Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s going to cool off this weekend in Chicago, with a high of only 78°F (25°C), and that’s predicted to last a week. Thank Ceiling Cat! After lovely temperatures in Poland, I came back to serious heat in Chicago. It’s Saturday, so I’m not sure who will be reading this. If you are, and know a reputed connection between Isaac Newton and cat welfare, weigh in below.

Today is World Mosquito Day, commemorating Ronald Ross’s discovery that female mosquitoes are the carriers of human malaria (he decided on August 20 as Mosquito Day). Mosquitos throughout the world are celebrating their new status as carriers of Zika.  This is also a banner day for evolutionists, for it was on August 20, 1858, that, in a pair of joint papers in The Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace announced their theories of evolution by natural selection. I still claim that Wallace’s was really a theory of group rather than individual selection, but read his paper for yourself (item III on this website).

Notables born on this day include Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1779), one of the founders of modern chemistry. On this day in 1915, the first Paul Ehrlich died: the German Nobel Laureate who made revolutionary advances in medical testing.  I believe he’s profiled in one of the books that most influenced me to become a scientist, Paul de Kruif’s The Microbe Hunters (1926). Has anybody read this classic? Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is affronted. Malgorzata explains with a caption: “This is Hili’s comment after she was informed about NASA’s grant to theologians.”

Hili: I’m shocked.
A: What about?
Hili: There is no search for feline life in Cosmos.
In Polish:
Hili: Jestem zaszokowana.
Ja: Czym?
Hili: Brakiem poszukiwania kociego życia w kosmosie.
As lagniappe, here’s a lovely photo of one of the several cats I’ve wheedled people into naming after me. Meet Jerry, the shelter cat adopted by reader Robin:
IMG_0144
 And a cat meme for your amusement, contributed by Malgorzata as well:
Lion cat fake

27 Comments

  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    The readers are out there but the comments, too early to tell. Some fine looking cats are on display.

  2. Newish Gnu
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I read “The Microbe Hunters” as a young teen about 40 years ago. Why it was in my YEC, evolution-denying parents’ house is still a mystery to me.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Hili makes an important point – any life out there should be evolved, and therefore consist of a number of lower species, not just cat-like ones.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 20, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Heresy! Cats are NOT lower species! 🙂

      Hili’s looking very cute today, and I love the CV joke Malgorzata!

      Jerry is a fine looking fellow too.

      • Posted August 20, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        Why thank you! 🙂

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 20, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

          🙂

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted August 20, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        … Was it not clear that my sentence gives cats highest importance?… I see … is it ambiguous then?

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 20, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, bit ambiguous mate. Good to know it was unintentional! 😀

          People of other belief systems have died for such errors! 😦

          • ThyroidPlanet
            Posted August 21, 2016 at 6:11 am | Permalink

            So how should it be written?

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted August 21, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

              Perhaps:
              “Hili makes an important point – any life out there would be evolved, and therefore consist of a number of lower species, not just higher species like cats.” 🙂

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted August 21, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

                Yes, I can understand writing in explicit terms, however, I thought the other way leaves it up to the reader to decide – as to be consistent with the Hili Dialogues’ sparse wit, and reflective insights… but who am I…

      • Mark Loucks
        Posted August 20, 2016 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        When my cat is high on my closet shelf, I am definitely the lower species!

  4. Smith Powell
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    It is said that Newton invented the cat door by which his cat could freely come and go.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted August 20, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      The widespread notion that Newton developed the cat door is regarded by Wikipedia as an urban legend first reported in 1827. (See the article on “Pet Door”.)

      Unlike the apple story (which he observed but it did NOT hit Newton’s head) you cannot make the groaner pun that there is a “core” of truth to it, but you might be able to say it is some people’s “pet” theory. 🙂 😦 🙂

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    *looks in iBooks*

    The Microbe Hunters is ten bucks in iBooks?!

    Local library : no.

    SAD!

  6. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I’m still trying to think about the Newton-Cats thing.
    Oh yes. Filthy, Rich and Newton’s alleged invention. But the story isn’t traced back before 1827, and Chaucer put a guest role for one in the “Miller’s Tale.”

  7. Posted August 20, 2016 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Before discovering the cat door, Newton discovered F=ma when he repeatedly had to nudge his cat with his foot to get it through the open door.

  8. bluemaas
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    heh, heh, heh, Ms Malgorzata: Darling Imposter / Statuesque Kitteh reminds me of much of that which is seen & read on
    https://twitter.com/YouHadOneJ0B.

    “I think I can ! I think I can !”
    Blue

  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    That’s a find looking black cat!

  10. chris moffatt
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I read de Kruif more than sixty years ago. I remember thinking how vivid the chapter on Pasteur was and was young enough to be really upset about “killing the guinea pigs”.

  11. Posted August 20, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Regarding Wallace and group selection. I assume that you are referring to his emphasis on the evolution of “varieties.” But I recall that a while back, in your cliff’s notes description of evolution, you emphasized that populations, not individuals, evolve. Is this not the same thing?

    • Posted August 20, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      No, because my interpretation of Wallace’s paper is that he thinks what is SELECTED is not genes or even individuals, but populations. It’s still a variational theory of evolution, but the variation is among groups of individuals rather than among individuals themselves. Others disagree with this interpretation, so I suggest that, if you’re interested, you read Wallace’s paper itself at the link.

  12. Posted August 20, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I’ve read “Microbe Hunters” as a child and then re-read it several times. I find the initial chapters fascinating, the latter ones not so much. I suppose the latter topics were still current science at the time and de Kruif didn’t feel on firm ground there. An example: he claims that the therapeutic value of diphtheria toxin antiserum was never proven because no controlled experiment was done at the time. I think that historical controls are valid in this case.

  13. Eli Siegel
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    The last chapter of Microbe Hunters is devoted to Ehrlich, but in the edition for schools in the 1930s that chapter was left out. Why, because it mentions syphilis.

    • Hans-Richard Grümm
      Posted August 20, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Right. I read de Kruif’s book in German (“Mikrobenkjäger”). It describes Ehrlich works, but the word “syphilis” never appeared; it was always “the disease with the revulsion-generating name” (“Krankheit mit dem Abscheu erregenden Namen”). Interesting, isn’t it ?

  14. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Rest easy, Hili.

  15. MAZMAINIAC
    Posted August 20, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    One of my anti-theist arguments is mosquito based–How could have a benevolent god created the mosquito?


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