Tuesday: Hili dialogue

We’re at the cruelest day again, when the weekend looks so far away. Yes, it’s Tuesday, November 17, 2020: National Baklava Day, which, though it constitutes unethical cultural appropriation, celebrates one of the world’s finest desserts—to my mind, the world’s finest pastry by far. Here’s a mixed plate of four pistachio baklava and other pastries I had in Istanbul in 2008. Yes, I ate them all!

It’s also Homemade Bread Day, International Students’ Day, World Peace Day, and National Farm Joke Day. I have only one farm joke, so here it is (TRIGGER WARNING: Animal abuse)

This man is walking past a farm one day when he spots a pig with a wooden leg.  He calls to the farmer “why has that pig got a wooden leg?”
“Well” says the farmer,  “last year, when my 3 year old son got out of the house and was playing near the stream, he fell in. Because no one else was around, the pig dove in and saved him from a certain drowning.”
“Yes, but why has it got a wooden leg?”
“Well,  three months ago, when the tractor overturned with me inside it, and began sinking into the mud, the pig lifted the tractor up so I could escape .”
“OK, so why has it got a wooden leg?”
“Well last week, when all the family were upstairs asleep, a fire started in the house. If it wasn’t for the pig fetching us a ladder and carrying us to safety, we’d all be dead.”
“Right, fine, so why has it got a wooden leg?”
“Listen, mate, when you’ve got a pig like that you eat it only one leg at a time.”

UPDATE: Reader Simon sent two photos from a Nashville BBQ joint that almost certainly derive from this joke:

News of the Day:

For the second year in a row, the kakapo—New Zealand’s famous flightless parrot—has won New Zealand’s Bird of the Year title. But there were some fake votes! (h/t: Bruce, Nicole).

 as while the Antipodean albatross was top of the charts, the polygamist Hihi, a small bird with unusually large genitals, gained the endorsement of Adult Toy Megastore, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Phoenix Football Team, and the Central Pulse Netball Team in one fell swoop.

Meanwhile, some Tomfoolery was afoot amid team little spotted kiwi. The jiggery-pokery alarm was sounded by volunteer scrutineers from Dragonfly Data Science when they noticed more than 1,500 votes had been cast by one email address, all in favor of Kiwi pukupuku. The ballot-box stuffing attempt was however stifled as the votes were discounted by Forest & Bird, the event’s organizers.

The kakapo refused to concede, and now he’s on top—just like the horny kakapo who shagged zoologist Mark Carwardine (with Stephen Fry standing by) on the BBC’s “Last Chance to See” show. This is what’s known as a “viral video”:

Matthew is famous: read this article in the Washington Post (click on screenshot):

A snippet:

Matthew Cobb, a professor of zoology, no less, at the United Kingdom’s University of Manchester, admitted on Twitter that he was disappointed when his own antibody test came back negative. “I know there is no reliable evidence that if you’ve had it you won’t get it again,” he later told me. “Despite that knowledge, which I can hold very clearly in my rational brain, I was clinging to the hope that I would have been protected.”

Importantly, Cobb, who is in his early 60s, says a positive test would not have changed his behavior. But he thinks it would have made him less apprehensive. And there’s the rub: As more and more people do find out they have antibodies after being infected previously, then how they react, think and behave — or don’t — will become a major new factor in the world’s attempts to control the spread. (President Trump has bragged that after getting covid-19 he is now immune).

Nota bene: As I predicted (sort of), Asian students, in at least one place, aren’t seen as “students of color”. See this tweet by former Evergreen State biology prof Heather Heying:

In a heartfelt Instagram post (click on screenshot below), Michelle Obama urges a peaceful transfer of power from the Trump to the Biden administration. A quote:

. . . I welcomed Melania Trump into the White House and talked with her about my experience, answering every question she had—from the heightened scrutiny that comes with being First Lady to what it’s like to raise kids in the White House.

I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do—because our democracy is so much bigger than anybody’s ego. Our love of country requires us to respect the results of an election even when we don’t like them or wish it had gone differently—the presidency doesn’t belong to any one individual or any one party. To pretend that it does, to play along with these groundless conspiracy theories—whether for personal or political gain—is to put our country’s health and security in danger. This isn’t a game. So I want to urge all Americans, especially our nation’s leaders, regardless of party, to honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power, just as sitting presidents have done throughout our history.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 246,879, an increase of exactly 800 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,333,733, an big increase of about 8,300 over yesterday’s report.

Stuff that happened on November 17 includes:

  • 1558 – Elizabethan era begins: Queen Mary I of England dies and is succeeded by her half-sister Elizabeth I of England.
  • 1603 – English explorer, writer and courtier Sir Walter Raleigh goes on trial for treason.

Raleigh was in the Tower of London until 1616, was released, and then re-imprisoned and beheaded in 1618. From Wikipedia: “Raleigh just before he was beheaded – an illustration from circa 1860.”

Holmes confessed to 27 murders (he was convicted of only one and hanged), but may have killed up to 200 people, many in his special “murder hotel” in Boston. Here he is:

About the hotel (from Wikipedia):

There were soundproofed rooms and mazes of hallways, some of which seemed to go nowhere. Many of the rooms were outfitted with chutes that would drop straight down to the basement where Holmes had acid vats, quicklime and a crematorium to dispose of his victims’ bodies.  Their search made the news, and investors for the planned hotel pulled out of the deal when a jeweler in the building showed them the articles. The hotel was gutted by a fire started by an unknown arsonist shortly after Holmes was arrested, but was largely rebuilt and used as a post office until 1938.

In 1892, the hotel was somewhat completed with three stories and a basement. The first floor was the storefront. The second story consisted of his elaborate torture rooms, which contained a chute that led to the basement. The third floor held more apartment rooms. In 1894, some police officers inspected the hotel while Holmes was out. During the inspection, they found rooms with hinged walls and false partitions, rooms linked with secret passageways, and even airtight rooms that were connected to pipelines filled with gas which Holmes used as gas chambers. Holmes would use chutes to deliver the bodies to the basement and once there, he made use of surgical tables and an array of medical tools to dissect them before selling their organs and bones on the black market and to medical institutions.

  • 1947 – The Screen Actors Guild implements an anti-Communist loyalty oath.
  • 1947 – American scientists John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain observe the basic principles of the transistor, a key element for the electronics revolution of the 20th century.
  • 1970 – Vietnam War: Lieutenant William Calley goes on trial for the My Lai Massacre.
  • 1973 – Watergate scandal: In Orlando, Florida, U.S. President Richard Nixon tells 400 Associated Press managing editors “I am not a crook.”

And it’s a notable day for the pandemic:

That date comes from the Chinese government.

Notables born on this day include:

Yes, he invented the Möbius strip, and here’s an cool gif from Wikipedia.

Caption: “An object that existed in a mobius-strip-shaped universe would be indistinguishable from its own mirror image – this fiddler crab’s larger claw switches between left to right with every circulation. It is not impossible that the universe may have this property.”

  • 1902 – Eugene Wigner, Hungarian physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1995)
  • 1938 – Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist

I still say that Lightfoot’s first album, called “Lightfoot!” is among the top folk albums ever made. Here’s one song from that album (his own composition), performed in 1969 at the BBC:

  • 1944 – Danny DeVito, American actor, director, and producer
  • 1960 – RuPaul, American drag queen performer, actor, and singer

Those who lost their lives on November 17 include:

  • 1796 – Catherine the Great, of Russia (b. 1729)
  • 1917 – Auguste Rodin, French sculptor and illustrator (b. 1840)
  • 2013 – Doris Lessing, British novelist, poet, playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1919)

Here’s Rodin’s kitty:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a new neighbor. Look at her expression!

Hili: Our new neighbors have a cat!
A: So what?
Hili: It will eat my mice.
In Polish:
Hili: Nasi nowi sąsiedzi mają kota!
Ja: I co z tego?
Hili: Będzie zjadał moje myszy.

From Facebook. Is this a real sign?

From Nicole:

From Bruce:

From reader Ken, who notes, “Now that anything resembling a responsible law firm has withdrawn from Donald Trump’s fanciful pursuit of voter fraud, he’s dug down deep and brought in a team from the fullbore fever-swamp.”

Another from Ken, who adds, “Here’s how the claims of Donald Trump and Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson that dead people in Georgia voted in the last election are making out”:

Tweets from Matthew. First, mother and child:

. . . and Matthew got even more famous!:

This whole thread contains photos of some amazing pulpits, including that of Reverend Peanut:

Cuthbert the famous goose died, and Matthew says it was because “he was poorly and was beat up by other geese.” I’m horrified and saddened. And he had a great name, too!

These are the first melanic servals I’ve ever seen. They’ll be gorgeous adults: panthers on stilts! (Sound up; there are cat noises.)




  1. Nancy
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    I’m pretty certain that H.H. Holmes’ “murder castle”, was located in Chicago, not Boston. He built it during the 1893 World’s Fair. Erik Larson’s book, Devil in the White City covered this dark chapter in Chicago’s history. (I can’t believe that book was published in 2003. It feels like I just read it last year.)

    • George
      Posted November 17, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      The “murder castle” is now the Englewood Post office, 611 W 63rd St in Chicago. That is a scant 2.8 miles from PCC(e)’s office.

  2. Roger Lambert
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Another farmer joke:

    A tourist, who is watching as a farmer holds up his pig so the pig can eat apples right from the tree, is perplexed and asks the farmer:

    “Doesn’t that take a lot of extra time to feed a pig that way?”

    The farmer replies:

    “Yes… but what is time to a pig?”

  3. Jon Mummaw
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    The Giuliani sign is probably photoshopped. The sign is a copy of Pennsylvania roadside historical markers.

  4. jezgrove
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure how reliable the story is, but reportedly on mounting the scaffold Walter Raleigh checked how sharp the axe was, saying “‘Tis a sharp remedy, but a cure for all ills”.

    • Posted November 17, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      “You have lived like a star, at which the world hath gazed. And like a star you must fall, when the firmament is shaked.”

      Your quote is in Hume’s history – I have a copy given to a great great grandfather by a relative.

      Also, asked which way his head should lie on the block, “So the heart be right, it is no matter which way the head lies.”

      Also, “I have a long journey to take, & I must bid the company farewell.”

      He said when the axman hesitated, “What dost fear? Strike man, strike!”

      What a noble man.

    • Posted November 17, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      Still getting the web page rather than mobile version – another WordPress glitch?

      “O eloquent, just, and mighty Death!… thou hast drawn together all the farstretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two narrow words, Hic Jacet.”

  5. Posted November 17, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Make a Möbius strip then cut down the middle lengthways! Pretty amazing what happens…
    As for Cuthbert… bit strange as we approach Yule… 🤔 “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat”

    Also in the UK using ‘coloured’ is considered pejorative as witness recent events in the FA https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08y3djn

  6. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    “Yes, I ate them all!”

    A clear violation of ate speech laws — promoting violence against that which cannot enjoy the right to free spinach.

    • Dom
      Posted November 17, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      Oh yes – terrible pun of the day! 👍

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted November 17, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        I aim to peas.

  7. jezgrove
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    The BBC’s Reality Check team did a report into claims about supposedly dead voters in Michigan: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-us-2020-54874120

  8. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Today in Fantasyland propaganda:

    [begin excerpt ]
    Subject : Open me


    We have HUGE news.

    Pennsylvania recently sided with the Republican National Committee and the Trump Campaign that the state’s Secretary UNLAWFULLY extended the deadline for absentee voters to provide missing proof of identification.

    The court rules that Secretary Boockvar “lacked the statutory authority” to unilaterally extend the deadline set by law and ordered that these ballots should NOT be counted.

    This is a MAJOR WIN for President Trump and American Patriots who want a FAIR Election, unlike the Left who is willing to engage in VOTER FRAUD and LIE to you.

    We still have a long way to go if we’re going to successfully DEFEND the integrity of our Election, and the President is calling on YOU to step up to the front lines.

    [request for donation]

    Thank you,

    Team Trump 2020

    [ fine print]
    [ end excerpt]

    … it isn’t clear from any news source what this means, or how many votes this would at most reject, and if those votes would change Senate or House seats.

  9. Colin McLachlan
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    sub, I hope.

  10. Hempenstein
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    There was a recent study of serum samples banked before COVID hit, IIRC between 2015 and fall 2019, that found crossreacting antibodies in something like 20-50% of the samples. I think the wide variation depended on what they were using as the test antigen. The assumption was that these were antibodies from prior infections with related, more benign coronaviruses.

    Not sure I can find the paper again but I’ll come back with it if I do.

  11. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    It is also likely that many votes were cast immediately before the voter died. PCC(E) posted an example of this recently — the colon cancer patient who managed to get his vote into the box, but tragically died three days after. I haven’t even heard Kimmel, Oliver, or Meyers (sp?) mention this likely scenario : cast vote by deadline, die after deadline, then a someone like Tucker Carlson looks up the voter and says the vote was cast by a dead person.

    BTW: where’s the sub button

    • eric
      Posted November 17, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      If “by deadline” you mean election day, then Carlson’s team is just being lying liars.

      However based on jezgrove’s BBC article, if you vote then die before election day, then in Michigan (other states may vary) that vote doesn’t count and must be discarded.

      Even in those cases, though, it’s hard to see how this could be significant fraud. It might happen occasionally, but in general, nobody intentionally plans on dying before election day. When someone votes then suddenly dies, it’s much more likely to be a tragic accident rather than an act of intentional lawbreaking.

  12. eric
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Re: Bruce’s article about the Navajo lawmaker being challenged by a Trump supporter, it really did happen but that was back in January 2018.

    So, nothing to do with the recent election or ongoing GOP attempts to delegitimize it.

  13. rickflick
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Does anyone else think Lou Dobbs utterly detestable? He could have been Hitler’s house boy.

    • Paul Topping
      Posted November 17, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Based on this clip and the one with Devin Nunes, I’m thinking that perhaps Lou Dobbs actually believes this stuff, unlike Nunes and the lawyer lady. He thinks he’s doing God’s work to make sure the coup doesn’t succeed.

    • darrelle
      Posted November 17, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely. Dobbs is utterly, undoubtedly, unquestionably detestable.

    • Mark R.
      Posted November 17, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      This is what happens when the POTUS, who was duly appointed by God Almighty, loses the election. Prayers didn’t work, cheating didn’t work, Democrats beat God and the cognitive dissonance is unbearable. Poor fool.

  14. Merilee
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink


  15. Caldwell P. Titcomb
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    acid vats, quicklime and a crematorium to dispose of his victims’ bodies

    Quicklime’s purpose is to prevent putrefaction and smell, so it actually preserves dead bodies.

  16. Paul Topping
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    The Lou Dobbs clip is so scary. I imagine some low-information voters being completely taken in by this kind of stuff. Even those that know Donald Trump lies a lot might still think this is real and the election is being stolen. These people enable Trump supporters to conclude that, yes, Trump himself is an awful man but he’s a patriot and his administration is doing good work. If they don’t think too much, that is.

  17. Mobius
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I was unaware that Stephen Fry had done a remake of Douglas Adams’ Last Chance to See. I love Fry’s sense of humor. Absolutely wonderful. I will have to look up the series and watch it.

    If you have not read Adams’ book, do so. Adams had a spectacular way with words, writing things that on the face of them made no sense (“hung in the air in the way bricks don’t”) but on second look expressed things perfectly. Or you can watch this old video of a lecture where he does readings from the book.


    Well worth watching IMHO.

    Adams is missed.

  18. Mobius
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Blankety Blank Blank!!! Checked on ROKU and the only channel carrying Last Chance to See is Prime Video and they want $3 per episode or $15 per season. Blank!

    Still, probably worth it.

  19. eric
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    …and National Farm Joke Day.

    For regular wear, my dad used to have a sweatshirt with a picture of a farmer farming that read “Outstanding In His Field.”

    For the holidays, he’d switch to one with a picture of three Hoes on it.


  20. David Hughes
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I feel a bit sorry for poor Hili. Not so long ago, it was just her and Cyrus the dog cohabiting in interspecies bliss. Then Cyrus passes away, Szaron shows up, then Kulka, and now it seems a third new cat has arrived next door. Hili must feel like her world’s been turned upside-down!

  21. grasshopper
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Mobius strips can have practical uses.

    There have been several technical applications for the Möbius strip. Giant Möbius strips have been used as conveyor belts that last longer because the entire surface area of the belt gets the same amount of wear, and as continuous-loop recording tapes (to double the playing time). Möbius strips are common in the manufacture of fabric computer printer and typewriter ribbons, as they let the ribbon be twice as wide as the print head while using both halves evenly.

  22. Nobody Special
    Posted November 17, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Farm joke.
    A guy is driving through the countryside when suddenly his engine cuts out and he coasts to a halt next to the gate to a field of cows.
    After trying to re-start the car the guy gets out and starts looking under the bonnet. A few seconds later a voice says “It’s a blovkage in the fuel line”. Startled, the guy looks around to see who spoke but there’s nobody there, just a lone cow hanging her head over the gate.
    “D…d…did you just speak?” he asks.
    “Yep,” replies the cow, “I said you’ve got a bloc…”
    The cow gets no further because the man, freaked-out as never before, has taken off as fast as his legs could carry him, heading for the farmhouse. On arrival he finds the farmer a hurredly tells him what had just occurred.
    The farmer listens then takes a moment or two to think it through before asking “Was it a brown cow with a white patch over her left eye?”
    “Yes, that’s the one” he answers.
    “Well, if you’ll take my advice,” says the farmer, “you’ll pay her no attention. That’s Florence, thinks she’s bloody clever but knows bugger-all about motors.”

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