. In Chicago the temperatures are hoving around the freezing point, and will for a week, with every day overcast. It’s weather that sucks the life out of Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus). But soon the ducks will come. . .

It’s National Blueberry Pancake Day, a treat full of antioxidants, National Kazoo Day (observed since 1983), National Plan for Vacation Day (I am: going to Paris next month), and Data Privacy Day, observed in the U.S., Canada, Israel, and many countries in Europe.

Stuff that happened on January 28 includes:

  • 814 – The death of Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor, brings about the accession of his son Louis the Pious as ruler of the Frankish Empire.
  • 1521 – The Diet of Worms begins, lasting until May 25.

That’s a long diet; I hope the dieter lost some weight! Are there carbs in worms?

Here’s a painting of Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms, reportedly complaining, “Look, Your Holiness, I’ve got indigestion and simply can’t scarf down one more annelid!”

  • 1754 – Sir Horace Walpole coins the word serendipity in a letter to a friend.
  • 1813 – Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is first published in the United Kingdom.
  • 1896 – Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent, becomes the first person to be convicted of speeding. He was fined one shilling, plus costs, for speeding at 8 mph (13 km/h), thereby exceeding the contemporary speed limit of 2 mph (3.2 km/h).

Two miles per hour! That’s slower than walking speed!

  • 1933 – The name Pakistan is coined by Choudhry Rahmat Ali Khan and is accepted by Indian Muslims who then thereby adopted it further for the Pakistan Movement seeking independence.
  • 1935 – Iceland becomes the first Western country to legalize therapeutic abortion.
  • 1956 – Elvis Presley makes his first national television appearance.

Here’s his first appearance—not on Ed Sullivan, as many think, but on “Stage Show,” where he sang “Shake, Rattle and Roll”. The King shows up 34 seconds in, and proceeds to salaciously gyrate his hips, a movement that was not shown in later television appearances:

  • 1958 – The Lego company patents the design of its Lego bricks, still compatible with bricks produced today.
  • 1965 – The current design of the Flag of Canada is chosen by an act of Parliament.
  • 1985 – Supergroup USA for Africa (United Support of Artists for Africa) records the hit single We Are the World, to help raise funds for Ethiopian famine relief.

And here’s that song. How many famous singers can you recognize? This alternative version has the names attached as captions.

Two more things that happened on January 28:

  • 1986 – Space Shuttle program: STS-51-L mission: Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on board.
  • 1988 – In R v Morgentaler the Supreme Court of Canada strikes down all anti-abortion laws.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1873 – Colette, French novelist and journalist (d. 1954)
  • 1887 – Arthur Rubinstein, Polish-American pianist and educator (d. 1982)
  • 1912 – Jackson Pollock, American painter (d. 1956)
  • 1929 – Acker Bilk, English singer and clarinet player (d. 2014)
  • 1936 – Alan Alda, American actor, director, and writer
  • 1954 – Rick Warren, American pastor and author
  • 1968 – Sarah McLachlan, Canadian singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer
  • 1981 – Elijah Wood, American actor and producer

I’ve always thought The Divine Sarah would make a good mate for PCC(E); here she is singing what is probably her most famous composition:

Those who began resting in peace on January 28 include:

  • 1547 – Henry VIII, king of England (b. 1491)
  • 1939 – W. B. Yeats, Irish poet and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1865)
  • 1986 – Space Shuttle Challenger crew
    • Gregory Jarvis, American captain, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1944)
    • Christa McAuliffe, American educator and astronaut (b. 1948)
    • Ronald McNair, American physicist and astronaut (b. 1950)
    • Ellison Onizuka, American engineer and astronaut (b. 1946)
    • Judith Resnik, American colonel, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1949)
    • Dick Scobee, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1939)
    • Michael J. Smith, American captain, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1945)

Here are the young Yeats and his unrequited love Maud Gonne. Note that he’s wearing some frippish ribbon around his neck, looking like a Christmas present:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Gosia, who used to live upstairs with her husband and daughter, has returned to Dobrzyn to visit Andrzej, Malgorzata, and Hili, who gets special fusses:

Hili: My altruism is limitless.
Gosia: How do you mean?
Hili: I allow everybody I like very much to pet me.

In Polish:

Hili: Mój altruizm nie ma granic.
Gosia: To znaczy?
Hili: Pozwalam się pieścić wszystkim, których bardzo lubię.

A conversation from Jesus of the Day. Such a love cannot be forbidden!:

From Wild and Wonderful, the face of a reptile older than a century. I think this geezer is saying, “Get off my lawn!”

Also from Jesus of the Day:

Titania mocks Obama!

From reader Barry, who says this is the first time he heard a peacock. Yes, they’re raucous; they used to wake me up when I stayed at JNU in Delhi (and in that place the peacocks are native, not introduced).


From Heather Hastie: a skulk of foxes. Look at these fat boys!

Tweets sent by Matthew, the first in honor of yesterday’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. If you visit Amsterdam, be sure to see the place where the Frank family hid from the Germans. The “secret annex” is pretty much as it was then:

This is pretty good, but they’re missing the monkey!

Darwin got a lot of flak for suggesting, in the first edition of The Origin, that a plausible intermediate in the evolution of whales could be a swimming bear snapping at insects. Here’s the original text from Chapter 6 of the 1859 version:

In North America the black bear was seen by Hearne swimming for hours with widely open mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water. Even in so extreme a case as this, if the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.

I too was taken aback when I first read that. Seriously, Charles? The tweet below links to a letter from Darwin explaining why he deep-sixed that example in subsequent editions of the book.


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    If I’m not mistaken, that bit of narration at the end of the Elvis clip is by Levon Helm, the late actor and drummer/singer for The Band.

  2. merilee
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink


  3. Jim batterson
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    “Judith resnik, american colonel…”. Judy resnik was not in the service. She was a civilian electrical engineer with b.s. from carnegie mellon and phd from univ of maryland, and a nasa astronaut. She also was a wonderful person…very very sad to have lost her that day in 1986.

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    If there’s one Rubinstein recording to listen to – not necessarily buy – and also enjoy the cover art – I’d say it’s his 1967 performance of Chopin’s Nocturnes. Put quite a spell on me. Definitely look at the artwork a bit – let yourself sink in a bit – old school style – while you listen.


    I can’t find a YouTube link readily… it definitely needs to be the one with that cover.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      This is the best I can do :

      Chopin: Nocturnes by Arthur Rubinstein

      • rickflick
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        Here’s a link to the whole album.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted January 28, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

          Excellent- BUT – the *original* artwork is important. You gotta let it wrap around you…

          The artwork redo is not the same

          • rickflick
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            I remember staring at album covers for long evenings.

            • ThyroidPlanet
              Posted January 28, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

              Sgt. Peppers

              There’s got to be some other ones as good as those…

              This isn’t including the inserts…

              • merilee
                Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

                Revolver has great music, too.

              • rickflick
                Posted January 28, 2020 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

                The Beatles were big favorites. Music and album covers.

    • merilee
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Got it, and a bunch of other Chopin/Rubinsteins, on vinyl. Arthur was the best! Got to see him live a couple times going wild with the Polonsises.🥰

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

        It’s like an intoxicating fog – that’s why I think the artwork matches so well – .. not to bring up old topics, but nowadays you have someone mugging for the camera, wearing expensive garish accouterments that display the brand names, with 110% attitude… to find within, a person talking about weed.

        But then again, that’s apples and oranges…

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        That’s amazing that you saw him. I heard he said he doesn’t ( didn’t) like to practice much, or he was all done with practice- so he’d just show up and play.. It’s quite astonishing a statement.

      • Jenny Hanniver
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        Were you able to see Anton, too?

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted January 28, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink


        • merilee
          Posted January 28, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

          Anton was just a bit before my time😬

      • merilee
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink


  5. Nobody Special
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I can’t remember which comedian I heard telling the following joke:
    In 1984, a bunch of British singers and musicians were brought together to record a charity single in aid of famine relief. The song was called Feed the World.
    A year later, a group of Americans released
    We Are the World.
    Which might help explain why so many Americans are overweight.

    • sugould
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink


  6. darrelle
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I think I can name them all.

    Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, **0:59**, Tine Turner, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, Al Jarreau, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry (lead singer of Journey 2.0), Daryl Hall (he spells his name wrong!), Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Carnes, Oates from Hall & Oates, Smokey Robinson, the older Jackson sister, Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Ray Charles, Bette Midler, Lidnsey Buckingham, **6:24**,

    Oh well, I was wrong. Looks like most of the Jackson clan was there but I can’t remember names. And I couldn’t remember the guy first seen in center screen at 0:59 and then who sings solo later at 6:24. And there were several others in the chorus that I couldn’t, and probably never could, name.

    • boudiccadylis
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Can you imagine the hoopla it would take today to get all those people together to do this type of an event?

      • rickflick
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        It would be considered elitist. 😎

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      I missed out on some I should have known,: Bruce Springsteen (unbelievably) and Harry Belafonte (I thought the latter died decades ago). And i didn’t even know Ms Carnes or Mr Nelson.
      The singer at 0.59 is James Ingram.
      Like you I could only place about three quarters. Still a good harvest 😁

      • merilee
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        You don’t know Wille Nelson?? I’m not a big country music fan, but Willie is great! He was a wonderful album of standards, too: Moonlight in Vermont, Stardust, etc.

      • merilee
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    The frippish ribbon would seem more congruous on Yeats’s foppish contemporary Oscar Wilde.

  8. Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Bright sunshine here. Always glad to see February. Daffodils are breaking through the ground. Camellias are blooming. Birds chirping. February is a much better month.

    Don’t think worms have any carbs. Long diet of worms would not be recommended.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      The end of Jan in Georgia is pretty much like late April to May in Chicago 😦

      I always loved Spring (and Fall) in the South and Winter in California.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      I did positively have no negatives about Mr Nelson, I never heard about him before, that’s all. For all I know he might be great and brilliant.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Oops tht comment ended up in the wrong place

        • merilee
          Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t take your comment negatively, Nicolaas. Check him out on YouTube and the one song I posted😀

        • merilee
          Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t take your comment negatively, Nicolaas. Check him out on YouTube and the one song I posted😀

          • Nicolaas Stempels
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

            Well yes, he appears to be pretty good!

  9. Roger
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    The “Diet of Worms” does not refer to people dieting on worms. It refers to the worms themselves going on a diet because of the shortage of dirt during the medieval times.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Takes someone older than dirt to recall the Great Dirt Famine.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t that fun about the Diet of Worms not getting a bit stale?
      Worms is a dignified city in Germany, and a Diet is a Catholic church assembly.
      I agree it is funny, but still, do we have to ruminate again and again?
      (My apologies for being a bit of a party pooper here)

      • Jennny Haniver
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        When one ruminates, doesn’t one do it again and again? And I detect a scatological pun,too; certainly apropos if one’s ruminating on a diet of worms.

  10. Posted January 28, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    To me it does not read like Darwin was suggesting that whales evolved from bears. Rather, he was suggesting how bears might evolve this way to be something similar to whales.

    • Posted January 28, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      The only part of Darwin’s speculation that isn’t plausible is the idea that a bear could get enough insects this way for it to be its main source of sustenance. On the other hand, dragonflies had 30-inch wingspans once upon a time, though it was long before bears arose.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I agree, Mr Darwin was not, repeat was not, implying whales evolved from bears. It was just what we would call a ‘thought experiment’ nowadays. I think he was unjustly maligned for that.

  11. Posted January 28, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Data Privacy Day, the only day of the year when your data is private.

    • sugould
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Good to know, as Facebook has demanded of a friend of mine (who has been on facebook for many years without incident)that she now prove she is really the account owner by supplying them with her drivers licence number.

  12. Posted January 28, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Interesting to see the Cree syllabary (also used in the unrelated language Inuktitut) on Twitter!

  13. rickflick
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    “A Sunday Afternoon” also left out the 4 man, coxed shell!

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      And the monkey (a favorite of mine) is absent too. Nevertheless, a great effort.
      I have a long and difficult relation with that painting of Seurat, Won’t bother you with the details, suffice to say I spent several full working days on it.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

        Please do bother us with the details. Sounds intriguing.

  14. Lee
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    As for the old tortoise, he looks to be saying “No more witnesses for the Senate impeachment trial!”

    But I may be misreading…

    • Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:35 am | Permalink

      Whenever I see Moscow Mitch, I am reminded of Touché Turtle. There is a certain likeness in the picture.

  15. Keith
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen that photo of Otto Frank before and it has such a haunting, sad feel to it. The expression on his face speaks so much.

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