Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s Saturday, June 18 (I think that’s right), and I”m waking up in Los Angeles, where of course the weather is perfect but the traffic is dreadful. As Dionne Warwick sang, “L.A. is a great big freeway.” And it is, especially on Friday afternoons.

This is a famous day in history, for it was on June 18, 1858, that Charles Darwin received a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace in Ternate, laying out Wallace’s theory of evolution by natural selection—very close to the ideas Darwin had been developing for over twenty years. Freaked out, Darwin turned to his colleagues Lyell and Hooker for advice and support, who decided to broker a deal in which both Wallace’s ideas and Darwin’s hastily-written paper were published in the same (August 20) issue of Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society: Zoology. Darwin then hastily put together On the Origin of Species, published only 13 months later. The rest is history. While some argue that Darwin had received the letter earlier, and withheld it from base motives, that now appears to be wrong.

One other famous event happened in Britain on this day: in 1940, Churchill delivered his “This was their finest hour” speech in the House of Commons. It is a masterpiece of oratory, and the ending bears repeating:

But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.

Notables born on this day include mountaineer George Mallory (1886), Roger Ebert (1942), and Lisa Randall (1962). Those who died on this day include Roald Amundsen (1928), Walter Alvarez (1978), and I. F. Stone (1989). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is angry that she was accidentally deprives of noms. You can see how affronted she is by her demeanor in the photo below:

Hili: We cats have good memory.
A: And that means?
Hili: Yesterday you poured the last of the milk into your coffee and I had to drink water.
In Polish:
Hili: My, koty, mamy dobrą pamięć.
Ja: To znaczy?
Hili: Wczoraj wlałeś sobie resztkę mleka do kawy, a ja musiałam pić wodę.

Finally, the 7000th post on this site (Feb. 4,, 2014) announced that reader Gayle Ferguson, a biologist at Massey University in New Zealand, was fostering a litter of kittens, one of which she named Jerry Coyne. Over the past few 2½ years I’ve documented his growth: his illness (he’s fine now), his adoption into a loving home in Christchurch, and his development into a striking long-haired ginger tom. Today we learn that Jerry has just moved into a new home, and Gayle sends a photo and a report:

Jerry Coyne the Cat has just moved in to his newly rebuilt home, 5 years after it was destroyed in the Christchurch earthquake!

Jerry’s owner adds this:

Jerry has settled into our new house. Looking resplendent in his winter coat with the view of the city behind. Great to be back here although Jerry is still pretty freaked out by all the space and ‘wilderness’. Loki [the other cat] just settled like he had never been away.


And, lest ye have forgotten, here’s Jerry as a kitten:


  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Jerry the cat is really looking majestic with his nice long coat!

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Jerry Coyne has never looked better. Hili had to drink plain water?

    Maybe it would do Britain a bit of good to go back and review that speech in light of the events the past few days.

    We should do the same here in this country but half the people can not read well enough to understand it and have no idea who Winston Churchill was.

  3. Posted June 18, 2016 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Which Walter Alvarez is that? The only one I know, the son of Luis and father of the dino-killing asteroid hypothesis, is still alive.

    • colnago80
      Posted June 18, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      I assume that Prof. Coyne is referring to Walter C. Alvarez who was the father of Nobel Prize winning physicist Luis Alvarez and grandfather of Walter Alvarez the geologist who co-discovered the explanation for the KT extinction with his father.

      • Posted June 18, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. My search based on just Walter Alvarez did not find this one on the first page. I knew about Walter (grandson) and Luis (son), but never heard of the grandfather.

  4. Merilee
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Kitteh Jerry has the cutest, most mischievous Dennis-the-Menace-like face. Must be the freckles.

  5. rickflick
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Here’s some of Churchill’s “finest hour” speech.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted June 19, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      There’s always something, I think, about his downbeat delivery that makes his speeches somehow more inspirational.

      • rickflick
        Posted June 19, 2016 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

        He was in tune with his times. Like Roosevelt was, even though now he seems hokey.

  6. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Hili: Yesterday you poured the last of the milk into your coffee and I had to drink water.

    Hmmm, time to pick up some cans of “condensed milk” next time you’re shopping. Keeps for years in the cupboard, and would provide emergency cofffee-whitener for the hoomins if Hili’s drinking milk supplies are in peril.
    The Cloggies have brought a few great things to the world, including “kaffemjelk” (spelling?) ; this translates into EN_GB as “coffee milk” accompanied by puzzlement amongst people who don’t know what a stroopwaffel is. Whether it translates sensibly into PL_PL, I don’t know. The closest approximation I’ve come across is “condensed milk”, but it’s only an approximation.
    I was about to go and get my messages, and I’ve just remembered seeing someone with stroopwaffels in one of the supermarkets last week. I noted it at the time, but I’ve only just realised that they’re great rarities in this country, so I must go and stock up!

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted June 18, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      I bet a pair of customized clogs [does Jerry have a pair?] that “kaffemjelk” is the correct spelling. Dutch tend to spell akin to Swedes, and we have “kaffemjölk”.

      [Since swedish coffee habits came with our war king when he toke refuge in Turkey after losing his march on Moscow, I suppose we can argue the dating of the terms. Maybe Sweden’s coffee habit jumped the continental one. The Battle at Poltava was 1709, and Charles XII returned 1715; the first exports into the Netherlands were 1711. ; .

      Any Dutch etymologist in the house?]

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 18, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        There’s at least one Evolved Dutchie.
        I learned how to make “Turkish style” coffee using a paraffin stove, tin pan, the “gravelly water” of a Cairngorm burn, and some mad mountaineering Cloggy supplied the coffee while a granite-fetishising geologist (nick-name of “Dr Toxic”, I later found out) dug his bottle of whisky out of the peat where he’d buried it the month before. A week of walking with nothing but stove, food, tent fly-sheet and sleeping bag. Great holiday. And the next day, descend to the valleys and back to reality.

      • Bethlenfalvy
        Posted June 19, 2016 at 8:45 am | Permalink

        The correct spelling is “koffiemelk”.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      “Operation Stroopwafel” was a success.
      Even better – they’re locally made, not imported, so if the sales are good, they’re likely to become a permanent fixture.

  7. Posted June 18, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Jerry looks georgeous! Look at the floof!

    Poor Hili, such inconsiderate humans!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 18, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if that hair is long enough to spin and knit with?

  8. Posted June 18, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Sadly, now San Jose is a great big freeway too.

  9. bric
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Also on this day, in 1815 Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo

  10. Posted June 18, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Traffic in Lala Land might be even worse than usual this weekend…here in Phoenix, the forecast is for 120°F / 49°C tomorrow, and temperatures above 110°F / 43°C are expected throughout the Southwest…except right at the coast and at high elevations. I expect huge masses flocking to the beaches today and tomorrow….



    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 18, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      AH yes, but it’s a dry heat.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 18, 2016 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      You Arizonans are the nation’s canary in the coal mine of climate change. We bite our nails while we have our collective eye on you.

  11. Taskin
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Jerry the cat is resplendent in his fine coat and Hili looks very trim for all her countryside rambles.

  12. Mark R.
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Jerry the cat reminds me of Garfield.

    Have fun in Lala land…I lived there for a year in my early 20’s. It was a fun place to live but the traffic was horrendous (that was over 20 years ago) and many of the inhabitants were supercilious.

  13. Dale Franzwa
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    I used to subscribe to I. F. Stone’s newsletter many decades ago. What a marvelous (and liberal) political reporter he was. Wonder what he would have said about The Donald?

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