Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s mid-February: Saturday, the 15th day of the month, 2020. That means it’s both National Gumdrop Day and National Chewing Gum Day, apparently designed to use up leftover Valentine’s Day sweets. Note: posting will probably be light today except for our wildlife and Caturday features, as I’m lunching (isn’t that a great word?) with reader Simon at a Vietnamese restaurant on the far North Side.

It’s also National Hippo Day, celebrating these whale-like mammals, Susan B. Anthony Day, celebrating her birth on this day in 1920, and two more animal days:  World Pangolin Day and World Whale Day.  If you’re into cargo cults, it’s also John Frum Day on Vanuatu.

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Susan B. Anthony, the great civil rights and women’s rights advocate whose efforts led to the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote (she didn’t live to see it ratified). Click on the Doodle to read more about her.

Stuff that happened on February 15 includes:

  • 1493 – While on board the Niña, Christopher Columbus writes an open letter (widely distributed upon his return to Portugal) describing his discoveries and the unexpected items he came across in the New World.
  • 1879 – Women’s rights: US President Rutherford B. Hayes signs a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • 1923 – Greece becomes the last European country to adopt the Gregorian calendar.
  • 1945 – World War II: Third day of bombing in Dresden.
  • 1946 – ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer, is formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Here’s ENIAC. Look at that monster! I bet my desktop computer could perform better:

Here’s the old Canadian flag, adopted in 1957 and retired in 1965. The new one is much better.

  • 1971 – The decimalisation of British coinage is completed on Decimal Day.
  • 1992 – Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is sentenced in Milwaukee to life in prison.
  • 2001 – The first draft of the complete human genome is published in Nature.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1564 – Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer, physicist, and mathematician (d. 1642)[11]
  • 1809 – Cyrus McCormick, American journalist and businessman, co-founded International Harvester (d. 1884)
  • 1812 – Charles Lewis Tiffany, American businessman, founded Tiffany & Co. (d. 1902)
  • 1820 – Susan B. Anthony, American suffragist and activist (d. 1906)
  • 1861 – Alfred North Whitehead, English mathematician and philosopher (d. 1947)
  • 1948 – Art Spiegelman, Swedish-American cartoonist and critic

Remember Spiegelman’s Maus? A great graphic novel, and the first, as I recall, to win a Pulitzer Prize. The only problem is that the Nazis were cats. . .

  • 1954 – Matt Groening, American animator, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1964 – Chris Farley, American comedian and actor (d. 1997)

And this reminds us that it’s also Douglas Hofstadter‘s birthday: he’s 75 today:

His photo is below: I have to admit that I couldn’t get through Gödel, Escher, Bach, but it’s surely my fault.

Douglas Hofstadter in Bologna, Italy – 06 March 2002


Those who decamped from life on February 15 include:

  • 1928 – H. H. Asquith, English lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1852)
  • 1965 – Nat King Cole, American singer and pianist (b. 1919)
  • 1988 – Richard Feynman, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1918)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili makes a pun (if that is a pun):

A: Hili, you are sitting on my mouse.
Hili: I wouldn’t sit on mine, I would keep it in my mouth.
In Polish:
Ja: Hili, siedzisz na mojej myszy.
Hili: Na mojej bym nie siedziała, trzymałabym ją w pysku.

From Merilee:

From The Purrfect Feline page:

From United Humanists on FB:


From Dom, the mating call of a female puma. Sound up on this one!

From Barry, yet another squirrel frustrated by a greased pole. I understand why people do this, but it’s mean. At least leave a bowl of nuts underneath the feeder!

And speaking of squirrels, here’s one of the world’s most beautiful women, ever, with an adorable Honorary Squirrel® (also from Barry)

Tweets from Matthew. The Sun visualized at night using neutrinos that came through the Earth! Millions of these are going through your body as you read this.

There can be no music tweet greater than this:

Panpsychism is going down, and it’s already been holed below the waterline by sarcasm like this:

UC Davis computational biologist Mike Eisen has gotten out of the lab. What a lovely bird!

And a late Valentine message. How do dipterans court? They do it FLY WAY. . .



  1. rickflick
    Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Canada got it’s new flag in 1964, eh. I was chuffed. I was disappointed when New Zealand failed to approve it’s new Lockwood flag in 2016. Maybe they’ll try the referendum again.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      I know I wanted the kiwi laser flag but I’m kind of used to their current one.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      The new Canadian flag was adopted in 1965. Archives on the Canadian flag debate:

      • rickflick
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        1965. It’s as if it was yesterday.

  2. DrBrydon
    Posted February 15, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Boss, I think Susan B. was born in 1820, not 1920.

    • boudiccadylis
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Had me a bit concerned when I first saw that but later on it’s been rectified.

  3. Posted February 15, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Douglas Hofstadter’s birthday and Richard Feynman’s death day all on the same day. This is definitely auspicious.

    GEB: EGB profoundly influenced my life. It taught me that maths can be fun, computing had depths I had previously only dreamed about and big thick books can be entertaining, even when they are about high brow topics.

    Of course, any Hofstadter fan will tell you that Copper, Silver, Gold: an Indestructible Metallic Alloy is the superior work, notable for an entry in its bibliography for an isomorphic but fictitious book.

    • uommibatto
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like Hofstadter was channeling Borges there…

      I would also recommend Hofstadter’s “Le Ton Beau de Marot,” a wonderful, wandering examination of translation and other stuff. I wrote him an email about my own, minor foray into poetic translation and received a very nice response from him.

      Larry Smith

      • merilee
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        I received that from amazon a couple of weeks ago, possibly on your recommendation, Larry? As a language and math geek I figure I’m going to love it!

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      GEB is a monument, and it unleashed my already present, latent love of Bach. Now I could listen unashamed!

  4. merilee
    Posted February 15, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink


  5. grasshopper
    Posted February 15, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Millions of solar neutrinos going through our bodies every second is an understatement. 90 billion will pass just through your thumbnail.

    Neutrinos don’t carry electric charge; maybe they don’t carry consciousness either. Or if they do, they must be dumbing-down the sun

  6. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    1971 – The decimalisation of British coinage is completed on Decimal Day.

    Temporarily. As the forcible expulsion of non-Britons continues apace, digits will be removed from the departing (in all senses) for grafting onto the people who remain, in preparation for the re-introduction of base-12 coinage.
    Someone is joking ; it’s not me.

    • Posted February 16, 2020 at 4:56 am | Permalink

      I don’t know how serious that is, but there have been calls to go back to the imperial measurement system, never mind the fact that nobody has been taught in schools how it works for fifty years and we no longer have an empire.

      • Posted February 17, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        Don’t distances still use imperial? I seem to remember the incongruity: efficiency units of engines of miles/liter.

        • Posted February 17, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

          Distances on road signs are still measured in miles and we still talk about fuel efficiency in miles per gallon (even though petrol has been sold in litres for decades). Also, we drink beer by the pint (or half thereof). But other than those exceptions pretty much everything is metric nowadays.

          My physics teacher once delighted in telling us he had found a catalogue of some engineering devices (can’t remember what) in which pressure ratings were measured in kilograms per square inch.

          • merilee
            Posted February 17, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

            Kg/in^2! Love it!

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        Post Brexit, I think they’ll bring back pounds, furlongs and cubic foot-poundals per horsepower-candela. It’ll give them an excuse to reintroduce the birch, with the death penalty for second offences of using “continental” units. There will be no third convictions.
        They could turn a profit on the deal by selling the license to apply the birch. Sorry – auctioning the license – milk the market for what it will bear.

        Cynical? Moi?

    • Posted February 16, 2020 at 5:00 am | Permalink

      Oh, and decimal day was the day I first started getting an income. My parents paid me five new pence pocket money per week. That’s 70p in today’s money.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 16, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      When I think of decimal day in the UK, I am ashamed to be a USian. We tried converting to metric during Jimmy Carter. We tried metric speed limit signs but they only lasted a few years. Then the conservatives set progress back yet again and reverted to MPH. The UK still uses MPH (Why?), but at least they do most everything else right. Why is this so hard?

      • Posted February 17, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        UK still uses MPH

        We’d have to change all the road signs and that would be ridiculously expensive.

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