Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Tuesday, April 14, 2020: National Pecan Day. It’s also National Dolphin Day, National Library Workers Day, and Children with Alopecia Day (shoutout to the talented and genetically depilated Molly Tuttle).

The two-week series of Google Doodle thank-yous to “coronavirus helpers” continues with encomia to public-transit workers (click on screenshot to see the thanks)

News of the Day:

Stuff that happened on April 14 includes:

This was probably a sun dog.  But here’s the depiction given in a news bulletin published the same month in 1561. (If it was a battle, Satan won.)

  • 1775 – The first abolition society in North America is established. The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage is organized in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush.
  • 1828 – Noah Webster copyrights the first edition of his dictionary.
  • 1865 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is shot in Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth; Lincoln died the next day.
  • 1881 – The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight is fought in El Paso, Texas.

Three of the four dead were killed by Marshall Dallas Stoudenmire, using a pair of .44 caliber Smith & Wesson revolvers. Stoudenmire himself was killed in a gunfight the next year. Life was tough in the Old West. Here’s Stoudenmire:

  • 1912 – The British passenger liner RMS Titanic hits an iceberg in the North Atlantic at 23:40 (sinks morning of April 15th).
  • 1939 – The Grapes of Wrath, by American author John Steinbeck is first published by the Viking Press.
  • 1958 – The Soviet satellite Sputnik 2 falls from orbit after a mission duration of 162 days. This was the first spacecraft to carry a living animal, a female dog named Laika, who likely lived only a few hours.
  • 1981 – STS-1: The first operational Space Shuttle, Columbia completes its first test flight.
  • 1986 – The heaviest hailstones ever recorded (1 kilogram (2.2 lb)) fall on the Gopalganj district of Bangladesh, killing 92.

Here’s what purports to be a video of that hailstorm, with ice balls the size of grapefruits (or so Wikipedia says). No wonder people were killed!

  • 1999 – A severe hailstorm strikes Sydney, Australia causing A$2.3 billion in insured damages, the most costly natural disaster in Australian history.

Yes, another hailstorm.  Here’s a short news report on the disaster:

  • 2003 – The Human Genome Project is completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99%.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1629 – Christiaan Huygens, Dutch mathematician, astronomer, and physicist (d. 1695)
  • 1866 – Anne Sullivan, American educator (d. 1936)

You may remember Sullivan as the woman who taught Helen Keller language (Sullivan herself was partly blind). The scene in Keller’s autobiography where she first associates a “sign” with an object (water, as I recall), is extremely moving. Here is the pair in a photo described as “Helen Keller [left] in 1899 with lifelong companion and teacher Anne Sullivan. Photo taken by Alexander Graham Bell at his School of Vocal Physiology and Mechanics of Speech.”

  • 1904 – John Gielgud, English actor, director, and producer (d. 2000)
  • 1927 – Alan MacDiarmid, New Zealand chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2007)
  • 1932 – Loretta Lynn, American singer-songwriter and musician

Here’s Loretta singing what is undoubtedly her most famous song. Actually, the lyrics are dreadful in places, including these lines that always make me cringe:

The work we done was hard
At night we’d sleep ’cause we were tired

that last word should be spelled “tard” to rhyme.


Daddy loved and raised eight kids on a miner’s pay
Mommy scrubbed our clothes on a washboard ever’ day
Why I’ve seen her fingers bleed
To complain, there was no need

Awkward construction in the last line.

Others born on this day:

  • 1936 – Frank Serpico, American-Italian soldier, police officer and lecturer
  • 1940 – Julie Christie, English actress and activist

Christie is 80 today.

  • 1941 – Pete Rose, American baseball player and manager

Those who took the Dirt Nap on April 14 include:

  • 1759 – George Frideric Handel, German-English organist and composer (b. 1685)
  • 1925 – John Singer Sargent, American painter (b. 1856)
  • 1935 – Emmy Noether, German-American mathematician and academic (b. 1882)
  • 1964 – Rachel Carson, American biologist and author (b. 1907)
  • 1995 – Burl Ives, American actor, folk singer, and writer (b. 1909)
  • 2007 – Don Ho, American singer and ukulele player (b. 1930)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron wants to be friends with Hili, but Hili looks poised to jump on Szaron (she didn’t).

Szaron: We are one step closer.
Hili: Or one step further away.
In Polish:
Szaron: Jesteśmy o krok bliżej.
Hili: Albo o krok dalej.

A Jesus/virus meme from Muffy:

Posted by Irena:

Posted by Isabelle:

There are quite a few videos of cat versus d*g obstacle courses. Cats always win. I tweeted this one (h/t to Arno for the video):

And a tweet from Muffy, who suspects someone was pulling on the cat’s chin. That’s a good hypothesis.

Tweets from Matthew. As he’s gone off Twitter cold turkey for a few days, I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel. Readers can help by sending me one or two awesome tweets.

There’s a whole thread of this; go see the others. I prefer to think of this as a “short thread of cats being cats.” The kid in the second video certainly deserved what he got!

Cougar fight! I hope nobody got hurt.

This is what’s known in the trade as a “groaner”:

I may have already posted this, but if I have, you can see it again. Check the link if you don’t believe it.


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 14, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    President Lincoln – the first president killed with a hand gun, but not the last. Yet look at us today – the most gun happy, killer friendly country on the planet. The gun toddlers even line up to comment on this gun free web site. It is shameful.

    • GBJames
      Posted April 14, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Come on, Randall, they’re just protecting us all from tyranny!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 14, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

        Congrats to you Badgers on the defeat of Daniel Kelly.

        Serves the bastards right for making Democrats go stand in line at the polls in the middle of a pandemic.

        • GBJames
          Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink


          I learned yesterday that our tenants (we own a duplex, live downstairs and rent upstairs), a couple with young kids, didn’t get their absentee ballots in time and had to stand out in a 2-3 hour line to vote. I can’t help but worry the they were exposed.

  2. mikeb
    Posted April 14, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    First line of the butthole-seeking toilet article:

    “Technologies for the longitudinal monitoring of a person’s health are poorly integrated with clinical workflows, and have rarely produced actionable biometric data for healthcare providers.”

    This is why so many people hate and distrust science and why it’s probably hopeless at this point to have a scientifically-literate society.

    They sound as bad as English PhD candidates discussing “theory.”

    • Posted April 14, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      I seriously doubt that the bad writing of some scientific papers is why “so many people hate and distrust science”. Yes, the writing is dreadful, but remember that there are science popularizers like Dawkins, Attenborough, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox, Neil Shubin, and so on who make science accessible and palatable. If people still hate and distrust science despite them, it’s not because of poor presentation.

      • EdwardM
        Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        Perhaps you could expand on this. As someone who belongs on that list of science popularizers, I am certain that all here would like to hear your thoughts.

    • Posted April 14, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      What’s wrong with that sentence? Seems perfectly reasonable to me. If you are talking about the assumed educational level of the reader, it seems right for Nature’s audience.

      • darrelle
        Posted April 14, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        Exactly. It’s a science paper intended for other scientists in the same and related fields. It’s technical writing not educational writing or journalism.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 14, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    “I may have already posted this, but if I have, you can see it again. ”

    I assure you – it was. Posted. There’s a witty joke here somewhere, I think.

    It is also true, that now, I can see it again – for what it is worth, having been permanently emblazoned on my mind’s eye, looking at it without warning all the time…. perhaps I should read about it – there’s got to be a good reason for the research?!

    • darrelle
      Posted April 14, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Better bidet aim?

      More seriously, I can imagine a toilet that samples and analyzes “deposits” and uses the anus recognition capability to identify the “depositers.” Such a toilet could be of huge benefit in various ways from early detection of medical issues, to dialing in a diet, to monitoring the use of prescription drugs and more.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted April 14, 2020 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        Am I missing something with that toilet? Why would you ever need a toilet with anus-recognition software in the first place?

        Unless it’s guarding some secret entrance in an evil villain’s lair I can’t understand what possible use it could be.

        I suppose it could be personalised to say ‘hello Darrelle’ or ‘hello Saul’ depending on who was sat on it. But I don’t want my toilet to talk to me, I’d feel guilty.

        • darrelle
          Posted April 14, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink


        • darrelle
          Posted April 14, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

          Not sure if you clicked through to the paper about the anus recognition system, but the title of the paper says it all in a nutshell, . . .

          “A mountable toilet system for personalized health monitoring via the analysis of excreta”

          So the inspiration for designing a system that can recognize individuals by their anus is to match people to the deposits they leave in the toilet. Deposits which the toilet analyzes for medical / health purposes. So the toilet will know whether it was mom, dad, daughter, son or uncle Joe that dropped that last load with an unusually high level of alcohol metabolism end products in it.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted April 14, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t click on the link, no, but thanks for the detailed summary of its function. It sounds frustratingly well-intentioned.

            Does it make a noise if a rogue user makes a deposit? ‘There is an unidentified anus in the house’, that kind of thing? That might be quite fun.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 14, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    The scene in Keller’s autobiography where she first associates a “sign” with an object (water, as I recall), is extremely moving.

    That scene was famously played out in the 1962 film The Miracle Worker with Mrs. Robinson as Anne Sullivan and the identical cousin who saw all the sights a girl could see from Brooklyn Heights as Helen Keller:

    • enl
      Posted April 14, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      Now “Here’s to you, Anne Sullivan” is going to my head.

      Curse you, Ken, curse you.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 14, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        “Koo-koo-ka-choo, Annie Sullivan”

        Let that one stick with you a while. 🙂

    • Posted April 14, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      That is truly a fantastic scene, with great acting, especially by Patty Duke.

      I just looked up the movie and found this on Wikipedia:

      The film went on to be an instant critical success and a moderate commercial success. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Director for Arthur Penn, and won two awards, Best Actress for Anne Bancroft and Best Supporting Actress for Patty Duke. The Miracle Worker also holds a perfect 100% score from the movie critics site Rotten Tomatoes.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 14, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        Yeah, Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke both reprised their roles from the original Broadway play (for which the lovely and talented Ms. Bancroft had won a Tony award).

        I remember going to the theater to see it with some older cousins when I was but a tyke.

  5. merilee
    Posted April 14, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink


  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 14, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Re: the Margaret Murphy tweet:

    By George, I think she’s got it!

  7. darrelle
    Posted April 14, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I was lucky enough to watch the STS 1 launch with a relatively small group from a viewing area that they never allowed to be used again because it was too close. It was a very dramatic experience.

    I had an Olympus OM-2 set up on a tripod loaded with a fresh roll of 36 exposure film when it finally lifted off. I was so excited that I completely forgot about metering out my shots and I ran out of film shortly after the Shuttle cleared the tower. And that was manual, no autowinder. I got some great shots, but missed out on others.

    • rickflick
      Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Perhaps you could offer them as a Reader’s Wildlife contribution.

      • darrelle
        Posted April 14, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        You may have provided me with enough inspiration to search for them. I haven’t seen them in decades.

        • rickflick
          Posted April 14, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink

          Easy as backing cookies! 😎

          • darrelle
            Posted April 14, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

            You are an inspiration!

        • rickflick
          Posted April 14, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          Or baking them.

  8. Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Regarding the “smart toilet”…

    Yesterday I was at the home center (it’s curious what businesses are allowed to be open under the pandemic — I notice those include a pawn shop, a sporting-goods store, and a military surplus store). I beheld a $1,000 toilet, which featured a daunting control panel and a wireless remote control. Among its functions were a heated seat and jet of warm water to wash… you know. Apparently it can be programmed with a variety of pre-set features, personalized for multiple users. I wouldn’t be surprised if you had to pay a monthly subscription to keep it all working, like when you buy a car. There’s probably a murky “terms of service” you have to sign before it will flush.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      That store is open because it has repair supplies. Important things still will break and need repair. That they carry dumb things is another matter.

    • Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Toilets like that are fairly common in Japan.

      • Steven in Tokyo
        Posted April 14, 2020 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        I have one in my Tokyo apartment. Wouldn’t be without it. And I don’t have to buy toilet paper nearly as often as I used to. Good for times like these.

    • Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      We recently remodeled our bathrooms and, based on the recommendations of Wirecutter.com, we got two Toto Washlet C200s. I believe they can be added to most toilets. We love them. Only problem is we miss them when we have to use alternate facilities.


      • Posted April 14, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        I should add that these units don’t do any health analysis. Perhaps that will be added in a later model. 😉

  9. Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    There’s a longer version of the second cat-assaults-child video on Youtube. The whole thing had got quite antagonistic before the child took a swipe at the cat Given what went before and the age of the child, I think the outcome was inevitable.

    What is surprising is that the only adult in the room decided it was better to video the whole thing instead of intervening in a situation that could have resulted in injury to the cat or the child.

  10. rickflick
    Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    In the GIF, kid attacked by the cat, I notice the child has a fir trimmed hood. Probably not a good excuse for such behavior.

  11. Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I may have already posted this, but if I have, you can see it again

    Everything I read on your web site has already been posted by you…

    Sorry, couldn’t resist it.

    • Posted April 14, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      I’m not quite sure what you mean by that.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted April 14, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        It’s witty and amusing – it means everything was posted already because… it was posted… by definition.

      • Posted April 15, 2020 at 4:25 am | Permalink

        Everything I read on your web site must already have been posted by you or it wouldn’t be on your web site.

        It’s a pretty lame joke.

  12. boudiccadylis
    Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    The Florida cougar fight is encouraging in that there are now enough to at least bicker over something. What caused the crowd to create such commotion.
    I certainly hope the kid who slapped the cat got scratched and that the cat was removed to a more respectful environment permanently.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted April 14, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure what “crowd” you’re referring to re the cougar fight, but you could hear and sometimes see a bunch of crows going nuts — probably because there were some really long cat tails to pull if only they could get the chance; and you know that one of their favorite, thrill-seeking activities is pulling animals’ tails or rump feathers.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted April 14, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Crows or ravens.

      • darrelle
        Posted April 14, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        There was also a pretty large wild pig interested in the scuffle too. Didn’t make an appearance until near the end.

  13. Posted April 14, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Looking at that Nuremberg “space battle” picture, it seems more like a meteor shower or the break up of a large meteor in the air, like the Chelyabinsk event but larger and perhaps at higher altitude. The picture shows two places on the ground with fire and smoke billowing out. That wouldn’t happen with a sun dog.

  14. S.P. Sven van Leeuwe
    Posted April 14, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    So, the anus identifier.. does it store a database of all ani which have visited?
    If you sit on it, do you sign a consent form that your rectal fingerprint is archived somewhere?
    Asking for a friend.

  15. Posted April 14, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    The cost of the 2020 bushfires in Australia are estimated to be AU$18,087 million, easily our worse natural disaster.


  16. grasshopper
    Posted April 14, 2020 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    All my sphincters tighten in fear at the thought of trying to log-in to a password-protected toilet at the exact time I am experiencing a senior moment. Or foreign agents install ransomware and demand 1,000 rolls of toilet paper to unlock it.

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