Sunday: Hili dialogue

If you’re not reading this on Sunday morning, September 25, 2016, then you’re in church and don’t belong here. If you’re here, remember that it’s National Food Service Workers Day, so give your waiter an extra large tip. On this day in history (1789), Congress passed first ten amendment to the U.S. Constitution, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights (including the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and religion). And, on September 25, 1942, the Swiss, to their eternal shame, issued a police order denying political asylum to those persecuted on the grounds of “race alone,” which they construed as including Jews. And so refugees from the Holocaust had nowhere to go.

Notables born on this day include Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866), my academic great-grandfather (mentor of Theosodius Dobzhansky, who mentored Richard Lewontin, who mentored me). Morgan was the first Nobel Laureate to win for research in genetics. Below is my genetics family tree (note the paucity of students I’ve had but the surfeit of grand-students, giving me high academic fitness). Click to enlarge:

William Faulkner was born on this day in 1897, as was Glenn Gould in 1932, Ian Tyson in 1933, Felicity Kendal in 1946, and Catherine Zeta-Jones in 1969. Those who died on this day include Ring Lardner (1933), Emily Post (1960), George Plimpton (2003), and Andy Williams (2012). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is getting ready to grease the new day:

A: Are you sharpening your claws?
Hili: Yes, you can’t do anything properly without doing it first.
In Polish:
Ja: Ostrzysz pazurki?
Hili: Tak, bez tego nic się nie da porządnie zrobić.

Reader Randy Schenck from Iowa sent in a photo of his cat with an explanation:

Some will say this is simply a photo of a cat sitting on the dryer—nothing special here.  However, a closer look and explanation reveals that this is Emma the Heat-Seeking Cat, and the dryer is operating.  Therefore, Emma stations herself so her paw is in the seam between the dryer and door to catch the most heat.  On the floor in front of the refrigerator is another heat generator. In the dryer after cool-down is also a good location.


And, in Montreal, readers Claude and Anne-Marie just got a new puppy named Linux Bernie Cournoyer-Pelletier. Anne-Marie describes the German Shepherd/Schanuzer mix, who joins their present dog Ariel:
Linux-Bernie esq. is really cute, and a quick learner. He wants to know what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Ariel is as peaceful as usual and has welcomed Bernie gracefully into the family. He even brought him his favorite ball. Bernie watches Ariel carefully and imitates him. He will be a strong dog, and we hope that he will learn to be a peaceful warrior like Ariel.


  1. John Taylor
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    What’s up with all the d*g pictures? Did someone lose a bet? I’m all for it but it’s not what I expect from this website.

  2. frednotfaith2
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    As long as they’re good doggies that’s all right with me! Meeting up with several of my freethinking friends for breakfast and, later, for a celebration of the autumn equinox, a couple of days off but this was the most convenient day anyhow.

  3. AdamK
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    What beautiful pets people have.

  4. Stephen Barnard
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Cute pup.

  5. Mike
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Two beautiful dogs, we used to have Dogs but having had to attend three euthanising sessions ,has deterred me from having more. As for our furry Masters,we had a farm moggie that lived to the grand old age of 22 and terrorised the various Dogs of the household, and now we have a moggie “neeps” that wandered in one day and took up residence without so much as a by your leave, and continues to rule with disdain.

    • bluemaas
      Posted September 25, 2016 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Sweet ol’ kitty story, Mr Mike.

      Yeah, that repeated euthanasia thing ‘ll certainly turn one off of putting one’s heart out there for any. At one time I worked at a college of veterinary medicine. Our favored companion animal clinician – professor came to us from India; and, once she had instructed students on this procedure ? She continuously stepped out and away from the examination room. The students during their rotations with her carried out the deed.

      To endure this ? It so .is. hard.


      ps Mr Schenck: Lovely tortoiseshell — warming Emma ! My last time three years ago enduring euthanasia, Ms Moxie Grace Owlface, had been a tortie longhair rescue … … what a darling doll she was.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 25, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        Please, anything but Mr. Ours is also a rescue. Notice the short ears. Emma was apparently outside in the winter at a nearby town. Some guy brought her into the vet that we use as he had been trying to feed her but did not want a stray cat. We happened to stop by and one of the employees at the vet dragged us back to see this cat and and said she was soon due to, you know what.

        • bluemaas
          Posted September 25, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          Dr Haji and other of the clinician – professors as well as our private practitioners, Mr Schenck, I can tell you from personal experience, very, very often wholly rely on “the employees of the vet dragging” clients and ordinary citizens to “the back” in order to try to (likely, not – so) subtly put these folks’ hearts right in to the forefront of that path of … … rescuing !

          It is resultantly soooo worth it ! so worth our dragging !


  6. Russ Collins
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    So, it seems PCCE and I are academic cousins – TH Morgan is my great-great-great-grandfather.

    Interestingly (well, to me anyway), the same website also lists Sir Isaac Newton as my academic great x 15 grandfather.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    That is some tree.

    It is a good idea to review the actual history of the amendments to the constitution, referred to as the bill of rights. If we understood them much better than most apparently do, perhaps it was eliminate many problems. An easy quick review is always available at Wikipedia and even that summary will assist.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 26, 2016 at 2:40 am | Permalink

      Certainly the best known, and arguably the most important part of the entire document!

  8. Christopher
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    May I ask what it means for Hili to get ready to “grease the day”? Is that a typo, or is she just trying to make the day go by more smoothly?

    and Emma, the Heat-Seeking Cat, is clearly more versatile than Fyodor, my heat-seeking tortoise, who when allowed to roam in the house, will crawl in front of the vent under the door at the front of the refrigerator for a nice warm-up.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 25, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      At least yours is cold-blooded and has a better excuse.

      I should say, and this is as good a time as any, that Emma is honored to be added directly under Hili in her post. Even if the name was not given in honor of Darwin’s wife.

      • Christopher
        Posted September 25, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        Fyodor is named after Dostoevsky, as he is a “Russian Tortoise”, Agrionemys horsfieldii, and I had been reading lots of Russian literature at the time.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 26, 2016 at 2:42 am | Permalink

          My two Russians are Vladimir & Boris. Their mate/mother respectively, sadly departed, was Anastasia. 🙂

    • Posted September 25, 2016 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      It’s a joke. One of my friends in college used to say that to people in the dorm when they were waking up.

  9. Posted September 25, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Mohamed is certainly working hard on his academic fitness (and yours.)

  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    What ever happened to Catherine Zeta-Jones? She did some great stuff in the early 2000s and then disappeared from the silver screen.
    She shares her B-day with husband Mike Douglas.

    BTW, I kinda sorta am in church this morning, at least the church of the forest where
    “Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
    …And this our life,…Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
    Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”
    As You Like It- Act 2, Scene 1

  11. ELI
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    The idea of an intellectual (rather than biological) family tree is fascinating. Outside of academia, it would be hard to do this but I love the idea.

    Beautiful d*gs – well deserving of being honorary cats – thank you.

  12. Heather Hastie
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    “If you’re not reading this on Sunday morning September 25th … you don’t belong here.”

    I’m hurt – I’m not in church and haven’t been in one for years, and that wasn’t on a Sunday – it was for a funeral.

    I’m in bed and it’s Monday the 26th in New Zealand. This post didn’t exist for me on the morning of Sunday the 25th.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 25, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      That struck me too. I wasn’t in church neither. Emphatically not. Won’t say what I was doin’ …


    • Posted September 25, 2016 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      And to make things worse, you are upside down. Buh-bye, Heather.

  13. Diane G.
    Posted September 26, 2016 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    Randy, I love the Heat-seeking Cat! 😀 Despite the white chin, she looks like a definite tortoiseshell; my daughter has one and has worked with several others and our opinion is that torties can have a lot of ‘tude. In a good way. 😉

    Anne-Marie, what a darling puppy! How did you arrive at his name?

  14. Posted September 26, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    For those who haven’t seen it yet – is quite an interesting project.

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