Friday: Hili dialogue

March 13, 2020 • 6:45 am

It’s the end of the week at last, and a long tough week it was. I don’t have to remind you about the state of the world. But happy Friday the 13th! (oops. . . )

Maybe it’s good, then, that for food we’re celebrating National Chicken Noodle Soup Day. I’ll have mine with some big honking matzo balls. It’s also National Coconut Torte Day (never had one), National Elephant Day (in Thailand only), National Good Samaritan Day, and Ken Day, celebrating Barbie’s boyfriend. There’s some confusion about the date, but did you know that Ken had a last name? (Barbie does too: her full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts.)

Ken Day celebrates the Ken doll, whose full name is Kenneth Carson. There is some discrepancy as to if the Ken doll debuted on Saturday, March 11, 1961, or Monday, March 13, 1961. Mattel, the maker of Barbie, claims it to have been March 11, but most other sites claim it was March 13, and that is why Ken Day is celebrated when it is. Ken debuted at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. Barbie had debuted two years earlier at the same fair.

Here, from Parade Magazine, is the first Ken doll, which came in blonde and brunette Caucasians:

Finally, it’s Skeptics Day International, which is somewhat devalued because it’s held every Friday the thirteenth as well as on election day in November (read the link for the explanation).

News of the Day: There is no good news today as the world melts down. One word of cheer is the tweet below from Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, who are in quarantine in Australia and sent a photo and a stalwart message

And this just in:

Matthew lectured at the Royal Institution on his new book last night. Reader Dom was there and reports (Dom’s words indented):

I went along with a friend to Matthew’s RI lecture last night.  On the left is Adam Rutherford…

Matthew was very good. I gave him a little metal stegosaurus for his collection!

Yes, Matthew does have a stegosaurus collection.  Here he is signing books (note his insect shirt):

Stuff that happened on March 13 includes:

Harvard is the oldest college in the U.S, but William & Mary is second (1693), so I have the honor of having graduated from the two oldest universities in America.

  • 1781 – William Herschel discovers Uranus.
  • 1862 – The Act Prohibiting the Return of Slaves was passed by the United States Congress, effectively annulling the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and setting the stage for the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • 1930 – The news of the discovery of Pluto is announced by Lowell Observatory.

Note that this was the same day of the month that Uranus was discovered.

You may remember that the movie Schindler’s list recounts events in Krakow; here’s one of the scenes of the liquidation of the ghetto from that movie, featuring the symbolic girl in red:

  • 1988 – The Seikan Tunnel, the longest undersea tunnel in the world, opens between Aomori and Hakodate, Japan.
  • 1997 – The Missionaries of Charity choose Sister Nirmala to succeed Mother Teresa as their leader.
  • 2003 – An article in Nature identifies the Ciampate del Diavolo as 350,000-year-old hominid footprints.

These are three sets of tracks in Italy, suggested to have been made by H. heidelbergensis. Here they are:

This image was originally posted to Flickr by edmondo gnerre at; licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.
  • 2013 – The 2013 papal conclave elects Pope Francis as the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1855 – Percival Lowell, American astronomer and mathematician (d. 1916)
  • 1914 – Edward O’Hare, American lieutenant and pilot, Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1943)
  • 1939 – Neil Sedaka, American singer-songwriter and pianist
  • 1956 – Dana Delany, American actress and producer

Those who were planted on March 13 include:

  • 1906 – Susan B. Anthony, American activist (b. 1820)
  • 1938 – Clarence Darrow, American lawyer and author (b. 1857)

Darrow is one of my heroes, and he lived in Hyde Park near where I live now. (He was also an atheist.) Here’s the great lawyer in a short biographical video:


  • 2006 – Robert C. Baker, American businessman, invented the chicken nugget (b. 1921)
  • 2006 – Maureen Stapleton, American actress (b. 1925)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has internalized the world’s uncertainty:

Hili: You think that we live in interesting times? Wait until Tuesday.
A: And what will happen on Tuesday?
Hili: I’m curious myself.
In Polish:
Hili: Myślisz, że żyjemy w ciekawych czasach? Poczekaj do wtorku.
Ja: A co będzie we wtorek?
Hili: Też jestem ciekawa.

And here’s a picture of Hili on the windowsill inside the house and Szaron on the outside:

Another dino/coronavirus meme:

A kingfisher catch from Wild and Wonderful. I have no idea how this was taken.


From Jesus of the Day. How come the miscreant humans in these memes are always named Karen?

From The Cat House on the Kings:

Two from Queen Titania:

More like one generation, as well as all feminimity, toxic or otherwise:

From Luana. This isn’t a funny tweet, but a telling and distressing one. How to tell if a 1-2 year old kid is transsexual?

Tweets from Matthew. The first one describes some epidemiology using CATS:

Is this a happy duckling or what?

Be sure to enlarge the picture! And why isn’t God (Ceiling Cat) a cat here?


23 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Darrow is one of my heroes, and he lived in Hyde Park near where I live now. (He was also an atheist.)

    Darrow is one of my heroes, too. He began his life, and his legal career, in Ashtabula, OH, about 50 miles from my boyhood home. And I agree he likely qualifies as an atheist, even though, according to his famous speech and essay on the subject, he self-identified as an agnostic.

    1. I have something I call my Clarence Darrow Memorial Reading List. It is based on the well-known Darrow quote (which is frequently misattributed to Mark Twain):

      “I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.”

      — Clarence Darrow

      It is a list of names of people whose obituaries I hope to read before it’s time to publish my own. It is heavily populated by politicians and televangelists.

  2. How come the miscreant humans in these memes are always named Karen?

    Not sure, but one theory I’ve heard is that it traces back to the way Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill and the other characters use the first name of Lorainne Bracco’s character in Goodfellas:

    1. Please Don’t devalue yourself as “a dumb lurker.” I don’t think you are. I think it was a big mitzvah that you posted this link from medical experts on the panel at UCSF.
      What you did is invaluable and everyone should read the contents and print out the information, pass it on to their health care providers and everyone else.

        1. Thanks. And yes, I did read them.

          I live with an immune-compromised husband, and we both have elderly parents, his in a nursing home, so the information in that document strikes me as nearly nauseating in its implications for us.

    2. Thanks for posting this. I’ve been thinking about this:
      Don’t know whether COVID-19 is seasonal but if is and subsides over the summer, it is likely to roar back in fall as the 1918 flu did.
      The speculation is that, like the flu, warm weather/sunlight kills it. If that’s the case, why is it still spreading so rapidly in Saudi Arabia? Isn’t it like Summer there most of the year? I don’t know about Iran’s weather, but wonder about the same thing.

      1. Glad to hear it

        I think it is interesting (though, with a grim overtone ) that the numerator in the mortality is known with near-100% certainty, but the denominator is much much more imprecise, and an underestimate. Consequently, the rates – influenza or coronavirus – is an overestimate. This is not to say that either is “ok” or that one is worse. It’s just math and thinking about the consequences. Indeed if any is worse or better, I’d have to quantify that.

        Interesting facts I learned on Wikipedia:

        – Influenza A is the only one that infects humans

        – SARS was caused by a coronavirus, and that virus attached to the ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2) in the lungs.

  3. “How come the miscreant humans in these memes are always named Karen?”

    Because, as every comedian knowns, “k” sounds are funny. Karen was probably the blandest name that starts with that letter. It’s also become traditional in jokes of this form.

  4. I don’t know what it is about Neil Sedaka’s songs, but the first verse or two are delightfully charming, but by the end of the song you hope you never have to hear it again. Or is it just me?

    1. I can think of only two ways to pronounce it – either Urine-us or Yer-Anus (depending whether you stress the first or second syllable).
      It may be unique among names in that both alternatives sound equally unfortunate.
      (I honestly have no idea which is ‘correct’)


  5. Transgender babies? Sheesh.

    I checked the Youtube link and for once the seething cesspit of sarcasm that is the Youboob comments section was right on the mark.

    (Full disclosure: As a child, I clearly remember using every single colour in my coloured-pencil set in every drawing. Like, rainbow! Quite obviously this means I’m gay, something I have unconsciously and effortlessly repressed for the last 70 years…)


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